Soo, last weekend saw the 3rd race in series of the British NPS taking place in Grizedale in the Lake District, UK. Ryan and me took the overnight ferry from Dublin to Birkenhead (just opposite Liverpool), which leaves at 10pm and takes 7 hours, meaning that you are woken for breakfast at 4:15am (not that I really slept anyway, with all that rocking!!) and leave the boat at 5am... We drove the 2.5hours to Grizedale to check out if the course is already set up, but at that time the organizers were just waking up. So we made our way to Hawkshead, a few miles away, where we would stay in a B&B. We thought of getting a coffee first and then check into the B&B, but none of the Cafes were actually open that early in the morning. So we wandered around a little like zombies in circles in this tiny amzingly beautiful and picturesque Beatrix Potter village, until we thought it late enough to be able to check into our B&B (about 9am...) and thank god they had our room all ready, so we just went in and went to sleep. A few hours later we got up, had an early lunch and made our way to the race course, where the car park had already started filling up with mountain bikers for the pre-ride. We put our bikes together and went off.
A view into a little road in Hawkshead - there were flowers everywhere!
The course basically consisted of fireroad climbs, linkers and flat sections mixed with technical singletrack climbs and descents. The most notable bits where 2 technical singletrack climbs and a single track section with a very steep and technical descent of the loose dusty earth and stone type with a short steep kicker climb. The singletrack was almost all purposebuilt hardpacked all weather trails with the fireroads being quite gravelly at times. I found it hard to get a good flow on these singletracks, as they weren't that smooth and lacked berms. One lap amounted to about 275m of climb, which is quite significant.
The course from a bird's view.
On the race day itself, all the usual suspects and then some found themselves on the start line. The most notable "new" rider was Kate Potter who had missed the previous 2 UK NPS races due to other race engagements and had placed 33rd in the Fort Williams World Cup the weekend before, so seemed to be one to watch out for. From the gun shot there was tight battling for places. The first tight righthand corner on hardpressed gravel just 200m from the slightly downhill grassy start lead to a bit of a messy turn. On the fireroad climb towards the first singletrack climb, there was more fighting for positions as was on the climb itself, leading to some girls getting a little stuck, which was the chance taken by Sue Clarke and Jenny Copnall to enter the singletrack descent first, followed by me. With no real overtaking opportunities on this track, we all rode nicely in line. Then Sue Clarke was struck by bad luck and punctured, having to stop to fix it. There was a bit more jostling for places on the top fireroad section and the tricky steep singletrack before the finishing order was already emerging with Kate Potter in front, steadily increasing her gap on Jenn O'Connor in second place, who was more closely followed by Jenny Copnall. At the start of the second lap one girl was still in 4th place, but I was able to catch her on the top fireroad section to move myself into 4th. For a while I could still see glimpses of Jenny, and I was hoping to catch her, but couldn't keep up with that speed. I rode most of the other laps by myself, finishing about 3min behind Jenny and about 6.5min behind Kate Potter. I didn't feel I was riding the course well, so I was happy enough with the result. Maybe I didn't push myself so hard because I knew what was coming up on day 2 of the event? ;)
Ryan and I in our new and shiny Torq sponsored gear :)
Full results, report and photos can be found here. Jenny Copnall's experience of the race are recorded here.
Some more pics by Rob Crayton can be found here and pics by Oliver Coat are here.
And I'm sure, Kate Potter will soon put her race report online here.