‘Let’s see what all this enduro fuss is about’, I thought, where you get timed on the fun bit and can climb at your leisure. ‘Sounds perfect for me!’, I said. However, this photo pretty much sums up my first ever enduro race courtesy of the Southern Enduro team last Sunday. It was like I’d forgotten how to ride my bike!
Have you experienced this? You’re normally a pretty good rider, you’ve got some skills. You know how to work the berms, look ahead and not brake on wet roots and rock … but get to race day and suddenly there’s tape either side of the obstacles.You have friendly photographers sitting in the woods and jolly spectators cheering you on. Competitors fly over stuff that all of a sudden looks impossible, and you just gotta put a foot down! During practice I stood looking at this rock garden for about 15 minutes. Well now, that did me no good at all!
Dave Williams making me look like I mean business
Aside from the fact that I didn’t ride anywhere near my best, I actually really enjoyed myself. The whole event, as promised, was friendly and welcoming. Racers chatted away to me during practice, comparing notes on the sections. The Southern Enduro Head Honcho came to say hi. The other women I was racing with waited for me at the end of each timed section so we could all climb back up the hill together. And I got a couple of photos of me with *actual race face*. (Just take a look at my Instagram feed – I normally can’t help but smile when I see the photographers in a race!)
Francie Arthur, a Torvelo test team rider, won the women’s category and I was only (ahem) 3 minutes down on her in 5th (and last) place. That gives me a solid base for improvement. I think a little race experience will help rid the ‘obstacle heebie jeebies’ (it’s a thing) and I also need to make time to get out on the mountain bike more. I’ve made it easy enough to fit in riding with the juniors, but alas, we’re not quite at the stage where we can all shred the trails together. Yet 🙂
Yesterday I found myself on the top spot of the podium, for the first time ever! Well, not including those stolen moments when you think no one’s looking and you have a quick jump on. You know, you pretend you’re Rachel Atherton, stick your arms in the air and make a fake crowd noise with your mouth. No? Just me?
It was Round 5 of the Southern XC series. I’d missed Round 4 due to be away with the fam so it seemed ages since I raced. One the whistle went, we were off and I managed to stay with one of the Vets for a while, until she dropped me on a climb and I never saw her again. As the women all go off together in these races, it’s always a bit of a job to try and keep tabs on who’s in my category and I had no idea where the other girls were.
I didn’t actually see many other riders the rest of the race, apart from a Fun guy
who’d stopped on a climb for a breather and then a handful of Sport guys warming up (how is it they pass me chatting away to each other at break neck speed and I’m slogging away, chuffing like Thomas the Tank Engine?) Having a bit of race experience, I knew to get my head down and push on. I knew I was struggling on any hill (I’d like to say it was the heat, but it was only down to that a tiny bit!) so had to keep up the pace on the singletrack.
I rode over the finish line and had to wait to watch for the other girls to see where I’d come, which all added to the excitement! As I stood on the podium, Roo asked to join me, which was lovely. After all, one of the reason’s I race is to inspire our little juniors. It was great to hear him loudly telling everyone “my mummy winned over all the others. Icing on the cake was it happened to be the regional championships, so you’re looking at the Southern Region Open Women’s Champ. Boom.
For me, ‘family cycling’ isn’t just about riding with the juniors on board, or encouraging them to cycle too, it’s also about sharing the love of two wheels with the older members of my extended team. Today was Round 4 of the Southern XC race series, which Mr P and I compete in. My big sister had already booked to take us all away to stay in a treehouse in the Forest of Dean and seeing as the race was in Winchester, that ruled out a sneaky couple of hours away! Instead I got to enjoy taking big sis and her fella to ride the Verderers Trail – only her 2nd time ever on a mountain bike.
Big sis was amazing and rode the whole course with determination. She didn’t think she did so well as it didn’t come naturally to her, but I had to remind her that I’ve been riding for 14 years now and my bike feels like an extension of me! After coaching her with a few tips, I reminded her to trust the bike – it was built to ride over this stuff – when she promptly reminded me that she wasn’t 🙂
Having two juniors means that time on the mountain bike is precious, and Mr P and I usually spend any child free time racing round as fast as we can. Today was a lovely reminder that mountain biking isn’t (just) about speed, racing and Strava times, but it’s also about riding your bike through the trees, bouncing over rocks, railing berms and laughing with your family. Lovely stuff.
I have just had cause to write to my local councillor for the first time, and it’s about a very important matter. There are plans to build a new bmx track on a park down the road! I’m eager to support this and really hope that it’s everything a child (and their mum!) could wish for:
“I would like to say how very excited we are at the prospect of a new bmx track in Wroughton! My children (aged 1 and 3) and I visited the park at Maunsell Way for the first time yesterday. Although I have lived in Wroughton since 2007, we are riding out to parks further from home.
Although only 3, my son has been riding his bike (no stabilisers) since he was 2 and raced straight over to the ramp park there, only to find it wasn’t very user friendly, well, for a 3 year old!
I wondered what the plans were for that? As you can see, the ground on the entry and exit to each ramp has worn away so much that you’d have to pop your front wheel up when riding up. Something a skilled rider would manage no problem, but children starting out? Decidedly tricky. I’m sure that this is a popular feature with the young Danny McCaskill’s
though, so this leads me on to the proposed bmx track…
From the plans (and I know these are basic) it seem as if it will simply be an oval track. Are you able to give me a bit more detail? I so very much hope that it will be something more along the lines of the bmx pump track shown here
As you will read, it has brought a new lease of life to the area. I know so many Wroughton families that are desperate for a riding facility for their children and this sort of track would get so much use! I almost want to go out and buy myself a new bmx bike in anticipation!
I look forward to your reply and if there’s anything I can do to help, please let me know!”