Monday, June 23, 2008

Thursday, June 19, 2008

2008 British Marathon NPS - Grizedale

With tired legs Mel and I both woke on Sunday morning to find another dry sunny day. (Mountain Mayhem this weekend looks like it will be a muddy one though so I must not have completely great karma) This time around Mel and I made sure we had plenty of time to make it down to the race course and at least have a partial warmup. My warmup consisted of 15 minutes riding with 3 tempo efforts – a whole lot less intense then before an XC race but then again, I was going to be riding for 5 hours!

The course

The course was a little different then the previous days – the first technical climb was removed and replaced by a much longer fireroad climb that brought us onto some really nice trail centre type single track that eventually brought us back to the top of the technical climb. The rest of the course was unchanged. Total elevation gain per lap was 330 meters with a distance of about 12.5km. For the 100km race, it would be 8 laps (obviously!)

The race start - pic from here

The race started gently enough with William Bjergfelt and I losing the rest of the field by the top of the climb. Unfortunately, a few of the other main contenders where not in the race. I raced on William's wheel until the second climb where her increased the speed and seeing as it was a long race, I decided to not go to much into the red and I let him go. I knew from previous races that he likes to start fast. I rode pretty steady and on a rocky technical descent that claimed many puncture victims both days I passed William who was having his own tire issues. About another lap later I seen William on my tail again but again, he left me on a climb – I just didn't seem to have the legs anymore after the previous days excertions.

The rest of the race went by reasonably well – it is always around the 3rd or 4th lap that I ask myself, “why am I doing this”. I have been riding for 2.5 hours and I'm still only half way. Once I get to the 5th lap though, your mostly home and in these events, I find the last lap time... Only 12.5% to go!

A little over 5 hours later I finished up in second behind William – there really was not that much interesting things during the race apart from lapping people although I did get to like lots of the singletrack. With the pre-ride, XC and Marathon, there were sections that I rode 17 times... Gotta know them by now.

There is a report available here, race results here and Mel's report here.

As I mentioned earlier – Mel and I are off to Mountain Mayhem this weekend. Please please please let it be a dry one!

Race Winning Moves Drill...

Was out yesterday doing a new VO2Max type drill called the "Race winning move" from the Coggan/Hunter power training book.

Basically it is - hammer for 30 seconds (attack the group), settle into 3 minutes at threshold and then sprint the last 15 seconds. I was taking the initial 30 seconds and final 15 seconds a little easier then required but still makes an interesting drill.

In other news - Garmin and Saris (the makers of PowerTap) will be working together to allow the Edge 705 'listen' to the wireless powertap. Finally, I'll be able to unclutter my road handlebars. I'm also still waiting to pick up the disc brake compatible PowerTap for off road use. That should be really interesting - I would love to see my power files from an XC race. Currently with the Garmin and Ascent software I can break down my race and check my times on various sections of a race, descents/climbs see where I tire. With the power, it would be another dimension.

Hopefully I will get the report up for the Marathon race from last weekend tonight - this weekend it is Mountain Mayhem :) Busy busy busy...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

2008 British XC/Marathon NPS - Grizedale

Last weekend saw Mel and I head in the silver bullet to the Lake District in England for the third round of the British National Points Series in XC and Marathon racing. This time our travel plans brought us via an overnight ferry to Liverpool followed by a 2.5 hour drive to the race grounds in Grizedale. For the final 15km, I was really glad to have GPS – the roads were crazy. All very small and windy. The area itself was amazing – beautiful rolling hills, old cottages and not a hint of buildings from the last 100 years.

Getting back to business, the preride went fine. The XC course was pretty hilly (about 275 meters per lap over the 9km lap – I would be doing 5 laps) and reasonably enjoyable. It started off with 2 km of rolling/climbing fireroad followed by a pretty steep technical single track climb which brought us to a man made trail centre type traverse/descent to another fireroad climb (and some fireroad descending!). After this was a technical descent that I actually got to really like, although it claimed a huge number of puncture victims, a bit more fireroad and then a really nice single track descent back to the start/finish area. I liked the climbing in the course but I'm not much of a fan of trail centre type courses.

A birds eye view of the course

As I had taken last week week as a mostly recovery week my legs felt pretty good during warmup on race day – I was also pretty motivated after my first two XC rounds in the UK this year. The race started (8 minutes early!) and I made sure to keep myself out of trouble in the first few bends. The pace quickened as we approached the single track climb and sure enough some people made a mistake and I ended up running chunks of the climb! I stayed in contention (or at least could see) the lead group for much of the first lap but then settled into a group of riders (Christopher Minter, James Fraser Moodie, Billy Joe Whenman and Anthony O'Boyle) some riders came and went but it was mostly that. On one of the laps, I passed Robin by the technical zone, he had a puncture – I didn't think of it again until I seen him at the start of the climb on the fourth lap – he passed and I latched on. I paced myself off him and ended up passing 5 riders in the space of half a lap. This, I think was the most important part of this race, or any race I did in the UK this year. I was simply not going hard enough, I was taking it too easy and not being aggressive enough during the middle of the race. Robin even said I looked like I was sleeping as he passed. I eventually lost Robin on a descent (kinda hard to stay with this guy when the trail turns downward!) but kept the pressure on and eventually finished a British NPS XC best of 9th position.

Mel and I after the race

The course did suit me reasonably well, it being pretty hilly and I enjoyed the race. With that – it was back to the B&B to fuel up and get ready for the following days 100km marathon on a very similar course...

A report can be found here and results here.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Better get on my bike...

Please don't make the lovely dry trails wet...

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

More long spins

There was no racing this weekend so Mel and I got to enjoy some long training spins around the Wicklow Mountains. The weather was amazing all weekend with Saturday being possibly the nicest day I've had in the mountains in Ireland since I started biking – sunny, warm, not too humid and everyone you met on the trails had a smile on their face. Surprisingly on Saturday's off-road ride, in the almost 5 hours of riding I only met two other mountain bikers! Many many walkers, but only two mountain bikers, usually I meet many times that – I guess everyone was off somewhere else.

Saturday's route had me start off around Djouce where I did most of the Djouce Challenge course taking in most of the single track Djouce has to offer – from there it was to the top of Djouce mountain (never been up there on a bike) and from then I followed the Wicklow Way to Glenmalur. Mel and I were supposed to meet their but lack of mobile coverage spoiled that so I ended up climbing the Shay Elliot climb and then heading up to the top of Mullacor (another climb I did not do before – it was amazing!) then back down into the valley holding Laragh and then the road to Roundwood where the car was waiting.

Saturday's Profile

Sunday was another big day – I don't usually go on too many rides much over 4 hours but this weekend was a little exception (the weather and the fact I'm not racing for another 14 days egged me on). This time the road bike was calling so I went on a similar ride to my longest road ride I did in Ireland last year. Basically riding over and then around the Wicklow Mountains taking in most of the bike climbs. I didn't feel particularly fast at any point until the final hour (of the almost 5.5 hours on the bike) when I had to hammer home to be in time for a dinner party Mel and I were attending. Overall – a great weekend of riding.

Sunday's Profile

Purple for off-road and red is for the road ride