Cheviot Hills Ride was one of my first ever races and was part of the reason I got so hooked on mountain biking. Therefore, when I heard it was on again this year I had no option but to return! Set in the picturesque Cheviot Hills reserve the race has a very British vibe to it. There are remnants of an old homestead and the trees are predominantly oak and poplar, with excellent single-track throughout. This year the course was held entirely within the reserve and was a great mix of single-track, four wheel drive roads and open grass climbs. I was very unsure of what to expect as this was my first race back from illness and surgery. After 4 months of doing not much at all it was damn good to be back on a start line again! With some stiff competition there I decided to try and play things cool for the first few laps (of 4). The lead group of 3 was whittled down to 2 by the second lap and on the third lap I was feeling good enough to have a crack at the win. I managed to get away and opened up a gap to the line, coming home with plenty of breathing space. It was a great feeling to be back racing again, feeling fresh and healthy and with a more responsive heart rate which was a great sign! Positive signs heading forward!