Monday, 31 December 2012

Last rides of 2012

345 miles in the Festive week, happy with that and a little surprised as I only had a few days off. Luckily the boss let us go half day and half days equal short afternoon rides.
My road legs had become non existent after four months of cyclo cross and midweek turbo sessions at the club house. So rather than try and force myself back in readiness for my first road race of 2013, I opted for daily 50 milers. The idea being I'd be good for a block of heavy training in late January?
So the rides. Thankfully the snow and ice stayed away, but in it's place came wind and rain, suits me; I don't do heat. Sundays ride, and my first club ride in ages was partly a disappointment. The cross had given me something, but it wasn't top end or endurance, however I did feel light and strong. I knew we had race specific coaching the following month, which I hoped would give me some top end, and it was up to me to put in the miles.
Next was a solo 62 miles on Christmas Eve doing Luton CCs reliability trial route in reverse. A gloomy day, but mild and still. 62 miles always seems a doddle on your own.
The Boxing day ride is always a bit of a social, and a chance for all abilities to have a ride together. We didn't put much thought into this years route. Instead we just followed our noses which in turn means all the classic spots. First is Ivinghoe Beacon, the classic route out of Leighton Buzzard, and up onto Ashridge, a popular mountain biking area. As we rode through I couldn't help notice how bad the trails were up here. And all the trail heads seemed to be occupied by mountain bikers busily altering their ride plans. Then it was off the ridge and down past the castle and onto the A41, along Berkhamsteds  mock pavé and into the beautiful horse country at Wiggington. From here we crept up onto Aston Hill for a round of coffees  in Wendover Woods, another popular as it was that day mountain bike area. After lashing out twenty six quid on coffee we hooned down Aston Hill to head for home. We said farewell to the majority of the group and three of us set off for a few more miles.
Thursday was a work day, and I had planned to take the 'retro' bike out in the afternoon, but I caved in and instead turbo'd away in my garage listening to Amy and planning races in my head for 2013.
Friday was an inter club ride with us LBRCC -Solgar, Twenty3c, Team Corley and Spirit racing. I was feeling a bit cheeky when we set out, but at 20 miles a club mate  had a series of punctures and a ruined tyre. After a very long wait the group set off, leaving myself and another club mate to escort the stricken rider home. I was a bit gutted to see all those different jerseys disappear up the road. Though we made up for it by just chilling on the way home.
Saturday was a group 1 ride with some of the new club members. These were the guys that had joined us to race for 2013 which is to be our first year with a sponsored race squad. I had no illusions of matching these guys being the most senior racer in the team, but I was happy to work and do my bit. However after a show of strength on Winchenden Hill the group split and confusion ensued. We turned off  in the stunning Eythrop Park and cycled  fast along the side of the flooded streams and rivers. The ride wasn't tough, but we couldn't escape the wind and rain no matter which way we turned. We took an extended loop home that would include some good hills before finally finding that tail wind. With that behind us we further extended the route just for the hell of it and soon came upon the fast boys. We joined up and set off home, I was now begining to feel something back in my legs.
For Sunday I decided to take it easy as I still had a cross race the coming weekend. So I did my chairman's bit and rode with a G2 intermediate group. I was a bit taken aback by the pace at first, but noticed everyone was pushing their big rings, which was okay until we hit inclines and it all slowed down. This is why I'm a big fan of standard chainsets, the 39 offers a great all day gear; who want's to ride in 34? Without wanting to sound patronising I thought everyone was doing well, and had certainly come a long way. The day was also very windy and I thought of the G1 guys out doing 100 miles, not the day for it I thought. With just ten miles remaining we had a series of punctures that started to extend the day. I was now starving, not tired just hungry after not having eaten for five hours. At fifty miles I stopped for food and said goodbye to the others. With no one at home I pointed my bike the other way and solo'd a few more miles.
New Years Eve. There were no plans for any club rides, so awake at 5.30am I got up, ate some porridge, fitted lights and set off for a final 100km's of 2012. It was okay but hellishly windy. And I'd run out of jollop so was riding on Robinsons Summer fruits and a few buscuits. No one was out, but after a while I found my mojo and began to enjoy the terrible conditions. Though my motivation was fully tested when I was about to hit Redbourn. I really really didn't fancy the stint through the housing estate, so I did a sharp left into the narrow lanes and fought the wind home
So that's it, a pretty good week. I'll be administering some TLC to the bikes today, take a good rest and look forward to the first ride of 2013. Which starts 8.30am New Years day.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Twickenham CC cyclo cross 2012

For the penultimate round of the Central League cross, racing returned to the popular Hillingdon circuit. Today my only team mate was not that JT. Jools had picked Hillingdon to loose his cross virginity. A wise choice as it's always well organised and 'usually' a rideable circuit.
We arrived in good time to face pretty mild conditions. We registered early and set off for a recce lap. The course was extremely tight and the tarmac runway section was taped off and the race took it's leafy verge instead. A warm up lap really was a warm up lap. It required some very good bike handling and several 'pick it up and run' sections. Including a total of five railway sleepers. We rode back to the race HQ and promptly removed thermals as we were sweating buckets. Once changed we went out to start the race. The commissaire kindly let us dwell in the sun as he called up riders by name to the start line. It was a good job Stuart wasn't there as he seemed to miss a page as neither he or myself were called up, but Rob and Craig were?
I ushered Jools up and we huddled in with the Trisport lads. We were to set off with all the ungridded riders. We get thirty seconds, then boom we're off. We tear down the one lap only tarmac and push to gain places before it goes off road. Keith, my nemesis is blocked by a slower starter and I'm forced in front of him. Good you say, but after last week I want to peg him rather than worry about him tearing past. At the first switchback I see that Jools is okay and sitting in not far behind. I need to beat Keith and I didn't want the new boy to beat the chairman on his first outing so I felt a little pressure.
For the first two laps I'm ahead, but can feel them both bearing down on me and I start to cock up the corners. Halfway through lap three I slip on an uphill turn and struggle to keep my balance. I loose my mojo after this and barge my way around the rest of the lap. The pair of them close right in. I remember this is a race and know I have to do something. There is a Trisports rider up ahead. He overtook me early on but hadn't made much ground. I decide to peg him until we hit the next flat section. When we do I gear down and push past him. I push hard round the next corner and along the return straight. It goes well and I create space. Now I can see Jools coming up. I can't let the interloper beat me. The gap I have shouldn't be breached, but I've never raced with Jools. I concentrate hard to complete the penultimate lap, then I get the bell.
Pain on the last lap is always bearable, so I dig in, I should be able to hold this. I look over my shoulder and see that I've made ground on Jools, but looking over my shoulder nearly cost me as I lost control and took a painful detour through the shrubbery. Then on the out and back section I could see I had the gap made, and only needed to clean the lap to stay ahead. I get round and get my flag. A marshal ushers me under the tape and I brake to a stop to await Jools and my Trisport foes.
Jools rocking the look
Chairman looking for rocks
We're all in and it's handshakes all round. We agree to meet next year for the final round.
I get some good news when the results are published. As I've moved up to best placed overall LBRCC rider just ahead of Stuart in both overall league points, and points from the six counting rounds. Also the best placed club vet. And in with a chance of making it into the top three V50 overall riders with just one race remaining. This I put down to being very ill for my first three races as I've earned twice as many points in my last three races. The guy I've been having a race with all season is on exactly the same amount of points as me it's that close. The final round will be a real ding dong.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Didcot Pheonix cyclo - cross 2012

