Wednesday, 23 November 2011

More of a binner than a pinner . . . .

I've just sat down and read the blog I wrote back in May when the injury first happened . . . it pulled on a few more heart strings than I ever imagined it would. I still can't really see my knee in those photos, sitting looking at my knee now I see the scar and feel this disappointment, but its short lived because I'm excited - the butterflies and drive have returned and after way too many months I'm back on my bike (you have no idea how amazing it feels sitting here now writing that).

The past 6 months have been nothing short of testing . . . . but as I sit back and look over that time, think where I was and where I now am I can see the light (the tunnel was just a bit longer than I expected). Its weird how you never really realise how much you miss something until someone/thing swipes it out of your arms - I've missed my bike, I've missed the trails and I've missed having great craic with my mates out there (although they all assure me that the biking has been utterly pitiful over the past 6 months and I truly believe them - ha ha!).

So the journey has been a different one - in the first few months I could do very little with my leg so I took sometime to chill out, catch up with friends and and try and train my puppy (yip that's still trying to happen!!). After that I started intensive physio and things seemed to be going well so I returned to the bike . . . . however the extensive bone bruising I had sustained then started to play up and it wasn't long before I was back off the bike. And the story has really followed that pattern for the last few months. My knee is getting there - it feels so much stronger and things that were troubling me are gradually starting to disappear. Racing aside it just feels so amazing to be back on the bike.

Riding has been great and I've tried out a few new things like BMX'in . . that was fun!

But racing is always there . . . and when your competitive its hard to switch that tap off. Sure I've been through the motions - is this still what I want to do, will me knee survive . . . . . .I can answer the first question with certainty - yes . . . .the second I hope so . . . . .I just need to get fit now!

And whats the best way to do that?? Race Right??

So the weekend just passed I entered the Innerleithen Night/Day Enduro - 2 runs in the day, 2 runs in the night - radical! It was soo hard - I think I went from being on the bike for about an hour and a half to 3 hours for the race . . . so by the time I got half way down the 3rd run I was about crying, the 4th well that was just a hold on and hope. I'm guessing things weren't made any easier by the massive stack I had in run 2 where I attempted to use my chin as a brake (that doesn't work out so well!), but it is pretty scary being chased down by Emma Guy - especially when shes shouting I'm coming to get you ha ha! All in all it was a cracker of an event, super tough and I was happy to take 3rd after being schooled by Emma Guy with Katy Winton being impressive in 2nd!

Big shout out to Gary Forrest who won the event - pinned boy pinned!

4 days on and I still feel like someone ran me over in a dumper truck and then reversed back over me - doh!

2 weeks til the Glentress duathlon - anyone got a spare lung!

Hope to see you out on the hills


P.s Last weekend of The Hub Cafe this weekend - get your little behinds down there #thereisnosuchthingastoomuchcake!!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

These things are sent to try us . . . . .

It's a cruel old world sometimes, you over come the dark Scottish winter and a few hiccups on the way all in preparation for the up coming season. The 2011 season kicks off in March and its a bit of a slow start, but after a few races under the belt and a wealth of training things start to move in the right direction. One thing is for certain when it comes to racing and preparation there is no set formula that you can follow, it differs for all of us and sometimes its appears luck also plays a role in there.
But what is luck? Do you believe in it? I think I do to a certain extent, but I'm not really sure where on when that started. Numerous people in my life have often referred to me a lucky Lesley - but that luck has only ever been applicable to certain circumstances - for example parking spaces and clearing courtyards in petrol stations, but does that open me up to a susceptibility to being unlucky in other areas . . . . . . I don't think so, I just reckon that sometimes bad things happen and no matter how many times you think about how different things could have been you just have to swallow it all up, look forward and start healing.
The 19th of May was the start of the World Cup season for me at Dalby this year. Kerry and I packed up the van and headed down to North Yorkshire - its was all going so well. After the drive down we both felt a bit groggy so we unpacked the road bikes and headed out for a spin - it was an amazing night, the sun was out and it was just was just great to be out on the bike.
Friday arrived I signed on for the race and headed to the course from some practice. The course had altered slightly at the start but was riding great and I just couldn't wait for Sunday to arrive. I was on my new bike an Ibis carbon hard tail sorted out for me by the fab guys at The Hub ( supplied speedily from 2pure ( The bike is amazing, it is really sticks to the ground when you are riding in and the confidence that give you is incredible - happy days.
After practice I headed back to the B&B for a chill before the pro sprint eliminator at night....
It all started so well, I was feeling strong and I was travelling around the course, I pinned it down the stairs and the rest is a bit of a blur, I'm not sure if I caught my wheel in a step or the ramp but I managed to put a ding in the rim - resulting in the tyre exploding off and me hitting the ground pretty fast and hard . . . . .during the process I also managed to roll the front tyre off the rim. But it all happened so fast I still had no idea that any of this had happened, all I knew what that I hit the deck, so I jumped up, picked up the bike and was about to get back on it to continue when I discovered I had no air in my tyres, in fact the tyres weren't even on the rims - it still took me a bit of time to figure that was my race over. I felt a bit stiff and hobbled down to the pit area where I discovered my knee was bleeding.
A trip to the medics tent revealed a large hole in my knee and that was me off to A & E to get stitched up. I was still certain I could race on Sunday and was continually asking in the hospital what the chances were. I could tell they thought the chances were slim but they seemed to humour me and say wait and see what its like in the morning. 7 stitches later I was packed off . . .
When I woke up in the morning my knee was about twice its original size and my movement was so restricted there was no chance I could pedal - at that point I knew it was all over.
I've spent the last few days hobbling about and re going over what happened in my head. But its happened and I probably could have ridden that section 100 more times without a problem . . . sometimes bad things just happen!
In the wise words of Friedrich Nietzsche " What doesn't kill us makes us stronger"
Hopefully it will be a speedy recover I've got a new bike to get out and do some riding on.
So if your about and free over the next few weeks give me a shout, Ive got some spare time on my hands!
Healing time.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Go Fast Eggs!!

