Tuesday, 10 June 2008

10 Under the Ben

Even the midges decided to leave the Nevis Range on Saturday due to the soaring heat! Honestly people would not believe you if you told them it was that warm in Fort Bill! So you kind of have to ask yourself at what point does participating in a 10 hour mountain biking event at temperatures soaring over 25 degrees even begin to be a good idea? (Remembering we are Scottish and 10 degrees can pass as a good summer’s day!). The truth of the matter was that all in all it was a great event, organisation was spot on and there was a really good vibe floating around the course as riders of all abilities embarked on a very tough physical challenge. I think there was somewhere in the region of 840 riders competing in the event whether individually or in a team, that’s a pretty phenomenal statistic right there! And boy did it make the start interesting as a sea of riders attempted to file onto a fire track road, luckily I followed Geraint at the start and he got us positioned nicely up at the front of the field. The lap was 10miles long and very physically challenging, it incorporated long gradual climbs on fire track with tricky descents laden with rocks waiting to catch you out, it was dusty dry and front wheel wash outs were inevitable. At roughly the half way point the course crossed over the downhill track and lead onto the XC world cup course, there all riders were faced with a tough little climb before a brilliantly long descent, water crossings, natural sections and north shore also featured throughout the course. It was a real mixed bag and had something there for everyone to enjoy – well done to the NO FUSS team it was a cracker. The heat only added to the physical challenge as parts of the course were relentless due to the fact that there was no shade.

The Alpine Bikes team were out in full fledge and a massive bow of respect has to go to all the guys that completed the event solo. Geraint Florida-James put in an awesome effort completing 9 laps in 9h 58mins finishing in 9th position overall in the senior male category. It took over 7 and a half hours before he stopped for some food, his ride was eventful with objects entering places they shouldn’t but the less said about that the better! Andy Dodds also put in an impressive performance completing 8 laps, he was looking very cool out there with the shades on! Cheers for the shout out, it was good to eventually meet! And last but by no means least to Bryan Shedden (the boss) who completed 6 laps during the event! However questions have to be asked as Bryan appeared to be a bit illusive during the whole event and was not seen by anyone . . . . . . is he earning so much money these days he can pay people to ride for him??

I took part in the event as a pair with Ruth McKean. Ruth encountered a nasty fall in the first lap when her forks exploded as she descended a rock drop, if riding the rest of the lap on a broken bike wasn’t enough we since discovered she completed the lap with a fractured wrist and a torn rotator cuff muscle in her shoulder. So any normal person would stop here but on no not Ruth, she well and truly earned full downhill status by going out for a second and third lap. It was a bumpy course and those vibrations must have been a killer not to mention the fact that she couldn’t brake or change gear! So we were pleased to finish overall 2nd in the female pairs! Sadly you will find that we are missing off the podium but after 10 hours of riding we had to head to the hospital to get things checked out, not quite the celebration we were hoping for! Matt from the Innerlethien store put in a very respectable performance, his team Another Fine Mess finished 37th overall in the male senior pairs (a very competitive field!). Every time I saw Matt out there he had a big smile and was telling me how much he was enjoying it!! I wish I felt like that while I was out there! Laura’s team from head office, Defibrillators At The Ready also did well completing 5 laps. I take it you managed to find your bike Laura???

All in all it was a lot of fun out there! Good luck to all of those daft enough to embark on the next 10 hour event!


SXC Round 3 - Fyrish

When the sun is shining you really can’t beat Scotland it is awesome. Once again the sun gods were looking down on the SXC as the races headed to the Highlands. The 3rd round was situated in the Black Isle at Fryish. The course was excellent a real joy to be on another mountain biking course. The climbs were relentless, the descents were narly and there were so many little pot holes there waiting to catch you out. I got caught out twice on my first two laps as I tried my best to do my diving swan impression, yip I think that one needs some more work! And the obstacles weren’t just in the forest, I had a bit of a close call with the ambulance luckily I didn’t become a proper casualty for them!

Ruth Fraser-Moodie was on form again leading the women’s elite race, with Lee Cragie finishing second and I was third all be it a bit off the pace. I feel like I am starting to get stronger now so hopefully my form will continue to improve during the rest of the season, just not used to this hot weather I suppose.

Geraint Florida-James finished 10th in the Masters category after a few gearing problems, never a good sign on a course when you really need the full spectrum of all your gears.

10 under the Ben next week

Yee ha
Lesley Ingram

NPS round 2 - Drumlanrig Castle

If it’s the wow factor you are looking for and you haven’t made the trip to Drumlanrig Castle yet I seriously recommend you head down that way sometime soon it is amazing!! The best thing is that I’m not just talking about the scenery and setting but the trails are amazing!

