adventure cross

Eilean Bhòid *

 The Isle Of Bute    17.9.16

The time of today’s race is at 5:30pm, no mad panic to get up and ready and in the car for silly O’Clock.  I head for Wymess Bay and get the 2pm Ferry over to Rothesay, the main town on Bute.  Disembark the Ferry with a few more Cross racers and we make our way up to the sign on area.

Image result for rothesay harbour

This weekend there will be a high number of cyclists on the Isle due to the Rothesay Weekend Of Cycling.  Saturday will see a Hill Climb up the Serpentine, a Two Up TT race then our Cyclocross Race in the evening.  Then on Sunday there shall be the Road Race.

Once the sign on is open, Kevin Pugh and I go for a little bash up the Serpentine Climb, think there is around 15 bends in total.  We get to number 10 to stop for some pictures and also a good excuse not to tackle the last few bends.  Think I shall bring the road bike over one day and explore the last 5 bends then more of the Isle.

After a few warm-up laps of the Cross course, we are told to make our way down to the Castle near the harbour.  In the car park, we are told the race rules and duration of the race. The field is then gridded on the High Street, the rest of us slow folk file into the back. The race will not start until we get into King Georges Playing Fields.

During my last race, I heard my bike making some terrible crunching noises.  During the warm up laps, the noise returned, along with the gears not engaging properly.

To my horror, the gears do not engage when we are counted down and we are off following the Police and Lead car.  I can’t even get a good start under a neutralised start!  I push off and bingo the gears click in and I managed to get some drive to my rear wheel.

We’re riding up the High Street and receiving lots of support from the locals and riders from earlier in the day.  We get to the gates of the park and cars pull left and he hit the gravel and swing right.  THE RACE IS ON!

The first obstacle was the deep gravel, I thought this would take a few people out, but we all managed to ride it without incident. I make a few places up before we are snaking in a long line through the tree slaloms, out in the open I try and improve positions along the red blaze of an old football pitch.  On to the grass again and major obstacle coming up.  The run-up!

I made up a load of places slipping and sliding up the mud hill, back on the bike along a narrow nature trail path, then there was a line of riders slowing to do the little drop down into the woods, I decide to jump off the bike and squeeze past Anthony Aka Tony The Tiger. Take a few more places running to woods and hopping the two fallen logs then run the final incline back onto the path.

The next part of the course will be mostly on flattened grass and a few more leg sapping thick gravel patches. Then it’s out along the side the football pitch, quite a narrow path so no chance to move up, have to wait to dismount the bike and run the few steps up onto the flat grass.  Down to the noisy crowd on the wall (Stirling Bike Club) then turn 180 and its a long drag up to the line.  Cross for one lap.

I can feel the gears grinding every time I put the power down. Also some non-engagement at times too.  I still head in the right direction of the leaderboard, improving once again on the run-up and also running most of the wooded section again.

Once I get back to the football pitch and run the steps, my bike has had enough and gives up on the race. I am spinning the cranks and there is just nothing going to the rear wheel. Freehub has failed. The crowd on the wall shout for me to run, it’s a pointless task as I have no spare bike or wheel to get me back into the race.  They’re happy to shout I am welcome to join in a beer and watch the remainder of the race.  Great Offer!

I do the walk of shame for the last 100m then I cross the line to complete lap 2.  Hand in my chip and its game over for me!

A mechanical so early on was a gutter, I was feeling better than Balloch and liked the course. Think I would have had the legs to keep picking folk off all race. Not to be!

I watch the race unfold amongst the large crowd and great atmosphere,  Gary MacDonald comes home as the first rider.  Well done Sir. A few sprint finishes are on the cards due to the long finishing straight and its good to see people fight all the way to the line.

bute-cross

After the race, have a good chat with riders, everyone I spoke with hated but loved the course.  Cross does that to you.  Well done to the course designers and riders who asked for a change in the course due to one part being slightly dodgy, it got handled and rerouted without a problem.

Now gather the gear and a freewheel on the bike along to the Harbor before the Dark settles and last Ferry departs.

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Thanks to MT Photography Bute for the use of some great images.

Roll on 2017 as Bute I have unfinished business.

Up Next For Twowheelarmy is.uk-1107-762935-front

* Isle of Bute (Scottish Gaelic: Eilean Bhòid or An t-Eilean Bhòdach)

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Here Kitty,Kitty.

Weekend Kit, Commuter Kit, Race Kit or Just Cycling Kit.

the kit

Probably like most cyclist out there I have a drawer of ever-expanding cycling kit, along with pre/post race kit.

It’s funny looking back to what I thought was a reliable and comfortable kit to wear for my first ventures out on the road bike.

