Velo Club Moulin

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Christmas Cross

With a 'forced' weeks holiday from work nothing left to do but ride and race.. not quite a Belgium Holiday calender of races over the Christmas period but so far i've managed 2.. CXNE RD 9 on Boxing day and Macclesfield Monster on 28th..

CXNE RD9 was a local affair.. only 10 miles from my house.. the event had been upgraded from a fun race to a league event and I had convinced a visiting friend, Ian, to race on a borrowed bike.

The course I had pretty much ridden a few months prior but the sloppy mud had been replaced snow and Ice... the car park was filled with riders having ridden a lap putting more pressure into their tyres.

The start was one of the best I have ever had.. although the front rows were gridded I found a cheecky hole in the middle and was up into the top 10 off the start and holding the pace well.. by the end of the first lap the top boys superior bike handling had seen gaps opened.. a rushed mount after a short run up saw my unship my chain and lose 5 places trying to wrestle it free from the chain device :(

The rest of the race saw me clawing back the places I had lost seeing me finish back in 12th ... Paul Oldham took the win chased by Steven Ward.. Ian Bibby after a heavy first lap fall was back in 6th.

After the race I packed up the car.. fired home.. put more bags and the whippet in the car and drove to meet Grace at her parents in Manchester.. as well as the excellent meals and coffee's on offer at her parents it gave me chance to fit another race in just a few days later.

The Macclesfield Monster is the first race in the North West leauge after Christmas so the turn out was good... as well as a leg stretching it offered a chance to catch up with a friend I hadn't seen for 10 years.. Duncan Astle.. creator of Here Come the Belgians.. after a quick chat we lined up for another kicking.

The conditions at Macc were the opposite of CXNE race.. raining, sloppy mud and greasy corners... the course was fantastic.. some great little climbs.. boards up for dismounts and run ups and some off camber corners from hell :)

The gridding at this race went league top riders first then national points leeaders so I was a fair bit back... with the National Cross Champs looming alot of the big hitters were out.. Oldham, Bibby and Craig to name but a few.

Straight into the race I was into a battle with 4 other riders as we switched places so many times I lost count.. and when I thought I was clear the slightest mistake and a rider would pop past..






My first mistake was a late dismount before a board and I slid shin first into it.. ouch!! ... I still maintained contact with the little group I was riding with.. next I washed out my front wheel on a corner and unshipped my chain again although this time it went on quicker but a gap had opened.

As the race progressed I noticed that I was running wider and wider into the turns t bottoms of descents.. my brakes were almost non existent.. with 3 laps to go and just before I was lapped by Nick Craig as he rode to 3rd place I started a little descent that went into an off camber 45 degree left.. Nick Craig railed it.. I went for some brakes to check my speed and both levers came to the bar and I accelerated into the corner.. I briefly held the drift before the front wheel washed and I was left comically sliding down the hill on my back.. wet grass offering no resistance to slow me down.

At that point I called it a day and accepted my second DNF of the season.. too many cheeky descents to ride with no brakes.

Not the most productive races with a 12th and a DNF but entertaining all the same.. the only downside being a sore throat and cough I have so training will be minimal and hopefully I will be good to race again on Sunday 2nd :)

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

NECCL RD 6 - First top 3 :)

Its been 2 weeks since my last race... I was entered to race the Northern Champs race but after a Christmas party incident in a Paris bathroom left me with a very sore head I had to give it a miss.

Wasn't sure how I was feeling before this one... training is going pretty well.

The venue, Dalton Park, was almost free from snow but in leaving it left behind a pretty soggy mess so full mud tyres were perfect.

The course wound its way front and back of a big hill feature with a section along an exposed top... the climbs were pretty short, the descents nicely off camber or slippy.. all good cyclocross elements.

The start was on a narrow path on a slope only a few riders wide so the field spilled onto the grass either side and as we set off I was nicely cut up by a guy that came from above me.. with the anger of that move I was out the saddle on the first short climb and up into the top 5.. by the back half of the lap I had moved into 3rd with a clear view of 1st and 2nd riding away.. the severity of the start strung the field out quickly leaving myself and 4th place to battle out most of the race with 5th a comfortable distance behind and the guys in front now out of reach.

I love the intensity of cross racing... its something you don't get in endurance events... you ride the whole race with people breathing down your neck.. the pressure never lets up.




Towards the end of the race I notice 4th place wasn't there anymore and I got to relax a little and just maintain a gap... then the bell lap came and then it was done.. first top 3... now i just have to do it when there is no national on and the field is at its strongest.

Race Video

Friday, 10 December 2010

Bingo!


Shamelessly pinched from 104Bronson [and so it goes...]

Print out and take to a cross race near you this weekend.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

isle of mull cyclocross

I'm sorry I'm going to miss Mull this year (please Davie move it further from Christmas)
Good luck to all the team who are going, look forward to hearing tales of courage and victory.
Simon, behave yourself, you are warned!

And for all those attending the dance on Saturday night, you've still got time to practise.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Racing Daze

It seems a while ago now since we had a good race, Snow eh. Happier times when we managed to have a race.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Snow Cross

Lying in bed with the phone constantly refreshing the event website.. no change... it was still on.

