Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Well I had plans to head to sunny Oz for Xmas or stay in Luchon for a warm winter of biking action........but no we Potters chose freezing cold UK for our Christmas break. Ian and I left Luchon behind at 2am for our 20 hour plus driving adventure to the UK. It certainly was an adventure as I mustered the courage to drive Mini Blue across France...yes KP behind the wheel...WATCH OUT!!!
The last vehicle I owned I crashed, or rather I was crashed into three times in the space of a month. As much as I love Mini Blue (AQR mini bus for those 'not' in the know) I do believe I'm jinxed in the machinery department, especially as the last time I drove Mini Blue across Spain she suffered a mechanical....but all I did was turn the key? So I said to Ian I don't mind driving, BUT if anything goes wrong en route I'm not to be blamed.
6hrs later I discovered how much I really enjoy long as it is in a straight line and I don't have to slow down. I braved all the snow, sleet and ice of northern France, but had an almighty scare as my over imaginative brain started dreaming about bike bunny hopping. Ian has spent a long time teaching me to manual and bunny hop the American stylee way, and I was going through the motions in my head when suddenly Ian was screaming at me and taking control of the steering wheel....I was off the road, onto the hard shoulder and heading towards a massive ditch. Luckily Ian had woken up as I just may have tried to bunny hop the mini bus across the ditch (gulp) the moral of the story is don't try and bunny hop mini buses as husbands get angry AND dreaming about mountain biking whilst driving should be avoided at all costs....especially if it causes husbands extra hair loss and elevated blood pressure.
Ian took over the driver's seat until I complained of boredome and begged to drive the last two hundred kilometres to Calais. All was going very well (I thought) until we reached our destination. Now it was time to slow down. However my leg had gone numb, or was it my brain, suddenly I had to think about gears to use and the brake...oops I'm accelerating...oops oops I'm best to give way to the lorries as thay are a tad bigger....oops oops oops a roundabout, another near miss, WHICH ONE IS THE BRAKE IAN!!!!! this stage Ian had lost his summer tan and looked ghostly ill...........and relax. Wow that trip was far more exciting than usual. But now it's time to board the ferry and head across to the UK....Ian decided to take over just incase I crash into the ferry and it if !?!?
Ian and I had purposely chosen a ferry time so we would miss M25 at rush hour.....but as ever all good plans in the Potter department once again turn into another adventure.
I love snow. I'm a Sydney sider born and bred by the beach who never saw snow until she moved to Europe. Now as we hit the UK roads I find myself truly excited about a proper UK winter. That excitement didn't last long mind you as within 30 minutes we stopped and remained on the M20 for over 6 hours. The only fun I had was seeing Ian leave Mini Blue for a pee stop in the trees before a tidal wave of snow and water washed over him as an emergency vehicle rushed by on the hard shoulder.....I truly expected facial fireworks from Mr P and alot of moaning. But instead Ian showed signs of SHOCK! I quickly assessed the situtation especially when he started laughing.....these were ususual signs, so as any experienced first aider would or perhaps might do, I quickly took control of the situtation and went through my DR - ABC.
D is for DANGER..... I locked Ian out of the van as I had to think about 'danger' to myself and others, that be Miss Mini Blue. There was no way a cold and wet Ian Potter was jumping in my Mini Blue warm zone.
R is for RESPONSE......Ian was responding in such a childish manner, jumping up and down, banging on Mini Blue....that he could yell/sulk as much as he wants to, but I need to see sweet smiles before he would be allowed in my warm zone.
A is for AIRWAYS......well no problem there as he moaned and groaned and threatened revenge!
B is for BREATHING.....I told Ian to take a deep breath to help him calm down!!
C is for 'CRAP'.......Ian found spare keys to Mini Blue......Now I'm truly in danger!!! (GULP)
Luckily just as Ian was about to chuck me out of the bus, we moved......well slid down the road. There was no more time for sillyness on my part as there were too many lorries playing dodgems with the cars who were driving too slowly for the lorries to accelerate over the small rises....HENCE why so many lorries remained stuck in the snow and then caused a massive backlog of traffic.
24hrs later Ian and I reached Nottingham and since then it has been full steam ahead in every mountain biking way.... in full swing for the 2011 season, whilst not forgetting the last few guiding and skills coaching sessions Ian and I are running before Christmas. It has been perfect biking conditions to help those of you wanting to flow with confidence on the trail. Whilst the snow is slippery and hard to read, it means the ony way to stay up right is to trust your bike and keep it rolling. There has certainly been some slips and slides, but every off has meant a soft landing and a huge smile, and of course a little bit of know how as to how much grip your tyres have.
At the same time I'm busy preparing for the 'AQR in the ALGARVE' weeks in Portugal March 2011. I'm even more excited because the first week begins on my birthday (5th March). We already have a group booked on the week to help me celebrate another 21st I don't believe in ageing.....age is just a number :) Ian and I have now added another week to Portugal, so 4 weeks in total where we will be overdosing in sunshine, as we Potters take other likeminded bikers on some great trails in and around the Algarve. 
In the racing department, Ian and I are very excited to annouce a new and impoved AQR Race Team. Three small teams, including the original AQR racing line up, are joining forces to become one big team that will see AQR as one of the title sponsors. That is all I can reveal right now, but Cotic bikes will be out in force in more ways than one next summer, so look out!!!!
This weekend we Potters are off to Sherwood Pines and then down to Swinley for some pre-Xmas trail action with the AQR Crew. I will make sure I take some proper winter pics and post them instead of all the Autumn pics I have on me at the moment, which look just like Luchon in the summer really....actually October and November felt like Luchon in July, which is hardly motivating, as I'm sure I won't make friends when I tell people how warm it can be in Luchon during the winter months when UK is covered in snow.....anyway here is a little Xmas card of Potters in our Santa outfits for you all.
Cheerios for now
KPxo and the IMPxo (Mr P's offical sign off name)

AQR - A Quick Release Holidays
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Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Well it’s the November off season for the Potters, no guiding, no travelling, no racing, I should really say no training....but I won’t....Ian will as he’s knackered from the staircase build project I blogged about recently. It should really be a time to relax, unwind, re-charge the Potter batteries because it’s not long until it all starts again. But I’m discovering more and more of my youthful 21 year old self within me 30 plus year old bones. Each month I seem to be gaining even more strength than the month before.  I was told this might happen by the doctor, but it’s gone a little bit haywire and out of control....BUT, I AM LOVING IT!!!!!!....although Ian’s not quite filled with the same enthusiasm -

A TYPICAL KP MONDAY - 5am start, followed by a 3hr turbo training session to kick start the day, then off for a 2-3hr hike (as I’m helping a friend train for her walk to Everest Base Camp), then in the AQR office because I ought to be doing some work. In the afternoon I head off on my Cotic X to enjoy the lower Luchon trails that lead me to water aerobics, that I originally joined to meet more locals in Luchon (but actually it’s difficult to communicate even more so now as I haven’t mastered the co-ordination of speaking French whilst gasping for breath and swallowing water J) And then a quick trail blast up and down our Pyrenean backyard on my lovely Soda, especially if I can drag Mr P away from his darn X-Box machine...he just wants to kill things in his spare time lately! But my new levels of crazy high energy are taking great joy in killing him up the it’s not so much fun when he refuses to ride with me J

Feeling as I did 10 years ago has made me think about the past recently and the life changing experiences that lead me to mountain biking in the first place. Back in my teen years and 20’s I was a royal pain in the toenail and never held down a proper relationship because my running shoes and gym membership were always given more attention than the males in my life. In fact, as far as I was concerned boyfriends just got in the way of the minutes, hours and all the spare moments possible when I could be running along beaches, hiking across trails and spinning it up in spin classes. Life was more than a box of chocolates as my nick name used to be ‘Forest Gump’ was a cycle of one sporty adventure after another. The two Aussie lads that stayed around for the longest were Shane and Bruce (I shan’t use their real names just in case they actually read my blog....that would be a right ‘oops’ moment).

Anyway both guys were keen to please me for some reason....silly boys! In the early weeks of their blossoming love they actually dared join me for one of my many trail runs, only ever one mind you. The problem was I’m not one to stick to a time frame, and could never confirm how long I would run for, because if I was off road and I spotted a new trail, well it would be rude not to check it out. The problem was they were much faster than me over a short distance, but had no stamina (TYPICAL MALE before you jump up and down Ian told me to write that!!!).

