british cycling

Duels in the Dunes.

20.11.16 Irvine Beach.fb_img_1479811908893.jpg

 Round 5 of Scottish Cyclocross Series takes us to a wee trip to the beach. No bucket and spade to play with today though.

Wandering up to sign on, I see that there has been already a change from last year’s championship course. We won’t be riding past the stench of the portaloos today as the car parking area has been extended. Meet up with Kevin Pugh for a wander around the course taking in what else is new/been cut from last year.

Vet 40 men are just starting their race, head up to the run-up and shout some words of encouragement to the riders or hill runners at this point. Stevie Jackson was the first one to the run up still with the yellow test seat on his bike, must be the longest test for that seat ever. Craig Hardie is hot on his heels while the rest of the racers snake out along the single track.

While the V40 battle it out it’s my time to get my bikes seen too. The debate over my tyre pressure begins. Dump the spare bike into the pits then head along to see the conclusion of the V40. Craig Hardie rolls over the line to take the win just four seconds ahead of Stevie Jackson and John Woodrow takes the third spot. A good bit of racing by the auld yins!

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Warm up lap complete, I make my way to the start line. Gridding places are sorted and I find a spot and settle in. Only 69 riders in today race making it feel like I am near the front compared to last few races. Whistle blasts and so do I, Craig Lewis-Hamilton shoots off like his namesake and I go with him, trying to keep the same pace into the first corner.

Then I run out of gear on the single speed as we pass the commentators van and he pulls away. Hang a tight right, and we are on the climb. Last year this was a huge strength sapper for me. Today though I am going up the ever changing colour of grass pretty well.

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Crest the hill suck in air and get my breathing slowed. Now onto a great addition to the course, some nice little rollercoaster bends with a little dipper at the end warming you up for its big brother once you tackle the long zig-zags. The Big Dipper (The Big Diaper as I called it last year, I shat it every time I rolled over the edge) is next up. Gain speed, roll over the edge and drop down to sea level, as soon as you hit the flat its back on the peddles and keep the speed to blast up and over the top. Yasssssss! Conquered that sucker!

One legged peddling came next, with two areas of off camber awesomeness. Feet back into pedals and up the valley path towards the sea with the dragon watching down from your left.

Turn right and along the tight single trail, one eye on the ever looming run-up. Dismount at the foot of the climb, and it’s time to try and attack the hill and move up positions. My new shoes don’t have toe studs, so half way up the slope it turns soft and slippy. (I have a plan for this, the penguin walk.) Feet are out to the side, searching for good grip. Making headway to the summit. Over the top and back onto the saddle, rolling down and around to another fast downhill section. Up past the pond and take the path to the beach.

Just as last year, hanging on to the left-hand side of this monster of a sand trap was the best and firmest line. Seem to be riding it well, the single speed has a significant advantage here as I am pushing a harder gear than I would be if I had gears, giving me great momentum. Get to the deepest section of sand drive hard and push around the left-hand bend taking you out and along where we started. A few quick corners, past the timing van and finish line, then it was time to drive up the hill again.

Every time I got to the hill, I was out the saddle driving all the way to the top. Definitely my strong point today. If I didn’t pick people off, I seemed to gap the person behind. Really enjoyed the rest of the course once the hill climb was behind me. Even looked forward to tackling the “Big Dipper” on every lap.

After 8 laps and being lapped twice it was race over, I wasn’t too sure I would see the finish today. Like most people this time of year I came down with the cold a few days before the race. I was still coughing at the start line and after Lap 1 and seeing 8 more laps to go, I really did think of chucking it. Maybe if it was another course, I might have pulled up and had a DNF, but what Scott Kerr, Brian McCtcheon and the Walker Cycling Team done with this bit of grass and sand, it was incredible! Loved the new parts of the course and also they supplied the right kind of weather too.

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Well done to Harry Johnston keeping it a clean sweep for the series. Gary McDonald sprinting home to take second from Rab Wardell in third.

Huge thanks to all who shouted encouragement to me as I struggled on.  I came into this sport not knowing a soul, yet now after last season and this it is good to hear so many people shout ‘Go, Bryan’. It can be a massive boost helping you struggle on to the next lap. Feel like I am part of the family now.  Sorry, Jim Cameron, you will have to put up with my parody posters for a while yet! Haha!

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Thanks once again to Michael Martin and Cameron Mason for the images.

Next up for TwoWheelArmy is the Scottish CHAMPS! At Lochore Meadows.

 

 

 

 

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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)

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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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. 

If you liked this post give it a share using the social media icon you desire.

 

The Gym!

Why, Oh Why!

