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.

Lots of Updates

First off a big thank you to everyone in VCM- a mystery package appeared the other day, inside was a trophy for 'Most Combatant Rider'. Cool trophy, cheers.



10 at Kirroughtree, apologies for the time it's taken to get this post on the blog.




Despite a self imposed rest from racing my mtb this year I couldn't help but have a shot at No Fuss' 10 At Kirroughtree. Having ridden the event twice before (as a pair with Andy) I knew the course would be well worth the drive North. Unfortunately Andy was busy so I spent a month or more humming and ahhhing over whether to give it a go solo. The thought of a ten hour race does not really, on the face of it, inspire me too much BUT the Kirroughtree course does. I don't think there are many race courses in the UK I could ride round for 10 hours in the rain and honestly enjoy every lap. A big shout must go to Frazer and the rest of the No Fuss team for having the balls to put on a challenging and fun 'enduro' course. The course had a bit of everything from rooty singletrack to flowing bermed trails and some fire road too- useful for getting in some food and drink!

The race started nice and steady for me- I deliberately hung back and took the first few laps nice 'n easy. This also gave me a chance to say hello to a few old friends. The nature of the course combined with the weather suggested it would be a tough day so no point being a hero in the first few hours! This strategy seemed to pay off as the rain stayed most of the day in varying degrees of severity. I think the rain was worse for those in the pits though as on the bike I didn't really notice it much. A HUGE thank you to my girlfriend Emma who stayed out in the rain all day and every lap had food and drink ready along with water for washing the bike- an awesome job! Thanks also to my Dad and sister for cheering me on in the rain- those shouts definitely helped when the legs were feelin' it!



Buoyed by riding at Kirroughtree I decided to enter my first XC race of the year. August is a touch late to be starting your XC season but this was more for the fun of racing than for searching out ranking points or winning championships. Midlands XC round 3 was within a days drive so seemed worth a shot. Surprisingly the course was a cracker- the first km or so based around a golf course- nothing special- but upon leaving this area the course ducked into some woodland taking in some pretty nice singletrack. Nothing too steep or edgy but some fun trails and a super steep climb, which was a good challenge to clear, had me almost track-standing with a single 39t front chainring. The race went well, not too crazy off the line, settling into about 8th position. Keeping a good pace and entering the final of five laps in fifth place it was a case of give-it-everything for the last lap. I caught the fourth placed rider on the last descent then gave it 100% on a short climb to get well clear by the finish. It's always good to finish a race strongly but crossing the line to find I was only 40sec off third was a touch annoying. Good race though and all laps were within 1min so the endurance is there- just need to up the speed a few clicks.



Since these races training has been going well with things beginning to focus towards the Three Peaks. A quick run up the Old Man of Coniston gave me confidence the fell legs are in reasonable shape. Why is running downhill so bloody painful though? New cross bike is build and ready for the peaks- complete with flat bars and V-brakes (sorry purists!). This set-up seems good if a little alien to begin with; the V's should be just the job on the descents though. This weeks job is to get another set of tub wheels built (34mm Tufo specials) and then equipment should be all ready for the big day.



Training things that seem to be working this month- staying off the caffeine 'till race day then necking a few caffeine gels mid race- BOOM!



If only I can shake the cold and it stops raining all should be grandJ



Cheers stevo

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Single Speed Cymru (SSUK'10)

Its been a couple of years since i attended a singlespeed UK race. One of the best things about them is you can chose your desired pace and have an excellent time before, during and after no matter what.

I've had precious little short/fast race experience this year. In fact, err, none!. So i decided to use SSUK to see where i stood fitness wise and to try out a different feeding strategy but to only go as hard as felt comfortable whilst enjoying the good bits.

Knowing some of the crew who put it on, i was pretty sure the course would be tough but fun and i wasnt wrong!.

First though, i had to get there...initially my plan was to drive down overnight to Cily Cwm (where the camping area was) and ride some of the famous trails in the area on friday, before racing on saturday and heading back up the road on sunday. Sandwiching some good riding with 7 and a half hours drive on either side sounded grand. Unfortunately i was too pooped on leaving work on friday to even contemplate heading down overnight. In the end i set off around 10am friday.

