Anyone who knows me well by now will probably be aware that I am racing across the Alps with team mate Michelle. If you’re unlucky enough to have seen me recently you’re probably bored of hearing about the wave of different emotions that hit me on a daily basis about how I feel about it being so close…
Since starting this journey in October the idea that I actually have to haul myself and my bike up Everest twice has been far on the horizon, a blip in the distance. Well now it’s only a week away that blip is in full focus in my mind and all around me consuming most of my days with thought’s on whether ive done enough training, having I got my nutrition right, what if I brake a spoke have I packed enough brake pads and so the carousel of thoughts goes on…
Last week was a huge training week for me as I crammed in vital miles on the bike around work and play (play being one fun ride with my Dad). I covered 185 miles (one of my biggest weeks) in 15 hours and felt super happy with how everything went.
This is my first stage race and one question I keep asking myself is, why did I pick a 7 day stage race as my first and not maybe 2 or 3! I have learnt so much this year from training and racing I have had some real highs and real lows but feel stronger both mentally and physically for it. I think this year has made me a stronger person all round and I am hoping that strength will help carry me through my first stage race.
I have learnt a lot about myself and really learnt to listen to my body most importantly and I feel more in tune with what’s going on inside and how to get the best out of myself.
Training for an endurance event is a bit like rehearsing for a play, each time I set out I am rehearsing for the big event. Concentrating on my fuelling, listening to my body and improving my pacing.
Having Rachel’s help on my nutrition has enabled me to get a lot more out of my training and improved my focus. She has helped me come up with a fuelling schedule that keeps me feeling on top form.
I feel physically ready for the Alps now, I have been working hard with my coach Mark to up the miles and feel myself getting stronger.
This week I have started to taper off training and have been keeping a watchful eye on my nutrition and making sure I’m getting loads of good food!
Thank you to my coach Mark, Specialized, Bike Fixers, Food for Thought, Grip Grab and Dog Tag and of course all my friends and family keeping me going!
Now all I have to do is pack…
Pedal 2 Pedal travelled to the last in the Southern XC Series at Checkedon. I have been working hard on my endurance ready for my 12 hour solo next week and have not raced a cross-country race since June.
I was feeling strong and enjoyed my practise lap. Arriving back in time to see Fred take 5th place in the under nines and Ollie take 11th in the under 11’s. Well done boys! Head over to Pedal2Pedal for their write up.
As I have done no technical training for a couple of months I stuck with the B line even though I knew this would cost me time.
It was soon time to grid and I lined up on the front line with four other elite girls. When the whistle went I got squeezed and was not fast enough to react and lost my position. I have always found grass energy sapping and today was no exception the short grass loop to spread out the feel was exhausting I went into the single track struggling to stay with the group.
The singletrack was made up from lots of rooty corners and long fast straights I enjoyed the twisty tight singletrack and on the long straights pushed as hard as I could. My heart rate was averaging around 162 which is low, compare to what I know I can handle but I just couldn’t push any harder.
After the first lap the rain was really starting to come down making the roots slippy, I had to slow down on some of the root sections as I had quite hard tyres which did not grip as well, I had decided to keep them harder to stop the possibility of getting a puncture but now doubted this decision!
I worked hard for the next four laps catching glimpses of the other girls as the singletrack traversed through the wood.
After five laps I had consistently kept my lap times around 19 minutes which I am pleased with. I was frustrated that I lost the rest of the field and need to work on my speed ready for next year.
I surprisingly took third place which I was happy with but disappointed not to be able to close the gap.
Thank you so much to Bike Fixers, Steve has kept my Silverback in tip top condition. Thank you to Grip Grab and Dog Tag for supporting me and the rest of Pedal 2 Pedal.
Southern XC Series Round 3 Wasing
After a not so successful round last time I was feeling a little apprehensive about my next race. After spending three hours working on my manuals on Saturday with Scott form Fit in No Time I felt a lot more confident and went out to practice the course on Sunday feeling more confident in my technical ability.
