SXC race

Many years ago I entered a cross country mountain bike race at Thetford and hated every second of it. Since then, I've been saying I hate mtb racing but lately I've wondered if that was really true and if perhaps I'd just had a bad experience.

I've spent a lot of this year 'about to enter' one of the Scottish xc series races but never quite plucked up the courage to do it until yesterday. Even in the car on the way up to Perth, I was still ready to turn round at any point and still unsure which to enter out of the the Open or the Sport category. Finally, I plumped for the Open on the basis that it was a tenner cheaper and if I hated it I only had to do two laps anyway!

I'm glad I met Elke in the carpark and she persuaded me it was wise to do a practice lap. I very quickly found the 'steep bits' she'd mentioned and opted to walk down them. Then I found the cliff-edge she'd actually been talking about and wondered whether I'd even be able to walk down it. Ummm...and we're meant to be racing down this stuff? What, all of us at the same time?

Luckily some fantastic singletrack helped get my head back together and reminded me that I love mountain biking and love my super xc bike. So I whizzed round the rest of the course and, with deep breaths, slotted myself into position at the start line and started wishing it was over.

I've never been one for fast starts (I need at least 40miles to warm up) so seeing everyone in the big ring at the outset was a bit unnerving. I gave it my best shot though and charged on for the first ten minutes. I rode all the 'original' scary steep stuff then stopped short in front of the photographer at the cliff edge with 'I just can't do it', pulled my bike to the side and watched in dismay as lots of old blokes piled down it. Hmmm... need to learn. I spent the rest of the lap fighting to overtake the same people and by the time the start line came round again I was absolutely buzzing. I love xc and I WILL ride the cliff on lap two...
And I did...

But I picked up so much speed I was absolutely terrified and couldn't get round the next corner. So instead I shot off into the trees and descended on my stomach. Lucky it was so steep or I might have hurt myself! Anyway, I managed to pick myself up and control my shaking enough to get back on the bike and race round the rest of the course. I went from wishing it was over to wisihing it wouldn't end, what a great course! Lots of tough hills but that's what I train for and I managed to overtake some of the girls in the sport category who'd started before the Open cat.

I am gutted I can't make the other two sxc races this year but I will definitely be back next year. And my shiny 1st place trophy is on the mantlepiece to remind me. I don't care if there was only 2 of us in the Open femal category, I bet plenty of men and I just can't help it if not enough girls enter! I'm pleased I made it down the scary bit second time round and so I think I earned the right to be proud of my first Scottish xc.

T-5 days to Morzine!


Charlie said…
Brilliant post Elizabeth and well done on the 1st place. 1st is 1st is 1st!
trio said…
I recommend not mentioning how many were in the category ;-) Although girls races are always harder, girls tend to only enter when they are a reasonable standard!

Still now you are a winner you'll want to win more!
Elizabeth A said…
Yes, I think that's true Trio, loads of the guys were there with their mates for a fun day out whereas the girls looked more like they were there in a 'racing' mindset.
Yes, I want more trophies :)
kate said…
brill! it's always a shame that more women don't do this stuff. but i doubt you would/could have done any different. well done :)

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