Saturday, 31 December 2011

A year in review....

Last night saw my last ride of 2011 with a 3hr blast in torrential rain and mud with zoe and Scott from South Wales who I had met at the Bontrager 24/12 in which with Scott's Support Zoe placed an amazing 2nd in the 24hr. Really great to be able to meet up with them on my local trails.

This week Ian and I will be travelling up to Northern Scotland to compete in the Strathpuffer 24hr solo, which will without a doubt be the toughest event we have faced to date. And what an opener to 2012 that will be.

Ian wrote a brief overview of the year recently for our newsletter which covers the years highlights:

Team Cycle Aid have enjoyed an awesome year or racing and riding. As always, the focus has been on endurance mountain biking events, but they have also participated in a wide range of fun events, sportives and other adventures.

The highlight of the year has to be Dean Pointer ranking 16th in the UK & European 24 hour mountain bike championships. This was Dean's first ever 24 hour event, and he just excelled against a really strong field, keep pushing hard throughout the event and felt a great sense of achievement ranking high against Europe's finest. Dean's season continued with 7th in Bontrager TwentyFour12 (12 hours solo), 9th in the Brighton Big Dog, and 6th at the Thetford Summer Enduro. Ian Read's season highlights were a well earned 11th place at the Thetford Summer Enduro, and a hard though 19th at Dusk 'til Dawn (in extremely muddy conditions).

The team participated in many of the regional sportives, including the Suffolk Sunrise, Wiggle's No Excuses Sportive and the main Norwich event, the Norwich 100/50. As they felt the need for the endurance training, they opted to do the Norwich 50, followed by the Norwich 100. On a hot day in June, they managed to get around both events whilst quite a few riders were still struggling with one - they felt suitably pleased with themselves! Next year, they are planning to do the 100, twice.

Next year's season will kick off in January at the Strathpuffer. For some weird reason, Dean and Ian are quite excited at riding for 24 hours in temperatures well below -10, 16 hours of darkness in the highlands of Scotland. After that they will be carrying on the Thetford Winter Series, the Wiggle No Excuses Sportive and the Cheshire Cat in March, back up to Scotland for the UK/European 24 hour championships, the Gorrick 100, more Thetford racing with the Summer Enduro, and unfinished business in Kielder! Look out for the Team jersey events and say hi - they are very talkative chaps!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Seatpost or Saddle?

Sunday saw round 2 of the legendary Thetford Winter series, a race series which I first rode back in the very early nineties under the management of Pro-Circuit MTB. I had a 16 year break from the sport and came back in the 2008 winter series, now my 4th year and I can only say they get better with age and maybe my riding is maturing also.

An early start sunday having to drop the sprogs off at their Aunties for some babysitting duties, for a change this didnt involve waiting around for Dr Read to get out of bed! as he made his own way down.
Got down to Mayday farm just after 8am for a 10:30 start enough time for a last minute tinker and waited for Read (who was on time for the first time ever) and we went of on a reccie lap of the 6.5 mile course, at a steady pace this was around 35mins. So over the 4hrs we were looking at 8 laps.
As I was 13th in the last round had the bonus of being gridded at the start which always leads to amore relaxed start so you can concentrate on the 4hrs ahead.

We were off settled into my planned 13mph average and enjoyed the flowing course, the whole race was incident free for me apart from nearly washing out at the entrance to the MX trail.
The Course flowed so well and even the bombholes were all easily rideable in big ring and the double shocker was a treat as long as no one failed to get up the ascents!
Saw numerous people laying in the bush on those sections, with bikes on top of them, moaning in pain, should confess to laughing at their misfortune but this made me giggle thinking - how on earth do you bail on a ascent!!

Another strange incident was a tussle and fall between a Fatbirds rider and a Numbpluz rider - Numbpluz tried to overtake me and took out fatbirds and I ooked back to see him on the floor.
Fatbirds "what did you do that for?" and Numplumz "We are all in the same cat!"
Who knows what was going on their but YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!
Unfortunately, Dr Read's race wasnt as incident free with a snapped seatpost after 5 laps, so his Winter Series is not happening this year but hes ensured a stellar performance at the Puffer and im sure incident free once his On-One Whippet is unleashed.

This was my first ride with my uber light Hope Race X2 EVO brakes and they didnt dissapoint pure xc speed item and once the pads had bedded in a lovely modulated feel. Anyway as planned 8 laps and a excellent little burn up on the last lap with a CC Luton - Eddingtons - Bandon rider on the last lap - to take 3 riders at the end but these turned out to be Vet riders so no places gained - 12th place! So with that and last months 13th an overall top ten thus far i guess. Right now some more training and two top tens in the last two races.
Thursday, 24 November 2011

I've Got a Brand New Pair of Hope Race X2 Evo Brakes

Any British mountain biker lover will undoubtedly have heard of a cool company called Hope. They have forged a reputation as people who make mountain bike components that can handle British conditions - i.e. mud. And anyone who has brought a Hope component will probably still be running it on their bike - like Clive Dunn, Hope components simply don't die.

This week we took delivery of a set of Hope Race X2 Evo brakes (complete with XT shifter mounts), so we embarked on a night of serious bicycle fettling! Every single review we have seen of the brakes says they are the best thing since sliced cake. Excellent stopping power and extremely light weight. The ability to mount XT shifters directly on the levers also cuts off a significant chunk of weight from the bike.

Dean had been saying all week about how we have having trouble getting brand new Rocket Rons on his rims. Being the sort of person I am, I mocked him for this. We managed to get the first tyre on with out tooooooo much arhgy bargy. Then the second tyre took a good 30 minutes, lots of grunting, fairy liquid, and the assistance from my father. I am surprised the rim didn't bend with the amount of forced we placed on it (please remember, my dad and Dean both have super human strength as the result of bushy moustaches).