The recent cold weather had seen a good foot of snow dumped over the week and there was no more putting off my first snow cross experience.

The first challenge was digging out the car... the next negotiating the various driving styles I encountered on the hour drive to the race venue.. afterthis nothing would be a problem.

The car showed todays was racing would be in a very manly -5 degrees ... the event car park park was already filling up as I arrived... you can never underestimate peoples desire to get out and ride :)


Near 60 riders and a few fields wiith 8" of snow covering the race was going to be amazing... made better still as although last week was my first sign on for Velo Club Moulin this was my first week wearing the colours...






.. and almost as good as that my new wheels had been finished so I would get to race on new tufo tubs :)


The course had some really tough sections but on the flipside also had some compacted sections were you could get good speed up but overtaking would mean coming off the good line and fishtailing through deeper snow... doesn't get any more fun than this.


My start was less than ideal... 50 metres of clambering to get both feet in the pedals then riding squarely into a plastic marker post saw me distinctly mid field with lots of work to do.. seems like this is becoming the norm for me every week so it didn't worry me.


The racing went... sit in on the deeper snow sections into everyone elses groove... pop out on the wider compacted sections and steal a few places.... repeat.. any foot down on the floor would lead to you not being able to clip back in so running any sections was avoided.









I cut my way up through the field and could see a group of 4 riders ahead.. then I heard the commentator announce they were fighting for 4th place so the chase was on to get across to them... when I did we had a great battle.. everytime I got up and past I would panic a corner and dab loosing the ground and places I had made... I ended up sat in 5th place on the bell lap.. just behind 4th place.. as we got to a steep climb 4th place went to the side to look for the better line and I gambled and smacked it straight up the middle through the crap of mud and snow... both of us coming to the top close but I had a half wheel and nipped through... a quick blast out the saddle and a few turns later saw my best result so far with 4th place.

The power of Velo colours is strong :)

Next week Northen CX champs.. weather and roads allowing i'm hoping to break the top quarter of the field.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

CXNE RD 7.. Stainton

With much trepidation here goes my first Velo Club Moulin Blog post....

A week after the Gateshead race and an £80 parts repair bill later I was back at another cross race.

The Stainton venue was windy and cold... watching the Junior race from the comfort of a warm van the motivation to get changed and get riding was low.

With no National Trophy race on the field was stacked with some top quality rider... Oldham, Ward, Collins, Murray, Moss, Nixon.. the list was extensive so today wasn't gonna be easy.... as I walked the car park checking out who had turned up my top 5 hope went to top 10 then to a more realistic top 15... I'm not frightened to admit I still have alot to learn and it was obvious that I was about to get taught a few new tricks.

First sign on for Velo team :)

After a quick change Ipedalled out onto the course... to not long after turn around and head back to the van.. I had changed rear wheels and forgot to fit a spacer to inside of freehub so cassette was rattling.. luckily I had the other wheel with spacer with me and was able to borrow tools and sort it.

The course looked pretty awful but once on it it rode really well... plenty of turns, a nice climb, transitions from dirt to tarmac which were only surpassed in their bike sliding ability by a set of off camber bends which were really tricky made more so by having to slide up and though a gate only a rider wide :)

I was mid field on the start line and spent the first lap executing some high risk dubious cornering overtakes to cut my way up towards the top 10.

On a set of low boards that could be bunny hopped I saw new team mate Dave Crawley standing with his bike, later found out a snapped rear mech... I feel your pain Dave!!!

The race was excellent... I had a great battle for most of the race with the same Malton Wheeler rider as we exchanged places two or three times a lap.. he still had the memories of me overtaking him last lap a few weeks earlier... He would be a little quicker through the turns but I would get on the gas on the climbs and take position back.

About 45 minutes in I was overtaken by the leader ... Paul Oldham... no great shame as the form he has at the moment I was surprised it didn't come earlier... another 40 seconds later then Steven Ward came through... a North East rider having a great battle with Oldham and squeezing out the other Hope factory boys for the second place spot.

A lap to go I was just behind my Malton Wheelers rival on the start finish climb so I rode hard past and then buried myself for the rest of the lap.. one final out the saddle effort and the race was done... 13th place in a good field of riders... I know I have both more to give and to learn so looking forward to North of England CX champs in a few weeks.





Picture courtesy of Lee Adeola (http://www.flickr.com/photos/leeandamanda/)

Videos of the race can be seen here;

Video 1
Video 2

Velo jersey arrived yesterday so will be fully representing from now on in :)

Monday, 22 November 2010

Wearing the colours

Having not particularly been in a cycling team before (well, not since the Mint Sauce Race and Flowers team back in 1994 or so...) I thought I might as well make the plunge as I often found myself in the company of VCM riders at many of the races I went to. And being one of the non-Scottish lot, I figured that it might be cheery to ride in the colours in the well-organised Yorkshire Cyclocross league. Besides, it was a cheap way of getting a 'cross skinsuit.

My last three races have been good, bad, then good again as I snatched a good start at the first race in Huddersfield and valiantly battled for 30-oddth with my pal Simon on a smooth and very fast playing field course.


Pic by 'Here Come the Belgians'...

