Tuesday, 28 June 2011

The Two Towers

In early August a small group of friends (including me) are riding from the Tower of London to the Eiffel Tower. 200 miles in 24 hours. Ouch.

We're all riding for different charities and mine is The Prostate Cancer Charity.

We're all bike riders, but the challenge has been chosen for it's difficulty - we intend to work hard for the money we raise!

I'd be very grateful if you're able to sponsor me.

www.justgiving.com

www.lejourdefrance.org.uk


I'll be flying the VCM colours (under a fluoro-yellow gillet as it's the law to wear one after dark on the continent).

Cheers!

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Puffer Lite 2011- Quickie

It was a successful night for VCM at the 2011 Strathpuffer Lite, Gordymac riding in mixed trios with Highland Fire fighters CT duo of Donnie Macdonald and Cherie Pumphrey won their race and placed second overall in trios. Meanwhile Chris Marquis kept it steady throughout the night and was rewarded with the solo singlespeed crown and a fine third placed solo ride.


Puffer Lite Albino Midge Snow Globe!

I will get a more in depth write up later in the week once I've had some sleep!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Moulin 200

finally have the route finished for this, all interested parties let me know, and I'll send you the necessary details.


here's what to expect.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

holeshot



Watching Stevo bolt off the start line then open a sizeable gap on the field on lap 1 of Crosslove was electric.

That moment made all the stresses and strains that come with organising a race more than worth it.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Ritchey Bristol Bike Fest - the slack view



































I had been looking forward to this for weeks. While Jon took the tough route of soloing at Bristol, I snugged myself into a team of four. We were the Hungry Honey Badgers and consisted of good friends Tymo, James, Dom and me. We were in the singlespeed team category - a small niche perhaps, but it seems that all those in it decided to give the event the appropriate level of oomph.

Despite it's short length and probable not-huge height loss/gain, the Bristol course is always brutal, in the best way possible. We all agreed that despite feeling wrung out after single or double-laps, there was no point on the course that we didn't look forward to. In itself that's a rarity especially as the day wears on.

We were blessed on the Saturday with fair weather, the lightest of showers not even knocking down the dust in the early afternoon. Ending laps with a sheen of sweat under a coating of orange dust became the norm (the 6hr racers on Sunday were unfortunately not so well served by the weather). The 12 hours ticked by in that strange way that they do at endurance events - the day seems long as you are clock-watching much more than a normal day, but each stint on the bike seems to come around quickly all the same.

The course itself was a variation on the regular loop at Ashton Court, with thick nests of roots, slick looking rocks (even in the dry), fast singletrack on baked dirt, wider section both in and out of the woods and the new quarry section which rode much like a stretched-out BMX track - a lot of fun, especially after a few laps to get your eye in for how it all flowed.

We started with single laps and moved on to doubles as it felt good to speed straight into a new lap and the longer gaps between stints meant there was time to sit with friends and enjoy the sun - two things I associate very strongly with this event. It's worth mentioning how the balance always seems spot-on here; well organised, dialled course, always friendly and with the right balance of feel between grass-roots and polished pro event.

Our vague approach was to have fun and really enjoy the course, but also give it some beans if we felt able. We didn't keep an eye on our position and only looked at lap times in order to know when the rider who was out might be back in.

The toughness of the course told with four punctures between us, but we didn't ever seem to lose much time and as it turned out, laps were remarkably consistent between us, nearly all falling in the 24–26 minute range. Our friends and locals the LVIS Singlespeed Superstars were going around at a cracking rate, so we relaxed knowing we were further down the pecking order.

It was great to holler at Jon each lap (Jon may not agree!) and share a change-over encampment with our friends at KMP.

Despite the punctures, we'd had huge fun all day and after James railed-round for our final lap we were all enjoying a long-desired cold beer. Ambling over to the podium ceremonies I heard our name on the tannoy! We were second to the LVIS team and would have finished well in the regular team event - a very pleasant surprise.

Thanks again to my great team - same again next year?

Photo courtesy of Lisa Rowledge - thanks Lisa!

Monday, 13 June 2011

10 Under the Ben 2011

Better late than never, I suppose!
My rose-tinted specs are well and truly back on now, so I thought I'd better do a wee write-up on Maddy & I's race at 10 Under the Ben.

