life on a bike

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.

 

 

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

htcc j league

Getting Pump’d
pump'd

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.

youtube-flickr

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

super quaich

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

 

flickr

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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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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.

Muddy Meedies Madness

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Next up for TwoWheelArmy is Irvine.

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

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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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