Sunday 24 March 2013 saw the first round of the British Cycling MTB National Championships. PMR's Nick Baxter made his first appearance racing on a full race licence and by the look of the weather when he left home – it was certainly going to be a tough day at the office!
"I travelled to Nottinghamshire on the Saturday to register early, check out the course and get a good nights rest before the race. The conditions for the race were far from ideal as it was bitterly cold and very snowy.
As I lheaded to the start all the riders were called forwarded to be gridded on the line, which unfortunately saw me near the back of the sport category! With 46 riders in the field it was going to be hard work to get amongst the front runners.
The start was manic, with riders sprinting through the mud and snow trying to get a clear run into the first section of single track. I managed to pass a number of riders before hitting the single track but still had to try and pick overtaking lines through the snow on my first lap. I really tried to push on the second lap, overtaking where I could. The third and final lap saw me catching a small group of riders in my category, who I battled with all the way to the final zig-zag of single track into the start/finish arena. I had one rider in front of me coming out of the last right hand hairpin into the finish straight and the sprint was on for the line! I managed to launch my Vitus Rapide 29er for the line gaining a bike length over the other rider and 3rd place in the sport category.
The Vitus Rapide 29er performed excellently, handling the mud, snow an cold extremely well. It was so cold that the mud actually froze to the frame and ice formed between the teeth of the rear cassette and front chain rings! The light weight, off the peg race nature of the Rapide 29er proved invaluable in working through the field and the sprint finish. I was really made up to get a podium spot in the first round of the series and will be trying hard to carry that through to round 2 at Wheal Maid Valley, Redruth, Cornwall.