Tag Archives: british cycling

Mud, Sweat, Gears and over training

At the weekend I travelled to Henham in Suffolk for my first cross country race of the season. I have not been feeling great for the last few weeks, my body and mind have felt tired and I have found things have been getting on top of me in all aspects of my life.

Training between 6 and 12 hours a week, working full time and running your own business does not leave a lot of recovery time, and I think I have now officially burnt out!

I have been ignoring the ‘warning’ signs that this was coming. I have been really tired even though getting plenty of sleep. I had a few little colds, not felt like training and training was certainly not going how I wanted it too and to top it all I felt mega emotional!

This all caught up with me at Henham. I did a practice lap and after the great inspiring session with Steve Manser the day before I felt confident on the course.

My start was not great I missed my pedal and everyone else shot off. Where I can usually recover from moments like this, this time my head was telling my body it was game over and my legs were in complete agreement.

I finished my first lap knowing that the first lap I usually find hard, but this was different. When I pushed down on the pedals I had no power, I felt like I was going backwards, after another lap I decided that I should listen to my body and stop.

I have never pulled out of a race and this was such a hard thing to do I kept wondering whether I made the right choice, was I just being a wimp?

Looking back on my decision it was the right one. My body needs some recovery time and trying to push it too hard on Sunday was just going to mean I would need more time off.

My plan now is a training free four days when I can concentrate on letting my body recover fully.

It has been a steep learning curve for me, I have been training so hard spending every spare moment I have on the bike, working on my endurance doing 5 hour rides and dedicating my time to becoming the best mountain biker I can be. So it is really frustrating when you get to the start of a race not feeling your best and not able to perform in the way you feel you should.

What I have learnt from this is to look out for the signs of overtraining and workout a way with my coach that I can focus on training for the Trans Alp in the most efficient way possible.

Part of my challenge is I am always pushing myself, which isn’t a bad thing, but part of that is I am not very good at saying no and take on too much.

Anyway in every situation there is a chance to learn and improve. I am now on my last recovery day feeling a lot happier and rested.

I look forward to what tomorrow brings….

 

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Training in January

I can’t believe today is the 1st February! January has gone so quickly at this rate the Trans Alp will be here very quickly…

I started January feeling positive about the improvements in my knee and mega excited about being supported by Specialized for 2016. When I got the phone call from Olivia to say when I could come in for my bike fit it felt like Christmas all over again!

I went up to Specialized HQ to have my bike fit at the start of January it went really well and I was amazed at how the minute changes made such a difference to my riding position and comfort. Red more about my bike fit here.

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Since my bike fit I have really pushed my training to the next level, (apart from a blip week getting over a cold) I have been increasing my training load and pushing my body out of my comfort zone.

The last two weeks Michelle and I have combined our long distance training rides, on Saturday I went to Guildford and we rode around the Surrey Hills up Leith Hill and Newlands Corner getting in some great single-track sections in Peaslake and Holmbury Hill. We climbed over 1,200m over 4 hours which was good going, I think we might need to do more sessions like this!

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I feel my stamina and fitness is really improving and I am looking forward to increasing the miles over the coming weeks.

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So far in January I have ridden 384.41 miles burning 11,913 calories in 35 hours.

Although I have only been able to ride my new bike off-road a couple of times, I have found the 29er more efficient over rough ground it doesn’t feel like I lose as much power.

I had never ridden a full suspension bike, doing XC racing my bike choice has always been down to weight and how much power I can transfer through the pedals, something a ‘normal’ full suspension is less effective at. Enter the brain! The brain is built around an inertia valve which can tell the difference between me pedalling and moving around to a bump coming from the ground. (A weighted mass sits on a light spring, limiting the flow of oil. On smooth terrain, this means oil is not flowing, so the suspension stays firm for efficient pedalling. When the wheel strikes a bump, the weighted mass overcomes the spring, immediately allowing oil to flow and the shock to become active. Once the compression of the bump is complete, the rebound action combined with the spring push the mass back in place, limiting the oil flow again, and instantly putting the shock back to firm.) So far this has been really amazing I have been really surprised going uphill on smooth stuff I don’t feel like I am losing any power and then as soon as I hit the single-track the suspension kicks in allowing the bike to maintain momentum over rough ground and has improved my control and confidence when things getting a bit hairy!

