cycling weekley

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.

 

 

Advertisements

Oh,Crit! What have I done?

Crit On The Campus 2016

This is my third trip to Stirling Univerity Campus.  The first one 2014 to see what a Crit race was, gauging if I was fit enough and how fast I had to become.  The second 2015 was me thinking I was healthy and fast enough. Turns out I wasn’t! I got pulled out before the five sprint laps finishing in 39th place.  2016 will I do better? We shall see.

off to battle

Today’s course is going to be fast if my failing memory serves me correctly.  Not overly technical and possibly only one or two tight corners.  The first of these will be the mass start, sprinting to the top of the hill taking the left-hander.  Due to the volume of riders think this could be a problem on the first lap or if I am in the bunch.  The other corner is last bend taking you onto the start/finish line.  A tight left after the fast sweeping S-bend, the weather conditions will play their part as the rain is coming down in a fine mist making the course a little slippy in places.

After a few laps of the warm-up course we are called to the start line.

Roll up to the start, always end up at the back or mid pack.  Set the Garmin on to record, one ear listing to the Commissars briefing, the other listing into some bits of advice being passed from races who have just competed in the first Cat 4 race.  Bikes get a quick check over, few Ass Savers are removed, and we are ready to race!

A quick blast of the whistle and we are off!  Get moving only to find my foot doesn’t want to clip in.  AAAAaarrrhh!  Just get on with taking a few places as others struggle with cleats and pedals not wanting to mate together.  Hit the corner, all is good no crashes and no fighting.  Picking up speed past the pits and finally get my foot connected to the pedal, so time to move.

course

As you can see from the map, this course is kind of split in two.  The backend of the course has a few speed bumps to contend with, once those are taken care of the fast section of the race is on the side taking you past the ponds and round towards the finishing area.

I deal with the speed bumps (keep all my fillings too).  The bumps just interrupt with your rhythm on the bike I find so glad to get past them.  Next up is a quick left setting you up for the sweeping downhill left.  Hit the breaks scrub some speed and follow the riders in front. I love this section, it means you can get the speed up and get that beautiful sound from your rims.  I do the totally wrong thing, pop out from drafting the rider in front.  Trying to push on and catch the riders in front.  I say wrong thing as I should actually have saved my energy for later and stayed tucked in out the wind letting the guy on the front do the work.  That’s not me, though, need to become a smarter racer.

A quick blast through the S-bend and hold the speed into the last corner.  Take the bend with no dramas, now onto an uphill sprint to cross the line for lap number 1.  It turns out only 14 more to go!

The main bunch of guys are heading out of view, my only hope is that the little group that I am in starts working together and can pick some other folk up as the laps tick by.  This seems to be what happens, and we are doing alright.  I miss the gap on the back end of the course on about lap 6-7, and I am off the group.  In hindsight, I should have buried myself and got back on, for two minutes of hard effort it would have saved me 8-9 more laps of riding solo and struggling.  Just don’t have the fitness as not been riding much this year.

Once I got dropped, things get hard.  I had one goal for this race.  Finish it!  Head down and keep legs turning.  I have a glance behind, and it’s clear, will I make the sprint laps before I get lapped?  Half of me wants to, so I don’t have to go on.  The inner racer deep down inside wants to keep fighting to the end.

Lap board goes out the next time I go past the line. 5 to go!  I make it before the bunch get me, they eventually pick me off with 3 laps to go.  Let them roll through and don’t jump on the end of the pack.  Still not sure if hanging on to the bunch when they go past is the correct etiquette?

With two laps to go the bunch is still in sight, there is a tangle of riders, and two guys go down.  On the last lap, I see that the guy who crashed is in a bad way.  Some cuts to the face, I am sure there will be more cuts on the limbs too. (turns out 27 stitches 22 of them to the face, broken nose and suspect broken cheek bone) Speedy recovery mate.

Final swoop around the S-bends and round last corner to sprint for the line.

All in all, I had a pretty much uneventful race.  That sounds boring, but it was anything but! In the Crit, you are always looking for more speed.  With the extra space of me riding half the race all alone, you can really get to grips with the course.  Not scrubbing so much speed on the corners, finding the little groove of the course.  Even on some corners not even touching your breaks as you know how fast you can take it.  In one way you are racing yourself lap by lap.

