Sunday, June 28, 2009

British Mountain Bike Cross Country Series Round 4

Ian and I returned from the fourth round of the British Cross Country Series 6hrs ago, but our brains are still a bit behind the times and I'm struggling to stay awake. I experienced one of my hardest races yesterday and to my surprise finished in first place. The course was physically very tough or should I say brutal, both on the legs and even the brain. Every rider was forced to concentrate on the technical rooty sections as it was easy to slip or lose speed if you took a bad line. There were plenty of flat switch backs too and I really had to remind myself to look ahead to ensure I gave myself time to get in the right position so I could carry speed and not waste an ounce of energy unnecessarily. There wasn't a moment of rest due to the short climbs and twisting tight single track. It was a fantastic course that was testing in so many ways, and I can honestly say that I loved racing yesterday at Crow Hill, even though it hurt....alot

I must have been out of the saddle for at least 80% of the race and my legs are feeling it today. I was constantly trying to increase the small margin that separated myself from British National Champion Jenny Copnall who I knew was close behind. We had started together on the first lap and even when I had taken over the lead Jenny was right on my tail. I managed to break away towards the end of the first lap, but didn't dare look behind to see what the gap was as I knew there wasn't much in it.  Even when the finish line was in sight I didn't dare ease off the pace as I kept expecting Jenny to sprint past me at any moment. I was lacking some top end speed today due to my training at the moment so I knew if Jenny and I sprinted for the line she would be the stronger racer. So I had to work extra hard to ensure it didn't come down to a sprint finish as my legs weren't capable of accelerating very fast today, but felt strong at a hard consistent speed if that makes any sense...

I'm afraid my fingers are now starting to give in as we had a 4:30am start this morning because Ian set his watch wrong....we thought it was 6:30am. My brain feels fried from post race excitement...which means little sleep anyway and an over zealous brain so it will be a day or two before my full report goes live....sorry. Ian and I have another early start tomorrow as we fly back to France and then I'm off to Spain for a race or rather a good training session where I will face the world champion Margherita Fullana...(gulp). I can guarantee a very hard work out there and then, but as always I'm looking forward to the challenge.

As always thanking Cotic Bontrager Race Team, co-sponsors, friends and and family for all your endless support.

Cheerios for now

Posted via email

Thursday, June 25, 2009

MOUNTAIN MAYHEM 2009, Malvern Hills 20-21 June.

Photos by Joolze Dymond
See and download the full gallery on posterous

What a weekend! In some ways I’m relieved to be sitting here writing this report post race, but at the same time disappointed that my weekend of mountain biking adventure ended so quickly. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to make Mountain Mayhem this year due to my focus on XC and earning UCI points. However when the lovely Nick Craig asked me to join the Scott UK Team for a second time how could I refuse. When Coach gave me the go ahead, I was very excited to be heading to a 24hr mountain biking festival. I have never missed a 24hr event since I started riding a bike. This would be my 6th Mountain Mayhem and I couldn’t wait to taste mud and be surrounded by a team of riders and support crew who I learnt a lot from last year and who kept me laughing all weekend. I loved racing for Scott UK in 2008, and couldn’t wait to be part of their team again in 2009. But it would be a shaky start, a good omen methinks as when do we Potters ever have a smooth racing adventure.


Saturday June 20 started at 3am, then again if I was going to be precise it started around 2am for me as I tossed and turned in my bed hoping that I wouldn’t sleep through the 3am alarm bell. We had last minute packing to sort out before collecting guests at the hotel just before 4am who were on an early flight out of Toulouse. I had planned to sleep in the AQR bus, but our French driver Jo was in a very talkative mood, and I forgot my urge to sleep and used this time to practice speaking french….lots of ‘oui’, ‘non’, ‘oui’ et ‘je ne sais pas’ with shoulder shrugs and plenty of hand gestures later, and we were being dropped off out the front of Toulouse Airport as the sun was rising.


After lots of cheek kisses and hugs it was time to say farewell to our AQR guests and find a place to relax since our check in wasn’t until 7:30am. Our friend Ben(edict) (also known as the Pope  ), was joining us on the same flight as he was heading to Mountain Mayhem as well. The three of us spent the next hour trying to sleep, but as the excitement of our next racing adventure took hold we were soon in pre race discussion mode…’how muddy will Mountain Mayhem be this year? What will the course be like? Who would be the main competition? Which tyres? How much food, drink, caffeine would we need to keep us all going?’ But all I could really think about was ‘Will we get there in time?’


I knew I could ring the Scott UK Team if we were held up, but then Ian left the AQR mobile phone in the mini bus (naturally I blame Ian), which at that point was back in Luchon. So we had no way of contacting anybody if we got ourselves lost, late or stuck at any point en route. I really hate being late for anything, especially a race. I didn’t want the team to think I had forgotten and I wanted to be there to cheer Stu Bowers on who was lining up for the opening run at 2pm. If all went smoothly Ian and I would arrive at 1pm and we would hopefully squeeze a practice lap in before the 2pm race start.


