Sunday, 30 December 2007

Base, Base, Base

Still no camera i'm afraid... looking foorward to being able to putting some pics to my words although not sure about the self taken action shots i've seen other riders taking.. not sure i got the skills:)

The week has seen another christmas come and go... crazy how fast time flys as you get older..

No rest for thhe wicked though and it was business as usual, the start of the week saw alot of cross training with a little trainer work leading up to a great weekend for road riding.

In with the mix of running and swimming saw a fresh challenge thrown at me by Mark ( Forgy), stair running, yup running up stairs for 40 minutes!!! I chose a set of stairs that are at King Edwards Bay, Tynemouth.
The stairs go from the sea to the top of the cliff, about 10 sets of about 12 steps each... this is one of the toughest things i have had to do yet.. Rachel commented that i looked fresher at the finish of Dusk Till Dawn this year than i did after this session.

Must say that i am really enjoying mixing it up with different training... i won't kid anybody that using muscles that usually lie dormant doesn't hurt as it does... amazing how much a 30 minute run can haunt you for a few days with nice stiff legs.

Friday saw another first for me.. while christmas shopping i found some discounted yoga dvd's for beginners so invested £5 to see what all the fuss was about.
The workout is 37 minutes long starting with some very basic stretching working onto some more involved stuff... you can really feel it working though and i felt a little looser after completing it. Gonna continue doing the dvd when i have a scheduled rest day and might even look at more advanced stuff later on:)

Saturday and sunday saw some half decent weather for some longer rides....

Saturday was down as a mountain bike ride but without transport and in the centre of Nottingham it wasn't possible so i went out on the Clarion club run.
Good choice as the route was one that i hadn't done and couldn't find it again if i tried but in short it was nicely hilly... in that the climbs were long and sustained but not too steep.
Punctured within the first mile of the club ride, bit of glass through dead centre of tyre, thank goodness for C02 inflators.. thanks again to TYREINFLATORS.CO.UK... changing tube was a quick affair.
Headwind on the final leg home wasn't appreciated but served to allow me to easily do the tempo session in zone 4 that had to be included into the ride.
After 5 hours and over 70 miles i got home with over 3 hours being spent in in zone 2/3.

Sunday was out with Darren (Buckby) again, after last weeks nightmare wasn't sure what to expect.
The general idea was a ride to Rutland water, neither me or Darren knew a route so just winged it from some vague directions given by another Clarion member.
As it goes it was a great ride.. weather was so much nicer than last weekend.. the winds from saturdays riding had gone and its always good to try out new routes.
Typical of Vale riding it had its fair share of climbing, nothing in size to that in the peaks but what it lacked in quality it made up for in quantity.
As the day was down for 4 hours base instead of going all the way to Rutland we stopped short at Oakham and winged a route back to Melton Mowbray.. not before finding more cheeky climbing and adding a little more distance trying to avoid the A606 main road.
A great winters ride on the road.. EXACTLY 4 hours to the second and another 70 miles:)

Off to the lakes tomorrow to do some walking and maybe riding some riding.. hopefully with pics:)

Sunday, 23 December 2007

The first seven.

The first seven days on the new training schedule has now been completed.... many more to come but feeling super positive about the direction i'm going in.

Definately been a week of discovery... for a year now my training has been get on bike ride hard or get on trainer ride hard/ repeat.
Now there is method to this madness:)
The hardest part for me is to accept that training comes in many forms and that you don't have to be breathing out your ears to be effecting a training effort on the body, as with most other cyclists at this time of year its all about the base.
Lots of long slow rides.. trying to maintain zone 2/zone 3... i'm learning that the slighest movement can cause an increase in your heart rate so maintaining a good position on bike and silky smooth pedalling is the order of the day.

Also amazing how much time goes quicker when your focus is on staying a zone rather than watching the clock..

If anyone wants to know the specifics of what i do then drop me an email, i don't wan to do list after list, day after day i would rather do a few highlights of the week...

