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

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