But as I have said often enough in the past, when do the Potter’s racing adventures ever go smoothly. The flight was delayed due to a dramatic arrest on board the flight from London; Passport control was a farce and I was initially told by airport staff to line up with those travellers holding non-EU passports even though I was certain that I was usually allowed to walk through with Ian…over 45 minutes later I’m told that I was right in fact and that I could have gone through with Ian (grrrr). Luckily our luggage arrived in one piece. But with two bags, a bike box, bike bag, hand luggage, extra bulky jumpers wrapped around waist and neck because they wouldn’t fit in my bag and my usual shopping bags full of food…we discovered we had no pounds to get a trolley. The thought of dragging our luggage around Gatwick Airport to where the car hire place was situated did not appeal. Some time later Ian worked out that euro coins were accepted, but with only 1euro coin we only had a single trolley between us.


The two of us were charging here, there and everywhere trying to find Europcar hire. The race was on as we were forced to dodge other bodies and bags that tried to slow the Potters down. Ian guided the trolley with the bikes and I carried (and dragged) the rest of the luggage, stopping every now and then to pick up one of the endless items that I kept dropping. The path was long and windy and after a few missed turns, a few collisions with unsuspecting holiday makers, and an embarrassing moment where we got stuck in a door way, we finally found the car hire building….phew!


There were 6 other car hire companies, including Euopcar, which happened to be the most popular. Ian had to join a line of over 30 people while there was nobody waiting at any other car hire desk. The line took up the whole building and it was pretty clear we weren’t collecting our pre booked hire car anytime soon. Two hours later and we were given the only car they had available….an automatic silver thing (I never remember car names). I was actually very nervous of Ian driving an automatic as he only ever drives a manual. I offered to drive, but Ian admitted he was too scared of me driving on the motorway and that he wanted to arrive at Malvern Hills in one piece….so there may have been a little Potter domestic at this point, but only a little one  To make matters worse the braking was so sharp that for the next hour the back of my head was pounding from the number of times it rebounded off my seat as Ian tried to familiarise himself with how the car worked.


The journey from Gatwick Airport should have taken only a couple of hours to Malvern Hills, but there was plenty of traffic to slow us down and even when we stopped at a service station, we struggled to park up. Once again we were lining up, but this time for a much needed toilet stop and food. Ian and I are not used to crowds, so we were both feeling mighty tense once we had escaped what should have been a relaxing break from driving.


It was a huge relief to arrive in Malvern Hills and park up behind the Scott camping area only a few hours later than we had anticipated, but nevertheless we had arrived. We still had a lot to do, but I was really grateful for the Scott crew and of course Joolze & Dave who helped Ian and I set up camp and build bikes. I was feeling terrible for arriving so late and hope I didn’t put any extra stress on the team. I was told to sit and chill….I think the tension I felt from the inside was quite apparent on the outside as I was talking 100 miles an hour in a higher pitch than normal. Paul Oldham put me at ease right away with his northern sense of humour, as did his two year old son Decklan, sensing my mental frustration little Oldham threw his ball smack bang in the middle of my head….knocking some sense into me along the way and helping me calm down so I could focus on the race ahead.


I found out that it was looking very close between the Scott UK mixed Team and the USE Exposure Lights/Fat face A mixed Team. I expected to go out for some laps early evening, but at that point in time I could feel the fatigue from the day and all the mental stress that the trip took out of us was building up inside my sinuses. My head was pounding and I was not happy. I decided to start warming up and hopefully some physical exercise would make me feel better and release some happy endorphins.


I knew I would definitely be riding 4 laps, perhaps even more, but it all depended on when the team wanted to use me. Just like last year I didn’t want to let the team down. I had more chance of losing it for the guys if I had just one bad lap. If like last year it was close between the elite men then I had to make sure my laps were close, if not quicker than their female rider’s lap times. I also had to make sure I didn’t puncture, suffer a mechanical or in worse case scenario crash and not finish my lap…so no pressure.


I made sure I was warmed up properly, bike was checked over thoroughly and that my brain was in the right space to race hard. Ian made me have 30minutes without speaking and asked me not to think if not for my sake, but for his….I think too much at times you see which wears me down and then wears Ian down when I go into stress chat mode overload. I was quite nervous because I didn’t know how long the lap would take me or how technical the course would be. I also wasn’t feeling too confident about how strong the legs were feeling today.