Having competed in too many Merida/kona mtb marathons to count i knew the way to Builth Wells like the back of my hand. Of course, clever boy here didnt have a map, or even a road atlas in the car and as soon as i passed Builth it became apparent i had no idea where i was going. Hmm. fortunately i had some internet access on my phone, so i was able to look up the website and find that the race was based at Cily Cwm. Great! now all i needed to do was find that and id find the race. Except as i got near, the phone signal went down....to cut a long story short i headed for high ground, couldnt see anything but on the way down spotted a sign for Cily Cwm and took some back roads into the race venue.

With no time for riding and too many good friends to greet i popped open a beer and set up the tent. Eating, drinking and merriment followed, and as exhaustion overtook me at around 11.30 i was looking forward to race day.



The site of hundreds of singlespeeders riding to Cwm Rhaeadr, where the actual race was to be, must have been a sight to behold for the locals. Fancy dress, colourful race kit and lots of whoopin' and hollerin'. Ace!.

The steep uphill Le Mans style run to the bikes sorted those who were keen from those who were less so and for me, the Jones pile (has that ever happened before?) meant i spotted my bike and took off in 6th position. I'd had a lot of sleep due to the civilised 2pm race start and relatively little booze so i was feeling pretty good, though it was a bit of a blow when Steve Webb, Gareth Jones, Phil the Horse and a few others shot past me like i was standing still. Time to up the tempo!. Lots of recent rain meant the course was slow in places, but never anything but fun. Until we hit a wall of a hike a bike that is! Kudos for the team to have such a tough hike a bike in a race course. After all it was a singlespeed race!. up and up it went, but once at the top, the choice of a beer stop or hitting the fast singletrack 4km downhill was pretty nice.

We settled pretty quickly into our own pace and i never got close to the leaders. In saying that i did over take 2 or 3 guys before spending 2 laps conserving energy before the final blast to the finish.



Conserving energy? well, yes! see i was using a bar mounted bag that allows quick access to food while riding. On the first lap it took only a few minutes to realise that i needed to do the cinch cord at the top up a little to stop the rough ground ejecting all said calories. I definitely had hit the red line on the last lap!

Aceness. In true singlespeed form, the places were not really noted except for the top few riders. I think i came in 15th or so and was happy with that. Fitness is lurking there somewhere and if i get a chance to do a few miles prior to the Kielder 100 i reckon that might go ok.

Well done SSUK Cymru! another in the long line of excellent events!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The Edinburgh 48



The Edinburgh 48 - 48 minutes of PEDAAAAAAAALLLMOREFASTERER!

A simple cx style format where all you need is a bit of woodland [Craigmillar Castle Park, on the South East of Edinburgh], some tape and course markers, cheery marshalls and a wiggly,whoopy, flat-out fun course and some up for it racers [some more racey than others, but all co-existing, all having fun].

The quietly shouted about event produced a good turn out of Embra and Tweed valley types - Mr Wardman of this parish, included. Possibly around 45[?] in the open race- not bad for a tuesday evening.

The format was most laps in 48 mins. wins. No bell, just keep kicking the arse out of it until you see the chequered flag or you expire trying. Great fun.

This course MUST be on the cx series as soon as possible - lots of carving fun through the trees and whoopy jumps, plenty of passing, challengeing enough when in ogygen debt, some steps and suitably brutal with absolutely no recovery spots on the lap at all.

I got a decent enough start and settled down behind South African John for a couple of laps, one time up the final grass ascent to the lap counters John was slowing a bit which was most unusual - so I thought if I was going to get past I better get a damn big gap on him, otherwise I'd get promptly crushed. This lasted all of two laps or so until I had redlined myself into a corner, John saw his chance, took it, and I spent the remaining laps going slowly backwards.

To console myself with not getting a race on I decided to see if I could ride up the course steps - an easy win that earned a box of Gu treats. Mission completed I then focussed on trying to enter one of the faster swoopy sections with enough momentum that I would not need to pedal to the next uphill section. I learned my lines and was aiming for a death or glory attempt on what was to be my last lap - I could only claim glory in not binning it when a clipped pedal resulted in calf cramp and a rumbunctious off-piste excursions to the right and then to the left of the course...

