Monday, 25 June 2012

NPS Rnd. 5 - Davagh Forest, 24th June 2012

That was definitely the hardest race of the series. I'd been really looking forward to it after all the stories I heard about how fast and flowy it is and how little climbing it has.

Water woohoo!

Leaving the feed zone.

Finish line. (photos by Keith Wallace)
I felt good before the race, maybe not in my top form, but confident enough. That changed 2 seconds after the start, when the whole group just went off and I stayed at the back losing metres every second. Fortunately for me, Orla soon got dropped from the front group, however she was still opening the gap on me until we hit the singletrack where I started closing it. I managed to catch up with her after 15 minutes or so but I already knew it was going to be a hard race for me, the legs were weak and I was going slower than I should have.
After staying on Orla's wheel for a couple of minutes to catch my breath, I decided to overtake her, for which she cheered me on! Fair play girl, that was nice! The first lap was slightly different to the rest, with a longer loop at the start to spread us out and which I skipped during my practice lap so wasn’t entirely sure how long it would take. After half an hour I finally arrived into the feed zone, where the support people were being eaten by millions midgets. I dropped a gel, then almost lost a bottle and just about managed to cover the steep and slippy entry into the singletrack. Some mud, a fireroad, then a river crossing, which turned out to be much deeper than I expected and it almost stopped me. “Wrong gear! You won’t go far like this!” laughted a guy behind me who kept much more momentum when hitting the water and almost crashed into me when I slowed down. Phew! the whole crowd survived the crossing in one piece. 

Then a long-ish fireroad climb and into the mud. A few inch deep sticky mass made it difficult to ride even for strong riders and forced us to get off the bikes and run. This transition between cycling and running always sucks a lot of energy off me and this time was no different, the muscles were burning, the feet were slipping, the mud was trying to take the shoes off. Then sliding down the mud. Then more running. Then slippy switchbacks up and finally down onto the fireroad and into the fast and smooth singletrack. Whoosh...! Then through a bridge (careful, don’t go down) and up two steep and slippy (have I used this word before?) kickers and down to the feed zone where Sean was waiting for me with an energy drink. But my stomach shrunk at the thought of sugar so I had to stop and wait when he delved into the bag in pusuit of something I’d be able to drink.
Two more laps to go, I felt weak and dizzy, thirsty and hungry and suffered both pchysically and mentally but didn’t want to withdraw. Well, some part of me wanted it very very much but I managed to keep it quiet enough to keep going. More running, some success going up the steep kickers (such a success on two last laps?!), checking the time over and over again and counting the minutes down. It dragged forever. A standard race takes me usually an hour and a half, this one took nearly two hours. That made a huge difference.

Finally I crossed the finish line, finally it was over. I paid the high price for that race, the stomach didn’t want to keep anything in afterwards and was throwing everything up and we had to stop a few times on our drive home, finally arriving after 9pm, hungry, dehydrated and depleted of any energy.

Somehow my lap times were almost the same for the whole race, which is surprising because I felt worse and worse every minute. I managed to keep the pace, which is good, but on the other hand that pace was too slow, which is bad. Need to work out the good/bad ration here ;)
I guess I learnt something from that experience, not entirely sure what yet. I know that when I’m recovered and when the pain from a few stupid crashes goes away, I will be able to recall some good memories of that day. The river crossing, flowy downhill sections, the success of climbing those two kickers at the end of the third and fourth lap. Even running in mud will look less bad.

But now it’s time for holidays and visiting the family and friends in Poland. I’ll try to do a couple of good spins before we go and later a few days without a bike will be refreshing.
And then, in less than two weeks, Bontrager 24/12.

No comments:

Post a Comment