Helen Findlay

My adventures in Middle Europe and The Colonies. This blog contains my own views and opinions and does not represent those of my employers, or any other organisation with which I am involved. Remember, just because it isn't Singletrackworld, doesn't mean it isn't shite !

Friday, October 08, 2010

Happy 2010

Well, it’s October already and I still haven’t done a blog post this year ! Better fix that (sorry relatives in New Zealand and ladies in America who actually read this !) so here it is, split into nice categories for you:


Bit of a false start on this one, Santa dropped if off on a Wednesday a couple of weeks before Christmas. Took it around the block, yay, it works. Two feet of snow on Thursday which hung around for about three months. Not the best conditions for a novice. Got going again in spring and now take it to work as many days as I can, and have even been all the way up to East Croachy near Inverness on it, via the long way as I am not allowed on motorways. Finding the limits of the bike now, for example the A9 really is not fun with a top speed of 60 mph. OK 70 but it was downhill with a tailwind. Was toying with the Big Bike Licence soon but my Big Bike Fund was demolished by a Big Mechanic Bill for the van so will need to wait for spring again now and save up some cash.


Retirement from racing is boring, and I am getting fat. Did two races for the Salsa team this year, Sleepless in the Saddle (which we won with about the same script as last year) and Dusk til Dawn in the solos. I came second, which was a huge surprise as I sacked it after 6 hours with fatal bike failure after slogging through a couple of feet of mud all the way around. Nice set of Exposure lights for a prize – thanks v much ! Was leading when I went out for my last lap, but had to come off the course early as had no brakes (not really an issue in the mud) no rear shifter and a chain that functioned in one gear, about 50% of the time. Decided I had tried hard enough. Turns out almost all the rest of the field collapsed before I did. Might see if I can get some weight off over winter and mebbe do some SXC races next year, depends on the courses they put up, not keen to travel for hours for short race on a boring track.

Innerleithen MTB Racing

A cracking year for the events team. The iXS cup in May was a LOT of work, but a huge victory in both reception and execution and we got some great coverage. See www.ixscupinnerleithen.com I have a few things on my list of what I would do better next year, but sadly we won’t get the chance. BC have allocated the date that we need to run the race to the British Series organisers for their C1 event. Most frustrating, as they lied and said they had a venue lined up when they didn’t, and had the chutzpah to put Innerleithen on the form to the UCI, when we are running an event at that weekend so that’s blatantly non-factual. So now there will be no C1 race in Scotland the week before the World Cup at Fort Bill at this rate, as we have missed out on registering the date with UCI and the British Series organisers can’t secure a venue. Nicely done. But at least we will have no competition for our event at Innerleithen on the last weekend of May 2011, press releases soon.

We are running a winter series, the Proper Mountainbike Series, fine tuning the details and sponsorship now, but will involve most of the mountain biking disciplines, with a couple of new formats in the mix. All will be revealed on www.innerleithenmtbracing.com next week sometime.

The kids mini DH race series this year was totally awesome. We put on 3 races for ages 10-16, push-up no uplift, on short tracks. They loved it ! And we had a great time apart from one incident early on involving a helicopter, but that turned out fine in the end.


It’s a big building in Edinburgh.

Other stuff

Big year for Kieren, went to his wedding in May and then down to visit him and Kate and baby Michael last weekend. Here is a picture of Kieren feeding Michael who is wearing the fleece I bought for him in Peebles.

Not been anywhere interesting this year as both my passports are expired. Working on that ! Enjoying hanging around the Borders, thinking about selling the flat in Edinburgh, but no urgency with anything so might just stay where I am in Peebles until I have to leave. Will need a garage though if I buy a fancy motorbike so that may spur some action !

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Check my new ride...

OK obviously that's not me on the bike it's some Italian guy, but my one of these arrives on wednesday. Mid-life crisis anybody ??

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Scary Goat Sheep

Here is a picture from the Peebles A & P show a couple of months back. Fiona and Martin and Nathalie and Alan came to visit and we had a most excellent day looking at the animals, watching the tractors pull the horse floats across the mud and observing the breeding habits of the Young Farmers in the bar. How scary looking is this goat/sheep thing ?? How feeble does that rope tying it up look ??

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sleepless in the Saddle

The Salsa Ladies were victorious at Sleepless in the Saddle. It would have been difficult not to be, as we were the only Expert team entered ! We decided to do it properly, did all our laps and beat all the Enthusiast Ladies teams, which could have been quite embarrassing if we hadn't. And Anna won the Queen of the Night prize with a stonking 45 min lap at 10pm. Great race, and the boys got second in Expert Men. The course was bang-on, the mud if anything made it more interesting, and the weather stayed sunny. As you can see from the pic, the maximum height requirement still applies on the team, 5ft 2 and under only for us Salsa Ladies. The drive back was a bit challenging, 5 hours up the M6/M74 with no sleep for two days. After 3 double espresso stops was down to 50mph on the Moffat road, so little did I trust my reactions. Good prizes too, some pink Enduro tops, not really my color but will be good for road commuting as you can see them from the Great Wall of China. And ACTUAL CASH !! Woohoo...

