Thursday, March 27, 2008



I hope you all had a wonderful Easter and the snow didn’t dampen your spirits or stop you from riding your favourite trails across the weekend. Ian and I spent Easter in one of my favourite areas of the UK world, Church Stretton. The annual AQR Spring weekend became the AQR Easter weekend this year, and what a wonderful turn out of bikers who weren’t put off by the depressing weather reports leading up to the weekend. Thirty riders joined the AQR boys Ian, Jon, Paul and one AQR lady, that be moi, for a weekend on the Long Mynd. As promised the sun followed the AQR crew around for most of the weekend with only the occasional blizzard, but to my huge relief no snowflake stopped our mountain bike tracks and we managed two full days of riding.

I have to admit the week leading up to the AQR Easter weekend was filled with KP worry. I’m a worry-wort at the best of times. But…I don’t know if I’m allowed to start a sentence off with BUT, but I will any way because my BUT wants emphasis. BUT when every news channel has severe weather warnings; and there is a huge black blanket of cloud covering the area where AQR will be guiding on a weekend trip that I organised…then you would be worried too! I had visions of 30 unhappy guests who had paid for an Easter Spring mountain bike weekend, who had been promised sunshine and dry trails. Naturally I’m the optimistic one in the Potter relationship (for those who know Ian I’m sure you will agree, Ian doesn’t do optimism, luckily for me he doesn’t bother reading my blogs). BUT I knew my optimism could now land me in a trail of trouble. Ian warned me not to promise UK sunshine. I had jinxed our weekend trip and now it looked like AQR’s Easter Spring ride could be a bleak one.

When Ian and I arrived on Good Friday morning we had planned to check out Saturdays ride. The Potters had arrived in sunshine, but as we took off to ride the Carding Mill climb it started snowing. As we headed up the first climb it started blowing a gale and I couldn’t ride my bike. I was fighting the wind, and even when I thought I was on the right line I ended up being blown back down the hill or even worse, being blown off my bike…this is when a light bike is not an advantage.

Once we reached the top Ian and I were screaming at each other, not because we were mad, but because the wind was so strong we couldn’t hear each other. I couldn’t read Ian’s lips either as he is a mumbler and has a strange accent…he needs to learn some proper aussie-english. Although I think Ian quite enjoyed some KP silence for a change. By the time we had descended down the other side the weather had worsened. My lips had turned a shade of blue and I couldn’t see too far out in front as the snow was blinding. I wasn’t too sure how to ride my bike either, as the wind was taking control of it and I was merely the passenger. I might have been laughing and enjoying the situation had I worn my winter thermals, but silly me was saving them for the next day. Who needs finger tips and toes anyway...mmmmm.

Well we returned back to the B&B as fast as the wind would take us, and I mean that literally. It was time to face the guests glowing glare who were expecting a spring mountain bike ride…….

Well who was worried about the weather? As promised AQR delivered! Considering there were the darkest of clouds lingering in the distance, the sun gods heard my prayers. Both days were filled with as much riding as people wanted, a couple of snowmen and just one blizzard to test our thermals…. And this time I was ready!

Stay tuned as I will be posting photos shortly……Niall I need your help for that one please.

Before I log off I just want to say a huge thankyou to Martyn Brookes for all your help on the weekend, really appreciated it. Also due to popular demand AQR will try and organise a summer weekend trip in August or you could just come and see Ian and I in Luchon if you would like some biking in proper mountains. The Annual Xmas weekend will be on again too, so check out for more info on that one.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Mt Beauty - Rnd 4 Oz National Series

Thankyou for looking after me in Mt Beauty Gen & Dean (TORQ OZ).

Rnd 4 Aussie National Champs

Rnd 4 Aussie National Champs
Originally uploaded by Kate Potter
Mt Beauty is one of my favourite courses.

Rnd 4 Aussie National Champs

Rnd 4 Aussie National Champs
Originally uploaded by Kate Potter
My favourite section through the trees. One had to watch their handle bars or risk kissing dirt.

