oneeighteleven – finals pt.2
After a good showing in my last Champs race I still had the final National Points Series race to go before wrapping up the season. After a disaster at Dalby I still needed one more good result to secure my overall position in the Series as well as nailing down a decent ranking…
Back in March I’d already raced two Eastern XC races but my season started for real at Sherwood Pines which hosted round 1 of the National Points Series. The trails were most dry and the speed was fast – I was gridded pretty much dead last and made my way up through the other racers to finish in 17th. A top 20 was the aim so I was pretty pleased with 17th but the best bit was just the fun I had racing –the trails were top notch and I was overtaking people!
Being gridded on the 2nd row at Dalby made a massive difference and I flew through the first section before a puncture pretty much ended my race – a big disappointment but you can’t sit around and cry about it. My results in the Eastern Points Series were good and I was looking forward to the trip to Scotland for round 3. Glentress was bonkers tough but after plenty of sighting laps I was feeling more confident. 21st position doesn’t sound like much but it was never going to be my course and I’d now thoroughly put the disappointment of Dalby to bed.
As I kept up a string of decent results in the Eastern Series I was just outside the top 3 and the weather was hotting up along with the racing. Phoenix Bike Park hosted Round 4 of the National Series and on a stinking hot day I was struggling with one of the most unlikely XC courses I’ve ever raced on. 18th and back in the top 20 got me back in contention but I needed to find that extra magic again before the last round – Bulith Wells.
A top 20 at the champs was all well and good but I’d continued to train hard for the trip to Wales. I was well down in the overall due to my Dalby result but I knew that I could leapfrog plenty of riders with a good ride at round 5 (the series result is based on the best 4 rounds). I spent Saturday riding lap after lap to try and get all the lines perfect and forced myself to ride all the A-lines which were really making a big difference. I’d brought a lot of confidence with me from the champs race at Hadleigh and it was paying off – crucially I was having fun again.
On the morning of the race I was nervous which is rare these days for me – then in the tent next to us I overheard a racer telling her boyfriend that he just had to go out and race, he’d done all the training he could and now he just needed to go out there, enjoy it and ride. She could have been talking straight to me and as she’d just won the Junior race, in the National Champs jersey, I figured she knew what she was talking about. Cheers for the pep-talk Hattie even if it wasn’t aimed at me, but she was right – just get out there and ride.
So “out-there” I went and straight away from the gun we were smashing each other to bits – clearly everyone was feeling a bit like me and they wanted to make it count, but one thing that really pissed me off is being flicked on those first few corners. What those riders doing the flicking probably didn’t realise was that I use that anger as energy and they’d basically just painted massive targets on their backs as far as I was concerned – one by one I leapfrogged them up the order as I progressed forward.
As the race settled down, I started getting more and more confident – where I’d felt weak in the middle of the season I now felt strong and in control. I’d removed the pressure from myself and this began to show on and off the bike – I was enjoying racing again! Bouncing off rocks and leaping off drop-offs I was making up heaps of ground from my grid position and was pretty sure I’d made it into the top 15 for the first time this year, dispatching those riders that were overly keen at the beginning one by one. My final lap was my quickest and I really didn’t want it to end. I still gained one more place on that final lap to finish my best race of the season in 13th place and secure a top 15 in the series – hot, tired, but buzzing.
Massive thank-you to my biggest supporter for making the trek to Wales (and most of the other races too), to help me – Pip’s soigneuring and coaching has made a big difference this year.
Two final Eastern races were the cherry on the cake as I made my way firmly onto the Series podium and these also helped secure my 13th place in the National ranking, but that day in Wales will be a day to remember. I’ve had a few shit races this year, but that day everything just felt right – a great end to the year.
Rd. 1- Sherwood Pines – 17th
Rd. 2 – Dalby- 32nd
Rd. 3 – Glentress – 21st
Rd. 4 – Phoenix – 18th
National Champs – Hadleigh – 19th
Rd. 5 – Bulith Wells – 13th
Overall National Points Series – 15th
Overall National Ranking – 13th
Overall Eastern Series – 3rd
Photos by “Roots and Rain”, Pip Jenkins and Cameron Preece.
Glen rides for the.æight.bicycle.cøllective and Southborough & District Wheelers. He races mountain bikes, road bikes, TT and ‘cross at local and national level and is currently racing his 15th season. He receives personal support from Helly Hansen, the.æight.bicycle.cøllective, Wildside Cycles, Four4th Lights, Schwalbe, Lazer Helmets and CeramicSpeed.
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