Fred, Edith, Karen and Seb returned to the New Forest for the Crow Hill round of the Southern XC. This was also the Regional Championship round.
The kids were up first on a course that included loamy descents, off-camber sections, roots and a technical climb with logs to hop over.
Fred had a good start and went into the technical sections in 2nd. Unfortunately Fred had a crash, allowing a few riders through. This led to another crash and Fred slipped down to 7th. Chasing hard, Fred fought back up to 6th, but couldn’t bridge back to the first 5 and finally finished 6th. Edith rode well, cleaned most of the sections bar the technical climb, and rode strongly to finish 7th. Well done!
Karen hadn’t raced any xc at all this year, but decided to enter this one as it was the Regional Champs. Getting off to a good start, Karen slotted into 2nd place behind Four4th rider Sam. Sam’s good technical downhill speed saw her pull away through the singletrack, only to be pulled back on the climbs. Karen stayed patient and towards the end of lap 2 put in a big effort on the climb to the arena to gap Sam moving into the final lap. Keeping it full gas, Karen extended the gap and rode to her first xc win and the Regional Vet Championship! Yay!.
I raced next in Open Men. But due to the short gap between the ladies races and mine, I was neither warmed up or on the grid at the right time. I lined up last of 55. Off the line I buried myself on the opening arena and double track sections to pass as many as possible before recovering in the first bit of singletrack. Without a warm-up, I felt horrible, but knew that by the end of lap 1 I’d be feeling ok, I pushed on hard, bridging from group to group and passing as many riders as possible. The many short climbs helped too as they offered passing places as riders in front slowed. Lap 2 continued in a similar manner, but I felt better and was able to sustain longer efforts between groups as the field strung out. On lap 3, the number of riders I passed dropped until coming into the last climb, I latched onto a pair of riders. Recovering from the effort to catch them, I sat on through the switchbacks, then on the final climb to the finish straight, I pulled out to the left and put another effort into drop them both. Except I hadn’t dropped them both and the Offcamber Team rider was on my wheel. Now we were on the finishing straight and we were in for a sprint. I unloaded with everything I had, and just held on to take 26th place by half a wheel. That’s the hardest 26th place I’ve had!
All in – a great morning’s racing in a beautiful venue.