The course was a mix of singletrack and fire road with technical bits dotted through the trees. The first technical A/B line I decide on the B line not too convinced in my ability to manual for the double log drop. There was then a sharp left hand bend to a fire road climb which I found tough but manageable. After the climb the course worked its way back into the woods and soon the next technical feature was in sight this was a series of log steps, after watching someone roll over them I had a go and found, as with most technical ground, keeping momentum was the key to success! I had another go to make sure I was entirely happy and found a slightly better line straight down the middle which felt a bit smoother.
The next A/B/C line which had been heavily featured on social media and was interesting to say the least! I decided the B line was the best option and had two goes to make absolutely certain I was happy.
The rest of the course made its way through the forest with a couple more A/B lines to choose from. I enjoyed the course and felt happy. Lining up on the start I got a good start leaving the arena in 4th place, the first climb was hard on me as it always takes me a while to kick into gear!
I was at the back of the field and got over taken by a few riders, I worked hard to pull them back and by my third lap had overtaken four people (not in my category) my plan was to keep consistent lap times which I accomplished.
I had a slight dilemma on my third lap when I reached for a gel to find they were all gone! They must have dropped out around the course. I had a little bit of a panic but new that all I could do was keep going and just drink more of my High Five 4:1.
Lap 1: 22.24
Lap 2: 22.37
Lap 3: 22.42
Lap 4: 23.14
Lap 5: 23.35
I finished happy with my progress finishing only 12 mins behind Cat Ross which is a huge improvement on two weeks ago! It would have been interesting to see if I had been able to have another gel whether that would of made the difference in my final lap times however, my lap times are a lot more consistent than usual which is one of my targets, so overall my best race so far this year and looking forward to Nationals next week!
Thank you to Southern XC for putting on great courses. Thanks to Karen and Fred for picking me up and cheering me on, well done to Fred who came second in his race Karen who came sixth in hers and Edith who started her first race. Great progress all round for the Pedal 2 Pedal team
Thanks to Grip Grab, Bike Fixers and Dog Tag for your support.
It doesn’t get easier you just get faster!
This quote rings true each time I turn up to a race, it never gets easier I just hurt more efficiently!
Practise at Plymouth on Saturday with Nessie (Arrow Cycles) was far from ideal, after hearing about how ‘knarly’ the course was going to be I wasn’t quite expecting what I was faced with! The course was full of rocks (a rare sight on the trails in the south east of England where I live) loose sandy turf and roots (roots I can deal with). I had watched people come down the first ‘A’ line and thought yeah I can do that! Well from the top I changed my mind and decided to come back to it…
Round the corner and over some gravel humps came the third ‘A’ line where the options where three tree stumps then to jump off the end of a large slab of rock, to ride along a plank and off the side of a rock or a rock followed by three tree logs, I went for this option and got over it, more by luck than technique so went back for a second go, this did not go as well! A lack of momentum sent me flying ending in a rather painful left leg as I couldn’t unclip. I got straight up and did it again to not let any negative demons put a proverbial road block in the way! This time I made it over although wasn’t feeling 100% confident but I managed it.
The rest of the course practise went okay although with a confidence dent each ‘A’ seemed more impossible than the last!
After a good night’s sleep I felt more positive about racing. I knew what I wanted to achieve and felt happy with my objectives for my first elite national race.
Arriving at the venue my nerves were bubbling under the surface and I tried to distract myself whilst warming up. Time seemed to speed by and soon we were gridding, the man over the loudspeaker announced that on the grid of 30 elite riders 25 had UCI International ranking! I felt very proud to be on the grid with so much talent, and slightly nervous about how I could compete…
The gun went off and the field sprinted away, a crash at the first technical area meant a bit of a pile up which I ran round and down the B line to stay out of the way. I continued on reaching the first climb still in touch with the rest of the girls, I passed a few riders and kept pushing on the climb which was dusty and energy sapping, I couldn’t imagine being able to climb in five times, by the time I got to the top my mouth was dry and I felt like all the water had been drained from my body.
