Thursday, June 14, 2007

British NPS round 3 :: Back on the Soda

Margam Park
June 2-3, 2007

Round 3 of the British Mountain Bike Series was held at Margam Park in Wales. I have always counted Margam Park as one of my favourite venues, especially as every year I have raced here the sun has been shining bright. I also love the mountains, and although not being the Pyrenees, the climbs are long and in places quite steep to really challenge your lungs, and test your skill level; There’s also the added bonus of the fast and flowing single track and fire road descents that always leaves racers buzzing. However, the weather forecast didn’t look too promising as a large black cloud appeared to be heading towards Wales. With the taste of Sherwood Pines mud from round 2 still ingrained in my mind, and two weeks off from training due to a persistent cold, I wasn’t expecting it to be one of my best races. Nevertheless, I was really looking forward to taking part, but more importantly getting back on the bike.

The cross-country race began at midday, and after a good start, I was leading the group down the tarmac straight and into the first section of single track. I tried not to over cook it early on, as I reminded myself that my legs had 4 laps of climbing to get through and with little speed in the legs I was relying on my endurance to get me through the race. By the end of the first lap Amy Hunt and Jenny Copnall had a 20 second lead over Liz Scalia, Jenn O’Connor and myself. I soon lost touch with Scalia who was too strong on the climbs, but managed to break away from O’Connor and for the rest of the race maintained my fourth position. I really enjoyed the race and thanked the sunshine gods for being kind to me today.

One race down, and the 100km marathon to go. I awoke feeling perky and bright, but didn’t know what to expect from my legs today. After a good start, I tried to keep up with as many of the elite men as possible, but I suddenly suffered an intense stabbing pain in my stomach. As I hit the top of the first fire road descent I tried to breathe through the pain hoping it would subside, before the long steep rocky climb that I remembered from previous years….but it didn’t. Loads of people started passing me who were very sweet as they cheered me on and asked if I were alright. Thank you for your support as I thought I wouldn’t be able to keep going at that point in time.

By the end of the first lap I had lost touch with Jenn O’Connor who was looking very strong, but I had maintained second place. I knew it would be impossible to catch Jenn up, as I just didn’t have the strength to race hard, so I road a steady race as part of my training for riding solo at the 24 hour Mountain Mayhem in a few weeks time. I really enjoyed the rest of the race as the course had brilliant descents and challenging climbs. I ended up riding with a few different people and together we encouraged each other to keep smiling and spin those legs.

I crossed the line in second place after 5.38 hours on the bike and was pleased as punch that I got through it.

CROSS COUNTRY Top 5 podium
1. Amy Hunt (TrekVW)
2. Jenny Copnall (Subaru Gary Fisher)
3. Liz Scalia (Team Bikes Ragusa)
4. Kate Potter (Cotic Bontrager)
5. Jenn O’Connor (Patterson Training)

MARATHON Top 3 podium
1. Jenn O'Connor (Patterson Training)
2. Kate Potter (Cotic Bontrager)
3. Jenn Hopkins (Minx Kona)

A Special thankyou to AQR's Paul Dexter and partner Jane for giving up your birthday weekend to help me out at the race, and even helping me take off my grubby shoes, cleaning my bike after each race and as always all your support and friendship.

Also a special thankyou to Joolze Dymond and Dave for your hospitality and showing me all the back roads of Bristol :) Thankyou for getting me to the race, and always making me laugh.

No comments: