Maxine Filby 2013 News Archive

Morvelo City Cross - Halifax
10th November 2013

Having seen the photos from last year’s City Cross, as soon as it was announced it would be happening again I signed up. This year it was at a different venue, The Piece Hall in the middle of Halifax. It is a beautiful old building with a cobbled court yard. The course was to be round the courtyard with the added excitement of racing through the open corridors in the final. We headed up on the Saturday morning leaving home to a bright blue sky and sunshine. As we headed North the sky darkened and the rain appeared no doubt making the cobbles nice and slippery for the race. Arriving at the venue there was just enough time to do a quick a practice lap. I had a lovely Trek Crockett 5 to play on from my new team Trek Coventry. The course was such good fun; it started on a steep cobbled climb leading into the main courtyard. The first feature was a deep sandpit where carrying speed was a must to get through cleanly. Next up was the circle of doom, ever decreasing circles on a very slippery cobbled surface. Back out of the circle then led you to the berm section which once you'd completed you had to jump off and do the podium dash, up the steps on to the stage then jump back on and down the other side. Nearly at the end of the lap, just when your legs were starting to burn, was a steep bridge. Up and over that to the final cobbled section and you were back to the start to do it all again. After the practice lap my bike and I were covered in mud so rather than stand around getting cold we thought we'd go and quickly check in to the hotel which fortunately was just up the road. It was a lovely place and they didn't mind at all when I appeared in full muddy cycling kit complete with bike and an equally muddy dog, we must have looked quite a sight.

Morvelo City Cross

Photo Courtesy of Joolze Dymond

The format for the racing was slightly different to any race I've done before. There was a qualifying round with a final in the evening. There were about twelve women all together. We all lined up at the bottom of the cobbled climb, there was a complete mix of bikes and riders. I got a good start and led into the first corner and made it through the sand pit, the heat was to be 20 minutes so I was conscious of not pushing too hard to save a little for the final. The course was full of fun but as I hit the last cobbled section after the bridge disaster struck. I had spotted a sly little line in practice which cut a corner off the cobbles making it a little quicker however I hadn't factored in that it had rained a lot more since practice making the line very slippery. As I hit it I felt that horrible feeling of loss of control and down I went. As usual I jumped up pretty quickly and leapt back on the bike but as I put the power down it made a sound no cyclist wants to hear in a race, a horrible crunch. My rear mech had snapped off leaving me at a loss with what to do. I needed to complete the heat to get through to the final, there was no way I was going to miss out on racing in the dark. Jogging up to the finish line I began asking if anyone had a spare bike. A super kind youth rider from Bradford Road club said I could use his. We quickly altered the saddle height and off I went. Without the kindness of this rider I would have had to pull out and miss out on all the fun so I really cannot thank him enough, for me it showed what a fantastic sport we're involved in, not many people would hand over their prized possession to a complete stranger. So I made it to the final by the skin of my teeth. Obviously I needed to get my bike fixed for it though. Luckily there was a bike shop across the road, yet again both the bike and I were absolutely covered in mud. This didn't seem to faze the shop and they got down to the task of making the bike rideable for the evening. They were great and I was back on within about 15 minutes. Huge thanks to Cycle Gear, Halifax. A quick visit back to the hotel to get warm and try to get rid of a little of the mud we headed back for the final.

The hall looked so impressive in the dark, the courtyard being lit from the lights in the corridor. The course had been slightly changed from the heat, instead of the last cobbled section it went up some steps into the lit corridor round three sides of the square and you popped on the entry to the sand pit. It was ace and I couldn't wait. Again we lined up at the bottom of the climb and off we went. I got another good start and led into the first section. With it being so muddy the cobbles became extra lethal so I was very cautious in the circle of doom. The last thing I wanted to do was end up on the floor. It was a fantastic experience going through the corridor, with the pillars at the side it made it feel like you were going super-fast. I had a really good battle with the Hannah Saville, it was definitely elbows out and she pushed me all the way. I managed to pull away on the last couple of laps. It was one of the most fun races I've ever done, the heckling from the crowd and the obstacles made it a race to remember. For winning I got my very own piece of Piece Hall with the trophy being one of the cobbles, very cool. I really hope this event happens again next year and if it does you must give it a go. Huge thanks to the organisers and volunteers for putting on such a unique event. Back to top

Product Review - Bontrager Affinity RL WSD Saddle
2nd November 2013

When I first began cycling I really struggled to find a saddle that I was comfortable on. It got to the point where I was suffering such discomfort I didn't looking forward to riding my bike as I was in such pain. Having tried several different saddles and short combinations I eventually found a saddle that worked; it was cut away completely down the middle of the saddle so giving me relief from where it was rubbing. I've been using this saddle for a few years now and was quite happy with it until I had bike fit done. It was pointed out that my saddle was too narrow for my sit bones meaning that it was putting me in the wrong position on the bike and not giving me enough support. I was very reluctant to change but having been shown the support I was lacking I gave the Bontrager Affinity RL WSD saddle a go. It is wider at the back than my own saddle at a wide 144mm but has no cut away just a small channel. It did feel a lot better on my sit bones and I realised how much support I've been missing out on and to begin with the channel felt ok too. I agreed to have it on my bike for a little while to give it a good test. I thought I'd use it on my group training ride which usually last around three hours. Half way through I began to feel that nasty niggle of soreness where a girl really should never be sore! Again the support on my sit bones was great but the channel just didn't suit me, I ended up where I had been those years before in quite a bit of pain. I have since ridden back on my old saddle but now I can really feel the lack of support where the Affinity saddle excels. I went back to bike fitters and they are quite baffled, my position on the bike is now much better so in theory I should be lighter on the front of the saddle yet I am still struggling getting sore without a cut away. Surely I cannot be the only girl with this problem? The mountain bike version of the Affinity is the Evoke which has a slightly deeper channel so I'm going to give that go, hopefully that will give me support of the Affinity but hopefully without the soreness. I'll let you know how I get on.

