Monday, March 10, 2008

2008 K-Capital Cup - Round 1 UCI C2

Yeeeah – for race season. Yesterday was my first cross country race of the new season – a UCI C2 event which was the first round of the K-Capital Cup Series. The race was being held in the amazing Kilruddery Estate like last year on a course that was pretty similar to last years but a little shorter. The course was basically a big climb followed by a very technical rocky descent (about 2-3 minutes) then a flat fireroad over to another 3-4 minute climb. Next was an amazingly long fast single track section through the woods that goes on for hours (well, not quite, I wish). Another few minutes of climbing and then a chunk more singletrack that eventually takes you back to the start/finish area – about 8km long.

Course profile (it was actually 8km long)

How it looks

Preparation all started on the Saturday with the preride. Having just finished building up my new race bike (more on it later) the day before it was going to be its first ride. Like last year, it was an S-Works Epic so the geometry was exactly the same and fortunately I had been using my new wheels for a few rides so I had no qualms about racing on such a new bike (I've built up enough bikes at this point that I'm confident in my mechanical abilities...). The day started with heavy showers so by the time I was out on the course it really was very sketchy in places. 85% was bone dry, 15% was very wet – I heard that there was a rush to the bike shops after the pre-ride to get mud tires! Anyway, the pre-ride went fine and I was looking forward to the race.

I woke up on Sunday to beautiful sunny skies (and the "why am I about to put myself through this" feeling) and the hope that we might actually have a dry race. By the time I got to the course I got to see a few of the sports riders riding around during their race and they were not covered from head to toe in mud so it looked like conditions had dried out a lot since yesterday – sure enough, after further inspection of the course, it had, and the blue skies around me gave me the real hope of a fully dry race.

The Elite Men were off at 1:30 and as I knew the gridding was based on last years world ranking I arrived about 4 minutes before the start to my second row position (last year I started at the back – would not have been so bad this year though as there was no single track for a long time, just a big climb to get warmed up on). The race started and the pace was not too bad. I stuck with the leaders up the climb and down the slab descent. A few little gaps then formed and unfortunately I was a little back from the next person up (Ross Creber) so I didn't get any drafting on the flat section. The next two hours was basically me pushing myself to get around as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, apart from chasing Ross for a while I was not racing with anyone until I started to lap people on the 3rd of the 5 laps. I finished up 2:23 after the start to come in in 10th position (3rd Irishman). I really enjoyed the race and the singletrack was simply amazing – it is possibly my favourite course to ride but probably not one that suits me the most. The quality of the riders that came over for the race was great too – it had the feel of one of the big UK races! I knew it was early days in the race season for me as when I finished the race I still had legs for another 2-3 laps at the same pace (need to push harder). Also, my average heart rate for the race was very low – about 7-8 bpm lower then it would usually be for a race of that length so I have a few things to work on before the next cross country race (the second round of the K-Captial Series) in Tullymore in two weeks.

A short descent that dropped us down to the start/finish area - pic from here

Before then, there is a road race on on Sunday that I'm contemplating doing – it's pretty long at 150km but I did it last year and enjoyed it. If I do do it though, I'm doing it for training and not to race – I'm going to have a big sticker on my handlebars saying “Thou shalt not attack”. Nothing like a good 4 hour peleton pacing session.

Results for the race can be found here.

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