EUROPEAN SOLO 24 HOUR MOUNTAIN BIKE CHAMPIONSHIPS
I woke up feeling a little hung over. It was dark outside. I started to get that awkward feeling that something wasn’t quite right.
I was lying in bed with my partner Simon curled up in front of me, a concerned look on his face. My eyes opened wide. OMG!! If Simon was in front - who the heck was spooning me from behind??! My heart began to pound. My brain started to spin with confusion and a tornado of questions. Last time I checked, surely I was racing at Exposure24, the European 24 hour solo champs in Scotland?
The hazy events of the previous 24 hours started slotting into place.
|ANT KATE AND ANNE COTIC/AQR ENDURANCE TEAM|
|Cotic KP24 plus KCNC and Magura blingness:-)|
Kate’s programme was amazing. Lots of interesting and challenging exercises to improve all areas of fitness and skills - Little did I know how the balancing practice was going to be vital at the beginning of this race. We were led to the start by a piper on foot and It is clearly impossible to blow bag pipes and jog simultaneously - I was nailing this first challenge. I was staying upright as 270 mountain bike racers wobbled at bag pipe dirge pace towards the start.
|The non Jogging Piper|
24 hours is a long race, and determined not to stop in the pits I found a steady comfortable pace. The AQR pit crew were a bit like an automated, cheerful conveyor belt. Food (pork pie with a torq energy gel chaser in Rhubarb and custard was Simons answer to main course and pudding-euk!!), water, mechanics, face clean all in under 15 seconds. I really wouldn't have been surprised if Chloe had added lipstick and mascara on exiting the pits as the final touches! Personal goal number three, tick :-D
At 10 hours in I was comfortably in second place (yes!) and gaining on the leader ....
Lying in bed I shook my head to try and make sense of the remainder of the evening. As tiredness sets in during the later hours of a 24 hour race it is common to hallucinate. I had vague and slightly disturbing recollections of a gorilla drumming in the woods. I was clearly losing the plot- was it possible that I was still out on the course and this bizzare threesome just in my imagination?
"Are you ok?" Simon spoke-oh no!- this (and possibly more worryingly, the drumming gorilla) was real!
|Feeling awful in the pits|
Several hours later I woke up in bed. Hypothermia isn't fun. My heart rate and breathing was still all over the place, I hurt from shivering and my blood pressure was in my boots. On a plus side, the mystery of the extra bodies in the bed were starting to make sense, Not a wild fantasy, merely 1st aid to keep me warm. It was a major relief to know that I hadn't got drunk, or had a sudden lapse of moral character!
My race was over. I was devastated. My disappointment was overwhelming.
At dawn I woke again. I don't know if it was the sunlight, lack of rain or the fact that my core temperature was back to normal but I suddenly wanted, more than anything to get back on my bike. Not because I wanted to get on a podium, but because I wanted to finish the race on my bike, not in bed. My legs felt fresh, I had hands again, I had a grin inducing bike to ride, the best pit crew and team mates ever and I just wanted to be out there with everyone.
I finished upright. Not my original personal goal, but hey, given the circumstances a very important one none the less.
Coming second in Ladies vets category was a bonus. I felt incredibly proud to be standing on the podium wearing my Cotic/AQR team top.
Every race is a learning curve and boy do I keep learning! The first half of the race was faultless (I would have come second in the open ladies 12 hour race had I entered it) , and that is what I am going to take away from exposure 24 2011.
I also learnt how important a good pit crew and team dynamics are to make things run well and also to react quickly if things go wrong.
Thanks to Kate for being an ace coach, Ian for superb mechanical skills, Simon for knowing what I need when I clearly don't have a clue myself, Rachel for being squashed with me and Si in a bed , Chloe and Carole for being the best pit Mums- keeping us all with hot tea and clean legs and James for just doing the right thing and never getting flustered.