Friday, 23 August 2013

Cyclo-Cross 2013/14

Bring it on
In Belgian colours for 2013/14

LVRC/MKCA Circuit Races Round 15

So that's it then, the last road race for me anyway of 2013. The day brought the now customary good weather and with it good numbers. And was especially good to see some old friends back for the last race.
Tonight's race format was the usual, half an hour racing the inner oval, then out through the gates and into the twists and turns for the last half hour plus. And tonight was anti clockwise, just how I like it.
Soon we were off and settled into the familiar steady starting pace. Pretty well everyone hangs on here, but of the forty or so only about ten of us do any work. So at about twenty minutes it was time to get things going. Here come the Belgians...straight down the outside and keep going. It's a signature  move and slightly suicidal, but as long as I can fall back in I know it's safe to do it. One lap on the front and I swing out to let someone else take up the work. Someone else goes and I fall safely in.Now the pace is higher, a few are falling off the back. We are now racing.
The field cut to size
We then get the 'Gates open' next lap and there's the usual frantic push to be near the front to ensure the safest passage through the tight turn. We all squeeze through in such style it brings applause from the marshals. The 'gates' have cut the numbers further, a quick head count makes it thirteen, so a top ten isn't out.
We race tightly, the strongmen are trying to use the series of turns to drop riders, but we're staying together.
Then up comes the three laps to go sign and with it a slight drop in the pace. I'm pretty happy with were I am, nothing splits me from the guys on the front yet I know that the winner will be one of the first through the turns. Five single file turns spit you onto the finishing straight, so you have to be up there to stand a chance. I move right up to the front before we hit them, but we're all thinking the same and the group is three abreast.
Then BOOM through the gates, a rider in front of me over cooks a turn and skids the back wheel. I brake and dive under him and four go past me. Into the straight and I catch three. The LVRC only count the first three, but I estimate my position at worst 10th.
So yep that's it for another year. It's off to the Pyrenees now for a week. Then a few training rides before the cross season starts.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Classic Restoration E W Hannington

I purchased this old 'Barn find' frame a little while back, to be honest I didn't really know what I was buying as the Ebayer was into agricultural machinery. Anyway a deal was done and I bought it. The old boy said there were some wheels with it, he dug out a mismatched set of old sprints, the front an old Mailard large flange had no internals. Luckilly I had an old Mailard in my garage. Bolted to the frame was a worn Campagnolo headset, now bagged and stored. A campagnolo GS chainset that had laminated, that went on Ebay. and a set of early nutted 105 calipers and non aero levers. These were cleaned and polished and kept.
The frame was a 531 Professional E W Hannington, a builder better known for his racing trikes and tandems.
The frame has lovely shot in stays, Suntour vertical drop outs and weight saving cut outs in the fork crown, the cut outs are plugged with alloy discs to stop ingress.
When stripped down I found the rust treatable - just. However the 531 Pro is a delicate frame and will need care when being blasted and painted. Put it this way, although it's old and steel it's waaaay lighter than my modern Ti frame with carbon forks.
As for the kit, well it had Shimano brakes already, and I had some very nice barely used Shimano 600EX kit sitting about. So a Shimano build it was. I sourced some NOS Shimano down tube levers, a 600EX aero post, Stronglight SL headset, 3ttt bars for the stem I had and a repro Concor saddle, finally some clear Bennotto tape came up.
Today I loosely hung some parts on the frame to check for alignment, and all's  well, though the rear wheel just misses fouling the front mech; it's that tight even with the Conti Giro tubs fitted.
Trial fitting of parts

Now I have to get it painted and an aluminium plug made to cap the crown. Paint will be one of three colours, Eggshell Blue, Pastel Green or the palest  Pink. Decals can't be bought so I might just have the letters E.W.H made in Red White and Blue.
Looking forward to a ride on it to the Hub for coffee so I can sit back and admire.

LVRC/MKCA Circuit Races Round 14

Round fourteen and the penultimate round of this series. To be honest it's was a bit of a mleh day. Andy had gone to the trouble of riding up here to race, but felt shit and promptly rode back home again. Everything was same old same old.
As usual I told myself to sit back, been telling myself that all year and as usual I did a bit too much. By the time the race got to that slightly nervous moment, the bit were the ones that are going to go mass near the front, I was a bit heavy in the legs. I made the gap when it went, well I actually judged it and went to the front so I didn't have to chase.
All went well for a few laps until the elastic went on the exit of the bends. I think I've cracked it now though, I've been going too fast and tight and braking when I should be accelerating. Slow in fast out.
I huddled in with a few A/B racers and we ate up dropped riders and lapped others, and avoided the humility of being lapped.
That said I still finished somewhere between 7th and 11th, the organisers   only count the top three.
So one more road race and that's it for the year. Then the bike goes off to Chamberlaine Cycles who'll be looking at making it/me more aero and converting it to tubeless, anything to squeeze out the extra few seconds and feet.
Leading out in fading light