Steeper than it looks
Last Sunday I was the only LBRCC riding the eighth round of the central League cross. And it was a fair old jaunt to the venue at Sonning Common, so I was hoping for good things.
I wasn't sure what to make of the day. The morning had brought icy conditions, but the sun was shining? I guess deep down I knew it would be a tough one.
I arrived early to find the course windswept and freezing. For the first time this year I went out for practice in full leggings and waterproof jacket. A reccé was essential. The drag out of the start was a layer of wet mud on a solid ice base, just one way to ride that - hard. Then the three left turn uphills, these were rideable last year but this year it was different and not a single rider rode all three. After the climbs comes the drag, slightly uphill and the length of two pitches. This section is my Achillies heel no mater how much I bury myself along here I get passed. Then into the twist n turns where I can make up ground, though not enough to get back my lost places. Then off the claggy grass and into the woodland bomb holes. I love this bit, the slipping the tight turns and the wheelie you have to commit to if you want to clear the massive root blocking your way. Out of the wood land and a few slippery turns to the hurdles, always a treat. And then head down and blast to the line. That's the practice lap. I did another just to get the markers and went off course to get ready.
After a muddle with gridding we were off. I buried myself getting past riders that had been incorrectly gridded and settled down to work. I thought I was doing well until a whole bunch of riders passed me on the straight, there was nothing I could do to match them. Lap one went well, I had it sussed and barring mechanicals I'd be okay.
Got the mark of this one
Into the start of lap two I noticed my nemesis Keith from Trisports closing down on me. I made a note of where he was so I could measure any progress next time around. I soon settled into my own race and overtook a few riders, though not as many as had overtaken me on the long straight. A few more laps later I noticed that keith was closing down on me. I went into a bit of a flap - twiddle or push. Then on the final lap, on the dreaded straight he went past. I tried to peg him but a few elites passed me and filled the gap. I could only watch him disappear into the woods. There was still a good bit of the lap to do, so I pushed hard, jumped the hurdles and got into the drops to head for the line. I was sending mud airborne as I sprinted to the finish. I crossed the line but Keith was already over the barrier tape.
I don't know what it was about today, but the camaraderie was great. There was healthy respect for everyone.
I'll av ya
I knew I had done my best, but there was no getting over the fact I'd been passed by a good number of riders. I'd ridden hard, I'd got the techy stuff right. Was it fitness or set up? We'll see at Hillingdon for round nine.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Chairman's choice - December

With the year drawing to an end I thought it was time to introduce a cycling club tradition, the 'Boxing Day club run'
Traditionally  a steady affair with all members taking part and ridden so that all abilities can enjoy the ride.
So the distance would be something like 35/40 miles. Giving you enough time to get back and carve up that Ham and cold Turkey. Oh and no fancy pants gels and energy bars. It's Christmas cake wrapped up in tin foil. If your missus has made too much, then bring some for us.
For the 'Stavanistas' there's a chance to up the miles for your 'Festive 500' challenge. For the rest of us a chance to blow out some of those mince pies.
Look out for Chairman's choice - January.
See you out there.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Beds Road cyclo cross 2012

Lap 1 and sorting it out
Well I'd been asking for mud for months now, and finally it came and it came in bucket fulls. Despite nationwide flooding the Beds Road Club cyclo cross went ahead on the 25th November. Myself Rob and Stuart were racing this time, and as soon as we arrived we got an idea of what lay ahead. First of all we were greeted by mud splattered youngsters just finishing their race. Then after signing on I walked out to the circuit and noticed a major change to last years circuit. The dreaded long 'out and back' section wasn't there,  and I mean it really wasn't there. The lake at Box End had swollen and submerged a huge section of last years course.
After adding more layers and stocking up the pits we set off for a reccé.  It soon became evident that this round might be more of a war of attrition rather than pure racing? The switchbacks were so deep in mud that you almost came to a standstill. The hilly sections were a real test of skill and your bikes traction and the lake side straight was a test of balance, get it wrong and you were swimming.
After two practice laps I decided that some sections would be quicker if they were ran.
Just prior to the 1pm start the commissaire began the griding which in the wet and cold was a surprisingly good humoured affair especially the boo'ing of those choosing mountain bikes to tackle the race.
We get the 30 seconds to go and the bang we're off. Within yards I'm floored by a muppet that decides to sweep across the entire width of the circuit. I mutter some profanities I carry on, passing him on pure adrenalin. As usual Stuart has got off to a good start and I see his green shoulders disappear over the first hill. Rob though is right with me and we stay together for the first lap. We yo-yo along and run the quagmire on the longest hilly section. Then when it gets firmer Rob puts the power down and moves off.
I soon find my sweet spot on the course, a long flattish very wet section where I could drop some gears and press on. I used it to over take knowing that getting past later on would take herculean efforts.
I managed each lap very well, staying upright unlike many others. I was also learning the circuit and getting my timings right for all the technical sections. As I was settling in I started to wonder what had happened to Stuart and Rob as I'd not seen them since the first few laps. I wondered if they were even still in the race? Then halfway through my final lap I saw Stuart on one of the switchback sections, he was going well. So I assumed Rob must be up ahead and just not in view. I had also closed down on a friend from the Archer RC and was behind him on my favourite section so I tried to get past, but he was stubbornly strong and it was proving hard. So I threw it down a gear, gripped the drops and pushed back into the saddle and pressed. It worked, the speed built up and I went past and took another rider as a bonus.
So it was over and I rolled down the finish chute a happy man, unlike Rob. It was clear right away that there was something wrong. Gashed leggings,  a clean top and white trainers! He had come off early on and his STI's had taken the brunt of the fall and were not operating, so game over.
Stuart then came home a lap up.
Stuart on a mission
This had been a very different race to the previous six rounds, a real old school cross race and not the fast power circuit that's becoming so popular. Cross is after all a winter sport, not Summer at Wimbledon!

Monday, 26 November 2012

Ickneild cyclo-cross 2012

Or it could read 'Pick it up and run' just like the title of my blog.
I'll keep it brief.
Basically after staying within spitting distance of Rob for ages I came to grief 51 minutes in. I must have already picked up a puncture, but it didn't show it's face until I tried to turn at the bottom of a steep drop in. The tyre took it's leave and I went over the bars.
I looked at my watch, I'd been racing for 51 minutes...bollocks.
But then I thought no bollocks to the bollocks I'm no skinny jey boy racer and remembered those immortal words PICK IT UP AND RUN and that's what I did.  Over the shoulder the bike went and I ran to the bell lap. Just one more lap to go. As I neared the end I tried to ride with no front tyre. I managed to get up and over the bomb shelters, but corners were impossible. That last lap took 17 minutes, just long enough for Stuart to come past and take the first club rider home. Then came Rob and then myself a lap down, but not last even though I was the only man running.
Proper double hard old bastard

