Monday, 20 April 2015

Newnham Park National

Leading up to the Newnham Park national my emotions were definitely very mixed, there were glimpses of being extremely nervous at racing on home ground that then transformed into being absolutely buzzing to be riding at Newnham all weekend. 
On Friday night I started my weekend by going to watch dad racing in the moonlit soggy, it was such a strange situation to be on the other side of preparation for a race so I decided to take the opportunity of this and constantly reminded dad to drink and was extremely disappointed with him for forgetting his rollers. I'll make sure that next time he's prepared and race ready. After his long three laps dad finished in 12th vet and did look like he had tried quite hard!
Saturday morning started with the pre lap I had been looking forward to after my walk of the lap the evening before. The course, created by Maddie and Jay Horton, provided continuous challenges with technical ups along with downs. The numerous A lines brought mental obstacles along with the obvious physical ones. Even with these I still managed to have a smile on my face as I cycled around! Well my smile momentarily disappeared on picnic rocks when I decided that throwing myself on the floor and eating some mud may be a good idea.
That moment of knowing it had all gone wrong!
The removal of the mud I had just eaten! - photos by Bob Paxton-Yeo 
After a slightly eventful Saturday, in which my sister won the U8 race (whoop whoop), Sunday seemed to be coming very slowly! Although Newnham being the closest national to home, we still managed to get up just as early but waking up in my own bed was something I wasn't used to when attending these big events. For the whole of Sunday morning I tried to get into the race frame of mind after recognising this as a weakness from previous events and altering my warm up helped massively with this. Although I was in 'racing mode' I still felt extremely nervous and slightly sick stood on the start line watching all of the youth and juvenile boys race off. After my disappointing race at Sherwood I started on the second row so knew that a good start was essential, knowing this made me so more motivated as the gun went off and we all raced on towards the first technical section. I was very happy with my start and managed to push myself up there at the front even managing to face my fear of picnic rocks and overtake a few people. For my first lap I felt great, I went through the start arena in about 6th and felt like I could catch 5th and maybe even 4th. But then the predictable happened and I messed up on picnic rocks as I was scared that being slightly offline would result with the same situation as the previous day. This then set me badly for my 2nd lap and I managed to lose 2 places due to continuous crashes. I ended up finishing in 8th which I am happy with but knowing I could have done better is making me feel really motivated for the next round to see if I can achieve a better position. 
Thank you to Certini for the continued support, along with Complete Cycle Works for making my bike feel amazing! Also, thank you to Maddie and Jay for putting on a great race, the best national I've been to! Thank you to my mum and dad for supporting me throughout the weekend and to the Mavericks and anyone else who helped through the weekend! And finally thank you to my school friends coming and seeing me race, seeing my second life of hanging out in numerous fields around the country! 

Sunday, 11 January 2015

A mountain bike race, finally

Today was the first round of the Soggy Bottom series at Newnham Park and it's great to be back there after racing cross for a few months. Cross can be great but mountain biking will always be a winner for me. What's not to like? Quick climbs followed by the reward of a fast technical descent. 

Anyway, Soggy Round 1 was my second race in the Certini kit and I was feeling stronger than last weekend at the moto cross park. After arriving early for my little sister Molly's race (well done for coming second Mol!), I went around for my practise lap. Soon after the cliff climb, I came to the section that I had been quietly nervous about after hearing it was an 8 foot drop! I managed to be a wimp for the many rolls up to it but after doing a lap then coming back to it Kris and Max managed to get me down it! I was so happy that I had finally done it but promptly after seeing someone crash I decided I didn't want to race it! 
The b line!
The new format for the start was great! 90 or so riders lined along the field for a mass start, I was lined up next to the younger Pilgrim Flyers (they all did extremely well for their first times as Juveniles!), in amongst them was Lucy (who won her first elite race riding for Mazingtree I.T! Woo!!) so there was a definite mix of ages. Soon after the start gun went off and we all sprinted across the field, the predictable happened on the bridge, carnage! After everyone composed themselves the race continued on up the tarmac climb and from then on the bridge was approached with care!

My race was 3 1/2 laps long and tough! Patsy and I raced it out and I ended up taking the win after 2 laps together. I'm really happy that I didn't get lapped by many seniors and also with the win, today has proved that my training is working and the proper stuff hasn't even started yet so thank you so much to Charles for helping! Also, thank you to the Pilgrim Flyers coaches for continuous support and help. 

