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Friday, 27 February 2015

Thetford Winter Series 2014/2015

The end of last year saw my return to racing the 4hr Thetford Winter series, due to racing various other endurance MTB and road events I had not participated for 3 years so it was a welcome return for me.
I had been involved in the original winter series in the early 1990's under its Pro circuit guise whilst racing as a juvenile and it holds some special memories for me, but a 15 year break from cycling found me not competing until i was in my 30's.
Round 1 I placed 7th and then again in round 2, but round 3 was 1 week after riding 17hrs hours solo of the Strathpuffer and my legs forced me down to an 8th place.
So with consistent results I ended going into round 4 in a 3rd overall place, something as a lad I could have only dreamed of! 
I would have loved to have retained this overall but with the level of competition at these events, I realised going into round 4 this would be quite a task.
So after another grueling 4 hrs plus of racing last Sunday, I placed another 7th. and unfortunately lost the overall podium position. But I was extremely happy with my performance overall and my younger self would have been impressed knowing my achievements at 37 years old.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Rise in cycle accident compensation

According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), more needs to be done to combat a rising number of cyclist deaths on Britain’s roads. The call to action came in light of recently published annual road casualty figures for Great Britain in 2012. Whilst overall road deaths fell by 8% to 1,754 in 2012, the number of pedal cyclists killed rose by 10% to 118 and the number of seriously injured cyclists rose, for the eighth year in a row, to 3,222. Many injured cyclists don’t claim cycle accident compensation because they do not realise they are entitled to any - but it’s always worth talking to an expert solicitor to find out where you stand.

Safe cycling network a priority

The Department for Transport (DfT) which published the report containing the road casualty figures, noted that an increased popularity of cycling on Great Britain’s roads since 2004 may have contributed to a rise in the number of deaths and serious injuries amongst the nation’s cyclists. Commenting on the figures, Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at RoSPA said “The good news of a large drop in road deaths in 2012 is marred by an increase in cyclist deaths, especially among child cyclists which is particularly worrying.” He went on to suggest an improved cycling network to counter the rise in casualties: “It is vital to create a coherent safe network for cyclists by introducing appropriate cycle lanes and tracks, linking quieter streets, developing routes alongside rivers, canals and through parks where possible, and introducing more 20mph schemes in our towns and cities.” Despite the availability of cycle accident compensation, prevention is always better than cure, and Mr Clinton concluded by proposing further measures: “As well as boosting the provision of cyclist training and trying to make the roads safer for cyclists, we also need to hammer home the message to drivers to keep their speed down, watch out for cyclists and give them enough room on the road.”

Get in touch with an expert If you have been involved in a cycling accident, it’s important to talk to a specialist solicitor to find out the possibility of claiming cycle accident compensation. The professional and friendly team at Cycle Aid can guide you on the best way forward in any particular situation. Call us on 0800 387 815 or send an email to enquiries@cycleaid.co.uk.
Monday, 28 October 2013

Carry on Duathloning

Yesterday should of been a good day of racing at the Essex Offroad Duathlon that was also to be the inaugural English Cross Duathlon Championships  but in reality it turned into a comedy of errors. My first event in a while and no where near what I would call an adequate level of fitness, moving house, colds, work, etc etc all adding up the cause of that. The lack of fitness was clearly evident at the Dusk Till Dawn race a couple of weeks ago when I let the side down in the team event. But as Yazz once sang, 'The only way is up!'

Anyhow back to yesterdays race. For me I was looking at it as more of a gauge of my current level of fitness against others and hoping that perhaps everyone might puncture on the bike section and I could win! The weather was surprisingly warm when we arrived even with the wind, as I set about signing on an then the obligatory faffing session of having to assemble my bike after having to dismantle it to try and fit it in the boot of my car. Bike back together and racked in the transition area, with several visual checks to make sure I knew where my bike would be when I ran in, it was time for race briefing. This dragged on for a long, long time, even more interesting when you have two young boys to try and control. Luckily the muddy puddles in the vicinity kept them relatively entertained.

