Monday, September 28, 2009

3,2,1...the end of 2009 Mountain Bike Racing Season.

I'm offically knackered and need a travel break. I'm not referring to a break involving I'm travelled out. In fact I'm staying well clear of trains, planes and automobiles for at least the next 10 days. In fact if Ian wants to drive anywhere I'm riding my bike or walking. This has been my first year racing all the world cups, racing the world championships and of course focusing on the British Mountain Bike well as racing other UCI events in and around Europe in my quest for UCI points. I'm in no way worn out from riding my bike, but rather all the mental and physical energy that has gone into travelling to and from race course to race course.
I have been given 10 days to chill before I start focusing on the 2010 race season. This is my first day on holiday before I go off and try and find something to I get bored very easily. I must finish my final two race reports so I can truly sign off my 2009 mountain bike race season with a smile....and start preparing for winter training and my little dabble in cyclocross for the first time in KP biking history.
I think my last report left off from Champery where I completed World Cup 7 and then headed to Schladming in Austria for the final race of the 2009 World Cup Series. The drive took close to 12hrs as we had several stops to ensure the legs didn't stiffen up too much and there were also some pretty big climbs for Mini Blue (AQR minibus) to conquer. We arrived in darkness and although I had slept most of the way I was still knackered and headed straight to bed.
We were all greeted to a beautiful morning in the mountains, and I fell in love with this area as it reminded me of Luchon. There was no time to relax as training started at 10am every morning and also finished with an afternoon session either on course or along the river on bike designated paths. Any spare time left over was put into improving my mechanical skills and also lovingly cleaning, polishing and spoiling my Cotic Soda who really has survived alot this year. I know she was missing Ian's mechanical touch, but she has to learn to appreciate my clumbsiness and get used to the fact that it takes me a little or rather alot longer than most mechanics to sort things out. I have discovered I love tinkering with bikes now and find it very relaxing. I understand now why Ian hides himself in the garage 'till late at night fixing switch off and escape his nagging wife. But now he will have to share the garage with his Mrs as I'm chuffed to bits with how much I have learnt and actually remembered this year. Soon I will be able to talk the bike talk and actually know what the AQR crew are going on about when they go off on a biking language jargon tangent.
Anyway I must really stick to writing this race report...
So it was time to focus on the final world cup of the year. I wasn't sure if I would make it through 8 world cups that started in South Africa in April and since then have crossed many countries in Europe as well as heading to Canada. I was feeling very good in training and there was nothing on course that fazed me, even though I did taste mud a couple of times. I would say Schladming is one of the most physically demanding courses I have ever ridden. The climb is long and just seems to get steeper and steeper, with the added joy of including some muddy sections along the way to make you hurt that little bit more. At the top of the course there is a huge single track descent over plenty of roots with virtually no overtaking spots, and there are some really fun switchbacks to put a smile on your face, but nothing scary. Then the course takes you through the main town area past cafes and restaurants, down some steps and over bridges before the final pinch that leads you into a very steep off camber descent into the main arena. After riding the loop as fast as possible I expected a 5 lap race as it did seem very short. But the UCI commissaire decided it had been a long season for everyone so they made the women's race 4 laps...DOH! I must admit I hoped for a 5 lap race, but hey ho, it would just mean going for gold on the first lap to try and get a good position early on.
On race morning I knew I had slept well, but I was feeling flat. I did my usual warm up, but legs were missing the buzzy feeling they had experienced two days ago. I did what I could to make myself perk up, but then the yawns were starting and it seemed to be taking an awful lot of energy to wake myself up. I wasn't going to stress about it and tried to find some nervous energy, but even that seemed lacking. I gave myself a good talking to, because sometimes race nerves can give you that added buzz to go harder. I was gridded on the fourth line in number 36. In the past I would be shaking in my shorts lining up against the best riders in the world, but it was like another day, another race, been there, done that.....I was far too calm for my liking and so started to get annoyed with myself to wake up and smell the coffee! So a caffeinate gel went down the throat and I hoped it would do the trick.
When the whistle blew everything became a blur of wheels on tarmac and elbows fighting for position, girls were moving forward, while others moved backwards and I was starting to find my rhythm when stomach cramp set in....typical! I had to back off the pace and try and breathe through the pain. I hate cramp! Anyway I lost a good position, but could still see where I wanted to be out in front. I was determined to get back up to speed as soon as I could manage to spin my legs a bit quicker and breath properly..
On the second lap the stomach had settled down and I was moving forward feeling confident that I could make those places I lost back up. I passed at least 5 girls,  maybe more, and stormed into the start of the single track descent. A girl in front was walking the slippery roots and there was another girl picking herself up off the muddy floor, so I quickly hopped off the Soda and tried to run past them, but I couldn't....something was holding onto my bike....I was thinking a rider was pulling me backwards and was about to have some words in my 'teacher's voice', which can be very scary at times, when I realised that there was tape used for marking out the course wrapped around my seat and seat post. This is not what I needed. By the time I had untangled myself all the girls I had passed were now passing me and I was back to my original position. This is the fun of world cup racing, everyone is so close to you all the time, that small mistakes are costly.
