Sunday, June 27, 2010

2010 Irish NPS Round 6 - Dunmore Mountain, Co. Down

Focussed (photo by Owen McManus)

This course was last year's Irish National Champs course. This means Cait knew what to expect and from what she told me it was going to be my kind of course.

I arrived with just enough spare time for a practice lap. It was a great warm summer's day, but also fairly windy. The course was on an exposed open mountain, with just a few shrubs and lots of grass, rocks and dirt tracks. The course went up and over and back and down and over again the same mountain several times. I have to admit, they really used the small area well. Most climbs were short and sharp power climbs, with only one prolonged climb in three stages. Cait was right, it was my kinda course :)

Lovely dry trails (photo by Owen McManus)

Only Cait Elliott, Valerie O'Neill and myself had signed up for the Elite women's race. I was looking forward to a good battle with Cait, who has progressively become faster over the last while. I myself wasn't so sure how I would do today. My training has been sketchy last week with the last 2.5 days spent in hot (33 degrees!!) Madrid for a conference, only having arrived back late the night before. But as soon as we went off I started enjoying myself. My plan was to take it easy, stick with Cait and then attack on the last out of the 5 laps. But when I went up the hill I felt good and so I decided to try and put a gap into Cait and dug a little deeper. I managed to get away on the long climb. The open exposed course meant you could easily see where your competitors were. So I could see that I had put a good few seconds into her at the end of the first lap. After that first hard lap I took it easy and went a comfortable speed, concentrating on riding the course well.

I could see that I extended my lead lap by lap so I could relax more and enjoy the course and concentrate on applying the things I had learned in my skills session the week before with Robin. The course wasn't overly technical apart from a few nice descents, but a good flow and good bike handling skills on this course could definitely shave off a few extra seconds. And the more I think about it the more I liked the course - it was so much fun to try and ride it well!

On a lonely podium :) (photo by Owen McManus)

After a fun 5 laps I arrived in the finish as first Elite woman, about 3min ahead of Cait. Looks like my trip to Spain meant I was a lot more recovered than usually going into a race. Now I just have to keep up my fitness for next weekend's British NPS in Dalby!

Thanks to Shona for doing a perfect job of handing me my bottles and taking care of my amazing Specialized sun glasses and thanks to the pit crew crowd for the motivation.

Results can be found here. Thanks to Dromara CC for putting on a really well run event. And as Cait has pointed out, the names of the climbs helped breaking up the pain a little bit :)

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