Race Report: Seven Hills Killer 2012

It's the time of season when it is all too tempting to put your feet up and call it a day; most of the major races are over, there is the UCI World Champs on TV, and it's pissing it down outside with gale force winds.

Unfortunately, I seem to have an addiction to my bike and to racing. Even when the rational part of my brain looked out the window this morning and shook its head at the ridiculous headwind and pouring rain, it was the childish, excited part that quickly won over, flashing up the words "RACE", "COMPETITION", "MUD", "FUN?" in neon lights.

So it was that I started my fourth? (done a few of these, can't remember how many) Seven Hills this morning in horrendous conditions. I was pleased to see that there were plenty of other Isle of Wighters and Mainland folk braving the conditions as well.

I sacked off my warm up, opting instead to sit in the warmth of James' van eating Jelly Babies and reciting the checkpoints. Then at around 1030 I set off, straight up the side of Freshwater Down and into the block headwind and showers of spray coming both downwards from the clouds and upwards from my tyres.

The ride somewhat blurred into one, and seemed to go very quickly. To give a bit of background on the event though; it's an orienteering mountain bike event, timed using electronic tabs, which you have to 'dib' into each of the 13 checkpoints along the route. All the points are stationed on the highest downlands on the Isle of Wight; seven Downs to be correct, giving it the name 'The Seven Hills'.

Anyway, the race seemed to blur into one big, wet, windy, mud fest. James cheered me along the route and came to meet me shivering at the finish; which I was incredibly grateful for. I knew that I was going well after last weekend's result at that Mountain Bike Marathon in Wales, but it was hard to tell in the conditions how well I was going today, as due to the headwind, my splits compared to previous years weren't that amazing.
However, I was greeted by a pleasing 1st place on the big screen when I dibbed into the final checkpoint at the finish, and nobody managed to topple me. No records were broken with a time of 2hrs 11mins, and it was a lot more than the sub 2-hour times that I have ridden the course in previously. But, it was 8 minutes clear of second place, which was all that mattered.

It was nice to have a chat with local riders at the finish, including friends that had run the mountain bike club I first started riding with on the island. Also the family friend that sold me my now heavily upgraded steel road bike - which first got me into road cycling. I came away with a fantastic GPS Mio Cyclo 305HC computer, which I will be sure to review on the blog in the near future; I predict it will provide me with lots more exciting data to analyse from future training.

A big thank you to the Isle of Wight council for laying on another great event as part of the Island Cycling Festival, and a personal thank you to all the other riders that turned out despite the conditions to make it a great event as they do every year.

Full Results and Splits

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