Finally, well done to everyone who raced from Certini (Patsy, Kris, Harry, Freddy and Gabriel) and everyone else! Thanks to Certini and Specialized as my new carbon Stump Jumper worked brilliantly in testing conditions and also thanks to Tifosi for the new glasses that worked so well with my contact lenses. And thank you to Fully Sussed of putting on a great race!

Monday, 21 July 2014

Meet George the Chimp

Recently, after Maddie recommended the book, I have been reading The Chimp Paradox by Prof Steve Peters. Wow! This book has made such a difference to my riding. 
Prof Peters starts the book by talking about the 'human' part of the brain and the 'chimp' part of the brain, his first piece of advice is to name your chimp, so my chimp is now called George. This is of course after 'Curious George' the book, which is about a man with the yellow hat and his pet monkey who is an inquisitive and wonderful creature. In this case I am the man with the yellow hat taming my pet monkey that lives in my brain with a soundtrack of sing-a-longs and lullabies from Jack Johnson playing in the background. 
The book then carries on to how to tame your chimp. George has proved to be quite hard to tame, luckily in the Curious George books he is used as the 'teachable' character, therefore I am now going to 'teach' George how to man up and get on with things! Prof Peters says to manage your chimp by exercising it, boxing it and then giving it a banana. So now before every race or if I have been contemplating riding a techy section I go through the positives and negatives in my head (exercising him), then usually finish by looking like a mad women by telling George to "shut up" as I'm riding along (boxing him)! I then, if he's performed well, reward him by as Jack Johnson would say by giving him a 'Banana Pancake' which in my case is a KFC from a service station if I feel I've done well in a race. 
Two weekends ago it was my first race testing exercising and boxing up George at the BC National at Sherwood. I didn't really know what to expect at this race as last year everything was covered in snow! 
After the 6 hour journey up from Plymouth on Friday, we finally arrived in the french equivalent of a camp site here in the UK! I had spent the majority of this trek of a journey sleeping but also eating, people watching and exercising George. By the time we got to Sherwood, George had well and truly let it all out and I had boxed him away for the time being.
The next day, the remainder of the mavericks that hadn't arrived turned up to pre-ride the course as a group. Today we were going to try out the pre-ride plan that we had been told about at the recent RSR. After our 3 laps George and myself felt great! I was so relaxed, knowing the course like the back of my hand and George hadn't yet stressed me out. The rest of the day was spent socialising and preparing for the race the next day. 
On Sunday it was a 6.45am start ready for my 9.00am race start. A quick sprint to the toilet and two porridge pots later, I started to get my kit and bike ready. Still being half asleep, George wasn't a problem as my brain wasn't prepared for that sort of deep thinking!
The start loop was fast and there was quite a way before the first single track so I knew it was important to get a good start. So off we all went and as we were zooming along the fire road, I was suddenly in 4th place and this I managed to maintain for just over half a lap, which I am pretty happy with! As the race went on I slowly slipped back into 9th and finished the race in this position. My aim for the season was to come top half and this was now achieved! 
Photo by Isla Short
For this race George was tamed pretty well! I now know that I need to work on getting him more motivated as the race goes on. As soon as a few people pass me my chimp starts to think about me dropping places, not trying to keep on their tail. So I now knew what I could practise that the BC National Champs which was last weekend.

With only a week between the two BC National rounds, there was no real point in unpacking all of my clean clothes only to pack them again, so that week was quite relaxed, especially with the lack of work going on at school! All I had to do was prepare myself for another long journey to a race in the van. On Friday, I managed to get the day off school so we wouldn't arrive too late. That evening we stayed with family at Wolverhampton so it was great to fit that in along with the race.
Early(ish!) on Saturday morning we set off for Hopton, accompanied by the interesting sounds of Radio 1 on a Saturday, we got there at about 10.30am. As we had a sit down and chat with everyone the rain started, it kept going and going! Us all being from the South West and used to frequent rain, we were quite excited after pre-riding the course, as it suited us all quite well in the slippery conditions. The course was really enjoyable. Once you got to the top of first hill, it was pretty much all quick fire tracks and fun single track. 
On Sunday morning it was the same routine as the weekend before with toilet runs and excessive porridge. This time the start was uphill, unlike the flat start at Sherwood. After being gridded 7th I was surprised when I was on the front row so I was a bit disappointed starting at the edge in the long grass! 
It must be a Hopton curse, as last year I was in the same position and then also managed to get an awful start. Up the beginning of the first hill I was near the back so I knew I would have to catch people up on the single track to be in a position I was happy with. As there were quite a few crashes on the downhill section before the a-line I managed to go up a few places.
Photo by Andy Whitehouse

