It's been 5 months since my last competitive mountain bike race and on rolling up at the Midlands XC race at the National Forest Mounatain Bike centre my nerves were at a level I've not experienced for a long time - but this is a bike race this is what I do! How hard can it be?  

Well this year I've made the educated decision to move back to Expert so just below elite with the young guys trying to get to the next level and most just racing and attacking without much in the way of tactics which after a few years in enduro racing is a little hard to get used to but like I said earlier "it's a bike race it's what I do!".   So upon arriving and catching up with everyone (which every year feels like the first day back in school) I headed for a practice lap and upon this  lap I had a revelation- this isn't a mountain bike course it's a cyclo cross course! But I have a 29er so happy days. Berms, table tops, double jumps, single track and steep little drags - this place had them all in buckets so  I was very happy smiley boy after practice - but come race time its a different matter. I had 5 laps of this 6km course so 30km of sprint after sprint after sprint after sprint, well you get the idea and after seeing the elite guys shoot off down the start straight it was my turn and somewhere between the rider pen and the grid I got swamped and found myself at the back.  In the melay at the start  I struggled to find my pedal and lost a little ground.  I'm always here to the end though so I just got my head down and chased back as we hit a sticky muddy drag. Flying into the berms and jumps in one mad fast flying line  I was giving everything and chased each wheel in front of me. As is the way with racing, before you know where you are your heart is beating at 190bp and your struggling for breath but this where the bike race instincts really kick in and your body starts to feel that familiar burn and ache which you have been missing for the last few months. 

The race itself was a great one for me as I was a little off form but fought as hard as I could and even got my fastest lap on the 3rd lap showing my stamina is good and my endurance training is working well. I was happy to finish a few mins down in 15th place but still its a start, a finish and something to build on for the next few months of racing,training and generally dragging Chloe around the UK.  

So on reflection I'm a happy boy and can't wait for 2012 to really kick off and the racing to get serious, bring on the battle and let's see how many peolpe we can Derail along the way.   Corby

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