Monday, April 30, 2007

Bonjour from Luchon

The Potters have finally arrived back home to their favourite trails in Luchon. Our AQR guiding packs have been checked over, the bike store has been given a spring clean and the Cotic bike fleet is shining bright. I have combined a week of solid training in the mountains, while at the same time checking out the trails to ensure they're ready to roll on as A Quick Release Holidays is officially open for the guiding season this Sunday. I can't express in words how wonderful it is to be back on the bike in the mountains, especially in France where cyclists are adored. The only problem here in Luchon is what bike to ride. Both the mountain biking and road riding is truly amazing. Ian and I decided our first ride would be our local loop that drops down by the hotel. It starts on a short steep fire road trail, before a gentle piece of single track beneath the trees. Then there are three short technical corners that are great to practice your skills on, as there are different lines you can take to make it easier or harder to clear. As always Ian tries to challenge moi, and we have a short session to see who will be King or Queen of the trail today. I decided to let Ian win this one, as I hate to see a grown man cry :)

The trail then climbs gently before we turn off on to a trail we call 'New New'. I don't know why we call it 'New New', but the name has stuck. This trail is hardly ever used by other people, as it's well hidden. However it is simply divine, and zig zags along the mountain side over rocks and roots. Once you reach the end of this section then it's all down hill. and this is where a smile never leaves your face. Except of course if your husband punctures, and then you forget to tell your husband that you took his guiding pump without asking (gulp), and then realise at the worst possible moment that you forgot to put it back where you found it (double gulp). So our lovely little ride turned into a lovely long walk back down some our favourite single track. I felt bad so I walked beside Ian, thinking my company would cheer him up. I was wrong, especially when it started to rain...alot. In the end I just had to ride, as the roller coaster (another one of our trails) is just too good to be walked on. An hour later we returned to the hotel where it was sunny and bright.

Well I had fun, and I will include some photos shortly, as soon as I work out how to use Ian's camera. Perhaps I should ask him if I can use it first :)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

My first official BLOG

I have always been very scared of internet technology. Not that I'm against change in any mean or form. It's just every time I leave the UK and spend time guiding, training or racing in other countries I lose track of time. Suddenly 6 months later when I return to teaching in high schools during the off season, I end up the pupil, as my students show off their latest mobile phone gadgets...mine is three years old and too big to be even shown in public.

But now thanks to the brilliant IT minds of Cotic dudes Cy and Kelvin I am a blogger, well I plan to be a regular blogger. Which means to those of you who are mildly interested (Mum that better be you), I will not only be posting the latest reports on racing for the Cotic Bontrager Race Team, but also regular blogs on anything and everything. I hope to share with you the awesome Pyrenean adventures that I, along with hubby Ian get up to. I will include training experiences, good and bad; day to day life as a mountain bike guide for A Quick Release Holidays, which I must say is always good and anything else that tickles my fancy.

So to all of you who thought I was living in the technological dark ages, 'let there be light', as I Kate Potter now know how to use this blogging thing :)

Thankyou Cy and Kelvin for all your time, patience and help.


Friday, April 13, 2007

British NPS round 1 :: Joolze's Photos

British NPS round 1 :: Marathon :: Kate's Report

‘I hurt’, were the first two words I muttered to Ian early Sunday morning. I overdosed on TORQ Ribose and forced porridge down me before a cold shower to try and bring me back to life. The next race was an hour away and it was a huge effort just to put my shoes on. However as soon as I jumped on the bike and started warming up I could feel my body start to perk up. The sun was also shining bright and it was much warmer than I expected. I had no race strategy, as I wasn’t certain how I would cope racing 100km today. Whenever I race a marathon I focus on beating myself and seeing how long I can push myself for. I had 8 laps to ride at roughly 12.5km. I wasn’t too sure how long it would take, but my aim was to finish inside the 5 hour mark and I wanted consistent strong laps. That is what I was thinking, but what I was feeling as I stood on the start line, was ‘holly cow there are a lot of big lads behind me’. I imagined being flattened and decided that I was going to stay focused and try not to be run over.

