Category Archives: Racing 2013

2013 Racing Season Round Up

In October last year, inspired by the Olympics and my first ever mountain bike race I started training and working towards my first season. I worked hard over the winter to go from fairly fit to race fit attending cyclo cross training in Southampton and putting in hours at the gym and on the trails.

The season started in March and my plan was to compete in my ‘local’ Eastern region series ‘Mud Sweat and Gears’ and to do as many Southern national races as I could. My aim was to finish within the top three in the sport category and move up to expert for my second season in 2014.

Mud sweat and gears round one podium

My first races were hard and the competition was tougher than I was expecting! As the season progressed I got stronger and fitter and started to really feel the difference the training was making to my performance. This encouraged me to train harder and when I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to have a V02 max test the results reflected my training. I took the data away and worked hard to improve with the help of the training plan set out for me.

BC round three

As well as racing I decided, mid season, to take on The Prudential Ride London which was a 100 mile sportive around London and Surrey for the Junior Diabetic Research Foundation. This, it would turn out would be the ultimate test of my stamina. With very little training on road Martyn (my boyfriend) and I completed our 100 miles in a respectable 6 hours 28 minutes. This however was to put my racing on the back foot, picking up a knee/hip injury. I had to stop racing and training for August and most of September. With physio I managed to get back on my bike and be fit enough to race the last Mud Sweat and Gears at Hadleigh, it was a tough course and although fit to ride it was evident I was not fit to race! However having the opportunity to ride the Olympic course was a huge privilege and I felt a great sense of achievement when I had finished. This was certainly one of my favourite courses and although I found it scary at times I enjoyed pushing myself so far out of my comfort zone.

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I have had an amazing year and feel I have come so far. Going from being a relatively fit person who may go to the gym once or twice a week and do something active on the weekend, to someone who trains 4 times a week whatever the weather is a huge lifestyle change but I’ m hooked on seeing how far I can go. I am dedicated to cycling and committed to pushing my cycling forward and looking forward to my next challenge.

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This year has come with so many ups like having my parents at my first race cheering me on, winning my first race on Fathers day, finishing the Ride London alongside Martyn and competing on the Olympic course are all moments I will never forget.

The downs have been, a couple of silly crashes and hurting my hip, but that’s life!

So the score this year I have had 1 win, 3 seconds, 3 thirds, 1 fourth and a fifth. Overall I came second in the Mud Sweat and Gears series and Fifth overall in the country behind Mel (EHF Racing) by 5 points!

Over the winter ready for next season I am looking to improve on my endurance. I will focus on building my endurance based training both on and off road as well as keeping up the threshold and sprint work from my training plan. I will incorporate two pilates and one strength and conditioning session every two weeks to build my core strength and keep my hips where they should be!

I believe I have developed a lot over the year in my riding ability and fitness and aim to improve on this and build on it over the winter ready for going up into the expert category for 2014.

Things I have learnt this year;

  1. Falling off hurts
  2. Racing is as much a mental game as a physical
  3. You can never do enough technical training
  4. Having a team of people around is important
  5. Racing is expensive!
  6. Training with people who are better than you pushes your riding
  7. Nutrition is key

Thank you for all the support from my family and especially my boyfriend Martyn who has been their for the highs and lows.

Thank you also to WyndyMilla, it has been a pleasure to meet and train with such a great bunch!

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Roll on the 2014 season!

I am currently looking for new sponsors and products to test please get in touch: h.attenburrow@gmail.com

Mud Sweat and Gears Round 8, Hadleigh Olympic Course

MSG Round 6 Hadleigh 

The weekend started in not the most ideal situation, 5 hours on the m25 because of a serious accident, meant we arrived at Hadleigh, for what was meant to be my day of getting used to the course, with 15 minutes until it closed! Luckily I was allowed to ride the course. James and Dave from WyndyMilla were both still there so i got to go round with them which was helpful, as they new all the lines already! Feeling some what frazzled from the journey I wasn’t in the best place to start practicing the Olympic course! This became evident very quickly when I fell off at Deans Drop. After that I new my head was not in ‘the game’ so to speak and decided to just ride as much as i could, but wait until tomorrow before the race to try a few more ‘a’ lines. It all seemed very tough and although i usually feel okay with technical this was by far the most technical course i had come across so far and I felt very nervous and not sure what to expect come race day.