I gave myself plenty of time to be ready for Nick Craig who would be handing over the baton to me. All I could think about was ‘please don’t be clumsy Kate, please don’t make any mistakes today for the team (gulp, gulp, gulp)’. I felt calmer talking to Kate George, my old team mate who I hadn’t seen for a while. Suddenly I heard ‘Kate! Kate!! KATE!!!!!’ I heard my name, and without thinking I had grabbed the yellow baton and was racing for my bike. It didn’t occur to me that Nick Craig was looking taller than when he left for this lap….’WRONG KATE!!!!’ Luckily I was stopped in time and to my expense the crowd had some entertainment as Kate George tackled my wrist and grabbed the baton that was rightfully hers…..oops, sorry. Well at least I was warmed up and ready to face Nick who came through a few minutes later.


It was such an awesome feeling racing hard. There was nothing to think about now but trying to get from A to B as quickly and safely as possible. It was strange not knowing how long the loop would take me, but my legs took over and I really enjoyed the feeling of riding fast. I was happy to finish with a 43:25 minute lap, a lap that felt much better than I expected. In fact the competitive side of my brain had woken up and I was off to find Mr Potter to see if his Mrs had secured a faster lap time than the ‘fat choozer’, which is the name Ian has called himself lately since putting on 5 kilos . Ian was riding a new Cotic full suspension prototype which he hadn’t tested, in fact it is a little bit of an experiment that even Cy hasn’t seen just yet. Ian hasn’t been training very much, only guiding which is not really training, plus he has been over dosing on peanut butter lately, so I was feeling confident today that I might just record some faster lap times than my husband this weekend. To my dismay Ian had recorded a 43:18 minute lap. I was 7 seconds too slow and didn’t Ian rub it in…DOH!


I was ready for another lap and had about an hour and a half to rest before it was time to hit the course again. Only my darn headache came back and the boys thought it best that I get myself to bed so that I could be fresh for the early morning laps when they felt they would most need me as they were still feeling strong. So it was bedtime for me at 10pm and I was out like a light. I didn’t expect to sleep very well with all the excitement of the race, but Ian said I was snoring good and proper. At 4am I was woken up and it was time to prepare to race. I was feeling so much better than the day before and I was looking forward to getting a night lap in, well what was left of the night as already the sun was rising.


Paul had just come back in and was in a lot of pain due to a stack on already badly bruised ribs from a crash three weeks earlier. I was told that there had been rain during the night and to expect slippery conditions. Now the nervous butterflies were raising their ugly wings. I let some air out of my tyres and was ready for a mud-fest. When Nick passed the baton over there were the usual encouraging words with a warning about the slippery conditions on the second half of the course. I decided to go for gold on the climbs and where there was grip, but would give myself time on the slipperier sections on course to avoid any problems. I could not afford a mechanical or an injury if I crashed. Unfortunately I think I let out too much air and the tyres felt flat beneath me, but on the plus I had no problems riding any of the course. I had amazing grip where other riders were slipping all over the place. So even though I felt slow, I was relieved that I had the grip I needed to ride the course confidently and finished with a 46:16 minute lap time.


The boys were roughly doing between 40-43 minute laps at this point in time, so I had about 2hrs to eat, change and rest before my next lap. 2hrs sounds like a long time, but it flew by and before I knew it I was heading down for my third lap. I decided a Torq Forest Fruits guarana gel would be just what the brain and body needed. Now for someone who doesn’t drink any caffeine the slightest sniff of coffee isn’t always a good idea. I was buzzing! I had the most fun on this lap and had to try and calm myself down in places. It was big ring all the way round and I was having so much fun on the single track. Ian eat your heart out as I was certain I would beat him this time round….NOPE! Ian recorded a 43:08 minute lap, while I was just over a minute slower. I was gutted. Although happy that I had a good lap, I just wanted to beat my husband so badly.


So I ate more food, legs rested and I made sure I was well hydrated. I had two more laps to go and I was sure my endurance would be the better of the Potter duo. As I headed out for my fourth lap I could feel the legs hurting that little bit more than the previous lap, but I was determined to better Ian this time round. It was ‘red mist’ time! All I could think about was the look on Ian’s face if I did better his time and the house hold chores I would give him. I forgot to mention that whichever Potter has the fastest lap time at Mountain Mayhem has no house hold chores for a month.


There were plenty of climbing on this course, with so much fun, fast and flowing single track that always brought a smile to my face. There were some interesting sections that were muddy in places and also off camber where you had to choose your lines carefully to avoid the worst of the mud. When I finished that lap and exchanged the baton with Stu I came face to face with Mr Potter who was waiting for his next lap…there was no time for lovely dovey chit chat. I looked Ian in the eyes and announced a 44 minute lap…so beat that love!


