Better mention the past week also. Its been busy in work again this week, but not as bad as previous weeks thankfully. Unfortunately my previous weeks exertions were still causing me problems, along with not getting 1 decent nights sleep all week. And to top it all off, my sinuses starting acting up. I'd been taking and OTC drug call Zirtek, but to be honest it only masks the symptoms and not getting to the root of the problem (to solve that I need Xyzal which is prescription only - grrrr). However the Zirtek was doing enough to let me out on the bike a couple of times during the week. We did a couple of spins in Glending - and one on Wednesday was particularly hard, and I also did the spin to work on Friday.
I had a totally crap sleep on Friday - and spent Saturday wondering around zombie-like for most of the day until I gave in and got a couple of hours sleep in the afternoon. I got another 10 when I hit the hay-proper that night, so it was nice to wake up this morning feeling rested!
However, I had zero motivation for this race - not sure why (maybe too much sleep :) ), just did not feel like doing it, plus my legs felt totally dead. I would probably have preferred watching the TdF and the guys hitting the Tourmalet. But meself and Gene headed over and hit the trails for a pre-ride. The course had been modified in order to remove some exceptionally schlompy bits. It became longer though and had lots more off-camber singletrack which was going to be tough with my Specialized Fastrak Control - which I think were designed by some lad in California who never saw sticky mud (or any mud for that matter).
After the pre-ride the legs were feeling better, but the mind was still not 100% on the race. So, we just hung about for an hour and took in some of the sport races before getting into the warm up.
The warm up was not so good - I just found it hard to get the heart pumping, so just wondered down to the start line and placed myself as far back as possible as I felt I was going to get in the way of faster racers.
Then the gridding started and it turns out it was gridded in the top 10 - feck it! The whistle went and I proceeded to have the worst start in an XC race - ever. I lost count of the number of riders who passed me before we even made it to the single track. And when I arrived into that I might as well have just ran the lot - nothing to do with the conditions - I just totally lost all understanding of how to ride roots. Once we got out into the open climb to XTC I was thinking of just heading down to Powerscourt waterfall and getting 99 from the kiosk. As usual though, once I was on the XTC berms I perked up a bit and started racing. An expert passed me and I just tucked in behind him for the first half of the first lap. I then had a bit of a tussle with Paddy Daly for the second half, but he pulled away at the start of the second (mostly down to me screwing up single track again, but he also put the hammer down in fairness). The course was not too bad - there were schlompy sections but drier lines were found and used. However it did not prevent the pedals getting gunked up with mud. This made clipping in and out a problem - which was more of a problem in this race as it was a very common occurrence for me. There was a fair old bit of running done and I was glad of the studs at the front of my shoes. The gears started acting up again, and there I was thinking I had them spot on, but they spent most of the 2nd lap climbs jumping about like crazy.
On the last lap I started to get even more sloppy, an over the handle bars moment, and a pretty awesome loss of control on one of the fastest bits of single track which left my handlebar pointing one way and the wheel the opposite way. I think I can put both down to the tyres though as both began with the front wheel washing out on pretty ok terrain. So with the national champs coming up next week and a crappy weather forecast until them, I've bought a pair of Hutchinson Python's, which should solve a couple of the handling problems.
I'm not sure where I finished in the race - it was top 10, possibly 7th, will know later on and will update. Happy enough with that - don't think I would have done any better even if everything went perfectly.
I also dropped the bike into OCtuning for a pre-Nation Champs service. Hopefully he'll undo the mess I've made of it!
Going to take it easy enough this week - might do an mtb spin mid-week and maybe a couple of spins into work, but that'll be it.
Thanks to Arek for the photos!
UPDATE - came 8th.