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Hit the North Feb '09
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Geoff at Hit THe North Feb 09

Geoff on his way to 16th place from 89 finishers

More photo's on Mark's Facebook page

Mark's race report...
Will I, won’t I. The dilemmas of racing so often is that it sometimes gets me all stressed out. That is how on Friday 6th Feb I nearly gave my entry to Hit the North away. The stress was due to the fact I was meant to be racing in a Trailquest (mountain bike orienteering) on Sunday and my lead in the series is being slowly whittled down by the chasing pack. I thought I could do with a rest before the Trailquest.

In the end, the Trailquest was cancelled due to deep snow covering much of the course. I now could focus all my attention on Hit the North!

After a quick practice lap (minus one small section – more on that later). We all lined up for the start waiting for the Brass Band to break out into a marching anthem!

One little toot on a trumpet caught most of us out and Dean from Liverpool Century responded the quickest and got a flying start. Amazingly, I was right on his wheel with a number of notable favorites behind. A quick blast up a tarmac climb and a sharp about turn back down to the start area had spread the field out nicely.

I sensed that now was a good time to attack as the course wiggled its way around the start/finish area on open grassy trails. It then led to the top of the first singletrack descent. Any time gained on the field could then be doubled on the descent. The attack worked perfectly until the marshal sent me the wrong way!  Although I have to admit, I did not ride this section of the course on my practice lap making me equally culpable. In the heat of the moment, I gave the marshal an earful and almost instantly felt guilty so followed that up with a quick apology.

I was now in 5th position and about 20 seconds behind the leader. I did all that I could to catch them up as quickly as I could but I had to back off slightly as my last attack had used up a lot of energy and my legs were already screaming out for me to stop.

The rest of the race was a combination of hard work and good fun. I got back to 3rd position quickly only to have a bit of a shock when Peachy (a Manchester Mountain Biker/Stockport Clarion Double Agent) caught me on the 2nd lap. I then put in a dig and got a small gap only for my chain to come off. As I was only running a single chainring at the front, I had to get off the bike to put it back on.  Dean and Peachy rode off into the distance and then got about a 30-second gap. It took me a whole lap to get that time back. Then my Trailquest endurance kicked in and my remaining laps were considerably quicker than the chasers but nowhere near as quick as the winners were.

All in all a great little race and I was very happy to finish in my favourite position of second! (I even won some goodies).
PS I must mention that Geoff came 16th. A great result for your ‘first’ mountain bike race that denied me the pleasure of lapping him.

Thanks to Andy who provided many of the photos.

Geoff's Race Report...
It was a cold crisp day for my first competitive outing of 2009. I entered this mountain bike race mainly for training and my love of mud.

The start was fast and uphill so soon whittled the field down before entering the single track section. I managed to get into a good position for the first lap, but soon realized that 1 lap was very hard (for me anyway). It comprised of fast hard packed singletrack, muddy swampy sections and two flights of stairs (bit of a shock to be running in a race)

After 2 laps I was in 9th position and feeling ok but after lap 3 I began to slow and tire. The descents became muddy and as a result my superb handling skills(?) decided to leave me and I found my self on the deck on more than one occasion (3!!)

On the last lap I was totally drained, the bike felt 10lbs heavier due to the mud and running section became slow walks. I’m sure at one stage a local walking his dog was trying to overtake me. Due to the spills, my left shoulder, both shins and knee were a bit brused and lumpy……but battled on (just).

It was a great feeling just to finish and also get 16th position! Just need my bruising and pride to heal before I contemplate looking at the mountain bike again.

Official race report on BC website