As you can see from the picture of George multitasking like a woman, it was bright and sunny and the secret to getting on the podium in the mens is to take any chance of sleep you can get !

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Selkirk Merida

Here I am all smiles, back from what felt like a very long Selkirk Merida 85km on sunday. It was climbier, but also due to aforementioned increasing oldness and fatness, felt a lot harder. Course was great and once I figure out where they all are will ride the best sections again. Might find my computer which fell off at about 40km, so hard on your head when you don't know how far you have to go !

Have had a great time racing this year, Mountain Mayhem was absolutely brilliant, was so nice to be in such a professional set-up with the Salsa Team. Paul and co grabbed the bike off me after every lap, delivered the standard lecture on my poor bike maintenance, and fixed it for me. The bike came back running better than it had started. The team were excellent too, we all worked well together and kept it going, finishing in 3rd on the Expert Ladies podium. So thanks Sara, Anna and Faith a great team. The course was pretty untechnical, but at 4am I was thankful for that.

Managed to get myself on the top step of the podium at Ten Under K'tree, due more to a lack of competition than anything else. That was an interesting race, the course on the face of it seemed dead easy and boring, but by lap 8 I was really toiling over all the rock steps, and taking the new cut stuff faster and faster. Took third at Ten Under The Ben in another tough and hot race.

Have been really busy organising the British XC Champs on 19th July with Steve and Dan, and Rich from Glentrails helping. It went off really well on the day, apart from a stuff-up with the Commentary. Loads of the Scottish kids won medals and we have had heaps of good feedback. (There was some moaning from forum twats, which I decided to ignore, especially when I looked at the results of the biggest moaners who almost all came dead last or sacked it after one lap. None of whom had the decency to approach us directly. And the biggest stirrer was the chap who has tendered for the event 3 years running and can't provide a DH course as well. Agenda anybody ? Most unprofessional). We were very lucky with the weather, the course held up well and all the campers had a great time at Walkerburn Rugby Club. And I have NEVER seen so many spectators at an XC race, barring World Cups, when I finally had five minutes I went and watched the end of the Downhill. So if I haven't thanked you already, THANKS HEAPS to all of you that helped, marshalled, set up the barriers, attempted to make generators work at 7.15am, all those little things. Dougie the Moto X guy seemed to be enjoying himself too, and when I have time I will photoshop a high-vis vest on to him !

I will leave the last words to Liam Killeen, who won the men's race: " In terms of technical courses this has to be up there some of the best World Cup courses like Mt. Snow."

Next up iXS European DH Cup, May 29th next year. I'm off to Germany in 6 weeks to meet with the organisers at iXS at their Bischofmais race.

This weekend it's Sleepless in the Saddle, really hoping the weather forecast contains some actual facts, its big suns all the way to monday at the moment....

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Weekend in Welsh Wales

Just back from a long weekend playing on the trail centres in Welsh Wales with the Thetford MTB Racing crew. Fantastic ! Great company, great riding and really quite exceptional cakes. Diet starts next weekend… We rode Lladegla (bermy and bmxy) Coed Y Brenin (rocky and muddy with added fireroad) and Penmachno (flowy and smooth, with added rocky bits on the last descent). I have been recruited to the Salsa Racing ladies team for some of the endurance events this year, in what is shaping up to be a busy year of racing for me. Retiring next year honest… Definitely only one road race this year, as I have already entered it, and I missed the first Scottish Crit race taking Ramona to the V.E.T. My poor neglected road bike. Here is my race schedule for the year if any tall dark handsome blokes would like to stalk me:

April 19 – Tour of the Meldons roady time trial (feel the burn)
April 26 – SXC Aberfoyle
May 17 – SXC Laggan (if One of the Steves will give me a lift on the Sunday no point reccieing this course)
May 30 – 10 Under The Ben solo (yeah baby !)
June 14 – SXC Fort Bill Scottish Champs
June 20/21 – Mountain Mayhem – Salsa Ladies team
July 12 – 10 Under Kirroughtree solo
July 25/26 – Twenty Four Twelve – Salsa Ladies team
August 1 – Long Big Hard Durty One – Offroad Triathlon in a team with Nathalie (the Frog Woman) and Alan (our Secret Weapon in Flyaway Shorts)
August 2 – Selkirk Merida (if and only if it’s a sunny day I ain’t schlepping my arse about 85km of Borders Hills in the peeing rain)
August 8/9 – Sleepless in the Saddle – Salsa Ladies team
August 22 - 10 Under Moray solo
September 6 – SXC Badaguish (2nd best XC course in Britain IMHO)
September 20 – SXC Drumlanrig
October 12 – Dusk til Dawn solo

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Race Report SXC Kirrouggghhttttree

The course was pish and I got beat, but it was a fun day...


I was riding my new MSC Koncept which was mint, corners faster than I do, but its extensive powers were somewhat wasted sadly.

