This weekend had me in a state of anticipation for the Lakes cross race at Brockhole visitor centre.
A dull and wet start from home did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm for the day - what better way to spend a day than in the Lakes riding your bike??
On reaching Lancaster on the M6 the sun made it's break through and some pumping tunes in the car lifted everyone.
First impressions on pulling up were good, a marshel on the carpark directing you and handing out your carpark pass, loads of carparking space and toilets (essential after over an hour in the car and pre race hydration).
A stroll to sign on, following clear signs, reinforced my first impressions of a well organised event, more signs directing you to the changing rooms and we were set.
Ella, Jack and Matt were first off in the under 12's race on a very muddy course that was challenging for these young riders. Matt at one point lost both shoes in the mud and had to be helped by a marshel and myself to pull them out!! Jack on his 9th birthday had a fantastic ride and came home first in the under 10's - great ride. Matt finished as useual with a huge smile on his face, the course certainly didn't suit a small wheeled heavy mountain bike.
Then is was out on the course to dial it in prior to the off. My aim on the first lap is just to ride slow and take in the course, looking at the lines and hasards that might jump out and grab you when you race.
One lap was enough to cover my bike in thick sticky mud, leaves, grass and twigs so it was off the course to clean it and warm up on the carpark and paths. Great that there was also a hose pipe to aid the de-mudding.
A slight delay, as the volume of riders had caused a slight hold up with signing on and then we were off. 1 hour of slogging round a great course with unscheduled stops to clear mud etc from the frame and wheels. Oh how I envied the riders with second bikes and gallent pit crews cleaning and scraping them for the next lap.
Great support from family and friends kept me going, when many were stopping and calling it a day and they were enjoying the coffee, bacon butties and cake as they cheered and shouted encouragement.
A little disappointing to hear people complaining that the course was too muddy and that they had to run too many sections. I am new to cross but my understanding was that this is what it entails and the organisers cannot help the amount of water put down the week before an event.
Having watched some races where they have run almost the entire course I thought the criticism was a little unfair.
Overall I had a blast, I loved the layout of the course - yes it was muddy and it clogged the bikes up but it was the same for everybody. The organisation was excellent as was the music, food (great bacon butty well deserved) and the compare did a great job so hats off to them for a great event.
What it did show was for me I have a lack of running fitness, I struggled on the section near to the finish line which was a long run, (expect for Dave Haygarth who I watched ride most of it - top marks) losing places here only to get them back once back on the bike. So in order to progress we must address our weakness and that means I will now be scheduling some running into my training program!!!!