Thursday, 16 December 2010
Wednesday, 22 September 2010
For those of you who may be a little in the dark about the race and why on earth we went there.... East Timor is the world's youngest nation. A Portugeuse outpost for a few centuries, when they withdrew in 1975, East Timor's closest neighbours the Indonesians arrived. With guns. It wasn't until 1999 that the Indonesians relinquished control following a UN sponsored act of self-determination. But their razed earth policy meant that 75% of all buildings in East Timor were destroyed as a result.
The nation is incredibly poor but is attempting to re-build with a very strong focus on peace. The Tour de Timor is aimed at celebrating the country, its culture, and showcasing it as a fabulous adventure travel destination. And it certainly is that....
So anyway.... were welcomed to Timor Leste via the VIP Lounge. The AQR team, left to right was Sue, Libby, Claire and Rachel. I'm the one taking the picture.
Sunset in Dili on Saturday night. We had a relaxing day cruising round Dili and had dinner with our local guide and friend Martin.
Sunday - Dili. We chilled out and waited for our bikes to arrive. Lets just say getting 300 cyclists and bikes from Darwin to Dili wasn't easy for the small regional airline....
Not one to worry, Claire borrowed a bike and had a short foray into the hills. In the end the bikes arrived 15 hours before the race start...
Accommodation in Timor Lodge was basically in shipping containers with air-conditioning... Still the few shrubs came in handy for drying washing.
The presidential palace in Dili hosted the start.
The stage was fast and furious but long. And those two climbs were killers. But we all made it to the finish ok. It was just afterwards....
Whilst Rach was recovering in the medical tent from over hydrating, I got some local help putting her tent up.
After a crazy start through Suai's streets, avoiding scuttling pigs and other livestock, we headed out on 50km of pot holed dirt road with rough rocky sections for variety. It was flat and would have been lovely if we hadn't been trying to ride fast. Thankfully after 50km, the potholes ended. It's just that they were traded for a 15km climb... It's never easy in Timor!
Team AQR finished still second in teams classification despite the gap to 3rd narrowing.
Team AQR team made it before the tropical afternoon storm dumped its contents. We found a terrace to camp on which was as dry as it would ever be in a tropical downpour.
The profile looked a lot like Stage 2 and the team lined up on the start line with trepidation. But the enormous climbs were shaded with dense rainforest on one side and intermittent, amazing views of the valley and mountains on the other. Once over the pass at 1860m it was time for some brilliant descending and even more cheering villagers as the population grew denser. The next couple of climbs were a lot smaller in comparison and the finish came not too many hours after the start.
Unfortunately, we would have like to finish slightly sooner... The AQR girls' main competitors, Trailmix made a massive effort to ride as a team for the first time and managed to take second by a whopping 8 minutes.
Very early in the stage we passed the entire Trailmix team and two Torq girls (overall leaders) fixing a flat. The race was now on. Raceday Claire arrived and she was stomping. I too was doing ok and very happy to be a good domestique. We all gave it everything to make up time and regain 2nd on the team classification.
Rach: Can I have a hug?
Rach: Can I have a hug?
Claire: No, just keep pedalling. Not far now.
Rach: Pleeeease. Come on, just a little hug??
Claire: How about you try eating some cement instead...Claire was really worried she'd gone too far because Rach was very quiet but as Rach let us know afterwards, it was just what she needed! Lucky, we could have had a mutiny on our hands!!
Well, as I said, the race has been run and won. Not by AQR but there's always next year right?
Monday, 13 September 2010
Saturday, 4 September 2010
Wednesday, 1 September 2010
Monday, 23 August 2010
A climbing start around the golf course at the site on the edge of Chesterfield gave way to a steep grassy climb which split the pack well before the woodland singletrack began. And what fantastic singletrack it was! Steep swoopy descents including A and B lines on some sections, along with the super-steep gulley climb to match.
A good start for me at the front of the field saw me settle into a rhythm I was able to maintain for the 4 laps, albeit losing a few places in the early stages as I warmed up. The climbs certainly played to my strengths and let me hold onto a 9th place finish. Roll on the big-ring pain at Sherwood Pines in September!
Next up... AQR newbie Kate Collins at SXC Round 5.
Monday, 26 July 2010
Massive congrats to Kirsty for a fantastic 4th in Masters at the 201o National Champs down at the Pippingford Estate on 18th July - and aboard her newly built Cotic Soda race bike complete with Magura forks and brakes, Hope wheels and KCNC (Clee Cycles) and Bontrager finishing kit - a big thanks to all those sponsors too.
This was closely followed by Bontrager TwentyFour12 down at Newnham Park this weekend where the mixed 12hr team came away with 3rd and the 12hr female pair in 1st! A huge well done again to Kirsty and Kate for the latter. Thanks also to guest riders Verity Appleyard (MSC Bikes) and Andy Robson in the team.
Next up, Midlands XC round 3 and Torq 12hr in August...
Tuesday, 6 July 2010
Bristol provided a gorgeous sunny weekend for the race and the usual fast and fun Ashton Court singletrack - with a slightly shorter lap this year. With Iain, Kirsty, Matt and myself making up the AQR mixed-4, things kicked off at 9am with the mass dash & start. Unfortunately not all went to plan from the off with Iain suffering a snapped chain and 2 punctures on his first lap! Not to be deterred we pushed on through, blasting out lap times well around 25 minutes - making for great racing and eager overtaking required!