Fortunately I had a great start and found myself close to the front. The pace started very comfortably and as we all hit the single track I expected mayhem, but I found myself behind riders who were very smooth on the single track and there was no starting or stopping as I expected there to be with so many riders on the course. I wasn’t pushing the pace to begin with, but at the same time was using the first lap to get my body into race mode. Then my coach Matt from TORQ flew by and instructed me to stick on his back wheel. I know how fast Matt is and I gave it everything to keep up with him. I didn’t want him to think I was a wimp, but I was soon forced to ease off the pace as I was trying to keep up with men who had fresh legs and more power than me. On my second lap I discovered a new lease of life, and that 20 minute intense effort with Matt paid off as my body awoke from it’s slumber. I rode comfortably and at times pushed myself to see if I could keep up with faster guys in front. I was having a brilliant time and really enjoyed the new section of single track that had been added to the cross country course. I couldn’t believe how much grip I had, as I have been riding sandy trails in Oz for the past 5 months where grip is unheard of.

Half way through the third lap I felt like I was slowing down though, and it became more of an effort trying to keep up with riders who were zooming past. Then as I took a bend and almost came off, I knew I had a soft tyre. I quickly checked it over and it didn’t appear to be going down quickly. I continued on thinking the feed zone wasn’t too far away, but it was further than I thought. I contemplated changing it there and then, but knew Ian had a spare set of wheels. I decided to risk it and rode on, thinking that any minute I would be riding on the rim. Fortunately I reached Ian just as I felt the rim digging into the ground. He quickly swapped back wheels and instructed me to pull in again on the next lap as the spare wheel had a mud tyre on the back of the bike….and as Ian admitted later only a couple of bolts holding the disc rotor on as we weren’t expecting to use the spare wheels this weekend.

I didn’t notice any extra drag and continued on my way determined to make up for lost time. I rode by myself for quite a while and was lost in my own little Potter world as I blasted along the swoopy single track sections, when suddenly I almost passed out. I have a terrible fear of snakes and I managed to only just avoid riding over one. That was it, every twig or root that I passed I had to check twice over in case it moved.

With only a couple of laps to go I was expecting my legs to start to tire, but then I managed to ride behind this very skilled rider who I really enjoyed riding with. He did some great little bunny hops over roots and logs and I tried to follow suit, just not so gracefully. As I hit the last lap I found more energy and really enjoyed riding the last loop. Before I knew it I was crossing the finish line in first place and managed to finish inside the four and a half hour mark.

I was very happy with the result, but more importantly loved every moment of the race. Then I hopped off my bike and realised I had caught Thetford back ache, and was hobbling around like that 100 year old woman I mentioned before whom I woke up as this morning. But it was worth every ache and pain, as there’s nothing better than riding single track in the sunshine.

Thankyou Martyn Salt and his team for the first of many great national events in 2007.

Special thankyou to my title sponsors –

Cotic Bikes (
Bontrager Wheelworks and Components (

Plus my co-sponsors:

Pace Suspension
Hope Brakes and Headsets
Nike Cycling Footwear
TORQ Fitness
AQR Holidays
Crank Bros Pedals and Tools
Bigfoot Bags
Catalike helmets
Endura Gloves
Cyclops Powertap

As always couldn’t have been at the race without the support of partner and team mate Ian.

British NPS round 1 :: XC :: Kate's Report

Less than two weeks ago Ian and I were in Oz basking on the glorious Sydney beaches and topping up our tans. It has been a complete shock to the system returning to cloudier days and the cooler temperature of the UK, but this Easter weekend the Cotic Soda in all her Bontrager finery were sparkling in the sunshine.

The first round of the British National Point Series was held at Thetford Forest. I wasn’t too sure if the jet lag would still be hanging around this weekend, but was really looking forward to testing my form against the best girls in Britain and also two of the top girls of New Zealand.

Thetford is not known for it’s mountainous terrain, but the last time I raced here I absolutely loved the fast and flowing single track. There was nothing I found difficult on the course, but I knew it would be a very fast paced race and possibly be almost like a road race. There weren’t many obvious places to attack, and I imagined good tactics would play an important part to the end result. With absolutely no road racing experience, I knew it could be a very difficult race for me, but was very excited about the challenge.