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The alarm sounded and after a not so peaceful nights sleep i dragged myself out of bed and prepared for what was to come. Arriving at the course i felt more prepared but still nervous. Another practice lap left me feeling confident i could ride the ‘b’ lines and the ‘a’ lines i had chosen. I had very little time between the end of my practice lap and the race as, i had to hike back up a hill to reclaim my water bottle so it was a quick stretch before gridding commenced.

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My race didn’ t get off to the best of starts being gridded far left as we all turned up the hill i got squeezed into a bad position, but fought my way back, only to then loose my waterbottle on the first downhill through the trees. Making the decision i would need it, i jumped off and claimed it. However this put me in a bad position going into the technical Deans Drop which i had to run to get round people, not ideal!

Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 18.36.47The next obstacles seemed to pass in a blur until i reached leap of faith the first and only ‘a’ line i had decided to take. I committed at the top and made it cleanly to the bottom. Sadly my water bottle did not follow suit and yet again had jumped off the bike! This time i left it. In my head i now felt i had to slow to preserve myself for the four laps in this dusty heat. After two laps i really felt thirsty and had a headache so made the decision i would pick my water bottle up on my third lap.

So with rather shaky legs i made it back round to leap of faith and reclaimed my water bottle from the marshal at the top. By this time any hope of a podium finish had left me, a little bit like my water bottle had!

I was happy to have achieved a time under 1 hour 40 and was even happier that my knee had been mostly great all the way round.

I came in 5th place which is not where i wanted to be, but I felt a great sense of achievement finishing this course which had been mentally and physically demanding all weekend.

Things to take away from Hadleigh:

  1. Falling on rocks hurts
  2. Confidence grows with practice
  3. Water is essential, fit a new bottle cage
  4. Imagining singletrack is lined with pillows actually works (thanks James)
  5. Racing is as much a mental game as a physical one

Overall the Mud Sweat and Gears series has been my favourite the courses have all been different and my riding over the year has improved so much! I finished the series in second position overall in my category which i feel is a great achievement for myfirst year racing!

Mud Sweat and Gears Round Seven Langdon Hills

This is where it all began last year as a total beginner i took on Langdon Hills in the National series, a huge shock to the system as i felt i was semi decent on a bike until i sore the speed and power of the other girls and realised some serious training was needed if i was going to make something of racing!

So a year on it was with excitement and frustration that i entered the Mud Sweat and Gears round 7 at Langdon Hills, excited to go back and see how dramatically my riding had improved but frustrated as a month out with a knee/hip injury meant i was not in the best shape and feeling anxious about whether i could finish the course.

Leaving home at 6 i had lots of time to think about the course and i felt i could remember enough to not need to ride it, to save my knee for the race.

The start Langdon Hills

I arrived as the sun came out and felt good about my decision to go out steady and to just finish the race to collect the points Screen Shot 2013-09-13 at 21.54.06even if i came last all i needed was a couple of points this would keep Mel (EHFRacing) and Jenny (Fareham Wheelers) from over taking me in the Sport category ranking.

We lined up on the start line and were told we had to do four laps, i was only expecting three but during warm up had not had any issues with my knee so put the thought to the back of my mind and focused on the race ahead.

