Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Fort Bill hosts the Scottish Champs and boy what a course!

Fort Bill played host to the Scottish mountain biking champs and it was a refreshing change from the previous 2 years at Paisley! Anyone use to the course at the Bill will automatically think of the characteristic massive uphill, followed by the long winding man made descent! But when I arrived on Saturday I was so surprised by 2 things . . . . . the lack of midgies (it's a miracle) and the totally awesome course that unravelled right in front of my eyes! The start was pretty much same old same old, up the boardwalk, the horrible dusty fireroad climb (that still reminds me of the first 24hr race I competed in, not nice!) catch your breath over the bridge (formally from Glentress), along a flattish part of track and prepare yourself for the horrible climb . . . . . .or maybe not it was taped off yipee! The rest of the course was awesome, very little climbing (what there was it was steep and sharp) a great natural descent that put a big smile on my face from ear to ear! Well done to the course organisers so refreshing to race on landscapes that are representative of what Scotland has to offer the mountain biking community!

Race day

Once again the sun gods blessed Fort William for another scorchio day of racing (don't believe me??? Look at how blue the sky in in the picture below!)

Preparation phase:

Getting the race number sorted on the bike (left), and yes G is making sure I'm doing it right :)

Chilling out and having a laugh on the right (my arm isn't really that big!), but I will claim it as muscle!!!

Racing time

Before I knew it was 11 o'clock and off we set. Pictures below are of the start, Lee Craigie (Square Wheels) in the Blue, Sue Clarke (SIS) and myself in the Glentress Riders colours. The start was as rapid as ever up a dusty firetrack road before we looped onto the race circuit.

I had a pretty good race and felt I was riding well. Unfortunately I had a massive stack on my third lap just over cooking it slightly on the natural descent! I was wearing a GPS unit from work (GPSports Pro) which also has an accelerometer built in so you can measure the G-force during impacts. I hit a massive 12.4 G on that stack - gee whizz!!! I so would have made Emma's sequel video with that effort- ha ha! It left my handle bars slightly squint but I manged not to lose too much time and was stoked to finish 3rd in the race and 2nd in the Scottish Championships - yee ha! Sue Clarke rode an awesome racing taking the win and Lee Craigie in 2nd spot (also taking the Scottish Championship).

It was a great weekend for the team too . . . . . Lucy Grant and Katy Winton were both crown Scottish champions in the juvenile and youth categories. Lewis Kirkwood finished 4th in the race, getting a podium 3rd for the champs. Sam Waterson put in another good performance finishing in 10th. After severe blood loss from midgie bites (I didn't see any) Jake Law finished 5th in the Masters- he he! With Graeme Short picking up 11th in the vets!
Accommodation for the weekend was the Stronchreggan in Fort William where Bronwen, Graeme and family gave us a very warm welcome! Those guys have some of the best beds I have slept in away from home! Nice rooms, good food and what a view from the front room . . . the dolphins even gave us a visit in Loch Linnhe - that was pretty sweet. Check them out at : www.stronchreggan.co.uk
Great weekend, great course!
Yee ha

Monday, 1 June 2009

10 Under the Ben

I'm not sure if I took a wrong turning on the road on the way up to Fort Bill this weekend, but it felt like I was in France . . . scorchio! The best thing about the heat . . . .nae midgies, the worst . . . . . . I had 10 hours of cycling to do! Ouch!!

So after a few years of entering such events as a team, G and I decided it was time to go solo, yikes!
Look left, thats me on the podium (in the middle). . . . . . pretty happy it's all over! (8 laps in 9:49:11), Katrina Brown (blue top) 2nd (7 laps in 9:27:19) and Helen Findlay 3rd (7 laps in 9:57:12).
Here is the story of how it went:
The start . . . . oh the start! The start is always an interesting one at 10hour events. Take a few hundred people and some how try and spread them out on a firetrack road before entering singletrack sections of courses, lets be honest its always gonna equal disaster! This year a couple of trials guys led us out on motorbikes to try and spread the field. They held a relatively easy pace (something that was nice when compared to the madness of the XC races), however instead of speeding up to spread the field more, they held the pace, before long we turned off the main road, the track narrowed, people slammed on their brakes and the carnage started! It was pretty mental cycling along as everyone jostled for places, a few guys hit the deck! At one point one guy cycled into me, we locked handle bars and then he was sent flying off to the side, bit to close for my liking! Before you knew it you were into a small descent where I lost my first water bottle of the day - doh! I didn't panic though knowing I would be through transition soon enough where I could collect another bottle!

