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

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Tour De Timor - We Made It

The Tour De Timor has been run and won. Well in fact, it was completed a good few weeks ago. But since the AQR girls from down under put in such an amazing effort, we'll just ignore my laziness....

Saturday - Arrived in Dili from Darwin.

For those of you who may be a little in the dark about the race and why on earth we went there.... East Timor is the world's youngest nation. A Portugeuse outpost for a few centuries, when they withdrew in 1975, East Timor's closest neighbours the Indonesians arrived. With guns. It wasn't until 1999 that the Indonesians relinquished control following a UN sponsored act of self-determination. But their razed earth policy meant that 75% of all buildings in East Timor were destroyed as a result.

The nation is incredibly poor but is attempting to re-build with a very strong focus on peace. The Tour de Timor is aimed at celebrating the country, its culture, and showcasing it as a fabulous adventure travel destination. And it certainly is that....

So anyway.... were welcomed to Timor Leste via the VIP Lounge. The AQR team, left to right was Sue, Libby, Claire and Rachel. I'm the one taking the picture.

Sunset in Dili on Saturday night. We had a relaxing day cruising round Dili and had dinner with our local guide and friend Martin.

Sunday - Dili. We chilled out and waited for our bikes to arrive. Lets just say getting 300 cyclists and bikes from Darwin to Dili wasn't easy for the small regional airline....

Not one to worry, Claire borrowed a bike and had a short foray into the hills. In the end the bikes arrived 15 hours before the race start...

Accommodation in Timor Lodge was basically in shipping containers with air-conditioning... Still the few shrubs came in handy for drying washing.

Monday - Stage 1: Dili to Balibo 125km

The presidential palace in Dili hosted the start.

The stage was fast and furious but long. And those two climbs were killers. But we all made it to the finish ok. It was just afterwards....

Whilst Rach was recovering in the medical tent from over hydrating, I got some local help putting her tent up.

Tuesday - Stage 2: Balibo to Suai 95km

The stage could best be described as EPIC. It took its toll physically and emotionally with the winners finishing in 4 hours but mere mortals taking up to 11 - they cancelled the 'cut off' because there wasn't enough transport to get all the stragglers home. After struggling over the mountains and taking it easy on the descents (Sue was only masquerading as a mountain biker), the AQR girls made it in just over 6.

Over looking Balibo on Tuesday morning

Wednesday - Stage 3: Suai to Ainaro 67km

After a crazy start through Suai's streets, avoiding scuttling pigs and other livestock, we headed out on 50km of pot holed dirt road with rough rocky sections for variety. It was flat and would have been lovely if we hadn't been trying to ride fast. Thankfully after 50km, the potholes ended. It's just that they were traded for a 15km climb... It's never easy in Timor!

Team AQR finished still second in teams classification despite the gap to 3rd narrowing.

Team AQR team made it before the tropical afternoon storm dumped its contents. We found a terrace to camp on which was as dry as it would ever be in a tropical downpour.

Thursday - Stage 4: Ainaro to Aileu 68km

The profile looked a lot like Stage 2 and the team lined up on the start line with trepidation. But the enormous climbs were shaded with dense rainforest on one side and intermittent, amazing views of the valley and mountains on the other. Once over the pass at 1860m it was time for some brilliant descending and even more cheering villagers as the population grew denser. The next couple of climbs were a lot smaller in comparison and the finish came not too many hours after the start.

Unfortunately, we would have like to finish slightly sooner... The AQR girls' main competitors, Trailmix made a massive effort to ride as a team for the first time and managed to take second by a whopping 8 minutes.

Not to be deterred, after the stage, Claire made friends playing football with the locals. Surely she could have had a shower first?!?

Friday - Stage 5: Aileu - Dili 57km

Very early in the stage we passed the entire Trailmix team and two Torq girls (overall leaders) fixing a flat. The race was now on. Raceday Claire arrived and she was stomping. I too was doing ok and very happy to be a good domestique. We all gave it everything to make up time and regain 2nd on the team classification.

Towards the end of the stage there was an exchange between Claire and Rach whilst I pretended I was Jens Voigt. Claire had been encouraging all day but when Rach was strugging with the pace, this is what was said...

Rach: Can I have a hug?

Claire: No, just keep pedalling. Not far now.

Rach: Pleeeease. Come on, just a little hug??

Claire: How about you try eating some cement instead...

Claire was really worried she'd gone too far because Rach was very quiet but as Rach let us know afterwards, it was just what she needed! Lucky, we could have had a mutiny on our hands!!

