Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Thetford Winter Series Final round

Sunday saw the last round of the Winters series at May day meadow Thetford. With an amazing week of weather the weekend was hotting up to be more of a summer haze than the usual mud of ice fest.
I hadnt planned on riding the final round but given I had a 8th position overall and the missus had a days holiday I thought I had best dust off the disco slippers.
Plenty off training miles had been done as I was deep in my training plan for the 24hr solo champs so I should have had the legs.
Rolled up Sunday nice and earlier an got out for a lap of the quite short 6mile lap, but happily was much more technical than the last round taking in parts of the black route and the always entertaining double shocker (which had already caught one victim laying holding his head on the practice lap).
With sub 30 min laps is was looking like a 10 lap day. So headed off to the start and as gridded this was a causal affair. We were off a pretty fast xc pace averaging around 16/17 mph for the first few miles I backed off knowing that 14/15 was more my pace over 4/5hrs. Got Chatting to Mike @ HMF Fitness and we got a train going for a couple of laps but he dropped me when I stopped to collect another bottle.
My race was going well and it was the strongest I had felt of the whole series as I felt finally rested from the Strathpuffer. The at the start of lap 7 disaster struck my seat clamp gave a snapping noise and the nose of the saddle went skyward. I stopped got the multi tool out watched lots of places disappear past me! and had a play round with the double clamp and thought it was fixed but as soon as I sat on it back it went again. Deciding I couldn't lose any more time I round the remaining 5 miles or so on the pedals which was quite amusing as back markers were laughing that I was overtaking them without a seat.
Pulled into the pits and had a proper tinker and after dismantling the clamp got in back on and back out for another couple of laps. By the end of 9 I was still going strong and a few places ahead of me had been back in grasp. a uneventful sprint with 14th left me rolling in 15th. The little incident cost me about 10mins and possibly the chance of a 10th lap with would have given me the top ten I was after. Nether less the riding and company was fantastic and the weather was better than most of the summer events I had done last year. Long live the the Thetford winter series the best reason to get up early on Sunday morning ever invented
Tuesday, 21 February 2012

New bike that and with any luck some new motivation…

As many of you may know I had the bikes unceremoniously lifted from my garage a few weeks ago, quite honestly this really dented my enthusiasm, combined with a heavy work load and no money I will be honest and admit to a few days were spent moping around feeling sorry for myself.  After some frantic organisation and a decision that this was not going to put a spanner in the works a new frame was ordered which when added to the bits not taken should lead to quite a nice bike.  Fast forward a week or so and it has arrived, the yet to be christened Planet X Dirty Harry has made quite a stir, not only looking the part but weighing next to nothing, still got a few bits to bolt in place but hopefully we should be back out worrying the locals come the weekend…
Just in time for an uber charity challenge that ill be telling you about in the next (And hopefully less rambling) instalment.
Pictures will be posted pretty soon (Well later in the week I guess) until then
Sunday, 19 February 2012

New Boy...an introduction.

