Scottish Cyclocross

Eilean Bhòid *

 The Isle Of Bute    17.9.16

The time of today’s race is at 5:30pm, no mad panic to get up and ready and in the car for silly O’Clock.  I head for Wymess Bay and get the 2pm Ferry over to Rothesay, the main town on Bute.  Disembark the Ferry with a few more Cross racers and we make our way up to the sign on area.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

bute-cross

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

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

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Thanks to MT Photography Bute for the use of some great images.

Roll on 2017 as Bute I have unfinished business.

Up Next For Twowheelarmy is.uk-1107-762935-front

* Isle of Bute (Scottish Gaelic: Eilean Bhòid or An t-Eilean Bhòdach)

A Kick To The Balloch’s

10th of September 2016

I got beaten up in a park, Balloch Park!

This day has been long in coming, though not long enough for me to actually get off my arse and get fit again.  With a new little addition to the fan club, I have found my Mojo for riding my bike being lost.  Also trying to find the time to ride my bikes has been limited.

Battle Of Balloch Castle will be a good starting point to see what needs to be done to get me fit enough just to finish this season’s races. Not worrying about placings just yet, maybe look at that for the Super Quaich Series later on in the year.

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If Found Please Call.

I bottled it and have signed up for the “B” race (the first skirmish).  I raced this event last year and finished 10th, a repeat of this would be awesome but highly unlikely.  My number is pinned and chip strapped to my ankle, have a few warm up laps then we are all called to the start line.

My nerves have been growing since I left the house, I drive the 20 minutes to the course and they keep building, they are eased slightly as I chat to a few familiar faces on the start line.

We are on our marks and set for the word Go.  Jammy the PA announcer shouts Go over the mic and we are off.  Ed Vickers is directly in front of me and gets a great start. This, in turn, leaves a small gap and the rider to my left goes for it.  In doing so his wheel takes a rub on my front wheel sending me to eat some grass!

I fear that my race is over!  My handlebars are squint, along with my gear shifter.  Get on with straightening them out with a bit of force. Everything else looks good, so back on the bike and I am dead last. I have to stop 100 metres down the track and get my bars lined up again.  At this point, I feel I have taken a big knock on my left leg.  With a dead leg its back on the bike and try and play catch up with the field of riders ahead of me.

About halfway through I manage to get to the back markers and feel a bit more relaxed and now to take one lap at a time.

I am riding well and actually enjoying the course, well apart from the new addition to the course.  Glasgow United Cycling Club was good enough to add a nice little hill climb just after the finish line. It seemed to suck the energy out of your legs, a case of head down and grind it out. Staying up and on the bike going around the tree is the best way to go after the hill climb. Then get on the drops and shoot down the hill, sucking in some needed oxygen.

Last year I had problems on the gravel paths around the wall garden area, but this year I deflated the tyre’s a little and this was probably my fastest part of the course along with the rocky hill climb, which came just after the gravel paths.

Then came the Bastards Of Balloch, I don’t know if this had been extended this year? As it felt like the switchbacks went on for a while.  I don’t think I will ever be good at this slalom type obstacle.  I creep around the bends, losing loads of time and distance to the riders ahead.

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Bastards Of Balloch Click for Video

Gather speed and belt down the small grassy paths, these became ever more swampy with the amount of riders and the heavy rain the night before. Leave the mud and shoot along the sandy paths bringing you out into the main square.  Hop, skip and jump the trio of barriers. Don’t crush my nuts on the remount, then it’s round  the last corner, head for the line with one eye on the looming hill climb.

That was my first lap done, turns out six more to go before I shall revive the checkered flag.  Though to be honest once I saw Mark Young stick out the 5 to go, board, I did have to fight with my inner wimpy self, it was telling me to chuck it!

One more fall on the bike and a lot more mud being consumed in the last few laps, I was glad to see the lead rider (Ed Vickers) come past me.  This meant I was on my last lap and only the trio of hurdles in my way to achieving my goal of the first finish of the Cyclocross season.

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End of the Battle

 

In the end, it was great to get back out on the Cross bike and actually push me to my limit at times.  My lap times weren’t the best and I know I have much more to give during a race but with the bad start and being dead last to finishing 34th out of 66 riders I will take that.

