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European MTBO Champs 2011 – Sprint

By Stodge @stodgeblog

European MTBO Champs 2011 – SprintThe Sprint distance final was held in the town of Vyborg near the border with Finland. This old town with a long military history promised some close racing on its cobbled streets and parks.

The starts followed a great opening ceremony with dancing drummer girls and the normal speeches which was held inside the medieval fort.

I had done a fair bit of research on Vyborg using Yandex maps, a sort of Russian google street view and felt as we drove into the town I knew the place quite well already.

Out of the start I rode well through the first 4, a little surprised perhaps at some of the obstacles we faced, but taking it fairly slowly nailing the controls. At 5 I lost some time though, not seeing the NW route into the control which forced me to run up the steps. Having lost my flow I then proceeded to ride

European MTBO Champs 2011 – Sprint
back towards number 4 but recovered it in time not to lose too much but the two mistakes together cost me about a minute.

Then came the first signs that the town was not a closed to traffic as we had been promised. I was soon jumping traffic lights and avoiding cars and pedestrians as I came up the steps into 7. Then came the scary steps. Coming out of 9 it was either ride 3 flights of fairly steep steps or get off and carry. I rode them but it was right at the edge of my comfort zone.

I had to overake a lorry and more cars on the way to 10 and then overtake it again to 11 where we changed our maps for the final section of the course.

European MTBO Champs 2011 – Sprint
After a few controls in some open heathland we plunged into an area of garages and huts, not at all well mapped. After a little hesitation I (like a few others) dived down an alleyway not seeing it had . A wall marked block the way. The trouble was the wall wasn’t a wall it was a 3 metre drop, no barrier, nothing. I skidding to a halt inches from the edge and looked down. We had been told the previous evening unlike in foot sprint O we could go down these if we were brave enough. I grabbed the bike a jumped…… big mistake, I landed heavily winding myself and perhaps bruising my ribs (we will see tomorrow on that one).

I limped with breathing laboured to the control but was a bit out of it. I then nearly crashed a second time hitting a huge hump on the pavement but just managed to hang onto the bike one handed using my knee as a brake on the front wheel.

I then messed up the next few controls until the taped route to the spectator control which after a few more near misses with cars I punched just ahead of Ruslan Gristan and raced the final couple to the finish with him finally opening my legs up to a proper sprint speed.

European MTBO Champs 2011 – Sprint
I had hoped that with a clean ride I could have made the top 20 in this race but my early mistake and then the fall meant I was well down.

However I did wear a headcam so once edited ill post it on youtube, possibly leaving out the portaloo visit at the start !

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