Monday, February 14, 2011

Nelson, National Cup Series: Round 3

For the first time since I've been racing, it was perfect weather in Nelson during a National race. The last two years has seen atrocious weather during the race weekend, which made for a very hard, extremely muddy day. This weekend was absolutely perfect, nice, sunny and hot with slight cooling breeze. Not to mention the guys in suits halfway up road climb who tipped generous amounts of water down the backs of the competing athletes.
Nelson held the largest field of the series so far with more valuable UCI points and prize money up for grabs. There were competitors from all over the country and even with a rider from Switzerland and one from Canada.

The course awesome, very fast with two big climbs and two challenging loose downhills. I had a little crash the day before the race on a part of the track which I would continue to have trouble with through out the weekend.

Pre-ride: Photo from Debby Retief
Race day I felt OK, not good but not bad either. My knee wasn't sore ( injured from the crash the previous day ), and legs seemed to be firing during warm up but was feeling pretty tired.

The Race started off with a hot pace up the hill, spreading the field out quickly. I headed into the single track in 6th place.

There was a huge crowd around one technical downhill section with a difficult corner at the bottom. It was nothing particularly scary, just a loose steep shoot with a corner that had minimal traction and tended to throw people. Generally the places on the track where specators are drawn to are the hot spots for crashs. I didn't disappoint the crowd, losing my front wheel on two of the five laps. The first time wasn't that bad and was able to semi stay on the bike. The second time I fell off landing on my knee, and my bike went down the bank. I scrambled about to get my bike back on the track, jumped back on, and I was off again.

I could see I was gaining on Susie Wood every lap. I was losing time on the gravel road climb, but then making up for it on all the descents and single track sections. By the 5th and last lap, I knew I had to really dig deep to catch her. I pushed the hills, giving it everything. By the top of the hill I was around 20sec back. I knew if I caught her on the downhill I probably wouldn't be able to pass, which meant it would be down to a sprint finish. But what I also noticed was that she was looking behind often, which usually means a person is suffering and they are in trouble.

Last lap: Photo from Debby Retief

I sped down the hill, clearing the technical section with ease (only took me 5 laps to do !), and I caught her. I came flying around a steep rocky corner and had to jam on the brakes to avoid hitting her, she was just getting back on her bike after a fall. I squeezed past, then took off.
I finished 4th in Elite Women in a time of  1.42.30 hours

Elite Women's podium
Results found here

I wore my new Endura kit and I could not be more impressed. It was insanely comfortable and so breathable. Very effective at dispersing the heat from my body. I had also gone tubeless for the race which Gavin kindly organised for me before I went down to Nelson. It was definitely a good call, and something I will continue to do for the future races. Last of all poor Marco had a nasty fall during the race and has come away with concussion and broken clavical which requires surgery. Wish him a speedy recovery!!!!!!!

I won't be doing the Christchurch round. Instead I will be heading to Auckland to find a flat, so I have somewhere to live once I return to university after nationals.

Next race is the National Championships on the 26th of February in Dunedin.

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