Monday, June 11, 2007

British XC & Marthon Series Round 3 - Margem Park

Last weekend saw Sean and I (as well as a few other Irish racers) head over to Wales for the third round of their National XC and Marathon series. There had been talk of rain for the whole weekend but fortunatly enough it never materialized and all the racers on in the XC race on Saturday ended up getting burnt!

Saturday saw the cross country race. It was basically 5 laps of an 8km course with about 300m of climb per lap. The climbing on each lap was split up into 3 major climbs with single track descents following each one... At 12pm the Elite race started and the pace was frantic from the start. My legs felt terrible from the beginning and I knew that it was going to be a long 2+ hours... On the fourth lap, my hamstrings locked up half way up one of the climbs – it was pretty steep so I wasn't really able to stand and climb in order to get into a different position. About 3-4 minutes of agony (I thought I was going to have to turn around and freewheel back to the start) the pain subsided and I was able to race on. By the time I finished in 26th place I was absolutely zonked – pretty dehydrated (it was 27C and humid with no wind) and didn't really have the energy to get ready for the next days race. I even contemplated dropping from the full 100km marathon down to the 50km! A long bath and some good food meant that by the time I was going to bed I felt a lot better.

The Marathon race went somewhat better – it was going to be 4 laps of a 25km course with about 700m of climb per lap. It basically was the full XC course from the previous day plus a big chunk out the back hills. From the start, the pace was a lot easier then the day before and I didn't have to push to hard to keep (roughly) with the lead group. (One of my regrets from the race was that I didn't go that little bit harder and be in the lead group...) During the second lap I had a great tussle with two other lads – unfortunatly about two thirds of the way around the lap one of them punctured and I dropped the other guy (who seemed to be suffering more then me) on the last climb of the lap. The third lap was spent passing about 300 riders who started the 50 and 25km races about 15 minutes before I came through on my lap. It was pretty amazing – all levels of riders and a constant stream meant that I was riding off the racing line for much of the lap. Apart from a 10 minute interval on the last lap when I felt a bit bonky it all went pretty well. I finished the race and didn't feel like I needed to fall of the bike. Overall felt easier on my body then the previous days XC race even though, at 4:50 on the saddle the race was more then twice as long! In the end, I came in in 7th position (Robin won the race) which I was really happy with :) Again - my bike, wheels and tyres (if a little heavy) blew me away...

There are some reports and photos from the race here, here, here and here.

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