Four days later and I am still finding dry bits of mud in the house. The back of my car looks like it’s had its own music festival and the front isn’t much better. BPGP. That was a wee bit muddy.
Last Sunday was a day of high wind and heavy rain, which was falling upward when I got to the race village. Absolutely mental. Couple the weather conditions with the muddy parcours, possibly the third circle of hell, and I was seriously contemplating a DNS. Well it was a fleeting thought until I completed a slow recon lap. Yes the mud would make things tough, but the slippery fast downhill sections more than made up for it.
So all thoughts of a DNS shaken off, I made ready to slobber my way around the course. By my own standards I got away fast and was quickly moving up through the field from my usual position near the back of the starting grid. A climb up to the highest point of the course brought us to the transition where we left the road and dropped down on to the grass and mud which formed the rest of the course. Skidding and skiteing down hill, and running, sometimes walking uphill, I made my way around, desperately trying to hold my position and myself upright. Some of the downhill sections were pretty crazy funny, and as I picked up speed on them I let the bike go where it felt like, trying to make sure I did not cut anyone up.
Then onto the flat bottom half of the course and the grin was wiped off my face. The mud made things a real slog, and every rider fought to find a bit of green at the farthest edges of the course.
There was a really tough switchback as you approached the finish area, which was heavily mudded-up, and this sucked the life out of you. Then you hit the start-finish straight for some respite, only to be smashed by the strong headwind, so at the start of my second lap I used some *ahem* ‘race-craft’ to drop in behind someone for a bit of drafting, until they dropped me on the wee climb! The next few laps saw a steady stream of riders pass me, as they settled in to their rhythm. I cursed my fast start, which had left me over the limit for the rest of the race. Who were the riders were passing me left and right: was I being lapped? Had I just given up another place? Then a race-defining moment for me. With three laps to go I moved round a hairpin bend on the outside, another rider came round me in the inside, then lost their line and came across the full width of the course and cut me up. With nowhere to go I gurned and hit the deck. Nice to meet you mud.
I had lost position to several riders who I knew had been behind me and I was running out of time to catch them. So the next lap was a furious, or what felt like a furious, effort to get back on terms with them. In the end I just about managed to reel several of them in. As I entered the final muddy switchback I saw a jersey appear next to me, then move ahead, so with one more effort I made a dash for the line to beat him in the sprint. Turns out he was on a different lap anyway! I finished 68/83, ending further up my lap group than in my previous race. So some improvement there. I also noticed I had reasonably consistent lap times, excepting my first ‘hot’ lap. Which is encouraging. I also have some things to think about for next season, which I will cover in my next blog.
After the race, a quick change and back course side to do some marshalling and watch how the A-racers do things. It was interesting and illuminating to watch how some of the faster riders picked lines, or ran with the bike. The hundred or so b-riders had really made things difficult for the A team! There was a masterclass from David Lines, but some of the younger riders who followed him in were a real revelation. All in all BPGP was another great event in the Super Quaich series and with one round of the ‘Quaich to go, I am sure both the race and series will feature on the calendar next season, but this is probably my last race for this season. Time to focus on some road riding and hatch plans for the autumn!