Friday, 17 July 2009

as seen on TV

Seems like Andy and Ros (and Caroline Wallace) made it onto ITV4s Tour de France highlights tonight. You can catch the action again here (WARNING: lots of adverts):

For those that can't see the link, here's a photo of Andy signing some autographs earlier:

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Discovered: New Style of Mountainbiking


The VCM'ers formerly known as TSPC last night discovered a new form of mountainbiking.

Messing around with your mates on 'world class' singletrack, then stopping for a beer on the way home. It is thought that this branch of the sport has never been experienced before. Not in living memory anyway, and certainly no one could remember reading an article about it in Velo News or MBUK.

As it involved aspects of navigation, teamwork, singletrack rad-ness, weightlifting, sprinting and golf courses we think it is the bright new future of our sport. So once everyone has shaken off their freeride hangover and come down from their Endurance marathon buzz we will be inagurating the 'Riding Around With Your Mates Multi-Sport World Championship".

Or we will once we can think of a snazzy name for it.

[Photo of a snazzy-name brainstorming session in progress]

Sunday, 12 July 2009

10 at Kirroughtree.

Depending on what you are doing, 10 hours can be the blink of an eye or an endless chasm opening up before you. 10 hours at Kirroughtree, part of the NO Fuss '10 at..." series, is the jewel of 1/2 day/lap races as far as I am concerned. The course is mostly singletrack. 70% would be a conservative estimate. The short sections of fire road barely give the rider enough time to sup some fluid and take in sustenance. The sharp rocks claim tyres and tubes with abandon and I have seen more snapped chains than all other races and rides combined. With ~300m of climbing/descending per lap, the real difficulty is the jack-hammering your body gets as you throw the bike into the superb downhills trying to eke out the last bit of momentum to make that next sharp climb. Awesome stuff, and a massive undertaking as a solo.



VC Moulin arrived in force under a cloudless sky. Once the tents were set up, John MacCallum, Dean, Trina and myself joined the Singular squad, avec good man Craig F, to have a few quiet beers and get some fueling done. Somewhere amongst the attendees was Neil Dryden, who was also set to go in solo.

The customary police escort led us to the road climb that allowed the field to spread out. As ever, there are far too many people who are optimistic of their chances jostling for start line position. Fortunately the wheat is quickly separated from the chaff. Having decided to use a different feeding strategy I was a little nervy in the early stages. I had seen Deano and John take off at the start and despite taking a lot of places early I knew they were well ahead. The course rocked and all the fun buttons were pressed as I railed the new Jones around the twists and turns. Somehow the traffic seemed minimal and I caught Deano just before the end of the lap. We took the last downhill by the scruff of the neck and flowed in a white, black, red and yellow blur through the forest. As Deano headed off to refuel, I cruised out for lap two fairly comfortably.




The second lap allowed the sun to take its toll. I knew I wasn't getting enough fluid on board, and the gels seemed to be a struggle to take with any regularity. Still, the legs felt good and it wasn't until the step up climb towards the end of the lap that both Deano and John found me. Somehow, Deano had the legs of that climb despite the singlespeed and I knew it was going to be a yo yo battle within the war.

Lap 3 was also fast. A beautiful moment came when John and Deano (both of whom seemed to be stopping to fuel) passed me on a technical singletrack downhill trail clinging to the edge of the hill. For 30 seconds, we were a VC Moulin train. Awesome! then they left me in the dust as we hit the step climb again. At that point I knew I didn't have their legs and I was going to have to find my own rhythm.

I ticked off a couple of laps in a blur, desperately trying to get calories and agua on board, finding nice lines and enjoying the course. The forecast rain didn't materialise and all was good. Then I had the most ridiculous thigh cramp. My legs resemble oil rig legs, not gazelles legs, so when I cramp (which is seldom) I know about it. As I tried to stretch off the thigh, the hamstrings went for broke and I had a comical moment of being unable to pedal or get off the bike. Within seconds the other leg was spasming, threatening to cramp up too. What was going on? Regardless of the fact I was dehydrated, I had never had cramps like this in my life! New riding position? gels? Something else? I had no idea, but for the rest of the race any serious effort led to a cramp.

On one downhill, I overtook a rider who through no fault of their own slightly swerved sending me further off trail, CLUNK! as my pedal interacted with some rocks, sending me over the bars. I landed heavily on my shoulder and knee. Blood dripped as the bike picked up its first battle scar. I spent the remainder of the 5th lap at hour 6 suffering. I wasn't even sure if i could go on at this rate, I kept riding off the trail and missing the apices of corners. Fellow racers kept asking if I was alright as I lay on the ground stretching various limbs off.

After stopping at the Singular gazebo for 15 minutes, with Sam giving me the benefit of his sports massage skills, I decided that no matter what, I was getting back on the bike. Call it bloody mindedness, pride or perhaps the influence of Andy Cathcart, who had raced stupendously last year despite having bad guts. I got back on the bike. Something had to give though: snarfing a cheese roll, and changing back to a Hammer nutrition Perpetuum bottle was all I could think to do to stop my energy levels bouncing all over the place.

Occasionally I saw other riders I knew. I was aware that Deano and John were going great and Neil too, spending the last lap riding with John it seemed they had had a ding dong battle between themselves and were well up in the field.

Singular claimed 2nd in seniors trio.

Provisionally:

John 7th overall?
Deano 8th overall?
Neil 11th??
Me 15th?