I did buy some cycling shorts, £20 was spent in Go Outdoors for some Lycra and the tiny bit of padding.  These were then covered up by some old sports shorts as I felt a bit exposed at the tightness and flashing my skinny legs.  After a few weeks, I braved it and left the sports shorts at home and even bought my first proper cycling jersey with pockets on the back enabling me to ditch the Camelbak too.

After feeling a little bit more of a proper cyclist I invested in a pair of bib shorts.  I would never go back to shorts after wearing them.  The main reason was for comfort but also knowing that the rider or car driver behind you can’t see your ass crack, along with the added bonus of feeling like a wrestler from the early 80’s in them when you look in the mirror.

Once I started racing this is where the drawer seemed to multiply in kit overnight.  I bought some ASOS kit, which I kept as my Sunday best.  It felt good pulling on some quality threads and rolling up to the line in your cycling finest.

I got Cross, Cyclocross.

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With Cyclocross my kit expanded again due to the amount of mud, sweat and tears.  I went back to some cheaper bibs and tops for training due them getting trashed with the great Scottish weather.  With the bibs and jerseys, along came arm warmers, leg warmers, base layers, jackets, a huge amount of socks and umpteen pairs of gloves.

Pre and Post race clothes became the next thing on the list.  With Cyclocross taking place in the Scottish winter months, warm waterproof clothing became important.  Keeping you warm and dry while you wandered in the rain to the sign on area and having something to keep on and keep you semi-dry for a warm up lap or two.

Pre/Post Crit racing and Road racing clothes were some new sports tops and trousers with decent zips enabling you to strip down quickly after the turbo warm up and roll up to the start line.

A blog was born.

With the blog, I progressed to creating Team Two Wheel Army.  So the team would need some kit to race in and hopefully promote the blog at the same time.

If like me you only want to create one of a kind kit then you will get a lot of companies replying with “Sorry we have a minimum order of ten garments, so you will have to find nine more riders”.

Kalas have been great.  They didn’t see it as a problem I was only a team of one.  Or that I had no idea what I wanted or even a colour.  With a few emails, I had a few ideas and then eventually the kit was finalised and on the cutting table.  A few weeks later, I soon had my very own team and its own cycling kit.  A very proud moment.

Along came a Fixie.

twa fixie rider

I finally thought I had all my Cycling kit sorted, but then came along a chance of a fixie bike.

This now flung a spanner in the works.  I wanted to ride the fixie to and from work, but also will be the bike I nip to the shops in and just get out and enjoy a quiet, easy ride.

With this I don’t think I need the aerodynamics the Lycra brings, so now it’s time to dig out my baggy shorts and t-shirts, trying my best to look cool and hipster.

With the cool clothes in mind, I began looking more and more at images of Fixie riders on Instagram seeing what brands and style were out there. This is I stumbled on a post from My bike and I. mybikeandi.co.uk

First of all, I was looking at the Caps.  As on the Fixie, I have ditched the helmet and the wind is creating havoc with my hair.

I sent a little post on their Instagram page, I soon had a reply.  After a few email exchanges, it looks like I shall be getting a new cap to tame the hair, also a new t-shirt to wear while riding the bike or wearing before my races.

The contact I have had with the new budding bike clothing company, I have been really impressed with what I have seen and the vision for the future.  I think they are onto a winner with their brand and hopefully, Two Wheel Army can help promote some more of the products in the future.

Thoughts!

What are your thoughts on buying cycling kit? Do buy the full team kit of Sky or your favourite team?  Some call this the full kit wanker!  Or do you stick with the high-end of the market and only wear Rapha?  I would like to hear your thoughts on this subject.

Feel free to leave a comment. 

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The Long Race!

Go big, to get home.Tibet-lake-picassa-crop-1587377_958x383

There have been a few exciting things I have been watching the past few weeks on Twitter and Facebook.  Some big rides and races going on at the moment and coming up this year.

robbie ferri

Kicking off first was my Social Media Mate Robbie Ferri heading out to bag a Guinness World Record or two.  The aim was to cycle the most amount of countries in seven days.  Robbie got off to a great start, getting a World Record in the first 24hrs.  He managed to ride through 5 countries in 24hrs beating the record by one.  A celebratory burger was consumed.

After three days on the road, rattling off countries at a good speed and aiming to beat the 11 countries record, taking up to 15  Robbie suffered an injury to his knee and with sad news he lets everyone know that it’s game over.  He doesn’t want to risk long-term damage, a hard decision to make overnight but the correct one.  It was a sterling effort mate, sure you will be back fitter and faster.

Switzerland was the final bleep of his tracker for this trip.  All in all, Robbie managed to ride through 6 countries in 3 days.  Well done mate look forward to seeing you become a double record holder soon.  Head over to his page Living The Dream.

