Monday, 8 June 2015

Early Season

It has been a busy start to 2015 with a variety of races on a variety of bikes. The World Cup season has only just started which is a lot later than usual therefore it has been a bit of wait and I have been preparing well for it. I started the year with a bit of Cross racing which went well and I managed to defend my U23 Cross title in which is my final year in this category so next year I will be a full on Elite. Following this I headed to Australia with the GB team and completed a lot of training in some great weather and raced the Herald Sun Tour, which went well and was a great experience. It was great fun to be a part of this trip. 

Now I find myself in March and the mtb season is beginning to kick off but with the World cups not until May I tried to keep it steady and not to busy so I raced the opening few British rounds which all went well, although Sherwood pines was defiantly an experience this year and I spend a few days clearing mud out my eyes! A few more trips pieced together and a spell on the road and I started to feel in good shape, making sure I kept myself as healthy as possible.

Following this I headed to Europe for a small race trip at the end of April with my Dutch teammate Hans Becking, we raced in Belgium on the Friday night in a Cat1 National round. It was a very wet and muddy day so we got the mud tyres on and cracked on round the technical track. My race didn’t go plan as I messed up the start, which made my day out hard, but I started to move through later on in the race and felt all right, which was ok. Straight after this we road tripped to Germany and got in late at night for a race on Sunday. The race we had planned was a HC event in Heubach and since it was a high category event there was a lot of big names on the start list. I had decided to race Elite men, which I was excited about. We course practiced on the Saturday and I lined up on the 3rd row for a wet and muddy race on the Sunday. I started well and moved up to the front group which was cool and I ended up in a race with Julian Absalon who is the current world Champion and in the end I finished just behind him in 5th place and just ahead of last years world champion Nino Shurter, which I thought was pretty smart!

The first World Cup was being held in Nove Mesto Na Morave in the Czech republic, I was excited to race and we headed to the venue on Wednesday. The course had a couple of changes but nothing major as to previous years so I knew what to expect and it is a rooty natural track with some technical rock features. There were 150 boys on the start line and I had the number 1 board as highest ranked on the world rank, which I was really excited about. I prepared well and lined up bright and early on the Sunday morning for the race. It was a big start loop and I came round it 10 sec up with Sam Gaze for company and small group of 4 just behind. This turned into a front group of 4 of us for the early part of the race with it constantly changing positions. On the second last lap the group split and I drifted of the back and with two more coming past I found myself in 6th place but still able to see 3rd place, it stayed this close for the final lap and I ended up finishing in 7th place which wasn’t quite what I was looking for but I was happy to start my world cup season.

After this we drove to Albstadt, Germany for round 2, which would be the following weekend. The German track is quite different to Czech and consists of a more man made trail with some features and is a shorter lap with two main climbs. We stayed in the area for the week and got plenty of practice on the track and I was ready to go. I lined up 7th on the grid for this round, which represents my position in the series following the first round so still on the front row. Its always nervous just before the starts everyone lines up but I got a good start towards the front then after the first lap I had got a bit of a gap of around 15sec by myself. Then similar to the previous week a group caught me and we became 4 boys. We stayed like this in the middle part of the race then some small gaps started to open and I was sitting 4th place but we were all within 30sec so it was all to play for in the final part. I went flat out on the final lap to try and close the gap and at least get on the podium of which was just 5sec ahead of me but in the end I couldn’t get to third and I finished 4th place at 30sec on the winner and 5sec of the third step. It was a hard race and I was pleased with my effort and gave it all I had to get the best result but I’m still on the hunt for a top result so I will be back to the drawing board slightly and start preparing for the next round which is in about 4 weeks time in Switzerland.


Cheers Grant.
Photos thanks to Irmo Keizer.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Team Scotland for Glasgow 2014

I'm excited to say that I have been selected to represent Team Scotland this month at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. I will participate in the Cross Country Mountain Bike Race on Tuesday the 29th of July and the Road Race on the 3rd of August.

You can keep up to date with my final preparations and race news through the following platforms:

Twitter: @grantferguson1 (https://twitter.com/GrantFerguson1)
Facebook: Grant Ferguson Athlete (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Grant-Ferguson-Athlete/101526109939266)

Thanks Grant.


