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

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

The Fevered Ramblings of an Andalucian Pit Bitch

Mountain bike stage racing is a real test of rider and bike, sometimes pushing them both to their limits.  Rach and Rickie had entered the Andalucian Bike Race (ABR) and I had offered to provide support to them both, as I had been lucky enough to have similar support from my friend Carole when I raced the 2012 Trans Pyr stage race.

The girls had done the training, were well prepared and all was set for a good six days of racing. All I had to do was look after them off the bike. The idea was for all their efforts to be focused on riding hard and fast during each stage, then recovering as well as possible each evening before the next day’s racing whilst I spent my time spannering, cooking and reading them bedtime stories.
We had crammed a travelling tool kit and as many spares as we could into our 30kg bike bag allowance.  I had brought along my Cotic Solaris to both ride during my down time when the girls were racing (this was a holiday for me too after all) and to cannibalise for spares if necessary – I was hoping for much of the former and little of the latter.

Concentration on the start line

ABR is no winter training camp or pootle in the southern Spanish sunshine. It’s a full gas mtb stage race and with UCI ranking points available the pace and racing is fierce and all of the big name European marathon teams attend. The technical support on show was first rate – with SRAM giving similar tech support they provide at world cup events to any rider running SRAM kit, under the watchful eye of Todd Anderson who was good enough to give me a guided tour around the awesome F1 inspired SRAM race support truck.  With such high levels of professionalism on show this pit bitch was going to have to raise his game! 

All ready for their return

Whilst Rach and Rickie were doing battle each day any illusions of having significant downtime during the day were shattered. After seeing them off at the start of each stage the girls speedy riding meant I had only 3 to 4.5 hours to fit in my long marathon training runs, the chores and a siesta. Running 80km of the 400km course over the 6 days gave me a flavour of the trails. Some of the terrain was pretty brutal even on foot and I though the rocky trails would take their toll. I fitted in a couple of rides on the trails before lending my Cotic Solaris to Grant Leavy for stages 3-6 after he broke his carbon fibre framed bike. He went on to ride the reliable steel steed to an impressive 32nd elite male placing. 

Grant enjoys the Solaris steel is real feeling

My rear brake also went to keep Mark Spratt in the race after his brakes totally failed before the start and his quickly bought replacement brakes caused i-spec shifter compatibility issues. Us Brits have to stick together and I was glad that the spares that I’d brought were put to good use. Luckily the girls bikes worked spot on and only needed a wash down and check over each day which made my spannering life much easier although I made use of my SRAM contacts in tuning Rach’s bike so I could concentrate on my siesta-ing.
Rach puts in a big effort to make sure her finish line tea doesn't go cold
The apartments Rach had booked were top notch – a washing machine in each making my pit-bitching life so much easier. Clean fresh kit for each day was guaranteed. The traditional Spanish family decorated apartments did look more like a hybrid Chinese laundry/ bike repair shop at the end of some days though.  The apartments kitchens also meant that the girls were able to eat exactly what they would normally choose after a hard days biking and importantly when they wanted to rather than rely on hotel menus, portions and opening times.

The days were generally balmy – 10 to 15 degrees meaning ideal riding conditions save for the second stage out of Jean were the overnight rain continued throughout the stage and Rach and Rickie revelled in the UK-esque mud.  

Mud is mud wherever you ride

Though the other days were more sunny-Spanish conditions they still took their toll. Overall we heard of the British-speaking contingent over the race accumulating two broken frames, a set of broken forks, failing brakes, a seizing bottom bracket and a fair few punctures. I saw a pedal ripped out of its crank by the trailside and one plucky pair giving a backie to his teammate who shattered a rear wheel. The trails took their toll on the riders’ bodies too, with everything from the usual trail rash to separated shoulders to Rhabdomyolysis (the same condition Craig Gordon infamously suffered in the 2006 24Solo worlds).  

It's a long way home

So all in all Rach and Rickie did well to maintain their form through out the week to gain 6th place in elite female – I like to think that this feat was only possible with my pitting skills. It was only on the last day that the dreaded race sniffles started for us all. Still coming away with the lurgy was a small memento to add to the photos and SRAM truck memories.  Those girls owe me a cup of tea.

Rach goes a little pale when I tell her how much the SRAM truck I now want will cost

1 comment:

  1. Many thanks Anthony for the lend of the suberb Cotic! It was a pleasure to ride. May have to invest in a Steely! Grant