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The very fact that Dalby Forest is worth a 7 hour drive each way from our hometown is testament to the nature of the trails. As I sit at my desk on monday morning having parked the Shred van outside my house at 11pm the night before I reflect on the amount of time and energy people throw at their weekends of racing.

We'd had an amazing time but it is kind of hard to pick a best bit when your whole body aches from the pounding the tough course dishes out, you are covered in scrapes and bruises and you still have to unload the van and see what kind of state your bike is in.

Saturday went without a hitch, an early start, a van full of sweets and glorious sunshine set the tone for a cracking weekend of weather. We arrived around lunchtime and it was straight out on the course for a couple of practice laps. The atmosphere out on course at Dalby is as close as you'll get to performing in the Colosseum, it attracts spectators for all the wrong reasons. Even on saturday afternoon there was a mixture of people waiting to see some spillage or searching for enough courage to take on the toughest sections of the trail. The two notorious sections 'Worry Gill' and 'Medusa's' are both actually quite straight forward but look so imposing that a lot of riders can't even find it in themselves to have a go. This isn't without good reason but it is really nice to say this about XC racing. Racing at trail centres has its advantages and disadvantages. Whilst you can arrive pretty confident of the conditions and what lies before you there is never a lot of space on the trails so overtaking (or being overtaken in my case) is always really difficult for everyone involved. Add to this the swelling numbers of people racing XC this year and things get a little messy out on course with a few scraps, some pretty bad language and a lot of pointless venting off in the rush to finish in minor league positions.

Raceday wasn't the usual affair, there was no hiding the fact that everyone was pretty quiet about the race that lay ahead. The toilets were a write-off before lunchtime, nerves getting to a lot of people and whilst for a few the battle would simply be about getting to the front, for most their wasn't really a lot of racing going on, more a case of surviving the day, trying to scrape some points and move onto the next round in June. Our first riders out were Luke Eggar in Elite and James Birch in Juniors, Luke had a strong and clean ride moving closer into the top 40 of Elite, James had a crash but still put in a reasonable ride off the back of some pretty bad health over the past few weeks. Race 2 was won by Rocky Mountain's Geoff Kabush, beating Olly Beckingsale to the line by 17 seconds.

The afternoon would be taken up by the double act of Brendan Murphy and Garry Pike, after practice is was clear that Brendan would possibly have a chance to overtake his team mate and both riders could do well. This nearly happened after Pikey went out way to hard on the first lap and took a thrashing, Brendan rode a steadier ride and gradually reeled his team mate in and both riders pushed up inside the the top. In the end the punishing steep climbs would hit Brendan with a dose of last lap cramp and Pikey got ahead to take 18th place in vets with Brendan just a two places behind.

The British XC series moves onto Wasing Estate nr Reading on June 12th. For the Shred National Trust team we are looking forward to the next round of the RaceFace Circus of Dirt on May 1st and Bristol Bike Festival in early June.

Thanks to our sponsors, Shred Magazine, the National Trust, Elite Velo and Spiuk - helping us to have an awesome time in 2011!

Thanks to Darren Ciolli-Leach (www.xcpix.com) for the images.

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