Australian National Cross Country Series Round 4 – Mt Beauty, Victoria.

The Cotic Bontrager Race Team has arrived back in the UK, leaving behind the hot dusty days of Oz and settling back into the frost filled mornings of winter in the UK. I decided to write my last Aussie race report when I returned to the UK, as I thought the distant memories of an Aussie summer would bring some much needed warmth back into my bones….mmmm maybe not as I sit here all rugged up in a dozen layers and my trusty ol’ Cotic beanie.

It was a week between the Australia National cross country race in Canberra and the final round of the Australian Series down in the Victorian Alps. After a disastrous race in Canberra I couldn’t wait to have another crack at a national XC race. I had all this built up frustration that I wanted to let rip on the racecourse and I was determined to make the final race in Oz a good one. Ian was also pleased I had another race so soon after the worst race of my life, as he was forced to spend over 6hrs in the same vehicle with an angry Ms Potter, who I must say was becoming quite the whingeing Pom of the Potter brigade at that moment in time. As somebody who loves to race hard, there’s nothing worse when perfect preparation and strong legs aren’t enough to bring home a good result. I guess that’s what makes mountain bike racing so exciting, and why I actually thrive on turning a bad race into a good one.

I was looking forward to racing at Mt Beauty again. The mountain bike club, ‘Team Mount Beauty’ who were organising the event, have developed a wide range of trails over the years, including plenty of down hill tracks that are all very testing, along with huge single track climbs that are a pleasure to suffer on, if that makes any sense. The area is similar to our summer home in the French Pyrenees, and the local mountain bike scene is a true blue biker friendly one. I’m not going to go into tonnes of detail about the three days leading up to the race. All I can say is those three days were spent riding and enjoying the beauty that is Mt Beauty, it’s one of the loveliest places to go mountain biking in Oz.

The morning of race day I woke up feeling rather sad as I knew it might be a couple of years before we would return to race in Australia again, unless we win the lottery. Ian couldn’t understand my mixed emotions the morning of the race. One minute angry to race hard, the next minute a right cry-baby who was sad to leave Oz…so as all good husbands do he threw me in the pool. It did the trick though, as I couldn’t stop laughing after that and all my nerves disappeared.

I decided to warm up early and focus on my race plan, or rather I tried to think of a half decent race plan. I knew a good start was crucial, but I was going to be starting towards the back of the grid, which meant I could get blocked on the single track early on as there wasn’t much overtaking space on this course. I tried to imagine each section of the course and where there would be opportunities to pass people.

The start of the course was a fairly wide 100m climb that soon became a narrow piece of single track into the first technical section of the race. A set of tight switchbacks followed, before a series of step-downs in between a couple of gum trees or rather one tree that had been split at the base to form a V. It wasn’t a difficult section to ride slowly, but you had to be careful your handle bar didn’t catch the side of each trunk as it would be easy to lose momentum and end up kissing dirt. There was an A and B line at the end of this section. The B line was a short steep drop on to the fire road, while the A line was again through a tree, but you had to roll over a huge root to begin with as you entered the V line of the trunk. In practice I only saw the elite men riding the quicker line. Ian asked me what line I would ride during the race. It wasn’t really a question though, but rather ‘YOU WILL RIDE THAT LINE!’ I can tell when Ian expects me to ride something easily. Mr Potter gives me this daring little smile and sometimes does this really bad imitation of some creature called Yoda who says ‘Do or do not, there is no try!’. The voice is cringe worthy at the best of times. The A line was definitely the faster line. So I went for it and had no worries rolling through the tree, in fact it was quite easy once I relaxed and believed I could ride it. One of my pet hates is when your mind plays tricks on you and makes you think a trail is much harder than it actually is.

Once you dropped on to the fire road the climb really started and soon turned into a narrow piece of single track that weaved up the mountainside. I lost count of the number of switchbacks, and rooty straights that followed; plus there was a cheeky little rock garden that forced your whole body into action in order to maintain constant speed over the sharp jagged rocks.