Next time out was the Bradley Woods round that featured a lot of woody singletrack. A real mountain bikers' course. Unfortunately, after a bad start and some frankly rubbish legs and lungs, I was presented with an excuse in the form of rolling first my front tub, then, as I was limping back to the finish and waiting for the winner to lap me, my rear. Don't rely on last year's glue folks!

And then this weekend: Bingley - a race where I've had mixed success. Two years ago I crashed my car on the way to the race, just made it there on time and then my crank fell off - but not before I'd worked my way into last place. This year, fate was a little kinder to me. I showed up to sign-on eight minutes before the start, just managed to pin my number on and get to the start for the start - which went well and I found my way somewhere up the top half. Then a combination of low tyre pressures and low (34T) gearing kept me riding when others were bumbling, giving me my first top 30 for a long time (out of a sizeable 81 in Vets)

Anyway, here's to the next lot... Oh, and my own race that I'm running on January 2nd if anyone's looking for some New Year resolution riding to do in Yorkshire...

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Auchentoshan

Wow, what a fantastic race today at Auchentoshan. A stunningly good cross course, even better than previous years. Features perfectly placed and well thought out, a perfect blend of different surfaces. A near complete test of all your cross skills: handling, dismounting, remounting, running up, fast corners, slow corners. The only thing missing was the mud, but i'm not complaining. I'll take a fast, flowing course with just enough 'shoogle' over a mud slog everytime. Not that i'm adverse to mud, it's just for me that feeling of zipping along is just more fun.

Fantastic organisation by Glasgow United for the 25th anniversary of the race -event timetable posted up a few days before, marshal at the entrance, marshals to help park up (and fix on numbers), slick sign on, extra speakers with commentary dotted around the course, podium, well drilled podium direction from the organiser, podium flowers (!), custom medals. Bloody well done and thanks to all involved.

After a front row call up I managed to get a good start, slotting in behind Davie Lines then sneaking by before the first barriers to lead into the ace woodsy singletrack. Craig Hardie soon got upto the front though and quickly stomped on the pedals to get a gap. JFM then passed and Davie needed a bike change. Sitting in 3rd spot I felt ok but like I couldn't really push on super hard, legs/body/head just not totally on it. Still, well chuffed I was able to hold the gap of 5 - 10 secs on JFM for the rest of the race. Would have even better to have been able to close it.. I seemed to be able to close the gap on some parts of the course - zig zag turns out of the start/finish arena, singletrack through the woods, banking upto the road, but slower on the open, power sections and through the stream/run up. I just couldn't get the transitions through the stream or over the barriers properly dialled. Need to practise them cross drills more..


pic from all round top bloke and very rapid Mr Craig Hardie

So a little frustrated I couldn't go harder today, but I should put things in perspective - I would never have imagined i'd have been riding near the front of an SCX race this season! I'm very grateful my health is hopefully back on track and for fantastic support out there around the courses - the noise of the VCM crew at the banking today was deafening! Almost giving you wings to ride up it. Seriously, that's how it felt.

Great rides again from Maddy and Lyndsey, think Gordy and Simon were top ten or thereabouts. Ian looking smooth and fast in the vets. Bravo!

For me, lots of rest, food and bike fettling this week in anticipation of the Glasgow double header and maybe a word with myself to just keep things fun (and the warm up rollers at home...)

andy

give uncle geoff some



film by andy waterman

Friday, 19 November 2010

new rider

Welcome.


Tyne and Wear based, Paul Errington has been riding for Genesis bikes for the last two seasons and before that for the XC Racer/29'ers. Whilst primarily an endurance rider he is also a dab hand a cyclocross, so far this year getting a 6th and a 9th at the North East Cyclo Cross League.  Other than that he is looking to get his cat2 license in 2011 and take part in some team events. I think he will be a really useful guy to have around and it also gives us some representation in North East England. 


By his own admission its been a lean year mainly from kicking it off with a couple of biggy events, the Arrowhead 135 and the Yak Attack in March. 2009 was the bigger year, being 1st placed SS rider in the Keilder 100 and taking part in, Transportugal, Transprovence and Salzkammergut. 


Anyway I'm sure some of you may already know him, so welcome Paul.




Thursday, 18 November 2010

Lochore Meadows

I set off for Fife on Sunday morning with the memory of my rear mech incident at Strathclyde country park still fresh in my mind. Knowing i had a score to settle i was happy with the preparation and miles in my legs. Travelling down the road it was evident that the chances of a wet race were pretty high. Arriving at Lochore Meadows competitors were faced with the first true cyclocross conditions of the season with a biting cold wind, a few drops of lingering rain and more than a healthy spattering of mud. Setting off on my warm up i bumped into Iain wheeling his bike back to the car minus his rear mech, this was a sign of things to come, with a slow lap to inspect the course my gears were protesting from the off. How were they going to last?


A quick De-mudding of the bike at the start line and we were off, I had an amazing start and quickly found myself in the top five, I knew it would be difficult to keep it going and i lost a couple of places in the first quarter of the race. Still I plodded on nursing the bike through the mud as best i could, meanwhile all around me riders were tearing their rear mechs off as though they were going out of fashion, Including Simon who luckily had a spare bike waiting in the pits. The massive support on the course spurred me on and i managed to grab back a place in the last lap which bagged me sixth, My highest placing so far.


