Friday, April 28, 2006

NPS Round 1 Mountain Biking

Last weekend saw both Mel and I make our debut in Irish mountain bike racing (UCI C2 event). The race was going to be held in Castlewellan (which is about 2 hours from Dublin, 1.5 hours from Monaghan). We decided to make a weekend out of it all and take a trip via the course on Friday evening to Monaghan where we would stay for the weekend.

Work and various other things meant that we arrived at the course on Friday evening quite late so that we could only get 2 practice laps in. The course is reasonably technical as far as cross country courses go but myself and Mel were happy with it (Mel hadn't actually decided to do the race until she say the circuit).

We arrived at the race on Sunday about an hour before Mel's race to find a dry track and a beautiful day. There was 34 starts in the sports (beginner/intermediate) category. The race consisted of two laps of the hilly course. Mel finished in around 1 hour 6 minutes (there was no exact times available for the sports) to finish 26th overall or first girl to finish.

Mel just before the race

At 1:30 my race started. The Expert field was around the same size as the sport and started off at a frantic pace. Unfortunately, I arrived at the start about five minutes before the start and I couldn't get up to the front for the start. This left me fighting through slower racers for the first lap and a half. The second lap (of four) was my worst (and slowest) overall. I really enjoyed the last two laps – my climbing felt good and the course was technical enough to leave a good smile on your face after the descents (this was important, because you were trying to forget the burning in your legs!). In the end, I finished in a time of 1 hour 28 minutes (40 seconds) to finish up in 12th place. My goal for the race was to finish somewhere in the middle, so I was happy with the race.

About a minute from the end

The view on the way home

The weather was beautiful, the course fantastic and the scenery was breathtaking. A very enjoyable debut overall!

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