The NPS organisers packed their bags and headed north to Bonnie Scotland for round 2! The course was brilliant, a few killer hills followed by great rooty / technical sections. One thing is for sure there is no time for a quick snooze at Drummy because the roots are waiting for you and they will catch you out! The temperatures were soaring . . . . . yes soaring and yes in Scotland! So it looked all set for a day of fantastic racing. Jenny Copnall stamped her authority on the elite women’s race with yet another fantastic performance. I finished 13th overall and was much more pleased with this performance. Things are starting to come together! My trek loved the technical sections and felt so responsive through out the race. I even caught myself smiling during the race (I know many wont believe that and don’t worry it was short lived), courses like Drummy remind me of why I started racing in the first place!

Thanks has to go out to Rik at the bike shed for a great course, I’m looking forward to the SXC round there already!

Time to rest and recover now before the next race, it’s a busy old month.

Yee ha

Lesley Ingram

Full results: www.britishcycling.org.uk

SXC Round 2 Dalbeattie

So it was off to Dalbeattie on the West Coast for round two of the Scottish Cross Country Series. The forecast predicted showers all day (weather men!!), however it was surprisingly warm in the morning with the rain only starting after lunch. The start was a bit manic a 500m sprint down fire track leading onto a tight left hander over a rock into some single track in the woods. I managed it unscaved however it did become a bit of a spectacle later on in the day with the 2pm starts mainly due to the large numbers of racers, it got nasty with bikes and people flying around the place! The course was tough it had fast sections of fire track with lots of natural rooty and rocky sections – (nice work trail builders!). As the race progressed a combination of the rain and riders did their best to churn up the course which made certain sections tough. In places it was manic with riders falling off their bikes wherever you looked! Defiantly one for the spectators that was for sure! Ruth Fraser-Moodie was back on form and won the elite women’s category, however Lee Cragie was snapping at her heels for a large part of the race finishing 2nd. I finished 3rd which I was pleased with even if I did cough up a lung or two along the way.

Geraint Florida-James my coach and another Alpine Bikes rider put in a strong performance finishing 6th in the Masters category after only his first race (looks like there is life in the old dog yet!)

A big shout out has to go to the guys at Stewarty Wheelers for all their hard work in setting up the course and being so helpful on both Saturday and Sunday, you guys were awesome. Also to everyone at SXC for working so hard and achieving another great day of racing.

And last but by no means least to everyone at Alpine Bikes (especially Matt) for making sure my bike was in tip top form for the weekend, I would be lost without you guys.

Full results can be seen at www.sxc.org.uk


Lesley Ingram

NPS round 1 - thetford forest

I set off first thing on Friday morning and headed south for the first round of the NPS in Thetford. Man it was a long journey and like ever road trip there were issues. After driving for several hours I was more than relieved when my sister took over the wheel for a while. This gave me an opportunity to get some much required shut eye, however when I awoke I was slightly concerned that all the signs were reading M1 not A1! Slight hiccup, a bit of mad panicking and a whole lot of heckling we managed to get back on track (sorry Kerry but you know you won’t live that one down for a while!). The journey took just over 7 tiresome hours, not ideal the day before the first race of the season that’s for sure.

So Thetford- mmm- well it was certainly different to what I’m used to! On the Saturday morning there was a real buzz around the race venue as everyone gathered and waited slightly nervously to find out just how well their winter had actually gone. At around quarter to one all the elite ladies were ushered into their racing pens. This is when the nerves really kick in. This was one of the biggest attendances I have ever seen at a race with four rows being occupied at the start of the grid. I think my heart rate was sitting around 110 on the start line, obvious signs that my body was getting ready for battle. 3, 2, 1 and we were off, the pace was brutal from the onset, it didn’t take long for my heart and lungs to start screaming at me due to the distinct lack of racing during the winter. The course at Thetford was very flat with small interlinking sections of twisty single track through the trees. The sheer nature of the race, 50.8km long, a severe lack of mountain (big ringed it all the way) and a hot day left me struggling. By lap 4 I had blown so badly I wasn’t sure if I would complete the 5th lap- (added just half an hour before the start) but some how I managed. Jenny Copnall won the race in convincing style showing everyone her intent for the rest of the season. I may have been a bit disappointed with this first race of 2008 but then it’s just made me more determined to get the preparation right for the next race at Dalbeattie in 2 weeks.

Overall I have many positives to take from the weekend and my coach has been busy fine tuning my training so that I am fighting fit for the next round. Yee ha!

Lesley Ingram

Full results at:- www.britishcycling.org.uk