Results

After a long, long wait, the results are finally uploaded.  With my stubbornness, I manage to finish 31st.  Not the best placing but I achieved my goal and finished the race.(last year was 39th)

A Massive effort by Stirling Bike Club for putting on a great day of racing.  From the young kids at 8:30 am all the way through to the big boys at 2:10 pm.  A very long day for club members and volunteers marshalling the course.

A huge thanks to all involved, see you at Crit Under The Castle.

 

flickr

All images were of E123 race, click to see more.

 

mylaps

Results are in.

 

 

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.

under-pressure

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

dig in press room

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.

wp-1449652083068.jpg

We are off!

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

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

collage crash ban ka pow

The course fights back.

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

gutted_blackonwhite

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.

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.

How long, is too long?

Time off the bike is a must for me. How long before it has a negative effect on my levels of fitness built over the year.

eye of time.jpg

Since my last race at Irvine Beach, the bike has been redundant with the exception of a couple of work commutes.  A few weeks have past and I am beginning to miss hitting the road or out on the Cross bike finding some new trails. The past few days have seen me planning my next ride, a good few miles in the saddle.  Being reunited on the bike for a day is something I am really looking forward too.(I am a weirdo)

This is the second year I will be doing this ride, finishing the year with the longest ride I will do. Going to make it my annual goal.wp-1451386649213.jpg

On to my Question then.  How long is too long to stay off the bike? Technical Analisis say that you start losing fitness after 2-4 weeks.  Is it as early as one week off?  The longer you are not riding will affect your fitness.  No doubt about that.  On the other hand, maybe you will appreciate your next ride more.

Physiological effects of 2-4 weeks of detraining (Cycling Tips)

  • VO2 max: down 4-10%
  • Blood volume: down 5-10%
  • Heart rate: up 5-10%
  • Stroke volume: down 6-12%
  • Flexibility: Decreases
  • Lactate threshold: Decreases
  • Muscle glycogen levels: down 20-30%
  • Aerobic enzyme activity: Decreases
  • Economy: Unchanged

For me that’s all gobble-de-gook, I work on feelings, keep it simple.  If I am not feeling up to riding I don’t.  2015 was a long race year/bike year.  I think a few weeks off, recover, eat food, have some beers and enjoy being with the family this time of year is long overdue. stories-behind-words-hogmanay

My Hogmanay Hundred ends my year on the bike, also signifies the start of my build-up to the first Cross race of the season.  A new and exciting series of races SuperQuaich and first race being RGCX. 

Plan to work my ass off for the first 15 days of January.  Then a few days to recover before the race on the 17th.  The next day I fly to Gran Canaria for a family holiday.  I have managed a one-day ride pass, road shoes and Garmin will have to make their way into my suitcase, helping me to ride my way to the summit of the Island.

Roll on 31st, getting me back to being outside and enjoying some fresh air. Would love for it to crisp up a bit, stop having saturated roads.  Nothing better than a cycle out in the Scottish Countryside when it’s been covered in frost.  Looking forward to 2016.

Wish everyone well and enjoy the last few days of 2015.

 

 

 

 

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.

wp-1449508733557.jpg

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.

wp-1449508867058.jpg

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.

wp-1449510226207.jpg

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.

wp-1449663827283.jpg

wp-1449670086033.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

wp-1449663823417.jpg

scx logo

Thanks to Graham Milne for the use of his pictures.

Muddy Meedies Madness

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

image

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

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

image

Something is wrong here!

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

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

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

image

Anyone For Some Mud Soup

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

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

Bbbbbeeeeeeerrrreeeepp we are off.

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

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

image

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

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

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

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

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

image

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

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

image

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

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

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

image

Next up for TwoWheelArmy is Irvine.

wpid-wp-1448291387979.jpg

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

scx logo

Night Ninja’s

Morning Commute is Dark, Night Commute is Dark. Be safe people!

