NPS 9-06-02

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Updated 15 June 2002

National Points Series XC3 , Checkendon, Reading, 9/6/02

James Lyon Race Report

The biggest De Laune contingent yet turned out for the 3rd round of the National Points Series mountain bike race held at the popular Checkendon course.

Ross' usual presence was swelled by the addition of James Lett and Steve Price to the Masters field, while I was racing Experts in the afternoon. I'd made the long drive from Lancaster on Saturday and camped over with a friend so I'd been witness to how slippery the course was on Saturday and also the amount of torrential rain that had soaked the place on Saturday night. Mud tires were the order of the day…

The day started badly for Ross as he crashed heavily during his warm-up, losing a lot of skin from his elbow and leg. He lined up anyway and got a good start but fell again shortly afterwards and pulled out. The slippy conditions plus the crush of the mad start line scramble had contributed to this. James Lett and Steve Price both had a reasonable start and at the end of the first lap had worked their way up to 24th and 15th respectively with Steve looking particularly strong. By lap 2 (of 4) James Lett was suffering and towards the end of lap 3 blew and pulled out. The course was beginning to get chewed up badly and the sticky mud was having a tiring effect on all the riders. Steve Price meanwhile was looking about as comfortable as can be expected when you're covered in mud and pulled out a few more places in the last couple of laps to take 9th, a very good result for such a competitive field.

I was left to sit around in an increasingly muddy campsite until my race at 3pm. It rained again, turning what was already a dangerously slippery course into a quagmire of liquid mud and chewed up rutted sections. The Sports, Fun and Open categories had also been round which contributed to the general wear and tear of the track.

Within 30 seconds of the start, both me and my bike looked like we'd done battle with The Monster From The Black Lagoon…I was so grateful for my mud tires, which Ross had brought over from London for me. I knew the race would have a high number of DNF's with people suffering all kinds of mechanical problems (mainly chainsuck) in the mud so I resolved to just take it easy, ride at my own pace and finish. I made my way up through the field gradually, picking off a couple of riders a lap until the field had thinned out. Conditions were horrendous, my jersey and legs were coated in thick clingy mud and I had to stop to clear my glasses on two occasions. I timed my efforts well though and on the last lap saw another Expert rider just ahead of me on the final hill. He'd obviously seen me too because he put a spurt on and try as I might I couldn't catch him before the finish line. I rolled over in 25th position, my best result of the series so far…ironic because I'd seriously considered not racing while sat in the car earlier watching the rain lash the course.

Steve, James Lett, Ross and myself will be racing together as Team De Laune at the Red Bull 24hr Race (which will have happened by the time the next DLN comes out), after that the next major race is the National Championships at Hopton Woods near Ludlow.

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