Anyway I was stuck now for what seemed forever as I couldn't get past the girls in front on the descent, so it was thinking time as I planned an attack as soon as the course widened out for me to do so. When I finally got past a couple of girls I had to dig deep to try and get back into the top 30 as I must have been close to 40 at this stage. But still little mistakes kept pushing me backwards, as my chain got stuck after a bad gear change and then I splatted myself on one of the bridges that was slipperier than I expected it to be. It was a comedy of errors really, but still I dug deep and on my final lap moved forward as I could see girls looking like they had blown, where I was still feeling way to fresh for my liking and knew once again that I had left my surge too late. I was gaining on girls in front, but I needed another lap really. I finished 32nd and ahead of girls who were beating me earlier in the year, so I was pleased as punch with the result, but just wish I could have felt stronger and been faster on that first lap. But I'm determined to find that speed and acceleration I need for the first lap....just got to remind my legs that they no longer race 24hr solo events.
What I Iove about racing the best girls in the world is that your weaknesses are very quickly revealed and that motivates me to work on improving those areas this winter to be stronger in be scared
Well for most of the Aussie contingent it was time to hang their racing wheels up and look forward to a well deserved holiday off the bike. For myself and Aussie mate Andy we had the final round of the British Mountain Bike Series to look forward to which was a UCI 1 event, so lots of points up for grabs. However although winning UCI points is one of my main priorities, I had a personal goal this year to try and win the overall British Cross Country Series. I purposely avoided any end of season party as I didn't want to get carried away with it all before my season had finished. I also knew that the week leading up to this race wasn't going to be the best prepartion for an important event as it involved alot of travelling and not alot of time for training and proper rest.
The final day in Austria ended up being the most epic training session for a few of the Aussie Team willing to sit back on the saddle for a few hours, and Aussie National Coach Neil Ross had just the route in mind. I had no idea how long he was thinking, all I knew was that it involved a huge climb. So I thought it would be an hour's spin uphill and then a cruisy roll back down. The climb started on tarmac and eventually turned into a steep fire road. Apparently we were heading to a mountain lake and I was loving it. Legs felt good, I was breathing the fresh mountain and forgetting that I was supposed to be training....I felt like I was on holiday. Then we stopped at a mountain restaurant that served the boys huge apply bubbly type drinks and warm wine with apple and cinnamon, that smelled good, but I declined as I have to save my pennies.
Anyway we had one more steep section before the top and I seemed to be getting slower and slower. I kept thinking I would wake up soon, but yesterdays race had taken it's toll and I was grovelling. I could just make out Lockie, Andy and Neil who were flying out in front. Then the track turned technical and I was struggling on even the easiest sections of the trail. I feared I would be asked to turn around and go home as it was such a beautiful area. When I had finally caught up with the boys I was ready to sleep, I was kanckered and just looked at Neil with pleading eyes as to which way I should go home. Instead he told me to eat! Lockie very kindly gave me a banana, even though stubborn old me was certain I was just suffering post race fatigue, that banana did the trick and suddenly I could ride my bike again....I was having the most fun ever as we descended down this trail where there were rocky obstacles along the way that reminded me of the Peak District. I couldn't stop giggling to myself as the trail then turned into the fastest fire road that just got steeper and steeper. I lost all my inhibitions and just tried to chase the boys down who were speeding out in front. 4hrs later we manged to find our base and the four of us were buzzing. The day couldn't get any better, so Lockie thought, until we arrived back in time for a bbq that the owners of the chalet were holding and gave us all thick slabs of cooked meat and the boys were in bikingand food heaven and I was too until the smell of meat made me feel queasy..yes I'm one of those fussy vegie eaters :)
Early start as we left Schladming and Austria behind and headed to Milan, Italy. 8hrs of driving. Unpacked, ate, slept.
3am start. Waited at airport for a 7am flight. Arrived in London and waited three hours for a bus that refused to take my bike bag at first until I almost helps being female, having blonde hair and green eyes sometimes :) Then 6hrs in the bus that took me to Nottingham where AQR/Cotic's Paul very kindly collected me and took me back to UK base. Ate and tried to sleep.
I had a little bit of a dilemma. My chain and block were very worn and I decided it wasn't worth the risk of training on my bike and wearing it down further for the race on the weekend. In hindsight I shoud have bought a new chain and block and had it delivered to Nottingham, but I didn't and I wasn't in any state to start stressing about it now as I was still feeling highly strung and knackered from the travel back to the UK. So I took myself off to the gym and did two spinning classes as training. I knew what Neil wanted me to do, and I'm sure it didn't involve a spinning class, but I kind of did the intervals he wanted me to do, and at least I got a good work out. Although I think the class instructor thought I was a bit mad.