Back to top

Guiyang International Invitational Mountain Bike Race - Guiyang, China
21st-22nd September 2013

Saturday afternoon was the opening ceremony followed by the men's short track then it would be our short track race. After a couple of speeches and some crazy flag carrying the racing began. The track was about 1km long and incorporated a climb, a tricky descent and the jump. Watching the guys go off it was obvious our race was going to be flat out. Rab was the best of the British finishing a pretty impressive 13th. I got a good start in our race and tried to stick as close as I could to Mel's wheel. In hindsight I probably pushed a little too hard at the start as about half way in my legs blew and I started going backwards a bit. It was just so fast. I was quite pleased that I was hitting the technical sections pretty fast and nailed the jump. I finished in 14th, better than my grid position so I was pretty happy. Mel had a storming ride to finish in the prize money with 10th. All looked good for the following day.

Sunday was equally as hot as the day before, I'm not great in the heat at the best of times but I was struggling to stay cool warming up. I knew it was going to be tough with the amount of climbing in the course. Again I got a really good start but the same as the day before I just couldn't maintain it. I struggled a little breathing in such heat, getting tense on the climbs then getting cross with myself on the descents for doing so. As with the short track I was really pleased with my riding over the technical sections but just a little disappointed with my uphill ability. I finished in 17th which I was quite happy with considering how I felt. Yet again Mel had a stormer and finished in 11th only 12 minutes away from the winner Julie Bresset. A mighty impressive ride. For the men's race it was unbearably hot and I really don't know how they coped with it, going round so fast they must have had created their own breeze! Again the Brits had fantastic rides with both Dave and Rab getting in the top 20.

So after a bit of a late night we're waiting for our flight which has been delayed by a tropical storm. The trip home might be as exciting as the racing. It's been a fantastic trip with a great bunch of people who have made it such fun. If you get the chance I would definitely recommend this event, it's on my calendar for next year for sure.

As always a huge thank you to all my sponsors;, Mt Zoom, Velocite UK, Sponser UK, Mavic, Schwalbe UK, Whackjob Jim, Firecrest MTB, MB Coaching and Working Bodies. A special thank you to Scott, Ian and Alex for all their help and encouragement throughout the weekend. It made a huge difference to have such ace support.

Back to top

UK Gravity Enduro Series Round 6 - Eastridge
7-8th September 2013

In keeping with my rather diverse season I headed to the hills of Shropshire to take part in the final round of the UK Gravity Enduro Series. I was very kindly lent a superb steed for the weekend, the new Whyte G150. It is their Gravity Enduro specific full suspension mountain bike and it meant that I was going to be the envy of the paddock no matter what happened. I also had the company of Anna Glownski who is owner and designer of Ana Nichoola (as well as a presenter on the Cycleshow and a pretty fast bike rider!) It was nice to go to an event not completely on my own and I knew it’d be a giggle with Anna along.

We got up to Eastridge early on Saturday for practice. Unlike the World Series round I did recently this event allowed you to have all morning practicing stages. There’s a very fine line between learning the stages and practicing so much you tire yourself out. Seeding is in the afternoon so I opted to practice each stage once and use my GoPro to record them so we could watch the stages in the comfort of the B&B later that evening. The stages were short compared to the epic ones in Val D’Isere but full of steep rooty sections with a few rocks thrown in to catch you out. It was definitely going to be an event that favoured those with more of a downhill background. I enjoyed each stage and there wasn't anything too scary it was just a case of me trying to hit sections faster than I normally would in an XC race. The Whyte helped me out immensely and gave bags of confidence. A quick stop for lunch and a check over of our bikes and we were back up the hill for seeding. The stage that was used for seeding was also going to be stage one and six the following day although the time you registered in seeding also counted towards your final time. No pressure then! It still feels strange going through the start on my own and not having to fight to get into the first corner. I feel my starts are slightly lethargic because of this, one of the many things to work on during the winter. Anyway back to seeding, I hit the first jump well and tried to settle into a rhythm while trying to push harder and faster than I’d been before. Then all of a sudden I found myself heading headfirst into the dirt. Even now I cannot tell you what happened; I imagine my front wheel hit something and brought the bike to an immediate halt while I continued on without it. I was a little bit shocked to say the least and it took me a moment to realise what had happened, as usual the panic of losing time kicked in and I jumped up and ran back to pick up my bike. A quick check over and all was fine, phew! I hopped back on and continued down the track, getting more and more cross with myself for having such a nothing crash. I got down without further incident but I’d lost a chunk of time and was seeded last in my category. Anna had also had a little off but was so quick she managed to seed fourth in her category. It was going to be a fun race day. We heading off to our little B&B for some well earned rest and analysis of the day armed with the videos from the practice runs. We were joined by Andy Walker, my former team mate. He’s very experienced in Enduro so showed us lines we hadn't even thought of and some little tricks so we’d be super fast the next day.

