Friday, 13 May 2011


Been a bit slow on the old blogging front recently. Life got in the way for a while. Asthma now being treated successfully so hopefully there will be no repeats of Dalby anytime soon and had a incident free race at Enduro6 - finally. I have had job interviews, assessment days, done 2 days as a receptionist and am now officially a Dr. It's been epic!

Had a week off the bike to recover mentally for more riding and am about to hit the hills again this afternoon. I did however spent a 12 hour stint on the other side of the race tape as pit crew for Chris and Simon at the UK and Euro 12 hour champs. It was soooo stressful and Joolze Dymond has some awesome photos of my High5 stall (sorry Joolze for not buying any - when I am gainfully employed again and we are not poor as church mice we will show you some photo purchase love). Neither of the boys had a brilliant race but I'm proud of them both for showing real team spirit, grit and determination.


Enduro 6 - aka battle of the mixed pairs

Although trips down south are exhausting and time consuming for us now the fact that I had to go south for my graduation on the same weekend as Enduro6 meant we just could not resist entering the event. Chris and I have raced this one twice as a pair before and last year he a Simon Ernest raced the men's pairs (whilst Simon''s wife and I celebrated finishing our respective PhDs with bottles of champagne). This year Si was racing with Steve James so Chris and I reinstated the fedder-penton dreamteam Brighton Big Dog Champions 2009.

We had ideal preparation for this event - NOT! A long drive down from Fife, followed by a long day in high heels and Harry Potter garb made for a tired and underprepared team (just to confirm Chris did not wear high heels but his shoes did pinch apprently). We had no time to recce the course, breakfast was a bit ad hoc but it was so lovely to see lots of our friends that we quickly got over it! The course was pretty similar to previous years anyway right? We piled our crap in the pit area we had been designated - opposite Verity Appleyard and Anthony "Chuck" Morris and just along from Anna and George from Salsa and Sally Gabriel and Roy Davies all of whom we knew to be great riders. It was going to be a tough competition. Bring on the battle of the mixed pairs!!

Chris "volunteered" to do the run (obviously there is no point in the GIRL doing the running bit and hectic first lap!) and all the mixed teams seem ed to have decided on similar tactics - 2 laps per rider to start with knowing that around 1 minute was lost in pitting and changing. At the end of lap 1 Salsa came through first, with Gabriel/Davies just behind and Chris and Chuck together a bit further back. When the boys came into the pits the informed us they were leaving it up to us to decide the result - great no pressure then. So, Verity and I went out together, I had a dig, she had a dig on one very steep climb (kudos on having the strength to power up that). As I came back up to her wheel I was just about to suggest we worked together to try and reel 2nd place in and decide our result later when disaster struck. Verity seemed to slide off the course (turns out her back wheel fell out). I had a quick look back to see if she was ok - she was so I pushed on. The podium was effectively decided at that point since we could never quite get back to Sally and Roy (although Chris did amazingly well to pull it back at one point) and the Salsa team employed a more male dominant race strategy and won by a good margin. They would have won anyway mind as George Budd has some good form at the moment.

It was a good result for us considering the preparation and a great day for the AWCycles team as Si and Steve got 2nd in a very close men's pairs battle. The only disappointment yet again came at the podium ceremony. Now don't get me wrong I don't race my bike for the prizes and I understand the costs involved with putting on a bike race. However, when the primary sponsor of an event, a big cycling retailer provides vouchers as prizes (vouchers cost the retailer far less than their face value because the actual COST of the goods to them is obviously less than their sale value) and these cover less than half the entry fee for the 3rd place prize it feels a bit like a kick in the teeth. I don't know what else they were providing to the organiser and they do support a number of riders, but still I think a little of the profit could go to those making the effort to provide an exciting race at the front!

SXC Round 2 - Aberfoyle

My racing teeth were cut at the student championships. In 2004 I didn't finish. In 2009 (my last ride) I finished 2nd. These race courses are typified by a big climb up one side of a hill and a steep descent down the other side since the DH champs are held at the same venue. To say the second round of the Scottish XC series at Aberfoyle reminded me of these events would be an understatement - if there is a DH track nearby the organisers of BUCS should come up here! I loved it the course - every minute of it.

Our team mate Simon Ernest and his wife had come to visit so we dragged them along to the race. It is always good to race on different territory and the SXC (Scottish) and SXC (Southern) could not be more different. A quick potter around the course confirmed that heart attack hill was indeed steep and chest pain inducing and that the descent was slippy and steep requiring some hanging off the back of the saddle - fab.

First time up the climb I was in the second group back. I tried to keep the same pace even with changes in gradient and was only a few seconds or so behind Lesley Ingram the race leader as we went into the descent. Unfortunately this is where it went a bit wrong. Somehow I lost my balance a bit and ended up leaning against a tree which was all that stopped me from tumbling down the hillside. Annoyingly pretty much the rest of the field then streamed past me, essentially trapping me there. When there was finally a gap I unclipped and was able to get going again. Then... on a slippy section with two lines another girl accidentally T-boned me. I went straight over the bars. Scrabbling to get going AGAIN, I realised that my front shifter had snapped off in the crash. I decided to carry on riding even though I only had two gears because the course was just soooo fun.

I was limited a bit on some of the flatter sections and faster fireroad descents because I was spinning out but otherwise I could ride as I would normally have. However, I ended up 3rd despite the problem and was pretty chuffed. Hannah Barnes (MTBCut Orange) was 2nd and Lesley Ingram (Innerleithen MTB) won. It was lovely that the walkers who were using the fireroads to do a bit of rambling were cheering us on as we passed them. It would be great if this happened at more venues rather than the conflict we sometimes see.

In the pits

I then headed for the pits to help Mel out for the boy's race. Although not before accosting random people to acquire MTB shoes for Simon to race in after he accidentally packed his road ones - thanks to Paul Newnham for coming to the rescue! Once they got going Gareth Montgomery (GT) went into the lead with Simon just behind him. Chris was in the mix a bit further back which considering how bad he had been feeling earlier in the week was pretty good going. The hilly nature of the course meant that gaps were increased steadily as the race continued and the rider order on the course didn't change much. Simon kept the gap to Gareth constant and even managed to reel him in a bit at one point which considering his one ring set-up was pretty impressive. So 2nd place for Simon and 8th for Chris.

Both Simon and I were pleased to walk away with a cheque which covered our race entry fee and a lovely slate trophy - other organisers take note we will pay higher entry fees for good races but there also need to be rewards! Another great race organised by the SXC folk. One tip though - it would be good to be able to find my way around the course on a pre-ride without asking random people on the course which way. A few more signs please! Thanks to the Squadro Porcini guys for a great course though.

Post race stretching in tandem for the AW boys

Elite/expert men's podium - prizes presented by Danny McAskill who raced the sport race

Also as always thanks to, Giant, High5 and Chris for providing bottles and cheers!

The boys at Dalby