adventure cycling

Rise Of The Machine. 

Could Parts of Strava die?

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With most manufacturers producing e-bikes, I must presume the popularity of them is on the rise.  With the growing market are your hard earned Strava King Of The Mountain (KOM) and segment times in jeopardy?

Lately, I just lost (KOM).  A long held gravel climb, up to the local reservoir.  The rider took it by forty-six seconds.  The loss got me thinking!

Forty-six, how did he manage forty-six? Bet he was aided by battery power! (I don’t really think he did by the way).  I have just been beaten by a faster rider. The thought didn’t leave my head though. It got me wondering, with the e-bikes out on the trails and roads will there be faster time being posted?

Don’t get me wrong, there is still a lot of blood sweat and gears in claiming a KOM or posting a fast time on Strava.

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With a little Google search, I saw that e-bikes from one company can power you for 80 miles on one charge and up to speeds of 25 kph. So with fresh legs and a little assistance, riding up the slopes might bring you bag load of KOMs after a day of riding. On the flat maybe the extra weight of the battery pack might slow you down in the sprint race, but I’m sure a top ten could be on the cards when you switch on the power of lithium

I don’t actually chase the KOM anymore, but I still use Strava as a tool for logging my rides/races and like to see my feeble annual mileage on the bike. For some King’s out there, their crowns and Kingdom’s could be overpowered by electricity very soon!

A power struggle might take grip soon. Instead of 250 watt motor, like now. Things could get juiced up in the battle to retain the top of the leaderboards 300-400 watt, higher? Then it doesn’t become a cycling app anymore, as with that power your talking mopheads.  I’m not by any means saying riding an e-bike and logging your ride shouldn’t be done, but If you did take a segment KOM, then I think it should be flagged and reported keeping Kingdom’s intact.

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I am sure some sly Strava hunters out there will be taking crowns by electronic technology, getting one up on their mate. But come on guys, give Joe Blogs a chance to claim a piece of Strava for themselves.

Any thoughts post them below.

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Mantra Mornings.

Dusting off my Mountain Bike.

Nine years soon to be ten, the bank of Mum and Dad paid for a half decent bike for my 30th birthday.  Ten years on I shall be withdrawing again to purchase a shed to keep all my bikes in (I know how to spend their money).  Having a bike let me escape into the woods and trails around Darnley Dams (it’s a park now, Dams to Darnley County Park).

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I eventually went further to explore offroad tracks.  First was a short cycle over to Pollok Park.  Trying out my skills on their little colour code trails.  Green was super easy, Blue pretty easy.  The Red had a couple of good bits, but after a few loops, it became easy and within half an hour you were done messing about in the woods.  I needed more!

Carren Valley became my next playground for the bike,  I loved the last section of jumps, flight path I think it was called.  Eventually found myself driving to Glentress a few times a week and riding Spooky Wood trail most of the day (the old hub in the forest with its huge slices of cake and great coffee, made it hard to get back on the bike once you descend the full trail).

Recently I have just got my bike back after foolishly rehoming it to a friend.  Glad to get it back and it shall be staying with me now.  It’s a burnt Orange Saracen Mantra 2.  It weighs more than my car, but with plenty of gears, this should help ease the pain of the heavy frame and fat tyres.

If you have read the blog, you will know I race Cyclocross.  For training rides, I head up to the Kilpatrick Hills.  My cross bikes are both singlespeed; this is brutal on my legs going up the hundreds of meters of grass and muddy hills on recent rides.  I decided to dust of the Mantra and take to the hills to see how the MTB compares to riding the same loops on a cross bike.

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I don’t know if it was my lack of bike riding recently or the extra weight and tyre width, but as I climbed the road leading to the hills I was breathing from places I shouldn’t have been breathing from!  This is me only getting to the foot of the Kilpatrick Hills, the offroad tracks up to Jaw reservoir was hard going.  Harder than the cross bike when it had gears.  There are some great trails for a cross bike around the top the hills, so with some suspension on the front, this ride should be even better.

