Another weekend, another race – this time up to the North of Ireland for round 6 of the NPS run on last year’s National Championships course. I didn’t have great memories of the course, last year was hard and energy sapping with lots of short climbs and little chance to recover. Still, the weather was good and I was looking forward to giving it another shot.
We flew off at the start, with Mel Spath quickly taking the lead and setting a blistering pace. The ground was super dry and the course almost all grassy or dusty singletrack, with a few sharp rocks to catch you out. I had to work hard to stick to Mel, and with one short hard climb after another there was little chance for a break. The first half of the lap was mostly climbing and I was able to cling on, but after that it flattened out and I began to drop back.
On lap two I still felt I was going like a lunatic but struggling to keep the pace up, it was such hard work! By the end of the lap I’d lost sight of Mel and had to slow down a bit, my legs didn’t feel like they were firing on all cylinders, and I was stuck out racing by myself for the next lap or so. Between all the nasty little climbs, there were a few nice descents, particularly some super tight dusty switchbacks off the top off the hill that you could take really fast, and a couple of steepish rocky sections.
Ploughing on towards the end I was able to battle with some of the guys who were catching from behind. By the fifth lap I’d had enough and couldn’t wait to finish, there definitely seemed to be more pain than enjoyment going on. I told myself that if I wanted to get something from the race I should try to step up the pace on the last lap, so dug deep to get round as fast as I could.
I finished 2nd, 3 minutes behind Mel – results are here. Not my greatest race, but it came at the end of a hard block of training so not a total disaster. I’m looking forward to a recovery week now before heading over to Yorkshire for the BNPS in Dalby next weekend.
Thanks for all the cheers from the Epic and Mad pit crews, it really helped motivation each time I passed them by. Thanks to Drommara CC, the race was very well run and it was actually a really good course, just didn’t suit me at all. Liked the way all the climbs were given a name and number, a bit of pain distraction!