Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Southern XC Series, Rnds. 1 & 2

Southern XC Series, Rnd. 1 – Matterley Basin - 14th April

Unlike most riders, we were happy to see rain and mud on the race day. Years of riding in Ireland pay off in such conditions and allow us to pick places in slippy parts of the course, where more cautious riders tend to do everything to prevent the bike from sliding, instead of just letting it go.
As I didn’t know the women in my category, not having raced in the UK before, I was chasing whoever was in front of my, with my eyes particularly set on my club colleague Cat racing in the Vets category.
I was surprised that I wasn’t losing much time on the climbs, being overtaken by not so many riders, and even overtaking a few – now that was a novelty!
The course was full of muddy and slippy corners in the forest, a couple of very steep kickers and a fireroad climb - quite pleasant even if not very technical. If it had been dry, it could have required only fitness and not much bike handling skills, with all the mud however it was fun.
Didn’t know what position I was riding in till the very end, when I found out that I won, with a big margin!
Nice as it is, it may just mean that the competition was weak on that day, further races will allow to get some more objective picture.

Southern XC Series, Rnd. 2 – Crow Hill - 19th May

This time the course was dry but had hardly any climbs in it (approx. 100m per lap) which undoubtedly suited me.
I started strong but got blocked 50 m from the start line at the sharp corner, luckily we didn’t crashed although were close to it. After that I managed to pick a few places but nonetheless got into the singletrack in not the best position and spend a few long minutes crawling behind a slow woman and looking at the front group opening a gap quickly.
I sprinted the moment we hit a fireroad and got a clear run into the next singletrack, steadily closing the gap and enjoying roots, bombholes and sharp fast corners. I was especially pleased with the corners, ridden without breaking but with pedalling, dodging the trees which were getting dangerously close, visibly fast.
As the momen field is not too big, all the female categories start together and I was over the moon seeing that I was catching up, or even overtaking, some Elite riders! There was only that one girl who stuck to my back wheel some 15 minutes after the start and I just couldn’t lose her. Every time when I managed to open a tiny gap in the singletrack, she would catch me on the next climb. I hope that if I pushed hard enough in the technical sections, she would make a mistake there, she slipped a few times indeed but managed to catch me again each time. Over an hour went by and we were still riding together, wheel by wheel. At some stage I wished she just overtook me and opened the gap so I could ease off and stop pushing that hard! But no, she was just there, breathing at my neck and not letting go.
She eventually did attack however, some 500-600m from the finish, at the field leading into the last mini-lap. I stuck to her through the whole singletrack but when we came to the hill, as gentle as it was, she proved stronger. I had nothing left in the legs to respond, regardless how deep I dug, I could just see her getting farther ad farther away, meter by meter, and then crossing the line some 50 min in front of me. I just rolled through the line 16 seconds later.
Not fully satisfied with the position but I know I rode at my 100% and I gave everything I could, she was just stronger. And we both overtook half of the Elite field, how great is that!
The next race is in two weeks, and it’s the National Point Series race. My first one. Leona Kadir will be there too…

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