In August I decided to sign up for the Red Bull Fox Hunt, having had to miss it the last 2 years due to work/timing. As I had never raced before I thought perhaps a large one off event might be a good way to try it out.
The weekend started less than great; I had a call from the garage at 4pm on Thursday to say my van wouldn’t be fixed until next week… I ended up hiring a more suitable car than the Corsa I’d been given. So I loaded up my Seat Alhambra and headed off to Cumbria, via Tebay services, naturally.
I arrived early and realised I’d left my wellies at home, but not to worry as a lovely lady lent me some spare boots she had in her van!
I went and registered, and waited for a few more people to arrive – there was a whole crowd of people that I had met at the Girls at Llandegla event which was a relief!
The schedule had changed for Saturday so I made sure I got to ride briefing in good time. It turned out there was a problem with the uplifts as the access road was almost impassable even to Jeeps. So we gave up waiting and walked up to the 2/3rds point above the ‘scar’. As there was no guarantee of uplift I had decided to do a semi course walk/ride – check it out and ride it in bits. We watched a few crashes and picked out the better lines, particularly as the off camber grass was really causing people problems! The conditions were good though, and I enjoyed the practice although I was a little freaked about the rocky corner, I think because I’d watched people struggling with it.
Seeding took place in the afternoon and the uplift was finally running, so we jumped in a Jeep and got to the top thinking about doing another practice run. The marshals told us that the uplift had stopped running and it started raining so we ended up hiding from the wind and rain and waiting for over an hour. My seeding run was hard – my hands were stiff from the cold, and the grass had turned super slippery due to the rain. I came in at 108th, which wasn’t all that bad considering I fell off 4 times!
Sunday dawned cold but sunny, and the race was to start at 1pm. However the uplift wasn’t running, so we decided we didn’t have the energy to push up for a practice. Fortunately the race uplift did manage to get started for 11am, and we had possibly the most scary ride to above the scar – there was still a push to the start line.
The race eventually started at 2.30, I ended up in the middle at the back but as it was my first race and a mass start I was very nervous. We headed off and for a short while I went with the pack, then I realised I could go faster than those around me – I spied a gap so I took it. I’ll admit I didn’t try very hard but was soon bowling along, and saw a big line of women queuing up for the B line in the scar, so I went for the A line, only to realise Rachel Atherton was behind me! I realised she had a flat tyre, and held her up on the single track a bit! After that I just kept my mind on staying upright and not getting too fast as the grass was still a bit treacherous but nothing like the seeding run. The rest of the course was fine, and I went off the final jump and down the last bit wishing I could do the whole thing again! I came 100th out of 224, which I’m quite pleased with as I did get a bit stuck at the beginning.
All in all a great weekend, and I’ve met and made some really good friends I think – we’re already talking about races and maybe a girls trip to France in the summer! I can definitely recommend going along to a women’s event, as the camaraderie is second to none.
Check out some of the official footage below, I’m the one in blue shorts when Rachel reaches the sharp rocky left hand turn!
Things I wish I’d taken: boots, toilet roll, bike cleaning brushes, Booicore
Things I didn’t need: Tent, table, chair, jerseys, shampoo, shower gel
Things I took that were essential: baby wipes, warm clothing (leggings under trackie bottoms were a godsend!), towels, biscuits, Maoam, gin (and tonic), bin liners