Monday, September 17, 2007

2007 National Road Hill Climb Championships

Last weekend (I've been busy since so no updates) I took part in both the National Hill Climb Championships and the National 'B' Road Race, both of which, as I mentioned earlier, where in my home town of Monaghan.

Saturday's hill climb had a really late (for me at least) start of 3pm so I spent most of the day before hand just wondering around Monaghan. I even ended up being the first person to sign on for the race. There was a little confusion over the starting order etc... and it ended up that I was going to be the first off – not really what I wanted as I would have no 'rabbit's to chase... Also, finding out so close to the start about the starting order meant that I had a pretty terrible warm up... For a 6 minute event, the warm up should have been crucial!

Anyway – with an anchor for a rear wheel (was using my training wheels as my light wheels were still being serviced) I waited for the countdown... 50 seconds I was told.... I back pedaled a little and the chain dropped on the lower, 39tooth ring (the climb, as it was so short at 2.7km and only 150m of climb was a big ring only climb)... I thought I had lots of time – so I told myself, don't panic, I'll get it on... 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.... The guy said 50 seconds when he meant to stay 10!!! Crap, I flaffed about with my gears as I started up the hill loosing a bit of time. The climb was very short with several down hill bits so it was never really going to suit me – I would have much rathered a nice long 15-20 minute (or longer) sufferfest. I crossed the line in 6:25 which, when everyone had ran was enough for a 7th place. I was happy enough considering the mistakes that I made (warm-up, gears, wheels etc...) but I believe I should have easily been another 15 seconds faster. (Also, the last heavy week of training wouldn't have helped!) Not enough to touch the overall winner, David McCann though! Fellow mountain bike, James McCluskey finished a few seconds behind me.

Sunday morning was the turn of the road race. The course was a 13km loop with about 175m of climb per lap (yeah!). We were going to be doing 9 laps so around 3 hours of racing. My plan for the race was to conserve as much as I could during the first half and then be ready to work really really hard for the last 30k or so. (Simple, I know – but I'm not that experienced in road races!)

The first few laps went by pretty easily – high/low pace takes a bit of getting used to but I was actually really enjoying the race. There were a couple of nice descents that really seemed to flow on the road bike. Half way through the race, I ended up bridging (with 2 others) a 20 second gap to a break that I thought was going to stick. A while later the peloton caught us again :( Early in the 7th lap, the break of the day got away and unfortunately I missed it. They didn't get too much ahead but by the time we started the 8th lap it was 1:30. The peloton flexed a bit (of the 50 or so riders remaining in the peloton, about 6-7 were working) we brought it down to about 30 seconds... Enough so that we could see the break. At this point I felt very strong but the others that were working with me seemed to have had enough and were happy with letting the break win. After another 10 minutes of trying to urge the peloton on I gave up with that and with about 10-12 minutes of racing left I decided to really test my legs and see if I can catch the break which had a 40 second lead at this point. I worked hard up the hills (and unfortunately, into the wind for a chunk of it) and actually caught 4 or 5 of the break but not enough for me to be pulled up to the top ten. (I finished 12th in the end) I was disappointed about missing the break and not getting a better result but I was happy with how my body and my legs felt for the second half of the race... What I lacked in this race most of all was experience. As a training exercise, it beat going out on a solo ride for a few hours :)

The official results from the weekend are here.

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