Sunday, 24 October 2010

2010 Season Summary

The 2010 season has been a long one, beginning in March with the Cape Epic, South Africa, and finishing in October at the Roc D’Azur, France. The season didn’t quite go to plan and knee pain at the end of February meant that I had a shaky start. Although I managed to complete the Cape Epic with a third place finish together with team mate Nico Pfitzenmaier, I had to take the majority of April and May off the bike. This was really worrying and at the time I didn’t know if I would be able to race again in 2010.

Fortunately, I had excellent advice and help from a doctor who specialises in cycling related knee injuries. I followed his advice to the letter and after a few training rides at the end of May I decided to start the Trans Germany 4 day stage race. This marked my return to racing and at the beginning of August I finally started to feel strong again. This was a little too late for the European XCM Champs in July where I finished 7th, but it was perfect timing for the World XCM Champs in August. Some mechanical problems at the Worlds cost me time meaning that my 8th position didn’t reflect the finish that I feel I was capable of. However, I felt really encouraged by the strength that I had and it has helped me to start to believe in myself.

August through to October brought some great results: my third consecutive National XCM title; victory at the UCI Cat 1 Ischgl Ironbike in Austria; and a win at the Roc D’Azur marathon. During this time I also had a go at a couple of XCO races: First the Southern XC which I won and then the final round of the British XC Series which was a UCI Cat 1 event. To everyone’s surprise, including my own, I finished 3rd and 75 seconds behind the winner Gunn-Rita. Although I still passionately love marathon races, I can now understand the attraction of XCO racing and I will definitely take on the challenge of a few more next year……perhaps even a World Cup or two ;-)

For now however I am taking a few weeks off the bike. My knee still isn’t 100% and I want to use the next month or so to try and resolve the problem. This is a strange time of year for me. Towards the end of the season I look forward to time out of training, but once it arrives I struggle to stay away from my bike. Weird! Normally I would occupy myself by running, but given my knee this isn’t possible ☹ The swimming pool is calling……

I’m excited about next year, not least because I have taken a sabbatical from my lectureship at Bournemouth University where I research and lecture about Autism (a neuro-developmental disorder). My aim over the next year is to spend time working on MTB technical skills, something that has largely been sidelined until now due to time constraints. This is one aspect of my riding that needs improving and gains made here should, I hope, lead to better race results in the long term. It was a scary decision to take a year out of my academic career and I still wonder if it is the right one, but even if it isn’t then I believe that it is better to have tried than not to have tried at all.

As always I would like to thank everyone who has helped and supported me. My team Topeak-Ergon Racing Team are, in my opinion, simply the best team ever! A huge thanks goes to all of our sponsors for providing us with the best equipment for the job ☺ My boyfriend Dave never falters in the support that he gives and he’s also becoming a pretty handy mechanic thanks to excellent tuition from Jon and Andy at RideBike. Coach Matt Hart (Torq) knows exactly what I need to do to get strong and stop me from going off the rails! I would also like to thank James Towlson who played a monumental role in instigating my step up into International MTB’ing.

Bye for now,
Sally ☺

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