The Crosslight must have weighed twice what it should at the finish but it survived to tell the tale and hopefully my rear mech demons have now been laid to rest. I have to give a big shout out to the extremely vociferous, Cowbell wielding VCM fan club out on the course the noise was deafening at times and was a welcome boost each lap, Thanks guys & girls you know who you are.

Iain had rotten luck with his rear mech, out before he had even started. Maddy and Lyndsey had yet another good showing in Third and Fourth respectively and Simon even with his bike troubles finished Thirteenth.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

a day at the races

Simons drivetrain
mud


Maddie


Lyndsay
Gordy

It was great to watch some racing today and fine performances by the team. big shout to Iain Mellis whose rear mech exploded on practise, not good, I can wholeheartedly sympathise, still a lovely bike though. as for the racing, Maddie and Lyndsay put in strong rides for 3rd and 4th in the womens race and over in the seniors Gordy Mac put in an absolute storming ride for 6th in a very strong senior field, Simon also suffered some bike woes whilst in 10th, a spare bike at the ready (so pro) and I think he finished around 12-15th. all in all a fine outing.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

First time VCMer

Today marked the start of my time with VC Moulin and i set the bar pretty high with a win in RD4 of the north east CX league, an absolute mudbath with some technical wooded singletrack sections made for a fantastic course. after slogging it out for 40 minutes with blackhawk bikes Alan Nixon on gradually reducing numbers of gears it came down to survival and after pulling away with two laps to go he threw in the towel. results and pics arent online yet but ill post some when i find them, look forward to meeting some fellow VCM riders on the double header in glasgow and ill see how i fare against the northern lot...

Dave Crawley

Friday, 5 November 2010

Unexpected

I'll be honest, i've never been a huge fan of the Mugdock course. Too much like an mtb course, too much rooty, lumpy, bumpy, muddy, narrow - ness. Fair weather cross rider you'll likely be thinking. Well partly, probably, but I love courses that flow and have some zip and rhythm. Meadowmill this year was that. Auchentoshan, although techier has it.

Mid week I'd all but convinced myself not to race. Rest up, stay healthy, never really enjoy Mugdock anyway.... Then Miffae called looking for a lift and I instantly changed my mind.

After watching Maddy and Lyndsey tearing things up in the Womens/Vets/Juniors race (well done!), I pulled myself away to try and get warmed up. A failed attempt at riding rollers with 25psi cross tubs on had me warming up on the narrow back road. A slightly skipping gear 3rd from top not helping pre race nerves much. Much closer to race time, my front tub decided to let some air out of a hole i've never really got sealed up properly (it's fine so long as you don't try to put more than about 28psi in... ). Yikes. Too late to try and fix and not wanting to meddle I decide to just race on it..

The start is a little crazy. With only one rideable line on the left of the uphill lumpy, grassy start, the whole 10 or so wide field makes a bee line for this immediately from the gun. Gridded on the 2nd row I get blocked in but do get to enjoy a shoulder on shoulder, handlebar on handlebar moment.

Not the best start but by mid lap I manage to move up a little. Ahead a group of 5 has moved off the front. I try hard to make the back on this group but a rapidly moving forward James Fraser Moodie blows things apart and takes off alone in front. A few laps later i'm feeling pretty good and chuffed to realise that i'm holding my spot in 4th or 5th, riding pretty well, enjoying things immensely and crucially able to push myself really damn hard.

My efforts to stay away from Greig Walker and Colin May just behind bring me closer to Neil Walker in front. Not quite believing i'm catching him, and with lots of fantastic encouragement from Lyndsey and Maddy I try to ride straight past him through the start/finish. It doesn't quite work but then a little later I hear the (horrible) sound of metal and carbon on ground behind me... I don't look back but hope Neil is ok (he is).

I then pass JFM with a mechanical. Up into 3rd! Through the start/finish more cheers and encouragement that i'm closing on Davie Lines. This well and truly fires me up and with 2 laps to go I pass Davie through the start/finish, jump away and manage to hold onto 2nd spot.

Eye of the tiger. Raar! Photo by Duncan Gray. Representin! Photo by Steve Turbitt (SCX photog and race reporter extraordinnaire)


At the finish I need a lie down. Miffae comes in soon after and we think he's made the top ten (11th in the results). So, both well chuffed with our rides. Me - chuffed with pretty consistent lap times, pleased I stayed upright. Chuffed my tub stayed up and that Tufo's don't mind being bottomed out onto the rim lots. Chuffed with the course too, it was a lot of fun, not too muddy, still quite techy, tough run up, ace log to ride over, more flow. Mugdock I take it all back!

cheers,

andy

Thursday, 4 November 2010

A new Moulineer

introducing our new winter signing; Carlisle based rider, Dave Crawley.