     As the newest member of Team Cycleaid I thought an introduction about myself was necessary to enlighten you all out there as to who I am, what I've done and why I love this sport. If you are sitting comfortably, then I shall begin.
     My love (or obsession according to my wife) started back in about 1990 when with my hard earned pocket money I purchased a trusty Marin Eldridge. A close call as it was either this or a drum kit. I think my parents were glad I chose the bike!
     The racing started at a local series near Battle in East Sussex where back then technical singletrack was still waiting to be discovered and the courses consisted of farm tracks and fields.I did well with my results and so the racing bug started. The Marin went and a Proflex came complete with squeaky rear elastomers that probably gave about 5mm of travel.
     The early 90's were good times for mountain biking...Grundig World MTB Series on Sky, dubious coloured kit (me included), Tioga disc wheels, those big foam helmets that looked like you had a mushroom on your head.....and of course legends such as Tomac, Overend, Furtado, Juarez and not forgetting the one and only mountain goat Tim Gould..the person who was probably responsible for my dubious sideburns fascination.
     Anyway back in the early nineties there was an abundance of races. Locally there was the Kent MBC SERIES, Mountain Biker International Magazine Series and the SAMS a bit further a field where numbers in excees of 150 were common in categories. All hard earned money went on the racing. GT Zaskar was the bike of choice for me..fully rigid, Kona P2's ,Middleburns (48 outer!), Fred Salmon bars, USE, Flite, Onza bar ends, Panaracer Smokes, XT thumbies,...and Rockshox Mag 21's briefly(due to bending them when I rode into the back of car!)
The start on the day I won the overall back in '97
     All the effort paid off with and overall win in Sport category at the excellent Whipstakes Series in 1997 and Expert category beckoned. University and work took over though and with the demise of the SAMS and Whipstakes the racing took a back seat. Lack of training and trying to race in Expert category do not work well together (2001 Nationals at Bringewood proved this theory)  and what with the cost of racing I veered mainly to the dark side of being a roadie!
     Fast forward to 2005 and someone should really have bought me some stabilisers. I got hit by a car as they pulled out of a junction and ended up bouncing up the road and out of action for a while. 2006 saw my slowest crash ever but most damage. Getting chainsuck as you turn into a big drop is never good...the bike stopped, I didn't and fell 8ft backwards and landed on my head...which is never good especially two weeks after getting mild whiplash in a car crash! Several months of physio and no cycling......start training properly again and then I hit a pothole on the road bike in the pouring rain resulting in over the bars exit and sliding down the road.....luckily right outside a doctors house. I could see a pattern starting to form here...start training then crash, recover, start training then crash!. The next lay off was self inflicted though. Lets just say I was poisoning myself or my blood to be exact by eating too much spinach. Good for Popeye but not for me! Unfortunately this took about 6 months to figure out. 
    I even did a stint of MTB Commissairing during these times at various National events, but you can't keep the competiveness side of me down and 2009 saw a definite return to racing and first taste of endurance mountain biking when I entered a local 12 hour night race at Bedgbury Forest and ended up with 4th place.
    The endurance bug bitten the following year I entered the Muc Off 8 and then last year a trip to the 12/24 hours of Exposure, Gorrick 100, a top ten at Thetford Summer Enduro, a trip to Mayhem and a 3rd at the Bontrager 12 hour Torchbearer.
     Brighton Big Dog was a dissapointment due to an old shoulder injury and same again at Dusk Till Dawn. Not a good end to an otherwise good year!
     So how did I come to end up with the Team Cycleaid chaps. First met Dean at Exposure, then he finished ahead of me at the Thetford Summer Enduro and then Dean and Ian were pitting next to me at Brighton Big Dog...and here I am now and looking forward to an exciting year of endurance racing (better start getting the miles in). First up is the 12 hours of Exposure.

    Watch this space for details of the Asics Winter Offroad Duatlon series I have been doing..I promise it won't be as long as this!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Team Cycle Aid @ Thetford Winter Series #3 January 2011

Off Season Silliness

I've been injured and told not to exercise for 2 weeks. Not the best thing in the world, quite possibly on the list of "bad things in the world", but I am not going to argue.

On Sunday I got to have a bit of impromptu fun in the snow on a sledge. One of the things I love is mountain biking in snow, and last week when I heard it was going to snow at the weekend and I knew I still had a no cycling ban in place, I was rather unhappy. On Sunday, I was over at my girlfriend's parents for a cup of tea, then we were planning on having a walk around Bacton Woods (a very popular place to ride mountain bikes), when her dad suggested getting the sledge out.

