Katie Carmichael is a Mountain Bike Cross Country Racer based in Edinburgh. At the age of 35 Katie is a late comer to the sport, only taking it up 5 years ago. Below is a blog written by Katie sharing her journey through Mountain Biking which has seen her progress quickly in the sport and competing for XC Racer. If you would like to follow Katie as her race season continues you can find more of her blogs at http://www.xcracer.com
I took up mountain biking in 2007. After a couple of years of trying to keep up with my husband on the trails, I was delighted when an almost all female cycling club, Hervélo, was set up in Edinburgh. Since then I have been regularly riding with a great group of women. We get out in the worst of weather, encourage each other to ride trails we wouldn’t otherwise dare, inspire each other to enter races and events, and, most importantly, have a lot of fun.
Spurred on by my riding buddies, I entered the Scottish XC series in 2010, and in spite of the initial fear, trepidation and a feeling of being well out of my comfort zone, I loved the buzz. I’ve been racing regularly since then and in 2010 and 2011 I was Scottish Masters champion. Last year the British National championship came to Scotland, and I had the opportunity to compete on the Glasgow Commonwealth course, coming third on a blistering hot July day.
Last year was the first time that I had embarked on a structured training programme. I trained 6 days a week, sometimes before work, sometimes after, sometimes both. I was pretty dedicated, and with a full time job as a solicitor, I had to plan carefully to make sure that I could fit everything in. There was the odd early start when I would be out on my bike before 6 am to get a couple of hours in before heading to the office. The thought of it the night before was never that appealing, but getting out when the sun is shining, the roads are quiet and you know everyone else is in bed is a pretty good start to a busy working day. I always had a ‘rest’ day scheduled in, but with that being one of the only opportunities to catch up on the chores I’d neglected during the week, there was rarely much resting going on.
The training paid off and I had some good results last year, making it to the podium in races and winning a series in the north of England. The highlight for me was being first solo female at the Glentress Seven. The race is part of the Tweedlove festival, which is based in and around Peebles. For seven hours solos, pairs and teams of three race around a cross country mountain bike course which takes in some of the best trails at Glentress. I was pretty fit so the hours on the bike just felt like a lot of fun.
This year I am training again. With work being a bit busier, the challenge to fit it all in is greater, but I enjoy it so much that I do my best to make the time. It is a great stress buster after a hard day. You can’t think about work when you are mountain biking – if you do you’re likely to end up on the ground. I’ve learnt the hard way!
I raced the Glentress 7 again this year. After three weeks off the bike with illness, my preparation wasn’t great, but my aim was to go out and have day of biking. A spill off my bike just over half way through the event scuppered my chances of a win, but I still got onto the podium, coming in second place.