Xterra Portugal was the first European Series race of 2015 and I was feeling good leading up in to the race. Held in Golega 80 miles north of Lisbon. Golega, is known as the Horse capital of Portugal, and has cobbled streets with white and gold painted houses.
This weekend’s event would turn out to be one of the toughest Xterra Races I have competed in, similar to that of Xterra France with a long technical bike pushing nearly 40km.
The weather on the Saturday for the 2pm start was close to 34 degrees and no wind to take away some of the heat. The race referee stated the race would be a non-wetsuit swim, meaning the swim would be a different game to a wet suit swim. I felt I had a good strong swim at the end of the 2x750m swim in the river, but didn’t exit the water where I needed to be and was off the tempo for the main group.
I went into the bike riding hard for the first flat 10km and made good in roads into the field knowing that the next 25km of single track would be tough and technical. I struggled to find a rhythm in the first 20km with the heat making this even harder. The bike was on freshly cut tracks in the sandy gravel with large stones making it hard to get the bike to stick to a line and not over shoot the corners. The bike undulated through the trees and a lot of the hills became un-rideable due to the large loose stones, resulting in no traction and a good bit of pushing. At the second and final feed station at 24km, and 14km left I was starting to pull it together and get to grips in the sandy conditions. I rode solidly to the end and came into transition T2, feeling in strong form hoping for a good run to finish off.
Out of T2, the 11km run weaved through the fields and would encompass a few obstacles on route. Within the first couple of kilometres my legs didn’t feel as fresh as I would have liked and at 4km climbing over a fallen tree I cramped up. The final 7km I pushed on and eventually crossed the line 22nd Male Pro.
I will take this as my first Xterra Race racing in the Pro Category as a learning curve and know I can race better than this results shows. First race of the year and a bit rusty, I shall keep pushing on for the coming season and next up is Xterra Spain.
Many thanks to Vitus Bikes, Vittoria UK, SAM Race Wear, Huub Design, Suunto, Miiego UK, NJD Sports Injury, Bonk Triathlon, Kurio, G4 Physiotherapy.
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