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Race Report: NatWest Island Games XC racing

Rich Payne, raced our of his comfort zone, and he liked it:

Richard Payne, racing XC

The island games are a funny thing kind of like a mini olympics for smaller islands/countries around the world. Theres a total of 24 countries that take part coming everywhere from Bermuda to Greenland and Majorca to Orkney with a wide variety of sports including track and field, football, volley ball and of course cycling. Our team normally like to focus there efforts on racing enduro but with the Island Games this year being in Jersey and the team based there rider Richard Payne thought it'd be rude not to have a bash at some xc, so sit back relax and heres his report.

So i when i found out that the games were going to be in Jersey this year i thought id see if i could qualify for the team and represent the island. Our xc series which would be used for qualifying runs though the winter so i managed to get hold of a suitable bike for the first race in november and start to give it a whirl as i thought that even if i didn't make the cut then it'd still be good training for racing enduro.

I noticed a big improvement in my fitness once i started racing and results soon started to creep up which was good because in the games you do two races a cross country race lasting between 1.5 - 2 hours and a criterium race which was going to be 45mins plus 2 laps so a high fitness level was going to be crucial.

Making the team was awesome and the first hurdle jumped, we had a wicked team this year full of really strong competent riders so we knew team medals were defiantly on the cards with our strongest Rhys Hidrio looking on point for an individual medal. The cross country race was first up and it was absolutely scorching with the average temperature around 28 and highs of 36 in some areas where there was no breeze. I got a fairly good start and was around 11th into the first turn quickly making a few moves moving up to 7th halfway through the firs lap until unfortunately i dropped a chain and had to stop and sort it out moving me back to around 16th. With the track quickly deteriorating and things only heating up i managed to make a couple passes but the damage had been done and the front runners were gone so it became more a race of attrition and survival than anything else and i ended up crossing the line 14th however my team mates crossed the line with 3 of them in the top 10 so with all our results combined we managed to get the team silver overall, unfortunately Rhys punctured and managed to salvage a 5th.

Richard Payne, AMS ambassador giving it all at the XC race

Wednesday was the criterium race and this was taking place on a man made mtb course around one of the parks in St Helier with obstacles like drops, whoops and a bridge to go over then under it was my kind of race especially being a shorter time it meant just a flat out sprint. After one false start due to the starting horn not working properly we got under way with another good start but way out on the outside of the first corner i instantly knew it was going to be a flat out race with a furious pace straight from the onset. Lap times were around two and half minutes and didn't let up, i made a few passes an got passed a few times but with an absolutely crazy home crowd lining the entire course it was all the motivation i needed to keep stoping on the pedal and eventually work my way to a 12th place finish again with a couple team members ahead of me and Rhys getting a much deserved silver individual medal as a team we got ourselves a much earned silver again with everyone giving it there all.

So all was done and dusted and my first and biggest xc race done kind of gave me the bug to do a few more alongside some enduro's. Id like to say a massive thank you to all my friends and family for there support, all the guys on Team jersey, Remap Clothing, James Ollivier at The Cycle Centre, allmountainstyle.com and most of all my girlfriend for putting up with me during all my training….. Cheers Guys


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