Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Ice covered frontage...

Sunday saw round 3 of the Thetford winter series. So headed down there for an early start to get a couple of practice laps/extra miles in.
Arriving at 8am it was seriously cold actually much colder than Northern Inverness had been at the beginning of the month.
So suited up in a couple more layers than race-wear and headed out for a loop of the 7.5 course, the course was flat and fast and very frozen as my legs appeared to be also. It was likely to turn a little muddy after the sun and 600 riders had been on it for a while.
The extremities were very cold and on looking down i realised my gloves, crotch and feet and face were covered in a icy film!
A comfortable 40mins and the lap was finished so headed back to the car to warm up a bit. Stopped and route for a chat with Mr Ant White and a surprise to see enduro legend Rich Rothwell had made the trip from Northumberland to race the flatlands!
Dr Read and his missus turned up with camera in hand as he was only filming today following another doctors orders to stay off the bike following a dodgy lung diagnosis.
Headed down to start line to get a good position despite being gridded and a few jumps up and down to keep. a clean getaway and attempted to settle into a nice pace for the next 4hrs it was soon clear that my legs were still a sore following the previous weeks Duathlon and possibly still from the Strathpuffer three weeks earlier.
An interesting race being done on one 750ml bottle as I failed to locate where Dr Read had placed my pit bag and it wasn’t until the start of lap 7 that i found it and took on board another bottle.
Never really got my groove on in the effort and it more turned into going painfully and slowly through the motions until the end.
With coming in a few minutes before the 4hrs for a 7th lap and only being passed by the leader at the very end of that lap I thought I had done enough the secure a reasonable position but I ended 17th at the finish, not bad effort but I think this was testament to a few faster newer riders to the series possibly with the end of the Brass Monkeys series the week before.
Best out of 3 for the series so maybe that might have to be all at the next race..
Monday, 30 January 2012

Clean heels

Well if nothing else yesterday proved to me that no matter how fast you are and how well you think you’re going there is always someone just around the corner that will show you a clean pair of heels if given half a chance.  After last weeks theft related nightmare it was purely by luck that local racer (Niner/Ergon/Stans) Scott Cornish had a Trek hanging around in my size, never one to turn down a chance to get off the tarmac a plan was hatched to do a big ride.
Heading over to his for 9.30 realistically meant a 10 start, heading out through the local trails and (Very quickly) on to those less well known we sped past riders out for a Sunday morning ride playing on the newly opened trails at Lee woods.  Heading out towards the coast and with mentions of cheddar and Mendip being banded about the day had all the hallmarks of an epic, it became clear that the large bowl of porridge consumed that morning was going to make its worth known…

As we sped along the strawberry line between Pill and Cheddar it became clear that we were still in the big ring, not only that but we had been in it long enough for the other two to become clogged up and almost slick, wondering how long I could maintain this pace we continued as the clouds grew closer and the ice cold rain that had been threatening became less threat and more hale.

The answer to this question became obvious climbing up the cheddar gorge (Remember the big climb in the cheddar challenge?) as Scott pulled away from me again I dropped down a cog and came to the conclusion that if I continued chasing it would put the return leg at risk – as it was now getting really cold and quite miserable it was decided with the bulk of the off road done we would ride the rest of the route at our own pace, in the aim of keeping warm.

7 hours and the think end of 110km later we rolled back into Bristol, ironically through Ashton court again and back for a well deserved Bath. Someone much wiser than me once said you have to play with people better than you to improve. There was a lot of improving done on Sunday…

Now all I need to so is sort out a bike of my own.
Saturday, 28 January 2012

Duathlon, why?

Last weekend I had a free morning on the sunday and having been informed of a local Duathlon I decided to give it a go.
I have been threatening myself for sometime to do this type of event and as it was local and an xc event for the mountain bike it seemed ideal.
Whether this was a good idea physically 14 days after the Strathpuffer was unclear, but I had done a bit of treadmill work the previous week and im sure the legs could hold up.
I drove up to Kelling Heath holiday park sunday morning for a 10:30am start, Kelling is a quite location its a holiday park surrounded by cycling and walking trails. And it is surprisingly hilly for Norfolk.
I last time I had ran outside and entered a running event was a steeplechase back in October 2010 so the legs were bound to be a bit rusty.
There wasnt a massive line up and despite being local I didnt know any of the entrants apart from another MTB racer Elliot Lawrence who generally finishes above me in most National events but was less of a runner than me so he was likely to struggle on those legs.
The event was a 5km xc run around fireroad type terrain which consisted of three laps of a loop. This was painful enough but then it was followed a 20km ride over four laps of a different loop this had a killer climb in it which although very short was extremely steep, having heard that in the first of these events only 1 person had made the climb I was on a mission to ride it every lap despite it was likely to be quicker to walk it.
I had lagged behind on the run and only dropped elliot and a veteran runner and Elliot passed to on the last mtb lap as he was clearly much quicker on the downhill sections!
Ride over and then a further 3 laps of the run, but this time gels were a must to keep me go and I was overheating badly having the feeling I wanted to run in just shorts despite the January weather.
I caught Elliot almost instantly on the run and then plodded on to the finish, I had ended up 3rd as another guy ahead had a snapped chain.
The pain which followed was unlike anything I had experienced and the legs were in pain for three days following. But theres another in a week and will I do it again maybe just maybe.
Anyway Thetford Winter series round 3 tommorow so back on the bike for a 4hr stint.
Monday, 23 January 2012

New year, New team. Oh and an introduction...

