Friday, 5 September 2014

An end of season reflection...

So my season has unfortunately ended early due to some tendinitis in my Achilles which is pretty disappointing, but hey these things happen! It's been a super short "pilot" season as my first year in the elite category and I have learnt so much with the help of my coach James (High Rise Coaching) and the companies that have supported me throughout the year.

Isaac Paddock



I can't begin to thank High Rise Coaching, Lizard Skins, Muc-off, POC, Ride 100%, Specialized and 2:1MTB Racing enough for their help this year. I have met some fantastic people and am so grateful for the support and encouragement I have received.

It's so crazy looking back to when I first started this blog...I had just decided to start riding again after sustaining a bad injury and permanent damage to my left arm which now has little movement (luckily for me it is stuck in handle bar position!). I was inspired by Eilish McColgan, an athlete I used to train with during my time at Dundee University where I was a competitive runner. Eilish sustained a bad injury to her foot in 2011 and began writing a blog detailing her come back story, since her injury Eilish has competed in the London Olympics and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. I began running at university when I realised that cycling, particularly downhill mountain biking wasn't going to be an option for me given the state of my arm. Although I loved running I really missed racing my bike...I began reading Eilish's blog and quickly decided that I was going to begin a journey similar to hers and work my way to the top of the sport I love.




So I began this blog in September 2012...since then I have won the non-elite senior British Champs, the British Universities Champs, the Scottish Series Champs, moved into the elite category and have been selected to represent Great Britain at World Cup level. I know I still have a very long way to go, but I'm proud of what I have achieved and I'm so grateful to everyone who has inspired and supported me in my journey so far.

I plan to keep climbing up the ladder to becoming a professional racer and write another cheesy reflection in a few years time!



The next few weeks will be spent healing up my ankle and having some post season rest time before getting next years plans together....exciting times ahead!

Good luck to all Team GB in World Champs! :)

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Summer catch up!

Since the British Championships in Innerleithen I have had quite some time between races for some serious training (which unfortunately is on hold while I deal with a swollen ankle...giving me a good opportunity to write this post). So I had planned to head over to France to compete in the final round of the UCI DH World Cup in Meribel however having graduated from uni this summer my race funds have been a bit short so I've had to skip that race and am now planning to wrap up my season with the final BDS in Bike Park Wales.

Being a student was an amazing opportunity and I don't for one minute regret getting my degree done and dusted before focussing on my cycling career, however it has meant this season has been a pretty short "pilot" as a first year senior elite. On a more positive note this has meant more training time with High Rise Coaching, so we plan to be fully prepped to smash 2015 with a whole lot of racing!





All this training time made a perfect opportunity to test out the new Specialized 2FO shoes that arrived all the way from California! These shoes are seriously nice. I push up trails most of the time and normally battle with "ankle slop" while heaving my bike to the top. These shoes fit really well, they offer great fitted support around the ankle and the laces can be pulled tight without cutting off ones blood supply! The Air Mesh padding these shoes are lined with is soft but protective and keeps the shoe light and airs well (very important for riding in not so sunny Scotland). The wedge shape on the bottom of these shoes is designed to better align your knee to foot which will promote maximum power output when pedalling as well as stability and weight transfer throughout your entire body. With downhill being such a physical sport having solid, supportive footwear is vital...as an anatomist & physiologist these shoes tick all the boxes as far as the human body goes and in my opinion there's not a better looking downhill shoe out there!







In some other news I am no longer riding for Flare Clothing Company, but there are some exciting developments under way with my team 2:1MTB Racing and Specialized...so watch this space for 2015 announcements!

Thursday, 10 July 2014

British Champs 2014!

This weekend saw the British Downhill Championships come to Scotland!

I headed down on Friday evening in my new van (thanks mum and dad!) and met up with Coach James and Gareth the team manager of 2:1 Racing. Track walk ended up a bit later than we had planned so it was pretty dark in the woods but we still managed to figure out some lines and were looking forward to hitting the roots in the morning.  It was great to see a longer track at Innerleithen, one that requires some power as well as technical skill. 

I had a pretty rough sleep for some reason that night and woke very early to the sound of heavy rain...none the less I was excited to ride my Status and see how the track was looking. Steep off camber, roots, rocks, big rocks, bigger rocks and tight trees were in plenty, the track was great fun but challenging in the wet - perhaps more mentally than physically! Gaz and I stuck together while we got to know the track and High Rise Coaching's James Scott was supporting all day. Flare Clothing Company had their tent set up in the car park and Ben (Flare side kick and supported rider) was loving the track. 




Big shout out to my pal Emma Whittaker who has done some nasty work of her insides while gunning it on the rocks. Emma is now being glued up in hospital so get well soon girl and make the most of the whippy ice cream! Hearing about Emma's misfortune made me more grateful than ever to have the support of POC who have hooked me up with the Cortex Flow helmet and the VPD Spine vest which keep me as safe as you can be rattling down steep rocks on a bike!

