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

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The Endurance Riders 2014 - Part II

Following on from the second Cotic AQR Holidays and Coaching Race Team 2014 post, here is all you need to know about the second trio of endurance riders.

James Dymond

Time on AQR team: since 2007
Discipline: anything goes but mainly pairs/team events!
Weapon of choice: Cotic Solaris

My relationship with AQR began back in 2007 (wow, 7 years ago already!) when I first met Kate and Ian on a holiday with AQR in Luchon.  After a fantastic week during including a steep learning curve on ever steeper and tighter switchbacks, Ian I got chatting about the race team that he & Kate were plotting.

The rest is history, as they say... the team was formed, races entered, Cotics raced, lots of podiums achieved and a fantastic group of riders (and some outstanding team support crew too) brought together.  A few faces have changed but the core remain.

James showing off his skills
Having taken on the role of team manager for the last few years, I've stepped back for 2014 mainly due to the arrival of mini-Dymond in January!  Thanks to a very understanding wife, my riding hasn't suffered too much though, so I'll still be appearing at a few races this year, including Bristol BikeFest 6hr, TwentyFour12, Torq12 and Tide2Tide.  The rest of the time, you'll find me on my Solaris enjoying Nottinghamshire's finest singletrack as well as time on my road bike and 'cross bike.  If it's got 2 wheels and no engine, I'm game!

Follow me on Twitter: @JamesDymond

Kirsty Prior

Time on AQR team: Since 2008
Discipline: 12/24hr team/XC/stage racing and duathlon
Weapon of choice: Cotic Soda

I’ve been racing, training and playing in the mountains with AQR for several years now.  In that time, I’ve toyed with a few different ‘disciplines’, with varying degrees of success…

  • 12 and 24 hour MTB events – my introduction to racing – I’ve enjoyed racing in teams and pairs, but the nearest you’ll get me to the crazy world of the soloist is pit crew duties!
  • MTB XC – including a few battles with my team-mate Miss Bradley at national races, and a fun road-trip to race in Belgium.
  • Stage racing – from 3-day MTB races in sunny(?) Wales, to the dizzy heights of the Tourmalet on my road bike during the week-long Haute Route Pyrenees.
  • Off-road duathlon – after an unexpected win at my first duathlon on home turf, I decided to give this a whirl.  There are more and more races coming onto the calendar, as the sport attracts runners, bikers, triathletes and duathlon ‘purists’.  Maybe I’ve found my niche!
Whist I never want to venture too far from my MTB roots, 2014 presented a new challenge… qualifying for and competing in the ITU Sprint Distance Duathlon World Championships.  My first foray into the world of disc wheels and pointy helmets! [Ed’s note: she only went and finished 5th.....podium next year?!].

Kirsty takes a well earned 5th at her 1st World's
Later this year it’s a return to the mountains and stage racing – this time in the Dolomites. I’ll be watching the Giro d’Italia with great interest!

Follow me on Twitter: @KirstyMTB

Matt Prior

Time on AQR team: Since 2008
Discipline: MTB Endurance/Team racing, Road Sportives/Endurance Events
Weapon of choice: Cotic Soul

Having gained a reputation for wrecking wheels I was very fortunate to be allowed to ride for AQR! Time and training has resulted in me spending a lot less money on wheel repairs and now being a core member of the team. I’m happy to mix it up across road and MTB, as long as there’s a hill involved, and I have even been known to dabble in the odd duathlon.

Recent key achievements for me are:
1st Bristol Bike Fest 2013, 6 hr pairs
4th:Torq 12 2013, 12 hr mixed team 
5th Oktoberfest 2013, 4 hour male solo
7th Abbeyfields- Duathalon 2014

Matt during the TransPyr 2012......with Ant not far behind
August 2014 will see me heading to Italy with Kirsty where we will take on the Haute Route, Dolomites (7 day stage race). My ambition for that event is being in the mix with the fast group.

Overall, the best way to sum me up would be: Willing to give anything a try….once! 

Keep your eyes peeled on the blog for the next instalment introducing the XC riders; coming soon!

Monday, 2 June 2014

The Endurance Riders 2014 - Part I

Following on from the first Cotic AQR Holidays and Coaching Race Team 2014 post, here is all you need to know about the first trio of endurance riders.

Rachel Sokal

Time on AQR team: Since 2011
Discipline: 12/24hr Solo & Stage Racing
Weapon of choice: Cotic Soda

In my previous seasons with AQR my main race has been early in the year. In 2014 things are a bit different as the World 24hr Solo Championships are not until October, so there’s plenty of time for other races and challenges this year.  

