XC Mountainbiking

XC Mountainbiking

Spring Time On The Home Trail

Birdsong, Sun breaking through the trees, and the leaves growing again. Spring. My favourtie time of year.

Singlespeed racing

Breathing hard. My face hides how much I love racing even on one gear!

Downhill Mountainbiking

Downhill Mountainbiking

Tour de France

Sunflowers on the Tour

XC Racing

World Cup Racing where the best fight it out over some of the most demanding terrain


Taking the sport to extremes

No matter what or how you ride, enjoy the trails out there.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Where Are They Now - Miguel Martinez

Miguel Martinez

In his prime Miguel Martinez "Little Mig" was the undisputed king of men's cross country racing, sealing his status with a strong win in the 2000 summer Olympics in Sydney Australia.  The French cyclist who at the time rode for Sunn dominated the sport, but after 2005 his presence was no longer noticeable at XC races.

Early Years

Martinez was born on 17th January 1976 in Fourchambault, Nieve.  His father, Mariano, was a great cyclist before him having rode on Merckx's team and was considered at the time to be a great climber. He had in his time won the king of the Mountains title in the Tour de France.  Even from the age of six Martinez recollects not only his fathers influence on him with cycling but also his family which have a great tradition with cycling. At first he started with riding on the rode but by the age of ten he had started Mountain Biking.  As he matured and grew stronger he realised that he could do well with in the sport and along with cyclocross racing moved away from rode racing.

By 1994 Miguel Martinez was starting to dominate XC racing amongst the juniors and so won his first World Championships, this was as well as an impressive 3rd place at the Cyclocross Championships.  By the time Martinez had won his gold medal at Sydney in 2000 he had won two World Cup Series, Three World XC Championships as well as a Cyclocross Championship,  two European Champioships medals and a bronze medal at the 1996 Olympics at Atlanta.

Year           Event                                                         Place                  Result
1995          World Championship XC                         Kirchzarten            2
1996          National Championships                                                          1
                  World Championships XC                        Cairns                     2
                  World Championships Cyclocross            Corva                     1
                  World Cup XC                                                                         3
                  Olympics                                                   Atlanta                   3
1997          World Championships XC                       Chateaux D'Oex     1
                  World Cup XC                                                                         1
1998          World Championships XC                       Mont Sainte-Anne  1
                  World Cup XC                                                                         2
1999          World Cup XC                                                                         2
                  European Championship XC                                                   1
2000          Olympics                                                 Sydney                     1
                  World Cup XC                                                                         1
                  European Championships XC                                                  1
2001          World Cup XC                                                                         3     

The Move To The Road

Martinez now looked towards Road racing and fresh targets after all he had now won all the major events in Mountain Biking, and felt that road racing would be more competitive. In truth his results had started to wain and so in 2002 he signed a three year deal with Mapei-Quickstep whilst at the same time raced some MTB XC events and Endurance events with Full Dynamix, a move his father had insisted on. on This team he was also to join another MTB legend and future Tour de France winner Cadel Evans who had been a big rival during the late 90s.

By 2003 Martinez had joined Phonak racing team but by the end of the year went into a semi retirement, racing irregularly but never really producing the form of old.  He was said to have become alluded to the amount of doping in road racing and not wanting to be part of it as reason for leaving. He returned in 2008 to the Italian team Amore e Vita, stating “I always rode to the best of my ability without doping it was made clear to me that I wasn’t operating in the way that was required. Today I really have the impression that things have changed. I’m convinced that cycling has moved in the right direction and I want a second chance to continue my career at the highest level.”

By 2009 Little Mig had made the decision to return back to his first love of MTBing and was set to race for Felt International Racing team but was sacked from the team 
A press statement from Felt reads – “We would like to inform you that the contract with Miguel Martinez has been cancelled due to unbridgeable differences.   The athlete behaved inexcusably and violated his contract. He is dismissed effective immediately.”
Martinez was given a four month suspended sentence for assaulting his wife by a French court.  He has been in mediation several times over the past two years for violent incidents.

Present Day

2013 is a fresh start for Martinez who has again returned to Mountain Biking but with Italian FRM Factory racing Team who produce high-level components and bikes.

"Now that I am free from all contractual ties” – the athlete has said – “I want to race with a team capable of offering me the necessary serenity along with a bicycle that I have dreamt of for years.