Big thanks to Stevie Couper and Glasgow United for hosting this Cross race on the Bonnie Banks.

Up next is Bute CX Race.

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Here Kitty,Kitty.

Weekend Kit, Commuter Kit, Race Kit or Just Cycling Kit.

the kit

Probably like most cyclist out there I have a drawer of ever-expanding cycling kit, along with pre/post race kit.

It’s funny looking back to what I thought was a reliable and comfortable kit to wear for my first ventures out on the road bike.

I did buy some cycling shorts, £20 was spent in Go Outdoors for some Lycra and the tiny bit of padding.  These were then covered up by some old sports shorts as I felt a bit exposed at the tightness and flashing my skinny legs.  After a few weeks, I braved it and left the sports shorts at home and even bought my first proper cycling jersey with pockets on the back enabling me to ditch the Camelbak too.

After feeling a little bit more of a proper cyclist I invested in a pair of bib shorts.  I would never go back to shorts after wearing them.  The main reason was for comfort but also knowing that the rider or car driver behind you can’t see your ass crack, along with the added bonus of feeling like a wrestler from the early 80’s in them when you look in the mirror.

Once I started racing this is where the drawer seemed to multiply in kit overnight.  I bought some ASOS kit, which I kept as my Sunday best.  It felt good pulling on some quality threads and rolling up to the line in your cycling finest.

I got Cross, Cyclocross.

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With Cyclocross my kit expanded again due to the amount of mud, sweat and tears.  I went back to some cheaper bibs and tops for training due them getting trashed with the great Scottish weather.  With the bibs and jerseys, along came arm warmers, leg warmers, base layers, jackets, a huge amount of socks and umpteen pairs of gloves.

Pre and Post race clothes became the next thing on the list.  With Cyclocross taking place in the Scottish winter months, warm waterproof clothing became important.  Keeping you warm and dry while you wandered in the rain to the sign on area and having something to keep on and keep you semi-dry for a warm up lap or two.

Pre/Post Crit racing and Road racing clothes were some new sports tops and trousers with decent zips enabling you to strip down quickly after the turbo warm up and roll up to the start line.

A blog was born.

With the blog, I progressed to creating Team Two Wheel Army.  So the team would need some kit to race in and hopefully promote the blog at the same time.

If like me you only want to create one of a kind kit then you will get a lot of companies replying with “Sorry we have a minimum order of ten garments, so you will have to find nine more riders”.

Kalas have been great.  They didn’t see it as a problem I was only a team of one.  Or that I had no idea what I wanted or even a colour.  With a few emails, I had a few ideas and then eventually the kit was finalised and on the cutting table.  A few weeks later, I soon had my very own team and its own cycling kit.  A very proud moment.

Along came a Fixie.

twa fixie rider

I finally thought I had all my Cycling kit sorted, but then came along a chance of a fixie bike.

This now flung a spanner in the works.  I wanted to ride the fixie to and from work, but also will be the bike I nip to the shops in and just get out and enjoy a quiet, easy ride.

With this I don’t think I need the aerodynamics the Lycra brings, so now it’s time to dig out my baggy shorts and t-shirts, trying my best to look cool and hipster.

With the cool clothes in mind, I began looking more and more at images of Fixie riders on Instagram seeing what brands and style were out there. This is I stumbled on a post from My bike and I. mybikeandi.co.uk

First of all, I was looking at the Caps.  As on the Fixie, I have ditched the helmet and the wind is creating havoc with my hair.

I sent a little post on their Instagram page, I soon had a reply.  After a few email exchanges, it looks like I shall be getting a new cap to tame the hair, also a new t-shirt to wear while riding the bike or wearing before my races.

The contact I have had with the new budding bike clothing company, I have been really impressed with what I have seen and the vision for the future.  I think they are onto a winner with their brand and hopefully, Two Wheel Army can help promote some more of the products in the future.

Thoughts!

What are your thoughts on buying cycling kit? Do buy the full team kit of Sky or your favourite team?  Some call this the full kit wanker!  Or do you stick with the high-end of the market and only wear Rapha?  I would like to hear your thoughts on this subject.