Monday, 28 April 2014

South Africa World Cup 1

My first big target of the 2014 season was waiting for me at the start of April as I travelled to South Africa for the first World Cup of the year. It was the third time I had travelled to this course in Pietermaritzburg with the previous two times not going as well as planned. The first time I went was as a first year under 23 and I had an aim of finishing in the top 10 which is were I was until a puncture on the final lap ended that then on my second visit it was for the world champs and I snapped my chain on the start line. So I was hoping it would be third time lucky as I travelled this time and I was excited to race especially on the course as it is one of the best in the world with lots of technical features. We arrived a week before the event and managed to do some riding in the local area, it was hot as well which was a nice change from the UK. We started to get on the course around mid week as the race schedule has now changed and my under 23 race is on a Sunday morning which means there is a lot of time in the run in to have a look at the course. The course had changed a fair bit and involved lot of new technical rock features and some of the old original rock features. Race day was 11.00 on Sunday morning and I was ready to go, with a gridding of 5th, which put me on the front row for the first time I was excited to get going. I was quite nervous before the start, as I was feeling quite good so I was happy to be lined up and ready to go. Soon enough we were off and it was flat out down the start straight and into the first single track. I had a good start and entered the trail inside the top 10 then from here I moved up through the first lap and put myself in the second group of three with michiel van der heijden and Julian schelb. Jordan sarrou was ahead with a bit of a gap after the first lap. We worked together a little as a group but it soon split up with sarrou still ahead, then van der heijden, then I was in third place with James Ried and Anton cooper together in 4th and 5th. I was working hard to keep up with the pace in front and to make sure I was riding well in all areas of the course. The race continued like this for the main part and I was making sure to keep hydrated as it was about 35degrees. On the final lap I was still a similar length behind and still trying to catch up and I was still the same length ahead of 4th as I went down the final decent to the finish. I crossed the line 3rd place which I was very pleased about! I have had 7 top 5 places at world cup level but it was the first time I had made the podium so it was nice to finally get on to the main stage and an exciting way to start my season. After this I headed home with a couple of delayed flights back to Manchester to start racing a bit of a block on the road.


Thanks for reading, Grant.



Monday, 10 March 2014

Winter Adventures

It has been a busy winter with lots of different things going on in preparation for the 2014 season, which for me starts at the end of this month. I started off training back in November, which quickly passed, and soon it was December and I headed on a training camp with Scottish Cycling in Girona. There were lots of people on the camp from the track, road and mountain bike which made it good fun, we did lots of cool rides around the local roads which were really quiet and the weather was nice which is always a bonus.

Following this I turned my attention to some Cyclo-Cross work over the Christmas period to prepare myself for the final national trophy round and the National Championships in early January. The final trophy round was being held at Shrewsbury and after a lot of rain I knew it was going to be a muddy race with lots of bike changes. The race started fast and with a Belgium visitor in the race he went out fast, I thought it would be good idea to go with him in and try to keep myself at the front of the bike race. I soon realized I didn’t quite have the pace to go with him and dropped off and was joined by Paul Oldham. We raced together for a main part of the race before I got distanced towards the end and I finished in 3rd place just ahead of Nick Craig who was hunting me down.
The week after this I headed to the National Cyclo-Cross Championships in Derby to try and defend my title from last year. It was a cold weekend and the track was muddy from races the day before but fortunately it had frozen over night and it started of as a fast race before the ground softened up throughout. It was the first time I have lined up with a number 1 board and been in a defending position so it was new experience and I was excited to race. I started well and moved up the race before rolling around in the mud after messing up a corner half a lap in, which turned out to be slippier than I first thought. After this I moved back up to the front of the race where I was joined by Kenta Gallagher and from here it turned into a race between the two of us. It was a close race throughout with each of us riding faster in different sections of the course. It came down to the last lap and I made a move with about half a lap to go and held of to win the race by 10sec over Mr. Gallagher in second and Ben Sumner in third place, I was really pleased to win! J

Next up I spent some time in Manchester putting some hours in before heading to Calpe for out betch.nlsuperiorbrentjens team training camp. It was the first time I have been to Calpe and it was exciting to have the whole team together. We did a mixture of Mountain bike and road rides and found some cool trails, which were loose and dusty. It was a bit different to the mud and puddles of the trails at home! The camp involved getting new bikes and team photos for the up and coming season which is now just around the corner. 

