Sunday, April 27, 2008

Summer sunshine race 1 :)

Today, a super sunny and wam day, the first Irish NPS race this year was held in Ballinastoe, by Sorrento Cycling Club (actually mostly a roadie club). And, for being a mostly roadie club, they did a really good job in putting together the course in Ballinastoe:

Apart from a supersteep fireroad climb in the beginning the course consisted mainly of descending singletrack sections, some natural, some man made using the Ballinastoe Mountain biking trails, strung together by reasonable fireroad climbs. The singletrack was not massively technical - just very swervy - it was great to lean into the corners and ride out the berms, so the laps were superfast.

While there was great competition in the Elite man category, it was only Fiona Barrett and me in the Elite ladies category. Mountainbiking girls, where are you? We need you!!!
Fiona and me went off with the two Juniors and sprinted off the steep fireroad climb. I developed a good lead from Fiona from the start on and hung on to the two juniors for half a lap, then I overtook them. I caught up almost to Richie from the Elites, who had been dropped from the Elite field and who looked in difficulty. Then the two Oisins from the Experts who had started a minute behind started catching up to me and I made it my goal to not be overtaken in the first lap. I managed to stay ahead of them till just before the end of the first lap then. At the food area I saw that both Fiona and Richie had dropped out, unfortunately. This meant I just had to finish the race.
Foto found here.

I tried to keep my speed up despite having no competition and was getting on grand till lap 3 (my second last lap) where I fell off the bike in a corner and couldn't hook my foot out of my pedal - it was stuck!! I managed to get back to the tech zone without dabbing (thank god this course wasn't technical). At the tech zone we had a look at the stuck cleat and noticed that one of the bolts had gone. I didn't have any spare bolts with me (who has anyway??), so I decided that I would just try and do the last lap with my shoe stuck and try avoid dabbing. Well, it was going OK till I came to a little uphill section where my back wheel spun through and I fell off the bike again, with my shoe still stuck of course. I managed to get back up and somehow half walked/cycled up the hill with my left foot stuck and my right foot on the ground.... never looked so stupid before!

But of course disaster never comes alone, so when I went down the straight natural singletrack section I punctured my rear tire so badly that my tubeless tire didn't seal fast enough and soon I was riding on the rim! I stopped and pumped up the tire, but it was still not sealing. And it's not easy to pump up the tire when you are stuck onto your bike! I tried to ride on for a little bit further but had to stop again as the air was almost gone again. I pumped it up again (this time taking my shoe off) and tried to get the tire to seal, which it seemed to do eventually and kept on riding carefully. I had to pump it up one more time, but could make it to the finish OK. Of course I had lost lots of time in my last lap, so the result time is a little misleading, and unfortunately they've got no lap times. So according to my Garmin, my lap times were approximately:

lap1: 22:26, lap2: 23:56, lap3: 24:45, lap4: 25:01

Total riding time: 1:36:08 (I had the auto-stop function on), showing my really fast 1st lap and the other laps progressively getting slower, with the cleat problem in lap 3 and the puncture in lap 4. Overall, I was quite happy with how I rode the course (apart from my slow last lap), as I was able to go really fast around the corners and take the berms properly. I feel a lot more confident as well to go on this slalom-like singletrack with high speed - I think the UK race really helped with this. So, all in all it was still a very enjoyable race, even though I would prefer having a bit more competitive pressure in it for me. Guess I have to race more abroad for that.

Foto from here.

And what a beautiful day it was - sunshine all the way! I think I might have gotten a tan today and I was really hot going up those climbs!

Ryan did really well in his race, leading from the start on and battling constantly with Peter Buggle who was back on the bike after the Cape Epic and superfast junior rider Liam McGreevey, who's leap up to the Elite category has proven the right step for him, eventually placing third. Ryan's report can be found here.

Thanks to Shane, who surprised himself coming third in the Sports category, for helping out with the bottles - it is as always really appreciated. Full results can be found here and some pics have been put up here by Rob and here by Arek (photos taken by Marta).

Next weekend will be my first non-racing weekend in ages (didn't say non-cycling...;)) as I will be celebrating a friends birthday in Kerry. And the weekend after that I will be in Drumlanrig, Scotland for the British NPS round 2, a UCI Class 2 event, who knows, maybe I can even pick up some points there :).

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