As soon as I caught them up they would sprint off into the distance to give themselves enough time to have a break before I caught them up again. So in actual fact we hardly saw each other on my long running adventures because when I caught them up they were too out of breath to speak and when they did speak they simply whinged about suffering aches and pains and then they ran off in front again.....AGHHHH.....which did my head in!!! I felt surrounded by negative energy, so I wasn’t very sympathetic to these boys (I have since learnt to be a tad kinder, so I apologise for my lack of sympathy if you two read this and know who you are....especially Bruce who really did suffer altitude sickness when I made you climb/run a big mountain in Morocco all those years ago....sorry J )

So when I decided to head to Portugal 8 years ago to see what cycling in the mountains was all about, who would have thought I would instantly hit it off with the guide, or rather he would hit it off with me (hee hee hee (evil laugh)....Mr P deserves a medal), but more importantly fall in love with a sport that has endless opportunities for adventure and new found experiences. I had actually booked myself on the wrong holiday because I didn’t know what mountain biking was at the time, nor did I realise you could actually ride off road, I just loved the idea of riding a bike and exploring a new country. It was love at first RPM when I pedalled my hire bike uphill for the first time, I can’t remember the name of it, but it was blue, my favourite colour. When I attempted my first descent my lovely blue bike was patient, caring and confidence inspiring, actually Mr P was pretty patient back then with me too believe it or not J

Together my bike and I discovered beautiful views, trails filled with giggle fit moments, especially when I kissed dirt every so often. Ian actually had to drag ME, a once upon a time BEACH GIRL, away from my bike and down to the stunning beaches on the Algarve coastline for a DAY OFF the trails.... was the first time he saw me sulk!

I still hold treasured memories of that week of mountain biking in Portugal and often look at the photos of my FIRST mountain bike adventure. I met a wonderful bunch of biker Brits for the first time....I had been living in London and had yet to meet many British people...sad but true.  I discovered a part of the world that I would never had explored if I hadn’t been on a mountain bike, but best of all it lead me to my true love.....s......My shiny COTIC SODA....AND my future hubby....MR P! J

My running shoes were laid to rest for a little while, they probably needed the rest, but I had come to the realisation that mountain biking made more sense because I could see more of the world in one day then I could with these ol’ Forest Gump running legs.

Since then we Potters have lived, cycled and explored the UK, Australia, France, Greece, Germany, Spain, Slovenia, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, America, Canada......and although there are still so many trails in our Luchon back yard that need to be discovered and rediscovered, Ian, our Cotics and I have decided to return to Portugal for a month in March to celebrate my birthday (5th March, 5th march, 5th march....just in case you all forget J ) and to return to the trails that set me up for life in more ways than one.

My ever faithful Cotic Soda wasn’t born at this time, but it was this first mountain bike experience that paved the way to our destined union, in fact that trip paved the way to the birth of AQR Holidays and of course me becoming a Potter! YAY!!

So if you want to join us Potters in the sunny Algarve and test a Cotic bike then let me know, especially all you lady bikers out there who love adventure and find your lovely lads occasionally slow you down.....oooh I’m going to get a big blog bashing now J

Don’t worry all’s fair in love and war....ooh a thought....with both Potters guiding we can give you lads options if you find we women have too much energy for you J I really am going to cop it now....but that does not mean Mr P deserves any hero status for putting up with me!
Cheerios for now

A Quick Release Holidays
Tel: 0845 1304824

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

STEP BY STEP.....learning the art of patience.

Well the last AQR guiding week of the Summer season has finished, but there is no time for our own Potter holiday in Luchon, no sirree!!! Although the legs are having a little bit of time off the bike, well Ian's legs are....he has decided that the next two weeks it's time for him to learn the art of patience before the Autumn and Winter guiding weeks commence.
Ian is building the Potters a staircase....not just a little staircase....we Potters don't do we are, or rather Ian is (I have been banned from the house) building a double decker spiral staircase. It's a barrel of laughs at the moment in the Potter household as Ian overdoses on coffee and I try not to fall off the ladders that join each floor.....not great for someone who suffers mild vertigo :)
Anyway the bikes have taken over the lounge and to wash the dishes I have to climb over a huge piece of wood, and the whole downstairs area is a little bit of an obstacle course at the moment with tools and machinery everywhere....BUT it's all part of the Potter adventures. If only the weather wasn't so brilliant right now as I have to sneak in little training rides so as not to upset Mr P who I know is missing the trails terribly :( 
BUT on the plus we are going to be guiding in November, so the count down is on to return to work and get Ian's guiding hat back on so he can smile again :)

A Quick Release Holidays
Tel: 0845 1304824

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Sunday, October 10, 2010


They say a picture says a 1000 words.....well if this weather keeps up I won't have time to type in usual KP endurance length style....I will just have to keep adding pics along the way.
Ian and I have been AQR guiding nearly every week since we returned from the World Champs in Canada. I have always loved Autumn out here in Luchon, well to tell you the truth I say that about all the seasons...yes I'm a complusive liar when it comes to my thoughts on the weather because I love all conditions (even the mud believe it or not). Every weather condition and seasonal change offers different challenges to those mountain bikers who ride all year round, that be us Mr Potter on our faithful Cotic steeds, no time to stop there are too many exciting trails to ride or splatter yourself on.....yippeee!!!!!.....If you open your ears you might just hear Mr P crying out for help in the far off Pyrenean mountainside.
Poor Ian was relieved when I started feeling better again, but unfortunately my energy levels have skyrocketed and keep on improving (much to my grin factor), but much to the change in Ian's forehead frown line which is deepening on a daily basis.
When I grew up in Sydney I missed out on such defined seasonal changes like you have here in Europe. In Oz you have the choice of dry, warm, stinking hot, humid days, with the occasional wet breezy day thrown in every now and then. Now my life in the Pyrenean mountains consists of 4 seasonal variations depending on the time of year....
I love Winter here in Luchon because the snow on the mountain peaks are simply magical. If I want to ride in the snow I can, but if not there are still plenty of trails that are dry and ready to roll on with white capped mountain top views all the way up, and little glimpses of the snowy mountains every now and then on the way down. 
Then Spring warmth hits the area in April and suddenly the mountains turn varying shades of green and all the magical crisp colours of Spring return, as well as the baby animals that you often see or hear within the trees.
Summer is another favourite because it is finally hot enough to sit back in the river that winds through the valley as the glacial waters promote healing power to one's overused legs, but also the trails within the trees offer an escape from the sun's rays as the temperature drops the higher you climb and the mountain thermals create a cooling effect all over.
Now for AUTUMN, I'm excited about Autumn because I'm in the midst of it right now and boy has it been a wonderful season in Luchon so far. The trees are turning a sparkling golden colour and the trails are soooooooooooooo empty, besides those red squirrels skipping about and Pyrenean birds hovering overhead.....oh and those AQR tyres flying by as we Potters have been hitting the trails with full force as we are still guiding and loving every moment of our long days in the saddle.
I'm so happy to be back in the guiding seat. Every day is filled with biking high adventure and descents that go on and on and on..... Even though I know this area well, I still don't get bored or even disapointed when one season ends and the next begins. So as I tell Mr Potter we must make the most of the mountains every minute we time to sleep as I say......
.....So the other day on our only day off from guiding I dragged Ian out for a day long hike up to the Porte de Venasque from Hospice de France. It was spectacular! Although my husband could try and show a little happiness with some facial changes every now and then because he always looks in pain for some reason?!?
Anyway I must dash as there are trails calling my name....enjoy Autumn wherever you are in Europe....I know I am :)

A Quick Release Holidays
Tel: 0845 1304824

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Monday, September 13, 2010


Mechanicals are part of the bike racing and riding game I’m afraid....but it doesn't mean I can't grumble :) That is what I keep telling myself every time my overactive Potter brain starts going into ‘what if’ overdrive. I have had a race season that I would rather forget, but on the plus have become a stronger and much happier person all round. A few months ago I thought I was losing the plot as I didn’t recognise the person I was, nor remembered how I used to be, and had become this slothful hermit that struggled to get out of bed in the morning. Instead of taking joy in thrashing my husband up the climbs out here in Luchon, I was left trying to pedal my bike uphill whilst Ian would track stand on every bend waiting for me. Whilst I was becoming the female version of Homer Simpson, I was also suffering kidney stones that have convinced me that I am too much of a wimp to even consider wanting babies in the future....full respect to mothers :)

But with all health issues behind me now I had 6 weeks of quality training and new found working sensations in the legs that were motivating me to commence racing again. Once the medication kicked in I was able to perform double training sessions on a daily basis and even had the pleasure of making Ian hurt as my times improved on racing loops I use out here in Luchon as part of training. All was on track as I headed to the Australian Mountain Bike Team training camp in Mont Sainte Anne. Coach Neil Ross seemed pleased as to where I was at right now considering the lack of training and racing in my legs, plus I felt so much stronger in my upper body on the descents that my confidence was at an all time high. I was riding all the technical sections on the world champs course, including the rocky shoot that was by far the scariest section because it only took one bad line choice to send you over the bars and into the jagged rocks at full force.