Saturday, 24 November 2012

LBRCC Reliability Trial 2012

On Sunday 4th November the club hosted the second running of it's end of season reliability trial. And though we had hoped for an entry of over eighty i.e last years numbers. It soon dawned on us that the weather that day was going to put a lot of riders off. It wasn't just raining it was hooning down. Even before the start there were reports of flooding along the route.
So with that in mind we were pleased to see about forty brave souls roll out. Including three that somehow thought it was a good idea that very day to ride even though they hadn't pre entered!
I should say that as host I go out with the short course riders. I've been out in this many times over the decades so there was nothing to prove and certainly no itch to scratch.
We all stepped out into the deluge, it's that rain that if you stick your lip out you can drink it. Outside Jason Horn DCO and Bar gave us a post ride briefing I'm sure everyone was listening?
I let the riders go, waited a few minutes and set off myself at a steady roll. Just after Mentmore I came across the first riders so I pulled up alongside and chatted with them. I'm pretty sure I saw a group of four heading back at that point to.
We kept together to the foothills of the Crong but slowly split apart as the climbing became harder. On the Crong itself I had a weird feeling? there was so much water coming down the hill it really was like a river and I was riding against the tide.
At the top I came across a large group that Keith seemed to be leading. We stopped to gas about how crazy the rain was, got cold and moved on. What hits you is how the temperature changes when you climb over certain hills, and once over the top of this one it was bloody freezing. Even with winter gloves on I was trying to hide my fingers from the wind and rain. I don't usually hurt, but this was freezing cold. I was actually gagging for a climb just to get the blood flowing.
We stayed together until just after Champneys were I took some riders along the revised route, whilst others took the very direct descent into Northchurch. I'd decided that the straight down drop with tight bend at the bottom and grotty surface might catch a few tired riders out. So I added a far nicer swooping loop through narrow lanes that I thought safer and plain nicer. However the safe route took us through the deepest of the flooding, hey ho. Once out of the floods it was the steady climb up to Ringshall passing Toms Hill on the way. Riding this section I came across two singlespeeders riding the course, I think they were surprised to know there were two more singlespeeders doing it. A quick left at Ringshall leads you to the top of Ivinghoe Beacon, always a good test of fitness that road. On the descent off the side of the Beacon and down into Ivinghoe Aston the group grew in numbers. The long straight flat to Train Robbers Bridge was very welcoming especially with the added tail wind. After that it's just a steady roll through the lanes of Ledburn until you hit Leighton Buzzards industry, then you know the club house is just seconds away.
I thought of that old book title 'One more kilometre and we're in the showers' but I don't think my fellow riders knew what I was referring to.
Back at the club house LBRCC stalwarts Iain and Jason were on hand to revive wet cold riders, I even had sugar in my tea when I got there. I was expecting the place to be full of riders, but hardly anyone was back? just Vince standing there with his teeth doing a great castanets impression and his kit going round in the tumble dryer. I do like to stay on and see people back, but today we were too cold and it wasn't a good idea to dry off only to ride back home in the rain. So I made my apologies to Iain  and Jason and thanked them both and bid me adieu.
I can't begin to tell you what a great little reliability trial this is. It will always be tough because it arrives with the first of the years truly bad weather so seems that much tougher. Well done to those that did the full 100km you are truly bloody minded. Foe everyone else the short course still holds enough kudos as it's a tough little bugger.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

A5 Rangers cyclo-cross 2012

The off in a Trisports sandwich
Well we're certainly getting variety in the courses this season. Last week it was Zappi's Somme like conditions and this week it was the manicured lawns of Magdalen College in Brackley.
Conditions were cold but thankfully dry because this was an off camber fest. I set off for the usuall few recce laps and was shocked at how tough it was, it was turn turn turn bang bang bang.
I lined up in the pen waiting to be gridded and was actually thinking of pulling out early....I really didn't fancy this one.
rolling out
I finally got called up and noticed hardly anyone behind me! Then we were off. I had luck on my side and found a clear line passing both Rob and Stuart. Stuart soon got past, but Rob couldn't find a line and was breathing down my neck. He finally got past on a bend hitting and snapping a post in the process sending it into my front wheel. To his frustration he went down in the first of the off cambers and I slid past again. Still breathing down my neck he passed me on the first run section and I saw him speed off into the distance spitting fire. I considered myself lucky at getting a 'free' lap so I abandoned my idea of jacking and rode a damage limitation ride. As I write this I don't have any results, but I think my steady ride kept me at the usual two minutes off Rob. I also managed to pass a few riders that were gridded ahead of me which further spurred on my enthusiasm.
Pressing on I found I wasn't having the same issues as many other riders in that I found it no problem staying upright. So rather than make my moves on the few straight sections I took risky lines on the bends to overtake and it worked.
I had a clean and tidy race and didn't get lapped by Craig this time,  I also saw that that as I started my last lap the leader was not far behind me. If he passed me I'd be down a lap on the others so I gunned it a bit and got the bell lap. Like last week I'd got in seconds before the winner allowing me one more lap. I could have gone easy, but I found two riders in my sights that I managed to pass before taking the chequered flag.
I'd gone from whinning sod to a happy bunny in one hour.
But there was more to come. Stuart had a little surprise for us, but we had to give him a few minutes? We cycled back to the cars and I saw Craig beaming. Stu had something on the go for us, the cold had obviously  affected my sense of smell as I thought it was hot chocolate.......but no, ever better


Saturday, 27 October 2012

Zappi's cyclo - cross 2012

Grimacing on a tough course
Oh yeah. Round four hosted by Zappi's cycle café looked the business, Ups, downs, mud as deep as you like and plenty of sections to put the hammer down....proper 'old skool' cross. I was going to love this.
Four of Team Green were here to race, Craig, Stuart, Rob and myself. And for the first time this season the Commisaire  called up a complete grid based on recent results, which in this case was as listed above.
Even so we were still close together. The gun went off and we were away. Instantly the pattern formed, Craig/Stuart/Rob/me. I try to stay in contact as long as possible to minimise losses and it paid off this time. Rob went down heavy in the worst mud section allowing me past. Normally I'm two minutes adrift so something was wrong. Later I found out he had punctured.
Still I was loving this course and I was having good luck as well, riders were falling like flies and I found a path through every time.
Each lap was a treat to ride. And I was having a good old ding dong with a Bicester rider, he was quicker on the straights and I was on his wheel on the technical sections. Sadly he seemed to blow just after half way and that left me in no mans land for the duration. That is until Andy of the Archer RC came past. Riding in that smooth almost effortless style of his, and he just seemed to make up ground like he was on tarmac?
With two laps to go I tried to put in some more effort and managed to pass or lap a few riders. Then approaching the bell I realised that the winner was about to bear down on me, a quick spurt and I got in the extra lap. I think there was one second in it. Even the marshal didn't know wether to ring the bell or wave the flag. I was the last seven lapper so no pressure, but there was still time to pass a few more before sprinting up the straight to the flag.
Definitely 'the' race so far.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Hemel Hempstead cyclo-cross 2012

