Tuesday, July 27, 2010

National XC champs 2010

Epic MTB hosted the 2010 National XC champs in Djouce wood on the 17th July. I had not done much leading up to the race - did a road spin the previous Saturday and a session in Glending on the Wednesday leading up to it - as I was busy in work and at home. I still felt OK leading up to the race. My only concern was the course itself as I had not seen any of it - in fact I'd not been in Djouce in 2 or 3 months and with Epic running the race, there was going to be techie bits - not one of my strong points.

We arrived early to an already almost full car park. There was a great buzz around the village, with plenty of stands, food stalls and a bouncy castle! We signed on and headed back to the car to get ourselves organised.

Just before the sports race started a gang of us from MAD got out for a pre-ride. The course after the start finish line the course moved into a singletrack section when brought you to the lower carpark before the climb up to a slightly extended XTC. Once you were out of that it was walking path over to some of the sections used in the races last year. But some of the sections were taken in reverse, such as the switchback climb up to the highest point of the course, After that you worked your way across to Toro, and out onto fireroad which brought you to GC, and then out along the new straight trail down to the river. Then a small fire road section which brings you to the single track climb up by the step and then across before dropping down to the main fireroad, and sprint back to the lower carpark where you drop to the left and into a bermy singletrack section before entering the field which contains the start/finish line. All in all, I actually enjoyed the course. The only real tricky section was a rough singletrack drop which was about 50 meters long, but otherwise I thought I could handle it ok.

I was gridded on the second row in roughly about 6th place. The whistle blew and I started to lose positions again – but not as bad as usual so I felt happy enough entering the singletrack. However, as we were leaving the second section something happened and my chain dropped. Not sure what I did to make that happen, but it did, so I had to hop off and get it back on fast. I guess 4 or 5 riders passed me while I was getting myself sorted. But I kept my head and hopped back on the bike for the climb up to XTC. Over the course of the first lap I had Dave O’Shea and Mark close by and we were all together until half way through the second lap when I pulled out a gap and managed to get some slower riders between me and the lads on the single track climb. After that I just pushed on as hard as possible. Coming into the 3rd and final lap I spotted Oisin up ahead, so went for maximum effort for the last few kilometers. Unlike the Dromara race I never got too close (maybe 50 meters at best) before the finish line arrived.

I was happy though - 4th place! I never even considered a podium in the National champs so to get it was amazing. I stopped setting targets for individual races and just focussed on getting fast, consistent laps in instead. Another thing I wanted to do was not keep something in reserve 'just in case' and instead leave it all out on the course. And I think my racing got better for it over the past couple of events.

So thats all the xc done for the year. The Nationals result more than made up for the very mixed NPS season and just motivates me to try to do that bit better next year. So just the enduro and marathon events left which will be a fun way to end the season.

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