Thursday, 26 March 2015

One Industries Mini-Enduro Round 1, Bike Park Wales, 14th March 2015

Photo copyright of e11evens

*Alarm Buzzing* 

It was an early 5:30am departure, tunes on in the car and cruising to Merthyr Tydfil just next to the Brecon Beacons for the exciting planned stages at Bike Park Wales. I have had a great winter of riding and cross training, as the 2015 race season begins to kick in I am feeling privileged to be riding for The Development Racing Team. There have been a few races this season already and it seems that everyone is picking up their standards, pushing that bit harder on the stages and challenging for every second!

After signing on and picking up my number board I pedalled off along the trails to ride the entire course before my first stage time of 2:41. The scenery was beautiful with the distant snow-topped hills glittering in the sunshine, I was pleased to have my layers on however soon warmed up during the forty-minute climb to the top.  I always like to know what is on each stage to plan changes in seat height and gear changes, optimising my performance.

After completing the course and having two hours to spare (and trying to keep on top of my nerves, it has to said) I sat in front of the fire at the wonderful BPW cafĂ© reading The Mountain Bike Magazine and chatted away with a few other competitors.  It’s a joy meeting new people at races and hearing about their own adventures.  With time now ticking on I re-fuelled and checked the bike over. One of the hardest things about multi-stage racing is keeping on top of your own psychology, you want to be performing at an optimum and from this I mentally break everything down into the individual stages.

Messin' abahhht......

Stage one was the black route ‘Dai Hard’, this trail was awesome, full of roots, mud and tight turns. I would have to be in the zone on this stage to make a good time and was pleased with how well my 27.5 wheels were eating up the course, they were a boon and I was hopped and popped down the trail.  Despite over-shooting the track into the wooded section it was a pretty clean run, no chain drops or flat tyres but best not tempt fate.

The second stage was a mixture of the ‘Wibbly Wobbly’ and ‘Rim Dinger’ red routes, this was the longest stage of the day and as their names suggest it involved a pedalling section into wind at the top and then down through the rock gardens, which were no problem for my Orange Five Diva I shall have you know. I had another clean run however suffered with a bit of cramp during this stage, I’ve decided to ride clipped in this season and it’s a challenge but I’m gaining confidence with each race.

By the time I was on the final stage I had climbed the hill six times in one day and despite the fitness my legs were beginning to feel fatigued.  Despite re-fuelling 15 minutes into my riding I was suffering from a fair bit of cramp and it was exceptionally painful at times, in hindsight I think my knee pads were too tight.  

Top spot, get in!

I was delighted to take the first position in the women’s category, very closely followed by Beverley Barnes and Anna Walter.  It was another great day on the bike, Bike Park Wales is a brilliant place to race with excellent marshalling, a top-notch first aid team and the eclectic bunch of riders I got to know on the climbs.  Looks set to be a great year of racing, see you at the next event.


(Note from Lee: Hi, unfortunately action photography of this event's female riders have been very few and far between which has been both disappointing and a great shame especially considering how many photographs were taken of the male riders.   Hopefully this issue rectifies itself before the next enduro event).

Friday, 30 January 2015

Endgame.... the CXNE Finals, 25th January 2015

Photo copyright of Sue Langford

This was my last cyclocross race of the 2014/15 season.. and it was a belter!

Make no mistake, I was really nervous as my finishing position was crucial and would affect the overall standings of the women's category. I had to finish in front of Jen Batey to take the second overall, we were both going to be fighting for it.

On the way to Whitby my dad was saying how brutally hard the weather made the race last year which was not exactly reassuring for me, I ended up praying that it was going to be kinder this time around! Someone must have been listening as it wasn't cold, praise be! Dad had concluded his season so it was only me racing and as I was being waited on hand and foot got to use his 'fast wheels', hey, a girl could get used to this!

Whitby was another power-based course, we did a few practise laps together and dad was giving me tips as we went around the course.  As much as I don't want to admit it, he helped a lot and we had a right laugh with the hurdles and sand pits!
I popped to the starting line where everyone could hear John Davidson (the best commentator in the world!) talking about the situation between me and Jen! No pressure at all, aye right!

As the gun went off me and Jen went hell for leather. There was a horrible little hill at the end of the first straight and knowing there was no time to lose I powered up it as hard as I could and got in front of Jen. A little while later I was hindered by the hurdles and she overtook me, I was trying my best not to let her go keeping a hard cadence going. Coming to the steep off-camber section Jen got off to run, I stayed on my bike and hammered through it overtaking her in the process. From here I was leading and thought I was working alone..... I wasn't! All of a sudden the amazing Karen Robertson went flying past me, I stuck to her back wheel for a little while but it didn't last long, she was a machine!

