Sunday, 11 November 2012

Holiday time

Now it's really time to relax, drink rum and eat great fish :D


Friday, 9 November 2012

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Tour de UK trail centres

Since the race season finished I've been dreaming, almost constantly, of riding singletrack. So last week we loaded up the van and headed off on a tour of the UK trail centres. There are many advantages of trail centre riding: practically fool proof way-marking means that most people - Dave excluded - don't have to navigate; the singletrack:fireroad ratio favours the former; and there's a great cafe to refuel at afterwards while discussing the days shenanigans and near misses. We clocked up the miles in the van but we practically matched those miles on the trails at Forest of Dean, Cwmcarn, Afan, Cannock Chase, Llandegla, Dalby, Hamsterley and Glentress. The weather was great, the trails were fun and the food at the cafes really hit the spot.

With my singletrack craving temporarily satisfied we're now going on a non-biking holiday - the first in 3 years - before winter training starts. It'll be strange not to pedal for a couple of weeks but hopefully my days will be filled with windsurfing, surfing, swimming, running and if things get really bad then I'll possibly be found pedalling a pedalo ;) My diet is likely to comprise of fish and rum :D

It's strange packing a snorkle and mask instead of a bike........

 

 

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Cape Epic Route Launch

Come along and see the official Cape Epic 2013 route launch video and then join in on a Q+A session with Dave and me. I can answer questions related to racing, training, nutrition and recovery, while Dave can deal with any technical questions regarding bikes and team support.


Venue: Pedal Studio  ( 287 Putney Bridge Road, SW15 2PT, Putney, London)
Date:   30 November 2012
Time:  7:15pm

Monday, 22 October 2012

Roc D'Azur Press Release

Here is the Team press release for our season finale in the south of France

Friday, 19 October 2012

New fan page

I have a new fan page where you can keep up-to-date with my latest training and racing info, there are also lots of photos....here is the link  


Friday, 12 October 2012

Roc n'roll


Today was the Roc D'Azur marathon - my last race of the season - and I won. It was my third victory here in Frejus, such a perfect end to a long, successful season. Now I can sit back, relax and cheer on team mates Irina Kalentieva, Alban Lakata, Robert Mennen and Wolfram Kurschat who are all racing this weekend. I'll also be serving kaiserschmarrn - an Austria desert and a big favourite of Alban's - at the Canyon booth in the EXPO area. Come along and say hello!



I'll write more about the last few weeks, including the Worlds and the Roc Marathon, in a couple of days....thanks for following me! Have fun and enjoy the off season!



Monday, 8 October 2012

World Marathon Championships, Ornans, France, 2012

Yesterday was the World XCM championships. It was raining (a lot) and the course was exceptionally challenging and dangerous...I survived (just) and finished 5th. I'd have liked to do better, but 5th is not so bad :) I'll write more soon, but now we're relaxing in the south of France. It's the famous Roc D'Azur bike festival this weekend and on Friday I will race the Roc 83 marathon, hopefully in the sunshine! 

Results:

1st Annika Langvad (Den)
2nd Gunn Rita (Nor)
3rd Esther Suss (SUI)
4th Irina Kalentieva (RUS)
5th Sally Bigham (GBR)

Before: clean and dry

After: wet and very, very muddy!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

CRC Road Sportive and MTB Marathon, Ruthin, Wales

After 4 brilliant weeks of sunny training at home in England we decided to leave our local trails behind and head off to Ruthin in north Wales for some Welsh training miles and a change of scenery. I had originally planned to go to Scotland and take part in the Kielder 100, which is a 100 mile one lap course, but after some careful planning I decided that two shorter days of racing would be much better preparation for the upcoming World Marathon Championships on October 7th.

It turned out to be a great decision. The weather was amazing: Saturday was warm and sunny and the rain forecast for Sunday didn't arrive until after I crossed the finish line. Perfect :) As well as great weather we were also treated to some brilliant riding: the 150km road course looped around the stunning Welsh countryside, taking in some nice climbs including the Horseshoe Pass, while the 80km MTB marathon course was full of variety, sending us up some challenging climbs and fast, fun descents.