Lately, a little thing cropped into my mind. Running on a treadmill looking out at the grass and trees for 30 sweaty minutes, Why?

I work in a large Sports Campus, we have most sports catered for.  Swimming, Badminton, Tennis, Squash, Football, Rugby etc. The one thing that I find rather confusing is that people still hit the gym to “train.”

Train what exactly? Most of the gym users are there to make them feel better about eating that Chinese for breakfast or the extra few beers they will consume on their Saturday night dance off.  So Mr Muscle Vest, you are at the gym having a workout and posting on Facebook in between your sets of 5!  Not training. (in my opinion training you should have a structured plan aiming to hit a set target or competition.)

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I understand all the other sports why you have to come to a Sports Centre to partake in the chosen activity.  You need to have a court or pitch and the case for swimming, our Scottish water is far too cold for much of the year for open water swimming.  So you have to come down and buy your way in.  But to come down pay in to use a hot enclosed area, running on the spot, until exhaustion. All the while you have been looking at the open sky and green space.  It’s a mystery to me!  Especial as my work has an outdoor athletics track along with a very nice park just across the road.

Along with the treadmills, there are some nice bikes on offer.  Yup, they are looking out the window too!  But if you don’t fancy looking out at the great outdoors then why not pop on the tv and watch some Homes Under  The Hammer! (WTF)

We do supply some Watt Bikes,  I am sure they don’t get used to their full potential. As even I don’t understand all my training zones after three lots of VO2 max testing. So how would Joe Public understand that he should be riding in their sweet spot!

I think what I am trying to say in this rant is, GET OUTSIDE! IT’S FREE.

Save yourself some cash and run the park, or don’t save money and buy a bike.

I am most certain that if you buy a bike you will be out for the same amount of time as it takes you to drive to and from the gym and complete your workout, but you will have had a better workout and probably burn more of the beer and burger biofuel, while enjoying the sights around you.

So kick the gym door open and go get some FREEEEEEEEEEDOM!

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.

 

 

Car W**kers!

Accumulation of rants with a life on a bike.

rant and rave

Ok, Ok the heading is a bit strong.  With the better weather returning, I am sure there will be more confrontations with drivers as more cyclists come out and hit the roads.  For us who have been cycling throughout the winter months, you will probably be more accustom and senses are more honed for dangers with sharing the road.

In this post, I will go over my interactions with drivers and other dangers that I have come across in my short time of riding a bike.

When I first ventured out onto the road I tried my best to stay tight to the kerb, probably like most newbie cyclists.  After a while, you realise this is the wrong way to ride.  The majority of car drivers would try and squeeze past you in the same lane.  This gives you nowhere to go if you come across any potholes or drains in the road, making a crash more possible.  So now you need to move out take control of the lane as stated in the highway code.

Once you have moved out to the Primary position this is where most of the contact with car w*nkers will evolve.

My encounters have involved being inches away from cars travelling 50+mph when the second lane of dual carriageway was empty for them to move over and giving me space to ride.  In one case the nice blue Subaru Impreza squeezed past while another lane of dual carriageway was completely clear from other traffic at 7am.  Not only did he nearly leave a blue strip of paint along my leg, he dropped down a gear to make his big bore exhaust backfire, scaring the early morning porridge out of me!  Though he didn’t find the funny side when I caught up with him at the red light 200 metres away.  Let’s just say he wasn’t the great conversationalist type that morning.

anger-9-unknown2

Then there is middle finger guy, sat in behind so close to my rear wheel he could see the depth of my tyre tread.  Once he had enough space to overtake after been held up for all of 3 seconds, he then raced on by, flicking the finger!  A polite wave back and on with the cycle. I even had this on an open country road, the driver was not in any way delayed or affected by me riding on the road.  To this day, I wonder what I did wrong!

Roundabouts are fun.  The more exits the more it’s like Russian roulette.  Had one taxi driver come out 3/4 of the way onto the roundabout.  Luckily it was late at night and the road was quiet, meaning I had room to swing round the front of the cab to avoid him.  If I was one-second faster, I would have been surfing the bonnet and walking a crushed carbon bike home.

A typical comment would be “use the cycle lane”.  Have you ridden more than 400 metres on a cycle lane?  They are full of drains, to help with making the lanes puddle free creating safer roads to drive.  By draining the surface water, all the debris from the lanes finds it’s way to the side of the road/cycle lane making it puncture heaven.  With all the water heading to the side of the road, this helps with the deterioration of the road surface and creating more monster potholes for you to navigate.  Then there is Mr Lazy, parking in the cycle lane because he can’t be bothered finding another place to park while he nips into the shop.  These are just a few of the common problems.  Have a look at Global Cycling Network (GCN).  They have a good collection of the stupid cycle lane blockages or obstacles.