Aberfoyle - Yaaassss! Every year when the SXC release their race dates I always get a few butterflies as I sit and pray that Aberfoyle is gonna be there. It was all good for 2011 and a big thanks has to go out to the guys at Squadra Porcini who over came all the barriers set by the forestry to put on another cracking course (I was told that the race was going to go ahead even if it was around a grass field), thankfully it wasn't and the Squadra Porcini guys put on a real MTB race . . . . . . .the future may not be so certain though!

Last week has been cracking weather wise and our often wet and slippy trails have turned into dusty dry ones . . . . . that takes a bit of getting use to ha ha! But Aberfoyle in my eyes is what Scottish mountain biking is all about, rooty, steep and slippy . . . . so sticking with tradition on Saturday morning the heavens opened and the course was transformed - yee ha! Practice is always pretty funny up there as there is normally a stack of bodies somewhere around the course . . . . I pushed my front wheel into what I thought was a moss corner, turns out it was just moss so my wheel went right through and I did a little bit of roley poly action down the hill (reckon I would have beaten any easter egg). After I had finished practicing the sun appeared and it looked like the course was set to dry up alot! Check out the blue sky below as Kerry and I were making some tea!

Sunday arrived and although it was over cast it was still pretty hot . . . you just knew that was going to make heart break hill a little harder :) Luckily enough Andrea was walking about at registration handing out go fast eggs - phew! The race was pretty full on from the start, a massive up hill followed by a big descent that was split into sections - you really had to work hard through out the whole thing. I was pretty chuffed to take the win with Hannah Barnes in 2nd and Rachel Fenton in 3rd - check us out below:
Feeling a bit tired today . . . . nothing an easter egg wont sort out (Kerry bet your gutted you left your egg in my van ha ha!)

Yee ha


Monday, 18 April 2011

Nature starts to reclaim Dalby . . . . . and the course just keeps getting better!

There are always certain courses that you look forward to on the race calender and Dalby is certainly one of those for me. There are defined sections of the course, which I guess helps you compartmentalise the whole thing, and as you set off on your practice lap it doesn't seem that bad . . . . . of course you always get crowds of riders lurking around Worry Gill (the 8ft drop) and Medusa where you line choice can be critical! This year nature has decided that it wants to reclaim Dalby again and the smooth sections thaAdd Imaget once existed are but a distant memory of the past, Dalby has got rugged and its great! So basically you get a full on battering on the descents, there are numerous tricky corners, awkward braking bumps and tricky dips just waiting to grab your front wheel as you begin to tire throughout the race. . . . . and to really finish you off you are then faced by numerous gut busting climbs- oh yeah bring on the race!

Kerry and I headed down on Saturday morning and set up camp (look to the left). Kerry had bought a new shelter for us, but to be honest the instructions were a bit dodgy so I had an idea . . . . . I think it worked pretty well, thankfully it wasn't very windy ha ha! We were lucky with the weather even though it was a tad chilly at night. . . . in the middle of the night when I woke up I thought I had a mummy lying next to me . . . turns out Kerry had just pulled her sleeping back so tight her face wasn't even visible ha ha!

