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“Earlier this month I raced the Fareham round of the Southern XC mountain bike race series, as I’ve not raced since October 2021 I was desperate to bust off the rust and get back between the tape! It was also brilliant to see people that I hadn’t had chance to catch up with since last season and be back in the race community. It was also my first race in my Alé cycling kit and my Kenya jersey got a lot of compliments from both racers and spectators!
The course was a strange one, at first glance it was massively underwhelming as it was practically flat and with no real big technical features. However, it was actually really good fun as it was fast and flowed brilliantly. It was completely natural and accessible to all riders, but rewarded more skilled riders who could carry more speed through sections and make up time.
The start was interesting as it was my first race, I don’t have any ranking points meaning I was seeded towards the back of the grid and the start was a long, grassy, uphill slog for about 500m. The race started and we were off, I got stuck in a bit of traffic but otherwise had a good start. The first lap of the race was a shock to the system that no amount of training can prepare you for, the intensity is through the roof whilst everyone is trying to break away from the main group and get to the front to reduce the risk of getting caught up behind any slower riders/crashes.
As the race went on, I manged to gradually pick off riders but I had missed the front group at the start but found myself sitting in 4th place at the halfway point. Meaning it was essentially a time trial as I was alone and trying to chase onto the front group.
Sadly, I had left myself too much work to do due to my poor start and I didn’t have the legs to close the gap, I crossed the line in 4th place.
Nonetheless it was great to be able to blow out the cobwebs, see old friends and make some new ones.
I will be at a lot of the mountain bike races in the south of the UK and some of the Nationals, so if you see me come say hi!” – Ashley de Lotz
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