Sunday, 15 December 2013

Merida Brass Monkey Rnd.2

Now, Round 2 was much better than Round 1, even if it was more rainy and windy.

9am on a December morning, riders cycle around to keep themselves warm.
My legs feel better, I have quite a good start (once I finally manage to clip in) and the course is brilliant. It feels like a lot of climbing, although it's not - what makes it harder is climbing into strong headwind and some climbs covered with loose rock and mud. However hard it feels though, I don't doubt for a moment that it is worth it - last 15 minutes of the singletrack rewards all the previous pain. It's swoopy, crazy-fast roller-coaster, with blind corners, off-camber sections and some roots thrown in for fun, in one place I almost flow of the track and few meters down because I can't see that the track is turning! Luckily, the body reacts faster than the brain and I'm safely back on the track before I realise what's happening.

Photo by Kevin Sheldrake
 After two hours or so, the drizzle becomes heavier and the singletrack starts changing significantly producing slippery mud sucking the energy out of the legs. Having seen no other girls for 3 hours (the faster ones are far ahead and the rest seems to be at a comfortable distance behind), I begin to relax and just ride my bike instead of racing it, until in the middle of my 5th lap Stephania Magri appears out of nowhere and fly past me! A reminder: the race is over when it's over, not when you don't see other riders. I'm so surprised that it takes me a while to respond, the distance between us is changing but I just can't close the gap! Every time when I think she is gone and there's no point in chasing, the gap somehow gets smaller so I kep pushing and hope for the best. Finally I catch her on a steep climb before the roller coaster, dive into tit behind her and worke hard not to lose her. And then I hit a slippy root and crash! It takes me only a few seconds to get back on the bike but by then she's long gone. I put all the energy I have left onto the pedals and ride down like crazy trying to catch. I catch somebody else (where are they from?), then another rider, then another... What has happened to Stephania, how far can she be?! Eventually I see her, with my legs burning I manage to get to her, now, how to overtake her? Surely, she's not going to help me with that... I'm wondering whether she'll go for the 6th lap, it looks like we'll be on time to start it, but I won't bother. It's getting slow, wet and cold and I have 2 hours of cycling home ahead. I decide to stop it when I still enjoy it.
I make a few unsuccessful attempt on overtaking until she slides on a small climb and I get the lead. There's still 10 minutes or so to go, enough time for her to make up the lost seconds so I keep pushing hard (sprinting for half an hour after riding hard for 3.5 hrs is not the easiest of workouts) until I cross the finish line. Stephanie goes for another lap, and one spot higher in the ranking, I shout some encouragement to her.
Now time to change into dry clothes, get some hot tea and a snack, hang around with the girls and to head home (which turns out to be harder than expected).
I finished 5th and what's more important I loved the ride! Thank Steph for great racing!
3:50 hrs, 56km - race. 2:00 hrs, 43km - ride home. And now well deserved spaghetti and popcorn with cider. Oh yeah...

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