Well, this Friday gone (22nd May) was my second time racing the FNSS series – in previous years I had only raced the ones at Mallory Park. I traveled down to Delapre Park in Northampton with Oli, Nathan, Mary and Rob. The journey down was interesting, we only managed to drive into the park from the wrong entrance before heading back the way we came and retrying from the other side. I did spend most of the drive down drinking water and munching a few 9bars, they’re great when you don’t want anything too heavy but need to get some #goodenergytwice into your system!
I had heard that the course was good despite it being hosted on the side of a golf course – I’m always open to new courses, but flat grass courses do suck. I crossed my fingers it would be good, and it really was!
After getting changed into a skinsuit (why not, it’s only an hour…!) and knocking back a Beet It shot, I headed out onto the course to pre-ride. It was an awesome course! It started with a grass straight, into a choice of two chutes, a loamy doubletrack climb, then fun singletrack to a ditch crossing with the choice of a log “bridge” or some North Shore (which was faster, but trickier!). Lots of off-camber roots and twisty corners climbed up to a double jump, then tricky corners to a sharp leg busting climb and then twisty off camber roots and corners to the really really fast descent back down to the start.
I was really looking forward to the race, so set my Garmin to record Normalised Power for each lap, downed some Maxifuel Viper and lined up next to Richard Jones (of Renvale RT) and Dan Booth (of Hope Factory Racing). I didn’t count on hanging onto them long but it’s nice to actually line up next to National level Elite riders! The whistle went and despite some issues with worn cleats I was off and into the start. I felt good throughout the race and had the OK from my coach to give her some, so really put in the effort on the climbs and used the descents to get my breath back. Being a good descender I tried to make sure I didn’t get stuck behind people in the singletrack, even though this normally meant a big sprint at the end of a climb!
I had some great back and forth with a few riders throughout the race, chasing down and passing lots of riders, although being overtaken by one chap who eventually broke away when I came unstuck on a root! I tried a couple of new tactics throughout, one of which was to really put in a big sprint up a short hill unexpectedly in an attempt to get a rider off my tail. This worked really well – more than I thought it would. Other riders have done this to me in the past – it is easy to chase when you can see the rider in front, but when they break away you can’t seem to keep the same pace up!
Overall I finished 10th, and was really pleased with the race, average power was above my last recorded FTP – so that’s all good!