Monday, June 1, 2009
Race Report British NPS Round 3 - Margam Park
A week ago Ryan and I made our way over by ferry to Margam Park in Wales, where the UK NPS Round 3 took place on the Saturday, followed by the UK National Marathon Champs on the Sunday. While both Ryan and I went over, it was only I who was to race, since Ryan is still recovering from his broken collarbone.
The course was located in a castle estate with the added feature of a few almost tame groups of deer who also seemed to have an interest in the trails. I pre-rode the course on Friday in the most beautiful warm summer weather, and the course was nice and dry. While the climbs where mostly on fireroads, the descents lead us either through some huge flowering Rhododendhron bushes or high ferns. And there was also a refreshing river crossing. It was all in all a nice course, all rideable, with the singletrack sections demanding a high level of concentration.
When I got up on Saturday, I knew instantly that I wasn't going to have a good race. I tried every technique of mental motivation, but my body just felt heavy and lame. I still think the stresses of the last few weeks are taking their toll. In hindsight, I should have just taken a week or so off training, because then instead of missing a training session and feeling bad about it, I would have been able to relax. Anyhow, with no desire to have to put my body through this exhaustion I lined up reluctantly at the start line. Lining up against Kate Potter, who has arrived with great confidence due to her amazing Madrid World Cup result and most of the top UK racers, I knew it would not be an easy race either.
Kate Potter lead the race from the start, whereas several other riders contended for the next few positions. I was sitting in about 5th place for most of the time, still having the riders ahead of me in my sight, but also followed closely by some riders behind. Then, towards the end of lap 3 of the 4 lap race my rear tire had mostly deflated. I kicked myself because I had the feeling that it had lost air since yesterday already, but did not bother putting any more sealant in. Another valuable lesson learnt: make sure your equipment is in prime condition. Thank god Ryan's wheels were waiting in the tech zone.
Exchanging the wheel took also a little longer than expected due to having to unscrew the only skewer we had and to pump up the spare wheel (and yet another lesson there), which meant I lost my 5th place. When I got going again I wasn't sure if I could accept my bottle from the tech zone in which I was in now, so just to be sure, I left it. It didn't help to be out of water in this hot weather either. Thank god I had about a mouth full left in my previous lap's bottle. I was now riding at the end of the fast group and had Lily Matthews riding in 6th place in my sight, but I didn't manage to catch her again. So I finished the race in 7th place, meaning that I just about kept my lead in the British NPS series by 3 points ahead of UK National Champ Jenny Copnall.