Unfortunately I experienced one such crash on my final timed effort in training, but fortunately as I flew over the edge of the trail, missing the bottom switchback and finding myself with a face full of hay I was fine...... before my bike clobbered me in the head (doh!). Without thinking about it I was back on the bike and completed the timed loop in a pretty good time for me considering my bad line choice, but from that moment onwards I had mechanical issues that may have been brought on by this crash.

I’m not going to go into detail about all the mechanicals that followed me around like a bad smell at both the Wyndham World Cup and also the World Champs. Mechanicals happen to us all at any level of racing and/or trail riding, but in many ways you can be more prone to mechanicals at a world cup when you are riding on the edge and taking more risks to body, brain and bike than any other type of riding I have ever experienced, including 24hr solo racing.

When I lined up for the Cross Country World Champs wearing the green and gold for only the second time in KP biking history my goal was to finish no matter what! I knew I was on the start line with the best preparation that I could have managed given the time I had to prepare. I also had the luxury of being supported by an amazing crew of people who made me feel like I was on holiday as I had a daily massage, mechanics who even washed my bike, staff to take all the daily stress out of our lives so that we could start and finish the race in the best form possible, and then hopefully earn points for Australia’s cross country Olympic bid.

All week the course at Mont Sainte Anne was dry, in fact the area had not experienced rain for weeks. The dust and sand was actually making the course very difficult to ride in places and the heat was definitely going to have an impact on how we felt before and during the race. But you can never predict the weather and on race morning as we started our warm up the rain commenced. I knew my water proof layers would come in handy (see Mr Potter over packing does come in handy) as I found them at the bottom of the clothes pile. I was wearing waterproof jacket and trousers as well as my winter over shoes to stop myself from becoming cold and wet. It was a day for ducks and not lycra clad cyclists unfortunately, but we were all in the same boat...I just hoped we wouldn’t need ‘life jackets’ as the whole area was surrounded by rain clouds and didn’t look like easing off anytime soon.

On the start line I was at the back of a very talented and strong bunch of elite female mountain bikers. As we took off I avoided a collision of bikes, but was sent off the tarmac slightly and had to work extra hard to catch up to where I should be. There was a huge climb to look forward to with ample overtaking space, so I attacked at that point and found myself mid field. Then the running started through the rocky single track, and I was pleased that my legs felt quite comfortable running on the slippery rocks. There was one more climb where I knew I could make some overtaking manoeuvres, but then as I started the descent I realised the bike was completely rigid again, as I had experienced the same problem at the Wyndham World Cup the weekend before. For some reason my forks were locked solid (gulp). I had trouble riding the lines I was used to and as I started to back off I could feel my whole body tensing and felt fear creep into my mind. I knew better than to tense up, but no matter how much I spoke to myself and even sang to myself, I couldn’t relax. The Mont Sainte Anne course is brutal at the driest of times, but in the wet it really is a course of survival because one bad line and you can do both yourself and your bike serious damage and the fact that I had no suspension made my ride all the more challenging and my arms suffering from pain overload.

The next few laps consisted of a stuck chain behind the cassette, a puncture and a bent hanger which caused my gears to be dancing all over the place. I lost places, gained places, before losing those places again.....I ran, I fell, I swore politely :) but always picked myself back up again as I was determined to finish. I made decisions to run certain sections of trail that may have lost time had I tried to ride them, but at the end of the day I finished! It was not the perfect race for the Soda and I, but as I fought the conditions and tried to do what I could to help my little Soda battle on to the finish line I remembered where I was 6 months ago when I couldn’t find the strength to finish a race and today I finished in 52nd position in the world.....YAYYAYAYAY!!!!!

The World Championships are a unique event and everybody who competes no matter if you are a podium favourite or just trying to finish on the lead lap aims to be at their very best on World Champs race day. This is only my second world championships and from what I have seen it can take years of racing at this level to know how to race the best racers in the world.

The World Championships show off the best riders in the world in cross country, downhill and trials, but it also shows off a wide range of emotion from elation to pure devastation. I may not have had a good race, but I finished, which was my main goal on race day. I’m happy, so I guess you could say I found the middle ground somewhere between pure elation and devastation. But I’m striving for the elation I felt after finishing 24th at the World Championships in 2009. I’m well motivated for the 2011 season because I have alot to prove to myself and still ALOT to learn.

At the same time I witnessed history and pure gold worthy elation as my good friend Tracey Mosely won her first World Championship GOLD!!!! I don’t know how long it has taken Tracey, but like Steve Peat in 2009 it has been one title missing from a cv filled with national and series title wins. Well Done Champ!!!!!I It was incredible to see the changes of emotion on Tracey’s face as she waited in the hot seat for the two last french riders to finish their run. When Tracey’s gold medal was secure it was the highlight of my world champs because I know how hard she had worked for this moment over the many years that she has been racing at this level. Gold medals don’t happen overnight, and today was finally Tracey’s day!!!! I forgot I was Aussie for a day and cheered my favourite downhill Brit to a well deserved victory.

On the opposite end of the World Champs emotional spectrum I witnessed devastated racers who were unable to finish their race due to mechanicals and broken bikes that could not be repaired. The one rider who really stood out was an Italian XC racer who was a possible medal contender and he was overcome with emotion when he knew his broken bike could not be salvaged and sadly his race was over as he sat looking distraught in the pit area. It is the first time I have seen a grown man cry, and it just shows you how much emotion and mental energy goes into this one day of the year for most mountain bike racers. It is an event of many highs and lows, but to witness the wide range of emotion going on over the three days of competition only makes one feel alive and motivated for the 2011 World Champs in Champery, Switzerland. So I’m already preparing myself for next season so hopefully I can have another crack at experiencing World Champs elation as I did in 2009.

I would like to say a huge THANKYOU for all the time, effort and support that the staff from Mountain Bike Australia put into the 2010 World Championships.

Special mention must go to the following people –

NEIL ROSS – thank you so much for taking the time to help me this year. Once again I have come away from the training camp with new ideas and motivation for the future.

CHRIS CLARKE – I know how hard you worked to ensure all biking disciplines got the support we needed. Please find time to sleep now and see your family :)

RONALD – You stepped up to the plate with your professional hat on and inspired all of us. Thank you for all your mechanical support and coaching. We all hope to see those green and gold undies flash by next year :)

TIM – I learnt alot from you and was inspired by your energy and enthusiasm for the sport. Best training session I have ever had involved foam swords and flour.....thanks for keeping training really fun as it should be :)

CHRISTINE – Thanks for all your constant support and ‘tipsy’ words of guidance. You and your hands are amazing and I can’t wait to catch up again in the future for another massage.

Plus I wouldn't have had the opportunity to start the World Championships without the endless support from the COTIC BONTRAGER RACE TEAM, who have really stuck by me this year.

Special mention to those of you who really helped me prepare for the biggest race of the year -

CY TURNER (Cotic) - Thankyou for your constant support!!!! You have been amazing as always, and a wonderful friend.

GRIFF & HELEN (Bontrager) - Thankyou for all your help, guidance and patience.

TONY, FLORIAN, AARRON (Magura) - as always your support and mechanical teachings have really helped me sort out my lack of a mechanical sided brain.

IAN POTTER – As always Mr Potter is my Number 1 Team mate, and together we have shown that couples can work together and support each other without any marital long as I get my own way :) Thank you for all your help and support over the years, you have always stuck by me and continue to help me improve on the bike. Bring on 2011 for more Potter adventures I say!

A Quick Release Holidays Tel: 0845 1304824

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Friday, August 27, 2010

A few words from my first race back....the happiest disqualification of my life!

Well as I keep saying I'm definitely getting back on track after an ill fated racing season that left me questioning whether I was physically able to continue racing this year. However whilst I waited for test results and a confirmed diagnosis I was encouraged by Mountain Bike Australia not to give up hope of World Championship selection. I didn't think I had a hope in heaven, but to my surprise I earnt a place on the 2010 Australian Team bound for Mont St Anne, Canada.


