I really mean it, Muddy Hell is one of the highlights of the year.
Having only got back into riding over the last month I half heartedly entered Muddy Hell because I knew Lou was racing and wanted to support her. I had all week to to sort out my bike and fancy dress costume but didnt bother as deep down I didnt think I would actually ride. I think a combination of falling off about 10 tens in the 1st lap last year and feeling a bit embarrassed about my fitness level were the reasons. I havent touched my cross bike since Feb and have only been riding long and slow rides for the past month so I knew it would be physically really tough for me. It's crazy how being ill can knock your confidence as normally I dont give a damn if I come last as I love to support these events.
Saturday morning came and the weather was awesome so I decided to ride the intermediate track session. It was really tough as I had a hangover and the headwind on the far straight was ridiculous. After blowing out the initial cobwebs it turned into a thoroughly enjoyable session which really stretched me, it is really nice to feel the legs come back to life. I got home and felt pooped after the track session, my tired legs were now another excuse to not race in the evening. The Mule Bar boys rocked up about 3pm after being on an epic MTB ride and did a great job at convincing me to ride. It was then a mad rush to try and sort out costume and cross bike in time for the race. Quick trip up to Crystal Palace to pick up some fake blood sorted my costume out and I just put some oil and hoped it would get me round :-)
The novice race had already begun when I arrived, seeing all the bike lights go round the course in the dark was awesome. The cheering crowd put the fire in my belly and made me forget about my tired legs. I hadnt ridden the course in the daylight as I opted for a snooze instead of the practise lap so I was rather nervous going into the warmup lap. It was actually a lot better than I thought and I made it round the warmup without falling off which made me very happy.
We were lined up behind the Vets and Juniors for the start. I hate the start of races, I always get so nervous, I had also only eaten an hour before the race so felt rather sick. There were quite a few regular cross riders so I knew it would be a fast start with the girls jostling for the top places. I didnt sprint for the start as I knew i just needed to make it round and there was no point blowing my legs out in the first lap. I concentrated on riding steady and making it through the technical sections in one piece as I am rather clumsy on my bike so wanted to try and stay upright. The plan was working well until I started over taking some of the girls and heard my name being cheered. I started trying to gun it through the technical sections and kept falling off. It made me laugh so much as I would work really hard to over take a few riders on the flat and then fall off and would lose loads of places. I loved every minute though, each lap I learnt so much about to handle the bike, what line to take etc etc. On the final lap I knew I could catch any riders so knew I had to just keep my position so I didnt lose any placing. Unfortunately I got a puncture riding through the muddy section. I knew I had to finish to place so rode on my flat round the rest of the course, I then realised that I needed to over the big ramp. I knew I wouldnt be able to ride up it so ran up, I got to the top and suddenly realised that I prob should ride down on a flat so stood still for a while not sure what to do and feeling really embarrassed. Eventually I decided it would be best to walk down, it was bl**dy hard though as the surface was really muddy and covered in chicken wire. I made it down and jumped on the bike to finish the race just behind my team mate Phoebe. I was covered in cuts and scratches but didnt care as I had had so much fun.
Lou, who I lost sight of within the first 10 secs rode an amazing race, winning by over 30 secs.
Thanks to Rollapaluza for putting on such an amazing event, apparently all the Mule Bar Boys are going to race the 2012 event.