This weeks highlights;

- tuesday one leg drills..... turbo session which after warm up had 5 sets of.. 2 minute left leg, 2 minutes both legs, 2 minutes right leg.... i always thought i had a smooth pedalling style... how wrong was i... anyone that wants the dictionary definition of 'pedalling squares' try one leg drills. My right is definately stronger then my left... and i got at least another 6-8 weeks of weekly programmes involving them.

- thursday zone 2/3 session... warm up then 20 minutes sustanined zone 3.. 10 minutes sustained zone 2.. then 20 minutes sustained zone 3 ...warm down.... this was also a good excercise in trying to control your HR.. amazing even though you think you are maintaining a steady cadence how your HR can drift.

- Saturday 2.5 hrs road ride and then a ramp test in afternoon... road ride was great nice and steady, a long loop out towards mansfield then swinging all the way around and home via colwick... i decided to try and find a quick way home as i was reaching the end of time alloted for the session.. unfortunately just succeeded in finding 2 really long climbs:( so much for zone 2/3..
The afternoon was off to a Clarion club members house, Jason (Swann) owns an imagic turbo trainer which feeds info to a laptop and can conduct a ramp test, ramp test helps to refine HR zones, in essence it involves riding at a set wattage then every minute the wattage 'ramps' up.. so like intervals without the rest and every interval harder than the last... alot of pain and hopefully should get some feedback on the results soon.. praying i dont have to do it again.

- Sunday 4 hr road ride, Mark my coach told me to have at least a day a week riding just for enjoyment not worrying about zones etc.. not sure if this was exactly had in mind. Riding partner for the day was Darren (Buckby) from the Clarion.. after an accident on his mtb and breaking his back he is 6 months into his recovery/training.. recooperation has been kind to him and the first few hours signalled the order of the day.. speed... high averages and gritting teeth.
We headed out to the Peak district out towards Matlock and as we neared Matlock the first killer climb of the day was started, up to Crich, one of those that is so steep that your lowest gear isn't low enough and so long you never think its gonna end.. unfortunately this wasn't the last of the day and a few more had to be climbed before we could head back towards home.
My legs today were feeling super heavy after yesterday and i felt the climbing.. weather today was shocking.. heavy fog and freezing cold... reminder to self ask brother for new winter gloves for christmas..
final stats for the day stood at 73miles at average speed of just over 18mph... ouch.. gonna feel that tomorrow.

Oh yeah Dave at TSW cycles sorted the cross bike out.. so been using it as winter trainer, really comfortable... stuck some road tyres on it for now and can see the pair of us doing many miles together:)

apologies again for the lack of pics in my posts..i promise the new year will bring posts will many pics:)

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Feeling CROSS this week.....

Cross Training and Cross bike....

I've been busy taking on board ALOT of information from Mark (Forgy) in colorado in regard to what direction i should be taking with my training and preperation for next year.
At the moment while the training plan is being devised and Mark is waiting for me to get an LT test carried out so we can base the plan on science rather than guess work he is giving me almost daily guidance and assesment.... At the moment Cross training is high on the agenda.
This week has seen;

monday night - spent out on the road on my singlespeed mountain bike just keeping a steady cadence.
Tuesday night - 35 minute run, a little icy underfoot but added to the fun
Wednesday - took a day off.
Thursday mid day - 40 minute swim
Friday Morning - 1.30hr ride.... really crisp and icy under wheel.. felt super quick
Saturday - 1 hr road ride with some hill sprints
Sunday - 2.30hr mtb ride at Sherwood...

