At the beginning of the week it was looking like we'd not make it to the opening of the South West 'cross season in Kingsbridge, Devon. Poor John wouldn't be making the trip as his knees are giving him jip so we wouldn't be able to cadge a ride off him. Our car is still poorly so we didn't want to chance driving the 200mile+ round trip. Things were looking gloomy, until my very generous mother offered to lend us her car.
John's local knowledge was sorely missed on the journey. I'm a terrible navigator as my travel sickness renders me useless at map reading - if I look down for more than a few seconds, I instantly feel ill. Thankfully, with the borrowed car also came a loan of a Sat Nav. Unfortunately, it wasn't very useful (Now, I remembered why I gave this thing to my Mum a few months ago!) It had a terrible habit of barking orders at us - telling us to "TURN NOW" when in actual fact it meant turn in 50metres, which can be quite tricky when your turning onto narrow windy country lanes! Stupid Sat Nav added 30+ miles to our journey. We finally got there with a few minutes left for Mikey to sign on and get ready.
The location was stunning - an idyllic farm set in a deep sided Devonian valley. The weather was glorious - dry and sunny. The ground was dry and dusty - no mud in sight. The course was interesting - plenty of stiff climbs, fast descents, singletrack, bridges, across a farm yard and even a quick jaunt through someones well tendered back garden. Was this really cross racing?
At the start line I lost Michael in a sea of riders and he later informed me he was boxed in by kids on MTBs. Then they were off. The elite few flew off leaving the rest of the bunch jostling for position. The first lap was tense to watch as the riders were all packed in and bottle-necked at every hazard/obstacle. Thankfully by the 2nd lap the bunch started to string out and Michael started picking up the pace and moving himself up the field. He was smiling all the way round - apparently, his new Trek was riding impeccably and the switch to tubs was well worth the cost; the extra grip, handling and comfortable.
I spent the hour clambering through long grass and cow dung to find a good photo vantage point, but unfortunately, the sun was scuppering my chances to get that elusive good shot. On my travels, as I passed the "pit" I was horrified to see a Ted-A-Like lying unloved in the grass. How could anyone relegate such a beauty to be their second bike? It was criminal.
Anyway, as the end approached the laps seemed to get faster and by the final lap he went all out and picked up a few more places. He crossed the finish line with the biggest of grins on his face. Bring on the next round.