Battle of Balloch Park

A Kick To The Balloch’s

10th of September 2016

I got beaten up in a park, Balloch Park!

This day has been long in coming, though not long enough for me to actually get off my arse and get fit again.  With a new little addition to the fan club, I have found my Mojo for riding my bike being lost.  Also trying to find the time to ride my bikes has been limited.

Battle Of Balloch Castle will be a good starting point to see what needs to be done to get me fit enough just to finish this season’s races. Not worrying about placings just yet, maybe look at that for the Super Quaich Series later on in the year.

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If Found Please Call.

I bottled it and have signed up for the “B” race (the first skirmish).  I raced this event last year and finished 10th, a repeat of this would be awesome but highly unlikely.  My number is pinned and chip strapped to my ankle, have a few warm up laps then we are all called to the start line.

My nerves have been growing since I left the house, I drive the 20 minutes to the course and they keep building, they are eased slightly as I chat to a few familiar faces on the start line.

We are on our marks and set for the word Go.  Jammy the PA announcer shouts Go over the mic and we are off.  Ed Vickers is directly in front of me and gets a great start. This, in turn, leaves a small gap and the rider to my left goes for it.  In doing so his wheel takes a rub on my front wheel sending me to eat some grass!

I fear that my race is over!  My handlebars are squint, along with my gear shifter.  Get on with straightening them out with a bit of force. Everything else looks good, so back on the bike and I am dead last. I have to stop 100 metres down the track and get my bars lined up again.  At this point, I feel I have taken a big knock on my left leg.  With a dead leg its back on the bike and try and play catch up with the field of riders ahead of me.

About halfway through I manage to get to the back markers and feel a bit more relaxed and now to take one lap at a time.

I am riding well and actually enjoying the course, well apart from the new addition to the course.  Glasgow United Cycling Club was good enough to add a nice little hill climb just after the finish line. It seemed to suck the energy out of your legs, a case of head down and grind it out. Staying up and on the bike going around the tree is the best way to go after the hill climb. Then get on the drops and shoot down the hill, sucking in some needed oxygen.

Last year I had problems on the gravel paths around the wall garden area, but this year I deflated the tyre’s a little and this was probably my fastest part of the course along with the rocky hill climb, which came just after the gravel paths.

Then came the Bastards Of Balloch, I don’t know if this had been extended this year? As it felt like the switchbacks went on for a while.  I don’t think I will ever be good at this slalom type obstacle.  I creep around the bends, losing loads of time and distance to the riders ahead.

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Bastards Of Balloch Click for Video

Gather speed and belt down the small grassy paths, these became ever more swampy with the amount of riders and the heavy rain the night before. Leave the mud and shoot along the sandy paths bringing you out into the main square.  Hop, skip and jump the trio of barriers. Don’t crush my nuts on the remount, then it’s round  the last corner, head for the line with one eye on the looming hill climb.

That was my first lap done, turns out six more to go before I shall revive the checkered flag.  Though to be honest once I saw Mark Young stick out the 5 to go, board, I did have to fight with my inner wimpy self, it was telling me to chuck it!

One more fall on the bike and a lot more mud being consumed in the last few laps, I was glad to see the lead rider (Ed Vickers) come past me.  This meant I was on my last lap and only the trio of hurdles in my way to achieving my goal of the first finish of the Cyclocross season.

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End of the Battle

 

In the end, it was great to get back out on the Cross bike and actually push me to my limit at times.  My lap times weren’t the best and I know I have much more to give during a race but with the bad start and being dead last to finishing 34th out of 66 riders I will take that.

Big thanks to Stevie Couper and Glasgow United for hosting this Cross race on the Bonnie Banks.

Up next is Bute CX Race.

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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

 

 

 

Callender Cross

Sunday Morning, Getting Cross This Weekend.

Cyclocross!

This Sunday it’s a drive East through to Callender Park, Falkirk.

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Great little location, haven’t been to the park before but have visited the Kelpies. Also done a brutal ride on my road bike along the cycle path from Glasgow to Falkirk Wheel. (Do not do this! the path has more craters on it than a teenagers face).

Do the usual drill – park car, hunt for the sign on area, get a timing chip. Number 437. Return to the car, administer acupuncture on my fingers while safety pinning my number onto the sleeve. Then usher little family in the right direction to the course. Though boys are happy to stop and visit the play park on the way.

There is a race on just now with the V40s hammering the course.

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Watching closely as how the guys are riding the course. Haven’t been to this race before.
wpid-wp-1444660362183.jpg Try to get the lay of the land.

I have only raced a few Cross races so far.  Always amazed at how the course builders and planners have the vision to turn a park into a race course, armed with only tape and some pins.
Callender Park is no exception, from what I see every rideable bit of grass will be in play today (well not all as it’s a big park). With a Photographic eye, there will be some amazing images captured in this location.

