NPS Cross Country Round 4: Tracton Woods

Sunny and dusty Tracton Woods hosted the fourth round of the cross country NPS this weekend. MBCC put together a steep, technical and exciting course, with riders loving the hot weather and fast track. We are lucky to have two race reports this week from S1 and S2 winners Niamh McKiverigan and Niamh McGreen. 

Dusty drops in the woods Credit: MBCC

Lets hear from S1 winner Niamh McKiverigan:

I really enjoyed the event and the guys had made a brilliant course. It was steep and technical and I think my experience from riding in the British National xc races really helped me to get round it well.
I’m pleased to have won the National Points Series this year and I’m looking forward to trying to improve over the next few years and hopefully there’ll be more girls racing in S1 in the next few years.
 Flying through the foxgloves Credit: Home of the Mind Photography
Niamh McGreen made the trip from Dublin to take first place in the Senior 2 category.

I raced at the Tracton woods NPS last year and loved the course, so I was interested to know how the course had changed with the felling and weather over the winter.  I was not disappointed – the guys in MBCC created a lovely course for this year’s NPS.  I was racing in Sunday’s S2 women’s race, and came down to Cork on Saturday to do a reccie of the course.

The course started as it did last year with a fire-road sprint start, a tortuous zig-zag climb (which thankfully the S2 women did not have to do) and a short downhill section before heading into the trees. Then it crossed a new felled section which was an absolute delight – flat pedally sections, swooping berms, fast straight with a couple of jumps – really well built. Then back along the side of the woods before crossing the river and a little climb. All good so far, but I knew there was a steep climb coming.  And boy was it steep.  Not steep enough that I’d have an excuse to get off my bike, but steep enough and long enough that I thought my lungs would burst by the end. 

The rest of the lap was as nice as the first; an open section with an A- line consisting of a couple of rollable drops, fast flowy sections, a short fireroad sprint and another monster climb.  That 2nd climb was a killer in the heat.  But once that was done, it was back into the trees for some more lovely flow, another A/B line with a drop and steep berms and a sprint through the trees and onto the fireroad for the finish.

Niamh McGreen speeding down the track. Credit: Home of the Mind Photography

For the NPS race itself the women’s entries were low.  Only two ladies in my race S2, three in under 16 girls and just one entry in S1.  The S2 race and under 16’s started together; we had 2 laps to do.  I was left for dead at the sprint start- not my strong point, but I gradually made ground on my S2 opponent (I never saw the under 16’s again – they’re savagely fast).  I stuck close to her until an opportunity came to pass on 1st killer climb.  I managed to stay ahead of her, and got into my groove for the rest of the lap. Nice to see a few spectators out on the course, and a few people shouting me on – always encouraging.  

It was really, really warm that day, and with most of the course requiring my concentration, it was difficult to remember to drink. The course was quite open apart from wooded sections in the beginning and the end of the lap, so the heat really took its toll.  I noticed it especially on the 2nd lap; the two big climbs were a real struggle and on the flat sections I had slowed to a crawl.  But coming into the woods towards the end of the 2nd lap, with the fast A line and steep berms I got my wind back and sprinted through the last flat wooded section, dropped out onto the fireroad and sprinted to the finish.  A great race and a great course.  Delighted to take 1st place, and well done to Amanda Draper for 2nd

I’ll be back next year if Tracton woods is running an NPS.  Let’s hope we can encourage more ladies to travel.  Cork’s not that far away 🙂

Junior Categories
Faith Robinson placed first in the Under 12 race, with Cara Suckling again winning the Under 10s and Aoife Kellett in the Under 8s. 

Full results here

Cross Country Mountain Bike Races in July

NPS Round 5 in Davagh Forest is on in the 8th of July, and the big one, the Nationals in Castlewellan is on on the 22nd of July.

Never heard of Cross Country (XC) Mountain Biking and want to find out more? 

Read our Cross Country Mountain Biking (XC) 101 here!

Photo credits:  Home of the Mind

Read a detailed race report from Martin Grimley here