Sunday, 30 June 2013

World Marathon Championships: Silver Medal :)

Yesterday was a special day: my first World Championship medal. A medal was my goal and to take Silver was truly amazing. More to come......but for now here are some photos :)

Monday, 24 June 2013

Mountain Nomads :)

After our win at the National Marathon Championships in Scotland we had a few days at home in Poole, England before loading up our van for another 5 week long Euro road trip. We were blessed with one sunny day before the weather changed and I was once again battling the wind and rain - and dodging black birds and road cyclists; the roadie missed but black bird didn't! Ouch!

At home in Poole: Days when Dave agrees to ride with me are becoming rarer and rarer! 

Our first stop was Kirchberg, Austria, which is home to the famous Kitzalp Bike Marathon. We have a lovely apartment really close to the start and we were able to spend a week re-familiarising ourselves with the course. As always the UCI have reduced the distance of the ladies course for the World Champs, so unlike previous years the women will race over a shorter course which misses out the Ehrenbach descent and the long steep climb back up past Hahnenkamm. I would happily race the full 95km/4400m distance, as I have the last 2 years, but this year I'll have to be content with just 85km/3700m ;) 

Final Kitzalp climb: Stunning views and  searing heat: 36+ degrees last week!

Last week Dave and I were really excited about visiting the Maloja Head Quarters near Lake Chiemsee, Germany. Maloja is a very cool clothing brand which is really popular in continental Europe and which, at long last, has finally found it's way to the UK. Hooray! We've always loved the brand since first seeing it at one of our very first races in Riva del Garda, but after visiting the office, meeting the people behind the scenes and learning about their philosophy, we're now passionate fans! Not only do they produce eye catching and technically advanced clothing, but they're also heavily focused on giving back to the community and being as ecological as possible. Now Dave and I will be the best dressed cycling duo in MTB :)

Last Thursday we left our base in Kirchberg for a few days and went to Selva val Gardena, north eastern Italy, to take part in the Sellaronda Hero. This was our first time there and I hope it isn't our last. If you love the mountains as we do, then you have to visit this area. It is breathtakingly beautiful.

Dantercepies Pass 2298m

The Italian's certainly know how to host events: the race took over the area with top level organisation. Following the UCI regulations the Women's race was shorter than the men's covering only 62km, but cramming in 3300 metres of vertical climbing. Consequently the climbs were steep, which is fine, but the fact that the climbs were covered in extremely loose, large gravel stones meant that finding traction wasn't easy and every time the rear wheel slipped it took more energy to keep moving forwards! The terrain on the descents was also similar and in this case finding grip on the front wheel was top priority! With very little asphalt; lots of single tracks in the forests, on mountain traverses and open ridges; and inspirational views the Sellaronda is one not to be missed. More to the point it is a tough and challenging course and I'm excited that it will host the World Championships in 2015.

The women started separately from the men at 7.20am. The separate start was perfect, but the time, well, that was a little too early ;) Elena Gadonni set the pace from the start and I was happy to go with that, we stayed together for 15 to 20 minutes after which she started to fall off the pace and from then onwards I rode alone with only the lead motorbike, a quad, and a helicopter for company - no toilet stops for me then ;) In a live interview with SKY after the race I was asked when the race was won for me. The answer to that was easy: at the finish line! I never relax until I'm over it!

Spectators could watch the race from the finish line

1. Bigham Sally 4:17.37,2 
2. Gaddoni Elena, 4:30.37,0 
3. Veronesi Daniela, 4:37.40,8 

You can watch a reply of the live race footage here.

The evening podium was like no other and it was certainly the first time that I've been driven directly to the stage in a Jaguar convertible sports car! Perhaps the winner of the 2015 World Champs will parachute in from a helicopter ;)

Now we're back in Kirchberg focusing on our final preparations before the World Championships on Saturday. All the hard work has been done and now it's time to eat, sleep, relax and cross our fingers for good luck and fun.

Happy biking,
Sal :)

Monday, 10 June 2013

British National Marathon Champion :)

On Saturday I won the National Marathon Championships :) Follow the link to for my race report ......

Thanks for following!

Sal :)

Catherine Williamson (3rd) and Jane Nussli (2nd) 

Friday, 7 June 2013

Sunny Scotland!