Sorted my bike out and then had it double checked by Paul who also works for Cotic. Passed some things, but failed on others. Had a fork suspension lesson as I have had real trouble adjusting my rebound to how I like it, but Paul showed me what I was doing wrong, and now I know so forks felt ace for the first time since I have started trying to do things for myself. Bottom bracket was not in good shape and very stiff, but gears were working lovely, so I was rather chuffed with most things I did for myself. I didn't spend too long riding the bike as I was really concerned about wearing the worn parts out even more. Then it was time to pack for the weekend.....and this took most of day as I have trouble condensing things into one bag, no I'm better at condensing things into ten bags...hence the nick name 'Tommy ten bags' (have no idea where that name comes from if anyone can enlighten me, but Ian thinks he's really funny when he calls me that???)
Somehow managed to squeeze everythng into Paul's car, before transferring everything into Joolze and Dave's van....and realised I had left the kitchen sink at time Joolze. Talked and talked and talked and talked to Joolze ( I have never known anyone to talk as much as Joolze....except maybe me :)  Sorry Dave, who just couldn't get a word in for the 6-7hr drive south to Plymouth. I was asked to race the relay, and in exchange I had Team Torq manager Rob and Dave help me with my tent that is supposed to explode into place in 2 minutes...not! Practiced course and raced my heart out for 12 minutes in team relay....Felt good for 30 seconds and then spent rest of the time feeling sick. The Torq Team who I raced for in the relay finished 3rd, so it was good to achieve a good result. Tried to sleep, but was so annoyed with how I raced that I spent the best part of 12hrs wondering how on earth I was going to race hard the next day....oh and my heart rate was so high it actually kapt me awake too...oh the joys of being me...not!
I feel bad! I have been thinking about this day for many weeks as my personal goal this year was to win the British Cross Country Series. I knew I had a good chance to win it because I was the only girl to win two national cross country races in the series, but I had to finish as it was the best four results out of five and I had missed the second round of the series already. My body and brain were not happy and I knew I had left my peak form back in Europe. I wasn't concerned so much with the fact that the best female mountain biker on the planet, Gunn Rita Dahle was racing. But I knew I had to have a good race to win the series and I had this horrible feeling I lacked both the mental and physical strength and willpower I needed to give it my best shot...
The final race of a long year...and suddenly I was out on course competing for a British Series win, and hopefully plenty of UCI points. Legs and head were tired, but I liked the course and had my plan. I wasn't going to get carried away and take any risks. There were strong girls, including Gunn Rita Dahle, Annie last and Sue Clarke who could not win the series title, but who I knew had the form to win this race. So I was going to race concervatively and be mindful of the girls who could take the British Series title (Mel Spath, Jenny Copnall, Jenn O'Connor)....well I got a bit carried away and before I knew it I was out in front with British Under 23 National Champion and amazingly talented rider Annie Last. Annie looked strong as she always does, and so I stuck to her wheel like glue, thinking other riders were right on my back wheel too. It wasn't until we had finished lap one that I realised we were out in front alone and had a gap on the other girls. I was keeping it steady for the first half of the race, mindful that Annie has an amazing sprint on her which my 31 year old legs sorely lack. I know my strengths, but they weren't strong enough today to be an advantage, and it really took alot of mental strength not to crack in places when Annie put her foot down. The first three laps were very much the same, as we rode together and tested each other to see how we both were coping under the pressure. I was also trying to ride as smoothly as possible too to ensure I didn't rip a tyre or have any mechanicals that would prevent me from winning the series.
By the final lap I dug deep to move ahead of Annie into the final descent. I had hoped to be in this position so I could cross the river without any rider in front to slow me down across the slippery rocks where I could just see myself having a clumbsy moment and crossing the line drenched. In hindsight perhaps this wasn't the best position to be in as I knew Annie was right on my back wheel down the long grassy straight waiting to attack into the last piece of narrow single track that spat you out to cross the finish line. When Annie attackd it didn't surprise me, but I just didn't react in time to counter attack or block the attack, so I was chasing the final few metres and finished 2 seconds down in second place.
It was a great race to be part of and Annie was very deserving of her win. I felt like I did eveything I could at the time and the best person won, but it has also given me a kick up the back side to improve aspects of my racing that are letting me down because I know that next year it will be a huge challenge to defend the British Series title with such young talent coming through, which is great to see. It will certainly motivate me to work hard this winter so that I can be stronger next year both at national and international level. 
So this weekend I tasted each podium spot, and came away with a national cross country title to add to the British marathon series title I won three years ago. I'm chuffed to bits that all the hard work from everyone involved in the Cotic Bontrager Race Team has paid off. Although I may be the only one racing, there are so many people who have worked hard and contributed financially to help me race at this level. Without my race team, sponsors, friends, family, coach and husband I would not be where I am today and would not be the mountain biker or person I am today either without out all this support. I have improved in so many ways this year which can be seen by my results both at international and national level, but I still have a long way to go and I truly thank everyone for believing in me and helping me work towards riding up KP's racing pyramid, where an Olympic spot sits at the top and hopes to be reached by 2012.

