Friday, 27 June 2008

It's only 12 hours

Tomorrow morning Chris and I will be heading up north to the Dawn Raid at the Golspie trails. It'll be a couple of firsts for me: my first time riding the Gospie trails and my first solo 12 hour race. I've solo'd a few 10 hour races and been in teams for 24 hour races, so I kind of know what I'm letting myself in for. The difference is that this one is entirely overnight. It's also the first Scottish Singlespeed Champs - a 12 hour singlespeed champs, eek! Apparently "it'll be fine", so I'll give it a bash.

So I've spent this evening sorting out kit and food. I don't really know what the weather will do, so I've got two complete changes of kit as well as some warmer stuff for the middle of the night - oh, and a spare set of everything, just in case (as well as spare shoes).

Food wise - well, you never really know what you'll feel like at 3 in the morning when all you really want to do is go home and leave your bike to the vultures. I'll just buy all the cups of tea I need, so the food provisions are:

2 cheese, onion, mustard and red pepper rolls (for energy, better breathing and slow release energy apparently)
2 cheese scones (buttered)
2 brioche
6 mini sausage rolls
1 packet dried apricots
6 cliff bars
2 caffine shots
2 Honey Stinger gels (stopping off at Escape Route tomorrow to get more)
1 packet cashew nuts
1 bottle mango smoothie
1 bottle banana milkshake
1 packet instant porridge
1 tub custard
1 tub rice pudding
1 tub fruit salad
4 bananas
1 big tub electrolyte
1 small tube Hammer gel mixed with extra honey (for emergencies only)
1 jumbo bar of chocolate
1 jumbo packet jelly babies

The provisions of a small army? We'll see just how much stays in the pink box and comes right back home with me.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

more mayhem


this kinda sums it up

Mayhem...

No Pics to show but a few words to share... I had my first Mountain Mayhem experience over the weekend. Kindly invited to join the Santa Cruz/Jungle team by Dickon Hepworth a while back after a chance meeting at Glentress. I rode there on my MTB from Glasgow, to have a quick lap of the red trail because i was gagging so badly for a sweet trail to ride, and i think he thought i may be just mad/keen enough to enjoy a 24hr race.

He was right. 24hrs of casual competition (casual being the operative word). Several good quality beers were enjoyed over by the Trek 69er tent, much good chat was had, and a 3am bedtime ensured a respectably late start for the majority of us on Saturday.

Team Santa Cruz/Jungle made great headway initially then almost dropped the ball by having a rider go out without his timing chip, then called it a night after I pulled a very slippery double lap after midnight.

I soiled my VCM jersey. again. The mud has stained it good and proper. I caught a train back to glasgow, stinking like alcohol after wearing several shot glass-fulls of tequila during botched tequila hand-ups at the bottom of the steep climb (you'd be surprised how many people hate tequila!).

So that was that. Thanks to Dr Jon and Trina for getting me down there, and Phil the Horse for getting me to the station on time (just). Let me know when that speeding ticket arrives in the mail...

Jet lag and new cross bike dreaming

Jet lag works in mysterious ways. I'm convinced. Got back from Oregon Sunday, slept from 9pm to 8am fine Sunday night then last night woke up at 1am and was wide awake until 4am. The birds started singing at 2.45am (a bit early I thought) and the street's resident crow starting piping up from the street lamp outside my window not long after. Bastard.

Still, this gave me time to ponder about a new 'cross bike i'm hoping to acquire. I've got the tyres sorted - bagged some Tufo Flexus tubulars (grey 'uns in 32) from Sunnyside Sports whilst in Oregon. Tufo are the only 'cross tubulars without an inner tube which makes them super resistant to pinch punctures. I rode some Tufo's last season at the Carron Valley CX and survived with frequent bottom outs and no tears. They've a decent all round tread and are pretty light too, not as light as Dugasts but I can't afford those babies.

