Arriving early at the Hawley Lake Sailing Club near Camberley I prepare for the XTM Enduro that is part of the XT Festival. The organisers All About Triathlons planned a weekend of multidiscipline events where for the first time they arranged a specific MTB race. The race was only 4 hours attracting over 100 riders.
Setting out on a couple of practice laps, I soon realised that it was not technically challenging. The single track sections required a bit of thought, where it could have done with a few bomb holes and technical descents to make it more interesting. The few short sharp hills gave it an average of 120 feet of climbing per mile, which tested riders towards the end of the enduro.
Each circuit was just 3 miles in length. After taking a couple of breaths, I was half way round and before I knew it I was back at the start. There were few places to get a rest or stretch the legs so the heart was pounding solidly. Completing my first 6 laps in 17 minutes each (10.5mph), it was getting confusing to know which lap I was on. Fortunately I had programmed my GPS to keep count of the laps so I could grab a gel on the even laps.
During the early stages I picked out the best lines and sussed out the overtaking places on the single track. This proved useful on a number of occasions when I didn’t get a chance to overtake on the fire roads. I was certainly overtaking many more than those who overtook me. Unfortunately it was very difficult to work out who was riding as a pair or going solo.
As the race progressed the course thinned out and passing comments were few. I was delighted to see bunches of riders straddled up the hills panting or pushing with their bikes. Rising to the challenge I powered up the slopes overtaking as many as possible.
The rules stated that the winner is determined by the most number of laps. Those who had completed that same number of laps would be judged on the speed of their last lap. This was an interesting concept, which was confirmed when talking to the race organiser. Normally it is the overall time that separates those with the same number of laps.
During lap 9 I realised that I could not quite squeeze in a 13th lap before the 4 hour deadline. I therefore took laps 10 and 11 really easy and had a good stretch before I started lap 12. Speeding round the course on my final lap, I could tell that others had similar ideas. Overtaking several riders on the steep climbs enabled me to achieve another 17 minute lap as I reached the finish.
The results were somewhat ambiguous as the pairs and soloists were mixed together and there was no factor for the speed of the last lap. Out of 65 soloists, I came about 21st covering nearly 40 miles. For Goodness Shakes were handing out their drinks afterwards to kick start the recovery process.
It was a good day out where the weather was kind to us. During September I’ve reduced my training programme towards the end of the season so I can rest properly, hence the lower race position. Soon I will start my winter training in preparation for challenges of 2011.