Anyhow, back to the Bundesliga race round 3 in Heubach, which was part of the "Bike the Rock" festival with downhill and XC races and a Trials Worldcup. On Saturday, I pre-rode the course with Swedish National Champ Alexandra Engen, which gave us a chance to catch up. Although it was mostly me trying to catch up with her as she blasted up that really long climb. The course can be described in 3 words: up, flat, down. In more detail, it was basically a long, in parts very steep climb on walking paths, some of it muddy and slick from the rain the day before (it was warm and sunny now), then a flat fire road/single track bit, followed by a long, pretty tricky descent. The descent basically swerved left-right-left-right... down a valley, bermed at each side. Then there was a little bit more climb before another tricky, switchback descent led us back to the start/finish area. The descent would have been great fun - if it had been dry. Unfortunately, it was super muddy, rutty and rooty and the more riders came down, the more it was being destroyed. Worse, it doubled as race track for the downhill race later that day, so the chances were that it would be even more ripped apart before we'd race on it the next day. My only hope was that it would dry out a bit more over night.
The next day it was warm and the sun was out again - a welcome change from the crappy weather I had had so far in Ireland. We lined up and off we went. The climb had dried out a little bit more by that stage. I didn't have a great start, but was able to stay with Katherine O'Shea from TorQ Australia till the top and even overtook her on the flat bit before going into the long single track descent. The descent was as wet and slippery as the day before, just the mud had a slightly different consistency, and I thought it was even more tricky then on my pre-ride. I had been able to ride it OK in the pre-ride, but I wasn't quite prepared for the much higher speed I went down it now. And so I lost control over my bike at one slippy section, wrapping my bike around a sorry little tree at a very tight spot. There was a bit of chaos as the riders behind me got caught up in my bike that was blocking the trail preventing me to free it from the tree, and promptly I had lost a good few positions. When I finally got back on the bike I felt a bit of pain in my right hand, but went on and tried to catch up again with the riders that had overtaken me.
A few minutes further down I overtook Katherine again, who was trying to fix a mechanical problem on her bike. I went up the hill and made up one or two positions, but soon Katherine had overtaken me again. I tried to stay on her wheel, but my crash in the first lap had made me apprehensive and I lost a lot of time on the downhill section, I even walked bits of it!
Still, I had another 3 out of the 5 laps to go and tried to catch people on the climbs. I had a few more battles with some girls in the next two laps, but nothing major happened. Then the downer: At the start of my 5th and last lap I was stopped by the marshals. Perplexed I realized that I was being pulled from the race! I could not believe that I wasn't going to be let to ride my last lap! I was gutted. And my little sis was waiting at the top to take pics and was wondering why I wasn't coming through any more. I was soo annoyed! I had never been pulled from a race before. And I hadn't been lapped either. They had applied the 80% rule. Needless to say I wasn't in the best mood for the rest of the day. I just couldn't explain it, I wasn't in absolute perfect condition, but I didn't feel I was going THAT slow either. Anyway, I blame Elisabeth Osl for going so fast, she showed an amazing performance in the race, finishing almost 5 min ahead of 2nd placed Irina Kalentieva. Looking at the lap times, I was shocked at how slow I (or how fast Lisi) was going.
Well, one time is always the first time, but I hope it's not going to happen again that I am being pulled. Now I will concentrate on the UK NPS series and the national champs. Less racing also means more training. Last weekend was the first hard training weekend in a long time, with a short interval session on Friday where I met Arek to share the pain, a 3hour road spin on Saturday and a 4hour road spin on Sunday (thank god for the much needed good weather here in Ireland). The rest of the weekend was spent chilling and relaxing, something that had taken a back seat for too long in the last few months.
The next races now coming up are the UK NPS Round 3 in Margem Park this Saturday, followed by the UK National Marathon Champs on Sunday. I will do both races, but mainly concentrate on the NPS on Saturday, to try and defend my lead in the series.
Finally, as always, thanks to my sponsors Cycleways, TorQ, KCNC and Trinity College for their ongoing support and Ray from Australia for doing feed zone support in Heubach.
Results can be found on datasport.
My little sister tried to film while she cheered me on, here's the result: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5qictnMdZs.