We were greeted by sunshine on Sunday morning. The trails would be perfect and I was so excited for a day of racing. Unlike XC you have to be completely self-sufficient, this means taking spares, food, drink and tools with you. My new Osprey Pack made it easy packing having pockets to stow away tools, jackets and my supply of Sponser go-faster energy bars. All riders have a start time for each stage; if you miss it you incur a 60 second penalty so you really don’t want to late. I had a much better run down the first stage than the day before; I felt far more relaxed which in turn meant I rode a lot better. The transition to the next stage was quite a climb and the time to get there turned out to be quite tight. It was not going to be a day of standing around gossiping we were going to have to push-on in between stages. With each stage I grew in confidence and I hoped to build my speed. I noticed that I tended to ride the tracks in a very XC like manner and forgetting what I’m riding. I don’t let the bike do the work for me and keep thinking I’m on a super stiff hardtail with a saddle so high I get a gentle reminder every descent (if you know what I mean). Again this is something to work on over the winter, making use of 150mm of travel and a slack head angle plus being braver and therefore faster. Before I knew it we were at the final stage. With everyone being so friendly and the riding so enjoyable, time just flew by. I wanted to make sure I had a clean run down the final stage and that I did. It wasn't the fastest but I didn't hit the ground and finished mega happy. I finished sixth in the Elite Women category; I think it’s a good base to build from for next year where I hope to do more of the Enduro format races. It really is good fun as well as being technically and physically demanding. Anna missed out on a podium spot finishing fourth in the Senior Women’s category as did Andy in the Senior Men’s (although he did finish second in the series). I just have one race left this season, I’m going back to Guiyang, China for the same event I did there last year. I’m hoping all this scaring myself will pay off and I’ll ride well back in XC!

As always a huge thank you to all my sponsors;, Mt Zoom, Velocite UK, Sponser UK, Mavic, Schwalbe UK, Whackjob Jim, Firecrest MTB, MB Coaching and Working Bodies. A special thank you to Whyte Bikes for lending me such a great bike and Osprey UK for providing an ace backpack. Finally, thanks to Anna Glownski, of Ana Nichoola fame, for being a great travelling companion and fashion advisor.

Back to top

Enduro World Series Round 6 - Val D'Isere, France
24-25th August 2013

I find myself sitting in Geneva airport reflecting on a rather surreal weekend. Always one to push myself beyond my limits I signed up to round 6 of the World Enduro Series held in Val D'Isere, France. I raced the xco World Cup there last year and loved it so I was very excited to be going back. Unfortunately Velocite don't make a full suspension bike yet so I was on my Orange Five a bike that was meant for me to have fun on during the winter the intention was never to race it. This meant a few last minute modifications, a dropper post and some sturdy Schwalbe Hans Dampf Super Gravity tyres sent out to me in record time. I'm very lucky to have such supportive sponsors. So I jumped on a plane and headed into the unknown.

The format for this round was a track walk on the Friday, no bikes allowed, then two stages on Saturday, one practice run and two timed runs down each. Riding without a few practice laps made me rather nervous, I like to see what I'm riding off rather than just take the plunge. I was very lucky to be able to tag along with Tracy Mosely (current World Series leader) and her boyfriend James (who is awesomely fast too!) for the weekend. Their knowledge and kindness made the whole trip a lot more enjoyable and stopped me totally stressing out! We headed out on Friday to walk a little of the stages, walking all of it would've been impossible as it was too far so this would give us an idea of the terrain. Getting out of the lift we were greeted by a huge climb up to the start, quickly deciding we'd probably leave that bit until we raced it and not quite believing we'd have to push the bikes up it. It was a complete mix of riding, loose steep sections, flat out grassy descents, lots of rocks and a narrow traverse across the mountain. Just to put in a little bit of pain on the final stage there was a long grass energy sapping climb in the middle. I knew I would be tested to the max but I'm not quite sure I realised at that point just how much it would take, which was just as well really as I would've been really stressed then. Part of Enduro is that you complete the whole race on the same bike frame, suspension and wheels this meant as you signed on you took your bike and got it stickerd up to prevent any cheating. Everyone was super friendly especially the girls and I was soon chatting away feeling very welcome.

After a great nights sleep in my gorgeous B&B I set off for my first taste of a proper an Gravity Enduro. I was beginning to feel rather nervous but so excited by the challenge that I just kept giggling to myself not quite believing what I was doing. I met up with Tracy and Anka Martin and headed for the lift. Getting out we looked up and there was a trail of riders pushing up bikes to the very top of the mountain. I hate walking at the best of times but fully padded up with a full face helmet on pushing a reasonably heavy bike at altitude left me in bits and that was just getting to the start! The view at the top was breathtaking and worth the slog up. I tip toed out on to the course, the first 50m were enough to send me into a sweat. You dropped off a rock onto a very narrow path into a tight right handed corner. I had never ridden anything that quite made me that scared, if you got it wrong it was going to end very badly. Oh well, I wanted technical riding and I was definitely going to get just that. I set off on my practice run already shaking from the adrenaline. The first section was twisty and made me feel desperately slow but soon I got into a rhythm and began to enjoy it. I came to a rocky off camber section and was far too indecisive on my line and ended up on floor, the first crash of many. Riding sections without seeing them really tested me especially as they were ones I'd normal ponder over in an XC race. I just kept telling myself how much good it was doing my riding. Finally at the end of the stage I realised I still had a massive grin, I might be scaring myself stupid but I was loving every minute. My two timed runs each contained a crash or two which cost me a huge chunk of time but having realised what a challenge this was going to be I was aiming to complete rather than be worrying about my placing. The next stage I hadn't walked at all so was going to be even more challenging, with the weather closing in it was also obvious it was going to be testing conditions. My practice run wasn't too bad and felt far happier with the stage then the storm hit. We were at the top of the mountain covered in fog, you could only just see about ten metres ahead of you. I set off and it immediately struck me I seemed very alone, no rider in front and no one behind, I thought I must just be extra slow. Then I heard the familiar voice of Katy Winton, 'I went the wrong way!' as she zoomed past me, while I managed to stay on the right path over half the girls took the wrong course losing huge amounts of time and even two not finding the finish so getting disqualified. It was turning into an eventful day. The last timed run was cancelled due to the weather, I was rather glad as I was aching all over and had picked up a few cuts and bruises. I headed back to the B&B, muddy and rather sore. The riding was so intense that my whole body ached.

