Race Day.... 16k, 1380m elevation = sore legs.

A different kind of race for once....... MTB Maria

29 September 2012 AT 16:58:19

The easiest way to explain this mornings MTB race is probably to use a skiing analogy..... so here goes....

Most athletes can remember their first ski race, for me it was a southern region race, long before i started going to the big 'seeded' events. Anyway, upon arrival with my rear entry boots and skis borrowed from Bracknell Ski Centre, i had the nervous feeling of sh**%@ng myself while the skiers around unpacked what looked like enough kit for a ski/camping holiday - 2 pairs of skis, benches, various seats & picnic tables, extension leads & huge wax boxes... the list went on. 

I sat with a few of the bracknell guys and was pretty overwhelmed by the whole thing. People were ski tuning (at the time i had no idea what they were doing), waxing, leg swinging etc etc. The pre race warm up was dominated by skiers jumping the lift queue, inside i was thinking 'hey thats not fair' however apparently those were the 'favourites' for the day and therefore were allowed to?! Unwritten rule apparently. You know the type, all the swagger, all the confidence, all the chat... all the girls....!

Anyway today was a little like that. At 9am we hired our bikes from Leogang, we then came back to Haus Tirol for 30 minutes as we had jumped the gun by a mile and would have been in Maria Alm for the race way too early. We arrived, worked out where we should be (using my broken german), got given a load of bits and bobs and then waited. A commentator chatted away to the favourites and i stood there trying to work out who the 'Steve Lambert' of this biking world was or the 'Dave Ryding', or the 'me' for that matter. Then along they came, right in front of us, the big dogs, giving interviews and all the rest of it. Skinny as anything with all the gear.... 'Here we go again' i thought. We are about to get pasted!

But that wasnt the funniest thing, no no, the funniest thing was that un-intentionally, we had positions ourselves at the front, right behind the lead car that would drive us out to the starting line. OOOOPS. Surrounding by guys with clip in shoes, raring to go, the 5 of us in our running trainers on bikes we have never ridden, were about to hold up what looked like a lot of pro's. But never mind, the car started and with that we pushed off, and tried to blag our cycling prowess. 

We were found out however and only after the race did i realise the noise behind us on the 2km to the starting line up was Mr Macfie slamming on his disc brakes and going over the handlebars, but casuing minimal disruption apparently.... (he was that punter kid on race day that keeps missing the lift and holds up the queue). I wondered why Euan arrived at the finish so much later!

Anyway we were off, 16kms to go, 1380m elevation to climb. The guys we had been holding up whizzed by us (there were about 280 in the race) as if they were riding flats. The pain set in pretty quickly but we soon got used to that. The rest of it is as you'd expect, legs filled with lactate burning away and that always annoying moment, of getting round a corner hoping for the finish to find another 10 switch backs. I certainly had a nice moment when trying to breath in and eat an Alpen Bar at the same time.

Anyway, we made it to the top, myself, Paul & Barney all under 2 hours and ahead of a fair few riders, Euan slightly longer but had a good story to tell (he got lost on route too). Imi sadly did not make it up but made it 3/4's of the way on a very tough climb. I am not certain what the best guys did it in - we will have to wait for results - but i recon a damn site faster than us.

Next year we'll be using clip-ins for sure!! Damn hard & good training that's for sure.

Gym at 6!

Aaahhh the pain....

Must.... get..... air......

Casual from Paul..... been riding like this the whole way....

Few shots whilst waiting for Euan....

Well deserved Tea!

Mr Macfie arrives!!

Dizzy Heights....

Upper body day.....

27 September 2012 AT 22:11:14

Busy few days here in Austria... We arrived back in Leogang yesterday after the weather came in pretty harsh in Hintertux. Its great having a base where we can shoot back to - no bookings or messing about, mountain was closed so we were out of there, back in Leogang at 3 and in the gym again for a leg session by 4. We will see if the weather changes for the better in the next few days but most likely we will be on hardcore fitness until next wednesday.

