Sunday, 18 May 2014

South West Champs - Sun, sweat and fun

The sun makes excellent weather for spectating and sunbathing on the side lines, but is an extra challenge in racing. The heat adds to the difficulty of the climbs, as if they aren't hard enough already. However, it makes a nice change from the muddy races I'm used to. I didn't even have to wash my bike!

This Sunday was the South West Champs at the Mendips Outdoor Centre. It was an adventure going to race in a new place and we even found a real-life Yeti on our travels! Our Yeti's were finally reunited with their daddy (Awwwwwww).

Thank you to Mendips outdoor centre for letting us steal the animal

We went up a day early to pre-ride the course, making the most of a different venue. Luckily, we had a local tour guide from Bike City Wells (thanks Ollie) to show us around and stopped us from getting lost amongst all the pre-race set up. A couple of laps was plenty for one day, as this was certainly a course for the mountain goat's. The start led straight into a steep climb, but we earnt it back later in the exciting downhill.

My race was in the morning of the Sunday, so the heat hadn't fully kicked in yet, but I was already roasting from my warm-up. All of the fun, juvenile, youth and junior set off together, so the start was chaos as we all fought for the inside of the first bend. Somehow, a handlebar ended up in my wheel and I was stuck for a minute along with more crashing of riders ahead of me. Eventually we got up into the open field where we could claim some space. I love exciting starts like this, anything can happen and it's just a competition of who can avoid the most havoc.

When we reached the descending, we had an A line to look forward to / count down each lap. It was two drops that went down lots of off-camber roots and stones, surrounded by trees that were craving for hugs. It was nice to know if you fell off, they were there to catch you. Although, I sometimes wish I was a downhiller and had all the trees covered in mats - but they are really just wimps he-he.

Overall, I came first and am now SW Junior champ, with only one other girl in my race. It was nice to have some more competition though, definitely need some more local girls to come and compete! Evie Lane my Fully Sussed team mate, came first in her race, claiming the SW youth title. My mum came first and my dad came third so it was smiles all round in our car home!

Thank you to Bike City Wells for a nicely organised race, the course was worth the extra travel and it was lovely to go somewhere different. I can't wait for next years series!

Monday, 5 May 2014

Over the moon

In life, as humans we are destined to fail at some time or another, it's inevitable. Yet, these drawbacks must be used as a stepping stone for progression to make us stronger. This weekend finally showed me what all the winter training and weekly hours I put into cycling are for. I came 4th at the National R.2 this weekend at Wheelmaid. Although I just missed out on a podium place, I am over the moon! It is an improvement from my last result, after coming 7th in Essex. That was a bit of a set back from me and not a great race, but now I know I can move onwards and upwards. Thanks to my excellent coach, Maddie Horton, I have finally got a placing that shows me I can do it.

Riding at Wheelmaid was mentally tough. The inclusion of technical descents like Down to brown, sent almost everyone down unattached to their bikes, making it one of the hardest National courses. The unforgiving gravel and rocks sent my mum to hospital with 10 stitches and a splint and causing others to puncture and bend handlebars. This challenging course is made for the best, which is why it's so exciting to ride it. At the time, I felt a little sick with nerves, but the satisfaction of surviving a course like that makes you feel great.

The start of my race was not quite as planned, having my shoe buckle break so that my sprint start was held back by a slipping foot. Although, this accident was in fact very lucky. I usually sprint off the start as hard as I can and at the last race I burnt myself out too quickly after being chased and caught up. So, I have realised that I prefer to do the chasing - starting off slow meant I had enough energy and gave me extra determination to catch up the others in front of me. In future races, I may not unbuckle my shoe on purpose, but I have found that rushing ahead may not always be the best solution. The race was close, having two girls constantly swapping places with me and battling for positions. By the last lap I felt safe though, as I lost sight of them along to the finish and grinned my way across the line.

As well as racing, the weekend organised by Fully Sussed, was full of activities. All of our team did karaoke, showing off our hidden talent as singers. Jay Horton even treating us with a beautiful solo (I was surprised that he can actually sing!).

Thanks to everyone who came along to support and to all the Mavericks who make the weekend especially lively and fun.

Credits to my sponsors Silverfish UK and Rockets and Rascals for all the support you have given me.

(Unfortunately you may have noticed I was not wearing my correct jersey to race in, this is only temporary as I get my new one fitted to the right size, apologies for any confusion. You will see me wearing my proper gilet for pre-riding and podiums for now and be wearing my proper sponsored jersey ASAP for racing in).