We set up on Saturday morning; by midday it began to rain then hail. I managed to get in a half-lap of the course to see the technical sections and get a feel for the muddy and slick conditions.
Unfortunately, the Sprint Eliminator event was cancelled for the evening as result of lack of interest and weather, so after Mike had done some serious bike cleaning and replacing of brake pads we packed up and headed to the hotel.
The Dalby course was very challenging. A great deal of climbing in combination with two major technical sections as well as some fun bridges and rocky sections. The start loop added a taste of cyclo-cross as we navigated a very muddy grass field. I can definitely see why this course was run in the World Cup series in previous years!
Sunday was a tough race for me. I was struggling to find my rhythm. Sometimes you can feel the rhythm of a course and move with the bike and the singletrack… but apparently I was listening to the wrong song track! I didn’t feel too bad on the long climbing sections but I was struggling on the fast singletrack. I kept plugging along and making my way through, trying to make up time where I was able.
I continued to fight the track throughout. I won’t bore you with the gory details, I will just share the following (quite embarrassing) tale which sort of sums up the day for me. I had descended the rock garden coming away from Medusa’s Drop and might have been going a little too fast (trying to make up for my slowness) on the rutted muddy singletrack leading into the start of the climbing. Carelessly, I caught my front wheel in one of the deep mud ruts and I found myself doing a very non-graceful face plant into the grass.
“Grass?!” I thought. Well, a sort of prickly grass, but grass nonetheless! After impact I was thinking, “geez what luck! Grass! I landed in grass! And you know what, maybe no-one even saw me crash, no problem!”
It was about 15 seconds after I had this thought and was back on my bike riding when I realised that the left side of my body was burning, but more specifically my entire face. My face plant landed in a patch of stinging nettles… nettles?! Really? Not cool. I survived the rest of the race but definitely have had better days.
As soon as I came across the line I came face to face with the person who would be my UCI chaperone for the next few hours. I had been ‘awarded’ the random anti-doping selection. I used my, ‘look how far back I was, I’m definitely not doping!’ line, and I got a laugh but not out of my selection.
As I was sitting in the UCI tent downing bottles of water, feeling the warmth of the stinging nettles radiating from my face and watching my knee swell, I had a chance to reflect. Maybe I’m crazy but I am so glad I got to race, what an awesome opportunity! Times like that teach you how to keep racing even when you are having an off day; it teaches you how to ride in the rain (or hail!) and muddy conditions; it teaches you how to ride when your fork decides to become rigid; it teaches you how to race with a face that is burning because of nettles (though I hope not to need that one again). So next time you can look back and think I’ve done this before, I got this.
This is one of the many reasons I am so happy that the Moda-Bikemagic Racing Team has given me the opportunity to race!
Imogen made her first (of what will soon be many!) national podiums in the junior category, placing third. Ruth is getting into the UCI points, placing 15th. My goal was to finally crack the top 10 but ended up in 12th.
All in all another awesome weekend with the team! Many thanks to the entire Buick family, who are so kind, and Mike, Ruth and all the Moda-Bikemagic Racing Team sponsors!