Alex arrived today so we will head out for about 70km on the bike tomorrow with her. The others will be on a day off (well deserved) after a decent upper body beasting today. We started off at the new climbing wall in Saalfelden - awesome variety of walls and great bouldering ha. We spent about 3 hours there until we couldn't lift our arms. Then this afternoon we were back in the gym to work the upper body some more.

For those of you wondering why we are going so hard at this? Basically if the guys are supan humanly fit, then its one less limiting factor and one less excuse when it comes to technical training on the hill. We have not done well enough in the last 12 months (by international standards) and we are looking for glory in 2013!!!!!

The Macfie Gun Show....

Imi conquered her fears today on her last climb - right to the top - a few panics along the way but damn good work!

La Barn.... headband and all.....

Bouldering wounds.....!

Close.... but no cigar....!

Holding on for dear life....

The champion.... Next up... Gladiators...!

September Camp with the Full-Timers.

Back to the glaciers...

24 September 2012 AT 08:08:12

After a 4-week stint in Chile it was good for everyone to get home and see their families to enjoy a bit of down time - in my case this consisted of getting battered by waves learning to surf before getting beaten at Hemel in the Champs!

It wasn't too long however before we were loading the van again, a mix of myself, Dion Taylor and my father filling every small gap to get it all in before my drive back out here. It was a mellow drive and had to be as the cornering abilities had been somewhat restricted, the breaking distance marginally increased i recon too.

But i got here and on Saturday collected Imogen Taylor, Paul Henderson, Euan Macfie & Barney Lewis from the airport, with Alex Buchanan set to join us later. Max Asquith & Ellie Pocock who make up the full time team at Ambition are still nursing injuries or away presently so we are making use of the small group we have right now.

The camp is just 10 days long, with the view of beasting fitness and starting to work on our skiing tactics. The technical training has been done, that time on Stelvio (Barney & Paul) and Chile (Paul & Euan) more than enough, it is time to put the guys on a better line to be able to use that technique to their best advantage. For Imi & Alex we will have to see a little more free-skiing and slow skiing to start but i am sure she will be on track pretty quickly.

We will leave for Hintertux tonight, so started yesterday in the ski room working out which skis we should keep from the Atomic factory (not the one in Altenmarkt, the one in the corner of our ski room where Imi keeps her skis), before moving bindings and generally getting things ready for the camp ahead. We then pressed on with a weights session in the morning, before a decent lunch and 70kms on the bikes in the afternoon. 

We scouted a good route for the Bike Camp we will have next spring, getting a decent slip streaming program going for much of the ride. Euan Macfie was an early casualty about 5 miles in (not hurt - just a ripped tyre) so had a long walk of shame back, while Imi got a little lost but did complete the whole thing. It's great we can be out here while the weather is still mild and do some decent bike training - Austria is so well set-up for it with good biking tracks off of & parallel to the main roads, keeps it all a little safer.

Anyway, gym session this morning (plus Euan's bike to the shop), before we pack the van, hopefully fit in a climbing session and make our way to Tux. We'll come back for the Uphill mountain bike race this weekend before heading up to Kitz for the start of next week.

Busy as ever but as none of us are Bode Miller, it's just a long slog at this game!

It didnt start off well for Euan!!

Henderson stepping out of number 91, AmbitionLand.

New Plastic down, weapons ready to go....

Zippy the pro... even has matching socks.....

Read all about it.... Read all about it.....

It's all go as usual...!!

13 September 2012 AT 17:36:37

So back from Chile last weekend and next week the van will head back out to Austria to start the beasting process on these FT athletes. We will get somewhere this season but it will come through working like dogs sadly! I wish they were all Bode Millers but they're not so will have to be the old fashioned way (unless any of them recon they can ski that Bormio DH on one ski too).

So whats happening / happened, well since the last post from Toronto, we all arrived home, Rachelle is straight back into fintess at the sports park, Robbie & Max are making superb recoveries and well and truly back into fitness programs too :-) the kids have been smashing it up on the indoors and the schools teams (Reed's etc) are back in school and will be starting Esskia this weekend.

