10th in Treplice, Czech rep with a heafty dose of the snots for good measure

As if mtb racing isn’t hard enough, I had to enter this uci cat 1 in the Czech Republic with a head cold. I do like a challenge. After testing the germ tolerance of my Scottish team mates (sorry chaps) I made it to the start line not at all sure what to expect of my body. My form should have been good after my Croatian epic but I couldn’t breath and that is never a good start in endurance sport. The course (right in the middle of the town centre) was a mixture of technical, steep climbs, off camber chutes and flowing singletrack that, if ridden canny, could save you a lot of energy. This was my strategy. What I lacked in aerobic capacity I would make up for in brute strength and technique. It went according to plan. I rode the draggier climbs at threshold, used my biceps over my breath on the punchier ones and rested while descending for a respectable but not earth shattering tenth place finish in a strong field of mostly Eastern European riders.
My Scottish team mates rode to 16th place (Kerry McPhee) and 19th place (Jessie Roberts who is now heroically flying to holland for another race on Monday). Now back at the hotel but Gareth Montgomerie was last seem storming his way through the men’s race in 16th place and on schedular for a commonwealth games qualifying time. Go on the Montesaurous!
Home tomorrow for some egg rolling / combat and family time before the next round of the national series in Cornwall.
Bye Treplice

2nd place in Kamenjak xcmarathon, Croatia today. Some flowers, a medal, a cheque, a trophy and a strawberry slag. Amazing hospitality from race organisers http://www.adrenalina.hr

After a brutal xc mtb race, what would you normally to the next day? 66km around one of the Mediterranean’s top beauty spots? No. that would be silly.
Still Dave Henderson and I somehow managed to steel ourselves and get to the start line alongside half of southern europe (at least that’s how it felt when the gun went and I got caught up in their tyre dust).

These things settle pretty quickly and before long the elite women who finished 2nd, 4th and 5th yesterday were locked in battle. The 3 of us rode together out along Croatias’ Kamenjak peninsula sharing wheels and scrappy lines through dusty single track. Until Polands’ Katarzyna Solus – Miskow kicked on a hill and we dropped the Ukrainian Belomoina Yana of the Superior- Brentjens MTB Team.

I managed to stay with yesterdays’ 2nd place finisher and together we rode steadily around a 22km lap before she kicked again and this time my legs said no. Actually they screamed it.

I rode the remaining 30km alone being battered by a vicious cross wind and my own fatigue. Some friendly Croatians stepped in to hand up some bottles for Dave and I but in them was only water which I was grateful for but wished it had some fuel in too. In the remaining 15 kms I was out of energy and tried to eat a bar. Big mistake. 1. I could not breathe and had to jam in into my cheeks like a greedy hamster 2. when it eventually hit my stomach, the protestations that recently took place in my legs shifted to there and said bar promptly made a second appearance. Enough said.

I pulled out a lead of over 7 minutes on Ukaraines’ Yana but never saw first place agin after she disappeared with some guys in a safe wee group round a headland. I was bereft.

I came over the line after 3 hours 11 minutes of brutal rocky, beautiful trail and flopped in a heap in front of the High Five tent where, without a word, a kindly soul took my bottle out of my hand and filled it up with fresh water. The people here are lovely.

I recovered a bit and an hour later was able to get onto the podium (with a helping hand) where I recived all sorts of prizes my favourite of which was a Strawberry Slag (pictured above). It was delicious. From now on my favourite flavoured Slag will always be strawberry.

5th at Cat 1, Premantura, Croatia. Only shared the podium with the world number 1! Tanja Zakelj of Slovenia takes the win

A savage race here in Croatia over continuously rough ground and 180m climbing per lap. For the guys that equated to nearly 1300m in an hour and a half! Brutal.Ours was a five lap race and was well attended by a handful of the best xco riders in the world from Czech Rep, Slovakia, Slovenia and Poland as well as local talent.
There were mechanicals all over the place as people tried to pin it on the greasy, rocky singletrack to make up time. My Cannondale UK and Scotland team mate Dave Henderson rode a blinder from 50 to 22nd before puncturing on the final lap and not finishing.
I rode a steady race and with Dave’s mechanical in the back of my mind, stuck tonnes of pressure in my Schwalbe tyres. This meant I felt like I was riding a pogo stick for an hour and a half but at least I escaped what many did not and finished the race.
To make the most of the flight, we are riding a 60km marathon tomorrow. It seemed like a good idea at the time…