The Avengers (Well 1 of anyway)

September 06, 2022   ·  

Date: 3rd of September 

Location: Castlenovo Ne’ Monti (Italy)

Status: Excited


That is it, we are on the eve on my other A race for the year, the Apenninica, a 7 day marathon mtb race held in the Apennine mountain range in northern Italy, not to far from Bologna. This region as well as being home to this event, is also synonyms with motor sport racing. We are a stone throw away from Imola (where the Italian F1 Grand Prix is held) and the area is littered with numerous motorsport museum. So if you are into Michael Schumacher and the Scuderia this is the place to come! 


But let me take my holiday rep hat off and focus on the task ahead. Or in this case last month adventures! 


Where was I? 


I remember … As far as August was, bar the current drought hitting the uk, my month largely focused on getting some last bits of training in my legs before taking in the Welsh champs at Margam park at the end of the month. There was the British MTB marathon champs held in Kielder Forest in Northumberland (this sport is great in the way that I get to visit a lot of places in the uk whilst doing my hobby), but I decided to give it a swerve this year. Mostly due to the fact that as being french I can’t actually compete in it. I can take part, but as a non competitive rider and it’s a lot of entry fee plus expenses to not be ranked at the end of the day (not that I would troubled the leaders), I took part in it last year it was a savage tough course and I competed the 70 odd miles in 7 and half hours as I remember rightly. Ben Thomas won it this year. I know that he wouldn’t be a house hold name in the world of UK cycling in general, but he is a tremendous mtb racer. He is now 4 times marathon champion as well as being runner up on a couple of occasion. As a matter of fact, it probably would have been more had he not suffered a catastrophic mechanical last year. He is a model professional and a local lad to us being based near Henley on Thames I believe. Chapeau to him! A few of my friends did it, and the heat was a killer decimating the field throughout the day. Not that you should take relief about other pain, but it did show me that what happened to me in France was happening to others, more experienced racers. 


So, that was the week end before the Welsh champs, i am allowed to take part in those , can’t win for obvious reason, mostly lack of talent, but can take part and be ranked. 


Like the Welsh marathon earlier in the year, Nancy and I made a week end of it. You’ll be glad to know that there was no anniversaries or birthday that I had forgotten, well I haven’t been informed of any this time. Instead of taking mili (Nancy’s daughter) and her boyfriend, we took Captain America! AKA Stephen Cripps, a friend that we have met through mtb races, this sport is great to broaden your social circle. Captain America take parts in all sort of mtb events in the uk with a simple mission, to raise money for Newbury Cancer Care. But the best way to learn about him would be to head to his just giving page and read his story. 


So, here was the big day, Scott and I were making our race debut, he has got big wheels to fill in, Eddie and I have been through a lot together. Do not worry, Eddie hasn’t been made redundant, he is actually in BW Cycling getting some sick upgrade, so I can have a pair of awesome race bikes!


So we lined up on the start line, my main goal was to complete the 55 miles/7000 ft course in under 4 and half hours. After the early skirmishes of the first 4 or 5 miles, we settled into a rhythm, climbing efficiently, getting a little group of riders (trying to get everyone in the group to work together sometimes can be difficult) but we were getting some sort of cohesion. Scott was giving me stacks of confidence in the dh were I was actually comfortable to get away from the racing line to overtake riders, completed my first lap in 2 hours and 6 minutes, well in target! Stopped to change my bottles and give Nancy a pec, the dogs a pat, and headed out on my 2nd lap, soon realising something wasn’t quite right with the bike. I felt like I was being getting held back. Turned out that during the first lap I had picked up a puncture, the sealant had gone it’s trick, but I had lost some rear wheels pressure. And instead of stopping and sorting that out, I focused too much on not losing track position. Silly mistake because I did anyway. It took me 2 hours and 19 minutes to complete the 2nd lap, 13 minutes slower than the first lap (you would expect it to be 4 or 5 minutes slower) but that was a bit daft of me. I felt great all the way, dh was real solid, setting fast time in those. I just wished I could have pulled my head out of the sand a bit and sorted my bike out. We can just learn from our mistakes, and I make plenty …


Anyway, the bike and I got on good and that was the most important. I ended finishing 19th in my class and 38th overall, so not a shabby result. Got the fuelling spot after the calamity of the french champs (need to decide if we head back over there or not next year now) and I am in Italy confident in me and my bike. Oli is real good at this, he can prepare my form and condition so that I can hit my main targets in peak conditions. 


So, here I am, in my hotel room about to head down for breakfast, longing for tomorrow to arrive! And this year I have got my fan base here. Nancy and her mum are flying over on Tuesday to visit the area and support me. 


Fingers crossed for a solid race and looking forward to sharing my story next month

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Katie Range
Katie Range

Marketing Manager


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