The Ballyhouras Ate my Bike….
Another day, another race. After an mtb season interrupted by injury, I had set the National mtb Marathon Champs as an end of season goal and having had a few long(ish) spins over the last month felt prepared. So off I set in the company of Damian Sikora from Poland via Carnew and Jim and Paddy along for moral support and a spin of their own. Unfortunately DC and Rudolf couldn’t make it due to illness earlier in the week.
The day was perfect, cool and dry. So off we set at 11.30 with 60+k and 1,500m of climbing ahead. As usual in mtb racing everyone set off at a furious pace, and the first 4k was testing to say the least – 250m ascent up fireroad then some tech climbing. The course itself was great, a real test and a mixture of fireroad climbs, steep technical climbs, long rocky descents and swoopy singletrack. Picture Johns Hill stretched over 60k. About 40% of the course was on the Ballyhoura handbuilt trails, the rest was on the open mountain. And then there were the puddles of doom! More about those later…
So I settled into a nice rhythm, and got to the feed station at halfway with a big group. After a quick stop for a banana off I went feeling good. My bike was starting to creak ominously though from all the mud and general crap. when at the top of a tech climb, SNAP, chain broke. Not to worry fixed in jig time. Except the damn chain tool broke as I was pushing the pin back in leaving it sticking out a bit. On I went hoping for the best when after a couple of k chain went again. Tried to bash it together with a few rocks, but realised fairly quick it was a futile excercise. Luckily for me I was at the top of a hill, so freewheeled down to two marshalls, one of them had a chain tool. Blessed! So fixed properly this time off I went. Unfortunately I had lost about 25 mins and about 25 places!
Between 40 and 50k it started to get tough. Those never ending climbs were energy sapping to say the least and I was isolated at the back of the field with no company. I ploughed on to the top of the last hill at about 55k and knew then I was on singletrack, mostly downhill, for the last run home. Downed a quick can of Coke to get the brain engaged and off I went. Last 5k or so were great fun, all downhill on flowing singletrack – pain forgotten. Even gave myself and ole yeeha! on the way.
Crossed the line having been out for 5:40, total distance was 63km. Happy with the day and especially happy I was able to get going again after the mechanical.
Damian put in an impressive performance finishing in 4:29 despite being on Rudolfs heavy full susser and stuck in the big ring for most of the race! Well done Damian.
A funny story to end: the puddles of doom were like mini lakes. So you either walked around or took your chances and ploughed on in and hoped for the best. One of the EPIC lads ploughed in to one of them, fell over, became completely submerged, got out cleaned the crap from his eyes, looked around only to realise that his bike had disappeared from view! Next rider along found him up to his waist in the water feeling around for his bike!!
Hats off to organising club MBCC for a great course, well marked and marshalled. And a big thanks to my travelling companions Damian, Jim and Paddy!
Results are here (although times are wonky due to the clock stopping at 4:40!)
Incidentally, the National Champion is Ryan Sherlock who blitzed his way around in 3:19.
Filed under: MTB Race Reports |