Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Fife MTB

It's been a hectic few weeks but we're now settled in the East Neuk of Fife. Chris and I managed to take our Anthems out to two local riding spots.

The first of these was Blairadam Forest. Just under an hour away and the venue for the Scottish Student Champs which we were racing as alumni the following weekend. It has a mixture of rooty singletrack, some steep little run ins down to a river valley and then if you climb all the way up to the top there is a looooong descent through the trees. This is pretty awesome and it will be a shame when the forestry fells this section as it is marked up to do. This however, is the price we pay for having access to such forests. They are grown in order to produce wood which must eventually be sold! Just provides an opportunity to build some noew singletrack in another bit of forest.

Chris in Kemback woods - badly taken photo hill is much steeper than it looks!
Our next riding venue was Kemback woods. This is much closer - maybe 20 minutes by car and ridable from St Andrews when there is more light in the summer. This place is amazing! I don't generally like steep descents although once I get my head in I can get quite good at it - this place is going to help me a lot! There are numerous runs down the steep hill. Bits of trail have been built and its obviously a well looked after riding spot. When we were there in pretty nasty drizzly rain there was a guy raking the trails and another couple being video-ed on their DH bikes. As usual the Anthem's were really good. Point them down get off the back of the saddle and they go where you want - just what the MTBer ordered!

Mud Smile

Just found this. Reminds me just how much I hated Cambridgshire mud and how much better Fife mud is!
This ride involved Sarah and I pushing our bikes up the hill and then realising we couldn't even ride at the top and pushing them back down again.

 (Unfortunately the camera decided not to take Mud Phone!).
My bike after the ride. It was a day for cross bikes!

National Trophy - Rutland

From the end of the summer I had big plans for this race. It was going to be my first big race in AWcycles.co.uk colours and I wanted to see what I could do. Life conspired against me a bit and in the end I spent the two weeks before the race going to a family funeral and packing up mine and Chris's things before the move north of the border. It transpires this is not good preparation for a race and I didn't really get the result I was hoping for. Even two days in the spa at Celtic Manor (look out for their Sunday evening offers if you are near South Wales) couldn't refresh me enough.

Despite all this I really enjoyed the race at Rutland water. The organisers had done a good job with the course and despite the horrendous rain in the preceding week it wasn't that muddy. Chris had treated us to some Dugast tubs and I had his prized Michellin Green mud on the back so even where it was muddy I had superb grip. For the first time perhaps ever I warmed up properly and had a plan of what I was going to do with time to do it on the turbo trainer. This seems to work! I had a great start and went into the straight mid pack. I made the mistake of not changing into my big ring however and just spun out losing valuable places. I went into the next section with Anna Buick (Salsa Factory Racing) and Ruby Miller and together we were going pretty well through the technical turns. Unfortunately I then slipped on a stone which had been uncovered in the previous veterans race, on a corner which had been covered in soil and grippy in practice. I landed heavily on my side basing my knee and hip in the process. Swearing a little inside I picked myself up and got going again but I had lost a few more places and struggled to motivate myself again.

In the end I finished just behind Louise Day. She was clearly much stronger than me on the flat but less good in the techincal bits I just couldn't quite get past. Not my best day in the saddle and ceratinly not what I had hoped for but I enjoyed myself and learned a few things in the process. Thanks to awcycles.co.uk for the support and the guys behind the Rutland event. I'll be back again and better prepared!