Velo Club Moulin

Friday, 23 January 2015

Rouken Glen CX

Buried south of the River Clyde is a park defined by fine, tall trees, rhododendron, the waterfalls on the Auldhouse Burn and old, Edwardian buildings. A gem in the heart of this gritty city, Glasgow. 

Once owned by the Crown, the park was given to the people in 1904, and the RGCX team took the natural contours and beauty of the park, applied considerable skill, and created a hard fought, icy cyclocross race of the highest caliber. 

Split into an A and B race the vibe was relaxed, but no less competitive. With sub-zero temperatures for a week before the race, the ground was hard and snow lay several inches deep in places.

VC Moulin was represented well in all classes: it was good to stretch out the gammons with my homies for only my second 'cross race this year.

I was slotted into the B race, along with Fraser, Ainsley and Maddy. There was some of the usual, nervous banter before the start, at the bottom of an access track. A quick warm up was not enough to keep the cold from our bones but then the hooter signaled the off - 55 minutes plus a lap to go.

I was fortunate enough to have some appreciation of music from 'the man' for this round and Gibby Haynes laconically worked his way through 'Dancing Queen' as we climbed back up to the course, getting the sluggish blood moving through cold limbs. It seemed appropriate, as the legs wound up the climb: "you can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life".

Joining the course, it was clear it would take no prisoners. Off camber into the soft mud under a canopy of trees, then a sharp drop and climb to skirt the top of the course and the race MC. (Iron Maiden, 'Hallowed be thy name').

After the lap finish line, a grassy bank acted as a kicker to jump if you wanted, before another off camber traverse into a run up and then a rolling section before a series of chicanes and a steep climb - rideable with the application of some sausage - into a section routed around copses of trees, a double barrier hop then back to the top of the course. AC/DC, 'Sink the Pink' - the beat helped with the pedal stroke. With welcomed recovery sections allowing me to come down from red line after pumping the big meat up the climbs, the course and me were making friends, fast.

A few laps in, I was lying in third place to Fraser. I knew Maddy was close behind and a charging Matthew Smith was sitting just ahead - so close that I could hear his breath at every turn. The pace for the first 30 minutes was blistering - The Bronx, 'Young Bloods' suited the high heart rate and physical exertion. There came a point where the traffic thinned enough that I could clear the longer, steep climb by going hard right and I knew I could use this to pass Matthew, who was shouldering the bike.

True enough, I forced the pass with a hernia popping effort. Faith No More's classic 'Epic' and a smattering of Clutch fed the fire and my legs felt strong and willing. My new tubeless set up allowed me to get ragged around the corners, adding to my traction and I was truly enjoying myself. Idly, I began to wonder if I had it in me to challenge Fraser, who was still out in front, but serious consideration gave me clarity. Barring a mechanical issue or implosion from him, our positions were set.

Matthew kept battling, coming back at every opportunity. There was no way to stretch and break our elastic bond: several laps from the end, just as I began to feel a little comfortable, I nearly opened the door for him to drop me for good. A poorly judged jump into the off camber corner before the run up, led to a squirrelly landing and I dropped my chain. AC/DC - "Thunderstruck". No doubt!

I had to pull the rear wheel out of the frame to get the chain back on. As I began to tighten the qr again, Matthew came flying past and I could see him exert his will on the cranks. This was going to be tight.

He tore off into the distance, aiming for the chicanes. I gave chase but tried to stay calm. No need to red line straight away - assess the moves and situation. Still feeling good, I tackled the steep climb on the pedals after the chicane and gained some ground. Memory fails me but I think I may have even slipped past here. We were so close - it was no suprise as he took me again just on the top section of the course before the finish. I hung on and gasped for air. With one or two laps to go this was going to go to the wire. Another hard effort on the steep climb while Matthew dismounted and ran gave me just enough to stay away - ragged breathing, the taste of blood with every respiration. I dug deep to make the pass and could only hope it was the definitive move of my race. Rob Zombie, 'Superbeast' - it couldn't have been a better tune.

So it was. I rolled home extremely happy with my second place, a firm hand shake and mutual respect with Matthew and happy for both Fraser with the win and Maddy in 5th overall, first women home.

I'll let someone else tell the story of the A race, but congratulations must go to the organisers for a fantastic race. Strongly competitive but with a relaxed and welcoming vibe. Sweet as! Looking forward to next year already.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Foxlake 2014.

Foxlake – 29 November 2014

Foxlake was a return to what felt like proper racing following a
tedious slog in ever decreasing and muddy circles the previous week.
It’s not fair to criticise a race due to the organisational effort
that’s required, but I’m afraid Lochore Meadows a week earlier was not
my cup of tea.

