Tuesday, May 27, 2008

2008 Irish NPS Round 3 - Magheramorne

I almost didn't make it up... Last year I remember doing the third round of the NPS, driving for hours there and back and riding like a pleb and burping both my tires. If I was going to travel up to Magheramorne Quarry (close to Larne, Northern Ireland) again – I was going to do things differently.

With that in mind, Saturday started off with an active recovery type road spin with Mel, with a couple of power intervals thrown in to open up the legs. Almost 700 Watts for 60 seconds in one of them was a new personal best although it has been a while since I tried that on fresh legs. On my warm up for the efforts I 'dragged' Mel up a climb getting her a new personal best up one of our training climbs (5 minutes climb). It took a while until she was back on good terms with me again – lets just say she suffered a bit :) After that, we headed to my family home in Monaghan for a relaxing evening - it would also break up the drive up to Larne the next morning.

Not very good detail in Google Earth

Nice and early we arrived up at the Quarry to find the course pretty much identical to last year. While warming up I did a 22 minute 'tootle' lap of the course – we were only racing for 6 laps so I knew it would be a short race. Most of the usual Elite suspects were present with the addition of Lewis Ferguson – I hadn't seen him in an XC race this year – apparently he is turning into a bit of a roadie... The gun went and we were off – after a slight tussle over the first minute and a half I moved into the lead before the first section of single track. That gave me the lead for the rest of the race. I kept the pace reasonably high for the first lap but approached the drops and technical sections pretty cautiously (I was in the lead – no need to rush). The second lap I eased a little only to see Lewis crash off (I think he was a DNF) and then it was just Peter Buggle and I. The next couple of laps we simply cruised around – neither of us wanting to go too hard. It was then that I knew, like in the first Irish NPS this year, that we were going to have a blazing attack at some point. I decided that I would keep it steady, be nicely hydrated and gelled up and attack hard just into the last lap – no real climbs on this course (a thing I'm strong enough at) so it will be on the flat. I didn't know what Peter planned – but if he went, I was ready :) Then, surprise surprise, Joe McCall caught onto the back of us midway around the 5th lap. I was pretty impressed with him catching on as he was pretty far back on the third lap but he did look like he was working hard so I didn't worry too much. The last lap came around and about 200 meters into the first single track I noticed Peter and Joe were about 15 meters back – I thought that now is as good a time as any to go, so I thought about the crappy race last year (anger – going to the dark side) and I put the throttle down... I still kept it pretty careful on the very rocky sections (no burping/flats for me) but most of the rest of the lap I was flat out.

The start

I ended up crossing the line 38 seconds up on Peter and around a minute on Joe. I enjoyed the race and was glad it wasn't too long or hard. I've been working pretty hard in training and I didn't really want a 2.5 hour race effort at a 'C' race at the moment. As I will be abroad racing for two of the other rounds of the NPS it means that I will probably be giving up my Elite Irish title this year. :(

Many thanks to Aine for helping out in the feed zone and taking the pictures!

Mel had another good ride but for most of the race she had to contend with the Expert men for competition – she (like me) can't wait to the next UK NPS.

Anyway, results are up here and there are some photos here (some I grabbed for this blog)

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