crossishere

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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Forth Quarter Of Quaich

Last Of The Quaich’s

dig in poster

Best Poster In Cross

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

4th quarter of Quaich

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

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

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

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Cross Village By The Pressroom.

 

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

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We are off!

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

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

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The course fights back.

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

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

after the battle

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

hanging up the cross helmet

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

See You Next Year Quaichers.

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

 

 

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.

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

Cyclocross Season 2015/16

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

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

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

Other Things I Liked

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe something on Scottish Cyclocross Facebook page.

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

hand ups

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

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

The-End

The End

Beveridge Park Grand Prix

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Round Drie (3) Of Super Quaich Series.

Alarm beeps away, awaken to the sight of heavy rain and strong winds.  Another fine morning in Scotland, Sunday 7th February.  Say a little prayer to the cycling gods, ask for the weather to turn down a notch for the race in Kirkaldy today.

Arrive at Beveridge Park, after ninety minutes of battling the rain and surface water on the M8. Forth Road Bridge is still intact and open for cars, no luck HGV dudes you have to find an alternative route today.

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Don the waterproofs and cycle up to sign on, arrive at the tent as the “B” racers are just coming over the line.  I replied to Kevin Pugh on facebook and said he should be in with a great chance for a podium today.  Low and behold I hear that the second rider to cross the line is, in fact, Kevin Bloody Pugh!  Great result Kev.

First rider home in “B” race was David Murdoch, followed by Kev P then third place went to Marin Steele, good result lads.  Great race for the ladies, Erika Allen with the top step on the podium, Lindsay Branston in the second spot with third being taken by Mireille Captieux.

“A” Racers Get Stripped Your UP!

After getting halfway to the start line, I remember I have left my bloody helmet in the car, DOH!  Mad dash back to the car, mad dash to catch up with my personal Photographer/ Fanclub/ Team Manager Victoria.  Last race was on the white stuff, this race is on the brown stuff.

Manage to make it to the start grid in time.  Adjust my tyre pressure, while fiddling with the front tyre, the front of the race is off and sprinting.  Shit, shit, shit!.  The sixth attempt later I get left foot clipped in.  Now to catch up with the bunch while they tackle the road climb.  Make up a few places, then off the bike, run with the bunch around the first right bend taking us onto the mud/grass.  Continue running downhill, hang a long left taking you back up the hill we all just waddled down.  Yip more running on the cards, run the hill.  It’s like a bloody cross-country race.  Taking a few places as I run, get to the top of the hill and I am sure I am blocking people behind me with my bike still on my shoulder (race tactics or just being a twat?) After four hundred metres of running up/down hills, I eventually get on the bike.

Next section was rather good, nice big open straights looking for some firm ground making things slightly easier on the tiring body.  This took you downhill, around a long right-hand bend, under the canopy of a group of trees.  Hanging on the edge of control for 90% of the downhill section, back off the bike and run up to McComisky Mound.  This was the main area for spectators as you probably could see 95% of the course from this vantage point.  Onto another slippery off-camber section, ending with a tight left-hander shooting you downhill into some of the softest parts of the course.

Sludge Straight, took you to the hurdles, the hop just before each hurdle was very deep mud, (tried to steal my shoes every lap I swear).  It was always a bit of a relief to come away with a pair of shoes still covering my ever soggy socks.  Head for the tall tree, turn right and then it was to tackle the snaking S bends, look for some green grass to get you out of the ever deepening mud as you wind through the trees.  With the hardest part yet to come, dismount the bike, run 50-60 meters in 2-3 inches of thick mud, hang an 180-degree turn, run the same distance in the even deeper mud.  Fair play to Katie Carmichael,  I was having a little battle with her for most the race, she managed to ride all these parts I ran, superb effort.

Eventually, the mud was done, back onto the solid tarmac.  Cross the line for an utter tough first lap, start the hill climb and it feels so good, one of the only places weirdly you feel you’re getting it easy.

One more lap, I’m dying.  Small, horrible voice in my head is laughing and telling me to pull over and discard my timing chip.  I start to listen, the closer I get to the line the louder the voice gets and makes sense.  Cross the line, I pull over.  Gather my thoughts, shut the little horrible voice out.  Throw my leg back over the bike and I’m back in the race.  The first battle won, now to take it one mucky lap at a time.

Liar

58 minutes and 7 laps of mud, running in mud and two falls in the mud I take the flag and cross the line.  Absolutely drained and pleased at the same time as I managed to fight back against the part of me wanting to chuck it.  To have another DNF for the second race in a row, one being my own fault would have been utter crap.