Right, new year, new team and all that. No seriously I am really excited about this year – but ill get on to that in a minuite.
This being the first of my blogs for Team Cycleaid/on-one/exposure I guess I should introduce myself to you and outline what I’ve done, what I’m doing and most importantly what I hope ill achive this year (Then at least I’ll be able to look back on this come November and laugh!)
I have been riding and competing off for a while, actually as long as I can remember. The local midland scene (Anyone Bobs bash, Ashton court and the Midland Super series…) saw (ir)regular results and ignited a competitively that is still burning! As I got older and moved away the lack of a car curtailed most racing I began ‘just riding’ again; to cut a long story short the rides got longer, I got introduced to enduro’s, 24hr’s and the ability to swap tea for lifts and have never looked back…
My life at the moment pretty much revolves around teaching, spannering coaching and riding. Although this does leave me with a serious lack of spare time which I wouldn’t change for a second…

First entry into a long and relatively successful racing career came as a complete acsedent, having entered the race as a pair I was told at the last minuite (Were talking on the drive down) that my partner had in-fact changed the entry for two solo’s. D2D ’03. Still the most painful race of my life (Carbon saddles; just say NO kids). This has then spiralled into all forms of 24hr racing, team, solo and paired although solo is where my heart is!

This year a combination of some expert advice, some serious mileage, a little bit of speed work and the support of the Cycleaid boys, Mud Dock, Bristol Mountain bike club and my ever supportive girlfriend I’ll be attempting to improve on the results of last year. I’m also planning a short jaunt down to the south of Spain on the bike this summer so doubtless you’ll get to hear about that when it finally gets sorted out (That’ll be on the ferry to Calais then…)

Scotch Adventures.

First appointment with what was to become the new team was first started by a comment made late one night on Facebook, in much the same way as drunken ebay purchases saying yes to pitting for the lads at strathpuffer was not really given the gravitas that it deserved. For a start it was over 800 miles away, secondly it was in January and thirdly; well did I mention it was over 800 miles away???

Once committed I was in though, letting the boys down was just not an option so it was with some trepidation that we began to organise what would be one big old road trip. It transpired that the lads would drive over from Norwich to collect me and then we would head on up to within a hop skip and jump of John ‘o groats.

Did I mention it was 800 miles?

Heading up on the Thursday afternoon allowed us a few nights in the local Travelodge to get over the mammoth drive, acclimatise to the cold and get any last bits and pieces sorted. It turned out this was well needed as although we had all the kit required for such an adventure I wasn’t to sure where it was, this was a theme that would continue throughout the weekend though. Saturday dawned and the early 10am start necessitated a 6am depart from the hotel we were held up in, it was raining. This did not help.

Frantically trying to revive the Gazebo which had blown away over night while sorting food, clothing, lights and everything else we were supposed to be doing for the next 24hrs didn’t leave much time for anything else – luckily the lads were pretty relaxed about what they were about to enter into and made my job of trying to play team mom that much easier. Once everything had been sorted we all headed down to the traditional bagpipe start. It was still raining, although disappointingly (For me at least) no snow to be seen.

As is always the case when pitting a lot of what goes on is VERY boring and repetitive, feed rider, check bike, clean bike, feed rider some more and away so I wont bore you with the details of the whole race; suffice to say both Ian and Dean have written extensively about the race in their Blogs and as I wont steal their thunder.

What always makes the Strathpuffer so hard, indeed one of the 10 hardest mountain bike races on earth, is the unpredictable weather – during our stay we had everything from sunshine through to hale, with a nice just above freezing damp wind to make it that little bit more special. I’ve been told it was the nicest year recorded although I think they were just trying to make me feel better…

Both guys were obviously putting in there all and it really was great to see them working so hard, taking strength from the sheer stupidity of what they were doing, in the end Dean although comfortably in the top 10 finally admitted defeat with 16hrs under his belt. The fact that I had to carry him off his bike says a lot about how much he had put into the race. Ian made it to 20hrs and im sure could have been talked into continuing if the medics hadn’t intervened and quite rightly advised him to stop after some rather nasty pain coming from deep within.

As for me I made it through, very cold covered in mud and a bit confusded but looking forward to getting back on the bike and kicking this year off with a bang.

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