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First off a big thank you to everyone in VCM- a mystery package appeared the other day, inside was a trophy for 'Most Combatant Rider'. Cool trophy, cheers.
10 at Kirroughtree, apologies for the time it's taken to get this post on the blog.
Despite a self imposed rest from racing my mtb this year I couldn't help but have a shot at No Fuss' 10 At Kirroughtree. Having ridden the event twice before (as a pair with Andy) I knew the course would be well worth the drive North. Unfortunately Andy was busy so I spent a month or more humming and ahhhing over whether to give it a go solo. The thought of a ten hour race does not really, on the face of it, inspire me too much BUT the Kirroughtree course does. I don't think there are many race courses in the UK I could ride round for 10 hours in the rain and honestly enjoy every lap. A big shout must go to Frazer and the rest of the No Fuss team for having the balls to put on a challenging and fun 'enduro' course. The course had a bit of everything from rooty singletrack to flowing bermed trails and some fire road too- useful for getting in some food and drink!
The race started nice and steady for me- I deliberately hung back and took the first few laps nice 'n easy. This also gave me a chance to say hello to a few old friends. The nature of the course combined with the weather suggested it would be a tough day so no point being a hero in the first few hours! This strategy seemed to pay off as the rain stayed most of the day in varying degrees of severity. I think the rain was worse for those in the pits though as on the bike I didn't really notice it much. A HUGE thank you to my girlfriend Emma who stayed out in the rain all day and every lap had food and drink ready along with water for washing the bike- an awesome job! Thanks also to my Dad and sister for cheering me on in the rain- those shouts definitely helped when the legs were feelin' it!
Buoyed by riding at Kirroughtree I decided to enter my first XC race of the year. August is a touch late to be starting your XC season but this was more for the fun of racing than for searching out ranking points or winning championships. Midlands XC round 3 was within a days drive so seemed worth a shot. Surprisingly the course was a cracker- the first km or so based around a golf course- nothing special- but upon leaving this area the course ducked into some woodland taking in some pretty nice singletrack. Nothing too steep or edgy but some fun trails and a super steep climb, which was a good challenge to clear, had me almost track-standing with a single 39t front chainring. The race went well, not too crazy off the line, settling into about 8th position. Keeping a good pace and entering the final of five laps in fifth place it was a case of give-it-everything for the last lap. I caught the fourth placed rider on the last descent then gave it 100% on a short climb to get well clear by the finish. It's always good to finish a race strongly but crossing the line to find I was only 40sec off third was a touch annoying. Good race though and all laps were within 1min so the endurance is there- just need to up the speed a few clicks.
Since these races training has been going well with things beginning to focus towards the Three Peaks. A quick run up the Old Man of Coniston gave me confidence the fell legs are in reasonable shape. Why is running downhill so bloody painful though? New cross bike is build and ready for the peaks- complete with flat bars and V-brakes (sorry purists!). This set-up seems good if a little alien to begin with; the V's should be just the job on the descents though. This weeks job is to get another set of tub wheels built (34mm Tufo specials) and then equipment should be all ready for the big day.
Training things that seem to be working this month- staying off the caffeine 'till race day then necking a few caffeine gels mid race- BOOM!
If only I can shake the cold and it stops raining all should be grandJ
|Photo by Joolze Dymond|
We got there just as the Brazil vs. Netherlands quarter final was kicking off, so we found a bar and settled down in a sea of orange to watch the match. A few cokes later and we got ready climb the road back up to Alpe d'Huez. I had been dreading it, but I stuck it in an easy gear and spun away. I thought I was doing well until about halfway up I got passed by an old guy on a hardtail and flipflops who I definitely saw sinking a few beers in the pub earlier!
Enduro Avalanche - Vaujany
Saturday, we collected our lift passes and went to suss out the trails at Vaujany where the first race was being held. Racing wasn't until Monday and Tuesday, so we were a bit optimistic in hoping the course would already be marked out. But we rode what we thought would be the route and were quite happy with what we found.
We also met a friendly Fort William boy, James, who took us down some well good secret trails that he knew.
Monday came around and this was the sign-up and seeding run for the Enduro. We picked up our race numbers and a map of the course and headed off for a practice lap.