So we packed it in the car, removed the 3 inches of snow off her dad's car and headed for Blickling Hall (birthplace of Anne Boleyn). The whole National Trust park was purest white and I pretended I was in Narnia. We spied a little hill in the woods and Rachel's dad went up to get ready for the first descent. Expecting a gentile trip down the hill, I was somewhat surprised when he placed the sledge on the ground, took a bit of a run up and dive onto it for a fast, aerodynamic descent. Next up, it was my turn and I felt somewhat nervous about the standard that had already been laid down. But I went for it.

There was that vital tipping point you get in mountain bike descents where the bike is just about to loose control, so the brakes are needed. I soon went past this, and discovered that your average toboggan doesn't come with disc brakes, nor does it come with a suitable method for steering! It felt "interesting". But I liked it, and I am sure it helped me sharpen my descending.
Sunday, 5 February 2012

Fun in the snow

Today saw a early start to an artic tundra that had fallen upon Norfolk during the night. Having been contact by Scott Bishop a old team mate from back in my juvenile days and arranging to go for a Sunday ride we decided the weather wasn’t to to stop us. We decided the ride the usual marriotts way route for a few hours.
I started from Norwich at 8am and very few walkers had been on, so a nice fresh 3/4inches of powder awaited. I met Scott about another 30mins down the trail and laughed at him in his full face helmet but this was soon realised to be essential wear after wiping out multiply times.
We had great fun sliding around in the snow and realised that the only way to stay upright was to keep in a straight line which was harder than it sounds despite the trail being dead straight.
Scott was on a 29er and there did appear to be some considerable differences in his rolling and traction, but it might have been more choice of dry tyres for the day!
Quite a high cadence was required to keep the right speed and we were only keeping an average of about 8mph so it took sometime to reach the midpoint cafe stop for a a well needed cup of tea.
The return leg was a bit faster as the snow had hardpacked and the temperature had dropped, but this just made the bails that much harder!
Scott luckily lived just off the trail so we parted ways and I headed back to Norwich.
Returned home after 5hrs and completed about 45miles, Snow is a great way to put a twist on a other wises quite boring trail!

Duathlon, only without the silly running bit...

Well having decided that having the bikes nicked was not going to cause me to throw my toys out of the pram (Crying, spilt milk etc) my first full day off in a good few weeks would be spent in the saddle, normality was returning as it were.  The omens weren’t looking good as me and regular road training partner James flogged our way around the back roads of Somerset, water bottles freezing and bikes complaining at the salt and minus temperatures. Never the less it was a fairly relaxed start that saw me heading from Bristol up through Chepstow to the forest of dean early the following morning, well at least it was sunny…

To prove the point, the seven bridge at -4

The plan was to ride the 40 odd miles to the pedalabikeaway centre in the middle of the forest and meet some lads who had travelled up for the day, and crucially had agreed to bring a spare mountain bike. Arriving just after 11 (Strangely bang on time which considering how bad my legs were feeling was quite a surprise) hands, feet and face were all frozen solid; a coffee was rapidly consumed while pedals were swapped and then we were off again.

If you have never ridden the new trail at FoD then I really would recommend it, although not very long it makes up for this by being one of the few trail centre loops you can do back to back laps with out getting bored; put simply its just fast flowing fun! A couple of laps later and we headed off into the woodland proper retracing tracks held in the memories of races long since past.  With it hovering just below freezing for most of the morning it was truly magic as we dived through the undergrowth shimmering green and silver in the light.

All to soon it was time to swap the pedals back on to triggers broom, well my old ridley and get back on the road. An aim of getting back into Bristol before it got to dark meant coffee and cake had to be cut short so while the other lads headed off for another lap of the trail (Yes it is that good…) I struck out homewards, strangely disappointed my water bottle had thawed out…

Although slightly warmer it was still proper chilly on the way back, stopping only for a moment atop the seven bridge (Well you’ve got to really) the plan of getting back at dusk worked a treat – thus ending one of the best days out in a vey long time. It’s like a duathlon only with none of that silly running business…

Thanks to Daf for the bike (26” wheels, are just plain wrong) and Jim for the coffee…
Until next time :-)

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