I returned to the Scott camp to rest and prepare for my 5th lap. I was due out just after 1pm. The team were almost two laps ahead of second place. I was super keen for one more lap, but then I had a horrible thought…what if I had a major mechanical on the team’s second last lap and I lost if for the crew. I also didn’t want to cross the finish line at 2pm when I hadn’t done as many laps as the boys. It should be a Scott rider to shake Pat’s hand and revel in the crowd’s cheers. I mentioned my concern to the team. Paul had just gone out and I was due to go out after Paul. There was a chance I would come in at around 1:50pm or even a few minutes before 2pm, but if I had any problem out on course and had to run the loop then the USE Exposure Lights mixed team were still close enough to take first place. ‘What do we do team?’ On a selfish level I wanted to race one more lap, but I didn’t think that would be best for the team. If we sent Nick out now then he would have to take it steady because he would finish before 2pm. After much discussion the team decided it would be best to send Nick out and to slow him down we made him wear baggy shorts. To our surprise Nick also slowed himself down by puncturing on that final lap too, but it didn’t affect the final result and just over an hour later Nick Craig crossed the finish line and the Scott UK team won the mixed expert category.


It was great to be part of the winning team, but to tell you the truth it was even better just being part of such a lovely crew of riders and supporters who really looked after me. Nick, Paul and Stu are such top lads who kept me laughing all weekend and who rode amazingly well. Hannah and Sally were fantastic support crew who looked after the team in so many ways and who had little sleep themselves. Then there was Arnie and Phil who made sure the bikes were clean and working perfectly after every lap. It was a huge team effort this weekend and that is what I really loved about my Mountain Mayhem experience.


Now back to the Potter dual….Ian cracked!!!! He felt the pressure from his Mrs and finished his final lap in 44:25 minutes. He tried so hard to beat me that he stacked it big time. Mrs Potter is victorious with 25 seconds to spare. So I decided we should ignore the previous lap times and focus on our final lap….Ian has just won himself a month of house cleaning duties….about time really 


As always I have a lot of people to thank who are helping me work towards achieving my goals…..


As always Special thanks to –

Cotic –

Bontrager –

Magura Forks & Brakes –

Torq & Torq Australia –

A Quick Release Holidays –


Skins –

And co-sponsors Crank Brothers, USE Exposure Lights, Bigfoot bags, 661 gloves, Nokon cables, Sundog eyewear and Purple Extreme Lubricants.


Plus special thankyou to Nick, Paul, Stu, Hannah, Sally, Decklan, Arnie, Phil…SCOTT UK! Joolze & Dave….your tent was super comfy. Coach Neil for making my legs hurt and of course my beloved Mr Potter…. .....25 seconds!!!!



A Quick Release Holidays
Tel: 0845 1304824

Posted via email

Monday, June 15, 2009

British Mountain Bike Series Round 3 - Full Gallery

Photos by Joolze Dymond, lots more from her at this event here:

Kate has a race report on this blog as well:

Kate is riding her custom World Cup Soda, designed for her by Cy Turner.

Info on the more recent incarnation of the production Soda here:

Kate is using Bontrager wheels and components.

Kate is using Magura forks and brakes.

See and download the full gallery on posterous

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

British Mountain Bike Series Round 3 - Margham Park, Wales. 30th May, 2009.

 If only the jet set racing lifestyle was as glamorous as it sounds. Booking flights, car hire, living out of a suit case and all the planning involved should be part of the fun and adventure of racing around the world. But when you are trying to do too many things in one day, then suddenly you realise that you have double booked yourself and also need to be in two different countries in one day. Before you know it racing is a daily here and there to make important dead lines or just racing your husband down the ASDA aisle way to prove that you are the fastest out of the Potter duo to find the cereal section. I catch myself constantly wanting to beat Ian at everything from washing up duties to who can be first to finish brushing their teeth at night...poor Ian he has created a monster. But racing needs balance and I have been trying really hard not to make my husband lose anymore hair lately. Unfortunately I double booked Ian and I on the weekend of the third round of the British Mountain Bike Series...sorry J. While I was racing and Ian working in the feed/tech zone, we also had to be preparing for our next group of guests who were arriving at Toulouse Airport for their AQR Holiday experience the next we had two races to focus on this weekend: (1) BMBS XC R1 & (2) A Potter marathon journey back to the Pyrenees to guide on Sunday morning.


Ian and I arrived at Margham Park late Friday afternoon. It was great to return to a British national round at one of my favourite venues. I have always enjoyed Margham Park races because they have always been warm and sunny. I don’t think I have ever experienced a wet race here, but instead dry and dusty trails that remind me of my home in Luchon. The climbs are tough and the single track fun and flowy. I couldn’t wait to check the course out and told Ian we would pitch the tent later once my legs had had a much needed work out. Ian was planning to run around the course as he didn’t want the hassle of packing and repacking his bike for this very short racing adventure. However TREK very kindly gave Ian a bike to use during practice which we were very grateful and Swinnerton Cycles had a lovely Fox helmet for Ian to use, so the Potters were ready to hit the course and shake off those cobwebs (Thankyou Trek and Swinnerton Cycles, we really appreciated your help)


