Last weekend we went to stay in Coed-y-Brenin with Mel Alexander (Element Racing) and Mark Spratt. We stayed in a really cosy stone cottage situated just off the remotest part of the Beast trial (i.e. in the middle of nowhere!). On Saturday we all woke up to true wet Welsh weather but we packed some waterproofs and joined up with one of the descents on the Beast. I have been doing a fair amount of road riding so being thrown into technical singletrack took me a little by surprise, as it did Dave....true to his 'crash test dummy' reputation he decided to take another tumble but rather than landing on his Ergon pack he gave his shoulder a try this time; but the rock won! He was officially out of action less than an hour in. The remaining uninjured party carried on, and I gradually started to loosen up!
On Sunday we (minus Dave who was condemned to the pits) entered the Gold Rush Challenge (50km around the Tarw trail - 3 laps). We woke to a forecast of 'heavy snow' but we were treated to some very heavy rain first! It was pretty cold too...around 2-3 degrees. It was a rolling start (timed with timing chips) which was nice but Mel and Mark were eager to make a start and I quickly followed not wanting to be left out in the forecast snow. The course was great and had a nice mix of singletrack and fire road. It was extremely well organised and marshalled and certainly provided a great season opener for me.
I was unsure how my legs would feel because I haven't raced for so long but I felt strong and I was pleased with my ride. I couldn't quite catch Mark, though I had glimpses of him which kept me chasing! Unfortunately, he punctured less than 10 minutes from the end - my chase was over but not quite in the way I had hoped! Cheri Mills finished in 3rd, Mel in 2nd, and me 1st in 2 hours 41. Full results can be found at http://www.blacksheepsports.co.uk/public/results.aspx?raceid=698
50km is a pretty short race for me...but I actually enjoyed it, so I might give a few XCs a go this year :0)