TransAtlantic WaytransAtlantic Way

The TransAtlanticWay is a 2,500 km one stage self-supported road bike race between Dublin and Cork via The Wild Atlantic Way.  The race began on 17th June and by now most of all the riders have finished.

This race was the brainchild of Adrian O’Sullivan and if I didn’t just have my third baby boy on the 15th I really think I would have been on this start line and dipping my cleated toe into the world of long distance bike racing.

Tour Dividetour divide

Tour Divide is an ultra-cycling challenge to race self-supported along Adventure Cycling Associations Great Divide Route.  Grand Depart was on  6/10/2016

Tour Divide is a bit mental, to be honest. Consisting of mostly off-road taking you through the remote backcountry, sharing the landscape with Mountain Lions and Grizzly Bears. Sleeping under the stars at night in a bivi bag or find shelter for the night.

British rider Mike Hall has only gone and smashed this race completing it in 13 days 22 hours and 50 minutes.  Creating a new TD record.  Huge Chapeau Mike.

Trans Am Bike Racetramsam

This is the description of Trans Am on their Facebook page.

What: A non-stop, self-supported road bike race along the 4,440 mile Trans America Trail.
When: June 4th, 2016 08:00 PST
Where: Yorktown Victory Monunment and Astoria Maritime Museum
Why: Because bike racing
Who: Clearly those who would like to see a healthy dose of the continent, quickly.
How: Solely under your own wheeled human power with no outside support.

This is one for the bucket list I think.  This year Lael Wilcox came home as the first rider in 18 days.  Think I would be a lot longer I can say with confidence.

TransContinental Racetranscontinental

The Transcontiental was the first race I dot watched, quite a weird way to spend a few hours, sitting watching these wee blue dots and numbers move about a map.  I will be once again checking up on the blue dots as they start from De Muur, Geraardsbergen, BELGIUM  

Then make their way to four checkpoints

  • CP1 // Puy du Dome, FRANCE  
  • CP2 // Furkapass, SWITZERLAND 
  • CP3 // Passo Giau, ITALY 
  • CP4 // Durmitor, MONTENEGRO

Once all the checkpoints have been passed it will be a sprint on to the finish at Canakkale, TURKEY

3,800km of roads makes it shorter than 2015 (4,200km) but this comes with a whole lot more climbing in the Alps.

  • One stage – The clock never stops.  Racers chose where, when and if at all to rest.
  • No Support – Racers can only use what they take with them, or what they can find en-route at commercially available services.
  • No Route – Only mandatory controls ensure that racers visit some of the most famous pieces of road in Europe and connect with the suffering of their forebears.  The rest is up to them.
  • Live Tracking –  Through the miracle of modern satellite technology and the interweb we can check up on our riders progress wherever they may be.

Again another for the bucket list.

Is there any other long distance races out there? Dirty Kanza I know of.  Race the World don’t know?  Is there a Silk Road Race?

Would love to hear about the riders experience of these races and of any other great races on a bike out there.

 

 

Bryan & Burners Battle Bute.

Don’t Break The Crust!

A sunny Saturday morning meeting at Wemyss Bay Ferry Terminal, I meet up with some Ayr Burners.  Kevin Pugh, Lindsay McGarvie, JP Baxter and Gary Currie and I are about to board the 10:15am Ferry to Rothesay, Isle of Bute, West Coast of Scotland.

In 2000, Janet Street-Porter came to the Island and opened the West Island Way.  This is a 40mile/65km walk through the Isle in celebration of the Millenium.  After riding this I wonder if she actually walked the whole route?  (next time JSP, fancy doing a nice flat walk along the beach!)

west island way

Once we depart the Ferry, we take a left heading South to the bottom of the Isle. Some nice smooth roads give our legs a nice chance to warm up.  Then we come to the end of the road, we won’t be seeing much more of the tarmac for the rest of the day.

The Adventure Cross now and truly begins, along the Southern coastline we are following the sheep trails.  Most of the trails are rideable but there is a bit of rock hopping and dodging sheep shit.  Riding along the coast is great, the sun is out and warming us up, making the base layer feel like a bad choice.  After some puddle swerving and a few climbs, we get to a small beach and have an impromptu bike wash with a scrubbing brush that has been washed up.

Ater getting to the most Southerly point of Bute.  The only way to head now is North along the East coast, we take in more rocky outcrops and more hike-a-bike heading for the golf course.  With this comes some nice riding along some grass trails with the beach on our left.  We are finished with the coast for just now as we head into the middle of the Isle taking in some farm roads and more sheep trails.

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This bit gets shit! Really SHIT!

Farms bring animal by-product.  We had to ride through said by-product. Twice!  Myself, JP and Lindsay are out in front and going up shit creek without a paddle, when Mr Pugh pipes up with “lads, you need to come back”.  Apparently we should have gone right not straight through, which means riding back through the shit again.  Things will get worse. (Well for one of us).

