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Codeine goes Cross Country!

Codeine goes Cross Country!

On Saturday, Rachael Gurney went out of her comfort zone and took part in a cross country race rather than her standard Enduro or Downhill. She was up again a tough field of XC specialists but still managed an amazing 4th place on her long-travel On-One Codeine! Here's Rachel's report:

This weekend I was out in our local forest supporting a cross country race being held there, the Wareham Forest XC. It's a 2 hour race over a 5 mile lap, and you see how many laps you can get in in that time. This weekend I decided I would ditch my usual XC steed and take my On-One Codeine to see how she fared!

Turning up in the car park, I quickly realised I had underestimated how serious some of these racers were. I had planned to use this as a training ride; I figured that pushing myself pretty hard for 2 hours on the big bike would be good for me whatever the competition. So, feeling a little out of place and definitely being the odd one out with the only double-barrelled rear shock within probably a 10 mile radius, we lined up on the start line. To keep with the theme I was also kitted out more ‘enduro’ than ‘XC’ sporting baggies and a POC lid! The organisers had decided to make this a start line with a twist… bikes racked, we stood back and waited to start – Le Mans style! I thought I had been pretty clever racking my bike on the end of the rack nearest me. I thought I would have a clear run - I didn’t. I got my bike off the rack fine with no-one else in the way but as I made for the yellow line ahead where we could mount, the narrow channel between the racks was clogged with riders. It was slower moving than a London tube station at rush hour. As all those 100-odd other riders spun off away from me down the long start straight, I realised that I had a bit of work to do!

Needless to say as soon as we got into the singletrack my day got worse. As is the norm with an XC race, it was so congested that we all slowed again to barely walking pace. This continued for some time - in fact most of the first 5 mile lap! The course was fun, there was a bit of everything: testing climbs, fast descents and pretty much every ground condition you could imagine. Different parts of the forest were at polar opposites to others, from loam to gravel to a deep bog, it certainly kept me on my toes!

By the second lap I had seen the 3rd lady whizz past me on her XC race machine and I knew I was lying in 4th place. I was pretty cool with this; I knew I was going as hard as I could, the other girls were just faster than me on the flat. As Wareham Forest is not well known for its elevation, I found there were not enough technical descents where I could use my long-travel bike and my love for going fast downhill to its full advantage to gain some time. Saying that, the course designers did a fabulous job with what they had, creating some new singletrack and also placing out some brilliant boardwalks to help us though the worst of the mud!

At 1 hour 59 mins (yes, heartbreakingly so) I passed thought the finish line and set out on my 5th lap….. I was prepared for time in this lap to feel as slow as Christmas Eve does when you are 5 years old! Surprisingly though, it flew past, probably due to having a much clearer track on this last lap.

My Strava tells me that 26.4 miles and 2 hours 27 mins after running to my bike, I was done! I was pretty glad to finish, I’m not going to lie! Most of my thoughts and talk on finish line turned to my bike though. From riding this bike over the last month or so, I knew it pedalled well and today confirmed it for me! With very little pedal bob and those big wheels rolling round, my On-One Codeine was a pleasure to get up and down those hills and of course still grin-inducing when I found the odd tree stump to send it off! Whereas previously I have had a garage containing a bike for each discipline I am now more and more often turning to the Codeine for everything, be it an XC race or jaunt across the Purbecks or a downhill race at the other end of the spectrum. XC is not my favourite discipline but today felt like a good day on the bike; I felt like I achieved something coming 4th on my enduro bike. I will definitely try to better this in the future and hopefully it will be round my local woods given the success of this first race!

16 May 2014

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