We went off in a mass start with all the other women’s categories which was an advantage as it kept as bunched up the first hill and allowed me to settle into third place out of the five riders in my category. On the first section of downhill single track a crash out me into second position and i pushed hard hoping to loose Vanessa (Arrow Cycles) and put some distance between us, which i did however being a bit out of shape the push i had, had to give meant i didn’t have enough to shake her completely and she caught me up and over took. I was determined not to loose her so pushed on sitting on her back wheel looking for somewhere to over take. I new after the next section of downhill there was a long flat section where i could potentially get ahead, unfortunately when we got to this section i pushed hard and my knee started to hurt which immediately sent alarm bells ringing, this wasn’t the plan i had set out with i was meant to be finishing the course not charging off on the first lap! With three and a bit to go and knowing there was a large hill to come i had to ease off completely and watch Vanessa disappear.

After a moment of feeling annoyed i decided to just enjoy myself, i had to push through the pain, as the physio had told me im not doing any damage its a case of pain management i pushed as mush as i could and then eased off this tactic seemed to work and i was soon on my last lap feeling good and with only a small amount of pain to contend with, crossing the finish line i felt great for achieving what i set out to and really happy that my knee seemed to be better than it had been. I cooled down and put some ice on my knee. I had decided to tape it and really feel this helped support it.

I came third overall which was a brilliant result and one i had not expected, this puts my total points at 560 placing me in fourth position, which considering i missed all races in August i am quite pleased with!
Langdon Hills

Mud, Sweat and Gears Round 5, Secret Nuclear Bunker, Essex

Today was round five of the Mud Sweat and Gears Eastern Series. I had not raced since round four which was a month ago, so I was nervous going in as I felt under pressure to get a good result in order to keep my top three national ranking position.

The was however my first race for my new team WyndyMilla which I was really excited about and a little nervous feeling I needed to put in a good result for them as well as myself.

The day started early leaving home at 6.30 in order to make it to the Secret Nuclear Bunker location in Essex in time to ride the course and warm up.

We arrived at 8 and the temperaturMSG round 5 starte was already 18 degrees, it was certainly going to be a hot race. On riding the course I decided to take the B line on the second technical section as I didn’t feel confident about the A line. On reflection I think this was the right move to make, however on another day I’m pretty sure I would have been able to ride this. This has prompted me to work on my technique for steep drops which involve cornering. Luckily on speaking to the other girls in my category we had all made the same decision not to take the A line, which meant no one had a time advantage. Lucky me!

The course was 4 miles of flowing sections of wooded single track mixed in with gruelling, energy zapping tracks alongside farm field. I found theses hard purely because of the heat. I found myself being overtaken by Jenny (FW CC) on one of these sections and I found it hard to stick with her as her 29” wheels seemed to roll over the bumps a lot easier than my 26”.

MSG 5 Card 1 219 webI found myself in third position fighting to pull back second in my second lap.  I gave it everything I had but couldn’t seem to close the gap and regain second place, which was disappointing.

By my third lap the heat was really draining and I felt like my legs were tiring quickly.  I gave one final push in the fourth lapping but knew my lap time had dropped off. I felt the two girls in front of me had a real advantage both having carbon fibre frame bikes.

I finished in third position picking up 45 points towards my ranking, which was good but not great.

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I used my new Garmin for the first time to track my race and found the data really useful (see here – link) however I had not set it up to be able to see my heart rate and feel this meant I was going on how I felt instead of how my heart rate was which I think potentially made me not push as hard consistently as I can. I will be setting it up properly next time.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Stats: My Maximum Heart Rate was 186 and my Average 169.

Mud Sweat and gears Round Four Ickworth House

Mud Sweat and gears Round Four Ickworth House

On Sunday 16th June, my Dad and I headed to Ickworth house in Bury St Edmunds for the next round of Mud Sweat and Gears mountain bike series

I was not feeling in great form after doing very little the previous weeks due to packing up and moving house, so didn’t feel too confident going into the race.

On riding the course there were some technical bomb holes, which I enjoyed, and a lot of fast flat single track. Luckily after the Nationals in Hopton two weeks previous the hills felt easy in relation to the monster hill at the start of that National race.

I watched Dad go off in the open category and then it was my turn.