On the start line with a minute to go, I wondered whether the start would be a crazy sprint around the first loose corner or if it would be slightly more chilled out as we found wheels to sit behind as to save energy for the first of the five laps we had to face. As the whistle sounded we were off and the Soda literally sprung into action and made her way to the front. I needed to chill out though as there was no point wasting energy early on. It was the first time I had all my Bontrager wheels and components, plus the Pace C-Type forks on the bike too, and the whole package felt amazing. I was leading the pack as we finished the first lap and my coach Matt Hart from TORQ reminded me not to be doing all the work at the front, so I started to back off slightly.

The first half of the race was quite strange, as I’m used to going hard from the word go and then just maintaining that pace. In this case it was a combination of a comfortable chilled out cadence to cranking it up so hard that my heart was pounding to well above maximal zone. However my legs were feeling strong and I enjoyed the short bursts of intensity as a few of the girls started to attack.

Jenn O’Connor (Patterson Training) and Paula Moseley (Climb On Bikes) and I were taking our turns at the front. Even though I knew I was working hard while others drafted, I enjoyed the freedom I had when I was out in front on the single track. Nobody tried to overtake on the narrow trail and it was such an awesome feeling pumping the bike into the bends and dips. I was having such a great time that there were moments I forgot I was racing, it was only when we hit the long sections of fire road that I had to stick my racing head back on to avoid being left behind by the group. On the third lap there were five girls left and I was expecting silver Commonwealth games medallist Rosara Joseph (Giant) to make a move soon enough. On the fourth lap the move came, as Rosara and Amy Hunt (Trek) made a break. Jenn O’Connor, Jenny Copnall (Gary Fisher) and I fought on. The three of us could still see the two girls in the distance. As we passed the feed zone for the last time Ian called out that the girls were only 30 seconds in front. The three of us worked together, taking our turns at the front and really pushing the pace. I thought after almost 2 hours of racing that fatigue would start to set in, but we weren’t fading and my Soda was feeling right at home on the twisty single track. With only 2km to go it looked unlikely we would catch the two in front, and now it was down to the three of us racing for positions third to fifth. I decided it was time to make a move and before I knew it I had snuck in front of Jenn O’Connor on the last single track climb. I wasn’t sure if this was a wise move or not, and knew there was a long fire road section coming up before a tight piece of single track that dropped down onto the fire road, before a 10 metre climb to the finish line. I dug deep and just wanted to head into the single track first. I knew my legs weren’t feeling fatigued and was confident I had more in me, but I also knew that it wasn’t going to be easy to take third. As soon as I dropped on to the fire road I gave it everything. I actually closed my eyes and pretended I was being chased by a snake (I hate snakes). I kept expecting the girls to go past, but before I knew it I had crossed the finish line in third position, with Jenn O’Connor fourth and Jenny Copnall fifth. There were only 1-2 seconds between the three of us. Amy Hunt took the win and Rosara Joseph finished second.

I was very pleased with how I raced. I did a lot of work at the front and felt strong. Although I was racing, I wanted a really hard work out this weekend, in order to get stronger for the remaining races. It wasn’t until later that I remembered that I still had an important race coming up. Unfortunately my heart was beating so hard all night that I couldn’t sleep. Plus I could feel my legs trying to repair themselves and a mild pain in my lower back. When I woke at 6am I felt 100 years old.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

2007 Oceania Championships, Thredbo Australia

A report from Kate:

The final race of the Potter’s Cotic Tour de Oz was the Oceania championships. This annual race is the equivalent in UCI points to the European Championships and attracts riders from all the countries down under, namely Australia and New Zealand. Originally Ian and I were due back in the UK two weeks earlier to acclimatize to the rain and cold that we have had the pleasure of avoiding this winter. However with much grovelling from Ian who wanted to continue to top up his tan I decided that two more weeks of sunny weather and ‘Home & Away’ beaches wouldn’t be such a bad thing, so off we headed to Thredbo for the 2007 Oceania Championships.

