Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Some off season racing

With some deserved relaxation time in October complete, November 1st starts the training season again for Mel and I. This year, with it falling on a Monday – it starts with a rest day, how fortunate :)

The training has been going very well these last few weeks with the legs starting to feel faster session by session. Like last year, this time of year we do a few other fun events to keep the training interesting. Over the last couple of weeks I took part in one adventure race and two cyclocross events – all low-key and something to simply have fun with.

Ivan Park runs a great series of Adventure Races (Causeway Coast Adventure Races) and until now, I had not had a chance to race in one. Mel and I headed down to my home county of Monaghan to take part in the first in their series. The course was going to be a 5km run, 3km kayak, 5km run, followed by 40km of mountain biking (well, more fireroad/road riding) - with 4 special tasks thrown in for good measure (one was eating a packet of crackers). As this was a team event (pairs) Mel and I would be competing together for the first time in a long while – we both looked forward to it. I would be the mule (carrying the bag etc...) while the more experienced racer (ehh, Mel) took care of the navigation – a task she completed wonderfully not making a mistake in finding the 30+ control points!

The race started and after all the running and kayaking (I hadn't ran in any sort of race in 4 years, and had never kayaked) we were somewhere in the middle of the field (around 34 teams). As the mountain bikes were brought out we slowly clawed our way back (we really were just cruising along – average HR for the event for me was 134 – a CX race is closer to 180!) eventually coming 3rd overall and winning the mixed category. Yummy food was our reward and we really had a great day in Monaghan. If I have one word of advice for the adventure racers out there – it is “TUBELESS”.

Next on the cards was my first Cyclocross race of the year – and really my first intensity since winning the marathon championships. I had no idea of how my body would respond after having completed the adventure race the day before (my legs where killing me) but gave it a go anyway. The 3rd round of the Ulster league had a really nice fun course which rode very quick other than a few very muddy and heavy sections – I think one quarter of the field had to retire due to mechanicals (mostly mechs being pulled off) and I had my own issues – mud clogged my cassette in such a way that I was single speeding all day in a low gear – great for the heavy sections but bad for the fast bits. I finished out 3rd on the day but had great fun doing it.

Steps in Ulster

At the weekend just past, I made it out to the 3rd round of the Supercross Cup Cyclocross series in Dublin. A windy day greeted us in Corcaigh Park – but the wind helped dry out what turned out to be a very fast course. All the corners where slick but riding fast meaning that much of the time was spent sliding sideways. Due to not being part of the series up until now, I didn't get a gridding and after the first lap was in no mans land in 5th watching the front four riders racing a road race in front (my average speed was close to 24kmph for the day). Long miles didn't give me the 'oompth' to bridge the 25 second gap and nothing changed until the penultimate lap when a flying Conor Campbell made a technical mistake on the boards leaving him within striking distance. We rode together for a lap but I attacked to claim 4th with a half lap to go. A fun fast course, that had me smiling all the way around.

Nice big boards

Having fun as I rolled around the course

Gert has some really great photos from the race here.

Now I'm off to California for three weeks of training and work. I'll take part in a couple of hill climb races – but the focus will be on long miles with big climbs.

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