Didn’t think i’d ever wear this kit again but today I found myself representing GB at the World Mountain Bike Marathon Championships in the Dolomites. 62km and 3500m of the steepest climbing imaginable. So beautiful. So sore. Gridded 66th out of 72 riders (that’s what happens when you "retire") but clawed my way through the pack to finish 35th. Respectable I think. I am now not such a pretty sight.
After a 2nd place finish at the British Mountain Bike Marathon Championships in May I had all sorts of plans including the Highland Trail 550 and The Glen Tress 7 that, for a variety of reasons, didn’t happen. Then last weekend, I thought my entry to the Enduro World Series at Tweedlove in Peebles was going to go the same way. Competing in a world series event in any endurance sport isn’t the most chilled way to spend a weekend. And I had a cold. And I am “retired”. And this is full on downhill nonsense against the fastest women in the world. And with wobbly post viral legs even getting round the 8 stages was going to hurt. And. And. And…
It’s about now you get an insight into the trap that is the mind of the competitive athlete. Racing makes me feel alive + racing makes me afraid = I can’t win either way. The voice telling me I was ill and out my depth nearly got me in the car and up the road before the racing even began on Saturday. I could feel the relief hovering about just waiting for me to make the decision not to race but I’m experienced enough to know that the relief feeling would be short lived and would be quickly replaced with an empty flatness. So I raced.
What followed were 2 of the most fun, frightening, fast and full on days of racing I’ve experienced in a long time. I thought;
“Enduro- mostly downhill, minimal breathing required so my snot factory of a head won’t be a problem”.
Oh no n-n-n-no no. Each stage went more like this;
“Blaaaagh, rasp, rasp, s@£$t!, f%^&k!!, humph, rasp, rasp (concentrate, concentrate) naaaaar, rasp (complete silence whilst unsuspectingly airborne) s%^&t!!!, rasp….etc”
Day one hit 2 downhill trails at Innerleithen and then 2 on the other side of the valley above the golf course. Combined with about 40km of transition riding and 4 big climbs, I was happy and relived to finish the day in one piece and having ridden 2 of the stages well.
Enduro learning point no. 1: Don’t try too hard. You’ll just mess it up. With this hard won new learning I was keen to press on with Day 2.
Day 2 was out of Glen Tress. I woke up feeling pretty rubbish but the race organisers had shorted the day to 2 stages rather than 4 due to the weather. I could manage that. I rode up to the mast and slid down stage 5 on my bottom. Stage 6 went better and I clawed back some time over the other riders to finish Round 3 of the Enduro World Series in 21st place! Current World Champion Tracy Mosely took another convincing win from her rivals. She texted me later “Bit more pleasant than XC?” she enquired. I’m not sure pleasant is the most appropriate word to use in connection to any kind of racing but I’m so glad I didn’t get in the car.
This weekend I’m off on a whisky distillery tour for #seekandenjoy. More soon…