Less than three weeks ago I completed 24hrs solo at Mountain Mayhem, and knew from past experiences that my legs would be feeling blobby and not worthy of racing my trusty Soda. I didn't want to miss being involved at Bontrager 24/12, and had origianlly been asked to ride a couple of laps as part of a fun team alongside Keith Bontrager and friends. However an annoying tiny thought started creeping into my Potter brain that kept teasing me to race 24hrs. I couldn't shake this thought, and mentioned my idea casually to my coach Matt, husband Ian, Cy, Andy, and all the lads who joined us out here in Luchon. All of them said NO, that it was time to recover. Ian kept reminding me that I haven't had a break for three seasons and it was time to chill before the heavy training load begins all over again.
Then Cy had this wonderful idea! Why don't we enter the mixed team category and race for 12hrs. Numerous phone calls later and our team still consisted of just Cy and moi. Apparently all our Cotic and AQR crew were really busy that weekend, especially after checking out the weather forecast. So I had no choice but to book a ticket back to the UK for Mr Potter only four days before the event. It would be a surprise, an early birthday present.
Ian looked at me in disbelief when I announced his birthday present, 'a ticket back to the UK, woopy....doo'. There is no pleasing that man sometimes. I thought he would be chuffed to bits to spend time racing alongside his beloved (that would be me, Cy), and enjoying the Cotswolds single track. I gathered he was going to miss me for those five days if I left him here in Luchon all on his lonesome, with nothing better to do than ride down hill runs off the Luchon lift each day with Russ.
The Cotic mixed team was truly mixed, but truly Cotic. Firstly there was Mr Cy Turner, Cotic guru, and the least likely of all three team members to be wearing lycra. Cy's bike of choice for this weekend would be the Cotic Hemlock. Next up was the grumpy guru himself, my darling Mr Potter, who wouldn't stop moaning about the weather or the fact that he hadn't raced for over 15 years. Ian had no choice but to use the Cotic Soul with brakes the wrong way round to what he normally uses. Then finally there was moi. I had nominated myself as team mechanic for the weekend, as well as racer. After all the events I go to where Ian and Cy work tirelessly to support me, I thought it were only fair to give something back to the boys by helping them with their own bikes. Cy even presented me with my very own Cotic mechanic apron, and bright yellow rain coat that Matt said made me look like Captain Pugwall (whoever that might be) [Pugwash Katie dear. No culture, these Aussies - Cy], so as you can imagine I felt very important. My bike of choice for the weekend would be my loovely Cotic Soda.
Well the start of the weekend was a chilly one, and I worked very hard pumping tyres and pumping more tyres and then changing tyres as the rain continued, and then changing tyres again when Ian decided he wanted a faster tyre on the back....between you and me I think Ian was starting to become a little bit of a race diva or he was just keeping me busy pumping tyres as he prefers to be seen as the mechanic in our relationship. I even caught him trying to hide my mechanic's apron would you believe.
The race started on Saturday at 12pm and I nominated myself to start the first lap. I hadn't ridden a bike for over 24hrs and I was itching to start. Meanwhile Ian wasn't even in his racing lycra and Cy who was suffering from a cold on Friday, was now suffering from the brandy flavoured medicine the TREK boys had encouraged him to consume the night before....although it truly did wonders for clearing his sinuses.
I decided to use the first lap as a little warm up, and just enjoy myself on the single track. There were some muddy sections that made the course exciting in places, and I really enjoyed the final section of woops, until I found myself, along with two other riders, totally lost some how. It was probably my fault as I was really enjoying that section and didn't want it to end. I finished my first lap buzzing and couldn't wait to have another 'ride' around the course. However something very strange happened to my husband. When Ian came through and handed the batton over his first words were '10 minutes quicker!', mind you he looked like he was going to pass out. But it was like he was saying to me, the current elite racer in OUR relationship, 'beat that!'. Where was the love I ask you? I thought we were just having a bit of fun, but oh no Ian had to try and take me on, even though we were meant to be on the same team!
From that moment onwards the Potters were at war. Poor Cy had to put up with Ian and I trying to out do each other for the next few hours. Every lap we were checking each others times, winding each other up, and doing our best to beat the other Potter. I cheekily mentioned at one point that my last lap was 41 minutes so 'beat that', only 8 minutes off the truth, but he needn't know that. I was determined to rip his legs off, as he was mine.
With 7hrs to go Cy was forced to quit as his cold had taken it's toll. The Cotic mixed team was down to the two Potters and I could feel my post 24hr solo legs wanting to go no faster. So I had to think tactically, what would really wind my husband up. As he came through to pass over the baton I smiled at him sweetly and informed him that we would now be riding alternate laps. I figured this would really tire the man out and he may slow down to ensure he would make it to the end, but then I realised that I actually prefer riding double laps. After some lengthy debate, where I basically did all the talking and Ian just tried to catch his breath and shoo me off, I decided a double lap it would be.
By this point the course was super, especially as light faded and off camber roots became slippery. There were some difficult sections that really tested your skill, but made the course more exciting. When I had finished my double lap I returned to Cy and suddenly felt this huge wave of hunger. I realised that I had forgotten to eat enough carbs on the double lap and I quickly overdosed on some TORQ bars. As I set off for my final lap I was shaking from cold. I had many layers on, but I knew I was feeling weak and that my final lap would be a tough one. Half way round I was feeling dizzy and knew I had made a huge mistake on the last lap by not consuming enough carbs. It seemed like forever and a day before I returned to Ian who had a storming final lap. In the end the Cotic Mixed Team finished 5th place, and after only 6 laps I was shattered....you can't tell me racing as a team is any easier than solo.
Once our racing lycra had been packed away, and the poor 24hr riders were past the half way point, it was time for the Potters to chill. Deep down I was surprised, but very proud of Ian who really ripped my legs off this time round. While I had to drag Ian away from his beloved Pyrenees to take part in the Cotic Mixed Team at Bontrager 24/12, it won't be the last time. Ian actually admitted later on that he would love to ride 'against' me again, together as a mixed pair....what have I created?
It really was a top weekend and many thanks to Martyn Salt, Keith Bontrager, Rob Lee and all the team for organising such a great event....Look forward to the next one.