Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sunday Enduro race

Sunday saw the Enduro NPS Round 1 race also in Thetford, UK - both the NPS and Enduro races are always coupled together.

I had left the decision about what distance I would do till the morning before the race. I was put down for the 50km race, but decided last minute to go for the 100km (8 laps of a 12.5km course, re-using some sections from the XC race from yesterday, but with some added new sections, similar to the day before) - I was feeling ok after the race yesterday and it would be a great test to see how my body would deal with a double whammy back to back racing like this. The weather again was beautiful and sunny and we girls gathered at the start line, this time only 8 girls in the 100km Ladies Elite category. At 10:00am we went off and thank god, the speed was slower from the start. When I went off there were 2 girls that went off together ahead of me and I tried to follow them, but was not able to close the gap to them in the first lap. Considering that the race was 100km long I didn't want to kill myself either in the first few laps and thought I would have enough time to work my way up to them eventually. I stayed at a constant speed, and the gap between the 2 girls in front and me also stayed quite constant. Eventually one of the girls started falling back behind the other girl in about the second lap and I was able to catch up to her and overtake her. The first girl though stayed at about a distance of 50-100m ahead of me for the following laps.

Then I had a problem, I had 1 bottle and a few gels that would last me about 2 laps, maybe stretching it to 3, but then I would have to stop at the feed zone for a refill. Because, unfortunately I didn't know anybody there who could do my bottles and wasn't racing at the same time, so a feed zone stop would mean loosing valuable time (Sean, you were so dearly missed at this race!). So I decided to stretch the big bottle to 4 laps and then stop to grab another big bottle and rip the gels off all my other bottles so that I might be able to do the rest of the race on that second 750ml bottle without having to stop again.... Eventually, in about the 4rth lap I caught up to the girl in first, Sally, and followed her comfortably around the course. But then in the feed zone, I had to stop to get refed, whereas she could race through and grab a bottle from her soignour. Nonetheless, I pushed into the pedals hard to make up the lost time and caught up to her about half way through lap 5 and stayed on her wheel for most of the following laps, one time even leading the race for about half a lap after trying to get away from her (I noticed she was very strong on fireroads and could pull away from me there, usually this would also be my strength, but I didn't have that kind of power left after the really hard XC race the day before, which she hadn't done, so I tried to pull away from her in my favourite bit of singletrack, which I managed, but then she caught up to me again on the fireroad sections). So she went into the lead again and I stayed on her wheel.

Although the laps were quite fast, averaging almost 23 km/hour with average lap times of 32min40secs, the speed felt comfortable for most of the race, only in lap 7 the effort started to take tolls on me and I was running low on liquid as well. So again I had to take the decision to either stop and grab another bottle of water and risk allowing her to break away from me or to try and stay with her but risking to bonk on the last lap. Finally, I decided to play safe and get another bottle as I was feeling more and more drained as the lap went on. Sally of course took the chance and broke away and pushed a good gap on me that I unfortunately could not make up for the rest of the race, giving her the win with a super fast time of 4:20:26 and me arriving in second place exactly 47 seconds after..... The next lady in third place was came in at more than 10min later.
The first 3 ladies in the 100km Enduro race

Full results and Joolze report can be found here. Pics from Joolze Dymond are available here. Pics from Rob Crayton can be found here. Ryan found some pics of us here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here (sorry, can't put them up here due to copyright).

I was very proud of my performance and how the race went, but also had thoughts going through my head such as - "maybe I should have tried to pull away earlier", "if I had also had a support person in the feed zone", "maybe I should have risked going without that last bottle"... etc. but then again, I was a little more tired from the hard race the day before, I still had a very good result and I have to say, Sally really deserves the win, she is an incredibly strong, consistent and determined rider, and I don't think I would have been able to pull away from her without her catching me again, so fair-played to her. Very interestingly our lap times both are very very consistent, the difference over 8 laps between my fastest (first) and slowest (7th) lap was less than 2 minutes and my slowest laps (4th and 7th) were those in which I collected my bottles....

Ryan thankfully had a good race too, and finished in a very strong 3rd place, making up for his DNF on Saturday. Well done!
100km Elite Man winners with a very happy Ryan :)

So, time for a few Thank you's again, firstly to Ryan for his consistent psychological support and training advice, to TorQ for also supporting me over the weekend (Ryan is now racing under their banner which I think is great because they make by far the best tasting gels that I ever had) and of course again to our B&B hosts in Magdalen House for getting up so early on a Sunday morning to prepare our breakfast.

Can't wait for my next UK race!


trio said...

Wow, sounds like you had a great time. Makes me even think about trying racing. Love the pictures and I agree torq gels are the best.

Paul McArthur said...

Excellent results Mel. I think you are way past the 'wannabe mountainbiker' stage.