Sunday, 28 November 2010

Snow Angels . . . . .

If the weather looks like this outside . . . . . . .

Don't just head straight for the rollers or turbo . . . . . . it's still possible to get out on the mountain bike and its great fun!

Check it out:

Don't get cabin fever this winter!


Saturday, 20 November 2010

Time to dust off the cobwebs and get back on the bike!

It's always good at the end of a long season to have sometime off to recuperate and catch up with friends and family that I have missed during the Summer months. This years off season has been great . . . . although I never actually stopped biking I have spent the last month hanging out with friends on the trails refreshing my memory of what it's all about. . . . it's been amazing!

Autumn is one of my favourite times of the year to ride my bike, the colours are awesome in the forest and its just so refreshing with that little nip in the air. So I've dusted off all the cobwebs and returned to training.
It's great to be back out there doing it all again, but don't forget to stop and have a look around sometimes.

Happy Riding


Monday, 19 July 2010

The adventure begins

It feels like I have been waiting forever for this weekend to eventually arrive. Last year after the British championships when I qualified to compete in the world cups I knew I was going to embrace it. Its all been a bit of a whirlwind this year but I am frigging loving it. I have been planning this trip for more months than I can remember and for the last week or so I have suffered extreme brain fry trying to organise everything, but on friday Kerry and I set off on our little summer adventure - woop woop!

Isn't it funny how easy it is to wake upin the morning when you know the reason you are getting up is not work :) there was no need for the snooze button on friday! I literally bounded out of bed, but part of that was panic because I still had a heap of packing to do- eek. It didn't take long for me to get into a rhythm and before I knew it Bob was my uncle, Mary was my aunt and my bags were packed. That proved to be the easy bit . . . . the difficult bit was trying to fit 3 weeks worth of kit, clothes, bikes, camping stuff, food and most of the contents of my flat into the van, oh yeah not to forget all of Kerry's stuff. By we cracked it, check it out below:

I can find anything in there . . . . or maybe just the coke :)

Chi Chi (the van) also got a makeover for going away, check him out below with his show girl Kerry.

Just after midday we were off, what was left behind was left behind (let's face it judging from the picture above it wasn't much) the adventure starts here!

The first leg of the journey was only down to Birmingham but the journey was a bit of a more to be honest - Friday M6 need I say anymore!

On saturday we got upfairly early and tackled the next 3 hour of the journey,again we got caught up in a bit of traffic on the M25-we are so noy use to that. But we made good time and got down just after lunch, unfortunately there was a bit of hanging about though as course practice didn't open until 4pm. But eventually we got there and I was pleasantly surprised 30 minutes south of gatwick there was a hidden gem of mountain biking hidden in East Sussex at Pippingford estate. The course had some really tough climbs but to counter that it had really fast sweeping descents, if they didn't make you smile you are so in the wrong sport! So I left practice on a high, good course now all I required was a good night of rest to prepare.

My race wasn't until 2.30pm on sunday which was really weird, it totally throws you when you are use to racing at 10am, there is a whole other meal invovled - yikes! The temperature was starting to rise and the nice organisers put our race up to 5 laps, there was no way around this is was going to be a slog out there!

As with most races you get to about 2 hours before the event and then the time flys in! So there I was stood on the start line in blistering heat for the 2010 British Champs. We were off . . . the start was a horrible drag up a lumpy bumpy field, my legs were screaming at me on the way up but I knew I just had to get to the top as there was a descent to follow. I was lying in 6th and stayed there for the first lap. On the 2nd lap there was a bit of a confusion at the feed zone and I missed my 2nd bottle - nightmare in the heat but I just had to get on with it . . . . I had now moved into 5th and was closing on 4th. As I approached the 3rd lap I could see 4th place just up ahead, I worked hard and attacked coming out of the feed zone and thats where I finished up. I'm stoked, a few errors in there but it is all starting to come together.

Yee ha


Monday, 5 July 2010

Dam good at Dalby!

The season seems to really be rolling in fast now especially since it was time to return to Dalby for the 4th round of the British XC. I'm starting to get to know the course at Dalby pretty well so I wasn't really expecting any differences for the race. Sadly this year Dixon's hollow was taken out at the end, it's a small 4x stylee track that is just so much more fun and feels like a little reward at the end of each lap so I guess I was pretty sad to see it go. Apart from that the course was pretty much the same old, with a few added braking bumps. There had been a few heavy down pours in the days leading up to the race so some of the berms were slippy as, actually I just fell down the first one - doh! The rain had passed by the friday however as the temperature was starting to rise so I wasn't too concerned.

