Monday, 4 November 2013

Broomstick Bash, 2nd Nov 2013

A pitch-dark night. A field in the forest in the middle of nowhere. Dozens of cars driving up tiny black lanes, through some concealed gate and parking all in one place. Some dodgy spooky Halloween assembly? Or mountain bikers meeting up for a night race?

At first it seemed that I was the only Expert female rider but a few minutes before the start the ladies from the registration tent told me there was another one just signed up: Emily Iredale. Well, Emily wasn't going to impact my race in any way, she will probably drop me in the first 5 minutes and I'll never see her again :) Because Emily rides in Elite. To me, she's one of those big riders (although she's small) whose names I see on a regular basis and who I may meet from time to time in the arena. But not during the races.

All the women from all categories started together, after all the men had set off. Unsurprisingly, Emily opened a gap in the first second after the whistle but I soon caught up with her. She was much better at overtaking other riders (I must learn that!) so I kept losing her and then had to work hard to catch up again. But I eventually managed to stick to her wheel and I stayed there for good.

The course which seemed quite boring during the practice lap suddenly turned out to be interesting when ridden at high speed. Flat, slightly muddy, with some slippy roots and a lot of twists, lots of fun actually.
An idea crossed my mind a few times that maybe I should try and attack her but I quickly brought myself down to Earth. You're sitting on Emily Iredale's wheel, it's more than you'd expected, get yourself together and enjoy what you have! Emily rides beautifully, very smoothly, picking nice lines and retaining the speed, so it really was enjoyable to be able to ride with her and watch her for an hour.

When we hit the field for the last time I decided to give it a go anyway, I sprinted to overtake her and get into the last U-turn before her. The stretch seemed to be much shorter than on the previous laps and I almost ran out of space there, Sean told me later that they all thought I was going to overcook it and end up somewhere in the middle of the car park. But I managed to brake in time, to get into the corner first and sprint to the finish line.

Now, I don't know if Emily was really racing last night, or was she just riding around, enjoying the night and watching fireworks (yes, there were fireworks during the race!). It really doesn't mater to me, I raced with Emily Iredale, I stayed on her wheel the whole race and I outsprinted her at the finish! Woohoo! :D

Oh, and it turned out Emily was actually riding in Elites anyway :)

Photo from sports-alive photography (

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