I had two practice laps, with what the Aussies call a ‘hot lap’ to finish off with. The course started on a fast road that soon turned to fire road. There were some short sharp climbs and flowy narrow single track that I really enjoyed. There was a long climb, that wasn’t too steep, before a lovely piece of single track with a few roots that sent you into a new section I haven’t ridden before that required a smooth delivery of power over the wet rocks so that your back tyre didn’t lose any grip. There was a small drop between a wall and a couple of river crossings to cool your toes down, before another big climb that started on tarmac, before turning to single track again. The climbing continued, with small sections of flowing single track that were fast, but rough in places to break the steeper sections of the climb up. Once you hit the last main climb of the loop then it was a roller coaster ride all the way down. No need for pedalling, just keep off the brakes and let the bike was a bit hairy in places especially if you mistimed your braking as the terrain was loose in places and a bit off camber. But this descent always brought a smile to my face as you picked up an enormous amount of speed onto the last 1km flat, and there were a few little sections where you could get a little bit of air or ‘ouch’, as Ian experienced when he mistimed a manual manoeuvre and landed on his top tube. Then it was all about power, power, power to keep the bike surging forward over some of the boggy muddy sections, before a couple of bends that slowed you down before you started the loop all over again.


It was a great course and I finished my training buzzing all over as the intensity had woken my heart, legs and lungs up and I was really looking forward to racing the next morning. Now it was time to pitch tent and enjoy a relaxing night beneath the stars....ahhh this is what Ian and I call biking bliss....well so we thought!


Ian always takes it upon himself to do the more physically demanding jobs before a race....I get yelled at if he catches me standing up for no reason and he really is a star when it comes to supporting me at races. But sometimes I wish he would just let me help him a little bit more as he can be very forgetful....(don’t you dare deny it Mr Potter) I spend alot of my time searching for Ian’s phone, keys, passport!!!!! So on this blissful Friday night before the race why wasn’t the tent up yet? I offered to help, but was told to "SIT!" I daren’t move a muscle. A few minutes later Ian was looking rather sheepish....Ian where is the tent?


Now I just want to explain how the Cotic Bontrager Team works. Ian and I have our jobs, we have been working as a team for such a long time now that we know what we are responsible for and this has always worked well for us in the past. If Ian starts trying to interfere with my jobs he gets a slap across the head, and if I interfere with Ian’s job then I get growled at. So we know that it is best to keep out of each other’s way and focus on our set tasks before any mountain bike event. So who forgot the tent Ian? I was calm, very calm I thought. But it was going on 8pm and the Potters were bedless and hungry. I could have been mad, but to tell you the truth there will be a time when I forget something too...and when that day comes Ian will be reminded of this little situation we had got ourselves into!


Luckily with the help of my mate Joolze (photographer extraordinaire), Dave (who is very handy with the camera too) and my wonderful friend and sponsor Griff from Bontrager I had a tent to sleep in....THANKYOU!!!!!! But what was Ian going to do? No I’m not that cruel J


I had a superb night sleep with Griff snoring on one side, Ian on  the other side talking in his sleep and the wind howling J But I wouldn’t have changed a thing as I was super comfy and woke up to glorious sunshine. I have noticed lately that my nerves seem to be more controlled. I have a little bit of a race ritual now before the start of a race and that has helped stop my brain from over thinking and making me feel tired before the race has even started.


I also tried not to be in such a bubble of focus, as sometimes I just hide in my head and am oblivious to the sights and sounds around me. My coach has been helping me break free of this little pre race bubble I hide in, and I have learnt alot lately about the psychological side of competition which is an important area I have so often overlooked. Ian tried his best to be chatty and even do a bit of dancing for me as we waited to be gridded on the start line.


I was gridded number two as the gridding is based on UCI points. I wasn’t too sure what to expect, but decided to just ride and look forward to a hard workout. I didn’t mean to lead from the start, but sometimes the legs have a mind of their own. They felt strong and I just settled into a comfortable pace and waited for the attacks. I could hear other riders right on my tail, and I was ready to pounce as soon as somebody sprinted by. I was surprised to reach the single track first, but used this advantage to try and make a gap. I knew there was a small distance between myself and the riders behind me, but reminded myself that there was still over an hour and a half of racing to go and so kept some energy in reserve. I have had a few races early in the season where I started strong, but felt shaky and weak towards the end and as a result lost places, so I kept drinking and tried to be as efficient as possible on the bike. I also knew that the racers behind me are not just physically tough, but mentally too, and might be working together to try and catch me.