I'm sure he'll fill us in on the finer details over the coming months but highlights of the year include;



1st - castle carrock road race (3/4)
2nd north west divs road race (3/4)

Grass track
4th - National 8k
1st - Round 1 of national endurance league

TT
10 mile pb 22:46
25 mile pb 58:48

cyclocross 
4th - 1st round of the north west league


He plans to come up for a couple of the remaining SCX races, so lets make him welcome.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Thursday, 21 October 2010

SCX round 3


Finally I feel the race legs. Strathclyde Country park was the first time I've got near the top ten. So the hunger is on for more Scalps, shame about Gordy, hopefully next week we can flight the opposition together. Hail the VCM's a force to be reckoned with..

Mugdock!! you only hope its like this.

Monday, 18 October 2010

the only way is up.


How to climb an SCX banking from Steven Turbitt on Vimeo.


Big up to Steve Turbitt from the legendary Glasgow United.  A great wee film.

giving it everything

I love watching Zdenek Stybar race - totally committed, an exceptional bike handler, a racer who gives it everything. Check out him soloing to victory on Sunday at the World Cup opener at Aigle - constantly pushing so damn hard.

Amazing - that mental and physical strength to turn yourself inside out.




Pretty inspirational stuff.

For me Sunday was my 2nd cross race of the season, Rd 3 of the SCX Series at Strathclyde. 2nd race back after over a year off racing and training, trying to get my health sorted out.

After a pretty good start I found myself unexpectedly sitting in the top 3 at the start of lap 2! Things quickened up pretty soon after though and I wasn't able to follow the race for 2nd, 3rd and 4th, if I had tried I would likely soon have gone ka-boom! Some fantastic support from fellow VCMers, my friend Don visiting from Oregon, Ros, friends from Selkirk and fellow cxers, got me through some rough middle laps. Able to push a little harder on the last 2 laps I hung on for 5th!

Pretty chuffed with this. Just hope I can stay healthy, enjoy some more racing and get a little stronger as the season progresses, so maybe I can get to a point where I can give it everything for an hour..

andy

Bang :o(

Sxc 3 Strathclyde country park.


I was sitting in 11th place with Simon pushing me hard, Starting lap 5 and out of nowhere i skidded to an abrupt halt, A quick check and it was clear it was terminal. Bitterly disappointed but i will return.

Pic: Lyndsey Carson


Well done to Andy 5th fantastic and Simon 13th. Maddy and Lyndsey dueled it out for 3rd and 4th respectively, Visiting Don Leet pulled off 20th vet with Iain following in 31st.

Great support on the course for VCM along with Marty popping out from behind trees every lap.

night-ride-epic

a plan is forming for an epic night ride somewhere soon.

day26

need: lights (lots), legs (some), hipflask (gin or whisky)

who's in?

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Blenheim 'cross
































































Check list:

- Bambi legs

- Feeling nauseous

- Gibbering inanely

- going an odd puce colour

- crust of gel and drool in beard


All ticked! It wasn't cold enough and only moderately wet, though. A glamorous setting for the first cross of the year, all the same.

Nervous on the start line. I got gridded (no idea why, but it helped get a decent start). Number 13 mounted right way up to confuse the gods-of-luck. All the usual small battles that mean so much for an hour then disappear just as quickly. Did better than expected - always good. A lot of fun and a lot of pain, who'd a thunk it.

More this weekend...

3^ CX

 
A couple of weeks since the 3 Peaks now. Time for a quick report.
 
Good fun and a chance to catch up with friends I don't see often enough. For the third year running the event was dry- BONUS. Ingleborough was tough as ever but went well enough, 21st through Cold Cotes probably my highest yet at that point. Road section to Whernside was ok, not too windy and caught a few more so into the top 20.



 
Whernside however was not nice; in previous years I've got into a nice rythm climbing the steps 'till the ground levels into the rideable top section. Not so this year, instead CRAMP and plenty of it. Lots of possible reasons for this but mainly the legs weren't ready for this kind of effort after two months lost to the flippin cold. Suppose I've been lucky as I've avoided a serious cold for the last two winters but why the hell did I have to catch one in the build up to my main race of the year? Best laid plans! The view off Whernside was stunning, fantastic just to be out in such an amazing part of the World. Descent off Whernside went well, no punctures or mechanical issues so happy enough with that. Managed to spot most of the quick lines I think but still some improvement to come there. The Mary Poppins bike came into it's own on this section; the extra width of the flat bars and V-brakes were ace. Back to a proper 'crosser next year? Not sure yet.

Into a group of six or so for the spin along to Pen-y-ghent. This gave a chance to spin the legs but the cramp was determined to stay. Pen-y-ghent is the most rideable of the three climbs and normally has been my favourite hill, I was grovelling up it this year though. Just a case of getting up and over the final hill, not really able to attack this one at all, glad to only loose a few places as I was scared of blowing completely.
 




So all in all a good day out but a long way off the ride I know is in there. It's always frustrating not being able to race to your maximum but that's all part of bike racing I guess- you can't be 100% in every race. Still pleased I made the trip to Settle though and a good chance to see my folks who came down to be support crew. Massive thanks to Emma and my whole family who followed round as support, don't think we could have squeezed any more spare wheels in the little Corsa but thankfully none were needed. Good to see Steve McInnes absolutely ripping it for 7th spot- top bloke and a quick bike rider- well worth the journey down from Mull. Thanks to my mate John who had a year off riding, took the pics in this post and provided some much needed encouragement going up Pen-y-ghent.
 