Final placing was 67th.  I was 63rd in September when it was a more or less the same route but a different beast altogether.  Both races organised by Jon McComisky and his band of mud monster have been super slick, he has excelled again with this race.

Davie Lines being consistent again and taking the win, Sean Flynn second and Struan Pryde bringing home third.  Anne Ewing taking the win for the woman, Elizabeth Adams coming over the line in  second. With Katie Carmichael taking third. Excellent results folks.

Having worked, organised and set up all sorts of National and International sporting events, I really appreciate all the hard work that goes into planning, setups and de-rigs. Working from dawn till dusk mostly in crap weather.  The Super Quaich series has been really well thought through. Small things like the added scrim, makes us amateurs feel a bit more like a Pro for an hour.  Massive thanks to all that have worked their butts off, so we riders can turn up and wreak havoc on their local parks.

thank u

Next up is Final Round at Dig In At The Doc.

boness

 

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Thanks to the Scottish Cyclocross Fickr page as used a few from their pool of pictures, Click the flickr image to go check out more of the 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

 

 

 

Duels in the Dunes at Jocksijde

Irvine BeachPark Round 5 Ding Ding.

Family trip to the seaside today, hoping “Storm Desmond” has disappeared.  Forecast for strong winds (40mph+).  At least, we will have a break from the constant rain.  December and Beaches don’t really mix in Scotland.  Must be another round of Scottish Cyclocross Series bringing the two together.

Jockskied (Irvine Beach)

Jocksijde wordplay on Koksijde in Belgium

This round is incorporating Scottish Championships.

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Do the usual routine on race day, bike out the car, grab my race license then follow the bikes and music to the sign on area.

Junior/Women and V50 are blasting around the course.  While they battle it out for the win there was an older creature battling through the sand.  A Loggerhead Turtle has been washed ashore, presumably by the strong seas with the Storm battering the coast for the past few days.

Cyclocross Is Turtly Great

Cyclocross Is Turtley Great

He/She got looked after by some race marshalls then picked up by S.S.P.C.A and taken to The Sealife Center at Loch Lomond.  Where it will be looked after and recuperate.  Then I think will be sent onwards to Spain for its winter holidays, possibly to Benidorm with the rest of the wrinkly old folk who flock to the sun.

Mass Start

Mass Start

V40 Race.

This must be the most popular age group, the start line was packed with racers getting ready to tackle the course, see who will be triumphant and crowned Scottish Champ?

98 in total wait for the gun to go off, then endure 40 mins of pain, suffering and wondering why this is a good idea.

Gun goes and the mayhem begins, on with my turn to let the butterfly’s grow and try to get a warm up done.

V40 has a winner Gary McCrea congratulations on the win.

The course is now open for me to have a little ride around, find out what delights are in store for me.  I don’t do a full lap of the course, I was keen on giving the sand a try.  Wish I didn’t! Fell off on the first sand trap, not enough speed to get me through.  Come to a complete stop and flop off my bike onto the soft deep sand.  At least, I learned something.

One other feature I want to try out was the infamous “Big Dipper”.  I shall be calling this the “Big Diaper”.  As I shat myself every time I came to it, my first attempt I used my brakes, only managing half way up before I bailed out, got off and had to slip slide up it.

Warm up is done, time to head for the start line.

What Am I Doing

What Am I Doing

Grid process begins, front three rows being brought forward to the grid, once they have sorted out the fast guys the rest of us fall in behind. Managed somehow to get into the fourth row.  All I have to do now is keep up with the guys in front of me and don’t lose places by being slow off the mark.

 We are off!Being the champs, they have upgraded the whistle to a starting pistol.

We get the marks, anytime in the next 30 seconds the pistol will go the race is on!

Wheels get turning, dash for the hole shot is on and I am in a fight to keep my space, seem to be losing this fight, I am going back the way. Get your finger out Bryan find the space.

 Hole Shot

Hole Shot

Nice wide left bend taking you out onto the mud fest next to the car park, slip and slide past the portaloos and down over the road and past the start/finish line.  That part was super soggy, a lot of people off and running.  Something to remember when I come back around to it.

Next, on the list of challenges was the winding right and left uphill bends taking you up past the pit area.  This part is tough going also tight for space, some shoulder rubbing going on. Fighting to try and stay away from the tape, the other rider trying to stay wide on a good line and avoid the mush of the inside corner.