Thanks to everyone for there continued support, 

Thanks for reading, Grant

Monday, 30 September 2013

Norway World Cup finals

The final round of the 2013 world cup series was held in Hafjell, Norway. This was the first time I have been to Norway and one thing's for sure, it’s an expensive place! We headed there early in the week to get ready for my race which would be on the Friday afternoon at 5.00. Norway was a beautiful place and some really quite roads for riding on during the week running into the race. The course was very open with a variety of features such as a jump section and some open rocky sections. I was looking forward to my race as I had put some more work in after the world champs and I was hoping I could get a good result to finish the year. I was number 9, so gridded as first man on the second row which was a nice place to be. I had a good start up the wide fire road and was able to settle somewhere in the top 20 before moving forward to around 10th place. From here I tried to take someone each lap of the 6 lap race and to make sure I kept moving forward throughout the race. It started to rain mid race which provided some excitement in the slippy sections.  I raced all the way to the finish and managed to roll in 5th place which I was pleased with and a nice way to end my season! So that was my final race of a very busy year starting with national Cyclo-Cross Championships in January followed by a full World Cup season and lots of exciting British races. It was great fun with a lot of learning and lots of new experiences!  I’d like to say a massive thanks to the GB team and Bart Brentjens and the superior- Brentjens team for their support throughout the whole year, it is massively appreciated! I’d also like to thank my Coach Phil Dixon and the team behind, family and friends, Braveheart Fund and everyone else who I have forgot to mention for supporting me this year! Now I plan to take some time off and make some big plans for next year!

Thanks for reading, Grant.
Photo thanks to Keith Valentine.

2013 World Championships South Africa

The 2013 World Championships were being held in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. I was happy to get selected to represent Great Britain in the under 23 men’s cross country race.  My preparation had gone well running into the event having won the final National round at Hadleigh on the 2012 Olympic Games course and putting together some good training in the weeks prior, I was looking forward to it. 

We headed to South Africa a week before the event to give us time to get ready to race and have a look at the course. The course was dusty with some nice technical features such as rock gardens and drop offs, I had raced the course previously the year before so I knew what to expect and had an idea of how a race could unfold. We spent the week running in to the race doing nothing special other than practicing the course.

Race day was Friday and it eventually came around and I was excited to race. I had number  11 so I would be on the second row for the start which I was happy about compared to the year before where I was number 86, which is about row ten. This meant I had a much better chance for the start which is important. As I lined up I was slightly nervous but ready to go. I started well and did about 5 pedal strokes into the race before I found myself top tube riding and looked down to see a missing chain! This is not an ideal situation as I looked up to see the front of the race disappearing into the distance. The race isn’t over when you snap a chain but the chances of a good ride go out the window. There was a technical zone just after the start so my mechanic nick was able to fit a new chain to my bike which takes about 2-3min and then I was able to start the race. It was a 6 lap race and I was now last man so I tried to settle into a good pace but this is hard as I started to catch people and trying to overtake is a challenge on narrow single-track. I also had some gearing issues due to the new chain which provided some challenge’s but I pressed on the best I could and started to move through the field. I rode through to finish in 32nd place but obviously quite disappointed as I knew I could have done a lot better, on the plus side I must have some power to be snapping chains on the start line ha-ha. After this we competed in the XC sprint eliminator on the Sunday, I was looking forward to this as I have never done one before and they consist of a short 2min sprint race. The reason I have never done one before is usually they are the day before the XC race and for a skinny man like me a sprint competition is a bit of a challenge. I gave it everything I had to try and qualify but finished in 44th which was not good enough as the top 32 go through so that was my World Champs over. I had a great time in South Africa and learned lots; it was especially fun to spend some time with GB downhill squad and obviously the fellow XC’ers Kenta Gee, Mikey T and Alice Barnes. I would also like to say a massive thanks to everyone in the GB support team for supporting me throughout the year in bike races and especially away from the bike races, it is much appreciated. Finally massive thanks to my coach Phil Dixon for all his work! Next up I have the final World Cup round in Norway with Superior-Brentjens which will be great fun.

