After returning from Denmark, Tom headed to the Midlands and Cannock Chase to finish off his domestic racing season at the final round of the British Mountain Bike Series.
Cannock Chase is a typical British mountain bike venue insomuch as it is a fun place to ride around at leisure, but a flat out course with modest elevation change in the heat of racing. Upon arrival and after having put in a few practice laps, Tom was confident with the technical parts, but did find some of them had been removed from previous years, apparently due to too many mishaps and casualties. It’s always a little frustrating when UK courses are tamed down like this and it does little to progress the skills of UK riders as compared to the rest of Europe and beyond.
With the venue’s narrow singletrack making for a very stop/start type of track, it was a struggle to get any sort of flow or rhythm going, as Tom explains:
“If I’m honest, I’m not a huge fan of courses where there are no long climbs and instead lots of tight corners and trees to pick your way around at slow speed. There was certainly some nice singletrack and a decent rock garden to contend with at Cannock Chase, but there was also lots of fireroad and flat grassy sections, which aren’t all that interesting. Still, you have to race on what you’re given!”
Unfortunately, after waking up with mild illness and making a few too many mistakes in the tight singletrack on the day, Tom’s race didn’t pan out as he hoped, and he rolled in just inside the Top 20 in 19th place:
“Today just wasn’t happening from the get go. I woke up with a raging sore throat and a few other symptoms and struggled to get a good pop off the line. From there, I felt good on the short climbs and was able to put distance into riders around me, but I wasn’t able to maintain these advantages on the descents or flat. One little bobble would lead to another and I just couldn’t get my technical skills going. That meant lots of lost time each lap due to crashes and poor technique in the tight corners and loose singletrack”.
Despite the disappointment, Tom will now focus his training on performing at the final races of his season, both of which will be in the Taca de Portugal in September and October respectively.
“I’ve now identified some areas that I really need to improve if I’m to progress as I would like, and I’m working hard on these already. I really enjoy racing in Portugal and am looking forward to returning to hopefully secure a few solid results before my season ends”.