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, Sunwise eyewear and Purple Extreme Lubricants.

Check out their websites to the side.


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


Posted via email

Monday, September 21, 2009

KP TACKLES BIGGEST FEAR......apart from spiders.....HEIGHTS!

Some photos to give you an idea of what I put myself through in Champery.....before world cup 7 had even taken off I was living on the edge. Read my report below for a detailed version of a training session that was a little bit different from my usual cycling routine. All I can say is thankgod I didn't look down or I might still be hanging off the cliff rungs right now


See and download the full gallery on posterous

Posted via email

Saturday, September 19, 2009


As you can imagine those of us who have returned from Australia from the World Championships are feeling a touch jetlagged and perhaps even experiencing a little physical and mental fatigue from the biggest international biking event for most of us this year. I was confident my body would recover quickly in time for the 7th round of the world cup series the following weekend, but never certain that my brain would behave itself and re focus on the competitions still ahead of me. I was determined not to get carried away and start celebrating just yet because I hate feeling mentally fatigued, even more so than feeling physically fatigued. Once my race had finished I was already thinking about world cup 7,8 and also the final round of the British Mountain Bike Series which were all very important to me in my race for points and improving my world ranking. Instead of partying on Saturday night I was tucked into bed by 8pm (sad I know), but I was so determined to return to Europe fresh that I was willing to make little social sacrifices. Unfortunately even though I was technically ready to go to sleep, my brain was on overdrive mode and I woke up the next morning feeling like I had little sleep, but at least the legs had been well rested.


Sunday was Father’s Day in Australia which I spent with the family whilst the legendary Steve Peat sprinted to victory and my good friend Tracey Mosely earned herself a well deserved spot on the podium in second place (way to go mate!!!!!). Then it was pack up and prepare for the long journey from Oz to Switzerland that involved a four hour drive from Canberra to Sydney Airport, followed by three plane trips to Geneva Airport where I met my lovely Mr Potter who then drove the Aussie Team to Les Crossets in Champery which was another 2-3hrs of travelling in the AQR mini bus.

There were 7 Aussie racers, including myself returning to race the final two world cups. Our coach Neil Ross found a gorgeous chalet in the mountains with the most amazing views. We were living above 1700 metres and there were brilliant trails right on our door step. It didn’t take long before bikes were built and ready to roll, but instead of a ride I decided to take a stroll with my husband to make sure he hadn’t forgotten his Mrs and to find out all the gossip from AQR adventures in Luchon.

The next day I was more than ready to start exploring the area and Coach Ross gave us a 3-4hr session off road. I very rarely get to train with other girls and it was so nice to be riding with a group of ladies who share a similar outlook on racing and riding a bike as I do. I had the BEST DAY today. It started with lots of climbing, followed by lots of descending, followed by more climbing and some awesome single track switchbacks and little jumps that kept me buzzing for more. Then it was time for alot more climbing with some steep challenges along the way before we descended back down into Les Crossets where we bumped into Ian. We had just finished a super descent that I really wanted to ride Ian joined me for one more loop where I dug deep to try and keep him in sight and I even managed to get a little bit of air off the jumps as I chased him down.....’yippees’ and a couple of ‘yikes’ were squealed all the way down as I almost nose planted, but I was still grinning from ear to ear as I felt like I was on holiday rather than a training ride.

Then my afternoon changed when Coach Ross organised a Team building activity...we were off to climb the ‘Via Farrata de Tiere’. Now I will let you into a little secret....I’m petrified of heights! I know it is all in my head, but I really hate been too far off the ground, and can be a nervous wreck even when I’m flying from country to country. If I look down for too long I feel dizzy and very light even though I love adventure, you will never find me jumping out of aeroplanes, bungy jumping or rock climbing to name but a few of the activities I have always stayed well away from. But here was the dilemma, there is this little voice inside my head that often dares me to test myself even when the sensible part of my brain is telling me not to....perhaps you could say I have a devil and an angel on each shoulder that often get into conflict....hence why I’m the most indecisive person I know. There was no pressure to join the group, in fact Neil did say if you don’t like heights then you probably won’t like this activity.

I read the pamphlet...’Via ferrata (iron path) is a circuit, which you can do by foot on sheer settings. The access is simplified by rungs fixed at the rock. A harness and towing lines secure the users over the whole time....The beginning of the Via Ferrata is near the bridge of Sous Scex at the altitude of 900m and ends at the altitude 1126m.’ Ok so the description sounds safe enough (I think at the time), but then I looked closely at the photos and my knees were shaking already as you were a long way off the ground....gulp, gulp and many more gulps were to come as I listened to the little devil on my shoulder and decided it was time to get over my fear of heights.

The start of the climb involved hiking on steep ground, before the rock climbing began. Ian was a star and stayed behind me in case I froze at any point. I clipped myself onto the wire rope and talked myself out of quitting. It was tough just getting started and my arms were already hurting after only a few minutes of pulling myself up from iron rung to iron rung. Then we got to a section beside a huge waterfall that was deafening and I could feel the shakes starting and the dizziness beginning to take hold. Ian started screaming at me to ‘BREATHE!!!!’. Oops no wonder I was feeling dizzy. So I focused on taking deep breaths while I tried to work out how I was going to climb the first hard section in front of me. Neil and Dan who were in front shouted some encouraging words, and I managed to pull myself up to a wooden bridge that crossed the waterfall....a bridge that rocked from side to side suspended by wire ropes that you really didn’t want to slip through as it was a long way down. So long as I didn’t look at what I’m sure was a wonderful view I was fine and when we started traversing the rock face I managed to speed up and even relax a little. Then Coach Ross made a comment that I will never forget...’I didn’t think it would be this hard’. When I looked up the rock face in front of me for what lay in store I could have had a hissy fit right there and then J . In fact even the devil on my shoulder was questioning whether it might be best to just stay put and call out a helicopter rescue. But Ian kept encouraging me to keep going and said the end was in sight....he was lying of course, but he kept me moving.