Famous five Moi, Rob, Craig, Fraser, Stu
Last weekend LBRCC entered it's largest race squad for a single event, the event was the Hemel Hempstead CX, round 3 of the 2012/13 Central league. Again conditions were good with a fast drying course. Normally I'd like a bit of slime, but the Hemel is a very technical course so there weren't any complaints.
Myself and Rob tried to start a bit further up the grid as it was another 140 plus rider event, which meant you stood a good chance of just finishing where you started. However we didn't do as well as Craig who managed to get right up there.
At the gun myself, Rob and Stuart were all close. The course was so well designed that congestion was almost zero at the first tricky bit. However a muppet making a first lap bike swap swung out of the pits right into me, then proceeded to hold me up whilst trying to index his gears. That was the last I saw of the others.
Feeling pee'd off I started to chase Rob and Stu, Craig was well off in front. By the end of the second lap I was about 15 metres behind, but exiting the crowded woodland singletrack I was surprised to see the two of them way ahead?
Sadly that's how all the other laps went. I tried sitting on a wheel, but soon realised that the rider in front was too slow, so I overtook and rode alone the entire race.
There was some good news though, I was making ground on riders that had been ahead of me in the previous races. They were standing still and myself and Rob were making a good two minutes up on them, a good sign so early on in the season.
If I could have lost the back ache I could have done better, or at least not seen Craig tear past me.
It was a good race and well ridden except for the speed, and it was great to have team mates there
In order of finishing; Craig, Stu, Rob, me, Fraser(dnf)

Monday, 8 October 2012

History of Sport Road Race 2012

Robert Orr crosses the line 1st
Leighton Buzzard Road Cycling Club host it's first ever road race, the History Of Sport RR. Won by Robert Orr of Velo 29.

Team MK Cyclo Cross 2012

Saturday 6th was a busy day on the LBRCC calender. After giving a marshals brief and spectating a few laps of the clubs own road race. I sloped off to Milton Keynes for round two in this years central league Cyclo cross races.
Thankfully Saturday was a gloriously sunny day, because I was still coughing my guts out and cold weather would have been the death of me. Though just to make things interesting the ground was still holding water from the weeks rain. When I arrived I met Jason and he immediately pointed to a spot on top of the hill and said 'they're calling it death corner' due to the amount of riders it was claiming.....interesting.
I got myself changed and set off for a recce, and found it nicely technical but not silly technical! Just as I was about to set off for another recce I bumped into Rob, we were a team of two again. We went around together to learn the points to dismount and where to change gear. That done we rolled over to the start only to find we were at the back again. It looked like we were going to finish where we started yet again.
It's all under control
The whistle went and we were off, only to stop seconds later due to a massive bottleneck at the first singletrack section that saw us both walking for what seemed an age. back on the bikes and we were off again. I was trailing Rob and had intended to do so the whole race, but that wasn't going to happen. As we swung into a tight hairpin into a climb the rider in front of me fell and took me down with him. Laying there clipped in pointing downhill I could see Rob riding into open ground.  Up again I set off trying to manage the gap between us, the only good news was that I got up before the rider that took me down and moved up a place. Lap after lap I could see Rob. Then on the penultimate lap a passing elite went by too quick and took out the barrier tape. The resulting flapping tape made a direct line for my chainset and as I stopped to untangle the mess I was overtaken and moved down a place. It was a bugger of a race for me. I pressed on happy to find I had made the bell lap, I didn't think I'd be that lucky and all I had to do was finish. I lapped three riders on the way to the flag, crossed the line and collapsed a coughing mess. Still not a terrible finish for an old man with a bad chest.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Archer RC cyclo-cross 2012

A bit of a toughie this one. Not because it's blindingly technical, not because it was cold, wet or muddy. It wasn't any of these. What made it a problem was the fact I was harbouring a cough and cold, I wouldn't have raced if it was any of the above. In fact it was a balmy 17 degrees. So foolishly I told Rob, my team mate that day that I was on for it.
So we set off for 'that London' I think Rob was a little surprised to find a cyclo-cross course nestled within Hillingdons urban sprawl, but that's where it was. We arrived in plenty of time, a good job to as shaking hands with racing mates you haven't seen all year takes some time. With pleasantries done we set off on a course recce. I was pleased to see that Hillingdon when dry offers the easiest least technical course the league offers. The only exception being the relentless blister inducing tufts of grass.
bumpety bump
With a recce done we set off for the start. Sadly our poor gridding on the start would mark the whole race for Rob and myself.  A good fifty percent of the field were called up to be gridded the rest of us were slowly pointed towards the back of the grid. We were placed at about 100th from a field of over 130 racers, not ideal.
This far down the back I couldn't even hear the starters orders, so we just reacted when the riders started tearing off. Going down the tarmac start I made a point of grabbing a few places, I hoped Rob was doing the same. Once onto the rough stuff it was clear that moving up through the field would take some real effort, as most of the bends were so tight you almost had to track stand to take them. So the only option was to pass on the few straights, problem was everyone knew this and gave no ground. For me the whole hour was raced like this. And it was whilst having a lap long duel with a Hitchin rider that Rob took advantage of us looking at each other and passed into clear ground. I saw Rob at the same switchback every lap, and with the exception of taking a few of my 2011 competitors scalps that's how I continued and finished my race.
It was one under the belt, but I'm not riding at all until round two next week, unless this bloody cough passes.
Until next week

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Detour De France (Pt 4 Look Dad it's the Gherkin)

Le Dudes
This was our last day in France and the last day of the ride. And as much as I wanted to get home, part of me just wanted to keep going....well for as long as the sun shone.
The previous night had been great, but sleep had been in short supply. Still this should be our shortest day of the trip, about 100 miles on the nose, so easy no matter what.
We assembled in a patch of sun in the square in Montreuil-Sur-Mer, well I say we because Joe was having issues with eggs and was delayed whilst he wiped them off his head. Then Joe appears all bare chest and flip lops, but straight away he bursts into a torrent of swearing as eggs fall out of his jersey, all you can hear is every version of the 'F' word and the splat splat of eggs splattering all around him.
Lets go!
It's been a great trip
no hurry to leave
Iain leads us out over the customary pavé and into the countryside. At this point some want to press on and some don't want to leave. I'm of the latter and sit back with Derrie who is joining us this morning. The big bonus is that my knee is acting like it was never in trouble the day before, so I cruise along taking in the architecture and the lovely stream following the road. The others will have to stop at the Channel anyway.
We are taking in some stunning countryside today including several Passage Dangerous. This section is taking longer than expected though, so a good job we got away early. And to make matters worse as we roll into a great village with classic white dust roads Joe punctures a tub and struggles with a replacement.
We're now riding on roads familiar to me. Around Guines we meet endless groups of riders in their Sunday best. I'm loving some of the classic bikes they're on.
We hit Calais with no time to spare, except for the customary cheese and ham sandwiches we've been living on. We board the shuttle and get driven onto the train, and grab a nap.
Half an hour later we're back in Old Blighty. And it's just 70 miles left to go. Prior to getting back to Folkstone I'd been worried about facing a headwind all the way home, but my fears were unfounded the wind was going to be no trouble at all.
We saddled up and set off at a cracking pace and in good order. I was very impressed at our progress, we had so much left we had to make sure we eased off at times.
Following the A20 home isn't great, but moving like this in this weather makes a big difference. Then we hit the South Downs, our route takes us up a monster three part climb, and although it spreads us out it's only seconds that split us. Once over the downs the countryside starts to give way to towns. I think it's Maidstone? or some town begining with M, a town in bloom so the signs say that greets us next, when we hear 'hwwwwr hwrrrrrrrrrr hweeerrrrrp coming from the back of our group? Joes guts are having an argument with his mouth and shortly after taking on water barfs all over the said town in bloom whilst still riding. We drop a gear and move on.
Just after our first sighting of 'that there London Town' in the far distance we regroup with Iain, Toby and Tom and decide how best to ride the final busy leg of the A20 into London. Against Iains wishes and common sense we ride the three laned A20 in Club 10 TT mode. It was hairy as well and Iain is relieved when we all regroup safely at our turn off. At this point riders and crew part company and Jason takes over using his Garmin. We are in London now and it's busy. The bus lanes offer sanctuary and we press on. The final few miles seem to take an age, but we know that all towns really slow down progress.
riding the colours
We are getting very near now so I push Jason to the front as this was his baby, I tell Rob to get in next for all the work he has done.
Then Iains support car sweeps in like something from a Presidential convoy. The hazzards go on and Toby hangs out of the window to get the final images.
**** the traffic Iains in control and he is leading us home.
A few more corners and we're back. I get off the bike and it feels odd straight away.....what now?
I look around and see Jason in tears hugging his kids, Iain gives me a man hug  and my eyes well up, Robs keeping his glasses on and Joe seems to have dust in his eyes. It also feels odd that I probably won't see Craig or Derrie again when so much was shared on the journey.
It's getting dark now and after some welcome Stellas and a big thank you from the charity we really have to make plans to get oursleves home.
I never like leaving mates, but we have to go, but we promise to meet another day to chew the fat.
Thanks guys it was emotional.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Rushmere Park

