Monday, April 07, 2008

2008 K-Capital Round 3 UCI C2 – Djouce Woods

This weekend was the third installment of this years K-Capital Series. Summer like temperatures during the week (shorts and short sleeve jersey!) didn't hold for the weekend so it was going to be bitterly cold with showers of hail and sleet! As usual, Saturday was the preride and Mel and I headed out early to have a look. The course was going to be very technical on the descents/traverses but reasonably easy climbs (fire-roads but a couple of steep single track climbs). The course started with a loop around the start field and then into a section of single track that climbs to a fire road that brought us up to mid way down XTC, down it then up a 1 minute fast climb to the start of Off Camber which lead onto a traverse across some open mountain. Down onto a fireroad then up to Gran Canaria (my favorite section). After that, it was a tough single track climb to the top of the Earls Drive and then a long swooping descent to a very very tricky river crossing. Then, it was mostly single track climbing with some fireroad at the end back to the start/finish area. It was a tough 7.5km loop with about 280 meters of climb per lap. Elite had 4 laps.

Course Profile

Race day arrived and I actually felt reasonably good – as I'll be racing the next three weekends I took it pretty easy during the week so I felt pretty rested. A good 30 minute warmup went to plan (apart from the hail storm) and we all gathered down at the start area for our 1:30pm start. My ranking in the series so far meant a front row start but some of the riders gridded further back just snuck up anyway (no big white lines on the ground this time to mark the rows). The start was pretty quick and I dropped back a couple of positions before the first singletrack but I didn't worry much as after that there was a bit of a steep climb and I knew I would get by people as needed there. The first lap ran out with lots of little battles. Lee Williams, Micke Haggquist and myself changing positions a lot. The second lap started and the tussles continued – I really enjoyed having a few battles on the course – the course lent itself pretty well to that as I was able to catch people on the technical terrain and people were catching me on the fire-roads (opposite than usual!). At the top of the single track climb I passed Micke and Lee (hopefully for the last time) and started the tricky Earls Drive descent. Unfortunately, towards the bottom I burped my tire (first time with this wheel/tire combo – it was a mistake on my part) and then had to fumble around getting my CO2 (I hate long finger gloves for racing) out of my pocket, two jerseys down and filling the tire. Half way through the operation I watched Micke and Lee pass me by. Damn – had lots of fire in me now to catch them again.

Feed on the first lap - Thanks Sean!

I got going again and caught and passed Micke and headed after Lee up the final fireroad. At some point after this (and I don't know when) Lee disappeared – I didn't think he dropped me but I found out after that he had to pull out for some reason – that was a pity. Third lap was going reasonably well until towards the bottom of the Earl Drive descent I misjudged a corner and hit a tree at about 25kph. Man, I thought I broke something. A quick check of my mobility and I decided that I can continue – pretty shacken up, I rode like a squirrel for the next few minutes. Then, down at the river crossing, Micke passed me again. Damn! Refocused, I headed off into the climbs and caught him a couple of minutes later and put my head down to gap him. That was the last place changing for me for the day.

The last lap was pretty enjoyable despite my shoulder (which at this point was throbbing). With a few minutes left in the lap I got a glimpse of Joey McCall who was having a stormer behind me so I put the head back down and hammered up the last climb finishing a comfortable enough margin ahead of him in 8th position. (I should have been putting my head down like that on all the climbs!)

Overall, the race was pretty good fun – I never seemed to get the Earls Drive descent well but I was happy enough with how I rode aside from that. I lost a few minutes due to various mistakes, but that is racing. Today, I feel perfect (apart from the shoulder which is in bits) so now I'm second guessing and thinking I didn't push enough. Well, there is always next week...

Mel's report is available here. Results can be found here and there are a couple of pictures here.

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