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Sponsorship spotlight: After the highs comes the lows

October 03, 2014   ·  
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You would think that after racing for 7 solid straight days in Italy covering 440km and climbing 16000 metres that I would be happy to see the back of my bike for a while! But it is not to be, I am not sure if it’s anti climax, but I do know that the lack of structure, goals and pinning number on to my bike left me feeling the blues …

 

But first let’s go back to Castlenovo Ne’ Monti, it was the starting town for the Appeninica, a 7 gruelling mtb stage race held in the Appennine mountain range in the north west of Italy. A stone throw from Imola and Modena. A 14 euros train and bus journey from Bologna airport. 14 euros for a 100 or so miles of public transport. Let’s put that in perspective, as when I came back in the uk, I flew in to Stanstead and it cost me £56 to take the train back to Didcot, including an impromptu change of tube service due to a station being shut, an argument with a tube worker who did not like me pointing out to him that he was being rude to a passenger after just asking for direction due to the station being shut all of a sudden. Without forgetting a mile walk through London trudging my bike bag and the world longest train journey from Paddington to Didcot taking on just about every single train station known to man! I struggle to see how they can justify asking us to take public transport when, let’s be honest, it’s just a drama to do so! On the other end, the journey in Italy required me to take a fast train (Marconi express, it carries its name well, do not try to drink coffee whilst travelling in it) from airport to train station, a walk across a couple of platform whilst buying my ticket on an app (very easy service to use, giving me enough time to order a slice of pizza and coffee from shop), and a very helpful crew from the bus station pointing me in the right direction to take the bus. 14 euros, without any drama. I just leave this here! 

 

Anyway back to the race, had a few mechanicals (puncture, broken chain) a few spills (one of those with my bike using my head to break its fall resulting in a broken helmet), some new made friends, catching up with some old friends and mostly being part of a big, slightly weird family (they call it the Appeninica family, and you can read about it if you head to the challengedman.WordPress.com). I went there with the intention of finishing in the top 20, and I made it up to 18th. Unlike the transalp, this was very technical up and down requiring me to muster my inner Nino Schurter, with the staying power of your mother in law (only kidding, I like my mother in law, but I needed a joke in this). The trails were tough and the competitors around me were also tough and made me work every single km ridden. And to be honest, I think the result is a very fair reflection of where I am right now with my skills and ability, no hard luck story as everyone will have suffered a few spills or mechanicals issues throughout the race resulting in time lost, as a matter of fact, one of my good friend was lying in 3rd place in my category going to the last stage, and he had an off due to a front wheel breaking causing him to pull out of the race altogether. Imagine that, 30 minutes shy of being on the podium of an international mtb event and you crash out. Heartbreaking. But Mark is a strong rider and his time will come I am sure. 

 

Another great aspect of stage races is the bond you form with other riders. And because this event is limited to a 150 riders, you get to mingle with the top riders who are quite happy to help out (I broke a bottle cage on my bike, and the team of the leading rider Diego Arias (a runner in the world marathon champs in 2021) were only too happy to give me one. 9th wave cycling (who potentially make the best carbon wheels) were happy to offer you coffees or have a chat with you, Naïma Madlen (leading female rider) would welcome you on the finishing line with a fist bump and a hug, none of them were too important to not share their time with yours. And mostly your friends were happy to share their/your success or failure without judging! It was great to have such a close community. 

 

A couple of weeks after I came back in the uk I helped leading an organised ride amongst members of South Moreton Boxing Club who decided to take on the challenge of riding the full lengths of the Ridgeway in 36 hours raising awareness for cancer research. 87 miles of road, not a task to be taken lightly. Most of the riders completed the course (2 pulled out due to injuries at beginning of day 2 (I must stress they were lack of conditioning injuries rather than me leading them down to their demises  with crash due to poor leading skills))! It was actually on my bucket list to ride the full lengths of the Ridgeway, and I am glad to have done it and to have helped others doing so also. They are allready talking about other challenges and the words Spartan and Race are being muttered. Another huge task, but as per usual, they will rise to the occasion. 

 

Since then, well like I have said, I have hit a bit of a lull, when your life is so structured as mine has been for the last 12 months with certain goals, it is very difficult to keep, I wouldn’t said positive, but, I do feel (felt) a bit lost for a while and had a massive come down after the ridgeway ride. 

 

But now, I had a meeting with Oli last week end, and with new goals and aims for next year, I feel reenergise and ready to hit the winter months with a new excited mindset. My journey with mountain biking is definitely not over, and with a new training plan that will hopefully take me up another notch I cannot wait to see what next years bring. French champs anyone?

 

… Still to come this year, the first race of the winter brass monkey series where we started this blog at the start of the year. 

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Katie Range
Katie Range

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