Thanks for reading, Grant.

Hadleigh British Round

The final National round of the year was being held at Hadleigh which was the Olympic Games course from 2012. It was exciting to race on the course and with some international guys coming across to race I was looking forward to it. With fresh new British Champs kit from Superior Brentjens and Endura It was going to be a fun weekend. 


We arrived on the Saturday to do some course practice; the course is technical with lots of rock features and lots of climbing which should make for a great race. Before the race I was sitting in 3rd place in the overall British series having missed a round earlier in the year so that was on my mind for the race but the main plan was to try and win the race. I was gridded on the front row and after fast start I settled down in 3rd wheel before moving to 2nd wheel after the first lap. I was feeling good and made a move after 3 laps of 7 which was quite early but I opened up a 30sec gap which I managed to hold through the rest of the race. I was happy to cross the line to win the race and to with the overall British series! My team mates Kenta and Hans also finished in 3nd and 4th place so superior Brentjens had a good day out! Next stop for me is World champs. J



Tuesday, 13 August 2013

British Championships 2013

The British Championships this year were being held at the new Commonwealth Games course at Cathkin Braes in Glasgow. I had been excited and nervous about this race since I heard the champs would be taking place in Scotland for 2013. I raced on the course earlier in the year for the SXC round so I had an idea of what the course would be like, the only difference this time was I tuned up to race in 20degrees which was a nice change from the rain and sleet from last time. Scotland had provided us with a fast and dusty course. My preparation had gone well leading into the event and I was excited to race although I was still nervous. One of the main reasons I was nervous for the race was because I had made the decision to race in the Elite category compared to racing in the under 23 category which would provide a big challenge for me. There was a couple of reasons for doing this but the main one was that I thought I had a chance so I took the risk to step up and have a go. We headed to Glasgow on Friday then on Saturday we arrived at the course and put together 4/5 laps to get used to it before Sunday’s race.

I lined up front row for my race on Sunday to complete 7 laps of the course. It wasn’t long before the race was underway and I took a relaxed start and kept myself towards the front of the race and tried to stay out of trouble. It was a narrow course with minimal chance for overtaking so I had to keep aware of my position throughout the first part of the race. The race stayed together early on with a big group forming of all the main contenders, after about 3 laps the race started to kick off with some small moves from Oli Beckingsale, Gareth Montgomery and David Fletcher. This split the group and me Gareth and Oli opened up a gap on the rest of the race. I stayed here for the following lap before deciding to have a go on a couple of the descents on the course and try to give myself a little gap into the two harder sections of the course. My plan worked well and I opened a small gap on Oli who was very strong and from there I had to chew my stem and hold onto the gap throughout the final laps of the race. I felt good on my bike and I managed to do this well and came round into the finish of the race very happy to win my first Elite British championships! I was very pleased to win and it was great to do it on a course in Scotland.

The rest of the podium was filled up with Oli in second and David in third place. Thanks to the people that cheered me round and thanks to the people off the bike that support me and allow me to perform to my best, it’s much appreciated. Next up I have the World Championships in South Africa in couple of weeks where my main target will be the Under 23 cross country race.
Thanks for reading, Grant.

2013 World Cup season so far.



Albstadt, Germany World Cup round 1 (may)
The opening round of the world cup this year was in Germany, Albstadt which is a new world cup course, so I was looking forward to what it would have in store for us. We arrived at the venue a couple of days before my Under 23 race and got to have a look around. I joined a new team in the winter called Superior-Brentjens racing team and they have some of the coolest pits around so it was exciting to get setup and ready to race. It was a late start to the World cup series so we had done plenty of national racing and there was some excitement to start World Cups. The course was steep and technical which was nice and then it rained which added another challenge into the mix. I lined up for the race on the third row and had a reasonable start into the first lap inside the top 20. I worked my way through the field during the first couple of laps and spent a lot of the race in the top 10 which was of my goals for the race. Then in the final laps I dropped slightly off the pace and finished in 14th place which I was still very pleased about as it was the first world cup of the year.


