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Austin Smith recalls his time participating in the HSBC UK National Cross-Country Championships at Cannock Chase last Saturday.

It’s fair to say I’m not a natural at Mountain Biker, but my love for the discipline keeps me striving to be better. With a good Club TT and Bruntingthorpe RR season, I was feeling confident in my fitness… and so I headed with my Dad (Denis Smith) to Cannock Chase for the last round of the HSBC UK National Cross-Country Championships. I was hoping for a fast dry course after another mini week of heatwave temperatures, but Friday night saw heavy downpours, scuppering any hopes of that.

Saturday mornings practice laps revealed the tree cover had done a pretty good job of keeping most places from turning to a mud-fest.

With no National ranking points, I was gridded on the last row, so I was going to have to be patient as the course entered narrow tree-lined sections and wait for the climbs to make progress. Which I was able to do.

The one thing I have learnt with MTB, it doesn’t matter how road fit you are, it’s no substitute for MTB, it’s whole different level of fitness, and so after 5 laps and 1hr 42mins of racing, I crossed the line in a heap, collapsing to the ground exhausted, legs burning and cramping in my hands and calves from gripping to tight on the steep climbs… I went to Cannock hoping for an ambitious top 30, and I succeeded with a 27th in the V40-49s. It was a great end to the MTB season. And now on to the Cyclo-Cross season!


Denis was competing in the Super Vets category (60+). Unfortunately, he burped his front tyre on the 4th lap mid-way round the course and so had to run back to the finish, but up until then he had been lying in 7/8th position riding a strong race.

Dom Switzer came away with 18th in his category.


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