I froze again half way up as I felt like I needed longer and stronger arms, plus one of the iron rungs felt loose which didn’t inspire confidence. I clung to the iron rung and I wasn’t moving anytime soon. Ian was surprisingly calm at first until he cried out that he was slipping and couldn’t hold himself in this position for much longer....sorry love. There were a few tears and perhaps a little domestic, but I didn’t want to lose my hubby so I managed to use all my strength to reach the next rung where I could breathe easy as it suddenly became alot easier. I could see the group at the top and it was the best feeling in the world standing on the ground. I don’t know if it was an adrenaline rush, but rather that feeling you experience when you feel as though you have escaped death.....It was the scariest thing I have ever done, but the rewards I gained from participating were huge. I felt a close bond with the entire group who were so supportive and who also admitted that it wasn’t just me who found it scary. I also felt like I had faced a fear and chipped away at this fear that has plagued me since I can remember. What a training session for the team. I knew deep down that this experience would help me with my racing on the weekend and in the future, as there are always little fears that creep up from time to time. So next time I have a fearful moment on the race course all I need to do is compare it to climbing the ‘Via Ferrata de Tiere’, and I reckon you will see a new me!


The next day it was time to hit the course. I felt tired because I hadn’t slept well....all the excitement from yesterday made my brain go into overdrive mode. I had three laps to complete before some hard efforts to get the legs buzzing and lungs hurting. I felt a bit rusty on the bike and when the first shoot appeared I looked at it first before attempting it. It was steep, off camber with some ruts near the exit. Normally this type of technical section could take me a while to attempt, but after yesterday nothing fazed me. Each lap I rode confidently and I was loving the rooty twisty sections...that reminded me of some of my favourite trails in Luchon. The first half of the course was fairly flat and would suit powerful riders, but the last 2km suited climbers with a killer of a climb up to the final descent. Although I felt knackered I loved riding the course and for the first time in Potter World Cup racing history there was not one section that fazed me....not one!

Then it rained! Alot! I was certain I jinxed the race because I was feeling way too confident for my own good. Rain changes things especially when there are roots involved. On race morning I checked out a few sections and even though it had stopped raining it was going to be a slippery race and I knew to expect some crashes along the way. Sometimes rain can go your way because suddenly skill becomes just as important as power and fitness, but if you get stuck behind people on technical single track sections then it can also be race over. You also have to think about your bike and I personally never take risks, because one little crash can mean the difference between earning points and not finishing a race when conditions turn wet.

I didn’t feel so confident lining up on the fourth row with the number 38 attached to the front of my bike. There were alot of riders, alot of very good riders both in front of me and behind. The start was a tarmac climb that wasn’t too steep so that I had the chain in big ring the whole way, but it hurt. I felt flat to begin with and just felt like I was going backwards. I could see the start of the single track and I dug deep to try and make up a few places as the 1km descent to the start of the first full loop was going to be a fight the whole way. As I expected I and over half the field went from going hard out to almost a complete stop. There were bikes and bodies falling all over the place....and I was one of them as I was pushed from my bike and into a pile of gravel. I just picked my little Soda up and ran a short section, calming myself to avoid any further collisions. I was overtaken by America’s Mary McConneloug as I jumped back on the bike and followed her lines over the two bridges and into the start of the twisting single track where there were roots a plenty. There were more girls walking than riding their bikes, and I was pleased as punch that I was still on the bike. It helped having Mary call out to riders in front to move and I found myself right on her back wheel as she just seemed to find the best passing lines. Unfortunately I lost touch with Mary as I collided with another rider and our bikes got tangled. There is no love lost between racers whilst racing and we both fought to get back on our bikes and to hold our positions as you can lose so much time on the first lap. It was a relief to escape the single track and find some open space to start attacking on the first lap as there were over 40 riders in front of me.

LAP 1 & 2

I settled into a comfortable pace on the first two laps and just tried to flow on the single track. I was always caught behind a rider who was also behind riders in front. So at times there was just no where to go and I decided to conserve energy early and hopefully attack on the second half of the race. If you tried to pass someone in front you could be lucky and make up a place or you could receive an elbow in the chest and find yourself on the floor. There was plenty of running, and at times this was the quickest and most effective way to make a secure pass. The highlight for me though was riding through the finish area where there were two logs to slow riders down....for the first time in Potter racing history I managed to bunny hop properly. I have been practising bunny hops for so long where you manual first before lifting the back end of the bike. It is such a cool feeling when you feel the bike move in the air beneath you. Not only is it a safer and quicker way of bunny hopping, but it also looks super cool, especially those riders who can bunny hop really high. I’m quite happy with my log height, but will keep working on it so I can out bunny hop Ian and of course AQR’s Paul who is a champion at the bunny hop. Anyway back to the race report....

LAP 3 & 4

I was feeling awesome and the legs were enjoying the effort of trying to catch riders out in front. I was riding with Janka Stevkova and Georgia Gould and our positions were changing constantly. There was one not so enjoyable crash that was like a domino effect as Goul d went down as the off camber slick mud caught her by surprise, followed by Stevkova and then I hit the deck and slid into them. The crowd were in hysterics and I couldn’t help but giggle to myself too...oh the joys of racing. But once we got to the climb I put in a decisive break away and set my sights on young British talent Annie Last who had a super strong start and other riders just ahead of her. I managed to sneak ahead of Annie before the descent and just tried to take smooth lines as I was confident my final lap would be a strong one as I felt really good.