Then the drivers favourite comment “you don’t pay road tax”.  Implying if you pay “Road Tax” it means they should have priority on the road.  Yeah, good one mate!  I am pretty certain that no one should be paying  road tax, as it was abolished in 1937.  Meaning we now pay “Vehicle Excise Duty“.  As bikes don’t have engines and don’t spew out fumes, then there is no payment to be made!  Just like the electric cars on the road today.  Oh,  we do pay towards the road.  Through our council tax and general taxation just like everyone else.

These have just been a few of my encounters on the road.  Don’t get me started on the advanced stop line (ASLs) being blocked at traffic lights.  The not looking coming out at junctions.  The grief from cars while taking part on group rides.  Then the other beast, canal paths!  I shall leave that one for another day.

Rant over with.  Would love to hear any of your hates/stories with sharing the road.

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LoveCross

An evening in Peebles.

Satnav destination is for Peebles High Street for a bit of early season Cyclocross racing.   Love Cross is part of Tweed Love Bike Festival that runs from 14th- 30th of May.  Two weeks of all sorts of bike shenanigans going on, my kind of festival.

This Cyclocross race is a little bit different from the usual Scottish Cyclocross races, a couple of main differences.

First of all, it is at night!  My Race kicks off at 7:30pm, racing under the warm spring sun. (sounds romantic, this is Scotland so probably wet and dull)

Secondly, it will take place through the town centre and not through any kind of mud fest park! Looking forward to this type of Urban Cyclocross, seeing what kind of obstacles will be used on the course, like the use of water gun alley in last year’s photographs.

cross urban

Also to add a slightly different twist to this is that I will be racing in the pairs category.  The way I understand it is, myself and Kevin Pugh will be playing tag team racing.  One of us will be racing a lap whilst the other sits out, then quick high five, releasing the fresh pair of legs onto the course for their lap.  Having a lap out to recover seems quite appealing to me.

tag team

To start the night off there was a family ride.  Around 1000 children and adults get to ride a little loop of Peebles High Street and round past Tweed Green then back around the High Street.  It was great seeing all the little kids showing off their bike skills, one little guy was popping wheelies on his bike while another youngster was zooming around on a unicycle.

Peebles sure is a bike town!

Rider briefing was held while the course was being changed from the family loop into an obstacle-laden cross circuit.  We were given instructions on how to record the lap, seems a bit daunting but actually was just another obstacle to remember.  We were issued with a wristband, with this we were to stop, scan the band on the gate.  Each and every lap.  If you rode through the gates not scanning, then that lap didn’t count.  More laps = prizes.  Easy!

Solo riders are taken to start line for their 18 minutes of racing.  Bikes were laid down and then riders were taken about 120 metres away to start the “Le Mans” style run to the bike. The crowd counted down from 10, once we got to GO!  The sprint in cleats began.  Bryan Donnelly of Glasgow Nightingales had brought his sprint legs tonight, he was out the blocks faster than Usain Bolt.  Seems that his good start was short lived, his bike was blocked in and had to wait for a clear path to get out onto the course.  Something to learn from  for next year Bryan.

le mans race

Image by Ian Linton

18 minutes of racing turned into 18 minutes in hell.  There is no let up on the course so, 100% full gas is the only option.  Well the exception was maybe Cameron Mason, he and his mountain bike took the course apart and lapped the field.  Taking the top spot on the night.

Pairs race, here we go!

Kevin and I got split up, unlucky for Kev he registered us so he is the “A” rider meaning he shall have the sprint to his singlespeed bike.  Which he parked next to a BMX!  Mental doing a race on a BMX, only this madness was topped off by the guy in a leather jacket, jeans and riding his FAT bike in the solo race.

The crowd counts down the start, Go Go Go!  They are off and running,  Anthony Robson using his long limbs to good advantage is first to his bike.  Kevin in third, BMX guy is second. Though he soon moves up to first as he is schooling us all in how to bunny hop the bales of hay.  Bloody marvellous!

Now for the nerves to build.  Kevin is out on the back end of the course we are still in third place as they head into the “dob” station.  Kev doesn’t become a “dobber”!  He remembers to scan his wristband, sprints up the street and jump’s the last bales of hay.  Now it’s my turn to hit the course.

BMX guy got caught by Anthony , his partner is just in front of me as we head out onto the course.  I overtake, moving up into second place.  Time to get a shuffle on and catch Man Mountain on his Mountain Bike. Thomas Mitchell.

