After finishing the Christmas cross period with an 11th at the CXNE RD10 Gateshead race completeing 3 cross races in 7 days I was ready to take it a little easier.
I reigned back training to every other day and looked forward to the next round of the TLI ran NECCL cross league... we have the luxury in the North East of 2 leagues.. where I couldn't place in the BCF ran CXNE series due to my provisional license I could place overall in the TLI ran NECCL league.
Sundays race was at a classic North East mountain bike destination.. pretty sure maybe 15 years ago I raced mountain bikes here.. the course was altered slightly due to plenty black ice clinging to any piece of tarmac it could find but what was run as the course was plenty challenging enough.
With some wooded sections.. a cheeky climb and some horrible drags in grassy mud to bring your speed down to a crawl it was a tough offering.
The start was uphill and unusually I got on the front line... the field had a few big names mising due to the Nationals on the same day so it was an opportunity to shift up the field and claim some extra points.
From the off Tony Fawcett was gone.. gapping the field by 20m at the end of the first descent.. Darren Binks in pursuit with the rest of us a good 10m back from Darren. I sat in 4th and after a bit of jostling for position.. I was strong on the straight boggy sections and Alex Mcclean from Hetton Hawks would gap me in the woods.. I saw myself into 3rd with a good 20m gap.
(Pic courtesy of Nev @ Infinity Cycles)
As the race progressed I eased out my gap while Alex and Vince Potter (Blackhawkbikes.com) battled for 4th.
I equalled my seasons best finish with another 3rd place... still half a lap down on claiming a top spot but I feel I know where the improvements need to be made.
Best news is I am now firmly in the 3rd spot overall for the season... last race on Sunday and a minor miracle could see me creep into 2nd but as it stands i'm very happy.