Emily Evans - who will be running some special programs for Ambition this year while she works through various coaching courses etc, went up to the BCST training this weekend at Hemel. Emily already has a huge amount of her own ideas but gained a little more knowledge from working with Andrew Freshwater about setting up training days and some more warm up ideas from the Judo classes. The message to our young aspiring coaches is simple - keep an open mind, see everything, listen to everything, then filter through the shite to take what you can out it. Em is a pro at that and despite being just 18 has more experience than most guys i see at the British Champs each year already.

This summer's Ambition/Atomic Camps went brilliantly, Chill Factore trial camps went really well before we ran the Ipswich Camp was a massive hit with Jo Ryding at the helm while Hemel was the best it's been i think. The collaboration at Pendle also seemed to go down well with some great emails sent through from happy skiers & parents.

Anyway, we will be looking to run a similar set-up in 2013, but for now George Case is pictured below with all of his new Atomic gear. George is an incredibly exciting young talent and as such was the winner of the 'Atomic Special Recognition Award' at this years Hemel camp. We had originally advertised the winner to receive 1 pair of skis, however Bartletts & Atomic seemed so impressed they awarded George Case £1000 worth of free Atomic merchandise.

We want to say a huge thanks to Atomic & Bartletts for supporting both the camps & athletes like this. An amazing prize and amazing support for the young lad! 

Little Goerge with Terry Bartlett  - poles, helmet, googles, shin guards, boots (& fitting) plus skis & bindings...!!!!!

Keep checking the Ambition website over the autumn & winter for next years camp dates.

Last Super-G.... (result)

Not the story book ending we'd hoped for....

08 September 2012 AT 11:56:33

Well, here we are in Toronto airport in transit, only 8 or so more hours until we land in heathrow. So far so good, just a couple of small baggage costs plus a little scare as Luke lost his immigration form. All here and accounted for though.

So yesterday was s strange day, it started off with Ondrej Bank (CZE) forunning and crashing, so a 30 minute hold while they checked he was ok and put up some more nets. Then came the Russian girls, deciding to take soooooo much direction over the 2nd compression that after 2 more girls there was another 15 minute hold while they took one off the hill (without serious injury im told). A few Argentinian girls came through clean before same thing from the Russians, one having a near miss before the next landed off piste and took the outside panel down the hill with her - all it needed was to go straight!! These girls have 20 SG points so i am not certain what was going on. A few yellow flags and re-runs meant that after 90 minutes of racing..... we had finally finished the girls race of 15 competitors....

Next up was the boys, the French really nailing it and showing everyone how it should be done.... the course ran alot easier than 2 days previously and was a great opportunity for us to just attack. Sadly, Paul never appeared into my section, having crashed higher up, while Kieran skied well within himself. Euan was on it though, a little scrapy but carrying some serious speed before losing the line (and with it the speed) in the final straight 5 gates from home!! It was just one of those days for scoring so despite the mistake Euan still made a 2nd result - another small step but i he is capable of so much more.

On reflection, we had close to perfect training and racing opportunties in Chile this year. Great weather, great pistes and alot of hard work by the athletes & coaches. We've made a reasonable start but as i am constantly telling the guys to look to themselves as to if & why they are/are not improving, i will be doing the same as for me we have not been consistent enough at all yet.

On September 22nd the Ambition full-time guys will be back in action and we will be pushing like mad to get to a level where we are truly ready to race by mid-end November. 

Marco Sullivan.... US Ski team.

Adrien Theaux, French Ski Team.

Last Super-G.....

oooh the suspense.....

06 September 2012 AT 21:12:54


We didnt race today... doh!

It was meant to snow 1cm this morning but there was 10-15cms of pretty wet snow, we tried to postpone and sent up a basher to get the snow off the flats at least but it just ended up churning the base layer up instead. Luckily we are scheduled for a cold, clear night, so i really hope it will freeze well and we can run the race tomorrow morning. The TD has changed his flight and we are packing so we can race, shower, load the vans and head outta here for our evening flight. The Ambition Team of 2009 will remember a similar move out of El Colorado - i think we have more space in the vans this year though.