At the top of the climb there was a wide trail of no more than 300m long that lead to some really testing single track at speed. There were fast sandy berms, and logs to jump, before a tight switch back that dropped into a fast bomb hole, that was longer than any bomb hole I have ever ridden in the UK. The trail was pretty rough at the bottom, with plenty of braking bumps to keep it testing. Then the trail narrowed into an off camber section over a few rocks, before another off camber shoot that had roots and rocks across it, forcing you on to the clearest line that was right on the edge of a drop that was eroding away.

The trail then undulated through the tress and this is when the fun really started. You could pick up plenty of speed, but there were numerous obstacles in the way from rock gardens to north shore, drop offs to bmx style jumps that kept you buzzing all the way down. Parts of the trail were grippy for an Aussie trail, but every so often the sandy sections would leave you drifting wide as your tyres tried to find grip. There were a few short steep climbs towards the end of this section to remind you how painfully fun mountain biking always is, before more fast bermed sections that were such a pleasure to ride hard. Once you left the gum trees behind you faced a wide grassy descent that had huge deep gullies all the way down. Ian was jumping the lot of them in practice, and just letting the brakes off all the way down. I was a bit more conservative (or perhaps a little too chicken) to let the brakes off completely, as I had visions of nose-diving in the air if I got my timing wrong. There was a drop off at the end of this section as the trail widened, before a short piece of single track that opened up to the finishing straight.

I spent my entire warm up before the race imagining the course from start to finish and different scenarios that could take place. I knew the lines I wanted to take and even dared myself to let go of the brakes on the last grassy track, as that was the only section I was not riding aggressively enough in practice.

When the race started, as expected I was blocked, and not in the best of positions early on as I made my way into the first technical section between the trees. I was ready to dismount and run, as I knew there would be a bottleneck and somebody was bound to fall. As expected it was a girl right in front of me, so I jumped through the trees trying my best not to tread on her head and focused on riding the A line. All the girls in front were taking the B line, so I knew it was a good opportunity to make up some positions. However I didn’t have a lot of speed and as I approached the root the side of my body was forced into the trunk and I was on the verge of going over the handlebars. There were a lot of spectators watching this section, and as always you heard the ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ as the riders passed by, including plenty of cheering. I didn’t want to kiss dirt in front of this crowd, so I had to think of Ian’s bad Yoda impression ‘Do or Do Not, there is no try!’. I looked ahead and somehow made it on to the fire road where I moved into 5th or 6th position…so three cheers for Yoda who made me think DO!

I started to make up more places on the climb, but found myself behind Dellys Starr who had about a 20 second gap on Rowena Fry who was leading the series and Tory Thomas the local favourite. I tried several time to pass the girls in front, but they held their line confidently and I remained buzzing on their back wheels. I felt like I could have ridden the climb quicker, but I was lacking any short sprint power to get by. On the descents they were both rapid, and I had to give it everything to keep them in sight. It wasn’t until half way round the third lap that I finally passed Tory and caught up to Rowena who was in second place. I remained on Rowena’s back wheel and encouraged her to get a move on up the climb, as I was certain we were going to be caught.

On the final lap I had to think about making a move, as I knew I had to be in front of Rowena going into the final descent. It wasn’t until the top of the final climb that I passed Rowena and then I just sprinted as hard as I could. I thought Rowena was still on my back wheel, and I knew I had to let go of the brakes down the last grassy descent if I was going to stay in front. I remembered Yoda and thought to myself ‘Do or Do Not! There is no Try!’. I pushed myself to find air over the grassy jumps and let out a little squeal in the process. I would like to say it was a squeal of delight, but I’m pretty sure it was one of ‘Holly cow, please let me land this…type squeal’ if you get my drift. I sprinted all the way across the finishing straight and took a very pleasing second place behind Dellys Starr.

