Tuesday, 29 June 2010

The Open 12

Having just recovered from the hole in my knee caused by hitting the deck at Bristol, I gathered my kit together into several large IKEA bags and headed to Yorkshire for the 2nd race in the Open Adventure Racing Series. The first race is 5 hours, the 2nd is 12hours and the 3rd (in a month) is 24 hours long.

If you've never adventure raced, then give it a shot. It's such good fun. You are time limited and in pairs and have to chase all over the countryside (we're talking the Best of British here - Lakes, Dartmoor, Yorkshire Dales, Highlands, North Wales etc etc) looking for checkpoints. In addition to mountain biking and running there is often kayaking, climbing, abseilling, a bit of swimming, canyoning and caving.

The Open 12 was hot hot hot and I can honestly say for 12 hours I pushed somewhere beween 98 and 100%. We had won the Open 5 so were 'series leaders'. The clear favourites (who beat all the male pairs too) had missed a checkpoint on the orienteering stage so we had 30 points on them. In the Open 12 they beat us overall by 29 points... and the Open 24 is on TV (Channel 4) so I'm looking forward to a bit of fame (sweat-soaked, unwashed as I will be)...

The Open 12 started near Hawes and went, well, everywhere. A 3ish hour run stage had us high up in the fells and after scrambling up through a canyon with some refreshing dips in freezing water, we jumped on the bikes for a 5 hour mtb stage, complete with a waterfall scramble and submerged checkpoint beneat Hadraw Force - the highest freefalling waterfall in the UK. Very, erm, breathtaking (was very cold!) Luckily it was sunny and windy enough for us to dry off pretty quickly when we were back on the bikes.

After a midge-ridden over night camp chatting with the other competitors and our team (team For Goodness Shakes), who had 4 pairs in the race, we set off for day 2 - a 5 hour stage. This began with a tandem abseil off an overhanging cliff and then a 16k trail run towards Semer Water, which we had to swim across, complete with bike helmet, pack and running shoes! At the other end we met our bikes and had a 2ish hour frantic ride around the dales in the baking sunshine, desperately trying to clear the course within our time limit. We knew that Planet Fear (the favourites) had beaten us by 25 points the previous day so if we could clear the course we wouldn't lose our series lead, even if they took much less time.

We thrashed up the final hill to the finish line and were unfortunately 1minute 37seconds late, which gave us a 4 point penalty - but still 1 point ahead in the series table. I am now at home tending festering blisters (my crash at bikefest rather limited the amount of running I've been able to do!) and reeling from getting home to find our 2 hardtails had been stolen from the garage. [If anyone sees two beautiful Whyte 19 trails out there looking a bit homeless, they're ours. Andy's even has 'Andy Wilson Team For Goodness Shakes!' engraved on the USE seatpost!]

Another lovely weekend, then, tearing around the countryside on bikes and foot and generally having a rip-roaring time with mates. Awesome.


Tuesday, 22 June 2010


New studio. New commute. Blissfully traffic free for all but a mile. No excuses not to travel by bike.


Friday, 18 June 2010

New Shoes

I should probably throw out at least one of my old, broken pairs now, but.....well, a girl can never have too many pairs of cycling shoes, can she?


Tuesday, 15 June 2010

idle ruminations

trek racing's extended road trip movie has become essential morning coffee viewing.

does anyone else think the soundtracking is back to front, though?


Wednesday, 9 June 2010

things wot i learnd at brizzle 12


1: trees are an issue.
2: i do not like taking it seriously.
3: angry speed is good for going fast but is not good for smiles.
4: winning a twelve hour race by 31 seconds is cutting it rather too fine.
5: whether they like it or not, my friends are my heroes.



Tuesday, 8 June 2010


I had totally gone off mountain bike racing, preferring to ride rather than race, but always do Bikefest because it's my local event on local trails and the banter is always good. I had a brilliant weekend - caught up with loads of old friends, soaked up the excitement and generally chatted away to heaps of lovely people.

The riding was great, too. The trails were harsh, dry and fast, just as I like them. Brutal on the body and needing good lines and good technique.

The racing, at least for me, was a catastrophe. I 'mixed-paired' on Saturday and we kept it fast and fluid until my partner cramped all over (including his chest!) and had to pull out. But still, 9hrs of interval training can't be bad! I had Sunday's solo 6 to redeem myself, too, so I didn't really mind. I spent the remainder of the time cheering on my boyfriend who won the Old Gits Male Pairs with some panache!