I felt like every girl I passed gave me an added dose of strength. Luckily there were no girls passing me as that can sometimes make your brain think you are slowing down, when in fact the girls are just much faster than you. I felt super and really had fun on the fast bends and little drop offs. Knowing I only had to climb that steep hill one more time was the best feeling and I couldn’t wait for the descent down into the finish arena. I found out later that my final lap was the 20th fastest which just shows you how a bad start can affect your overall race result if you get stuck in the single track.


Oh my golly gosh I finished in 26th position. Now I would have been happy to have finished in the 30 something’s as that has been my target this year, but no one is taking that position away from me as I felt like I earned it today. It was a good day for the Cotic Bontrager Race Team, but there seemed to be alot of tired bodies out on course today who perhaps hadn’t quite recovered from post world’s travelling, so methinks the last round of the World Cup Series is going to be a fierce one, but as always I can only prepare as best I can and look forward to the battle ahead.


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.                         

Posted via email

Saturday, September 12, 2009


The biggest experience of my mountain biking life happened 48hrs ago. I was part of the 2009 Mountain Bike World Championships on home turf. Although I have started to feel like my home is wherever my mountain bike takes me, Australia is where I was born and bred, and so to line up wearing the Aussie colours and race in front of a massive Australian crowd was an unforgettable experience.  It only feels like yesterday that I took myself off to Portugal and discovered mountain biking for the first time.....oh and also my future husband....yeah I took a fancy to the guide and a year later became Mrs Potter....and the rest is Potter biking history.

When I was growing up I was always very sporty, and like most Aussie children I dreamt that one day I could represent my country....but that never happened. In most sports when you reach your mid 20’s you can start thinking about retiring even if you do make it to elite level. When you finish school there is often this expectation that it’s time to get serious, settle down and stop chasing your dreams. When I finished school it was time to decide what I was going to do for the rest of my life and there was no other choice for me but to head to University....because I had no idea what I wanted to do or be when I hit my 20’s and beyond.

At 17 this is quite a daunting thought and I certainly wasn’t ready to make such a huge decision, one that could affect the rest of my life. I thought by the age of 22 years after spending 5 intense years at University that I would be somewhat closer to making that decision. Unfortunately I was a bit of a dreamer and didn’t feel like I was on the right as many Aussies do it was time to escape, head to Europe for some much needed head space and to have some adventure. I was certain that after two years travelling I would be ready to ‘settle down’, that I would know what I wanted to do with the rest of my life when I was in my mid 20’s.

During my travels I fell in love with so many countries, but the trips I went on at first were too well organised. I was seeking more exciting spontaneous adventures. I was on the final stretch of a bus trip through Switzerland when I saw all these people riding bikes. They looked like they were travellers too, but they were doing something I suddenly craved to experience. I suddenly felt like I wasn’t a proper explorer after all, because I relied on tour guides and bus drivers to give me an adventure...and to tell you the truth I suffer motion sickness, so for 8hrs each day I was either feeling sick as a dog or sleeping, so the Captain Cook spirit inside me was feeling suppressed and at times rather nautious.

It’s funny how one small decision that you don’t recognise as being that significant at the time is actually what changes your whole future. I decided at that moment at the age of 24 that I wanted to ride a bike on my next adventure. That little decision, which was no more than a fleeting thought at the time, has ended up taking me to Portugal, Greece, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, South Africa, Belgium, Canada, up, down and across Great Britain on two knobbly tyres....and now I have come home full circle to represent the country that I left behind when I had no idea what or who I really wanted to be when I reached my 30’s....and now I finally know. I really want to be the best mountain biker I can be and here I am lining up against the world’s best at the 2009 Mountain Bike Cross Country World Championships....Holly Cow!

2009 World Championships, Saturday 5th September....THE WARM UP.

This morning I was ready to race. The usual pre race nerves were there, but much more controlled. I have always had a problem controlling my nerves, but I now believe that nerves can give you positive energy. During the 30 minute roll out to course I was quiet as I usually am, but I was taking in every moment rather than hiding inside my little concentration bubble which does more harm for me than good sometimes. Car after car kept driving past beeping their horns and wishing the 7 elite ladies dressed head to toe in the green and gold colours of Aussie elite cyclists all the very best. Although we normally race for different teams, today we were one team representing our country and hoping that each other would have the best ride today and do Oz proud.

Once we were at the course there was time to relax in the team tent and chill before we completed our turbo warm up. The Aussie Team had amazing coaching and support crew who looked after us all and helped keep our nerves at bay. There were photographers, television cameras, radio, spectators, family and friends surrounding us all as we warmed up on each turbo, focused on spinning legs and waking heart and lungs up ready to race. The crowd lining up on both sides of the starting area were building up and the atmosphere was sending tingles down my spine.

