FMTB Trained Athlete Maxine Filby was invited to compete at the Hadleigh Farm invitational, one of the London Prepares test events for next years games. I took advantage of a rare opportunity to get to see Maxine racing and headed down to Hadleigh. The event was incredible with just under 5000 spectators lining the track and with one of the most open venues for Mountain Bike Racing ever you could see the event unfold in front of you. Maxine put in a great ride and I’ll let her give you the low down.
I was lucky enough to be one of a handful of British riders to be invited to participate in the London Prepares Olympic Test Event at the Olympic Mountain Bike venue Hadleigh Park. I was very pleased to be asked and was extremely excited at the prospect of riding the Olympic course in race conditions against riders who would be going to London 2012. It was an amazing opportunity and a huge thank you to Marytn Salt and LOCOG for inviting me.
Practice started on Friday after I had registered and as this was the test event even the registering process was as it will be in 2012; this was quite daunting as everything was so official but a great experience for when I get to bigger races. As I had been to the training day at the course after Dalby World Cup I knew most of the technical sections quite well and it was a case of fine tuning them for the race. From the available videos the course looks quite straight forward but there are many rock drops and switchback climbs that test even the best riders. Again I was lucky to be being looked after by the WXC team and felt very spoilt when my bike was cleaned and even my number collected for me. My practice laps went well; going round with the other British riders, Carla Haines and Jessie Roberts and honorary Brits Cait Elliot and Mel Spath really helped as we were able to bounce suggested lines of one another and generally discuss the course. The general consensus at the end of practice was that the course ticked all the right boxes but just lacked that edge of a ‘proper’ mountain bike course, how wrong we turned out to be!
Race day dawned and the atmosphere was electric, with Dan Jarvis and Chris Furber providing the commentary meant the nerves were running high even before the race started, add to that some 4000+ crowds and music that makes your spine tingle you can imagine I was somewhat overwhelmed; it was awesome! I got a great start and hit the first technical section in a good position, there were lots of elbows out moments which I love, it’s real racing. Once through Deane’s Drop I settled into a rhythm and soaked up the atmosphere, the support from the British crowd was fantastic, all the shouts and cheers really made me push harder. The course was great and flowed like a real course should, it was relentless in its demands constantly testing my skill and fitness. Unfortunately my concentration slipped for a nanosecond and the course punished me, I knocked my bike on the side of one of the rock drops and somehow managed to flip my chain over the crank arm. I tried desperately to fix it on track so I could carry on but to no avail, I had to retire. I was gutted; I was having so much fun and feeling the best I have in a while. It was an amazing experience and I’m looking forward to seeing the world’s best fight it out over the course in 2012 knowing I’ve raced over the same ground.
Once again a big thank you to my sponsors without which I would not be at the level where I am invited to participate in such fantastic events. Firecrest MTB, Whyte Bikes Limar Helmets, Kenda Tyres, Lake Shoes, Jagwire, Sponser Energy Products, AndyStand, Baines Racing and Working Bodies. A huge thank you to WXC team for providing such great support and to all the spectators who gave us all a shout of encouragement.