Trudging through snow in Austria last week, basking in sunny Scotland this week. The contrast couldn't be greater! We're here in Selkirk, not too far south of Edinburgh for the National Marathon Championships starting tomorrow at 12.30pm. 

Being based so close to Glentress we couldn't resist a couple of hours at their famous trail centre and, naturally, at their fabulous cafe. The roller coaster descents there are so much fun with plenty of berms and jumps! If you haven't been, then add it to your bucket list; you’ll not be disappointed!   

After checking out the feedzones and some small parts of the course, it’s now time to chill and relax. The weather forecast is predicting more sun tomorrow, so we’re preparing for a hot one. Strange…never thought I’d be saying that about a Scottish race ;) It really is very beautiful up here and even more so in the sunshine :)

Hopefully Dave will be giving Twitter updates during the race so follow me on @ironsally1 Just got to show him how to use it ;) 

Thursday, 6 June 2013


Kristine Norgaard is one amazing lady and truly inspirational. Pregnancy didn't stop her from biking, racing and winning! A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of racing - and winning - the Andalucia Bike Race with her and now she a proud mother after giving birth to baby Sally last night. Congratulations Kristine!!!! Lots and lots of love to you both!!!!!

Photos courtesy of Torleif Jensen

Monday, 3 June 2013

Alpen Tour Stage 4: landslides and flooding

Very heavy rain yesterday morning greeted me when I opened the curtains. No surprise there then ;) With full waterproofs packed in my start bag - as well as a kayak ;) - we headed off to our team area to warm up. I wasn't especially looking forward to getting cold and wet, but I know that once the gun goes I just get on with it. The planned stage was shortened to avoid the snow line and my aim was to ride cautiously while defending my overall lead.

Sitting in the car with the heater on I wound down the window enough to hear talk of landslides, flooding and road closures, closely followed by talk of cancelling the stage. Meanwhile I was also tweeting with British cyclocross star Helen Wyman whose preference was to have a 40 min race up and down the downhill course instead....of course Helen would be the likely winner of that race ;) Team mechanic, Peter Felber, was busy setting up our turbo trainers while Dave went to the race office for confirmation.

Relief was my initial reaction to the news that we wouldn't be racing in these terrible conditions, but then I felt disappointed because I was, after all, there to race. Nevertheless the race organisers made a tough but sensible decision. Having won the first 3 stages I also took the overall race victory :)

Our thoughts quickly turned to getting home so we booked new flights before dashing to the podium and then driving the long way to Munich airport avoiding the flooding around Salzburg. The rain didn't stop lashing down until we were cruising at 25,000 feet above Munich!

Now I am warm and dry in sunny England. Next stop: National Marathon Championships, Selkirk, Scotland on Saturday :) This will be my first marathon race in England for a few years and I'm pretty excited :D

Thanks for following. Have fun!

Sal :)

Lasting memory: Alpen Tour 2013

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Alpen Tour Trophy: Stage 3 without waterproof shorts ;)

Opening the curtains this morning and not seeing rain was, well, quite a shock! It actually threw me: what to wear!? For a brief moment I actually thought it'd be more simple if it just kept raining, but that was short lived ;)

Wearing the Race Leader Jersey brings the advantage of a front row start, allowing a little longer to make my final decision on the day's attire and an opportunity to avoid the usual scrum during the neutralised start. Over the last 2 days of racing I haven't truly felt my strong self; sore muscles made me wonder what was the matter: could it be last week's massive training load; was I getting ill; or was it the waterproof shorts!?

On the first climb I felt good and almost 'normal', confirming my suspicion: the waterproof shorts made me sit in a different position on the saddle - perhaps sliding around a little - and incorporating different muscles. Perhaps I'm wrong, but whatever the reason I felt much better today.

The race was a bit uneventful with a lack of snow and rain - and having feeling in my extremities - but I can live with that. The views were pretty impressive: snow capped mountains, mountain rivers and low cloud; and there were some fun trails: steep loose switchbacks, wet slippery roots and of course the last slick descent on the downhill course to the finish.

Double victory for Alban and me :)
The respite from the rain has been great, but now it's time to get ready for some more wet racing tomorrow - the forecast looks biblical!

One more time I cross my fingers for good luck, fun and reasonable warmth ........