Don has pretty much convinced me that deep section carbon tubular wheels aren't the way to go for 'cross and I should instead go for superlight-ness and reliability. Mavic Reflex's are his suggestion, so i'm thinking some of these laced to DT 190 hubs 3 cross with aerolite spokes. Light but strong and much cheaper to replace the rims.

Next thing on my mind is the groupset. The bike tart in me would love to get Force Red, but i've heard mixed reports on the reliability of the double tap shifting for 'cross and it's flippin' expensive. Could wait for the improved Rival or Force to come out or do I wait for the new Dura Ace which looks the business, with hidden cable routing at the bars, lighter weight and stealth look? Not sure this will be out in time for the upcoming season. Or maybe Campy Chorus for super reliability and Italian pimpyness?

Any thoughts welcome..

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Oregon and bike races


Just about home time for Ros and I - traveling back from Oregon tomorrow (Saturday).  Feeling a little low about this. Still, it's been fab and to wangle a 4 week holiday is pretty cool.   Pic above is Don (in VCM colours!) on a cheeky turn on the North Umpqua trail in S.Oregon, a very tasty trail indeed.  

Been lucky enough to do 2 races whilst visiting Oregon.  The first, the Falls City Firecracker was one of the most fun xc races i've ever done.  4 laps of a pretty savage straight up, straight down course (think Sidlaws but with trees and even steeper climbing!).  A fast start and gap on the rest of the field lasted all of 1 minute and quickly morphed into mid field granny ring scratting.  The Trek Fuel I was borrowing may not have been the most spritely beast up the climbs but on the descents it ripped and helped me gain back some places.  By lap 4 I was really scratting up the climb but kept it going to finish 5th in the expert men.  Chuffed with this for my first mtb race of the year.

The Ashland Super D was possibly even more fun - a 12 mile downhill race with one 5 min climb in the middle.  Don had sorted Maverick for me, perfect for this type of race.  6" at the front, 5" at the rear plus funky adjustable seat height with bar mounted leaver.  A few days of riding before including a couple of rides on a section of the North Umpqua trail had me pretty used to the bike and really enjoying it.   A pre run of the course the evening before showed a healthy mix of flat-out-loose-crash-and-you-die type dirt road and also plenty of woodsy singletrack. 

On race day I was feeling reasonably optimistic.  Maybe not challenging Mark Weir, the Santa Cruz dude for a sub 36mins, but hopeful of a good showing - sub 40min with a clean run and more importantly no crashes (not insured to race mtbs on holiday, tut tut!).  

Unfortunately, I got my race head on, steamed off from the start house completely forgetting about a pretty hefty ditch across the dirt road 400m in.  I'd told myself in practice to slow up and roll through this but with way too much speed and no time to slow down I had to try jump it...   I squeaked over, just (thank fook!), but the landing bounced my chain off and it wrapped around my cranks with the rear mech joining in the fun around the rear cogs.  Bugger. On the fastest part of the course I had to stop and untangle things.  

The chain jumped off and wrapped the cranks solid another two times on my run.  Frustrating indeed.  Together with not being able to use the offending big ring meant I probably lost a good couple of minutes. Funny, my last dh race was in 1994 (Silton Bomber) and my chain and rear mech wrapped themselves up good and proper pretty early into the run on that day..

On reflection I shouldn't have felt so frustrated.  The course was brilliant fun, I didn't crash, didn't damage the bike or me, rode most of the course pretty well and finished 6th in my cat with a 42:19.   Even better was getting to ride with friends on excellent trails and seeing Don and Mike from Sunnyside putting in great rides with Mike posting an awesome sub 40 min time. 

I'd definately recommend this race (www.breakaway-events.net/) if you happen to be in this neck of the woods in June and the Ashland Shakespeare Festival is in full swing at the same time too!   Bonus.  