More of this - for it is ace! Also the Countryside ranger was saying that there are plans afoot to build some biking and walking trails and possibly a pump track in the park. Let them have your support if you are vaguely local.

So a worthwhile tuesday evening - one tub of Gu sweets for riding up steps, one bottle of Flying Dog Pale Ale [thanks Andy!] for crossing the line and Jac got 3rd place for er... being third lady.

Friday, 20 August 2010

aCross Ben Wyvis

Ben Wyvis- 1046M by Cross bike.







The route: 42 miles not including the climb taking in Dingwall-Strathpeffer-Rogie falls-Garve-Silverbridge-An Cabar-Ben Wyvis-Glen Glass-Evanton-Invergordon.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

A Return to Racing

Took a while, but finally raced my first race of 2010 at Endura Sleepless in the Saddle last weekend.

Photo by Joolze Dymond

This was my 11th 24 hour race (all in a team, I'm nae daft) placing me firmly at the jaded end of the spectrum of racer and with the previous one having been a wet and muddy sufferfest, I was a little nervous of some rain and clay soil making things a little unpleasant.

Wrong! Summer has been a little kinder on Englandshire than it has up here. The ground was baked hard and the course dusty like California in places. Alex had done a fine job of course routing and there was some properly fun tight and twisty singletrack in amongst the trees.

The team was drawn from the cream of Endura's athletes - Chris, Dave, Simon and myself riding under the firm hand of Matt, our DS for the weekend. Dave led us off and looked a wee bitty warm by the time he got back, Chris next, then Simon, then me. And repeat.

Not for too long though. Pizza and beer stopped play at around 20:00 for a while with the intention of going for a mass dawn lap.

Well that was plan. In the end we got rolling again at 10:00...

After my first morning lap, it looked like that was me for the day, but blistering laps from Chris, Dave and Simon meant I was able to slip out again with 10 minutes still to go. Lots of weary faces out on the course and the stock 1000 yard stare from the soloists.

Over the line for the tradional handshake from Patrick and it was on to some sweaty packing and off once more to the M6.

If only all 24 hour races could be like that...

Monday, 9 August 2010

Avalanche Racing - July 2010

Here is a (slightly delayed!) round up of my summer road trip to the Alps to do a week of Avalanche races.

Wednesday we finished work, packed the van and left home at 8pm. Just over 1000 miles later we were in the French Alps.
We arrived in Alpe d'Huez just as it was getting dark on Thursday night and set up camp under the main lift station.

Friday morning and we awoke to wall-to-wall blue skies so we got our bikes ready and went for an explore. Our 9 day lift passes weren't due to start until the Saturday, so we opted for an XC/DH/roadie sort of day. We took a traversing singletrack trail out of Alpe d'Huez which turns into a downhill trail and descends all the way to the town of Bourg d'Osians on the valley floor.



We got there just as the Brazil vs. Netherlands quarter final was kicking off, so we found a bar and settled down in a sea of orange to watch the match. A few cokes later and we got ready climb the road back up to Alpe d'Huez. I had been dreading it, but I stuck it in an easy gear and spun away. I thought I was doing well until about halfway up I got passed by an old guy on a hardtail and flipflops who I definitely saw sinking a few beers in the pub earlier!

Enduro Avalanche - Vaujany
Saturday, we collected our lift passes and went to suss out the trails at Vaujany where the first race was being held. Racing wasn't until Monday and Tuesday, so we were a bit optimistic in hoping the course would already be marked out. But we rode what we thought would be the route and were quite happy with what we found.
We also met a friendly Fort William boy, James, who took us down some well good secret trails that he knew.


Monday came around and this was the sign-up and seeding run for the Enduro. We picked up our race numbers and a map of the course and headed off for a practice lap.
Looking at the map, it was clear that the route we had practiced previously was nowhere near the actual race course and in fact took us much higher to 2500m where there was still loads of snow. It was a bit of a slog through the snow between the timed sections and a lot of it was a push.

The seeding run was also used as race stages 1 and 4 and this was a fast, twisty and narrow trail. The other two timed stages were very open and fast and you didn't necessarily know if you were going in the right direction all the time as they weren't taped very well.

I was seeded 8th in the ladies which I managed to improve on in the race and finished 7th overall.