Feel free to leave a comment. 

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LoveCross

An evening in Peebles.

Satnav destination is for Peebles High Street for a bit of early season Cyclocross racing.   Love Cross is part of Tweed Love Bike Festival that runs from 14th- 30th of May.  Two weeks of all sorts of bike shenanigans going on, my kind of festival.

This Cyclocross race is a little bit different from the usual Scottish Cyclocross races, a couple of main differences.

First of all, it is at night!  My Race kicks off at 7:30pm, racing under the warm spring sun. (sounds romantic, this is Scotland so probably wet and dull)

Secondly, it will take place through the town centre and not through any kind of mud fest park! Looking forward to this type of Urban Cyclocross, seeing what kind of obstacles will be used on the course, like the use of water gun alley in last year’s photographs.

cross urban

Also to add a slightly different twist to this is that I will be racing in the pairs category.  The way I understand it is, myself and Kevin Pugh will be playing tag team racing.  One of us will be racing a lap whilst the other sits out, then quick high five, releasing the fresh pair of legs onto the course for their lap.  Having a lap out to recover seems quite appealing to me.

tag team

To start the night off there was a family ride.  Around 1000 children and adults get to ride a little loop of Peebles High Street and round past Tweed Green then back around the High Street.  It was great seeing all the little kids showing off their bike skills, one little guy was popping wheelies on his bike while another youngster was zooming around on a unicycle.

Peebles sure is a bike town!

Rider briefing was held while the course was being changed from the family loop into an obstacle-laden cross circuit.  We were given instructions on how to record the lap, seems a bit daunting but actually was just another obstacle to remember.  We were issued with a wristband, with this we were to stop, scan the band on the gate.  Each and every lap.  If you rode through the gates not scanning, then that lap didn’t count.  More laps = prizes.  Easy!

Solo riders are taken to start line for their 18 minutes of racing.  Bikes were laid down and then riders were taken about 120 metres away to start the “Le Mans” style run to the bike. The crowd counted down from 10, once we got to GO!  The sprint in cleats began.  Bryan Donnelly of Glasgow Nightingales had brought his sprint legs tonight, he was out the blocks faster than Usain Bolt.  Seems that his good start was short lived, his bike was blocked in and had to wait for a clear path to get out onto the course.  Something to learn from  for next year Bryan.

le mans race

Image by Ian Linton

18 minutes of racing turned into 18 minutes in hell.  There is no let up on the course so, 100% full gas is the only option.  Well the exception was maybe Cameron Mason, he and his mountain bike took the course apart and lapped the field.  Taking the top spot on the night.

Pairs race, here we go!

Kevin and I got split up, unlucky for Kev he registered us so he is the “A” rider meaning he shall have the sprint to his singlespeed bike.  Which he parked next to a BMX!  Mental doing a race on a BMX, only this madness was topped off by the guy in a leather jacket, jeans and riding his FAT bike in the solo race.

The crowd counts down the start, Go Go Go!  They are off and running,  Anthony Robson using his long limbs to good advantage is first to his bike.  Kevin in third, BMX guy is second. Though he soon moves up to first as he is schooling us all in how to bunny hop the bales of hay.  Bloody marvellous!

Now for the nerves to build.  Kevin is out on the back end of the course we are still in third place as they head into the “dob” station.  Kev doesn’t become a “dobber”!  He remembers to scan his wristband, sprints up the street and jump’s the last bales of hay.  Now it’s my turn to hit the course.

BMX guy got caught by Anthony , his partner is just in front of me as we head out onto the course.  I overtake, moving up into second place.  Time to get a shuffle on and catch Man Mountain on his Mountain Bike. Thomas Mitchell.

The first obstacle is on a right bend, a nice wedge of car tyres for you to run through.  I did my best long jump effort while shouldering the bike.  Man Mountain just bunny hopped right over the lot!  Next was a downhill slalom, in and out the barrier tape.  I took this as fast as I thought possible, Man Mountain brushed this aside and made it look like he was on rails.

barrier slalom

Image by Anthony Robson

A quick right bend and it was onto first haybale leap.  I used the good old “Handbag” technique, Man Mountain used the Bunny hop technique.  Gaining momentum and distance with every hop.  I didn’t even see what he did for the three, yes THREE flights of stairs up to the Church.  I was too busy with my head down, attacking them, two steps at a time.