Once the battle of Grey Hair is done (sorry guys I will be there soon) the course is open for a little spin.
First up is to have a bash at the mighty Oak Tree Turn.

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Tick, I can manage it. We’ll see how I get on when I have riders in front and hopefully a few behind. Next to have a go at is the stairs, they’re not massive steps probably could be taken two at a time. Until your legs are dead, then you have to drag them along with your bike up the four steps.

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The Course is looking good and held up well with all the racing that it’s seen today. 477 riders I think I seen posted somewhere. From under 8s all the way to V50. An excellent number of riders show up. #CrossIsHere.

One thing I didn’t want to see after a terrible time of it at Battle Of Balloch is the switchbacks (Serpent). Yup, they have shown up again today.  Ah well, just have to work on it before the race. Tyres are more deflated today, so hopefully will help with grip.

Warm up is done, Head for the Startline.

Sitting mid-pack, we are being held and giving the briefing from British Cycling (pushing, biting is forbidden, keep flirting to a minimum etc).
Start as usual. “Gladiators Ready, On my next whistle you shall scrap it out” Beepbeeeeeep! We’re off.
A nice long bit of path to get our speed up, then we dive into the right, onto the course. Love these mad dashes for the hole shot. I will never be in contention, but I love this frantic start to the race.
Best start to a race for ages, no issues with feet/pedals getting together. Taking positions too.

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First time up Oak Tree Turn was tricky due to the volume of riders, just have to pick your line and hope it’s a good one. Made it unscathed and ride down the bank heading along then up a slight muddy incline. Hang a left, down a small lump into long section taking you up to Stairs. Still quite bunched so same again, pick a line that will work and stick with it. All seems to go well, up and over stairs keeping with guys in front.

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Next came my favorite bit of the course. I could have ridden that bit all day. Fast downhill section, if you timed it right you could get a couple little jumps in if you had the balls and space.
Then you were taking in the climbs, up to the highest point in the park. Had to be careful on the left-hander, seen a few people deck it here as the grass was getting slippery (slippery slope). Next to come was a bash down through some trees with a cool little S bend, allowing you to keep some speed going along to my nemesis the Serpent. Manage to come down unscathed and never lost too much distance, Result. Hopefully, I can keep this up.

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Now came the fast section of the course, pretty flat with a few fast bends if you got them right taking you along the front of Callender House. Turn right, onto a little slog up to the top of the Driveway of Callender House, 180° turn and fire back down the gravel path to scoot past the line and commentary team.

Lap 1 complete.

Turns out I have 9 more laps to complete until I see the checkered flag waved and the hour of racing complete. I am knackered but had a great race.  Had a good old battle with someone from Forza Race Team, where we take a position on our strong part of the course then lose it on the weaker area, mine is the corners again. Battling back and forth one falling on one lap at Serpent, then it’s the others turn to fall on the next lap. We are toe to toe until I manage to pick up the pace in the last few laps and break the elastic. With my pace increased I manage to pick off a few people who are tiring.

Aero In A Cross Race

Aero In A Cross Race

Hear that Davy Lines is about to come through and take the win, keep pushing and get through the line before him so I can stay on the course and try to improve my position, “Last Lap Bryan” look around to see I have gapped the people behind. It’s all about the people ahead. Chase them down, manage to gain a position heading into the Slippery slope, need to create a gap so I can take it a bit easier through switchbacks. The plan is going well, all I have to do is keep the pace up. I pedal around past the house, up and down the finishing area and will always be happy to see the black and white flag get waved.

Time to relax. Race complete. Great race today, also great encouragement all around the course with a good few people shouting for me. Cheers folks. Didn’t think I so many friends haha.

My first Scottish Cyclocross Series went well.  Being in the Seniors race you would think that this was the hardest race of the day, that would be totally unfair on the rest of the categories.  One thing I have noticed in the few races, doesn’t matter your age or gender there is always a good race to be had in Cyclocross. With me being beaten by a good few people in the other categories on previous races. So all categories are a tough old fight and have the claim to be the hardest race.

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Once the mud and sweat had dried, it was time for the results. A quick hop on https://www.mylaps.com/en/events/1213814  to find out I was 51st. Not bad but not the best was hoping for top half of the field. More work on the cornering to be done.

Big thanks to all the set-up Monkeys and organizational Chimps, who take their time out to help put a race on. Davie Lines, Franco Porco with their team of helpers you have done a great job and have put a lot of pressure onto the rest of the series events I think. The only thing I feel it’s a bit shite for the winners. As by the time they go to collect prizes there seems to have been a mass exodus of the park.

A Relaxing Cycle

A Relaxing Cycle

TwoWheelArmy will have a few weeks R&R until the next race at Strathclyde Park.

So will miss a couple of races, though I will be on the watt bike, also working on slow bike handling skills if I want to make my way up the rankings.

