Wednesday, April 29, 2009

2009 Irish NPS Round 2 - Ballinastoe

Work has kept me away for writing something about the second round of the Irish NPS series that took place 9 days ago in Ballinastoe. Finally, I'll put down a few words. As both Mel and I have been busy racing abroad almost every weekend for 9 or 10 weeks straight, I was feeling pretty raced out coming into the race. As it was being held close to where I live and was one of the only ones that did not clash with anything else, it was my duty to go along and support (Also, I had not seen a lot of my fellow Irish racers so it was a great chance to catch up).

Rumours of a very wet and boggy course held true which didn't help my mental build up for the race. My plan, was simply to go hard for one lap and then cruise the remaining five - a good training session. It had been a long time since I raced (except the time trial in Cyprus) in very wet conditions so I thought it would be good for me. Stu, over on the TeamWORC website here describes the course and race better then I could hope – a great account. Briefly, the course was TERRIBLE – there were kilometres of purpose built, perfectly dry and ridable trails but yet they brought us through what can only be described as bogland - they could have used the exact same course as last year and I would have loved it. One of the things that makes a good course for me, is that I want to go back and ride it afterwards – you will never see me on most of that course unless the conditions had been dry for several weeks. There are some trails that take a long time to dry out, those where the ones used. I ran more in that race than I have in about a year...

Off we went - both pictures from Arek

Anyway, enough complaining – I led for the first half lap then watched Robin float over the mud and that was that for the race. One of the highlights of the race was the World Cup-esque bomb hole section of the course – Epic (and others I'm sure) had what seemed hundreds (probably 30-40) people screaming and shouting as each rider rode through – did they take the chicken run, or jump, or crash before you even hit that section? You could hear it from a kilometre away.

Shane, once again, doing a perfect job as support - thanks :)

Afterwards, it was really nice catching up with everyone. The track was lacking, but as usual, the racers and atmosphere before and afterwards was amazing – one thing that really stands mountain biking out - such a great community. The weather was also great with blue skies and warm (ish) temperatures.

Results can be found over on Irish XC MTB

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