With last year's 3rd place female pairs prize sitting proudly in our trophy cabinets, we didn't want to settle for less this year. After all, the No Fuss prizes are just too good to miss out on! ;o)

So, in bright sunshine Maddy lined up with all the other first lappers for the usual Le Mans style start. No Fuss Frazer kept them all waiting quite a while though ......


Shortly after lap 1 the rain came on - and it didnae stop!


No Fuss had added a couple of singletrack sections to spice up the race route and these were riding lovely for the first few laps. Rooty and slidy with some new boardwalk. Unfortunately with the newness of the trail and the hundreds of bikers battering through it in the pouring rain, it got pretty beat up and soon turned into gloopy mud soup. No Fuss then rightfully diverted the course onto the harder packed World Champs course. Which was welcomed!


Maddy & I decided to stick to last years race tactic of single laps each, proabably the fastest way for us. But with the rain and the cold, I soon found that my off laps were cold and miserable and I couldn't wait to get back out and warmed up again - albeit soaked to the skin.
All in all, the course was enjoyable and tough enough in places as the laps wore on. I thought that it balanced out well, with the hard going stuff at the start of the lap and then the fun, swoopy reward in the second half.


In the end we managed 10 laps between us and, riding towards the finish line to Maddy's fantastic encouragement (SCX-ers will be aware of this!), I was delight that we'd maintained our 2nd place right through to the finish.


A Benromach miniature and a handshake from Frazer was dished out to every finisher.




No Fuss did another grand job and did really well to keep everyones spirits up in what was pretty unfavourable conditions. As miserable as I felt at times, looking back.....I actually loved it!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Ritchey~Bristol Bike Fest.

Always a good race and a likely sun drenched affair, this years event delivered. I split the drive down and got 6 glorious hours of sleep (in a row!) in a travel lodge on the thursday evening, before arriving early at the venue (Ashton Court) on the friday at mid day ish. A quick chat with mel & shaggy and then plenty of time to prep bottles with energy powder and electrolyte and get some cheese and ham rolls made up. Awesome.



A few beers with good friends as the warming sun set over the Bristol skyline and bed before midnight.

The race traditionally starts with a Le Mans style run. With the race open to pairs, fours, solos and lots of different classes getting a good start is pretty critical so as not to lose touch with the front runners. This year it went ok until one of the minibike riders on "team inappropriate bicycle" (who were doing the 12 hour race on, well, inappropriate bicycles for Macmillan Cancer Research and are therefore allowed to do whatever) crashed hard right infront of me bringing the whole shebang to a shuddering halt.

Still, i got past part of the crowd and worked my way around the singletrack. Despite lack of fitness, rest and general race-readiness, my aim for this race was realistically second. With Dan Treby (Singular rider and current singlespeed 24hr solo Euro and National honcho) in the mix, it would have been overly optimistic to be aiming for the top step. However, it is a race, and i was keen to try and keep him in sight through the early stages.



On lap 2, it became clear that the rider in front on the ti 29er hardtail with the alt-bars in the Singular Cycles top wasnt Dan. Hmm! interesting! I decided to put the hammer down and see what the story was. Very shortly after, i passed Dan at his pit fixing something on his bike. I knew that i didnt have the strength or fitness to beat Dan mano-a-mano but even so, sometimes fate throws you a bone, so with the possibility he might have a prolonged mechanical or perhaps some other misfortune i decided to keep tapping laps out at an unsustainable pace for the full 12 hours and see how things went. Lap times around 26 minutes with micro stops for a bottle change and perhaps a mouthful of food ticked the clock by, but not quick enough. Around Lap 4 Dan chatted as he cheerily churned by. Ok then!

Not long after this, my lack of saddle time began to show. The Bristol course is great, but it aint easy. Lots of rough and ready singletrack: roots and rocks with precious little if any recovery time meant on a singlespeed you were more often than not out the saddle and giving it beans just to roll the stutters with minimal deceleration. I always find this hard on the lower back and this day was no different. All too soon, i needed to stop to strecth off and it wasnt even 6 hours in. By this time, the mystery rider in the Singular top had evidently caught up and scooted past as i heard the pop of the joints in my spine settling into a little more relieved position.

It was time to get back on it and give chase.



This pattern pretty much summed up the race until 9 hours in. I dont think i stopped riding for more than a minute at any given time and my hydration schedule was working well. On the other hand, it became extremely clear that i hadnt been taking in enough calories as i hit the wall like a battering ram at hour 9/lap 18. Unfortunately i was half way round the course and a painfully slow combo of riding while seeing double and feeling nauseous with a fair amount of walking was neccessary to get me back to the pit in a sorry state.

