RACE REPORT: 5by3 grassroots race at St Felix, Southwold

It’s been a fair while since I last raced, but what a nice way to get myself back into the swing of things!

Over the February half term I was down in Suffolk completing my Level 1 British Cycling coaching qualification – and rather handily I spotted that I was only 30 minutes drive from a local race series that had had good recommendations previously. For only 15 pounds I thought it had to be worth a spin!

I didn’t take my Kingdom race bike down with me as I was still waiting on some brand ESI Fit CR grips for it – I’ve taken the opportunity to change the colour scheme to match my Team 9Bar kit a bit more, but info on that later!

As a result I had the choice of racing my 650B OnOne Inbred (set up singlespeed 34/18) with suspension forks, or my rigid Kinesis Decade Virsa. I didn’t have loads of time available to pre-ride and decide, so a quick chat with the ever cheerful Anna, (the talent behind From the Pits) informed me that neither suspension nor gears were really needed on the course! Due to the flattish course and the fact the singlespeed is set up for the rather hillier Midlands I grabbed a couple of 9bars and the rigid bike and headed out for a lap.

Bearing in mind the course was set up in the grounds of a school, I wasn’t expecting much, but the guys at Push Sport really had done themselves proud. The course was short (so we did 10 laps) but very fun. It was extremely twisty with a mix of open grass (CX style), woody singletrack, a bit of a go-kart course and a little bit of elevation too.

As I hadn’t brought a proper race bike I decided to start at the back and use the race as a workout to get some overtaking practice in. When it came time to line up I saw none other than Darren Evans and Chris Harley lining up at the front. Chris has been an old rival of mine for ages so I thought a particularly good goal would be to try and bridge up to Chris by the end of the race. The gun went off and I spent the first two laps overtaking (in the most English way possible – “On your right when it’s safe, please! Thank you!“) before settling into a good rhythm and using the time to pick off riders as they came up. About five laps in I started bridging up to Darren who seemed to be having trouble with his leg (he had mentioned in the car park that he had been having issues but decided to race anyway). This spurred me on and over the next two laps I started getting ever closer to Chris in his new HKR skinsuit.

Just as I got within a bike length I took a corner a little too hard and sprayed dirt over the side of the course as my front wheel lost traction and threw me and the bike into the mud. Jumping up I quickly straightened the bars, dusted myself off and got back on to see Chris gaining time. Within the rest of the lap I got back in touch and overtook with a lap spare! Hurray! Now just wanting to finish the race I got my head down and crossed the line 11th overall and 9th Senior Male.

As I’d only headed up for a bit of fun and as a training ride I wasn’t too bothered about results, but it’s still nice to know that even starting from the back and on my training bike I can achieve a reasonable position! It also was great to show that the hard work I have been putting in over winter with the help of the ever lovely Melissa at Potential Energy has really been paying off.

Here’s hoping it will be a good indicator of racing this season, with the first Midlands XC later this month.

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