After a dismal showing in round 1, I was eager to get into action in the second round, held in Rostrevor.
The course consisted of one long, steep fireroad climb which sapped the legs before darting down a very technical singletrack section, which I did not enjoy much - of the 1 practice lap and 5 race laps I did, I can honsetly say I was happy with just 1 of my attempts at this section - I was making mistakes everywhere. The fact that I was using brand new pedals and cleats, one of which came loose on the practice lap and was just barely screwed tight enough to hold, but made it impossible to get my feet out - will remember never to use any new gear without having put at least 10 hours in on it beforehand.
The second climb was a lot shorter and not quite as steep, but still testing. This led into a much nicer singletrack, still technical but faster and flowing with lots of roots to beat you up.
Off the start line, I hung with the lead group up the first climb but was not feeling good. My HR was refusing to budge above 187 and my legs were a bit numb. To make matters worse, a goo which I had taken prior to the start began to repeat on me and left a horrible feeling in my stomach. In the first singletrack section, I lost touch with the lead group but diced out with Niall Quinlan, Andreas and Alfie for the rest of the lap. My legs suddenly woke up on lap 2 and I could turn the pedals a bit better. Andreas was first up and soon after catching him, I made it up to Niall again and followed him down the singletrack. At that stage I was feeling good and enjoying the battle, Niall pulling away in the singletrack and me getting ahead on the climbs. At the beginning of lap 3 I pushed a bit harder an dropped Niall on the climb but the effort had worn me a bit and I made a huge mistake about 50m into the descent. Off I came and planted my hip on a large, hard root or rock The pain caused by the effort on the climb was instantly replaced by a shock up through my hip and thigh. After a second or two hopping around getting my bearings, I climbed aboard but the first few pedal strokes confirmed that the pain was here to stay. Every turn of the pedals resulted in a pain like a knife being twisted a little further into my hip. Niall got away from me here and I was not to see him again until the finish.
I could manage the long climbs OK, as I could settle into the pain a bit and climbed alright, but was lacking a bit of power and suffering a lot. Different story on the singletrack where sudden, sharp bursts of power were required for digging out of holes and clearing roots and things - this became very painful.
Managed to get around the 5 laps and put some points on the board, but could have done so much better if it wasn't for 1 stupid mistake.
Here's some pictures of the war wounds:
Some interesting tyre marks on the inside of my right calf - must keep my legs out of the way of my tyres in future.