Thursday, 21 April 2011

Dalby demons

There are lots of people with demons from the Dalby World Cup track. It's not as hard as it looks (I'm told) but I still have trouble psyching myself up to ride the two major technical sections. When we visited last weekend for the second round of the BMBS I actually enjoyed the course a lot more than I have done previously. I managed to ride up a big rock slab - which DEFINITELY looks a lot scarier than it actually is and did all the drops (bar worry gill which fills me with dread). I am definitely going to try and find some time before next year to go back and work my feeble brain around the final two sections. Chris and I walked them this time looking carefully and I think with a bit more time (and no race) I could quite enjoy them.

Unfortunately the race didn't go so well. I had a great start - the main aim of the day for me and was in the pack. I flew down the Worry Gill gully with its loose rocks hardly noticable on my lovely Giant Anthem. However I got a bit over excited climbing up out from Medusa's drop and I managed to go so far into the red I started having a bit of an asthma attack. My inhalor was a help but seems to have fallen out of my pocket heading back into the arena so when the wheezing started again I was stuck. I did another lap but every time I pushed on the wheezing started again so it wasn't really a race as such. I stopped after 2 laps and sat in the feed zone recovering and watching the excitement. I was most pleased to see Mel Alexander ( properly overcoming her Dalby demons to finish 6th and Maxine Filby (Baines Racing) did an awesome ride to finish 8th.

Switching into support mode I was pleased to see the rest of the AWCycles team ride strong races - the elite men all in the top 30, Chris 23rd in the Expert race and Mart Hutt and Steve Jones 3rd and 30th respectively in the Veterans race.

I even had time to take a couple of photos of the boys at the finish. So now I need a new inhalor before the SXC at Aberfoyle this Sunday and an asthma check to see what's actually going on next week.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Goatee of Filth

Yesterday Chris and I were invited to join the guys from Velo Club Moulin on their annual road jaunt coinciding with the Ronde van Vlaanderen - 60 miles of Fife road riding taking in as many cobbles as possible. Although slightly concerned when I realised I was to be the only girl there the ride turned out to be a real blast. Chasing the guys up all the hills was exhilarating and has left me feeling super keen for my next race - bring on Dalby. The icing on the cake for the day was watching the exciting finish of de Ronde whilst eating an amazing spread put on by Martin and Susan including real icing on real cakes! Thanks guys it was awesome - can we come again?!

Goatee of Filth from martin steele on Vimeo.

Photostream courtesy of dRj0n via Martin Steele.

BMBS 1 - Sherwood Pines

After a broken down car thwarted my attempt to get to the first round of the Super Six series a few weeks ago, this weekend I again attempted to race on the road - well it felt like it anyway. Sherwood Pines, the venue for the first round of the British Mountain Bike Series, often ends up being more like a road race than a mountain bike race. A combination of wide, flat fireroads and tradition for unseasonable dry weather tends to make for close, pack racing. If you lose the wheel in front and let the gap open it is near impossible to close it again.
This year the course was a little more interesting than usual with a few new singletrack sections. Some of these were great to ride - flowing ups and downs which required full attention and quick reactions. Other sections consisted of tight turns which were difficult to maintain any kind of momentum through. The combination of the two with fast fireroad inbetween made for a testing course. 
Of course the first round of the BMBS is also rather like a school reunion. The first time all us XC racers have been in one place a good five months. I always seem to leave with a sore throat and a big grin on my face. This year was no different.

Shiney new kit! - photo by James Milnes
We arrived at the venue on Saturday afternoon and met up with the rest of the AW cycles team. A mass of new kit, bike bits and energy food was thrown out of the van at us and we quickly fitted the new USE carbon bars and stem. A couple of laps of the course to make sure everything worked and we met up with young, up and coming photographer Jacob James to get some shots for our team launch press release – coming soon! We then retired to our luxury accommodation where Mel Ernest cooked a fabulous feast for us.

Race time for me arrived far too early, after the onset of BST lost us an hour and the new early start time of 9.30 for the women’s race another half an hour. Before I knew it I was lining up on the second row of the grid behind some real stars, including GB rider Annie Last (Halfords) and regular world cup star Lene Byberg (Specialized). I didn’t have the best start and was trying to make up distance before the first corner. As we went into the singletrack I was back on the rear of the pack but it was already too late and I was soon floating a little distance off the pace. I put in a few efforts on the open fireroad sections and tried to be as smooth as possible through the trees and towards the end of my 5 lap race I was apparently making up some time on the girls just ahead of me. At the front of the action Annie and Lene were tearing strips out of each other, with the British National Champion eventually succumbing to the speed of the surging Norwegian. At this stage of the season, with very little speed in my legs and on a course which really does not suit my strengths, I was simply pleased to finish on the same lap as the winners. This turned out to put me in 17th place in the Elite women. However my laptimes indicate that I could have raced harder so hopefully some work on my start and some more interval workouts will help me get my race head on for the next round at Dalby.

A quick turnaround and I was standing next to the start taking Chris’s warm up top and leg warmers. He seemed quite chipper despite the fact that he dislikes Sherwood even more than I do (too fond of the old hills us two!). A good start and a sprint up the first climb and he headed into the singletrack mid-pack. From my feed-zone viewpoint Chris had a good strong ride moving forwards in the field during the race and riding very consistently. He finished in 28th place with some good friends and very handy riders around him for company. Predictably at the front of the Expert field it was all change from last year (more than the usual number of riders deciding to put themselves up to Elite to play with the big boys). Lee Westward (Raleigh UK) put in a stormer of a ride to finish first, however second place finisher Ryan Henry’s (Mountain Hardware) high finish was not a surprise to those of us who have seen him race at the Friday Night Summer Series. In 3rd place was ex-National Hillclimb champion Matt Clinton – just shows how hard a discipline MTB XC is!
All in all it was a great weekend. Thanks to AWCycles for all the new kit. I have to say the shorts are the most comfortable (and flattering) I have ever owned.