Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mountain Bikers Helping One of Their Own

Well I was on one big racing high after competing at my first cyclo cross world cup and have been trying to find a spare moment to write about my brief little cyclo cross adventure in Belgium, but bigger issues, personal and family life have taken priority right has been far more important for me to stop and smell the roses before I get caught up and carried away with all the mountain biking and racing adventures that are already in store for me in 2010.
I have had a string of bad news lately, but it can only get better, and to tell you the truth when you think you have problems then there is always someone else out there with bigger issues.
When I represented Australia at the World Championships I met a young, up and coming junior ountain bike racer who had been diagnosed with cancer. I didn't know who he was at first because all the Australian juniors were always smiling and giving training their best shot, no one stood out as suffering anymore than the others. When I realised who Brendan was I was inspired by his dedication to mountain bike racing and his smile that remained the right way up the whole time, although in alot of pain.
Mountain bike racing is a hard sport physically and can be quite dangerous. Brendan refused to give up his place on the Australian National Team, although he would be needing every ounce of energy he had inside him for a life saving operation not long after the Mountain Bike World Championships. While we mountain bikers nursed injuries and complained of sore legs post race, Brendan was preparing himself for another battle, one that would require even more strength and determination than any mountain bike race could offer.
Sometimes I think it's all too easy to forget what sport and the Olympics should be based on, and who we consider role models in this day and age. Sport brings people together and that was what the first Modern Olympics was supposed to be be all about. With the amount of commercialisation that surrounds professional sport and the Olympics, it can be easy to forget for example why we actually started riding a bike in the first at any level can produce gold medal winning performances from a sporting community, especially when LIFE is concerned.  
Australian mountain bikers have joined forces to help Brendan Johnston..... 

'Own a piece of Australian mountain biking history and support Trekky’s cancer treatment.  Up for auction on ebay (item 150397647262) is an official Australian national team jersey signed by members of the Australian mountain bike team that raced the world championships at Mt Stromlo in September 2009. 

The shirt is a brand new medium sized Santini jersey with MTBA logo as worn by our national team.  Most of the team has signed the jersey including Beijing Olympian Dan McConnell, national champions Rowena Fry and Lachlan Norris and many more including Katherine O’Shea and Paul Van Der Ploeg. 

All proceeds from this auction will go to assist Brendan “Trekky” Johnston in his fight against cancer.  Brendan was diagnosed with cancer just before the World Championships this year; he had urgent surgery to remove the cancer and amazingly was able to get back on the bike to race the championships and finish 50th.  He is now at the start of a long road of chemotherapy. You can read more on Trekky’s website at

So help us help Trekky, and score yourself some unique Aussie sporting memorabilia.  Bid now at