I managed a good time of about 24 minutes on the first lap, but there were still three laps to go. I settled into a comfortable pace and was riding smoothly. I was calm and feeling strong today. I was on a familiar piece of single track that has been in every Margham Park race I have ever entered, but for some reason I took a left hand switchback over some roots too tight and before I knew it my forehead came crashing down on the ground and I could feel my head and neck squash together. It happened so quickly I didn’t even have time to put my hands out in self defence. I must have flipped over somehow as I ended up on my back with the bike on top of me and I just lay there for a few seconds feeling rather dazed. I have never landed on my head so heavily before. There was nobody around so I thought it best to get back on the bike and keep riding so at least if I passed out suddenly there would be people around to cart me off to hospital. For a moment I felt quite disorientated and started to feel wobbly. I had to walk a few sections that followed as I was struggling to focus and I wondered if I had smashed my helmet as the visor was swinging in front of my face and blocking my vision. Once I regained my composure and realised there was no serious damage I got back up to race speed expecting to be passed at any moment.


I didn’t feel any worse once I started the third lap, so just kept it steady. I still had a lead, but was concerned that I had lost alot of time. There were still two laps to go. My legs felt strong, so I focused on riding the climbs hard, and just remained relaxed on the descents to avoid any further head banging and bruising moments. I was still in the lead at the start of the fourth lap, and knew I must dig deep now to take my first win of the 2009 race season. I never took it for granted that I had a comfortable lead as both body and bike still had to get around one more lap in one piece.


When I crossed the line, it took me a few minutes to realise that I had actually won. I was feeling rather dopey, and the back of my head and neck were pounding. All I could think about at the end of the race was thank god I wear a helmet...I would hate to think what state my head would be in if I crashed like that without a lesson to you all who don’t wear helmets!!!!! From my experience working as a guide it is always the easy trails or trails riders are familiar with where I have seen or experienced the worst crashes.


I shared the podium with two elite racers who I have always had the utmost respect for. Sue Clarke (Scott/SIS) who finished in second place and Jenny Copnall (Look Rt) who took third. As their form improves in the lead up to the national champs I know the next round on the British Mountain Bike Series at Crow Hill is going to be a very exciting race.


Once the podium presentation had finished Ian and I had our next racing adventure to focus on. We had an afternoon flight from Bristol Aiport to Pau in the French Pyrenees, which we couldn’t afford to miss if we were going to be ready to guide early the next morning. As always we didn’t have a map or any idea how to get to Bristol Airport, but thanks to Matt from Torq we had a little drawing which we hoped would lead us in the right direction. Fortunately we had a smooth journey, and made check in just in time. I was a pretty useless team mate as I was still feeling very dazed and couldn’t stand up for long periods of time without feeling dizzy. At one point Ian was even tying my shoe laces after we walked through the security check.


We finally found our gate and when we were only metres from boarding the plane I was stopped and told I needed my visa checked. I had 15min to go back through security and then find a desk near check in where my visa would be examined. They also said with the sweetest of smiles that if I didn’t return in 15 minutes the plane would depart without me....cheers Ryanair!


Ian and I looked at each other in despair, and then suddenly I was fighting my cause rather than attempting another timed race. I was telling all who listened that I am a British resident with green and gold blood and that I had perfect right to board that plane. Ian has never seen me act so confident before....I must have knocked a few brain cells into me rather than out of my head, but it worked and I was allowed to board the plane (phew!)....I felt like we had won a third battle today as we found our seats and got ready for take-off. All the excitement of the day was too much and I slept for the remaining race back to Luchon where we arrived after 11pm on Saturday night, ready for our guiding and work duties the following morning.


Next Cotic Bontrager Racing adventures are in just over a weeks time, with Mountain Mayhem and the fourth national round at Crow Hill where Ian will be flying the AQR flag on his new Cotic racing full suss prototype. I hope to be the perfect feeder and mechanic for Ian, but just remember who forgot the case I make any mistakes or forget anything  J


As always Special thanks to –

Cotic –

Bontrager –

Magura Forks & Brakes –

Torq & Torq Australia –

A Quick Release Holidays –


Skins –

And co-sponsors Crank Brothers, Exposure Lights, Bigfoot bags, 661 gloves, Nokon cables, Sundog eyewear and Purple Extreme Lubricants.


I would also like to thank Joolze & Dave for helping Ian and I on the weekend, hope we weren’t too much hassle. Also Griff from Trek for the bike and tent accommodation, and Swinnerton Cycles for the helmet.


Plus lots of thanks to Neil Ross (Cycling Oz) for coaching me, and Mr P. For all your endless support.    
I would also like to thank Joolze Dymond for the ace photos. You can check out more of Joolze's artistic flair at .                  

See and download the full gallery on posterous

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Monday, June 1, 2009

WORLD CUP SERIES round 4. Madrid, Spain, 24th May, 2009.

The last two weeks have been just what the doctor ordered. I have rested well and overdosed on so much garlic lately that every little bug that has tried to raise its ugly head has been killed off....even Ian has been avoiding me. Ian has banned me from working on the computer outside work hours, and I have made myself take regular walks down to the lac to feed the ducks which I find very therapeutic. I love nothing more than just sitting down next to the lac and watching the commotion that takes place as the birds fight for every little crumb that is thrown at them. If they don’t fight for their space then they miss out and go hungry...a bit like world cup racing really.