The organisers changed the line up from lining up next to each other to one behind the other, this worked in my favour as it put me on the front line.

The race started and I felt happy out in front, when we got closer to the first single track section I could feel Alex Nichol (Team CCN/ Torq/ Chain Reaction/ Streetlife -) try to come past me so I sprinted away and managed to stay in the lead. Alex pushed me at every opportunity she could to overtake, but I held her off until we reached the biggest hill in the race which was muddy and had logs and stones making it hard to pick and stick with one line. Having rode the course earlier on the left hand side I knew the right hand side was actually a clearer line and easier option so I stuck with the right hand side even though it meant hopping over some logs. This created a large gap between Alex and I as she stuck with the left hand side. I over took a lot of men in the open category and kept pushing forward not prepared to give up my first place position now!

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On approaching the second bomb hole I was aware that on the practise lap a girl had fallen as it was slippery from the rain. On my practise lap I had done the chicken route and gone back and rode the technical line too. I decided to take the technical line as this would save me time, as long as I didn’t come off! This worked well and put more time between Alex and myself.

Knowing that Alex had done a lot of longer endurance races I kept pushing during my second and third laps to make sure I had a big enough gap between us. Once I felt comfortable I had achieved this I just worked on riding the fastest, safest race I could.  I was feeling tired by my fourth lap so had to ease off on the pace and look for the quickest line and not make any errors which would lose me time.

Overall I feel so happy with my performance I was relieved to cross the line in first place and although I felt tired I felt like if I had to,  I could have done another lap. My heart rate overall was an average of 170 and max of 183.

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My lap times were more consistent than they have been which I am happy with. However this is something I still want to improve on. I finished the race 9 mins 48 seconds ahead of Alex who came in second.

The race took me 1 hour 34 mins and was around 16 miles long. Lap times: 17.46, 19.15, 18.55, 19.27, 19.29

Dad was happy with his performance too coming in 66th out of 93 riders in the open category. He thoroughly enjoyed his Father’s day racing and his Mercedes Vito Sport racing jersey I gave him! The Fathers day treat of a carvery on the way home was welcomed by us both after a tough but gratifying race.

British Cycling MTB Cross Country Hopton

On Saturday Martyn and I travelled down to Hopton Castle, Shropshire so I could compete in round three of the British Cross Country Nationals. Ludlow

I decided to ride the course on the Saturday giving more time to practise. I walked parts of the course whilst Martyn raced in the open category. This was to really help me on the technical downhill sections, knowing where to enter the corners and noting any routes that may be tricky!
Riding the course was good fun but challenging the course went straight up for the first couple of kilometres. First on a cart track and then after a small open flat sections onto a gruelling climb up grassy and rooty single track. This was going to be the hardest part of the race and potentially the part where the race would be won or lost due to my ability to go up hills faster than my opponents.
(Having been to Wales recently) The downhill sections where fun and I felt comfortable riding them as they were similar to things I had previously ridden and quite recently ridden in Wales.

BC round threeAfter having my practice lap,  I felt confident about my ability to ride the course and potentially win!
The next day started early with the race starting at 9:30 we got down early so I could warm up.
The race started and was very bunched up as we all headed up the hill into the first left bend, I pushed on and was sitting quite comfortably in third. However we reached the next sharp right hand bend and I cut the corner and slipped which cost me time but I pushed on. (The next grassy climbed as I though really split the group up ) does not make sense and I pushed on into the next bit of single track downhill where a lapse in concentration cost me dearly as I came off and then had to wait for everyone to go by, before I could  get back on safely. This lost me my third place and put me in last position.
I pushed on and over the course of my second lap regained a lot of lost time and actually pulled ahead of Fiona Innes (RAF) to regain third place, this happened on the second section of hill where I was able to put a big distance between the two of us.
I kept pushing on hard and taking the downhill bits steadily as to not make any errors which could result in me loosing time.
I finished the last section of downhill and rode back into the  arena relieved  to have finished as it had been very demanding on my endurance skills.

