National Championships is always a big race of the year, the only race similar to worlds, a one off race and the prize of a jersey to wear for the next 12 months. Over the years I have raced I have always wanted to win this title and for a few years I didn’t take part due to the restriction of sponsors logos allowed on the National Jersey. I am now pleased that a compromise has been achieved and we now have to wear just the flag of your country on your one sleeve during UCI races. With that rule back in place I was able to be back in contention for the title and the chance to wear the union jack on my sleeve for the next 12 months. Unfortunately a few riders still opted not to race, some due to the jersey and some due to a calendar clash with Crankworx in Canada. Hopefully next year without a clash we can return to having a true National Championship with all the big names in attendance.
Even without a full field it still turned out to be the biggest and most well supported UK event I have been to in years. Llangollen was a popular choice of venue as the track has been likened to the highly technical track in the World Cup, Champery in Switzerland ! This was my first time to Llangollen so I was intrigued to see what I would find……and indeed the first corner did plummet down pretty damn steep into the first 30secs of track, most of it vertical ! To be honest I enjoyed the challenge of riding it, but as a race track it did feel pretty strange to be on the brakes pretty much full on just sliding down the track for the first 30secs !! It did also cause some pretty big delays as rider after rider fell during practice, however thankfully no one was seriously hurt on probably one of the most technical top sections of a track I have seen in the UK.
The lack of chairlifts in the UK and our reliance on some form of uplift system on our narrow roads also made for a pretty slow pace of the day. Only getting in 4 practice runs on Saturday and 1 on Sunday added to my race nerves as I certainly did feel a little unprepared ! Fortunately we had a seeding run which I used as a final practice run which was lucky as I ended up on a completely new line in one section ! Fortunately I managed to put together a better run for the final and it was good enough to take my 8th Senior National Title.
A great weekend and it was really encouraging to see such a healthy and well supported race scene in the UK. Also a big thanks to Sander my mechanic for coming over to get my bike in tip top condition and for taking these photos !! Next stop it’s back to the World Cups and with only 2 rounds to go its going to get exciting !!