It was an interesting and exciting weekend in Dunoon. I have never traveled to the small seaside town but the picturesque ferry ride opened up scenes of rolling hills where the sea meets the sky and it feels like you've gone back in time. On the drive towards the event HQ, as we rolled off the ferry there were palm tress which I took great pleasure in pointing them out to Niamh (No.1 travel partner, photographer and girlfriend) but she just rolled her eyes and drove on. We parked up at the beginning of the pier, event HQ had occupied a lovely building at the end of said pier and the air was filled with an atmosphere of wonder and trepidation.
I set the Hei Hei up in the carpark, checking tyre pressures, bolt tightness and suspension settings. All set and ready to go I headed off into the hills with Whyte Racing's Pete Lloyd. I can always rely on Pete to keep the sprits high on a practice lap, so off we set.
The trails were pretty full on if I'm honest. I found them hard and awkward to ride. The first stage we hit was stage 2 and it was a bit of a wake up call. It was muddy and deep ruts were already forming. Rain prior to the event had ensured things were slippy and in some places it felt like I was riding on sheet ice. All in all our practice lap took us about 3-4 hours and it felt like a big day in the saddle.
The coolest thing about this race was probably the prologue stage which was run in the evening on the Saturday after practice. An "urban obstacle course" had bee set up and took us right through the heart of Dunoon town centre. It was great to bring the race into the town so people could see the riders and racing up close.
Racing for me didn't exactly go to plan. I struggled on most of the stages and just wasn't confident enough to really "push" myself. I was suffering from a lack of confidence but still kept going to try and save some valuable points in the overall. A few crashes throughout the race made things difficult and on the faster sections I just didn't feel stable on the bike. This may have been a set up issue or otherwise. I was trying a few different things at this race and one thing I have learned is to make sure you are 100% confident in your set up before you go racing.
My bad day on the bike was brought to an abrupt end with a rear wheel explosion on stage 5. I came to a big compression and slammed the wheel into a big hole and the tyre lost all its air. I rolled down to the finish and began to get my spare tube ready. I'm not one for quitting and I wanted to finish the race off as I only had one stage to go. I rolled the tyre off the rim and started to pump up my spare tube. Then suddenly and without warning the valve on the tube snapped... "BANG!"... That was it, without another spare my race was over. I rolled back to event HQ saddened and disappointed. This was my first DNF of the year and its never a nice feeling to not finish a race. Sad times indeed.
Massive thanks to Fall Line Cycles and Kona for getting my bike ready for this race and to all my other sponsors for helping me to live my dream.
Time to regroup and refocus. Till next time!