Saturday, 20 May 2017

Friday Night Summer Series Round 3 - Prologis Park Kettering

On Friday night I took the plunge and had a go in a mountain bike race. A mountain bike race in Northants? Well yes! In fact not only do we have MTB races, the Friday Night Summer Series (FNSS,) is in it's 26th year and as such is the longest running race series of it's type in the universe! In addition to the main event there was also a GO Ride event hosted by KCC Cyclones which my very own SuperSam took part in.

I haven't got much time today so here's a quick few words to mark this great event before I get cracking on what should be a fantastic Saturday with a trip to the Saints and a nice evening with good friends. Jerk chicken is already marinating and the fridge is getting to work on the drinks!

Look, see I'm in a race, got a number and everything!

The course layout was superb. This did not come as a surprise to me as, KCC Cyclones head coach, Mark Evans was in charge. This was a bit like a reverse of the CX route we had in November with some added MTB features for good measure! This course was too technical for me in parts and there were some areas where I had to get off and push like in CX. However the quality of the field meant there were also some riders who rode up everything with ease!

I don't think it's a coincidence that my age group, Veteran 40-49 has grey numbers. I'm guessing they see us as the oldies and the grand vets with yellow numbers as the golden oldies! My aim for the night was not to come last, which, I achieved by one place! Do I care about the results? Well no! It was my first go and I know I'm still in my post month long holiday shape. Also it's never about winning for me, it's about having fun and I can tell you I had a LOT of fun! My overall plan is to use the FNSS to get fit(ter) for start of the CX season. I have to say after one go, I think I like FNSS slightly more than CX!!!

Before the race I had a quick practise spin and there was some good banter with the other riders trying things out. SuperSam also went round the main track with his mates and described it as 'Harder than Wakerley!' I was also thankful for my tubeless tyre set up as a big set of thorns got embedded. I pulled them out, there was a brief hiss and then the sealant did it's job! 

The kids didn't need to do the full circuit but they did have a bit of fun with a half lap. Andy Brown and I assisted with a two lap race where some real strength, character and skill was shown by our little Cyclones. Sam though had to drop out. He's been ill all week, still has a croaky voice and his energy levels just dropped like a stone!

To the race and things started at quite a pace and I was quickly left behind by the rest of my field. I had expected to keep up for a lap or two but I guess I have much to learn! Hilariously one of the riders managed to tangle some football netting in his back wheel and dragged it along for about 100 metres. He did disentangle without any damage so that was good. As usual in a group of cyclists, the acceptable form of assistance is laughter and banter. Comment of the night being: "he's gone fishing already!"

In some ways I love this picture. It captures the landscape and the wind turbines in the background are a lovely feature. However it also captures my excess lardiness...this blog at times is becoming Bridget Jones Diary...I'm trying to lose the weight, I really am trying...then I remember I like beer, crisps, pies and chocolate and anyway I'm a cyclist...I'll ride it off, won't I???

A couple of C&D mates also took part in the event. Ashley did really well in the under 23's and Paul Kelf went well in the Grand Veterans. Some of those golden oldies also passed me on my first lap and then lapped me too! It must be the additional practise that comes with age!

SuperSam set up his viewing position right here with Charlie Stockham. Dad, Jamie Stockham was the other side of this tricky feature. I enjoyed the encouragement I got from all of the KCC Cyclones family but just here it was particularly encouraging. Sam reliably informs me that lots of people didn't make it through this bit and that he was proud that I managed it every time. 

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Here's a feature I didn't make it up but as mentioned quite a few riders did. At one point a very skillful rider weaved in between about four of us as we pushed up the slope!

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This feature was particularly tricky with a steep slope and a sharp turn at the bottom. Thankfully I managed it safely five times. It was good to see Stuart at the bottom and his tips on lines were gratefully received! There were some people who backed out of the drop and walked down, I couldn't do that because too many people I knew were watching!!!

I need to give thanks to the following snappers for the pics: Mark Evans, Liz Panter, Malc Jones, Jamie Stockham and Dean Barnett.

So that's my first FNSS race and I have to say I will be back for more. It was a great way to start the weekend and I can't wait to do it all again.

For more info on FNSS check out their facebook page here: 

Happy Pedaling

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