Onto 'normal' 'cross now. Hopefully the results will come.
 
Cheers
Stevo.

ten thousand words

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Meadowmill Results

Seeing as some of you lovely folks were racing your socks off at meadowmill I'll just let you know that the results are up!

http://www.scottishcyclocross.org.uk/

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Really Long Blog Post...

I think it would be fair to say that my upkeep of this blog has been pretty shabby. I've been pedalling a fair bit, and my cycling chi is doing spiffingly. I don't want the road season to be over! I've decided not to do cross this season, in the hope of saving some pennies for racing next season.


So, where to begin? I did the weekend of racing in Dumfries, which included a criterium on the Friday and a road race on the Sunday. The criterium was too fast for me, but got my legs going for the road race which I enjoyed. It seems odd looking back to those races and thinking they were at the start of this season, because I feel so much stronger now. After that I did a really hilly women's National Series race at Capernwray, which had a 1 mile climb we had to ride up six times. This was a slightly frustrating race as I was at the tail end of the bunch the first time up the climb and we were cut off from getting back into the lead group by people in cars over taking us and pulling in, the roads were too narrow and bendy to get back past. It is possible I shouted a few things at the car drivers. I don't remember what. 


I also did a 3/4 cat race near my home in Cumbria. I was a bit nervous, the last time I raced with men I found terrifying, the pace was too high and crashes seemed inevitable. This time though, I was really pleased. The pace was a lot lower than the Capernwray race, it was a lot easier to move up in the bunch. In my over excitement at not getting dropped immediately I went with a couple of attacks, sat in a bit, and really, really enjoyed it. 


I've also been doing a fair bit of time trialling, and was really pleased to beat my 10 mile pb and go under 24 minutes for the first time. I also travelled down to South Wales to do the BC National TT Champs, I wanted to get a bench mark time against the likes of Emma Pooley. It turned out to be a good bench mark to get, as she is now World Champion. I also got 3rd in the Espoir Category which was great, and had the advantage of not having to saw my bike into bits to meet the UCI regulations as a lot of competitors found themselves having to do. 


Another event I really enjoyed was the Erskine women's crit, the course was quite technical, but the race was great. If I get my points from this event (I think the electronic timing didn't work) then I will also have my 2nd cat licence. 


The Darley Moore Women's National Team Series race was another highlight of this year, because it is the first time I have felt on a par with the girls in those sort of races. It is a flat motor bike circuit, so the race is sort of like a big crit. I finished in the main bunch sprint, in the same race last year I was lapped.


A couple of weeks ago I did the Tour of the Campsies. I had never ridden the course before, so decided to take it easy-ish up the Crow Road in case the back section turned out to be really hard. I was 2nd up the hill by 10 seconds, and 2nd in the event by 2 minutes. My descending was horrendous, and the road surface really bad, but I enjoyed the event and was honestly pleased to finish with my bike in one piece after some of those pot holes. The cake at the end was beyond compare, definitely worth doing the TT for the cake (mm, and the sandwiches, I've just remembered the sandwhiches - ham, cheese AND mustard...in one sandwich!). 


Last but not least I went to Ireland to do the women's Ras na mBan. It was...awesome. Fast racing on terrible road surfaces with stunning views and a nice mix of terrible weather on the last day too (which I strangely really enjoyed). 


I was pretty tired before we started from carrying my bike bag around at the airport, I didn't have a pound coin so couldn't get a trolley, and had to pull my bag from the parking to the terminal. On the first day I was really frustrated as I thought I was last, I spent the first half of the race chasing attacks and being in attacks and then got dropped going over the top of the first big climb and trying to chase back on on my own. As I was coming up to the line I looked behind and saw two girls chasing me, I knew I would be really gutted if I got caught so I just put my head down and pedalled as hard as I could, but my legs had nothing left after the chasing I'd been doing. The girls were about 2cm from catching me on the line. It turned out I was not last, I was in the top half of the field (34th/69). 


The next day was a gravelly circuit with a long climb, I decided to try and conserve some energy and sit in a bit more to see if I could recover for the next days stage. I finished with a group of about 15 girls, and enjoyed the tactics of the sprint.


The time trial in the afternoon wasn't great for me, 2km down hill. I was something like 52nd compared to my 34th on GC, so moved down to 39th overall. 


The last stage was a 60mile road race with over 800 metres of ascent. I opened the curtains in the morning to see that it was raining sideways. I spent this stage really trying to concentrate on sitting in. I think I've been so excited to not get dropped I've been doing too much attacking, chasing attacks and sitting on the front. I tried to sit near girls I knew were unlikely to get dropped, and see that they really do just sit in the bunch as much as possible. There was a cat 1 climb which we had to climb over, ride down the other side and around a circuit and then back over the climb. I was dropped the first time over the climb, just near the top. I was then in some sort of crazy chase on the descent which I would rather my Mum didn't find out about. It was fast. I was so happy to get  back into the bunch as I wasn't expecting it. I sat in again until the next time up the climb where I was dropped again really near the top of the climb. I rode in on my own, and caught and passed a few other girls. I had no idea where I had finished, so was really pleased to see I was 35th on the day and had moved up to 36th on GC. Last year the racing was slower and I was a lot further down on GC, and moved even further down on the last stage, so I was really pleased to beat all the girls I was near in GC on that last stage.