I was just glad to finish.

Time to get those muscles ironed out and some kip.

Friday, 10 July 2009

three into one

The Singletrack Classic Weekender was a mountain bike triathlon of sorts - trials / downhill / XC - with results from Saturday's two events providing the handicapping for Sunday's XC race.

An early morning start for Jon and I with controls set to the heart of the north of England (Bacup). Phil was already in place to provide the southern element of the VCM pincer movement.

The Scots farted about signing in and sorting kit out whilst Phil headed out for a practice of the DH section (downhill as in a trail that goes down hill rather than true DH). Sadly, young Mr Moore managed to land the last (and only) double a little bit heavy on the front end, held it for a bit, then went down in a dusty heap. Whoops. Quick trip to A&E and he was quickly back on site to heckle, whilst having his wounds cleaned out by the local MRT.

The remaining 2/3rds of VCM headed over to the start of the trials section and both aced the hill climb. Jon went on to clear all sections, whilst I made a right arse of the balance beam and rock steps and finished the trials with a two minute deficit for the XC. We took a while to enjoy Matt's unique brand of encouragement on the hill climb and Jon made 1001 attempts to clear the whole climb (rather than the just the scored section) - FAIL.

Sun+peely wally Scotsman=burn baby, burn.

Onto the DH and the beep-beep-BEEP that gets the heart running high. Jon goes well and finishes with a one minute penalty (this based on closeness to the winning time) and I mince my way down to additional three minute penalty.

The rest of Saturday was a blur of a big beer run, beer and an awesome bonfire. Braw!

Sunday dawned bright and the VCM crew assembled (scratching and yawning) to face the challenge ahead. Quick briefing then off to the start line for two racers and one marshall.

1100 and we're off. At least the zero penalty types are. Jon goes at 1101 and I enjoy another 4 minutes of chit chat with Steve the Singular Ringer (who'd punctured on the DH) before we set off. You know how this goes. Up, up, up, across, down with a mandatory beer stop (for some) with Phil. Special thanks to Dave Anderson for some very special heckles (I have a lot to learn), Matt for the laughs and to the winner for lapping me at the top of the final descent and cutting short my misery.

Jon: 7th
Marty: 50th
Phil: bell rung

Chapeau to all involved - a new classic is born in the North.

2010 event is 3/4 July - you can enter here http://www.singletrackworld.com/2009/07/july-3rd4th-2010-the-singletrack-classic-weekender-2/

If you're passing Bacup with a bike, seek out Lee Quarry. It's a wee gem of a trail centre, in a quarry, up a hill and hopefully a model for reclamation of similar sites across the country.

Monday, 6 July 2009

savage side of road racing

I love the drama of the mountain stages of the Tour but the way in which Columbia-HTC drove the split at the turn in the crosswind on the flat Stage 3 today, was nothing short of amazing.

It was savage and riveting. Savage to see them totally committed to blowing the peleton apart, knowing the damage it would inflict. Savage to see the peleton scrambling behind but powerless to do anything about it. That initial panic behind, then no doubt increasing worry as the gap started to grow. Being able to see the group just up the road but yet so far out of reach.

Watching it unfold and the gap grow gave me that pre race nervy feeling in my stomach, but also a feeling of sheer excitement.

Even just watching the highlights I found myself screaming at the tv as the last 1km unfolded and Cavendish took the win! What am I going to be like when I get out to France to watch the Alpine stages!! Better keep the coffee well out of reach...

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Hallowed be thy name.

The iron maiden was taken down from the hook. The colours donned. Sidis ratcheted tight. There was a need to grasp the nettle: to step up to the plate and give the legs some hard love. Out of glasgow, along the clyde walkway.



West, into the sunshine. legs beating a familiar rhythm, heart following suite and the mind at peace. As the coast gave way to the north i kept moving at a steady rhythm, now on road.



As the ground reared up to my left, the water incised the land and the mountain tops began to clear. Forever onwards, past the signs of mankind's war-mongering and a gasp as the cobbler's horned top is exposed.



Inland now. Towards the bonnie banks of loch lomond but the beast needs more. Its thirst not slaked by the 2.5 hours of work. North again, climb now well above the highland fault. The rocks become more severe, the sun bleaching everything and the blood pumps as altitude is gained. Reach the top of the loch and head on, crianlarich is left behind and a headwind rises. Lix toll, and a stiff climb gives me my first wall of the day. Iron Maiden times it perfectly on my ipod.

"Im waiting in my cold cell when the bell begins to chime
Reflecting on my past life and it doesnt have much time
Cos at 5 oclock they take me to the gallows pole
The sands of time for me are running low"



Over the top as loch earn opens in front of me. Hit the cycleway and more tight gravel.



Moving swiftly i take in some calories and immediately start burning them. Ben Ledi, then alongside the river to callender.



A quick assessment of the pain and i begin the route around loch venacher. From here i know the 39:18 will punish me as i climb to aberfoyle but the taste of pain is why i sat at this table today.



Limbs salty and dry, finding it hard to keep the rhythm running, but soon enough the campsies in the distance gives me all the strength i need for the final haul home.

Stats:
126 miles
9.5 hours
estimated 33% dirt 67% tarmac
power reasonable
cadence good
endurance in the right place

Power work on the k bells now, a few technical rides, and down to the singletrack weekender then a week of taper for K tree.