Not known for making life easy, I decided to ride the Sportive on my MTB with slick tyres. It didn't seem to be too much of a disadvantage and I soon dropped Dave ;) It was a really relaxed atmosphere and riders could set off any time between 8.30 and 9.30am. After a bit of a leisurely breakfast we left the start at 9ish, the downside of this was that once Dave dropped off the pace, I spent the rest of the ride alone.  After a short stop waiting for a heard of sheep and one feedzone stop - where the Marshall actually filled my bottle with my preferred flavour of Torq energy! - I arrived back at the finish after 4 hours 53 minutes.

At 10am the next day we followed the lead car for a 5 mile neutralised start to the MTB marathon. After racing outside of the UK for the last few years and experiencing neutralised starts in a variety of countries, the UK gets the award for the most sedate neutralised start that I've ever experienced!  I didn't fear for my life once! Amazing. No crashes, no handlebar tangling, no elbows, no skidding and no swearing either ;) Swiss rider Simeon Niederer set a fast pace as soon as the lead car pulled away and he maintained his lead until the finish. Werner van der Merwe and I swapped positions for couple of hours but he punctured on one of the best fast, rocky descents of the day meaning that I rode alone for the last couple of hours. After 4 hours 7 minutes I finished 2nd overall - including the men - and 5 minutes behind Simeon.

Feedzones stocked with Torq was a nice touch 
  You can also read the report on marathonmtb.com

Marathonmtb.com Interview

Marathonmtb.com interviewed three different riders ranging from amateur, semi-pro and pro to give an idea of how female riders have entered into mountain bike racing....here is a link to my interview.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Events | Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike Training Camp | Club La Santa

Events | Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike Training Camp | Club La Santa

If you're looking for some warm weather winter training in January then come along to the Club La Santa Training Camp and 4 day stage race (25th January to 2nd February). I've helped guide the camp for the last 2 years and I'm also there to offer advice on training, racing and nutrition. The camp is great preparation for the Cape Epic but it's also open to people who are just looking for some winter training miles. I hope to see you there!

CRC Marathon Ruthin, Wales

Next weekend (15th/16th September) I'll be heading to Ruthin in North Wales to take part in the CRC 150km Road Sportive and the 80km MTB marathon the following day. I hope to see you there........

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

The perfect 2 months. Almost.

It took a while, but here is a reflection on the last couple of months.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Leadville 100. Brief update.

So today was the Leadville 100. I felt really strong and took the lead from the start. My heart rate was low and I seemed to be coping well with the altitude. After about 26 miles I was shocked to see team mates Alban Lakata and Robert Mennen riding back towards me. They shouted that we were going the wrong way! Once I'd rejoined the course, I'd gone from 1st to 4th position. Gutted. I chased alone in the wind until the bottom of Columbine, but I'm sad to say that I had a motivation 'dip'. Eventually I pulled it together and worked my way back up to 2nd position overall. I'd have dearly loved to win the race and break the course record, but c'est la vie. It's not the first time that riders have been sent off course in a race and I'm sure it won't be the last.

I'll write more about my Leadville experience and also my time trail riding in Breckenridge - amazing place! - soon.




Huge congratulations to team mate Alban Lakata on winning the race despite his extra miles off course. Amazing ride Alban!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Transalp 2012

OK, I'm a little late in updating my blog, but stage racing is really hectic. It is like being in a bubble removed from the real world and it's only now that I've been released and returned to reality. Everyday is like ground hog day: early breakfast, pack luggage, pre-race warm up, race, post-race interviews, transfer to new hotel, shower, eat, massage, evening podium, eat, and finally bed. The days are really busy and rushed and I always find myself wishing that I could hit the 'pause' button on time.

I'm now back at home in England after being away racing for the last 8 weeks! However, I only have three more nights in my own bed before we head off to Colorado to prepare for the Leadville 100. These next few days will go pretty quickly, however I plan to enjoy them as much as possible. I won't ride my bike now until we get to Colorado, instead I intend to go to the beach and relax - in between catching up on normal household chores.  