A few minutes later as the chase group was dwindling

Torq Rider: Its the last day, why don't you guys relax and have fun?
Rach: We are.

With 5km to go Claire rode off the front of the group to secure 7th women on the stage.

Rach and Paul at the finish. Its fair to say that he had turned himself inside out riding for team AQR but it was all worth it. Libby, Claire and Rach had found some great form to secure the women's team stage win for Team AQR. It was great to beat the Torq girls and try a put ourselves back into second.

Bronze medals in the women's team classification was a little disappointing. A "clarification" of the times led to AQR being relegated to third. At least Libby, Sue, Rach and Claire KNOW they did the impossible and clawed back 8 minutes on the last stage. Sue stood on the podium again, taking out the veteran category.

Well, as I said, the race has been run and won. Not by AQR but there's always next year right?
Mmmmmmm, maybe.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Midlands XC4: race season ends.

Warm & sunny, dry & dusty trails, what more could Sherwood Pines have delivered for the final of the 2010 Midlands Series at Sherwood Pines!
James and Nadine delivered the usual top-notch xc racing again with a Pines course full of twisty turny singletrack fun as well as some steep bursts and loose pitches thrown in for good measure.

Gridded on the front row, I got my best start of the season, leading off the line and at the joint head of the pack through the initial fire-road and singletrack sections. The group soon split before the real twisty stuff though and 4 laps of fast and furious riding in the pack ensued.
To be honest, it was my first race of the year riding in a group for the whole thing and it was ace! Being pressured by those behind as well as pushing those in front meant the pace stayed high and laps 2, 3 and 4 were all within one second of one another!
The place-swapping continued right until the line and gaining a couple more places in the last few hundred metres saw me finish in 7th after 1h37m.
A great end to the season... I'm looking forward to a few weeks of chillout rides now before winter training begins. And roll on the 2011 season!
A start to repeat in 2011!

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Tour De Timor - Checklist

Claire and I are off to Timor next week for some fun and games. We are riding the Tour De Timor, a 5 day stage race in the tropics. The Team AQR ladies team has been formed, I will be joining them and trying to act as domestique.

Below is the preparation checklist

1. New Felt Carbon Hardtails x 2 - Check

2. Learning to ride hardtails in Perth pea gravel - Check

3. New scare as a result of item 2 - Check

4. New MSR light weight tent - Check

5. Procuring bar-ends, semi slicks and other stage race equipment - Check

6. Lots of training - Claire - Check, Paul - kinda

7. New toys for Paul- XX Reba with hydraulic lock out - Check

8. Installing 4 new Maxxis Worm Drive - Check

9. Sending "personal items" and new AQR kit to Darwin via internal mail - Check

10. Wheels look remarkably fast - Check

11. Purchasing excess baggage for Claire- Check

12. Exceeding excess baggage for Claire - Check

13. Paul's evil plan on how to weigh the bike box - Check

14. Executing evil plan - Check - Bike box weighs - 6kg !

15. Sending Claire to Darwin for a week of acclimatisation - Check

16. Getting worried - Check

17. Nearly forgot Passport - Check

18. Multiple trips to Jones at Cycle Bespoke - Check

Stay tuned for some Tour De Timor tales...

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Torq12:12... Soda action

The final race of the year for the AQR team saw 12 hours of fast and furious racing down south at the Gorrick-run Torq12:12 event last Sunday.

[As usual, huge thanks to Joolze Dymond for the superb images]

Blue skies and sunshine for all but one lap combined with the usual classic rooty, twisty Gorrick course design to make for a fantastic event from midday to midnight on Sunday.

All in all a smooth race for the team, including hats off to Iain for getting in 3 laps before his injured back & leg - which originally suggested he wouldn't be racing at all - started to tell. Massive thanks to Kate who travelled all the way from Edinburgh for her 4 laps, whilst Rich took the fastest lap of the team award with a 39m30s sprint round early on. Finally, James racked up the most at 6 laps, including an unplanned double, the 2nd lap of which started at 11.48pm! Unfortunately his legs hadn't planned for it and the team dropped to 6th place by just 2 minutes at the end. A respectable end to the year though in a tough category.

The race itself wasn't the only highlight of the weekend though, as Kate had her freshly built new Cotic Soda out to play for the first time. Complete with Hope/Stans wheels, KCNC chainset, Magura Durin forks and Bontrager finishing kit, it truly is a work of art and she was raving about it every lap - more on her thoughts as it eats up the miles!

And finally, congrats once again to Kate for her win back in early August at Scottish XC Round 5, which she took by a convincing 6 minutes!