After a long march uphill and through some sharp and jaggy gorse bushes we see the dirt path we are supposed to be following.  Head back downhill and now we are tackling a dusty road.  Gary is out in front and he is the first to try Slurry Surfing.  We pull up and assess our route/options.  The now famous words of DON’T BREAK THE CRUST form.

These words are muffled in JP’s mind as the words RIDE IT, RIDE IT are louder.  JP rides it, for about 3 metres then gets that sinking feeling. (stinking feeling)

ah shite!

Hope those shoes are tight.

After a little tug of war between bike and shite, JP and the bike escape the quick shit.  Now head to bike cleaning station number 2.  A stream of water coming out from under the road, it’s probably 50-50 piss and water combo but it does the job and gets the bike/sock/shoes clean.  I am pretty sure no one wants to sit in behind his bike for a while now.

We are still heading up the East coast, now heading for a cafe stop at Ettrick bay.  Fuel up on coffee, sandwiches, and burgers.  We leave the cafe with the ripe old smell of the farmyard left at the table.

We leave the East coast and head Northwest riding up into the grassland.  Then into some pinewoods for some fun descents and mega climbing on pine needle trails.

Time is ticking on and we are still playing in the woods, after the last mega climb we stop for a check of the map.  Kevin thinks we have overshot the turn to take us out onto the road which would take us back to Rothesay.  We have a choice!  Head on and see where we end up? Potential to head through more fields/marshes or have a nice descent and find the road.  Yip you guessed it the descent won.

We turn around and get going, blast downhill enjoying some wind in our faces.  Gary has turned into a descending demon, battering through everything and splashing puddles feet in the air. He’s having a ball.  We get to the bottom and find the waypoint directing us to the road. After all the climbing and hike-a-bike the tarmac is a welcome sight.

It’s 5:50pm and next Ferry is at 6:15pm, we have a little time trial ahead of us to make the next boat.

We muck in, string out, pull one and other along the oh so smooth surface,  I look to the left and can see the Calmac ferry steaming through the water heading for the dock.  The race is truly on.  We pull into Rothesay as the anchor lines are tightened and cars trundle off.

We wait our turn to embark, park the bikes up and head indoors for a heat.  The weather like most of Scotland, had sun/rain/snow and hail all in one day.

Drinks all round for a great ride/walk exploring the Isle of Bute.

strava

Check out the route

Thanks to Ayr Burners Cycling Club for letting me tag along, also to Kevin for the amazing coffee.  While I got battered on Bute, the freshly ground coffee was wafting around the car for 5hrs.  The smell was amazing heading home.

Crash, Bang, Broken Update!

Return Of The Bike.

After a few weeks since my bike got taken away in a white van (part of me was thinking that it might end up on eBay or a Facebook sales page) an email popped up in my inbox saying that my bike is whole again and ready to be dropped off.

After my crash, (Crash, Bang Broken) I appealed on Facebook for help.  I soon got a Facebook message pointing me towards Magnafiber in Alloa.

magnafiber

I couldn’t have asked for a better service!  Bike got picked up from the house, then stripped of all components.  The frame was then ready for carbon replacement treatment (or something like that).  Once all the sorcery was complete and after a few coats of clear coat, the bike was then built back together.  A couple of new cables needed replacing for the brakes and rear mech then my bike was dropped off at the door again, good as new.

Totally hassle free for me, not being the best mechanically I was beginning to panic about stripping the bike down to save me some cost on the repair bill.  So for this service to be included it was a massive plus point.  A small transportation fee was added onto the bill, again a much better option than me having to wrap and box the frame then hope that some courier wouldn’t lob it about in the back of their van whilst in transport to and from the repair center.

fragilebox

Huge thanks to Andy at Magnafiber, for he actually came back with a revised price which was a lot cheaper than his original quote. Bonus!  I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend his company for any repairs needing to be done.  He says his workshop is busy right now, good for him but not good for all us bike riders crashing.  If you are lucky enough to have insurance and they pay out, enjoy the new bike but this could be a good option to have a spare/winter bike once repaired.  Or if like me, panicking your bike is destined for the skip. Your bike can be saved and get back out training or racing again.

Next up is some Adventure Cross with Ayr Burners.

 

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Forth Quarter Of Quaich

Last Of The Quaich’s

dig in poster

Best Poster In Cross

Well, the end is here.  Super Quaich it’s been hard!  Last race being in Bo’ness it’s an early one for me.  Having had a shocker at Beveridge Park, I think I was relegated or just that crap I didn’t meet the standard for the last race in the series.  “B” races have been good to me this year, some dodgy starts but managing to make it into Tenth place a couple of times.

