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I Am The “Brighton Big Dog”

I have always loved racing at BBD. The relaxed atmosphere, great organisation, fun singletrack snakey descents and the cake, have called me back year after year. Having entered this event as a pair in previous years, I have always been keen to do the 6 hour solo category for two reasons: 1. I have never raced for more than 4 hours before and 2. I have always had my eye on the many generous prizes the solo riders win.

Somehow I managed to be almost late to the start line with Ian helping me get my number on with 10 seconds to go. I climbed under the tape and started in the first quarter of riders. My plan however was to start at the front so as to dodge any bottlenecks.

It had rained a lot the previous night so the chalk hills and roots were very slippery and my wheels were caked full of mud from the muddy puddles so I was riding quite tentatively and not really relaxed. There were quite a few bottlenecks for half of the first lap and I was worried that someone in front of me would be gaining loads of time. However, three quarters of the way around my friend and race organiser- Charlie – said I was the first girl through. This really made me smile and made me push on.

Lap 2 went well and getting more into a rhythm – the ground was even getting slightly dryer. On the last descent of lap 2 I managed to ride over a protruding stump and slit my tyre – nooo. I rode it for a bit to see if it would re-seal, then stopped and tried putting some CO2 into it – no luck. So ran back to the start line – not too far away. Luckily Keith was there to come to the rescue. Gretel’s Mom was standing with Gretel’s bike so Keith whipped off her front wheel and put it on mine and off I went. Thanks Gretel!

A quick stop to stock up on some more food and to put on my new Osprey hydropack which provided me with water for the next 3 laps. After lap 3 we re-swapped wheels and I got a time check – apparently I was 8 minutes ahead of second place. This was an OK gap – but you never really know if a competitor is creeping up on you mid-lap so I just kept my rhythm going. The uphills were getting harder – especially the ascent out of the arena – and the first third of the course had lots of hills. Other than that it was great fun riding it. The course was by now dry and as I had done it 6 times in the end – I knew how to ride it well. Lap 5 I was pretty tired but took on Accelerade gels at the right times through the race to uplift my dip (only allow myself maximum of 2 per race otherwise no sleeping for me that night).

The last lap I kept on checking behind me as I would be gutted if a solo girl overtook me and I lost my poll position. My last lap was one of my fastest and I was really pleased when I came through the finish line in first place!

After a bit of chilling out in the sun they had the presentation. I received some great prizes, a trophy and covered everyone in champagne while on the podium. I also managed to maintain the WXC winning streak as 3 previous WXC girls had won this trophy.

Report by Natasha Berry


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