Thursday, 30 April 2009

kielder 100 miles

After a great report now seems a good time to tell you all about an event we are about to launch in 2 weeks time -- The Kielder 100,Saturday Sept 5th , based at Kielder Water the event is a first for Britian 100 miles, 1 day, 1 lap, feed / tech stations at 25 miles/ 50 miles/75 miles. approx 40 % singletrack 20% Grassey tracks, the rest on forest roads. Using the kielder complex plus a trip over the boarder to Newcastleton to take in the 7 stanes trails there .
This is going to be tough with average times around 9 - 10 hrs hence start time of 6 am """"
I am proposing a VC Moulin trophy / prize for the first Mouliner home. Our very own Deano has produced the logo for the event, all we need now is for Deano to chance his arm and take to the start line !!!! We are also after idea's for a special crossing the boarder Shin Dig" ideas so far is a Piper Toll in other words riders have to pay the piper to cross the boarder, and a welcome to Scotland Sign ! Flags etc and then on the return leg you have to return to England?
Also we are after a few people to help out, all offers will be most greatful. Discounts on entrys for Mouliners please get in touch .

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Avalanche Enduro- Kielder

Last weekend was a biggie, my return to competitive riding after a couple of years break! If I am honest little has grabbed my attention recently, I'm over the cost involved in DH racing and am too lazy to get my ass into gear to do any XC or endurance stuff, I love riding my bike and I love the competitive buzz but I didn't feel anything out there grabbed me. A couple of years ago the guys behind the European Avalanche Cup series introduced an "Enduro" event to their calendar, the idea being that you had a number of timed sections over the course of the day but with transition stages which were untimed but carried a time limit within which to complete, and a hefty time penalty if you failed to make it in time, if you are into rallying then its kinda like that.

For whatever reason it has taken me a couple of years to be able to make one of these, something I now regret, what a great event! I can genuinely say that in my 15 odd years of racing bikes this is the most fun race weekend I have ever had! Arriving on Saturday I hooked up Descent-World forum regular David Wilson and his brother Bob for a ride of the course. The trails at Kielder Deadwater trails are good uns, the soil is very sandy underfoot which made things pretty loose and fun, but where they weren't sandy things were reinforced with rocks, rocks and more rocks, personally I was pretty thankful to be running tubeless (cue plug for the guys at Trek and the Bonty Big Earl tyres which were perfect for this sort of event!), I heard stories of some folk getting as many as 17 punctures over the weekend.....it was certainly a pretty lethal combination of high speed and pointy rocks, add in the fact that many folk were trying to run lighter treaded XC tyres on the back and it was always going to be asking for trouble!

Also on Saturday was the prologue, this acted as a seeding run for the Sunday event but also added to your total time overall. The prologue was probably the flattest of the stages on site, fine with me in hindsight as it was where I got my best results of the weekend (it also doubled up as stage 4 and 7 of Sundays race).......still not that much of a strong point with a 139th in the seeding run, well and truly mid table mediocrity in the field of 270. Still, on the bright side it gave me a lie in on Sunday morning, the top boys started leaving out onto course at 8:30 with riders at 30 second intervals from then......so not so bad.

The race was run over 7 timed sections, 3 of which were run twice, not going to go into a full blow by blow account of each stage, so in brief......
Stage 1- Actually run down a climb so flat corners and loads of natural sections cut in to keep things interesting, probably my favourite of the weekend, not that it was reflected in my time.
Stage 2&5- Pedally, fast and rocky, great fun but a bit of a lung burner!!
Stage 3&6- Probably the most challenging of the lot, steep, loose and tight in places, 3 fast drops in a row off the second fire road crossing appeared to be the biggest source of action and punctures over the weekend. Probably my weak point of the weekend!
Stage 4&7- This was the same stage as the prologue, probably my saving grace as I could put my legs to good use and show some of the DH boys how to pedal, I almost hit the heady heights of the top 100 on this stage with a glorious 111th.

