Wednesday, July 13, 2011

2011 Ulster XC Round 5

I raced in Dunnore once before. Two years ago it was the venue for the National Cross Country Championships – I competed seven weeks after an operation on my broken collerbone and finished second to rising Irish star, Conor McConvey. My memories of the course was that it was brutally tough (in a physical sort of way) and left me tired for days.

I have not rode my mountain bike much this year – six or seven times total before this race. Originally, I thought I would be out of the country for the cross country nationals but as some things didn't pan out, and there was a natural break in my road season, I felt a bit of MTBing would be great for me mentally and physically. With all that, I decided that I had better ride a race before Nationals which is how I found Mel and I driving up north to this race on a fine Irish Summers day (that isn't actually sarcasm – it was actually a beautiful day).

Heavy legs greeted me for my practice lap around the course – it was the fifth day of training in a row (although the previous day was an easy 4 hours on the TT bike) but by the time I recced the lap, my legs had come around a little. The course had some rolling flat singletrack/double track but it's main feature was two steep climbs – the first about 90 seconds long, the second, about three minutes – they were walls! But good fun to climb and even more fun hurling yourself back down the recently acquired elevation.

The startlist for the race was small but contained a strong selection of the top Irish racers – a stronger field than I expected for what was a regional race – excellent!

Cool pic from the start - trying to find where I found it - comment if it is yours and I'll add the link!

The race started fast as expected – I stayed third wheel until we hit the first climb, there I climbed into second behind a flying Matt Adair, on the next climb, I passed Matt and took the lead. That was basically it for the race. Ray O'Shaughnessy would be close enough (I would drop him on the climbs/flats, he would catch on on the descents – I was there to practice my techy riding more than anything) and Gareth McKee wasn't far behind. I rode tempo for the first 5 laps and decided I would up my pace for the last lap. When the bell lap sounded I upped my pace on my chasers – by the midpoint of the lap, I had gained around 90 seconds (the course was great – you could see the other riders really well) so I eased off again (I was racing a road race the following day) and finished back safely to take the win.

Thanks Dromara Cycling Club for running a great race on a tough course – I enjoyed that!

Results and photos etc... can be found here.

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