Si and Elliot Beken picked up my bike early in the morning and we travelled together to the event nice and early to avoid the unnecessary task of having to push the bikes miles for scruteneering, we set up the gazebo in the pits for the Witley members to use and the weather was looking good for the day with bright sunshine and little chance of rain. After signing on we talked to Nik Everitt (C of C) to pry any information we could get out of him concerning the course, we then went and walked the first half mile or so to make sure there weren’t any nasty surprises, Scotty Coombs who was marshalling and already done a lap also had some useful information.
As I was going to be using my helmet cam and the start was taking us through some big puddles the plan was to hang back a little so not to get roosted, being a four hour event there was no big hurry, as the YZ took a few kicks to get started I was at the back anyway. The first lap was manic with riders in front making mistakes and looking dare I say it desperate to overtake, managed to stall the YZ which had the flywheel weight removed on a bottom of a hill and that got me some breathing space, soon caught up with the riders in front of me again who now were blocking the next hill, tried to get round them but got caught up and had to turn round for another go rather than push it up, all this energy needlessly being used up on the first lap had me puffing like an adder but things were going to get worse, much worse. I come across a stuck rider but instead of waiting I tried to jump a ditch with a large bank and failed miserably, being sort I could not lift the YZ never getting it to the point of balance, let it go and it ended up on it side straddling the ditch, by this time I had develop a side stitch and was having trouble breathing so I sat down for a few minutes and tried some deep breathing like my old gym teacher taught us, managed to pick up the bike which was refusing to start not appreciating it’s little rest on its side. When I did finally get moving again it did not take long before the stitch to reappear, hurt like hell only allowing me to take shallow breaths which makes them worse, every time I had to work a bit hard which was often as the course was tough I needed time to recover so rode as smooth as possible. Made a fuel stop at the hour and three quarter mark with 5 laps completed and rested for a while but as soon I went out for another lap the stitch come back and I could not carry on like this so pitted again. Went out on the final half hour with Simon but again the same thing happened, this time the pain was excruciating just about managed to do a lap having to stop on occasions but got there in the end.
Never had that problem before, hope it’s just down to me not riding that often. What can I say about the course? Brilliant Normandy did a very good job, marshals were fantastic in redirecting the course when needed, the hard easy routes were well thought out and you never had to wait long to get passed a rider…Top job!!