We arrived to a breezy but sunny park about 90 mins before the start of the race. After getting signed up we headed out for a pre-lap. there was the same start/finish straight with a sharp right and left into the singletrack. Then you gradually worked your way down through the forest on a twisty trail. You popped out into open parkland for a full on blast for a few minutes before diving back onto the trail which descended first and after a sharp left on a bridge you had a nice little climb. It was a little dryer than last year so no fear of pushing this time - or cycling into any trees :)
The singletrack continued on into a tricky benchcut section which had a couple of trick blind turns which tightened up so if you hit them with too much speed you were over the edge losing time. after that section you had a super swoopy descent out into the park before gradually working your way back up to the start/finish via some kickers and short descents. All-in-all I really enjoyed the course and the little changes from last year were an improvement.
The start of the race was delayed due to an accident on the course, so there was plenty of time for a good warm-up. About 30 minutes after the scheduled start we were called up for gridding. I was surprised to be called up on the 3rd row (which was essentially the 2nd last row). The race started and a savage sprint for the singletrack. I was second last leaving the start line, but made up a good few places on the left turn into the singletrack by staying out wide. After that it was just sitting in on the train through the singletrack. Everything was going fine until near the end of the second section of trail. There was a switchback which turned into a very steep kicker. I was still in the big ring and in a desperate attempt to drop to the middle ring and also down the gears I managed to drop the chain. There was no way to fix it and get back on the bike there, so that meant a run up to the top of the hill. By the time I was back on the bike I was paddy last with some of the S2's coming up fast. It was very frustrating, but no one to blame but myself.
But I was not going to give up and raced balls out for the next 2.5 laps. I made up a good few places and came up to about 12th place on lap 3. However, coming into the benchcut sections I was so eager to get past a slower rider I took pretty much all the corners too fast, ended up off the trail more than on it and ended up losing more time than I gained by passed her. By the time I got to the last lap I was out of steam and Mark McGauley passed by me. I was catching Rob Tobin, but I ran out of laps and ended up in 14th place.
Looking back on the race I only the 2 mistakes I mentioned above, but they cost me 4 places. Based on the last few races 8th, 9th, 10th is around about where I should be finishing if I make no mistakes. But thats not happened yet and in S1 any mistakes will cost you positions, much more so than last year in Masters. Still, despite that I really enjoyed the race and again had plenty of close tussles all the way through.
Now with the cancellation of round 6, we've only IMBRC's race in Slade left. I'm really looking forward to that race. The course is going to be a little different to last years, with some cracking new features thrown in to mix things up a little :)
More pics from