Yip its that time to strap the lights on the bike, even extra one on your bag or helmet. I have recently purchased lights from cheap cyclists friend Aldi. At £7 each for USB rechargeable front and rear lights.
Wasn’t expecting much but they actually pump out a great bit of light, giving me confidence on the road and that I shall be seen from a distance by road users.
Especially in the coming months when motorists are heading to/from work peeping out the partly frozen windscreen, like portholes on a boat.

image

This brings me onto the Night Ninja’s.
We must have all encountered them, they’re dressed in dark colors, possibly jeans or jogging bottoms depending on the city’s area. Cycling about with zero lights and their cloak of invisibility on. Bumping up curbs dodging the red lights, back onto the road dodging the dog walkers and people shuffling home. Maybe with a bag of shopping slung over the handlebars, in their night time trance thinking about tea and toast, who got voted off the X Factor in the back of their mind. Not a care about any other road user, they are indestructible.
Come on people of the Ninja clans. At least stick a couple of lights on your bike, help the motorists stop moaning about high visibility clothing, lights and even registration plates for bikes being on the road.
More importantly, help yourself from becoming part of more and more road traffic accidents between motorists and cyclists.bikeVscar

High Visibility clothing is good, but there are new products out there. Super reflective jackets like Proviz 360 and similar products.proviz jacket

I think that these jackets with their magic are the best bet along with a good set of lights should keep you from rolling around the road with some driver looking over you saying they “didn’t see you”.
I like the Silver/Gray color of the jacket in the daytime, doesn’t make you look too much of a tool in Dayglow Yellow. Once beams of light hit them they complete the magic show and turn super white reflective color.

It costs a lot to be a cyclist, I am sure if you had fewer trips along to fast food outlets that month this could help pay for your new lights. The jacket, on the other hand, is a little bit more expensive. Volvo have come up with cans of magic that can help.

LIFEPAINT Volvo_LifePaintSlideshowembargoFriday15

The main problem I see with this would be, you could look a bit stupid if you don’t apply it correctly. Or someone at work pranks you and draws some Male Body Parts onto your back.

Looks A Bit Wrong

Looks A Bit Wrong

I will stop my little rant on the Night Ninja’s and go back to spraying messages on people’s jackets at work. I love this idea ha-ha.

wpid-wp-1446934787574.jpg

It’s a Dark world out there, let’s add some light.

Tour Of Duty

Sunday was going to be a long day in the saddle.

wpid-wp-1442912503284.jpg

I understood this, but somehow I didn’t expect it to be so long. My derrière is letting me know that it was miserable being next to my saddle for so long.

My alarm set at 1 am (then changed to 1:15 am) that extra 15mins was going to be needed.
Beep beep I am up, after 3hours slumber.

Creep about the bedroom and get out and stretch without waking the boss and the little bed hoppers, (even in a super king size bed the little boys manage to take up all the space).
Get my new team kit on and grab my 2 bags, feels like an expedition, not days Cycling.

So your wondering why I am up at this crazy hour, well I foolishly said I would do the graveyard shift on Mark Beaumont’s Cycling challenge for STVAppeal.

wpid-wp-1442915268842.jpg

Mark set a goal of Cycling 450 miles in 24 hours, also with a total target of 2400 miles Glasgow to Africa ridden by more insane folk. I had the slot of 2am-4am I was pleased to do this time at the time of sending the tweet, not so much at 1 am.

mark beaumont stv appeal

wpid-wp-1438882736701.jpg

The event was held within the showroom at Infiniti Glasgow, with the support these great people show me it was an easy thing to agree to.

I get there and I see that I am not alone at this early hour, some guys are on the bikes keeping Mark encouraged and all importantly keeping the miles ticking over.

There was an info wall,  giving you everyone’s pace and accumulative mph, to hit the target the aim was 100mph, info showed they were sitting at 107mph, looks like the target was on and the pace was good. The map was on Italy with the tracker dot making its journey south, down to the sole of the boot as the country looks.

So now I can claim I have ridden in Southern Italy.

Well, I get going and it’s apparent I am going to get hot, Mega hot.