4th quarter of Quaich

Bo’ness or the full title Borrowstounness is another new part of Scotland I have been to on this year’s Cross Calendar.  Didn’t see much of the town itself as I have to keep my eyes peeled for the Docks.  See the course tape fluttering in the wind and manage to find a decent spot in the main car park.  These early “B” Races have their upsides.

Get my gear sorted, walk the dog around the course and get a feel for the growing atmosphere around this race (the race to be). It’s been amazing how one race has grabbed the title of “The Race”.  Will it live up to the name? Don’t know but from what I see from the little village of Gazebos and three catering van’s it looks the business to me.  The only thing left is to ride the course to see how it fairs.

under-pressure

Few little laps to warm up and find a pretty flat course, some great riding on the off-camber sections, a belter of a Belgian bomb hole just after coming over the bridge.  Then head along to the hardest part of the course.  The headwind created from the open dockside is the hardest part, doesn’t last for long but it is still a grind along that section.  Have a good practice on the hurdles sections on the course and feeling pretty good and sharp.  Massive congratulations to David Hamill and Pete Ward.  With their team of Dockers they produced yet again another cracking Cyclocross course.  Time to ditch the leg warmers and head for the start line. For this race and probably my only race I have been gridded, with this come a great chance to get the minor prize, the “Hole Shot“. The pressure is on not to Fuck this up and lose a great opportunity to lead the race.

dig in press room

Cross Village By The Pressroom.

 

The starting pistol is branded at us once again, in the next 15/10 probably 5 seconds the gun will go and race will commence.

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We are off!

I am on the right of the field so more or less have the perfect line for slight right bend taking us into the Horrible Headwind Section.  I Fuck up! Can’t get my foot into the pedal properly, end up just forgetting about at and try and make up my lost positions.  No panic I have an hour to make up these positions.

When the first double barriers come onto the scene, I am third and fighting for the lead. Squeeze between the riders, then I remount the bike and get peddling again.  I’m in the lead, 120 riders now chasing my wheels.  Round the bend, head into the home straight to hear the announcer Jammy on the PA system broadcasting to the crowd Bryan Hutton from Two Wheel Army is our Leader.  I take the next left-hander, head into the second double barriers, Yip still leading!  Hop, Skip and Jump back onto the bike.  Pedal my legs off getting back up to speed, have a quick glance behind to see I have a slight gap.  Ease off as come into narrow bridge section. Steve MacLuskie from VC Glasgow comes past before we enter tight bridge lane, I jump on his back wheel.

collage crash ban ka pow

The course fights back.

I am on the ground! Halfway along the narrow mushy lane, it takes you into a cobble section.  I somehow hit a bad bump taking a bad line onto the gutter, leaving me surfing along a wire fence then hitting the ground and spinning on my arse!  Now is the dreaded thought I have taken down the whole bunch.  While I rescue my rear wheel from the middle of the course, I notice one more guy off their bike.  Once the racers all pass I make my way off the course with Paul Leavy (Sorry again).  He came down due to my tangle with the cobbles and losing my rear wheel. (still don’t know how that managed to come off).  Two broken rear mechs finish our race day.

gutted_blackonwhite

Early change for me, my kit has taken a beating.  My rightsholder is in tatters, even my base layer is in shreds.  I am fine, a few cuts and bruising but feeling utterly gutted, for me and other riders involved.  I like to think I am a decent rider and not an accident waiting to happen. (some would disagree here) Would have felt better if it was only me affected.  Time to grab my camera, get Mac the dog for a wander around the course and take some pictures. It was a great course and after my great start, I really think I would have gotten my highest placing of the season.  Got the win?  Not sure!  Might have faded later on in the race as fitness is nowhere I want it to be.  Top five would have been a real possibility.  Ah well, always next year.

after the battle

The Cross season is just about over, not sure if I can manage the last two remaining cross races coming soon.  My Cyclocross Helmet will be hung up and Road Helmet shall be getting an airing for Crit racing again.

hanging up the cross helmet

Super Quaich I have loved you, also hated you.  Loved the format, great racing and a good concept with points up for grabs for most people.  Hated my results, but that’s all my fault and something to work on for next season.

See You Next Year Quaichers.

Thanks to all who let me use there images: Ken Qed, The Press Room, JP Baxter. Thanks to Ross Wood for the Youtube clip on “Hole Shot” link.

 

 

Crash, Bang, Broken!

Crashing is no Fun!!

During my last race, I crashed and came off the bike.  I now have learnt a valuable lesson. Crashing is expensive!bags of cashHaving had my rear mech snapped, cycling kit ripped and a base layer needing replacing.  I thought that was all I needed to get fixed and get me back on the bike.  While I had the bucket of soapy water out after replacing rear mech, I noticed that the cloth kept catching on one particular part of the frame.  Imagine my horror  when I noticed my frame has cracked.

