Thursday, 29 May 2008

Portland

I've been in Portland for the last 3 days with my girlfriend on the first bit of a 4 week trip to Oregon.  Portland is ace - been impressed with so many aspects of the place:

(oh no! Bullet points coming up..)

  • Off the plane.  Airport nice and relaxed.  Friendly immigration dude.  2 min walk to the 'Max' light rail.  $2 gets you straight into the centre of town, literally.  Runs from here every 15 mins.  Nice artwork on the shelters at all the stops along the way.  Very little vandalism.
  • The bus and rail system is comprehensive and you can ride all day using either for $4!  Bargin'.
  • Everyone is incredibly polite.  This took a while to get used to.  Doors get opened for you, cars yield at junctions to pedestrians, only heard 1 carhorn beep so far,  bus drivers are super friendly, homeless folk asking for change are polite and courteous.
  • Bikes are everywhere.  Bike rails are everywhere.  Bikers seem to get respect from car drivers.  Not many folk where helmets though.  Lots of hip looking young guys and gals on fixies.  Rad.
  • Listened to a 1 hr chat on the local community radio about bike lanes and development with my face buried in the bike route map yesterday morning.  Many folk seem really switched on.
  • Bike shops.  Not subjected Ros to too many of these! (she gets bike shop fatigue quite quick).  Highlight has been River City Bikes on the east side of the Willamette ("Will - 'mit") river.  I was like a kid in a sweet shop!  
  • Coffee.  The coffee at Stumptown is just stunning.  None of the big bucket of hot milk, made by kids who don't really care, rubbish you get too often in the UK.  The level of detail and perfectionism that goes in to making each cup at this place is incredible.  As coffee experiences go, this rivals a good cafe con leche mid bike ride in Mallorca.  
  • We're staying at the Ace hotel on SW Stark.  This place is rad.  Sorry to use that word again!  Check out the website.  So many neat little touches and for the basic room it's only $95/night.  
  • Trees are everywhere in the city.  Much green-ness and hugging opportunities!
Don and Kathy who are kindly putting us up for the next three weeks in Bend are driving up this morning.  They are going to be here at 8am for brekkie.  Really looking forward to seeing them.  Also can't wait to get out on a bike.  4 days of not riding and i'm starting to get very fidgity!!

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Girls own adventure - we made it


Well, after quite some time in the planning, it happened, it's over now and we're home safe and sound.

Last Thursday morning, Emily and I set off on our epic adventure:

08.40 we left Glasgow Central train station. 20.50 arrive at Beinglas Farm (52 miles later), to be told they've stopped serving food. Looks of utter despair got us some fish and chips and an offer to nip to the shop to get us stuff if we needed anything. So, the 12 hours in between included extracting micro ticks collected from wild goats, scaling near vertical cliffs and a phone call to Chris to beg him to come and rescue me because I couldn't do any more (he said no!). 4 hours to cover 7 miles was about the least funny thing to happen to me ever.

Friday, we left Beinglass Farm at 09.33 (not very enthusiastically it has to be said!). Arrived at Kinlochleven at 18.30 (41 miles later). A few lies about how far we'd gone seemed to help Emily, but destroyed me when I realised that we really weren't even half way. Made great time on some sections, but were passed by walkers on Devil's Staircase. Of course, we took no prisoners on the way down the other side (well, except those damned water bars!).

Saturday, we left Kinlochleven at 09.23. Arrived at Fort Augustus around 18.00 (the shop was still open, so it can't have been any later than that). Started the day with over an hour of portage out of Kinlochleven. Passed by every walker on the planet who all gave us loads of sympathy and encouragement then muttered that we were the maddies! We became minor celebrities on the decent as we flew past them, tinging my bell, grinning, then it all stopped when I got a puncture and the spare tube had a broken valve. All the walkers passed us again. Much swearing on my part and much patience on Emily's! We got them back when we flew past them again when everything was fixed. All well until we got to the woods at the top of Glen Nevis when someone put concrete in my tyres and legs. It took a stupid length of time, and a few tantrums from me, before we eventually got into Fort Bill (3 hours to ride 14 miles is just not right!). Then onto the flat of the Great Glen Way and Caledonian Canal, except there seemed to be a force 5 gale blowing against us. Anyway, we eventually got to some sheltered singletrack and all was well. Made it into Fort Augustus in enough time to go to the shop for emergency cake and milkshake before getting the warmest welcome from our B&B lady (who had been bragging about us all day to the other guests apparently because they were just on motor bikes). Got much respect from blokes in pub when we said that, yes, we really had taken bikes up that last bit of Loch Lomondside.

