British Championships

Racer’s Tales are my FAVOURITE posts over to Meike… Ed.
Glentress British XC

We arrived 11:30, sharp. Course practice opened at 12 although I still had to
receive my chip, number board and have time to blether to whomever I met on
my way!
After I stored my racing accessories away, I set off towards the crowded event
village. I had organized to go around with some of the other speedy Scottish girls
and once we had said hello to everyone we headed out.

The start loop was in the field opposite the Peel café, where we would be sent
around and then up into the forest. This was where we would encounter our first
steep climb and inevitably where the race would be strung out. The narrow
single track and slippery roots would provide a great challenge. Once summiting
this ascent, the course jolted right sending us through some swoopy berms
towards our first A-line: a large log plonked across the trail. We conquered the A-
line first try by lifting our front wheels followed by our rear wheels in one
smooth motion.
With little hesitation, we continued down the single track towards the fire road.
This 200m straight provided the optimum opportunity for a desired drink or a
sharp effort! With this in mind we entered the next section of single track, where
we would face our next A/B-line dilemma. This A-line was a steep descent,
followed by a sharp left at the bottom. The surface was loose and as I came down
it, I almost lost my front wheel to a hidden root.
The next section was less technical but equally as fun, blue single track. With two
out of the five A-lines completed, we approached the third. This was ultimately
the most challenging. Riders had to master a snappy climb before coming to a
comparatively large drop. There were two ways of overcoming this feature:
staying close to the right and rolling down it or descending it. I opted for the first,
less-risky option.
From here the course carried on in the form of a long, arduous fire road that then
divided into another A/B-line. This A-line was similar to the second one but just
slightly longer. We all made it down with no issues and made our way to the final
technical feature on the course. This feature was a demanding rock garden which
was tricky in the dry and with rain forecast for Sunday, it was going to make the
race ever more interesting. The course finished on a walking path before it
joined back onto the field, where we would be starting.
After our initial siting lap we thought it would be smart to do a slightly faster lap
before calling it a day. With exams scheduled for both Monday and Tuesday I
needed to carefully balance my time for both cycling and revision.
The alarm went at 6:30 and I made my way to the kitchen, still half asleep. My
morning ritual of an apple and blueberry porridge pot was on standby. I often
find breakfast unappealing on race days and Sunday was no different. The nerves
and pressure that come with racing is all part of the package; much to my dismay

you just have to get on with it. So, I ate as much as I could before I before
finishing it off with half a pint of orange juice. We departed soon after and
unfortunately the weather overnight had taken a turn for the worst.
Glentress was swarmed and possessed the usual nervous buzz that races often
bring and which my own anxiety contributed to greatly. I set out my rollers and
began my typical 20-minute British Cycling warm up. The rain was easing off and
it looked like our race would be dry – a miracle. I dismounted from my rollers
and made my way to the encircling group of racers. I always think of sharks
psyching their prey devious and threatening. My tyres were awfully hard and
with the added moisture on the trails, I thought it would be best to release some
pressure. As I twisted the valve, disaster struck, the whole valve came out and all
the air confined in my rear tyre escaped. I cursed under my breath, how could I
have been so clumsy? Thankfully Eliza and Pete from P.C.C. were on hand to help
and effortlessly helped me to resolve my near miss. Adrenalin fuel, I made my
way to the start where I was gridded in the front line.

Moments later the whistle blew and we were off. My start was probably one of
the best I have ever produced and as we entered the forest, I slotted into 5 th
place.

The first A line went smoothly and soon I was at the back of a group of
three. I remained on the tail of fourth place all the way to the next fire road. I
attacked breaking away from the group. A big risk considering we weren’t even
half way through the first lap. I knew the fire road was long, so I put my head
down and stared at the ground moving beneath me, ignoring my screaming legs.
I approached the top of the hill and couldn’t resist glancing behind to see if I had
done any damage. Nobody was in sight. I couldn’t believe it; hills, which had been
my greatest enemy, had now helped me to create a gap. I completed my first lap
and emerged into the starting field in 3 rd place. I still felt relatively strong
heading out for my second lap with no threats in close proximity. All I needed
now was to remain at the same pace up all the hills and hope nobody would
catch me. As I finished the last big fire road climb, I couldn’t believe it. I
anticipated a top 5 this season and with 6 th place in both previous British rounds,
a podium never really came to mind. All I needed to do was not crash. However
as I approached the final descent my legs began to cramp up. I took in some more
electrolytes and tried to be as streamlined as possible coming down the fire road.
The finish was in sight. I entered the field for the last time and to my amazement,
finished the race in third.

I am so grateful for the help from everyone at Riderz that aided my success.
Without the support and encouragement the club has provided to perform your
best, I very much doubt I would be able to stand on that podium in Riderz kit. I
hope that this is the first of many national podiums!

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