View from the visitors centre
One of the last fine days of 2012?
Smashing morning riding alone on the cross bike from home to Rushmere Park. Even at 8.30am the sun was beating down hard on the terrace of the visitors centre, a good coffee would have gone down well.

Detour De France (Pt 3 Epic day goes Pete Tong)

Team Green (in blue) go to Paris 
There's no we we're leaving Paris without a blat down the Champs-Élysées TdF style. So we do have a blat,  I can't help notice how high the kerb is that is sanctuary to the pros on their last day. Get that wrong at speed and ! After a 6-Up TT we arrive at the Eiffel Tower, I'm amazed that you can just roll right up to it. We stop here for a quick photo opportunity. Iain taps his fingers while Toby does his David Bailey and we do our best Austin Powers poses.
We say a quick goodbye and ride off out of town. Crossing the Seine is a treat, but it's nice to see the city slowly turn to countryside. Once out in rural France we realise how well Iain and Toby have done regards route finding, they get us out far quicker than the now ex guide got us in.
We are now rolling along and the day is shaping up to be a scorcher, it's all really great except I have a bad pain in the knee caused by the traffic lights of Paris. It means I have to watch every pedal stroke making it a double pain. Still the great weather is making this a joy. Even with knee pain we're chomping up the miles. Then we hit this stunning road, the sun is now really going to work and there's no wind at all it's just fantastic to be riding here. There's no point getting on a wheel, up here it's cycling pedal you go.
We ride for a good few hours like this, but realise we will need a stop to put back what the heat and roads have taken out. Iain has this covered, and we pull into a little town where we sit in the shade of some trees in the local churches grounds. We get treated to real food, loads of it. It's tempting to stay here, but we have to move on. We give Joe an hours notice, which gives him just enough time to get dressed and creamed up and then roll out.
33 degrees
The second half of this day is about to get much tougher.
It's now peaking at 33 degrees and the roads are going skywards. We are meant to stop for a briefing, but Vince and Jason have gone on and are now just dots on the horizon. Craig has the bit between his teeth, and myself and Rob are in pursuit with Joe storming up behind us. It's not long before we are all strung out, a long long drag has split us up and my knee is killing me. This bit isn't fun, I'm not used to being the weakest rider it hurts my pride as well as my knee. I've been here before so I dig in and ride my own ride. Just as I reach my lowest ebb the terrain settles down. At the next town I catch up with Vince, Rob and Joe. Robs pushed hard in this heat and needs water, so he and Joe stop for supplies. I carry on with Vince and I'm really glad of his wheel.
From here the riding hits the first proper hills of the whole ride. These are epic and I can't even get out of my saddle to enjoy them. I'm experiencing a strange mix of purgatory and joy! Vince zig-zags at the tops of the climbs to let me know he is waiting for me. I tap away like this for what seems miles and miles. Then out of the blue we hit one hell of a descent, it's as if we are going to lose all that ascent in one kilometre. Passage dangereux as they say. Actually it's not 'as if' we are, we're not descending off the hill we're falling off it.
After a few whoops and wave to Iain and Toby we hit a tough road, one of those roads that never seems to get you any nearer to where you're going? I really need Vinces wheel know. I have to save some for day four. It's a very long haul before I see Tom and Rick who wave us into the next town. Here we meet Jason and Craig and sit down at a café for coffees.
We're here for quite a while before Tom joins us to tell us somethings wrong. It seems that Rob and Joe have gone off piste since our last sighting. The support crew spend the next few hours searching for them and we sit tight. Our thoughts range from 'they'll be alright' to when do we call the hospitals?
Then the gurning duo appear. Just a simple case of mistaking a bend for a turning. We regroup and decide what to do. We calculate that in the time we've been waiting we could have reached our destination. but quite frankly sipping coffee and watching madmoiselles passing by has been better than the last few miles we rode. A decision is made to ferry some riders to the finish, whilst Vince, Joe and Craig ride as much as they can before leaving it too late to arrive.
The support car swishes us to our hotel in Montreuil-Sur-Mer a beautiful pavé ridden classic of a French town.
As we unload  and secure all the kit the trio turn up. Something has happened on the road, but what happens on the road stays on the road. All I can say is that Craig isn't wearing socks on his arrival?
I will say this only once
Showered and changed we neck a welcome  Leffé in the bar. Once again we are too late for the restaurant, but the hotel reserves a table for us at a local restaurant aptly named 'Froggys' and no I haven't come over all  Jim Davidson. We sit down to some great food, or as Toby calls it 'the tits' we are also celebrating Vinces birthday the drink and banter flows late into the night. The pains and frustrations of the day have been washed away and we can retire happy. Tres bien.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Detour De France (Pt 2 next stop Macdonalds Paris)

