Friday, 25 July 2008

British National XC Champs - Masters Women

Race Report by Ruth Mordaunt
The British National Championships was just one of my goals this season, and although I had several objectives during the race, I ultimately wanted to win.
Leading up to the Nationals I had trained consistently with some tough sessions set by Andy. I felt strong and ready to race and was hoping this preparation was going to transfer to a result on the day. The event was set in the New Forest with the course designed in a clover leaf style so as to make it more exciting for the spectators in the central arena. The course was typical for the region; flowing single track through the forest. The course offered no big gradient but this was deceptive as although the hills were short they were steep, frequent and relentless, placing more emphasis on consistent effort over technical ability.
This year, the women’s Masters category had raised its standard, with huge improvements all around and especially from Emma Bradley. Also a strong contender was newcomer to mountain biking, Nina Davies who has represented Wales both at National and Commonwealth Games Road/TT racing and National Cross racing too. Furthermore, Theresa Jackson and Caroline Goward looked fighting fit with race experience on their side. We were all gunning for the National title and it was good to be finally on the start line for battle to commence.
It was me who shot off the start line on the motocross section, with Nina and Caroline following closely behind before entering the first section of single track. During this section I tried to settle into a rhythm, but then the first power kick grassy climb put me into the red. I continued to lead for the first half of lap one with Nina and Caroline tucked in just behind me and then Theresa and Emma only a few seconds chasing. It was close, and I knew I had to push on and adopt some race tactics to try and cause a break between us. However, Nina attacked first on the next short yet steep climb into the arena. We were both determined to make it first through the narrow closing but Nina just managed to squeeze past and overtake to gain a small gap. Obviously I did not want to lose sight of her so I was on the chase, but the power drag that proceeded through the woods just zapped the strength out of my legs and it was then I dropped back a little.
During the end of first lap and on one of the few parts of the course where you could grab a drink, Caroline attacked and overtook, leaving me in third position with Theresa and Emma motoring just behind. I remained calm, especially as I had been warned that other riders from earlier races in the day had blown due to not taking enough fluid and fuel on board. So at this point I made it a priority to refuel and successfully resumed a steady rhythm to power on back to Caroline. This seemed to work as it did not take too long to catch up with Caroline where I felt exceptionally strong and overtook her during the second lap. Now all I needed to do was to get to Nina and attack, but it was going to be tight as now she had gained a good 1 ½ minutes on me and I only had one lap to go. I continued to ride a strong final lap and made up some time but unfortunately I could not close the gap to Nina.
Nina rode to the finish line to take the Master Woman National Championship title and I came home not long after to take silver and with Caroline taking bronze. Well done to Nina Davies and to the Master Women category as a whole in raising the racing standard in this category this year. I am now looking forward to the next and fourth round of the British NPS in Staffordshire where the battle between us will be sure to recommence!
Full results and lap times can be found at

The 2008 Masters Women podium (from left) Caroline Goward, Nina Davies and Ruth Mordaunt.

Monday, 21 July 2008

British National XC Champs & Hit The North

The Altura Patterson Training team was in two places at once this weekend, with Ruth and Simon racing for the Masters titles down at Crow Hill, while Andy and I braved the rain up in Bury for Hit The North.
At the Nationals, Ruth was first up on Sunday at 10:32, and put in a fantastic ride to take the silver medal. The title went to Nina Davies with a very strong ride, and Caroline Goward claimed the bronze medal. We'll have a race report from Ruth up soon.
Simon was not so lucky, and snapped his chain in the first of his four laps, and although he managed to repair it, the weakened chain continued to break and he had to retire from the race. Sam Gardner successfully defended his Masters title, with Matt Barrett taking silver and Luke Mosely taking bronze. On a brighter note, Si did win the wheelie competition the night before and received a tray of Fosters beer for his efforts!
Big congratulations to Jenny Copnall for her fifth, well-earned title. Congratulations also to Liam, Amy, Dave, Nina, Sam, Annie, Hamish and all the other Champs on their titles. Preparing for a high-pressure event like a National Championship is really tough, and those who come through with the jerseys deserve respect.
Meanwhile, Andy and I were up in Manchester, representing event sponsors Powerbar at Hit The North. This was a 12 hour race just off the M61 near Bolton, and it was a superb event. We ran a stall for Powerbar, as well as fielding a four-person team including myself and Andy, Mark Alker from Singletrack Mag and Karl Pearson from Powerbar. Powerbar put up a free refill service with their C2Max Sports Drink, and we kept the carbs flowing for all the mud-caked riders as they shuffled through.
Unfortunately the weather spoiled things a bit and turned the singletrack and bombhole sections of the course into a muddy quagmire, and there was a lot of running and carrying of bikes required in order to get through each lap. We spent as much time washing bikes and carting barrels of water as we did riding, although we had a lot of help from Mark's boys Tom (12) and Sam (9), who did a great job as our team support. Thanks guys!
Rain aside, the event was brilliant, and the organsers did a fantastic job. The after-party in the beer tent with a proper Northern DJ was a great idea (it had stopped raining by then), and the names on our number plates were a nice touch. Well done to all those who stuck it out to the end, hopefully next year we'll get sunshine and dusty trails!
Mark turned up on a carbon hardtail... so we made him warm up on the turbo to complete the image!

