Friday, October 26, 2007

2007 End of Season Thankyous

It has been a few weeks since the last national point series weekend where I claimed the British Marathon series title. I had planned to race solo at Dusk ‘til Dawn, but my excuses are quite lengthy: Firstly my legs were officially knackered after 2 years of racing without an off season in between, and I had no way of actually getting to Thetford with my Cotic Soda. I could have ridden to Thetford from Nottingham, and then raced solo for 12hrs, but Ian thought that might be defeating the purpose of racing.
It was nice to finish the 2007 race season on a happy high. I attended the Cycle Show and worked on both the COTIC and TORQ stands. I had the time of my life talking bikes, bits and over dosing on Torq bars. It was lovely catching up with people I see at the races every couple of weeks, and meeting new faces who took the time to come over and have a chat. It was also lovely to find out how many people have been following my blog this year. I love writing about racing and any other biking adventures that come my way. I hope it has inspired others to challenge themselves to a biking adventure of some sort in the near future.

2007 saw the beginning of the Cotic Bontrager Race Team. I don’t know exactly how it all came about or when exactly it all came together, but it did, and as a result I have a lot of very special people to thank for supporting me this year.

COTIC – Cy & Jeffa Turner, Kelvin & Niall.
I remember promising my good friend Cy Turner that one day I would race a Cotic bike. At the time, Cy had no race management experience, but he had, and still has the passion to build confidence inspiring and awesome handling bikes. Perfect for moi who is quite the ‘scaredy cat’ at the best of times…except when Ian steals my TORQ bars and then you can guess who becomes real scared!
I knew when Ian was testing the prototype Soda out here in the Pyrenees that I wanted one….badly. I was sick of Ian making me hurt up the climbs and then leaving me effortlessly on the descents. I casually mentioned how much I wanted to rip Ian’s legs off next time we go riding (in a lovingly way of course). Before I knew it Cy had created a race team around me. Cy was one half of the mastermind behind the race team and because of Cy I had my dream team of co-sponsors, I had fantastic bikes to race and guide on, and I had both the professional and personal support that one needs to race at elite level. Thank you Cy for everything, but most importantly for believing in me.
A good man needs a good Mrs (hear that Ian), and I thank Jeffa for putting up with all the extra time that Cy has dedicated to the race team this year. Also, special Thank you to Kelvin and Niall for your support and helping me learn more about computers.

BONTRAGER WHEELWORKS & COMPONENTS - Andy Gowan, Griff and of course Keith Bontrager.
When Cy announced that Bontrager were also sponsoring the team, I was shocked…”Bontrager want to sponsor moi?” Wow, I was going to meet the man himself Mr Bontrager and I was going to have a fully kitted out Cotic with Bontrager bits. Andy and Griff went out of their way to ensure that I had everything I needed to get through an Aussie and British race season. One minute I needed kit to survive sand and salt in Oz, the next the muddiest of mud in the UK, and all I can say is that the Bontrager boys delivered the goods without any fuss. Thank you for all your support, and on going support. You are all such a great laugh, but very professional when it counts. I’m really excited to be representing the Bontrager brand again in 2008.

A QUICK RELEASE HOLIDAYS – Paul, Jane & Jon, plus AQR friends….Ian can wait for a thankyou until he returns my TORQ bar.
AQR has a fantastic group of people behind the company, who have also been there for me throughout the year. I owe a very special thank you to Paul Dexter and partner Jane who gave up their free time to support me at some of the races this year. It was scary to see Paul and Jane become Ian on race day. They made sure that bike and body were ready to race two days straight. Even when I was at my most chattiest, they still forced recovery drink down my throat and took my muddy shoes and socks off…even Ian refuses to touch my feet.
Special thanks to the AQR Crew (they know who they are) for all your support over the years and constant skills coaching.

TORQ FITNESS – Matt, Sasha & Milly Hart, Anth, Dean & Genevieve from TORQ Australia.
Firstly a special thank you to my coach Matt Hart who has worked above and beyond to ensure I’m race ready this year. How you do what you do and still find the time to listen and train me I don’t know, but I really appreciate everything you have done for me this year. Thank you to the rest of the TORQ family, including Dean and Gen who looked out for me in Oz. I couldn’t train or get through the races without TORQ fuel.

