An early start again this week but not as early as for the organisers of the midlands xc series. As I rode through the special events area on the way to Birches Valley, Nadine was busy organising the arena and James was out doing some final prep to the course.
Dale and myself loaded up our Chase Trails gazebo, banners and flags and headed over to set up. By the time we arrived there were already lots of people signing in and heading out to practise the course. Our slightly late arrive made putting the gazebo up a little more challenging but it all added to the excitement. Russ had even managed to get there before us (helping Goldtec run their trade stand), although they weren’t as well prepared as us, you would have thought a trade stand would have a set of allen keys with them!). Alan arrived to help marshal and quickly disappeared not to be seen again for the rest of the day, if it wasn’t for the occasional radio call I’d wouldn’t have known he was there. We checked in with the extreme medical and were kitted up with radio, whistle and flags (yellow for caution, red for stop) and headed off with Lynsey and Al to find our marshal stations.
Dale and myself were location on a gravely fireroad at the far end of the course, at the start of the big dipper (or the end if you ride it the normal way) and had a pretty uneventful morning. The only highlight being that none of the riders made it up one of the steep loose gravel climbs and the racers who confidently shouted ‘rider’ before unclipping and walking like everyone else ahead of them. Lunch arrived by bike courier (James) and gave us chance to compare food quality with previous marshalling experiences!
For the afternoon we swapped locations with Lynsey and Al (sorry) and we got an afternoons entertainment at the ‘berm of death’. Contrary to popular stereo types most the xc racers rode this bit of trail really well and the top guys were super quick. The few people who unclipped and shuffled down on their feet unfortunately will keep the stereo type alive. As we were paired up I got chance to wander and see some more of the course and catch some of the entertainment. The best moment was witnessing Martyn Brooks’ taking his alternative line bunny hoping a log to cut a corner and carry his speed out onto the fireroad, class. I also witnessed a high speed off over some slippy off camber roots (when I complimented the rider on the speed he was going he replied “it doesn’t matter if you don’t make it to the bottom”), so true, despite the obvious pain he remounted and continued on. After I returned to my position the race was soon over and we were packing up and heading back to base. On the ride home James and Nadine were still busy tiding up…