Not since the heyday of XC racing in the nineties has
hosted a round of the World Cup. It's fair to say that in comparison to the staid Newnham Park venue of old (come on, the Pipeline descent?!), Dalby well represents the evolution of XC courses – technical descents, technical climbs and, at the England UCI's behest, a clover leaf format which allows the appreciative crowds not one but TWO glimpses of their boys in lycra.
The night before the race - when I figure healthy eating makes no odds to your prospects - comprised Tapas in nearby
followed by a boys night in: Ben and Jerrys, Mrs Crimble's coconut macaroons and an awful Rene Zellweger film. Woop. Pickering
Come race day conditions were perfectly dry and not too hot, so no need for a last minute tyre change from the trusty Aspens (also used by star attraction for the day, race winner and past World Cup winner, Geoff Kabush of
). Following my 46th position from round one I was gridded towards the back so the aim was not only to avoid being lapped but also to improve on 46th so that I'd benefit from a better ranking for round three. Canada
Fifty odd riders isn't much compared to the heady days of '90s XC but on a singletrack-heavy course like this a poor start means being strung a long way from the leaders. The expected bottleneck came at the first sign of a rocky feature where the courteous mugs like me waited for the congestion to ease whilst the heated racesnakes bypassed us on their cheeky little detours. Through the middle part of the race I found myself yo-yoing with George Budd (Salsa Racing), with Matt Page (recently crowned
and European 24hr Champ) never far behind. Racing UK of the weekend was clearing the climb for the first time in ~14 attempts and two years of trying. Unfortunately the time gained over the chicken run (who'd have thought, uphill chicken runs) was soon lost as the adrenaline ebbed away! Towards the end the strength of George and Matt showed as they steadily pulled away, reminding me of another area of training that needs addressing. Still, 31st in a foreign flavoured field isn't all bad. high point
Thanks again to Hotlines and Ghost and also Barry Camel for his weekend edit (below).