Ready to rock
Day two dawns, it's cold but the sun is starting to rise. We've just had a good night in St Omer and now we have to get to Paris. There's just the small issue of the 160 miles of French roads that stand in our way.
We don't fuss about this morning, I'm actually distracted by the lovely old Rolls Royce in the hotel car park. So as soon as the bottles are in the cages we set off. Today we have Toby joining us, if I'm correct Toby has only ever ridden 65 miles max? so this is a bit heroic.
We leave St Omer bouncing over the pavé and head out into the countryside. It's just fantastic. The roads are great and quiet giving Craig and Joe plenty of time to race for towns. We can even afford to split up into small groups, I ride with Derrie at the back then chat with Jason as with glide through the Somme. And even with miles to go I play chase with Craig and Joe. Things couldn't possibly be better on a cycling road trip.
Even our part time guide is with us.
Because this is a big day we are breaking it down into 45 mile legs, it's a distance everyone seems happy with. At 90 miles we take a 'proper' food stop knowing we've gone past the half way point, and we think we have what amounts to a Sunday 100km ride left....we thought.
En route and still together
We set off with that 'it's all downhill from here' attitude. Then we hit a small not very well known French town. Our guide stops us and points out that our next stop is Breteuil and we are to look out for it. I'm suddenly overcome with a sense of worry, erm we are in Breteuil. But hey the guide knows best, this is what his getting paid for right? We're not so sure. Vince rides along side of me and points out that we have the sun on the wrong shoulder. Not only that, but we are heading for some horrible looking climbs. This isn't right. Jason tells me we are on the wrong road, or more to the point not where we should be. We hit the hills and Derrie starts to suffer. Toby is also suffering, this wasn't on the route plan. The hills come alive with the Tourettes version of the 'Sound of music'. Some of the riders are rightly cheezed off and we get a puncture as well. Like true Brits we carry on. I don't know where our guide has gone, but with a little help from the locals we reach our support team, waiting for us in a very pleasant French square. The support crew get it right again and fresh coffee is on hand to supplement the road food.
One of the last things our guide told us was that Paris was a mere 40'ish miles away. And although Derrie was feeling it, this news was music to his ears. It sounded about right, we'd done 120 miles after all. Toby at this point gracefully bailed out for the day with a whopping 120 miles under his belt, more that double he'd ever done before.
Then came the bad news. Poor Iain had to deliver it. It wasn't 40 to Paris it was nearer 70. Derrie was not a happy bunny, although he was riding on he needed to know what was going on, our guide had taken us on a hilly detour it wasn't what he needed.
We fitted our lights and left the square. It was all a bit heads down and press on, not really the way we wanted to enter Paris. We did all pull together making sure every man was in. Then as dusk drew in we stopped. We stopped under the pretense to check if we needed anything. In reality we'd stopped because our guide was lost. And as it was getting dark he couldn't read his map - game over.
Now I'm a well known luddite, but this guy had nothing. No sat-nav, no GPS and so it seems not even a torch. I didn't hear the 'discussion' going on, but that was my last sighting of the guide that day.
You know how they say 'If you want a job doing properly' well say hello to the LBRCC support crew. After a quick cabinet reshuffle we set off for Paris. This was it, we're going to get there, even if we were following the ex guides route. We reached the outskirts in total darkness and suddenly hit a bitch of a hill, not only was it a climb it was also poorly covered pavé. And sadly at this point after riding so far Derrie climbed into the support car. I felt so sorry for him to come this far and have to bail because of our guides cock up.
The rest of us press on silently after losing Derrie. Though we catch up with him again as we regroup to follow the lead car into the town itself. What follows is pure purgatory, we are stopping every 20 metres for the lights. It takes us 90 minutes to travel the final 7 miles. And more worrying is that my knee is killing me from all the clipping in and out, the downside of choosing my race bike to do this on. Finally we pull off the main streets and roll up to our hotel. We meet our guide here who greets us with food, when in reality it's the cold leftovers from the next group he is guiding - good luck with that. Tom our back up man arrives to find that no arrangements have been made for vehicle parking, and lets rip with both barrels and rightly so.
We mooch about before getting everything secured then head off for a well deserved shower. It's gone midnight now and the restaurant is shut, so we head of out to Macdonalds. We are in blindingly good spirits, and sit down in the streets to a sumptuous meal of burgers and chips. Still hungry and with Macdonalds now shut we head over to the nearest 24 hour garage and stock up with Haribos and fizzy pop and chomp our way back to the hotel for a well earned sleep. Ahh Paris by night.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Detour De France (Pt 1 heading South)

To Paris - using the Polocini sat-Nav method
Or to call it by it's official title 'London2Paris2London' a cunningly named ride from our great city to Paris and back, and all in aid of the carers Trust.
I should mention all those that made this ride a goer and kept us going, but I'm not going to. I'll just say that those, and they know who they are were great.
Anyroadup to the ride. Day one was a 70 miler from Greenwich to Folkstone, followed by a 45 mile leg from Calais to St Omer for our overnight stop. Our day was looking like a cracker, the sun was out, the wind was in and spirits were high. But before we could get going we had a bit of PR to do. This meant a quick 5 mile dash across town to meet with representatives from the charity, a geezer from the press and a smiling politician, sadly we didn't have a baby for him to hug! I must add that we had shit loads of well wishes from the London cycling crowd on the was to the start. And they say Londoners are miserable?
With the shoot done and tyres squeezed one more time we were off. Jason set the pace, plus he was the only one with a Garmin so no choice really. He was going at a fair old crack, but I put that down to him exorcising the frustrations of the months and months of planning.
Just miles in we lost someone. No one important like, just the bloke who was meant to be guiding us, handing us drinks, carrying spares and wot nots. I won't mention his name or company, but he was on a fair old bung to do this job. There's a word in the English language 'omen' this was the absolute dictionary definition  of that word. So off we set all alone in a sort of point South and follow the sun type of way, a way that coincidentally followed that ancient well trodden path called the A20. Following the A20 wasn't that bad actually, until we hit the paralympics! and had to follow a hilly detour where a nice policeman on a motorcycle guided our way. Where our motorcycle guide was I don't know? But at the end of the detour we found Tom and Toby waiting for us with food and drink laid out, chairs at the ready. Even at this early stage it was nice to see the guys that were keeping this thing going. We sat and chatted, took on food and waited for the whole team to assemble including the AWOL guide before making a dash for Folkstone. We moved on quick sticks and in good order, and hit the town of Eurotunnel in no time. We had a five minute sarnie stop where Craigs rear tyre went pop. Rather than repair it we stuck him on the van and the rest of us rode to the shuttle. Even though the crossing is a quick one myself and Joe managed a good nap....age you see.
Follow me I'm right behind you!
Then before we knew it we were in France. We had a quick re group, a good chat and set off for the hotel.
Something felt wrong. I've ridden this coast line may times and the wind has always been in my face when heading south so why was it in my face now? Answer = because we were being guided the wrong way. After a quick turnabout we blasted it to St Omer. Sadly the poor guiding and detours meant we were riding to our overnight stop in darkness. Never mind though we were all in great spirits. Then I saw it, the hotel but no it couldn't have been our one because we sailed on right past it. On we went along a great road with the river beside us and up into our first town to give us a chance to ride on Pavé. If you haven't ridden pavé the novelty wears off in the first few feet. We are then brought to a halt by our hapless guide, seems we have missed the shit Sherlock, could it be the one we passed a while back? So back along the pavé down a one way street the wrong way and we see our support team waving us home. With the evening drawing in we shower quickly and head to the restaurant. Tom gets a round in which is more than welcome.
All done in we sit down to some great banter and wonderful food. We are all hoping that the next day is going to be as good as or better than today, it's the big one, the 160 miler to Paris and we need the weather Gods on our side. Food, drink and scenery all taken in we hit the sack.
Today France tomorrow the world
Until tomorrow gentlemen.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Racing, racing, racing and more racing

Come in number 34 your times up
Well the good old British weather came good....finally. And it meant that racing could once again resume.
No more cancelled races due to flooding, or in some cases washed away courses. No racing was back.
So full of eagerness I set off for an evening crit at the National Bowl. It was all looking hunky dory during the practice laps, even the deep dust on the course wasn't a problem. So with three minutes to go I got ready on the starting grid.
I didn't expect the deluge! within those few minutes riders were slipping over on the start line as the dust had become lethal slime.  You see there had been a concert there earlier, the Swedish House Mafia (no me neither) and the hoards of concert goers had dragged mud all over the place, you've seen Glastonbury. The riders had a quick chat and arranged a gentlemen's  agreement to set off steady just in case it was too bad. I can tell you it was bad, 20mm tyres, 100PSI, fast downhill corners and muddy tarmac were a real test and I was nervous every lap. I wasn't having fun and I could see riders pulling out. This was dangerous and not worth it. Then Psssssssssss puncture, result. Back to the car to think about next week.