Having had my fresh Mavic freehub die on me after about 2 months, I decided I didn't want to put anymore money in Mr Mavic's pockets, so hunted down a new set of wheels. Mr Epic Daza of Team CCN sold me a super light weight set of ZTR/American Classics. These wheels are now ready and waiting. A hundred miles on road bikes on Saturday, and maybe a club run on Sunday, more tinkering Monday night then a little test ride over the local woods. I have a feeling the bike is going to be flying!

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Audax For Beginners - Norfolk Nips 1 Report

Today was my first attempt at a proper audax, and I absolutely loved it! 100km around North Norfolk under overcast skies. The route took a decidedly "back roads" route, and what with us being under 40, we don't really have a thing for maps. So we were pretty rubbish. The start was a bit of a disaster, as the location of the start shown on google maps on the main page was actually about 2 miles away from the actual start. Fortunately Dean waited for me, ready with a loving of insults :) Starting by the time most of the group were about 15-20 minutes up the road, we were on full chase mode. Fortunately we had Mark "Pistons" Pearson with us to help hunt everyone down.

The typical image people get when you talk about an audax is that of touring bikes, panniers and leather pouches. Whilst we weren't disappointed, there was a lot of chaps and ladies from the local racing scene having a good crack at it today. Despite giving it plenty of kicks, we found that each time we came to a turning or crossing, we would stop, have a ponder, consult the directions list, then be caught by riders who knew where they were going, and then follow them. Give it another kick, hit a junction and repeat for pretty much the rest of the day! Surprisingly enjoyable way of riding, basically intervals. My legs got a real stinging, we got a bit lost, and rolled back into the HQ having clocked up over 70 miles. 160 riders were on the road, lots of banter and good cake. Ace. More next month and the month after. Get registered for the Norfolk Nips 2.
Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Is that one of those Whippets?....

Sunday saw the first round of the local and by far the greatest endurance winterseries @ Thetford.
This years first round was on the extra fast Brandon country park so was hotting up to be a classic race. Me and Mr Read got organised and turned up about 2hrs before the start, enough for a faff about and a pre-ride of the whole 7 mile lap.
I was ultra keen so got to the start line about 30mins before the start just aftering completing my lap, no surprise to find Endurance legends Mr Anthony White and Paul Ashby already there.
Nice long chat with Mr White calmed the nerves and looking around at the sea of 750 riders lined up was an awesome site. (400 riders in the ultra fast 2hr cat!)
We were off I didnt keep right at the front as I know my limits but kept up at the front enough to avoid any bottlenecking at the singletrack entrance.
Then about a mile in disaster struck a rear puncture on the first little climb, HOW in my sealant filled tube (first of the year). On closer inspection there was a half inch rip in the tyre.
Lucky for me Ian was behind and stopped and basically fixed the puncture for me with his C02, big thank you and great team spirit!.
Now have to battle my way back through the 100 riders who had just passed me was going to be a legburner, but I had 4hrs to do it in so all was still possible.
Head down and my planned average speed of 13mph suddenly shot up to 16.
Averaging about 30 mins a lap it took me till about lap 6 to get to the top 20 riders and then it was until lap 7 /8 that I picked off some more and finally rocking in at 13th.
Not a bad effort considering the time lost at the beginning and the extra energy spent on the battle to the front.
Mr Read suffered for 2hrs and called it a day after a crash with friend and local rider Stef.
As usual the team whippet was a cause for many conversations throughout the day and I spotted at least three others out on the course and from the comments I hearing the bike could be the value carbon ride of the decade!
Right so at least for my efforts im gridded for the next event so bring on the pain 4/12/11.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Talking with Frogs, the Male Ego and a Beginners Guide to Catching Colds - Dusk 'til Dawn 2011 Race Report

Dusk 'til Dawn is the big local enduro, so I have wanted to do well at this for a long time. It was also my first exposure to long distance racing a few years ago. On a dry and dusty night in 2009, I attempted the race with 2 chums and we had an awesome(ish) time. However, on the final lap, as the sun was rising, my blood sugar levels were crashing in a big way! I was rescued by a very chipper Chris Nightingale of Thetford MTB Racing who "scored" me a Torq bar - Torq bars are generally lovely, but this particular morning, I can assure you that nowhere in England did anyone have a sweeter taste in their mouth than I.

To make a change for an MTB race, I actually got to the venue more than 30 minutes before the start. With an 8PM kick off, I was at High Lodge a clear 6 hours before the start - very unusual for me. It was mainly at the persistence of some Iceni Velo chums you who were doing the mixed pairs, so I thought I would actually sort myself out and get their at a decent time. This gave me plenty of time to tinker with my bike and get in a pre-ride of the course.

During the pre-ride lap, we were passed by a chap I had seen at a few races over the past 6 months - I said "hello mate!" in my usual jovial way, but the response was a kinda "don't speak to me, scum boy" type of "hello". What happened next taught me a good deal about competitiveness and the male ego! Backtracking a little bit, this particular gentleman was at the Thetford Summer Enduro (by far the most fun/dry event of 2011) and he put in a stonking performance - finishing an unmentionable number of laps ahead of me, and even pulled a few laps clear of Mr Pointer - which, to be honest, usually requires either a motorcycle or a special prescription from a certain Dr. Ferrari. A few months later, at the 62 mile feed station on the Kielder 100, I stopped off to get a few supplies and I spotted a rather distinctive bicycle and recognised the owner. I said hi and mentioned the Thetford race - he didn't appear to be on similar form today, and was having his bike cleaned before hitching a ride on the broom wagon! I, on the other hand, was well up for more muddy race action, and said "Right! Time for some more - I am loving it today!" and kept the wheels turning until the finish line. Judging by his response in Thetford, I guess he had checked the results ;) Well...getting back to the pre-ride, I was crusing around with my triathlete chums, who were taking it easy (which kept me in check so I saved my legs for the actual racing - much needed). A few miles down the trail, we came to Tom's Bomb Hole. This tricky WW2 bomb crater had defeated me the previous weekend, and I just couldn't work out how to ride up the sharp, sandy exit, thus resorting to shamefully pushing my bike out. However, on this occasion, I aced the entrance to the crater, and spotted "our friend" loitering on the far side of the hole with his large group of chums, clearly waiting to see if other riders were getting out of the hole or not! Did I feel the pressure?! Competitive, moi?! I managed to carry the full momentum of my descent into the switchback exit of the hole, and absolutely nailed the line out - I don't think Danny Hart  himself could have done it any slicker! As I floated out of the exit, I took a glanced over at our friends, and they all turned away and rode off. Quite possibly the best feeling I have ever had on a mountain bike!