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Salzkammergut 2008 Gallery

Photos courtesy

The 2008 Salzkammergut Trophy in Bad Goisern started in rain and ended in sunshine, with mist rising through the valley.

Andy (top) and Jenn are still pretty clean as they crest the top of the first 1000m climb.

The descent back into Bad Goisern coated everyone in mud.

A moment of darkness in one of the cliff tunnels before popping out into the sunshine.

Some bridges were covered, whilst others weren't. These pics were taken as we turned left 90 degrees onto a long set of concrete steps.

Quintessentially Austrian scenery, as the rainclouds roll away.

The race traverses the mountainside along trails cut into the cliff face.
A media helicoptor tracks the race leaders, as the crowd waits for the winners to arrive.

The last section of the course snakes through the villages around Bad Goisern, on cycle paths and forest tracks, including a short run up a grassy bank by the river.

Jenn (top) is the first woman to cross the line in 5hrs 56mins 45secs. Andy (below) is not far behind in 6hrs 3mins 20secs.

Jenn with sponsor Uli Fahl of Tune, who builds Jenn's super light race wheels. Below is Jenn's prize, one of the famous Salzkammergut fossil trophies. The Salzkammergut valley was a prehistoric seabed, and these fossil rocks are unique to the region. Each category winner receives a trohpy made from one of these fabulous fossils.

Monday, 14 July 2008

South West Champs

Sunday 13th July
Newnham Park, Plymouth

Altura Patterson Training racer Simon Young is the newly-crowned South West Champ, taking both the Masters and overall titles yesterday at Newnham Park in Plymouth. We'll have a full report, as well as a gallery from the Salzkammergut, posted this week.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Salzkammergut Trophy 2008

Bad Goisern, Austria
12 July 2008
Race Report by Jenn O'Connor

Well I finally won the Salzkammergut Trophy, and what a great feeling. It was a close race between myself and Austrian Ruth Hagen as we traded places for the lead throughout the race. My time was 15 minutes faster than last year on the same course, despite the rain and mud. That's right, mud! The Salzkammergut this year was a different challenge from 2007. Thunderstorms the night before the race set the scene, and it was raining steadily as we lined up on the starting grid.

I knew the rain would play in my favour, as it would keep things cool and turn the singletrack descent back into Bad Goisern into a mudslide. I was confident that whilst my speed on the fireroads might not win me the race, I figured I would be untouchable on a steep muddy descent.

The race started with a climb up to 1000m, and I rode steadily, staying with the leading women. Andy had managed to get a better starting position this year and was just behind me. I was in second place for the first first fireroad descent, which was fast and mucky, with grit spraying everywhere. Andy sped off into the distance, making the most of every descent, knowing his 6'4" frame would drag him back on the long, steep climbs to come. All the riders were completely caked in mud for the second, shorter climb, but I had a small lead over the other women at that point and pressed on to open it up.

The singletrack descent was fast and slippery, and just as I'd hoped, I overtook riders by the dozen as we dropped back into the town.

The mid part of the course is about 25km of false flat (slightly uphill) through the valley and around the lake. I came off twice on the wooden footbridges, which were slick as ice and taking everybody down. The key to this section is to get in with a group and work it like a chain gang. I managed to work with a couple of guys, but the group grew too big and the change of pace was brutal, and I soon found myself alone again. Ruth had better luck, and flew past me in a bunch. I let them go, knowing I would be able to catch her on the climb if I saved my strength.

The third climb is the biggest in the race, climbing from 500m to over 1500m in just 15km. It's harsh and steep, and gets steeper towards the top. I caught up with Ruth about halfway up, and was feeling unstoppable. My full suss Endorfin put the carbon hardtails to shame as I sped up the mountainside, taking back the places I'd lost on the flat, and more besides.