After the stage I had to scrub my legs to get the 'mud/oil lines' off. Who needs tan lines?


Good Lord, I've not even said anything about my riding in France...well, I went to France. I rode there. I won three races and was second in one. I rode Alp d'Huez in a pb time and beat a girl who races for Max Gear and got in the top ten for all women who have ridden the climb using the Timtoo timing system. Number 1 is Jeannie Longo. It was 42 degrees C in the Haut Jura and I went for a bike ride. I had to shelter under a tree, and thought 'man, I'm lame, I can't even cope with a little bit of heat'. Only when I got back did I see what the temperature had been. I SAW LANCE ARMSTRONG. I literally went weak at the knees. Kolobnev stared at me as he rode by...no, really. He actually LOOKED AT ME. 


Right. Wow. Sorry about that. That is a lot of writing. Here are some pictures. And yes, no matter what country I am in, it would appear I do race in those terrible green shorts.







Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Monday, 20 September 2010

Any VCM's fancy a trip to the 3peak

New team bus for the 3 peaks, helpers needed to cheer and hand out wheels,
any luck?
Report on Portland comin soon watch this space

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Did someone say, "Cross racing?"

A new 'cross racing season is in the offing. A new bike has arrived. Shakedown ride successfully negotiated (super-fun in the singletrack). It is time.
































Saturday, 11 September 2010

Kielder 100.

For the last few years i've managed to get over to the east coast of the states in order to do some of the 100 mile races in the National Ultra Endurance series. 100 miles is quite a long way to ride off road, but once you get your head in the right place its not too tough. The difficulty comes when you try to go *fast* for 100 miles. It requires great care in order to get the right amount of calories on board and stay hydrated without carrying too much weight. Last year, SIP events promoted the first 100 mile race in the UK. It fell on the same day as a 100 mile race i did in the states, so i couldnt attend. Despite being a new event, it garnered good reviews for both course and organisation so it seemed a good idea to give it a go this year.

Having the week off before was good. It meant i could try to shake the mild sore throat that had been bugging me for a few days and get lots of rest, do some stretching and get the bike sorted. My decision to race with gears (albeit only 5 of them!) was based around the course having a high quotient of rolling fire road. I just didnt want to apply the washing machine spin for that long.

Unfortunately, two days before the event i managed to develop an arse problem that rhymes with 'smile'. Not pleasant to discuss, but this race report might act as a warning tale for others.

I got down to the race centre in good time on friday, with the race due for kick off at 6.30 am on the saturday. I signed on and had my compulsory racer equipment checked with the help of steve makin, who was due to be racing but a back injury meant he was helping out instead. Next up, cook pasta, and pack the drop bags. Whilst i was doing this, the shady, river-side and wind shielded campsite came alive with midge. The warmth after the recent rains meant a bumper crop too, so eating was performed whilst walking around as i swatted and waved maniacally. The rider briefing was more of the same: some 550 racers all frantically trying to avoid being bitten too many times. I met fellow Moulineer Deano, Phil the horse racing for Morvelo and Gareth Jones racing for Singular cycles. Biff was also there, aiming to complete not just the 100 miles on saturday, but then do a very significant triathlon on the sunday.

An early night after a glass of red wine allowed me to spring into action at 5am when the first of my 4 alarms went off. I was taking no chances on missing the start and i was hopeful that i could get a bit more prep done without midge. No such luck! they were already up and about, although sluggish in the cold morning air. Despite significant cloud cover, it was meant to burn off through the day, so i kept clothing minimal and just used a gilet and arm warmers to keep warm before the start. The queue formed early, so i was happy to be at the front end and minimise any overtaking or over zealous mid packers.

The van lead out almost ended in tears when it stopped to reduce the riders getting strung out too much, then stalled on restarting. After 2 miles it pulled off and the game was on. Five gears isnt many, but the ratios were well picked and my legs were feeling good. I kept in a bunch near the pointy end for the first couple of hours, riding through low lying cloud and on very rolling trail and fire road. For the most part we were going to be on forestry roads, so it wasnt demanding riding. There was the odd section of connector trail which was tricky due to the amount of angled, de-barked branches lining the forestry machinery's deep rutted tracks, but it wasnt for long. Due to the cloud i had removed my glasses and i nearly freaked when i got one of the trail side conifer's branches in my eye early on. Fortunately it settled quickly and i got on with the job at hand.



As we approached the border between england and scotland we hit some man made trail. At first glance this was typical trail centre stuff, but after only a brief time it was apparent that the quality of workmanship and materials used was sorely lacking. It was basically just a prolonged pile of sharp mid sized stones filled in with sandy mud. The gradients and corners were poorly done and at times 'jumps' appeared to have just been dumped with little regard for flow. Nevertheless, before long we were back on forest road and approaching the half way mark. I was still feeling strong and was dead on for 9 hours, which was my personal goal.

