Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Nationals, Rnd.2 - Wheal Maid Valley, Redruth, Cornwall

photo by: Andy Whitehouse

First impression: The best XC course I've ridden in the UK.
Second impression: I'm moving to Cornwall.

I missed the last year's race in Cornwall for some reason that I no longer remember and listening to other people's comments I knew I'd need to ride it this year.
We arrived to Reruth on Saturday afternoon and I liked the course the moment I saw it. We did 1.5 practice laps and Sean raced in Open category and finished 3rd (after being hold up on the first lap and chasing the front guys for the remaining three laps). His first finished race of the year - seems like his illness is gone and the condition is coming back, I hope to join him in that soon!

Having been either ill or on holidays for the last month, I didn't expect much of myself but silently hoped that the technicality of the course will put me at the advantage. We were to do 6 laps, so I prepared for 2hrs+ of fun. I started not too bad and overtook a few girls in the field before we got to the singletrack, rode with the fast ones down the hill and then got overtaken by a few on the climb, to no surprise really.
There was quite a lot of climbing (nearly 900m total) but I could hardly feel it and it didn't hurt at all (I probably should have pushed harder so) - with the beautiful views of the quary, the course visible far ahead on the other side of the valley, and with fast, technical, sketchy, rolling, berm-y, rooty, rocky, steep descents - the climbs were well rewarded.
I finished the first lap ahead of my team-mate Anna Cipullo but then slowed down a bit on the climb and she pushed ahead. I was making up quite a lot of time on the three technical sections, where I was taking A lines and gaining approx. 10 seconds on each one over the girls who took B lines, and I was enjoying it so much that I kept forgetting it was a race!
Sean going down the second drop.
After finishing the 3rd lap I felt like I could start pushing a little bit harder, I felt recovered from the first lap sprinting effort, memorised the whole course and relaxed on the descents covering them smoother and faster and I could see that I slowly started closing a gap on Ruby Miller from Torq who was by then positioned between me and Anna. And then, at the bottom of the first long climb of the course, my cranks suddenly spun free almost sending me over the bars - the chain snapped! A run up the hill it was so. Or rather, a trot.
And one rider after another overtook me...

I rode the bike down the swoopy trail with berms and even considered going down the steep rocky drop but with cranks spinning free it was a bit too risky so I opted for the B line, pushing with one leg my provisory scooter. I rode down the seconds steep drop and after 2.5km eventually reached a feed zone where thanks to a fantastic crew my bike was soon put into working order again (guys, you could easily compete with the Formula 1 pit crew! Thank you!).
By that time I was obviously last and far behind anybody from my category but being able to ride another lap of that fantastic course was worth the run.
And seeing how many people crashed and got punctures (our Snakeskin Schwalbe tyres worked great!), I was glad that at least I managed to ride. The consistent lap-times are also a good sign of the body getting back to form - hopefully I'll make it before the end of the season. I rode all the A lines (no photos though) which was fun :)
And seriously, I want to move to Cornwall.

Thanks to Fully Fussed for the course - the A/B lines were really good, they required skills and not only balls and rewarded those riders who had it as there was a real time difference between them (which sometimes is not the case). Nonetheless, if you weren't fit enough, no skills could save your day and you were beaten on the climbs. Fitness + skills = XC :)
And thanks for the Saturday beer, food and entertainment - the karaoke will not be forgotten quickly ;)
Thanks to Anna, Crispin and Sean for great time and for the guys' definite "Don't look at it, just ride it" and their feed-zone service.


photo from:

photo from:

photo by: Andy Whitehouse

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