Despite more punctures (Iain's had his annual allowance now!) we started to move up the rankings from the low teens early on. With some storming laps during the afternoon as things got even dustier, James came in from his last lap with 8 minutes to spare, completing the team's 27 laps for 7th place.
Perhaps not the position we'd hoped for after last year's podium, but a great comeback and truly enjoyable event that really put the fast and furious into xc racing!
Friday, 11 June 2010
Kate Collins, the AQR team's newest recruit tells all about her first National race and first podium of the year in Wales...
Wednesday, 26 May 2010
Returning to an old-skool venue at Mansel Lacy, James & Nadine once again delivered a great course which tested riders on the way up & down - steep descents, off-camber singletrack and a monster fireroad climb half-way through. Oh & what must have been the only mud in the UK on such a hot weekend.
Despite two stops to pump up my slowly deflating rear tyre and a slight lack of power on the climb due to recent heavy training sessions, I was pleased with my 10th place finish... roll on Margam!
Thanks to Roy Bevis for the photo - http://www.flickr.com/photos/26069260@N04/
Thursday, 13 May 2010
Mainly dry weather - albeit frickin' freezing on practice saturday! - combined with a course in great shape and mainly nicely bedded in after the recent Southern XC made for some fun, fast and furious racing. The singletrack varied between fresh bumpy, loamy trails which were punishing for hardtail riders to the sinuous ribbon of brown that wound its way through the acres of bluebells towards the end of the lap.
A great AQR turn out for the weekend meant a good coverage across the categories with Kirsty bringing home 4th in Masters for the team's best result. Despite a monster race-start tangle and crash (which left one poor guy with his bike in 2 bits!) leaving him dead last, Matt Prior pulled out all the stops in the Open race to finish 7th - some impressive overtaking must have gone on there! Iain was the third AQR team member of the day but unfortunately had to pull out of the Sport race due to back pain. As for myself, I finally broke into the top 20, finishing 18th in the Sport race. Maybe the recent training has started to pay off with much more consistent lap times than at Round 1.... roll on Margam.
And finally, a massive well done to Mrs-AQR, Kate Potter for her 2nd in the Elite women's race... good luck for Offenburg World Cup Kate!
Huge thanks to Joolze Dymond for the photos - http://www.joolzedymond.com/ for the full galleries.
Tuesday, 27 April 2010
Monday, 19 April 2010
Solid winter training... check
Nice new Bonty tyres...check.
Bike polished and ready to go... check
Weather gods smiling... check
During the week before, I had the usual case of 'pre-race nerves'. However, when I arrived at Sherwood and caught up with the rest of the team, I began to relax and enjoy myself. A couple of warm up laps in the sunshine laid any fears I had to rest, as I found a course that played to my strengths - fast paced and action packed, with enough technical interest to keep my on my toes.
Sunday morning dawned, and I managed to keep the butterflies in my stomach at bay. For the first time in my (short) racing career, I had a proper warm up routine - which I seriously recommend. This was a great way of ensuring I was prepared not only physically, but mentally, for the race.
The Masters line up contained a few names I have raced previously, and a few more I didn't recognise. I'm relatively new to this game, so I didn't really have a race strategy as such - my aim really was to learn from the experience, with the longer term goal of a podium place by the end of the series.
The gun went, and I got a great start, leading the field for the first few hundred yards. A few people came past going into the first main section of singletrack, and I got caught up a little behind some of the blokes who started in front of us(!). With so many categories racing together it's hard to tell where your competition is, so I spent the rest of the race chasing down whoever I could see in front of me, sprinting for the singletrack, and trying to hold off anyone behind me from passing me. I had no real idea where I was placed. I concentrated on powering through the fireroad sections, whilst trying to flow through the singletrack. I was enjoying the course - particularly the dual descent section and the little chute just after the steep climb - and felt that my winter training had paid off. My fitness was good, and I'm beginning to see improvements in my basic skills.
Part way through the 3rd lap, one of the spectators said he thought I was in 4th place - this gave me a real boost and a burst of energy. I was determined not to let anyone past (whatever their category... just in case... although I did make an exception for the top 3 elite women who came through near the end of my last lap...) - but how close was I to that elusive podium place???
As it turned out... not close enough. I continued to work hard through the final lap, but 3rd place was never in my sight. I finished 4th - far better than I had expected, and I feel I have more to give. Well done to Emma Bradley for the win. But watch out girls, I'll be breathing down your necks at Round 2!!
What went well?
* Good warm up
* A great start
* Fitness and power on the fireroads
* Clearing the little log jumps (albeit not very gracefully)
* 4th place...
Where can I improve?
* Cornering... carrying speed through the singletrack
* Confidence in my ability... I can clear those tricky sections, if I get my head round it
* Technique, technique, technique...
* 4th place...
Overall, I really enjoyed the race. Thanks to James Hampshire for an interesting course, and to Ian and Kate for their excellent coaching support. BMBS Round 2... bring it on!!
Thursday, 1 April 2010
More to follow from Kirsty soon but in the meantime, some photos from the event thanks to Joolze Dymond - http://www.joolzedymond.com/ for the full galleries from the event.