team cycles

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.

mojo1

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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The Long Race!

Go big, to get home.Tibet-lake-picassa-crop-1587377_958x383

There have been a few exciting things I have been watching the past few weeks on Twitter and Facebook.  Some big rides and races going on at the moment and coming up this year.

robbie ferri

Kicking off first was my Social Media Mate Robbie Ferri heading out to bag a Guinness World Record or two.  The aim was to cycle the most amount of countries in seven days.  Robbie got off to a great start, getting a World Record in the first 24hrs.  He managed to ride through 5 countries in 24hrs beating the record by one.  A celebratory burger was consumed.

After three days on the road, rattling off countries at a good speed and aiming to beat the 11 countries record, taking up to 15  Robbie suffered an injury to his knee and with sad news he lets everyone know that it’s game over.  He doesn’t want to risk long-term damage, a hard decision to make overnight but the correct one.  It was a sterling effort mate, sure you will be back fitter and faster.

Switzerland was the final bleep of his tracker for this trip.  All in all, Robbie managed to ride through 6 countries in 3 days.  Well done mate look forward to seeing you become a double record holder soon.  Head over to his page Living The Dream.

TransAtlantic WaytransAtlantic Way

The TransAtlanticWay is a 2,500 km one stage self-supported road bike race between Dublin and Cork via The Wild Atlantic Way.  The race began on 17th June and by now most of all the riders have finished.

This race was the brainchild of Adrian O’Sullivan and if I didn’t just have my third baby boy on the 15th I really think I would have been on this start line and dipping my cleated toe into the world of long distance bike racing.

Tour Dividetour divide

Tour Divide is an ultra-cycling challenge to race self-supported along Adventure Cycling Associations Great Divide Route.  Grand Depart was on  6/10/2016

Tour Divide is a bit mental, to be honest. Consisting of mostly off-road taking you through the remote backcountry, sharing the landscape with Mountain Lions and Grizzly Bears. Sleeping under the stars at night in a bivi bag or find shelter for the night.

British rider Mike Hall has only gone and smashed this race completing it in 13 days 22 hours and 50 minutes.  Creating a new TD record.  Huge Chapeau Mike.

Trans Am Bike Racetramsam

This is the description of Trans Am on their Facebook page.

What: A non-stop, self-supported road bike race along the 4,440 mile Trans America Trail.
When: June 4th, 2016 08:00 PST
Where: Yorktown Victory Monunment and Astoria Maritime Museum
Why: Because bike racing
Who: Clearly those who would like to see a healthy dose of the continent, quickly.
How: Solely under your own wheeled human power with no outside support.

This is one for the bucket list I think.  This year Lael Wilcox came home as the first rider in 18 days.  Think I would be a lot longer I can say with confidence.

TransContinental Racetranscontinental

The Transcontiental was the first race I dot watched, quite a weird way to spend a few hours, sitting watching these wee blue dots and numbers move about a map.  I will be once again checking up on the blue dots as they start from De Muur, Geraardsbergen, BELGIUM  

Then make their way to four checkpoints

  • CP1 // Puy du Dome, FRANCE  
  • CP2 // Furkapass, SWITZERLAND 
  • CP3 // Passo Giau, ITALY 
  • CP4 // Durmitor, MONTENEGRO

Once all the checkpoints have been passed it will be a sprint on to the finish at Canakkale, TURKEY

3,800km of roads makes it shorter than 2015 (4,200km) but this comes with a whole lot more climbing in the Alps.

  • One stage – The clock never stops.  Racers chose where, when and if at all to rest.
  • No Support – Racers can only use what they take with them, or what they can find en-route at commercially available services.
  • No Route – Only mandatory controls ensure that racers visit some of the most famous pieces of road in Europe and connect with the suffering of their forebears.  The rest is up to them.
  • Live Tracking –  Through the miracle of modern satellite technology and the interweb we can check up on our riders progress wherever they may be.

Again another for the bucket list.

Is there any other long distance races out there? Dirty Kanza I know of.  Race the World don’t know?  Is there a Silk Road Race?

Would love to hear about the riders experience of these races and of any other great races on a bike out there.

 

 

Car W**kers!

