Saturday, 12 October 2013

Three weekends, three races, three wins :)

Malaysia or Ireland? Most people think it's a no-brainer, but for us it was a difficult decision. In the end we chose to race in Ireland rather than Malaysia. Something underlying this decision was the chance to recce the course for the European Marathon Championships which will be held in the Ballyhoura Mountains in Ireland next summer. It was my first time in Ireland and I was pleasantly surprised and feeling pretty smug to have chosen the wild card ;) The weather was good, the trails were fun, the food was great and we stayed in a really beautiful place.

Peaceful accommodation close to the trails
The race was the Irish National Marathon championships and under normal circumstances I wouldn't want to compete in somebody else's Nationals (I'm British and the current British Marathon Champion). Jenny Fay won the Irish title and now has the privilege of pulling on the National jersey for a year. Congrats Jenny! did a great job designing a course challenging all the skills a good MTB race should over a mixture of terrain. Now I'm looking forward to the Euros next year in Ireland :)

Thanks Max Power for the photo :)

With Jenny Fay and Ciara McManus
We took the overnight ferry from Ireland to France, the crossing wasn't too rough, though we were rolling around in our beds during the early hours, but fortunately no sea sickness ;) Just like last year my last two races of the season were UCI World Series races Xtreme sur Loue, Ornans and Roc D'Azur, Frejus. 

When we arrived in Ornans the weather was great and the trails were fast and dry. It didn't stay like that. Two days before the race the rain arrived and stayed. Same race, different year, same muddy conditions as last year! Last year the course got the better of my equipment and me. This year I made different decisions: Canyon Grand Canyon CF SLX 29er, Conti Race Kings Race Sport (rather than X Kings) with really low pressure front (16psi) and rear (17psi) and Sram XX1. My legs felt amazing, my bike was awesome, the XX1 worked perfectly - front shifting in that mud would've been a nightmare! - and I had stacks of grip on the slippery rocks (less so in the mud, but hey, you've got to compromise!). 

With Esther Suss and Milena Landtwing

And now the season finale! Just like the last 4 years, Topeak Ergon Racing Team ends the season in the South of France at the Roc D'Azur bike festival. One thing that was different this year was my new bike: Canyon Lux CF 29er :) It's taken a long time for Canyon to develop a size small 29er full suspension for me, but it was well worth the wait!

Mean machine: 29er full suspension :)

First race, first win for my new bike! This was the perfect race for it. I'll write more soon about the bike but for now my overall opinion: awesome. Taking my 4th consecutive win at the Roc D'Azur was cool, but doing it on this bike was a totally new experience :)

Now it's time to swap the bike for a bikini and the energy drink for a pina colada :D