Options open to me!

Crash replacement scheme from Felt.  Contacted the retailer where I purchased my bike. They have been in touch with Felt and if you ever wanted to use your bike racing your frame warranty will be void.  What they have offered is a new frame at a third of the RRP.  £550 is the price to get it fixed.

Frame sent off for repair.   Having spoken to a company in England and for £240, I can strip the bike and send the frame off to be repaired.  This is an option I am thinking of doing as I can save half the cash plus the bike can be serviced and rebuilt for the new season.

New frame.  Last option for me is to scour the internet trying to find a frame for less than £200.  This way I can then strip down my Felt then re-build onto new frame set.  This was something I was looking into as it’s got that “buying a new bike feeling”.  Not seeing much under my budget so the repair to the frame is starting to make sense.

insurance risk

Insurance or Risk, you decide!

I went for the risk when I started racing. I thought paying X amount per month/year was not worth it “as nothing will happen to me” (I know).  Now being saddled with a big repair bill or replacement frame, I really wish I went for the £170 to insure my Cyclocross bike. Once my bike is back to being a full bike, insurance will be something I will think about again. More cash!

money

A quick search on Google comes up with these for options.

This is something I will be looking into over the next few months so if anyone has any recommendation’s I would be glad to hear from you.

With a few possibilities on the table about getting my bike back on the road I would love to hear what you would do.  If anyone knows of any more places I could get carbon repair work done in Scotland that would be a massive help too.

options-396267_640

This is just a little warning to anyone out there thinking of racing or even old pros at it, be careful with your pride and joy.  You don’t want to be buying new frames every season. Next time when I crash and I know there will be a next time, I will do my damndest to land on my body and try and hold my bike off the ground as long as possible, as I am cheaper to fix.

Cyclocross Season 2015/16

wpid-wp-1444837321620.jpg 28th February 2016 I am done!

What a great few months of Cross racing that was, a few good dry races with some nice sunshine at the start of the season.(Haugh-Cross, Beveridge Park GP)  Then the mud fest started and I now get the true meaning of “Riding Cyclocross” (Lochore Meadows, Plean).  January brought with it some snow/ice to start off the new year (RGCX), which then thawed out taking us back to mushy grass and mud (Doonbank, BPGP The Return).  The final race was back to drier conditions (Dig In At The Dock).  Pretty much going full circle.black-heart-tattoos1

From my first race, way back at RGCX 2015 I knew this was a great form of bike racing. I have done a few races since then, every race I get to know more faces from Facebook groups.  I can now happily turn up on race days on my own knowing that I can wander about and people will stop and chat.  I will always remember racing Callender Park, hearing a few people shouting “Go, Bryan“.  It felt good people knew my name and were encouraging me on.  I try my best to give the same back when other people are racing.  As it could snap you out of the dark place in your racing brain, spur you on to win that battle of mid-pack or the difference of having a finishing place instead quitting and receiving a DNF.

Other Things I Liked

What I enjoyed over the last few races was the Competitions in the competitions.

HTCC guys with their little league going on. Definitely not the league of Gentlemen! They were all out to get one over on the other.  The last few races it was all to ride for, I am not sure who got the win, or what they won!  It seemed a great idea for inter-club bragging rights. Happy Trails Cross Collective take a click see how the madness unfolded on Facebook page.

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Getting Pump’d
pump'd

The other competition that was ongoing was with David Hamill and Owen Philipson and maybe some others, not so sure what happened to the prize/booby prize. (if you could call it that) It was more like a relay baton of shame being passed about!

If I am right it went like this, the person in possession of this baton (pumper) was to pick a victim (pumpee) Race would commence and if the pumper finished above their pumpee, they would be PUMP’D! Simple yet something you don’t want receive or talk about at on a Monday morning at work probably.

Not sure who the final person getting pump’d was and I wonder if that bottle got cracked open or will be passed on next season?

Maybe something on Scottish Cyclocross Facebook page.

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Other good thing is the amount of people going to the races, taking pictures and also shooting some great footage of the races.  Onboard with GoPro’s and then adding on footage from the side lines. Some great images from the Scottish Cyclocross Flickr Group.  HTCC TV has some good footage on their YouTube channel.

hand ups

First race I done was RGCX,  there was Beer HandUps!  More of these please!  I fucked up and punctured on the first 100 meters of RGCX 2016 and didn’t even get to Beer Hand-up Hill.  Gutted!  See a lot of this in America, Dollar bills, new cycling gloves even open cans of beer being offered as hand-ups. Get me some of that!

Roll on Cross Season 2016/17! Can’t wait!

The-End

The End

Tale Of Two Wheel Army

 

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2015

Begin with my first ever Cyclocross race, I got a new shiny bike for my Birthday so had to try it out in anger at First ever Rukenglen CX.