15 minutes in and I am soaked through with sweat, think my skin must have a leak, I am drinking water yet it’s just coming straight back out and pooling on the shiny floor.

wpid-wp-1442915422155.jpg

Mark is on fine form, keeping an even pace even though he’s 12hrs in. Chatting away nicely too, making it look so easy, while we’re a mess on the bikes. Other guys are due to finish soon, we wonder who the next victims on the watt bike sauna will be.
Not sure if anyone was booked in or if they just didn’t fancy getting up before the dawn chorus, some of the guys who had done their stint stayed on to turn the pedals over and chip away at some miles. Great effort to do that.

Get through the first hour averaging 24mph not bad going, then it’s a case of tick off the 15mins blocks for the last hour, I don’t know if I have the mental attitude to sit for any longer, 24 hours must be hell.

Get to last few minutes of the hour, try to up the pace, though being distracted by watching YouTube videos of guys in wing suits jumping off the Alps. Think I will stick to the bike!
My 2-hour stint is up, I manage 44.5 miles, happy with that though I would have done the 45 if it wasn’t for YouTube distraction.
Would have loved to have hung about and maybe done another hour, but I had to shoot off with a long drive to Kirroughtree Bike Center, Galloway Forest.

So say my goodbyes to Mark and wish him well with the remaining 10hrs. Wish the lads on the other bikes all the best as the put in a tough shift.

keep spinning

keep spinning

4am and going strong

4 am and going strong

So my second part in the saddle was going to be at Galloway Gallop.

gall gallop

A quick change of top in Infiniti carpark, armed with hot coffee and a slice of cake I muster a plan.

Set satnav with postcode, point the car in the right direction, off I go. The main thing is I have plenty of time to get there so no mad rush as usual.

The second thing is I need to fill my belly, 4:30 am there is only one place. Yip the shop with the Golden Archie’s.
fat mcds

Rock up to the drive through and order my Double Sausage Egg McMuffin to be told “Sorry Sir breakfast is served from 5 am” What Da Funk!!

So all that salivating over my hashbrowns and morning coffee were crushed. Ok Mr Bad News hit me with a Quarter Pounder meal, yes it will be large!

Hit the M77 with my Dinner (burger and chips are not breakfast) I get to Kilmarnock and all is well, see on satnav I have to take a left soon. To my horror I notice the battery on my phone/satnav is exhausted more than me. It needs some CPR. Cool, I have got this. Wrong! The car charger is not working and the phone gives in. nooo!!!

From now on it was a guess when to turn left! F@#k it, I will turn in Maybole. Should have a sign somewhere! I know its Newton Stewart I have to head near. Can’t be hard.

The Race Is On

The Race Is On

Well those roads sure are tight and winding, this route takes you through some interesting hills, would have been quite a scenic route in the daytime, not at 6am with the full beam on, mad hare’s running in the road. Dashing in and out of the cars headlights, I know there fast, but there were starting to hold me up. Fingers crossed they weren’t racing any tortoises up ahead.

Eventually, I make it to Kirroughtree bike centre, after a few more wrong turns and plugging in my external battery charger for the Satnav/Phone to spark to life and help me out.

Art of getting lost

Art of getting lost

Meet up with Kevin Pugh, he’s not long arrived. Though I think his journey was a lot simpler. This is what can happen, Bryan. If you prepare! Or look at a bloody map!

We get to the sign on tent receive our numbers and a sticker stuck to our helmet. This will record our time around the course. Help ourselves to energy bars and gels, then get our free cuppa, well I get mine but the guy who signed Kevin up didn’t hand over his beverage card, must be saving them up and going to overdose on Earl Gray once everyone was out on the hills.

The course for today will be a nice little 67miles with over 5100ft of climbing or as my Garmin told me 5500ft. There was not so much Galloping going to go on today I think.

galloway gallop 1

Some Of The Terrain

I have never done a Sportive, so this organised adventure cross was all new, I normally just hit the hills with the aim of getting home at a reasonable hour without injury. We roll up to the start line with another few people from Kevins Club, Walkers Cycling Club from Ayrshire, we get a quick briefing then were let loose on the course, we start off going up a few little switchbacks then into the woods, this is pretty much the way the rest of the day panned out, upwards and onwards.

Weather is favourable, no rain but no blazing sun either. We get to the first feed station. Stock up on gels and bounce bars, then tuck into the sandwiches and cakes. I hear the guy say “fill up with gels and energy bars” being the typical Glaswegian I head back and fill my bag.

