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Rab Wardell – Mountain bike racing is a hugely competitive sport

Mountain bike rider Rab Wardell at Cathkin Braes

The Cathkin Braes Mountain Bike course is almost complete now ahead of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, but I’m only too aware that I myself am not there yet!

I do visualise a little bit what it will look like at Glasgow 2014, but I know I have to qualify first. There are only three places on the Scotland team and we have a strong group of riders. There are six or seven us who could potentially qualify, so I’ve got to be the best I can and hopefully that will be enough.

It helps that I’ve got experience behind me, having competed at Melbourne 2006. I’ve dealt with this kind of pressure before. I know what I need to do and I know I can do it.

Recently, school kids were asked to choose names for the different features on the Cathkin Braes Mountain Bike course and I attended the awards ceremony where the winning entries were announced. That experience has really helped to focus my mind on Glasgow 2014.

There were some quite clever names chosen. Broken Biscuits is a good one for that rocky section – that’s class – and I like Rest and Be thankful, as well. It’s a nice use of a famous road name.

Riders like me do use these names, absolutely. Features with set names make it a lot easier for everyone, including commentators, to describe the different sections of a course. It stops being “that bit with the drop”.

It’s hard to say which feature of the Cathkin Braes course is the toughest one as riders will ride to their different strengths. It could be any of the features that breaks them, but I think that Boulder Dash through the wetland towards the end could prove the hardest one. It will be a sprint to the finish in that section and everyone will be at their limit. Could be quite interesting.

I’ll definitely be competing at the British Championships next July at Cathkin Braes. My big target is to ride there. It’s a proper dress rehearsal. The top English guys like Liam Killeen and Oli Beckingsale will be there. I want to be at the same level as those guys.

Mountain bike racing is a hugely competitive sport and very strong in the Commonwealth. You have the Canadians, South Africans, Australians, the English and my fellow Scots, as well the likes of Grant Ferguson coming through.

The Scotland team that will compete in Glasgow 2014 will be world-class, so it’s up to me to make sure I’m also at that level and there with them.

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