Accumulation of rants with a life on a bike.

rant and rave

Ok, Ok the heading is a bit strong.  With the better weather returning, I am sure there will be more confrontations with drivers as more cyclists come out and hit the roads.  For us who have been cycling throughout the winter months, you will probably be more accustom and senses are more honed for dangers with sharing the road.

In this post, I will go over my interactions with drivers and other dangers that I have come across in my short time of riding a bike.

When I first ventured out onto the road I tried my best to stay tight to the kerb, probably like most newbie cyclists.  After a while, you realise this is the wrong way to ride.  The majority of car drivers would try and squeeze past you in the same lane.  This gives you nowhere to go if you come across any potholes or drains in the road, making a crash more possible.  So now you need to move out take control of the lane as stated in the highway code.

Once you have moved out to the Primary position this is where most of the contact with car w*nkers will evolve.

My encounters have involved being inches away from cars travelling 50+mph when the second lane of dual carriageway was empty for them to move over and giving me space to ride.  In one case the nice blue Subaru Impreza squeezed past while another lane of dual carriageway was completely clear from other traffic at 7am.  Not only did he nearly leave a blue strip of paint along my leg, he dropped down a gear to make his big bore exhaust backfire, scaring the early morning porridge out of me!  Though he didn’t find the funny side when I caught up with him at the red light 200 metres away.  Let’s just say he wasn’t the great conversationalist type that morning.

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Then there is middle finger guy, sat in behind so close to my rear wheel he could see the depth of my tyre tread.  Once he had enough space to overtake after been held up for all of 3 seconds, he then raced on by, flicking the finger!  A polite wave back and on with the cycle. I even had this on an open country road, the driver was not in any way delayed or affected by me riding on the road.  To this day, I wonder what I did wrong!

Roundabouts are fun.  The more exits the more it’s like Russian roulette.  Had one taxi driver come out 3/4 of the way onto the roundabout.  Luckily it was late at night and the road was quiet, meaning I had room to swing round the front of the cab to avoid him.  If I was one-second faster, I would have been surfing the bonnet and walking a crushed carbon bike home.

A typical comment would be “use the cycle lane”.  Have you ridden more than 400 metres on a cycle lane?  They are full of drains, to help with making the lanes puddle free creating safer roads to drive.  By draining the surface water, all the debris from the lanes finds it’s way to the side of the road/cycle lane making it puncture heaven.  With all the water heading to the side of the road, this helps with the deterioration of the road surface and creating more monster potholes for you to navigate.  Then there is Mr Lazy, parking in the cycle lane because he can’t be bothered finding another place to park while he nips into the shop.  These are just a few of the common problems.  Have a look at Global Cycling Network (GCN).  They have a good collection of the stupid cycle lane blockages or obstacles.

Then the drivers favourite comment “you don’t pay road tax”.  Implying if you pay “Road Tax” it means they should have priority on the road.  Yeah, good one mate!  I am pretty certain that no one should be paying  road tax, as it was abolished in 1937.  Meaning we now pay “Vehicle Excise Duty“.  As bikes don’t have engines and don’t spew out fumes, then there is no payment to be made!  Just like the electric cars on the road today.  Oh,  we do pay towards the road.  Through our council tax and general taxation just like everyone else.

These have just been a few of my encounters on the road.  Don’t get me started on the advanced stop line (ASLs) being blocked at traffic lights.  The not looking coming out at junctions.  The grief from cars while taking part on group rides.  Then the other beast, canal paths!  I shall leave that one for another day.

Rant over with.  Would love to hear any of your hates/stories with sharing the road.

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Tale Of Two Wheel Army

 

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2015

Begin with my first ever Cyclocross race, I got a new shiny bike for my Birthday so had to try it out in anger at First ever Rukenglen CX.

Januaryimage

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

March

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Crit on the Campus was my first road race.  I watched this from the sidelines in 2014, from then on I knew I wanted to race some Crits. Was a hard race, once you loose the bunch It turns into a dogfight just to keep going around and minimize the amount you will be lapped.  Finish 39th and absolutely spent.

May

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Next on the road was Crit race in Motherwell, this was a big boy race.  Pearl Izumi Tour Series is in town.  This is a warm up race before the main women’s and men’s go ahead.  I am still struggling Cat 4 racer, this was to be an open race.  Cats 2, 3 and 4 were all scrapping it out in this race.  Good course nice and fast but a brutal headwind on the back half of the course, then you had a bit of a climb coming up to the finish line.  Same as previous Crits I can’t hang with the bunch so try to slip in behind others to help with hiding from the headwind.  Finish 36th.