As Sunday dawned the weather didn't look much better, it had rained all night. We were to do one timed run down the second stage then complete two timed runs on the third stage afterwards. In the end we just did the timed run down the second stage, a practice run down the third with one timed run. My body felt very battered and bruised so my aim for the day was to stay upright and finish the race. This I did, I wasn't particularly fast but I completed the whole race which around ten girls didn't. I finished 19th which I'm pretty happy with. I know what I need to work on and I'm confident that next year I can be a proper contender. It seems Great Britain are pretty good at this Enduro thing, Tracy Mosely is the first ever World Enduro Champion and the Great Britain team (Tracy, Katy Winton and Emily Horridge) finished second in the Enduro des Nations. The intensity and toughness of this event really surprised me, I found it so much harder than XC physically as well as mentally. As I sit here I feel totally drained, I ache in places I didn't know possible yet each time I think of what I've done I feel very proud and a great big grin breaks out. I reckon I'm pretty hooked on this Enduro thing, bring on the next one!

As always as huge thank you to my sponsors for enabling me to do such crazy things;, Schwalbe UK, Mavic, Sponsor UK, Firecrest MTB, MB Coaching, Velocite UK, Whackjob Jim, Ana Nichoola and Working Bodies. Also a big thank you to Tracy Mosely, James Richards and Trek for putting up with my stupid questions all weekend!

Back to top

National MTB Series Round 5 - Hadleigh Farm
18th August 2013

The final round of the British XC Mountain bike series took us back to the venue of the London 2012 Olympic Mountain Bike event, Hadleigh Park. This was a race I was really looking forward to; it was finally a course that would push you technically as well physically. It would hopefully reward technical riders rather than who was the just the fittest. I arrived early at the course on Saturday so I could get a good few practice laps in, learn the fastest lines and get the technical sections polished. The course was exactly the same as it had been for the Olympics and it was an honour to be riding it. My dip into Gravity Enduro has made me a far more confident rider and I tackled each section with a new found confidence and soon began to carry speed whereas before I would've been backing off. When I watched the Olympics I loved seeing riders going over the gap jump, I vowed that if we were ever to race on the course I’d do it. So after some debating with my boyfriend Pete (mostly him telling me to toughen up and just do it!) I took the plunge and did the jump. It felt amazing and after a few times I had it nailed. Round the rest of the course I concentrated on carrying more speed into sections and becoming as smooth as I could. You know it’s a tough course when the queue for the ambulance is longer than the burger van. This is the type of course I feel we need more of in the UK, we need to be pushed as riders so when we make the leap to higher competition we are prepared for the more technical nature of the courses. This in turn will hopefully mean British riders will excel at this level.

Race day brought sunshine and lots of nervous riders. There was a good field of Elite women, I was hoping that I could have a clean race and find time on the sections I was good at. The start straight was a really nasty climb that bypassed the first drop and went straight in to the infamous Deanes Drop. I got a good start and settled quickly into a rhythm. I made the gap jump overtaking a couple of riders and carrying a lot more speed out of the section, I was just really enjoying the course. The technical nature made it such fun. It was demanding, not giving you a break at all. After the fun of the gap jump came a nasty section of climbing up the snake. This wasn't a straight forward climb with rocky sections to interrupt your rhythm along with tight switchbacks. This did give me an opportunity to see where I was placed. I could see Hannah Barnes just in front of me and pushed hard to close the gap. Cresting the hill it was a rapid descent down a rock shoot into the feed zone. A quick breather and I was quickly into another climb, this one more straight forward and leading to a great drop the Leap of Faith. I had watched the men’s Olympic race the night before and noted just how much speed they were carrying into this section, getting ‘air’ over the drop. I went in fast and surprised myself by doing the same, it felt awesome although the bigger challenge was making the turn at the bottom. Yet again there wasn't any time to get your breath with a big grassy climb up to a big rock garden. I stuck to the middle line carrying plenty of speed. This lead to the infamous Breathtaker climb, it was a killer but it was all downhill after that, some fun berms and jumps ending with a steep shoot back into the arena. I was enjoying myself a little too much when I over jumped a rocky section on lap four and as I landed I heard that hissing sound you never want to hear in a race as my rear tyre went flat. Luckily I wasn't too far from the pit so I began running up the hill toward the Tech Zone losing no more than two minutes. In the pits Pete was there with my spare wheels but the only problem was I was running a different set up on my new Velocite Flux with XX1 11 speed cassette, however, my spare wheels only had a 10 speed cassette. As I came huffing and puffing into the pit, Pete changed the wheel in record time and gave me instructions not to change gear too often and just find a gear that worked. Not easy on such a demanding course. Going from chasing Hannah I was now defending my position from Jessie Roberts, the problem was I had to be really conservative with my gear changes so couldn't really push quite as hard as I would've liked to I had to survive the final two laps. I can say that the hybrid setup worked to a point and it was a case of nursing it home managing to hold on to fifth place, my best result of the season.

I really enjoyed this course so much and prided myself on using all the ‘A’ lines throughout the race. For me racing my bike is pushing myself to do things I wouldn't normally, getting out of my comfort zone and pushing to the limit. Call me stubborn or stupid but if there’s a harder faster line I’ll attempt it and I think for this race it paid off. I’m now looking forward to pushing myself even further by going to the sixth round of the World Enduro Series in Val D’Isere.

As always a huge thank you to my sponsors without whom I coudn't have so much fun;, Mt Zoom, Velocite UK, Sponser UK, Mavic, Schwalbe UK, Whackjob Jim, Ana Nichoola , Firecrest MTB, MB Coaching and Working Bodies.