Nove Mesto, Czech World Cup Round 2 (may)
A week after the opening round of the world cup in Albstadt I headed to the Czech Republic for round two. I had raced the course before and it is a twisty loop based around a biathlon complex, they had added a couple of new rock features that livened up some of the wood sections in the course. I was still gridded on the third row and I had a good start and moved myself towards the front group of the race, the first couple of laps of the race went well and I was able to make time on the technical section’s which is always nice. I then struggled later in the race and dropped from the top 10 to finish in 16th place. I felt okay but not my best and since I was still working towards a top 10 I went away to try and make some small improvements before the next round.

Val Di Sole, Italy World Cup Round 3 (June)
The third round of the world cup this year was being held in Val Di Sole, Italy. It was a course that I had raced before a couple of times and featured lots of climbs and some dusty descents, not to mention it was going to be hot race of around 30 degrees. We had done a good amount of prep running into this race and I was confident that I could race for a top 10 place. I had an okay start, it was a fast and scary start as everyone was trying to move up and get in position befor the single track. I rolled round there trying to stay out of trouble around 30th place before settling into the race and trying to move up. I was feeling good and was able to keep moving through the field all the way until I settled in 4th place, I raced here for a couple of laps before breaking away on the final lap and chasing after third place to try and reach the podium. It was close in the end but I finished in 4th 20seconds down but very pleased to have made my goal of top 10 and very happy to be racing at the front end of world cups! 
A week later I raced the European championships in Switzerland and finished in 6th place! 



Vallnord, Andorra World Cup Round 4 (July)

The 4th round of the world cup this year was held in Vallnord, Andorra. The race was at the top of a mountain around 2000m high and it was a new experience for me to race at this level of altitude. We arrived and got some course practice in and found it to be an old style of track with grass climbs and long rough descents. It was going to be a hot race and we raced at 5 o’clock in the afternoon so it meant there was a lot of sitting around before we could take to the start. I was gridded on the second row and ready to go. I made a small mistake in the start and missed my pedal which allowed a lot of people to come around me and before I could get going I found myself outside the top 40. It is always hard in the first couple of laps when you are in this position because the first sections of single track block up and people have to walk and you lose a lot of time to the boys racing at the front. So once I made it through this I settled down and managed to move my way through the field and eventually finished in 16th place.

Next up I have World Championships in South Africa at the end of August.
Thanks for reading, Grant.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

NPS Round 2 Cornwall

My latest race was the second round of the national series which was taking place in Redruth, Cornwall. It was a big drive to get down there but we found the course and had a quick look around to see it was mostly in an old quarry with lots of little technical features and short climbs. We did some course practice on the Saturday and then headed to the hotel for a good night’s sleep before race day.
There was no international competition for this round so I had a gridding of 5th and that allowed me to start on the front row which is nice. The race began fast with a bit of a battle to get into the first descent before it settled down and a group of four of us formed at the front. It was a windy day and with it being 7 laps of a short hard course I decided to be careful not to use too much energy early on in the race. Four turned into three after about halfway through the race which was me, Kenta Gallagher and Hamish Batchalor. It stayed like this until just over a lap to go where I decided that I needed to have a go early before it came down to a sprint, I managed to open up a small advantage on an small climb on the run into the finish and from there I was able to build up a small lead into the final lap. I went hard through the whole of the last lap but also careful not to make any mistakes which might cost me and I managed to hold it to the line and take the win. It was my first mountain bike win in the Elite category so I was very pleased. Next up for me was a training camp with Oli Beckingsale which was very good and enjoyable camp before I head of to the first rounds of the World Cup next week.
Thanks for reading
Grant