The first obstacle is on a right bend, a nice wedge of car tyres for you to run through.  I did my best long jump effort while shouldering the bike.  Man Mountain just bunny hopped right over the lot!  Next was a downhill slalom, in and out the barrier tape.  I took this as fast as I thought possible, Man Mountain brushed this aside and made it look like he was on rails.

barrier slalom

Image by Anthony Robson

A quick right bend and it was onto first haybale leap.  I used the good old “Handbag” technique, Man Mountain used the Bunny hop technique.  Gaining momentum and distance with every hop.  I didn’t even see what he did for the three, yes THREE flights of stairs up to the Church.  I was too busy with my head down, attacking them, two steps at a time.

Snagging the barrier tape as I came around the corner to find Man Mountain finish fiddling with his dropped chain, only for him to blast off and bunny hop the sand bags and hit the high street.  Out on the street, you had a short sprint through some gazebos with some Tweetfest barrier tape to block your view.  Tight left turn taking you down an alleyway round to a zig zag barrier system and then over two hay bale barriers.  I shouldered the bike and ran this section, I was way quicker to do that than fumble around the barriers only to dismount and hop the bales of hay.  Man Mountain probably bunny hopped the two hurdles at once for all I know as he was out of sight.

The bottom of the hill you took a right and an all out sprint to the sharp right turn up through the hotel car park , round the bend shooting you out onto the high street yet again. A bale of hay to hop, stop at gate and swipe band (not becoming a dobber).  Then it was a sprint past water pistol alley to get a drenching and a drink from the kids.  Hop the last bale of hay and Kevin was on his way.

Man Mountain had gapped me massively giving Kevin some work to do to chase down Anthony. We were still holding second place with a decent size gap to third.

This is how it played out for the next 30 minutes.  Kevin chased, I got gapped every lap.  We managed to do 10 or 11 laps, poor Kev did 6 of those.  I got the lap bell as I scanned my wristband and handed over, giving him the last lap.  We couldn’t chase down the first place as they had a really good race but we did manage to hold our lead over third place. Making the podium with SECOND place. Woohoo!

winners steps lovecross

All the winners on the night.

Well done to all the racers on the night.  Also huge thanks to all of the event team and marshalls putting on a great fun event.  A good bit of team riding with Kevin and hopefully we will return in 2017 trying to improve on our position on the steps of Tontine Hotel.

Thanks to Anthony Robson and Ian Linton for the use of their images, click the names and see more of their amazing Photography skills.

straight outta lovecross

tweedlove logo

To Fix or not to Fix?

A new bike has been added to the Two Wheel Army stable. (N+1)

I have been itching to get a new bike for ages, but what to get?  Well, a little bit of bartering on Facebook I have now become a proud owner of a Fixie.

I like the idea of a Fixie/Singlespeed for blasting up and down to work.  The idea of not having to clean the gears with the edge of a towel after every ride is appealing.  Also, the lack of things to break is another plus point.

The thing I now have is what the funk does one wear!

fixie hipster poser

Road bike = Lycra

Cross Bike = Can get away with Lycra.

Fixie = Lycra? not so sure, do I have to go hipster and ride in my Cycling cap, T-shirts and Jeans with one leg rolled up, not to mention my arse hanging out. (not stereotyping at all) Or will I hide cycling shorts under baggy shorts and slap a T-shirt on.

Bryan the Bike Builder.

The other thing about this bike is I can treat it as a little build.  Nothing too technical, so can’t mess up too many things.  I have replaced the old road bars with a set of bull bars, front brake has been placed on the middle of the bars replacing the two hood breaks.  A new set of Mango wheels with orange 40mm rims, giving the bike a bit of color.  Last of all was to take off the old rusty crankset and replaced with a 48 tooth Espresso set. Bringing my love of bikes and coffee together at last.

Still not 100% on my gear ratios, 48 will stay up front as it is cheaper to replace the rear cogs I have noticed.  Running a 16 at the back, a few folk have commented on this saying it might be tough on the inclines.  Might be best with maybe an 18-19 to help conquer the hills.  I am also swaying towards the singlespeed rather than having a fixed gear.  The rear hub is a flip flop so I can run both cogs and swap every now and then, see what suits my riding style and stick with what I enjoy the best.

tooth

I have enjoyed this little build.  Gathering parts together, doing some simple mechanics and turning the bike into something I am quite proud to ride.  Just waiting on a brown leather saddle to pull it all together and finish the build off.

Now it is time to hit the road and see how it fares, see how my legs and lungs react to not having an option to jump gears when the going goes upwards. 11939617_903565083064986_1269459393_n