Towards the end of the lap, some light rain started to fall across the forest and we hoped it would bed down some of the dusty trails. It managed to do that, but rudely, it didn't stop there. All week the weather forecasts had said it would be clear - however on the Thursday, weather reports seem to start getting more pessimistic. The rumour was that it would be dry until midnight, then rain for the rest of the race. Sadly, the rain decided to start and about 5 and gradually began to get heavier. Dean had his kids this weekend as Mrs Dean was working, but he was still planning on starting the race 2 hours late, and then trying to beat me - apparently I needed at least a 2 hour head start! I gave Dean a call at 7 to recommend trunks and googles - which he seemed stumped by, due to the distinct lack of rain a few miles up the road in sunny Norwich. With the prospect of 10 hours of drivetrain-rotting mud and general dampness, Dean offered to just pit for me. Which was extremely kind, amazing and gave me extra motivation for the race. Dean was the perfect pitter - excellent mechanical skills, nutritionally wise, a seasoned enduroist and very, very positive.

The word was that the rain was going to really kick in around midnight, so my race strategy was to hit it hard in the first 4 hours whilst the trail was fast, then keep it going at a steady pace for the rest of the race. Having spent the week looking at the dry weather forecast, I was excited about doing a fast, dry race and trying to get in a massive number of laps. Despite a morning of being disappointed that it probably wasn't going to pan out like that, I managed to switch my perspective and realised that if it got nasty, a large percentage of people would just drop out of the race, and I could aim for a decent overall position.

Due to some serious faffing with getting the perfect position for my Exposure Joystick, I found myself towards the back of the start group. Note to self - if you get to a race early, sort your kit out before updating your facebook status! This was not too cool, as I planned on working my way through the traffic in order to avoid bottlenecks at the start of singletrack sections and the bomb holes. On the start line, I found myself next to Team Cycle Aid ally and generally nice chap, Mark Goodman of Weldtite Endurance. Fortunately, the extra start loop meant that we had about 3-4 miles of fire road before we were funnelled into the first section of singletrack. Mark is a very experienced racer, and knows a thing or two about weaving through a bunch - from the off, we were just giving it that little bit of extra power to slide through that pack and get a good position. Within a few minutes, we caught up with my cousin, Johnny V, and our three man group started to get towards the front. By the time we reached the first section of singletrack, everyone around us rode seamlessly into it and kept the pace going - ace! We were amongst friends. The same thing happened with the first and second bomb holes. Having spent the first hour of Kielder stopping and starting because I was stuck behind riders who couldn't ride up switchbacks, I was really pleased to be riding with people who were at a decent skill level and didn't keep stopping. Absolutely no disrespect to such riders who do stop (I was one of them until not that long ago!), but....when you're on a mission, a clear path ahead helps.

Half way around the first lap, Mark had gone on ahead, and I was starting to settle into my rhythm. The rain was still coming down gently, but the course was fine and the first lap rolled around without any problems. Quick bottle stop, and back out for more. I spent most of the second lap riding with Johnny V and we had a small group forming in our slipstream. Another lap, another bottle change. Kept eating the bars and gels. This time, Dean was in the pit area and in good spirits :) Johnny V didn't stop, so I had a quick change, then spent the rest of the lap trying to bridge back to him. Coming into the pits, I saw he was there, so quickly got my stuff together, Dean relubed the chain and we both went off into the night for lap 4. My memory is starting to get rather hazy about anything that happened after this point. I seem to remember yoyoing off the back of Johnny's wheel for part of the lap, and eventually just settled into my own pace and let him go. During the first half of the lap, we joked about riding the rest of the night together and just having a final sprint at the end.

I can't really remember much of what happened for the rest of the evening, other than it rained a lot more, the whole course got very slippery, I blew up on the last 2 laps, I kept chugging along and we loved every single moment. Well, every moment except falling off at the bottom of Tom's bomb hole on the penultimate lap. After I dragged myself out of the hole, I had a few minutes to collect my thoughts, scoff a gel and sip some cold, refreshing water. At this point, I had a good chat with the legendary Tina Potter; it was great to chat to a friend and someone else who was enjoying the adventure.

For the last two laps, Dean insisted I used his Exposure Six Pack and freshly charged Joystick on full chat. I know we are sponsored by Exposure, so not exactly going to say bad things about them, but I was blown away by how utterly awesome their lights were. It felt like I had one of those search lights you see in prison break movies when the wardens are searching for the cons as they scale the perimeter fence. By illuminating the entire fire road, I was able to pick the best lines and felt inspired to go faster. The Six Pack blasted the singletrack sections, and the Joystick filled in the details - kinda like the Simon & Garfunkel of MTB lights ;) We didn't just write to all the light companies and beg them to sponsor us - we hounded Exposure until they gave in! They rock. Exposure are the Aston Martin of mountain bike lights - perfect British engineering. If James Bond ever had to use a mountain bike for one of his missions, Q would whack a Six Pack on his handle bars (he'd probably try to pretend it was some top secret MI6 piece of kit, but we all know he was lying). Apparently, the boys and girls at CERN did some research and they found that light emitted from the Six Pack actually travels faster than the speed of normal light ;) Joking aside, these rock. Follow CycleAid on Facebook and we will be giving away some lights in the next few weeks.

