Thursday, April 3, 2008

The AQR Race Team

In 2007 I was the lone racer on the Cotic Bontrager Race Team, but this didn’t mean I was the only one on the team. It just meant that I had a fantastic support crew who did more for me than I ever expected, but who preferred to be coffee guzzling rowdy spectators than riding around in off road circles. There was, and still is Cy Turner, owner of Cotic, who always goes above and beyond his role as team coordinator and who has designed me lovely looking bikes for racing, riding and guiding on; My always smiling hubby Ian who is a mighty fine bottle feeder, mechanic and bike builder; Paul Dexter who is second in line for the top job at passing me water bottles and chasing after me when I have dropped a gel, plus he is quite handy when it comes to fixing my bikes; Andy Gowan from Bontrager who has accessorised my bikes so that if I’m riding badly at least my bike will still look good; and of course Matt Hart my crazy coach who makes me overdose on delicious TORQ goodies to keep me on an energetic high…plus help from a dozen other people who all make my mountain biking life a darn good one if I do say so myself.

But here’s the thing…I felt like such a mountain biking diva last year. I had all these lovely lads running around after me: building my bikes, washing my bikes, fixing my bikes……even touching my feet when I struggled to take my muddy shoes and socks off after a race. Now between you and me my feet aren’t the prettiest of sights, in fact they smell better than they look, so I really am spoilt to have such an amazing race crew looking after me in more ways than one. But I also became quite embarrassed about being the only racer on a race team. I had all this attention just because I enjoy riding my bike. I tried to convince the team that they too would love riding around in circles for 24hrs, or busting a gut, and trying to breathe when racing cross-country. I promised them they would love every muddy moment, but they would rather touch my feet!

So my plan for 2008 was to expand the team so there would be more than one diva riding a Cotic bike in 2008. Plus as an added bonus I have nominated myself as Team AQR pit person (or the Pit Shiela as I say in Oz). I started working on my bottle-feeding technique at the fourth round of the Gorrick series last weekend, but more about that next week when I release my latest race report. All I can say is that I have some creeping to do…as I wasn’t a very good at it!

The AQR team were selected at the end of the 2007 race season. Ian and I wanted a race team who showed 'true blue' mountain biking spirit. We also wanted team members who could offer something different to the team, but above all were team players. I didn’t want riders to think podium results were the be all and end all of mountain bike racing, because personal satisfaction is a far more satisfying result in itself. I wanted the team to strive for personal challenges, as well as support each other along the way…but most importantly I wanted the team to have fun.

A Quick Race Team is a bit of a mouthful really, so we will stick to Team AQR for now or until I can think of something really snazzy. The AQR team will also be riding Cotic Soda race bikes and have chosen to use Magura Durin forks and Bontrager finishing kit. TORQ have kindly offered nutritional support to keep our riders spinning all day long and their heads will be protected by Catlike helmets.

The team met together for the first time on Saturday 29th March at Swinley Forest for a ride, skills session and social chit-chat over cake and coffee. AQR Team members include – Iain Collins , James Dymond , Tracy Miles, Warren Miles, Jon Roberts, Abie Smith, and MR IAN POTTER…who will be returning to mountain bike racing when he can be bothered…or when I drag him to the start line if he tries to chicken out.

Check out Team AQR above and below and look out for them at –

Gorrick Spring Series
10 at Kirroughtree
Mountain Mayhem
Bontrager 24/12
National Point Series
Sleepless in the Saddle
Dust ‘till Dawn
And a selection of mountain bike and adventure races in the UK and Europe that they have each chosen to focus on in 2008.

Be back soon with my next race report from the fourth round of the Gorrick Spring Series. A day where I discovered how much more fun racing is then passing those darn water bottles...especially when your hard work is not appreciated Mr Potter! Between you and me he is the real mountain biking diva.

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