Thursday, 14 July 2011

Home sweet home

I've been back at home for just over a week and it's been so nice to catch up with friends and ride our local trails: Puddletown forest and Wareham forest. It's been a long season so far and I've been feeling both physically and mentally tired for the last few weeks. I've had a reasonably light training load this week and last week, so I should be ready and fully focussed for more high load training next week. 

Last weekend I substituted my normal interval session with a local XC race, pushing myself hard when I'm mentally tired is so much easier when I'm racing other people on fun trails. The Southern XCs are a really well organised series that deliver great courses, and this one was no exception with lots of nice twisty forest singletrails, short power climbs, bomb holes, roots and drops. Whoop :D Two trips over the bars within the first 10 minutes led me to believe that I was possibly a little too enthusiastic! Thankfully the girls behind were all very civilised, waiting for me to pick myself up off the trail before passing through ;) 
Jo Muden (left) and Natasha Barry (right)

A highlight of the race was having the opportunity to chase down the masters men who set off a few minutes ahead of the ladies. I was particularly hoping to be able to catch and overtake the boys from RideBike, but Stu King retired from the race just before I had the pleasure and Jon Hayes was too fast, finishing 30 seconds ahead of me. I'll get you next time Stu and Jon ;) It was also really cool to have the Vet men from RideBike cheering us all on and giving value time gap information. Driving home afterwards and then heading off to our local tandoori restaurant finished the day off perfectly. 

Although it was a little odd for a race to be over in an hour and a half, I loved it. So with my 3rd XC under my belt I’m heading off to tackle the National XC Championships in North Yorkshire on Sunday. It’ll be great to catch up with everyone from the UK race scene :)

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Kitzalp Bike Marathon, Kirchberg, Austria

The day after the World Marathon Champs we drove from Montebelluna, Italy to Kirchberg, Austria - well I say 'we', but I just chilled out in the passenger seat while Dave drove ;) We were sad to leave Montebelluna and the lovely singletrails but it was really nice to be in the Austrian mountains.

The next day we went for a gentle ride in the valley; however my legs were still tired from the World Champs and I found it tough even to just spin! We got a map of the marathon course from the very helpful guys at the Bike Academy so the next day we rode the first climb to the top of the Guggenkogele at 1750 metres. The majority of the climb had a nice gradient and my legs felt good; the last part however kicked up very steeply on grass and it was a real battle to keep the pedals turning! At the top the view of the valley below and the neighbouring mountains was really breathtaking. Fortunately I'd made it up a long time before Dave so I was able to spend time admiring the view and watching him push his bike up ;) The descent back down was fast and fun, and included some steep, loose singletrails. 

The following day the sunshine gave way to rain and the temperature dropped from over 30 to less than 10 degrees; we ordered hot chocolate rather than ice cream that day at the cafe! The clouds were low and the tops of the mountains were hidden, they stayed hidden until the day before the race. Thankfully there was no rain on race day but it was cold; I used arm warmers and a gillet - sunscreen was not necessary! 

During the race I felt strong on the first climb, reaching the top with a lead of more than 3 minutes ahead of Jane Nussli. On the second climb however I felt awful and I started to get blurred vision, which spooked me. The next steep, rocky singletrail descent was fairly technical and I had trouble seeing where I was going! My vision returned to normal on the next climb, but my legs felt heavy. On a steep hike-a-bike section I could see that Jane had closed the gap to less than a minute. I had to dig really deep for the next 3 hours to maintain my lead. It was tough and I was relieved and very tired when I crossed the finish line after nearly 6 hours of racing.

It was a really successful day for Topeak-Ergon Racing Team: Alban Lakata won the men’s race and Robert Mennen finished in 2nd place. Two wins and a second place in the first round of the UCI Marathon Series, it couldn't be better :D

Sally Bigham (GBr)        5:48:05
Jane Nussli (Sui)           0:02:00
Elena Giacomuzzi (Ita)  0:12:50

Friday, 1 July 2011

The 2011-2012 UCI World Marathon Series

The recent re-launch of the UCI World Marathon Series has brought about some changes in my race schedule this year. Here is a copy of the UCI press release:

The new UCI MTB Marathon Series 2011-2012 commences the week after the 2011 UCI MTB Marathon World Championships (June 26th 2011, Montello, Italy) and runs until two weeks prior to the 2012 UCI MTB World Championships (October 7th 2012, Ornans, France).

The following events are confirmed as counting for the 2011-2012 UCI MTB Marathon Series during 2011:

  1. 3rd July 2011: KitzAlpbike Festival, Kirchberg, Austria
  2. 20th August 2011: Grand Raid, Verbier-Nendaz-Hérémence-Evolène-Grimentz, Switzerland
  3. 18th September 2011: Adamello Bike, Ponte Di Legno, Italy
  4. 2nd October 2011: Extrême Sur Loue, Ornans, France
The remaining rounds to be held in 2012 will be confirmed after 2012 UCI MTB International Calendar applications close on July 29th 2011. Those events will be submitted to the next UCI Management Committee in September.

So, on Sunday at 8.00am I'll be lining up to race the Kitzalp marathon; with 4400 metres of climbing over 95kms it's going to be tough!