Monday, October 05, 2009

2009 British NPS Round 5 - Newnham Park

Newham Park, the home of many UK National Championships, World Cups and Bontrager 24/12 was the venue for the final round of the UK NPS.

I had a pretty chilled out week after the Drumlanrig race and my legs and body were feeling good for the race. The lap was pretty long at a little over 7km with around 200 meters of climb per lap - Elite Men would be doing it 6 times. 3 real climbs in the race with two of them being pretty steep. The course had lots of nice singletrack but unlike last week was pretty tame from a technical point of view. Two river crossings (the second being pretty deep) did spice things up a lot though.

Race morning arrived to clear blue skies and increasing temperatures - is this really the end of September. We had a bad nights sleep in the 2009 winner of worst B&B/Guest house - The Lamplighter in Plymouth (the owner is friendly but STEER CLEAR). I had a pretty good warmup (something that, despite 3 years of racing, still have not nailed to something I'm happy with) and lined up on the first row. (I had a great position due to the world rankings rather than series rankings - I only finished one UK NPS this year).

The race started at a nuts pace into a grassy climb, I lost some places right at the start and tried to make them up on the climb but as I soon realized, moving off the smooth line is a really bad idea and lost some more. As we crested the first climb, I know I was not putting the power I should yet I was feeling bad and my breathing was terrible. A pileup in front of my on the rocky steep climb half way around the lap (I had to dismount and run the climb to get around the bodies) let more gaps open. As I completed the first lap, I wanted to roll over to the car and quit - I really felt terrible. Another lap latter, same feeling. On the third lap I started to pass people who were either blowing up and pulling out, or blowing up and continuing. At the half way point, I started to feel a little better - I was lapping at the same speed but was feeling better and not so laboured. The climbs were comfortable, breathing was normal and I was enjoying myself - glad I didn't stop! The last couple of laps flew by and I caught another couple of riders (Ben and I had a good race with each other for the second half of the race - I attacked him on the longer climb when we passed a badly blowing Anthony O'Boyle) and I finished the race wanting to continue on for another few laps.


With that, my last big XC race was completed - I finished in 15th which meant prize money and a solitary UCI world ranking point. Still, the second half of the race and that made up a bit for how sucky my start was.

The following day, Mel and I (and 498 others) rode the Newham 60 off-road Sportif type event. A nice course and a pretty chilled out pace (apart from on the steep climbs, we hammered them) was great for the legs. Afterwards, the sun continued and Mel and I roamed around the venue talking to so many people we wont see until next season. It was great catching up with all the TorQ folks, hearing some of Kate Potters World Cup stories and finding out what ditch Joolze has been sitting in recently.

With a large Irish contingent over for the races, it was like a little bit of Ireland over for the weekend. It also made the long trip home easier sharing beers with Robin, Paddy, Joe and Mel.

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