When you stand on that line side by side knowing that what lies ahead will test you, it creates a nervous tension that rises up out of your heart and you can barely control it. You force your heart rate to stay low and you respect your fellow racers wishing them the best but wanting yourself to be the best .
I thought I 'd just have a go at sticking with her for a while, watch her lines, watch her cadence, see where she takes a drink. I mean this is one person who knows how to get it right, to me it was like playing football with Beckham sooo exciting.
Those first 5 laps we both just got on with it, she was smooth. We were flowing and it felt good. I went too hard into some bermed switchbacks and the ground was a bit loose, it was a silly mistake and I lost the front wheel it slid out and I had a lie down on some rocks.
Just a few cuts but all good, swapped bikes and had my hanger replaced. I started to question my ability to be able to hold this speed so did a couple of slower laps, that was my second mistake .
The coarse was steep and challenging in the day so we entered the night with apprehension. I love the night it cools off and with exposure lights its like riding in the day.
Sun sets and sun rises are so special in these moments especially as we had the Italian riviera as our back drop. Despite the turn in the weather, thunder and showers, i was still warm. my schwalbe racing ralphs delt with the wet roots and rock incredably well performing predictably, just what I neeeded. Jane Chadwick and I must have been the only two who were glad of the britishesque weather! The rain also limited the dust which was giving me a consistant nose bleed- not a good look-looked like we had been boxing not bicycling.
As the sun rose I felt good "stay strong rick, its what you do now that counts, every one who says no show them what you got, empty yourself here, don't feel sorry for yourself just get on with it".
No matter what I put in Jessica stayed strong and sat in the hot seat(1st position) nearly the whole time it soon became clear that i wouldn't catch her, no matter how many caffine cliff gels I ate, but hey I had a great time trying!
That final lap I ticked off section by section counting down all the steep climbs and just one last time I savoured each epic view knowing that what I had worked for all winter was almost coming to the end.
Major thank you to Lucy my long suffering girlfriend, Shane Dickenson (mechanic) long suffering friend, THE Andy Chadwick and congrtulations to the rest of the almighty british riders.