Saturday morning was another scorcher . . . . . it's not good for us Scotties that are only use to an average of about 14 degrees (well maybe it has been a little higher this year). To the race . . . . . I actually got a really good start leading the field out and being able to dictate the pace at the first 180 degree corner, before the first technical section Rossara Joseph nipped in front of me so I followed her wheel down that. Later Mel spath came past and on the next section of the track my chain came off - doh and fell all the way back behind my cogs. I had to get off during which time the whole field passed me - nooooooooooooooooooooo! Once fixed I was back on track and fought my way back to 7th where I eventually finished. All in all it was a great race, really tough but that's the way it should be. Can't wait til the next one


Wednesday, 2 June 2010

They know how to mountain bike in Wales!

Bank holiday weekend and another mammoth trip south for some epic racing in Wales! Kerry and I got up in the wee early hours of Friday morning and headed to Cardiff for the big Welsh weekend of racing! The journey down wasn’t so bad, a little slow at the hot spots of Manchester and Birmingham but otherwise it was a relatively good trip. That is mostly due to the fact that we now have a sat nav, so our days of wondering around aimlessly are distant memories at the back of our minds. . . . . . . . .well almost normally we have at least a few recalculating episodes. It has however brought new challenges to the table, it always predicts time of arrival so a currently favourite game at the moment is beat the sat nav – not that I’m competitive or anything :)

Saturday was the XC event and boy was the weather horrible it just poured with rain the whole time! It’s funny because like most when I look out the window in the morning and see horizontal rain coming towards me my initial thought is to jump straight back into bed, but this Saturday I was glad I didn’t. Margam park hosted the racing this weekend and a new track had been cut for the race, mixed with the rain it turned into two and a bit hours of cracking fun! The climbs were not for the faint hearted and the descents ha ha they were just amazing. There were loads of off camber sections where the bike was just drifting the whole way down, other parts of the course turned into massive mud slides where it was a case of get off the brakes and go for it, I had a rather impressive power slide on the go at one point. I finished 9th in the race and was stoked with the result. Rossara Joseph took the win, with Lee Craigie 2nd and Cait Elliot taking 3rd slot!

Lewis Kirkwood continued his impressive form in the juniors finishing 5th, nice work!

Normally the day after a race is a relatively chilled out affair but that was not the case this weekend as on Sunday the marathon events were taking place. I entered the 75km race which consisted of 3 25km loops. I was a bit apprehensive that such a big loop would lead to a rather boring course, but once again I was more than impressive with Margam. The first 5km of the course was a rather brutal climb that was followed but some really tasty climbs and descents. A big thumbs up to the course designers, its one of the best enduro courses I have ever ridden. I really enjoyed the event on Sunday and even though my legs felt a little tired at first it didn’t take long for them to warm up. I managed to win the marathon – yee ha!

Kerry and I stayed with some family friends this weekend – Rob and Ann. They showed us how hospitality was done Welsh styleee and we truly had a fantastic time. Big thanks to you both and all your family, it was so nice to meet everyone. Hope to see you all soon.

Kerry was a star once more having to deal with the pouring rain on sat and like normal not being bothered at all by it.

Cracking weekend, I defiantly want to see more of Wales and what it has to offer mountain biking wise!

Yee ha

Monday, 24 May 2010

At last an actual mountain bike race at Aberfoyle!

For the last few months I have literally been pulling my hair out trying to find my motivation for racing! Granted we didn't endure the best winter for training over here, but it felt like more than that. At the beginning of the season I was content with racing myself fit, but after a puncture at Kirroughtree and a few non-races I was really struggling to find that fire in my belly. I couldn't put my finger on the lack of motivation and panic was starting to set in. Isn't it funny how things workout sometimes? It appears that Aberfoyle was all I was waiting for!

I know I sound like a bit of a broken record sometimes but seriously how good was the course at Aberfoyle?? The climb was a killer, a real heart breaker but I concurred it 4 out of 4 laps - that was a good feeling! And the descent well it was just awesome, natural tracks with more than enough to keep you on your toes - the rain on saturday night certainly made it more sleek. Sadly on sunday I appeared to have forgotten how to descend and had more than my fair share of crashes, it was rather scary to be honest. But on my 4th lap as I crossed that finish line a massive smile appeared, all the panic had gone, I was just waiting for a proper mountain bike course to race on! I finished 3rd on the day - stoked to be honest as it was my first XC podium of the year. Lee Craigie (Torq performance team) was once again on impressive form taking the win, with Elke Schmidt (squadra porcini) finishing in 2nd.

The Glentress Riders were out on form as usual with Hannah Ferguson taking the win in the Youth Females, Lewis Kirkwood winning the male juniors and Jake Law finishing 7th in the masters - gid work guys!

Big thanks to Squadra Porcini for a fab course, great marshals and for being so helpful on saturday practice. SXC two thumbs up for race and venue - smashing!

