|The evolution of biking at the opening ceremony|
3 Weeks after finishing the 6 days of Raid the North Extreme in Canada, I found myself on the start line of the Long Qualifier at the Mountain Bike Orienteering World Championships in Italy. I was a bit nervous that my legs might not make it up the hilly terrain after such a short rest period (filled with some less than restful activities), but an hour and a half later my concerns were put to rest! I qualified for the A final, coming 16th in my heat.
I was really looking forward to the Long Final given my training focus for this year. I started reasonably early which was good in the 38 plus degree heat that developed as the day went on. I set off and felt strong on the climb to the second control. Planning ahead things were going well, until en route to 4 I found some tape across the track I planned to take....this threw me, it really shouldn't have, but I decided I wasn't where I thought I was and lost time (around 5mins).
|Rehydrating after riding in 40 degrees!|
|Riding through spectator in the Relay|
As I failed spectactularly to get my head together in the Middle Distance I'm going to brush over this and onto the relay. Emily had a stormer bringing us back in 3rd position, Helen handed over in 10th in with a pack of riders. I had a solid but not spectacular ride to bring us back in 9th, our best team result! I was still after that clean nav and fast ride that I felt I had in me and there was one more chance, the sprint distance.
|Riding the steps from the spectator control in the relay|
Control 13 I took the longer road route which probably cost 30s, but control 14,15 and 16 which were packed tightly together on a steep hillside with a very dense path network (head in a blender time) went very smoothly - concentrating head on due to head to head racing I think...Then this happened:
|Being patched up after the sprint...|
I finished 35th, so my second best World Champs result to date :-). I will never know for sure where I could have finished and there is little point in guessing, but judging by the splits of the two girls I was racing I was looking at somewhere between 21st and 31st.
I am strangely most happy with my sprint result, it was the race I wanted, clean navigation and fast riding! I plan to concentrate on the nav a little more to bring it up to my new found ability to ride fast...
|Mile 38 Kielder 100|
Before crashing I had been really looking forward to the Kielder 100 mountain bike race which took place the following Saturday. I debated all week whether I would go, and as I could bend my finger enough to hold a handlebar by Friday I decided it was worth a shot. No 40 degrees this week, instead it was wet, windy and muddy, ah back in Britain! I set off and amazingly my legs were still able to go, even with the wound dressing/bandage/gaffa tape wrapped around my left knee. I learnt pretty quickly about getting up early enough to get a good position on the start line (there was a BIG queue at the first single track as I had been lazy in getting up at 5am). Still, I was on target for around 12hrs for the first 3hrs (good time for a woman in the conditions). I stopped off for a bit of food, bit of a mistake as it meant I got off the bike. When I got going again my knee didn't work quite as well, I didn't panic as I was still moving reasonably well all be it slightly backwards through the field! At 33miles we went through a water stop, again I paused...then came a climb and the start of the end. After stopping I could no longer ride comfortably uphill and when the opportunity came at 38miles I should have called it a day, however I continued to 53miles. After 44 miles I could ride nothing that required power from my left leg (everything excpet the fun singletrack) so it was a rather slow 2.5hrs from 44miles to the finish.
This was my 3rd ever pure MTB race and I had been dreading the singletrack, expecting to hold up a lot of 'proper' mountain bikers. To my surprise I could keep up on singletrack and left some people behind on the downhills! I also loved it! Time to do a bit more MTB racing I think :-)!
And a note on British weather: my brake pads were gone after about 25miles, I would have needed a LOT more pairs than 2 spares for this race! MTB is expensive here... And when I took the gaffa tape off my knee I found my wound dressing packed with mud, it gets everywhere!!!