I can definitely feel the old me returning to life, but more importantly the chaotic situations that have always plagued my racing adventures are also back on track which I now consider a good thing, a blessing in disguise, without them what would I write about :)


So let me begin the first weekly chapter of KP's Cotic Bontrager 2010 World Championship Adventure here in glorious sunny Mont St Anne. Last Wednesday morning at the glorious time of 3am the adventure started. Bike bag was finally zipped up after too many attempts at squashing in extra bits and bobs without breaking the zipper. Ian kindly drove me to the aiport for my 5am check in. There were no tearful goodbyes as Ian would be joining me 5 days later and the sooner he was rid of his wife the sooner he could be on the plane and bound for Canada as well. To my relief I had a very smooth trip to Paris....but in typical Potter fashion that's where the smoothness ended and the chaos began. My flight to Montreal was delayed and the hour I had to spare to catch my flight from Montreal to Quebec City was looking less likely. I remained cool, calm and collected on the flight as I listened to some really bad dance music on the plane and realised to my horror that the guy sitting next to me was laughing and nudging his partner to check out my seated dance moves as I was bopping up and down to some Lady Gaga tune and I admit there was a few Britney Spears songs on full blast as well.


To my relief the plane touched down early. I dashed to collect my luggage and bike bag with an hour to spare, but first had to endure passport control.....40 minutes later and I was sprinting to baggage collection where I came to a rapid stop. An hour later and I not only missed my flight, but still no bike bag or luggage with my name on it. So I joined a que of very angry Canadians who also had missing bags, and waited.....and waited......and waited.....only to find out that nobody knew where my bags were...but sign here and they will be with you shortly was their response, well when they have been found that is. So I was put on stand by for the next flight to Quebec City and again I waited.....I finally arrived in Quebec City with no sleep in 26hrs (I blame Britney!)


The next morning I caught up with some of the Aussie team and head coaches Neil, Chris and Tim who were in charge of the camp. I couldn't wait to get stuck into training and start riding the course, but then I remembered that my bike and clothing were still en route (grrrrrr). Luckily everyone was on a recovery day, and Neil only wanted me to do a 30min easy spin and stretching so I wouldn't miss out on too much. I was kindly offered a bike to ride, so with my sneakers and the clothes I had been wearing since I left Luchon I headed off for some much needed bike time. Since I had no pockets in my shorts or T-shirt, I decided not to take a spare tube or pump, as I was only riding on road for 15 minutes in one direction before returning to the base, I also decided it really would be a steady ride, as I had no other clothes and didn't fancy sitting around all day with my mtb odour lingering, I may be kicked off the team if that happens. I had reached my 15 minute mark and decided to ride a little further just to see what was at the top of the small hill I was climbing........pshshshshsh.....I tell you what was at the top of that hill one frustrated Aussie who now had a flat back tyre and no spares (Doh!). So I had no choice but to run back and risk sweat stained smelly clothing, as I had a team yoga session which I would miss out on if I walked back. To my horror the very professional looking German national team passed by....and I simply gazed down and avoided eye contact, as I hardly looked like a member of a national team squad, let alone a mountain bike race team of any kind. 


The next day I discovered my bags had arrived in Quebec City, but still no confirmed time as to when they would arrive in Mont St Anne which was about 30 minutes away. Now my humour was finally tested as everybody headed to the course for training and I was left in three day old clothing to play the waiting game. I also found out that for tomorrows training we would all be racing the Quebec Cup, which would be on the World Championship race course here in Mont St Anne. This was definitely a training session I didn't want to miss out on as I'm in desperate need of some race practice if I'm going to feel half the racer I was last year.


At 2pm to my joy a bike and fresh clothing had finally arrived. Bike was built in lightning speed and I was told to register for the race and train steadily on course for 3 laps. As I practised the course I didn't hesitate on any section and felt in full flow on my Cotic Soda. The next two laps were even better and although I'm still getting used to the 2010 Cotic Soda Cy designed for me this year, I knew I was feeling right at home on the technical rocky and rooty sections. I would be ready to race tomorrow so long as the legs remembered how to get back up to race speed overnight.  


I have been waking up rather early as I'm still on French time, and was ready to race over 2 hrs before warm up had even started. I was experiencing strange sensations all over and realised I was very giggly, too talkative for my own good and acting a bit of a clumbsy prat. I had to take myself away from the group to control my giggles, and I wondered if there was something in the water  here, as I must admit I felt rather tipsy....but I was simply high on life. I managed to control my excitement during warm up and again noticed strange sensations in my legs....THE BUZZ FACTOR HAD RETURNED!!!! Only trouble is I could feel myself losing control of it.


On the start line I was buzzing and couldn't wait to race. I wasn't thinking about a race result or trying to beat anyone, I just wanted to ride my bike HARD and make the most of these new found physical sensations before they disappeared on me again. 3-4 months ago I had no leg strength so on the start line I was cautious and kept my chain in middle ring, whilst girls around me were in big ring. I was finally set free and attacked the small climb ahead of me....oops I had more leg strength then I realised, but in completely the wrong gear and was overspinning in the sand and making a right mess of the first few metres. I then some how managed to ride into a huge stump and was off the bike and running in last position (way to go Kate!). But as I giggled to myself, yes the giggles were still there, I was back on track and moved from last to the back of the lead group that included my friend Rowena Fry (national Aussie Champion) and you all should know up and coming British Under 23 star Lilly Mathews, as well as a hand full of Canadians and Americans. I wasn't nervous at all, but I was over excited and having too much fun for my own good. I was out of control on the single track and making mistake after mistake, but as I was so relaxed managed to hold it until I hit a steep sandy shoot with a right hand bend at the top of it....too much speed later and next minute I was performing a superman manouvre as chest hit saddle and I was flying towards a tree...this time I was swearing at myself 'YIKES!' (I won't type what real words flew out accidently :) ). I could hear Row behind me giggling to herself, which then brought on more internal gigles as I was still breathing hard trying to act like a racer. There were at least 5 more almost stackful moments, before the last one on lap 1 knocked me off the bike as I decided to see how hard I could hit every wheel trapper of a rock on the last descent of the lap... the last rock finally won and I was sent over the handle bars. As girls flew by I forced myself to calm down and refocus on the task at survive!


The next three laps I did calm down, and I was passing riders on the climbs and holding my position on the descents. The single track descents were mostly impossible to pass on, so it was best to ride smoothly and save your energy for the long energy zapping technical climbing sections. I had no idea what my position was, but was gaining on Lily Mathews and caught her up on lap 4 at the top of the last main climb, when I heard her ask me if I wanted to pass, she must have thought I was an elite guy who were racing at the same time...without even thinking I said 'oh yes please', and then realised I should have spoken in a deep male voice as when Lily realised it was me there was no easy passing to be had (doh!). I followed Lily down to the arena and was ready to finish when I realised Lily kept going. I must have lost count as I thought we had finished. I really had to dig deep now as my body was feeling the race and mentally I wasn't prepared for another lap. But I focused on catching Lily and attacked before a tricky single track climbing section. I then had three quarters of the lap to go and really dug deep as I wanted this to be a hard training session.


When I crossed the line I had no idea where I had finished, but was surprised at how many girls had finished in front, girls I recognised and knew I had passed on the first lap......mmmmm?!?!?!? Very confused, but didn't care as I had so much fun out on course today and am so happy to be back wearing racing lycra kit again.


When I started my cool down I met up with Coach Neil Ross, who always keeps me thinking, but I didn't quite understand what he meant by saying if the race had been 5 laps and you passed first place on the final lap where do you think you finished?' It was a riddle that I didn't quite grasp at the time until I discovered that Lily and I did one lap too many. Lily crossed the line in first for the 4 lap race, but I crossed the line first for the 5 lap race.....BUT as we were the only elite women to race 5 laps we were both disqualified.....HUH?!?!? So although we were the strongest riders out on course today, we were both second last and last respectively, well at least they gave us a place as we were told we were given a disqualification to begin with.


Anyway I'm just pleased as punch that I'm back racing again, and feel the strength returning at long last. Ian, the Aussies and I leave for America on Thursday for the last world cup of the year before the World Champs week commences next Monday back in Mont St Anne. I have no delusions as to where I'm likely to finish in a world cup right now, but if I can go out on course with a smile on my face and a little more buzz in the legs than I will be one happy Potter....I will be back again with another update and alot more pics soon.