That sums up the week nicely and explains the CROSS training

Cross bike..... I have been using my good road bike for road rides as i can't get on with my fixed that i built before starting uni.. the fixed is attached full time to the turbo trainer now so i decided to spend a little of a tax rebate on a winter training bike for the road.
After a week of searching i managed to find a Cross bike on ebay and with a cheeky offer managed to secure the deal... perfect as it'll make a great training bike and also means that i get to race cross if the feeling takes me.
Only downside to it and partly why it was cheap is the seatpost is seized so an appointment has been made for it to see Dave at TSW cycles and his vice:)

i wanted to go into alot more detail on a couple of my training rides this week, at the moment the words arren't flowing freely so i'll come back to it later.

Also got a bit of exciting news on friday... i'll wait before i go into anymore detail but should change the shape of the blog.

Saturday, 8 December 2007


This week has been filled with decisions... some good, some in hindsight not so good...

The first decision of the week was made off the back of last weeks bad race, i have just about got over the dissapointment of last week.
Thetford winter series is a 4 race affair... but only 3 out of the 4 count, my plan was to race the 1st, 2nd and 4th as the 3rd clashed with the Strathpuffer 24.
After my 3rd place at Dusk Till Dawn i wanted to see how far i could push my luck so stuck my name of Strathpuffer reserve list, now i want to race the rest of the Thetford winter series to see where i can place overall.

At the moment i'm back in 7th overall... not bad with a 2nd and 36th placing!!

The decision to race Thetford has got me fired at the moment.. put the 2nd round behind me and push on forward, now i know that i have the ability to be up at the front i want to see how far i can push it...

The second decision was to contact an a friend of mine in america regarding my training.. Mark is a racer himself and recently qualified as a coach, he helped me greatly with some wise words when i first started riding and i still use alot of the advice he gave me on a daily basis.
Training for me has always been organised with structure but i have based it on feel and not science... time to bring in a professional.
As i write this i know somewhere in colorado a training plan is being crafted which i am really excited about starting.. lets see what happens when science is introduced.

The third decision was after planning to take the week off to rest my knee up getting drawn into a mid week singlespeed night ride.
Usual coastal run with Micheal (Rose), the man responsible for me being on the Msc course.. repsponsible for my 12 hours days and total lack of money.. he should feel lucky i even speak to him never mind ride with him:)
Knee felt a little stiff but okay.. till 10 minutes into ride and playing on some speed bumps and back came the pain... rest of ride it was really sore but just throttled back and spun it out. wind was horrendous.. had a comedy slow speed fall on the cliff top as i was compensating for the wind and it died off and i couldn't unclip.. lucky i wasn't close to the edge as i wouldn't have seen the funny side to a 30ft fall..

The final decision this week was by far my worst and most painful...
I had organised to go road riding with a racing friend of mine, Lee Eaton, a fellow sport cat sufferer... before Lee even got to my house i had the dawning realsisation that i had left my helmets in Newcastle!!! my race helmet is always in my kit bag so never though about it... however after last sundays mud bath i had to wash it and it was put in the airing cupboard to dry.. its still there now.
Lee had already left home to come meet me so as it was a road ride i decided to ride without helmet for first time in my life.. i would never recommend this and won't be doing it ever again.. i trust my handling skills but you can never be too careful in life.. i adopted a very european approach to the whole affair and wore hat instead with glasses tucked underneath it... looked good but wouldn't fancy my chances in a head/car interface.
Weather was dry when we set off so arm warmers and autumn gloves were on instead of full on winter fare.. this was my BAD decision!!!

About 12 miles into the 40 odd mile ride it started to lightly rain.. the route planned was out to the lime kiln pub, follow the clarion 10 course to harby, up harby hill and continue on the rudy project course ( belvoir castle, long lane etc) then finish the rest of the 10 course and back home...
By the time we got to Harby the rain had intensified.. Harby hill was a good warmer.. muscled in the big ring hitting 189bpm on HRM... by the time we got to Belvoir castle it was getting cold... as we hit Long lane my hands were really cold... at Harby for second time i couldn't feel them.
The last 10 miles home were aboslute agony... i lost feeling in my hands and arms and couldn't grip the hoods anymore so had to ride on the drops for fear of literally dropping my handlebars!!! i couldn't brake and i couldn't change gear.. i couldn't even move my fingers.
When we got back to my house i had to get Rach to help me take my gloves off and put my bike away.. i managed to get myself into the shower for a further 20 more minutes of agony...
Anyone that has experienced cold weather will knwo that having cold hands is bad enough but when you start to gain feeling and they warm up the pain is unbelievable... the picture under the blog title is me on Helvellyn in december last year suffering that exact pain, if the picture had been taken from the front my face would have painted a different picture to the scenic one the current photograph portrays..

