With a small budget team there is a lot of behind the scenes work which many people don’t appreciate has to be done, especially on a two day race weekend. With no mechanic there is bike cleaning, maintenance, and race prepping; kit cleaning and sorting; and then preparing all bottles and Torq energy products. Add this in after annihilating yourself for over 1.5 hours while also trying to recover for the same thing the next day, and you realise there is a lot more to racing than the race itself.
The weather forecast had predicted a deluge on Sunday so we were prepared for a carnage fuelled mud fest for the second race of the weekend. There had also been quite a bit of rain on Saturday afternoon and over night, but despite the threatening clouds the monsoon never came and the track held up well. In the end the conditions were only marginally more slippery than the day before.
On the start line in the same gridding, same time, same riders, same weather, there was certainly a sense of déjà vu. Going off the day before I decided to attack the first climb more this time to try and make up as many positions as possible whilst everything was close together. I managed to execute it fairly well, but given how narrow the track was and difficult it was to pass, I wasn’t able to open the engine up as much as I would have liked. With a very similar story to Saturday, I was just lacking a little top end and made too many mistakes, but 12th place, two better than the day before is a good place to build from. I also reminded myself that for the first races back from a serious injury it was a solid performance.
Hamish again took to a diesel start, pacing his way up, gradually but effectively speeding past the riders in front. By the mid point of the race he was really charging up and closing in on 8th position, only to have his seatpost break with two and a half laps to go. This required a lengthily pit stop to make it ridable before resuming the action. With such a hiatus at that stage in the race there wasn’t enough time to work back through again, but he still took a solid 11th none the less. Frustrating but real positives from the way he was riding up until the mechanical. Apart from the good level he clearly had over the weekend a small victory he was able to take away was first hardtail finisher on both days, it really was so rough that about 90% of the field opted for the fully!
Certainly nobody was riding the course totally clean, and although frustrating at times when you just wanted to put the power down a little finesse was what was required – it was great practice to ride and race such a track.
It was a top weekend of racing, and for me personally being back on the start line and practicing the course with Hamish for the first time since the 13th April was incredible.