Lap 1 - Felt good, it was really warm on the open sections of firetrack road, there were a few hold ups at some of the natural sections of the course, on the whole I was pretty happy with how things were going!

Lap 2 - Everything was ticking along nicely until about 5 minutes into the lap when I reached down for my water bottle to find there was nothing there noooooooooooooooooooo! First reaction total panic, thinking in this heat a lap without fluid could be race over! First plan . . . to check out everyones bikes and see if anyone was carrying a spare bottle, I got slightly fixated by this, more so as my mouth got dryer (so sorry if I saw you out there and I was looking rather strangely at you!). Anyhoo that plan wasn't working, no one had a spare bottle oh oh! Then just like a knight in shinning armour a motor bike guys went scooting by, I managed to shout him and ask if he had any spare water . . . . . . luckily he did! He went up to the top of the hill and gave me a bottle as I passed! So I had fluid and managed to finish the rest of the lap in an ok fashion!

Lap 3 - hated it, it felt horrible . . . . . I wanted to go home! It was hot, hot hot!!!

Lap 4 - Felt better again but it was starting to get soooooooooo hot! Feet were getting a bit sore!

Lap 5 - My feet hurt really really badly! Not a good lap, could hardly stand on the pedals during the descent. Started to question my sanity (yip that was an easy one to answer :) !!!)

Lap 6 - Straps were undone on the shoes, two clicks of the ratchet on (they were hardly on my feet!), stream dunk every lap, water need . . . . more water! Couldn't really remember what number of lap I was on, everything was merging into one! Met some nice people on the course, good banter!

Lap 7 - Its all downhill from here I'm pretty happy!

Lap 8 - Last one woop woop! Great feeling, wrist feeling a little sore but so delighted to almost be finished!

Feet were painfully sore, lay in the back of the van for a while and felt a bit sorry for myself! (I know I can hear the violins playing!)

So that was it 8 laps in 9:49:11. I finished 1st in the female solo category and 14th overall out of 177 male and female solo competitors! Yaaaaaaaahoooooooo! God that is such a good feeling! On reflection I really enjoyed the event, some parts of the course were a bit boring but guess you will always find that cycling around and around and around the same course!

Graeme Short (Glentress Riders) also put in a great performance completing 9 laps in 10:30:21, finishing 5th Vet and 10th overall, yee ha!
I was maybe out there doing the cycling on the day but 3 great people made it possible for me to achieve what I did - Kerry, G and Sarah! Those guys stood out in the baking heat for hours making sure that at the end of every lap I had everything I needed! Kerry suffered from heat stroke because it was so warm but that didn't shift her and she stay right to the bitter end making sure I was cool. G is not only responsible for getting me to the start line in such good shape he also kept my biking running smooth, had a few mad dashes to the other side of the track when I had forgotten a bottle and kept me up to date with what was going on behind me! Sarah was a little Pikka, running around like usual making sure I was tickety boo!
Kerry and I stayed at Achnabobane Farmhouse for the weekend! We got a lovely welcome from Neil and Elizabeth and truly enjoyed staying there. Although its called Spean Bridge the accommodation is only 2 miles up the road from the Nevis range so you don't have to worry about all the Fort William traffic . . . . perfect! Nice rooms and great breakfasts! They also love mountain bikers :), if your up that way check them out at - http://www.achnabobane.co.uk/.
Ok, this blog has been a bit of an epic but a few more thanks are in order - to No Fuss Events for another well organised event! All the marshals / helpers that were out there on the day always cheering and asking if you were ok! And last but not least all my sponsors (The Hub, Bloc, Luvians, Baillie Gifford & Tunnocks).
Fort William next weekend for the world cup???? Who's gonna win? Come on Rue!
Yee ha