My pale legs have started developing their 2014 tan lines. The sun has come out to play over the last couple of days, and it is forecast to stay cloud free until Friday. Yey! With temperatures in the mid teens, it’s a perfect excuse to don shorts and jersey for training and racing.
In the week my father and I managed to encourage my brother to race in the Off Camber XC event, so after a training trip with him to Avon Tyrell MTB track yesterday, he was feeling a little tired and sore before the race got started!
Jack is a foot-orienteer, but due to work he no longer exercises much in the weekdays. He is skinny and lightweight, and apparently has a natural talent for mountain biking! With a bit of MTB riding to build confidence, and some core training he will improve quickly. He finished his two laps looking worse-for-wear but enjoyed it.
The Off Camber Winter XC Series are 7 events over the ‘winter’ months around Inside Park in Blandford. They are moderately low-key but manage to attract a good field of elite and veteran men. The women typically have 10 competitors, which is good considering the total start field hovers around 70. The format is simple; a rolling mass start down the road, before a 3 lap XC race. Once the leading male laps competitors, they can stop at the finish even if it is only after 1 or 2 laps. Laps times are 21 minutes ish for the men and 28 minutes ish for the leading women. The course itself has a smile inducing balance between fireroad climbs (that feel more alpine in nature after 3 laps) and plenty of twisty, turny, rooty and droppy singletrack. It’s just fun. Plain and simple.
Standing on the start line I felt positively childlike with my 26’er wheels dwarfed by all the 29’ers! Riding up the first climb I was overtaken by Heidi Gould, 3rd placed woman in the finish. I jumped onto her wheel but she was able to ride fast thanks to the 29’er. Once we got to the singletrack I felt I could ride faster as she was slipping on the roots a bit, so bidded my time and overtook on the next climb. After that it was mostly a solitary race for me. On the second lap I overtook a couple of junior boys who were closing in on massive leg fatigue and later on the third lap I overtook a another rider who had been mostly within sight 100m ahead for the 3rd lap.
Amazingly the track was only a bit muddy, despite the continuous rain over the last months. I was expecting mud bath and I got grippy-but-not-slippery. The course held up very well and could almost be described as dry!
I took the win on the women’s course, with junior Patsy Caines second and Heidi Gould third, but the results are not published yet so I cannot be certain of the lap times. I finished with a massive smile and had to be restrained for going out for another lap!
I hope Off Camber can put on some sort of summer series, as the races are certainly popular. I’ve not heard anyone say a bad word about the course, and everyone comments how much fun it is to ride at Inside Park. The course builders have done a fantastic job, and I hope they can continue to develop the track. @OffCamber, I’m back from 7th – 12th July, so a Wednesday evening event would be perfect 😉