There is no denying that in order to do a 12 hour race, you need to have the legs and lungs to keep going for that duration. But in order to keep "on it" for all that time, you have to have it together mentally. My confidence for the race was high - during the year I had made massive progress with my (previously dodgy) technical riding skills, knew my fitness was pretty good as I finished strong in the Thetford 10 hour enduro and I managed to survive (and enjoy) the wet Kielder 100. 12 hours is a long time to be alone on your bike in the rain, so you might as well enjoy it. My initial goal with Kielder this year was to go sub 10 hours. When the rain started, my goal soon slipped away. I was pretty despondent. Then it hit me - everyone else is hating this just as much as me, and if I stick at it, I am not sure too many else will. That instantly changed my mood, and I started smiling and kept the pedals turning. True enough, out of the 7-800 people who started, and I was one of only 177 people who made it to the end. Same thing happened here - the call of a warm sleeping bag screams loudly over the ambience of the solo tent! However, I was deaf to it - after each lap, I just wanted to refuel and get out. No change of clothes, no "proper food", no blood transfusions - in Tommy Simpson style, just put me back on the bike. And sure enough, one by one, riders started calling it a day (well, night). The first 6 hours had been pretty full on, but by about 4am, the course was decidedly empty, riders didn't seem to want to engage in my incessant nattering and the pit area was pretty much empty. The course was getting more and more slippery, my bike was snaking around and surfing skills would have gone a long way in being able to control the bike. It was nasty. Very nasty. By this point, I was absolutely loving it! The rain was so strong, sightings of frogs became as common as people. My girlfriend has a thing for frogs, so I convinced myself they were messengers sent from her to tell me to keep on it, keep pushing the pedals and do my best! Utter, utter nonsense, but it gave me that edge. In Kielder, Dean had quite a good chat with his son's smurf that was attached to his handle bars! Sounds completely mental, but stuff like that works. If you feeling happy, feeling the love, your legs will keep spinning and you will do your people proud.

My approach seems to be working, as about 200 people signed up in the solo category, and I came 19th.

During the night, a lot of team riders were saying to me "why do it solo?" - if you have to ask, you will never understand!
Sunday, 23 October 2011

The Gorilla Firm -

Situated a couple of trade stand down from us at the cycleshow were these guys the Gorilla firm who have set up a website for selling used sports gear.
I struck up a conversation with one of the owners Justin and explained that I had just sold a bike on ebay and it had cost new nearly £50 in fees on a £500 bike!
It is free to list on the site and today I signed up to list a friends Pashley Bicycle. Its very easier just enter minimal log in details and upload some photos and you are away listing last for 30days and at the moment are completely free!!
Got to be a good idea right im off to such their listings for some bargains!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

CTC Cawston Rough Stuff 2011

Today Saw my first ride of the local CTC rough stuff 25mile offroad ride. This is not a race in any way just a social ride for everyone and for most local riders was welcome after the 12hrs of hell that was Dusk till Dawn last weekend. So not such a early start this morning as met JV and Dr Quirky for a lift up to Cawston, as was planning to ride 20 miles on Marriott s way to the start. But a week of illness and a trip to the Hospital for a chest xray following breathing problems the Doctor had actually ordered a weekend off the bike. We made the fatal error of laughing at the non-cyclists as we drove up saying they will get will have punctures and mechanicals. But about 10miles in Dr Quirky managed to get a puncture in a sealant innertube so I turned back to help adding a couple of mile to the trip. Then about 20miles in JV got one as well and a second in the same tube 5 miles later. Dr Quirky also nearly impalled himself on the metal barrier (as seen in the picture) trying to blast up a hill past some slower riders! Then he also got lost adding about 5 miles to his trip by missing a turning so me and JV stopped for a 30min chat. Most all the slower riders prob romped home with better times than us enduro riders. Anyway the end was at Cawston Village hall and there was homemade soup and rolls and tea well needed. JV and Ian went back in the car and I decided on another 25miles on the way home as had felt pretty good rounded the total to 50. So all in a great day out for all but lessons to be learnt for the cocky racers who think they are immune to punctures/incidents! Anyway we are all off the tonight- more on that later...
Tuesday, 4 October 2011


Every Tuesday night, grown men, women and children all gather in a school hall in Yarmouth for pain, suffering and some serious sweating. The Great Yarmouth Cycling Club run one of the most popular indoor training sessions in Great Britain. They have a certain something that many cycling clubs don't have - friendliness!

I started doing the Sufferfest sessions in January this year, and they gave a massive kick to my fitness. As the nights are rapidly drawing in, the sessions have started. Now the real pain begins! In the run up to Strathpuffer, this is just what the doctor ordered :)

"If you're not sweating hard, you're not training hard enough"
Saturday, 1 October 2011

Thetford - Just Like The Old Days

dAfter a morning of pure and utter faff and frustration so tedious it shall never, ever be mentioned ever again, we finally found ourselves parked up in deepest, darkest, sunny Thetford Forest. Today appeared to be England's first day of Summer, and despite losing the will to live at 11am, we were getting ready for hitting more trails. After last night's little ride over Thetford, I knew I was aching to let rip on some of the longer routes. The plan was to just go for a little in, not a long one. I have learnt that anyone who trains for 24 hour racing doesn't really understand the usual limits of a short ride. Including a trip to the bike shop and a shortish cafe stop (where I was starred at by a couple - unnervingly for the entire time we were enjoying a nice bit of bappage), d were on the trails for about 4 hours 30 mins. Great weather, good chat, some nice fast digs, including Dean defying gravity to fly up a steep bomb hole and jump over the hardest exit. Felt like one of those rides you do when you're first getting into mountain biking and it is all fresh. Loved it. Looking forward to D2D.