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Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Well my 2009 CX days have finished for now. This year I wanted to taste a little bit of cyclo cross to see if I enjoyed it. Nothing too serious, just a few races to entertain me in the early days of the mountain bike off season as I unwind from all the racing and travelling I have faced in 2009. I have spent the last 8 weeks riidng the Cotic >X< at every available opportunity as the bridleways and farmers fields surrounding Ian's family home aren't very exciting on a mountain bike....BUT on a cyclo cross bike it is a different story altogether. I have loved the experience and have looked forward to racing not once, but twice most weekends. It has been great only travelling down the road to race a Notts & Derby Race or spending no more than an hour driving to a race elsewhere in the UK, such as a West Midlands race or to a race in Lincolnshire. I have met some great people along the way who have all taken the time to advise me on areas of CX racing that I never knew, and really needed to know more that you really do need two bikes for CX racing, even though I told Ian I could get by with one cross bike this season...I didn't want to go to too much hassle you see..and there is only so much space at the inlaws for our road bikes, commuting bikes, mountain bikes, race bikes, and now cross bikes when we stay with them in the UK. But luckily Ian insisted we do things properly....
Well when it was time to face my first National Trophy in the UK after only 4 weeks of CXing under my lycra belt. I was looking forward to a hard race. I wasn't bothered about the result, but I like being competitive with myself and feeling as though my legs have had a good work helps me to I can be way too hyper for my own good sometimes. The mud on course was thick and not very friendly, but there were plenty of bends and little fast drops, as well as an energy zapping climb that looked like it would be best to run...well for me plod up as I could do with some extra length in my thighs. There were close to thirty girls on the start line and I took my position at the back as expected. When it was time to be let loose I surged forward and by the first corner was sitting comfortably in fourth ready to face the muddy fields at the furthest point of the race. Then I sank...literally....My tyre had gone down completely....DOH! I had only been racing for less than a couple of minutes. I tried to ride on the rim, but knowing we had no spare wheels and a bank account that couldn't afford to damge these wheels we were using made me think that was race over. I tried to ride smoothly....which ended up being very slowly, so then I ran in places....but that wasn't too fast either. By the time I reached Ian I was out of the race in last position, but luckily Ian had managed to build the second bike minutes before the start of this race, so I wasn't out of the race altogether...just a very long way behind. Oops I needed a proper kick up the back side now as I tried to chase down girls out in front. I was having a great time though and was really getting into it when I heard the bell go for the final lap.....I couldn't believe I only had one lap to go after only 28 minutes of racing. I was hoping for at least another two laps. I finished 7th in the end, 1.29min behind the winner Hannah Barnes, which I wasn't disapointed with, but it just finished way too quickly. I felt like a 5 year old who has been told the party is over and it's time to go home....yep bottom lip out and plenty of foot stamping! :)
CHAPTER 3 - A WEEK TO REMEMBER or NOT TO REMEMBER....that is the question.
Now I know it took me a few years before I headed to my first cross country world cup. But the rate that I improved by throwing myself in the deep end was the best investment I have undertaken in all my riding and racing years. My Coach Neil Ross, the head Australian national coach and previous Canadian Cyclo Cross national Coach encouraged me to take part in a UCI training camp for newbies such as me to learn about cyclo cross, and as part of the camp we would be facing the best cyclo cross racers in the world at a world cup being held at the end of the week in Koksijde, Belgium.....golly gulp....but I was excited about the experience.
The Potters headed to Dover to escape the wet UK weather and stay in an area that we were told is supposed to be the sunniest spot in Belgium.
This trip would also be a nice little break for Ian and I as husband and wife, rather than business partners as we have been working full time on the paperwork and accounts lately which is not our favourite AQR job, but one that always seems to mount up at this time of year. So we were using this trip as a little holiday as well. At the same time we had to move house again for the 4th time as we had all the AQR stock for the season, furniture, loads of suitcases full of Ian's clothes...he really needs to learn how to pack light and of course 12 x 2kg bag of oats to keep us fed for a month or two :)
We were ready to roll at the glorious hour of 5am and gave ourselves plenty of time to head to Dover for our ferry crossing....but the traffic Gods had other ideas. 20 minutes into our journey and we were at a standstill for well over an hour. Luckily we arrived in Dover with a few minutes up our sleeve, only to be told there was over an hour delay anyway. The woman sorting our tickets out gave me this weird expression that I interpreted as meaning...YOU ARE IN FOR A ROCKY RIDE. The winds were howling and deep down I actually hoped the ferry crossing would be cancelled as the waves looked treacherous and my stomach has never been a good ferry traveller. I found a lounge area for us to lie down in and I got myself in my anti nausea position and thought happy thoughts. I hugged Ian tightly as Ian is a much better traveller than I am and by burying myself in his warm protective arms...I knew he would be my saviour. The boat seriously rocked from side to side and the waves came crashing down on the windows making me jump every time. Ian couldn't have been more loving..."WILL YOU STOP JUMPING and YOU ARE SQUASHING MY LUNGS!" I was ready to argue the point that as my husband one should be more loving when wife is feeling distressed. Next minute Ian is throwing up in a cup....oops Ian had turned a shade of green. I had a quick look around the lounge area and there were bodies on the floor and alot of sick people running to the toilets or just putting head between their legs..need I say more. It was rather chaotic and all I could do to prevent myself from the same green faced fate was to bury my head into the side of a chair and sing a Kylie song to block the noise out.....I should be so Lucky...lucky, lucky, lucky...mmm"
This little ferry crossing was the start of an adventurous week, when you just think WHY ME? When we finally arrived at our destination at 6:05pm, 5 minutes after we were supposed to have checked in, we were told we were staying elsewhere as we must have arrived too late. An hour later and we finally found the hotel after driving up and down the same street trying to work out the one way road system. Luckily the owner found us a lovely hotel we could stay in that was actually closed up for the winter, but we were welcome to make ourselves at home. Then it was time to park the mini bus and trailer. Now this was a comedy act in itself and rather than go into great detail let me just say that a broken trailer and a flat tyre later we had finally parked up.
The next day gale forced winds made the training ride....interesting. I enjoying some flying moments on and off the bike as did some of the other riders. One memorable moment was when I tried to glue myself to a back wheel to be protected from the high winds, suddenly I found myself on the ground with my front wheel trapped in another wheel as a few of us fell down like dominoes. Then it rained and rained and rained and rained....need I say more.
Then it was time to sort out that flat tyre....the tyre was only a couple of weeks old so we were hoping it wouldn't take long to fix......mmmmmmm!?!?!?!?!
The bolts are stuck!
It is my job to get hold of the spare wheel....those bolts are stuck too!
Ian has packed the wrong nut thingy that goes on the other thingy tool to take bolts off...I accept my weakness when it comes to knowing tool names and mechanical I was not responsible for this little problem we were now in as we could not remove the nuts from the wheel.
5 shops later that were in walking distance and we still don't have a nut thingy for the other tool thingy to get the nuts off....BUT there is a shop a little less than 10km away.
IT IS VERY WET & WINDY & COLD....but we pedal onwards and try not to get blown away by gale force winds and the horizontal rain. We cannot hear each other, so let's just say it wasn't a very social ride, but at least we survived.
A RESULT - 2 days later the wheel has been sorted and our marriage is still intact. So our little holiday has consisted of training camp and fixing a tyre before WORLD CUP RACE DAY this is another story in itself, so I shall leave it there for now because I have some video of the course that I want to show you and I'm still trying to down load it etc etc.
A LITTLE RACECREPORT SNIPPET - Just so you know the course was really tough, but FUN!!!! Just ANTI FUN when stomach and back go into spasm on first lap when you are trying to race hard!!!!! But I promise to be really upbeat about the race because I made a little bit of Aussie cycling history last weekend, so I have been told. Apparently I am the first Aussie lady to represent Oz at a cyclo cross world cup...and it won't be the last time either as I'm hooked!
Cheerios for now

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