After venturing into stage racing in 2013, this year I’ve already been back to Spain to race in my second successive AndalucĂ­a Bike Race, coming one better and finishing sixth in the female pairs.  My next big multi-day event will be in July when I head to the BC Bike Race in Vancouver with team mate Ant Jordan.  The race is renowned for its amazing singletrack and technical trails which will be a fair contrast from last year’s Transalp.  

Rach trying out foreign mud.
As I’ve only actually raced over a couple of years, and previously stuck to longer distances, it means that I still haven’t ever done that many events. This year I plan to change that and have lots of bike adventures – on and off the race course. I’m planning a few shorter races including some XC, team events and one or two over marathon distance, plus trying out the odd road race, all before October’s finale at Fort William.  
Follow me on Twitter: @24hrSokal
Read my blog:

Anthony Jordan

Time on AQR team:  since 2011
Discipline: 12/24 hour and Stage Racing
Weapon of choice: Cotic Soda

I’ve loved riding bikes of any kind for as long as I can remember. Marathon running was the main focus for me for many years, whilst playing around on bikes trying to find the ‘perfect singletrack’ was the aim of many trips both near and far. In 2007, after 10 years of fun trail riding with friends, I entered 24 hour competitive racing as part of a team at Mountain Mayhem, going on to gain a top ten placing in my first 24 hour solo in 2008. Bitten by the 24 hour solo racing bug I travelled to Australia for the 2010 24 hours of Adrenaline World Champs.  Focused coaching from AQR has enabled an ‘average Joe’ rider like me to climb onto a national podium at the 24 hours of Exposure Champs in 2012. Over the past couple of seasons I’ve dipped my toe into the world of mtb stage racing completing Trans Pyr and Trans Alp, and over the winter won the mixed pairs Trailquest mountain bike orienteering series with my partner Rachel Sokal.

Ant showing he loves the  UK mud.
The 2014 season will comprise some marathon cross training, rounds of the Midland XC series to sharpen me up, a fix of foreign singletrack at BC Bike race, and selected enduro and 12 hour events, all building up to the WEMBO World 24 hour World Championships in Fort William in October. I still have a perverse hankering to run a sub-3hour marathon and eat my own bodyweight in cake though…

Follow me on Twitter: @Yet2Tamer

Martin Smith

Time on AQR team: Since 2013
Discipline: 12/24 hour Solo
Weapon of choice: Cotic Solaris

I like riding bikes - so much so, I choose to do so for  24 hours without stopping every now and again! 

My history with the AQR Race Team is pretty short compared with the rest of my teammates. A move to Nottingham in 2011 saw me hook up with James and Rachel through mutual riding buddies. Slowly I realised that James had incredible local trail knowledge and was a hell of a lot of fun to chase, and Rachel was just plain mad and loved the thrill of training and hill reps! They told me all about AQR as a coaching and holiday company and I decide to invest some money in personal coaching from Kate. This made me faster, James had to start chasing me every now and again and Rachel had company on her silly early morning training sessions. A 2nd place at Torq 12 in 2012, Top 20 at Keilder 100 and 3rd in the UK endurance series saw me get an invite to the team for the 2013 season, the highlight of that season being an above expectations result in my first 24 hour event, finishing 3rd at the UK and European Solo championships

2014 is all about the 24 hour world championships (WEMBO) at Fort William. Hailing from Bonnie Scotland, this is one of the first places I ever rode real mountain bike trails, so it's a bit of a homecoming for me! The aim is to race hard for 24 hours. The result really depends on who is on the start line but I believe a top 10 isn't beyond reach; the closer it is to the winner, the happier I will be!

Martin staying clean unlike the others.
In the lead up to that I'll also be lining up for the Torchbearer 12 hour solo race at Bontrager 24/12 but not before joing my AQR teammates in a team of four in the first 12 hours. It's a "training" thing! Liege-Bastone-Liege sportif, a 12 hour race in Germany (my new home country - Ich bin ein Berliner!) and a 4 day stage race in Poland are also in the diary.

The best thing about riding for AQR is the team spirit. There are no expectations around results - just do the best job you can do, but be a happy rider while doing so. And being unhappy is impossible with such a good team around me. Solo endurance riding is not just about the rider - I need to be fed, watered, cleaned, maintained, kicked up the arse. They are always there for me, whether it's 2:00am in the morning during a 24 hour race or on the end of a phone call, text or tweet during a tough phase of training.

Follow me on Twitter: @martinsmith86
Read my blog:

Keep your eyes peeled for more team introductions coming in the near future covering the second trio of endurance riders.