Saturday night saw the third and final round of the 2017/18 Mud and Sweat Night Rider Race series take place at River Dart Country Park. A new venue for a race, I was looking forward to seeing what the park had to offer especially with the promise of a fast course.
Unsure of the conditions to expect, I took the gamble to switch from the Maxxis Beaver mud tyres I’ve been running recently onto low-tread Maxxis Ikon summer slicks, with the expectation the course would mostly be gravel tracks around the park. I’d made right choice for all of about 40 metres, before the course took a sharp left hander into a sustained sloppy and slippery muddy climb for just shy of a third of the lap, immediately followed by a fast but slippery muddy descent back down towards the river through deep mud with plenty of ruts and rocks littered throughout! The lack of grip certainly made it interesting as I slid all over the place trying to hold a line!
As the klaxon sounded around 6:45pm, I yet again struggled to clip in (I really need to sort my race starts out!) as Oli Allen and Derek Wilson shot off ahead with a fast pace into the climb. Thankfully it didn’t take too long to gain momentum and reel them back in, and claimed the lead shortly after.
Derek kept the heat on for the first few laps, gaining ground through a tricky rooty section alongside the river where my line choice left something to be desired until I spotted a better option on lap 2. From here it was pretty much flat out back to the start line across woodland tracks with a short detour onto the pump track. It was a really good flat-out course with very little opportunity to recover.
I managed to retain the lead throughout and took the win after 4 laps. Combined with 2nd place from round 1 at Haldon Forest and 1st at the last round at Cann Woods, this also put me 1st overall for the series rankings, earning a cool hand-crafted trophy, even if it does look like it’s giving me the finger!
Thanks again to Mud and Sweat for a fantastic series. Next up is the first round of the Soggy Bottom Series next weekend at Newnham Park.