Finally with briefing over it was off for a quick warm up to get the legs ready for the first 3.5km run section around Hylands Park. My wave eventually set off with one chap getting a gap on the rest of us straight away. I settled into about 5th place, not far behind 4th. Three runners opened up a gap on us but I had to run at what I could sensibly maintain. It was when we got to the last km that the fun began. The chap in 4th place stopped as it wasn't clear which way to go. Seeing the previous wave up ahead I shouted straight on after them. It was only when we were going up the long drag and I looked across the field I could see Jez Cox and the two other chaps in my wave way, way across the other side of the field. Confusion ensued but with the majority of the field up ahead of us we continued to the transition. Onto the bike and everyone had come back together again. To say the transition from run to bike was a shock to the legs would be an understatement especially on an uphill drag in a headwind. As rider after rider came by I managed to entice the legs to co-operate once more after bribing them with an energy gel. The bike lap was basically around the park on the grass and then into the woods which were very muddy and slippy. The Kenda Nevegals were definitely the right choice here, maybe not so at D2D (perhaps that's why my lap times were poor at D2D..ahem!). Sliding may way around the first lap it was back to the start for a quick hop off and on the bike for the second and last lap. Feeling a lot better now I started gaining places. A quick CNP caffeine gel before the woods to feed the ever hungry legs and I was feeling great and flying. So fast that when I got back to transition I couldn't recall doing sections on the 2nd lap that I did on the 1st. Still trying to work out how that was possible when I was always seeing riders ahead I popped on my running shoes and set off.

The legs were feeling not bad and as I rounded a corner marker to start an uphill drag I then became aware of runners in random places around the open parkland and then a lack of signage. Next it was a Marshall waving their arms saying that the race was being cancelled! The reason being people going the wrong way on the run, in the woods on the bike etc....ah that explains my quick lap in the woods. So that was it, we made our way back to the finish line. The briefing at the end was that signs had blown down, dog walkers had moved tape and signs and all in all a bit of a calamity, but hey I have free entry for an event at some point next year.

I'm sure if the race had continued I would have ran sub 20 second km's and won....maybe next year, oh no hang we've been told there won't be an event there next year now.....so what am I going to do with that free entry then.
Monday, 30 September 2013

A cycle accident solicitor understands there is more than one victim

Motorist Gary McCourt was banned from driving for five years and ordered to carry out 300 hours of community service after being convicted of the death of cyclist Audrey Fyfe which resulted from a collision between his car and her bike. He had previously been jailed for causing the death of another cyclist, George Dalgity, as a consequence of reckless driving in 1985. Prosecutors said his sentence for causing the death of Mrs Fyfe was too lenient, but they failed in an appeal. As any cycle accident solicitor knows, the family members of a road accident victim want to ensure justice, particularly where their loved one has died. Mrs Fyfe's daughter, Aileen Brown, said she was "lost for words" at the failure of the appeal.

The issue of helmets

Lord Menzies said, in a written decision, that the appeal court "cannot disagree with the sheriff's categorisation of this as a momentary inattention, the result of which was a low impact, low speed collision with Mrs Fyfe's cycle.” He went on to note: “Despite the sheriff's error in treating the fact that Mrs Fyfe was not wearing a cycle helmet as a mitigatory factor, we are unable to say that the sentence of a community payback order with the maximum number of unpaid hours was unduly lenient.” The question of cyclists wearing helmets is often very contentious and it is interesting that this was raised in the appeal. A qualified cycle accident solicitor will be able to advise clients on the issue of helmets; whether or not this will affect their case.

The vulnerability of cyclists

According to research by the City of Westminster Council, over two thirds of crashes between drivers and cyclists are the fault of the motorist. Although the study may have only been a localised snapshot of the problem, it’s well known that collisions between cars and bicycles are responsible for a large number of cycling accidents, particularly fatal accidents. Even at slow speeds, the force of a motor vehicle hitting a bike and the lack of safety features on the latter means that cyclists are extremely vulnerable on the roads. They lack the benefit of seatbelts, airbags and crumple zones; all they have to survive a crash are helmets and protective clothing.

If you would like to talk to a cycle accident solicitor, simply call a member of the Cycle Aid team on 0800 387 815 or send an email to enquiries@cycleaid.co.uk.
Friday, 30 August 2013

Understanding the complex nature of cycling injury compensation

The father of teenager Ryan Smith, who was knocked off a bike whilst riding without wearing a helmet and now lies comatose in hospital, is campaigning for cycling helmets to be made compulsory.

