Anton and Julie

How time flies when you are having fun!

I have always been an outdoorsy person and growing up I was mistaken for a boy on many occasions; perhaps it was because I ways always halfway up a tree or tearing around the village on my bike. Perhaps another reason why I am an outdoorsy person is because my dad was always late, so it was easier to cycle or walk to the hockey match or my friends house to ensure I was there on time! We also lived on a hill so cycling up a hill was the norm and still is. I am a country girl at heart and still live in the beautiful Cotswolds and get great pleasure out of walking our four dogs each morning in the woods and roaming hills. 

As I have mentioned cycling up hill is a way of life so when I started mountain biking, I was not phased by the hills on the courses and I used to enjoy racing up the hills then not letting the better technical riders overtake me on the downhills, it used to drive them crazy. Nonetheless over time I got better at the technical bits and moved up the ranks finally becoming a sponsored rider in the elite category. I will never forget one year at the National Champs the course was perfect for me as the race started on a long steep technical climb. After discussing race tactics with the team it was decided that I should just give it everything on the first climb to gain a lead.

This sounded logical until I saw Caroline Alexandra on the start line who was ranked in the top 10 in the world and was renowned for being the best climber in the world. Oh well what is the worst that can happen! I teared off from the start and found myself in the lead which I managed to keep to the top of the climb, I could not believe it I was beating Caroline. Caroline was not number one for nothing as we cycled over the brow of the hill into the decent my body decided it had had enough BANG, I felt instantly fatigued my coordination had gone and I could not turn the pedals. One by one all the racers started overtaking me I had gone from first to last in a matter of minutes. For anyone who has experienced bonking before will know how I felt and know how quick it can take over your whole body. I walked my bike down the hill determined not to give up; the crowd were shouting for me to get back on my bike but when I did, I wobbled and fell off so I chose to walk and eat as much sugar as I could.

Luckily, I respond well to sugar so after a few minutes; that felt like hours I got back on my bike and slowly started riding. I managed to slowly work my way back up the field and took every sugary snack that was offered to me by my team and others who helped me. The mountain bike community is amazing. As time went on, I felt my strength return but boy oh boy it was mentally and physically tough. This was, and still is my proudest race as I managed to go from first to last place to win a bronze medal. Although I was sick for a week after due to it taking every ounce of my energy to finish the race. 

I am hoping that I am able to demonstrate as much resilience when I tackle the Silk Road Mountain Race (SRMR) with my husband Anton in August this year. The SRMR is known as being one of the toughest cycle races in the world due to the altitude, extreme temperatures, terrain and lack of facilities available during the race. Although, what I do know is that we will have the support of Expedition foods who will enable us to fuel our bodies with the right number of calories and nutrients to provide an optimal nutritional balance. Furthermore, due to the range of choices available we will not have to rely on local food sources for supplies to relieve the boredom of hydrated foods.

As riders have failed before having struggled with stomach problems due to not being used to the local foods available. Although logistically to carry 14 days’ worth of food each will be heavy (there is no outside assistance allowed) Expedition foods provide 1000 calorie meals suitable for two which will lighten the load. Although I am not a vegetarian, I prefer the taste of vegetarian food and was delighted to see the choices available to me so far, my favourite is vegetarian tikka but I am munching my way through all of them. 

Although I am quickly saying goodbye to the forties, I feel that I will never stop challenging myself and will always be an outdoorsy person. On our list of competitions this year is the SRMR and the Adventure Racing World Championships. Notwithstanding, our own challenges we set ourselves on route to these events’ life is about getting outdoors and having fun.  

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