I knew the course well as I won the third round of the Australian cross country series here. I love this course as it not only has technical descents, but really tough climbs and fast single track that keeps you smiling. Now back to the weather. As I said earlier on Ian wanted to stay two weeks longer to top up his tan. Well it wasn’t to be as winter had arrived early in Thredbo and snow, rain and plenty of mud were forecast all weekend. On my last practice lap the clouds moved in, ready and waiting to attack all the colourful lycra clad creatures who dared venture out of bed at 6am for their last opportunity to practice the course. I was one of the very few, and half way round started wishing I had worn thermals. Fortunately the elite men and women weren’t racing until Sunday, so we had 24 hours to pray for a sunny day.

Ian and I decided to wait until the last moment to choose which tyres would be more appropriate for the conditions. Ian was leaving the decision to me, as he knows I hate making decisions. I wasn’t convinced that mud tyres would be the best tyre choice, in fact I thought they could be suicidal on all the rocky sections. The minutes were ticking by and finally I flipped a coin and mud tyres it was (gulp).

The rain had finally stopped in time for our race, but the winter chill had well and truly set in. I honestly have never been so cold before a race before. As I warmed up on the road I lost feeling in all my fingers and my lips had turned blue. Apparently we had it easy though as the down hillers were enduring minus eight degrees on their start line.

As the whistle sounded it was a fast, but sluggish start, as a few metres after the start line we had to ride up a muddy bank that cruelly made you feel like you were riding with your brakes on. I had caught a dose of the racing nerves and I found myself holding back and riding as stiff as an ironing board. As we hit a long concrete path I slipped on the wooden edge and lost touch of the leading girls in front. I also apologise now to the rest of the pack who were forced to dodge me as I scrambled back on my bike. I must have been back in 10th place and couldn’t see the leading girls. I thought I might be able to make up some time on the road climb, but my legs weren’t having it today. I knew I had to stay focused and rely on my trusty Soda to get me round. Slowly, but surely I started to relax and on the third lap I was having the time of my life on the descents, but just lacked any speed on the climbs. It was quite strange as training has been going well, but I felt like I was going half the speed today. By the fourth lap I was in fifth position and could see a New Zealand girl ahead. Ian informed me that my third and fourth lap times were quicker than a few of the girls in front, but I had to dig deep as I had lost too much time at the start. I was giving it everything, but could feel myself tiring and starting to really slow. I was determined to hang on to fifth position. As I hit the last short climb that took me over the bridge to the finish line, I almost ran as the ground was so soft that I felt like I was going no where. When I hit the bridge for the last time I couldn’t believe the ground still felt really soft, as I was riding wooden boards. I looked down and there you have it, a very soft rear tyre, 15 psi to be exact when Ian checked it a little later on. Thinking back it may have leaked some air when I hit the wooden step at the start, but I was too nervous to have been thinking logically to have checked it during the race. Well at least it was an awesome training session, as my legs were well and truly hurting, heart pumping and lungs screaming by the end.

I was so relieved to have finished. I held on to fifth position and managed to be the second Aussie girl home. I was really excited for Tory Thomas who managed second place, but New Zealand’s Rosara Joseph showed her true class and took top honours by a huge 13 minute margin.

Well the adventures in Oz have been fair dinkum (I love that word), and we have really enjoyed riding it up in the Australia made sunshine and on the dustiest trails known to woman. However we have a lot to look forward to as we return for another summer in the UK and France. With only a week to recover from jet lag it will be interesting to see how the legs go for the first round of the British national point series at Thetford Forest.
Look forward to seeing you there.

I can’t thank all my family, friends and industry sponsors enough for all their support out here in Oz. A special thankyou to –

A Quick Release Holidays
TORQ Fitness
Pace Suspension Forks
Bigfoot Bike Bags

Also thanks to the boys at Hope, Crank Bros, Sram, Cyclops Powertap and Endura.

During our stay in Oz we also had the help and support from –
Dean & Genevieve (
Warren & Zoe (King of the Mountain)
Claire & Paul