It was a really nice relaxing night as the sunset over the campsite . . . . . . and the moon started to rise over the race village! Race day arrived the sun was out and it looked like it was going to be a cracker.

Check out the photo below of me on the start line (that's my race face by the way- ha ha!), its brilliant to see so many elite females competing at the moment in all the races.

As the race started I got a really good start and was sitting well in the middle of the field for the first lap. It all felt really good, by lap 3 Gabby Day and I were neck and neck and we stayed that way through lap 4 and most of lap 5. I was on the front most of the time doing the work but I felt comfortable there and on the last lap managed to get enough of a gap to get 10th spot. It was a full on tough race out there and it certainly took its toll on my body . . . this morning it felt like Mike Tyson had a few pops at me. . . . . . .

Stunt of the day has to go to Craig Owen who was in front of me on my 4th lap and pulled the biggest endo I have ever seen on a cross country bike off those dodgy little humps after Worry Gill! I still have no idea how he didn't go over the bars! :)

Back to Dalby for the World Cup in May . . . . cant wait!


Monday, 28 March 2011

Time to come out of hibernation

Its easy to get caught up in winter, travelling to and fro work in the dark, training in the dark and just missing out on that much required sunshine. Every year when winter starts it feels long and difficult, but within a week or so you get in to the swing of things, charging lights and such like just fall in to another step towards getting out on your bike. Then something weird happens and you start enjoying it, night riding is pretty special! When you get one of those clear starry nights . . . well you really don't need much else to keep motivated. Once February approaches you can start to see a difference in the day light hours, you feel refreshed and ready to hang up the lights for the summer . . . .

Then March hits . . . the race season begins and everything changes!

This year it all kicked off for me in Innerleithen for the Alistair Lees Time Trial. Its nice to be close to home to race and this race is one of those must do's if you love a technical course. This year was no different, Steve Deas the course designer put together a brutal 25km loop not designed for the faint hearted. It was mega, the descents were tight, twisty very muddy and fun and the climbs were steep technical and tough. There wasn't any chance of getting a breather out on the course as after ever decent a brutal climb followed and that kind of summed up the whole 25km.

There were broken bikes, comedy falls . . . not so comedy falls but so many smiles! It always amazes me that nowadays cross country course designers seem to be listening to the people carrying the red tape, removing challenging sections of courses and in my view not really moving with the times of the sport or bike technology available. However put a tough tough course on like this one and everyone loves it . . . .Why? Because its such a challenge, when the whistle blows and the red mist of racing descends upon us, its amazing what we can achieve . . . .or stumble over!

I really enjoyed the whole event even though my legs were falling off me going up the last climb. The last descent was also timed in order to award a King and Queen of the descent . . . not so easy with all that brutal climbing in your legs! I was really happy to take both the overall win of the TT and the fastest female descent . . . . (5th fastest descent overall) yee ha. Below is a shot of me coming down the last descent from Ian 'Snap Shot' Linton, in the background you can see Inners. Ian is a good friend and a fab photographer, check out his work at


The following weekend is was time to pack up the van and set off to Kirroughtree for the first round of the Scottish XC series. This of course was also the first road trip for Kerry and I . . . . ha ha I have actually missed them! Stoked to be back on the road!

The course at Kirroughtree had been changed a little and I was slightly disappointed to see some of the natural sections that I love so much to be absent from the course. Some of the new natural sections that had been cut turned into a bit of a run, I'm never really up for that. The race was a bit if a shock to the system but I was happy to take 3rd and get on the podium, Lee Craigie (Torq) took the win with Elke Schmidt (Squdra Porcini) 2nd. That's not my pink bucket by the way (see below).

This weekend Kerry and I were on our travels once more, heading south to Sherwood Pines just outside Nottingham. While everyone in Scotland kicked back and enjoyed the sun we were down there freezing our little behinds off . . . . can you believe it??

The course was good despite the fact the course was mainly on the flat! Lots of tight twisty singletrack was cut through the trees keeping the amount of firetrack to a minimum. This type of racing is hard! I was racing on the Lapierre Pro 500 hardtail (look left), aint he something else. To make things a little harder for us all the race got moved forward by half an hour and it was the weekend of the clocks changing-oh oh! Kerry and I weren't sure if our phones updated automatically so we had to set alarms half an hour apart . . . thankfully everything went to plan!