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I entered the race not having a clue what to expect, lots of YouTube videos of Dig In The Dock. Gave me some idea of what was to come.  Race was where I was to cut my teeth, had a great time in the snow and frozen mud, managed to finish 22nd so not a bad result first time out. 

March

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Crit on the Campus was my first road race.  I watched this from the sidelines in 2014, from then on I knew I wanted to race some Crits. Was a hard race, once you loose the bunch It turns into a dogfight just to keep going around and minimize the amount you will be lapped.  Finish 39th and absolutely spent.

May

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Next on the road was Crit race in Motherwell, this was a big boy race.  Pearl Izumi Tour Series is in town.  This is a warm up race before the main women’s and men’s go ahead.  I am still struggling Cat 4 racer, this was to be an open race.  Cats 2, 3 and 4 were all scrapping it out in this race.  Good course nice and fast but a brutal headwind on the back half of the course, then you had a bit of a climb coming up to the finish line.  Same as previous Crits I can’t hang with the bunch so try to slip in behind others to help with hiding from the headwind.  Finish 36th.

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May was also to bring my first ever road race.  Wee Run Out Before The Morra.  36 miles was to be the race distance today, my biggest test of fitness yet.  Race being held on the A77 at Fenwick, this is also a Cat 2, 3 and 4 races. With also an open road, adding cars into the mix as well.  We’re racing in a loop one roundabout to another.  Try my best to keep with the bunch, sit in and keep out of trouble.  Even feel brave enough to have a little attack and help reel in a two man break.  Then disaster strikes.  Wrong gear coming off the roundabout, the bunch sail past, I am now being gapped.  From now on it’s a time trial for me.  Seeing the bunch gain and they eventually go past on opposite sides of the road.  Struggle on and finish the last rider home 49th for me.

June

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June brings me into another Crit I have been wanting to do, Crit Under The Castle.  Stirling Castle.  Battling up the cobbled streets was great, a brilliant crit course and great crowds out cheering us on, think we even had a “Dutch corner”.  Manage to hang with the bunch, doing well top ten looking achievable.  Then disaster struck, dropped my chain after the cobbled climb.  Dropping down a whack of positions and finish the race disappointed but still 22nd.  That’s racing for you!

Having caught the racing bug fully now, I enter another road race.  John Davies Memorial Road Race, held by VC Glasgow.  50-miles, 5laps of a 10-mile loop around Kilmaurs.  The weather was horrible, heavy rain and wind.  It was a struggle to get out the car and warm up.  Think I manage two laps then get dropped again.  Manage one more lap then after a wrong turn I end up throwing in the towel.  Not got the head to last another 20 miles on my own.  Once I am changed the sun comes out and the riders flash by for the final lap.  I receive my first DNFwp-1450429404855.jpg

 August

This month was a massive month for me, not only did it bring me some Cyclocross but also Two Wheel Army was born.  Racing at Haugh-Cross Festival.

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Click To Read More Two Wheel Army

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Click To Read More Haugh-Cross

September

One Cyclocross race, one Crit race and an Adventure Cross ride this month.  Talking all the cycling options.

Click To Read More Of Tour Of Duty

Click To Read More Of Tour Of Duty

Click To Read More Of Kilmarnock Crits

Click To Read More Of Kilmarnock Crits

Click To Read More Of Beverage Park GP

Click To Read More Of Beverage Park GP

October

Click To Read More Of Callender Cross

Click To Read More Of Callender Cross

Click To Read More of Battle Of Balloch

Click To Read More of Battle Of Balloch

A-race and a B-race this month, Seen me getting a top ten place again.  Then during Big boys race, I reside to mid-table again, though still moving up the placing ladder.

November

Scottish Cyclocross is in full swing, rounds 4-5 taking up the month of November.  Both proper mud fests, lots of broken bikes after these rounds.

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Click On To Read More Of Strath-Mud Bath

Click To Read More Of Lochore Meadows

Click To Read More Of Lochore Meadows

December

Click To Read More Of Irvine's Dragon Riders

Click To Read More Of Irvine’s Dragon Riders

This was to be my last race of 2015.  Now I will focus on the Super Quaich series, starting in January.  It has been a good year for me on the bike.  Not doing as many longer rides like 2014, but I have been more constant on the bike, keeping my fitness levels up.  I liked the way my results went as there was always an improvement within every race.  Now it is time to trying and get fitter and keep the momentum going for 2016.

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Hope to see you all on the start line in 2016.

The End

The End

 

 

 

Strath-Mudbath Park

Strathclyde Park, Scottish Cyclocross, Round 3. Ding ding!

