November 5th was Dunfermline round of SCX series – always a mudbath! The start was chaotic with people leaning on each other down the first few straights and corners. With early energy, I managed to power through lots of the deep mud sections on lap 1 – with enough speed you can kinda “stay on top” of the worst bits of mud. In the main field there were lots of fast turns which rewarded getting the right line and chucked you wide if you got it wrong – definitely worthwhile to be looking far ahead to figure this out. There was a downhill chicane section in the second field which was almost certainly faster to run, but I rode it each lap because I was enjoying trying to refine my lines. I ran tubeless at 26/27psi with no issues. The derailleur was seriously clogged towards the end, requiring care when changing gear and remembering to NEVER BACKPEDAL. (I backpedalled on the way back to the car after the race had ended, and my chain immediately fell off). I finished 29th out of 53 vet40 starters, which is 55th percentile – so that counts as a success.
I had wanted to do Castle Douglas but the logistics didn’t work out, and then I couldn’t make Knockburn Loch either due to work travel.
I did manage to get up to Dundee for Camperdown Park race today. The weather was just above zero, and the ground pretty hard and frozen. It was hard to judge how to dress. Normally I race in a merino base layer and long sleeve mtb top, but had thought I’d need something warmer. However, with no wind it actually didn’t feel very cold once you’d got going. So I stuck with my regular kit and long-fingered light mtb gloves and that was totally fine. I was gridded midfield but lost a bunch of places off the line when I couldn’t get clipped into the pedals (probably clogged with ice). During lap one, I made up a bunch of places with opportunistic passes and settled in behind rider 161 who was doing a fast steady pace which I thought was about the max I could manage for 40 minutes. Occasionally I’d pass him, then he’d repass. This carried on for several laps until annoyingly I had pedal trouble again and couldn’t get clipped in. I kept moving, but in the few seconds it took to sort out the problem, a whole train of four riders went past me. I spent the next lap trying to steadily bridge back onto the group, but once I got to the rearmost rider I didn’t have enough speed to make any progress. By the last lap, I was right with a group of two but again just didn’t have anything extra to actually pass them.
The course was pretty much a “power course”, albeit a grip limited one. Most of it was long radius turns where you’re trying to judge how much grip is available, then straights for the power guys. There was no real elevation change, and not gnarly technical sections. These kind of courses just aren’t my strong point, and so my finishing place of 30th out of 45 (66th percentile) was a bit better than I expected when I crossed the finish line.
Next weekend is final SCX round at Brechin, rescheduled after the downpour earlier in the year.