Wednesday, September 22, 2010

2010 Ulster XC Championships

As usual, as the end of the season approaches there is an extreme lack of races, both on the MTB and on the road. Fortunately, Banbridge Cycling Club were hosting the final round of the Ulster XC series in Tollymore Park – home to the 2007 National Championships. This round was also doubling as the Ulster XC Championships. Back in 2007 (my first year in Elite), I really enjoyed the course, there were a few big climbs and then kilometers of testing, forested singletrack. The course changed a lot for 2010, much less climbing, but still lots of singletrack.

The course had been riding very well in the days leading up to the race (so I was told) but on the Firday and Saturday before hand – mother nature dealt the course a hammering of the aquatic kind. What were dusty dry trails were now slick trails with a side helping of slippery roots.


When we arrived at the race venue, Mel and I both rolled around for a preride. I could see how cool the trails would be in the dry (or even in the damp), but with the heavy rain – I didn't really get into the flow. I got back to the car and wasn't really motivated.

A reasonably strong Elite field had entered and as we toed the line, I didn't really know how to play it. Go full gas, or just ride and have some fun. The whistle went and we sped off. After some jostling, the front 3 (myself, Ray and Aidan) settled into the race. As I mentioned, I wasn't too keen on the trails in my preride – but as is often the case, in the race situation, they rode really well – other than a bombhole section (well, you go up and down banks a bunch of times) that was really cut up – the rest was great fun. Indeed, days afterwards as I was looking back on the race as being really great fun and wanting to do it again. Me, I would have more climbing and try to open up a few sections, but it was a great fun course.

Mr. & Mrs. after the race :)

Midway through the second lap I went to the front and increased my pace a little on the climbs. From there I just rode a steady tempo for the next few laps – on the last lap, I put in a little more effort on the climbs to get a slightly bigger gap and rolled in for first. Aidan McDonald was second and Ray O'Shaughessy third. Mel won her race too – the interesting thing being that the top 3 in the Elite Men, and top Elite Woman were all riding Specialized Epics – talk about domination :)


There is a report and link to more photos and a video here.

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