For the geeks amongst you, I have stuck the whole thing on my Garmin page if you want a look, stat tastic! http://connect.garmin.com/activity/4334431



The transition stages were not too challenging to get between, which was ok in giving plenty of time to chat, meet new people and generally enjoy riding your bike in beautiful scenery and great weather. I understand they made the transition times a little easier compared to last year, although enjoyable I couldn't help but feel they could have been made a little more of a challenge to get to and from, certainly for the majority there was absolutely no challenge in getting from stage to stage without lots of time to spare. Having said all that, this event was far from easy, in fact at one point while struggling like a pig up one of the climbs I looked in horror at my GPS to see only 13 miles on the clock!! By the end of the event the total mileage was just over 18 miles, which they give you almost 6 hours to complete, I think the toughness came from the fact that of that, there was 7 stages totalling about 25 minutes of timed sections which were ridden at absolutely flat out pace, probably 5 of the 7 stages were reliant as much on your legs as they were gravity to get you down with a quick time, plus elevation gain was a not too shabby 1200m or so over the course of only 18 miles.

At the end of the day I ended up in 155th, disappointed in the result but an absolutely fantastic event and a great format which I can really see as being the future of my competitive riding, sadly there is still not many on the calendar with the 2nd, and last of the season being at Ae in 2 weeks time, again run by the Avalanche Cup team, if you are free I highly recommend it!

Oh, and in case you wondered, the big boys event was won by World Cup regular David Vazquez and the womens by Tracy Moseley. If you want to read a full repo then as always I recommend Descent-World! Not written by me this time but still worth reading. http://www.descent-world.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&Itemid=95&task=view&id=1085

And finally........thanks to Oliver Coats for the images, check out his website at http://www.olivercoats.co.uk/

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Andy Cathcart


It is with a very heavy heart that I type these words. Andy Cathcart - well known to so many of you - was killed whilst out riding in South Africa this week. All our thoughts are with his partner Rona and his family.

I am proud to call Andy a friend. Over the years I have shared riding, racing and a good deal of sweat and bad music as he produced his excellent work in sports physiology. He has my and many others respect for his tenacious and talented skills as a rider.

The tales that will be told are many, he lived life to the maximum and will be sorely missed. I'll sign off with a comment he made whilst racing across Scotland in the multi-day trans-Scotland race a year or 2 ago:

"Line? what line..."

Sunday, 19 April 2009

bicycle racing over zee net

Watching live bicycle racing on tv is a rare thing indeed for me as I aint got Eurosport and trying to convince a local pub to screen some over the weekend footy would need a minor miracle.. So I get a little giddy when I do get a chance to see some.

I may be getting giddy a whole lot more - just watched the last bit of the Amstel Gold race live via the net. It's made my weekend! Well along a day of just pottering around and fettling bikes in the sun.

Take a peek at myp2p found via the cyclingtips blog Better coverage than Eurosport UK and a chance to brush up on your european languages at the same time!

Sorry if y'all got this sussed already.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Can we have one of these please Chris....?


I am genuinely surprised that Rapha don't manufacture one of these and would be overjoyed to see a VCM embossed version sometime soon. The perfect gift for the discerning cyclist and coffee connoisseur/ponce everywhere. Splendid.

Monday, 13 April 2009

goatee of filth

an elite selection comprising of andy and me climbed out of burntisland in bright sunshine for the inaugural goatee of filth ride yesterday morning.

north to begin with through chipchucker alley and a gentle descent to the first section of pavé in inverkeithing.

admittedly more ronde van vlaanderen than paris-roubaix, it was steep, rough and a little scary on 70x23s.

back onto tarmac and we head west along towards the charlesberg. a kelly-esque big ring effort gets me to the top first, but breathing oot my derriere. oof!



the next secteur - a farm track along the forth shore - had sadly been tarmacadamed since my last trip. our tyres crunch through wind blown sand and we gird our loins for the toughest section of pavé.

the culross secteur is initially tame and pancake flat, but a quick double back past the palace takes you onto the real deal. steep, narrow, steep and as rough as peter van petegem's chin at 5 o'clock. we clatter and ping our way up back causeway towards gallow lane. we get a "chapeaux!" (i've translated from the local dialect) from the one-deep crowd as we pass.


culross photo by Fiona Brims

breath regained for a harem-scarem chase through central fife and round the NE end of loch leven towards the dreaded forêt d'arettyberg.

when i say dreaded, i mean very pleasant. andy dubs it "singletrack for roadies". a meandering ribbon of tarmac rises up in front of us into a lovely open forest on the lower slopes of the lomond hills.

