Monday, June 28, 2010

2010 European Marathon Championships

It has been a year since my last marathon race. Mountain bike marathons tend to be one of the toughest races out there with race times between 4 and 6 hours with little or no respite.

The Garmin 705 was a life saver on this trip

I had heard some good things about the course for the 2010 European Championships (the 2011 World Championships will be held there too). There were 17 categorized climbs and it seemed pretty much all of them were steep. What goes up, must come down and there was a lot of singletrack descending. The descents, in the dry conditions where not technical but riding them at 35+kmph for the first time, the margin for error drops dramatically.

Waiting to start

The race started with 110+ riders on a hot morning in Montebelluna, Italy. From the gun, the start was super fast as we hit the first major climb, and the only tarmac one. At that point the race already started to break up and I found myself in a group a few too many groups back. I was riding the descents very well and was able to bridge groups but after about 35km, the groups settled into what it would be for the day. The middle section of the race had lots of parts where group riding was imperative, a lone effort trying to bridge was doomed. As the kilometers ticked by I started to feel a little better (I suffered all day, but felt physically sick for the first few hours) and over time dropped the rest of my group and started picking off other riders ahead.

Postcard perfect views

After 130 very tough off road kilometers, and 5 hours 40 minutes saddle time I raced over the line for 43rd. The second half of my race went well but I really should have been in the lead group of 30 over the first couple of mountains - something to work on and get right for the World Championships later in the year in Germany.

I took the follow video a couple of minutes after finishing the race.

My friend Alan accompanied me (took the video/pics you see) for the race to provide support - it was vital and everything surrounding the race went like clockwork. Thanks Alan!

Alan also has a few pictures up here.

Oh, and this is what I ate/drank during the race:
25 minutes before the start - 1 ZipVit Caffeine Gel

During the race
6 ZipVit Gels
1 ZipVit Caffeine Gel
7 750ml bottles of ZipVit Energy
2 500ml bottles of water

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

2010 Tour Series - Dublin

On Saturday night I took part in the second round of the Tour Series wearing my National colors. Man, was it an experience. Totally different course from Belfast and I really loved it. Half was cobbled, half smooth tarmac and a crowd cheering you on the whole way around.

The race broke up from the first lap and I spent my time bridging up through groups - I had a lot of fun and the closest type of racing and can compare it to is cyclocross racing. I had created a video blog talking through it after the race, but for some reason, I can't get it off the camera :(

Many thanks to everyone who was out cheering us on - it may have looked like I was suffering (and I guess I was) but it was a good type of suffering :)

Pictures are from Keith Arkins

Saturday, June 19, 2010

2010 Tour Series - Belfast

My first road crit and it was around the center of Belfast with great crowds and an even better atmosphere - first round of the Tour Series. For me, it was just hang on, hang on, hang on. Once I get a bit of practice at these I think I'll be okay though - not what I'm used to or usually train for but I think it's something I need to do more of. Video blog says it all.

Photo via Graham Boyd

Friday, June 11, 2010

Thursday, June 10, 2010

2010 FBD Ras Summary

A final video blog to close out the 2010 FBD Insurance RAS. It was an amazing experience and I loved every minute of it.

In the end I finished 17th on GC, 1st county rider (1st non-Pro), 2nd Irish rider and our team finished top county team (non-pro team). Great results for my first (of many?) RAS.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

2010 Irish XC NPS Round 5 - Killaloe

Although it had been a week since the end of the RAS, I really wasn't ready for another race – especially one as demanding as a cross country race. Anyway, I found myself down in Killaloe riding a pre-lap of their course under sunny conditions. Those sunny conditions where not a feature just a few hours earlier where torrential rain covered the country – this left the technical rooty singletrack in a very challenging state. The course was one I like – it started with a long fireroad climb and when you have been doing that for almost 6 minutes you start to hit steep singletrack climbs before you eventually enter the downhill singletrack. The singletrack weaved it's way around trees and over roots back to the start with a good smattering of technical kicker climbs thrown in to make sure you don't recover too much.

After the preride, I still wasn't in the right mental place to race, I contemplated sitting it out and taking photos and videos – being a good spectator – but with the drive down, thought that that would be a little bit of a waste. At 1:30, I toed the line (well, at the back of the grid as this was my first Irish NPS of the year) and we started up the hill. There was a good elite crowd here for the race, with Robin Seymour, Peter Buggle, Joe McCall and Canadian, Mike Garrigan as well as the usual suspects – with the super techy descents, Robin was always going to be the man to watch – that guy just floats over that stuff that the rest of us mere mortals have to slog through!

Mel says that I look like a spider here :)

The pace up the first long climb was pretty steady, and I entered the singletrack in around 5th position – my plan was to ride a fun race and get a workout in – if there wasn't a smile on my face, I was pushing too hard! I rode steady for the first few laps trying to clear the techy singletrack – it was very tricky as if you make one slight mistake, the next 30 seconds of riding was just about trying to get into a rythm again. From the 3rd lap (of 6) we started to lap riders and that was noticable in all of our laptimes. Although everyone was super about letting us through, the break in rythm on such a course greatly affected the speed we rode the sections. Coming into the final lap (after some jostling for 2nd to 4th position), I came through in 4th position with Joe and Peter in sight 15-20 seconds up the road. I hadn't planned on trying to catch them (still riding with a smile) but by the top of the main fireroad climb I was on their tail. I thought to myself, well, I'm here, I may as well attack. I put in a good attack on the steep climbs and lost my companions as I entered the singletrack descent. Towards the bottom of the singletrack, Peter had caught onto me again (probably lots to do with the fact that I was riding like a squirrel) – with a few kicker climbs left, I attacked on each and rode through the start finish in 2nd position behind Robin.

Elite Podium, Me, Robin and Peter

The course was good (wish it had stayed bone dry, but VERY glad it didn't rain more) and sitting around the lake afterwards in the sun with the rest of the competitors was great. Results are up here, and many thanks for Aine for being the feed support angel and Conor for the photos.