Anyway, Sunday morning was a bit of a rush to get to the race place due to miscalculation of time, but we made it in the end and arrived all ready at the start line in time. There were only 5 ladies in the 100km ladies category, including Sally Bigham, my biggest competitor who beat me in the last Enduro by a mere 47 seconds.
The whistle went off and we went up the hill. Sally and me took the first 2 positions for the race from the start and for the first out of the 8 12.5km laps I hung on to Sally to study her riding to find a suitable time and place to attack. She was ahead of me in the singletrack and I noticed that I might be able to break away from her by entering the long tricky singletrack section ahead of her in the next lap, because I had the advantage of knowing most of the trails due to taking part in the XC race the day before (they reused all of the trails from the day before and had added some more singletrack and a few bits of fireroad), so the plan was to attack her on the next lap at the start of the singletrack section and get out of her sight quickly and then stay on a steady speed and hope she won't catch up to me again.
And so I did attack on the steep climb towards the first singletrack section and sped off. I actually managed to do my fastest lap on my second lap with a time of 44min 3 seconds - the fastest ladies lap time of the day! On lap 3 I started slowing down again to a more conservative speed and cycled on. Unfortunately my lower back started hurting a lot (it had already yesterday in the XC race) during the race as the course was so rooty and rutty and it really shook you about, especially on a hardtail. Then it seemed that my attack move might have been a little too fast and had taken too much out of me, affecting my lap times. Eventually, just before the end of lap 4 Sally had caught up to me again and overtook me.
For the rest of the race she was able to steadily widen the gap by staying at a pretty much constant pace whereas I was having more and more difficulty with my back, having to stop multiple times to stretch it out and therefore having increasingly slower laps. When Ryan lapped me on my 7th lap, he told me that there was no girls for miles behind me, so at least there was no danger from behind, because my back was giving me serious trouble there was I had no chance to catch up with Sally, so at least I knew I had safely bagged the 2nd place and didn't have to kill myself for the last lap. The last lap was actually the most enjoyable, I rode it relaxed and smoothly, knowing this is the last time I had to go over these roots, around these corners, along the lakeside, through the field of bluebells in this absolutely stunning estate and actually enjoyed the prettiness of it all on this beautiful day.
After six and a half hours I went over the finish line, only able to lie down on the ground - exhaustion really kicks in when you allow it and Ryan was really good in trying to make me drink and eat. Well, he had already had an hour to relax as he had finished the race in 5:30h, taking a very respectable 4th place in his race.
The "Silver Bullet", a 1992 Peugeot 205 - who would have known it fits 2 adults, 3 bikes and a ton of other stuff!
Thank you also to Karen for doing my bottles and for running for a bar for me and thanks to Matt from Torq for his supply of racing fuel, especially that spontaneous donation of a caffeinated gel at the start of my last lap - you really felt the kick of the caffeine!
All in all it was a really good racing weekend and I am pretty happy with my performance. I wish though I had a full suspension bike for courses like this, my back was still killing me a few days after.
Another great performance from the Irish squad was shown by Peter Buggle in the 50km race who took first.
Results, report and photos of the race can be found here.