Tuesday, April 8, 2008


The Potters have landed back in Luchon!!!!! Suddenly Spring has arrived even though it was supposed to have started a few weeks ago. I have spent the last 6 years living out of a suit case, giving up the working life of a teacher and taking on the 24/7 role of running a mountain bike holiday company, guiding, training and racing. I always wondered whether I would find a home somewhere in my travels, and I'm certain Luchon is it. Ian and I opened the door to our semi built home and it was like "YAYAYAYAYAY". I guess you could say I was rather excited about being back in the mountains again.

The past month Ian and I have been racing around like mad mozzies: working long hours to pay the bills, training early or very late to get my legs ready for the 2008race season, and sorting through all the year's worth of memorable mess that has accumulated in my inlaws home. Ian and I had planned to drive down to Luchon following the fourth round of the Gorrick race series last Sunday, but then I convinced Ian he should race too. Ian wisely decided that he would need a good few days to recover from his first cross country race in too many years to mention. In fact it was to be the first time Ian has ridden a bike properly in over a month, so naturally I was full of enthusiasm for our racing adventure ahead, and Ian, well I knew he would enjoy racing again once he got going.

The Gorrick race was going to be my first UK cross country race for 2008. I have raced a couple in the past and always really enjoyed the courses and their atmosphere. I convinced Ian he would love the experience too. I even promised I would be his bottle feeder, mechanic and that he could be the race diva for a change....Unfortunately I am easily distracted at races, especially when there are so many lovely people to chat to. Before I knew it Ian had prepped his race bike and was on the start line....and already I had lost his darn water bottles!

I was a nervous wreck as I waited for the men to start (I'm under strict orders not to mention what categorary Ian entered). In fact I was more nervous than when I actually line up on the starting grid myself at races. I was worried that my beloved Mr Potter might fall off or truly suffer and never speak to me again. I was worried that I might drop Ian's water bottle or forget to pass him a gel on that final lap. I didn't realise until that moment in time how much responsibility Ian takes on whenever I drag him to a race. Not only was I responsible for passing Ian water bottles and that one gel, but I had to be cheer leader and chief motivational screamer as well.

The racers took off. Ian wearing AQR red and blue was mid field. I couldn't tell whether he was smiling or grimacing as his face always looks like that. I set my watch so I knew approximately what time he would be racing by. I wasn't sure what the course was like, but expected each lap to be no longer than 30 minutes.

As riders from different categories went by their faces told a story of survival. Bikes were muddy, brakes were dragging and bodies were almost unrecognisable. I decided to move to a wide area that was slightly up hill so Ian could grab a bottle from me on the right. As Mr Potter rode by I yelled at him to 'PEDAL!!!!!' Ian and I have this saying that he thinks really motivates me. He always screams out at me to:'PEDAL! YOU CALL THAT PEDALLING!'. So naturally I used the same technique as he didn't look like he was suffering badly enough. He grabbed the bottle from my hand and told me to 'be quiet you stupid woman!'. It might sound harsh, but Ian thinks that's how Aussie blokes speak to their women kindly. I must say when he speaks to me like that I can't help but laugh.

My first bottle feed was a huge success I'm pleased to announce, but then it all went wrong. On the second lap I was distracted and forgot to stand where Ian expected me to be. I guess I was hoping he would appreciate some variety from where I passed him a bottle on the previous lap (who likes routine anyway). As Ian was trying to unwrap his gel with his left hand I was holding out a bottle on the left hand side instead of the right. I didn't realise my mistake until Ian almost dropped the bottle and gave me one of those 'what are you doing!' type looks.

I felt terrible and realised I didn't give him the Forest Fruits guarana filled gel he wanted to get him through the final lap. So I decided to walk the course backwards and if I found him passed out in a ditch, I could be the heroine in shining lycra who saves him by squeezing that much needed energy gel into his mouth.

Instead of finding a broken man I could hear My Potter's voice in the distance.....selling AQR Holidays! I couldn't believe it. I gave Ian a right telling off for not trying hard enough. You can't possibly be a salesman and race at the same time. I then realised he needed that gel, so waved it in his face down a steep off camber rooty section, that didn't look like it had much grip. Then I was the one being told of as he almost crashed half way down trying to ride one handed whilst grabbing the gel from me.

Well I'm pleased to say Ian finished in one piece, 11th overall in the Veteran's categorary (woops I let it slip). Ian's first proper ride on a bike for over a month was quite a painful one, but I'm pleased to say he started smiling again within the next hour and will be back for more.

The day hadn't finished though and now our roles had reversed. It was my turn to face the race course and Ian's turn to strutt his stuff as chief Potter bottle feeder. I'm not going to go into great detail about the race as it was a perfect race for me. Would you believe it is so much harder to write a race report when everything goes well. I had four laps to get through and my goal was to beat Ian's lap times. I had some good opposition, including elite racer Maddie Horton, but I wanted to make mince meat out of Ian. I was hoping if I had faster lap times it would motivate Ian to come out training with me more often. Fortunately the weather was on the ladies side and we had lovely sunshine and a much dryer course to compete on. The course didn't disapoint and the singletrack was testing, but great fun. Plenty of short steep climbs and flowing single track, plus a little bit of sticky mud along the way. I finished with a win, but more importantly destroyed Ian's lap times, which has now fired Ian up to get some speed back into his legs.

Well that was then and this is now. Tomorrow I'm off to Switzerland with the Austraian ladies mountain bike crew to begin my European cross country adventure. There will be 7 Aussie shielas, Aussie Coach Garron Buckland and my Mr Potter who will be mechanic and bus driver for us divas. I will be competing in Europe for the first part of the season. I will try my darnest to beat the likes of Gunn Rita Dahl and Sabine Spitz, but my first realistic goal is to focus on not being lapped. I'm really excited about the challenges that lie ahead and racing on new courses against the world's best mountain bikers, which I hope will make an interesting story to share with you all. So stay tuned for reports from -

Swiss Power Cup - Muttenz (12th April)
World Cup 1 - Houffalize (20th April)
World Cup 2 - Offenburg (27th April)
World Cup 3 - Madrid (4th May)
World Cup 4 - Andorra (31st May)
World Cup 5 - Fort William (7th June)

*I will let you know by June where I will be headed next, but I can confirm that Mr Potter and I will be teaming up at Bontrager 24/12 on the 26th July. Hope to see you there.

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