Back to top

Prudential London Grand Prix - London
28th July 2013

I’ve really been enjoying doing a few Crit races this year. It’s flat out elbow-to-elbow racing and really is such fun. After the Nocturne I was looking for more races and found one in London again, I thought I’d enter it as it sounded like it’d be fun. Being my normal self I hadn’t really read where exactly it was or what it was all about. It was only once I got the email to say I had got into the race did I read the rider manual and the start list. It turns out we were to race in front of Buckingham Palace and down The Mall as part of the Ride London 100 festival. This produced a fair few butterflies and then continued to look down the start list; Wiggle Honda, Orica Greenedge AIS and Specialized Lululemon as well as the top British teams. Oh dear what had I signed up to!

I arrived in the centre of London to the most amazing sight, tons and tons of people (50,000 in fact) on bicycles everywhere. The atmosphere was electric; instead of getting nervous I just became very excited and couldn’t wait to race. I had my fantastic sponsors, Sponser UK, supporting me along with a few friends and even my mum at this event so I was determined I was going to put in a good performance. I headed out on a sighting lap; it was a fast course with sweeping corners it was going to be flat out. There were 100 riders on the start line so getting towards the front was going to be essential. I finished my warm up and we were called for a formation lap where I was a bit cheeky and pushed my way near to the front. I zoomed round the warm up lap bagging a good starting position. Unfortunately one of the youth riders had had a rather big crash near the finish so we were held for quite a while. It was an opportunity to soak up the atmosphere and there was plenty of banter. Finally the race got underway and it was attack after attack. Learning from my earlier road races I decided to just try and sit in and save some energy for the business end of the race. Each attack was shut down and 5 laps to go was called. I was feeling good and moving about the bunch easily. In hindsight I was probably too far back but I was very conscious of not over cooking it. The pace began to wind up and I was thinking of getting nearer the front when disaster struck going round the penultimate corner. On the exit of the corner when we were all about to give it full gas a girl came down taking a few others with her. This happened right in front of me and so I braked heavily and tried to get round but just when I thought I was clear I hit the ground. The mountain bike skills didn’t quite save me this time. I’ve never crashed my road bike before so it was a bit of shock but I was determined to finish so jumped up straight away and grabbed my bike. Luckily not only is my Velocite Geos super fast it is also pretty tough and was still in one piece albeit with a buckled back wheel. I managed to catch up to the back of the bunch to the point that my friends hadn’t realised I’d crashed and just thought I’d been dropped; how rude! I was gutted having not been able to contest the sprint as it was such a prestigious event and I really wanted to see how I could get on. I still managed to finish 41st and have my crash replayed in slow motion on BBC 1, my 15 seconds of fame! It was a fantastic event and one that is definitely in my diary for next year.

As always a big thank you to my sponsors for allowing me to do all kind of events this season!, Velocite UK, Firecrest MTB, Mavic, Schwalbe UK, Sponser UK, Whackjob Jim, Ana Nichoola, Scimitar Sports, Exposure Lights and Working Bodies.

Back to top

National XCO Championships - Glasgow
21st July 2013

Not having my best ever season we decided to treat this year’s Championships as a little bit of holiday and was determined to have some fun. Having a rather long journey to get up to Glasgow we split the drive up by having a cheeky stop in Lancashire to meet with some friends and this included a trip round the Hope Technology factory in Barnoldswick. Being a lover of their great products it was fascinating to see how much work was put into every component. Do you know every little bit is produced in their factory and it’s impressive to see how much goes into making their brakes, hoops finishing kit. We finished off the day with a spin round Gisburn forest and it was just what I needed, remembering that I adore riding my mountain bike and the buzz it gives you when smashing the trails. I was beginning to really look forward the race ahead. We checked out the nightlife in Clitheroe with Pete and Nick having more than just “one for the road”!

An easy morning and we headed up to Cathkinbraes to check out the course. The track is the one that will be used for the Commonwealth Games so I was very intrigued to find out what was in store. I will be completely honest and say that the course was great fun but for me a championship course shouldn’t be fun, it should test you technically as well as physically. It should scare your pants off the first few laps and have you stopping at the sections that will test you’re limits. Having dumbed-down courses here in the UK makes it such a big jump when you start to compete abroad especially if you ride World Cup courses; they are becoming more and more technical yet we seem to be going the other way. This means our riders just aren’t prepared for the technicality of the bigger events and I think puts them off making that step. Anyway, we did a few laps and I felt confident that I could ride everything cleanly and begin to think of the lines I’d take. As we’d come up a day early I had another practice day to go over any sections that I thought I could find time. It reminded me a little of Hadleigh Farm, not giving you a break at all as there was always another section coming up or a loose corner that could catch you out.

We were staying at a lovely hotel about 10 miles from the venue and and on our first night we decided to have dinner there. Now I don’t really drink alcohol and certainly not on a race weekend but this being Scotland they had other ideas! I ordered a slimline tonic but it tasted rather strong. I said this to Pete and he told me I was just being fussy so I just drank it and ordered another one, same again it just didn’t taste right by this time I was beginning to feel a little light headed. I was convinced it was Gin and Tonic so switched to just plain water. Checking the bill later my suspicions were confirmed; apparently in Scotland you have to have Gin with your tonic! My practice the next day felt rather good so I thought it might not be as detrimental to my performance as I always thought! For race day though I played it safe and stuck to the H2O.

Race day dawned and I was surprisingly relaxed, I was here to have fun and enjoy the atmosphere. I hadn’t finished an xc race for quite a while so just completing would be satisfiying. I got a reasonable start and tried to settle down into a rhythm. I was racing with Annie Simpson of Hope Tech Factory Team, she was much stronger on the climbs but through the twisty technical sections I was gaining on her, I decided to kick a little on the start/finish straight and managed to get a little gap. From then on I was on my own just battling the track. The crowd was amazing and I was getting lots of cheers. The commentators; Dan Jarvis and Matt Payne were fantastic giving lots of encouragement and making me giggle each time I passed. I really enjoyed the race and ended up in sixth position which if someone had told me the result in December I would have been bitterly disappointed but with the tough season I’ve been having I was rather chuffed. I felt it was where I deserved to be and expect to easily improve on that next year. I’m now looking forward to doing a few crit races and even a trip to France for a World Series Gravity Enduro race which will hopefully give me the adrenaline buzz I look for in a bike race.