It was turning into a hard race on a hard course and despite fatigue starting to set in there was no let up, I couldn't keep it steady with the thought of Jen catching me up. The race went really quickly and as soon as I knew it the bell went and it was the last lap. I kept my position and crossed the finish line with a massive smile on my face taking the second place with Jen in third!

The overall standings saw Nicola Davies take the top spot with Jen in second and me in third! I missed that second position by just one point!  I'll get you next year Jen!

I absolutely love cyclocross!

May I take this opportunity to say a massive "THANK YOU" to the extended CXNE family for all the support they have given, from the organisation of the events and setting up of the courses to all of the spectators cheering you on. I really do feel honoured to be a part of it and would highly recommend anyone to join in.  I've made some life long friends in just a short time, the support is amazing.

Thank you!

Now I guess it's time to begin my summer training where the criterium racing will be beckoning, bring it on!!

Megan x

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

From the Front Line, Durham CXNE 13, 18th January 2015

Hey you guys, it's Megan, I've just got back from Durham, it was a cold one! Here's the low down.....

For the last two weeks my hard training and good eating regime had gone well, I was ready for it.

We were curious to see how Durham University's cyclocross course had been affected by the hardcore winter weather where snow, sleet and rain were the call of the morning's journey. Needless to say once on site it was freezing cold and the ground was frozen, I knew there and then that it was going to be fast and slippy.

The bikes were soon out, I was kitted up and rode off with my dad for a few practice laps. The course was all about power, although there were a few technical corners on uneven terrain, which later in the day caught out the unwary, there were a lot of straights which required getting your head down and pushing hard. Dad was giving me tips here and there especially with which lines to take and no matter how many laps we did neither of us could get warm!

Time was ticking and I headed to the starting line, as soon as the gun went off Jenn Batey and me shot forwards and I stuck with her until the first corner. This was where I gained the advantage of the inside line and got away quickly, from there on I was working alone.

Trying to keep a steady pace was hard with the thought of Jenn hot on my heels, I was feeling pretty good though and stayed fluid.  The race went really quickly, before I knew it the bell had rung for the final lap, digging in a little more I crossed the finish line in first place with a huge smile on my face.  I love cyclocross!

It's the final round of the CXNE next weekend, sad times, it has been such an amazing series this year and I've constantly been blown away by the amount of ladies participating, here's to an even greater increase in the women's field next season.  

See you all in North Yorkshire next weekend.


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Monday, 5 January 2015

Down Town... CXNE 11, South Shields 26th December

Hi everyone, it's Megan here again keeping the team's purple, red and black flag flying!

The CXNE race at South Shields had me a bit worried as I hadn't raced for a few weeks and was nervous that I'd dropped behind even though I was still out training.  Both college work and a recent bout of illness were preying on my mind however I wanted to give it my best, dig my teeth in and have a bash.  

It was a really cold morning so the warm-up laps required layers, lots of layers in fact and the frozen grass crunched under my wheels although that didn't last for long. The course was pretty good, lots of tight corners, some long straights and one relatively small hill that eventually turned into a thigh-burning assault!  Throughout practise the ground was inevitably being churned up becoming muddier and slippier, I knew this was going to be a problem with the tough off-camber sections later in the day.

Not long afterwards it was time to head for the starting line. Everyone was in great spirits nattering about Christmas and what we were all up to, especially the ladies, well you know how we can gab!  There were a lot of good vibes.

Off we went. I had a really good start, jumped up, slid straight into the pedals and got comfortable right away. I headed off to the front with Jenn Batey and followed her for a lap. 

Coming to the off-camber section my earlier fears were confirmed, it was incredibly slippy and backing that up it was here where I came off my bike, lost some time and the other ladies started to catch me. I jumped straight up, lifted my bike and ran towards the flat section, remounted and got my cadence going again. It was just a few minutes later where my hip began to really throb, damn you adrenalin!  I must have landed on it rather funny, anyway, not to worry I knuckled back down, northern grit and all that! I was now following Jenn and Natalie Batey and it wasn't long before Wonder Woman Nicola Davies caught us all up then everything settled down into a steady race pace.

Well, that was until coming to a simple corner where I slid off and landed like a tonne of bricks. It was a silly old fall, just down to very poor riding where I completely lost it, and oh boy did it hurt!

It all happened quickly, the adrenalin kicked in again and after jumping straight back up realised I couldn't actually stand properly as my hip was in agony. Hobbling along as I pushed my bike, being thankful of its support, I realised I'd twisted my bars in the fall and by this time, I was just exhausted.

Sadly I had to pull out of the race and hobbled with my poorly bike over to the car park where 
Jamie Brady spotted me, picked up my bike and took me to the paramedics for a check up. Thanks again Jamie, you're a star!

An unlucky day but as I've said before, it's all good experience and something to learn from.

See you all the next round,

Megs x