I didn't have to wait another week, there was a mountain bike race at the very same venue. The damage done  by the concert goers was having an effect  on this race as well, even the off road bikes had to be diverted. The good thing though was the summer evening sun and dusty trails.
So back on the grid, this time with the Grand Veterans. I was gagging for this and when the gun went I was off. I was making up ground almost straight away. The road legs were keeping it fast on the straights and the cyclo cross legs were doing their stuff on the bends. This was great, this is why you train. This was just too good, it really was.
She was only a little'un that lady rider that got the best of me on the twin uphill singletrack. Little but a World Cup rider. She cut past me and I had to slam on the brakes, I didn't dab and tried to pull away again, but the huge effort on the very steep climb snapped my chain. Race over.
In fact it not only snapped the chain, it tore teeth off the cassette and chainring, bent the gear hanger and destroyed the rear gear.

So to the next race four days later, another evening crit. Nothing is going to go wrong tonight. And nothing did. It was a great little race. I even got it going by trying to get a break, but it didn't work. However it did set the scene. Break after break went and was caught again. I was having fun and all the time working out where I needed to be to get a good finish. We got the bell (one lap to go) and all the lazy buggers that hadn't done a thing all night started to roll to the front. We, the ones that had been 'racing' muscled back to the front. Boom, the sprint finish came a split second sooner than I thought and caught me in the wrong gear. A quick drop and I clung on to 11th place in the main bunch.

The last race to date was the final vets race at the Bowl. Again the weather held and we had a race on our hands. It was a different story this week though. A five man break had got away from the start and was keeping ahead thanks to the younger race that night blocking us. Five of us got a chain going, but no one else would help, so when we tired it all slowed down. Fed up with this I told a fellow worker that I was going to overtake the younger race and to hold my wheel. We got past and I'd towed the whole race past. The gap started to close, but no one else but us five would do any work. So I found myself lapping the younger race again. The effort to pass was far harder this time and I had to swallow my own sick, I was cooked and struggled on the back. That left just the other four doing the work, so the gap once again opened!
Why people enter a race and don't race I don't know. Perhaps they just like to say they race and wear all the kit?
The bell lap was a repeat performance of the previous week with the shirkers moving up. One guy even had a pop, but went to early and had to sit up. That's what happens if you don't work in a crit, you won't know what to expect when you get out in front. Then shirker number two went, again far too early, so I chased and got on their wheel...thanks mate. Then I just waited until I saw the line and passed. I got another 11th, though the leading five where 30 seconds ahead.

So that's that for now. No more road racing. Some big miles in France then it's cyclo-cross season. Bring it on.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

LBRCC Club '10' and the Wiggo effect.

Leighton Buzzard Road Cycling Club held it's inaugural ten mile time trial on the F12 over the Leighton Buzzard bypass this weekend - August 4th.
Though not riding myself as I was on time keeping duties. We still fielded probably the largest 'Teamgreen' squad for any event so far. And the abilities were very mixed. From experienced road and criterium racers, to 'old hands' at testing and right through to those competing in a sporting cycle event for the first time ever.
The overall turnout was pretty good as well, considering the weather wasn't sure what it was doing. So it dumped rain on one half of the course and left the other half bathing in sunshine, but still chucked in a good dose of mixed wind conditions for good measure. That in mind short 'twenties' weren't going to be coming in thick and fast. Out of the 82 strong field only two riders looked like they could do it including our celebrity tester for the day a certain Mr Ian Cammish, nine times holder of the 'British Best All Rounder (BBAR).

However taking in the times at the finish flag it was evident that the course was being demanding. And only the zero numbers recorded fast times. I could feel for my team as I sat in the time keepers car...I really could. Especially those testing for the first time, with no idea of what to expect.
Anyway as someone once said 'I counted them all out and I counted them all back'. Including Adam, Teamgreens current fast man who went out last man. And true to form came in the fastest clubman.

He probably wont see this, but I really want to thank Andy from Spirit Racing for his invaluable  help with the organisation of the event....cheers mate.

Ian Cammish, back in the day
I'll update with results when available.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Sorry, but it's been proper shite out

New G3 riders earlier today
                                                                        That is all!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Calais - Boulogne - Guines -Calais

Just ridden the third running of the 'Gentlemans ride' over in France. Starting in Calais we rode south into fierce headwinds toward Boulogne. Once there we stopped for a traditional bowl of Moules et frites before heading inland and up toward Guines. And from there back to the port at Calais.
Here's the obligatory piccy of the group at Sentier du Blanc Nez. Apart from the whippersnapper they're all in the 50's 60's and 70's.
old boys and one youthful interloper.

40 punctures and missed races

Thing's haven't gone too well since my last race. I've missed two road races due to timing and piss poor preparation. And one mtb race due to arriving late, well just as they started off. I should of had six races under my belt since May 29th, instead it's only three. Still not too shabby for a four week period.

On top of that I've suffered forty, yes forty punctures since the new year. All due to combining lightweight tyres, undersized innertubes and dreadful roads. Oh and one total tyre blow out descending Toms Hill...parp!
Anyway that should be all fixed now as my shipment of new 'decent' tubes and nice tough Rubinos has arrived.
Hoping to get over to Cosford for some racing this coming Friday, what can go wrong?

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Critérium Du Dauphiné

Need another vase mum

Saturday, 2 June 2012

FNSS XC Milton Keynes 1st June

Just completed my first XC race in years on the pretty technical Milton Keynes course.
I was so out of touch I couldn't remember how much air to put in my tyres, I just didn't have a clue on the night.
And looking around everyone else looked at ease. At least I had Marcus from the Buzzards for some company.
We signed in and set off for a recce lap.Considering you are in Milton Keynes the circuit is pretty technical and mixed. Setting off from the flat grassy area alongside the road circuits straight you go into a short sharp climb up the Bowls amphitheater, then along the rim of the Bowl and down into the very tight singletrack.  The circuit zig-zags through the trees before descending again onto the flat just so you can climb the side of the Bowl again! Once on the rim you have the option of descending the steps or the slower but safer singletrack, option two for me. What follows is a long section of damp off camber singletrack.  The cut down tree stumps are highlighted in flo yellow paint, but it's still a job to stay upright with elbows, ankles and pedals clipping the ground or the trees. Once out of there it's a mad dash across a gravel section and up onto some raised singletrack. Up here you can't make any mistakes the path is about twelve inches wide with five drop either relax. After that the remaining singletrack seems easy. Just one more climb, the third ascent of the Bowl and it's a high speed drop to the start/finish.
Now I just needed to race it.
I decided to hang off the back, but that was a big mistake. Once into the singletrack you simply can't pass another rider. Clearly a good few hadn't recce'd the circuit and were caught out by the sudden turns and climbs. This caused a huge bottleneck and it meant those that had got off the start first had a first lap time half that of mine.
Still I cracked on and stayed on every lap, with the exception of dabbing to pass fallen riders or those opting to walk the off camber section....grrrrrrrr.

