Monday, April 14, 2008

2008 British National Points Series XC

Last weekend seen me racing abroad for the first time of the 2008 season, indeed, it was Mel's first race abroad ever. We were heading to the first round of the British National Points XC and Marathon series. We packed up on Thursday evening and flew Dublin to Stansted Friday morning hiring a car for the 1.5 hour drive to Thetford. The morning was uneventful apart from us taking a slightly more scenic route to the course.

We arrived to find Robin and the Colnago/Ergon crew already setting up and rain clouds brewing. Bikes were quickly built up and as we finished the heavens opened for a downpour – I really hoped this was not a sign of things to come... (it sucks running for a plane after a marathon race with everything covered in mud). We got two laps of the 10km course in – it was pretty simple, about 5km of flat fireroad and 5km of (almost) flat singletrack. Not really my style of course but by the end of the weekend I really did start to enjoy the swoopy nature of some of the trails.

An overview of the course - really really flat

On Wednesday I had booked ourselves into a B&B close by so after our preride we headed to Magdalen House. On arrival, we got one of the nicest welcomes I have had from any place. Picture it, we arrive mucky from a pre-ride and we are greeted with a bucket of warm soapy water and a hose to wash down our bikes etc... closely followed by tea and coffee. Great :)

A nice Thai meal (not exactly PRO) the night before with a double helping of rice in an English/Thai restaurant, The Swan, had us ready for bed early.

Saturday we woke to find a beautiful morning and the news that it had not rained from yesterday during our preride – this meant the course was going to be super fast. Sure enough, when we arrived we found out that Elite men will be doing 6 laps (that's a little over 60km!) and the Elite ladies will be going for 5. I warmed up well and arrived at the start 10 minutes before the start – the shock when I seen that everyone was already there and gridded. Crap, 7 rows back I'll be starting in last, the WORST thing for a course like this which was basically going to be a road race with the singletrack helping to form groups. The race started and I worked hard to make up places... I passed about 20 riders and had made my way up to around 15th - 20th (I think, could be way off) then disaster struck. On a fireroad section I was hammering along trying to catch more people when the rider in front swerved right and hit me square – attempts at staying upright failed and I went down hard. This section was a bit of a blur but I remember seeing bodies flying over me. I hit my shoulder (that I hurt last week) badly and got a large bruise on my calf – my neck was also very stiff (still is). I was doing around 30-35kph at the time and considering, I actually think I got away reasonably well. My front wheel was a bit out of true and there was various other injuries to my bike but nothing race ending. I eventually got up and started to ride again, winded, annoyed (now I was way back) and pretty sore I knew that it was the end of today's race. I decided to refocus for Sundays marathon but continued for another 2.5 laps just to open up the legs and learn the course a bit. Mel, on the other hand had an amazing race on the Sunday, but I'll let her talk about that one. I have to say a big thank you to the Colnago/Ergon guys for helping me out with my bike – they retrued the wheel back to perfection – thanks a million :) Also, thanks to Eammon McConvey for helping out in the feed zone. And well done to his son Conor, who scored a fine 3rd place!

Picture is from here. More on Torq tomorrow :)

Results can be found here and a report and photos here.

With a downer (for me) for the first day, I was hoping Sunday would be different. It was, but I'll write a post about that tomorrow.

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