It was, hitting rocky drops not think about, letting the bike ride the ruts and relaxing in the bike as I went was refreshing.  The wider tyres were excellent for riding over the boggy stuff.  I would normally get off and get my socks wet while carrying the bike over the boggy stuff as it normally grinds to a halt with the CX tyres.  The triple rings at the front came in very handy when things went skywards.  Rather than run/walk the hills with the cross bike on my shoulder I worked my way down the gears until spinning was not winning and I was faster walking.

The best bits came as I got to Greenside Reservoir, there is steep and rocky track dropping you from the brow of the hill down to the banks of the reservoir.  I used to have to jump off and pick my bike up and walk my way down, as a puncture on the jagged rock edges was guaranteed.  Not today though!  Arse hanging off the back of the saddle, I ride the rocks to the bottom.  Next thing to put a huge smile on your face was a great gravel road, power onto the pedals and get the speed up, I am blasting back down to the main road then down to the house.

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 Can’t wait to get back out on the heavy bike again as Mountain Bikes are GREAT!

Double Army Down to Doonbank. 

2nd Quarter Of Quaich. 

22.1.17 Rozelle Park, Ayr.

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A trip to Rabbie Burns neck of the woods today, Ayr Burners are hosting the second round of the Super Quaich Series.

Today I am joined by Clare Campbell racing in the B race.  I missed this race last year with being away topping up on Vitamin D in the sun, so I’m looking forward to getting to grips with the course and see what’s on offer fo an hour of pain in the park.  We go get our timing chips and numbers, while on the way we suck in the smell of freshly cooked pizza.  Pretty sure I will return after the race to sample what’s on offer.  Back to the car and we get on with getting set up for race day and Clare’s second Cyclocross race.

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A slow wander up makes us a late to get to the start line, have to head to the rear of the already assembled group.  There are 91 riders today, we exchange some banter while the other riders fall in behind us.  My nerves build with each second ticking on the clock, as we wait for the start of the race.  The nervous chatter dies down as we are told we will be let loose in 30 seconds.  Quickly tell Clare to get foot clipped in, while I battle with my cleat and pedal combo (some mentor me, can’t even clip in).

Before we know it the front is off and moving, it trickles down to us and it’s our turn to push off and get racing.  Today I shall try something a bit different from other races.  I am going to take it steady from the gun and try not to be blowing out my hoop after the first 100 meters.  It’s hard not to go and attack every bit of space I see and by following wheels it does mean I catch a lot of mud to the eyes (glasses would have been good).  We have a nice big bit of solid tarmac to start us off, this gets us up to speed before we hit the grass and off cambers to come.

Ride down to the first obstacle, a bottleneck happens as we are squeezed through a small gap in the hedgerow.  Off the bike and scurry through.  Hoist the bike up onto the shoulder and set off running uphill.  After making it to the top I am glad to see some downhill taking me around to another run-up.  This one being slightly steeper, I will definitely have to run this one every lap.  Doing well for positions as I still take it easy, feel good as I crest the climb.

Swing past the pits with a group of riders, a nice looping bend means I get to suck in some much-needed oxygen.  Next up is the triple steps, dismount the bike and with some big strides, you are at the top.  Do your best flying remount in front of the ever growing crowd and back to the business of peddling.  A small decent, 180 degrees turn to the right, you are out the saddle riding back up the gradient.  Hang a left and recover while you take the long bend and lines you up for the small wooded section.  Nice quick downhill through the avenue of trees is next. It gives your legs a quick rest before you hit a short mound to ride up, taking you out the canopy of trees onto the ever softening grass.

I am starting to find a good rhythm to my racing.  I peddle past Gordan Dalglish of HTCC (hope I make it on to HTCC TV ).  Next to tick off the list of must-haves on a cross course are the barriers.  Dismount and hop, run, hop and keep on running to find some firm ground for me and my one gear to get going again.  Back on the bike and we are into the woods again.  Ride up the start area and past MYlaps timing van engulfing the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and pizza.  A sharp turn and your weaving your way through the trees (like riding a speeder bike in Return of the Jedi, awesome part of the course).