However, it was becoming clear that with any serious effort at pedalling or gradient, my pile was beginning to take on the qualities of a red hot poker. Often, i would have to stand up, coast and relax in order to settle things down before going tentatively back to it. There was nothing i could do: i was just going to have to grin and bear it.

By the time we got near Newcastleton and the beautiful trails around there the sun had burnt off the last of the cloud and as i stocked up on a little water and had my 'passport' stamped for getting back into england, i was enjoying the warmth. Unfortunately the long section of fire road from Newcastleton at mile 65 to the last aid at mile 80 was into a head wind and by 10 miles in my arse was so sore i could have screamed. Ironic, given the absolutely amazing Endura pro inserts comfort. I had to stop for a few minutes at one point and just lie down. Then on again and finally i dropped down to the check point, where i met phil, who had pulled earlier and was helping out instead. His encouragement was great and i knew i was still doing pretty well at that point, but stupidly failed to pick up any extra calories from my drop bag. So far i had been using my feed bag (kind of like a climber's chalk bag attached to the handlebars) filled with peanut m&m's and skittles and honey roasted nuts with a little top off of mule bars and heed perpetuum in the bottles alternated with nuun tabs from my drop bags at the aid stations.



The next climb out of the aid station brought me to my knees as all available energy drained from my legs. Cursing my stupidity i scraped the last of the food from the feed bag and nodded as gareth jones pumped the big meat past me up the fire road. By the top i had regained some composure and, despite it looking very unlikely i would break 9 hours, i tried to keep it rolling steadily.

More fire road climbs and searing arse pain followed and a further section of appalling man made trail before we started the final ascents leading to the top of the (again poorly finished) man made trail down to the finish. Pain meant i walked some of the uphills and i could feel time trickling away. Racers were coming by thick and fast and I knew i was hitting the wall as well: i had nothing with any calories and several miles to go.

It was a pretty low ebb for me at that point. My vision was gone and it took all i had to pilot the bike into the finish area at 9 hours 54minutes. Disappointing, but i was done. 50th place.

Packing with very wobbly legs whilst trying to eat hurriedly cooked hot dogs and avoid midge was the order of the day and i sped off home after dropping in my timing chip. As good as it would have been to have chilled out after the race, i just couldnt cope with the plague of midge.

The race itself was *fantastically* organised with many, many volunteers making it easy for the racers to give their best. The course had some great views and was generally good for a long distance ride, save for the horrid man made stuff. I think the forestry need to admit that trying to get more for less doesnt make for great trail.

Next year? maybe. For now i am enjoying - guilt free - a significant chunk of gorgeous Smoked Ardrahan from the Mellis's cheese emporium and taking a week or two off the bike to try and get my arse settled down. One thing is for sure, i wouldnt recommend racing any distance if you develop a pile. Really....

Pics are both from Joolze Dymond.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Ronnie Macdonald Memorial TT

I turned out on Saturday afternoon as VCM photgrapher to catch Johnymac in action at the Ronnie Macdonald memorial 10 mile time trial. Hosted by Ross-Shire Roads CC on a sunny afternoon riders experienced a healthy tailwind to the turn and a not so healthy headwind for the last 5 miles. Despite the headwind there were some good times recorded, John posted a time of 23:48.

Johnymac getting up close and personal. Pic Gordymac

Monday, 6 September 2010

Testing



It was the last weekend of gondola uplift at the Nevis Range at the weekend there, so I decided to test ride my new DH bike and my new VCM t-shirt.
Result: both passed!


Now I need to get my CX head on....

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Kielder 100.



Lets get ready to rumble.

I've started so I'll finish

Ok, so I get the notion to try a midweek cross race while I'm down south, how hard can it be, the weather has been glorious, I've been squeezing short but higher tempo rides in where I can, it'll be good for my legs, yeah?
How wrong can one man be? 
As the sky in the photo will testify it was glorious evening for round 1 of the Rugby Floodlit cross series. The course is set around some rugby fields and uses every little section of gradient there is, on practise it was a big ring blast, something that didn't translate well to the actual race.
A big field lined up, I'm guessing maybe 70 riders spread out in a line and aiming for the far end of the field to make a 90 degree turn and onto the course, the whistle blew and the brutality started, I made it round the corner in the middle of the bunch and onto the course to watch what felt like the entire field pass me up the long drag to the far corner, there was nothing in the tank, so early too, shit. I gritted the teeth and tried my best to hang onto the end of the bunch which was spreading faster than hot butter, all I could hope for was to feel better as the race went on. 
Well I didn't, the leading youth riders quickly caught us and started ploughing through the field, I still had contact with the end of the bunch and from what I could see there was maybe 8 or 9 riders behind me. 
The 3 laps to go sign was like a kick in the balls, my throat was dry my legs refused to do anything, breathing laboured and sweating like a pig. I ground it out, insisting to myself it would do me some good. 
By the end I was broken. 
I need to find some speed from somewhere.

Welcome to Cross season
n'n'n'n'n'n'nineteen

Thursday, 26 August 2010

The VCM Fan T-Shirt









VCM Fan Shirt
Sizes







Indulge yourself and support the team. Slim fitting* black cotton with pave silver logo.  Limited stock so hurry while they last.






*if you are already tight in your regular size then you will probably want to upsize, don't be shy.