Mark Smith, who is a paramedic, said “I don’t want any family to go through this. Don’t let this happen to your kids. Get your kids helmets.” It is understandable that he wants the issue to “go to Parliament straight away.” But the debate surrounding mandatory cycle helmets is a very controversial one and has continued for several decades. Although the decision to wear a helmet may affect the level of cycling injury compensation following an accident, whether or not helmets actually increase safety remains open to question.

The controversial nature of bicycle helmets:

Opponents of compulsory helmets often point to Holland which has one of the best cycling safety records in the world and where fewer than one in a thousand cyclists wear head protection. However, the low number of cycling injury compensation claims in the Netherlands may have more to do with the country’s excellent road infrastructure and the Dutch culture which has adopted pedal-power as a mainstream form of transport and where car drivers aren’t constantly complaining about their two-wheeled compatriots.

Back in the UK, research by Bath University traffic psychologist Dr Ian Walker found that helmet wearing cyclists could actually be exposing themselves to more danger purely due to the fact that
they appear to motorists to be “more serious, experienced and predictable” than their bare-headed equivalents. As such, drivers tend to give them less room when overtaking, increasing the possibility of accidents. This rather ironic observation shows how the route to ensuring safety on the roads is not black and white; there are a whole range of factors which need to be taken into account.

Even if one ignores factors such as road infrastructure, culture and psychology of motorists, the question as to whether a cycle helmet is an effective safety measure is disputed. They are only tested to impacts of 14mph so any serious accidents will not be covered by this testing. Furthermore, one study indicated that bicycle helmets might even increase the risk of brain injuries from rotational motion.

If you would like to speak to solicitors who know all the ins and outs of cycling injury compensation, call a member of the friendly and experienced team at Cycle Aid on 0800 387 815 or send an email to enquiries@cycleaid.co.uk.
Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Bivvy tastic

Having only camped a handful of times the concept of the bivvy was new to me and until I read about long distance bikepacking I thought it was something reserved for fishing allnighters.
This said I was intrigued and working with an ex-forces guy who raves about it I was keen to try.
I'm currently still recovering from a broken thumb and post op ligament damage so my racing is over for the year and my riding has been restricted to my single speed Inbred mtb on the flat pathways of Norfolk.
This is not all bad as its kept me motivated and I have been loving the simplicity of the single/rigid machine and how far it can take me in this brilliant summer weather.
So this week I planned to string together a few of the long distance cycle/walks that cover Norfolk. Starting from Norwich along Marriotts Way, Weavers Way, Norfolk Coastal Path and then down to Thetford on the Peddars way. Along with a few extra trails I know locally.
I had planned to set off on Saturday but rained stop played and I headed off Sunday AM. Within 8 miles I had a puncture in my only Tube so I had to try and ride nearby to a shop to find another thankfully the discount store of Roys of North Walsam held some for £2.99! bargain!
A rather large lunch was ingested and I was back on the remainder of the Weavers Way to Stalham and then I rode the Norfolk coastal path to Cromer. From Cromer did a few small trails in Weybourne and then back on the Coastal Route until a quick Fish & Chip stop at Salthouse.
Light was beginning to fade so on with the lights (In true shameless blog styley these were the awesome Hope R4 LED front light with the Hope District rear Light).
Enough of dicing with death against the cars on the Narrow coastal path I saw a Hostel/campsite open @ Brancaster. They appeared to have just closed, so I found a member of staff and asked in there was any room at the Inn was initially told no but they managed to squeeze me in on a unpopular pitch next to the toilet block. Given that I was only a bivvy bag I didn't need much room. 
This site is excellent and well worth a visit if camping out that way http://www.deepdalefarm.co.uk/.
Someone to kip found so a pint is was in order as I had just been cycling for 13hrs, just a couple of hundred yards was http://www.whitehorsebrancaster.co.uk/ and again very impressed and a amazing courtyard with the best patio heaters I had ever seen.
Couple of pints down and back to the camp-site and a wiggle into the bivvy and to fall asleep watching multiple shooting stars in the sky.
Everyone was up early, so up I got washed/packed and on the bike by 6:30am. The remainder of the coastal path beckoned until the start of the Peddars way just before Hunstanton.
This is a long straight 47mile roman road which ends just past thetford. This is well signposted and reasonably quick so just under 4hrs I was at the end and then cycled onto to Thetford.
Wimping out on 40miles on a singlespeed MTB on roads home I caught the train back to Norwich.
All in I rode approx 200miles and had a mini adventure to boot, Again? most definitely and in fact the the Ridgeway - Reading to Bristol and back is planned for September.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Ups and downs of the amateur racer

It's been an interesting couple of months on the ''trying to train'' and ''trying to do well in races''. June was not a bad month with a 3rd in the Eastbourne Duathlon and then following it up with a 3rd the following weekend at the Bexhill Duathlon. 