Mirko Pirazzoli, in his double role of Commercial Director of FRM and new Team mate to the French Champion says “Having Miguel with us is a great stimulus: competition is constantly increasing, Miguel has the motivation and the conditions to shoot back to the top, but for us it is sufficient that he has fun”.

This has proved a healthy approach for Martinez who surprised everyone with a strong win at the 2013 Sea Otter Classic.  Whilst he hasn't been the dominate rider he once was he recently got 14th at the third round of the World Cup, it remains to be seen whether the little Frenchman can find the form and find his way back on the podium a sight not many would begrudge him.

 Event  Discipline  Pos  Date  Season 
 Val di Sole  Men's Olympic Cross Country  14  15/06/2013   2013
 Val di Sole  Men's Olympic Cross Country - Eliminator - Qualification   12  13/06/2013   2013
 Val di Sole  Men's Olympic Cross Country - Eliminator  25  13/06/2013   2013
 Albstadt  Men's Olympic Cross Country  41  19/05/2013   2013
 UCI World Championships Mountain Bike Marathon  Men's Marathon Cross-country  35  05/07/2008   2008
 Manavgat / Antalya   Men's Marathon Cross-country  33  16/03/2008   2008
 L'Hexagonal  L'Hexagonal  4  19/08/2007   2007
 L'Hexagonal  L'Hexagonal - Stage 8  1 First 15/08/2006   2007
 L'Hexagonal  L'Hexagonal - Stage 6  1 First 13/08/2006   2007
 L'Hexagonal  L'Hexagonal - Stage 1  1 First 08/08/2006   2007
 Curacao  Men's Olympic Cross Country  41  01/04/2006   2006
 World Championships Mountainbike   Cross Country Men  20  04/09/2005   2005
 European Championships  Men's Olympic Cross Country  11  31/07/2005   2005
 L'Hexagonal  L'Hexagonal  4  19/06/2005   2005
 Houffalize  Cross Country Men  12  29/05/2005   2005
 Madrid  Cross Country Men  25  08/05/2005   2005
 Spa Francorchamps  Cross Country Men  9  24/04/2005   2005
 European Championships  Men's Olympic Cross Country  4  01/07/2004   2004
 L'Hexagonal  L'Hexagonal  1 First 18/06/2004   2004
 L'Hexagonal  L'Hexagonal - Stage 7  1 First 17/06/2004   2004
 L'Hexagonal  L'Hexagonal - Stage 5  1 First 15/06/2004   2004
 World Championships Mountainbike  Men's Olympic Cross Country  49  07/09/2003   2003
 UCI World Championships Mountain Bike Marathon  Men's Marathon Cross-country  21  31/08/2003   2003
 L'Hexagonal  L'Hexagonal  7  17/08/2003   2003
 L'Hexagonal  L'Hexagonal - Stage 7  1 First 16/08/2003   2003
 L'Hexagonal  L'Hexagonal - Stage 6  1 First 15/08/2003   2003
 L'Hexagonal  L'Hexagonal - Stage 1  1 First 10/08/2003   2003
 World Championships Mountainbike  Men's Olympic Cross Country  45  16/09/2001   2001
 European Championships  Men's Olympic Cross Country  12  2001   2001
 Olympic Games  Men's Olympic Cross Country  1 First 24/09/2000   2000
 World Championships Mountainbike  Men's Olympic Cross Country  1 First 10/06/2000   2000
 European Championships  Men's Olympic Cross Country  17  2000   2000
 World Championships Mountainbike  Men's Olympic Cross Country  2  19/09/1999   1999
 European Championships  Men's Olympic Cross Country  1 First 1999   1999
 Olympic Games  Men's Olympic Cross Country  3  30/07/1996   1996
 World Championships Mountainbike  Men's Olympic Cross Country  2  19/09/1995   1995

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

When Races Go Wrong: Rd 3 North East XC MTB League - Hamsterley

I guess it was inevitable that I would come to this.  If you ask me about most of my short course XC races of a few years past I would say that something is never quite right.  It most cases its just been lack of race experience but with one thing or another I've been quick to write them off blame my lack of fitness or skill and then not bother again for the year.