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http://www.scottishcx.org.uk/calendar/2015/11/8/scx3-strathclyde-park

Look forward to the Facebook explosion of pictures from up and coming  races.

Battle Of Balloch Park.

Back Racing in a Park today, on the Grass and Mud of Cyclocross.

Balloch park is a great location for me. A 20-minute drive away,  I arrive without getting lost this time around, always a good start to the day.

Even better news, the hills leading up to Balloch Castle on the grounds will not feature today, I really thought we would be up and down those suckers! Bonus!

A little lap around the course to find my bearings, it’s a fast course with the ground holding well. Dodged a mud bath for another day.

Chat with a few people, Some RCCK guys are eyeballing me after I took one of their own out on my last visit to a park, Kilmarnock Crits. (only kidding they were cool but did tell them to stay clear just in case)

We’re called to Arms, Dressed in two ranks,wpid-wp-1444030505516.jpg like good Cross Soldiers. I bag a good spot on the front of the line, this is my moment to shine!

21 gun salute goes(well we can imagine that).
Bang goes the starter’s gun and we are off, to a shite start for me, absolute mince! Think I have a drunk foot? It’s got a mind of its own! Wants to turn around, think it likes the start line.
Sober it up with a bang on the pedal, get it clipped in and manage to pull back some space before we hit the narrowing sandy track.

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Surfing The HTCC Wheels

This point I am eating places up. Diving down the inside, belting through the bushes, weaving around the weeds to gain places. I finally get some clean air. Sitting top 15-20 for now I think.

Settle it down, keep picking people off is my aim.

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The course is made up of some gravel paths around the picturesque walled garden, smelled great there too. After that, we came up stone infested path taking riders out into the lush grass hills, down through some zigzag bends.

Hated this half of the course.

I was junk on the gravel, didn’t trust going at any speed there as I felt I had no grip. Then came the hill which was alright but it’s still a hill. I had the same situation on the grass as I did on the gravel. No grip so took it easy. Something to work on midweek.

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Hitting The Hurdles

I think the problem was my tyres were overinflated, so that’s something for future races. (Every day is a school day).
Once zigging and zagging was done with, we were racing down a jungle trail through some long grass. Out onto the sandy path heading for the starting arena. Sandy path sounds tough on the legs, it’s actually held together with square plastic matting making it firm, which gave you a good bit of speed if you could manage it.
Once into the arena, you took a sharp left. Letting you look into the whites of the leader’s eyes while they concentrated hurdling over the trio of barriers.

 

Time for me to do 180° turn to the right and attack the barriers. This was my strongest point in the race. Only if they had a barrier every 100 yards I would have smashed this race.
Back on the bike, hang left then sprint to the line.
Now to repeat for 35 minutes plus one lap.

Race calms down a bit. See the front bunch go over the line for another lap, they’re not too far ahead. Keep pressing on 15 minutes on the clock I’m 7th-8th, good stuff. With my pressing, I am starting to gain some ground on lead riders. I get confident and smart on last grass zag and lose my back wheel, spinning 180° on one knee, a bit like an 80’s break-dancer on lino but with a bike attached to my other foot.

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Don’t Forget To Breath

With that happening, I lose all confidence in my turns in this area. Lose time on leaders too.
Hating on the Gravel/Grass combo half of the course. Loving the barriers, fast sandy sections. Lose a position every time I hit the gravel section to a Glasgow Nightingales rider but seem to have the better speed over the barriers so were locking horns for a few laps until he manages to drift off into the distance.

“Right numb nuts get this finished” is the brief chat I give myself. Two laps left, stop being scared of the course, face your nemesis and conquer it. It appears I bottle it! Another position is lost. Dang!!!

Chase is on

Chase Is On

Still in the fight, I can still see riders up ahead they have just taken the lap bell. “I can do this“, “get them“. Charge! Until I hit the gravel then slow to a reasonable speed. The Wee voice in my head is telling me “don’t fall and lose another blinking position“.

Glad to wave bye to the bad half after easing around it, embrace the good half of the course where I get some speed up. Hop, Skip, and a Jump over the barriers and belt around the lefthander, take the flag.
Woohoo, that was a good ride even after my spin on the grass.

Can’t wait for more manoeuvres in Balloch park next year already. Massive thanks to Glasgow United for being a great host.

As usual, the fun begins with teammates coming over the line. All getting together and swapping stories of race, Some doing better than others.

So I had a deal with the Team Director, I finished top half of the race I get to sign up for Callander Park next week.
wpid-wp-1444033881526.jpgTop 10 baby, just managing to scrape into tenth. That was my goal for today to make the top ten.
Target is done.

 Up next is Callander Park 11th October.wpid-wp-1444038360078.jpg

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This is going to be my first Scottish Series Race.
I will be in with the Senior Men,  defiantly won’t be top ten. Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t give it my all.
See you all there folks.

Thanks to Kevin Pugh and Victoria Atkinson for letting me use their photography skills.