(l-r): Mel Alexander, Maddie Horton, Nikki Harris, Mel Spath, Cait Elliott
(photo credit: Cait Elliott)
(photo credit: Cait Elliott)
I wasn't so sure how this race would go, still trying to make up for lost form due to inconsistent training because of sickness and my shoulder injury. I had ventured out for the first time on the mountain bike on the Tuesday the week before since the injury but it was a big mistake and I only hurt my shoulder again, starting back at square one with healing. Sticking to the road bike for the rest of the week I was getting quite concerned with how little it had improved by then, but painkillers and a lot of Arnica cream showed a huge improvement a few days later. I still had to be super careful of sudden movements with my arm, but at least it was getting better.
I knew from last year that the course in Wasing would be fairly safe, no big rocky descents or too rooty sections and should be a walk in the park in the dry. My pre-ride on Saturday on a beautiful sunny day went very well. The course was even a little easier than last year and consisted mostly of a mix of nice flowy forested singletrack with interspersed bits of fireroad. It was fairly flat, and so there would be very little time to recover once the race went underway....
I was so hoping for the beautiful weather to hold up for the race on Sunday, but unfortunately it was drizzling when we got up and raining properly by the time our race was started. 13 women braved the conditions in the Elite women's category, including CX ace Nikki Harris. The race was started, but I felt as if my legs were made out of concrete. The long hours of back to base building endurance riding the week before were taking their toll.... Anyhow, I knew I wouldn't have the punch, so I didn't panic and just rode along steadily. Apart from Nikki Harris pulling away from the start, the race stayed together closely for the first lap and I came through the feedzone in 5th position, but there was only 20 seconds difference between 2nd and 7th place, so all was still possible.
There was still 5 laps to go, but the rain was slowly starting to give the course a slippery cover and I had to stay super focused to avoid any slips or crashes to not risk hurting my shoulder again. With Nikki Harris out in front, Maddie, Cait and Gabby were still in sight and Mel Alexander was not far off behind me either. Slowly I worked my way up into 4th place behind Cait, while Maddie managed to pull away from our little chase group. Then Mel Alexander attacked and overtook both me and Cait. I knew she was in good form, so I couldn't let her go and started to chase her. I stayed on her wheel for a while, and finally managed to overtake her into 3rd place in the penultimate lap. I stayed focused and increased my gap over Mel, hoping to be able to catch up to Maddie too, but the gap to Maddie was too big, so I rode a conservative last lap to finish in 3rd.
Despite the horrible wet day I had a good race, and I was happy with the result, considering the lack of current form. Good start into my come-back!
Thanks to Mike for tech-support and to Rob for feed-zone support.
Full results on Timelaps here.
Report on IrishCycling here.