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

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Here's a wee video of The Development's Zak Holmes tearing up the Alwinton course in the UK that was put together by the up and coming Matt Stamp Photography...... here's Life In Purple....

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas!

Wishing all our friends, families and supporters a very Merry Christmas, without you guys we wouldn't be able to do what we do, thank you all so much.
Here's to an amazing 2015.


Saturday, 6 December 2014

The Introduction.....

Nick Turner - Master category
Zak Holmes - Senior category
Jamie Stewart - Junior category
Tom Nelson - Youth category
Tom Newrick - Youth category

Robyn Walton - Senior women category
Cyclocross & Criterium
Megan Hopper - Junior category
Individual rider introductions will follow in the New Year.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Life In Neon at the Durham CXNE, 15th November 2014

Woke up on Saturday morning feeling sprightly and raring to go, well there’s a change, think it was because I was so excited for the full weekend’s worth of racing. I was under the strict instruction not to go all-out during the CXNE race in Durham, since the next day I would be competing at the Nationals in the same arena, so, no biggie! Today was purely getting to grips with the course and keep my points up for the league, however, I knew this would be a struggle since I had let myself become way too competitive. Yes, that’ll be my hereditary dad’s genes right there! 

Dad wasn't racing today so it was all about me (ahem!) the benefit of this being that even when my bike got a speck of dirt on it, it was wiped off within seconds, thanks dad!

When we arrived, as usual, I got ready, practiced the course and signed on. This race was the first time I was competing on my new bright pink Frank The Welder CX bike and was super excited to try it out!

The course was pretty good with quite a lot of sections where you had to dismount. There were steps, hurdles, and a steep, slippy, muddy hill that was catching a lot of people out, myself included. Adding up all the technical turns it created a challenging course and kept the riders on their toes, exactly what you would expect with a National Trophy event the following day. Big applause for the course designers, you rock! My nerves weren't that bad to be honest, I was really enjoying the practice and having a good giggle, I knew that my race head would be on later in the day however.

Sure enough it was soon time to be gridded. My dad and me went to the start where Nicola Davies, Bev Blakeman, myself and then Jenn Batey were called out. Oh, was that the pang of my nerves kicking in just then?

Off we went and despite the strong temptation to sprint off straight away with Bev, Nicola and Jenn, I paid heed to my dad’s advice and kept a steady pace letting them fight it out up front. I ended up having a mini-battle with Natalie Batey which became rather amusing, I slipped off in the mud and Natalie overtook me, Natalie came off in the mud and I overtook her and on it went!

I will also tell you something weird; my dad screaming his head off with words of encouragement every time I belted past the pits. Under normal circumstances he’s on the course the same time as me, today however there he was being my proud dad!

The bell suddenly sounded for the final lap. This was what I was waiting to hear, head now down and firing up the adrenaline I got the cranks turning harder and managed to leave Natalie. I crossed the finish line taking fourth place in the Women’s category whilst keeping hold of the top Junior spot which I was stoked with.


Friday, 14 November 2014

Here's Mud in Your Eye, the Inter-Area Cyclocross Championship, Hardwick Hall, 9th November 2014

As I've mentioned before, my dad likes to be the first one at the venue, last weekend was no different, in fact it was even earlier as the weekend’s racing was extra special. It was the Inter-Regional Championships where dad and I were both part of the team representing the North-East, and as you can probably imagine, our nerves were kicking in a little more than normal.

I woke at 6:00am, had a quick shower, threw on my clothes and climbed into the van, all within 20 minutes I think, go me! Needless to say as soon as we were on the road I went back to the land of nod and the three-hour drive for my dad was over in an instant!

So there I was at the venue with ruffled hair and sleepy eyes peering out of the window to see nothing but mud. All part and parcel of racing cyclocross I agree, but little did we know how much of a problem it was going to become! Anyway we hopped out the van, had a chat with fellow team-mates and a stroll around the venue. Regardless to the gloop it was a lovely place.

It wasn’t long before we noticed people practicing the course with overly clogged up bikes and, uh-oh, the alarm bells in my head started ringing! The track walk called for wellies and just walking around the course was a struggle, never mind riding it! People couldn't ride two laps without a bike change or a mechanical and I was doing 40 minutes worth of laps. I knew it was going to be a big issue especially as I didn't have a spare bike! My heart dropped. Oh what to do, what to do?

A little while later I was very kindly offered a spare bike. Although it was too small I was incredibly grateful for the fact I even had a bike to change to. A lot of riders didn't even do a practice lap because it simply wasn't worth getting caked in mud before the actual race. So, after some hectic plan making and organisation of the pit-plans, I headed for the starting line.

Then the start gun went off! The first corner was super tricky, just who am I kidding, the whole course was super tricky! Just unrelenting sticky mud, although with that said I managed to do quite well and was overtaking quite a few people.  For the time being I was in a good place considering who I was riding with, super female athletes!

It didn’t last though, as expected my bike soon got clogged up with mud so I changed at the pits the first time I passed it. I quickly regretted it as I didn't realise how small the loaned bike actually was, it was incredibly uncomfortable!  However I’m made from pure Northern grit so… you know the score, I knuckled down, grinned and bared it as best as I knew how.

Soon enough the loaned bike became ridiculously stuffed with mud and leaves, I couldn't even turn the pedals and the accumulated mud weighed a tonne. This left me with no other choice but to get off and carry it until I got back to the pits.


On arriving at the pits I was so far behind and wanted to give up however the reassuring words from my close friend Rhianna whilst she handed me my cleaned bike made me carry on. I got back on my own bike and set off with the aim to catch up to the group. No sooner was I making up time and getting back into the swing of things the worst of worst things happened, my rear mech snapped! 

Though my patience had thinned and my tears were almost showing I hopped off the bike, threw it over my shoulder and continued to run, walk, crawl and swear. The further I got the further my head went dropped, I knew my competitors were finishing while I was still out there, feeling both embarrassed and defeated as I was one of the last people on the course.

As I was coming up the long straight I saw my dad approach me and seeing him almost made me start to cry because I was so frustrated. He realised what had happened, gave me some motivational advice and then sent me on my way, not long afterwards I crossed the finish line with mixed feelings. Although it was a disappointing day I was also proud that I completed the race, I’d overcome some demons and persevered. Dad was at the finish line waiting to retrieve my bike. With arms open wide he gave me the world’s biggest hug and told me he was proud, that was all I needed.

So, never a failure, always a lesson, and it's all experience at the end of the day!

I'm now looking forward to this weekend at Durham with the CXNE event on Saturday and the National Trophy on Sunday! More nerve wrecking and exciting times ahead, wish me luck!


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