Myself and Gene headed off from Naas at about 8.30 and made good time getting to Magheramorne at 11am. It was a long drive but the motorways and great weather made up for it.
After getting signed up, we headed out for a pre-lap. Starting the entrance of the quarry there was a left turn into the open area across a sandy, dusty area before the first drop. At the bottom there was a 90 degree right turn across a very dusty section. Before entering grassy singletrack. Again, another 90 degree turn and a tricky little kicker (which in the wet would not have been ridable).
The course then consisted of sections of open singletrack with short draggy climbs, tight singletrack with swoopy turns, and plenty of big swoopy drops. You then crossed over the Larne road and into the quarry proper, dropping down to the lake and crossing through a water feature before climbing gradually back out and following a red, dusty trail back to the start/finish. On the pre-lap, the course seemed very long and that was confirmed by one of the lads who clocked it at 7kms. Still, as there were not many long, steep climbs, it was going to be fast.
We lined up for the start and I had managed to get up just behind the first line of top riders (about 5 of them). So I thought it was looking good for getting a good start and trying to stick with the lads. However, I had another disaster of a start and before the first drop a good 10 to 15 riders had passed me. I’ve not got the foggiest why I can’t get away from the line quickly, but I will have to work on it before the next race. A bad start puts you at an huge disadvantage as you spend the first lap at least attempting to past riders. So that’s what I ended up doing – chasing and passing riders when I got a chance. There was plenty of spots for overtaking so you were never held up that long in the Singletrack.
After the first lap I didn't have any head-to-head's with fellow masters riders. The race basically became a time-trail - pushing as hard as possible. I did pass people but I was never sure what categories they were racing in, and just assumed they were not masters and scooted past as soon as I got the chance.
About half way through the 3rd lap I spotted a MAD rider ahead with a WORCie following, as I got closer I realised it was Oisin and the WORCie was a vet. This gave me the extra kick and I pushed on for the rest of the lap. I had closed to about 100 meters but about halfway into the last lap Oisin looked around, saw me and switched on the afterburners. As I entered the last section of singletrack I thought I had a chance of catching him before we crossed over the road, but when I exited the trail, Oisin was nowhere to be seen! I probably should have kept the hammer down but lost the motivation when he was out of sight so sat up and spun the last 3rd of the lap.
So I ended the race in 4th place, 41 seconds behind Oisin and just shy of 3 minutes behind the winner Kevin Stanley. I'm really happy with that - I know a few lads had mechanicals, and there were plenty of punctures, but I've not felt that good in a race since early last year. Hopefully it was not a once off and I can keep it going for the last 3 races of the season.
Monday, I decided to cycle into work. Should have had a rest as the legs were sore after racing, but the weather was so nice it would have been criminal not to. Did take it handy tho, and a great tail wind had be home in record time.
Tuesday, IMBRC club league. Was great craic. I set off 1 minute before Mark McGauley so the pressure was on! Legs were still sore but after a few minutes of riding I didn't feel a thing - apart from the pasta and meatballs I ate and hour earlier trying to get back out. Mental note - don't eat your dinner an hour before balls to the wall racing. In the end Mark caught me in the last 50 meters and it was a sprint finish between us and Ben Marchant. I won that but was tough. Great racing and organisation. Looking forward to next Tuesday all ready!
Wednesday, Ok, knackered today, but again with the weather so nice I cycled in - very slowly. And another nice tail wind to look forward too on the way home.
Planning on cycling in via Slade tomorrow and if I'm not on the road bike on Friday I'll be out in Slade or Glending with Gene. I'm busy over the weekend, but hope to get out for a couple of hours on the Road bike on Saturday morning or Sunday evening.
And then the following Monday will be spin to work and IMBRC club league on Tuesday. Yes, I've planned out the next 6 days and its fairly crammed with different types of biking, but I'm keen to make the most of the coming week before kicking up the heels from next Wednesday