NPS Round 1 Sherwood

I started my season at the first round of the national mountain bike series in Sherwood pines, Nottinghamshire. I have raced there lots before so I knew what the track would be like with its fast and twisty single track but that was not to be the case this year with lots of cold weather and snow forecast for the weekend. So after an eventful day of travelling to get to the race I found it under 6 inch of snow which meant it was going to be an interesting race weekend. It was going to be my first race in snow and with temperatures around 0 degrees it wasn’t what I was expecting for the end of march but considering the weather I have trained in at home in the past I was well up for it. I figured that the amount of time I had spent riding in snow and telling myself that one day it might snow in a bike race and all the big boys who had been living the dream in the sun all winter wouldn’t know what to do, this was a good time to test my theory. So I did a couple of laps the day before the race then went and found some big jackets and kept warm until race day.

I headed to the race in the morning to sort my bike and get a warm up in before my race started at midday. It was a Uci cat 1 race which meant there was quite a big field with some international guys who had come across as there was good points available. I was gridded on the second row and ready to go. The race started straight into a snowy field with people everywhere trying to move up and get good position for the first single track. I started well around 8th place then slowly moved up through the first lap to come round in the front group of 5. It split up over the next couple of laps and I managed to ride across to the front of the race and ride at the front with a Matthias Wengelin who was a Swedish cyclist. I stayed here until the last lap where we were joined by Paul Oldham from hope and it all kicked off. Paul attacked straight away with me and Matthias chasing before he went over the top and on to win the race and me an Paul raced it out for second place with Paul being stronger and taking 2nd and me rolling in to finish in 3rd place which I was pleased about as it was my first podium in an Elite race. Next up I have the second round of the national series in Cornwall later in April.
Thanks for reading Grant.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Winter Adventures

It has been a busy winter with lots of training, some cyclo-cross racing and some cold weather. I am now into my second year as an Elite and have lots of big races planned for the up and coming season which will be very exciting. I have joined a new team for 2013; Superior-Brentjens Mountain Bike Racing Team which is an Elite level world cup team managed by ex Olympic gold medallist Bart Brentjens and should be great fun with plenty of new experiences and things to learn. The new team means I have some great new kit such as a 29er mountain bike from Superior bikes and brilliant new clothing from Endura which has been keeping me warm and dry during the winter.
 I started my training last November with some general road training and some gym work which went well. I then did three cyclo-cross races towards the end of December; the first two were national trophy rounds at Shrewsbury and Derby and the final one was the national championships at Bradford early in January. I was hoping the races would go well as I had a much better gridding this year compared to last year which I was looking forward to. The first national trophy round I did at Shrewsbury went well with a front row gridding I was able to make the front group and race hard in the muddy conditions to finish in 4th place behind the winner from Belgium. I then went on to the next round in Derby where I got another good start and finished in 8th which set me up great for the national championships a week later Bradford.

The national cross champs were being held on the Sunday so we headed there the day before to get some laps in and have a look at the course, it muddy loop with some steep banks and hurdles to run up which would make a great course. The under 23 men’s race was a separate race from the Elite men's which would provide some close racing with the race starting early in the morning in cold conditions. I was excited to race and a little nervous before the start as I was hoping to improve on my 3rd place from the year before. I was gridded on the front row for the start. The race started fast as everyone was trying to move up and get to the front; I kept my position during the first couple of lap and was in the front group that formed of about 6 people. The pace was hard early on with people trying to get away and split the race up but I followed the moves and kept a good position. About halfway through it began to split up with me and Ben Sumner getting away for half a lap before getting joined by Steve James with a couple of laps to go. The last lap approached and I felt good so I went for it with just under a lap to go and got a small gap straight away which I held trying not to make any small mistakes, soon the gap opened and I was able to ride my own race and cross the line to take the win and become national champ which I was very happy about. Steve went on to finish in 2nd place with Ben Sumner coming in 3rd place.

Since then I have had a couple of training camps, one with Oli Beckingsale and the other with the new team in South Africa, both were great fun and allowed for some quality training for the new season. I start my mountain bike season in a couple of weeks with the first round of the national series at Sherwood pines followed by some international racing.

Keep up to date with my new team through there website: http://www.mountainbikeracingteam.com/

Thanks for reading, Grant