Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Continental 2009 Ad

The 'in-house' continental model is not a man to be messed with - though Irina did steal a kiss on his arm while I squeezed his big biceps ;0)

Monday, 23 March 2009

Continental Photo Shoot

Last week I went to Germany for a photo shoot for Continental who sponsor the Topeak-Ergon Racing Team. Irina kalentieva, Dave Weins and I stayed at a nice hotel in Kobenz overlooking the river Rhine. Unfortunately my Dave was unable to make it :0(

The hotel in Koblenz was right alongside the river Rhine

On the first day we set off in the team bus at 7am on the 3 hour journey to the Continental factory in Korbach. When we arrived Benjamin Brochhagen (Benny) and Tim (Team Marketing Manager) helped to set up the bikes and get all of the team kit ready. For the next few hours Irina, Wolfram Kurschat, Dave, and I all worked hard behind the was especially hard for me because I am somewhat camera shy! However the photographers and the Continental team were all great and made me relax a little. I can still hear the photographer saying "Eins, zwei, drei" 'click' "Eins, zwei, drei" 'click'....... :0)

We then had a lunch break in the factory restaurant (which I especially enjoyed - they had great desserts!) before resuming the photo shoot in search of the perfect shot. It was a really fun day and I am looking forward to seeing the final advertisement. I hope to add a copy to the blog soon.

Wolfram accompanied by 'little' and 'large' the two in-house Continental models

Once we had all changed out of our riding kit we were then shown around the factory. It was amazing to see exactly how the tyres are made and just how much work goes into each and every one. On the Continental tyres it says 'handmade in Germany' and now I know exactly what that entails!

It was a hard day at the office!

The next day we had another early start, with Benny driving us (Irina, Dave, Robert Mennen, and me) in the team bus on another 2ish hour journey to the location of the team photo shoot. The sun shone all day but it was pretty cold and standing in shorts and a jersey left me feeling a little blue, literally....thankfully my blue lips can be turned pink with a little help from Photoshop!

After some portrait shots we then had a chance to have a quick spin on the bikes to where we would have some riding shots. As the sun set we finally packed up and had a team meal before heading off on the long 2 hour journey back to the hotel. However, it was longer for some of us than fact as far as Dave Weins knows it only took around 30minutes because he spent most of it snoring!

Some of the new kit
The next day was a little more relaxed and we were able to have a more leisurely breakfast before going for a gentle spin along the Rhine and in the forest at Koblenz.

Benny and Dave at the German Corner in Koblenz where the Rhine and the Mosel meet

Afterwards Benny drove me back to Frankfurt for the quick (1 hour flight) back to Heathrow. After the end of the trip Benny had driven around 2000km! Thanks did a great job :0) It was a fun few days and it was really nice to meet the team who were all super friendly. Unfortunately some of the team were unable to make it, including Alban Lakata who is currently racing in the Cape Epic - Good Luck Alban! - Kim Tofaute who is at the Taipei International Cycle Show in Taiwan, and Jeff Kerkove who is training hard in the USA.

A great view of Koblenz

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Blowing away the racing cobwebs!

Last weekend we went to stay in Coed-y-Brenin with Mel Alexander (Element Racing) and Mark Spratt. We stayed in a really cosy stone cottage situated just off the remotest part of the Beast trial (i.e. in the middle of nowhere!). On Saturday we all woke up to true wet Welsh weather but we packed some waterproofs and joined up with one of the descents on the Beast. I have been doing a fair amount of road riding so being thrown into technical singletrack took me a little by surprise, as it did Dave....true to his 'crash test dummy' reputation he decided to take another tumble but rather than landing on his Ergon pack he gave his shoulder a try this time; but the rock won! He was officially out of action less than an hour in. The remaining uninjured party carried on, and I gradually started to loosen up!

On Sunday we (minus Dave who was condemned to the pits) entered the Gold Rush Challenge (50km around the Tarw trail - 3 laps). We woke to a forecast of 'heavy snow' but we were treated to some very heavy rain first! It was pretty cold too...around 2-3 degrees. It was a rolling start (timed with timing chips) which was nice but Mel and Mark were eager to make a start and I quickly followed not wanting to be left out in the forecast snow. The course was great and had a nice mix of singletrack and fire road. It was extremely well organised and marshalled and certainly provided a great season opener for me.

I was unsure how my legs would feel because I haven't raced for so long but I felt strong and I was pleased with my ride. I couldn't quite catch Mark, though I had glimpses of him which kept me chasing! Unfortunately, he punctured less than 10 minutes from the end - my chase was over but not quite in the way I had hoped! Cheri Mills finished in 3rd, Mel in 2nd, and me 1st in 2 hours 41. Full results can be found at

50km is a pretty short race for me...but I actually enjoyed it, so I might give a few XCs a go this year :0)

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Crash Test Dummy

I rode at Blandford UK bike park this weekend to work on my technical skills. There are some great downhill runs that are steep and rooty. There's also a nice little climb to ride up (or push up) back to the top. Dave has been busy putting his Ergon back pack through crash testing and he has found it to work very effectively as a back protector when he goes over the bars - I wish I had my camera ready when he was lay on his back with his arms and legs in the air like a flipped over tortoise ;0)