The first lap was hard work, the B lines seemed easier than on practise and I enjoyed the descents especially cottage carnage.
My second lap felt easier and I was thinking about trying an A line to make up some time, that was, until I saw a girl walking along the track with her rear mech swinging in the breeze! My new plan of attack was finish and have a clean race with no more injures for me or the bike. By the end of my second lap I was really feeling a sharp pain in my left ankle when I had to apply a lot of pressure through the pedal.
On my third lap Annie Last passed me just before the first big climb, it was inspiring to watch her make her way up it so quickly! Note to self, practise climbing!
Every lap my confidence grew and I became quicker down the B lines as can be seen from my lap times.
Lap 1 22.37
Lap 2 25.13
Lap 3 25.41
Lap 4 25.26
Overall Newnham Park was a fantastic course one which I would love to ride again as it was so far out of my comfort zone, it pushed me technically and mentally as the descents were as taxing as the climbs.
I have come away feeling determined to improve my technical ability and improve my 22nd position from my first elite national race.
Thank you to Bike Fixers for making sure my Silverback was fully prepared for Plymouth it worked well and I was lucky with no mechanicals! Thanks to Grip Grab for making sure when I did come off that my hands stayed unscathed great gloves cheers guys! A massive thank you also to Arrow Cycles who adopted me yet again helping with bottles and making sure I made it to the start line and supplied ice creams at the finish! J
Sunday was my first XCO(Cross-Country Olympic setyle) race this season and I was really excited about racing the Mud Sweat and Gears series as the races are always really well organised and there is always lots of people to cheer you on!
My Mum Had also decided to try her first ever cross country race which added to the excitement.
We arrived at Henham Park at 7.50, collected our number boards and headed out on the practise lap. Mum had never been on ‘singletrack’ so I had to coach her down a few parts, but I was very proud of the way she handled some of the steeper descents and also obstacles such as logs which she roll over with ease. Well done Mum!
The course was a mixture of fire roads and twisty singletrack through the trees. It was fun and not technical but had one ‘A’ ‘B’ line, where I actually think the off camber ‘B’ line was, in ways harder than the straight down ‘A’ line.
After course practise we had a short amount of time so I went off to warm up, during this time I accidentally managed to ride into a tape barrier which was lying on the floor, which pulled me off my bike quite harshly leaving my left side felt rather battered and bruised. Not the best start!
We gridded just before 10. As I stood on the start line my mind was full of thoughts about the race and the training I had put in over the winter, had it been enough? We stood on the start for a good 10 mins whilst everyone was gridded and my muscles became cold.
As I sprinted off the line I got a pretty good start and was happy with my place going into the first bend. Power endurance has never been my strong point and I soon felt like I had to slow down to recover.
Getting cold had really affected me as my first lap felt like my warm up and it wasn’t until my second and third laps when I felt I was starting to gain on the leading group.
On my second lap I passed Mum just after the only ‘A’ ‘B’ line in the course and she said she had a tumble, but seemed in high spirits so I carried on but felt a bit concerned if she had hurt herself badly.
My the last lap I was feeling really good and crossed the line feeling like I could of done another lap even though I had been working at the top end of what I’m capable of, I felt like I had more to give. I wad relived to see Mum had finished and was smiling!
I finished fourth which I am pleased with and after analysing my results from last year can see that my fitness and pace have improved.
My next race is the Nationals in Plymouth which is going to be my first ever Nationals at elite level. I know this is going to be a tough challenge and feel very excited about the opportunity to race alongside some of the best riders in the country!
Thanks to Bike Fixers for keeping my bike in tip top condition, to Dog Tag for supporting my Pedal 2 Pedal racing team, to Grip Grab for the best gloves and over shoes and Silverback for my awesome bike!