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

Monday, 20 June 2011

Bristol BikeFest 2011: 3 podiums!

Bristol BikeFest 2011: Kirsty, Rachel, Ruth by James Dymond

The Cotic-AQR team had a fantastic weekend at Bristol BikeFest, now in its 10th year, with 3 podiums in the sunday races! Even the rain didn't dampen the spirits and there were smiles all round on Bristol's ace swoopy singletrack :-)

Ruth & Kirsty - 3rd in female (and mixed!!) 6hr pairs!
James & Matt - 3rd in male 6hr pairs!
Rachel - 2nd in 3hr solo!

Rachel reports below on her first race since her big injury back in March

After over two-months off the bike due to a fractured pelvis this was to be the first race of my debut season racing for Cotic-AQR holidays. In fact, this was less of a race and more of an experiment; I’d only had the go-ahead from Anne Dickins, AQR physio, to get back on the bike a week beforehand. The advice from Kate was to go out and use this as a training ride going steadily over the first couple of hours and then doing some interval training in the last hour so this ‘race’ was much more about riding for 3 hours than it was actually going fast or worrying about the competition. I chose to ride my (well, Kate’s actually) KP24; not only is the bike beautifully light and responsive, it also provided me with much required cushioning for my poorly bits and allowed me to sit down and pedal on some of the rougher stuff when my leg strength didn’t allow me to stand up and power through.

The race didn’t start well. I still can’t walk long distances without limping so running up a hill in bike shoes wasn’t ideal! With Kate’s voice in my head I tried to be sensible I didn’t rush into the race, allowing the traffic in front to pace me. I completed my first lap in a very modest time although my inability to press ‘start’ on my watch meant I didn’t know exactly how long it had taken. I allowed myself a quick stop to remove my waterproof and set out on lap two. With less traffic I got into a better rhythm, and tried to maintain a sensible pace. At this stage the mud was playing havoc with my gears so I stopped to clean and lube my chain as well as change my bottle. Lap 3 went well although my legs were starting to hurt somewhat. I was really pleased how I was riding the course actually managing to catch people on the two long sections of swoopy singletrack. I completed lap 3 knowing that to complete two more laps I would need to lap 3 mins quicker than my current average, even without stopping that would be close. Lap 4 went well, despite the pain from unfit legs and lungs and I squeaked in just in just over time. My final lap would need to be my quickest if I was going to do this, as I’d got a bit held up on some of the singletrack I was fairly confident with a clean run I’d make it. The final lap was great and I hardly got held up at all, until right near the end of the course when another ride veered into me. Desperate that this wouldn’t blow my chances of getting over the line in time, I grabbed my bike to jump back on only to find my saddle at a very odd angle. I quickly yanked the saddle round and hoped it wasn’t going to be too far out of position for the remainder of the lap. Complete with crooked saddle I pedalled as hard as I could up the final two climbs and made it over the line with 40 seconds to spare, phew!

So, I’d made it – over the finish line (achieving my first goal of completing the 3 hours), completing 5 laps and pleasingly onto the podium in second place. I was delighted to finally start, let alone finish, my first race for the Cotic-AQR team and I certainly enjoyed my post-race recovery cheering on my team mates in the 6 hour event.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Erlestoke Twelve: 2011's first team event podium

Erlestoke12 - 6hr mixed pairs by James Dymond
Erlestoke12 - 6hr mixed pairs, a photo by James Dymond on Flickr.~Ruth and I only decided to race 6hr pairs at Erlestoke Twelve about 3 weeks before the event when I realised that it was nearly June and I still hadn’t raced yet this year... having a year off from individual xc racing has been great for freeing up weekends but I’ve still got the competitive bug!

Anyway, despite my idea of only entering once we’d seen a definite forecast for the day, I turned up at Ruth’s place the night before the race to find a rather soggy forecast for the next day. It’s probably this that helped her persuade me to have a bit of a lie-in and turn up without enough time for a practice lap... after all, 3hrs of racing each would be plenty to get to know the course.

Or so we thought! ...I can now confirm that taking the long way to get there, rushing to arrive on time and having a virtually empty fuel tank in the car are most definitely not recommended pre-race preparations! Once our camp was set up I had enough time for a few laps of the car park before the race was on!

Being honest, my first lap was dire! Stuck in traffic, not knowing the course and not being warmed up all added to that “what the hell are we doing this for?!” feeling! Being stung 3 times under my jersey on that lap didn’t help either!

Luckily though, there is a ‘but’... the course was fantastic; lovely dry woodsy, natural singletrack, fun bombholes, decent enough grassy climbs and some semi-technical sections to catch riders out at speed. And so as the race went on we settled into a great rhythm, blasting out nice brisk laps and leaving each other pace and timing notes between laps! About 1/3 of the way through we were 2nd started to take notice of our competitors, with 3rd only a few minutes behind and 1st a few ahead: the race was now properly on!

Luckily for us, the pressure eased when Emma Bradley (MXC) in 3rd punctured and lost about 25 minutes but we couldn’t back off if we were going to give the leaders a run for their money. Despite some really consistent lap times and a totally mechanical-free race we couldn’t quite catch them (Progression Fitness) – but were delighted to finish 2nd, just 2m33s down – having reduced it from 6m. Massive credit is due to Ruth’s really speedy laps and mega-consistency and I was really pleased with my own times too which got quicker as the race went on!

Great start to the team-racing season with some valuable lessons learnt... warm up, warm up, warm up!*
* Oh & don’t be late for lap handovers otherwise your team-mate gets rather angry - & rightly so! Sorry Ruth!