Wednesday, May 16, 2007

British NPS round 2 :: Course by AQR

An official Cotic Bontrager Team race report will be posted shortly, but in the mean time a few thoughts and experiences that made this weekend of racing a truly memorable one. Although the second round of the British Mountain Bike series officially started on the Friday afternoon for many, for the Potters (that be Mr P and moi), it started a few months ago when Martyn Salt (event organiser) asked if AQR would design the course for round 2 (class 1 UCI event), which would be held at AQR's Skills coaching grounds at Sherwood Pines. AQR were honoured to be asked, and Ian and Paul set about planning a course that would be testing and hopefully challenging enough that road racing tactics wouldn't play such a huge part in the final outcome. While at the same time we wanted to open people's eyes up to the maze of woodland single track that surrounds this area, as it's a great place to ride on a sunny day.

As race courses go Sherwood Pines is always a very tough course, as there are no long climbs or descents to relax on. The single track at speed is very demanding and relentless, plus there are short steep climbs that really keep you breathing hard and your legs screaming. We threw in a few log jumps to test riders technical skill and included plenty of twisting single track to keep mountain bikers smiling. The course appeared to go down well with most people, one comment was made that "the roadies will hate it, but the mountain bikers will love it!". One person didn't think it was very technical, while another comment was made that it wasn't flowy enough.

At the end of the day we knew it wouldn't please everybody, especially if one was having an agonising race (more about that later :) ). We all have favourite trails and the beauty of mountain biking and mountain bike races, is that to be consistently good, you have to be able to adapt and be good on all types of terrain. If courses were all the same, it would be boring. Where would the fun be in trying to better oneself.

It was an interesting experience working alongside Ian and AQR's Paul Dexter as they attempted to develop a race course together for the first time. While Ian used to race back in the day of Gould and Baker, when there were hundreds of people entering sport/expert class and suspension and disc brakes hadn't taken off. Paul tried racing but decided he would concentrate on his technical skills so much so that he spent more time perfecting his manuals and stoppies, rather than concentrate on his university studies. Now he concentrates on teaching advance skills on AQR's coaching sessions and is also alongside Ian, one of Cotic's prototype test developers. Together the two created a course that was testing both physically and technically. Together these two have taught me alot about riding a bike, racing and what it means to be a mountain biker. Thanks to these two I suffered dearly for just over 2 hours, but came away a stronger and more determined person as a result.

I have more to say, but will be back, as I want to finish the race report I'm currently working on.

Just a little plug for A Quick Release Holidays. If you're interested in Technique & Skills training with Paul & Jon in the UK or a holiday with Ian and moi in the French Pyrenees, then check out for more info, or if you just fancy some advice on anything mentioned in my blog then don't hesitate to contact me.
More to be added shortly.

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