As always a huge, huge thank you to all my sponsors without whom I wouldn’t be able to have such fun on my bike;, Velocite UK, Firecrest MTB, Mavic, Schwalbe UK, Sponser UK, Whackjob Jim, Ana Nichoola, Scimitar Sports, Exposure Lights and Working Bodies. Also a special thank you to my boyfriend Pete, he has had to endure my many lows this season yet keeps me motivated and reminds me to pull myself together once in a while!

Back to top

London Nocturne - London
8th June 2013

I am quite enjoying mixing up my riding this year and doing a little more racing on the road. I entered the Nocturne fully expecting not to get in so it was great when I got the email to say I was in. I had a look at the start list and had a little panic. It contained Olympic and World Champions as well as the top domestic riders. My aim suddenly became survival, I’d be happy just staying in the race! I was very lucky to link up the Matrix Fitness Race Team who are also supported by Velocite UK. It was to be the first outing for me aboard a Velocite Geos, I was hoping it handled as well as my trusty Flux.

I arrived down in the big city quite early, I wanted to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy being at such a prestigious event. The circuit looked fast and technical with two sharp bends. I had a serious case of butterflies; I was well out of my comfort zone. Catching up with my great sponsors, Schwalbe UK and Sponser UK I felt a little more settled and headed to warm up with the Matrix team. They have a very professional set up and it was an honour to be included in it. We were called to start line for a warm up lap; I’d managed to get to the front but as we set off on the lap I shuffled backwards being a little overwhelmed at the whole atmosphere. The leading riders were called forward to the start line and the rest of us followed. I was right at the back, probably the worst position in a crit race, a lesson learnt! The start was unbelievably fast and although I made up places I was the wrong side of the split and was in a group of about ten. We worked together it was really fast. 3 laps to go was called and we were still in the race, I was going to make the full distance. A lap to go and the leaders came past us. In the end I finished 35th out of 65 riders not too bad for such a big race and I’ll definitely be back next year.

Back to top

National MTB Series Round 3 - Hopton Woods
2nd June 2013

Round three of the British Mountain Bike Series saw us heading to Hopton Woods in Shropshire. Having raced here last year I knew the course would be tough. It was one long climb followed by a flowing descent, this year the climb had changed slightly being broken up by some super single track sections and the descent was a little more technical but equally as fast. I did a couple of practice laps on the Saturday and felt happy with the course and my bike set up. The corners were lacking in some grip so my Racing Ralphs really came into their own giving me bags of confidence. Not having the best of starts to the season I was hoping I could improve on my previous rounds’ results.

Race day came and it was dry with a little chill. It was a fast and furious start in which me and Mel Alexander (Scott Contessa) got a little tangled up. How we managed to stay upright, I’m not quite sure how, but we did and set off trying to catch the fast starters. The climb spread everyone out quite quickly and I settled down trying to keep a rhythm. The descents were great fun and I was making ground down them only to lose it on the climbs. I was pushing really hard in to the last lap when the dreaded cramp hit. It was even becoming difficult to descend my legs, toes and fingers in that painful curl of cramp. I lost a fair few places eventually finished in 12th. Not where I want to be at this time of year. Sometimes it’s good to stand back and assess what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and what your goals are. I think I’d lost sight of these a little at the beginning of the season, so with a fantastic support team of coaches and great sponsors I am more motivated than ever and working hard to be in far better shape for the following rounds.

Back to top

UCI XCE/XCO World Cup Round 1 - Albstadt, Germany
17th May 2013

It's that time of year that sees the start of the World Cup series and I'm very excited to be a part of it again for 2013. I arrived out here in Germany on Wednesday afternoon, I have the company of Hannah Barnes (MG-Maxifuel) for this round. It's great to see her pushing herself to this level after only returning to mountain biking this year. We got settled into our hotel, it's rather quirky but very friendly and full of fellow competitors from Latvia, Switzerland and Georgia. We checked out the course in the sunshine that evening, it's a demanding course with steep energy sapping climbs and tricky technical descents. The first of which you come round a tight corner to a steep sections that bends round leading you to a steep drop, lots to catch you out. You've just recovered from the adrenaline rush of surviving that when you're presented with a mighty big drop off into a shap corner, it comes at you thick and fast! Other features include rock gardens both up and downhill and a nice little bridge. It all rode beautifully in the dry however waking on Thursday morning to rain we knew it would've all changed. With the rain it made slippery and the technical sections even more demanding. We both had the odd crash but dusted ourselves off to go round it confidently. This morning saw us both do a lap no problem albeit in the pouring rain!

This afternoon is the Eliminator which I'm doing for the first time. There is a time trial like qualifying over the 500m course then heats leading to the final. Only the top 32 go through to the heats so keep your fingers crossed I make it. You can watch the race at hopefully I'll be in the heats and you can cheer at your tv! I'll update this evening on how it went.

Eliminator - This was my first experience of the Elminator in the World Cup Series although I watched with envy the rounds last year. It was based in the market square just up the road from the XCO course. We decided to walk it before I rode it just to see what it was about. It was reasonably flat with an uphill finish. There were two wall rides, some steps, a little pump section and three jumps. It looked fab! I did a couple of practice laps and felt pretty confident. To get through to the heats you have to qualify in the top 32 in the time trial. I finished 23rd so was pretty chuffed. After quite a bit of waiting around the heats were announced and I was up. Normally my starts are pretty good but this evening I was on go slow and missed the jump settling into fourth place. I was right on the wheel of the girl in front when it came to the first wall ride, she braked heavily and I had to miss the wall and just turn on the flat corner which meant I lost a lot ground. I never really got back on terms with them and finished fourth not qualifying for the quarter final, gutted! I think I need to practice being quicker out of the start and a bit more aggressive.