Cycle Show 2011 & The Bike Biz Awards

The Cycleshow had a new venue of the Birmingham NEC this year and I had agreed to spend a few days there with cycleaid.
Left working Wednesday morning and started off on the not so direct train journey from Norwich to Birmingham via London. Arrived in the afternoon and located the Travelodge which would be my home for the next 2 nights nights.
The evening before the show was the Bike biz awards 2011 held @ the very LARGE Hilton on the NEC grounds, I met Caroline and Lee @ the bar and we had a quick drink and headed off into the awards which had a great all you could eat buffet which as you could imagine was popular with the cyclist's . Then we watched the 13 awards handed out ranging from best bike workshop to website.
There were more drinks after but we had an early night as early start for the show.
The Trade day thursday was pretty busy and got to chat the a lot of interesting people and some cyclist called Geraint Thomas opened the proceedings.
We had the Tri-uk stand opposite us and they had a indoor triathlon planned for the Firday moring so thought I would give that a go.
So after the show we had a very nice meal in the Ibis hotel at the airport and then I headed over to the gym @ the Hilton for a quick pre tri work out.
Friday was the first public day and was surprisingly busy for a very hot work day and we had a great interest in our prize draw in which we were giving away 2 free EXPOSURE Joystick lights.
11am came and was time for me to get changed and enter the indoor triathlon which was a 500m row on a water filled rower and 4k on the bike and 800m run. Now I thought this sounded easy....well up on the rower got to about 300m and fell off the back on the seat bashing my bum on the frame and had to be helped back onto the machine but still won that leg and then onto the bike and won that leg now onto the treadmill which wasnt the usual electrically assisted type but a bit like a hamster so the faster you went the faster it went! suffered big time on that and a tri athlete beat me by a few seconds, so 2nd place out of the 5 competitors not bad for a MTB rider (very good photos to follow). After a sit down for quite a while I composed myself........ and back to work. Later in the day had a ride on the test track on a 29er carbon from a new Swish start up company which was very nice and the 1km test track which was quite technical for a small piece of woods on the NEC grounds.
After the show finished headed back home on a even less direct train back to Norwich via Peterborough. The show is still on over Sunday with Caroline and Susan on the stand and the prize draw will still be open.
Friday, 30 September 2011

Exposed in the Woods

After an "interesting" performance in the Kielder 100, I was rewarded with a rather nice Exposure Joystick. Tonight, I organised a little group ride over Thetford Forest with some very nice people from Iceni Velo, and really wanted to test out my new "toy". Didn't start too well - bit of a rush to get there, ended up 10 minutes early, but everyone else was there way before that, and had come prepared. Hmmm...not a good start! I quickly attached the helmet mount for the Joystick, as well as getting the rest of my gear together. At first, I had the light pointing way too forward, which meant that I was lighting up the ground directly in front of me. This was rather off putting. Fortunately, we were sessioning bomb holes in perp for Dusk 'til Dawn, which is just a week away, so I had plenty of time to adjust the light. Ended up slotting it on the side, pointing more towards the front.

I've always enjoyed a good Thetford night ride in the weeks leading up to D2D - usually a case of riding around the fireroads looking for openings in the woods, and freshly cut singletrack. We picked out some sweet little trails and got in some good miles on the connecting fire roads. For once, I felt confident on the bomb holes, even when I realised my back brake really wasn't bedded in as much as it really rather should have!  Once I had the Joystick adjusted correctly and hit a nice singletrack section, it was unreal! Have enjoyed night riding for a good two years, but always used a handle-bar-mounted flood light. Enjoyed that, but having a good head mounted lamp just opened up the trail - it made picking lines so much easier. A tiny light, and I didn't notice any extra weight on the helmet (or an imbalance towards the mounted side).

As well as riding with the very lovely Iceni Velo guys and girls, we also bumped into the very jovial chaps from Team Cambridge. Got some serious envy tonight, in the form of a titanium Cotic and a Grey LeMond era, Mondrianesque jersey.

If the weather for D2D stays anything like it did tonight, I can't wait to put the Joystick through it's paces for 12 hours. Can't wait!
Saturday, 10 September 2011

Kielder 100 - Another Day in Paradise

Last weekend saw my first attempt @ the K100 which if you don't know is a single lap 100mile race heading into and out of Scotland starting from Kielder on the borders.

Our trip with Dr Read, Mr J V had been planned nearly a year in advance with B&B already booked and the with the others already having competed in 2011 I knew what to expect a little. Their were originally 5 of us going me, two Iceni Velo and two VC Norwich riders, but the VC pulled and out and we roped a another newbie in from the XC racing team CCN (City College Norwich).

Early drive on the Friday due to the big distance and a later sign on after a trip to the pub, a bit close for comfort for Mr J V I think. The midges started to bite so we headed off to the B&B @ Snabdough Farm - highly recommended this place amazing value and beautiful rooms and very accommodating even when you come in late and leave @ 4:30am. After a very early start the realisation that it was prob going to rain all-day we were at the race village @ 5:30am still tinkering with our bikes. I thought by getting to the start at 6am, 30mins before the start would allow me a space at the front with the XC boys. No I was about 100 riders back. There were 800 riders entered but I believe only 700 only made it to the sign on (only 700!).
We were off and not be were I wanted to started I has spend the first 5miles taking some risky overtaking moves to get to the top twenty behind the lead-out quad bike.

With this done I could settle in my planned 12mph average, within 30 mins we were soaked through and biked stripped of any lube and the first and only set of brake pads started to fade.
The first two checkpoints were looking could for me and had with my pacing and endurance fitness I was looking at a top twenty. However before I had reached the 50 mile mark my only set of brake pads had completely gone but decided to push on just finished.