the pace picks up as we head to the feed station to fortify our early season legs at the foot of the main climb of the day. the pillars of hercules cafe provides us with exactly the kind of stuff that a racing cyclist needs mid-ride - calories and caffeine. on the terrace. in the sun. ++



we roll past the second palace of the day and it's straight up. and up. and up. andy kindly feigns a mechanical to let me plod on in my own cloud of pain. the view from the top over east central scotland and the screaming descent into leslie is ample payback the effort on northern slopes.

turning for home through grimfife, we briefly acquire sight of a lone cyclist on the climb ahead. we lift it for a bit, but no sign of the rabbit. clearly he's vaulted a hedge to avoid being crushed by the VCM duo...

thoughts turn to food again. i know sue has prep'd soup and cake and beer at home. a gastronomic tailwind sweeps us back towards the fife riviera. just back in time to see tornado tom tear into the roubaix velodrome.

a grand day out.

130km / 5 hours / 1500m climbing. route here*.

* people who bought goatee of filth might also enjoy fife has an aiport? and ronde van fortheren.

Hell of North Dean












































This ride was originally named the Chill Ton, the strangled pun describing a ride of 100 miles in the Chilterns. Since the ride was grey and damp, coincided with the Paris-Roubaix and I live in a village called North Dean it got re-named despite us coming no closer to pavé than the smoothly cobbled high street in Tring.

A core group of Team Southern VCM (Phil, Gareth and me) rode out into the mizzle (yes, it is a word, Gareth) with Singular riders Sam and Steve, meeting up with Lisa later on for the tough bits. The only goals being to ride 100 miles, keep to quiet roads and have fun in the knowledge that this was pretty far from hell.

The route starts off with a few spiky climbs before heading off onto the Aylesbury vale and then into Oxfordshire for some rolling respite, before the final third re-enters the Chilterns, saving the harder climbs until the end (naturally).

Now, I have a reputation for being mildly obsessed with the Red Kites that live in abundance here, but we were all in for a treat as one in particular apparently put on a show for us; it turned at little more than head-height before swooping to snatch a mouse or vole from the field beside us, keeping pace as we chain-ganged past.

Degrees of brokenness were achieved, the finest in bacon and muffin cakes (a cake and a muffin? Oh yes) were consumed along with almost everything else edible in the house, gently fizzing legs and that deep-down satisfied feeling of having ridden enough to fill the head with happy drugs. All were agreed that we'll do this again and soon. Maybe with sunshine too.

Here's the route which ended up at nearly 105 miles and over 4000ft of climbing. Foof.

Route.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

it is time

Goatee of Filth is this Sunday.

At least three sectors of pavé. One special timed pavé stage - a top notch prize is on offer, so bring your A-game.

Two different endings so we can be back in time for Paris-Roubaix. Pace sociable with the odd habble. Starts at 10:00 sharp from B to the I. Arrive early for strong coffee and smack talk. Soup and cake afterwards.


Short - 101km, 1100m climbing.


Long - 126km, 1500m climbing

Email for start point.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

P-B-P. The Founding Fathers ride out.


