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

Thursday, 28 February 2013

The Andalucía Bike Race chronicles – Chapter 5

After yesterday's stage had been modified due to the bad weather, conditions worsened further and today's stage was cancelled altogether due to the snow and high winds in the mountains.  Along with everyone else we were pretty disappointed with the news but by all accounts it was the right decision.

Later in the day after the rain and snow
We've just learned that the final stage tomorrow will be modified as further snow is forecast tonight.  The overall distance and time remain similar but the format will resort to that of a marathon rather than the scheduled time-trial so we've put our aerobars back in our bags for another day.

Busy day at the office
On the plus side the impromptu day off has given us chance to purchase supplies to get my shoe to hold together for one final day.  These boots weren't made for walking...

Race casualty


Wednesday, 27 February 2013

The Andalucía Bike Race chronicles – Chapter 4

We've been steadily working on our cyclists' tans over the last few days but today was a rather different affair.  Although the stage had been modified due to the snow up on the mountain tops much of today's stage remained at altitude in a bitter wind with snow, ice and slush at the highest points of the north-facing trails.  It was cold enough at times to freeze our bottles, as well as our feet.

We're now back at the hotel, nice and cosy with another great day's racing under our belts.  It's days like this that make completing these events that much sweeter. 

Oh, and there's more snow forecast tomorrow.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

The Andalucía Bike Race chronicles – Chapter 3

Hi all

Just a quick post from Ruth and me tonight.  It's been a long day today, we had a pre-6am start to have breakfast and move venues to Priego de Cordoba for today's stage.  For a second day running we were in the saddle for nearly 6hrs although the road sections came as a welcome relief and gave us chance to spin our legs. 

After the stage we moved onto Jaen which will be are venue for the next few days.  We've just managed to finish cleaning bikes and sorting our kit, 15hrs after we started out this am.  So much for R&R between stages.

These aren't supposed to need cleaning

The good news is that provisional results suggest we've moved up to 8th from 10th position overnight.  We're pretty close to 9th but have put further time into the teams behind that.

Spare bike Andalucia style

Tomorrow was due to be the biggest day with 3000m of climbing in less than 70km but a foot of snow on the mountain tops has resulted in a change of course and 500m less climbing.  We feel rather conned after all that recent snow-riding practise in the UK!

Today's stats:
70km distance, 2200m climbing


Monday, 25 February 2013

The Andalucía Bike Race chronicles – Chapter 2

Wow! What trails, an amazing day’s riding.  

Yesterday didn’t actually offer that much in terms of trails, lots of double track and the majority of single track we had to walk due to the numbers of people, our position in the field and the fact that Europeans don’t seem too keen to ride in the mud or on rocks.  

But today was great.  Massive scenery and some great trails. There were quite a few ‘hike a bike’ climbs but some great single track too.  There were also some fairly steep, lose and rocky descents made much harder by some interesting techniques of other riders (scooter anyone?).  We seem to be in the pack with some fit but less technically-able male riders which means there’s a lot of yo-yoing as we’re overtaken on the hard pedally bits but then getting held on the technical sections. 

Tomorrow is a similar day in terms of riding but we have a 90 min transfer at 7am as the venue changes town from Cordoba to Jaen so it’s a case of getting organised tonight and to bed as early as possible for tomorrow’s start.

Stage 2 scores on the doors
Distance 71km, ascent 2200m

Sunday, 24 February 2013

The Andalucía Bike Race chronicles – Chapter 1

So stage 1 is complete and our stage race cherry has been popped.  Overall things went well and importantly we avoided mechanicals and crashes.  We’re waiting for the results to be confirmed but we think we’ve made the top 10 in elite women, so we’re pretty chuffed with that.

Other things we have learned today:
  1. We weren’t the only ones on 26” wheels
  2. Spanish trails are quick       
  3. We won’t get away with giving the bikes a quick wipe, a full on wash is required.
  4. The Brits think it’s warm, apply suncream before going out and race in shorts and t-shirts
  5. The Spanish think it’s cold and race in longs and wear buffs
  6. The Italians race in white kit have a mud phobia
No photos today as multi-tasking is beyond us and you know what we look like.