Stage 8: Riva del Garda, Italy 

Anyway, I've missed the most important point of this blog - it is easy to see that my mind is still a bit scrambled - together with my brilliant Swiss race partner, Milena Landtwing, I won the Transalp!!!! Woooo-hoooo!!!! This was my first time racing the 8 day race starting in Germany and traveling through Austria, Switzerland and Italy. In total we covered 618km and more than 21,000m of vertical ascent. It was a tough race and it was made all the more difficult with some challenging weather conditions including: heavy rain, thunder storms, snow, wind, and heat!

Stage 3: Idjoch (2800m), Ischgl, Austria

The Transalp is very different to the Cape Epic in South Africa which I raced and won together with Esther Suss in March this year. There is so much more climbing in the Transalp and the descents are really fast and sometimes very technical. Riding at 75-80km down wet mountain roads which are all open to traffic was, well, pretty hair-raising at times!

Stage 6: Livigno to Ponte di Legno, Italy

Amazingly we had no mishaps: no technical issues, no crashes, no punctures. Huge thanks to our amazing support team: Dirk Juckwer, Peter Felber, Werner Faust, David Padfield, and Hans Peter Marti. We're really lucky to have such brilliant team support; everyday I thought of the unsupported riders who not only had to race but who also had to maintain their own bikes, move their own luggage and sleep in communal areas such as sports halls and tennis courts - congratulations to you all, such an incredible achievement!

Click here to see Sportograf.com race photos

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Transalp Stages 1 and 2

Wahoo! Milena and I won stages 1 and 2 of the Transalp :)

It's been a bit wet to say the least, but we're hopeful of some sunshine as we head south towards Italy...fingers crossed! Yesterday was a fast stage and took us 98km from Oberammergau to Imst with 2200m of climbing. I preferred todays stage because there was more climbing and less rain! - we rode 78km from Imst to Ischgl and climbed 3274m

Stage 1: Oberammergau (GER) to Imst (AUT)

Stage 2: Imst to Ischgl (AUT)

Stage 2




Tomorrow we ride 67.8km from Ischgl to Nauders (AUT) - a short stage but lots of climbing (2720m). Fingers crossed for fun and luck!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Double Victory :)

Here is a very brief update, more to follow......

Last weekend I won the Kitzalp Bike Marathon in Kirchberg, Austria and this weekend I won the Dolomiti Superbike. What is really cool is that team mate Alban Lakata also won both races :)

Dolomiti Superbike, Italy

Kitzalp Bike Marathon, Austria


I'm now relaxing before the start of the Trans Alp next weekend where I will team up with Milena Landtwing. It'll be really fun to race with her again :)


Thursday, 28 June 2012

Fun in Austria

So things didn't entirely go to plan: I wasn't able to race at Mountain Mayhem 24 hour event in the UK.  An injury became infected and it wasn't possible for me to ride :( It was a hard decision to make not to go, not least because I didn't want to let the Ergon 24 riders down, but in the end I made the right decision. Sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture: continuing to ride would have meant more time off the bike in the long run.


Days were spent swimming in mountain lakes instead of riding and, although I'd like to have been biking, a forced rest was probably a good thing. It's a long season and some days resting are not a bad thing even though it sometimes feels it at the time. It's hard for me to rest when I'm surrounded by beautiful mountains.

Yesterday I was able to race in the Hill Climb at Brixen im Thale, which is part of the Kitzalp Bike Festival  More than 300 riders set off at 18.30 along the 6km track up 500 metres to Filzalmsee. It was good training and much more fun to do a 20 minute interval session with other people - and I won :)


1. Sally Bigham (Topeak Ergon Racing Team) 22:09.4
2. Janka Stevkova (CK Epic Dohnany) 23:47.0
3. Maria Osl (RV Team Tonis Proshop) 24:51.5

Today we had a downhill day: gondola up the mountain and bike down. Although I love to climb, it's also fun to spend a day being purely gravity assisted :)



Tomorrow is an easy day, followed by the Kitzalp Bike Marathon on Saturday. The Ultra marathon is a toughie: 95km with 4400m of vertical ascent....good job I like to climb ;)

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Race Report: European Marathon Championships

A race report is now on xcracer.com

I've been back in Austria enjoying amazing weather and fun trails since leaving Czech, but tomorrow we fly to Manchester and head off to Mountain Mayhem where I will be a guest rider on the Ergon 24 team. I've heard it's been raining - a lot-  in the UK. Contiental Mud King 1.8 at the ready........


