Sunday, February 22, 2009

2009 Sunshine Cup - UCI C1 XCP Tochi to Kalavasos

I have a few posts to write about actually getting to the race in Cyprus with all our equipment (and my new equipment :) THANK YOU Cycleways and Alan for picking everything up), but first I'll jump into a race.

Today's race was a UCI C1 class point to point race from Tochi to Kalavasos Village in Cyprus – in fact, the finish line in Kalavasos was around 400 meters from our front door! It was the first round of the four round Sunshine Cup. The course itself was pretty fast (although the day of raining on Friday may it pretty tacky/muddy in places) – 47 kilometres with around 1500 meters of climb. Almost the complete course was off road on rocky (lots of them pointy) fireroads and not puncturing was going to be an issue - I ripped a massive hole in a new tire when I prerode part of the course the previous day. The descents were very fast but I wouldn't call the course technical at all.

Mel preps race bottles... (thanks Anglus and Theodorus for the feed support!)

...while I prep the wheels

Race morning arrived and neither Mel or I felt in race mode. It's the first of the season and the nervers were at us and we were wishing to just staying in bed a little longer and going for a nice leisurly ride later in the day. That's not why we are here so we grab all our preprepared things and took the short drive over to the start in Tochi.

After a 25 minute warmup we headed over to the call ups – fortunately, I got a second row gridding, which was useful as there was 50 riders in the Elite Men's category. Looking around, the race was stacked – basically everyone had flown in for these races and the people meant business – it was like a mini World Cup!

The course profile - the climbs were steep!

The gun went off and the group accelerated up the first long climb. The first climb was around 20 minutes with some very steep pitches and my legs were not liking it. The head of the group stayed together for around the first 10 minutes and then started to break up on the steeper pitches. Usually, I love climbing but today my legs were not running – my heart rate was pegged but I didn't feel great – not bad, just not great. I guess my body was asking, “what the hell are you doing to me!” - Ryan to body, this is what you're here for!

With very steep and fast descents off the climbs there was never really much time to recover, climb for 20 minutes, descend for 4, repeat – it was physically very tough. I rode constantly among other riders (which beats most races in Ireland) and that was fun (or was it pain, I can't remember – I'm trying to forget).

One interesting thing was a river crossing at the back side of the course. Here I am, riding a descent, about 40kph and I see then UCI water crossing sign, I ride around a blind corner and hit a river – it must have been 2 feet deep and about 12 feet wide. Riding through it was like jumping into a pool – I was 100% completely soaked. I had never seen anything like it! (the important bit was I hit it at 40kph - it was nuts)

The little villages we passed through were cool too, zipping through tiny alleys hoping there is no stray cat or old woman washing her door step around the next corner - a big rush.

Anyway, a group of 5 of us rode mostly together for the second half of the race with an Italian, Francesco Panza and I breaking off with about 10km to go. Francesco got a bit of distance on me and I rolled in behind him into Kalavasos 2:04 after I left Tochi. I finished up in 25th (50 started) and am reasonably happy considering I didn't do any race prep for it – there were lots of highly ranked riders behind me (and in front) so I wont complain too much. For me, I'm here for the training and the experience of riding with these great riders and I got a lot of both in today.

Make sure you head over to Mel's blog see how Mel rode today :) (She is buying dinner)

Cycling News has a bit up about it too here.

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