A Chance meeting with another East Anglian Gordon Hollingworth and his unfortunate crash and his subsequent retirement gave me 1 set of pads! Thanks Mr H. As only 1 set i put these in the front for maximum stopping power. pushed on but with 1 brake couldn't keep the speed on the descents and within another 20 miles was completely brakeless, pushed and with some dodgy feet anchoring as braking I made the last checkpoints. The last 10 miles meant getting off and walking anything that wasnt uphill which was a lot. Loads of my places passed me in the last hour or so and I had had to walk my bike over the line finishing 51st but bearing in mind that out of the 700 only 177 finished is a testament to how tough the event is.

I finshed a little over 11hrs and returned to the start to find Mr V And Jason had retired after around 30miles. So we went to the pub and waited for Dr Quirky to roll in.....a couple of hours past and still no sign of him but as we heard on the PA that someone had made the last checkpoint and was being escorted by Motorbikes around the course we wondered if it was him. And yes offically last and in 177th position he had made it though in true quirky style still with functioning brakes after only 1 set of pads. A time just under 2.5hrs after I came in but a sterling effort to finsh as 623 riders who didnt even get that far! A truly epic event and has to up there in the hardest 100mile MTB races in the world.

Brighton Big Dog 2011

Right some belated race reports, for August's race me and Dr Read planned to head down to the south coast to ride the Brighton Big Dog 2011 for the first time.
As we were in the Solo 6hr cat (which for an Enduro was my shortest event of the year by about half the time) we planned to race and return in one day so a early start was required.
In usual Dr "quirky" Read style the 6am depart from Norwich turned into nearly 8:30am by time he had got out of bed. So what could only be described as a brisk journey down to Brighton and a bit of Sat Nav confusion when we realised that Stanmer Park the public house was not the race venue. We arrived an hour before the start!.
We had to get the bikes together and have a little warm up no time to pre-ride the course not really required over 6hrs.
Cycleaid kindly donated a mass of cakes and goodies from which we were sure the Brighton crowd would enjoy but sure we wouldnt get to sample by the time our 6hr stint had finished.
Anyway we were off at 12 and straight onto a lungbusting grass climb the course was nice and techincal with no real rest bites and the lap took about 40mins. The highlight for me was on the first lap a camelbak full suss boy passed me on a descent and shouted "you might have me on the climbs but I will have you on the descents" then we hit a sharp left and he wiped out into a tree! (but was okay). That incident kept me laughing for miles. I came across Dr Read about mid way through the event walking up a hill with his arm covered in blood. and despite me having to up my normal pace to something more like XC i romped back at 5:14pm with 7 laps and not likely to get an 8th in before 6pm or catching 8th place I called it a day with a respectable 9th place.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Results 2011

This year has been a great success for Team Cycle Aid. Our main goal of the year was a top ten finish in a national class enduro. Nicely achieved already at a few events. Still, plenty of racing left for the rest of the year.

24hr of Exposure (solo UK/European championships) - 16th

Mountain Mayhem (mens team of 4) - 8th

Mud, Sweat & Gears Summer Enduro (10hr solo) - 6th

Bontrager TwentyFour12 (12hr solo) - 7th

Brighton Big Dog (6hr solo) - 9th

Kielder 100 - 51st (of 800 starters)

Dusk 'til Dawn (12 solo) --Ian Read 19th Solo

Thetford Winter Series round 1 (4hr mens solo) - Dean 13th 4hr

Thetford Winter Series round 2 (4hr mens solo) - Dean 12th 4hr

Strathpuffer (24 hour Solo) - TBC

We have also been spreading the Cycle Aid message at many sportives and other organised rides, including being the first riders to attempt the Norwich 50 and Norwich 100 in the same day.


Cycle Aid - Bicycle accident solicitors - our awesome sponsors Cycle Aid are personal injury solicitors specialising in cycle injury and accident claims. They act for you on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis giving expert legal advice to help you make a claim for compensation. They have been involved in many substantial claims involving head injuries, shoulder injuries, spinal injuries, facial injuries, back injuries, knee injuries and other bicycle accident claims. They will recover their costs in addition to your damages, enabling you to retain 100% of your award. They will fund the claim at no cost to you. We all like to think that we're never going to have a bad accident on the bike, but sadly these things happen. If they do, Cycle Aid are the people to help.

On One/planet x - makers of fine mountain bicycles from northern England. This year we have been riding the Whippet carbon hardtail, and absolutely love them. Mark has been on the Carbon race 29er.
On the road Dean has been riding the RT-57 and its clocked some serious and fast miles.
Next year he will be riding the Planet Dirty 29er carbon hardtail offroad.

