First up a big congrats to the guys and gals over at Hit the North. Again one of the great races of the season, and a real highlight. Nothing quite like ragging a bike around a course with other fast people to give you a great feeling of being alive. After a week away from the computer its time to get my words down on how the race went.
Head has been wrecked over the past month, no two ways to put it, i needed some time off to get my head sorted, get some big miles in, and have a few beers. Luckily enough a week and a bit in the Uk had been arranged with Pauline, and we headed off.
Rolling onto the early 8am ferry on Friday i turned my phone to silent, switched off the 3G connection and vowed not to check my emails until the following Monday week(today). This was going to be a proper holiday. The normal quick spin to Hollyhead took a bit longer as the boat was delayed, so we ended up about 2 hrs behind schedule. However with the only plan for the day being to get to Decathlon, and then put up the tent i was planning to buy at the race venue, we weren't exactly stuck for time. Tent up, bit of a wander on the course, cram some food in, meet Jason before bed and laugh at the obvious crash points, and generally just chill.
Up early on Saturday as normal, however with a late start of 11am, i ended up being able to pootle about and get a much longer warmup than i'd normally get. Which was nice. Big shout out to Jason who pretty much saved me a long walk back on the warm up as i'd wedged my chain between my wheel and cassette. Simple as, the chain was wedged in good and proper and it took the two of us to get it out. Needless to say if he'd not given me a hand (thanks to the 3 riders who rode past me without even a 'are you ok', wankers) i'd not have been racing. Good when the organisers give a shit ehy??
So warm up done, last bits of food in, pit bunny given final amounts of attention before i crack on with racing (thanks love), and chain lubed with some free lube from the folks at Squirt. Took a toilet break while Pauline racked my bike beside Dave's and got back to the bunch just as it was time to ditch outer layers. The 500m Le Mans style run suited me perfect. Tight fast running and nice ups and downs gave me 5th place out onto the bike for the first lap. Plan was to ride HARD for the first lap, little less so for #2 then settle in for the next X laps.
Grab the bike, quick run out until the end of transition zone. Quick pedal into the first set of single track, down the sloppy descent off camber section, over the lump that sent Ali into the river, left into the bomb hole, over the river and run up the progressively getting muddier, into some muddy ST, then onto the first section of flat. Gun it to the un-ridable climb, sip down the other side, back onto the long flat section and onto the side of the motorway. Up the piece of hatred that was the dry single track that destroyed my back every lap, i hated this part more than anything. Into the trail centre section and hammer again, enjoy the techy corners, and play the 'don't touch the brakes' game. Up the first bridle way section and onto the berms, hammer down, trying to resist launching into the sky, carbon race bikes don't like to fly. Bit more single track, and then some more bridleway, lots of cobbles and the first proper section to eat the contents of my pockets. Into the gravel swoop-track that i rode with Jason at the start apres fixing my bike, great bit of the trail where most people were riding way way to easy. More fast and flat to the drop into the river again (avoiding the chicken chute) and then up the steps to get a bottle and food from Pauline.
Repeat by 12.
Get lapped by Dave TWICE. Dude was on fire. 14laps. 2 more than me. Unreal.
Came 6th....happy with that as i was aiming for top 10, and not being on form it was a big booster for me that i can race hard when i have too.
The usual afters were excellent. Great food (3 dinners), great beers, and some tunes. All in all the way racing should be. The course was great, if a little lonley, and i am so psyched over the winter race next year already. The more and more i ride in the Northern parts of the Uk the more i could see myself living there. The racing sceen is so different to Ireland with people realising that you are not mental for wanting to spend 8hrs and 18mins straight on your mountain bike....or maybe its just the ones i know.