Saturday, February 27, 2010

2010 Cyprus Sunshine Cup Round 2 Stage 2 - Macheras Mountains

Start of the women's race followed by masters and juniors

Today was the 2nd stage of round 2 of the Cyprus Sunshine Cup. The race was a point to point race on the same course as last year.

My bike run perfectly after Ryan put on the new cassette and chain rings half an hour before the race. And the weather was nice and warm again, too! The start went OK and I tried to catch the group of girls just ahead of me, but just couldn't get myself to push that little bit harder to close the gap. So I was riding around most of the course by myself. And I really started enjoying myself once I hit the singletrack climb. I almost caught up with some of the girls in front, but again just couldn't go harder. I had a lot of fun on the super long single track descent, going so much faster than last year. I absolutely loved it!

Sue Clarke (GBR) entering the long single-track descent

I took it relatively easy to the finish too, and arrived with a huge smile on my face - I definitely didn't go hard enough, but at least it was a lot of fun!

Thanks to Marios and Polys for getting the chain rings and cassette to us just in time, Thomas for the tools to put them on, and Harry and Friedl for the feedzone support.

I came in 7th, improving on my General Classification by 3 places. Results up here. has again captured some post race reactions.

Friday, February 26, 2010

2010 Cyprus Sunshine Cup Round 2 Stage 1 - Macheras Mountains

Here's just a quick update from today's first stage of the Cyprus Sunshine Cup 3-day stage race. Today was the time trial: one lap of a cross country loop. The weather was absolutely awful with constant rain during the race and it was cold enough too (relatively). I was riding well, and had no problems on the descents, but I made one big mistake and that was not having my bike in perfect condition. In summary: Chain suck sucks! I came 10th in the end, 2min45sec down on the leader in a less than half an hour race.

I am pretty annoyed at myself because I was already getting really bad chain suck on my training yesterday in the same awful conditions - both rings are a little worn and the fine sand just clogged up the rest. I should have changed out both the granny and middle rings last night, but we couldn't find any in that short time and the hope that it'll all be just fine if I just clean everything really well and oil the chain really well prevailed. But it did happen again. Even before I started the race it was bad, so we tried a quickfix of taking out a chain link to make the chain a little shorter and tighter, but to no avail. I had to run up every hill and had to pedal carefully on the flats, finishing almost fresh as a daisy. Argh!

So a few emergency calls to some Cypriot bike shops later and we will be buying two brand new chain rings and a brand new cassette that will be delivered to the race venue tomorrow morning before the race and we already have a brand new chain here as well to put on. At least I'll go into the race tomorrow knowing that this is the best that I could do to prepare my bike. Rant over.

Full results here.

Some rider's reactions after the TT on

Sunday, February 21, 2010

2010 Cyprus Sunshine Cup Round 1 - Voroklini

Woman's podium :)

Wow, that was HARD! The first race of the season is always hard, but this one seemed so much harder again than any first race in any season. It didn't help that the race organizers had added another lap to this course, so that my race was 2h 4min long!

There were 20 girls in the women's Elite race, with a high profile field, including the vice U-23 world champ and several national champs, most of them using these races as early season race prep. Each of the 5 laps had 240m of climb and boy, the climbs were tough. There were some power sapping steppy climbs, some technical singletrack climbs and some draggy fireroad climbs, with some granny gear kicker climbs strewn in for good measure. Hell, it felt like you were climbing almost all of the time! But maybe that also had to do that whatever height you gained was lost in no time on the super steep technical descents, featuring amongst them the famous dry riverbed descent that has seen many a man walking.

Women's start

Anyhow, back to the race and the feeling of lactate acid filling up your legs and turning them to leady jelly. I didn't have the greatest of starts but did my best to stick with the lead group of about 6 girls. While the front few girls pulled away from the first lap, Alexandra Engen (SWE), Sue Clarke (GBR) and I were ding-donging for about a lap before I managed to slowly pull away from them both. I was able to increase my gap and even when my legs started cramping up in the last lap I was able to stay away to cross the line in 4th place - I am so so happy to have had such a good start into the new season.

Having fun on the techy descents

One thing that was very different this year was that I felt really comfortable on the technical descents. It felt like something has clicked in my head - and I rode all of them well controlled and relaxed, possibly even making up time on them. I cannot explain what happened, since a lot of my recent training has not been very technical, but I really enjoyed them. So far so good :)

Thanks again to Frederick for doing the bottles - this year with ZipVit Energy drink - it seemed to work well in the race :)

Results on

Saturday, February 20, 2010

It's time again...

... to start the racing season. Ryan and I have arrived in Cyprus two days ago to take part again in the Cyprus Sunshine Cup. This is the first mtb race of the season, so we are both very excited. While Ryan has done the Cyclocross season in Ireland, I've practically not raced since the end of last year. The first race of the season is always awaited with great nervousness, you don't know if you have improved since last year and how the legs will react under a full out race effort.

The first race of the Cyprus Sunshine Cup takes place in Voroklini tomorrow, on virtually the same course as the last race of last year's Cyprus Sunshine Cup. Ryan and I have been pre-riding the course yesterday and today. Last year I was quite scared of the steep and technical descents and "locked up" completely when I was on the bike, being reduced to tears on one particularly tricky drop (which was later taken out of the race), but this year I was riding all of them without a bother (OK, they did make some sections a little bit easier). The course now flows really well and I am particularly happy about being able to ride down the riverbed in a controlled and relaxed manner. This part of the course has not been changed, and seeing some guys walking it is an indication that I may actually have improved. I feel a lot more comfortable on steep and technical descents this year, which is strange, since I spent most of my past while on the road bike or on rollers. I am looking forward to tomorrow!

Again, the profile of riders taking part in this prestigious race series is high, owing to the excellent organization and race course design by the race organizers. Taking part in the cup will be title defender and U-23 silver medallist at the world champs Alexandra Engen (Swe), Lisi Osl (Aut) from the central Pro Team, Anja Gradl and junior European champion of 2008, Mona Eiberweiser, Julie Krasniak (Fra/Team Look), Janka Stevkova (Svk/CK Epic Dohnany), Barbara Benko (Hun/Rothaus-Cube) and Alla Boyko (Ukr) in the Elite women's race. I've already seen a few of the names training on the course and with this calibre it's not going to be a soft ease into the new season....

I'll try and put up a little video that I took from the last bit of the riverbed descent later on. Oh, and it's 24 degrees and sunny... ;)