Nick Popham recalls his race at the Hadleigh Park International UCI HC-class mountain bike that he was accepted to ride in the Elite mens class by British Cycling. A great way to practice for the masters world MtB championships in Italy in August and also to see the competitors that will be taking part in Rio de Janeiro. Hadleigh is one of the most challenging courses on the racing circuit.
So my entry was in and got excepted by the organiser; I was on the start list. Game On! I started to change my training with first stop the National Champs in Scotland then I was ready for Hadleigh Park on the 30-31st July
For the first time since the 2012 Olympic Games the worlds best mountain bike racers will gather once again in Hadleigh Park, the site where one of the most exciting cross-country races the world had ever seen; a day ingrained in the memories of everyone who watched either live or on television, & now a perfect example of an Olympic legacy venue.
I had backing from Beet It Sport and Absolute Black who I’m also an Ambassador for and Schwalbe tyres. Schwalbe were on site which gave me the chance to try different tyre combinations on my hardtail and full suspension Cannondales. Kabona Racing my 2017 team sponsors agreed to setup a UCI pit crew with two bottles and mechanic support.
Prelaps was key to getting the right lines and following the current world champ and would be race winner Nino Schurter. I’ve got a Fantastic video following him down the large rock garden.
Sunday came and decided in the Morning prelaps that Hardtail was going to be the fastest option with 2.25 racing Ralph snakeskin tyres front and rear. Grant the local Schwalbe rep also an ex World Cup mechanic set my bike up which proved faultless for 6 Elite laps .
11am 2 Beet It Sport shots were taken followed by an elite Beet It flapjack at 12. All part of my normal race prep. 1.10pm I was on the rollers for 20min then riding up and down getting mutual acknowledgements from the Elite men preparing in warm up area. Gridding started at 1.50 I had a few Elites behind me on the 6th Row, before I knew it the gun had gone. I stayed with them and they all stopped at triple trouble so I hit the rocky B line; it’s always good to practice all lines. After this we were away I was on 15min laps and found all of friends and family were out cheering and calling “Nick, Nick” on the large rock garden, it was an amazing atmosphere, racing was faultless with Nino the world champ catching me as I finished my 3rd lap, I still got another 3 in, they were doing 7 laps, finishing the race in 1hr 40min with avg HR of 150 , 293avg watt n 1700watt max finishing 33rd what a day so humbled to be apart of it .