Getting Close

Getting Close

Try to suck some air in and try to calm my nerves as the Big Dipper is on its way, time to attack. Fingers off the brakes, this time, freewheel down, then pedal like a mad man to get to the top. No luck.  I am off and scrambling to the top.  Toe studs now all of a sudden feel short, should have stuck the bigger ones in.  The Big Dipper doesn’t look that bad when you are looking back at photos of it.  It’s when you ride over the edge, see a big soggy downhill.  Try to pick your line, then you’re looking at the sky, praying not to come off as bikes are chasing you all the way down gathering speed to make the top.

No Success This Time

No Success This Time

Back to riding the bike now, well for a short while.  Next, on the Cyclocross Challenge list was Off Cambers.  Lots of them on this course.  Very hard to ride and you were destined to take a tumble if you pushed it too fast and hard.

You then have a respite, ride through the Valley of Doom!  The Irvine Dragon sitting high on your left with another great hill to your right and a headwind blowing sand at your face.  This lead you down to the exposed beach area hanging a right to head along and eye up the longest run up I have ever seen in a cross race.

Dragon

Irvine’s Dragon 

Here is where the super size studs would have come in handy.  I end up running this with my feet turned out to try and get extra grip. Keeping my momentum going to get summit, get back on the bike and suck lung fulls of sea air in.

Nice little bit of riding through the grass at the peak of the park, hit a slight off camber section  taking you onto a left turn onto the trickiest part of the course.  Mega long off camber sections, this was hard.  I think I have been watching too much Sporza as I try riding one legged with the other hanging out like a counter weight.  It actually worked!  Then had to admit defeat and get off to run up a small incline, bombing back downhill to take you along to the  Duo of Dunes.

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Hup Hup Hup

The mighty Sand Traps.  The first section is quite a short but rather deep.  Have to go for it build the speed and drive through.  Manage to get to the end on my bike.  Now it’s onto the biggest sand section.  Figured out on this one you have to stay left as is most compact there.

The only problem is at the end, there is a left turn taking you into a downhill sand section that was soft again, so back on the power and struggle through.

Soft Sand

Soft Sand

Hard Sand

Hard Sand

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sand is finished, Bringing you back out to where we began, hit the grass path then hang looping left.  Bounce out into the muddy mess at the carpark, slog your way past the toilet corner then up and down over the road to take a lap.

Lap 1 complete.  Another 5 laps till I get the flag.

Blood & Mud

Blood & Mud

Five more laps of falling, sliding and some bike riding going on.  Every lap I get better at one part but worse on another part.  Falling off at easy corners trying to push it, end up losing more time detangling myself from the bushes.

On the last lap, I have a shocker.  Two minutes slower than my fastest lap, my third lap was my hot lap.  My lost minutes were in the bushes losing skin on my legs.  Then at the end of the long sand section I go over my handlebars, go head first into the side of a sand mound.  Scratch the side of my head and stub my thumb a belter. The worst part was losing about Four places.  Shake the sand from my head and get going try and catch the riders in front before the line.

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Last Race Of 2015

To no avail, roll over the line and take 40th place in Scottish Senior Cyclocross Champs.
Free Bike Wash

Free Bike Wash

Time to clean up, go see my fan club who ran to the car after the first lap, Due to a hailstone shower soaking them to the bone.

Big thanks to Walker Cycling Club, Neil Walker, and Scott Kerr with their band of merry Sand People for putting on a fantastic Cross race and Championship level course.  Would love to see a British Champs being held here.

Congratulations to the new Senior champ Grant Ferguson, Davie Lines taking second and Rab Wardell taking the third step on the podium.

Up next in the Series is Weekend in Mull.

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Mull is to be the last race of the Series, I won’t be at that weekend in Mull.  Though the racing continues on through to February with a new exciting race series.

 

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Thanks to Graham Milne for the use of his pictures.

Strath-Mudbath Park

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

Deployed for Action

Deployed for Action

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

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

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Let the fun begin

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Splish Splash

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

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

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Wet, Wet, Wet (by Michael Martin)

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

Time to dodge the holes in the ground.

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

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Photo by Michael Martin

BEEEEEEEeeeeeeeppppppppp we are off.

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

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

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

Mud, Mud Glorious MUD (Photo Michael Martin)

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

Uphill Travelator (photo by Paula Stronach)

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

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

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Lap one done!

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

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

That was hard!

Lonley Climb(Michael Martin)

Lonely Climb (By Michael Martin)

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

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

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

TwoWheelArmy AGM

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

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

Lochore Meadows, 22nd November 2015

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Full Calender on Scottish Cyclocross website.

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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.