MSG was the first of four weekends of racing for Imo, and it couldn’t have started much better. Here we discuss some of Imogen’s lesser-known qualities and her re-kindled enthusiasm for riding.
Round one of the Mud Sweat and Gears Eastern Region Mountain Bike Series was the first race of 2013 on British soil for Imogen. Having suffered a lapse in motivation in the preceding couple of weeks, the prospect of racing reignited Imo’s enthusiasm and she was positively bouncing around the motorhome on race-day morning. Despite her small stature, Imogen seems to posses very long limbs…especially in small spaces. This, coupled with her extraordinary lack of muscular control and the sheer excitement of granola for breakfast, was dangerous! Thankfully there was no broken crockery and we were all spared being flamboyantly drenched in tea (as is Imogen’s speciality).
And with that, Dad and Imo headed out for a practice lap.
Following on from the propensity to spill tea, next up on the ‘Classic Characteristics of Im’ portfolio was the ‘asking about the weather and thus what to wear’ shenanigan. I am quizzed on the appropriate cycling gear for the meteorological conditions every time Imogen is heading out and I am in the vicinity, whether or not I have been outside, whether I am riding or not and, in this case, despite the fact she herself had already been out riding. Nevertheless we decided on a short-sleeve base-layer, jersey and arm-warmers with shorts and knee warmers.
It was, as it turned out, a winning combination!
You had a cracking start Little One, was it the plan to lead out the race?
I had planned to go hard from start, though leading it out was not planned as such. I wanted to either go with the leader or go myself.
I’d say 7. The bombhole was pretty sketchy; I managed to ride it each lap but it was with the front wheel at about 45 degrees, so it was fairly close! Some risky overtakes involved a fair bit of slip-sliding around too, including one “shit the bed!” exclamation in a particularly sideways moment.
What was the funniest sight during the race?
Chris Harley! Wearing his bright green EHF Racing Team hoody and pumping his hands in the air, shouting “Imo, Imo, Imo!” cheerleader-style as I raced past.
How spot on was your clothing strategy?
I had 99 problems but my clothes weren’t one! I tell a lie, I didn’t have 99 problems, but my kit was perfect.
At what point to you feel that your victory was secured?
Probably right at the end of the last lap. I’d been clear for the first two laps before Laura caught me and attacked. I was able to counter after a nifty overtake and then it was pretty full on right to the finish. My endurance training seems to have paid off and I could keep the effort going right to the end and enjoy the last bit of fast, fun singletrack.
What have you learnt from this race?
It being only my second race back, I learnt where I am in terms of fitness and ability. It was nice to know that I can go for over an hour at a high heart rate and not die! It was a good feeling that after a few weeks of lack of structure [in training] that my general race-readiness seems unaffected. I also had to think about the race in terms of tactics; I knew what I was doing – attacking and using my technical strength. I learnt that I am excited to get racing again. I’m excited for Sherwood. I feel ready for it.
It was an encouraging race for Imo as she now heads into three big races in as many weeks. First up is the opening round of the British Cross Country Series this weekend, followed by a trip to the Netherlands to race Paasbike Nieuwkijk and then ATB Trophy Norg.
I will be supporting Imo at Sherwood as well as doing the report for xcracer.com. Imogen will then head over to the Netherlands with Michiel, with myself and Katy Winton joining later in the week in time for them to race amongst international competetion at Nieuwkijk.