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

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Finally, those Cross Country Racers......

Quite possibly the longest introduction to a team, but there are quite a few of us! Here are the final three (although you'll only have seen two of them at the races this year).

Katie Collins

Time on AQR team: Since 2010
Discipline: XC Racing
Weapon of choice: Cotic Soda

I've been with AQR since 2010 and really enjoy racing in such a committed, supportive team environment.  I'm currently coming back from injury which you can read all about here, but once back in action I will be focusing on racing XC events in Masters (British/Scottish nationals) along with my all-time favourite event, the Tour de Ben Nevis.

Katie complete with what is most likely Scottish mud.

Emma Bradley

Time on AQR team: Since 2012
Discipline: XC Racing plus a little DH
Weapons of choice: Cotic Soda/BFe

Since coming onboard in 2012 things haven’t exactly gone to plan. A blood test early in 2012 showed a severe Vitamin D deficiency which explained why I was wanting to sleep more than ride and had zero strength. The support from my local medical community was absolutely rubbish and it was Kate who directed me in the right direction. It took all of the 2012 season to ‘wake up’ but I had high hopes for 2013 with my newly discovered energy levels. 

2013 also turned into a bit of a downer as soon after Christmas I developed knee pain, at times not being able to ride for more than 10mins. A badly asymmetric pelvis combined with weak glutes and the angle of dangle of my feet being quite severe was putting my knee under more and more strain; it was also seriously affecting my ability to train. It took most of that season to get to riding pain free. 

More energy and more alignment meant I went into 2014 with high hopes and early on things looked good until the knee raised its ugly head again. Finally, it was discovered it was in fact a back muscle that was causing all the problems and again most of 2014 has seen me doing remedial work and only very light (for elite ranks) training. Fingers crossed, with maintaining the stability work I’m prescribed, I can start heading in the right direction finally and hit the gym this winter for some good strength and conditioning work. I’m hoping 2015 will see me making a marked improvement in my performance within the Elite XC ranks, taking on the British and Southern XC Series as well as the British National’ll be a lot better than feeling broken all the time!

I’ve also been expanding my repertoire in 2014. I love technical races and so to push myself more technically I’ve been doing a number of mini downhill events including 661 miniDH and Steve Peat’s Steel City DH. I will also be taking part in the last round of the UK Gravity Enduro series in the Lake District. I’m loving mixing it up and playing on some bigger bikes!

Emma dropping into the final Steel City DH bombhole
Follow me on Twitter: @girlonhercotic

Kathy Beresford

Time on AQR team: New for 2014
Discipline: XC Racing
Weapon of choice: Cotic Soul

As the newest member of the Cotic AQR Holidays and Coaching team, this year has been all about getting back into cross country racing after riding endurance races for two seasons post-injury; a crash in warm-up at a Southern XC led to an air ambulance, a fortnight in hospital, major surgery for a fractured hip socket, a month on crutches and a change of plans for a year or so. I’m working on improving my riding confidence and having fun racing with my team mates. In the three years since I broke my hip socket, I've regained fitness from scratch, gained riding confidence again, raced a 24 hour race and some other races. Through late 2013/early 2014 however I again lost some confidence, lost some fitness and had a really tough winter. With AQR and my great teammates behind me I've finally gotten my mojo back, found some racing form, and survived my first season racing XC in the expert category. Most of all though I’m enjoying riding my bike - because that's what it's all about.

Kathy conquering one of Wheal Maid's long drags
Follow me on Twitter: @drfaffy

So, that is the full 2014 roster at last! 

Sunday, 10 August 2014

The long, winding road to recovery

You probably won't have seen Katie riding her bike this year, she's certainly not competed, but there's a reason for that. Here's what she's been up to:

Sofa time following injury gives rise to a whole host of proverbs... taking time to smell the roses, making you thankful for what you have, good things take time...  In my case - patience, tolerance, and diligence (in the form of nightly shoulder presses). TV ads take on a whole new meaning when they become your signal for shoulder strengthening time - 30 seconds and collapse! Ad breaks have never seemed so long...  

After crashing at Margam Park in round 4 of the British Cycling National XC Series last July, I've not been able to ride much without lots of shoulder pain. On the grand scheme of things it's not too bad - no broken bones - but a couple of spinal fractures, whiplash, nerve damage and concussion. However, my right rhomboid muscles stubbornly refuse to rebuild strength at the pace I would like. Or rather, it's two steps forward and one step back - because my shoulder seems to wrench itself all over again every time I reach for something like a door handle! And takes a week to recover each time.

My right side is still much weaker than my left, partly because the right rhomboid was so painful after the crash that it took an extended holiday from doing much at all for months. And while the initial osteo was good at pain relief, it wasn't so good at identifying what was causing the pain. It took a while to get referred to a specialist and get an MRI booked in to diagnose the damage. So while I waited, the weakness and imbalances got worse. Lesson - start on the referral process without delay! Together with all the underlying muscle weaknesses and imbalances, riding again has been like trying to tame a sack of potatoes on a bike.

I have found a great physio who has taught me a range of shoulder exercises that work in tandem, rather like in a stepping stone direction. Master this exercise before moving to this one. Patience & discipline will be rewarded. It's amazing how all the shoulder muscles work together in harmony. Press top of neck in - arm goes up smoothly. Magic! My neck has been yo-yo-ing in all directions but is finally staying in more than it goes out. 

The next stepping stone is the pull-up bar. I'm still unable to pull myself up to chin level and just hang there like said sack of potatoes. I'm sure it's harder to pull up with long arms! But today I discovered a great shoulder exercise in the car... the ceiling handle inside above the driver's door is the perfect pull-up proxy. Just think, I could have been buff by now with all those miles I drive! Together with my chin presses/neck stretches at the traffic lights, I am THAT driver bopping to her own tune :-) One potato at a time... It will all be worth it to ride all day like I used to.