It was a pretty cool course on off-piste trails and I found the link stages just as tough as the timed ones. And although we were finished racing by 1pm, it really felt like you'd had a big day out in the mountains.

Avalanche Cup - Oz En Osians
Due to racing the Enduro, I missed the entire practice day for the Avalanche Cup downhill race and only just made registration. Looking at the start sheet was quite daunting.The women's race consisted of Sabrina Jonnier, Claire Buchar, Intense rider Tahnee Seagrave, UK downhiller Sue Mahoney.....and me. Fifth place awaits! I just had to get to the end. Unfortunately, it wasn't as easy as that. Having had no practice, I had no idea what the course was like on my morning race run and I took a wrong turn completely missing the tape at the entrance to the finish arena, ending up in a grassy clearing next to some tennis courts!

I crept down the outskirts to the finish area hoping nobody noticed my no-show. No such luck! The announcer guy recognised me from the Enduro and asked me over the mic what happened. "I got lost". Cringe.

My afternoon run went a lot better in that I actually crossed the finish line. Not without crashing twice on the way there though. My second crash was more of a ditch into the side banking to try to get out of Sabrina Jonnier's way as she flew past me.
I finished in 7m 28s compared to Sabrina's winning time of 4m 52s. I was, as expected, last female. But not last overall, which is a result!

The best bit of the day was at the finish when the announcer came and interviewed me before any of the pros. "So you didn't get lost this time Lyndsey?"

Megavalanche Qualifying
Qualification day was Friday with the men's races leavng every 20min from 10am and the ladies group last to go at 1pm.
I was starting on the second row behind a front row packed with world class riders including Tracy Mosely, Anne Caroline Chausson and Emmeline Ragot. If I could just stay on one of their tails.... No chance!

The start was pretty mental with dust everywhere. A couple of girls collided and crashed in front of me and I somehow managed to avoid them. It was a fast fireroad to the first techy rock section where it got pretty congested. Everyone wants to try and ride everything, but a lot were crashing and it was faster just to run past them. About 2/3 of the way down there is short fireroad climb and thanks to my Gravity Dropper I managed to overtake a few girls, including Fionn Griffiths who had punctured.

I had no idea what my position was as I raced down the fast, dusty singletrack into the forest but I managed to overtake a couple more girls. Near the end I hit a tree stump and crashed and a rider came past me. I couldn't get back on and up to speed enough to catch her before the line and I finished 28th.
The first 27 places get a front row start in the Mega Ladies so I just missed out. But I was still well chuffed at my placing.



Megavalanche Ladies
Saturday was the Mega Ladies race and it was a 5am start to catch the 6am cable car to the top at 3300m. At 8am they started calling each rider up to their place on the starting grid for a 9am depart.
On the glacier there was a lot more snow and for a much longer distance than last year and riding on it was totally knackering! The piste had been groomed for the race, but the snow was still very deep and soft.
I had a terrible start. I tried to clip both feet in and just go but instead I fell over! I got up, then fell over again! By the time I got going it felt like everyone had gone past me and was away. I really didn't want to look back!


Once I got out of the snow, I had a really clean run and felt like I was riding well. I was pedalling really hard to catch as many girls as I could and make some places back. At the traverse, I was glad to put my saddle up and get a seat and I took off my goggles to let some much needed air in.
After the traverse my run down the singletrack to the finish was pretty sweet with only 1 dodgy overtake (by me, almost taking us both out) and only crashing into 1 tree!

I made it to the finish line, and once again, my commentator buddy was there to congratulate me.

I managed to finish 35th in the Mega Ladies which I'm pretty happy with. It was an improvement on 44th last year so here's hoping for more of the same next year.

It also turned out that I was the only female to take part in all three races during the course of the week. I think my wee pink Cove Hustler stood up to the challenge pretty well!

(Photos by Mark Forrest)

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Crc Marathon- Selkirk

I made the journey to Selkirk last Sunday for the Chain Reaction Cycles Mtb Marathon. Having not participated in it for the last two years i had it in my head that i would try and better my previous times but little did i know that Pete Laing had other ideas and had altered the course since i took part last, so with an unknown ahead of me i set off at 10am with the other 800 or so riders.

