For the second time in two weeks it was back to Scotland for cross
country action. After the big crowds and technical course of Fort
William it was a little tamer this time. The course was at Drumlanrig
Castle just north of Dumfries. The trail pixies had been at work again
making the trial in the woods, and they’d done a great job. The course was well designed for both the spectators and racers. The racers had no idea where they were most of the time as they zigzagged up and down the hillside as the same spectators kept appearing around the course.
The elite race was another good one, although not for me really as I’ve been struggling the past couple of weeks. The race set off up the first climb with National Champion Oli Beckingsale setting a hot pace looking as if he was back to form. Only my Giant teammate Paul Oldham was able to go with the pace. The chasing group contained Phil Cooper, Stuart Bowers, Dave Collins, Zak Toogood and Ian Wilkinson, with me struggling to stay in contact. Nick Craig caught and passed us three quarters of the way around the first lap (he had had a slow start as he was gridded a few rows back) and went in pursuit of Oli and Paul. On the third lap we passed Paul Oldham who was fixing a puncture. I was still having to work hard to stay with the chasing group which had managed to drop Phil Cooper.
On lap four the race really kicked off. Our group caught Oli Beckingsale who was going very slow – he’d run out of juice and was barely going forward, a dramatic turn around from his apparently invincible start. He packed later in that lap. Then Ian Wilkinson made his break for home with a lap and a quarter remaining. He
was now going for second place as only National Technical Coach Nick
Craig remained at the front. Ian’s break blew the group to bits. I passed Zak and Stuart with my aim now on third place which was held by Dave Collins, but despite every effort I couldn’t catch him. Nick Craig stayed out front to the end, followed by Science in Sport riders Ian Wilkinson and Dave Collins in second and third and me in fourth. Not bad considering how bad I felt for the first couple of laps…
The good news for me was that, with Jody Crawforth not making the trip north, I will have taken the overall lead in the Giant NRS national series. The next round isn’t until the end of August at Sherwood Pines, so plenty of time to prepare.
In the meantime there are other races to attend. Next week I’ll be at the Saab Salomon 24 hour race with my team mates Paul Oldham and Jamie Norfolk. The fourth member of our Giant team is World Cup winner Rune Hoydahl who we suspect may be setting the pace! See you there…Barrie Clarke races for Giant. More Barrie at www.barrieclarke.net.