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So close yet so far away!

June 06, 2014   ·  
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29 minutes can feel like an eternity, but in a 12-hour race, it’s actually minimal! It’s a mechanical, a puncture, a fall or just your saddle bag spilling its content all over the track. Or, all of them! 29 minutes is what myself and my race partner missed out on the podium by. A marginal amount, but a huge amount none the less. Could nearly taste the podium!

Last month was the first month of the year where the extent of progress was actually quantifiable.

I started the month with a short format XC race with Central XC at Checkendon. I stepped up to veterans class for my first time to make it a more beneficial to my long term goals as they race for longer and further, and with me specialising over longer distance races it made more sense. Sometime you have got to sacrifice short term success for long term goals. I could be competitive in open classes, but definitely will only hope for midfield mediocrity in vets classes (most of them are seasoned racers, either pro or may as well be), and this is where I finished, midfield. But, I did consistent lap times, maintained the effort without tiring and was getting more confident with my lines through the day. So, a positive experience. I even got to see Evie Richard’s, the current female World XC Champion. Not very often I can say I have raced the same tracks as a world champion! 

On to the next event! 

My biggest one since the turn of the year, we categorise our races into A, B and C races. We pick 2 A races, mine are the French Marathon Championship in June and the Appeninica stage race in Italy in September. We try our best in the others but, we don’t aim to pick for those! 

This 12-hour race is a B race in my season. I am in good racing shape but still expected to improve a bit for it. My team mate was John speed, the seasoned marathon racer I talked about in an earlier blog. We named ourself THE BREXIT BROTHERS, perfect name for a Franco English team! 

The first 6 hours went great, we were up to 8th and managing our efforts well, we decided to go in the tactics on of 1 lap in, 1 lap out, giving each of us about 42 to 45 minutes to feed, sort bottles out etc! From the 6 hour mark it was quite obvious that some teams were starting to struggle around us! Whilst we weren’t going as quick as earlier in the day, our lap time were still within 2 minutes of our fastest, not bad over a 42/45 minutes lap. 

Last 3 hours, we started to do the math, will we get 15 or 16 laps in? Could be the difference between a podium or not. John went out on his last lap at about 22.30, all I told him at the transition point was to just give me as much time as he could for my last (remember we hadn’t spoken to each other since 12 PM bar for the message that we were passing Nancy when under the gazebo for each other). He went out and emptied himself on the course, very proud of him for doing so! Passed me “the baton” setting me out on my last lap. I had 48 minutes till the cut off at midnight, when only a completed lap would count. 

My first and only lap in the dark earlier in the race was 47 minutes, no room for error! Legs were feeling good, I had fuelled good and was operating last lap on Coca Cola and caffeine gels. I decided that I would just press on the pedals until I got to the 7 miles marker, 3/4 of a mile before the end. No point of worrying or looking at clock before that, and no point pacing my effort either. It’s all in, if I don’t succeed, I will literally tear myself and bike in 2 trying. Took risk, scrapped handle bars on trees , even nearly missed a turn, we only use lights on us or bike for seeing and marker in a mostly wooded area, can be spooky! Got to the marker, realised I had still 5 minutes left, it’s an easy flown run home, bar a nasty little ramp a few hundred metres from the line! Crossed the line at 23.57.35 PM, my last lap was a 45 minutes lap, my earliest in the day was 42. In 6 hours of racing each we both completed 62 miles (100km) of off road racing at xc pace pretty much. Putting us into 5th placed. Giving us belief that we can be competitive in similar level events. Best race day on the bike. Conditioning is good and form is getting there. So happy!

The great thing about pairs racing is very similar to what HARKN provide as a service. You give employee a platform to express how they feel in a safe, non judgemental environment. Having a partner allows us to race hard knowing that we have got a team mate that will have our back if something goes wrong! Harkn help company’s to support their employees, and John and I helped each other!

So pleased with the result 3 weeks on still!

Since then I have ridden my first solo 100 miler on the road, completed a mini 3-day camp where I achieved my fastest 100km on an off road MTB ride! Legs are great, form is coming good and I can’t wait to head to France later this month. 

Meanwhile, today is my last prep race at Basingstoke in the regional xc champs in the southern xc. It’s short format, and I am using it as a good race to practice skills. It’s a stiff course with some meaty climbs. Should suit me better than the race early month. But only aiming for mid div at best and consistent lap time!

I hope you all enjoyed the jubilee week end. And I can’t wait to share next month adventure with you all!

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Katie Range
Katie Range

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