This is my second year racing the world cup circuit and even with one year of international racing behind me I still feel like a complete novice. Racing at national level is and always will be tough, but it doesn’t prepare you for world cups, it doesn’t come close. To improve at this level you have to race at this level, as it is a completely different style of racing. When you race world cups you soon realise your weaknesses, even weaknesses you didn’t think you possessed. The pace is not consistent. You must attack all the time. You have to fight for every inch and set yourself goals to keep you fighting even though you know a top five podium is out of can’t think like that. There are other goals to fight for which are all part of the process to becoming a stronger and more competitive racer at international level. Last year I was fighting to finish without being lapped. This year I’m confident I will finish on the lead lap, but now I’m fighting for a top 40 ranking in the world cup series, UCI points, and a 10% finish of the winner’s time.


To help those of you who are not familiar with why these are such important goals I will explain what I have learnt so far about the Olympic Games race. It has already started believe it or not. At this stage I’m racing to help Australia earn a position or two at the London 2012 Olympics Games. At the end of each year every country will be ranked against other countries according to their top three rider’s UCI position. UCI points can be earnt at any UCI sanctioned race, and you earn points based on your finish position. Some races offer more points than other races. For example a rider can earn more points from a top 40 position at a world cup then winning a national race that is only a UCI 2 sanctioned race. So it’s important to race alot, but you have to think carefully about which races you attend, as there are other factors to consider such as your fitness, health and financial situation, as racing doesn’t pay the bills.


Earning UCI points this year has been important for me as I didn’t race the National Championships or Oceania Championship back in Oz, and I’m not allowed to race the British national championships even though I am a resident of the UK...I still have green and gold blood J so I’m lacking alot of good points and at one stage was ranked in the 300’s. I have slowly, but surely crept up to a top 100 UCI ranking, 98th to be precise, but still need to keep earning more points if I want to finish the year in the top three of Aussie racers. Plus the more points you earn the better grid position you will have at UCI races, which can also be an advantage, especially when racing world cups where you are lining up against the top 100 girls in the world.


So why am I focusing on a top 40 World Cup series position? At the world cups the gridding starts with the top 40 girls in the world cup series, after that it is based on your UCI points. Unfortunately I was ranked 41st in the series after the third round, missing out on a good spot on the grid by one position. Now because my UCI points weren’t as high as other racers attending the event, it moved me back to a grid position of 62 and I ended up on the last row of the grid. It doesn’t sound like a huge step back, but when you are racing for the first narrow piece of single track against girls who still have fresh legs then you have to fight forward or else you will be stuck on the single track where you can lose valuable seconds, even minutes while those ahead surge forward.


So why do I also aim for a 10% finish of the winner’s time? This is a very important part of Australia’s criteria for the world championships. It doesn’t gain an immediate entry into the team, but I believe it shows the selector’s that you can be competitive at the top level. It should always be seen as an honour to represent one’s country, but I want to be good enough to wear my nation’s colours, and for me finishing consistently in the 10% is very important to me and what I’m working towards this year and the years ahead.


So back to what was going to be a race report before my brain got side tracked....


I wanted to be strong for the fourth round of the world cup series which was being held in Madrid. I was concerned that coming down with a cold after the last round in Houffalize would affect my preparation for this race. I was gutted to miss the second round of the British Mountain Bike Series, but know now it was the right decision as I made a speedy recovery and felt stronger for it. In 2008 I found this course in Madrid physically very demanding as there are no places to rest. The climbs are steep, but not very long, and you are constantly on the gas trying to power up, along and down everything. I have never experienced a pleasant temperature in Madrid either, so I was fortunate that my 2009 race kit had arrived the day before the race....a new skin suit which has been designed to help cool me no more cleavage shots I’m afraid J


The course doesn’t appear very technical when you are rolling around it at a steady pace, there are no rocks or roots or any scary sections to think twice about....but carrying fast speed is crucial which can be difficult on a course where there are sandy sections that can slow you down. Don’t ever presume a course is easy until you try to ride a course fast without over braking into and out of corners. I had three days to practice the course, and spent two days focusing on race pace and thinking about my lines. The first day the course was similar to last year and I was confident with my Bontrager tyre selection. But the Weather Gods had other ideas and Madrid was treated to rain. The course changed completely and suddenly there were sections that I and many others were struggling to ride.


On race morning the clouds were still low, but the rain had finally stopped. I took myself off on Ian’s new Cotic prototype...a little experiment Ian will be happy to tell you all about at Mountain Mayhem if you fancy a chat with Mr Potter there and then. There were still plenty of puddles and muddy sections, but it was clear that if it stayed dry the course would dry out quickly. I finished my warm up on the turbo and listened to some dodgy dance tunes, yes a bit of ‘Eye of the Tiger’ and even some Eminem to get me in the race mood....