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Looking forward to testing my new bike on more trails over the next few weeks.

National Cross Country Series Round 3, Fforest fields

This weekend I travelled to Wales for the third round of the British Cycling Cross Country Series. Arriving at the venue on Saturday it was clear there was going to be some good climbs ahead! I set off on my practise lap eager to get in a couple of practises, as the course turned out of the arena you were it with the first climb the first section was a bit muddy this crossed a fire road where it then opened out and started to climb more steeply after the second bend my body was ready for some down! The next section was good fun singletrack weaving through the trees to an A/B line. I felt good so went for the A line it was steep and twisty but as long as you looked ahead and kept the bike moving it was manageable, I made a note to come back and practise it again!

After this came an open fire road and then more climbing! After the second climb came my favourite section a fast descent through the trees with some technical roots and steep off camber sections. The next part included obstacles such as a stream crossing, log jump and a little more climbing!

I felt happy with the course and went and chilled out with Vanessa from Arrow Cycles.

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Race day came quickly and I was soon being called into grinding in between Mel and Vanessa on the back row. I got a good start as the riders in front piled into the tight grassy bend I followed Vanessa on the outside, thanks Nessie! I pushed hard on my first climb but as always found this first explosive start left me with a bit of an energy debt which I needed to pay back and climbing this monster hill was not helping me do so!

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The singletrack came as a relief and I worked hard to catch the rest of my category with a few riders in sight I kept pushing on, my first two laps seemed to go in a daze, I worked hard to catch and pass Emma and new I needed to get enough distance between us on the climbs as she was fast coming downhill. On the third lap in the final section a girl in the expert category crashed badly in front of me and after moving her bike out of the trail and looking at her knee I decided I had to help her to a Marshall, a few riders including Emma passed me and said they would go get help, thanks to those who did! Heulwen who had crashed and I made our way gingerly down the trail using my bike to support us both until a Marshall came running towards us, I left Heulwen and got back on a little cold but glad she was now in good hands and could get some proper first aid. I carried on but new my next lap would be hard as I felt like my body needed to warm up again!

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Overall there were lots of positives from my race, my climbing improved as I went on, where I sometimes find steep off camber turns hard and enjoyed the challenge and felt faster in technical areas.

Also my nutrition was a lot better than usual I managed to eat more pre and post-race and benefited from this.

Thank you Emma for talking to the marshal’s and exchanging places!

Thank you to Bike Fixers for keeping my Silverback Syncra 2 in tip top condition. Thanks also to Grip Grab, Dog Tag and Arrow Cycles for once again adopting me!

Lap times:

Lap 1: 00:25:56

Lap 2: 00:24:43

Lap 3: 00:26:32

Lap 4: 00:26:28

Newnham Park Round 2 Nationals

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!

Race day.

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…

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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 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

Mud Sweat and Gears, Henham Park, Round Three

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

Battle of the Beach Training – Skills Focus Cornering

I have been training hard for Battle of The Beach since returning from my snowboarding holiday. It took a couple of weeks to get back up to my original training pattern because of having a slight cold.

During the week I have been working on skills and thought I would share with you some tips and techniques.

Cornering

Cornering is an essential skill for any type of riding, but especially when you’re off road and finding your way through trees having a good cornering technique which means you’re not losing speed and flow by breaking in the wrong place or not looking far enough ahead.

Cannock Chase 2014
This session takes around an hour and you should include a good 10/15 min warm up and 10 min cool down.

Find a quiet field or off road area where you can lay out some markers for two corners, or if you are lucky enough to live near some good single track where there is a couple of flat corners you can use without getting in anyone’s way.

Then set up your phone in a good position to video yourself taking the corners, to start with work on nailing the technique, then speed the process up timing yourself at getting round a short loop or just through the corners themselves.
Write down the times and conditions so over the weeks you can see how you are improving.

