Finishing in 7th place at round 2 of the CX National Trophy Series wasn't the result I'd hoped. After training hard the weeks before, my form just didn't come right on the day. Abergavenny is a hard circuit and with the likes of top pros such as Ian Field, Tom Pidcock and Belgian Jim Aernouts on the start line a podium is very hard to come by. I rode my best, but it wasn't quite enough.
I decided to race the weekend after the National Trophy at the latest round of the Notts and Derby Cyclo-Cross League at Holme Pier Point. From here, I was in the right place and took a convincing win. Getting a quick start, I took the lead from the gun and as the laps went by my time in-front grew nicely and was able to make the win with a gap of nearly 3 minutes on 2nd place. With a muddy course, it was great prep for the next round of the National Trophy at Shrewsbury.
Shrewsbury is known for mud and harsh conditions. With good form, I hoped to improve on my 5th place at Round 1 and take it to a podium step. After the confidence-boosting win at the NDCXL, the week leading into the trophy was a little hit and miss. Suffering from ill health, I trained when I could. Top end was kept to a minimum and turning the legs to keep them going a priority.
I came round nicely feeling alright before the weekend coming. I decided to ride in the NDCXL again on Saturday at my local park – Berry Hill. With my family living all of 2 minutes away it was more for them than the effort and because of the trophy on Sunday I wanted to make sure I did all that I could to win that. And if it meant sitting on the wheels all this race, then so be it. Fortunately, I took the win, cruising in only 10 seconds ahead. With good legs, I gained some confidence for tomorrows national. With the forecast grim I needed every ounce of strength I could.
Travelling to Shrewsbury wasn't the best. With rain the whole way I knew I had a tough day coming up. Practice was short. Wanting my bikes intact I made four pit stops in two laps. That wasn't me being super cautious, that was the bog of mud that lined every inch of the course. I was ankle deep mud as there was plenty of running.
The whistle blew, and we were off. My good start was short lived as I was swamped on the first corner and went from 1st to 10th in a mere 5 meters. From here I lost a few places, and by the third lap, I was back in roughly 12th place. I started to push my way through the field of mud and other riders. Taking my own pace, I conserved where needed and pushed in others. With two laps remaining I made it into the top 7, clawing my way towards the top 5. Unfortunately, it wasn't to be and had to settle for a tough but slightly disappointing 7th. Not my best ride, but consistent and with room to gain.
The week after my cold, it seemed to find its way back, and into survival and recovery mode I went - light training with little effort just to tick the legs over. With another race planned, I did all I could to recover. Not feeling 100%, I decided to race and see how it went. The course was fast and not quite the pace I am used to. A quick average pace and some big watts later I sprinted across the line in 1st! Another win to add to my growing tally! I played my cards safe and used them when it counted. Beating the likes of British road pro riders Connor Swift and Graham Briggs. It was a good feeling and another addition to the confidence pot.
Up next, comes a new venue for me in Gravesend for the next National Trophy. An interesting course made for cycling, so it should be interesting come race day. Keep an eye out for my next update in two week's time.
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