Foxlake, however, ticked the boxes. A muddy lakeside field, woodland
single track, some cheeky climbs, dismount in a beer tent and a fun
atmosphere with the race being part of the John Muir Winter Carnival.
It was also a non-championship series race, so with just a single race
it was good to be racing alongside different faces from the usual old
goats in V40 of which I proudly belong.

After initial gridding by Jimmy McCallum and making clear it was his
race and his rules, he set everyone off on the dash for the first
climb reached by a fast and sloppy right-hander after a muddy field
crossing. Front riders rode the rooted singletrack, but further down
the field a nifty dismount was required to navigate the bottleneck and
avoid clash of pedals on frames and the occasional carnage from a
misplaced foot. Hitting the graded road at the top gave a chance to
clip in again and muscle through the crowded 10 meters before a tight
right-hander over a small drop-off and descend to the second climb.

Crossing the same metaled road at the top, pine trees changed to beech
and the field started to open out. A wide loamy surface provided
opportunities to overtake and be overtaken. The loam bottomed out into
another tight right-hander followed by a steep pull to the road and a
fast grassy slope down to the main arena. This required speed to be
shed to weave round and over some partially buried roots.

Popping out of the woods into the field again, more nimble maneuvers
we called upon to traverse a small banking and avoid off-camber
slippage before hitting the beer tent. A mandatory dismount over a log
in the tent brought quality beer-fueled heckling and then a short
climb around a sloped banking on the final part of the course. The
course marked here was different to the previous year, giving easier
opportunities to pass on the climb or in the corners.

And so it went on, settling into the rhythm of the race, picking
places to push or catch a breath. Improving lines on turns and chasing
down those in sight and keeping at bay those behind. Gradually the
three climbs dubbed the ‘Foxlake Alps’ began to take their toll,
giving advantage to the fit and I managed to gain a good number of
places in the final 5 laps.  This effect was more pronounced due to
short laps with riders completing 12-14 laps compared to the normal
6-9 before the final bell.

My personal battle was with Davie Hamill and although I was quicker in
the tech, he eventually got me on the climbs and I just couldn’t pull
back the 40-50m he put in. Although tough, I liked the course and
think it suited my fitness and head at the time. Settling into a
rhythm and grinding out climbs are unusual in a cross race, but
definitely worked for me with the addition of just enough tech thrown
in to catch out the weary or napping for a bonus place.

The personal VCM battle was missing with the usual V40 riders of
similar pace not racing, but Graeme Warren lapped me mid-race with
Simon Fairfull also passing at some point, no doubt battling with
Colin Shearer. Graeme went on to place overall in 8th with Simon 17th
and Colin in 19th. Marty was behind me in 54th a bit back from our
usual close finishes.

Overall it was a great race, rounded off by some big screen action of
Milton Keynes World Cup in the tent along with oven baked pizza and
Knops beer from nearby Direlton. Can’t say better than that.

Overall and category positions out of 125 entries:

1 – Mark McGuire
2 – Rab Wardell
3 – Sean Clark

8 – Graeme Warren (6th senior) VCM
17 – Simon Fairful (11th senior) VCM
19 – Colin Shearer (2nd V50) VCM
34 – Russell Stout (10th V40) VCM
54 – Martin Steele (18th V40) VCM

23 – Anne Ewing (1st Female)
28 – Jane Barr (2nd Female)
58– Katie Carmichael (3rd Female)


Friday, 16 January 2015

fast. bad. dangerous.

Fast. Bad. Dangerous. 

Pick any two. 

Attention women cyclocross racers.
Velo Club Moulin is recruiting riders for the 2015 cyclocross season.
Now that the mud has settled on 2014, its time to start planning and getting in shape for next winter. So if you think you meet any two of the requirements then send your resume including a brief rundown on who or why you are to;


Basic requirements
1. You must be a women (no youths)
2. You must race cross
3. You must race cross
4. You must race cross

Other than that you are a free spirit.

Velo Club Moulin is an independent race club with the primary focus on cyclocross. though any other form of riding bicycles hard is encouraged. We have no structure or clubhouse or chainganging or training sessions or coach or performance plan or money but we do live for cyclocross. Imagine a band of privateers all racing in the same kit and you are close to where we are at. We are affiliated to the mothership BC and endorse responsible and aggressive riding. Full details of what we can and can't do for you will be available to any successful applicants

Good Luck

pic by Michael Martin