Then work on the technique;
• Ready position as you approach the corner
• Enter at a controllable speed so you don’t break in the corner
• Look towards the exit as you approach the apex
• Weight positioned over the centre of the bike, slightly forward of the saddle
• Inside leg up, outside leg down and apply pressure into the outside leg
• Angle your hips into the bend
• Apply pressure to the inside handle bar and lean the bike into the corner

Great video found on the British Cycling website.

Mud Sweat and Gears Round 7

Yesterday I travelled to Shouldham Warren in Norfolk. This was a new course for the Mud Sweat and Gears series and I was excited about trying it out.

I had not been very well in the run up to the race and had doubts about competing on Sunday but decided as I had made my way half way across the country I should go and give it a go!

We arrived at the course at 8am in perfect time for practise, before the start at 10am.

The course started with a long gentle climb which turned on to a single track which led into the first bomb hole. It then opened up again on to cart track before turning once again into the forest single track. The course was very similar to Thetford in this way and also Dunwich where I have done training, in the sense that it had long sections of single track linked together by open cart tracks.

The course was relatively flat and I knew it would be a fast paced race which would suit my competition. It was quite sandy and loose in places, but because of the fast conditions I decided to stay with hard tyres and loose a little grip over soft tyres which would be harder to push. This worked well and during the race I felt happy and able to carry my speed and only had a few little slips which didn’t effect my race.

Bomb Hole 1

My start was not great there was too many riders on the start line and it was hard to get going when we were so tightly packed but I made my way up the hill in touch with the lead riders.

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On the first lap we went straight up missing the first bomb hole this is meant to spread out the riders but it didn’t work very well in my favour getting stuck behind riders I needed to get in front of, I waited for the next opportunity to pass and took it. I now had to work hard to catch the others, this is always hard when there is no sight of any one in front but I kept pushing on and soon started to catch up and pass other riders which gave me a boost.

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Half way through my third lap I caught sight of Alex Nichol from CCN she seemed quite far away but I pushed on and by the end of the third lap I was on her wheel as we went out into our fourth lap on the hill I took the opportunity to pass. MSG 7Determined to stay in front I kept focused and pushed as hard as I could and soon when I looked back she was gone. I knew that I had to keep the gap because if she caught me on a long cart track with a 29er she would have the advantage but every time I looked round there was no one there. Coming up the last sandy straight I gave it one last big push over the finish line pleased with my progress and glad that I had raced.

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Overall in my category I came third and was fifth girl back out of 19. A great result considering how I was feeling.

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I was 14 mins behind Laura Sampson who came first. It took me 1 hour 36 mins to complete the 18 mile course with an average heart rate of 177bpm and max of 186bpm. Garmin data here.

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Lap 1: 23.20

Lap 2: 24.37

Lap 3: 24.17

Lap 4: 24.06

Thank you to Velo Virtuoso, Bounce and Lake for your continued support. Big thanks to my Mum who acted as driver, support and chief photographer for the day!

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British XC Series Round 4 Sherwood Pines

On Saturday I travelled with Jenny from Mountain Tracks to round four of the National series at Sherwood Pines in Nottingham.

During the day Saturday I ran a cycling event at Surrey Sports Park which incorporated mountain bike coaching, GoRide races and an event village, this was a brilliant event but not the best race preparation as it meant Jenny and I arrived in Nottingham very late.

After putting the tent up it wasn’t long before I was asleep only to be rudely woken up by the torrential rain!

The morning brought cloud but at least it wasn’t raining. We went out and practised the course, it was a good course with lots of twisty singletrack sections through the forest linked by cart track and open fields, feeling happy about swapping my wide handle bar for something a little narrower I felt confident in the trees working the bike around the corners.

There was only one technical section, a log which you had to drop off onto an off camber log with a drop off the end, we didn’t get to ride this at practise but from looking at it looked manageable.Sherwood Pines Round 4

The course was quite short and was going to be a fast paced race. I knew I needed to have a good warm up so started warming up early.