Cheerios for now


A Quick Release Holidays
Tel: 0845 1304824

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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Guiding Highs....and sunny smiles

I apologise for the lack of KP presence on my blog, but it has been a pretty roller coaster of a rough ride these past few months. I have been trying to stay upbeat and positive, which means I have avoided writing a report because I don't want to be dragged back down into my wheel stopper of a ditch with another race report where the outcome has been another DNF and more negative healthy feelings circulating body, brain and soul. However I'm fortunate enough and very thankful for certain people in my life who seem to know the right words to say and are not putting any pressure on me right now. I feel like I'm starting to wake up and every now and then I feel like some extra buzz is returning to these ol' legs and the muscle weakness is on its way out.
So I guess I should explain what I have been up to, where I am at right now, and where I'm hopes.
My last attempt at racing was at the third round of the British Mountain Bike Series, almost a month ago now. Ian and I decided to use it as a test because I have always enjoyed racing at Margham Park and didn't want to miss out on the race after a third and second place finish in the first two races of the series. However the main reason is that we wanted to see how my body responded to racing this time after a period of rest in Luchon. Training was backed off and AQR work load reduced considerably leading up to the event. I don't like doing nothing, but Ian was not taking any KP crap, and was enforcing a home holiday. If he caught me working or training hard he was going to send me home to my parents in Oz and tell my mother to really 'mother' me, because he knows I hate mothering and fuss of any kind.
I started the race in the muddiest of muddy conditions. In some ways I was pleased because it would mean a slower race as I knew KP leg speed was not at its best, but I also knew my Soda and I would need to work together to survive this one, proper team effort as I really didn't want to let my sweet Soda down. There was no point taking risks on the descents and I tried not to use too many gears to avoid chain suck or a mechanical of any kind. I managed to lead the start down the tarmac straight and waited for the attacks from behind. Rosara Joseph and Lily Mathews attacked and I focused on staying on their back wheels, but the foggy feeling in my brain returned and then as I relaxed down the slippery descents my insides went into spasm. So here we go again because I'm either fighting a flat brain, energy-less legs or choking back tears as I feel like something is ripping inside me. I ended up pulling out before I had even reached the finish line for the second time this year, and only third time in my racing life time grrrrrrrr!!!!
So thoughts of 'I'm too old for this', 'I'm lazy', 'I'm just not trying hard enough' were circulating around my brain and really not giving me a would think I would be kinder to myself. Ian and I had a flight to catch so left the muddy slopes of Margham behind and headed home to sunny Luchon.
More doctors and more tests later with an ultrasound revealing numerous 1-3mm kidney stones in my right kidney, that the doctor called kidney sands. The high parathormone in my blood is still too high but could be linked with the kidney pain, but then a trip to a specialist has revealed that it could be vitamin D deficiency, which I have since learnt can affect the parathyroid glands, as well as the kidneys, calcium and phosphorus levels, which can then lead on to more serious diseases if not taken seriously....good golly gosh the human body is so complex! 
So I have been ordered to sunbake....YOU WHAT? I'm Australian and sunbaking in my life time is a big NO! NO! What about skin cancer and the slogan I was brought up with 'BAN THE TAN!'. As most AQR guests know I religiously wear layers when out on the bike and overdose on suncream every day. In the past Ian has not allowed guests to take photos of me when out on their summer holiday because he thinks I make Luchon look cold.
Can't I simply eat enough food with vitamin D?
The doctor then asked me if I would be happy to eat a daily dose of liver....NOPE! No can do I'm afraid. So when the latest test results arrived it has confirmed vitamin D deficiency, and even after a week of exposure to the sun and a proper cyclists tan line which I'm quite proud of I must admit, I'm still way too low. So I have to take some vitamin D concoction every day and sunbake for at least 30 minutes front and back without suncream on. I actually have to wear a bikini, which I haven't done so for years (gulp).
So where do I go from here? Well the doctor wants me to report back in a month, but he thinks it could be a few months before I'm truly back on track and I have to take alot more care over the winter months now that he thinks I'm predisposed to this condition, especially when we return to the UK. I have to admit I'm relieved that a proper diagnosis has been confirmed now and I can put this year behind me and move forward. Someone once told me that when you overcome hurdles it will only make you stronger in more ways than one. I feel like a massive weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I can start to get excited about my biking future again wher ever it may lead me.
Now for some news that I wasn't prepared for, but must get my biking butt into gear if I'm going to do Cotic Bontrager and Australia proud in 2 months time. I have been selected to represent Australia at the Mountain Biking World Championships in Canada!!!!!! Right time for another 'OH MY GOLLY GOSH MOMENT!!!!' I have spoken to some of the selectors and coaches in Australia who know about my health issues this season, but thankfully there is no pressure for me to be at my very best in 8 weeks time, because no matter how hard I train I don't know how long it will take to be back to normal, but I will do my darnest to get back on track and get these legs up to KP race speed, hopefully sooner rather than later :)
I'm very grateful that Cotic Bontrager are sticking by me, thankyou Cy, Griff and Helen, plus Australia's Chris and Neil who have kept in touch and helped me focus on the bigger picture. Plus a big thankyou to hubby Mr Potter for your continued yes you can start building my 2010 COTIC SODA race bike KP blog I will reveal the latest SODA has a bit more of a twist this year....but as sweet as ever :)
Cheerios for now
A Quick Release Holidays
Tel: 0845 1304824

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Monday, May 24, 2010

CRAZY TIMES....but just keeps Ian on his pedals!

