The 2019 Welsh Wiltshire Lanark Lombardy

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What seemed like a decade of not racing, I thought I’d try my hand at this gravel racing thing. Its been gaining traction like a locamotive over the last few years and it’s basically the perfect mix of road and mountain biking. Pretty much the perfect sport if you ask me!

I’d only been prompted about 100 times on Facebook about this Gravel Cup series and had the itch to give it a go. Procrastination got the best of me and didn’t sign up until the night before. Great race preperation, Jamie! I know, that’s not the way to set yourself up for success but after I chugged a gallon of water before bed, I figured that would be good enough to make it through the course.

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The day started with my ‘famous’ poridge, banana and peanut butter bowl, along with some eggs for some extra calories. Somehow I managed to forget to drink my coffee but something tells me that wasn’t the worst thing anyway. Anyone else pass on the coffee come race day? Something about dehydration maybe? Anyway, I was all fueled up, packed up the car and headed to Tatlock for my first race in years.

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Upon arrival, the butterflies in my stomach were fierce! I was as nervous as can be but I got myself registered, stuck on my bib number and mixed a few concoxions into my water bottles. Basically BCAA’s and NUUN tabs.

The race was set to start at 10am with the sport category leaving 5 minutes afterwards. After a few words from the organizers, they let the elites go. As they were slowly pedalling away, the organizer yelled out, oh yeah, you’re all leaving at once. A quick look of mass confusion, but I was ready and somehow managed to get on the rear of the elites to get pulled along for the first 10km or so.  Everyone was full bore full gas. I just tried to hold on. I met the second place finisher, Joe McNamara along the way, and we pairded up for the race and had the strategy of, let’s pull each other to the finish line.

[grve_title title=”The course”]
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Photo by: Robert Roaldi

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Photo by: Robert Roaldi

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Photo by: Robert Roaldi

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I had been trying to manage my heart rate, but with the crazy mass start that wasn’t really happening but looking back, was it ever really going to go down? Probably not. But I kept pushing with my new friend and with just 3km to go, we approached this massive hill. I was ahead and by the time I got to the top and looked back, Joe was at the bottom telling me to just go! Wait, was I about to win my first bike race? What if I flatted? What if something went terribly wrong. Whatever, just keep pushing I thought.

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Well I pushed, then pushed some more. The final turn of this race was a little hidden. Thanks to Joe, had I not been told, I might have missed it. It shot into an ATV trail, down a hill, across a creek (this did not favour my hald repaired ankle). Moments later, I was across the finish line. Nobody was there. I was a little confused. Was I first? Did I miss something? Nope, I was first. Holy shit!!! How awesome was that. Joe came through the finish line moments later, we were both stoked. I had a new friend. Joe certainly kept me pushing throughout the race and I don’t think I would have done so well had he not told me we were in the same category earlier in the race. You are the man, Joe!

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Little to my disappointment, there was no podium for the Sport category but I was still pretty happy about the day. I honestly can’t say enough great comments about this series, the organizor. I’m looking forward to 2020 race series which you can learn more about here. I might have to bump myself up to Elite next time although first place finishes don’t seem anywhere in sight at this point but who really cares. It’s about getting out there, going fast and having fun. Until next time, keep it rubber side down!

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Photo by: Robert Roaldi

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Photo by: Robert Roaldi

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1583 1800 CommonEmpire
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