Tracy has had a busy few weeks, cheering on Olympians, racing the next generation of cross-country riders and riding the South Downs with competition winners. But first, a bit of a spin with Dad.
People often ask how I got into mountain biking and they often assume that my mum and dad must have been cyclists. That is definitely not the case.
A few weeks ago I went on my first ever bike ride with my Dad. I bought him a Trek electric assisted bike a few months ago so he has been getting out for a few rides and really enjoying seeing places at a different speed.
It was Dad’s birthday and he has always talked about wanting to ride the canal fromBirminghamtoWorcesterso I decided we should do it. Thirty miles of canal path that at times was a pretty, slippery muddy rut, but I was really impressed; Dad made it with only a couple of head first encounters, luckily into the hedge and not the canal.
I have to say I was pretty anti electric bikes when they first came about, just seeing them as cheating, but now seeing how they have given my Dad that extra little help to get him out on a bike I really do think they have a great place for getting more people to have a go at cycling.
I also got the chance to help another group of people to have a first go at mountain biking working with one of my sponsors Trixter. Trixter organised a day for staff from one of the big gym chains that have Trixter’s X-Dream bikes in their gyms, to come and have a go at mountain biking for real. It was great to see people enjoying their first off road experience.
From there I then went to watch mountain biking at its highest level at the Olympic Games. Being home for the two weeks of the Olympics was just amazing. I spent every minute I could either watching the TV or listening to the radio following sports that I would never normally.
It was such an amazing feeling having such a big sporting event going on in our country so finally getting to go and watch an event live was incredible. The atmosphere and support for Annie Last was off the scale but people were not just shouting for Annie they were just getting behind all the athletes.
Half the people probably had never seen a mountain bike race but the Olympic vibe had captured so many people, it was an experience I won’t forget. Annie rode with all she had and gave every person who went to support something to be very proud of, a great eighth place finish in her first Olympics.
Can’t wait to see her in Riobattling for medals.
Sunday was sadly not such a great day for Liam crashing and breaking his ankle, but I am sure he will have felt the support on his first lap and it will be enough to get him back on his bike and battling for the next time he can represent his country in front of a home crowd.
I guess the Commonwealth games in 2014 inGlasgowwill be another amazing stage for any British person to perform on. It was such an inspiring few weeks that just made my even more excited to be putting on my GB jersey in a few weeks at the World Championships !
From the Olympic Games to grassroots racing the following weekend it really was from one level to another but equally as exciting to see the future generations of Olympians. We hosted a local cross-country race and kids’ coaching day at home on the farm with around 50 8 to 18-year-olds trying out their skills and racing around the woods.
It was such a rewarding experience to see them just loving riding their bikes and racing each other and it was just that push I needed to dust off the cross-country bike. It had been long enough since the last race for me to forget how painful they are, so I was excited to take the start but I was going to have some stiff competition with National XC Junior Champion Beth Crumpton and ex World Cup racer Louise Robinson.
I was really surprised at how I felt having been riding Enduro and downhill for the last couple of months, but I felt strong and led from the start to take the win, with a little home advantage of the course helping me on my way. We had a good turn out for the rest of the races and it felt great to be able to put on an event like this and give something back to the sport. Thanks to everyone that came and helped and to Malvern Cyclesport club for running it.
I guess my cross-country form at the race may have been helped by the 100 miles I did in the week leading up to the race across theSouth Downs Way. Osprey backpacks, one of my sponsors, had organised a competition for two lucky people to join me for the trip.
It was a great three days getting looked after by the guys at Osprey and also getting chance to try out the new 2013 bags which I really liked. There are new colours and some great new features which I am excited to be using later in the year in my Enduro races.
Liz and Richard, the competition winners, were great and we covered the ground pretty quickly taking in the beautiful scenery up the endless, long chalky climbs. We came away with a few stitches and a whole load of horrible blisters having been attacked by some local southern savaging hedgerow plant. We were otherwise unscathed and nothing that a quick dip at the finish in the lovelyEastbournesea would not heal. A great few days and yet another different type of riding I have squeezed in over the last two weeks.
Alongside some downhill runs at some local trails in preparation for the World’s it really has been a great few weeks of varied riding just complementing my year and my bigger focus with my riding. Riding bikes is just so much fun and not being restricted to just one discipline and type of terrain is so refreshing and fulfilling. Roll on the next few weeks, which will be downhill-focused leading up to the World Championships.