Later that evening we all crowded around a huge camp fire and everyone shared their stories of the day before eventually hitting the tent for some much needed snooze time. Next day we packed up and I left Conor to drive back to Newry to his folk's house while I took a little pootle back over the Cooleys on the bike - nice day in the mountains.
The two weeks after the nationals was spent getting some more quality training in to try and increase my endurance power. The weekend after I met with Cait and Mel for a ride in the Wicklow Mountains guided by Cait who not only managed to get us lost but also escorted off some farmers field!
Still there was still one more potential XC race on the cards. Conor and I would be travelling with the Ulster & National Cross Country development squads to Perth in Scotland for a round of the Scottish XC league, myself as team manager/co-ordinator and Conor as trusty mechanic. The team's practice lap the day before the race revealed an exciting the well designed course again with killer climbs, mental steep descents and plenty of flowy singletrack. Hmm I thought, this would be nice to race! After consulting with the riders and the rest of the crew it was agreed that it would be a shame not to test the course and I signed up last minute on race morning. Lining up on the start line it was clear most of the elite riders were either on holidays or with prior commitments with only 3 elite women signed up. At these scottish races, ALL the females are set off at the same time, elite, junior, youth etc with the categories being gridded from elite back. So as the gun went off and we shot down the fire road it was hard to tell who you were racing against and what category they were in. A group of four of us headed up the first steep climb in top position, the other girls setting a blistering pace. As the lap continued we dropped a rider down to just three of us, and we yo-yo'ed positions. One of these girls Lucy Grant - an under 16 rider by the way! - was setting a blistering pace, racing me like there was no tomorrow. Going into the second lap i thought, holy moley I cant keep this up for another 3 laps and asked her what category she was in, only to find out she was doing 2 laps. After that she backed off a bit and I didnt see her again - I suspect we were both relieved I asked that question! And so I continued working hard on the climbs and having fun on the sketchy descents, finally coming in to win over 12mins in front of Morven Brown. The rest of the crew also had a good day with three more podium finishes so a good weekend had by all!