As always big thanks to the Hub, Squirt and all my other sponsors. Kerry for the bottles and mum and dad for the encouragement.

Yee ha


P.s well done to my sis-in-law Lisa who ran the Edinburgh marathon in 4:10, first one and all that!

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

10 hours of carnage at Fort Bill!

I'm pretty sure last year as I crossed the finish line at 10 under I turned to Kerry and said - job done . . . . I'm happy with that, stoked at the result but I don't know if I will ever do it again. . . . .

The 15th of May 2010, it's 10 Under the Ben and guess what I'm on that start line!

I have one word for the start - carnage! This year a Le mond style start was adopted where what felt like millions of competitors had to sprint, hobble and drag themselves 100m before getting on the bikes. During the whole thing I remember feeling scared, everyone was trying to push you out the way and snap at your heels . . . . . . I couldn't even see the ground I was suppose to be running on. Somehow I survived and for 9 hours 44 minutes and 13 seconds spent a considerable large amount of time riding my bike!

The guys at No Fuss again had done a great job adding new natural sections to the course, but I will never thank them for putting that little steepy climb in there :) ha ha it was killing me by the end but I did manage to make it up 8 out of 8 attempts -BOOM! The weather decided to remind us that we were in fact in Scotland as we experienced showers / heavy rain and even a little sunshine.

I found the event a lot harder this year, but think the weather played a role in that as the ground got wet the natural sections began to mud up and some sections felt like you were riding through toffee, towards the end of the race it did start to dry up though! I managed to get 9 laps in on the day that included a highland cow falling on top of me (well a lass dressed up as a highland cow) and a close encounter with a tree that left a dent in my helmet and a bruise on my head - doh! I won the female solo category by a lap with Hannah Barnes taking 2nd and Dorota Bamkowska taking 3rd. I'm stoke with the whole result as I actually finished 11th out of 184 solo's yee ha! Graeme Short (Glentress Riders) was also out there finishing 4th in the vets - but I didn't actually see him the whole event - just shows you how many folk are attending these days! Dick, Ali and Scott got 3rd in the vet male trios!

A big thanks has to go to Kerry for supporting me as always, couldn't have done it without ya. G for cleaning my bike between laps and getting me in the shape to do the damage in the first place. A big thanks has to go out to the guys at No Fuss for another gid event. Also to all the marshals for all the support and encouragement the whole way round - they were magic! And for all the nutters up at the event from the Borders who gave me good chat even if I was moaning at times :)

I had never seen so much mud on my bike at the end and after a few washes and a visit to The Hub it is back happily in working order.

Aberfoyle this weekend - I'm only gutted the course has had to be changed because of one lady and her dogs - thing we may have just lost one of the best XC race venues in Scotland.

Onwards and upwards

Yee ha


Tuesday, 4 May 2010

The stuff dreams are made of!

At the end of last year I was super excited when I realised that I had acquired enough UCI points in order to compete in World Cup events. I still remember waiting for what felt like weeks for the race dates and venues. Sadly Fort William lost the XC World Cup event but I was stoked that Dalby (North Yorkshire) had been successful in their bid. Resulting in the first round of the World Cup travelling there for 2010, which meant that my first ever experience of a world cup would be on home soil - that was pretty exciting!

I didn't really know what to expect from the event to be honest but I knew that it was going to be pretty massive when I started to get butterflies in my stomach the Monday before the race . . . . . in fact I am getting those butterflies once more now just thinking about the whole event!

It had been a bit of a manic week for me at work but Kerry and I eventually set off at 8am on Friday morning. The journey down was relatively simple - partly because we had been down that way before, but we did take a slightly different route this year. Co-pilot Kerry was on top of her game though! It took around 4 hours to get down which gave me plenty of time to register and get a practice lap in. I raced at Dalby last year as part of the British XC series so I knew that it was a good course, the best bit was that they had continued to develop the course cutting in even more technical lines and creating proper chicken routes that added on time! Thank you course designers! It's one of the toughest courses out there to race on, the hills are not massive, instead steep and mostly in quick succession of each other - that certainly starts to wear you down as you get through the laps. Furthermore there is little recovery to be enjoyed on the descents since they are technical - yee ha so concentration levels have to be up there! Its just fab!

After practice it was a quick scoot to the B&B to drop off all my stuff then back into Pickering for the pre-eliminator sprint race. A short 2 minute circuit had been created around the town that encompassed short climbs, a grave-yard, steps and a rather sketchy gravelly section. The format for the race was individual time trials and if you were quick enough you progressed onto a 4cross-esk race in which 4 people raced around the circuit together with the top 2 of each race getting through. The locals got right behind the event, loads of folk came along to watch and cheer all the riders on, bands were on the street playing music. I progressed into the first 4v4 race but didn't get any further - it was amazing! Home to bed to try and sleep :)

Saturday was another early start - up, breakfast and then back down to the course to get some more practice. After 2 laps I was pretty happy with my lines and decided enough was enough. It was pretty cool as Kerry and I then managed to spend a little time wandering around the race village before watching the junior race. Katy Winton cycled to a very impressive 5th place in the junior females, with Kenta Gallagher taking 13th in the junior males and Grant Ferguson 23rd after fixing a broken chain! Saturday night was much more relaxed - a quick bit to eat and then feet up for the rest of the night.