I was feeling remarkably relaxed about this race, and looking forward to the challenge of chasing down riders out in front. I was one of the last girls to be gridded on the start line. But I had my race plan and I was ready to charge....well so I thought. As the elite women took off around the first bend there was a crash right in front of me. I was lucky to stay on the bike. Without thinking I applied the brakes, and tried to escape the bottleneck by taking it wide, but found myself sucked down in a muddy section and going nowhere. I ended up in last position 100m from the start line and had already lost sight of the main group in front. There was a fast straight where I managed to overtake riders, and just as I found my rhythm I was stopped again by another crash. I was well chuffed with my speedy reaction time though as I managed to ride around the bodies and bikes that were across the trail without dismounting.


I was now by myself with only a few riders out in front who I could just make out in the distance. I was chasing all the time and appeared to be catching riders up. My legs felt awesome and my breathing was very controlled, which gave me confidence that today was going to be a good day on the bike. I was pleased I let air out of my tyres and was running them at much lower pressures than I normally do as I was finding grip on the off camber sections that were like grease rather than boggy mud, and here I made up even more spaces as I was able to get the tyres to bite and stay upright while passing a few girls who were sliding all over the place.


By the time I finished lap 1 I had passed almost half the field and was in 35th position. I had caught a group of riders up who I know if I’m close to then I’m doing well, in fact there were a couple of girls who I don’t usually see. But it was still early days and I reminded myself that I still had four laps to go; I had to pace myself and get those carbs down me in order to finish without blowing. Then disaster struck as my gears started to play up. Every time I hit a steep climb I was forced to run. Luckily I have been running alot this year, so it felt quite natural to be jumping on and off the bike....I reminded myself that it was good practice for cyclocross this winter. I wasn’t stressed or flapping you will be pleased to know coach, but just thought about what gears were working and tried to use them only.


The second lap I found my place in the field of 70 racers and I focused on riding steady, but fast. I was behind a Russian rider, and the two of us kept passing each other at different points on the course. It seemed I would pass her on the flat, but I didn’t have the gears to stay in front of her up the short steep climbs. Every time I passed her my chain would fall off or it would jam, I think my rear hanger was bent. By the third lap she actually gave me a pat on the back, and encouraged me to keep going...which I thought was very nice considering we both wanted to beat each other. Last year at this race I had girls punching me in the backside to get past me, so it was a nice change to receive this encouragement.


As I finished the third lap, I was preparing myself for two fast laps to take me across the finish line. At this point I was in 34th position, but I felt strong enough to go harder. Then the bell rang and completely through me off guard. I only had one lap to go apparently, but tried to confirm this with Ian who was in the pit area, as I wanted my gel on the last lap. No gel from Ian, only a few mumbled words which I didn’t make out. So I was still wondering whether it was in fact my final lap. No matter, it was time to charge and see if I could make up some more time. I started catching up girls who looked like I did at the last world cup. But as soon as I passed them I could feel them fight back. I felt good, but the girls I was racing have far more experience and know how to hurt. I had to really focus on staying in front, and I gave it my best shot. I lost my chain a couple of times, but was used to it happening now and I was able to ride up the steep pitches using the only gear that worked on the steep gradient.


I looked behind a couple of times, and I was being chased. This fired me up and I was really enjoying the pressure to get to the finish line before those racing me. I had no idea where I was placed and with only 1km to go I was not giving up my position. I couldn’t see any girls in front, but you never know and didn’t give up trying until I knew my position was secure. I crossed the finish line in 30th position, my best result to date. I was very happy with this result, only a little disappointed that I didn’t know the race had been changed to four laps instead of five. Ian now calls me ol’ cloth ears. Oh well I guess I shouldn’t complain that I finished feeling too fresh for my own good. Unfortunately I just was about 30 seconds too slow for a 10% result, but my last lap was 25th fastest in the entire field, and that is definitely a huge improvement from last year, so there are plenty of plusses.....but as always in my Potter brain plenty of ‘what if’s’. It only motivates me to keep on trying to become a stronger rider.....and one who listens.
Next goal to work on extracting the cloth between my ears and escaping my little focus bubble...can you believe I'm actually too focused for my own good sometimes.

As always Special thanks to –

Cotic –

Bontrager –

Magura Forks & Brakes –

Torq & Torq Australia –

A Quick Release Holidays –


Skins –

And co-sponsors Crank Brothers, Exposure Lights, Bigfoot bags, 661 gloves, Nokon cables, Sundog eyewear and Purple Extreme Lubricants.


Plus lots of thanks to Neil Ross (Cycling Oz) for coaching me, and Mr P. For all your endless support.             

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