Monday, 12 August 2013

The Rutland 200km Audax

Good weather, not too hot, well not hot at all. Bright, but not breezy in fact still as a mill pond (is that a saying?) Perfect weather for a 200km/130 mile Audax. We, myself,  Fraser and Compass Keith assembled in a car park somewhere in Bedford with a small gathering of Audaxers? for the 2013 running of the Rutland Ramble. On paper the event looked a breeze, a slow old affair - well all Audaxes are aren't they! We collected our Brevet cards, had them stamped by the....whatever you call an Audax official and set off. Set off the wrong way. I like to think we looked cunning like we had a plan most cunning, but an Audax lady came after us and pointed us in the right direction, we didn't fool her with our cunning plan.
Once we'd cycled a few yards the Garmin made a little bleep to let us know it was a happy Garmin. We caught up with a pair of Audaxi and settled down with Keith and a chirpy Garmin at the helm.
This was already very agreeable. I hardly ever changed a gear and the scenery was stunning. This was a navigation heavy ride so I can't really mention all the places we rode through, but for now we were on our way to our first control (ah ha that's what an Audax official is called, a controller) at Blisworth. This was plain sailing, until Keiths tyre started to go down. We gave it a highly technical squeeze and decided to ride it out to the control. However it went down pretty soon after, and I went into a tyre and tube changing masterclass. Sorted we moved on and before long we were at our first control. The three of us were suckered into becoming life long Audaxers at this control after being offered huge Chelsea buns, bananas and water for free. Brevet cards stamped, fingers gunked up with icing we cycled off for control number two at the Wistow Rural Centre and our 100km marker.
We were warned that this part of the ride was bumpy, and boy they weren't kidding. This was relentless up and down, nothing big, but 39...53....39.....53 ring all the way. I just wanted a flat section, even a hilly section if it was long enough anything so I didn't have to keep switching from one to the other. Still the route was bloody stunning and we were getting giggly with the silliness of the bumps, the sound the Garmin kept making and our crap jokes.
Some interesting architecture earlier that day
We cycled through Naseby towards control number two continuing the up and down theme, until a jarring the cattle grid at the rural centre gave us signaled the end of section. We had a Brevet cards stamped and set off for control number three at Elton Hall. However first we had a lunch appointment at the tea rooms in Hallaton.
We were in the zone now, even my failing eyesight seemed to get better and I could read the route sheet on the hoof, soon I'd be eating.
What happened next had to be seen to be believed. A diesel patch caught Keith unaware. We didn't see what happened, but a local announcing himself  as Mr Denzel Groat said that Keith looked as if was about to go down, but somehow got his knee down hitting the tarmac with it and bounced himself up again without stopping and rode on with just a cut to the knee, it seemed unbelievable!
We saw the cream tea sign and pulled in. Coffee, pasties, salad and cake - nice. This was truly civilised cycling. The stop seemed popular with the other riders as well. I was enjoying the 'family' feel.
Purchasing Speedo's online
The route was now more varied. Keiths navigation took us alongside lakes, through Forests, up and down hills, along flood plains and sometimes just a little bit the wrong way, but right on target.
We arrived at control number three at Elton Hall at 151km. This control was unmanned so we had to make a purchase to provide a receipt to prove we had passed through. 79p packs of Tomato seeds purchased for the receipts we set off for the finish.
The final leg of the ride was the easiest to navigate, fairly flat and straight, through Bedfordshires agriculture. The sun was also out, sadly so was the wind which knocked a bit off the what had been an increasing average speed. We had a final short stop at a village store that had thoughtfully put out chairs in the sun for it's patrons. I'd been gagging for something sweet, I'd only drunk plain water and a coffee since the start, so I savoured the classic Lucozade in the sun. Keith dished out some special tablets and told us to put them in our water bottles and say nothing. Fueled by the fruit flavoured wonder tablets, we soon hit the finish. The best finish I've ever seen in a cycle event - the organisers own kitchen, what a most welcoming sight. Bikes on the drive and strangers eating your food and drinking your tea. Classic. I'm hooked.
Always worth a piccy, Frasers handbuilt

Thursday, 8 August 2013

LVRC/MKCA Handicap Round 13

Mleh my first DNF at the MK Bowl. All due to a severely twisted bollock.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