It wasn’t long before gridding started and we charged off I got into the front couple of riders for a while, I felt good so pushed on trying to stick with the group, as we came out of the single track and onto the cart track I was over taken by a couple of riders, Jenny included and tried to stick with them, I managed to do this until the end of the first lap when we entered the arena but the grass field portion of the course seems to sap energy out of my legs and I had to slow to take a gel, the technical section went well dropping off the logs happily which spurred me into my second lap.

Frustratingly nearing the end of my third lap my legs felt tired and with two laps to go I dropped off the pace to try and recover, but the damage was already done. Jemima and I kept swapping positions me leading through the singletrack and her powering past me on the cart tracks only for me to catch her again in the singletrack and over take.

XC National series RND 4In my fourth lap I picked the pace up again and was planning to get ahead of Jemima and stay ahead this time! Sadly that didn’t happen after I had to stop on the technical feature to let the lead elite girls through, however I think getting pushed off the course for a Olympian to go through is not so bad!

However this meant I had lost Jemima and didn’t have the energy to catch her up. I finished feeling totally exhausted I had given everything I could but it hadn’t been enough today, I made some mistakes that cost me time and will be able to take this into my next race and learn from those.

My average heart rate was 176 and my max was 185, I worked hard but need to work on my oxygen efficiency which means working at lower intensities for longer periods of time.

I came 11th overall 13 minutes behind Hollie Bettles who won the race. It took me 1 hour 45 mins to finish the 17 miles.

From this race I have taken some positives, I do love racing! After my last race I felt deflated and had fallen out of love with it but this race confirmed that I do enjoy it and that it is about having the right mental attitude as much as it is about having the right physical preparation.

I need to work on my pacing and stamina and plan to do this over the coming months.

Lap Times:

00:17:31 00:21:26 00:21:48 00:22:00 00:22:20

British National XC Series Round Three Margam Park

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.

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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.

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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.

 

British National XC Series Round Two Redruth

Last weekend Martyn and I traveled down to Cornwall for my second race of the season in RedRuth. This was the second race in the national series and I felt quite excited about being back on a course I new and had enjoyed last year. Or so I thought!

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We arrived late on the Friday evening and set up camp. I had borrowed a Silverback Syncra 650b bike from my club, having only ridden it on the road once before I was excited about trying it out on the course.

The big wheel debate at the moment is 29er or 650b, I have not purchased a new bike for this season yet, because I have been waiting to try out both to see which suited me best. I had read so many reviews about what was best for the type of riding and racing I do but until you try it’s very hard to know what is going to suit.

Saturday, Practise Lap

Redruth Course
Picture credit to British Cycling

I went out onto the course full of nerves and anticipation, having been here before I new it was tough.

The course had changed from last year the start was totally different with a technical section to start, the ‘A’ line jumped over some roots while the ‘B’ line scooped round the bottom of a tree, this seemed tough, but not unmanageable. 

The next section was a steep single track hill followed by a path through heath steeply down into a wooded technical section.

The course carved a path steeply down into the next technical section, I had taken the ‘A’ route last year so decided to have a go but only got half way along before nerves got the better of me and I bailed out, feeling slightly shaky I made my way back to try again but the same thing happened. 

This confirmed in my head how I felt, I wasn’t ready for such a challenging course after hurting my arm and that maybe I shouldn’t have come. I looked at the ‘B’ line but it looked so steep and I had so many negative thoughts in my head I just couldn’t do it. I was so worried about coming off I couldn’t do it. I walked back up and along to a straight part and looked down on the rest of the course, I remembered it being tough but today it seemed impossible. 

I re joined a different part of the course and continued on, by this time I was ready to go home, I didn’t feel up to it my head was just not in the right place. I managed to finish the course walking most of the ‘B’ lines and feeling totally out of my comfort zone!

It’s not whether you get knocked down it’s whether you get back up that counts. 

I arrived back at my car pretty deflated and not sure what to do, so I rang my Dad who was very supportive and said you can only do the best you can do on the day he said to try and ride the course again but as if I was out with friends to take the pressure off the idea that I was going to be racing it.

I came to the first technical section and made the ‘B’ line which helped the next drop had people looking at it so I jumped off and ran down past a girl who said she wasn’t having a good day, I could emphasise with that as neither was I! 