Round Three BCA tragic mistake!  I believed once passed the time lapse truck I had gone through the finish, this was not the case! And as I watched in horror, from the other side of the barrier which I had crossed and saw Fiona taking  third place. I crossed back into the arena to finish the race feeling very frustrated about how I could make such a blinding error which cost me dearly.
Overall this race showed where my weaknesses lie and where I need to improve, including my ability to push harder uphill and turn sharper and quicker both on downhill and uphill.
These are points I am now working on ready for the next race.
After this race I am now sitting in third position in the sport category overall.

Mud Sweat and Gears Round Three Thetford Forest

Mud Sweat and Gears Round two

On Sunday I traveled to Thetford forest for the third race in the Mud Sweat and Gears series.

I was looking forward to this race but felt a little nervous as the course was going to be mainly flat and fast, which doesn’t play to my strengths. We arrived in sunshine which was good as I had been expecting rain. yay!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe course was as predicted, very flat with some good twisty sections of single track which weaved through the trees and back onto open fields and cart tracks. The course was not technically demanding but the lack of hills and technical sections meant it was all about maintaining speed.

I knew I had to go out as fast as possible to hit the first section of single track as close to the lead as I could. This worked really well and I maintained second position behind Melanie Paddington (EHF Racing) throughout the four laps of the race.

I felt strong and although fast paced races don’t usually suite me I think knowing that I had to just keep driving on to try and catch Mel helped my motivation and kept me pushing forward. I also wanted to try and catch up with my Dad racing in the open race which had set off earlier.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI had been training on pushing a bigger gear and maintaining cadence so kept this in mind on my laps. I kept checking my watch after each lap and trying to keep my lap times consistent this worked very well with my lap times coming in at 20 mins, 21.36 mins, 21.38 mins and 22.08 mins meaning I only gained around 2 mins in laps, this is something I am going to work on but feel happy about my progress so far.

The course was 17.86 miles, which is the longest race i have done and it took me 1 hour 26 mins to complete.

Really happy to maintain my second place standing within the Mud Sweat and Gears series, but still chasing that first place!

After this race overall i’m sitting in third place nationally. Looking forward to the next race.

My dad also took part in the open category and loved it, his lap times were slower than mine (what a relief either I would never live it down) and he came in 57th place out of 96 which I think for his first race was not bad, although I know he wants to improve on this next time.

British Cycling National MTB Cross-Country Series Round Two

British Cycling National MTB Cross-Country Series Round Two 28th April

On Saturday Martyn and I travelled down to Wheal Maid Valley, Redruth, Cornwall so I could compete in my first Nationals of the season.
After a five hour drive we made it to Cornwall and decided to take a trip to the beach to grab some lunch before heading to Redruth to ride the course.
Riding the course went well, there was some steep drops in the A routes (more direct line) of the course, but I felt confident that I could ride most of them. I had a fall on a steep uphill which dented my confidence a bit but I felt ready for the next day and had decided on which A and B routes I would take on race day. After riding the course we headed back to the hotel for an early night.
The next day was an early start as the race started at 9.30 and I wanted to have a good warm up.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
I felt strong going into the race and after the first lap was only 11 seconds behind Fiona Innes (Royal Air Force CC).

The course was technical and pushed my comfort zone. I was using the A routes to my advantage and catching up with Fiona, then a small lapse in concentration sent me over my handle bars on a fast flat bit, ending up with my face down bumping along the gravel. The marshall got me up and I sat down while she looked at my foot, which hadn’t released from my pedal, but it was fine. I decided I could still race and new I only had to ride one and a half laps to get my points even if it meant giving up first place.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI got back on and although my left side was sore and my knee rather cut I carried on. It wasn’t until I got down the next part of the course and over the lake that I went to change down gear to find my gear lever had snapped off, which meant I had to carry on the race in the middle cog on the front. This made it hard work, but I eventually had nearly completed my second lap when yet again more bad news, I rode round a corner into a wooded section and the bike slid from under me, I knew that feeling flat tyre! By this time I felt my race was over, having already dropped to third. I felt so frustrated about coming all this way and only having a lap to go. It was then that another rider rode past and thankfully gave me her “Ultra Instant Bike Tire Inflator Sealer”, which was an amazing relief I was able to pump up my tyre with the foam and get on with my race, so thank you so much for that!