Well the PBP peleton of two rolled away from the Moulin Hotel around 8am and from the word go it was climb climb climb. Not a great start but a start nevertheless.
The weather held reasonable even though the roads were still wet from the previous nights rain. We chatted and ground our way up the first climb.
I won't ponder it too much as I will at a later date but my riding right now is pretty pathetic, I have no strength, I can't climb, I am irritated on all of my bikes, I'm not happy, like I said I won't ponder it too much as I am trying to work this shit out in my head. The big guy on the other hand is riding like a god these days, great to see in a humbling sort of way and long may it continue (his god like riding not my humbling)
Before long after many rolling climbs we were on the ascent proper and what a nice one it is too. Amid a swirling wind we reached the ski station at the crest of the pass, my head had collapsed and all I could think of was getting off the wretched hill which we did. With the mother of all tail winds we headed down. Very quickly I watched my computer read, 40, 50, 60, 65, 70, 75 then a wobbly 78kph, I had long ran out of spinability and watched Mark doing his damnedest to eek every last morsel of speed out his bike, which he did nudging 86kph. When the road eventually flattened out two things happened;
1. we were struck by how big the smiles were on our faces, frozen on by velocity and;
2. how smooth the road seemed at that speed.
Braemar quickly appeared and coffee and cake quickly disappeared, we rolled back out to climb what we had just came down.
It was bad, from the out the headwind was brutal and that was before we were on the climb. We ground it out, I suffered like a pig but somehow made it to the top, the wind by this point was horrid as was the descent that followed. Ears raged with howling wind, thighs struggled to turn the big gear and all to soon what should have been a joyous downhill was over, the blood raged around my head as we got down to the task of working back to Kirkmichael for the last climb of the day.
After what felt like an age the turn off of the A93 was made and we were back on home tarmac, our early chatter and excitement had turned more to a speak when spoken to silence. Thoughts turned to a pint at the Moulin Hotel and this took over all other thoughts giving the inspiration to make it home. The road rolled, the head wind died a little and we slowly wound our way into ever increasing familiarity.
With the sight of the tree lined road leading to Moulin and Mark sitting up, I had the audacity to take the 30 sign, sad but true.
Pints were had, partners arrived to mock and a smile slowly crept back onto my face.
I want to say I enjoyed it.


God like riding from Mark.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Moulin Homage.

The idea had been bouncing around in my head after otree and vitch pedalled their way up to aviemore for the 2007 singlespeed worlds. I wanted to do the same trip, with a bivvi stop in between. What better way to do that than to stop off at the moulin inn, namesake of our team, and enjoy some of their fine ales, before sleeping on the slopes of ben vrackie.

The weather forecast looked pretty sweet for thursday to friday, with some mild haar to deal with, so clothing and kit could be minimal. I was intent on using a new bivvi bag and taking way less additional comfort stuff with me in order to dip under 10lb of luggage on the bike. I managed, but im still definitely on the learning curve.

The route started from my front door, only *much* later than anticipated. Partly due to over sleeping, partly due to a leaking camelback bladder (ah, thats why my back was so wet after last weeks ride!) and partly due to general faffing. At mid day i left the house and rode up the west highland way after following the kelvin out to mugdock.

Near Drymen i slipped off the sustrans and made my way to aberfoyle. A lengthy road section, but all was well and the sun was shining. Contemplating the route choices, i opted for the highland fault trail.



This grinds up some fire road through Queen elizabeth forest park, then onto the hills before descending down to loch venacher. It is generally muddy and pretty hard going, but a worthwhile challenge.



It was pretty dry all things considering, but getting over styles with a loaded bike isnt easy! A quick rip down to the sparkling waters of loch venacher and then i followed the trail to callander, with a quick stop for a bacon roll, at mhor bread. Superb!



Back to sustrans route 7 and past ben ledi. Beside the calm waters of loch lubnaig i was making good time. Up to lochearnhead and over to Balquhidder where rob roy rests, From here i could see the sun beaming on to loch voil, but turned around and headed east.



I like the section of sustrans up from lochearnhead to Lix Toll, home of the weird landies. It is a disused railway line and offers a nice scenic route over to crianlarich if you are ever tempted. The rail grade is kind to tired legs and the surface makes for easy rolling.



After a plummet down to Killin, i pedalled around the south side of loch tay, where i was treated to beautiful views and a happy tail wind.



On and on towards aberfeldy. I knew time was not on my side, and having nothing but a tiny head torch i needed to pump the big meat. Not all that easy on a 34:20, but my legs were spinning the sun was still (barely) in the sky, and i had high hopes of a dinner in the moulin inn.



As it happened, the route took a significant amount of time from here to pitlochry. Perhaps worsened by a quick pint of thrappledouser in weem as i checked in with trina. In fact i was caught in the dark with a view of the town in the distance, but with the ingestion of some cherry blossom honey snacks i got on with the job in hand and dropped in for a chippy on the high street of pitlochry by 9pm. 95 miles or so and i could almost taste the ale.



Fortunately, i had over estimated the distance to the inn, and after just a few minutes i was sipping a pint and enjoying the company.



All too soon it was kicking out time. i did manage to sample all four of the handmade ales on tap, and all were indeed good.