I wasn't exactly looking forward to Sunday. I haven't solo-d a mtb race since 2008. Not with some great announcement to 'retire' or 'hang up my wheels'; just because I've been doing other stuff which has been really good fun. The thought of riding round in circles for 6 hours didn't fill me with excitement and I was really pleased to have battled with my demons over night and arrived at Ashton Court feeling strong and ready. Relaxed but nervous. A good combo.

The start was clean and calm and I decided to settle into a 29-30 min pace and do 12 laps. If that meant I won then so be it. If not then, whatever - I was tired from the day before and didn't really care.

The first two laps flew past and I had a big gap on the girls behind already. I set off on lap 3 feeling pretty happy with how I was riding. My quads were tired from all the flat-out the day before and I was pretty sure someone would be climbing faster than me (I was right) but the singletrack was flowing well and my body felt surprisingly good considering my little stack the day before and the Ashton Court Battering you always get in the dry.

Then, out of nowhere, my front wheel whipped from under me and I crashed hard on a flat piece of gravelly singletrack. I still have no idea why. I quickly stood up, straightened the handlebars and jumped back on. Auto-pilot. A hundred or so metres later I stopped because going over the bumpy rocks was wobbling the hole in my knee too much and hurting like hell. I stopped, started crying and then couldn't breathe. I was having a panick attack from the shock. Great.

Luckily my friend Jez (you'll know him if you do enduro racing - he has 1 leg) stopped and calmed me down. For a few minutes he just made me breathe deeply. Once I was breathing normally I decided to carry on riding. I still hadn't really looked at my knee. I struggled round the rest of the lap. It hurt. I was caught and overtaken by Sarah Forbes, the eventual winner, but couldn't have cared less, as I pulled into the pit where I saw Andy and Jenn and they took my bike off me and packed me off to A&E immediately.

So I am now recovering from 2 layers of stitches in my knee - to patch up a hole that goes bone-deep. I'm hoping there was no bone damage - at the moment it's too swollen to know. I've had 2 days off work and am bored senseless, but still keep feeling dizzy and drifting off to sleep mid sentence.

But so what? This is an occupational hazard, right? Right. Mel Alexander has a broken pelvis. I have a cut. (Mel is on the road to recuperation and is being amazingly strong about it - I wish her all the best and look forward to her whipping my butt again very soon). In the mean time I'm planning what I'll be doing the moment my stitches come out. There's nothing really wrong with me and I have realised, despite and because of all this, that I do actually enjoy mountain bike racing and want to do a little bit more. Maybe. Between adventure races and road racing, and running and kayaking (and recovering from injury).

Stay safe people.


Friday, 4 June 2010


Clouds are gathering in the sky and the forecast is rain for Bristol Bikefest this weekend. But nothing can dampen my spirits. I love this event and am very excited... I had to come to the office today because I knew working from home would mean packing kit and 'testing' bikes in anticipation.

But I really hope it doesn't rain!

Last week we rode the Tour of Wessex 3 day Sportif which was great fun, if a little 'up'. The first day was wet and made me curse ever getting into road riding. Then the sun came out and we were streaming all round the south west, working hard but with banter, sun and sandwiches. I have 325 miles in my legs from those 3 days so will I have recovered for bikefeast? Well, we'll find out tomorrow!

Hope to see you there


Wednesday, 2 June 2010

To Fall in love again

I've often read articles in the bike mags preaching that we re-visit our local trails and not over-look the joys on our own doorstep because we are weary of riding them. I have riden many of my trails purely as a highway to somewhere else and paid little attention to many of them. This weekend I had some friends over to ride and we decided to not go too far from the pub so local trails seemed like a good plan, I was elected leader.
In my efforts to piece together the "best bits" for my visiting delegation I set off making it up as I went along and purposefully took routes I wouldnt normally lace together. Stretches I would always only ride in one direction because they were going TO or FROM somewhere, I reversed. Where I would always turn right, I turned left and vice versa, I actually found some stretches of trail I had never seen before and was followed by a string of smiling faces.

Later in the pub one of my friends said to me " i didnt realise there were so many great trails round here" and I had to reply "neither did I".

Great feeling to fall in love with your home trails all over again! Maybe the weather has something to do with it :-)

Happy days!

See you all in Bristol this weekend.