Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Contin Mudfest

Velo Club Moulin's Gordymac, Johnvcm, and Lindsay took to the hills of the North on Sunday at Contin. Back on the radar after a few years break it was set to test all those involved.



An uphill start was always going to make it tough.

Round the bend and out of sight riders were faced with the brutal climb up to View Rock, with this track usually reserved for descending, heading skyward was a shock to the system.

The ringing of cowbell welcomed riders to the top of View Rock before a short off camber section took them over the mud covered camelback and round Loch Na Cran. More slippery single track ensued dropping riders to the short water splash, Futile in it's efforts to free some mud from riders bikes as the following descent was a muddy toboggan run back into the finish arena.

Johnyvcm and Gordymac duelled it out in Masters with me getting to within sight of John at the start of lap three it was enough to spur him onto a 7th place finish with me following closely behind in 9th no doubt both of us aided by the vociferous track side Vcm fan club. Lindsay finished a very muddy race with a well earned 3rd place.

I must have been doing something right as i was still smiling a the finish, Although the quest for a lighter bike for next time has started already..........

Pictures by Ross Nixon.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

NZSS10

Tristan models a daring blue vintage number with matching dodgy tash and tats...

Lots more images from the Queenstown MTB Club gallery

Well, since cross doesn't really happen here in NZ, we've been occupying ourselves with a little bit of single speeding. NZ held our national single speed race in a spot called Queenstown. Better known for perfect postcard scenery and having earned the title of NZ's adventure capital, Queenstown was a welcome choice of venue. Although the day itself was a less than perfect - actually it was pretty yuck, as it dawned cold and drizzled right up to the race start. My specially purchased mid-calf-length pure white socks were stained before I even hit the race track.

Anyway, it was bad... In a good way. But also in an evil way. The track was squashed into a peninsula on Lake Wakatipu called 7 Mile. Somewhow they managed to jam 330 verticle meters of climbing into the 6km loop and then forced us to ride it 5 times. Add it up - that's a shade over a mile of vert. On a single speed.

Anyway, the outcome was favourable for me, but part way through the last lap I started worrying about where I was going to put the winner's tattoo...


Above two images courtesy of Scott Kennedy of Adventureskope.com

We've also written a bit about the race for the NZ importer of my lovely Ibis Tranny - Hyperformance Hardaware. Although, to understand it, non NZer and non-squash-enthusiasts might need to do a little prior research to understand it: wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_Devoy

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

20 miles too far..

Inspired by the Goatee of Filth ride and with the day off work and the sun shining, I took to the road bike on one of my most favourite rides, with a few tweaks:

Peebles to Traquair then over the 'Paddy Slacks' to the Gordon Arms in Yarrow Valley. Straight over here and another steady climb up and over the 'Berrybush' and a screaming fast descent with added loose gravel twitchiness to Crosslee in the Ettrick Valley. Left here and tailwind assistance down the valley to Kirkhope.


Fox, sadly deceased, at a layby on the Paddy Slacks climb



Swire climb from the summit back down towards Ettrick Valley

Left again and a relatively short, steady grind up the Swire and descent to Yarrow (singletrack for road bikes!).


Amazingly bright red house at Yarrowford

Right and down the Yarrow valley towards Selkirk, taking in the road/dirt track through Philiphaugh estate. Resist stopping at the Watermill cafe, but soon regret this on the rough, lumpy road towards Yair bridge. Starting to fade/hurt now, even though i've been shovelling food down all ride - my lack of fitness and endurance becoming all too apparent!


Start of unpaved section at The Yair estate

At Yair bridge I skip off the main road heading straight on instead, singletrack road first then 3km ish of dirt road, rough at first then faster and looser approaching Yair Forest. Anyone who's done the Selkirk 'Merida' will be familiar with this bit.



Dirt road through Yair forest


The final stretch is along one of the hidden gems of the Tweed Valley - the oft deserted back road that runs along the south side of the river all the way back to Peebles. Sadly, although sheltered in places, a headwind is sapping any remaining zing and all I can do is soft pedal along, legs heavy like concrete and mind starting to blur. The thought of stopping for a quick sleep at the side of the road crosses my mind often but it's late and need to get back to feed Frog the cat.



Back road between Peel and Walkerburn.

20 miles too far methinks..

Stats for cats: 60 miles, 3hr 53, 2 x 750ml Torq energy drink, 5 x energy bar (various), 1 x Torq gel. Post ride: 10 mins stretching and Torq recovery ~ 400ml, shower, 30 mins sleep then more food!

Saturday, 17 April 2010

West Coast Chopped.

So this report was supposed to be from the west coast of the US of A. From Monterey, to be exact, where i was going to be doing a bit of arms-race research for VCM at Sea Otter. A volcano put paid to that: instead i hit the west coast of Scotland as the sun was out and i wanted to see how much i have in the tank at present.

Most years, the lowland contingent of VCM put in a biggish mtb ride at this time of year. Primarily to get the long-site going (there's this strange thing that happens to time when you ride for more than 6 hours straight) and also to dust any cobwebs off the bikes.

For one reason or another, this has become known as F.B.R.O.T.Y - the first big ride of the year. Most often the route is one that has become legend as Mangrunt. Named, if i remember correctly for the hump out of Inversnaid after tackling Loch Lomond sides technical singletrack, before re-entering the Queen Elizabeth forest park and closing the loop.



The loop is about 45 miles and is usually started at Drymen, then to Balloch - either by Conic Hill if you are feeling masochistic (not because of the gradient or the altitude gain - its just the trail is chewed up entirely from rain damage) or on the trails to the south and west.