Sunday. Text to Chris telling him that I really can't face my bike - reply "PEDAL". So, set of at 10.15 after picking up lunch (no real places to get provisions on the last stretch and it was a Sunday too). We opted to take the Great Glen Way rather than the Great Glen Cycle Path which appears to be a dull ride which takes you on more detours than are really necessary and no singletrack. So, a steady climb out of Fort Augustus in quite nice pine forests and lovely sunshine, then decending at breakneck spead into Drumnadrochit 3 hours later. Quick picnic lunch, then a push, climb, push, climb for about an hour up to the highest point on the GGW. Blooming freezing despite the sun, so keep going. And going. And going. This is possibly the longest 19 miles in history. Some nice, fast singletrack decents. Onto a wee road which could easily have been in Spain. Keep plodding, then back into gale force winds as Inverness and the north sea appear in the distance.

Arrive to a hero's welcome in Inverness. Buy cakes, milkshake, razors and soap (a bit smelly and hairy by this time). Only enough energy for a single glass of celebratory fizz with tea then sleep.

Plan to meet Chris, Chipps and Marty in Aviemore on monday morning didn't go quite as planned when they wouldn't let us on the train because it was full. Quick, tearful call to Chris prompted a rescue mission. So we got to Aviemore in time for lunch at the Mountain Cafe before going for a train ride on the steam railway, then a pootle back to Aviemore, on the THE CAKE SHOP (mmmmmmmmm) and back by the rutting deers.

Pizza.
Home.
Work today ...booo.

sxc round 3


Well done to John McCallum another top ten in the masters, this time 9th which should keep him tucked in the top 5 overall, hopefully we will get a report through from him soon.

Elsewhere I think the rest of us have been basking in glorious sunshine 


Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Double Good News

Two really cool things happened to me today.

It was my last day at work for a while - i'm on holiday until 24 June and I found out i'll get some extra money at the end of the month due to being slightly underpaid since the end of 2006!!

Suddenly those Zipp 404's i've been lusting after for 'cross season might actually grace my steed!

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Girls Own Adventure


After lots of planning and replanning, it's nearly here. It'll be an early start on Thursday morning to meet Emily at 8am in Glasgow, but it'll mean that we get to ride out of Glasgow during rush hour and slowly make our way to quieter, more tranquil trails.

The plan is to ride from Glasgow to Inverness, off road, in 4 days. We'll ride along the West Highland Way to Fort Bill then onto the Great Glen Way up to Inverness carrying everything we need (except a tent, we're not planning to slum it!).

I expect it'll be three tough days and then a slightly less tough forth day, but day one will be the real test (of friendship and grit I expect). The last few miles, at the end of a long day, are likely to be a bit of a portage (although I haven't told Emily that yet!), so fingers crossed we make it to the Drovers before they stop serving food without any tantrums.

So, my rucksack has been packed, emptied and repacked with slightly less stuff. All that's left now is to get through one more day of work, with legs twitching under the desk, then off!

Mmmmm, new kit!

Got my sweaty little paws on my vcm kit yesterday. Our very own Director Sportif dropped it off at Glentress.

It rocks. That eve I wanted to wear it out down to the shops but my girlfriend Ros quickly vito'd that idea. Maybe she had a point, there is alot of white going on, but i'm digging it. Not sure quite how i'm going to keep the white bits white come 'cross season? Any suggestions most welcome!

All that lovely whiteness has got me thinking about the rest of my attire. I'm currently lusting after an all white Atmos helmet, some white armwarmers and i'm contemplating hunting out my old white oversocks which normally only come out in Mallorca.. Chris joked I should get some white Sidis to complete the look. Think he's onto something there..

I've also convinced myself I need a white Santa Cruz Stigmata frame. My current fluro orange jake the snake just aint going to work with the vcm kit!

Think I need to have a word with myself....