After a long 3 laps, I eventually rolled in to the finish in 7th. I was really happy with this especially as I had gained 2 places since the week before and I had again got my half way aim. Throughout the race I also managed to keep on peoples' tails as they over took me which was my aim from the week before. For this race George wasn't as tamed, on the second and third laps at the top of the hill a little voice in my head kept saying "why are you putting yourself through this?" but as soon as I kept going on to the single track the voice remembered why! 

Well done to everyone that raced and we now have a new National Champ in the SW, Harry! It has been two great weekends and I am now looking forward to the final round. 

Firstly thanks to my dad for driving me up and down the country so much recently! Also, thank you Maddie, Jay, Gary and Jonathon along with the other PYC coaches for helping me improve with each race, also to everyone who supported me over these two races (the horns were very motivating to make me go faster!) and to Silverfish for my wonderful Yeti Arc which yet again worked perfectly!   

Monday, 7 April 2014

National round 1 and Southern XC

After months of training, it was finally time for the first round of the BC National Cross Country MTB series and I was honestly quite scared! Straight after school on friday, we began the long journey up to London to stay the night at relatives, then the next morning travelled over to Essex. When we arrived most of the Mavericks were there and had already pre ridden the course before the saturday race, so I waited until the race had finished then rode with Charles, Max(Hinds) and Tom(Holland). My first impressions of the course were that it was very cyclo cross like with not many hills or much grass! But then we got to the twisty track through the woods and then to the BMX track, which was the best bit of the whole course! Later on, most of the Mavericks retreated to the local travel lodge whilst Maddie and Jay braved the British weather and camped! 
On Sunday morning, I woke up at a time that is usually never on my clock with butterflies in my stomach, thinking about the upcoming race later on. It would be nice to think that all of the racers still in bed were thinking of us all as we warmed up on rollers for our 9 o'clock race start but I think that's unlikely! 
As we all lined up on the start everything went quiet as we all concentrated on getting a good start. Being on the second row, it was going to be hard to get a good start so I knew that I was going to have to try to sprint a lot. During the first part of the first lap, I managed to stay with the second group but then gradually started to go off the back and then I was alone! With people behind me I still tried to push on determined not to be caught up. In the end I managed to finish 8th which I was happy with as I was only 3.30 minutes off the winner but I was also disappointed as I was only 1 place off my top half aim. 
After the my race finished it was the women's race with Maddie and Lucy racing so I convinced my dad to stay and watch it! Maddie came 9th in her elite race and Lucy 7th in the junior race, well done! 
Well done to all the Mavericks that raced and thanks to the organisers for a great race! 
I now realise what I need to work on for the next round at Wheal Maid which I can't wait for!

The next Sunday it was time for the second round of the Southern XC races and after the weekend before I was really hoping to do well. It was a really fun course with a lot of twisty single track and fast straights. Off the start I was quite far back as people started to over take so I pushed forward and managed to get in to second place. With lots of people behind trying to catch up I pushed on hoping to maintain my position. I managed to finish 2nd in the end which I am really happy about and am now looking forward to the road RSR on Tuesday!
Thanks to CSC (custom sports clothing) for the great new Fully Sussed kit to race in and as always to Silverfish for the great bike to race on!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

What a difference 2 years makes!

