Saturday morning and off to race again, two weekends on the trot, a rare treat.
In the week , no bike time and a trip to London for meetings and install and collection of machines was not the best prep, but it did nothing to diminish my enthusiasm for the trip to Liverpool.
Another eager beaver was crossjunkie, who was doing the driving duties and was knocking on my door half an hour early - good job i was packed and ready to go!
This did afford us a very relaxed approach to the event, signing on as the portaloo arrived, we were a little worried we might have to stump the cash up to pay for it - man they aren't cheap to hire! Bikes set up, changed and off to inspect the course without a rush or worry to be seen.
We then had an hour of amused course finding, are we going in the right direction? do you think we go here or should we be over there? Others were having the same trouble navigating, at least the police helicopter must have been amused by the sight.
Back to the car for food, drink, change of clothes and bike washing.
After recent courses this was a complete change, a long lap with it pretty much all ride able, off cambers, mud, great descents and some good climbs that tested your ability to maintain traction.
The event was well organised and results came out quickly which is always a bonus for riders.
A mixed bag for the Belgians, Alan punctured early with a long run to the pits for his second bike, his race was effectively over, Duncan was looking good and another mid pack finish. I was riding the best race ever despite the lack of bike time, until the time spent loading 250kg machines onto a lorry paid its toll. With 2 laps to go my lower back was in agony and i was struggling to maintain my pace, shouldering the bike and running were out of the question and I lost 5 or six places on the last lap. In fact i slowed down hoping the leader would come past so i didn't have to do another lap.
There is a lot of time and effort put into organising events for us to compete at, different courses present different challenges, which over a season should allow all riders the chance to ride a course that suits their style. The overall winner should have proven their ability and mastery of all courses. So please stop complaining about the courses, enjoy the variety and accept the fact that some will suit you more than others. After listening to riders moan about the amount of running, too hear moans of "not enough off bike time" was amazing!! Just goes to show you can't please everybody.
My only gripe would be in scheduling of events. Two races on one weekend is out of the question for a lot of riders, family commitments, kit etc all play there part in allowing time to race. We are now faced with a gap of three weeks (for those not doing the nationals) then season over.
Would it not make sense to schedule races more evenly and have a longer season? With the increase in attention the sport is getting it is a good time to sit down and take stock and plan the future of the sport.