Callender Park

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.

callender-park

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.

callender-park-me

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.

lords-of-the-big-hoose

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.

Image result for rothesay harbour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

bute-cross

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

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

14344227_10154000945851139_4018937891921186376_n

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)

Crash, Bang, Broken!

Crashing is no Fun!!

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

Options open to me!

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

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

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

insurance risk

Insurance or Risk, you decide!

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

money

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

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

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

options-396267_640

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

Tale Of Two Wheel Army

 

image

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.

Januaryimage

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

wp-1450099808509.jpg

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

wp-1450100951745.jpg

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.

wp-1450101228572.jpg

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

wp-1450428141722.jpg

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.

wpid-wp-1439647605018.jpg

Click To Read More Two Wheel Army

wpid-wp-1438886438690.jpg

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.

wpid-wp-1447054881909.jpg

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.

wp-1449663823417.jpg

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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.

wpid-wp-1444644520084.jpg

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.

wpid-wp-1444654571321.jpg

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.