Tuesday, December 01, 2009

2009 Supercross Cup Round 3

The alarm goes off and it is 8:30am (or just after midnight in California where I was two days earlier), I don't really want to get up – I heard the rain hammer down all last night and the thought of racing in it, during my 'off-season' wasn't exactly appealing. I drift back to sleep...

Startled, I awake – I think to myself, if it is 10am or later I'm skipping the race, I check the time – 8:50. Okay – time to get ready for a bike race.

After my puncture in Round 2 of the Supercross Cup, I dutifully filled some NoTubes sealant into my rear wheel with the hope that I wouldn't have to rip off another Tubular and restart the gluing process again. On the three weeks I was away between rounds, the tire held pressure perfectly so I was confident that I would not hit another mishap this weekend.

With the car packed, I started driving the 1.5 hours to Rostrevor – for the first hour, biblical rain fell and weather warnings beamed over the radio – hmm, I wish it was 10am when I woke. When I arrived, the weather had turned to being overcast, cold but overcast – race organizers were confident that the course would remain fast and holdup well. With all the rain recently, I didn't share their confidence.

I still was not in any sort of race mood when I started riding two laps of the course as a warmup – this changed quickly though as I realized the organizers confidence in a fast course was justified. Fast straight sections, flat out 90 degree corners, kicker climbs and bermed 180 U turns – I loved the course. There was even a run up where carrying your bike was the optimal mode – a first for me in a CX race.

At 1pm the race started – first time for me this year wearing a base layer and arm warmers. On the first descent section I went to the front to push the pace, at least that was my plan. On a very tricky loose left hander kicker (the looseness was caused by inches of wet leaves), I lost the front end of the bike and also took out Joe McCall who was sitting on my wheel. We went from first and second to somewhere in the early teens. Ooops – don't panic. By the second lap, Joe and I had gotten across again and a lead group of 7 or 8 had formed. Over the next few laps, I had some of the closest racing I had all year. Connor McConey and Roger Aiken were running their own race attacking off the front and watching each other – I tried to join the party mid way through the race attacking off the front but with a transatlantic flight 36 hours earlier – my lungs and legs didn't respond - I could ride pretty hard, but not super hard. The following lap, Connor and Roger attacked and stayed away for the remaining two laps. Joe, Evan Ryan (who was riding a stormer) and I came around for another lap – the last lap 'bell' went off. I thought we had at least two more laps to go (time flies when you are having fun I guess). The thought of an uphill sprint finish, although suiting me, wasn't exactly what I wanted so I attacked on the descent and flat section on the bottom and got a 10 second gap. I could see Conor about 15 seconds in front of me. With a half lap to go, I didn't think I would catch Conor (he looked very strong) – I eased off a little, watching the race for 4th unfold behind me and rolled over the line to take 3rd with a smile on my face. Evan edged Joe out for the sprint finish and both looked worse for wear for their final lap efforts (that's why I didn't want to be in a sprint finish!). Average speed for the race, despite the mud, was 23.5kmph - imagine if it was dry!

In the end of the day, I am very glad my alarm clock read 8:50 and not 10am. I had a really fun race with a great group of people. The course was possibly my favorite CX course of the year (a hard one to call), the organization was seamless and I'm really 'stoked' for the final round this weekend, held by MAD MTB in Corcaigh Park. If I can't convence you to race - come out and watch the event, starts and 1pm and is very spectator friendly - cow bells are optional.

Results are available here, some photos here and a report here.


Sean said...

Noooo! cowbells are mandatory, not optional!

Ryan Sherlock said...

Yeah - I should change that :)

Kieran said...

"possibly my favorite CX course". Funny I say that after every CX race I do too!

Ryan Sherlock said...

I think the thing I really liked about this one was the 90 degree corners that where wet but you hit at full speed - drifting fun. The other thing was the 180 degree bermed U turns, basically trying to ride them as fast as possible.

If the course was dry, I think we would have averaged closer to 30kmph - hard to get away (and stay away), but great close racing.