With the new season now upon us, Sunday 1st March 2015 marked the return of the Southern XC Mountain Bike Series with the 1st round being held at the beautiful Black Park in Slough.
For Frog Bikes rider Gracie Fox this was her the first step of her journey for this season to claim her 3rd title in 3 years in the Under 9 Girls category and her first outing on her new Team SKY branded bike.
The course offered riders a rolling mix of flat technical sections with single-track dominating the entire lap. For any rider, the start would be crucial!
Gracie pitched herself at the front of the grid but was boxed in by several riders as they all raced towards the single-track for the first time. Gracie found herself 6th heading into the woods for the second lap and unbeknown to her, two of her nearest rivals had found gaps and avoided the congestion, setting the pace further ahead.
In true Gracie style, she battled throughout the race picking off riders to try and stay in site of the leaders. With this being a very difficult course to overtake on, Gracie in 3rd place began to tire due to her mammoth efforts on the first lap. A stumble in front of her in the bomb-hole section on the final lap allowed another racer to squeeze by as Gracie was running with her bike.
Nevertheless, Gracie was back in the saddle for one last push and eventually crossed the line in what was an incredibly hard fought and very commendable 4th place.
Despite Gracie's obvious disappointment at narrowly missing out on a podium space, perhaps the most refreshing part of the entire event came shortly after the race when Gracie and her competitors were in a group talking and laughing together not only about the race but also their own interests outside of the sport. Here were young girls who had arrived to do battle and left as great friends. A perfect advert for the sport if you ask me!
Good on you Gracie, a fantastic ride. We are very proud of you!!