I had local knowledge to give me an advantage but Josh was in the final weeks of recovering from a separated AC joint picked up the the BC bike race a couple of months earlier. We were going to have our work cut out though, the race was won overall last year by the winning male pairs entry, beating all of the teams of three, by two elite XC boys, and they were back to defend their title. Stanmer Park's course is legendarily full of sweet singletrack so we were dying to let the Tallboys rip and see if our endurance legs and singletrack speed could give them a run for their money where we lacked the raw short course speed. The weather was supposed to be damp, but we were reasonably happy the extra grip of the 29er wheels would offset that and allow us to get away with some faster tyres.
|Stanmer delivers great twisty, singletrack through the trees with constant ups & downs|
It had started to rain by now, but I faired pretty well on my first lap so set off once more on my (intended for extreme dry conditions) Small Block 8 tyres. Oops! The first lap had me riding the course after only a few riders had been through, but now hundreds of laps had been done and the rain had turned it into a complete quagmire. Add some silly tyres and an optimistic rider with dreams of a podium finish and you've got a recipe for lots of sliding around! I handed Josh the, now very muddy batton, yet further behind the lead, it wasn't looking good for a famous victory!
The disaster struck. Josh was unable to ride around the increasingly Somme-eque course and was forced to walk big sections, not normally a problem but his shoulder wouldn't let him push the bike properly. He eventually came round having, like me, lost further ground on the lead and this time to inform me that his race day was done. I was going to have to finish off.
|Eurgh! Not perfect for semi-slicks|
The mud started to take hold of the course
It was too little too late for Two Tall Boys on Two Tallboys though. We would eventually finish 2nd in the men's pairs category, victim to the defending champions, but we did gain the satisfaction (distinction, even) of beating all of the make teams of three. Josh's arm recovered enough such that he could drink unhindered at the after race party and we got our podium moment and some big smiles to wear on our faces. Best of all we got a "podium kiss" by PodiumKiss.com's very own podium girl, what more could a racer want :-)
|On the podium, a job well done|
Here's to next year's BrightonBigDog