Stage 1 stats:
Distance: 72.5km, elevation: 1600m  

Saturday, 23 February 2013

The Andalucía Bike Race chronicles - The Prelude

The duo stumbled down the corridor, dragging the day’s heavy haul behind them.  In the dim light, they worked on the lock and finally broke through the door and into the room.  Once inside they carefully negotiated the booby traps before spilling out the bounty in front of them.  

And that was just the race goodie bags.   

Swag Spanish style (nutella, olive oil, chicken soup and the race bottle
After journeying to Cordoba separately we’re pleased to announce that we’re both here in once piece and importantly, so are our bikes.  Arriving last night to the hotel was a daunting experience, the car park doubles as the race paddock and there are some impressive, expensive and professional outfits here.  This is the first stage race that either of us have done and without additional support, the bike building and logistics are almost as daunting as the riding.  Having now been out for a bit of a spin, recced the start and officially registered we’re both feeling a bit more relaxed. 

The Pros' Paddock

Knowing that there will be 668 other riders in the race, most of whom don’t have a team bus, is also a comforting thought.  And for all of the rest in the flashy kit, there’s the simple “All the gear, no idea” mantra.  Except those who do have an idea.  But that’s the beauty of being here, competing in this race, we’ll be on the same starting grid as some of the best in the world but not out of place.  
Registered and ready
Post-stage faff allowing, we’ll be back with an update after tomorrow’s Stage 1.
Shiny Sodas

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The season ahead

On one side of my desk is radiator which is covered with wet riding kit.  On the other side, next to my morning coffee, is my boarding card for Friday’s flight.  As I prepare for next week’s race in the Spanish sunshine and take a break from the snow and rain, it seems a good time to review the winter’s training and look to the season ahead.  
There have been a few changes for the Cotic – A Quick Release Holidays race team this year.  We are joined this year by Ruth Owen-Evans and Martin Smith.  Ruth is re-joining us after a season away. After her first year of Elite XC racing she’s aiming for some more top performances this year and she and I are racing together in the Tour of Andalucía next week.  It’s the first time either of us has competed in a stage race, let alone a UCI Cat 1 event so we don’t really know what to expect or how we’ll get on.  We’re hoping that my endurance and her XC abilities will complement the other; she can push me go fast at the beginning and I’ll chivvy her keep going towards the end.   
Ruth in action

Martin is based in Nottingham and has become a regular riding mate of James and mine.  He had a successful 2012 coming 2nd at Torq 12 solo male race and 5th at Exposure in the 12 hour race.  Martin joining the team as an endurance rider has been great for me, someone who is willing to set-off at stupid o’clock on a Sunday morning for a training ride in the snow and freezing temperatures.

Martin showing off his snow-skills
James, Katie, Emma, Kirsty, Matt, Ant and I will all be in Cotic – AQR colours again next year.  James, Emma and Katie are again focusing on XC and team events, and Ant and I on endurance races.  I might even try and beat last year’s total and race more than once this year.  Kirsty and Matt are expanding the repertoire and have become regulars on the duathlon scene.  Whilst the rest of us have been rigging up the TV in front of the turbo, they’ve been racing round freezing, muddy fields in their lycra.  Kirsty in particular has had a storming winter with so many wins we’ve all lost count.  
Kirsty without her bike?!

Ian and Kate continue to support the team with coaching, skills and bike advice to name a few.  We had a great coaching day with them both last weekend although I wasn’t so chuffed to have my legs ripped off whilst practising XC race starts.  The Potters are currently on their way out to Portugal for another year of spring-time guiding and coaching holidays before heading back to the UK in May to support the team at Exposure. 

AQR skills day, Feb 2013
It was 'this' big

We do lose one team member this year, Anne has moved on from riding her bike round and round for 24 hours and instead is now focusing on racing a kayak in a straight line for 60 seconds with the British Para Canoe team.  From the sublime to the ridiculous, or the ridiculous to the sublime, I’m not sure which.  We’re all looking forward to seeing her in Rio at the 2016 and in the meantime as AQR physio.  
Wi-fi allowing Ruth and I will send updates from Spain next week and show off our tan-lines when we’re back. Enjoy the rain whilst we're away!