So practice continued once Emma had been scraped up by the marshals and rescue medics (good job guys!) and slowly but surely the runs got faster. By the end of the day I was loving the track and feeling much more confident. My status was feeling nippy through the tight trees and the specialized butcher's were keeping me rubber side down.

Race day arrived and the track was still super fun but even more sloppy! Seeding run was on the steady side but a good clean run into 5th place, catching up the rider in front mid course. My Status was so keen during my race run and I managed to take 18 seconds off my seeding run, unfortunately I still caught the rider up in front which slowed my time and I was pipped by 2 seconds into 6th place behind the pros. Buzzing but a little disappointed! Can't wait to get back down to Innerleithen and ride that track again, it was definitely one of my favourites this season, even if my timed runs didn't quite come together. Congratulations to everyone who took a podium place and well done to all for an epic weekend of mud and bikes. 




As always I had some amazing support behind me and I can't thank 2:1 Racing, Ride 100%, POC, Lizard Skins, Flare Clothing Company, Muc-Off and High Rise Coaching enough for their help and encouragement. 

Monday morning I awoke to a parcel all the way from the States - Specialized had sent a set of their new 2FO shoes!! They look sick and feel really supportive, they are nice and rigid and for once I've found a pair of shoes that fit my little feet perfect! Can't wait to try them out this week - stay tuned on facebook for a wee review!



So uni is done and the van is kitted out - huge thanks to my parents who have been really supportive with getting me started out - my dream chasing journey continues!





Sunday, 22 June 2014

Graduation & Good times!

Well I have now officially graduated with BSc (Honours) Anatomy & Physiology at 2:1! Woohooo! It feels great to have a degree (and a messy night at grad ball) behind me and I can now really focus on trying to make a career in the bike world. 






It's amazing being able to ride so much now! I'm already beginning to feel the benefits of "full time" training. With the support of James at High Rise Coaching, we are pushing my training time to almost 20 hours a week - which is hard work but I love every session, no matter how tough it gets -http://www.highrisecoaching.co.uk.




Recently I've had some time off my downhill bike while J-Tech Suspension fix up my shock. These guys are really supportive of 2:1 Racing and always do a great job, have a look at their services and products here http://j-techsuspension.co.uk/.

While the big bike is in bits I've been able to spend a heap of time on my old hardtail, it feels so different but i'm glad to have the time to smash some xc rides before the British Champs. 




Specialized have continued their fantastic support following the world cup and are kitting me out with some big forks for the rest of the season! No excuses not to go big on all the jumps now! Theres also talk of the team getting hold of some new specialized dh shoes, so watch this space! I had a chat with the guys after the last race which they have published on their facebook page, you can check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=671858059536821&set=vb.165579743497991&type=2&theater





I'm looking forward to having my Status I built up again this week and will be on my way!  Jamie was recently awarded a huge venture grant towards the start up costs of his company Lonely Mountain Skis - https://www.facebook.com/lonelymountainskis - and with a portion of the money decided to invest in a GoPro for marketing purposes (yaaay!), so keep an eye on my facebook page for more funny videos!

Monday, 9 June 2014

UCI World Cup #3 Fort William


Getting the chance to compete in a world cup round this season was a major step up the ladder for me. After such a long time out of the sport I was expecting the climb to this level to take a lot longer than it has - although I still have a huge journey ahead! 






I have so many people to thank for such an amazing weekend with so much support, so this could be a lengthly post!

James Scott (level 3 BC coach) from High Rise Coaching has been working with me for about a year now. Although based a few hundred miles apart our set up works really well and we have achieved some great results and are slowly working our way to the top! James travelled up from London to support me over the weekend and put up with midges, moaning, nerves, excitement and my terrible jokes for four long days. I'm so grateful for his help with training/psychology/nutrition - pretty much everything that goes into becoming an elite athlete and particularly for his support at Fort William. If you haven't checked out the new website for High Rise it can be found here:
www.highrisecoaching.co.uk



Isac Paddock Photography//www.Isacpaddock.co.uk






Specialized Bikes were in the team pits over the weekend and I cannot begin to thank them enough for their incredible encouragement. Not only were they the friendliest guys around, they also hooked me up with a pair of Fox 40's, a front wheel, tyres and a brake!!! We had a bit of a stress trying to sort out a headset to fit them onto my Status I but Monster Bikes from Inverness saved the day and my bike got seriously pimped just in time for Saturday practice! 






The forks were amazing and made such a difference, with a little more practice I reckon I could have taken so much more time off the track, however we were called up to the start line early due to high winds picking up. After warming up like a pro with James I set off in my BC jersey and qualified 20th, just making it into the finals. 






The Jaymie Mart Memorial fund award a prize to who the UCI reckon is the "best world cup rookie". I was so honoured to be awarded this after qualifying. Jaymie was absolutely pinned on a bike and I am so proud to have been given this prize under her name. This has made me even more determined to follow in Jaymie's footsteps and make it to the top of downhill racing. 












