OK, so I headed off on holidays a couple of weeks ago with a road and mountain bike on the back of the car. I still had knee problems so the plan was to get on the road bike for the first week and then switch to the mountain bike for the second in order to be in some condition for NPS round 6 hosted by MAD (my club).
I was out everyday for the first week in super weather. The only problem I had was the road quality - which was crap to be honest. Towards the end of the first week my rear wheel developed a squeak which I put down to spokes getting loose (the exact same thing happened to me last year on the same roads). A local bike shop sorted me out, but 30 minutes into the next spin the squeaks were back. I decided I put the road bike through enough torture and switched over to the Cube. I only put in about 300kms' at an easy pace, but I felt it helped a little.
The weather deteriorated in the second week, but I still got out 3 or 4 times. There is a walking trail near the rented house which was super steep for about 200 metres, so most days I did an hour or so going up and down. Again, I was not killing myself, just getting the lungs and heart working again.
Despite all the cycling I still managed to put some weight on - there was plenty of good food and alcohol - it was a holiday after all! I also managed to break the Garmin. I had it on the road bike leaning against a wall when a gust blew it over. Normally the Garmin would be safe sitting on the stem, and the handlebar or crank taking the impact of the fall, but there happened to be a flower box right in the path of the Garmin and it took the full force. Its pretty much unrepairable but Garmin are going to replace it with a new one for €119 (its only £65 to replace it in the UK - rip off republic?!?!).
So that was it - got back on Saturday, just in time for the MAD hosted NPS race held up in 3 rock. It was a really challenging course, mixing some old and new singletrack with some fire road. After leaving the Start/finish area there was a short doubletrack climb up to the fireroad, which brought you up to the ariel's, into t-connector and a new and improved Rock and Roll. From there it was a challenging climb back up to the fire road on forest single track and rocky, sandy trails. I really enjoyed that bit. It was a scary sprint back down the fireroad before entering the new singletrack (Quack) which was good fun before hitting the start/finish line.
My main goal for the race was just to finish it in one piece and the bike to not let me down (which it did a bit in Killarney and Carlingford). I did lots of stretching in the morning and once we got to the race I kept stretching and moving. I did my usual pre-race stuff and warm-up - during which I did feel a bit of discomfort around the knee. I gridded in roughly the 3rd row back (there was about 30 starters). I was happy enough with that as I had no plans on racing any of the big boys. the start line was not on the lap itself but a couple of hundred metres down a fireroad, which meant the riders should be spaced out a bit by the time we hit the doubletrack. So Richie Byrne sent us on our way and just like Carlingford I felt everyone was going too slow for my liking so I blasted up to the fireroad taking 7 or 8 places.
Things settled down quickly once we got onto the fireroad climb and I eased off a little after remembering that this was my first race in 2 months and a serious injury! So I tapped along to t-connector and for the rest of the first lap just kept the bike and me moving. The second lap I got in with a WORC rider and Luke Manning (IMBRC). The WORCie was ahead of me and was handy enough on the fireroads, but had serious problemskeeping the bike upright on greasy single track - to the extent he was really starting to get on my nerves. Finally he managed to crash off the course which allow me and Luke to pass. Luke was ahead but had blown, but I was happy to keep in with his pace for most of the second and 3rd lap. The WORCie had returned so it was time to pick up the pace for the last lap. As we descend down the fireroad to the final singletrack, we both eased up - knowing that (in theory) the first person into the single track would leave it in front and just a hundred metres of fireroad to the finish line. Based on this fellas track record I was happy to let him in first, so off he went. I did begin to get worried halfway through the single track as he only unclipped once - definitely improved over the race. But he came off in a big was in the last third, and allowed me through - I think he had given up at that stage. I plugged away to the end of the single track, but ran the last 20 metres of it just in case and then sprinted to the finish line and 11th place.
I had a couple of tumbles - I cycled into a traffic cone when I was drafting up the fireroad - I split myself laughing, and came off in a big way in Rock and Roll which left a nasty gash in my knee.
The bike also took a hit on the chainstay - a nasty one too probably caused by a rock getting thrown up onto it on the fireroad. It think the carbon is ok, but can't be sure. Will get someone to take a look at it before the next race.
Overall though the race was a sucess for me. I woke up this morning with no extra pain in my knee and all other muscles just with the normal pain levels. Its 3 odd weeks to the last round hosted by Epic in Djouce, so I'll start to get back into proper training again this week. The nationals are a week later, which I think is what I'll be aiming to do my best in.