Snagging the barrier tape as I came around the corner to find Man Mountain finish fiddling with his dropped chain, only for him to blast off and bunny hop the sand bags and hit the high street.  Out on the street, you had a short sprint through some gazebos with some Tweetfest barrier tape to block your view.  Tight left turn taking you down an alleyway round to a zig zag barrier system and then over two hay bale barriers.  I shouldered the bike and ran this section, I was way quicker to do that than fumble around the barriers only to dismount and hop the bales of hay.  Man Mountain probably bunny hopped the two hurdles at once for all I know as he was out of sight.

The bottom of the hill you took a right and an all out sprint to the sharp right turn up through the hotel car park , round the bend shooting you out onto the high street yet again. A bale of hay to hop, stop at gate and swipe band (not becoming a dobber).  Then it was a sprint past water pistol alley to get a drenching and a drink from the kids.  Hop the last bale of hay and Kevin was on his way.

Man Mountain had gapped me massively giving Kevin some work to do to chase down Anthony. We were still holding second place with a decent size gap to third.

This is how it played out for the next 30 minutes.  Kevin chased, I got gapped every lap.  We managed to do 10 or 11 laps, poor Kev did 6 of those.  I got the lap bell as I scanned my wristband and handed over, giving him the last lap.  We couldn’t chase down the first place as they had a really good race but we did manage to hold our lead over third place. Making the podium with SECOND place. Woohoo!

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All the winners on the night.

Well done to all the racers on the night.  Also huge thanks to all of the event team and marshalls putting on a great fun event.  A good bit of team riding with Kevin and hopefully we will return in 2017 trying to improve on our position on the steps of Tontine Hotel.

Thanks to Anthony Robson and Ian Linton for the use of their images, click the names and see more of their amazing Photography skills.

straight outta lovecross

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Bryan & Burners Battle Bute.

Don’t Break The Crust!

A sunny Saturday morning meeting at Wemyss Bay Ferry Terminal, I meet up with some Ayr Burners.  Kevin Pugh, Lindsay McGarvie, JP Baxter and Gary Currie and I are about to board the 10:15am Ferry to Rothesay, Isle of Bute, West Coast of Scotland.

In 2000, Janet Street-Porter came to the Island and opened the West Island Way.  This is a 40mile/65km walk through the Isle in celebration of the Millenium.  After riding this I wonder if she actually walked the whole route?  (next time JSP, fancy doing a nice flat walk along the beach!)

west island way

Once we depart the Ferry, we take a left heading South to the bottom of the Isle. Some nice smooth roads give our legs a nice chance to warm up.  Then we come to the end of the road, we won’t be seeing much more of the tarmac for the rest of the day.

The Adventure Cross now and truly begins, along the Southern coastline we are following the sheep trails.  Most of the trails are rideable but there is a bit of rock hopping and dodging sheep shit.  Riding along the coast is great, the sun is out and warming us up, making the base layer feel like a bad choice.  After some puddle swerving and a few climbs, we get to a small beach and have an impromptu bike wash with a scrubbing brush that has been washed up.

Ater getting to the most Southerly point of Bute.  The only way to head now is North along the East coast, we take in more rocky outcrops and more hike-a-bike heading for the golf course.  With this comes some nice riding along some grass trails with the beach on our left.  We are finished with the coast for just now as we head into the middle of the Isle taking in some farm roads and more sheep trails.

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This bit gets shit! Really SHIT!

Farms bring animal by-product.  We had to ride through said by-product. Twice!  Myself, JP and Lindsay are out in front and going up shit creek without a paddle, when Mr Pugh pipes up with “lads, you need to come back”.  Apparently we should have gone right not straight through, which means riding back through the shit again.  Things will get worse. (Well for one of us).

After a long march uphill and through some sharp and jaggy gorse bushes we see the dirt path we are supposed to be following.  Head back downhill and now we are tackling a dusty road.  Gary is out in front and he is the first to try Slurry Surfing.  We pull up and assess our route/options.  The now famous words of DON’T BREAK THE CRUST form.

