Monday, July 26, 2010

NPS 6 and 7

Work, family and biking have seriously limited my free time, so I'm going to bundle the last 2 race reports into this post.

Dromara CC, Dunmore MountainIt was pretty much the same course as was used last year for the Nationals - lots of kicker climbs broken up by flatish sections, and a few techie drops here and there. I enjoyed this course in 2009 and felt good leading into the race - all I needed was a decent start...

Which I got :) . by the time we hit the rocky single track climb the group had spread out and were moving at a good pace. I was close to the guys in front and kept pace for the first lap, but they gradually pulled away, while Damo Mulcrone gradually caught up with me. So it was going
to be one of those pressure races :)

Damo continued to close in and seeing him move closer distracted me a little from what should have been my main goal - catching Oisin who was less than a minute up the road. The second
and third lap were all out, and mentally I was ready to give up by 4th place spot to Damo as after all the effort he was still hanging in there. Then, finally the elastic snapped at the start of the last lap. I looked back and he was gone! I then looked forward and there was Oisin in the distance. So, with renewed optimism I chased hard for that first NPS podium...

Unfortunately I didn't work out - I got to about 3 bike lengths of Oisin at the highest point in the course, but on the descent to the finish he pulled away, finishing about 40 seconds ahead of me. Still after the horrors of Killaloo I was happy to be back up the front(ish) again.

Full race report here.

MAD, 3 Rock
After Dunmore I was feeling a little better about racing, and looked forward to my own clubs race - despite the techie layout.

The race kicked off and I had my usual rubbish start which left me in or around 12th position (starting from 2nd on the grid). There was a fireroad section shortly after which allowed me to get back up the field, but again a poor start left me with unnecessary work to do - something to improve on. The race settled down with Oisin, Rob, Andrew and Adam pulling away, and a right battle for 5th place building up with Mark, Kev, Dave and Aaron, Damo and me. The course was great - it had the balance of super techie, with challenging climbs and swoopy singletrack. The only problem was the hurricane blowing into the racers face when they reached the aerials after a killer of a fireroad climb.

The race was going fine for me until about halfway into the second lap. Up until that point I was within touching distance of 5th place and felt that on the 3rd lap I could get past the guys and not be under too much pressure. Well that was until I found it difficult to stay attached to my bike and found myself over the bars twice in the space of 3 minutes on the 2nd lap and once more on the last lap.
I can't figure out the cause of the first crash. I had caught up with Dave O'Shea and another rider on Sprint and was happy to wait until the next fireroad to pass him. Then all of a sudden I was over the bars and sitting in the furze. I'm guessing I hit something but no idea what. No damage to me or the bike, but as I looked back down the trail I could see Mark and Damo catching fast. So I was back on the bike and pushed hard.... ...only to hit the dirt again in the last singe track section. Again, no idea what I hit, but it was enough to send me flying. This time Mark and Damo
passed me.
So, back on the bike and off I went chasing. I caught the lads at the entrance to MX and got ahead of them. Mark had a mechanical/crash in Rock and roll and I felt like I might be able to hold on here. I passed Damo on the last fireroad climb and could see the rest of the lads battling for 5th place ahead. I gradually closed the gap and just near the top Mark passed me after putting in a serious effort on the climb. I just got ahead of him again before entering T-connector. However, things went pair shaped again in sprint when, for some reason I decided to go off the nice line and onto a schlompy mud pit where I promptly fell off. So as Mark passed me by all I could do was laugh. Back on the bike one last time and I tiptoed it to the finish line and 9th place
The mad thing was I was still only 40 odd seconds from 5th place. Its quite frustrating, but I had few off the bike moments this year, so to get 3 in one was was probably just balancing out things.

So that was the end of the NPS. I finished joint 6th with club mate Mark McGauley. To be honest, I doubt I could have made it to 5th place - all the guys ahead had either won races or were on the podium in pretty much every race, so can't complain there I guess.

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