Deployed for Action

Deployed for Action

I knew we wouldn’t always have the sunshine and short sleeves, no real surprise that today’s race would be done in a true Scottish winters day (Pissing of rain). Making conditions a nice muddy soup for most of the course.
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Drag my carcase from the warmth of the car to wander up to the sign on area. It is a disaster zone, tents have been blown about and barriers are all over the place, like being on set when World War Z came to town. Get number and timing chip for the Seniors race at half one. I am just in time to catch the mayhem of the V40 race start.

It’s chaos, the old guy in new John Lewis advert has a better surface on the moon than the start straight.

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Let the fun begin

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Splish Splash

Soon as they whiz by I scamper to the car and dry off. Have about an hour to kill so I get on pinning number and sorting myself out. Make one sensible decision today, Leg warmers. I was going to leave them off but so glad I put them on, making it easier to peel the mud off my legs.

I trundle up to the starting area just as the V40 are rolling in, they look utterly soaked and filthy. Looks like my first mud race won’t disappoint on the mud part. I have a little ride of the course, see what I am in for. I do a very short part then chuck it. Decide to wait and see what’s ahead while riding. Good thing? Not sure but I don’t want to get clogged up in mud before I get underway.

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Wet, Wet, Wet (by Michael Martin)

Last time I raced in Strathclyde park was in my friends pimped up VW Polo, thinking we were cool because he had a 500-watt speaker and a Pioneer stereo. When I say raced it was a sprint between speed bumps and around the car park. Hopeful to get the glance from a car full of girls. Never really worked, I think it was his bad music choice rather than the faded gold colour car.

Time to dodge the holes in the ground.

Discard the waterproof jacket, well I will just call it a jacket as wasn’t much good at being waterproof today. We stand and shiver in the rain while the riders are called forward to the grid. Once they’re all sorted we get to roll up, not bad mid pack. Wait for the whistle to go in the next 30 seconds.

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Photo by Michael Martin

BEEEEEEEeeeeeeeppppppppp we are off.

The water is spraying, while we try and play dodge the biggest crater. Manage to somehow gain a few spaces before we hit the mud.

First up is a mush of grass and water, we have a few zigzag bends to navigate while we slip and slide for positions.

Back on solid ground and we hang a left onto the mushy stuff once again, drive through the mud trying to keep the back wheel spinning. Come to a slight off camber left turn that is super slippy, most people are off the bike and running at this point. I did try to ride it later on in the laps but came to a quick standstill, back to running.

Mud, Mud Glorious MUD (Photo Michael Martin)

That was the soggy part of the course done, it went onto some gravel paths after that, shooting you back out to Crater Carpark and along to little steps to run up, then might as well keep running as there seemed to be another mush pit waiting to suck your shoes off.

Uphill Travelator (photo by Paula Stronach)

Back on the bike to face Monster Red, a red gravel path taking you high up into the top of the park. Leveling out for more mushiness to slow you down when you least need it. Catch your breath on a slight down hill taking you to Bridge Runup. At this point I was glad to have stuck my toe studs on, it was a mud fest up this incline after over 450 riders tackling it before our race. 517 riders in all age groups today. Great turn out.

Into some nice single track through the woods, wasn’t too bad though I did feel at this point that my rear wheel was under inflated. Could feel every bump in the path. I like this area of the course and reminds me to get my finger out around to Auchentoshan and do some training there. There was one bomb hole to come, had to take it easy or you were on the deck and plenty were. Once that was taken care of it was a dash down to a right and then past the pits and along to the finish line. Both eyeballs looking in different directions so you didn’t bust a rim on an underwater wheel eater in Crater Carpark.

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Lap one done!

Took me about 11 minutes, one of the longest laps I have done timewise.

Pull up just after the finish line to check the state of my rear wheel, it’s still soft not punctured. Back on I go and try and hunt down those who overtook me while I was playing about with my wheel. Slog on through the mud and mushy corners for 4 more laps then I see the great sight of the black and white flag begin to wave.

That was hard!

Lonley Climb(Michael Martin)

Lonely Climb (By Michael Martin)

I was nearly waving the white flag every time that Monster Red showed up, doesn’t look much of a climb but due to soft ground, soft tyres it meant a second of composure, focus the mind and grind up it.

All in all a good race as finished 41st so feels like I have gained some momentum, but there was a lot of DNF due to mechanicals etc.

Cyclocross has well and truly started now after the mild and sunny conditions.
TwoWheelArmy AGM

TwoWheelArmy AGM

Thanks for having us Strathclyde park, and huge thanks to Michael Martin with his team of Bog Monsters for putting on a great race in atrocious conditions, also a thanks for the use of some of his photographs too.

Up next is back to the East coast for SCX round 4 at Lochore Meadows.
Lochore Meadows, 22nd November

Lochore Meadows, 22nd November 2015

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Full Calender on Scottish Cyclocross website.

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