But I had to find a suitable spot to bivvi and it was already pretty moist with the incoming haar. Needless to say beer power made me choose a rather lumpy and sloping field to bivvi in. I didnt get much sleep, and i was pretty cold. Perhaps i needed more than 1 long sleeve thin wool top for this sort of evening. In march. In scotland. Duly noted.

Early next morning i dropped back onto sustrans 7 and made my way to the ace trails at killiecrankie, past soldiers leap, back to the sustrans and onto blair atholl.



The area around blair atholl is amazing. It is owned by the duke of atholl, who is the only man in the uk allowed to raise his own private army. They are mostly workers on the estate which is indeed expansive. Well worth a stop if you are passing. From here to bruar and then onto the disused old A9 road and the tribulations of the climb over the drumochter pass.

The haar was yet to burn off and i was wearing everything i had brought. The climb consists of many, many rises, but there is a fantastic river gorge to ride beside, accessible at calvine. There is some good gorge jumping as we discovered for marty's birthday some years ago and the lining of my sinuses are still in one of those pools after a 60 foot leap.



Eventually, i dropped down towards dalwhinnie, and the haar was starting to lift. The locals were burning off heather and the tail wind meant miles of painless pedaling as i tapped my rhythm out with a pleasant smell in the nostrils, towards inshriach forrest.



Here i ducked in to the trees enjoying some trail in the sunlight before ending the journey at the mountain cafe for a mahoosive meal.



Train. Beer. Sleep.

Stats:
day 1 - 97 miles, 9 hours
day 2 - 55 miles, 5.5 hours

Riding bikes is ace!

Just in from a pedal on the fixed gears with the boy Gary Jones. What a great way to spend an afternoon, bikes, pub lunch, sunshine and great company. Now my legs are tired and it is time to eat!

Bikes rock!

More from the Marshes


Dengie, the self-proclaimed 'Flanders in Essex' wasn't as hard, weather wise, as I had hoped. I recce'd the course the day before and it was wet and the winds were slamming my car door shut and disturbing my comb over each time I jumped out to get a snap. But the rains ceased overnight and the course dried out. The sun shone too. It was by all accounts A Good Day For A Race. I had planned to shoot a 'before and after' style piece and even brought my medium format film camera for that purpose. But the riders looked pretty fresh after the race! Only Warrick Spence appeared radically different since he used his chin as a brake in a spill near the end and came in dripping crimson. The juicy spot for crowds and snappers was the 200 metres or so of farm track that still had deep mud, puddles and broken housebricks (It is Essex remember). Lots of getoffs here. The pace from the start was fast and many got shelled out before reaching the circuit proper. Our Steve was in attendence: here he is and may wish to add a rider's eye view of what seems to set to be a calendar fave. You really should try and get something like it going in Scotland. If you build (or break) it, they will come.
(Technical gubbins: The mono pic was shot on a Horizon panoramic film camera. Mostly because the location is all sky and fields with a few giant haystacks thrown in to give your eyes a rest.) (Attire note: Steve is sporting the Sombrio Rasta glove something which no doubt rankled with the style conscious amongst the field. Bonus!) (Jacksie note: I never thought I'd crap myself climbing big haystacks. It was so easy as a kid! These things were huuge I tell ya.)


Friday, 3 April 2009

fair weather rider

I've been struggling to shift a pesky throat infection since mid January, so have been taking it very easy on the bike since the start of the year (read sod all training).
Went to the docs recently but nothing showed up in the tests so i've started to get back into training steadily and will see how it goes. With a day off today and another fair day forcast I had to get out for a pedal.





The fair weather rider in me decided to procrastinate a while until the mist had lifted and the sun was well and truely out. Headed out around 1 and throughly enjoyed a steady 3 hrs in the saddle on one of my very favorite loops: Peebles - Traquair - Leithen Valley and over the Moorfoot Hills - Mur de Middleton - Gladhouse Reservoir - Meldons - Caidmuir loop - Peebles.





It was warm enough for shorts and short sleeves, arm warmers and cap being quickly despatched to the back pockets. Hell, there was even a heat haze on the road in places!

Got back and Frog was ligged out dozing in the sun on the back step - sensible cat!


Wednesday, 1 April 2009

P-B-P

Yes folks its Pitlochry-Braemar-Pitlochry this weekend.
8am Moulin Hotel, Sunday

We're on the move!