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