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.

No comments: