“We arrived at Pippingford on Sunday morning, rain seemed to be holding off although there were threatening grey clouds everywhere. However I was looking forward to riding, and had a set of Strada tubular wheels I was looking forward to trying. I got the bike out of the car and set off to pre ride the course.
The course certainly proved very technical, straight after the initial fire road it was into tight, fast and twisty single track. It stayed like this for the majority of the course, with lots of bomb holes; shorts steep climbs as well as a couple of longer technical climbs.
After the lap I went back to the car, and chilled for half an hour before going to do a warm up and line up at the start. I was gridded fourth based on series standings, which was lucky as starts are never my strong point! It was announced that the race was now going to be 4 laps, as opposed to 3…This was a bit of a setback to be told so late, but everyone was in the same boat. On the line I also received complements by one of the riders on the wheels.
Before I knew it the whistle had gone and we were away. The start was brutal as usual, and by the time we had hit the single track I was sitting in about tenth place, with the front pack starting to open a gap. However after 10 minutes of fast single track I had caught a couple of riders, and passed them. The remainder of the first lap was some very close racing between me and one other, with light rain starting to set in by the end of the lap. The rain got progressively worse, until half way round the second lap it was absolutely torrential, and the course was quickly becoming a mud bath! This caused all the short steep climbs and descents to be pretty tricky and technically demanding, as well as some requiring to be run up occasionally, something I am not keen on…being an awful runner! The close riding continued, until near the end of the second lap when I pulled away. The rain also stopped for the third lap, which I naively thought was a good thing; however it just made the mud clog up even more. The Kinesis performed faultlessly as always, along with the Strada wheels, that although had fast rolling tubulars on, I was able to run them at nice low pressures, which gave me a little more grip in the awful conditions. The last lap was a real chore, I had felt very strong up until that point when I hit a bit of a wall. I rode round at what felt like a crawl, battling with the mud just hoping it was enough not to be caught. The lap went on for what felt like an age, so when it finally ended it was a serious relief!
I finished in 6th, a position I was very happy with considering the testing conditions, this was also the last race in the series and it left me finishing 5th in the overall standings ,again a position I was happy with! The wheels proved to be great; they were faultless through the testing conditions. However I am looking forward to maybe having another ride on them in more normal conditions so I can get a better feel for them.”