All those years ago when I met Ian in Portugal on a mountain biking holiday, he must have thought that week I was the best thing that ever happened to him....ok maybe I'm being biased....I'm sure he was thinking life can't get much better than this with his 'easy going' Aussie wife to be. Guiding everyday in the Algarve or Lefkada sunshine with his 'lovely' fiance by his side; Heading to Chamonix and teaching his 'wonderful' wife how to ride Alpine single track for the first time a week before the first guests arrived....ok perhaps I don't need to add sooooo many 'adjectives', but this is my story :)
I learnt quickly how to ride a bike and had the time of my life working in the mountains. I discovered how much I loved to challenge myself both physically up the climbs and on technical trails too. Plus I loved guiding, and meeting people from all walks or rather rides of life. Nothing stopped me from the moment the sun rose until I collapsed in a heap at night already planning the next day's adventures in my nick name used to be 'the Energiser Bunny'.
Ian and I decided that life was not busy enough for the two us to simply be mountain bike guides for another company for the rest of our mountain biking days....instead we dreamed of living in the mountains and running our own mountain bike holiday and skills coaching company....AND why not race full time too....heck the future is full of trails and tales that need exploring. Back then it was easy and we managed. The Potters moved to Luchon in the French Pyrenees to start the first chapter of 'A Quick Release Holidays', we built a home, worked from 9am until close to midnight 6 days a week, yet still found time to train every day and travel everywhere to race different events, from 24hr solo missions to XC all over the world. I loved the adventure of simply riding my bike and trying to be better at it every day, however that may be. The best part was being able to do this with my husband Ian Potter, who is also my best friend and who knows the real me and what I'm all about better than anyone ever will.
I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but something changed inside me at some point. I can't pin point a date or time. Suddenly everything I was and have been doing every day over the past 7 years that has brought a smile to my face has started to become hard work. Suddenly I stopped having fun and have been struggling to make sense of this new person who seems to think she can get rid of the 'Energiser Bunny'.
Since March and the start of the race season I have been having more battles inside my brain then you can imagine, leaving me completely worn out by the time I even roll up to start the next race. The first World Cup at Dalby was a disaster and so unlike me to pull out of a race.....I have ridden my bike with a dislocated knee for 14hrs and never quit, so why should I be quitting a two hour race now. 
I kept my chin up and headed to Houffalize for the second round of the World Cup Series, hoping that a restful few days would be just what I needed.
Besides Mini Blue (AQR mini bus) breaking down en route, a missed ferry crossing and arriving at our base in Belgium at the early hour of 4:30am on Tuesday was quite a smooth journey for the Potters. I had 5 days to chill and prepare for the next World Cup race. The course was different from previous years and due to the amount of climbing I didn't spend too long on it because I still felt weak and wanted to save any ounce of energy I had left inside me for race day.
On race day I just hoped some racing adrenaline would be the answer to help me wake up and face the best mountain bike racers here in Belgium. But as I took off again there was nothing happening in the leg department. My reactions were flat and once I hit the descent again the dizziness returned and I crashed...lots of ouches!!! I managed to keep going, but thoughts of quitting circulated my mind again. Something just didn't feel right....I'm sure I keep saying that. Ian and I had discussed the race plan that morning and it was simply to FINISH, if I felt any better then I would do my darnest not to get lapped. But I couldn't handle the pressure of anything more than that and just wanted to try and have fun like I used to. Every climb was more effort than it should be, but although I didn't feel quick I started to overtake alot of people on the last two laps. It was bizarre because I was still chugging away trying to stay on my bike, and even though I was passing people it didn't help me speed up in anyway. I expected to be pulled out one lap down, then realised I made it through, but I had no extra buzz like I normally would experience at the end of any race like I used to. I finished 65th, but even though I was higher up in the results ladder than I expected to be, there was nothing Ian or anyone could say to make me feel any better because I didn't feel noticeably ill on the outside, but unbalanced and very wrong on the my Dad used to say...'It's all in your head!'
The plan was to stay in Germany for 3 weeks and in that time recover, train on what would be the next world cup course, and also hit two races close by in an attempt to earn some much needed UCI points. Ian and I decided to think of it as a holiday in an attempt to help my brain and body feel better. I managed a 4hr ride with Ian as we checked out a marked marathon loop. Mentally I focused on positivity, Ian was not allowed to grumble about anything....even the weather! I didn't even wear a heart rate monitor so I wouldn't feel like I was training. I enjoyed myself, and ignored the flat feeling inside my legs. But then the next morning I felt 100 times worse. So more recovery later in an attempt to feel better for the planned Swiss Racer's Cup we were heading to on the weekend. Then the shakiness and what felt like a racing heart beat started happening more frequently. Every night I was laying awake trying to control my breathing and at times freaking out because I couldn't understand why I felt so stressed. Every morning my heart rate would be 20 beats higher than it should be, and I just didn't want to get out of bed.
Ian decided on Friday morning that we should head back to the UK for the second round of the British Mountain Bike Series. He thought seeing friends and racing familiar faces would be less stressful then heading to the race in Switzerland. It was also a much cheaper trip as the airport was only 45 minutes from our base in Offenburg and just made more sense since I really enjoy racing in the the next morning we took off for London.
It was quite surreal turning up to practice the course and seeing people who weren't expecting to see the Potters do a double take as we appeared. But for me it was a huge relief to be surrounded by friends I have only known through racing and riding a bike, it's always great for me to have a laugh with Joolze, and see James and the AQR Race Team in full blue and red glory, and catch up with Yeti's Stu, my racing mate Mel Spath and partner Ryan, British Cycling soigneur Sarah and even Griff was there from TREK & Bontrager who I didn't expect to see, and I had such a nice chat with Matt from Torq, Ben from KTM/Totally Dynamic and the list goes on many friendly faces on a typical drizzly UK racing weekend. Although the fatigue still lingered I was really excited to see my mate Tracey Mosely who I didn't expect to see at an XC race, and who suggested we go out and practice the course. It was nice to not even think about tomorrow's race, but just find out what Tracey had been up to and to enjoy the time I had trying to follow her lines....that girl finds speed out of nowhere and if anyone tells me that course didn't flow, just ride with Tracey and her extra wide cross country bars :)
Race day was another 'de ja vu' experience, as once again legs had nothing in them. I had no adrenaline rushing through my veins and the mental fatigue hit me hard once more. I had no race plan I just tried to focus on racing as hard as I could and staying on my bike. Lilly Mathews took over the lead and looked strong. An unexpected crash left me filling dizzy on the first or second lap (I was seeing stars, so you can't expect me to know what lap it was) where I completely lost sight of Lilly and then another crash later on left me with the chain stuck behind my chain stay....I would like to say clumbsiness is part of my charm, but I'm not usually this clumbsy (grrrr). Maddie Horton was always right on my back wheel encouraging me to keep going as she passed me both times. Normally I would give myself a good telling off for being so clumbsy, but didn't even have the will to scream at my brain to wake up as I just wanted to finish the race unscathed.
I managed to finish the race in second place behind Lilly Mathews who took a well deserved win, and Maddie Horton in third, but even though I should be happy with a podium I was more concerned that either I was overtrained, unfit or still not well...but not really knowing what my plan should be to get back up to race speed worried me. The Devil doing star jumps on my shoulder told me it was time to train harder, longer and to learn to suffer ALOT more, but the Angel practising yoga on the other shoulder knew better and said it was time to stop! The problem is I don't enjoy stopping :(
LUCHON, FRANCE...A home holiday.
Ian and I returned to Germany and decided it was time to sort myself out, well Ian decided. I didn't want to leave and still hoped that I would be fit and ready for the next world cup, but I wasn't improving and I was still struggling with the panic attacks and shortness of breath. I was also over reacting to the silliest of things that I can laugh about now, but at the time I was deadly serious Ian should not be teling me that Vampire bats might fly into our room if I leave the window open at night, that just set me off big time and caused Ian's ever expanding bold patch to grow wider as he put up with another wifely rantings.
Ian was contemplating taking me back to the UK for tests, but the thought of travelling again freaked me out. Ian got some advice from Cycling Australia's Coach Neil Ross (thankyou), and before I knew it I was banned from emailing or work of any kind...which caused a Potter feud, even though I knew it was for my own good (yes I admit that now). I was to rest completely and the next day we were off to see a sports doctor. Well we were trying to get there as I kept forgetting things I needed in order to visit the doctor, and what should have been a 10 minute walk, turned into a 40 minute telling off as Ian couldn't believe I remembered to bring the book I'm reading (third book in the Twilight Series....a must read :)  ), but not my wallet with my E111 card and money. Finally I was sent to the lab in Luchon for blood tests...ouch! I hate needles. Would you believe I had the test in the morning and then I could collect the results that afternoon, talk about speedy.
So we decided to do some gardening whilst we waited. Potter gardening in the forests surrounding Luchon. We rode to the top of our new favourite trail that we discovered in the winter called 'Destination Unknown' (based on a song Ian likes) and started clearing trees that had fallen over from the snow in February. At the end of the trail we had 5 minutes before the lab closed, so to my relief we decided to continue trail clearing and head to the lab tomorrow, as I was in no rush to find out that my head was playing tricks on me and there was nothing wrong with me at all. Ian looked uncertain, but he has been tip toeing around me lately, so I gues he decided that possibly he needed another Luchon cross country loop to put a smile on his face and to help his brain cope with the Mrs :)
The next trail was in really good condition and Ian and I rode the descent steadily incase there were unexpected trees down on the switchbacks. Suddenly I was over the handle bars and trying to stop myself with my left leg, my damaged left knee that has been behaving itself recently popped out of place and left me in a world of pain. I would like to say I was calm and in control of the situation....BUT let's just say the frustration inside of me was too much for another added dysfunction and the flood gates burst open in full force. I just wanted Ian to give me a shovel and bury me there and then!!!!!
So now my nick name from yester-year 'Hop Along' has returned to haunt me again. I cannot run or walk properly as I type this, but on the plus I can pedal my bike so I'm not down and out just yet :) It was time to walk or rather hop to the lab and doctor's for test results. I was having a bad French day. Some days I speak french really well and then other days I forget the simplest of words. So there was alot of sign language and drawings and french/english dictionaries...but when the doctor made a gesture like he was going to slice my neck open I could feel another panic attack coming on and needed Ian to decipher what the heck the doctor was going on about.
As it turns out I'm not going crazy after all (if anyone refutes that I will show you crazy). The results of the blood tests indicate a parathormone imbalance and I have to have xrays tomorrow and then see a specialist who will determine the course of treatment. So it's a big 'PHEW' in the Potter health department, because I just want to get back up to speed again. But I'm also relieved that Ian has stuck around as I offer yet another challenge to our Potter adventures. So soon the 'Energiser Bunny' will be back with recharged batteries...but can't say for sure yet when that will be...but I must be on the mend as I look back and read another blogful of an essay (I was trying to keep this one short and to the point) where a week ago I couldn't finish a sentence.....YAY I'm back!!!!!
As always thankyou to COTIC BONTRAGER for your endless support, and those who have taken the time to help me through this thorny patch....hopefully the future trails will be less prickly.
And of course thankyou to Mr P....wouldn't life be dull without a crazy KP?  :)
Cheerios for now

A Quick Release Holidays
Tel: 0845 1304824

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Thursday, May 13, 2010


Well I had my feet up all week, I overdosed on paracetamol, garlic, ribose, L-Glutamine and Ian was starting to think I had obsessive compulsive disorder as I wash my hands with soap every chance I get. Im eating as much vitamin C enriched fruit and veg as I can stomach and avoiding human contact just in case more nasty bugs jump my way. The doctor confirmed I have a chest coldwell I knew that, I have all that greeny gunky evidence on tissue paper, every sentence I mutter has coughing and spluttering attached to the syllables and every morning I wake up feeling like I have been run over by a truckas a result I have been a wicked wife of the west in recent dayssorry Mr P J


I guess I hoped that there may be some magical 24hr cold cure that they would want guinea pig athletic nutters like myself to undergo medicine trials for, but no, to my dismay the common cold still remains a medical mystery. Even though doctors spend so much time studying medicine, as we all know there still isnt a lot one can do to get rid of a cold except rest, drink plenty of fluids and not overdo it.But where there is a will there is a way, so I say. Im no doctor, but do believe in the power of the mind and told myself that I would be A OK for the first round of the World Cup Series.mmmm.


