infiniti

Northern Soul.

Scottish Championships Knockburn Loch. 3.12.17

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Beep beep beep beep, the noise of the alarm at 6am gets me up and out from the comfort of a warm bed. Drag the poor dog out into the cold, and I wake up to the morning of the Scottish Cyclocross Championships.

The early alarm is for me to get some food made then load the bikes onto the car, double check I have packed everything before I go and pick DNF Dougan up at 8am. We have just short of a three hour drive up Aberdeenshire and another new venue for me this year of Knockburn Loch.

Break some crusts of cow shite as I roll the car over the field and into a cow pat free zone in the already busy Knockburn Loch Outdoor Sports Center and it’s just clicked past 11 am. One of the earliest times I have been at the races. The regular routine is to tumble out the car, get my numbers on and then race. With this one, the long drive I wanted to get here and get blood to my legs by having a scout of the course and see a bit of racing.

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The start of the week brought some snowfall to the course, turning it into a white wonderland. A rapid defrost midweek took it right back to a standard green and brown tone just in time for race day. Now the course I have in mind is going to be a mud fest with the quick thaw. I am wrong as its actually holding out really well as I take in the V50, Women and Junior race. The ground is still hard under the top inch of grass so the mud fest might not be on the cards after all.

The battle to be crowned Scottish V40 Champion has just kicked off and I now have just over an hour to get my numbers pinned on and sort myself out, then get to the start line with a little detour of a few laps of the grass velodrome.

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Sixty-nine riders line up for the Scottish Open Cyclocross Championships, while the top twenty riders or so get gridded the cold wind picks up, and I am eager to get going and get a bit of heat into my bones. After a long hold, the whistle finally blasts, and the race begins. We are off to a flyer as we batter along the grass and sprint down the start shoot. From walking the course I planned to keep left of the course, I manage to execute my plan, and this gives me a good line to shoot up the small incline and then hustle along the soft ground making our way to the woods.

Still riding on the left of the course as we narrow through the entry gate into the woods. Davie Hamill is just in front of me and has the same idea in mind. Both of us dismount and get running when the speed slows, and the bottleneck grows. I gain a few places while pushing the bike, but a lousy remount kills my momentum, and the positions are soon lost. The wood section has a great flow to it, your eyes have to be peeled though as there are plenty of roots waiting to knock you to the ground. (Gary found this out later on in the race)

A fast pedal past the pits after negotiating the first slippery little hill takes you over the bridge and around to the back of the Loch. This brings you to the highest and hardest part of the course. On the first part of the climb, my bike is making some spectacular crunching and grinding noises. My freehub will need a wee looking at, it’s not engaging when I put some power through the pedals, making it skip just like last year at Bute. I lose a heap load of places while I nurse the bike up to the top. The climb isn’t over as I get to the top, we hang a right, and now a slippy grass incline is on the menu.

I use a bit of advice before the start of my race, I got told to get off and run the short muddy downhill section, and then keep running when the gradient turns uphill again. The bike stays on my shoulder as I drop down between the gorse bushes, then keep on trudging to the top of the never-ending hill. As I crest the summit of Knockburn Everest, a magnificent sight comes into my eyes. A 200 meter decent, and is a joy to behold.

It is also a joy to ride, but the mud flicking into one’s eyes isn’t so helpful with where you are pointing the front wheel as you rattle down the hill. Ride around the Loch and back over the bridge passing the busy pits. Now comes the fans favourite. The sand trap! Ride up and over a red gravel hill, try to keep the speed up and power through the sand/gravel, hoping I don’t come off and make a fool of myself in the cat litter box. Manage to get to the end of the pit without incident and ride out into the finishing field.

Ride past the finishing line and with George Stewart’s advice being spot on about the hill climb, I decide to take him up on his other words of wisdom. He told me that the S bends behind the timing van are cut up and slightly slippy under the tyre. Again that the best option is to get off and run them. Roll down the first hill the swing off and get my running legs going. Back on the bike on the last turn and ride down the long grassy decent, back to the left of the course as I ride the hill up and along into the woods once again.

The woods were a joy to ride with a bit of space in front of me as the race spread out as the laps grew. The hill climb became harder and longer with each passing lap. The 200 meter decent never changed with every lap. That was always a blast to ride down, but I know a few people didn’t enjoy it as they shipped their chain as the battered down at high speed. The cat litter tray I managed to ride every lap except for the final time, where I ground to a halt and dropped down like a dead fly. (But thankfully most of the spectators and cameras had moved around to the finishing field) The S bends I enjoyed every lap, as I kept it simple and didn’t even to entertain the thought of trying to ride them, a 99% chance that I would fail and end up in a tangled mess at the bottom of a hill, with running them it gave me a chance to gain a lot of time on riders ahead of my front wheel.

I get lapped once while I am plodding through the course and as always I am in awe of how fast the top riders can get through a lap. My bike holds out for the full race, and the weird crunching noise doesn’t return in my 6 laps of Knockburn Loch which is a huge relief. I take the finishing flag after 1hr 6mins of riding and finishing 47th place. The other two-wheel-army rider Gazza came in 35th in his first champs with is an excellent result for the novice rider.

Huge, huge thanks to Gordon Watt and his merry band of Deesiders that bring a heap of Northen Soul to Cyclocross racing in Scotland.

Huge congratulations to all the Scottish Champions and to every rider who rolls over the start line week in week out. All results are here.

All the best over in Mull with round 6 of the Lapierre Scottish Cyclocross Series and also the Santa Cross Champions on Sunday.

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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.

Januaryimage

I entered the race not having a clue what to expect, lots of YouTube videos of Dig In The Dock. Gave me some idea of what was to come.  Race was where I was to cut my teeth, had a great time in the snow and frozen mud, managed to finish 22nd so not a bad result first time out. 

March

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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

 

 

 

Tour Of Duty

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.
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“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

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