Then up Loch Lomond side, pump the big meat from the Inversnaid hotel up to Stronachlachar, and then back in to the forest and run along side Loch Chon. After muscling up to the top of the Mustard route, a roll along forest trails before a final pinch up the back road to Drymen and you're done.

This time, i decided to start the same, but take the switch back climb over the bealach between Cruinn a' Bheinn and Ben Lomond. This drops to Comer, where you can take the trail north west past Loch Chon, to Stronachlachar and circumnavigate Loch Katrine, before taking the trails south of Ben Ledi and climbing out of the forest past Loch Drunkie, decending into Aberfoyle from the north and join the Mustard route at that point, following the Rob Roy Way, and hitting the road back over to Drymen. I have no idea how much further this variation of the route is, but it adds a chunk of climbing.



I started at Garadhban - where incidentally i met the support/fim crew for Rob Lee who was attempting the West Highland Way there and back. I passed on my commiserations about Conic Hill and took off myself. The trails were in startling condition.



The recent sun and heat have dried things up and everything was running fast with epic traction. After Balmaha, i made it round to Sallochy with minimal walker-action.



Then up for the first glimpse of the Ben. Fast trail until the Cailness Bothy and then i adopted the position.



Up and up and up...



To give some idea of the gradient...



At the top, the view onto the North face and Coire a Bhathaich was spectacular.



The decent down to Comer stole tears from my eyes, but the heat was back on as i made the decision to bite off the Loch Katrine loop. The legs felt good. so up the steepish climbs on the north side of the Loch after the Macgregors burial ground at Portnellan. As the stone there says, "E'en Do bait Spair Nocht", even do and spare not.

Ducking back into the forest as the sun began to set and i knew i still had 3 long-ish climbs to make. The first up and past the Dukes pass Toll took the wind from my sails.



(click to make big)

Fortunately my Heed was doing the job and i dropped to Aberfoyle ready to push out the last 1.5 hours or so.



Round the Mustard loop and the temperature dropped by 10 degrees as the sun finally became obscured by the horizon. A tail wind until the last of the forest trails was free-speed and a cheery wave from a forestry truck was a good sign.



Then out into the wind turbine that was blowing down the Dryment road. A cruel way to end but a world class ride to make up for being grounded in Scotland.



7.5 hours on the nose. Distance: some. Climbing: lots. Visuals excellent. Route assessment: tough guy but worth it.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Lucky number 13?





Thirteen years have passed since i last raced a Sxc, way back then it was sport but with the passage of time it's now master to look forward to. Lots of racing has gone on in that time and next Sunday im back to it for my first race in VCM colours. Number 13 was lucky the last time out and with a cracking course in store at Contin hopefully next Sunday will be good too. See ya all Sunday.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

G of F - la vue de l'arrière du peleton


Culross pave pic lifted from Marty's twitter

Last Sunday saw the 2nd edition of the Goatee of Filth. Not having the best of fitness at present I was relieved to meet up with other mouliners at Marty's for pre ride coffee and prep - lots of wheels to hide behind to blag it up the climbs!

More mouliners at Inverkeithing swelled the group to 8 as we hit the first secteur of pave, a short steep little number that runs up behind Sandy Wallace's bike shop. Big grins all around at the top.

Next underneath the M90 and along back roads that eventually dump us out on the shore of the Forth. Sun's out now and all feels good as the peleton rolls along towards Culross. Walkers kindly restrain their pooches and look on with a degree of bemusement.

The Culross secteur of pave feels as lumpy as it did a year ago, the tarmac after possibly even steeper....and longer. Nelly zips off like at scalded cat in front, jon, simon and dougie dance up not far behind. Me, well, I just try and keep a steady rhythm going and hope not to blow my engine too soon..

More lovely winding back roads lay ahead. From here my geography fails me. There's chat of hitting the Knockhill climb but I think we miss the turn off. About the same time, the rain starts. My lack of road riding of late becomes all to apparent with a failed attempt to don rain jacket mid pedal. Fear of the second arm catching in the rear spokes and the road turning downhill not far ahead forces me to concede defeat and stop. Amateur!

Flying in the face of the forecast, the rain comes on heavier and things get alot chillier. Nelly splits off to head for Cupar then Simon and Iain clip off the front for warmth and home, whilst Jon, Marty, Maddy and I make for Burntisland. For a while I worry that any stop now will put us in real trouble - it's getting that cold. Please no punctures now.

The last climb completed, it's all downhill to the finish. Hands are so darn cold though I dare not let fully off the brakes on the run in to Burntisland. The wind chill gets me properly shivering by Marty's front door. Wet clothes quickly off, dry ones on, fantastic soups, coffee and cake (thanks Sue!) and the final 40km of the Ronde on the tv. Happy!

Thanks v.much Marty for organising. Must do this again soon. Ace to get out on the bike with other VCMers. Anyone up for a ride in the Borders some point? Road, cross or mtb options a plenty.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Rig-Hoff



Finally I have managed to get my Rohloff back on to the Rig. All I needed was a monkey bone and the ability to follow the instruction manual [does it really need to be so complicated?].

Just in time for some more Portuguese action coming up later in the month. www.geo-raid.com for more.

Hopefully the weather gods will be smiling and Jac and l will be treated to views like this one:


Instead of this one:




Right. Time to paint the wall behind the rig...

Friday, 2 April 2010

The Sweetness.

After spending some seriously wet, gritty hours working it on the road bike, it was clear i needed a hit of sweet dirt to realign my head.



Fitness is proving hard to come by this year. All the usual culprits, but that doesnt matter so much when there is a ribbon of dirt under your wheels.



Training is one thing, but utilising almost forgotten skills and pushing the one gear takes it back to basics.



Speed is the key. Keep it tight, but loose. Let the animal part of your brain take over.



Work the corners. Flow the roots.