As last year, Thetford Forest was the opening round of the National Points Series. The last three years I’ve come out on top at Thetford, going on last year to win the series on a full suspension Giant NRS XTC. Great for my sponsor as they sponsor the series too! I was looking for a good start to the series in order to defend my title.
The course this year had been altered somewhat due to tree felling – some sections were actually the same but looked completely
different! It seemed like there were more wide tracks used, this made
for even closer racing as it was relatively easy to be pulled back on
the open sections.
This wasn’t just the first NPS of the season, but also my first MTB race of any kind this year. With the NAMBS series being cancelled and one thing and another I hadn’t raced since the end of the ‘cross season. So I was expecting a hard race…
The start was fast and the group at the front was big, probably 10
riders. I was there and not having to overstretch myself too much, but
it was hard work. Then on the second lap I had to stop to tighten my front wheel, this was only for a few seconds but meant I lost contact with the big group. I chased hard for the next lap and regained contact but the group had split, with four riders – Jody Crawforth, Sam Gardener, Oli Beckingsale and Stuart Bowers – out in front with a gap of 20 to 30 seconds. I was with three others behind chasing, with.
Adrian Landley pushing the pace to try and close the gap. This is
how it stayed for the next couple of laps – two clouds of dust 20 -30
seconds apart. With two laps to go I had a good go to try and bring the gap down but had little impact.
With only one lap remaining we slowed a little as we were unable to
catch the leaders. It was a four-up sprint to the line, Adrian Landley
beat me for 5th and I took 6th. Not a fantastic result but not far off
the pace. The two Evans riders took first and second with Oli third. It was good to see some new faces at the front of the race challenging
the established riders.
The next round of the Series is at Catton Hall on the 18th May. This is a bit more hilly than Thetford (but not much). With Oli
finishing 3rd in the first round then my 6th place isn’t so bad for the overall series – just have to wait and see…
It’s not all mountain biking, though – this weekend I’m road racing in the Girvan stage race in Scotland, which should bring on my fitness before the next round.Barrie Clarke races for Giant. More Barrie at www.barrieclarke.net.