2009 World Championships, Saturday 5th September....THE START.

I was number 40 and lining up towards the end of the grid. It wasn’t an ideal position on the start line because I was on the inside of the first tight bend where I was certain there could be a crash or where I might get squeezed into the gates. I expected a mad start, but to tell you the truth the pace was much slower than I anticipated. I felt like lady luck was watching out for me today as I just seemed to find gaps in the pack and slowly but in a very relaxed manner crept closer to the front. I knew as everybody else did that the last 50-100m before the first long section of single track was going to be mad as we all fought for a good position on the narrow and energy zapping ‘Cardiac Climb’. But just as I was preparing for the attacks to start the very front group crashed and suddenly everybody was off their bikes and scrambling on the fire road trying to remount and pedal back up to speed. I’m sure there were a few angry words and plenty of elbows, but for me it was like everything was in slow motion and I was on automatic drive without a care in the world.

I knew to save energy on the steep sections of the ‘Cardiac Climb’ and rode conservatively. I managed some sneaky passes and stayed on my bike more than I expected to with so many riders already running out in front. There were several rocky obstacles to ride and hop over, as well as a short steep descent with a section of slippery muddy rocks on the exit. When you reached the top there was no time to relax as you headed straight into the ‘Hammer Head’ section of rolling steep boulders and rocks. I expected to run and was already off my bike and trying to get past riders who had crashed or lost balance in front of me. Once again I found myself running past riders in a very relaxed and controlled manner without too much hard effort at this stage in the race. The trail remained mostly tight and undulating single track, with a few short sections that split into A and B lines which would suit those riders who had the power to sprint hard....not my strength, but boy did I try as there was always somebody out in front to try and pass.

At the highest point of the course it turned to even more single track and here I enjoyed the swooping switchbacks that just went on and on.....I love riding switchbacks and even though I had ridden this section plenty of times over the last two weeks I never got bored of it. I managed to out sprint a girl into this descent and then caught up another, but I wasn’t able to pass her without risking a collision as the trail was too narrow. Then I was spat out at the end of the descent and up through the feed zone onto a grassy draggy climb. Now it was time to dig deep and start making some moves because this was the first opportunity to make some passes that didn’t involve sprinting. I tried to catch riders out in front, not to pass at first, but to hitch a ride up to the next fire road climb where a head wind greeted you. You could see the top of the climb, and although it didn’t look far it seemed to take forever to reach the next long section of single track. I managed to pass three riders and my legs even managed to outsprint one rider into the next rocky section that then turned into a swooping fast undulating single track, with jumps and corners that were really fun to ride, but virtually impossible to overtake on. Luckily on the first lap I got in front of a slower rider and had a clear run on most of this section before catching up to a rider who was riding at much the same pace. I was having so much fun, and had to keep reminding myself that I was not riding with my mates, but racing the best mountain bikers in the world so stop smiling and get angry!!!

2009 World Championships, Saturday 5th September....LAP 2.

I felt good and started increasing the pace as I was gaining on the group in front who were working together on the fire road whilst I was using every ounce of energy to play catch up. I also reminded myself that I had to get through to the end without blowing or making any mistakes when fatigue started to settle in so I tried not to hit the red zone too often and reminded myself to drink. Looking back this could have been a mistake, and perhaps I eased off ever so slightly to allow a rider from Denmark to fly past me at such an awesome speed that neither my legs nor my reaction time could bridge the gap she made on me. However as I chased her into the single track I suddenly found myself on the brakes and slowing right down as she was running every obstacle. This then made it difficult for me to keep my speed up over the rocks and so I was then forced to run sections as well. I was angry now because the effort I had put in to catch the leading riders in front vanished simply because my legs lacked the acceleration and power to outsprint this girl in front of me, who was now going much slower than I felt comfortable with....oh for some fast twitch muscle fibres grrrrrrr!!!! I lost sight of the group I tried to chase down and now I could hear riders right on my back wheel. I encouraged her to carry more speed or to let me pass....but this wasn’t going to happen, it is a race after all, but one can only try. Luckily I took the B line instead of the rocky steps as I was able to carry more speed out of the exit and managed to sneak out in front and kept my position on the descent, but I couldn’t see anybody in front now....doh!

2009 World Championships, Saturday 5th September...LAP 3.

On Laps 3 my position kept changing as I passed some riders, but also found myself being out sprinted by other riders too, including America’s Mary Mcconneloug who actually caught me off guard as I have never been in front of her before. I was also taken out by a Russian rider who had bigger elbows than me and sent me flying into the spiky Australian flora. The crowds were loving the action which fired me up to chase her down and pass her over some rocky steps ....I love that feeling when you discover a little bit of aggression you never knew was inside you. The only thing that never changed was my failure to outsprint the same girl from Denmark who I then kept catching up on the single track. This is where I started to lose time. Riders caught us up from behind who were right on my back wheel and finding themselves on the brakes too. It made me realise that sometimes one weakness can take away from all your strengths and to be the very best you must excel at everything. There were 5 of us together now on the single track before we hit the fourth lap....and I was starting to feel dizzy and knew I hadn’t drunk enough. I need more carbs!!!!

2009 World Championships, Saturday 5th September...LAP 4.

I was still racing the girl from Denmark, but now there was also a Canadian and Japanese racer joining in the action. All I can remember from this lap was head down and attacking constantly at every possible opportunity....but still I couldn’t out sprint the Denmark racer. Legs weren’t feeling too bad, but I was starting to make a few clumsy mistakes so refocused and reminded myself that I still had to finish the race body and bike unscathed.

