Thursday, July 24, 2008

2008 National XC Championships

Last weekend saw me take part in one of my goal events for the season – the Irish XC Championships. Since the World Marathon Champs two weeks earlier, my training has been all about resting up and peaking for this race A few days before hand I put in a couple of very hard (but short) efforts and my body seemed to be reacting well so I was pretty confident that I was well prepared for the race.

The race itself was being held in the Kilruddery Estate near Bray, the same location as the first round of the K-Capital series this year and last year. However, the course was going to be very different. No significant climbs (boooo) – just lots of long kickers. A 5.5km lap had around 120 meters of climb. On the preride, I tried to learn as many of the sneaky lines (there were a lot!) as possible and prepare mentally for the super fast start the next day. About 100m after the start, we hit singletrack with no opportunity for passing for over half a lap. The course was 95% super fast singletrack and a lot of fun to ride – they need to make this place into a bike park! The rest of the day I spent relaxing watching movies.

Race morning arrived to find a perfectly dry course (2 or 3 puddles) – there was even dust in places. Around 1:30pm we all lined up – I knew the first 30 seconds was going to be crucial and as it happened, I think I had my WORST 30 seconds of any race this year. My UCI points had given me a nice front row ticket but missing a pedal and various other mistakes meant that I hit the singletrack in close to last position. The next lap I spent panicked trying to pass people and bridge back to the leaders (where I hoped/expected to be) but it just did not seem to be working out. By the start of the second lap I had caught up to Lewis Ferguson and we rode the next few laps together. He was riding the fireroads (not much) strong but sitting up in the singletrack which was pretty frustrating. A massive sprint was put in each time getting into the singletrack, but once there the pace dropped – he would eventually drop out after the 4th of 7 laps.

I think with my start and the resultant frustration I was never able to raise my game properly to start pulling back major time and work my way up the results. I did push hard on the final lap though to catch Joe McCall and pull myself into 5th but it really was not a ride I'm proud of. My body was well rested (first time I did a 'proper' taper/peak) but things did not seem to fall in place for me – I would love to rerun the race again this weekend!

Results are here and there is a short report here.

Anyway, I have already hit a good few of my season goals this year, and there are more big events coming up for me to focus on so I'm not too down about it all!

Not really a major event, but something I have been looking forward to is the Bontrager 24/12 race this weekend in the UK. Mel and I are taking part as a mixed pair – hopefully both of us will be able to show good form and get a good result.

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