I got the bike through scrutineeering straight away, then signed on, sorted out my timecard and brought the fuel up to the refuelling point next to the start/finish check. There were 3 laps for the sportsman class, with the experts doing 5 and everyone else doing 4, the special test was untimed on the first lap.
Onto the start line at 10:38am, I started at a good pace, reminding myself that I was late to the first check last year. The first check was hard! Very technical riding through the trees which involved ruts, mud and never ending tree roots, which got dug-out more and more on each lap. The course was great fun, with all kinds of other riding including hill climbs, steep descents, muddy ruts and deep water crossings. The test had a great mix of these too, but with no "stoppers".
The first lap felt like hard going, with the course obviously being unknown to us, it took time and effort to pick out the good lines (and a few offs)! I think I must have dropped the bike about 10 times throughout the day, which used up some valuable energy, but that's the problem when you get tired, it's very hard to maintain the same level of technical ability when you're exhausted, and that's when you make mistakes, which ultimately results in even more energy loss. Being bike fit is important, and I'm reminded of that every time I race. I should point out (before someone else does...) that I was "that guy" that crashed right in front of the photographer on a steep, rutted downhill section, straight into some trees. Well, you've got to give the people what you want haven't you...
The second lap surprisingly went a little easier, I chose good lines and still had the energy to throw the bike around in the trees, and I had a good test, even though I took it steady.
I found the third and final lap hard work, particularly the first check, I had to dig deep to keep pushing myself, taunting myself with thoughts of dropping time at this stage of the race. I crashed a couple of times, one of which pushed my front brake caliper all the way out(!) and the other pulled a wire loose on the electric start. I pumped the brake and all seemed well, and the e-start responded well to some calculated wire wiggling.
The final special test was OK, I wasted a few seconds after dropping the bike in a rut, but my times were fairly consistent so I was pretty happy.
I managed to stay clean on time throughout the day which is always the bare minimum I want to achieve. In fact I was 5-7 minutes early to each check which was good news for me because I got to rest! By the time I'd finished I didn't feel like I had another lap left in me, so I was pleased it was only 3 laps for the Sportsman class!
All in all it was a good day and I really enjoyed it, by 6pm I had everything put away, cleaned and greased and good to go for next time. Great work from WTRA, thanks to all that were involved and see you next year.