I had a clear lead again for the descent into Gosausee, and finally caught Andy, as the big climb had beaten him into submission. I chased him down the fireroad, knowing I would have to save every second if I was to hold onto my slender lead. I talked myself through my cornering drills, moving the bike under me and keeping my weight over the wheels. Andy and I had ditched our semi-slicks in favour of chunkier Fire XC Pros for this wet race, and it was the right choice. I knew that if I could get into the last climb with a good lead then I would have a chance of holding it through the 20km flat drag to the finish.

I hit the last climb still in the lead and attacked it. Andy shouted encouragement as I disappeared up the hill. The sun came out and beat down with a vengeance, but I ignored it and rode harder than ever. My climb had turned out to be my best weapon, and I was using it.

The final drag back to Bad Goisern would be my weakness, but I was luckier this time and fell in with a fast-moving bunch. I was glancing over my shoulder, expecting to see Ruth closing in on me, but our group sped down the road and I was soon negotiating the final forest singletrack and cyclepaths into Bad Goisern, still with a clear lead. I won with 10 minutes to spare, but sprinted for the finish line, just to be sure.

The men's 109km was a proper sprint finish between Grand Tour superstar Gilberto Simoni and Columbian Leonardo Paez, fresh from a top 5 finish in the marathon worlds last weekend. Simoni won the sprint and took the win in just four and a half hours - awesome!

Unfortunately Simoni chose not to attend the prizegiving party later in the evening, so I didn't get a chance to stand on the podium with him, which was a bit disappointing.

Andy finished about 10 minutes after me, having stopped to scoff four ham sandwiches at the last feed zone. He was 143rd in the men's race and 144th overall as he manged to hold off the other women.

Frenchman Thomas Dietsch won the 208km race in 10 hours and 9 minutes. It is a real honour to be counted amongst such a great lineup of winners.

109km Women
1st Jenn O'Connor (NZL)
2nd Ruth Hagen (AUT) 6.07.28
3rd Petra Kottova (CZE) 6.17.20

Andy 143rd (men) 144 overall

109km Men
1st Gilberto Simoni (ITA) 4.29.59
2nd Leonardo Paez (COL) 4.29.59
3rd Heinz Verbnjak (CZE) 4.38.27

208km Men
1st Thomas Dietsch (FRA)
2nd Ondrej Fojtik (CZE)
3rd Stefan Danowski (GER)

208km Women
1st Andrea Huser (SUI)

For full result go to

Tuesday, 8 July 2008


The Tour of Austria came through Toblach today, and we got a chance to rub shoulders with some cycling Superstars on the start line. Quite literally, in the case of Tornado Tom Boonan, which has left me a bit giddy!

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Marathon Worlds Results

Men 119.9km

1. PAULISSEN Roel (BEL) 4.46.56
2. SAUSER Christoph (SUI) 4.46.56
3. HUBER Urs (SUI) 4.51.56
4. PAEZ LEON Hector Leonardo (COL) 4.55.14
5. NAEF Ralph (SUI) 4.56.10

UK & NZ Crew

26. CRAIG Nick (GBR) 5.13.26
69. OUCHTERLONY James (GBR) 5.46.37
75. JAMIESON Duncan (GBR) 5.53.54
84. RICHARDSON Jon (NZL) 6.08.32
85. KILLEEN Liam (GBR) 6.10.47

Women 88.6km

1. DAHLE FLESJAA Gunn Rita (NOR) 4.09.56
2. SPITZ Sabine (GER) 4.11.40
3. SUNDSTED Pia (FIN) 4.13.35
4. SUSS Esther (SUI) 4.21.49
5. DICHT Erika (SUI) 4.23.31

UK & NZ Crew

20. O'CONNOR Jenn (NZL) 4.50.18
23. SCALIA Liz (GBR) 4.55.05
28. BIGHAM Sally (GBR) 5.02.31
29. SPATH Mel (GER) 5.03.09
37. MACDONALD Sara (NZL) 5.13.56