After a good sleep I was feeling stoked to race in the world cup finals on Sunday! During morning practice I worked up the confidence to hit all the jumps and gaps (which I wimped out of in qualifying) and was so excited to smash my time. Big shout out to Flare Clothing Company who posted up a pair of pink Roost shorts just in time for racing and after a quick stop by the SRAM pit who fitted a new mech for me (after a minor incident involving some rocks) I headed up to the start line with coach James and mechanic Jamie. 












Cannot describe how excited and nervous I felt - just completely buzzing! After a good warm up I set off feeling great but unfortunately my ride didn't go to plan and some mechanical problems in the woods meant I didn't finish. I am absolutely gutted things didn't work out but I guess that's racing. I still had an amazing weekend, met so many awesome people and achieved much more than I thought I would. 






So over all, this was a super fun weekend and a huge learning experience. A massive thank you to everyone who helped me out, particularly Specialized for their incredible support and huge congrats to you guys for taking the win and the leader's jersey.

I now have 20 UCI points so I'm planning to head out to Meribel for the final UCI world cup this season and redeem myself! Next stop - British Champs at Innerleithen!

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

BDS# 3 - Ae Forest


Jamie and I headed down to Ae Forest on the Friday afternoon and set up camp after a wee off road excursion in the landy. The track was looking really nice and dry and featured a bit of everything mtb - off camber corners, jumps, a technical wood section and of course the famous Ae step down. 




The weather was great all weekend, although the midges had an absolute feast during the cooler parts of the day. After an amazing sleep on the friday night I was feeling fresh on Saturday morning for practice. I really noticed my progression on this track during the course of the day, I was happy with my riding and felt pretty good about everything on course. I almost lapsed into my "nerves of doom" race mood on a few occasions but managed to keep it reasonably cool, I guess time and experience will help with that! My Specialized was running great all weekend although it came to my attention that my shock is currently set up for a 16 stone male...so there will definitely be some spring changes and major adjustments before the next race! 




Saturday evening was so much fun, a group of us had a BBQ that included marshmallows, "doggy poo surprise" AKA barbecued banana with chocolate and some other interesting food experiments! Sleeping didn't go so well that night as there was some seriously loud party music going on until 4am across the field but practice on Sunday morning still felt good. 






My seeding run was smooth but steady and I popped into 8th place with 2.47. My race run was pretty scrappy in places but I managed to improve on my time and hopped up into 7th place with 2.44. I'm pleased with this result, although I'm still 11 seconds off that podium I've made progress and coach James from HighRise reckons we can make up that time! 





This weekend told me that it's going to be a long journey and will require some patience but I'm determined to get onto that podium next season. Although I'm not racing as much as the others, this year will be used to gauge where I am within the elite category and give me plenty of time to train and come into next season stronger, fitter and faster. 

Next weekend I'll be representing Great Britain at the third round of the UCI World Cup in Fort William!! Very excited for the experience...but a little nervous!


Thursday, 15 May 2014

BDS#2 Fort William - first race of the season!

So I finished up university on Tuesday and after a wee night out, I headed up to Fort William for the second round of the British Downhill Series and my first race of 2014.




It was looking a bit cloudy when we arrived and by the time I had headed up to the woods section to walk the course, the rain was torrential! Unfortunately the guys from 2:1 Racing were unable to make this race, so I was repping alone for the weekend, luckily I had Jamie there to keep me company (and do the bike fixing bit...). 

Practice kicked off on Saturday morning while the rain continued with occasional cloudy breaks. The main lines at the top of the track were feeling good, a lot of work had been put in by Nevis Range over the winter making the track smoother in places. The last time I rode at Fort William was the SDA finalising the 2013 season and the track had been been battered all summer, so it was feeling great compared to that weekend! The wood section was tough as always  in the wet. Very muddy, slippery and rooty with the deepest rut I have ever seen in my life that spat you out onto the fire road - if you could hold it! Saturday went well apart from a couple of mental break downs and a wee crash that left me with a pretty colourful leg...I was so nervous! Hannah from Flare Clothing Company had the stand set up in the pits and they did a great job of pep talking me through the weekend as well as kitting me out with a lot of clean race jerseys!





On Sunday there was a good few hours of practice in the morning then the racing began. There was a stacked elite field...lots of big names rocked up for some pre world cup practice and I was so proud to be able to race with them! My qualifying run didn't go to plan and unfortunately I had to push down half the course due to a flat tyre. Jamie helped me get the bike fixed up (as always!) and after another encouraging talk from Flare I set off for my race run. The race run felt much better, the top section felt quick and although a bit slow, I got through the woods clear. I finished up in 6.21 which is my fastest time on that track which put me into 8th position over all in the elite female category. I'm happy with a top ten and I'm now looking forward to climbing the ladder to those podium places. This was my first race on the Specialized Status and I was really happy with it, despite a lot of people saying I was "hard core" to be running shorter forks...I loved it, so thanks again guys for your support!








I'm also excited to announce that I have been selected to race for Team GB at the UCI World Cup in Fort William, which will be a great experience this year! Although my season is a little short due to the student loan running out, coach James from High Rise Bike Skills is working hard on some serious training and I'm looking forward to seeing my progression now that I can concentrate on cycling.