The new 85km course certainly didn't disappoint with long stiff climbs followed by fast downhills, some wide open, some tight and techy. Sundays event was blessed with good weather which gave us dry dusty trails to ride. I had a good outing but suffered greatly in the heat heading up onto the Minch moor. Once i was up there i knew it was almost over with a fast blast along to the 3 Brethren and the final descent in to Selkirk rugby club. I finished in 5:04 with my computer telling me that my actual riding time for the 85km had taken me 4:51. So a return in 2011 looks on the cards to better that time!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Lets go back. Waaay back...

To 10 at Kirroughtree. This is one tardy race report. I guess partly it was a pretty forgettable performance for me, so i've been a bit slow to come round to writing it up.

Anyways: 10 at Kirroughtree is a tough event. The course has no major climbing, but is pretty relentless in terms of technical riding. As such it tends to give racers little time to really recover during a lap. Also, because it is so much fun to ride, you tend to nail it pretty hard making mechanicals, punctures and broken chains commonplace.

For the first time in a good many years i decided to bring a gun to a gun fight - in so much as i had gears and a suspension fork this year. Bristol had left me pretty beaten up and i wanted to try and race not just survive the 10 hours. At 10pm i felt the first spats of rain, and it never let up through the night. It was going to be an interesting day...but I've done a few of these things over the years, so my prep was good, i had what i felt was a sound feeding strategy and i was pretty stoked when the start gun sounded.

On the first climb i rode for awhile with Stevo, velo VC Moulineer, before he made short work of the upper part of the opening climb and disappeared off to the pointy end of the race. More on him shortly.

My first two laps went by pretty quick. The course had been altered to include a steep short down/up off camber racked over 'new trail' section that even on lap 2 had racers literally crawling to try and climb. The ceaseless rain and non-packed 'trail' meant traction was a foreign language. Still, the rest of the course was generally good, though a lot of folk were having a hell of a time staying on their bikes down some of the sliders. I enjoyed testing the skills on those sections, and the gears and suspension made short work of everything else.




On lap 3 however, i split my rear tyre on the fast downhill towards the finish with a catastrophic latex spillage. The wet and mud meant the change wasnt a quick one and i got pretty cold in the rain. i also fell rapidly out of the top 10 or so solo riders, a lot of whom i had relied on my quicker descending to stay ahead of. Anyways, knuckle down and back to it.

Some of the course was rerouted as riders struggled to stay on the course and the attrition rate was high. Out onto the fourth lap i was pretty despondent as my rear tyre started to lose air. A slow meant another change of tube, more time lost and getting colder. Instead i tried to ride a bit more carefully and get back to the start/finish where i could at least hope to change the tube and pick up a new one from my stash with a little over head cover. But my mojo had seeped away in the non stop rain.

The mental game started just as soon as i pulled in at adopted team mum Team Singular's area. If i kept going i was certain a top 10 was on the cards. So many were dropping out, and with the timing of my laps it was simply a case of keeping going. But i just didnt want to. to do well in a race through effort and canny racing is one thing. To do so out of waiting for others to stop is not quite as rewarding.

Conversely, i had lost too much time with the tyre issues to challenge for a top 5, which had been my aim prior to starting. It would have taken some form of catastrophe for the lead riders one and all for me to get that far up the standings. Cold logic, burst bubble, poor staying power call it what you will i called it a day.

Just as i made this decision, Steveo came roaring into the start/finish, had 2 buckets of water sloshed over the bike, one on him, a quick bite of food and away. He had the look of a winner, and sure enough the standings showed he whipped it into first place for the solo's.

For me, one to chalk up to experience, for VC Moulin a very, very fine win in challenging conditions. Chapeau Steveo.

Here is a wee video of the rce from MTB Cut.


On another note, our kit this year has been of the highest quality: i wore an Endura Lightweight Windtex Jacket for the race over a thin wool baa baa base layer, and my upper body couldnt have been better protected while i was riding. The breathability of the windtex along with the water resistance has made it absolutely my go-to piece of kit in all but the heaviest downpours. The full length zip allows fine tuning of core temperature with ease. Great bit of kit - i would highly recommend it to anyone riding in changeable conditions.