This year my fitness isn't much to sing or dance about but my attitude and approach have no doubt got me further than before.  Much I credit to riding single speed which has made me take on the whatever will be will be attitude, and last year and this year enjoy racing so much more.  My first two races have been my best to date in terms of feel and results.  I was looking at the data from my last race and on the same course I was riding a minute a lap faster.  With the laps only being between 6 and 7 minutes long that's a hell of a difference and meant I finished up doing a lap extra.

So to round 3, and once again I was faced with a similar course from last year at Hamsterley.  I knew this was a tough race taking in one big climb followed by a fast decent full of berms, rutted and hard work on my rigid bike.  I know I'm not the fastest going down (trust me I am slow!) but I knew that the climbs would count for a lot.

As it happens the race was a short one for me.  As I climbed up the first climb I was struggling with its sheer length and just felt like I'd got nothing to give. The decent then did its best job to beat me up.  By the next lap the climb I was breathing out of my arse for very little gain, and coming down I was loosing my line too easily and it was a miracle that when I did come off the track I didn't crash or go over the bars.  The third lap saw me groveling up the climb and already negative thoughts of having to do this climb again was making me doubt my racing on further.  Coming down my back started to really hurt, something I attributed to fighting with my bike and not riding loose but also just feeling so trashed.  As I got to the line I pulled out.  There was no way I could go on like I was.

Photo with thanks to Paul @ Clarkson Photography Grass Root Sports UK

Looking at my lap times I was riding over a minute slower than the seven months before, so what had gone so wrong?

It's in this situation you have to be realistic about your failures.  I watched that same weekend the first World Cup XC of the year and watched Nino Schurter finish about 14th proving that even the best riders in the sport have off days.  This was my off day.

Firstly, in this situation its important to look at your training and look at what you were doing before each race and see if there was a difference. Often training can be to tough before races and there hasn't been enough recovery but in my case it was as much the opposite.  I hadn't ridden enough, and more to the point not ridden with quality in mind.  I had for the last month or so been putting in fast paced workouts, riding tempo mainly for nothing more than hour or about 10 miles.  What I seem to be lacking is stamina from good quality endurance.  Something I've been addressing ready for my next race.

Doing a proper warm up.  I'm probably the worst for this.  I guess I get caught up in the atmosphere, catching up with friends and then before I know it I'm off racing.  I didn't even pre ride the course let alone get my heart rate up which was foolish and just means everything is a bigger shock to the body.  I guess warming up is an easy one to dismiss as when I go out riding I don't warm up, I just go out and ride as I'm sure lots of others do to.  A good warm up should not just get the muscles loosened up but get the heart beating fast and lungs working.  The key is not to put much strain on the muscles so spinning on a turbo is ideal or just quick sprints in an easy gear following from a short tempo effort.

On line Arousal.  Stop giggling, I know it sounds daft but that's the term given to how you feel on the race line.  If you've got butterflies and are too tense this can have a negative effect.  Your heart race can be too high and muscles to tense. On the other end of the spectrum if you are too relaxed then your body just isn't fight or flight ready.  Somewhere in the middle is what you want or even aggressive attitude firing yourself up for the battle ahead.  I was way too passive, chatting away and not really thinking about the race ahead. (weirdly I used to be to tense)

So racing cold, chilling on the line doesn't make for a great racer but there is one other element.  Food.
Obviously, with short races of under an hour eating during the race isn't that important.  What you eat before almost certainly can be.  Ive often been given the formula of ensuring eating a meal three hours before a race with plenty of carbohydrates.  Then thirty minutes before something like a banana or energy bar.  Then a little bit more a few minutes before.  This may work for you but not for me.  I have to honestly say some of my best evening rides have been done on the back of a big meal that is high in protein and usually only an hour and half before I've ridden.  So I'd say to anyone, ignore usual wisdom and experiment to find whats best.  Most of time it'll come by mistake.  If you ride well, think about what you ate before and take that into consideration before you next race.

The one thing that I know works for me in quick races and that I didn't have in my last race was caffeine in my drink.  It I feel helps with my reactions and also gives that feeling that I can push harder towards the end of a race. 

Anyhow, my next race is this Friday so it's time to put some of this advice into practise.  As I stand in the league I'm actually doing quite well. Currently I'm 11th out of 75 overall.  4th out of 26 for my age group and 1st out of 4 for the single speed cats.