Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Last K Capital Cup Race

Last Sunday saw the last one of the four K Capital Cup races happening in the beautiful Forest Park of Castlewellan. Incidentally, I had my very first mountain bike race in Castlewellan about 2 years ago (the first NPS 2006) where I finished 26th in the combined male/female sports category.... - oh that was scary. From then on Castlewellan has become one of my favourite courses, always remembered with much fondness ;)

The course itself was great: The first killer fireroad climb (18% in sections) had been broken up by some really nice and tricky singletrack loops in the forest, but slowly leading you up to the top. Once on the highest point, there was a singletrack descent to another bit of fast, leveled fireroad followed by more great singletrack descending with lots of little technical bits and view over the lake back to the finish line at the lakeside. The course was dusty dry on the Saturday pre-ride and stayed dry for the race itself, just it was a little cold, where the hell is the summer???

Pic found here.

There were only 4 ladies starting in the Elite ladies category, one of them Polish rider Karolina Kozela, who I had remembered being very fast in Kilruddery about 2 years ago. I wasn't feeling very well, my legs still felt as if they hadn't recovered from the previous hard weekend's racing in the UK and for some reason I was pretty nervous, even though I had the series win basically bagged as long as I finished the race. Ah well, guess it's the expectations.....

Anyway, the race started, and as usual, most of the fun was happening in the first lap. Karolina sprinted up the hill with me close on her wheel (I still don't like sprint starts and took it easy enough), meaning that she entered the first bit of singletrack ahead of me. While riding the singletrack behind her, I noticed that my back tire had way to much pressure: it was spinning through on roots and didn't grip well on rock. I contemplated letting out some air, but didn't want to let Karolina get away from me. Then I noticed however that she was having difficulty with all the little tricky bits on the singletrack, having to walk many of them (according to her she had not been on her mountain bike in a few months), so I was confident that I would catch her again, stopped and let out some air of my rear wheel while Karolina got away. Oh, it rode soo much better with less pressure. A few minutes later I had caught up to Karolina and managed to overtake her before we hit the middle fireroad section and that was it for me with regards to Elite ladies battles for the rest of the race.

Pic found here.

So instead I tried to hang on to Oisin Boydell in Expert for a bit (it's my goal now to beat him by the end of the year) and I also had a nice battle with Rory Walsh in Experts, but I finally managed to finish ahead of him (disregarding the minute head start I had). Apart from that it was actually - and I hate to say this - a bit unexciting from a racing point of view, so I just enjoyed the really lovely singletrack. I even had to remind myself to push a little harder at times, I was supposed to be racing for God's sake! There just needs to be more women in my category! At least it was great to see so many more women starting in the Sports category - just need to convince them now to take the leap to Elites!

I finished the race over 15min ahead of Karolina who was closely followed by savage rider Fiona Barrett who had to travel up from Cork and had done an adventure race the day beforehand - fair play to her doing the mtb race as well! Just need to get her to reassess her priorities now ;) And very well done as well to Ann Duffy who keeps bravely taking on racing in the Elite ladies category due to lack of vet ladies competition in Ireland.

Pic of the 3 MAD series trophy winners found here.

All in all it was a nice race, even though it felt a little like just wrapping up. Most of the series placings in the categories had been decided in the previous races bar any unplanned accidents etc. so it was I guess a little less exciting than the previous races.

Anyway, time to relax a little after this, eat a Jo Burger (mmmmhhhh!!!) and prepare for the next races that are coming up soon. Thanks again to all the people helping out and shouting encouragement, especially Sean, who was doing my bottles, it's time to see you back the bike soon though! Also thanks to TorQ for their support, I used TorQ gels and Energy drinks throughout the race and felt they gave me just the energy I needed.

Full results of the race can be found here and the overall standing at the end of the league can be found here. Photos can be found here by Rob, here byArek, here (IMBRC) and here by Trey. Report by Andy Potts here.

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