Sunday, April 29, 2007

K-Capital Cup Round 4 - Castlewellan

Last Sunday saw the final round of the K-Capital Cup series taking place in Castlewellan. It's a course and a location that I really like. I raced there twice last year (the first race, in April, was my first race in Ireland and second race ever) and the weather had been perfect each time. As it turned out, the weather was again perfect with the race with the course running even faster then last year! (About 1.5 minutes was cut from a 19 minute lap time with extra single track added!)

My knee had been feeling a bit better over the last few days before the race (2 of the last 3 weeks were mostly off the bike :( ) and I felt that it would hold up okay for the race. The thing that I worried about was that it had been a while since I had gone hard on the bike – I didn't know if my legs and lungs would hold up to the fast pace I expected. Shortly after 1:30 the Elite race started at a very fast pace. Adrian Lansley was pushing the pace hard and unlike the last two races I felt myself slip off the back from the start. My legs just did not have the power to keep up – it basically felt that I was carrying an extra 10kilo back pack up the hill. By the top of the first climb (100m vertical over 1.3km with a few flat sections and bits of single track) the leaders had opened up about 20 seconds on me and I already felt spent – damn my knee! The next two laps or so I spent trying to hang on as best I could. I know when I'm pushing hard when I question why I'm putting myself through this... For the first 2-3 laps I felt like selling everything I have and giving up cycling completely! I guess I know I was pushing myself :) The remaining laps felt a good bit better (the first lap was my fastest with the following 6 all being around the same time - around the 19 minute mark) but I was still loosing time on the climbs. My descending and single track navigation actually felt really good. At the start of the season, before I started riding Elites, that is where I thought I would have had most problems – I guess 100mm of travel front and rear and nice wheels and tyres (Got SLRs and Huthinson Pythons recently – more on that later) can help! All the single track was very fast with the only breaking needed when you approached a tight switchback. I finished feeling I could continue for a while more, cooled down well and joined the MAD crew... (Thanks to Shane for helping me out with the bottles and mechainically throughout the series! I really appreciate it!)

The Expert race starts off - Yvain (215) wins the race and series

I should really try not to unzip the jersey! (Pic from here)

Robin finished out winning the race, and the series with Niall Davis coming in second. Results and report available here. I'm still annoyed about having to deal with my knee injury (I know, injuries happen) as I would have loved to have been able to push hard in Castlewellan.

The series overall was an amazing experience – the races were supper well organised and every course was magnificent. I really can't fault anything about it. I really hope that the series will be run again next year as I think the people organizing it all learnt a lot and the Irish XC scene gained a lot from it.

4 races down, lots more to go... Racing Elites has been great so far – the commitment to it all has been huge and there was a great speed boost over Expert but it has been such a rewarding experience so far.

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