Sometimes all you need is a little support and nudge in the right direction. 

We rode the next bit together, as the next technical section approached I felt the tension growing my muscles felt like they were locking and I wanted to stop but this time I had my head in the right place, I didn’t give myself a choice of bailing and pointed my bike down the ‘B’ line, it flew effortlessly springing over the rocks and felt so easy, I wasn’t sure why it had seemed so impossible earlier! 

The next part of the course was steep single track, switchbacks which I remembered from last year once you had made the first turn these were easy and you got spat out at the end like on a roller coaster. 

Next came the long slog from the bottom of the quarry onto the next technical section, loose rocks and gorse bushes made this a tough but pretty climb!

At the top the course made its way back down through some more switchbacks and then onto a loose rocky cart track which travelled down to the next technical section, one that I decided along with Jemima that it would be best to walk, after seeing a girl land in a tree! 

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I remembered this one from last year as it’s the line that I fell off at and broke my gears so I made a plan to run it, if I raced tomorrow. 

The course then climbed up before dropping down into the quarry this section was fast with a few big loose rocks as you approached the next technical section, a horse shoe shaped wall ride, or a long sprint down a track were the ‘A’ and ‘B’ options, I took the B line which added 30 seconds per lap, but today the wall ride was above what I felt happy with! 

The course then continued as double track back up before the last rock shoot ‘A’ line or loose rocky ‘B’ line, both we’re challenging but the ‘B’ line added considerably more time but I decided this was the line I would practise getting the line right to make it as quick as possible so not too loose too much time when racing. 

I arrived back at the event area feeling relived to have made it in one piece and ready for tomorrow, my attitude from the first lap was vastly different I felt in control and confident in my ability to race tomorrow. 

Race Day

The next day Martyn dropped me at the race, I met Vanessa from Arrow cycles and we went out on the road for a warm up. The time flyed by, soon we were being gridded, the starting gun went off and I sprinted off the start getting a good position going into the single track and the first technical decent frustratingly the person in front stopped at the drop after the tree which pulled me off too so I ran down and got going again. 

The first lap seemed to go in a blur and I felt good chasing the leading riders, into the second lap. A silly mis judged angle on a tree route pulled me off and onto my bad arm, I panicked for a moment as I dusted myself off checked my arm was okay and carried on. This had cost me time and

I worked hard on the uphill to catch up, it was a hard climb to the top and I tried to take a Zip Vit energy gel at the same time but it was so sticky I had a hard time swallowing it! 

The rest of the second lap went well, at the hard technical ‘A’,’B’ line I ran down across the slab through the lake and up the other side this lost me a couple of seconds but I was keeping up with others riding it, however it was exhausting!

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Lap 3 went well I was ahead of Mel Paddington from EHF and worked hard to keep the gap knowing how strong she was. On the forest track back up to the finish line Mel passed me I worked really hard to stay on her back wheel until I had my second issue of the ride an elite girl turned to pass me on a narrow single track section pulling me off into a fence when I got going again I noticed the Boa system on my shoe had come undone so I had to get off and sort it out, these two problems cost me at least a minute or two and meant Mel was well ahead going back out onto the single track as I came into the event arena for the last lap

I pushed on working hard at every opportunity to close the gap, the descents by now felt like so much fun and I reflected as I pushed myself and my bike to the limit what a difference a day and a change of mental attitude had made. Coming into the finish I felt an amazing sense of pride and accomplishment I had come back from an injury which had knocked my confidence bad over come my demons from practise and raced a really good race, feeling relaxed and confident in my ascending and descending ability.  

Getting my times I was happy to gave kept a constant pace, where last year my lap times dropped if by a minute or two by the last lap today they were all constant with my mast lap being the fastest. I think what this showed me was my ability to fight back when I was in the right frame of mind, the ability to push on even when it’s hurting and close the gap in another rider.

Redruth course

Lap times:

4 Laps: 01:45
Lap 1: 26:06
Lap 2: 26:42
Lap 3: 26:20
Lap 4: 26:00