On Saturday I will be racing 24 hours solo in the Pivot 24:12 at Newnham Park in Plymouth.
I am not sure physically or mentally if my body is ready for what I am about to put it through but then again I am not sure you can ever be 100% ready for anything which is demanding mentally and physically all you can be is prepared for all eventualities.
I haven’t really had a chance to think about the race properly until this week when I went to start packing and suddenly felt a wave of excitement/panic about what I have to do.
It will be one of the biggest races I have ever taken part in and as it stands my goal is to just complete it.
I know my body isn’t great with no sleep so my plan is to try and ride as much as I can during the day and then at night every 3 hours take a little break and if I get super tired maybe an hour power nap which hopefully will re-charged the batteries enough to get back on again!
My friend asked, so what do you pack when you’re going to be in the saddle for 24 hours the answer is a lot!
Clothing wise I have a shorts and jersey change for every 6 hours on top of this I have a selection of Grip Grab arm and leg warmers some light weight and some rain proof!
One thing I know from experience is cold feet mean a cold body so I have 7 pairs of socks for over the 24 hours. I will also be taking two pairs of shoes and over shoes just in case!
For my top half I have a hat to go under my helmet and a base layer along with two warm jackets and a waterproof.
Being able to change into dry and comfortable clothes will make the whole situation more bearable. I hope!
Overnight I will be using Hope lights to light up the trail these are good lights and I will be using a head torch as well as a handle bar mount for optimal lighting.
During the race I will try and eat as much natural food as possible I will supplement this with gels when I need too. My plan is to eat around 60g or carbohydrate an hour which is the equivalent to 1 banana, 1 energy gel and 2 large dates. This is a lot of food but if I eat enough I should be able to maintain my energy levels for the duration.
From experience I will crave savoury foods so hot snacks when I stop will include pot noodles, porridge pots and cheese sandwiches and maybe some ham and olives!
I will be drinking mainly water but have some Vitamin C tablets and Dirolyte as well to keep on top of my electrolyte replacement.
Every new challenge brings a new experience and opportunity to learn something about myself, my ability as a cyclist and to push my body out of its comfort zone.
See you on the other side. x
For my 2014/2015 racing season I rode a relatively new brand to the UK called silverback. The bike was the Syncra 2 which was carbon with 130mm travel. (I soon learnt this was far too much for an XC race bike)
I was really impressed with the Silverback design the frame looks sleek in matt black with green highlights and the spec of the bike was high compared to the reasonable price.
This was my first 650b bike, I had decided that his wheel size suited me because it was easier to handle, to be honest I never really gave 29ers a chance only briefly riding a friends and deciding it wasn’t for me.
The Silverback Syncra 2 came with Shimano XT group set (2×10) which was a good option cheaper than sram it meant replacing parts was cheaper on my wallet!
The bike weighed 11.2kg which was pretty light and performed brilliantly on trails both up and down hill.
The 130mm fork was far too much in hind sight for XC racing it made the front end of the bike heavy and I was never using the shock to its full extent because I didn’t really do that type of trail riding or racing. I did find it confidence boosting sometimes in technical situations because I felt like the bike could handle more rough stuff, whether this is true or not I’m not sure! The main gripe with this fork was the terrible pop lock which broke not once, but three times each time costing me around £50 for the small plastic trigger, personally this is a rip off especially when the damn thing would brake a month or so later!
The SLX brakes on this bike are great so responsive, you just need a tiny tap to feel them working.
My frame was a medium which is correct for my height but the set up of the bike was a bit too outstretched I turned the stem round so it was slammed and added a giant carbon bar which I had from when I was a real rider this helped my positioning.
Overall his was a great bike to ride and race, I would have been interested to try the 100mm travel option and see how much lighter it was and who knows his could of helped my racing performance.
Fun factor: 4/5
I hope you enjoyed his review stay tuned for the next!
On Saturday I travelled to Margam Park in Wales to race the next round of the National series. It was a long drive, but when I finally reached Wales the weather was great and although the nerves were bubbling away I felt positive about the weekend ahead.
I met up with Vanessa and Arrow Cycles who kindly ‘adopted’ me for the weekend to ride the course. As with everything in Wales you have to go up before you come down, this course was no exception! The course started with a long climb on fire road which then turned into a single track climb through the woods. Then the ‘fun’ started ! A steep, loose rocky shoot ended on yet another climb, shorter but sharper up a sandy track, before turning into another loose, steep shoot. This carried on for long enough to get your heart racing for the right reasons before turning back on itself with a sharp right hand bend to work its way back up the hill.
The technical part of the course started with a muddy drop into the woods which as long as you kept off the back brake to stop your back wheel sliding out was fine.
After this there was a choice of the ‘A’ or ‘B’ line. Vanessa, Danni and I hopped off our bikes and explored the ‘A’ line on foot. It looked pretty rideable, apart from the end which looked a bit hairy, so we trekked back up to give it a go.
Having a new bike is great, having confidence on a new bike is something that I believe comes with experience and confidence in your own ability. Today, my confidence was being undermined by not feeling totally at home on my new bike.
I watched as Vanessa and Danni made easy work of the ‘A’ line but couldn’t psyche myself up to get around the corner into the drop! Every time I got to the top of the drop I just felt like the angle was all wrong, even though Josh from Arrow cycles who I was with, said the line was fine.
I tried again from a different angle and caught my back wheel on a root, sending me and the bike flying! The bike landed upside down, back wheel held in place by the tree and I landed on my left shoulder. Shaken up by this I tried the ‘A’ line again straight by hanging in the tree to clip in I rode it straight twice and felt happy enough with the drop but couldn’t link the angle and drop together! Seeing my frustration Josh said maybe we should crack on, I agreed! I chose the ‘B’ line on the next bit whilst Josh aced the ‘A’ line. The next part of the course was great and reminded me of why I love riding in Wales. Some quarry switchbacks, a little drop off, more uphill and some flowing wooded single track finished off the course. All together this course had a little bit of everything and should of suited me to the ground, had my head been in the right place!
Sunday came around quickly after a bad night’s sleep going over and over the line in my head. With an aching left shoulder I wasn’t feeling on top form for the impending race! Warming up with Vanessa and Danni helped and I started to feel a bit more relaxed. This turned out to be short lived as soon as I arrived on the start line my legs felt like led and my nerves were taking over.
I knew it was all in my head and that I was capable of everything on this course, but mountain biking is a physical and mental game. To be good on your bike you have to be physically but also mentally up to it as its when you doubt yourself that it tends to go wrong.
In competition you are always going to have a bad day. It is taking those bad days, seeing the positive and learning from the experience. That is my plan.
After five races in the Expert category I am sitting in fifth position nationally and looking to close the gap down on the leading four.