It was a funny old week leading up to the main event.


Earth was having its own little coughing and spluttering issues as the volcano in Iceland sent ash up into the atmosphere and as we all know grounded flights all over the world. The Aussie mountain bike crew that consisted of TORQ Australia and some independent Australian racers were due to be collected from Manchester on the Monday before the race by Ian and I, but we stayed put in Nottingham until we knew whether they would arrive in time or not. On Wednesday it looked unlikely as all their flights had been cancelled and so Ian and I headed to Dalby Forest with an empty mini bus, but an overloaded trailer.I decided to stock up on my favourite foods now that we had more room. Ian went mad as he looked in disbelief at the dozen of 2kg sacks of oats, cereal, dried fruit and tinned soup that I cant always buy in France or if I can it is quadruple the price. Ian always takes it upon himself to comment on all my bags and then questions every single item I pack, instead of just focusing on what he is taking. I just like to be over prepared and as a result never forget anything. Where Ian takes great pride in being a minimalist and packing light……….ONLY PROBLEM WITH THAT IS HE ALWAYS FORGETS THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS THAT HE CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY FOR…maps, passport, wallet, phone, tent?!?!? But this time he forgot his tooth brush, so not a major problem as he has been refusing to kiss my garlic scented lips lately anyhow.


Anyway Im getting side tracked, as I could go on and on about the Potter marital problems of packing for the race season, it really is a blog all in itself.


On Thursday Ian and I decided to hit the course and spend time familiarizing ourselves with the track as I missed the British national round in 2009 so had no idea what the course was like. We had spent one day in November with Joolze Dymond checking out some sections of it, where we Potters posed for the camera as we dropped down off the edge of Worry Gill with Joolze flashing our every move. But that was all we had time for, and nothing at that point resembled a race course.


Im always excited to ride a new course, but know that my first lap is usually a shocker as Ian and I often stop and start to analyse different sections and look for alternate lines on the course. I think it is important to look at a course closely if you have time, but I always feel like I dont flow as well on a course until the second lap when I have more understanding as to how the course works for me. On this occasion I kept forgetting to stop and found myself really enjoying the fast and flowy single track, jumps, drops, and for the first time in KP racing history I rode everything with a confident head on and the biggest smile. After several attempts I finally nailed the rocky climb near ‘Worry Gill‘, and then when I cleared it a second time, well I announced to Ian that my race here is done, as I dont think it can get technically any better than that for me this weekend. On my fourth lap I decided to time myself and attack the climbs with more effort, energy and Potter oomph! Unfortunately there was no oomph and even when I dug deep, something didnt feel quite right. Although I was riding technically well, physically I felt pretty rough. I thought the worst of my cold had gone, but I feel like it has left me with bruised lungs, tight chest and quite a fatigued body.


Perhaps I over did it on Thursday, but the next two days I felt worse. I started making silly mistakes on the technical sections in practice. This did my confident head no favours and that little doubting devil that sits on your shoulder from time to time made several appearances on Saturday.grrrr!!!


On the plus the Aussie team minus one all found their way to the UK. We didnt have mobile reception or internet access where we were staying, but luckily we checked emails in Pickering Thursday evening and found out they were all arriving at different times Thursday night and early Friday morning. Ian had to leave almost straight away to collect Jo from York and then Matt from Torq collected Katherine and Ray from Manchester, with Dan and Bec hiring a car from Gatwick Airport. So on Friday morning the Aussies had arrived in full force.


If only our dramas ended there, as the next day Mini Blue our beloved AQR mini bus decided she would now start coughing and spluttering too....they do say these things happen in threes (KP, icdeland volcano, AQR's Mini Blue) Poor Ian not only had a poorly, and overly whingey wife, but now Mini Blue demanded his attention too….women! Fortunately for the Aussie Crew she was bump started no worries and our 40 minute journey to Dalby Forest was not affected until Ian made a sniggering comment that he wished he could kick me up the backside to get me firing on form…guess who got a kicking instead! J


However there were concerns that our planned 4 week trip across Europe would be an interesting one if we didnt get Mini Blue well again.


Race day came around quickly, but I knew it was going to be a rough day in the saddle. Word Cup racing is hard enough as it is when you are racing the best mountain bikers in the world. I guess I kept hoping that I would find some Potter perkiness once the race started, but there was nothing. I couldnt even push myself to get the legs to hurt and my breathing felt constricted on every climb….when I started to feel all wobbly on the descents I knew I was doing myself no favours staying on course.  I crashed on an easy section of fire road which was the only pain I felt in my legs that day, which in some ways was a good thing because I was starting to think my legs weren’t attached as they felt lifeless.


It was a horrible feeling trying to fight my brain and body which for the first time sided with one another against my mountain biking spirit. I really didnt want to stop, especially in front of an adopted UK home crowd. But I did and although only the second time I have ever quit a race in KP biking history, I can’t help but feel down about it. At the end of the day it is only a race, but racing is such an important part of my life right now and with all the support I receive from Cotic Bontrager, family and friends I don’t want to waste opportunities that one day won’t be around. So it’s time to rebuild and remind oneself that there is still a long racing life ahead of me for now and a lot more adventures to look forward to….but for now it’s time to rebuild and get back up to speed sooner rather than later me hopes J



A Quick Release Holidays
Tel: 0845 1304824

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

On the mend...

Howdy All,

Just a quick update before my internet time runs out here in Offenburg, Germany.

I have had a pretty rough few weeks, but am finally starting to find some life in my body and my glands have started to deflate at long last. Dalby World Cup should have finished for me on the Thursday before the race even started when I had 4 amazing laps and told everyone that no matter what happens to me on Sunday what will be will be, but Im loving the single track and cant wait to start the race. I was filling at one on the course and very excited that I would be part of a world cup in England for the first time. I loved all the technical apsects that joined the rolling single track and tough climbs that you expect from any world cup course experience.

Then the following two days of pre race training I felt low, really tired and my chest cold symptoms raised their ugly evil heads again. I dont like to admit when Im not 100 %, but every night I wasnt sleeping properly and I started getting this strange shaky feeling in my chest which I have never experienced before. I hoped it was all in my brain and tried to remind myself that often when the racing adrenaline hits full throttle that I would be fine and ready to roll on race day.

Unfortunately I struggled from the word go and my breathing, or lack of breath made me feel wobbly and shaky on the bike. I dont quit races if Im having a bad day, as I just treat it as training and remind myself that part of training is teaching ones brain to get used to the discomfort that is all part of racing. But then it got silly when I crashed on an easy fire road bend simply because I did not have the strength to ride my bike properly. I knew I was doing myself no favours trying to finish a race that would more than likely finish me off if I kept going.

At the beginning of my fourth lap I pulled in to the pits where Ian was waiting for me and I made the decison to quit. I hate that word, and it is only the second time in KP racing history that I have quit a race. I felt bad in so many ways, and am still cursing myself for catching a cold so close to this race.

Anyway I will add my next two race reports up this week...but just to add a little happiness and spark to this oh so dull blog I managed to finish the second world cup in Belgium on the weekend which was my main goal or rather Potter Priority. I also achieved my second goal which was not to get lapped out and was surprised to see that my lap times got alot quicker with a good final lap where I overtook alot of riders to get a 65th position, which under the circumstances Im happy with for now. Im definitely on the mend and starting to get some strength and confidence now Im taking one day at a time and hope to be back up to full speed sooner rather than later.

Thanks for everyones support at the Dalby world cup and all the cheers at Houffalize last weekend (thanks so much Rudy, Belgium national coach, you helped me dig deep). All the support definitely helped me get up those tough muddy climbs. Also thanks to those really lovely British guys at Houffalize who came and spoke to me after the race and the nice messages I have received from people since Dalby. It makes me realise why I love racing as I meet so many awesome people and make new found friends along the way who make all the bad races still worthwhile.

Will be back soon with a bit more spark.

