Fitness

Winter series podium continues winning streak

In my spare time I rather enjoy being out and about on my mountain bike. Competing at a region level i’ve been fortunate enough to make the local news quite consistently over the past few months with my race successes.

Taking the Senior Female Champion win at Mud, Sweat and Gears was definitely the highlight of my 2017 summer season, and I’ve managed to continue this success at the Kings Lynn MTB 2017/18 Winter series.

A back to basics MTB winter race series for novices through to seasoned riders, the Kings Lynn MTB 2017/18 Winter series takes place across two counties, taking in some old favourites and fresh single track over four rounds.

Above: Just about managing to keep in-front of fellow racer Alison Goss

Having had three successful races in the series already, I was keen to finish off the season with a race win at the fourth and final round which took place at Shouldham Warren. Starting on the front row with yet another good start I found herself battling for the race lead with fellow racer Alison Goss who pushed me all the way to the finish. Luckily my consistent pace allowed me to break free and ride into the arena to secure first place, and more excitingly another series champion win.

Above: Taking the King’s Lynn MTB Winter Series championship

My ambition is to continue to train and race over the 2018 Mud, Sweat and Gears season with the aim (hopefully) to be faster and stronger to compete in the 2019 HSBC UK National Cross Country Series.

I’d best get training!

Fitness

Be Prepared

I’m quite an organised person. It stresses me out if i’m late for an appointment, if i’m lost when trying to get somewhere or if the house is untidy. Therefore it’s an absolute must for me to prepare the day before a race so I know, in my mind, that I’m all set to go. Heck, I can’t rest easy the evening before until it’s all ready. Most mountain bike races are on a Sunday and I normally have to leave quite early to ensure I’m at the course early enough to practice.

I think it’s the worry of forgetting something silly like my helmet or my cycling shoes, in the rush of packing in the morning, that unsettles me.

So preparation is key! A clear mind means more focus for winning the race, hopefully! Here’s a run down of how a prepare for a race…

Bike

I give the bike a quick once over, making sure it’s race ready. This includes making sure the nuts and bolts are tight – having your handlebars move halfway through an obstacle is not what you need! I make sure the brakes work and are not rubbing, and of course make sure the tyres have air. Exact tyre pressure will be assessed again in the morning of the race depending on the terrain. Bumpy grass or muddy wet trails for instance will require a lower pressure than a hard, dry and flat surface.

I also make sure I have my race number. If you’re taking part in a series of races you are allocated a number on your first race which you must keep throughout. Failure to do so means a new number and a charge!

Kit 

Time to pack my big bag of kit. This list will differ depending on time of year. In essence less kit for summer races, lots of extra warm/waterproof kit for winter races. My basic kit bag contains the following:

Cycling shoes with overshoes if the weather is wet or cold

Helmet with buff underneath to cover my ears if its cold or particularly windy

Gloves normally I pack 2 pairs: full fingered and half fingered in the summer and a choice of full fingers thin and full fingered thick in the winter

Glasses (clear or sunglasses – although 90% of the time I race in clear due to a mixture of light levels during the race – wooded areas vs. open areas)

Towel for drying off after a wet race and it’s a useful aid for discretely changing out of your kit after a race too!

Dry clothes for after the race – normally jog bottoms, a t-shirt and a hoody – something warm and comfy. Add a warm coat, scarf, gloves and hat for winter races

Spare socks just in case – I hate wearing wet socks!

It’s abit sad, but my kit prep goes as far as laying out my clothes that I’m going to put on in the morning on the floor ready to go.

Nutrition 

Food and energy is key when you’re racing, even for a shorter 1.5 hour race. For this length of race you may only need gels and electrolytes, but for 2+ hrs you may need to consider food also.

Most races I compete in are the shorter variety so I normally pack a gel for each lap (normally 4 or 5). I also pack enough energy drink for half a bottle per lap (drinking is important for me during racing as I often cramp up if I don’t drink enough. A banana comes in handyabout 30 minutes before the start, and a protein recovery drink for afterwards.

Some like to pack food for eating after the race too. I personally skip this bit as my stomach takes a while to settle after a race and I don’t normally feel like eating until at least 3-4 hours after.

Car 

I’ve almost finished prep, honest! Once the above is all done I pack everything into the car. Pop the back seats down, slot the front wheel off the bike and it fits in like a dream. I also at this point make sure I have an idea of how long it’ll take me to get the the venue and set my alarms accordingly. I like 3 alarms split 15 minutes apart for getting up in the morning.

Carb loading 

Now the last bit – carb loading. Yummy! Now all the above is done I can finally relax into my Saturday evening knowing everything is set to go for the next day. All I need is a good carb loading meal. Pasta is normally my choice with a side of garlic bread, veg and chicken breast.

Now it’s time for a good nights sleep…