I could feel my confidence growing with every lap, but it was too late to do much about moving up some places. That said I felt my road legs kick in on the open sections, so perhaps I'll get my chance at the next round?
full tilt
Hammering, yes hammering to the next climb

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

LVRC race 29th May

A hot headed affair this one. Got caught in a huge crash that forced me onto the grass. Tim punctured and had to run back for a spare wheel.
Then finally we got moving. Both Tim and myself doing more than our share of work in the chasing group.
Sadly I was put out by a packed rider just after the hour, but I didn't end up hurt like the others he took out.
Very happy with our efforts - 'Die trying'
Tim in the office
Ready to roll

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Colchester Utd, turbos, Amy, racing, lactic, wind & cobwebs

No excuse for an Amy piccy needed
Well I've just concluded a good week of riding after my longest period off the bike in years.
It all started with a trip to Colchester United for a works 5 a side tournament. Now footy and cycling aren't the best of bedfellows, so I took care to take care! Though sadly I woke the next day with stiff legs. Not a brilliant way to be with a crit coming up a day later.
So there's only one thing for it, a nice easy hour on the tubos with the lovely Ms Winehouse for comapany - total babe. She did it, she eased my pains.
Tuesday, the day of the race went as good as it could at work - not always the case. I managed to get down several litres of electrolyte drink, and half a litre of caffeine enhanced energy drink on the way to the race.
The race itself was an LVRC race on the full circuit at the National Bowl. The full circuit suits me as it has several tough corners, something that suits cyclocrosser like myself. Anyhow the race was a fast but controlled affair, as is often the case when the 'old' boys are racing. I managed to finish in the main bunch, and only had one incident when a lapped rider from the 'A/B' race fell back and took my line, leaving me to chase hard to avoid being shelled out. Overall I'm pretty happy. I actually feel more worried about backing it up with another ride this week.
I took a day out the following day. And rode Thursday with Nick-No-Balance. This was meant to be an easy affair, but my legs were heavy with lactic and I struggled round the two hour ride.
The next ride was Saturday. My first ride of 2012 in the sun and in shorts! again this was meant to be steady, long but steady. Going out I felt great cruising over 23mph. Turning for the very long stint to Redbourn I found out why - headwind. I had a battle on my hands just to keep going. The wind was ferocious. Sections I'd normally blast in the 53 ring had me grovelling in my climbing gears. By Ivinghoe Beacon I was actually swearing out loud at the weather. I was also dreading the long uphill return leg, and spent the remainder of the ride making calculations on what roads to take so I could take advantage of a tailwind out of Redbourn. Of course being as brilliant as I am it worked, and I had a long 'no chain' ride all the way back.
Still it hadn't done much to alleviate the lactic issue! Therefore I decided to take steadiest option on our Sunday club ride, a nice sunny ride to Stony for coffee. We stopped off at Costa in Stony and met the medium pace group as agreed. Costa was an interesting interlude as I was getting eyed up by a middle aged woman checking out my package. Looking down I could see that the padding in my shorts had slipped, but rather than adjust  myself I left it so and gave her a wink on the way out.
Going home in the sun was a treat. Then I noticed something. 'Iain, no offense mate, I'm not saying we're going slow, but you've got a cobweb on ya back' he actually did. Piss taking ****ing spider.
So all ready for Tuesdays crit, and no pressure even with most the club on marshaling duties for the day.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

The Globe Sportive

Okay so we're all doing this on Sunday. What time are we meeting? No problem, meet at 8.00am. 'It starts at 8.00am' Okay then 7.45am. 'Thought it was 7.30am'. 'That's what I thought'. Let's call it 7.45am. Deal.
We arrived at the start just in time to watch everyone leaving! After signing on we finally set off at gone 8.30am. Three of us are doing the 60 miles and the rest of the club are riding the 25 miler. The three of us doing the 60 set off just ahead, that's Tim, Paul and myself.
Settling into the ride is pretty easy, it's nippy but the wind is non existent so we can press on without working the legs. Both Tim and myself are racing two days later so we have to keep it in the pants all day.
The route is unknown to us, but we predict hills. I don't know Pete who has organized this ride all that well, but I do know he is old skool and isn't going to ponce about with main roads - that suits me just fine.
Actually I saw Pete sweeping up near Eggington and nearly missed my marker!
So as predicted we set off for the Brickhills. First up was an easy warm up on the Three Locks climb (you missed a classic up Braggenham Lane Pete) Once over the top it's a fast section to Aspley Woods with a long trudge up to the start of the Bow Brickhill climb. It's a bugger of a climb, but I once raced up it on a fixed wheel during a club hill climb so any gears make it easier in my mind.
The next section covers some of my favorite local riding through Aspley Woods and Stockgrove Park, narrow twisty forest lined lanes. It's at Stockgrove that we meet Toni and Rob. Toni is on her first organized ride and looked comfortable, Rob looked freezing.
Next up was 'Paris Roubaix Hill' It's on this climb that Paul takes off leaving Tim and myself to knock out some easy miles with tailwind assistance. It's on this section after PR Hill that we drop all the riders that had been tailing us, and in the distance I can see Paul turn back to Eggington.
It gives us time to reflect on the fact that this is about the longest two team jerseys have ever rode together without a gap?
Back to the ride. somehow we catch Paul who in turn has caught two 'Team Sky' riders on full blown TT machines.But as we near they notice and hunker down into their Tri Bars and pull away. Yeah I'd be pissed if two old boys on training bikes had caught me riding hardware like that.
Next we meander through the villages, past the 25 cut off and to the start of Bison Hill. Rather disappointingly Bison Hill was pretty easy today, probably due to keeping the pace steady. From here we go through Studham  and descend Pedley Hill. At the bottom of Pedley Hill we catch up with Tony. Tony informs us that Paul has stopped off at the café for some protein. He could have waited for cake at the finish (there's a private joke in there) We ride with Tony up the next climb to Deer Leap, through Ashridge and down Toms Hill into Aldbury. I'm sure I heard a little 'Parp; when he realized he needed his brakes on the fast gravely bend at the bottom - reminded me of a young Alex Zulle the way he went down there.
We parted company near Stocks Country Club and settled into a steady 2 up just to eat up the remaining few flat miles. All that was left were Slapton, Eaton Bray and Totternhoe and you ended up at the front door of event HQ.
It was a thoroughly good ride. The company was great during the ride and it was great to see club riders at the start and finish. The coffee and cake was also very welcome, though I didn't have any cake....why?
Red and green should never be seen

Chairman &Tim on Bow Brickhill
Feeling full of beans on Bison Hill
I'll pencil this one in for next year as well, so thanks Globe RC.