2009 World Championships, Saturday 5th September...LAP 5.

Now I was feeling very wasn’t ideal feeling shaky as I headed towards the ‘Cardiac Cllimb’, and instead of worrying about attacks from behind I was gulping Torq energy and consuming a Forest Fruits gel in a desperate attempt to finish this final lap without blowing. I lost a few places, but managed to make this time up on the single track. I allowed the Japanese rider to pass me and sat behind to save some energy before taking over the lead for the final charge up the technical climb. Once I reached the top of the course my energy levels sky rocketed and I was loving the switchbacks and giggling to myself. The roar of the crowds, who actually knew my name were chanting ‘Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!’. The cow bells were ever present and at times were ringing right in my ears...this definitely made me ride faster. I took it all in and will never forget that final lap when I allowed myself to soak in the atmosphere and break free of my little focus bubble. I found the energy to outsprint the Japanese rider and got closer to the Denmark racer and charged across the finish line feeling as though I had won the race.

2009 World Championships, Saturday 5th September...THE AFTERMATH.

Irina Kalentieva from the Russian Federation won the 2009 Mountain Bike World Championships and was a class above the rest of the field as a mechanical must have lost her a couple of minutes early on in the race. I finished 24th, a result and race that I cannot fault at this stage of my racing. But for me this experience represents quite a few firsts that I am very proud to have achieved in my second year at racing at international level. This was my first World Championships representing Australia. This was my first time finishing with a result in the 20 something’s....And finally this was the first time I had finished with a time in the 10% of the winner’s time which was my main goal this year. I thought this goal may have been a little ambitious, but what better way to achieve your best result than at the World Championships. My little Cotic Soda and my worn out legs did the Cotic Bontrager Team proud!

2009 World Championships, Saturday 5th September...THANKYOUS!

Where to begin and where to end, because I have so many people to thank for helping me reach this alphabetical order, thankyou to -

AUSTRALIAN TEAM SUPPORT – Brett, Chris, Dave, Dean, Christine, Gary, Kenny, Meg, Neil, Tammy who helped the Aussie Team prepare for the biggest race of the year. Thankyou for the mechanical support, feeding, chauffeuring, coaching, organising, name but a few of the roles this support team played. The word ‘SUPPORT’ covers a wide range of areas, and this team covered them all and more.

AUSTRALIAN RACING TEAM – There were 66 athletes in total and it was an honour to be selected and race alongside such a great bunch of athletes across all categories.

FAMILY & FRIENDS – I have had amazing support from everyone and couldn’t continue racing without this support network.

MTB BUDDIES – I must say a special thankyou to Abbie Smith, Cy Turner, Jon Petyt, Matt Hart, Paul Dexter, Russ Blake, Stu King, Stewie Murray and of course Ed, Helen, Jane & Niel, Andy Patterson & Jenn O'Connor who have all helped me at some point learn the skills I needed when I started mountain biking and who continue to help me to this day.

As always Special thanks to the Cotic Bontrager Race Team who provide me with the equipment I need and the support to do the best job I can –

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, Sunwise eyewear and Purple Extreme Lubricants.

I also have a very special thank you to Australian National Coach Neil Ross for the endless support and coaching that I have received this year. I have learnt so much and am really grateful for the time you have invested into my racing and training.

Now I cannot forget my number one team mate Ian Potter who has put up with me for 6 years now and continues to show endless support and encouragement....he’s not just a pretty face J

Also thankyou to my supporters out there and those of you who read my blog who always take the time to send me emails and wish me good really means alot and helps me when the going gets tough.




Posted via email

Monday, September 7, 2009

World Championships : race photos of Kate

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Paul and Claire
Date: 2009/9/6
Subject: Photos of Kate
To: Kate Potter <>,
Cc: Paul Dexter <>

Hey There,

here are some shots I got of Kate during the race.



See and download the full gallery on posterous

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Riding to the Worlds.....

Two days until race day....but who's counting? I have spent two weeks as a full time athlete at the Australian Institute of Sport living, breathing and thinking mountain biking....actually I do alot of that come to think about it, but usually alot of my life involves emailing, researching, writing, and organising the boys so that AQR Holidays continues to move forward. But for the last two weeks, well 98% of the time, I put AQR on hold and devoted all my time to being the best athlete I could be. Most people think that just involves training, well that is the easy part. Believe it or not for those who don't know me the resting side is crucial to an athlete's performance improving, which is what I really struggle with. My brain has a habit of over thinking and making lists, so I have got myself into a routine at night to try and switch off. I find making time for yourself does wonders for your mental state and helps me to feel fresh and recovered each morning.
Since moving into Team Oz Headquarters I have felt alot calmer about the World Championships. There are 66 Aussies not just from cross country, but down hill, four cross and trials. We are all a very mixed bunch, but everyone has been so friendly and very supportive. The coaching and support staff have been amazing. I even had the luxury of a proper massage yesterday which has left the ol' Potter legs feeling rather dandy.
Well I'm afraid it's time to sign off because I will reveal more of my time in Australia very soon, but for now I must rest the Potter brain before it goes into overdrive and wears me down before the race even starts. All I can say is the race track is ace, and the Cotic Soda is my mountain bike weapon of choice this weekend....she is revved up and ready to roll :)
Cheerios for now
ps - thanks to Katherine & Jo from TORQ Oz for the photo.


Posted via email