Tuesday, 24 April 2012

British National Cross Country Series Round 2

Over the last few years I’ve always been a little bit nervous heading up to Dalby Forest to race the World Cup circuit. However this year none of that nervousness existed; this has its positives and negatives. The positives were that I wasn’t scared of the circuit, its technical features were no longer an issue and Saturday practise went smoothly without any problems. In practise I was feeling strong and confident ahead of the race. The negatives of having no nervousness is that perhaps I was a little too relaxed about what lay ahead, even the heavy rain and wet slippery conditions couldn’t phase me. A little nervousness is also sometimes good for getting the adrenaline going.

Wet skies greeted us on the morning of the race but the team were well prepared with shelter for race preparation and warm up already in place by the time I arrived at the arena. Race warm up went well with the heart rate achieving good levels and the legs feeling light on the pedals.

The worst of the course was around the arena field which had turned into a proper mud fest. The large elite field sprinted into the first corner but the scene was more like a car drifting scene with everyone going sideways as any grip from our back wheels disappeared. I lost some positions during the start loop being boxed in around the first corner on the field. A quick start is crucial at Dalby with the tight singletrack making it very difficult to overtake, queuing through the first few trails was frustrating and not where I wanted to be.

During the early laps conditions around the rest of the course weren’t too bad apart from the isolated spot. On the early climb I was riding well making up time overtaking riders. On the descents the 29er wheels were making easy work of the rocky terrain; however it was impossible to overtake and make any real progress. The time I was making up on the early short ‘sprint’ climbs wasn’t enough to counter the time lost on two longer climbs at the back of the circuit. On the longest climb I really suffered, some seated high intensity climbing work needs to be done before the next hilly race!

It was great having support out on the track, Mountain Trax rider and Dalby local Calum Chamberlain was out in the forest with friends shouting much needed encouragement. Also team director John Newport did an excellent job in the feed zone providing me with nutrition throughout the 2 hour race. Over the 5 laps the course conditions deteriorated but the fine setup skills of the Mountain Trax mechanics meant my Santa Cruz bike was in the best possible condition to tackle these difficult conditions. Unfortunately my legs weren’t as well prepared for the day’s racing; positions and much time were lost on the 2 long climbs.

27th in a stacked international field full of full time athletes chasing the UCI points from the category 1 race was the best I could achieve on the day. Combining training for both cross country and marathon style racing is difficult, however I’d still hoped for a better result. 27th was not where I’d imagined finishing, and not where I want to be again this year. Lessons learnt, training plans set according, look for progress at an XC race near you in the coming months! Until then we have a marathon race or two, my preferred race distance. Next up is the Gorrick 100 in two weeks time where I return to defend my win from last year.

1 comment:

  1. Janet Donbavand24 April 2012 at 18:01

    Good luck in the Gorrick 100