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.

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