Saturday, May 16, 2009

2009 British NPS Round 2 - Dalby Forest

Last weekend was a busy one – lots of things happening and one that I wont forget for a while. The second round of the British NPS series was been held in Dalby Forest, it was a UCI C2 event and also been used as a test event for a World Cup they hope to run in 2010.

An evening flight to Leeds and a quick car rental brought us to just outside Dalby around midnight, the day before the preride. Saturday morning was cloudy but looked like we were not going to get the rain we had lots of recently. Hoping for a dry course, we arrived at the race venue to see the usual pre-race buzz. The TorQ crew were already there and were expanded by the Australian contingent that are in Europe competing in all the European World Cups.

Start of the Men's race

After a lap of the course, I had to admit that I liked it. Lots of courses feel like you are always climbing, this course felt like you were always descending. Lots of swoopy wide singletrack sections, a lung buster climb, a 'standard' 3 minutes climb and a few technical sections. Before my lap, I heard lots of stories about how difficult some sections were, a big drop and a rooty/droppy section being the highlights – I can tell you, after some of the things we rode in Cyprus, these sections were easy – Mel had no issues with riding them first time around either. (Although she did hava a fall and a scare that meant we spent Saturday evening in Scarborough A&E – I'll leave Mel to talk about that on her blog though)

Robin Seymour

Race morning arrived to see a stacked field, around 50 of us on the grid. A quick blast around the start arena and we hit the singletrack – I didn't push too hard and made sure to go into the singletrack around 20th-25th. I was trying to see if I take it a little steadier at the start, if I would be able push a bit harder later on. The laps went by easily enough, I enjoyed the course a lot and had a lot of little battles – having looked at my HR data afterwards, I don't think I was pushing hard enough or was not recovered, my HR was way down - or maybe ut was the cold I had for the previous few days. One thing that surprised me was how poor some riders were on the technical sections – great on the fireroads/easy singletrack but very slow descending (maybe too much road biking for some?). Up the last big climb on the last lap I caught and passed 2-3 riders and was feeling good. I had a few more riders in my sights and was chasing them down.

With under two minutes of riding to go on a walking trail linker section that lead to the last technical section I was out of the saddle sprinting to catch another rabbit. Suddenly, my world was turned upside down and I crushed into the ground – hitting a tree stump with my right pedal. I have hurt my shoulders a few times since I started riding and feared breaking things before. The way I felt as I hit the ground, I knew that I had broken something – there was no doubt. As it happened, my crash was as close to the medic tent as I could have made it and with a steward in tow, I wondered over. Feeling like a ghost, dizzy and getting cold I answered a few questions and with nothing more than a look, I was diagnosed to have broken my left clavicle. Blood poured from me but that was the least of my worries. I asked one of the medics to find Mel and a few minutes later, he returned with a worried looking Mel and we started to plan the rest of our day. A trip to Scarborough A&E was in order :(

After arriving there, it took about 4 hours until I had been seen, X-Rayed and ready to try and get back to Dublin. Mel was a star looking after me and packing up our bikes and between my friends Alan and Fergal (who I called to help me with advice) and the VHI, a very complicated situation was made a lot more manageable. 22:20 flight out of Leeds seen us get to bed shortly before 2am. (We were still wearing our race gear until shortly before then!)

Results, report and photos are up here. I also have to mention Mel's second place which means she is now ranked in the World Top 100 (but bad for a girl that decided to do this mountain biking thing properly 18 months ago) and leads the UK NPS series - well done Mel!

More on the injuries soon... I would also like to say a big thanks for all the well wishes - it means a lot to me. It's really tough going from fully fit to injured like this, but in 13 years of high level sport, this is only my second serious injury so I shouldn't complain too much!


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