It doesn't look steep, but it's actually not so easy riding up a ski run ;)

Sunday, 17 June 2012

European Marathon Champs: Silver medal



Brief update, more to follow: Today I finished 1 second behind Pia Sundstedt (Finland) in the European Champs. It was a tactical race, which was fun. I felt really strong and I'm happy with a silver medal.

Congrats to team mate Alban Lakata on his bronze medal. Another great day for Topeak Ergon Racing Team :D

Friday, 15 June 2012

Preparing for the Euros in Czech

After the Alpen Tour Trophy we were able to stay in our apartment for another week of training on the fun trails around Schladming. Having ridden so many of the trails during the race we knew exactly where to go, which is much better than stopping to read a map, though I'm not sure Dave would agree ;)

Lovely biking around Schladming
Post ride relaxing :) 
Last Sunday we headed off to Jablonne, Czech Republic, which is situated in the north and lies really close to the German and Polish boarders. We're staying in a nice hotel in a small village called Jitrava, which is surrounded by beautiful, peaceful forests that are home to lots of wildlife including lots of birds and deer, as well as bears (but unfortunately I haven't seen any bears. Yet). There is also some amazing geology in this region; huge rock formations litter the forests - it's really spectacular.

This rock looks a little like Dave!
We've had a few days to recce the Malevil Cup course and I now feel fairly familiar with it. It's an A to B race starting in the town of Jablonne and finishing at the Malevil golf course. The course has a mix of short sharp power climbs (some a little rocky and technical; others just steep), rooty single trails, slippery rocky descents (though these are drying out quickly in the sunshine) and a lot of forest trails. It's a power course and I like it. There isn't a lot of climbing - 2000 metres - but the accumulation of lots of small climbs throughout the course will take its toll. The men will cover a slightly longer (100km) course starting at 8.30am and the women will race over 95km starting at 8.45am.

Tomorrow I will ride for 1.5 hours once more on the course and then I'll put up my feet ready for the start on Sunday morning. I'm feeling in really good shape at the moment and I'm looking forward to a hard, fast race :) Fingers crossed for good luck and fun.......     

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Racing the Alpen Tour Trophy


In previous years I’ve raced the Trans Germany, but this year we decided to start the Alpen Tour in Schladming, Austria. On the one hand I wanted to return to the TG because I’ve never taken the victory there; on the other I was tempted by the mountainous trails of the Alpen Tour. The mountains won and we loaded the van and set off on our drive to Austria.

My mountain climbing machine ;)

We had a couple of days to settle in to our hillside apartment in a small village just outside of Schladming. What a nice feeling to be back in the mountains looking up at snow capped peaks and forest covered hills.


One of the good things about the Alpen Tour is that each of the four stages start from Schladming; staying in the same place rather than relocating each day is less of an adventure but it’s far more relaxing and less logistically complicated! Each stage took the riders up to one of four different peaks surrounding Schladming:

Stage 1: Hochwurzen (69KM/2900m)
Stage 2: Planai (16KM/1100m). Hill climb time trial
Stage 3: Dachstein (73KM/2800m)
Stage 4: Hauser Kaibling (56KM/2000m)



The weather forecast wasn’t looking great so I was mentally preparing for some wet, cold racing. However, we were really lucky and despite rain in the night and mornings, the rain abated before the start and we generally had warm, sunny race conditions. In fact, on the first day the temperature reached more than 25 degrees and I was able to top up my fading tan lines! The warm, humid conditions meant that some riders fell victim to cramp but fortunately I’d added Elete electrolytes to my bottles so I remained hydrated and strong throughout. I also added Elete to my water before and after each stage to help recovery and to top up my reserves ready for the following day’s stage.



