Team racers James and Tom headed up to Blandford Forum on the weekend for the 5th round of the Off Camber XC Race Series, after James’s disaster mechanical at Margam Park (stick into rear mech and spokes) he was fired up for another chance to take a win. This would be Tom’s first XC race since last summer so he was also anxious to see where he would finish up.
Read on for James’s report of the race…
Was an early 6am start for Hot Pursuit XC racers Tom and I as we loaded up the van and headed down the A35 to Blandford Forum in Dorset for Round 5 of the Off Camber Winter XC Series.The forecast was promising dry weather and sure enough as we got closer to Blandford the sun began to pierce through the foggy haze…crikey, could we actually be on for a dry race?
The temperature was still pretty chilly when we arrived at around 8am, sign on wasn’t open for another hour and neither of us had raced here before, so we decided to head out on the track for a practice lap to warm up and get any sneaky lines sorted.The track although not particularly technical was very wet and muddy and a lot of fun to ride so with our line choices and attack points dialled we headed to registration to get our race numbers.A quick change into fresh clothes followed by a jet wash of the bikes and it was soon time to head over to the start line. With a field of 73 riders split across various categories it was to be a rolling start down the tarmac driveway and then 3 laps of the 5 mile course.
So we head out following the lead bike, which after a short while peels off and it’s time to go full gas!I had put myself in a good position to get a great start and quickly snatched the lead. I attacked hard throughout the whole of the first lap and managed to extend the gap to Merida Factory Racing rider Paul Hopkins to around 16 secs whilst setting the fastest lap time of the day……but Paul is a super fast seasoned Pro and set about clawing back my lead during lap 2. I battled hard to resist but didn’t want to blow up so by the end of lap 2 he was on my back wheel and drafting me down the tarmac driveway.
We spent lap 3 trading places until towards the end when Paul was leading I decided if I was going to challenge for the win then I would need to send one up the inside and attack the final climb before the finish.So I went for it…..made my move and BOOM, washed out the front end and hit the deck hard with the bike (still clipped to my feet) arching over the top of me and landing on my head…looked up to see Paul glancing over his shoulder and riding off to take the win….Frantically got to my feet and jumped back on the bike only to find my chain was off and wrapped around my crank arm so by the time I was sorted I crossed the line 30 secs behind Paul.
So all in all a good days racing – really enjoyed my fight with Merida Factory Racing rider Paul Hopkins and in the end it was second place in the overall and 1st Junior. Hot Pursuit team mate Tom Dunn had a cracking ride finishing in 6th overall.Big thank you to Hot Pursuit Cycles for fixing up my bike from Margam and getting it all race ready and also to Off Camber for organising another great days racing, full results can be found here and lastly thank you to Eamonn Deane for supplying all the fab photos of this race – check out his blog here for a detailed report on the race!