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