Sunday morning arrived and to be honest I just couldn't wait to get to the race. Everything seemed to go past pretty fast and before I knew it I was away warming up. We got penned 20 minutes before the race before every individual rider was called to the start line . . . . . there were 95 riders in total. I was gridded 2nd last row and was actually struggling to see the start of the riders - ha ha it was wicked. Positioned right in the center of the row I knew the start was going to be a fun one! It wasn't long before 1 minute to go was called out and everyone began to creep forward, by 30s I couldn't actually move anymore as I was surrounded by people. And we were off, it was fast and I mean fast, bikes and riders were flying around the place and the game had well and truly commenced! For an hour and a half after that all I can tell you was that I was beasting myself big style! I ended up finishing 81st - sweet! The crowds out there were amazing, everyone was cheering you on trying to keep you going!

I'm sitting smiling just now writing this piece because it was just so amazing. The podium read as follows: Irina KALENTIEVA, Willow KOERBER, Katerina NASH, Georgia GOULD & Julie BRESSET.

What an event to be a part of!

Yee ha


Monday, 29 March 2010

Nae hill's at Sherwood!

Getting back into racing certainly does pack a punch and already the whirlwind of last weeks race and a 40km TT midweek left me slightly weary! Sherwood pines is about a 4 and a half hour journey for me so I guess its not too bad! However it just seemed to take an age to get down there and I was proper tired by the time we arrived. It was time for a quick kit change and a practice lap. There is one thing that you always know about Sherwood Pines, it's gonna be flat and it's gonna be fast and yep that pretty much sums up the lap. After the lap it was time to get some food and find the travel lodge.

The travel lodge was about half and hour away and did the trick for the night. They even allowed me to take my bike into the room, which actually allowed me to get some sleep during the night . . . . . . not waking up every 5mins to peep through the curtains! All I had to do was remember to switch my clock to go off an hour earlier! :)

Sunday arrived, my phone managed to change the time by itself (it's just amazing living in the 21st century) and everything was going nicely to plan. The race was tough from start to finish 5 laps of flat out effort with very little recovery out there. I finished 13th pretty happy with that result to be honest!

Other Glentress riders were out in force as usual with Katy Winton taking 2nd in the Junior females, Lewis Kirkwood 6th in the Junior males and Hannah Ferguson taking 4th in the Youth females. Nice one guys!

A few weeks off now to train like a beast for Dalby

Yee ha


Monday, 22 March 2010

That's Life!

The racing season has defiantly crept up on me with a bit of a bang this year. I'm not sure if it's to do with the weird winter we have just experienced where lets face it, biking became a little tricky and my skills have been used more in the sports of snowman making and extreme sledging (not for the faint hearted!), but I'm just not really sure where the time has gone. So now its March and the start of the SXC season . . . . . . . . here we go again.

Most of Saturday morning was spent by me running around like a headless chicken, not quite fully remembering what I required to race, blatantly packing way too much stuff and in the end being content that I knew I had a bike, shoes, shorts, top, helmet and gloves and lets face it anything else was just going to be a bonus! Did I mention how sweeet my new race bike is??? Check it out below:

So off Kerry and I set for Kirroughtree and our first road trip of the season. All went according to plan and we arrived around 3pm in the afternoon. I popped off for a quick scoot around the race route and once again was more than happy with what Kirroughtree had to offer, actually it was even a bit better than last year as more sections of fire-track road had been taken out and replaced with natural sections - now we are talking! After a quick lap it was back to the B&B ( to chill-ax before the race the next day. Muirfad is one of Kerry and I's favourite places to stay when we are travelling around, Sue and Basil always make you feel very welcome in their home, it you are ever over that way you should definitely pop in and see them.
On Sunday morning everything felt good and I was really excited about getting out onto the race to see how everything was going. The race went really well up to the last lap where unfortunately I got a puncture, after a bit of faffing and a dodgy gas canister I eventually finished, coming in 6th, not quite what I was hoping for on the day but just makes me even more hungry for the next SXC! Sue Clarke took the win, with Lee Craigie 2nd and Elke Schmidt 3rd.
Fellow Glentress Riders Hannah Ferguson and Lewis Kirkwood got 3rd in their categories. Graeme Short finished 18th in the Vets.
British XC next week
Yee ha