Hope - have been supplying world class components and lighting

Juice Lubes - Home grown lubes and creams to keep our parts moving

Scimitar Clothing - For supplying high quality bespoke race clothing


Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Bontrager 24/12 2011

This was my first year at Bonty and having signed up sometime ago I hadn't given it much thought until about four weeks ago. The first shock was when I looked on the map and realised it was a 400mile drive! anyway I was entered so committed.
Having only competing in the ultra fast summer enduro 2 weeks previous and having to have the subsequent week off as managing to lose my voice through a bad cold/chest. I had thought that Im very unlikely to fit for this but took it easy and rode a 10TT the night before I left and only being 8 seconds slower than my course PB I realised my fitness was that off.
As it was such a drive I left Norwich at 4am on the Friday morning and only stopped for a "Big one" fry up @ services just outside Bristol and arrived onsite around 11am. It was lightly raining on arrival and got steadily worse as the day wore on and at one point was biblical in proportions.
The course was being pre-ridden and some serious mud was being picked up by the riders, as I was self pitting and with one bike I decided to save my energy and bike for the main event.
The rain stopped on the Friday night and after the usual 8 person portion of pasta and a beer I turned in for a early one at 9pm. Had the usual awful nights sleep in the pop up tent (need to seriously invest in something decent) having condensation dripping on my face during the night and having to stumble across the silent campsite a 4am for a pee.
Got up about 9am so got a few hours kip in albeit not that great and I had prepped everything including bottles the night before I just sat around and chatted to other competitors.
11:30 came and I rocked up to the start line, despite being 30mins before the start I was about 5 rows back but this was going to be enough to get a reasonable start and not get caught up in the mele that is a 1000+ riders trying to squeeze through singletrack.
As my first lap was also my recce lap I was quite impressed and shocked by how technical the course was. Lots of big roots, rocks, berms, river crossings and switchback climbs. This was going to make for a very tough 12hrs. Spent most of the first 4hrs battling for a top 10 postion with Rob B from Columbia/Bike food and Rob from the Royal Navy team and having seen Rob B laying on the grass at his team tent between laps I realised I wasn't the only one suffering so early on. Quitting was crossing my mind more than once as I just couldn't get my groove on but I plodded on thinking what it had cost my sponsors to send me there and with the help help of Scott and Mark (loco-tuning who were supporting Zoe on her solo 24hr quest) who gave me the motivation to get back out there and also at one point let me eat some on their delicious chicken curry!
Not sure if it was was the chicken curry or the copious amount of energy products finally kicking in I got my groove on and managed to catch Rob B up towards to last two laps and the 7th place Rob (royal navy) on the penultimate lap. The last 11th lap was just keeping it consistent and keeping my 7th position, came in at 11:57pm and not knowing the time all night it was to late to lurk so crossed the line and called in a night.
Showered and then sat up with Mark and Scott and cheered Zoe Frogbrook on with her 24hr solo in which she finished a very impressive 2nd.
My aim this year is top ten positions at large National events like this and job done, so despite the early fitness issues I left a happy boy!
Saturday, 16 July 2011

Gas Hill Gasp and MSG Summer Enduro

Last Friday finished work got changed and rode just around the corner of my office to the Gas Hill Gasp and local hill climb event which cycleaid were co-sponsoring.
I hadnt entered as the next morning I had the 10hr enduro but on arriving and having a couple of rides up the lung-busting 1/5 climb i was gutted I had not entered.
The event was done in heats of 4 riders at a time with 2 going through to the next round until the last four remained.
The fastest riders were getting up in just under 30 secs and the crowds were amassing with the sign on being situated in a city centre pub on a Friday night (possibly a cycling first) the crowds were fuelled by the easy access to beer and fine ales.
I stayed until 9pm but couldn’t watch the finish as I had to get off to Thetford camp out for the race next morning.
After arriving at Brandon Country park @ thetford at nearly ten and already having my tent and trade tent set up thanks to friends Johnny and Ian, proceeding to eat the usual 8 person portion of pasta downed with a couple of beers and tried to get some sleep in the pop up tent. after a usually awful nights sleep we were up and setting the food and drinks out in the trade tent for easy access on laps and got a little warm up before the 10am off.
Not having ridden the course didnt know what to expect but assuming that it was over a shorter than usual 10hrs and on fairly flat and fast thetford course knew it would be relentless.
With the first lap of a 8.2 mile circuit taken 33mins knew it was going to be a hard day, at that pace I got to about 8hrs and started to suffer big time.
Rolling in after 9hrs and 49mins after 15 laps and having another 11mins to go out an do another I decided against it and hoped that my gap over the 7th place rider would hold and with luck Mark was behind by a fair amount of time and also on 15 laps. 5th place went out for 16 laps but with 10mins on me it was unlikely I could have caught him on such a short/fast course.
So 6th place was a fair effort however I was a bit disappointed as felt had I prepared better and got more sleep I could have done better.

Results can be found at

Big well done to my training partner Ian Read who this was his first enduro event of the year and by far his best race result to date rolled in 11th with 14laps. His dedication to training as really paid off and should be really happy.

Mountain Mayhem 2011

A somewhat belated report on Mountain Mayhem.
Just five weeks after returning from the 24hr champs and squeezing in the Norwich 150, I left Norwich at 4am on the day before the event and arrived in Ledbury at around 8am.
With the weather not looking that promising quickly got the pop up tent out and set off for a wonder around the site while waiting for Caroline from Cycleaid and her family to arrive.
It was my first time at Mayhem and I was very impressed with the scale of the event and amount of trade tents.
This was the maiden voyage for the On-one Whippet and I had been promised brake hoses being fitted at the event also had planned to meet Hope to have my rear bearings replaced, so as the day rolled on and neither company were there I started to get concerned if I would even have a bike to ride.
Caroline and family turned up about lunchtime and we proceeding to set up the trade tent which which was a small job compared to watching Scott set up their immerse unit (and a definite air of jealously).
The heavens opened that afternoon like they had been threatening to do all day, so the majority of the evening was spent under cover.
A early night pursued and usually bad nights sleep in the pop up tent. Woke up around eight and after a caffeine fix decided to get off to On-one to try and get the frame sorted and see if they had any bottle cages. Whilst chatting to Adrian he offered and place in their 4 man team as they were one rider sort and as I was not really feeling up for the 24hr I had planned I jumped in (also the promise of some carbon cages for the effort assisted my decision).
So off to the guys at Hope who were providing tech Support for all riders with their products and they done a sterling job of rebuilding my rear axle after I let the bearings collapse on the axle.
My first stint in my team wasn’t until 3ish for had a while longer to relax than thought before the off. A team event was a first for me as I usually go for the long slog so didn’t know what to expect. Went out on my first lap and it was an hour dead which was at a lot faster pace that my solo events.
I found it difficult to relax and keep warm between laps but with the team management from Scott Forbes (out of race due to broken knee) and a promise of a 3hr sleep at 4am I kept motivated throughout the night.
I had the role of riding the last lap heading out at 11:30am and returned 12:30 and after our efforts we completed 23 laps and finished 8th in the mens 4 sport cat.
Great event and a even greater bunch of guys to ride with.
Thursday, 9 June 2011

