Adventures of the Cotic - A Quick Release holidays mountain bike race team

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Looking Back on the 2015 Season.....Mixing It Up

2015 didn’t quite go to plan. I had a nemesis this year and that was work. I’d gotten home late, eaten late, gone to bed late, gotten up early doing it all again, working long hours including weekends at times, been away from home often and coming under significant pressure at times. Fitting in consistent training had been problematic; I may have managed three weeks in a row at one time but that was a rarity. Whilst I entered the British Cycling Cross Country Series knowing race one was going to hurt and I wouldn’t be in a good condition, I hadn’t expected to be in a worse condition come the end of the series. Instead of finishing positions and rating performance, I had to set other goals. The first was that, no matter how awful it was, I had to finish. Secondly, I had to ride my absolute technical best.

To mix things up I had also decided to race a few of the UK Gravity Enduros (UKGE) plus Steve Peat’s Steel City Downhill after having a really good winter at the 661 MiniDownhills.

Here’s a quick run-down of how the first part my season went:

Sherwood Pines XC- March 2015
It rained. It was muddy. It was cold. People seemed to overcook lap 1 and a number either crashed or had mechanicals. It’s not an overly technical nor interesting course, but the conditions made it more slippery and therefore challenging. This race was more about looking after body and machine and I managed this unlike some others.

Newnham Park XC- April 2015
It was sunny, hoorah, but chilly. The course was an outstanding technical feast and I loved it. It also had two stiff and longish climbs which my legs really did not like. In the lead up to this race I’d been struggling with fatigue and couldn’t clear it so come race day I knew it was going to hurt. Zero power to put down meant I was left behind fairly swiftly. Through lap 1 I would come back into contact with some of the girls though my use of the A lines. This didn’t last though as I struggled with each steep climb. Once again, a finish and happy with the technical aspects. A worthy XC course and also amazing spectator support made this the best XC atmosphere of the year for me.

Steve Peat’s Steel City Downhill - May 2015
After 2014’s fun I had to go back for more aboard my Cotic BFe. Due to high female entry numbers we were split into age categories and so I would be up against 29 other master girls. I came with the goal of finishing in the top 10 as well as clearing the gap jump which I’d wimped last year. On inspection, the gap appeared to have increased (to about 8ft) but the run in was less bobblely. I wimped it again on my first two practice runs, but a stop due to a crash at the end of practice gave me more time to look at it and then go for another practice run. No hesitation this time and I was over! If only I’d committed the same on the doubles and cleared them! As ever a superb atmosphere (even if the weather did try to hamper things) and I was super happy to come away in 10th having cleared the gap on both race runs.

Steel City - Photo Credit: Darren Ellis

Triscombe UKGE - May 2015
Land issues meant a slight re-jig to normal with two stages being raced Saturday and four Sunday. Only arriving on Saturday meant a tactical practice, however two stages were used multiple times which helped massively. It had rained on the lead-up to and also during the event, this meant there was a fairly muddy theme to most of the runs. Natural, rooty, slimy, off camber trails; it was brill, I just had never ridden stuff of this calibre so spent quite a bit of time on the floor! I loved it and even though I brought up the rear of the category I did it with a smile on my face, going away with plenty of areas to improve on.

One of the grippy bits - Photo Credit: Liam Mercer

Fforest Fields XC - May 2015
I was worried this was going to be a tour of farmers fields but I was pleasantly surprised; two good, stiff climbs, some fun singletrack and off camber, rooty trails. I actually felt good for my fitness level and enjoyed the race, I was just gutted I didn’t have any fire power.

A dry race for a change - Photo Credit: Bikesoup

Cathkin Braes - June 2015
My second visit to this course re-iterated my disappointment in it. For a Scottish course I feel it is technically weak and I would much rather be sliding around half scared at places like Innerleithen than race Cathkin. I discovered the first third of the course was my strength with the remainder requiring power over technical riding ability to make decent progress. I also managed to go over the bars on lap 1, twist them and not be able to straighten them. For the first time ever I ended up with a stop in the tech zone to get things straightened out before carrying on. I was just glad when it was all over as I had a week off work and much more fun, technical riding to do.

Grizedale UKGE - June 2015

A whole different kettle of fish compared to Cathkin! One word pretty much summed up the weekend: muddy. I was returning after my 2014 debut here but to a different start arena which meant a few different trails also. Fun, rocky, rooty with stage 5 being hilariously scary once you got over the XC start sprint. I loved it, I just wish I could have managed to stay upright a bit more. Out of my depth pushing it in the mud meant too many mistakes and offs; the upside was that I wanted to improve even more.

Seeding was at least dry - Photo Credit: Doc Ward

I opted not to race National XC Champs this year due to fitness so had a nice long break between races; I'll cover those last ones in the next instalment!

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