Adventures of the Cotic - A Quick Release holidays mountain bike race team

Friday, 11 June 2010

British XC3 - AQR's newest recruit & the Margam mudfest!

Kate Collins, the AQR team's newest recruit tells all about her first National race and first podium of the year in Wales...

After an 11 hour train trek from Edinburgh to Margam Park, I was looking forward to a good night's sleep ahead of a nice dry race the next day. Saturday morning I woke to the pitter-pattering of rain on my tent and thought uh-oh, what have we here! I've only ever raced Margam in the scorching sun. I must admit, at 8 o'clock that morning it was quite difficult to leave my very cosy and warm sleeping bag. I'd packed light in order to cycle to/from the train station at each end - needless to say, I didn't have many layers of warm/water proof clothing...

But after meeting up with James, donning my new AQR kit and downing more Torq bars than I have bikes, I got more into race mode and was rearing to go. Or was I? Where was my number board?! Uh oh, it was a few mins to the start and my tent was, naturally, at the very back of the campsite... So after a quick sprint back to board up, I really was ready, this time!

I'm generally more of a tortoise than a hare when it comes to race starts. This time I was even more out the back than usual as I got tangled up with a rider who must've missed a pedal and seemed to hit the ground right when the gun went off. After the tangled standstill, the rest of the field seemed to disappear into the horizon in mere seconds. So I put the tortoise into full-on mode and passed a few girls by the end of the tarmac. I didn't know whether they were in my category or not but it helped to get my legs going.

We all got stuck behind quite a bit of traffic on the first lap, but as the laps went by the traffic thinned out. I hadn't had time for a practice lap after my trans-UK mission of the day before, so the first lap was a case of seeing how the course differed from the year before and testing out my forks. I was essentially riding rigid too as my good forks were on my good bike (long logistical story of several bikes in several countries). Needless to say, the rocks on the first muddy chute were "interesting", while I descended the second muddy, rooty chute in style using my thigh rather than my forks. Also managed to come a cropper at the end of lap one, where I crashed on the flat (into nothing?!) and went for another mud slide.

Each lap was progressively muddier than the first. I kept pushing hard on the climbs to make up for my less than glamorous descending, where the mud and off-camber trails in the first half of the lap conspired to bring out interesting moves. There was a bit of minor juggling with positions with a few girls, and I tried to keep it as smooth in the rough as my rigid forks would allow (good for skills)! Reaching the summit of the last hill on the last lap, I thought I was somewhere around 5th, so was somewhat surprised when I crossed the finish line to the announcement that I'd finished in 2nd!

All in all, a great fun race. Congrats to Emma Bradley who took the win, Stephania Magri in third and fellow AQR teammate Kirsty who was just seconds off third. Looking forward to my next challenges in the Scottish round at Fort Bill and the pairs race at Bontrager 24/12 on my new Cotic Soda (yes Ian, I am finally laying my '04 Stumpjumper to rest)!

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