I don’t want to write this blog post.
The Irish marathon champs were on Sunday run by MBCC at the Ballyhoura trail centre. I really enjoyed this race last year and the course was similar again, a mixture of man-made trail centre and muddy, rocky natural riding (though slightly less natural stuff this time). I didn’t specifically prepare for the race and not having done many long spins recently I was hoping a good winter base might drag me. I was wrong.
We started into a longish climb and I set a good but comfortable pace with Ciara McManus on my wheel. We were mixed in with the guys and for the first half hour or so it was incredibly frustrating getting stuck behind slow riders every time we turned into a singletrack, the trails are very narrow with no chance to pass people and I lost any descending advantage I had. Eventually I put in an effort to get ahead of a few people on a climb so that the descents could be ridden properly. Although not particularly technical some of the manmade stuff was actually great fun and I was feeling quick when I did get a clear run at it, lots of pumping sections, little jumps and bermed corners to skid around.
Ciara was looking pretty strong on the climbs, making up the time I gained on the descents, so we were riding together much of the time. Initially I wasn’t too concerned, thinking I’d be better off keeping steady early on and attacking towards the end. Around two hours in she put in an attack on one of the climbs and got a decent gap, I was starting to suffer. At the top was a long, very muddy and slippery downhill section which was definitely my favourite part of the course – I pinned it all the way down, scaring the life out of myself totally off the brakes to make up 500m in a few seconds, awesome! The then next hill came and I was gone. I’d already started to get twinges of cramp and now my legs just gave in. My head soon followed and the final 25km of the race was one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had on a bike both physically and mentally. I felt like I’d lost my racing personality, I had no fight in me, I wasn’t even enjoying the descents never mind the climbs. I got dropped by Ciara and the group of guys we’d been around until then, and passed by others from behind. Stuck out on my own crawling along like a snail, it started to drizzle, there were some horrible strong headwinds, it was wet and muddy and I just didn’t want to be there. Not great.
Congratulations to Ciara, great ride. Thanks to MBCC for a very well run and event on a good course. Thanks to Think Bike for the bike service and lift down.
I’ll be back.