Last big rides before Mountain Mayhem

The training as now tailed off once more before the next 24hr solo event @ Mountain Mayhem next weekend.
Last week including two hundred plus days, starting on Bank holiday monday with a epic ride of local trails around Norfolk. Me a Mr Read started off around 7am in Norwich and headed out on Marriotts Way to Alsyham and then rode the Bure valley railway line to Wroxham and then doubled back on the route this is about 70 miles. On the way back we had a little rip around the singletrack in Felthorpe woods and Ringland Hills for some hillclimbing and technical stuff (something Mr Read needs to work on :), the Total ride was about 90miles and a great day out.
During the week each hitting some fast road sessions clocked up another 150miles and then on sunday we rode the local annual event the Norwich 100 decided on a little twist to this years event we decided to ride the 50mile route and then 100mile directly after, the longest single day I had spent in the saddle on the road bike completing in just under 8hrs. This plus some commuting miles took the week to around 450-500miles.
There has been a downside to these epic miles...not really that great on Sat, woke up monday with a killer cold and have kept off the bike completing this week in attempt to recover, whether this was just bad timing or linked to to many miles im unsure or likely to be a mix of the two.
Anyway a rest week was planned and next week will just be some seriously light sessions to spin the legs out in prep for the pain @ Mountain Mayhem
Sunday, 22 May 2011

A very brief history of bikes....

As I eagerly await the arrival of my new on-one carbon whippet I looked back on a what could only be described as varied collection of bikes I have owned in the last two and a bit years.
Ok I did own a spez hardrock back in the day and a somewhat lovely custom Greq Fuquay columbus, but im just referring to recent xc bikes.
Starting off in early 2008 with a Claud butler stone river bought off ebay for a £100! which actually saw me through a D2D event 2008! (which for those who remember was quite wet).
Then that winter progressing onto a real race bike a Specialized 2008 Stumpjumper comp, what a leap from the claud butler. This saw me well until the winter 2009 I purchased a Iron Horse MkIII comp which was a lovely bike but ultimately a bad choice as unclear of my riding style and what events I was entering that year I soon got rid as realised a hardtail was more suited.
So in April picked up a bargain of a Diamondback DB2 which for £849 had full XT and a scandium frame, as a budget race bike couldn't have asked for more. This saw me well through various enduros of 2010 until D2D which again was treacherous conditions and in a race for me which was plagued with mechanicals and the most horrendous amount of chainsuck which over the event wore its way through the chainstay and it snapped!
So having to get another frame in time for the following months winter series a Kona Kula Gold was picked up in the sales and stripped down for its frame. Another great bike and saw me comfortably through the UK 24hrs champs surprising for what is a very stiff frame.
Looking back I should have just kept the Stumpjumper but then I wouldn't have had the opportunity to ride so many different bikes. So with the Kona about to be regulated to singlespeed duties I looked forward to many miles with the whippet!

Race Schedule 2011

Team Cycle Aid 2011 events

24 solo champs 7/8 may 2011 -newcastleton scotland -

16th place - solo male

Mountain Mayhem 24 hour 17-20 June 2011 - newbury,gloucester - 24hr solo

Mud sweat gears - 10hr solo - enduro - thetford - 09/07/2010

bontrager 24/12 23-24 July 2011 - newham park - solo 12hr - 12hr solo

Brighton big dog - 20/08/2011 - solo 6hr

Kielder 100 - 03.09.2011

Cycle Show - Birmingham NEC - 30/9 -02/10

Dusk till dawn 2011 - solo 12hr - 8-9.10.2011

MUc off 8 05/11 2011 - solo 8hr -east sussex

Thetford MTB winter series - 04/12/2011

Strathpuffer 24hr - pair - 7/8th January 2012 -

Saturday, 21 May 2011


Right here goes, this blogging stuff is new to me but this has been set up in relation to me and my cycling.
Proper cycling first started for me as a child in the late 80's when my parents bought me my first mountain bike some kind emmelle or such like touring beast, after long bike rides with friends the bug caught.
At age of 13 joined the local cycling club and rode multi-discipline including TT,Crits, track and of course MTB racing in its boom years of the early 90's.
Studies were taking a sideline as I became obsessed with the sport, then disaster stuck one night in June 1992 whilst riding home from a local 10 TT a drunk driver failed to stop at a junction and hit me breaking my leg/wrist severely in multiple places after 6 months in plaster on didnt get back on the bike for another 16years.
That was until 2008 when I started commuting to work per chance and again the bug caught and the winter of that year I entered the Thetford dusk til dawn and then the winter series, placed a respectable 33rd in my first 2hr I thought I like this!!!! so some reasonable amount of training pursued. The following year I placed 44th in the D2D and 12th overall in the 4hr mens winter series. things were improving.
Then 2010 came and with the assistance of sponsorship from Cycleaid things were looking interesting and more riding opportunities were on the horizon. After riding various different events over over the year road and xc I realism what I really love is endurance events.
And with some reasonable places throughout last year at some large National events I go into 2011 very optimistic of what I can achieve.
Ok im a 33years old and a father of two who also works full time so this is only ever going to be a pastime for me but with the support of my family,( who I can only deeply thank for their patience and support)friends and sponsors I endeavor to do my very best in 2011.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

An Awesome 16th Place in the Exposure UK & European 24 Hours Champs

An extreme 24hrs of racing @ uk/euro solo champs. Well chuffed with my 16th position. not bad for a rookie!

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