I've learnt my lesson.. long sleeves and full on winter glove for the rest of winter

I think i'll take more time over my decisons from now on...

Sunday, 2 December 2007

The other side of the coin... Thetford Rd 2

Thetford Round 2...

I prepared for this race exactly the same way as i had for round 1, probably mentioned this before but i am quite superstitious when it comes to racing.. i fear change:)

Training was just 2 turbo trainer sessions during the week and a steady road ride yesterday with Stuart.

On a side note the road ride was awesome... a real fresh winter morning, clear blue skies and some quiet roads..

Sunday morning.. Rain Rain Rain

All the way to the race it poured down..

Got to race 1 hour before start, surprisingly early for me... no signing on again but collection of last rounds prizes, nice selection of energy product, every little helps.
Quick chat with Matthew (Barton) and Paul ( West) before the pre race toliet pit stop.
Got changed into race kit.. in the rain.. and got to start ( not before forgetting my race number and having to go back to car).

New start system being employed at this race with starters for varying races held in different pens.. great idea and worked well.. managed to get myself to second row in 4 hour pen.

Start race...

Fast.. ridiculously fast start.. i was out the saddle full on sprinting for a fair way... usual suspects at the front with a few new faces.
Billy Joe Wenham ( Marin), Paul Ashby ( Fat Birds cc) and Adrian Scott (Freeride) took an early flyer.. i settled in with Luke Smith ( Whyte racing) and Shaun Hurrell (Glendene cc)... pace was high and going was soft and muddy... best described by Matthew after the race as 'ploughing' not riding.

You know its a quick start when you can taste blood on the first lap.... bike was working really well, Dave at TSW had previously tweaked my forks (again, Think they are past their prime) and set up felt good.

Pace for first few laps continued to be full on... Shaun dropped off my wheel on lap 2 and i manage to bridge the small gap that had formed back onto Luke Smith's wheel... riding with someone aswell known as Luke is a little disheatening as he his known by everyone and gets plenty of support while you are left trying to stay with him.

By mid way on my fourth lap whilst in amongst some backmarkers Luke pulled away from me... i had nothing to respond with suffering my usual mid race lul.. i wasn't worried as i can usually pick up some places later on in race.

Race course was really soft and at time such hard going.. the last race i was in the big ring all the way round.. this time there was a section that i had to shift into the middle.. think this was also partly me paying for the effort at the start.
The second bombhole caused a few issues today.. route was changed a little around lap 3, where a guy in front of me did the perfect 'over the bars' dismount but thankfully he seemed okay.. by the fourth lap they had taken it out completely.

By starting my fifth lap i had been caught up by a couple of racers in the 4 hour race but was content to measure my effort till the end.. after all at this point we had 2 hours left to race and with some calories and energy drink i could put some quick final laps in..

Fifth lap is where my race ended... flowing through 'The Beast' i washed out on small bombhole... first pain was instant cramp in my hamstring.. after standing pain shifted instantly to my right knee... not sure what i landed on but i couldn't walk... i tried to walk it off but had to stop a few times.. decided to call it a day and cut off course..
game over.

Gutted.. not in best position and suffering but in hindsight the gaps were big behind me and smaller in front so race wasn't over for me uptill the crash... i think i could have one legged it for better place than what i ended up with...