Thursday, 15 May 2008

A little bit of a late entry here, but I thought I'd put a wee note about my first ever single speed race - SSUK08. Firstly, a big thanks to Chris for the nice looking kit - unfortunately, mine will never be quite the same as I soiled it so badly on it's maiden voyage. A permanent, mud spotted reminder of that great day. And also to Trina, who so kindly lent me her shiny little red Voodoo Wanga for the ride. That too will probably never be quite the same. Sorry Trina!!

There were two main things that set that race apart from others I've done. The first was that I've never actually had to search for my bike before racing it (I thought I remembered where i laid it but I found about 7 other red Voodoos before I located my own and despite a good lead on the lemans start, i was one of the last to leave the paddock!), and secondly, i was keen on getting myself a beer on the track, but I was clearly either watching the track too hard or had too much mud in my eyes to see the beer stop. Consequently, my winning effort was fueled purely on energy drink, but a cold Grinbergen was thrust into my gritty gloved hands at the finish line to satisfy the need for beer.

SSUK08 was sandwiched between a day at Ae and a ride at Kirroughtree, so I left in a glorious state of singletrack repleteness. It was an awesome weekend, top notch company, plenty of amusing chat, enough sun and plenty of mud. A well organised event that everyone can be proud of being party to.

Oh, and a great trophy to boot!

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

tour of ireland day 4 (late, sorry)

Well the wee man sent his final text from what sounded like an awesome event.

"Finished. Day 4, 130 miles, 9.15 hours, 9000ft climbing. Awesome climbs in Wicklow mountains. Total over 30 hours riding, 500 miles, 4 hotels, 24 bottles of drink, 50 energy bars. What an event."

Well done Paul.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

tour of ireland day 3

hmm, I'm thinking it might have been a hard day in the saddle for Paul D.

"Day 3 134 miles, punctured in the first 10 miles, then rode 40 on my own. Average speed 16 mph, 8000 calories, 9 hours ride time! Big climbs, 8400ft of them!"

Dig in there wee guy, one day left before you get a pint of black stuff in Dublin.

tour of ireland

Saturday, 10 May 2008

tour of ireland day two

Text in from the wee man, Paul D;

"Day 2, 122 miles, 7300 calories, average speed 22mph, rode with the lead group all the way o, it took 5 hrs 20 mins even in the mix at the finish!"

Sounds like he is warming to it.

Further reading can be had here!

DH comes to VCM

Well hello to all in the VCM community.

I'm currently sunning my self on a white sandy beech in glorious Queensland sunshine whilst I post this blog!! Actually I'm in my mothers office in a house in middle Australia, but I'd like to think thats what all people think of when they think of Australia.

Anyways,

I think the Dh gods have been smilimg on me today as I managed to snag an entry into the SDA Downhill Championships this June. Anyone who has ever tried enter a Scottish downhill MTB event will know this is nie on impossible so i feel very gratfull.

The event will be a great oportunity to to show off the team colours in this genre of our much loved sport proving that Velo Club Moulin is the only true all round cycling team.

Mark
(From Australia, will be home soon)

Friday, 9 May 2008

tour of ireland day one

a text just in from Paul D over in Ireland.

"Day 1
7 hrs, 7000 calories, 6500ft of climbing. Now in a 5 star hotel, its ace!"

Hmm, sounds like there isn't enough suffering going on there, looking at the schedule I reckon mondays stage ought to sort him out. . .

this weekend

Another week slips by and the glorious weather has been very good for the moral, I'm still trying to shake off this wretched virus but hopefully if the weather holds for the weekend I'll venture out for a spin. I could really use some riding before the Etape Caledonia next weekend.

Since the first proper foray at the weekend we've received many compliments on the kit and a few applications from budding 'domestiques' which all bodes well for strengthening the squad.

This weekend is more action from Drumlanrig where Anja and Jac are riding the NPS. Jac is having a crack at the 100km marathon on Sunday while Anja is taking on the XC on the Saturday. Good luck to you both.

Meanwhile Paul Davis is over at the 4 day Tour of Ireland this looks like an awesome challenge and next year it is being upped to 5 days making it a fairly unique event and a great early season boost for your legs. Go wee man go. 

Have a good weekend everyone, 

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Interval geek



I like intervals. Honest. I normally do them twice a week and weights twice a week also. Throw in a couple of endurance rides done nice and steady and maybe the chaingang or a race which is the exact opposite (!) and that's my week. It can be pretty effective and doesn't mean huge hours in the saddle - ideal when you have a full time job and perfect training for 'cross.