So... i wont be blogging tomorrow after the race, i'll be kicking butt as the guys will tell me their stuff is all packed tonight but then run around like idiots tomorrow afternoon.

On a separate note, Emily Evans who is working hard at her coaching, will be shadowing the BCST this weekend at Hemel - hope that goes well Mousey.

We'll leave it for now with these photos after another great camp, well done to Euan, Paul, Luke, Kieran & Rachelle. Hopefully this time tomorrow we will have more speed results for the boys!


The Fanta Macaroon. Mine & Jo's new invention.... this time next year Rodney.......

SG 1, start area.... Bonjour French, Slovenian & German Teams, we'll try and keep up!!

This is honestly real.... I thought we were under attack...! The Chilean Condor - bloody huge!

That's us tomorrow we hope..... Flying in the SG, then flying home.

South American Cup... Take 2...


05 September 2012 AT 21:06:47

Today was....... Average....

It was a tough course set by the Russian womens coach that results in a huge number of DNF's and various off piste exploits. All in all i think everyone who raced was ok.

The course was slick and running fast over the '2nd jump' where most people had trouble from start to end of the field. Our guys were no exception and while they all made it through, they lost time. Lower down you had to be moving quick and a combition of trying to be too smooth and not being prepared for the rhythm change saw Kieran, Paul & Euan all lose time.

All was not lost as Euan & Paul still scored PB results in Super-G (only marginally but a step is a step none the less) and while Kieran came close, he will have to push tomorrow to stay error free and make a result - would be a nice ending.

No pics from today - Jo has some but havent got them downloaded yet... for now you can enjoy these.....


South American Cup Speed....

Not a bad start at all...

04 September 2012 AT 20:31:37

Not a bad start at all for the Ambition boys in the SAC speed series today. 

After Mr Riddell pulled a twister off of the jump yesterday (and got close and personal with the floor), he had to give today a miss, still experience a little shin pain - ive put a photo below to remind him of our training and the position he is MEANT to use off the jumps.

Anyway, the day went a little like this;

K-Dogg - A better line and little more agressive but we are still losing a &!$% load of speed. Little bit too tentative in places but he can for sure do better than we saw today. Preferred discipline of SG coming up tomorrow so i hope we can get on it more for that.

Paul Henderson - Anything but tentative, a good first run, foot to the floor but losing the line a little down the pitch. Close to his best skiing but a little more to give. Second run, right line but slightly inside (his trademark) so got the bumps a little worse than expected, still pretty good. 2x PB results.

Euan Macfie - Starting at the back both runs with 250+ points (needed an extra rucksac to get them all to the start), great first run, agressive and attacking, just needed to be cleaner on the tech turns. 2nd run nailed the compression, perfectly clean, then lost the line completely lower down. Still 2x PB results and some good skiing.

Rachelle Rogers - About 15 SG runs in warm up + some GS, feeling more confident and ready for tomorrows SG.

Fingers crossed for another good day tomorrow.

Medals all round in Manchester

Anglo/Welsh and British Indoor Championships

03 September 2012 AT 23:15:22

So September has come around already and that means Championships time on the Indoor and Dry Slope circuits. The Anglo/Welsh and British Indoors kicked off the championships season this weekend at Chill Factore and it turned out to be a successful one for Ambition athletes.

So after getting over the initial shock of how much Ella has grown this summer, we saw some brilliant racing from the younger Ambition girls. Ella and Olivia Ward, along with Ambition newcomer this season - Alex Lillywhite - managed to lock out the podium both days in the U14 category (still not used to these new age groups after over a decade of the old ones!). While on Saturday Olivia topped the podium, Ella managed to turn that around on the Sunday and topped the podium instead of her sister for the first time this summer on the Indoor. So a massive well done to her! It just goes to show what a strong and talented group of younger children girls we have this season.