I absolutely loved this race from start to finish. The course was testing both physically and technically. It wasn’t enough to be fit, you had to be able to ride a mountain bike to really enjoy this course. It was a nice feeling to have a good race, especially as this was the last national race on my 07 Cotic Soda, who has looked after me and been my own little brumby of a race bike. I have a slightly different Soda for 2008 that will hopefully be built up very soon, as I can’t wait to show her off to the biking world.

As always I’m very grateful to the Cotic Bontrager Team and loyal sponsors who continue to support my racing adventures in Oz, UK and across Europe.
Also a special thank you to Yoda for your inspirational words, and Ian Potter for being such a great team mate!

Mt Beauty - Rnd 4 Oz National Series

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Sorry I had to have a little moment.....I'm about to turn 30. Tomorrow is the big day where I kiss my 20 some things goodbye. I thought I would be able to spend today making the most on my 29th year, but I have so much news to report on and so many fantastic adventures that deserve a mention that the rest of the day will be spent typing my little heart out. Just so you know why I have been slacking on my writing duties the last couple of weeks, this is what Ms Potter has been getting up to since her last race in Oz all those weeks ago. Below is the prologue to a dozen reports that will be coming your way soon -

February 1-2 AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL POINT SERIES Rnd 4 - This race continues to keep a smile on my face as I think of the fast flowy single track, drop offs, north shore and rock gardens that tested the XC racers. One of the most techy courses I have raced, and a course that I simply loved from start to finish. My favourite race course yet, and a great result too on board my looooovely Cotic Soda. Stay tuned as report will be up shortly....

February 20-28 TORQ TRAINING CAMP - 8 days of sunshine, and close to 40hrs of quality riding. Body feels nicely knackered which is the result my coach Matt wanted. Nice steady miles with 28 other riders and an occasional blast to take on the faster lads. A report filled with crazy TORQ tuned adventures and a few hits of caffeine along the way that will hopefully entice other riders out there to get on their bikes and pedal! Report to follow soon....

March 1 AQR LADY (and their Lads) DAY - What a day! 30 lovely ladies and their lads took part in a day of mountain bike skills coaching, trail side maintenance and bike set up. COTIC and TREK bikes were available to test ride and our favourite camera lady Joolze Dymond offered a photography workshop. Ian, Paul, and I were joined by members of the AQR Race Team to show participants how they can improve their skills simply by focusing on the basics. Many thanks to my dearest friend Abie, who not only races for AQR, but is a trained mechanic who helped the ladies and their partners understand more about trail side maintenance and bike set up. Check out the TREK website for a little article about the event.

March 2 - COTIC BIG DAY OUT - Another day out for Cotic owners and Cotic 'want to be owners' who came along and tested the range of Cotic bikes on show. AQR guided the group around the fast and flowing trails at Sherwood Pines, and showed off some of the new exciting trails in development that weave in and out of the trees. Passers by couldn't help but gasp at the number of Cotic riders whizzing by with huge smiles on their faces. A great day out with the sun following us around all day.

*So that is what I have been up to the past few weeks, including training every day and running the AQR office. It has been quite a hectic few weeks, but tomorrow for my birthday I'm supposedly being spoilt...all I know is that I'm not allowed to wear any cycling kit and I have to dress like a lady, but Ian has also said that I'm allowed to take my running fingers crossed Ian was only joking when he said I have to get dressed up and wear a skirt or I would much rather ride my bike or go for a run...easy pleased me.

The Potter's continue to be busy over the next 6 weeks with more crazy mountain bike events to look forward to, including the AQR Easter weekend in Shropshire which is almost full. Only two place left if you fancy coming along for a good laugh and some of our favourite trails in Shropshire. Ian and I will both be at the Outdoors Show, where you will find us on the TREK stand as guest speakers on 15-16 March. Loved to see you all if you can come along for that one. I will also be introducing you all to the AQR Race Team who will be racing on....COTIC SODA RACE BIKES. Photos and info about the team will be posted shortly. There is just so much news that my finger tips are starting to wear away from all this typing lark. I must dash as my bike is calling me, as it's time for a few hours on the bike before the sun sets.
I promise to have the first of many reports up soon.
Keep smiling...KPxo