Mmmm Cake

Mmmm Cake

Understand why it is called feed zone, the dreaded midge has been invited and there out in force having a banquette of arm and leg.

After eating and being eaten were back on the trails, it has became apparent that the bikes of choice are 50/50. Cross bike, Mountain Bike.

There is pro’s and con’s to both bike set ups. Me and Kevin being on Cross bike seem to be making up time on the flats and hills, whereas the MTB folk are spinning like crazy going uphill, getting nowhere fast (think Chris Froome on a chunky bike, stuck on the same spot)

MTB’S would then zip past on the few downhill sections due to extra weight, but the crucial thing is having the shocks to deal with ruts and stones on this terrain, making for a more confident downhill experience.

galloway gallop 3galloway gallop 2

Halfway round now I can feel the back wheel start to bounce, now I am riding the rim of the wheel rather than nice cushion of air, I have now received a puncture thanks to a bump in the road. AAAAAHHHH, I dig in my bag and pull out an innertube for my road bike, NAW!

Kevin gets me sorted with his spare and were back on the bumpy road again, it’s mostly fire roads and little trails, before we get to next feed station we have to get through the old railway section.
muddy puddle

“Parts of this are underwater”, we were told at the  start. Mate, it wasn’t parts of it, it was all of it!

This is what Adventure Cross is all about, beating back the grass, surfing those muddy puddles, riding those hidden gems of disused trails.

Final feed station, the mud is acting as a barrier, keeping the midges at bay, long enough for us to grab some sandwiches, cake. Kevin fills up his water supply in his bag, I try to drain mine so I can squeeze more energy bars and gels into it (do have a few races coming up so it’s all needed). Back in the saddle and were off, we did hear chat about tarmac, nice smooth tarmac, would be a great relief on the old buttocks. This little bit of joy comes after a few more hills and tons of gravel.

The joy is short lived as now were into a nice headwind, we draft each other and pick up a fellow cross rider, work as a trio to pick the pace up the only galloping we will do today. Soon another hill appears back to spinning in top gear again. After this hill the only hill we want to see is a downhill, we were going to find a nice little surprise with a mile to go, a little lane covered in pine needles with the added bonus, an incline of about 20%, Think Kevin has enough of the hills so jumps off and gets some running practice in for the for 3 Peaks Challenge. Where I struggle on, zigzagging up trying to find grip in the needle nest. Manage to crest the last of the hill, then it was a few trails and roads back down to the Kirroughtree bike center, Under the inflatable banner, across the finishing line. 6hr 44min since we left off.wpid-wp-1443084263704.jpg

Get my first ever cycling medal (well everyone gets one), head over to cafe fo a hot strong cup of black coffee.

Cleaning process goes like this: Removal of soggy socks, use for wiping the muck off legs, chuck the manky bike in the car. Done!

Now for the journey home, wish Teleportation was real. For now I will just have to drive the 2 half hours home.

Once home and in the land of Wifi, I go on twitter to find out how Mark has done with his record attempt and STV Appeal, well he has just smashed out 470 miles in 24 hours. Some effort to get those miles clocked up and congratulate you on the attempt, and new watt bike record.

Infiniti QX70s

Infiniti QX70s

Massive well done to Arron at Infiniti, he was there for all the setup, the whole event, along with the odd hour on the challenge too. Well played Sir. Alastair from Team Cycles, was the man with the plan, making sure data was all correct, doubled up as the event setup guy too. Wasn’t sure how long their shifts were but I am sure it was a record attempt as well.

470 miles in the bag

470 miles Done

Twowheelarmy Kit

Twowheelarmy Kit

Long hot shower and fueled by pizza it’s time to get comfy on the sofa, Let the recovery process begin. Well for a little bit, long day out on the bike but had such a great day spinning about in the new kit.

Up next is Kilmarnock Crit, 27th September

Hosted By Walkers Cycling Club.

I am racing in the Cat 4s, Team Two Wheel Army newest recruit Clare Campbell is doing her first ever race. In with a tough field but is going to give it all she’s got!

CC DogTags

CC’s DogTags

Unleash us