Everyone who races will understand how depressing it is not being able to finish a race... we spend a large chunk of our lives and income on the sport and it all comes down to race day.. well this has forced me to make some decisions about races.. do i continue with the plan to go Strathpuffer 24 or do i race Thetford rd 3... as with the winter series 3 out of 4 count so i could put this one behind me.. maybe a decision to be made whilst cleaning the ton of crap of my bike tomorrow with a clear head.

Unfortunately the day claimed a few more victims... George Budd ( salsa racing) only managed 4 laps, Anthony White ( extreme Endurance) 3 laps and Shaun Hurrell ( Glendene cc) 2 laps... its is becoming clear that the best riders pick their battles... better to call it a day when its not going well to allow you to get back to training and focusing on the next one.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Gas Powered....

A new company has kindly offered to help me with some product for next year... run by Jonathon Money are specialists in Co2 inflators..

The company stock a massive range of inflators and refill cartridges at some great prices.. i have been sent one of the smallest out there, perfect for the jersey pocket while racing

This thing is so small!!!!
I have taped the 2 cartidges together and just lightly wound the adaptor onto the top of one of the cartridges with a little bit of tape to secure it on so in the event of a puncture its just a quick couple of turns to break seal on cartridge and i'm ready to go...

Racing at Coed Y Brenin this year and having 3 punctures highlighted the need to be able to get a puncture sorted and get back riding asap...even in the marathon events we may look strung out but the gaps are never that big and when changing a flat mid race i think i lose at least 10 places... yes you can chase back on but thats extra energy used.

I think this little piece of kit will be a godsend so big thanks again to Jonathon...did i mention how many Co2 cartridges i am likely to get through:)

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Tarmac and Trail....

I decided to give myself a weekend more biased towards the bike than university work as uni work had taken a front seat this week with training being fit around it rather than the usual 50/50 split... but in 2 weeks time the hardest 2 modules of my course will be behind me and extra training will be the order of the day..

I have to say that i follow Jeff Kerkove's blog everyday and i am jealous at the amount of bike time a rider at his level gets to put in... maybe someday i will have the luxury of a life dedicated to the bike and work as a sideline..

Weekend started well with the usual Nottingham Clarion Club run on saturday morning... got to the meeting place and i think the low temperatures of the day had forced people to reconsider riding as only Phil turned up.
We set off into the strong headwind heading west, pace was relatively steady, a few cheeky short climbs which i did sitting down concentrating on my breathing and pedal stoke and really trying to work my legs hard.
30 miles in and i think Phil was having a bad day, it happens to us all, he just couldn't get his legs to do what he wanted so he decided to call it a dayt and just make his own way back at his own pace.. at his request i made my own way on, left my energy bar with him and set off on my own.

Just so happened that our parting of ways shortly coincided with making the turn for home and heading back east... nice tailwind and an effortless 30mph for a long way, gettting out the saddle on the short drags to keep the pace nice and high.. there is something deply satisfying about being able to propel a bike along at those kind of speeds...

Made it home with just over 60 miles in the bag.. a nice steady run..

In the afternoon i popped to TSW CYCLES to collect my bike that was being checked by Dave.. clean bill of health given, alot of healthy banter later and took it home to bed...

Sunday was a day of dirt... not very often i get to ride my Trek in a non race environment as i usually train on my single speed due to high cost of maintenance all cyclists experience during winter..

Below is the first pic of the Trek on my blog.. looking super clean.. i love cleaning my bikes almost as much as i love riding them... its an instant gratification thing.. you are there and then rewarded for your effort...

First pics also of my SUPERSTAR COMPONENTS fitted... gold in my opinion looks great against the red... you can't really appreciate the BB as its in large covered by the cranks but i can assure all its a great piece of kit and i don't expect to be touching it for a long time..

