Behind The Tape – Cross Country Racing

Yesterday 26th March 2017 saw the first round of the Nutcraker MTB Racing Series hosted at Dalby Forest (my local training ground)

The race took place on the 2010/2011 UCI MTB World Cup Course, a course that was rated one of the best of the circuits that the riders had rode in both seasons.. Not a race to miss!

With it being my local I had hours both coaching on the course and also training, knowing the course inside and out, every corner, every rock. I am lucky enough to have it on my door step and definitely make the most of it!

Leading up to the event I was super stoked to get to race so close to home, a few weeks leading up to the event I had got my Edge Piccolo 29R race bike build back up after stripping the bike down and putting it away for the Winter. This year I had build the Edge back up with lots of Hope technology finishes, which we are lucky enough to be sponsored by. The build included Hope Tech 3 X2 candy blue brakes with the matching candy blue rotors, a candy blue Hope crankset that was finished off with an upgraded 11 speed SRAM X01 groupset. It’s safe to say it look and performed awesomely. I couldn’t wait to get out and race the weapon.

My training and times were good leading into the event, improvement to be made but a good base fitness and some speed there .. Bike was ready, I was really excited to kick the season off. And then .. With only a week before the first race I got tonsillitis, I was gutted. Off to the docs and they put me straight on antibiotics, last thing I wanted. But, fitness, injuries and mechanicals are all part of the sport which make it even more harder (It’s never an easy ride). Our bodies are like fine tuned engines, if there’s a leak, a miss fire or something isn’t working right we can’t perform to our full potential! This means when I rebuild my engine I need to fine tune all the necessary pieces to make sure it gets back up to speed promptly.

So for this race, I was behind the tape. The feeling of going to a race and not pinning a number board on is very strange, no nervous feelings, adrenalin or fear.. Just smiles, laughter and coffee! I always have my dad for support when we go racing, he travels around the country with me but as most races are on a Sunday he has missed out on lots of Sunday rides also being a keen Mountain Bike rider. Last year he decided he could take to the start line when we are at Regional races. Racing in the morning, in the fun category so he could be around for my race. So at Dalby instead of him supporting, it was me giving him grief from the side of the course … Great fun! It was good seeing my old man putting all these youngsters to shame, finishing just 5th.. Next aim, podium.

The atmosphere throughout the day was super, the sunshine was beaming, the music making me want to dance, everyone was enjoying themselves .. Both spectators and competitors, rides were loving the dry course (even kicking dust up in some places). It was a great day, I also realised you can have as much fun spectating as you can racing .. although I’d rather be racing of course! It was awesome watching No Limits Coached riders enjoying themselves and great catching up with them after their races.

The main race – Elites, Experts, Junior and sport were taking to the start for the 11:30 start (the race which I would of been in) At this point I was hiding behind a tree in the distance surround by a pool of tears! The first race to kick off was the Elites, Experts and Juniors. It was a rapid start with my good friend and training buddy Tom Ramsey (Giant York) getting the hole shot. However was soon overtaken by a very fast Paul Oldham (Hope Factory Racing) who took the lead from start to finish in the elite race, looking very strong and looking like he’s in for a good season. It was great to watch the race unfold and awesome watching lots of different races within a race. It was James Edmond (Mountain Goat Coaching) who took to the front of the Expert race, closely followed by Tom Ramsey for the first couple of laps but just loosing James’s wheel. James then opened a gap to take a solid win. I would of loved to be in there mixing it up with everyone and seeing where my fitness was but unfortunately my only involvement in the race was shouting ‘Go on lads, well done’.

We couldn’t stay for the last race of the day unfortunately as I had a lot of champagne waiting for me and lots of celebrating to do … It was my 21st so I couldn’t stick around watching bike racing all day, as much as I didn’t want to I had to go consume lots of alcohol and wake up with a bad head!!!! 😉

I hope you’ve all enjoyed my day spent behind tape watching XC racing but I’m hoping the next blog you read will be a detailed insight to my first race of the season. For now it’s goodbye from me (Ben Owner of No Limits Cycling).

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