Friday, 13 June 2008

Fort William and death-by-midgees

I'm sneaking a little time out of work to quickly sum up last weekend's activities. When I first decided to live in Europe, I thought 'great, loads of access to great racing.' That's not quite been the case - Not that there's no racing happening, just that I'm not making the time to partake. So, after losing riding time to working time, and having such a haphazard schedule that training was non existent and riding was often forfeited for sleep, my hopes for entering multiple World Cups melted away as the summer racing season approached.
But, the Fort William WC still beckoned. It's relatively local and i convinced myself it would be a good idea to enter - catch up with the other kiwis who are doing so well and have a bash around one of the more fun XC race tracks.
As race day neared, my trusty Santa Cruz Blur accepted a nice new EA70 flat bar and gleaming carbon bar ends, in an effort to make up for her pilots lack of race-readiness.
Unfortunately, all the carbon accessories in the world were not going to make me go any faster on the day, but they made me feel like i was fitting in a little better.
I left Glasgow the day before the race, arriving one minute shy of the 12pm sign in cut-off (an accident on the road and a forced 1 1/2 hr diversion and shot my carefully timed schedule to pieces). I left sign on with plate number 59 - 2nd to last on the start grid, one place ahead of another NZ rider, Palmerston North based Fiona Macdermid. A snapped chain on my first practice lap had me skooting all the way back to the pits to visit the guys at the Sram tent. A few new split links and a new chain (thanks Graham!) and I was back out on the track, enjoying the unusually dry and dusty conditions.
Race day was similarly dry. So dry, in fact, that when the start gun sounded, the rest of the field seemed to go up in a cloud of dust... and suddenly I was all alone. And i remained alone until the end of the 4th lap when the put-putting of the tail moto behind me confirmed my suspicion that i was about to be lapped out.

So that was that - probably my most lack-lustre performance to date, but it was an experience all the same. I had the pleasure of meeting John Gibson (Kona team photographer) who rescued my CO2 pump from the dirt when it leapt free of my jersey pocket in one of the rock gardens, I got to hang out with the Santa Cruz Syndicate mechanic (Nigel was the NZ team mechanic last year at the Fort William World Champs), and took part in the pant-wetting excitement of the Downhill on Sunday, where Kiwis Justin Leov and Sam Blenkinsop pulled out times that had them in the top 4 riders, just before their names were eclipsed from the leader board by Hill, Rennie, Peat, Atherton and Minaar. But the major memorable thing i took from the weekend are the 67 midgee bites I was unfortunate enough to get on my face while i slept in my tent at the Glen Nevis Campground. Midgees come in clouds, they are officially measured by the ton, and they apparently have an insatiable appetite for me. A full packet of antihistamines and a tube of anaesthetic lotion later, my complexion is almost back to normal. Almost.

Monday, 9 June 2008

training

is something I never really thought about, it was always a case of ride my bike when I wanted as hard as I wanted, not rocket science not brain surgery, just ride. but recently I have started approaching riding and many other aspects of my day to day with a tad more care and conviction. it started when Andy-W (trailfettler) sent me a copy of his training schedule, to say I was somewhat horrified would be a mild understatement, this guy was squeezing in workouts wherever he could but not in a grinding himself into a lactic burnout kinda way, it was thought through and each session with a purpose. could I incorporate aspects of a regime like this into my life? well it appears I can, definitely not in the same league as the young gun but with a little planning and a big helping of commitment I am finding myself hauling myself out of the comfort zone and into a whole new world of pain. just where this will lead to remains to be seen and I will also admit that the recent bout of fine weather has been largely helping me make the choice but I am finding myself looking for windows of opportunity to work at fitness, no bad thing I am hoping, come cross season we will of course see wether it has all been in vain.

the team now stands 12 strong and gathering a bit of momentum and following, largely due to the kit and some sterling performances into the bargain, already mutterings about how we will do it next year are abound and good, VCM - here to stay ,well maybe if we get a multimillionaire investor to bank roll the whole shebang! on the subject of bank rolling a few people have been asking about t-shirts, big Jez is looking into some ethically sourced cotton, so watch this space.


