Today was round 4 of SCX series at Irvine Beach. The course is all about elevation changes and sand. I enjoy the climbs and descents, but hadn’t done sand since Irvine in 2018 (the horizontal snow race).
The course is symmetric. On each side, there’s a steep up, fast down, steep up then some twisty offcamber stuff. In the middle there’s flat windswept plains punctuated with sand. Repeat four or five times and you have a race.
The steepest ‘up’ was something I could’ve ridden with clean tyres and fresh legs, but had to run it in the race. I realised this was the case during my sighting lap, and then also realised I had forgot to put studs on my shoes. So I abandoned the lap and sprinted back to the car to install studs, and got back in time for gridding.
The other ups were rideable, and recent Glentress trips were good mental training for keeping on pushing even when legs are tired. The offcamber and twisty bits were all pretty tame – despite the morning rain the course was grippy everywhere.
The long sand section was a lot of fun. The first few laps were sketchy (I fell once or twice) but later in the race a nice initial rut formed, and with great encouragement from a marshall (“keep pushing the pedals, you’ve got this”) I made it through the whole thing on the last two laps.
I totally failed the fast downhill then right on the section after the rollercoaster. I kept target fixating on the outside barrier and drifting wide. After an ‘exciting’ moment on lap 3 where I lost the rear end but manage to hold the slide, I fixed my error on the last lap by simply looking further up the course.
Final result was 30th out of 43 starters in vet40, or 70th percentile – so better than 78pc last time out. I could not have pushed any harder – in the red on the ups and recovering on the owns. I was closing in on the rider ahead of me on the final lap, and even tried a stealth sprint but was still a few seconds adrift at the finish line. Still some way to go to get up to the 50pc I managed pre pandemic.
Tyres today were still the default ones that came with the bike, and ran 35/35psi (with tubes) since it was a smooth course. No punctures, and grip was fine. I’ve punctured at 33/33psi in the Pentlands before (at end of Green Cleugh) so wary of going lower. I have yet to rebuild my tubeless rear wheel, so that’s a job for some dark winter evening, but they’re much better for properly muddy courses.