These words are muffled in JP’s mind as the words RIDE IT, RIDE IT are louder.  JP rides it, for about 3 metres then gets that sinking feeling. (stinking feeling)

ah shite!

Hope those shoes are tight.

After a little tug of war between bike and shite, JP and the bike escape the quick shit.  Now head to bike cleaning station number 2.  A stream of water coming out from under the road, it’s probably 50-50 piss and water combo but it does the job and gets the bike/sock/shoes clean.  I am pretty sure no one wants to sit in behind his bike for a while now.

We are still heading up the East coast, now heading for a cafe stop at Ettrick bay.  Fuel up on coffee, sandwiches, and burgers.  We leave the cafe with the ripe old smell of the farmyard left at the table.

We leave the East coast and head Northwest riding up into the grassland.  Then into some pinewoods for some fun descents and mega climbing on pine needle trails.

Time is ticking on and we are still playing in the woods, after the last mega climb we stop for a check of the map.  Kevin thinks we have overshot the turn to take us out onto the road which would take us back to Rothesay.  We have a choice!  Head on and see where we end up? Potential to head through more fields/marshes or have a nice descent and find the road.  Yip you guessed it the descent won.

We turn around and get going, blast downhill enjoying some wind in our faces.  Gary has turned into a descending demon, battering through everything and splashing puddles feet in the air. He’s having a ball.  We get to the bottom and find the waypoint directing us to the road. After all the climbing and hike-a-bike the tarmac is a welcome sight.

It’s 5:50pm and next Ferry is at 6:15pm, we have a little time trial ahead of us to make the next boat.

We muck in, string out, pull one and other along the oh so smooth surface,  I look to the left and can see the Calmac ferry steaming through the water heading for the dock.  The race is truly on.  We pull into Rothesay as the anchor lines are tightened and cars trundle off.

We wait our turn to embark, park the bikes up and head indoors for a heat.  The weather like most of Scotland, had sun/rain/snow and hail all in one day.

Drinks all round for a great ride/walk exploring the Isle of Bute.

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Check out the route

Thanks to Ayr Burners Cycling Club for letting me tag along, also to Kevin for the amazing coffee.  While I got battered on Bute, the freshly ground coffee was wafting around the car for 5hrs.  The smell was amazing heading home.

Crash, Bang, Broken Update!

Return Of The Bike.

After a few weeks since my bike got taken away in a white van (part of me was thinking that it might end up on eBay or a Facebook sales page) an email popped up in my inbox saying that my bike is whole again and ready to be dropped off.

After my crash, (Crash, Bang Broken) I appealed on Facebook for help.  I soon got a Facebook message pointing me towards Magnafiber in Alloa.

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I couldn’t have asked for a better service!  Bike got picked up from the house, then stripped of all components.  The frame was then ready for carbon replacement treatment (or something like that).  Once all the sorcery was complete and after a few coats of clear coat, the bike was then built back together.  A couple of new cables needed replacing for the brakes and rear mech then my bike was dropped off at the door again, good as new.

Totally hassle free for me, not being the best mechanically I was beginning to panic about stripping the bike down to save me some cost on the repair bill.  So for this service to be included it was a massive plus point.  A small transportation fee was added onto the bill, again a much better option than me having to wrap and box the frame then hope that some courier wouldn’t lob it about in the back of their van whilst in transport to and from the repair center.

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Huge thanks to Andy at Magnafiber, for he actually came back with a revised price which was a lot cheaper than his original quote. Bonus!  I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend his company for any repairs needing to be done.  He says his workshop is busy right now, good for him but not good for all us bike riders crashing.  If you are lucky enough to have insurance and they pay out, enjoy the new bike but this could be a good option to have a spare/winter bike once repaired.  Or if like me, panicking your bike is destined for the skip. Your bike can be saved and get back out training or racing again.

Next up is some Adventure Cross with Ayr Burners.

 

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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.

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Cross Village By The Pressroom.

 

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

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We are off!

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

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

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.

 

 

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.

Forth_Rail_&_Road_Bridge_2

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.

scx logo

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.