Monday - Another freezing morning - will this winter ever end? Spun into work the long way - up and over Slade. I'm pushing the on the climbs now and everything is holding together! My injuries seem to be clearing up nicely now so fingers crossed that'll be it for the year. Cycled home the quick way, but took it handy enough.
Tuesday - Spinning class with @wearepureclass. Again, felt I could push along harder in the session.
Wednesday - Went out with Gene to Glending for an easyish night spin. Met a few IMBRC lads who were out enjoying the quickly drying trails. Better get out and enjoy them before the rainy season kicks in. Despite it being my first mtb spin in a good while, managed to not do too much damage to myself.
Thursday - Not-as-freezing morning for the long spin into work. The route has some nice long climbs which are perfect for climbing (apart from the 50 meters @ 14% that is).
Saturday - I had a busy day in work on Friday so could not cycle in, so just took the day off. Friday night myself and Gene drove the Newbridge GP course to get an idea of what it was like. 2 nice drags and some rolling bits summed it up. On Saturday Sean D dropped out and we cycled out to the loop to get a better look at it. Funny how it seemed totally different in the daylight and on a bike! I still liked the look of it tho and was looking forward to the race.
Sunday - So race day arrived. Weather-wise the day was perfect - dry and cool. We headed over to race HQ at Newbridge to find quite a few people already milling around, signing on and tweaking some very fancy bikes (some were a bit too fancy for S4 if you ask me :) ). We signed on and hopped back in the car for 30 mins getting ourselves sorted.
As I was seeing this race as training, I had no plans on sitting the group and popping out at 3 km's to go. The plan was to push things along, and get the legs heart pumping good.
The call was made for the S4's to group at the entrance behind the main escort car. The Commissaire for the day gave us the low-down on the race and before we knew it we were on our way to the starting area. We had a few miles behind the escort car to get to the 10 mile race loop so I decided to get up close to the front and not repeat what I did in the Dublin Wheelers GP where I started down the back and stayed stuck there.
It was a rolling start once we got onto the loop and I ended up leading the group for most of the first lap. I was not pushing things hard, but just keeping a nice speed up. As we came to the first climb, riders started to push forward trying to get a good position and not get boxed in by slower riders as they made there way up. I was half expecting someone to make a move there but nothing happened. I think the whole race regrouped on the way back down the other side. Shortly after we hit the second drag - not as bad as the first but tricky enough. I went up the front again and tapped out a steady pace. And I pretty much stayed front until we came around to the main climb on the second lap (boardsie/Orwell rider also got stuck in too). This time I decided to push hard the hill and see what happened. An Usher rider was also putting digs in too and the group started splitting - unfortunately I started running out of steam near the top and got swallowed up by a good 15 riders. 'Game over' I thought, but as we reached the top they too also started to run out of puff and I wheeled up to the back of them and caught by breath on the way down.
Last lap, 4km to go, and on the last drag. Things slowed down again as everyone was getting prepared for the finish. So, again, I went up front and cycled away from the group (can't say I sprinted away, they were just going so slowly it looked like I was). As we hit the steepest part of that climb I could heard big efforts behind me and before I knew it I had 7 or 8 guys blast past me. This was it! Unfortunately I was slowing down and this stage, but I was determined to be a part of the winning break away, so I buried myself for the last 2 minutes of the climb AND descent (which was even bloody harder). It was a nice drop down after the climb. Not too steep and bends you could pedal into. I hit 58kph trying to catch the group and still had the McCabes passing me! Eventually I got the last wheel of the breakaway only to see the eventual winner sprint away with about 500 meters left. The break seemed resigned to letting him go and it became a sprint for the lower positions. I decided I had done this much I might as well just give it a lash and see what happened. So I pushed on again got past a few riders slowing up and ended up in 13th position. I was pretty happy with that considering the effort I put in during the race. And the best bit was when we went back to the start/finish line I got to see myself in the race photo-finish - which was a first!
Monday - The legs were feeling a bit tender on Monday but with the weather being so nice (and having a day off), I hit Glending for a couple of hours of fun. The place is drying up nicely and as long as the Spring does not turn into the rainy season there will be plenty of good riding up there.
In general its been a good week - leg feels better and I've had a couple of sessions where I feel like I'm making progress, so all good.