Mr Sparkle had been complaining recently it was getting embarrassing standing on the singlespeed podium at brownbacks on his own. Hmm thought I, challenge accepted. The night before I'd been trying to find out if there were free entries when I spotted a tweet from mr S wondering about the course, brownbacks had responded #easiergearneeded. Don't like the sound of that. Lining up for entry I wasn't sure what categories to enter, the main man was passing by he said "you look like a racer, put him in racer" ok then. Went up for a practice loop, oh dear, climbing from the very bottom, straight up to the pump track, swing a left skirt the bottom of the skills area, down a gulley to the bottom of the 3 drop offs black run, up the stupid steep rocky climb, singletrack down to the skills area, up the left hand side downhill route to the flag at the start of the 3 runs, down the big bermed red run, cut across to the steep drop in to the new pump track across that left toward the lake swing a right to do some of the black run across some rock slabs back to the original pump track across to the cattle grid and down to the bottom. This was going to hurt, a lot.
Lined up at the start chatting to mr s who told me the guy in the grey shorts was silly quick, so 2 fast guys to race against, oh and look here comes a third. My guaranteed podium position was now gone and I was doubtful I could beat any of these guys, lets see shall we. Just me and silly quick fella in the racer group, the buzzer went and I set off at the back, better get used to it. I was blowing by the time I got to Graham's marshal point at the gulley, he shouted encouragement. Made a couple places back dropping down to the bottom of 3 drops lost em again on the climb, made a couple of places dropping to the pump track and extended my lead over them down from the cattle grid but not enough to stay ahead while I pushed up the 1st climb. Was dying by the time I got to the gulley again, just couldn't get my breath back, "who the **** signed me up for this ****?" Graham just laughed. I was having a bit of cat and mouse with a canondale racer and a Santa Cruz rider from a different category I think. It continued in a similar vein they would pass me on the hills I'd catch up on tight descents take them on open flats either by putting some power down or late braking/trickier line then increase lead on the next down and they'd pass me on the monster climb.
By the fourth lap I was starting to get to a manageable pace, we were catching some of the slower categories and the race leader lapped me. Was coping on some of the power climbs but still pushing on the bigger ones. I got the bell at the start of the 5th only another 20mins of pain, as the course looped around I could see the fourth man not far behind, so decided I had to finish in front, daft really cos he had a couple minutes on me anyway which he would get back at the time check so I'd already lost. Any jumped a place by jogging up the climb after the gulley, hard work getting up to the flag but 4th man was still not far behind, dropping the red run I had a guy from wallis cycles I think seem to remember he was a racer cat. Did the berm over to the steep drop in right behind him, going over he pump track I was wondering if taking the left line would have been quicker when wallis man got out of shape and nose dived into the backside of a double hitting his head on the top, ouch. Stopped to check he was ok and warn others, 4th man got the marshal's flag and helped with traffic. The first aiders showed up so I figured I was a spare part now so I kept going. Another quick drop from the cattle grid and I realised the finish was at the top so a slog back up the main climb, pushed the start then for the honour of singlespeeding i mounted up and rode up to finish and cower behind a van to keep out of the wind. Fourth man showed up and we chatted, I wondered how far behind me Mr S set off, turns out a long time, so even the few minutes before he finished, he still beat me. Wallis cycles guy got up and finished the race, good going.
So fourth out of four on the singlespeed front, oh hum, just waiting for the results to come out now see how far off the pace I was and whether I beat anyone in the racer class to reclaim a bit of self respect. I may be back, racing is kinda fun despite all the pain and I think I do need to push myself a bit more.