I got switched on to this type of training a couple of years back by a good friend from Oregon, Don Leet. He writes a pretty neat and thoughtful blog at http://www.donssunnysideblog.blogspot.com/


Most of my intervals are 4 min ones at about 85% of your max hr. Usually 5 x 4mins with 3 mins recovery in between. You're teetering just below your threshold, not totally killing yourself, so the pain isn't so bad and generally ranges from comfortable (if i'm real fresh) to owww, this is hurting quite a bit, time seems to be standing still here (if not so fresh). The cool thing the warm up is only 5 mins and same for the warm down. A quick bottle of rego (sure they sneak something addictive in here..), some stretching after and you're all done in less than an hour! The idea here is you get a quality session in and recover quick so you can do more quality sessions sooner.


Problem is you have to be strict with yourself and do the endurance rides steady so your ready for harder training sessions. This aint always easy and also can make you a pretty dull person to ride with!! So I don't always stick too rigidly to it.


Do most of my intervals on the turbo. Turbo can be pretty hard on your head though. I think I've watched 'Transition 2' (US riders racing cross in Belgium) so many times I start talking american in my head. This isn't very healthy. So tonight with the lovely weather I got out on my mtb and did some intervals up Janets Brae, the forest road up in to Glentress Forest from Peebles. Takes about 5mins of climbing to get upto the top, then about 1min of descending down an ace bit of cheeky singletrack back to the start. I did 5 and by the 3rd time down the descent I was starting to get my lines dialled and collect a nice array of rambo style cuts (ok small scratches!) down my arms from the foliage..


I'm in the middle of an overload block this week, 5 interval sessions in 4 days. Tonight done means 2 down 3 to go. Dig in!












Sunday, 4 May 2008

roundup.




















Under grey and manky skies over 300 riders (or thereabouts) took to their one speeds and battled it out on Drumlanrigs finest slippy and slimey singletrack. The race quickly thinned out and everyone was talking about whether Shaggy sixty niner could hold on for the win, meanwhile I was busy watching the womens race! No offence Shaggy but this was the action was.
After a good start VC Moulin rider Anja McDonald found her self behind a previous SSUK winner Alison Rushton, it was looking promising going through lap 1 but Alison is a strong rider. Lap 2 came around and there out in the lead was Anja, riding strong with a big smile to prove just how much she was enjoying the trail. After depositing her outer baggy shorts at the beer stop she went on to win the womens category pretty convincingly, a great start wearing the new strip and even with enough energy left to down a Grimbergen at the end. Jac Strachan was back too after her recent illness and I'm sure her form is just around the corner.
Well done Anja and everyone else who slogged it out in difficult conditions. 

Meanwhile, over in Dalbeattie at the SXC round 2 battle John McCallum found himself penetrating the top 10 once more, he had been sitting good in around 4rth place but blew spectacularly(allegedly) on the last lap, good effort, conditions and humidity were particularly nasty today, it's only a matter of time for John, go buddy go.



Friday, 2 May 2008

all dressed up
















the kit has arrived and just in time, with racing at Drumlanrig for the SSUK and Dalbeattie for the SCX,
a big thank you to Charmaine and all the team at TAL.

now to work on that race schedule,

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Road to recovery (and lambs)

Today was my first ride after having the pox and first ride in almost two weeks! It was all a bit of a close run thing with today's rubbish weather, but I thought I'd better at least ride once before SSUK.

So, I decided to go for a ride on the way home from work. A road ride on my singlespeed town bike on a nice road which had lots of lovely little lambs by the side of it when I last rode it two weeks ago (my how they've grown in two weeks!)

Well, my legs weren't so bad after all. I was probably a big redder in the cheeks than usual, but eventually the sun came out, a big grin appeared on my face and a happy song popped into my head. I even decided to take a bit of a detour and try out a new road I've not been along before.

All in all, not so bad. Maybe two weeks of drinking tea, eating date and walnut cake and watching repeats of Midsomer Murders was just what the doctor ordered!

more SSUK 08

It's looking like an ominous start for the team colours;

Jac Strachan is recovering from chicken pox (ouch) and Chris Duncan is laden with a chest infection.

Go Anja go