Britiah Champion- woohoo!

Kerry MacPhee | Monday 12th October, 2015

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Iím going to continue with my off-season catch up of all things overlooked during the mayhem of the cycling season and finally add my British Champs report to my Braveheart blog! And this is probably the easiest blog Iíll have to write because I won! I won a stripey jersey this year- still buzzing even 5 months down the line, haha! Everything always seems rosy and happy when top steps and gold medals are the chat. So as with nearly every victory blog ever written (the start is usually something about being ill, feeling tired, work being busy, training not going so well) I didnít have any expectations at all going into this race. Iíd been a little ill after the dentist accidentally injected something very hot and fiery and painful into my cheek, which subsequently became infected and required 2 courses of antibiotics (soo glad Iím part of the Institute of Sport now as they were able to refer me to a specialist to help get it sorted) so training had been a bit of a dead duck and I wasnít feeling particularly mentally strong either. I had raced this course 2 years previously when I first dabbled in mountain biking and had finished 4th but way off the top 3 girls. On the Wednesday before race day, coach Paul, Isla (Short) and I went out to recce part of the course and get a feel for what we should expect on the Sunday. The recce was fine, just steady and controlled but it was good to practice some of the techy descents. Sally Bingham who is a phenomenal marathon racer was due to defend her jersey and Lee Craigie was also on the start line post XC retirement. There was no doubt that Sally would be well up with the men and Lee would not be racing if she didnít want a win too and having just spent time in the Pyrenees, the chat was that ďshe would be flyingĒ. Fair enough! Also on the start line was Isla who is just moving up to the longer distances and a handful of other English girls who had the potential to challenge for a podium spot too. I was definitely super relaxed for this race. Iím an XC racer after all so there was no expectation and I was able to remove my usual level of self-imposed pressure too- it really did feel like it was going to be one big training ride. I guess the goal posts changed a little though when word got out that Sally was ill and would not be startingÖ.HmmmÖ. interestingÖ maybe a step on the block wouldnít be an unrealistic aspirationÖ. Having raced this before and learnt some of the terrain the Wednesday before too, I formulated a wee plan in my head. I decided to start the race pretty hard but without going too much into the red so that I would get ahead of any slow descenders or anyone who went hard and would pop- the logic behind this was that the descents were long and you could lose a fair bit of time on them, or conversely make up time. I also knew that I had to be super disciplined and really hold back just a little as a marathon is a very long race! The second thing I thought about was the 2 long road sections in the race and I figured that if I got ahead near the start, I would likely have fast people around me on the road sections who I could try and get a draft off. So, for fear of rambling on about how wild the weather was, how many sips of my bottle I had, what my nutrition was (fudge bars taped to my top tube FYI), how brutal the climbs were (so glad I had a 30t on the bike), how exposed the road sections are (I managed to catch the group ahead both times and get a wee tow), I somehow executed my plan perfectly, got ahead of the rest of the girls on the first climb and stayed away. I wasnít entirely sure if I was indeed ahead of the other girls at first but the number of men who asked me ďare you the leading ladyĒ with a slight quiver in their voice reassured me that there were no other women ahead. I really enjoyed the race. I felt strong, I felt comfortable and I didnít feel any pressure. But did I feel all those things because I was ahead or was I ahead because I felt all those things? Not entirely sure but itís a feeling Iím aiming to replicate a little more often than I currently do. I still canít believe I am a British Champion- amazing! My jersey is still pristine white but I will definitely be gracing a marathon race with its presence before the time comes to battle for it again :-) Paul McGreal from Durty Events put on yet another fantastic race and Iím looking forward to coming back to race again next year. Thank you for reading

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