There were 19 starters in the Elite Women's field which is so good to see. The photo to the right is of us at the start, that's me front right as you look at it . . . . .to be honest that blur was how most of the race felt. The pace didn't ease at all and it was brutal from start to finish. I finished in 13th, happy with the result! The Podium read as Lene Byberg (Specialized Factory), Annie Last (Boardman Elite) and Lily Mathews (100% Me). There were alot of fellow Scots down for the race and a hec of support from them all during the race . . . Cheers guys!

Next one Dalby

See you there


Friday, 25 February 2011

Time to step it up with a visit to the Big Dog!

I have always had a lot of respect for Graeme Obree. He was definitely a man ahead of his times the way he trained, prepared, altered bikes and never ceased to give up when is so often appeared that ever door was closing on him. I remember reading his book (that was no easy feat), it was very dark in places mainly driven by his illness and I often found it hard to relate to certain parts of it mainly due to the fact that I am very different from him personality wise. As an athlete and more particularly an athlete living in Scotland I got a lot from the words he wrote along the way. One sentence always sticks with me where he states there is no such thing as bad weather . . . . only a poor choice of clothing! That still makes me smile as I think about heading out in the winter for a ride never quite knowing what the weather is going to be like or how many layers to wear . . . . after 5 years it is still very much a work in progress and I often get it wrong but life is all about learning right???

I'm very proud to be Scottish and learning to mountain bike here has definitely provided me with an incredible foundation to build my skills. Where else can you ride in the mud, snow, sunshine and rain all in one simple 2 hour trail ride? Throw into that mixture some of the best varied trails out there and you have the perfect ingredients. Anyway before going off on too much of a tangent I will get back to my earlier point the weather, the beautiful Scottish winter. I think training through a Scottish winter definitely makes you stronger but this year for a week I packed my bags (well actually sat on them to make them shut-mental note to still work on the packing skills) and flitted to Gran Canaria (aka Big Dog) with two trusty accomplices (Emma & Tracy) for some hard graft, quality roads, sunshine and swimming in the sea - total torture.

We hired some bikes out there from a fab shop Free Motion ( and were off into the hills for a week. It was great, the sun was shining, shorts and t-shirts were on and the temperature was sitting in the mid 20s all week. What was even better was that the day light hours were extended, so it was nice not to be surround by darkness so much. For a day we headed out on the mountain bikes descending from the top of the highest mountain on the island. The trails were amazing, dry, dusty, rocky, twisty and open it had it all . . . even a few technical climbs to round it all off. I think my favourite part of the ride was a section called the jungle trail it was amazing! We had a great guide for the day - Emo - cheers dude!

So although I think that Scotland, more specifically the Tweed Valley is the best place to live, train and just ride in . . . . sometimes its nice to get away.

It makes you appreciate it all the more when you come home.

Roll on the summer


Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Squirt save the day again!

December proved to be an exceptionally cold month in 2010 hitting the record books as the coldest December in over 100 years and the second coldest calender month on record according to the Met Office - brrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Shock horror though it was actually Scotland's 5th driest December ever - most of the time that would put a big smile on my face but the truth was it was still raining, it just fell as snow instead - doh! After the first bit of excitement from the snow wore off . . . getting snowed in, boarding and skiing in Innerleithen and how can I forget the episode of extreme tarping (not for the faint hearted that one) I started to get bored being trapped indoors training. However Scotland's weather wasn't up for becoming predictable and in the same month we experienced more sunshine than normal, this along with an increase in temperature resulted in a speedy thaw . . . mega!

I made the most of the thaw and got out on the mountain and road bike as often as I could. It felt amazing being back outside on the bike you just cant beat it! The mountain bike trails were soaking so the bike was getting a bit of a bashing out there and I don't need to saw anything about the amount of salt on the roads and how it was trying to eat my road bike for breakfast. This was a dilemma and I needed a solution . . . . dun dun dun , then I received a little gift from Squirt. Squirt Devil bike cleaner and Squirt Devil degreaser - goodbye muck and salt hello clean sparkling bikes. Whats even better Squirt have done it again delivered a fab product that is non solvent based, non hazardous and 100% biodegradable. Since I already use Squirt long lasting dry lube on my chain I don't have to spend 3 hours trying to clean it with degreaser as it self cleans - result.

All of the above results in me getting indoors quicker after a ride and that helps aid my recovery. So instead of spending hours out cleaning your bike in the cold winter months, switch to Squirt and get inside and get the kettle on!
Not sure what I would do with out those guys.

Not familiar with the products check them out at

or simply visit The Hub in the Forest to buy some produce

Happy Winter riding

Stay warm