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May was also to bring my first ever road race.  Wee Run Out Before The Morra.  36 miles was to be the race distance today, my biggest test of fitness yet.  Race being held on the A77 at Fenwick, this is also a Cat 2, 3 and 4 races. With also an open road, adding cars into the mix as well.  We’re racing in a loop one roundabout to another.  Try my best to keep with the bunch, sit in and keep out of trouble.  Even feel brave enough to have a little attack and help reel in a two man break.  Then disaster strikes.  Wrong gear coming off the roundabout, the bunch sail past, I am now being gapped.  From now on it’s a time trial for me.  Seeing the bunch gain and they eventually go past on opposite sides of the road.  Struggle on and finish the last rider home 49th for me.

June

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June brings me into another Crit I have been wanting to do, Crit Under The Castle.  Stirling Castle.  Battling up the cobbled streets was great, a brilliant crit course and great crowds out cheering us on, think we even had a “Dutch corner”.  Manage to hang with the bunch, doing well top ten looking achievable.  Then disaster struck, dropped my chain after the cobbled climb.  Dropping down a whack of positions and finish the race disappointed but still 22nd.  That’s racing for you!

Having caught the racing bug fully now, I enter another road race.  John Davies Memorial Road Race, held by VC Glasgow.  50-miles, 5laps of a 10-mile loop around Kilmaurs.  The weather was horrible, heavy rain and wind.  It was a struggle to get out the car and warm up.  Think I manage two laps then get dropped again.  Manage one more lap then after a wrong turn I end up throwing in the towel.  Not got the head to last another 20 miles on my own.  Once I am changed the sun comes out and the riders flash by for the final lap.  I receive my first DNFwp-1450429404855.jpg

 August

This month was a massive month for me, not only did it bring me some Cyclocross but also Two Wheel Army was born.  Racing at Haugh-Cross Festival.

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Click To Read More Two Wheel Army

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Click To Read More Haugh-Cross

September

One Cyclocross race, one Crit race and an Adventure Cross ride this month.  Talking all the cycling options.

Click To Read More Of Tour Of Duty

Click To Read More Of Tour Of Duty

Click To Read More Of Kilmarnock Crits

Click To Read More Of Kilmarnock Crits

Click To Read More Of Beverage Park GP

Click To Read More Of Beverage Park GP

October

Click To Read More Of Callender Cross

Click To Read More Of Callender Cross

Click To Read More of Battle Of Balloch

Click To Read More of Battle Of Balloch

A-race and a B-race this month, Seen me getting a top ten place again.  Then during Big boys race, I reside to mid-table again, though still moving up the placing ladder.

November

Scottish Cyclocross is in full swing, rounds 4-5 taking up the month of November.  Both proper mud fests, lots of broken bikes after these rounds.

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Click On To Read More Of Strath-Mud Bath

Click To Read More Of Lochore Meadows

Click To Read More Of Lochore Meadows

December

Click To Read More Of Irvine's Dragon Riders

Click To Read More Of Irvine’s Dragon Riders

This was to be my last race of 2015.  Now I will focus on the Super Quaich series, starting in January.  It has been a good year for me on the bike.  Not doing as many longer rides like 2014, but I have been more constant on the bike, keeping my fitness levels up.  I liked the way my results went as there was always an improvement within every race.  Now it is time to trying and get fitter and keep the momentum going for 2016.

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Hope to see you all on the start line in 2016.

The End

The End

 

 

 

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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scx logo

Thanks to Graham Milne for the use of his pictures.

Tour Of Duty

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

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

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

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

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

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

mark beaumont stv appeal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

keep spinning

keep spinning

4am and going strong

4 am and going strong

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Race Is On

The Race Is On

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

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

Art of getting lost

Art of getting lost

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

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

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

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Some Of The Terrain

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

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

Mmmm Cake

Mmmm Cake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Infiniti QX70s

Infiniti QX70s

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

470 miles in the bag

470 miles Done

Twowheelarmy Kit

Twowheelarmy Kit

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

Up next is Kilmarnock Crit, 27th September

Hosted By Walkers Cycling Club.

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

CC DogTags

CC’s DogTags

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