Last weekend was round 2 of the Superquaich series, this time at Rozelle Park in Ayr. This time, I was placed in the A race with the fastest folks. With my last A race (DIATD previous year) ending in a puncture and last place, anything half decent was going to feel like progress. The course was soft but flowing during preride, but after watching and filming parts of the B race it was clear it was going to be a lot more chopped up for the A racers. I shuffled into the grid about 2/3rd down and held my place in the pack through the first fast corners and into the mud. The soft ground was hard work, rewarding leg-out confidence on the offcambers but punishing anyone who asked too much from the grip. There was a lots of running – parts of the uphills were rideable with careful line choice but the bike would get caked with mud and then pick up the shredded bark which had been laid down at the top of the hill turning the bike into grinding machine. I had managed to ride the stairs twice on my sighting lap, but chicken out during the race once the approach got churned up. I greatly enjoyed the short gravel downhill midlap which lead into a lovely left-hand sweep into trees which could be taken flat-out, mtb-stylee, which was one of the main areas I gained time on those around me.
I was astonished at the speed with which the leaders (Gary MacDonald and Davie Lines) caught and lapped (then re-lapped) the rest of the field. In the end, only five people finished on the lead lap. Towards the end of the hour, I was pretty sure that Gary was going to catch me again but it wasn’t to be and I was one of the ‘lucky’ folks who got to go around again. The last lap turned out to be more exciting too, with falls and mechanicals all round then a 4-man bunch sprint to the line.
The later laps were much tougher as my bike got gunged up with mud. Looking at it afterwards, I’ve no idea how it still functioned. My chain came off on the second last lap, losing me a bunch of time. Every lap I’d hear the mud grinding on the wheel and frame and the rear wheel was not freely spinning. Whilst I’m certainly not “pro” enough to have a spare bike in the pits, on races like this I’d love to have the option of a clean bike mid-race!
But it turns out, I was lucky to even finish. Both tyres went flat a few days after race and I found that both had got thorns stuck in them (3 in the front, 1 in the back).
In the end, 52nd out of 81 starter, 64th percentile. Which, given the field consisted of the combined fastest senior/vet/junior male and females, is a solid enough result for me!