Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Alpen Tour Trophy Pre Race

After months of dreaming about a European road trip the TORQ Performance team has made its way back through the Eurotunnel onto mainland Europe. On Thursday Josh and I will take to the start line of stage 1 of the Alpen Tour Trophy 4 day mountain bike stage race. http://www.mtbfestival.at/

First off we stopped by Offenburg to watch the German XC World Cup and to do some training in the Black Forest region. The weather was perfect during the 3 days we were in the area with not a cloud in sight and temperatures reaching the 30’s. Watching the World Cup was fun but it did leave me wishing that I’d raced. Dalby is definitely the best organised World Cup I’ve attended and has a good atmosphere but can’t challenge the amazing atmosphere and awesome course that Offenburg offer. Beer flowing, hot dogs frying, commentators at each technical sector, and a compact course which is easy and quick to walk around for spectators makes this a race I certainly hope to ride again next year. Following a day riding the World Class Marathon loop which had some world class fireroad and not much singletrack we pointed the van south east to Schladming, Austria.

There was some World Class views from the Black Mountain marathon course

Our German home for a few days

After a relatively smooth journey (if you ignore the rather narrow German motorway lanes and random Police search) we made it to our destination. This afternoon we’ve spent our time exploring the town, having fun on some awesome technical steep trails right from our doorstep (including the World Cup downhill course which the stage race uses in a couple of days), and eating a pasta dinner for the third day in a row!

Over the next couple of days hopefully they’ll be some video and photos to upload, keep tuned for the very latest news!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Southern Championships 15 May 2011

After a few good weeks training I was a little more confident and motivated going into this race. The race was to be held at Wasing Park where I narrowly missed out on a British XC podium last year. A few changes to the track meant there was even more rooty singletrack made up of loose loamy soil which would test riders ability to ride smooth and also riders sprint power out of the many tight corners.

After being gridded on the front row I made a good start leading the race around the first lap. I set a reasonably high pace but tried to ride at a comfortable heart rate to avoid blowing later in the race. Leading the lap meant I had a clear view of the track and could pick the lines I wanted to ride. By the end of the first lap there was a group of 4 riders at the front including Ade Lansley, Steve James, Tim Dunford, and myself, with Billy Joe Whenman just a few second further behind.

Over the next lap Ade and myself shared the work and created a decent gap over the chasing riders. The pace mid race felt comfortable and I started to figure out where I might attack and was looking for any weaknesses Ade was showing. Over the next couple of laps it appeared that Ade was slowing on the climbs but they were early on in the lap, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to attack that early on and ride alone to the end.

Going into the last lap we were still together, it was a hard track to drink on so a gel each lap kept up the carbohydrate intake. A banoffee guarana gel at the start of the last lap I hoped would give me that extra kick I needed. Once the early climbs were complete I put in several attacks through the singletrack but it proved difficult to build any time without using too much energy.

I kept the pace high though hoping it would cause my rival to make a mistake and with about 5 minutes of the race remaining that’s what happened. A small mistake was enough of an opportunity for me to grab a few seconds lead and that’s all that was needed to take the 2011 Southern Championship title.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Gorrick 100 Enduro

With the sun shining and miles of dusty singletrack the Gorrick 100 Enduro would be a fantastic day out on the bike. Its always enjoyable to return to the Gorrick events, unfortunately I don’t get the chance to race many of these, however with no Houffalize World Cup on the schedule it meant there was an open weekend. With my desire to race more marathon races this year the Gorrick 100 fitted perfectly and the full 7 laps distance would be my target.

On the start line there was a mix of elite cross country cyclists and several successful endurance mountain bikers included last years 7 lap winner Rory Hitchins. 10 minutes after the start a lead group of 3 had formed including Ian Leitch, Phil Lenney, and myself. On lap 2 Ian increased the pace and his efforts were too much for Phil to follow and he dropped behind. Ian continued at a pace that would be impossible to sustain for the whole 100km marathon so I tried to save energy by following wheels and keeping myself hidden from the wind. There were 3 main climbs all within the first third of the lap, and on the third lap heading into the first of those climbs I gapped Ian. I was sure that he’d catch back on once we reached the next 2 climbs but over the remainder of that lap the gap only increased.

With another 4 laps to complete it would have been nice to have had some company but the excellent Gorrick trails and shouts of support kept me focused. Over those remaining laps I kept a consistent pace with my lap times staying within 2 minutes of each other and built a lead ahead of second of 20 minutes! Well done to Ian and Phil who finished second and third. Im now a happy owner of a rather large trophy, thanks Gorrick!

Fresh after 70 miles of racing!

The TORQ Performance team took several wins and podium finishes across the various race distances, and I won the full 7 lap marathon distance. That was my 4th marathon victory in a row, next marathon race is the UCI S1 classified stage race AlpenTour Trophy in Austria.

Results for today’s race can be found here http://www.timelaps.co.uk/assets/uploads/Gorrick%20Exposure%201000%20Results.pdf

Thanks to Mum for being on bottle duty!