Vicki Barclay: Thoughts from the LFG

Originally posted on May 5, 2011 at 11:56 am

That’s Local Fast Girl to you!

By Vicki Barclay

I moved to the USA in 2008 from Scotland to finish my PhD, thinking I would only be here for at most a year. Then I starting riding the trails around State College, met my boyfriend Rich, and I was hooked on staying. I started off racing cross country, but was soon lured into racing the national ultra endurance series (NUE), among other events, with the endurance-hungry State College community. I am now passionate about endurance racing. I love both the physical and mental preparation that is required as I strive to become a faster racer over longer distances.

As with most endurance sports, the more races you do the more you begin to crave longer, harder races that push your body to the limit. For me, I am sure this would have involved racing more and more events in NUE calendar. Then, in 2010, the Trans-Sylvania Epic Mountain Bike Stage Race quite literally landed in our backyard. There was a flurry of excitement across the town that racers from all over the USA were going to come and race our home trials. This was going to involve far more than the little tasters they get during other races (like the Wilderness 101 and Stoopid 50 held by Chris Scott). This was going to be seven days of racing almost all the amazing trails our area has to offer.

So in 2010, as with many other people who have decided to race in 2011, I observed. The race was exciting on so many levels. There was great daily media coverage so you could read the racers opinions and thoughts about each stage. The shop I ride for, Freeze Thaw Cycles, was at the camp working hard every night so there were many camp tales to be told. Mike Kuhn and Ray Adams are a great pair of guys, and I truly believed they were doing their best to put on a fantastic race. The response as far as I could see was positive.

So when 2011 rolled around, I could not resist but slot the Trans-Sylvania Epic into my race calendar. My winter training has been very similar to previous years, prepping for the NUE series. Winter in Pennsylvania can be tough, but we always make the most of it. If the weather looks like it is going to be above freezing, we do our best to get big miles in on the road. During that time, we long for the days when aren’t bundled up with crinkly tights and thick socks, but spring always comes around before we know it. When the temps don’t get above freezing, and there is snow on the ground, we take advantage of the wooded trails to cross country ski and finish off the endurance session with a couple of hours on the rollers.

I really don’t mind winter. It is the only time I can consistently be specific with my interval training. Also, I have the freedom to run, swim and lift, so I am kept interested and also excited about getting back on the trails in the spring. I am not sure I would cope well in a place where I felt compelled to only ride my bike all year round. Once spring rolls around, I start racing cross country to get in some race miles, and more importantly to catch up with many great friends in the race scene.

Without doubt, TSE race is going to be one of the hardest things I will ever do. People think I will have an advantage living in State College, and that by race week I will know every rock on the trail, backwards. While that is partly true, I will still be battered daily by our relentless rock gardens, will hope to recover daily as well as the next girl, and truly will not have ridden most of the trails multiple times, as I like many others have strong family and work commitments. Racing bikes is my hobby not my job and I try to keep it in perspective.

I am lucky that I have a supportive boyfriend who provides me with excellent advice from his years of training and racing. Equally, I am very well supported by the shop I ride for. I have a wonderful mechanic Chris Ruhl who I put all of my trust in, an important relationship for a bike racer. The past couple of years I have been racing on Stan’s NoTubes wheels and they have brought me nothing but speedy success! I have picked up additional great sponsorship this year from, Honey Stinger and PrincetonTec. Life is sweet!

I am ‘warming up’ by doing the Cohutta 100 in TN. Then the countdown begins to TSE. Looking towards the race, I am nervous, excited and feel truly honored to race against some of the fastest pro-female endurance mountain bikers in the USA. I will be hoping to see as many friendly supporters on the trails as possible, to help give this awesome race the coverage it deserves.

More from TSE: Read all our racers’ exclusive dispatches from the race.

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