The TLI national champs took place at Gateshead International Stadium, only 15 minutes down the road from my house.
The course was top quality ... the howling wind was doing its best to tear down the course markers as the under 12's battled round a shorter version but to the testament to the race organiser and those that helped put this event on the course was repaired as quick as mother nature tried to pull it down.
The course was very similar to previous editions of racing at this venue, running boards, off camber, short descent ... the new addition being a steep climb straight up to the highest point of the course .. just manageable in the big ring afforded by tufo tubs and very low pressures.
The start was along along a wide gravel track ... as always my start would best be described as lethargic as I watched the world ride past me till I woke up mid first lap and started to make a move up the field.
The races within a race started early on but I found as faster riders moved through the field I could grab their wheel and move up with them until I found myself battling for 7th spot with a decent gap behind but a similar decent gap up to the next rider ...
... a quick glance at my watch showed that I only had a couple of laps remaining ... coming up off the gravel road not far from the start finish the rear tub let go of what little pressure was in it and I had flatted.
As I began to walk back to the pit I wondered how much gap I had created back to the riders behind me so got back on course and started to run the rest of the lap back to the start/finish in the hope I could grab a wheel.
Fellow Cross Club rider Adam Cooke who I had only just managed to lap took his lap back and kindly offered me his bike but I knew I had lost the battle for a top 10 so let him finish out his race, close to the start/finish another Cross Club rider Neal Wesley overtook me .. in the pits I was kindly offered Alan Nixon's spare bike so I took off trying to make back a few places.
Not long into the final lap I misjudged a corner and managed to take out one of Alan's team mates ... bending his front mech in the process :( So I loaned out my loaner bike so the guy could finish his race .. I managed to wrestle the front mech into a workable position so set off on a bike 3 sizes too small for me to catch the guy up and give him back his bike.
I managed to return the damaged bike back to its owner on the long climb of the course then rode with him to the end making sure he took the position ahead of me.
All in an eventful race ... I felt good ... the racing was close ... a few weeks off now as I have a short holiday to Brussels with Grace .. but then racing will get busy over christmas with Boxing day cross race and the Macc supercross .. oh and a new bike is being built :)
All images courtesy of Ed Rollason Photography