Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Racing, racing and more racing...

It has been a long time since my last proper post and I've been doing a lot of racing both in Ireland and abroad recently. I'll briefly go through the races and hopefully get back to normal posting soon.

Irish National Points Series – Round 2 – Balinastoe – May 6th

This was the second time that I was going to be racing in Balinastoe, last year we had a round of the NPS on roughly the same circuit. This time however, they cut out the parts that I didn't like (a fast gravel road descent!!!) and replaced it with a reasonable enough single track descent through a cut down forest. The course itself was actually quiet short (and dry!) and we only had to complete 7 laps. My lap times for the laps were around the 12:30 mark... (3.7km, 160m climb per lap). The race only saw Peter Bugle, James McCluskey and myself take part in the Elites. We all headed off with James putting on the early pressure. Me, my legs didn't really hack the pace and I ended up staying about 40 seconds back on him and Peter for the first two laps. On the second last lap I passed James on a single track section with his bike upside down. Unfortunately, he snapped his dérailleur hanger somewhere on the section. I didn't see Peter again until the finish line.

A view over the course

Mel at the start of her race

A tough climb at the start of the lap

Towards the end of the lap there was two lines, the slow line or the jump :)

Freerange Sports Optics British XC Series Round 2 UCI C1 – Sherwood Pines – May 12th

I travelled with a bunch of Irish riders over to my first race in the UK. The field looked impressively strong (about 50 Elites) with all their shiny team sponsored bikes and the race looked set to be a fast one. The course was almost completely flat (well, a few short 'climbs') but was 11.1km long! 5 laps meant that I'd be averaging about 22.5kph on twisty offroad single track :) That's almost as fast as my recovery rides on the road bike on the flat! My inexperience was apparent from the start when I went to the start area 10 minutes before the start to find that I'd be in the last row! All the Irish races with 12-16 Elites had me spoilt! The race went by pretty quickly with me never leaving the big ring. I had a few good tussles with the riders around me – it was one of the first times where I was constantly racing behind fast people. I guess with so many Elite starters the chances of having riders at an equal speed as me goes up dramatically. I ended up finishing 34th which I was reasonably happy with all things considered... After the race, I had another race, to the airport to get ready for my next days racing...

Sherwood Pines course

Irish National Points Series – Round 3 – Carlingford – May 13th

Arriving home on a Saturday night, tired, hungry and with a bike to be built up is not the best way to prepare for a Sunday morning race. The race in Carlingord was going to use much of the course from the one used in the K-Capital (the race I had all the punctures, blew up my cars engine and hurt my knee...) with some parts reversed and a new technical descent. Briefly, I felt squirely on the single track (it was pretty technical) for the first two laps and my legs only started to feel good on the 3rd (of 5) laps. Roger Aiken finished out winning the race (he went on to race in the Ras) a full eight minutes ahead of me - eeek.

Irish National Points Series – Round 4 – Larne – May 20th

This course was really unusual – it's basically an old quarry that will (hopefully) be turned into an outdoor sports adventure centre type place. Unfortunately, at the moment it resembles a quarry more then a sports centre. The race course was about 6km with 110 meters of climb per lap. The climbs were all made up of very short (some times very steep) climbs – not really the type of course that suits me. I'll leave the report of this one short – basically, Lewis Ferguson and I were having a nice wee tussle for first for the first couple of laps. For the 3rd to 5th lap I was about 30-40 seconds back on him then about two thirds of the way around the 5th lap my rear wheel burped and I lost most of the air. I hobbled to the tech zone, got some air in and as I left the tech zone I found out that I was about 1:40 behind Lewis. My body felt really good and my legs felt perfect (I had barely used the up to this point in the race as I couldn't get myself to go any faster then a cruising pace). I hammered off with my mind focused on catching him... Two minutes later, my front wheel hit a rock (not very hard!) and burped all the air out – my air canister failed and my race was pretty much over. To say I was a bit pissed about it is an understatement.

That's basically all my races up to last weekend. Last weekend I raced in the UK again but I'll write about that another time soon.

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