Last week I received an email from BBC Surrey radio asking if I would like to come in to talk on their morning show. Initially I was reluctant. My success in live broadcasting has been somewhat, er, interesting. After winning at "24/12" (in July) as a pair I was interviewed with my race partner Ant. Somehow the only thing that came into our heads, which then inadvertently came out of our mouths... and then got published online was, "It would have been good if there had been more opportunities to eat ice cream on the course!". Huh?
After much thought I decided that I would agree to go on the radio, but that this time - to avoid embarrassment and make sure I said what I wanted to - I would prepare my answers in advance. Like a pro I emailed the news editor a brief about the race and a link to my blog. I made a list of everything I wanted to say... OK, I knew that I was going to shake with fear but it was radio - no one would notice... Most importantly, I would get to say a big public "thank you" to everyone, making the nervousness worthwhile.
The night before the interview I dreamt of what I wanted to say.
"...this race would not have been possible without a few fantastic people who gave, not because they had to, but because they wanted to. After I qualified in May, 'the Worlds' was just an impossible dream. Out of my reach financially - in terms of the cost of trip and lost earnings, physically from lack of training and lack of skills on rocky terrain and lastly, logistically. How do we get team plus kit to set up a pit in Australia - we normally take a van load of kit to a race!?
Initially I had contacted some of the big players in the bike world for assistance. The same answer of 'no' was repeated in various disguises.
I was almost at the point of not going when things started to change.....help came in abundance not from where I was looking but from my friends and local contacts"
I woke in the morning slightly less scared, confident that I would not talk about ice cream!
I arrived at the radio station in good time and waited, expecting someone to run through what was going to happen.
Suddenly a lady appeared, "This way.. you are on next.....". My heart jumped into my mouth - what?? I found myself whisked into a room where a massive green mike was stuffed in front of my face. Opposite sat a man chatting into his mike, he looked nothing like Frazier Crane - I was thrown before I started!
I'm not sure if he knew that I had raced at the world champs... He was certainly not keeping to my carefully prepared mental script. Almost from the start we were off at a tangent and heading fast down a path that I did not know how to get out of. He wanted to talk about chaffing and saddle discomfort and before I knew it, the words "chamois cream" came out of my mouth and reverberated around the room - what is it I have with cream and live interviews!? I mentally screwed up my crib sheet and threw it over my shoulder. Chamois cream, although an acceptable norm in the cycling world, must seem at best odd, but at worst downright pervy to the rest of the world. I watched in horror as the interviewer latched onto this concept and asked if it was like "Anchor squirty cream", miming his imagined method of application. I blushed - a lot.
My perfect opportunity to say "thank you" disappeared as I desperately tried not to say the words "minty arse lard" or "bum butter" on live radio. In that respect I succeeded - much to my relief - and the interview was brought to a rapid close to get another interview in as the show was running late, but I couldn't help feeling that I had failed spectacularly because I had not managed to say "thank you".
I hope that this list below, of people who cared enough about me to make my impossible dream a reality, know how grateful I am. Without you I would never have reached the airport let alone 4th in the my category at the world championships.
THANK YOU TO..Neil Hammerton, a local businessman and fellow mountain biker wanted to help us. His company Natterbox sponsored us to go to Australia as Team Natterbox. Not only that, but his product (voice hosting) would act as my virtual switchboard allowing me to go out and train/go abroad knowing that all my phone calls would be redirected intelligently to where ever I wanted.
At the same time Peter Flynn, a friend and owner of Candela Capital, offered his help too, saying that I had helped him in the past and he wanted nothing in return - just for me to "go for it". Actually he said, "if you don't win I want my money back", but I think he was joking..?
Petra cycles from Oxted, my local bike shop have been incredible all year. Chris, the talented mechanic, always on hand to look after my bike. I'm a typical girl in that I'm not good at spanners and grease - Chris has been ever patient in keeping my bike running smoothly throughout the race season and dropped everything to prep my new race bike to make it work for me - only a local bike shop can really get to know you...
AQR.(A quick release holidays) Ian and Kate potter have been my guardian angels from the start. Not only did Kate inspire me to race in the first place but they have been generous with their advice and experience. They run AQR, a guiding company in Luchon, southern France and came to my rescue when I realised that my skills were vastly inadequate to ride the technical terrain at Mt Stromlo. A week under Ian's tuition gave me the confidence I needed to conquer the rocks. Not only that, but they also lent me Kate's designed for the purpose, prototype, 24 hour race bike - a Cotic KP 24 which I had ridden all week in Luchon and fell in love with. It is the perfect 24 hour race bike. (please make more Cy, it really was fantastic!)
Exposure Lights. Rory Hitchens lent me the brand new 6 Pack light and Joystick with piggyback batteries galore, giving me light throughout the 12 hours of darkness, without a recharge. The brightness of these lights was awesome, not only causing possums to fall out of trees (yes really) but allowing me to ride confidently without fear of hidden rocks, corners, spiders or snakes.
Clare Fone at Westminster Physiotherapy and Pilates Centre for allowing me to take lots of leave to train and indulge my dream of cycling at the Worlds.
Sudhir Daya, Physiotherapist at WPPC, who helped me finely tune my core with a set of exercises that made every inch of my body shake.
For Goodness Shakes for their recovery drink, allowing me to train 'the day after'.
Maxxis for providing amazing tires that gripped, rolled and bounced in exactly the right amounts.
Richard Sterry, fellow vet solo endurance mountain biker, who helped me with advice, lists and logistical planning.
Oxted MTB, the group of people I ride with at home. The best riding buddies anywhere! They tweeted, face booked and texted all through the race - keeping me going in my dark moments.
My girlfriends and our families who avidly followed my progress, offering support and encouragement through out the year and the race. In particular Simon's family for learning how to use facebook and twitter, blasting them into the scary realms of social networking ;-)
Ducan for making me ride every Tuesday, for making my tires tubeless with minimal swearing and mess and willingly using my pink flowery screwdriver for any of my diy catastrophes.
My Kids for tolerating me being distracted for the last 6 months and for believing that I could do it. For wanting to come to Australia to help wash my legs and dust my bike, but also for understanding that their school work came first...
Ant Jordan, long time friend and the other Natterbox race team solo rider for making our trip to Australia an absolute hoot. The most cheerful and upbeat 24 hour racer anywhere. An inspiration.
Carole Armstrong, the best Pit Mum in the Business. I have never had bite sized banana and warm tea fed to me at 4 in the morning with such care.
Team GB for being the loudest, most enthusiastic pit crew in the solo arena.
Deborah Reynolds, owner of Magnolia Cottage Canberra. The best rented accommodation in ACT by far, who lent us all the camping stuff we needed for the race weekend - saving our excess baggage allowance.
Jolyon Welsh, acting British High Commissioner, for supporting us and the GB team at the race and to Simon, his staff member and bike mechanic, for pre race bike building even though his wife was expecting.
Steve at Provision for our superb race kit - it takes a real bike pro to produce that kind of race quality clothing, at the price and in the turnaround times we needed.
Kalibizar of Oxted for the fabulous team tops - and Ned in particular, who put in so much personal effort to make sure we looked right as a team.
Lastly to Simon, my Partner and Pit Manager, who had no idea what he was taking on when he met me:-) for embracing all my bonkers plans and enhancing every one of them.