I stopped to refuel. Cheese rolls, a large handful of Skittles and lots of water. A mere 20 minutes. Eventually i came round and got back out on the bike. In that time however, not only had the 3rd place singlespeeder gone through so had the fourth, which meant i was now in fourth position. I didnt know it at the time but i was probably over 15 minutes down on 3rd place at that point. I took the first lap back out relatively conservatively to see how the energy levels went: all i could think about was that i didnt want to go home not having given my all. Images of my baby's smiling face in my mind kept me motivated and with a possible 3 laps remaining i accelerated. It is always amazing the strength you carry in your head. There was really no way my body should have been able to respond to the demand i placed on it at that point, but somehow or other it kicked in and i pinned the last 2 laps, taking back third place, but not getting close enough to second place to make a fight of it.

22 laps left me entirely broken and admittedly slightly disappointed with my poor tactics and refuelling but i was proud to put VC Moulin on the podium at this fine event.

Dan Treby took the win in fine style - he is so very strong at the moment, and (as i later found out) Mark Goldie in his first 12 hour race, let alone on a singlespeed took a fine second place. Incidentally, he is readying for a tour divide effort in 2012, in which i wish him all the best.

Many thanks, as ever, to the sponsors, and also team Morvelo and Singular and crews and mel and shaggy who graciously helped kept me out of mischief.

Photos are Graham Haller's and from Photo-it.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Edinburgh 48

Well last night saw the last round of the Edinburgh 48 and another good showing from VCM with Andy, ChrisM, Marty and myself. I'm kinda gutted I missed the first one as the last two have been immense fun. It's really got me thinking about organising a similar local series. Riding cross bikes fast in summer is a total blast, not having the security of soft muddy landings it all becomes very accelerated and sloppy reactions are punished hard. 
It's pretty funny racing with juniors and under 16's, they are stupidly fast for this duration of race, its also quite humbling being squeezed out of a line by a junior girl, a tip of the hat I should have leaned harder but my gentlemanly manners wouldn't allow. Anyway I got a reasonable start only to get snarled up in the entrance to the woods where some fast lads had decided to have a cuddle and interlock bicycles, really gents. there is a time and a place.

the charge of the light(weight) brigade

As is usually the way with these sort of races they sort themselves out rather quickly, I was pleased I managed an extra lap this week before being lapped by the the skinnies. Got into quite a good rhythm and was creeping up through the field, then with 3 laps to go, I made a rash overtaking manoeuvre pranged the wheel off a hidden rock and the tub rolled, pop. It took me a while to realise what had happened, when I did I opted to roll it back on and continue, this allowed Alastair Webb(I think) to catch me and pass, darn. We had a bit of a blether and I decided to have another go at escape on the grassy climb to the finish which worked. The remaining laps were spent nursing the bike on the sketchier sections to avoid the tub rolling again and trying to make up the time on the climbs. All in all damn good fun in balmy summer conditions. Scott Lindsay won and everyone else lost.


"Life is here and now, anytime you say the word, anytime you let her rip"
Henry Miller



Both photos by Stuart McInnes at Tri Centre.




Thursday, 2 June 2011

Old Skool River Run

Armed with nothing more than a water bottle and half a Mule bar I headed off to do an old skool ride through an old drove road from Strathrory to Scotsburn.





After the last few days of wind and more rain showers than not I was itching to get out and with hardly a cloud in the sky today I wasn't going to pass it up. My route took me up a sun dappled fire road climb through Inchindown, This gives good views to the West over Ben Wyvis.







The river run has always been a favorite, It has changed slightly over the years, where you once got your feet wet there is now wooden bridges, Although not massively technical it does have some nice hillside singletrack which was dry and dusty today.






I was on my newish Ti hardtail for todays ride with 100mm forks I was overforked compared to bikes of years gone by that I would have cycled this route on.






The last section of trail takes me past Loch Catrina which was glistening in the sun today.





And what better way to finish a ride with hearty plate of Beanz on Toast, with a little sprinkling of cheese........... Is that allowed?





All in the ride is 22 miles and takes in 1581 feet of ascent and 1469 feet of descent, Lets hope this weather holds and I can get out and reverse those figures in favour of descending!