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Dragon XC Race, Coed-y-Brenin
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My (Mark McPhillips) first cross–country race of the season was at Coed-y-Brenin and I nearly decided not to do it!

 I had only been training for one month after spending Christmas and New Year in New Zealand without my bike. So I was not confident of riding well. On the other hand it would be useful to find out how I was going compared to everyone else. Maggie in the end gave me a useful psychological kick up the arse and reminded me that I had come 2nd (as usual) in a Trailquest the previous weekend.

The race was right at the end of my February half term holiday which had included several ‘rides’ at various Welsh trail centres. So I wasn’t exactly fresh but I was very eager to get going on the morning of the race as it was bright and sunny but also extremely cold.

The course was very similar to the last round of the NPS last year where I had struggled and finished a disappointing 25th. It mainly uses tracks from the original ‘Red Bull’ route to create a route profile that was generally one BIG up followed by one BIG down.

By the top of the first climb I was in 6th position and could still see the leaders. This meant I was clearly climbing well. On the downhill I caught up the 4th and 5th placed riders and then dropped them very quickly with a pretty impressive overtaking line across sheet ice!

The next 2 laps were spent battling with Rob Oakes who was climbing faster than me but could not match my descending speed. Eventually I snapped the elastic on the downhill with 1 lap left. To make sure Rob would not catch me I went all out up the climb and passed a group of skinny looking riders on carbon fibre hardtails (I have never done that before).  It turned out these were the Expert riders who had started a few minutes in front of us! When I asked if they knew what the gap was to the next Master rider they pointed up the track to Joel Shotton. I chased Joel as hard as I could but the gap gradually got wider as Joel realised his 2nd place position was in jeopardy.

At the start of the last descent I decided that an all ‘attack’ to catch Joel was not worth it and then playing it safe and descending safely to secure my 3rd place position was the right move. Not long later I crossed the line tired but totally elated having pulled a totally unexpected performance out of the bag!

I am now very much looking forward to rest of the season.Official Results

PS Nearly forgot. Wayne raced there too in the Vets category. Think he found it hard going as evidenced by his you tube video. Also includes some blatant but totally understandable cheating after the 2 minute mark