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I managed to gingerly finish my third lap and in the process actually regained my second place standing which I was delighted about, only to hit a steep uphill and not be able to fight off the competition due to a lack of gears! I gave it everything I had but in the end decided that third place and finishing was better than nothing. I ended the race running as my tyre went down for a second time. Completing my three laps in 1 hour 25 mins.
After this race I am now sitting in third position in the sport category overall. Not bad for my first season.

Mud Sweat and Gears Round Two Codham Park

Mud Sweat and Gears Round Two Codham Park – 21st April 2013

On Sunday I travelled to a rather sunny Braintree for the second race in the Mud Sweat and Gears Eastern Series at Codham Park.
This was probably one of the most fun but demanding races yet this season. The pre ride of the course highlighted several features which would need extra attention, including a steep grassy bank, technical singe track sections and a rock garden.

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The course started off down a gravel track before making its way over fields and into the first part of single track which led you up to a steep grassy bank. After the bank the course again made its way across fields and into a section of wooded single track, ending with a stream crossing, before again heading back up a grassy hill. The next section was by far the most enjoyable as the course headed downhill towards the BMX track, it was really good fun.

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The following section was a technical single track with steep drops, hard climbs and a rock garden thrown in for an added bit of interest. All in all this course picked up the mountain biking play book and threw as much at you as it could in a 6 kilometre loop.

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After a strong start I was lying in second place trailing behind Melaine Melanie? Paddington (EHF Racing) and briefly over took her, only to find myself very quickly back in second place.  After trying to keep on her back wheel for a while i made a  silly mistake resulting in my chain coming off and having to stop to put it back on, losing valuable ground on her.

On my first two laps I felt strong but due to another  error of mistakenly taking the “chicken run ” through the last section of singletrack i lost more valuable time.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI kept pushing on and knew that Alex Nichol (Team CCN) was not far behind me and this helped spur me on, determined not to loose my second position.

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I finished the 15 mile course in 1 hour 39 mins and my heart rate data shows that I was maxing out nearly all the way round.

Things to take away from the race:   
> slower cadence bigger gear to try and get more speed
> work on long grassy hill climbs, need more power
>wear sun cream!

All in all I’m really happy with this result and buzzing for the British Cycling Nationals in Redruth next weekend. Bring it on.
Fingers crossed for more sunshine!

Mud Sweat and Gears Round One Tunstal Forest

Mud Sweat and Gears Round One Tunstal Forest – 17th March 2013

Today was my first competitive race of the season, I competed in the Mud, Sweat and Gears Eastern regional round one.

Mud sweat and gears bomb holeI came into this race not in top form after suffering a fall, which left me unable to put in any training in the last couple of weeks.

IMG_2796The course was nine miles in length and the female sport category had to do three laps. The course weaved its way through the forest, and was made up of singletrack paths and wide open cart tracks. The technical element of this course was not in the riding as such but in maintaining speed as there was several opportunities to over take. In terms of technical riding there was one bomb hole that tested my ability to stay upright in the mud, luckily I succeed this on all three laps giving me an advantage against people taking the much longer ‘chicken’ route. Overall the course was good and tested my speed and endurance, something which I will be working on ready for the next round.

I completed the race in 1 hour 22 minutes, with my first lap being the fastest, completed in 26 minutes. I came second overall in my category which I am very pleased with as going into the race I was not sure I would even be able to complete it, yet alone end up with a podium finish. All in all a great day.

In reflection I think if I had been in top form today I could of knocked five minuets off my time.

Mud sweat and gears round one podium