JOOLZE DYMOND PHOTOGRAPHY and taxi service :) – A very special thank you to Joolze & Dave.
I first met Joolze and Dave three years ago when I moved up to elite XC. I was absolutely petrified, but Joolze and Dave made me feel relaxed instantly. Over the past three years Joolze continues to make me laugh even when I’m busting a gut out on course. You can guarantee Joolze and Dave will be hiding out on the trail ready to take a photo of you at your muddy best. Joolze and Dave have been great friends and have helped the Potters out on too many occasions to list. Thank you for all your support and the great photos that I will always treasure. My aussie family thank you both too, because they can now appreciate what mountain biking is all about.

Thank you for your support this year. It was great to be able to promote another British company. I was also fortunate enough to be given a Pace waterproof jacket that has saved me on a number of occasions. All our AQR guides are now using one too, as it certainly is the best waterproof we have come across on the market. It was great to have Pace forks on board the Cotic, and we wish Pace forks all the best in the future as DT take them over.

I have always loved Hope brakes and I always will. Thank you to the boys at Hope for supporting my Cotic bikes this year, but more importantly giving me the stopping power I want when I want it.

I have been fortunate enough to have on board the co-sponsors I really wanted in 2007. It’s very difficult to train long hours and also hold down a 9-5 job. Most full time athletes who ride a bike will tell you that every little bit of support goes a long way. No mountain bike racer does it for the money, it’s not why I race by any means. I wouldn’t be able to race without the support from all my sponsors and that includes the co-sponsors who have helped me achieve my racing goals this year. A very special thankyou to –

LUMICYCLE – for showing me the light.
CRANK BROTHERS – for keeping me clipped in and on the right track.
SRAM – for driving me forward in Oz, UK and France.
CATLIKE HELMETS – for protecting my head!
BIGFOOT BAGS – Thankyou for protecting my bike when flying.
PURPLE EXTREME LUBRICATION – My chain was always humming lovely.
NIKE SHOES – for keeping my best asset safe.

Ian is the second half of the brains behind the Cotic Bontrager Race Team and director of A Quick Release Holidays. Ian works above and beyond his role as husband, skills coach, training partner and bike mechanic. I can’t thank Ian enough for everything he has done for me in the past and also continues to do for me every day. I just hope that I can make it up to Ian and one day in the not too distant future our roles will reverse. One day I will be watching Ian Potter pedal round in circles for 24hrs, as I overdose on coffee and flapjacks and call out sweet encouraging words: “PEDAL! YOU CALL THAT PEDDLING!”.
Thank you Ian for your patience…I’m proud to be a Potter :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

British NPS round 5 :: Marathon :: September 23, 2007

Kate's race report. All photos by Joolze Dymond.

I entered the British marathon championships in an attempt to claim the marathon series title. The series win was my number one goal for 2007, and I’m delighted to have achieved my personal aim for this year. As I’m Aussie born and bred, I knew I wasn’t eligible to race for the championship title, but after a puncture the day before during the cross country destroyed any chance of a podium place, I didn’t take any chances and raced the marathon hard from start to finish.

This weekend has been quite strange for me. I have been suffering with the most incredible fatigue and cold like symptoms the last couple of weeks. In fact I really expected the worst form this weekend, even though my coach Matt Hatt reassured me that my power was high and that I would be competitive….but I wasn’t convinced. After two years of virtually no rain, or cold conditions, I found the heavy down pours on Sunday morning frightening. From the moment I woke up my brain was trying to talk my body out of racing. Fortunately for me I had an amazing support crew or should I say counselling crew thanks to Paul, Jane, Matt, Joolze, Dave. Who all convinced me that I would love the 100km race and not to let Mr Potter down. Ian wasn’t here on the weekend as he was guiding in the ‘sunny’ Pyrenees. He would have loved nothing more than to be at Coed y Brenin passing me water bottles all day….mmmm maybe.

I didn’t want to be in the way of any of the British girls racing for their marathon title, so I decided early on that I would race myself, and not think about the opposition, just take one lap at a time and get out of any British girls way if they were close by. As the gun sounded the mass of bodies with their own personal goal took off. I hung on to the back of the elite men hoping to find my own space and rhythm. However, I discovered early on that there was a certain person on course who wasn’t even female, who appeared to be trying to prevent me from riding past them. I wasn’t too bothered at the time as it just fired me up, and eventually I was able to ride by. Unfortunately, later on I found out that such tactics from this same person caused a friend of mine to fall and abandon the race. I’m not going to go into too much detail, but was it really necessary? In the spirit of these events, surely winning is not always the be all and end all, especially when it causes somebody to be hurt. In the end I’ve always believed in what comes around goes around...