The Alpen Tour really is a nice stage race incorporating a variety of different natural and manmade trails, some of which are pretty technical, with very little asphalt. Even the uphill time trail included a rooty singletrail section that was pretty tricky in the wet. Everyday we enjoyed the steep berms of the Flowline downhill trail back to the stadium. 



The race went really well for me. I felt strong and I was able to set a good pace on the climbs each day. I took the lead early on during Stage 1 and I held on to the leader jersey over the remaining three days. I was looking forward to Stage 2 - an uphill time trial – taking confidence from my performance in the time trial that I won in Lanzarote earlier this year; however I was aware that I’d have some strong competition in the form of Vera Andreeva (Russian National XCO champion). I set off last meaning that I was able to chase down the ladies ahead of me; chasing is much nicer than being chased! I took care to make sure that I had plenty of fuel for such an intense effort and during the hour long climb I had 750ml of Torq vanilla energy drink and 3 Torq caffeine gels, which worked perfectly and I felt strong from start to finish. I won with a lead of 1 minute and 17 seconds J The next days went really well, no mechanicals and good legs. The third stage was particularly spectacular taking us high up into the Dachstein mountains. I always find it amazing to find myself running or riding through snow at the summits and I always make sure that I take some time to look at the views – this provides me with the motivation to dig even deeper.





Winning all four stages meant that it was a perfect race for me J Alban Lakata finished second overall and my friend and training partner Simon Willats (ridebike.co.uk) finished 4th overall master in his first Alpine race. Many thanks to our excellent team support: Peter Felber (mechanic), Werner Faust (Physio) and Dave Padfield.


Now we have some time to explore and enjoy the trails in the mountains around Schladming J


Sunday, 3 June 2012

Alpen Tour: brief update

Over the last 4 days I've raced the Alpen Tour Trophy in Schladming, Austria. It was a spectacular race - I'll write more in the next couple of days - and to win it, including all 4 stages, made it a perfect 4 days :) Team mate Alban Lakata finished 2nd overall, so it was a great race for Topeak Ergon Racing Team!

Overall leader jerseys

Each stage finished on the downhill course :)

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The Alps are calling me, must be time to race :)

I've spent the last three weeks training in England and now I'm ready to put a number board back on my bike :) It's been great training, but now I miss racing and the mountains are occupying my thoughts.

Corfe Castle, Dorset, UK. One of my favourite views on my training rides

Spending time at home in my own bed throughout May has been really nice, in fact this is the longest time I've spent at home since November. It's been lovely to catch up with friends and ride our local trails. I was even able to go to a local Southern XC race a couple of weeks ago, which was also the 2012 regional championship race. I like these races, they're well organised and the courses are fun. It's also nice to catch up with local riders who I don't get to chat with very often.

Southern XC and Regional Champs

1st Sally Bigham 1:19:12
2nd Jo Munden 1:27:46
3rd Rachel Fenton 1:31:01

I have a really exciting race schedule planned over the next few months, including races in Austria, Czech, Italy, Switzerland, Colorado, Norway and the UK. I can't wait.

Next stop: Alpen Tour, Schladming, Austria.  

Monday, 7 May 2012

National Marathon Championships

I won't be defending my National Title at Selkirk on May 20th. I've explained why on xcracer.com

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Third time lucky


I wanted to win the Ronda Extrema in Riva del Garda on Sunday; 3rd place in 2009 and 2nd in 2011 meant that the only step that I really wanted to stand on was the top. With Finnish rider Pia Sundstedt (Rocky Mountain) lining up on the front row I knew that it was going to be a battle, but one that I was well and truly looking forward to. 