Looking at the map, it was clear that the route we had practiced previously was nowhere near the actual race course and in fact took us much higher to 2500m where there was still loads of snow. It was a bit of a slog through the snow between the timed sections and a lot of it was a push.
The seeding run was also used as race stages 1 and 4 and this was a fast, twisty and narrow trail. The other two timed stages were very open and fast and you didn't necessarily know if you were going in the right direction all the time as they weren't taped very well.
I was seeded 8th in the ladies which I managed to improve on in the race and finished 7th overall.
It was a pretty cool course on off-piste trails and I found the link stages just as tough as the timed ones. And although we were finished racing by 1pm, it really felt like you'd had a big day out in the mountains.
Avalanche Cup - Oz En Osians
Due to racing the Enduro, I missed the entire practice day for the Avalanche Cup downhill race and only just made registration. Looking at the start sheet was quite daunting.The women's race consisted of Sabrina Jonnier, Claire Buchar, Intense rider Tahnee Seagrave, UK downhiller Sue Mahoney.....and me. Fifth place awaits! I just had to get to the end. Unfortunately, it wasn't as easy as that. Having had no practice, I had no idea what the course was like on my morning race run and I took a wrong turn completely missing the tape at the entrance to the finish arena, ending up in a grassy clearing next to some tennis courts!
I crept down the outskirts to the finish area hoping nobody noticed my no-show. No such luck! The announcer guy recognised me from the Enduro and asked me over the mic what happened. "I got lost". Cringe.
My afternoon run went a lot better in that I actually crossed the finish line. Not without crashing twice on the way there though. My second crash was more of a ditch into the side banking to try to get out of Sabrina Jonnier's way as she flew past me.
I finished in 7m 28s compared to Sabrina's winning time of 4m 52s. I was, as expected, last female. But not last overall, which is a result!
The best bit of the day was at the finish when the announcer came and interviewed me before any of the pros. "So you didn't get lost this time Lyndsey?"
Qualification day was Friday with the men's races leavng every 20min from 10am and the ladies group last to go at 1pm.
I was starting on the second row behind a front row packed with world class riders including Tracy Mosely, Anne Caroline Chausson and Emmeline Ragot. If I could just stay on one of their tails.... No chance!
The start was pretty mental with dust everywhere. A couple of girls collided and crashed in front of me and I somehow managed to avoid them. It was a fast fireroad to the first techy rock section where it got pretty congested. Everyone wants to try and ride everything, but a lot were crashing and it was faster just to run past them. About 2/3 of the way down there is short fireroad climb and thanks to my Gravity Dropper I managed to overtake a few girls, including Fionn Griffiths who had punctured.
I had no idea what my position was as I raced down the fast, dusty singletrack into the forest but I managed to overtake a couple more girls. Near the end I hit a tree stump and crashed and a rider came past me. I couldn't get back on and up to speed enough to catch her before the line and I finished 28th.
The first 27 places get a front row start in the Mega Ladies so I just missed out. But I was still well chuffed at my placing.
Saturday was the Mega Ladies race and it was a 5am start to catch the 6am cable car to the top at 3300m. At 8am they started calling each rider up to their place on the starting grid for a 9am depart.
On the glacier there was a lot more snow and for a much longer distance than last year and riding on it was totally knackering! The piste had been groomed for the race, but the snow was still very deep and soft.
I had a terrible start. I tried to clip both feet in and just go but instead I fell over! I got up, then fell over again! By the time I got going it felt like everyone had gone past me and was away. I really didn't want to look back!
Once I got out of the snow, I had a really clean run and felt like I was riding well. I was pedalling really hard to catch as many girls as I could and make some places back. At the traverse, I was glad to put my saddle up and get a seat and I took off my goggles to let some much needed air in.
After the traverse my run down the singletrack to the finish was pretty sweet with only 1 dodgy overtake (by me, almost taking us both out) and only crashing into 1 tree!
I made it to the finish line, and once again, my commentator buddy was there to congratulate me.
I managed to finish 35th in the Mega Ladies which I'm pretty happy with. It was an improvement on 44th last year so here's hoping for more of the same next year.