Enough said. The race was as expected very challenging. My legs were strong and I tried to keep consistent laps, but I was freezing. Aussie blood and welsh weather are not a good mix. For the first two laps I knew Amy Hunt was close behind, but I didn’t want to be in her way as it wasn’t my personal goal she was after. However, Amy remained on my back wheel until I was forced to pull in to the side of the track to adjust my saddle pack. It had partly fallen off and had started catching the back tyre. I managed to catch Amy back up again on the next climb, and wondered if we were going to have another battle as we did the day before during the XC. However 100km is such a long distance that I simply focused on my own race goals and soon enough I was riding by myself. It was lovely to hear the cheers and encouragement from people on course or onlookers waiting in the pit area, even though I’m not a POM (sorry I had to throw it in). It always makes me want to ride harder and finish the race so that I can go and be social afterwards, as the race scene here in the UK is such a ‘loovely’ one. I actually forget I’m not British a lot of the time, even my new Nottinghamshire accent is starting to be accepted.

Kate Potter , Coed y Brenin

On lap 4 disaster struck. I had taken one sip of my water bottle when I realised it had fallen through the bottle cage. I still had over 10km to go until I could grab another bottle. I was a little concerned, but tried not to think about it. Lap 5 soon came round over 45 minutes later. I went to take a sip from my drink before realising the bottle had slipped through again. At this time I knew if I didn’t drink soon I would be really struggling to finish the race. Fortunately I was passed some bottles by fellow competitors and a very kind person in the pit area, but to no avail as I’m afraid I lost those bottles as well (sorry…please come and see me for a replacement). I started lap 6 looking for my bottles out on course so I could try and consume some drink along the way. I was starting to feel the effects of dehydration and brain wobble. Fortunately for the last two laps Paul found a bottle that remained in place, but I didn’t drink nearly as much as I needed to because I was worried about losing the bottle again if I took it from the bottle cage.

Marathon , Coed y BreninMarathon , Coed y Brenin

I had two more laps to complete 100km and to claim the series title, but I was growing weary and the wet conditions had worn away my brake pads. I considered changing them, but realised that little brake pad was making me ride faster on the descents. Scaring myself silly was actually keeping my mind off the fatigue I was experiencing. Until I realised I had too much speed to turn. I took a different line, a much smoother line in the air and into the arms of a tree. An interesting manoeuvre, but one I wouldn’t recommend if you’re pushed for time.

Marathon podium , Coed y BreninMarathon podium , Coed y Brenin

Finally, the 8th lap started and I just wanted it to end. My brake pads were singing the most dreadful tune, and I growled at every rock in case it dared puncture my tyre again. I refused to stop now, even if it meant riding on the rim. Only when I had crossed the line first lady home, and first out of the Aussie contingent of ‘me, myself and moi’, was I convinced that I had completed the 100km and won the overall series title. I had achieved my goal for 2007, and I could proudly say that the Cotic Soda is an amazing race machine that I will be riding again in 2008……thank you CY!

Well done to Liz Scalia who won the British Marathon Championships, and who raced her own race too. It was great to see you up there on the podium in your national colours, a deserving win to such a lovely person.

A special thank you to Paul Dexter and partner Jane for taking on the job of Mr Potter, who couldn’t support me this weekend. You two did an amazing job, and made my weekend a less stressful one at that.

Thank you to my coach, Matt Hart and TORQ for all your support this year, and for giving up your arm warmers Sunday morning.

Another special thank you to Clive from Climb on Bikes who ensured I had enough air canisters for the marathon to avoid another walk to the finish line.

As always, thank you to my title sponsors Cotic Bontrager and all my co-sponsors who have made it possible for me to race in 2007. Thank you for allowing me to use the equipment I wanted to use and for all your continuous support. Cy and Andy thank you for making it all happen.

Mr Potter can’t miss out on a huge thank you either, my number one team mate who taught me how to ride a bike and supports me in every way. I know you feel like you missed out this weekend, so I have two bikes waiting for you in the UK to fix :)

Marathon podium , Coed y BreninMarathon podium , Coed y Brenin

Finally, a sad farewell to Martyn Salt, TREK and the Inevent team who have decided to pass on responsibility of the cross country national series to another crew for 2008. Thank you for all your hard work and dedication to the sport over the last four years. I have loved every event, even the muddy ones :)