Friday, 14 June 2013

National Point Series, Rnd. 3 - Hopton Woods, 2nd June

My first British NPS race. The first big race while over here. What to expect?

I’m not feeling too well on the day, after having cold for some time, after not riding a bike for a week, after spending 7 hrs in the car a day before. Physically and mentally. But the mood sometimes changes during the race so let's hope it'll do that today.

The race starts in a slightly uphill grass field – lovely. And after a few seconds it turns sharp right to reveal a steep steep climb. Garmin is showing me 27% or so. Up to 30% in places. It hurts just looking at it, I let the detrimental thought enter my head: “I’m not a climber”. Now I know that that was when I lost the day. 

I climb, climb, trying to reach the corner. There the fireroad turns left to reveal a climb. I climb, climb, people passing by. I see Leona Kadir disappearing in the front, here's my revenge gone. The fireroad turns into a singletrack. I climb climb… 
In front of me there is a girl who cannot ride even the wide corners, she's stopping, blocking other riders, you can hear frustrated murmurs and some swearing in the group. The path goes flat giving a chance to catch a breath, then switchbacks up and then turns into a double path again. Little ring is spinning like crazy. Finally I can see that the road is getting flat, I switch to the big ring and look at the Garmin: gradient 10%, that’s not flat at all! After 15 minutes or so, there’s finally the top of the hill, time to jump into the forest and have some fun! Weeeeee! Now you're talking!
I’m closing the gap to the riders in front, letting the back wheel slide into the sharp corner, no breaks, no breaks. And then “Pssssss….!” – the air escapes from the tyre. Luckily it's tubeless so I cans till ride but the wheel slides now on every corner, I have to take it carefully because if the rest of the air is lost, I’ll have to run and that’s surely not the best terrain for jogging!
I’m not motivated, my heart rate stays low but the legs don’t want to push harder. Neither the head. I roll through the feed zone, don’t stop to pump the tyre up (why?!) and instead drag it up that 200m climb again and then bring it carefully down. I’m somewhere at the back of the pack, want to go home. I hope Sean, Neil and Matt will enjoy their races more, later during the day.
One hour in, I decide I have to stop and get some air in. I lose over three minutes during my three pumping stops, but I’m so far back that it doesn’t matter. The last lap. Last half an hour and it’s over. My legs get wings, I smile, I hammer up the hill using the big ring for climbing for the first time today. The bike hits the singletrack and with the fat hard tyre it just flies down it. I’m fast, I’m good, I feel great! Then an Elite woman flies by me, bringing me back to the reality. Look, that’s the speed those trails should be ridden at!
I overtake some riders on a gentle climb (I overtake riders on a climb! :) ) and sprint for the last singletrack, where the spectators give me an “Aaaaw…!” when I fly down the berms (probably thinking “Why the heck didn’t she ride like that the previous two times?”).
The third lap was so good that I want to do it all over again!
Finished in 6th position, definitely not a good race, not because of the final spot but because of the poor performance, but that’s how the racing goes, isn't it? :)

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