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Out from the trees and around the off camber, trying not to get sucked into the black scrim that seemed to act as magnet for my bike.  Fast ride through soft mushy grass and now the hedgerow was congestion free.  Ride through the gap, now to try and ride as much of the incline as possible.  Halfway up it became apparent I would be quicker to get off and run.  I seemed to be riding this course well and singlespeed appeared to be well suited to this course.  Still keeping it calm and not feeling like death fifteen minutes in seems to be a good way to race.

After the third lap, the bike was clogging up with mud.  So with a shout to Victoria (my new pit crew) “You need to clean my bike” with a reply “Aye fuck off, you can clean it at home”.  I suddenly shout “No I need you to clean the shit off the wheels and cranks” as I dump my bike, strip off arm warmers, then take my spare bike.

At the bottom of the woods, I see Clare.  I am about to shout and give her some encouragement as I go by but she pulls off just as I get to her.  She looks fine and it’s not until the next lap she tells me her rear mech hanger has snapped. (well it was more like, “bikes fucked” as I go past)  Get to pits and Victoria is waiting with my bike, a quick change and I’m back racing again.  A great job was done for not knowing or having anything to clean it with apart from my gloves and arm warmers.  Though I did notice on the next few laps and one more bike change she was nowhere to be seen.

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Take the last lap bell and now I have to get a shifty on.  Got to try and make up some lost ground with my slow pit changes.  In am in a little battle with a Glasgow Green rider and just ahead is Russell Mowat from Walkers Cycling.  We hit the barriers neck and neck.  Russell gets back on the bike while I have to run a few meters as can’t ride the soft bit straight after the barriers.  He stretches the gap as we enter into the trees.  I give it my all as we both sprint along the tarmac with the finishing line rapidly closing in.  Russell gets over in 16th place and I take 17th.  Not too shabby from where I started.  Maybe just maybe there is something in this new structured approach to racing.  A little part of me does wonder if I could have finished slightly higher up if we got to the start line slightly earlier and we got a space at the front.

Feel a bit gutted for Clare, having been there and had this happen, it sucks big time!  She was not alone in the broken bike finishers as it seemed Rozelle Park had a taste for rear mech hangers that day.  The main thing is she rolled up to the line to race and gave it her all.  It’s all experience in the bag and will just make her want to come back and avenge the park that killed her bike.

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Huge thanks to JP Baxter and the Burners team for hosting this race, from what I heard the changes to this course were well received and made the course more flowing.

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3rd Quarter is at Foxlake on the 5th of February.

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Gangs Of Cyclocross

Callender Park, Falkirk, Scotland, 9th October 2016.

Round 1 of the Scottish Cyclocross Series.callender-park-1

The gangs assemble at another park in Scotland, readying themselves for terrible battles that lie ahead. Cuts, bruises and dramatic falls are to come in the next few months of an ever growing gang population. 600 people assemble today to battle it out to be crowned the first winner of their fight, taking the bragging rights to the next park.

As I make my way to the sign on tent, register myself and represent my team in this first pitch battle, I see a lot of gangs have congregated under their banners, staking out their little patch of turf as their stronghold for the day.

Walkers are next to RCCK who are eyeing up Leslie Bikers Boutique. Pedal Power seems to be jammed in between the two. On the fringes, Ayr Burners are looking thin on numbers with people switching alliances on the day. Albannach always seem to multiply in numbers at every park, HTCC  swarm about looking for an opportunity to make their colours noticed. After this, you have the unattached fighters, eyeing up the influential groups deciding who’s colours they might wear for the rest of the battles to come.

I head back to the car and get my fighting gear ready and tooled up with all I need to survive in an all out battle for an hour. Then it is down to the battlefield and to the line drawn in the dirt. The big hitters are all at the front of the bunch, whilst we wannabes are content for spots at the back of the pack. The nerves begin to build, eyeball the surrounding people looking for any weakness, find none!  Rules are being laid out, some people ignore them as they are too focused on the mayhem that is about to come down on them, get ready for the call for action.