Cheerios for now

A Quick Release Holidays
Tel: 0845 1304824

Posted via email

Monday, April 12, 2010


This month the plan has been for Ian and I to spend our mountain biking days exploring Ian's long forgotten local trails in and around Nottinghamshire and also to take part in local regional races in the UK, not only to get my ol' legs up to race speed, but also because I love testing myself against the UK mountain biking elements....and my golly gosh did last weekend test brain, legs, skill and my lovely Cotic Soda in the muddiest of ways. BUT all good plans never go according to plan, which makes Potter life never boring, but at times mightily frustrating, especially when it means I can't ride my bike....I'm moping right now, but more of that later.....
Following Round 1 of the British Mountain Bike Series I was still not quite back to 100% following a bout of kidney stones as explained in my last blog, but knowing finally what the pain has been all these years I can finally do something about it. Although I still get a tad paranoid about the pain returning, at least I know what I should and should not do to some extent, YES IAN I KNOW I NEED TO DRINK MORE....he is now moaning at me every day to DRINK, DRINK,'s his way of getting back at me for all my past moaning days when I was suffering with the pain.
So after a much happier race at Sherwood Pines than I expected, I was full of enthusiasm to get back into the local woods and play, but also to start hitting those really fun intervals that make you feel a combination of intense pain and then pure buzziness once you have conquered them.
I'm really fortunate to have some great training partners here in Nottingham, and not just Mr Potter all the time, because with two such competitive Potters training together 365 days of the year, it's not always good for the marriage, especially when one of us is having an off day. So last week I rounded up the boys for a tough training session at Bestwood Park. AQR Holidays Team manager James Dymond is now being coached by Ian and I, and I thought it would be really fun if we invited top Aussie elite racer Andy Blaire who is racing for TORQ this year and Ben Murray from Totally Dynamic KTM to really make James, Ian and I suffer....hee, hee, hee (bad attempt at evil laugh) :)
After alot of rain I knew it would be perfect conditions to test tyres and pump them up extra hard....a little training exercise that Ian thought would be a bit of a laugh....and there was alot of laughing on Ian's part as I kissed mud on many an occasion, but then I was grateful for that old saying 'what comes around, goes around' as Ian did the most fantastic sidewards drift that really should have left him down and out, but somehow he held it....lucky sod :). After a while I got to grips with the lack of grip on the really slick sections of off camber trails around Bestwood Park, but I was loving the fast flowing and fairly technical single track, that included some ace steep shoots and drops offs to test ourselves on. After some little hilly interval challenges that I thought everyone really enjoyed (you can probably hear the boys in the far distance yelling NOT!), I was left to my own devices on the final hour where I continued to practice riding the slippery mud at race speed and making the most of the wet roots and muddy corners that made up my figure 8 practice race loop. I was wet and muddy, but loving the conditions. This was such an ace work out as I haven't ridden UK mud for a long time....I'm sure I used to get sick of it when I lived here permanently, but after time away from it, even with all the bruising that goes along with muddy tumbles, well I actually had ALOT of FUN!!!!! So bring on UK race number 2....
...Sometimes I really should learn to keep my muddy mouth shut, especially when the weather Gods can hear every word I say.
Ian and I headed to the first round of the Nutcracker Series at Camp Hill. I like to use racing as part of my training, so what better way to get a good work out and practice my skills at race speed by entering a race. I also wanted to race some local events to support the UK racing community who put alot of hard work and effort into organising race events for those of us who are addicted to riding single track as fast as we can without worrying about anything else except enjoying the ride.
There had been alot of rain the night before, but Easter Sunday at the glorious hour of 6am, when most sane people were snoozing or eating Easter eggs, started out bright, and it looked like it was going to be a sunny day, not warm mind you, but at least there was a hint of spring in the air. When we finally found Camp Hill, after too many wrong turns and the wrong directions (I blame Mr P of course), we found the race venue.
When we arrived everyone was super friendly and even at this early hour there was a really welcoming atmosphere. Sometimes I really hate the pre race moments when everyone is bottling nerves and trying to stay focused, I'm just as bad, but I always look forward to just cracking on with the race as that is my favourite part, and then just chilling out and discovering that I do have a social life after all. This pre-race warm up was different though as I caught up with friends and elite racers Paul Oldham and Dave Collins from Hope Factory Racing, and forgot all about warming up as we chatted away about racing and cyclo cross and bikes......
.....But soon enough it was time to line up for the start of what was going to be a 5 lap race for the elite women. I focused on the elite men's back wheels, as the first section was on a long fire road before the single track commenced. I hoped to sit in and see how long I could keep them in sight. We all took off, well I meant to take off, but couldn't clip in and was having one of those really clumbsy moments with my left foot, but got myself together in time and managed to catch up to the back of the elite men. 
Then the real training session began as we hit the single track and I knew it was going to be one punishing race for all bikes and bodies out on course. This course had amazing single track............BUT the huge downfalls of rain we experienced last night turned this fast course into a mudfest. I have never raced in such sticky muddy conditions, but I wanted to be challenged, so I was not going to complain, Every pedal stroke felt like I was doing 100 leg presses. It was hard to judge what sections were slippery and what sections were quicker to run. I also had to think about making sure my Cotic Soda survived this race, and tried not to change gear too often. In fact as I'm keen to improve at cyclo cross, I was in my training element as I jumped on and off bike and tried to improve my running style...yes it needs work :)
I managed to get round the first lap without any tumbles, but in great KP style, grace and elegance I might add, I started the second lap with almost a 360 degree tumble just as I left the start/finish area. It's probably best to use Ian's thoughts here, as he said to me later that I looked really fast riding into that slippery corner, faster than anyone else he had seen I might add :) and these were the sound effects had you been standing nearby....'ooh, ooh, ahh, oops, hee hee hee hee hee hee....I have never heard Ian laugh so much in my life.' Such a supportive hubby at times :) BUT KP was down and out, but as I was also very embarassed it helped get me back up to speed rather quickly.
The race was super tough. I forgot all about racing my opponents, because I had to ensure I finished the race, so in many ways I was competing and testing bike and I against the course. I kept expecting the elite men to zoom by at any time, especially as Paul Oldham and Dave Collins are cyclo cross racers, but found out later that these two stopped at some point to use the lake to clean their bikes....why I didn't I think of that? They still went on to finish first and secong respectively. I had one more lap to go as I headed towards the start/finish area and I have never been so thankful that the commissiare stopped the race one lap early. I managed to take the win, but to tell you the truth I think everyone was a winner that day just for surviving the elements. I still enjoyed myself, but the aftermath of a muddy race is always just as hard as there was going to be alot of cleaning to do this afternoon...hey love? Don't worry I'm not that much of a Diva and did share the work load, but KP never forgets when people laugh at her, so Ian ended up rather wet during bike cleaning duties :)
After this race I had some more hospital/doctors appointments to sort out my kidney stones, but I was also going into my hardest week of training. Perhaps I should have upped my daily dose of garlic or worn a mask when I was surrounded by so much coughing and spluttering, but since the swine flu does not make headlines anymore I didn't think anything of it. BUT I noticed all the signs of illness the last few days, from very high resting heart rate to a strange fatigue in training that was different from the fatigue you naturally build up when training hard. On Friday I tested myself on the hills, and power was down significantly and chest was very tight, with more effort to breathe even when chilling out. I tried to convince myself it was only hay fever as I wanted to race this Sunday at the first round of the Southern Cross series. The weather as most UKers know has been amazing, and I was looking forward to catching up with friends......but I have been beaten by what I hope is just a cold. I still thought I might wake up on Sunday morning and feel miraculously better, but now I'm back to moaning with bottom lip out and shoulders slumped. Ian has locked the bikes up so there is no temptation for me to train. With only 2 weeks to go before the Dalby World Cup and the start of our European race travels, it's rather inconvenient that I catch a cold now, but fingers crossed my 10 garlic cloves a day will do the trick and after a restful few days I can get back into training and preparing properly for the hardest racing block this year.
I always believe 'things happen for a reason better show it's face soon!'. I hate feeling less than 100% so I apologise now if this blog has come across as a moaning rant. As soon as I'm back on the bike again I will write a really happy blog, full of cheer....but for now I'm not cheery and am being a royal pain in the toe nail, well so Mr Potter thinks :)
Just a quick apology to the organisers of the Southern Cross Series for not making it to the race on Sunday, and hope everyone had a fun weekend of racing or riding their bikes....and made the most of the brilliant weather...fingers crossed it will stay this way for the Dalby World Cup.
Cheerios for now

A Quick Release Holidays
Tel: 0845 1304824

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