Swag report - one reasonably tasteful trophy made from old slate tiles, added to the extensive collection in my bathroom. One bottle of lucozade, one lucozade bar, one box lucozade "sports vitamins" made in Belgium I hope, one clif bar and bag of gel shots, one mini-tool from That Other Bike Shop We Don't Name bringing my collection to three, one Scottish Power drink bottle, bringing my collection to five hundred million and one. And a well smart Buff with SXC logo on it so good result there.

I now come away from races with more nutrition products than I arrived with, not complaining like, but really need to eat more during the race !

Roll on SXC Aberfoyle, might even manage to do some training before then...

Off this weekend to Wales with Dawn and Paul that ran the NPS last year and some of their pals can't wait.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Announcing the winner of the fattest lassie to ever stand on a podium competition....

Here is me at Thetford Winter Series 4.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Glentress Duathlon - if I ever say I want to do a running race again shoot me...

OK well it wasn't that bad, but it wasn't that good either !

This was the final and the Long race of the series, I was hoping to make some time on the first bike leg to make up for my rubbish running but it wasn't to be, had a bad start stuck in traffic, then my front mech had a spaz and I only had the top of the big ring or the bottom of the little ring, then awful chainsuck so had to run up half the climbs, got stuck behind mincers on the descents, it was just endless hassle the kind of race where you actually pray for a puncture ! Moving to my efficient changeover - armed with a pair of scissors as I have to use cable ties to attach my mtb shoes just now and scissors to get them off, a tactic that impressed Prasad no end - and away out for the run in a well back by this stage 2nd place.

This is a point for me in a duathlon where all the runner girls start flying past me, but weirdly it didn't happen that way. I slipped, slid, walked, fell over, waddled, took wrong turns and stumbled my way nearly to the end, when 300 metres from the finish a girl came past me, and I had nothing in the tank so dropped to 3rd. Well, almost nothing, looked over my shoulder towards the end and spotted another runner girl, so summoned last wee bit for a "sprint" finish. Some lessons there on nutrition for these kind of races was totally bonked by the end. I finished up with second place in the Seniors, Lesley took the win with a good solid performance that gave her the series win too, well done Lesley ! Prasad also took the win on the day and the series win.

Quality prizes BTW - chocolate and wine !

Overall I guess I would have to say I almost grudgingly enjoyed it - was surprised I didn't lose as much time as usual on the run. Have some weird injuries this morning, I got a tree in the face and have scraped my eye, nasty welt where I stuffed the peg down my running bra (you had to collect a peg to prove you made it to the top of the hill) and terrible blisters on the soles of my feet.

Another great event from the Glentress Duathlon team, but next time can we have a 8 hour bike and a 10 minute run ? Then I will rock in an awesome and stoked fashion.... Have been asked to write an article for the local newspaper in Peebles about it will post when/if it's published.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

First race of the year goes well - Thetford Winter Series round 4

Expectations were low, I got back from Middle Earth less than a week ago and have been seriously toiling with the jet-lag, which is unusual for me. Wide awake at 2am then up for work at 6am, not good and I have not been my usual cheery self. Dawn and I set off for the long drive to Thetford, staying with her friends Tracy and Russell who made us feel very at home and fed us lots, and arrived in Cambridge early evening.

Didn't help that I tried to fix my rear brake myself (Women - know your limits - don't try to fix your bike, stand around looking pretty until a man does it for you) which meant I had no rear brake as the piston popped out taking with it half the fluid. Didn't think it would matter on a flat course so I decided sleep and food were more important than rushing about trying to get it fixed, and I was right never even missed it.

You can read the report on the BC site but I managed to win this race again, had to work a bit harder for it this time. A girl in yellow was determined to stay at the front, so I let her pace it for the first half of the 1st lap. Then my bag of tubes/canisters/tools which had broken fell off so got dropped as it took me a minute or two to fix it. Went really hard and caught her at the start of lap 2, which hurt quite a lot as I have done nothing except steady base miles for about 6 months, still coughing bit of lung up. We had a few tussles, but I was able to get away using the sneaky trick of drafting off some male riders passing us on a fireroad (hoping thats not against the rules ?) and led to the end of the race. Not by much as it turned out, finished 2.37 ahead. Was pleased to come in over the four hour mark, was no way going to do another lap !! Last year I had to lurk at the finish line in case anybody else went out again... Turns out the girl in yellow needed the win points to take the series so that was one sullen podium, but I would be annoyed at being beaten by somebody as old and fat as me (cringing at the photos) so can't really blame them.

I love the races at Thetford they are so friendly, and the flat course and swoopy BMXy singletrack makes a change, it's a lot harder physically there is just no rest, I was almost looking forward to the short slightly climby bits.

It was a long drive back, totally wired and subsequently more sleep deprivation, so taking a days leave from work today to sort out some stuff for upcoming races and de-stress a bit on the black run at GT, I seem to be awfy busy just now, but I guess it is better than bored !