After negotiating the rough drive into the park I stepped out into a damp spring morning. After signing on I headed down the track analysing all the features. It was a new track which had never been ridden so no-one knew whether it was going to work.
The top section of the track was flat and very pedally which suited my enduro bike but also had some big built up features. As you headed down the course it become more technical with trees, roots and a rock garden to deal with. There was a tricky off camber section with lots of loose ground and leaves which proved difficult later on. You then had to negotiate a few tight turns followed by a large drop off into loads of large slippy roots and followed by a wet left hander with almost no berm. At first I planned to go around but knew that if I was to do well I had to man up and send it. To finish off the final jump you had to whip a banking and keep it tight straight through the finish.
Practice was great, the track was amazing- everything you could have asked for with big jumps, fast berms and techy root sections. I wanted to have a clean practice run so I went around the drop but what got me was the final jump, I just didn't lean the bike over enough and had no grip and went splat into the bank. After taking some tips from Sam Marzetti about the drop I felt more confident and knew on my next run I'd have to do the drop. I let go of the brakes and went for it. It was great. I'd done it and hadn't failed.
Now it was time for race runs. It was the usual tension at the start line, everyone eyeing each other up trying to make light conversation. There I was up on the new wooden start ramp 30 seconds before I would have to just go for it. 10,9,8,7,6,5,4, Boom. And I was off, nothing was gonna stop me today. I hadn't quite got the lines I'd done in practice but I knew I could make it up with a few extra pedal strokes. I nailed the bottom section and got the quickest time in my category but it was still all to play for in run 2. I knew everyone would up their game as the times were close. I had never pushed so hard, I pedalled in every possible place but it all ended when the loose off camber section in the woods beat me as my front wheel disappeared from underneath me. I thought it was all over. I jumped to my feet and ran the bike out of the section and jumped aboard, I gunned it to the finish. I was so disappointed I was certain someone would beat me. I waited by the time board until all the riders had completed their runs. There I saw the current runner-up fly down through the finish. But he said he'd come off. The other boys then told me I had won. I was ecstatic. My First Win! But I wasn't done yet, I still faced the mighty push up to the top of the hill. Everyone was so nice in congratulating me.
A surprise guest Ben Moore turned up and showed us all how it's done aboard his Orange 324.
There was big turnout at the presentation ceremony and I was delighted with my 1st place trophy and Saracen T-shirt. What a great day and I can't wait to go back.