Not exactly two places that you would immediately associate with the fast and frenetic pace of duathlons, maybe the breathlessness aspect that goes with it given that the average age is around 80 in these coastal retirement havens. This made for interesting racing on the Bexhill road circuit. Let's just say I'm not entirely convinced by a circuit that winds it's way on open roads in and around the houses on Bexhill seafront, with Sunday drivers deciding to stop whilst going round a roundabout to discuss directions with a marshall, and all this while contesting a gale force 9 headwind for half of the 4 road laps. And in an evil twist they put the long run leg at the end. 

So while the week before at Eastbourne I was trying to chase down 2nd place this time I went into the run leg 2nd only for my legs to reply ''actually I think we would rather call it a day now so we're going on strike''. It was painful, especially with a hill to circumnavigate twice. So 3rd it was then and missing out on a chance to get a prize presented by Graham Norton. Yes you did read that right.

I haven't done much running since then especially as the duathlon season won't kick in till September time. Work as well has been busy along with trying to do the house up, sell it, move in to the other house so back to sporadic training it was. I did manage to fit in the 2nd round of the WSS MTB series at Gravesend Cyclopark with it's two short races format. That was hard I have to admit. The legs and lungs were questioning whether it was October already and the cyclocross season had kicked in given the frenzied pace for 45 minutes each time. I'll be honest, my legs aren't used to that and I got my 4th and 5th places more by default of people having mechanicals or puncturing rather than my sheer race pace, but hey, I'm easy I'll take the points how I can. Unfortunately my hopes of all the people ahead of me puncturing didn't quite come to fruition.

Since then it was a ride a week if I was lucky until at last a new gym opened near to where i work, (despite the best efforts of a 'corporate gym' complaining), giving me the opportunity to cycle into work so that I can at least have a shower when I get there and at the same time get in a nice 26 mile bike ride.

It was back down to earth with a bump though as despite having entered the Etape in Annecy and meeting up with friends down there arranged, everything conspired against me to the point where I had to cancel going......that still hurts. A 3 hour ride round my local roads didn't have quite the same romance as doing the Etape, especially as it involved 2 punctures and more potholes than you could wish for. Since then the puncture pixies have been hard at work as it has been a been a puncture on every ride be it road or mountain bike up until my ride on Friday night.

Still at least I managed to get round the course with no punctures at the 3rd round of the WSS Mtb series at Wrinsted Court. This was despite 2 excursions into the bushes on the first 2 laps on an off camber corner, which was slightly embarrassing after telling the chap next to me on the start line who had never ridden the course to take it easy on that section. Not content with this, i decided to find a conveniently located hole after the bombhole section hidden by some weeds which meant the bike stopped but I didn't making for an over the handlebars incident. Not good as i was in pursuit of second place at that point.

By the start of the 5th and final lap second was in sight and I managed to catch him on the last hill. I caught him and attached immediately but I could see his shadow on my wheel as I glanced down. It was then flat out to try and drop him, I could have done with another hill to be honest but was left with a small section of single track with a bombhole before the tracked opened briefly uphill. I knew that he was going to counter attack here so went as hard as I could to get the all important hole shot before the last single track section before the final corner before the line. 

He got me though out of the bombhole so we came round the corner with a bike length between us. I went for it, but sprinting is definitely not my forte. Still I gave it a shot but not quite enough in the end so 3rd it was. A good result you say, well there was on 4 finishers! Where are all the racers...we need more people to attend this event otherwise it will not be around next year at this rate. You can't tell me everyone was up at the Nationals in Glasgow or do people just not want to race XC anymore.

If only the finish line was a bit further up the hill!
All i know is that I think the time has come to purchase a full suspension bike. My body aches after these races now, so I look forward to another painful session of physio to free my back, neck and ribs up. I love the One One Race 29er but for recovery and less stress on my body I need a full suspension.....all donations gratefully received!

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