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30 seconds and we will be let loose! I get my foot clipped in, other is firmly planted, ready to drive off. Eyes focused on the person in front of me, body weight leaning forward and ready for the charge ahead.

BANG! We are off! I drive off with my foot and keep my eyes on the guy in front, whilst scanning my periphery for the dangers coming at me from both sides. I see a space and move left into a bit of clean air and now I have control of my battle. Get onto the grass on the outside taking some places and look ahead for the next bend. Manage to get into a decent gap which allows for me to take the racing line around the bend. Still in the middle of the crowd by the time we ride the gravel path taking me past the timing van. Next to tackle is the Big Tree Bend. Keep left on this as looked the smoothest way up, it also gave to a good line around the roots at the top.

Descend the hill and now it is time to hustle up along to the stairs, good little drag from the Big Tree Bend to the stairs.  Grippy grass enabling you to get the speed up, seem to be gaining and closing gaps with each stroke of the pedals. Dismount the bike, run up the steps, then with a flying leap I remount back on to the bike, taking a couple of spaces as I go.

A few more ridable areas taking you up to a short sharp incline, apply the power and you were up and over, taking you under the canopy of some large trees. Then came the great downhill speed section, miss the kerbs at the bottom of the hill and you are then zipping up to the hard part of the course. Long grassy uphill section that was slightly slippery due to the morning dew and the other 500 riders being on the course before us.

A dashing decent through the little wood section taking you down to a big swooping lefthander, pinging you out at the foot of another climb sucking all the speed out of your legs. Next part was so much better than 2015.  Organisers had still kept the switchbacks but this year they were lengthened, making them much more rideable but still keeping a degree of technicality about them.

Come off the bends and you are past the pits, heading past the main crowd arena. There was an amazing amount of support today, as the dry conditions made this race more pleasable to watch. Two more bends and then it was the drag up the grass take an 180-degree turn and shoot back down the gravel and take a lap.

All was going well, kept moving up the field and felt good. Then disaster, I hit the kerb on the downhill section.  My rear tyre was a little underinflated before the race so with the bang it pinches and now inner is punctured. Gutter!

Race over? No way! I came to Falkirk for a fight, and fight I shall do! Off and running to the pits (jogging)(very slowly) I came with a pit bike. My new single speed cross bike would be getting its maiden voyage. I had to run roughly half a lap and survive. I took an age to get to the pits, I was burst! Big thanks to Harry McGarvie for taking care of my bike while it got to the end of the pits and mounted my second bike of the day.

OMG! How hard did the remainder of the race become? With the gears, you can slightly get a rest on some parts of this course. With the SS it was a battle all the was around. But battle I did, I was super happy with my next lap as I managed to ride the whole course, well except the steps. I wasn’t in this fight for a position now, it was just survival mode, trying to make it to the end of the hours racing. When I received the bell indicating that I was on my last lap the goal now was to ride the whole course and not have to run any hills.

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When that last drag up the hill to the switchbacks conquered I knew I had achieved my goal. Try and pick up the pace want to get this over with but also try to take a lap back from some riders that passed me. Hit the last 180-degree turn and with the line in sight I pick it up again and take the flag. I take 84th place, rather disappointing.

Job done! Seems like I have to do things the hard way the past few races. So I am grateful I managed to get a good hours worth of training in and also knowing I can race a single speed if need be.

A huge effort has been put in with Davie Lines and Franco Porco to create a great course in a great park for a great cyclocross community.

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Thanks, guys and also to all the helper’s marshalls and to all that stayed to cheer on the racers.

Next up for me is Halloween Dressup time at HalloX.people2

Thanks to the photography skills and images in this post from Michael Martin, The Pressoom and Anthony Robson.

 

 

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.

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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.

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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)

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!)

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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.

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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.

Forth Quarter Of Quaich

Last Of The Quaich’s

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

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

 

 

 

Muddy Meedies Madness

Direction today is Eastwards, For round 4 of Scottish Cyclocross Series.

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Another Dirty weekend for me.  All alone today as pit crew not feeling well. So they told me, think they were not wanting to stand in the mud and cold today.  From what I have heard I am going to have a manky time.