Full results and times posted on

Saturday, 5 July 2008

2008 World MTB Marathon Championship, Villabassa Italy

Race day has arrived and with it brilliant blue skies. As usual by this time I have stopped worrying, as if there is anything major that I have forgotten its not good worrying 1 hour before the event.
Mauro Scalia (Liz Scalia's husband) picked me up along with two of his friends from Sicily and we headed out on the usual whacky race to get to the feed zones to find a parking spot before the horde of Swiss pit crew, who have about 10 riders in both the men's and women's races.
At the start the UK and Ireland collective of Jenn O'Connor, Liz Scalia, Melanie Spath and Sally Bigham tried to look relaxed but the usual race nerves (Or more correctly competitive sport anxiety) were ever present.
The race had a real fast start and saw a split of about 10 riders go clear after 15 minutes of racing. The group contained all the big hitters, Gunn Rita, Sabine Spitz, Pia Sundsted and others. The rolling start led to a relatively short but steep climb to the gondola at the top of a ski field, which split up the group.
Jenn and Liz battled with each other exchanging positions for the first half of the race before Jenn began to pull away slightly. Sally had a slow start but got into her stride later in the race just creeping past Mel Spath at the finish, who had to stop frequently to inflate her rear tyre that was refusing to stay inflated.
The day was very hot and I was trying my best to find shade at the feed zones, so racing must have been tough. As the leaders rode through the final feed zone the 3 minute lead that Gunn Rita had over Sabine Spitz was reduced to less than a munute and Pia Sundsted was working well with Sabine to make the catch. Jenn managed to hold her lead over Liz finishing about 19th or 20th (Not sure at this time) and riding well, with Liz 5 minutes behind and Mel and Sally crossing the line around 20 minutes later.
The big news of the day was in the finish of the mens race, as Sauser and Paulisson began the sprint finish after a gruelling 120 km in the heat, the crowds' cheering changed to gasps as they collided, bringing each other down metres from the line. Sauser picked himself up first and crossed the line with his glasses skewed and clearly dazed, Paulisson crossed the line seconds later heading straight to the commisaire and race organisation looking non too happy. I don't think either rider was badly injured, and after an official appeal the win was awarded to Roel Paulisson. And that is one Youtube clip I have to see.
As for the UK men, Nick Craig was showing no sign of aging as he rode strongly in a chasing group not far behind the leaders. Behind Nick James Ochterlony didn't look as though he was having a great day in the saddle lacking the form he showed in the Grand Canaria Marathon suffering from breathing problems, and Will Bergfelt had a puncture and a snapped chain.
Its been a great day with fantastic weather and a great atmosphere, tomorrow I am up for the 56 km race. I'll give my best shot and see how long my knee holds up, but if I do a crap ride it's because I'm way overweight not because my knee hurts. - Andy

Friday, 4 July 2008

Road Trip

Here we are, finally, in the beautiful Dolomites, in Northern Italy, right next to the border with Austria. It's taken us 20 hours of driving (plus two hours on the Dover ferry) to get here, but at least we now have two full weeks to enjoy it.

We left Manchester yesterday lunchtime, and caught the evening ferry across to Dunkerque, then drove until midnight and slept in the back of the car at a rest stop somewhere in Holland, near the German border. It's not as uncivilised as is sounds - our Chrysler Grand Voyager has enough room in the back for a dinner party, it's just a matter of shifting the bikes out onto the rack and shuffling bags around. We finally arrived here in Toblach / Dobbiaco last night about 6pm, in time for our dinner here at Hotel Rosengarten, then to bed for a full 12 hours of sleep!

We're here for the 2008 World Mountain Bike Marathon Champs, where I'll be representing New Zealand. The race is on Saturday (tomorrow), then on Sunday is the annual Dolomiti Superbike marathon race, which is run as a separate event. Andy is entered in the shorter 56km distance on Sunday, which means we both get to race and can support each other in our own events. Unfortunately Andy knocked his knee on a log while we were up in Whinlatter forest for the Altura launch a couple of weeks ago and it is still niggling him, so he is not sure whether or not he will be able to race. Luckily his event is not until Sunday, so he still has another two days to decide.
As for me, I am finally race fit again and really looking forward to this event. The little VP-4 JENN has had a full refit of SRAM shifters, cables and drive system since Mayhem, as well as new shock bushings (Mayhem is a bugger for wrecking that stuff), and is running sweet as chocolate. Rider registration starts today at 2pm, and Andy and I will go out together and pre-ride parts of the course for an hour or so, sign on, then spend the afternoon with our feet up. There is a Team Manager briefing this evening at 6pm, and as we are self-supported, the NZ National Team Manager part will be played by Andy.

My race starts tomorrow at 11.30am, with the men setting off at 12 noon. Our course is only 89km, while the men will do 120km. We'll meet up with Brit Liz Scalia and her husband Mauro later today, and Andy and Mauro and sort out between them how to cover the feed zones for myself and Liz. Mauro and Liz have become our good friends over the years, and we have worked with them to cover feed zones for this event the past two World Marathon Champs. Their company is one of the pleasures of this race, and we always look forward to spending time with them. Liz will be especially tough to beat this time around, as she is a climbing specialist and trains here in the Dolomites every year.

Pic 1. Andy has been doing mostly driving for two days straight!
Pic 2. Jagged Dolomiti mountains mean the end is in sight.
Pic 3. The view from our room at Hotel Rosengarten in Toblach.

We'll post up again tomorrow with some results and more pics.