Back to top

One Industries Mini Enduro - Eastridge
12th May 2013

This weekend I headed to Eastridge for the One Industries Mini Enduro. After a couple of people mentioning that the Gravity Enduro format might suit I thought I’d have a go at a smaller one to see if I liked it before trying one of the Uk Gravity ones. In case you haven’t heard Gravity Enduro is a relatively new discipline it is a number of timed sections in a course with a time limit to get to each stage. It combines the uphill of xc with the technicality of downhill racing. In short it’s ace! As it was a mini enduro there were just three timed stages and practice was in the morning with racing being in the afternoon. I headed out early to get some decent practice in; the complete loop was about two hours so it was quite a lot of riding. I was quite nervous as I really didn't know what to expect and seeing riders with full face helmets and dropper posts made me a tad apprehensive. I needn’t have worried stage one was flat out fast with a pedaling section and a cheeky drop thrown in to keep you on your toes. It was definitely a stage that would suit me and the nerves were truly settled so I could just have fun. Stage two was a little more tricky with slippery roots to catch you out and a muddy off camber section. It took all my concentration to clear it cleanly. Stage three was going to be my weakest stage. Although I am getting braver my jumping still isn't great and this section had some in it combined with a steep section it was going to test me to my limit. I tried to carry the speed round the jumps and hoped I wouldn't lose too much time. Getting to the bottom of the final stage there was a little river crossing and I was feeling pretty chuffed with myself getting to the bottom. I wasn't really paying attention before I knew it my bike had come to a complete stop hitting a rock I, however kept on moving over the handlebars and head first into the river. A real dunking! There was a nice man who asked if I was ok but even he couldn't couldn't contain his giggles. Luckily I had brought a spare set of kit so I would be dry for the race, what a plonker!

I headed out early to the first stage to give myself plenty of time. There were quite a number of girls all very friendly and we were all chatting excitedly at the start. I surprised myself on the first stage catching the two riders in front of me. As usual my racing instinct kicked in and it was no longer for fun I wanted to win this thing! I pushed hard on the second stage hoping it would be enough to make sure I could limit the damage on my weakest stage. You don’t get to know your times of the stage which in a way makes you push even harder. I missed clipping in on the third stage so lost a little time at the start and wussed out on the jump but I sprinted to the line hoping I’d done enough to get onto the podium. I really enjoyed the event, it was friendly and relaxed yet I felt I’d pushed myself really hard both physically and technically. I was rewarded with a place on the top step; I don’t think I've ever been so surprised to get a win. It was great to see former team mate Andrew Walker getting the win in the men’s section too. I’m now filling my spare weekends with Gravity Enduros, I’d definitely recommend them! Sports and Working Bodies.

Huge thanks to my sponsors supporting me in whatever event I choose to do, I couldn't have so much fun with out them., Velocite UK, Firecrest MTB, Mavic, Schwalbe UK, Whackjob Jim, Ana Nichoola, Scimitar Sports, Exposure Lights and Working Bodies.

Back to top

Millbrook Classic - Bedfordshire
6th May 2013

To have another go at road racing I headed to Millbrook Proving Ground car testing centre for the Millbrook Classic. This was the first year it was run as women’s race usually it is a men’s race supporting the Women’s Bedford Stage race. With the stage race being oversubscribed the organisers decided to run it as a women’s race which meant we got to ride the brilliant circuit which includes the Alpine climb. It’s great to see such numbers turning out for events women’s cycling is definitely on the rise and it’s even better that organisers are taking note and putting on extra events. Thank you very much for doing so it is much appreciated. My road racing isn't really a strong point as my coach told me I ride them like mountain biker, I think that means I get far too excited and go off the front too much. I really did try to be tactical and sit in but the descent was just way too much fun and inevitably I was off at the front again. I managed to get away with two laps to go only to get caught on the final climb when my legs were screaming for me to stop. The group of girls I’d got away from cruised by and I slipped off the back of them. I was determined to get back though and pushed myself well over my limit to catch them as they started to jostle for position for the sprint. My lungs were burning and my legs had well and truly given up but before I knew it we were racing flat out for the line. I finished fifth so I was pretty pleased, not so bad for a mountain biker.

Back to top

Steve Peat's Steel City Downhill - Sheffield
4th May 2013

A year ago I would never have contemplated doing a downhill race but through the expert guidance of Ian from Firecrest MTB my skills have improved as has my confidence and with the arrival of a Orange Five full suspension it seemed as good a time as any to give it go. I had a well timed skills session a couple of days before in which Ian talked me through what it’d be like as it’s so different to xc. I was so nervous on the way up there Pete had to put up with one word answers and mumblings of “what am I doing?!” Signing on settled my nerves a little as everyone was so friendly, we heading out to walk the course. It was quite bizarre to walk down a track first but it really make sense you get a feel of what is going to come up so in practice you don’t get any of the queuing or the shock of coming round a bend to something big. The track had a couple of gap jumps, tight berms and the infamous bomb-hole. I took it steady for the first practice run but still had adrenaline pumping so much I was shaking from top to bottom and the end of the run. Luckily I met up with fellow xc rider Verity Appleyard so we could compare notes and not feel like we were the only one trying to fit in! I also met up with my ace glove sponsor Anna Glowinski of Ana Nichoola, not only is she a great designer but an equally impressive rider. It was great, each run we were pushing each other to try different things and get faster. I did the gap jump in the practice run but wussed it on the race run after convincing myself it would be faster to go round it. It wasn't so I lost a couple of seconds and finished seventh with only a second covering from 2nd to 8th I really wish I’d had a go in the race. Next year I’ll be back to conquer it and I’d definitely recommend you do too. It’s a great event with a fantastic atmosphere, friendly riders and a bar at the finish, what more do you need?!

