Today was World Cup #2 on the Upper Mersey, the first Classic race. I generally don't like Classics, as they are long and require fitness, and I'm fat and old and don't have any fitness. But this is a nice course. It's not exceptional in any way. But there is a little bit of everything, it is a decent gradient (maybe 50-60 feet/mile) and is pretty continuous, albeit in a slightly benign kind of way. For those of you who know it, it might be like a North Branch of the Potomac on steroids, with no flat sections and a number of choices of route at every rapid. I like it.
The day started with a little mishap - we discovered that we might not have enough gas to get us back to the place where we are staying after we left so had to backtrack 36km out of the way to get gas and then hammer on steep and windy roads to have enough time to do a warm up run. I was driving, and I took the opportunity to focus on being smooth, hitting each corner with precision while keeping the speed on. It was essentially a mental warm up, and one that I enjoyed quite a bit. And we did manage to get there in enough time for everyone to do a warmup run, although Tom left seconds before the course was closed for the forerunners.
My race run was not quite as tidy as the driving that started the day, but I had better lines than yesterday, and my pacing was a bit (but not too far) off because of a lack of splits etc from my enforced time of earlier in the week. I based my pacing on Sean McIntyre who started a minute in front of me, and I was maybe 20 seconds back from him at literally the last corner when he flipped on a nasty eddyline and swam. His head popped up just in front of me after his 3+ roll attempts and I stopped to make sure he was ok - the water here is very cold and there were no rescue boats around. He said he was fine, I asked again (I know the Irish are a little insane) and he again told me to get going. I lost maybe 3-4 seconds, but it wouldn't have made a difference to my placing, and he seems like a nice bloke. I think I had a bit left in the tank at the end, but not enough to make up to the next racer, who took about 25 seconds out of me. Fortunately for me, Sean self-rescued and got back in his boat and finished, so I wasn't last. I think I owe him so whisky (no Sean, not Whiskey, the real stuff from the proper country) for that. My time put me around 19% back from the top guys, which was pretty sobering. But I was happy that even with my stop I managed to beat Tom in his best World Cup result ever (only 5.46% back from the C1 winner). The racing in all classes was pretty tight, and times were very very fast. Despite beating his own course record by 3 seconds Dan Hall of the Aussie Fart Squad placed third, with Nejc Znidarcic taking the honors for the second time in two days. The battle between these two will be a good one for th rest of the World Cup.
As for me, I'm gonna try to get smoother and get my pacing down on the lower course on the Upper Mersey. It looks like it will be a sub 10 minute course, even for me, which suits me very well indeed. After that we head to the sprint at Brady's, where survival might be the name of the game, although it will be a short sprint, and then to the Ouse which is a 25 minute Classic that might put me to sleep. So, I'm feeling better everyday, and seem to be recovering well now. There is a lot to look forward to, including the Wallabies and Platypuses that we may see tonight.
Here is a pic of Tom in the sprint yesterday, complete with Keen Sticker that is really hard to see if you take a photo from any direction other than straight on.