The Southern XC Mountain bike season swung into action this Sunday at Black Park, Wexham. Making the journey for Sotonia were Tom Budden, Tobie Charlton, Jez Hart and John Phillips. Conditions were cool and dry, the course itself was flat woodland with plenty of technical features in the form of deep bomb holes, slippery roots, wood bridges and logs in the tight, twisty sections.
First thing for us to sort out were the XC race categories which can look complicated to newcomers (there’s eight for adults alone including Open, Sport, Expert, Elite, Veterans, Grand Veterans, and Super Veterans). Having now done a race we can see why as small differences in skill in the tight single track sections with few places to pass can be a problem for faster racers. Depending on category, races are 3 to 6 laps (between 1 and 2 hours racing).
First up was John Phillips for three laps of the 3.8 mile course in the Super Vet category, finishing 5th in just under 1hr 10. In the four lap Senior Sport category, Sotonia cyclocross star, Tom, quickly found his feet after a break of 20 years from MTB racing and was heading for second place when a crash in the lead group coming into the finish on the penultimate lap cost him four places to finish sixth with Tobie 20th after also spending two decades away from the sport.
For Jez it was a first ever XC race having only recently taken up MTB riding: “A tough introduction to XC MTB racing for me – having missed the Vets race I was keen to join Tom and Tobie in Sport hoping my cyclocross skills might come in handy but due to weird British Cycling rules, Vets are only allowed to ride Expert, so I got thrown in the deep end and consequently totally outclassed by the more experienced MTB racers. It was a great course and a really good learning experience though – I will be sticking to the Vets race next time!”
Many thanks to The Hub Cycleworks for helping sort the bikes.
Fancy giving XC MTB racing a go?