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XC NPS 7 – Three Rock, Dublin 14th June 2009

David Conway and David Furlong set off for Three Rock last Sunday morning for the XC NPS 7 presented by MAD. The weather looked a bit shaky at first but skies were clear and conditions were dry as we arrived at the race venue.

Registration. Lunch. Then dressed for battle in our 795 kit, we rode to the start. It was to be another classic DF/DC battle.

Mind games were played

DC to DF –  “You must be in prime condition from your private training sessions on the other side of Mount Leinster. I, on the other hand, am tired and emotional after a week of partying in the Italian sun.”

DF to DC – “You must be all rested and carbed up after your relaxing holiday in Italy. I, on the other hand, am worn out from all that climbing up Mullaun.”

Finally it was Race time – The race commissaire was none other than the putative King of Irish Mountain Biking, Richie Byrne. Richie marshalled the age cats into postion. Our group, Masters, was last to start.

DC was away first but only led for 500 metres up a short but deceptively cruel rocky climb before DF outstripped him on the long fire road which connected 2 long singletrack sections. At the top of the fire road the racers dropped into an open rocky section with gorse bushes on either side, then into the woods and what seemed like black darkness after the brilliant sunshine. Eyes adjusted quickly and the singletrack went on and on, switchbacking tightly down and down, then up, then down, then the truly savage climb back up to the 2-way fireroad to speed back down the fire road to singletrack section 2. Loads more downhill singletrack with the odd nasty kicker and a nasty climb toward the end before emerging back onto a short fireroad section to complete the lap.

DF extended his lead throughout the first two laps in the heat and dust, using his strong fire-road climbing form to good effect.

Then came the rain. What had been a fast dry course was fast becoming treacherous. Previously unnoticed roots suddenly became serious hazards. Concentration was suddenly at a higher premium that ever, just when physical and mental reserves were running low.

On the third lap, DC began to eat into DF’s lead, gaining significantly on the savage technical climb up out of the first singltrack section. DF pulled away again on the fast fire-road descent, but DC gained again in singletrack section 2.

Suddenly, minutes from the finish and with DC on his wheel, DF’s front wheel was wobbling. Amid terrific cursing he jumped off to tighten it. DC took his chance and passed on the right. The repair was fast- just a loose quick release, and DF was back in the saddle chasing hard. DC spun out on a steep kicker and jumped off to push the bike up. DF spied his chance and went for glory but was cruelly felled by crippling cramps as he put down power to pass DC. Oddly DF was laughing hysterically at this stge. DC pushed on, now lauging hysterically as well, mounted again, and struck out for the line. DF overcame his cramp and gave chase but it was too late and DC crossed the line, 29th in Masters race but a winner in the real race. DF finished seconds later in 30th.

Great racing, great course. great day out. Well done and thanks to MAD for all the hard work.

Full results here

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