Tuesday, April 22, 2008

2008 K-Capital Cup Round 4 - Castlewellan

700 days ago, I arrived at Castlewellan for my first ever mountain bike race. (Well, actually, I did the Sea Otter classic two weeks earlier but I wont mention that for now...) Dry, sunny, warm and a 12th place in Expert. I still remember being nervous before hand – wondering if I should have done sport but then really enjoying the course and race (I think about 35 people took part in expert that year). So, after 700 (ish) days I returned as an Elite for the final of the 2008 K-Capital Series.

The weekend, as usual, started with the preride on the Saturday. I expected the course to be pretty dry (it has not rained much lately, but it has been cold and windy) and it didn't disappoint. In fact, there were sections that were so dusty and loose that I was hoping for a little rain over night (which actually happened). The course was a couple of minute steady fireroad climb followed by lots of single track climbing and descending with a very stiff (18% loose) fireroad climb in the middle. There was 170 meters (or so) of climb per lap and the Elites were doing 7 laps. As I rode my first practice lap, I noticed the huge smile on my face – the course is truly amazing and has everything. A steady climb, lots of kicker climbs, twisty flowy singletrack, rock gardens, fast singletrack... the list goes on. It really is a world class venue.

Course Profile

I awoke Sunday to rainy weather – I was staying in Monaghan, checked the rain radar and it looked like Castlewellan got some rain, but none now – perfect. Mel and I arrived to the usual buzz with the Sport race having just started. After Mel freaked out a little about a slightly worn brake pad (in these conditions it would last 100s of km) we both warmed up. Heart rate seemed grand and shortly before 1:30 we all lined up for the start. As the whistle went we all sprinted off up the hill – same as usual except this time I didn't feel any snap in my legs. The lactate acid was built up to a max 30 seconds in. At this point I was probably around 7-8th position. As we exited the first large section of single track and climbed the steep fireroad section I joined into 5th place where I stayed most of the race. I enjoyed riding the singletrack but kept feeling that there was something a little missing (mostly in me?). On the second lap I passed Conor who was having some tire issues (he would later catch me again to claim 4th position). The rest of the race was pretty hard. My max heart rate (set on the second lap!) was 181 – a far cry from the 190 that I should hit while the average for the race was really low... (Not far off what I did for the 4 hours in the UK the week before) After a near bonking moment on the 5th lap (fixed by a gel) I finished feeling okay but once I started eating I felt pretty sick. (Very unusual – I can eat very well even after a hard race or training) I should have been recovered from the UK races but somehow I didn't feel it during the race. Something to have a look at.

Pictures from here

So that was the K-Capital Cup for 2008 – an absolutely amazing series of races which is really doing amazing things for Irish XC racing. (Downhill World Cup star Ben Reid was even seen at two of the races – maybe he will give XC a go – he did win the Expert race by a good margin) A huge thanks has to be given to all the clubs that organised the races but especially to the Seymour family who seem to be at the core of most of the best Irish events – thanks – you made the opening of the season amazing!

Mel had another good race to wrap up the Elite ladies competition - her report will be up shortly on her blog.

Photos are available here, here and here. A report is up here.

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