National MTB XC Championships

Race report from supported rider Marcus Holmes

A trip down to Hadleigh Farm in Essex (North bank of the Thames) showed that the heat hadn’t left! With the course taking a large bowl shape any heat didn’t really leave, so it just got hotter as the day progressed. As the weather had been like this for a few weeks prior it was extremely dry & dusty, so grip was needed to make it around without sliding all the way.

A very different course to previous years, with last years descents being used as climbs, resulting in climbing up steps and some technical descents being put in that I hadn’t done before, creating a techy course with no let up, and then there was the baking heat! I had a good practice session and decided to not take the fastest straight line through the rock garden as it was too risky and there was a high risk of crashing/ damaging the bike!

I had a good start but legs were soon low on power in the heat. I was struggling to hold the pace so slowed off as I had 5 laps to do. I was having a water bottle per lap and a cup of water to pour over myself at the other feed station- this really helped to cool off some of the heat before climbing back up to the pits and swapping a water bottle. I was also having to take the descents easy to avoid mistakes on the rocks and stay smooth to keep grip where it was possible. I held this pace for about 4 laps and pushed on during the last lap, catching the rider in 6th and managing to sprint past them and pull out a gap up the next hill, I had to hold this for a few minutes until I was back and into the finish for 6th. A reasonable result that I want to improve on for the last round of the series.

Many thanks to Lichfield CCC for supporting my coaching with Dig Deep & to the weekly chaingang

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