"Okay, the format is 20 minutes plus one lap".......... Shouldn't be tooooo bad.....(eek!)
The race is a bit undersubscribed, the lack of publicity being reflected in the tiny field but I'm here for a range of reasons, not just racing. This is the first race of the year for me, a chance to check on how the training is going. It also doubles as a nice intensity session. :-)
The horn goes and I'm off. The bloke to the left of me edges forward a little bit, having reacted quicker to the horn but I put the power down and edge ahead and enter the first corner first. A quick sprint then we're into the first section of singletrack.
I've been riding here regularly since last summer, at least once a week in the last couple of months so I know this place pretty well. Where to pick up speed, where to back off, the looser corners and the tight gaps between trees..... that said I slam into a set of roots every single lap and feel the impact right through my right arm and shoulder. Not good, but I deal with it. The singletrack sections are tight enough to restrict your speed, so I have to get my jey on and hammer it between sections.
Anyway, I get through the section and hit the tight bend into the next. The next section has a wee north shore platform but its taped off, so I go round the wider corner, through more twists then out.
Now, I'm taken from the singletrack and round a short grass loop. Its a chance to pick up some speed and open up a gap, so I hammer round then re-enter the singletrack.
I sprint in and take the corners. The next piece of shore is taped off so I have to stay to the side and hop the roots. Before I know it, I'm out of the singletrack again and its a grass sprint to the start/finish line.
The lap is just over three minutes so it looks like I'll have to do six before the bell lap. I man up and pin it.
Lap 2(?) brings two bursts of evasive action to avoid hitting people on the course. I'm told afterwards that one group were in pursuit of a bike thief! The other was just stupid. Spookily, a marshal appears at the site of the second near-collision from that lap onwards.
I lap the last placed rider on lap 4. Lap 5 brings a little bit of fatigue and leg cramp, so I try and wolf down a gel on the straight before the first singletrack. The sachet tears badly and I cover my cheek and glove in gel. I try and get some into my mouth and eventually succeed, then stick the sachet in my pocket. There's still some in the sachet though so I now have a gel-covered pocket too.
Lap six finished at 19 mins 40 and David (SC rep type) advised that there was just one lap to go, so one last burst of speed was needed.
I put everything I have left into it and try to get as fast a final lap as I can in and, before I know it, its over.
So, about 23-ish minutes of flat out effort, a fair bit of fun and one unexpected outcome....