This time two years ago I raced at the Fully Sussed round at Wheal Maid. I was still new to the world of racing bikes then and after having a go at the round at Woodbury I was keen to have another go! In the morning it was the skills test, to determine who started when, and with my dad racing I didn't really know anyone so just quietly joined in, trying my best at the various skills. Having come down to ride the course before the race I was nervous about racing, with all of the steep downs, long ups and other much faster racers it was quite intimidating! I gave it my all and still had fun but at the same time still managed to look out of control going up hill!
Two years later here I am again racing at Wheal Maid, this time with some more experience and a fantastic bike (with great new race face next flat bars and formula brakes, thank you Silverfish!). This time, instead of quietly standing in the corner of the car park getting ready to race, I was straight out of the van talking to numerous people that I have got to know over these last two years. I was riding around with Patsy before the race and warming up on rollers, which I had never even heard of two years ago! After pre-riding the course on Saturday I was feeling much more confident about racing on it and managed to ride all of the a-lines, which was a big step even since the national round there last year. As the raced neared, we all gathered at the start line and I was chatting to Patsy and Ruby, even this was a big change from two years ago when I was just silently stood there waiting for the race to start! When the raced started most of the front line went off up the short steep climb leaving the rest of us behind them, in a pile half way up, after getting caught up with each other! After removing my bike from various parts from other people's bikes I set off again, a lap in to the race I realised that I was ahead of Patsy and Ruby which had not really happened before and at the inter regionals in October I wasn't anywhere near beating them in the xc race! I am so happy with finishing 1st Youth after 3 laps and could have even done another lap just for fun after because the course was so much fun! This has boosted my confidence so much for the first national next weekend and I am really looking forward to it now!
Thank you so much to Maddie, Jay, Gary and the other PYC coaches for helping me improve over the past two years and to everyone who has supported me and to all the people I have met!
Also, thanks to Silverfish for providing great team bikes that were perfect for this course and to Rockets and Rascals for making them work smoothly.
Finally, thanks to Rich Hobbs for putting on a great race with a really fun course, to Alex Law for the photos and Spike Sports for the timing.  

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Dazzling downhill days

After an informative friday evening with Ric Jamieson, it was time for some of the Mavericks to meet up at Gawton Gravity Hub ( with Jay Williamson for a great day of coaching. Through out the day we mastered the two tracks HSD and Proper Job  with Jay showing us all the best lines and how to ride them properly. We pumped over lumps and bumps, flew over jumps (that were massive of course...), glided across roots, sped around berms and watched Kris go in to multiple trees! My race face pads ( and helped me out and made me more confident when there were steep bits, thanks Silverfish.It was a brilliant day of coaching from a great rider, when watching Jay all of our jaws dropped! Thank you so so much for coaching us all and I would defiantly recommend it to anyone! On Sunday I was determined to us the skills from the day before in the Circus of Dirt and I think I managed to, a bit! After a day of rain, riding and falling off, my legs are quite battered but to say I didn't have a great day would be a lie! The courses were really fun and exciting and riding it in the rain made it more interesting and unpredictable. Thanks to Shred ( for putting on an exciting day and to Rockets and Rascals ( the great food to warm us all up afterwards! The Yeti was great yet again and it just shows that hard tails can be ridden on downhill tracks! Also, thanks to Alex  Law for the photos :)

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Soggy 3 on the Yeti Arc Carbon and Stover road race

Leading up to soggy 3 I was really excited about riding my new Yeti that I got for christmas from my parents from Silverfish ( they have some really cool gear!). After only have ridden it at trail centres, I couldn't wait to be riding at newnham. As Lucy and I, on our new bikes, went on our practise lap with Patsy, Kris, Rob, Penny and my dad I knew it was going to be a fun race on the action packed course. During the race I felt great on the bike, except from still feeling a bit ill. Swooping through the woods, over bridges, up hills and even managing to fall off in front of everyone, it was m favourite soggy course yet! I was really happy with 2nd place not far after Patsy and it has now got me really excited about the nationals coming up. 

The Yeti Arc C was great, thanks for Silverfish for supplying them for the team!

This weekend I did my first road race, well second if you count the one I did in 2012 with converse and a parachute coat. To be honest I was quite nervous especially when I turned up and there were a load of experienced road racers warming up. During the first 10 minutes of the race, being a mountain biker, I was slightly confused about the whole thing of everyone staying as a bunch and going slower. After that 10 minutes it got more exciting as everything got faster! With one lap to go I though that I might try and go for the win and it worked! Yay! 
Thanks to Russ at Rockets and Rascals ( - who make a great hot chocolate!) for putting super brakes on my bike! Also, to Gary for the training sessions on tuesday and the PYC coaches for the sessions on thursday :) Bring on 2014!!