Thursday, 5 June 2008

ten under the ben

it was hot. damned hot.

the morning of my first race in velo club moulin colours dawned bright and sunny with no breeze to speak of. the ben was looking especially fine with some sizeable snow patches clinging on into summer. pre-race briefing listened to and the trug of love stocked with the good stuff and dumped in position. time enough for a bit of a futter about, another cup of joe and a last chance to tighten various bolts (to 11).

as we gathered on the start line, it became clear that 10UTB had become A BIG EVENT since the first one back in 2005. there were hunners of riders on the start line. i snake my way in about half way into the bunch (see if you can spot the VCM jersey in the photo up top). the piper plays and we're off on the start loop - a 15 minute mini lap to string out the bunch. lots of crunching of gears, fiddling with lockouts and a couple early punctures. and a big queue at the top of the loose, mildy rocky decent under the the gondola. onto the lap proper and it's more queues at the first river crossing and the first rocky drop. ach weel, stopped me getting into my usual first lap race with someone who'd committed an unspeakable act, like overtaking me without asking, riding in knee pads or tucking their race top into their shorts (shudder). i hand out a spare tube to a poor guy who has punctured about a mile into the first lap. an early deposit into the karma bank.

the lap itself was about 10 miles long - lots of forest road, but a fair bit of built singletrack allowing the chance to boost off rocky features to keep the mind sharp / show off to the rider behind (thanks for that AC) and one cracking hand cut section with shiny roots aplenty. fine on 2:1, with only one singletrack climb that was a longer and longer push as the event wore on.

the initial plan was 3/3/whatever, with the goal of putting in 8 laps. with the loooong start loop/first lap and slightly longer lap times, the first 3 laps took me over four hours to complete. time for a beer and some solid food. this was a mistake. the pasta sat extremely heavily on my stomach (whilst the beer was braw) and the badheadchat started - "what's the point" "stop and you can have burger" "you're a neverbeen Steele". sob!

John ripped past just at the point at which i was starting to listen. i'd been VCMlapped and fairly early too. about ¾ of the way round lap 4 i realise that the thumping headache probably meant that i’d gotten myself a bit dehydrated/overheated, so decided to have a wee sit down in the shade and cool down. peely wally Scotsmen aren’t cut out for such extreme temperatures (c. 22C).

out again for lap 5 and i bump into John, Rob from work and another athlete having a wee sit down in the shade around 2/3rds of the way up the main climb. John’s back had given up and he was heading back to knock it on the head for the day. a gentle ribbing of the coffee morning ladies and i get on with it again. rest of the lap goes nicely, with ample opportunity to do wee jumps when i’m caught in the monster tailback on the fun singletrack descent.

quick stop, cold water over head and a bit of moral support for Rob (although i think it was the fear of being beaten by a singlespeeder that got him going again) and we’re both back out. an uneventful lap, although i noticed two squashed rodents on the singletrack with the timber bridges. oh the ratmanity!

more cooling down and a chat with John and it’s looking like 7 laps for me. i head off and just as i’m passing the rural complex i notice a strange sight in the sky. a shower – and it’s heading straight for us! it chucks it down for the next 10 minutes. instantly go from being dry > soaked. the sweat washes out of my helmet pads and into my eyes. but the eye discomfort is nothing compared to the pain caused by sweat dribbling out of my gloves straight into the weird blisters on my inner wrist. ‘king ouch! knock off the rest of the lap, thanking marshals and first aiders on the way back into sunshine.

feel fairly chipper at the end, so maybe there was another lap in there but not unhappy with performance. 77 miles in 10 hours 5 minutes brings me 29th in senior men, which wasn’t a bad return. bring on kirroughtree!

inputs
8 litres of water (drunk)
1 litre of water (poured over head)
9 energy gels
1 energy bar
1/2 a tub of pasta
1 bag of jelly babies
1/2 pack of beef jerky
1 bottle beer
100g protein-on-the-go (swallowed midges)

outputs
50g pish
staved thumb
cuts and bruises