Back to top

Midlands XC Series Round 2 - Birchall
14th April 2013

Finally the weather looked to have improved and with the sun making the odd appearance I decided to head to the Midlands XC race at Birchall. I had heard great reports of the course from last year and knowing what a good job the Midlands crew do at putting on a race I was really looking forward it. It didn't disappoint. Heading out for a practice lap with fellow Elite rider Jessie Roberts we were almost blown off our bikes the wind was incredibly strong on the start straight which was also a slight climb on grass. It felt like I was barely moving but putting in a lot of effort! It was going to be energy sapping in the race. This lead to a short steep climb then into some fab single track another energy sapping grass climb then the reward; a really good fun descent with sections that made you grin from ear to ear. It made up for the pain earlier in the lap!

Women’s xc racing in the UK seems to be growing with the fields getting bigger and the standard seems to be getting higher. It’s great to come to smaller events like this and get top class riders it makes for a proper race. Among those lining up this weekend were Tracey Moseley, Jessie Roberts and Becky Preece I knew I was going to have to work hard to stay in contention for a good finish. The start of the race was a bit like something in slow motion, the wind was so strong we were all trying to tuck in and get shelter from others riders, we hit the first steep climb and I was hanging on to Tracey’s wheel, she edged out a little gap in the single track, I just concentrated on trying to maintain the gap to her but this is the former World Downhill Champion so you can imagine she’s fairly handy on the descents! She zoomed away and I was left trying to keep the gap on my own. The course was great and flowed brilliantly but the windy climb was absolutely brutal. Racing at the same time as some of the male categories meant I managed to get a little shelter on one lap but the final two times I was on my own feeling like I was going nowhere and very windswept. I managed to hold on to a podium position finishing in third place. I feeling like I’m getting in to race mode again and I’m looking forward to the trip down to Cornwall for the next British XC Mountain Bike Series. A big thank you to the Midlands XC organisers and marshals for another great event. If you haven’t done a Midlands event they are well worth the trip, wicked courses, slick organisation and cool trophies!

As always a huge thank you to my sponsors without whom I wouldn't be able to have so much fun playing on my bike;, Velocite UK, Schwalbe UK, Mavic, Firecrest Mtb, Sponser UK, Ana Nichoola, Whack job Jim, Mt Zoom, Exposure Lights, Scimitar Sports and Working Bodies.

Back to top

National MTB Series Round 1 - Sherwood Pines
24th March 2013

Normally for me not only does the first National Series race signal the start of the season but also the start of longer days and better weather it was not so this year. I couldn't quite believe the weather forecast in the week indicating a big dump of snow just on Sherwood in time for the weekend. I hoped that as normal the weather men had it wrong, typically it was the one time they’d got it right! Waking to a driveway full of snow on Saturday morning I immediately jumped on the internet thinking that in all likely hood I wouldn't be racing in this. No news meant I began the journey Northwards, I think in parts my heart rate probably went higher than when I race and was a tad hairy in some places but I arrived in one piece along with many others. After walking down to the event arena, looking like something of a winter wonderland I was sure it would be called off but after signing on and seeing the organisers working hard to make the course rideable I got out my bike to have some fun! The course at Sherwood doesn't really suit my strengths as a rider; it isn't at all technical and is a power course. However the snow made it far more fun and challenging than normal, I fitted in a couple of laps before my feet began to freeze!

Race day dawned with a little more snowfall overnight. Warming up on my rollers in the snow was rather surreal and I was really struggling to keep warm. Adding another layer to keep warm at the start I headed to the line. It was to be my debut race for my new team, it is a really good feeling to be part of team that I've been following since I began racing. I hoped I could do their faith in me justice, seeing Donna just before being gridding wishing each other luck I felt properly part of the team, it was ace! It was great to see so many women on the start line; I think we must be the fastest growing category. There were some new faces as well as the familiar ones. I was beginning to shiver on the start line and could barely feel my feet; I just wanted to get going so I could warm up! The whistle went and we were off, I didn't get the best start missing clipping in as my feet were so numb so lost a few places. I had a huge wobbly moment coming into one of the first muddy sections, I tried to get round the riders I had become behind of but I just couldn't get the grip so I was stuck where I was for a while. I eventually managed to get into some clear space and begin to slowly pass riders and catch up with ones in front me. It was getting muddier each lap and very slippery. My bike was also beginning to suffer with the freezing temperatures, each time I tried to put some power down the sound of jumping gears and jerky legs I hoped it’d last until the end. I caught Jessie Roberts (Torq Performance) and had to giggle as her bike was sounding just the same. On my last lap I had completely lost the feeling in my feet, couldn't move my mouth and was praying my bike held out. It was really good fun! I finished in eighth, not the best start to the season but plenty to work on and I’m really looking forward to the next round in Cornwall. Hopefully in the sun!

A huge thank you to all the organisers and marshals making it possible for us to race. It must have been pretty miserable standing out in those conditions; it is very much appreciated thank you!

I couldn't race without my Sponsors so thank you to;, Mt.Zoom, Exposure Lights, Scimitar Sports, Velocite UK, Schwable UK, Mavic, Sponsor UK, Whackjob Jim, Ana Nichoola, Ian and Mark at Firecrest MTB and Working bodies Towcester.

Back to top

Every page on Maxine's website has these link icons which allow you to tag and share links using a range of social bookmarking websites.