Heading along to sign up area, I spotted four broken rear mech’s from the V50 and Woman’s race heading to their cars.  Sign my life away and get my number 430, head back to the car.  Get my number pinned and bike sorted. Spot another two broken bikes being pushed to the carpark.

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Something is wrong here!

Seeing the bikes being chewed up and spat out of the mud machine of the course, I am slightly worried at what’s to come.  So for my warm up I will be sticking to the road away from the mud, I am sure I will see enough of it when racing.

Little warm up done, head round to the course with Kevin Pugh he’s on a single speed so no worries for him and his bike losing a rear mech.  Though I don’t think he’s keen on getting new bike Dirty.

Head into a little pen at the start area, do a few loops keeping legs turning. Will be riding this course blind again, don’t really want to have a warm up lap and get stuck in the mud.

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Anyone For Some Mud Soup

We are brought to the start line, This is where you think “What have I got myself into this time”.

Gladiators READY! Contenders READY! In the next 30 seconds, you will start on the whistle.

Bbbbbeeeeeeerrrreeeepp we are off.

Off to a belter, making great pace in first few pedal strokes, eat up some places.  Hit the first muddy corner about 25th or so.  Result!  It’s a tight little left with a lot of body’s squeezing through, a lot of mud waiting to make you come off your bike if you chose the wrong line. A bit of a challenge.

Still moving up and feeling good, come through where the barriers will be placed after the first lap, funnel into another tight mud packed path through the trees, bringing you round to some switchbacks.

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This is how the day would pan out. A lot of mud, a lot of switchbacks and lots of falls.  Well for me I would be rolling around in the mud a few times during the race, my first being on the corner coming round past the results van, giving the guys some entertainment. A slight oversteer you were down, next it was up and running ankle deep in mud.

My strong point in last races was off the bike and over hurdles carrying the speed all the way through.  Today was a different story!  The Hurdle’s felt massive in height and the mud was trying to suck your shoes off before you hopped over them. (lost two studs during the race)

I was starting to dip in form, feeling my energy being slowly sucked out of me. 4th lap in and I’m going backwards.  I have no speed at hoping the hurdles, the mud is taking its toll as I pass the pit area.  The ground is getting really churned up, turning into a mud soup in this area. Arms are starting to ache with all the steering trying to find a clean line and fighting the ruts in the mudbath.

Try and remember GCN Youtube video “Green is good Brown is bad”.  Try to ride as many blades of grass as possible.
There were only a few places on the course to get some rest bite from the mud, on these areas you tried to get some speed up, before surfing the mud once again.  So not really a place to rest up and recover.

There was a great little singletrack through the trees, nice and tight.  Had to keep your line correct as were some nasty roots waiting to knock you off course and bring you down in a heap.

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Manage to battle around and do 7 laps, being lapped twice by eventual winner Davie Lines. Second place went to Gary MacDonald and Neil Walker taking Third spot.  43rd place for me.
The last two laps for me were sheer survival, had the onset of the dreaded BONK!

The last two hurdles I just walked over them as I had zero energy.  One final bend to the left, take the flag and now try to recover before I deck it.

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Another lesson learned, have to eat more before my race.  Though I had my pre-race breakfast sorted.  (maybe more rolls & sausage) Conditions took more out of me than I expected.

All in all was a good experience and another great venue.  As my cross course experiences grow I will know what to expect and how to ride certain conditions.  Felt like a good course to ride, yeah a bit on the muddy side but it was relatively flat and no massive inclines to slog up.  I enjoyed this course.  Although could not shake the visions of broken bikes out my mind, I didn’t want to join them.  So when I felt a few weird knocks and bangs from the rear of the bike I didn’t enjoy that.  Maybe making me ease off a tad.  Big thanks to Paul Zarb and his team of Mud Monsters for setting up a great race.

Had a good hard ride, the bike didn’t break so happy Bryan.

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Next up for TwoWheelArmy is Irvine.

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Next on the Scottish Cyclocross Calendar is Plean.wpid-wp-1448291620675.jpg

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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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