As always in this marathon the start was fast and a little crazy. This is because the course takes the riders on flat roads through the town before hitting the bottom of a very narrow, very steep climb - and everyone wants to be there first. I feel really small among all of the men in big pelotons; I’ve got better at holding my position and making sure that I don't get pushed backwards but I still don't like it, though I'm not sure anyone really does. Within minutes one tall guy nearly had me off when he caught his handlebar under my arm. Soon afterwards there was a big crash just in front of me, though I managed to brake and swerve around it. I hate seeing crashes; my nurturing instinct kicks in and I want to stop and check that everyone is OK. 

Surviving the chaos, I arrived at the bottom of the climb in a good position and as the first lady. Great. Now I just had to fend off Pia who would surely be breathing down my neck at any moment. Twisting up the switchbacks I felt really strong and my SRM power meter confirmed that I wasn't hanging about ;) I was also overtaking men that I wouldn't normally see in a race because I'd be too far behind them. This was a great boost mentally and physically. I reached the first feedzone with more than a minute lead over the 2nd placed lady. I'd extended this even further by the time I reached the 2nd feedzone.


In between the 2nd and the 3rd feedzone there is a split in the course and riders have the option of completing a shorter course. Pia decided to ride the short course, though I didn't know this during the race. Later on there is also another split in the course where riders can choose either one final climb or head straight back to the finish line. It’s a good system – 3 different course lengths - but it does mean that you can be in a situation where you don’t know who you’re racing, as in my case.


At the bottom of the last long climb I really needed to make a pee stop but I didn't know how much time I had or who was chasing me. In these situations I have to make a decision: stop or pee 'on the go'. On this occasion the decision was complicated by one very important factor: my new Northwave Extreme Tech shoes. I considered my options as I rode up the final climb and I’m pleased to say that I stopped and my shoes remained dry ;)


A Torq caffeine gel at the top of the climb and a bottle of coke at the bottom gave me an extra boost as I rode alone into the wind through the valley to the finish line. Third time lucky - I’d won the Riva marathon. 

Results

1st Sally Bigham 5:06.16
2nd Borghild Loevset 5:28.35
3rd Katrin Schwing 5:36.56 



Full results are here 

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Rocky Mountain Bike Marathon - Riva del Garda, Italy

Every year the Euro marathon season begins for many riders this weekend in Riva del Garda, Italy. My first ever race as a Topeak Ergon Racing Team rider began here 3 years ago. If you've been following my blog since the beginning then you'll know that I've been on an incredible journey over the last three years and how much this has changed me as a rider. It's great for me to return here and reflect on how much I've grown in confidence and ability since 2009. Although I still get nervous before races - I'd worry if I didn't - I now know how to manage it and to focus positively on the race.

The race starts at 7.45am tomorrow morning which means an early breakfast at 5am. The one thing that doesn't get easier are the early starts - perhaps they're actually getting more difficult! 

Every rider is able to decide what distance to ride during the race; however I intend to ride the full 105km/3500m course. I like it :) Riva del Garda is a beautiful place and it's so nice to be back. I only wish that it wasn't a flying (3 day) visit. 

Our team mechanic, Peter Felber, is hard at work preparing our bikes - team mates Alban and Robert are also racing tomorrow. Dave Padfield is taking care of race logistics and Anita Reizner is also here to help with Feedzone support. We're in good hands. All that is left to do now is go for coffee and eat some ice cream at the lake. Perfect pre-race preparation :) 

Peter Felber hard at work

Not a bad office for a mechanic ........

............or a rider ;) 
As always, fingers crossed for fun and good luck! 



      

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Elete Electrolyte

xcracer.com are now selling Elete Tablytes. They're small but they were an essential part of my daily nutrition during the Cape Epic. Perfect hydration and no muscle cramps is testimony to that.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

The Ride Journal

'The Ride Journal' is a unique collection of the personal cycling experiences of a diverse group of people ranging from pros to recreational riders; roadies to BMX riders. It's made even more captivating by the use of stunning photography and illustrations. So needless to say, when I was asked to write a short piece for the 6th edition I was both honoured and eager to put pen to paper. I wrote about my unorthodox journey into professional endurance mountain biking with the aim of inspiring people who dream but don't dare to believe. 



It costs £10.50 and all profits from the journal go to charity which is one more incentive - if needed - to order a copy.