The quintessential Southern Shandy drinkers XC ride

Not sure what the distance of this little 'Old Skool' XC loop is, but it takes about four to five hours to complete. And to be honest I'm only posting this because I've been asked so many times about it. The ride starts for me from my front door, I just cross the road and I'm already on a bridleway on the Rothchilds land heading towards Woburn. It's just gone 8am and I'm getting hot already. Off the Rothchilds land and into Blue Bell Woods, I descend towards the Grand Union and I get soaked by the early morning dew being thrown up from the close cut grass, wasn't expecting that.
Once across the canal it's a short spin on the road to Rushmere, a fantastic hilly country park and the scene of much cycle way building, including downhill runs. Rushmere is a great stop for coffee, but I'm too early this time.
Nice views overlooking  the park and lake
I'm now heading towards Woburn, and the trails turn from deciduous woodland to coniferous forest. I'm on the Greensand Ridge and the sand is deep and dry and has to be taken at speed just to stay upright. This whole area is one of my favourites. I tear through the Pines, drop down to Woburns 'play area', through the ancient sand pits and out towards Lidlington.
I have a long arrow straight exposed path to ride, it's so firm I'm reminded of my trip to the Arenberg earlier this year - I realise my suspension is locked out!
On the tarmac again and riding past the mahoosive Amazon warehouse. I take advantage of the cycle lanes which oddly just become natural trails once past the huge building. I tear arse down the path praying no one is out for an early stroll. More road, and I can see the next section of off road looming 'Up' in the distance. From Lidlington I climb a nasty loose ascent towards the Millbrook testing ground, it's a bit surreal up here, I'm riding typical English singletrack, but a glance to my left I see what looks like a mini Switzerland that is Millbrook. I have a very steep loose descent that seriously caught me out in pre disc brake days, I don't get it wrong today. It starts to undulate so much I can feel each little climb sapping my strength, riding in the 'granny' I have my nose over the front wheel trying desperately to keep the front wheel planted. I top the last little hill and plummet down towards the site of the latest Center Parcs.
I'm now on the return leg and on another great little sandy trail. This one is shared with proper 4X4 enthusiasts and on a bike it's fast and furious. The key is to stay on the sides of the path, hit the middle and you fall mercy to the deep sand and once in it, it's hard to get out without ending up on your arse. I then exit the sandy forest and continue on field side paths that take me almost back to Woburn.
My next section of trail follows a stream, I'm pretty confident I won't be getting a 'booty' today. I exit the creek and pootle through Woburn Safari park.
As I pass through the park I notice the sign that tells me only 3 deer have been killed this year, that's low IIRC.
I'm back in Woburn woods and I can't avoid the climb or any climbing, I slowly climb up onto the ridge and once on top I know it's all downhill, well mentally anyway. The Brickhills are still standing in my way. At this point I should be almost home, but I noticed two roadies about to take the hilly Brickhill route, and foolishly I decide to chase. I catch them, but they're not proper roadies just sports riders (one day I'll write about my snobbery) oh well it's a few extra miles.
It's shortly after this that I rejoin my outward leg, feeling pretty good and still carrying a bit of fluid I decide to up my pace. I take care as I hoon along as it's getting to Sunday walk time. I exit Rushmere without upsetting a soul and start my ascent of Blue Bell Woods. Passing through here earlier I was soaked by the morning dew, now my arms and legs are glistening with sweat under the afternoon sun.
I exit the woods and roll down the road to my house, job done. Four hours it's taken, come winter that'll be closer to five.
Brambles were a pain today

Saturday, 3 August 2013

LVRC/MKCA Circuit Races Round 12

Consistently inconsistent! that's me. Another fine night and another full field, about fifty plus. It should have been the ideal race to hide and pop out of in the dying laps, but it wasn't to be. The race started slowly, I waited patiently virtually tapping my fingers, but we were still going pretty slow. I was beginning to get panicky about a fall in the huge slow moving bunch. So I thought I'd up the pace to get things going. I shot off, made a huge gap, but no one came across and it was far too early for a solo break. I sat up and waited to be joined by the bunch.
That marshal looks familiar!
Once back in the tempo rose on the only accent each lap, but it was having minimal effect. I went off again, again I got a decent gap, but again no one came and it was only halfway through the race. I sat up and awaited the bunch so I could sit in and recover. When they caught me they didn't pass leaving me hanging out to dry. We got the shout to announce the opening of the gates extending the circuit.
Yep she does look familiar that marshal.
As we came up to the gate exit  for the first time all and sundry came past me, I dropped a gear and rode up the inside to regain a position. Though even at this early stage my legs started to feel heavy. Every week I tell myself to stay back, let others do the work and every week I shoot off and kill myself. I thought I was okay, but the pace really picked up, it wasn't like other weeks, this was really fast, we even overtook the younger A/B race. Usually when it gets going riders fall off the back and form little groups, but this week the bunch was shelling them out one by one and no second group was ever going to form.
Yeah, red hair, a little thinner, but it is her isn't it that marshal?
Then it was my turn, caught napping behind a slowing E/F rider. By the time I realised the bunch had a few metres on me. I chased and got on and was promptly shelled out again. I was tired. I checked my watch, it wasn't worth bailing out so I pressed on. The car park was full of retired racers packing up their kit. I finished the race last man, I was 7th last week. The field had been decimated, I estimated that about only fifteen riders finished, and as one bunch. So next week THINK.
That marshal 'Don't go breaking my heart' Kiki Dee.
Kiki Dee marshaling a Vets race! not something you see every day.