Flow MTB rider Korinne Shaw takes 2nd place in the first round of the Lakes Mates Race series at High Nibthwaite, January 2017
The Mates Race Series is based off piste in the Lakes. The event took place on 28th January with 12 women competing. Here’s Korinne’s race report.
This race was being held at High Nibthwaite so it wasn’t too far for me to travel. When I arrived the atmosphere was so relaxed. There was music playing and I got a big sloppy kiss from Andy’s Trail dogs.
The series is exactly what it say’s on the tin… A day of racing, with your mates, in the most beautiful setting of the Lake District.
I’ve been looking forward to this event ever since I managed to bag myself a spot for the series. For an unofficial race series, it was still very obvious that it was a competition, as there were some great prizes up for grabs and the tape running through the woods as far as the eye could see made it all very official.
The interesting thing about this series is the event organisers pick places that are very “off piste” so no trail centre riding and the chances are, very few of the riders, if any, have actually ridden the trails prior to racing them on the day. This seems to level out the playing field a little, as people haven’t been up in the week’s prior smashing out laps in order to get ahead.
Going into the race I was a little nervous, as the team have a reputation of making things quite difficult and the tracks are usually pretty techy.
… I wasn’t wrong to be nervous…..
My first practice run was very tentative and I nearly came a cropper when I rolled up to a drop in the first 50m (that wasn’t rollable) but managed to somehow save it. I then pedalled along the edge of the field on a tiny, muddy, off camber track, which was constantly trying to skid you off into the wall. After that, the track dropped down a pretty steep, muddy banking before heading into the woods and straight on to a rooty section, which in the 2° temperature and rain, was seriously slippy – my bike went from under me and I slid down the rest of that section on my bum. After having a good laugh about it with the guy behind me (who did exactly the same as me I may add), I was determined that would be the last time that me and my bike parted ways!
I flowed through the tight switch backs and pedalled down to a steeeeep rock garden and It then spat you out onto a muddy high sided berm which wound down into the last section where I squeezed through some trees to the finish line. The track was tricky but I was more concerned about the amount of mud that was clogging the grip on my tyres, keeping my speed and making it down in one piece.
My first race run gave me a pretty solid time, although I got caught out on the rooty section again, I managed to stay on my bike this time; I was a woman on a mission for my final attempt.
Thankfully, in my second run, I had no wobbles and finally, luck was on my side!!! I seemed to become a pro at off camber all of a sudden, sticking my foot out for balance, the bike seemed to skim over the roots like they weren’t even there and the ice had thawed on the rock slabs. I got to the bottom and knew I couldn’t have possibly gone any faster, so whatever my time was, I would be happy!
There was no live scoring so you couldn’t see your times until all the racing had finished. We all waited around for the results to be handed round on the paper and I found out before I even go to see it that I had managed to take second place! I was so chuffed with myself (I may even have shed a tear or two). Finally, luck seemed to be on my side, I had no crashes and no bike issues and had somehow come out in the top three in a pack of extremely fast girls.
For a half day of racing, I was exhausted. Maybe it was the physical exertion of constantly fighting with my bike to stay upright or the mental one of racing against so many speedy girls and being terrified of the muddy track… Either way, I was worn out but was over the moon with my first win of the year and already looking forward to what the team will throw at us in round 2.
A massive thank you to the Lakes Mates Team for organising the day and the land owners for their permission to use their field and woodland for the event.Korinne