Height order or podium order?

And in the U18 category Beth Widdup managed to come from behind both days this weekend to storm to victory on the second runs. Beth skied smartly in the tough courses but at the same time made some sweet turns, generating speed all the time, no matter how turny or difficult the course got. Massive well done to her. I did have a photo of Beth with her considerable medal/trophy haul from the weekend but my phone appears to have deleted it... You just can't beat a good old-fashioned camera eh?

Anyway, a good start to the artificial Championships season for the Ambition athletes. It's only a matter of time till the snow will be falling and we'll be back out on the real stuff.



Downhill Training.

Promising start....

03 September 2012 AT 20:48:18

Promising start to the La Parva speed series today but it was not without mishap! The mens race was more like a WC field but all ran smoothly and our recent training certainly paid off! 

First up for Ambition was Kieran Norris, who gave the course a little too much respect but was on line just not pushing the boundaries so much. Next up was Paul Henderson who finished provisionally within 4 seconds of the fastest skier. A great run top to bottom with just 1 line error along the way! Brilliant skiing. Luke was down straight after Paul, following suit for most of the course before running the line way too deep before the 2nd compression, taking a flying lesson and veering way way offline over the roll. Last to go was Euan who was pretty good today but not his usual blitzing self on the speed track, grinding a couple of the more technical turns.

It was straight back round onto the 2nd run, where the boys decided to push like mad.... first Kieran managed to cut the line a little more in the softer slower snow to post a half decent time, before the race was held as Paul crossed his tips on the landing of the jump and then again as Mr Riddell got twisted out of shape in the air and crashed. I was standing with the video waiting for either Paul or Luke but both were out (they are all ok). Euan skied a much more agressive run and sorted a few line errors but can still be way quicker.

It was brilliant to see all 4 boys raring to go in Downhill, full of confidence and ready to attack. 

Lets see what happens tomorrow - keep your fingers crossed...

Slovenian WC Team showing how to jump!

Paul taking Jo down at screwdriver game!

Pure Focus.... 

Chileeeeeeeeee 2012.

Is this going to work.......

02 September 2012 AT 22:06:15

So its nearly the end of the Chile camp.... and finally i have got a photo to load using the net here.... maybe it wont come through though as have re-sized it to miniscule! I'd like to blame everything on the internet but our days have been so jammed i've struggled to get the time in to post regularly anyway.

What a camp it has been, the best down here by a mile. We have had 2 days where the weather was pretty sucky but apart from that it has been amazing training conditions. The organisers down here have done a great job and we have had lanes with lots of other great national teams... its great to be able to put the Ambition athletes out of their comfort zone and have them mix with other nations and be pushed in that way too.

We have had our last day off before the speed races down here, 2x DH & 2x SG races coming up. The boys have had 15 runs of downhill full length in the last 4 days so they should be more than ready to rock. All our guys have worked so damn hard here and we have got every training session that we have wanted to run.... if nothing else we have at least given ourselves every chance to succeed and used the 3.5 weeks so far to the absolute max!

New Ambition boy Euan Macfie has been fast in every speed session, competing with the Russian C team boys while Paul was ripping early on in GS. Kieran had a slow start but is really coming on in GS with his slalom already working well. Luke has been working out how to co-ordinate his new lanky self but has been fast on the flats in speed especially.... our lonely girl (great job being here on her own) Rachelle has had some good runs and getting confidence back but there is definitely alot more to come from her.

Hopefully i'll have some time in toronto to write a full camp summary but my aim is to make this trip more affordable bring all of Ambition here next year, the glaciers just do not come close to the training here. Where there's a will, there's a way!! 

I'll upload a load of pics as soon as possible - someone let me know if this one works (it is me in a snow storm after a long walk uphill)..... and its how im feeling now towards the end of this long but awesome camp.

In the words of Usher... peace out A town. (he was talking about Ambition town which will one day be a reality - better than Africa Parks anyway ;-)