I have been reliably informed by Neil at Superstar that there are some new additions to the range coming in the near future, i'm excited and if price and quality is in keeping with the rest of the range then Neil will have some high demand on his hands

The final latest additon to the Trek is the new Conti Speed King tyres, they replace an old set of the same model... unfortunately Coed Y Brenin marathon race destroyed my old set... i managed D2D and first Thetford Winter Race on the old tyres but i was pushing my luck really.
They are in my opinion the best race tyres you can get... nice and light and unbelievable traction.... you just gotta be careful when it gets really rocky but you can't have everything..

Definately on my list of support to find is a tyre manufacurer... would be nice to be able to cover all consumables as these are the killer costs.. once you have you bought a bike the expenses doesnt stop there.. you then gotta keep it running.

Ride was at Sherwood Pines, Nottingham... not the choice of most hardened riders as its often thought of as a bit of a learner spot.
However those who rode the NPS series this year will know that there a course strung around the forest of some good singletrack and very similar to Thetford... as next round of Thetford is next week than i thought it good practice to have a thrash around some tight singletrack to get ready...

Todays riding partners were Lee and Andy, these guys both raced Nps rounds with me last year... Lee is claiming he isn't training but i think he will come good next year.. especiallly as he has a fancy new hardtail on order.. also out was Stuart (Pryce) with his brand fine new mountain bike.. a mountain biker of old he has unfortunately decided to get back into racing so i am thankful i plan on riding now NPS cross countries next year as he is quick.

His weapon of choice a rather nice carbon fibre Giant hardtail... a bike built for a specific purpose.. being very very fast!! At times today when we went wheel to wheel for a bit of fun he made me feel like i was riding a bit armchair as his little racing snake weaved about... There is no way i can afford a new bike but i think i would consider a hardtail to have as a second option especially for 4 hour races... i still think full sus is the best for longer endurance races.

We started by a ride around the NPS course... i raced this year on a fully rigid.. not quite sure how i managed it as its rut and route city in the trees.. much faster riding on the Trek.
Considering the amount of rain we have had it was remarkably good getting boggged down just plenty of puddles = more fun.

After one lap we headed off into sherwood forest and lapped round to Vicker water which has the only climb of note in the area.. its like Thetford in more ways than one... back into sherwood pines to finish with more riding of the NPS course..

All in 2 hours worth of riding in the mud.. and plenty of fun was had by all... one thing i miss about living away from Nottingham is the great mountain biking that is accessible here.. think next time i have a free weekend i'm gonna get reaquainted with some of the peaks riding i used to do so much of.

Anyway Thetford round 2 is a week away now so i will be spending this week getting ready... couples of turbo trainer sessions and making sure i'm eating and drinking well all week... if i thought i was under pressure for the first round its just doubled as i'm currently in second place and need to score some points to stay there...

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Finally it stopped raining...

Since the weekend the weather has been non stop rain.. i mean 24 hours a day for 2 days solid, not so bad when all you have is indoor trainer sessions scheduled but not too good when some 'real' riding is scheduled.

So when i got up this morning and the rain had stopped.. for a brief moment life was good..

A day of university and more drudgery which is the foundation design coursework gave way to coming home and getting a text from one of my oldest friends who was going to make the nights ride after being a victim of man flu for a number of weeks... another singlespeeder so we are evenly geared.

As a creature of habit it was the usual Wednesday nights holywell dene/coast ride...

Through the first section of the dene the fog was really bad and difficult to see the track, situation made worse by the floor being covered with leaves disguising the trail.
As we got to the other side my friend offered me my first ride ever on a 29er... fully rigid.. funky bars.. sitting on it it felt like riding some kind of beach cruiser compared to my racing snake flat bars low stem set up.

I have to admit though.. i loved it.. i could hear my friend behind struggling with my 1.5" tyred ride.. me on his 2.3's just gliding along. Didn't feel like i was going as fast as normal but i think speed was the same just the bike seemed to flow alot better. I have to say that a race set up 29er would be a good weapon of choice for anyone in the market for a fresh ride for 2008..

Rest of ride went well.. although i was quickly given my bike back... its an acquired taste:) Micheal suffered a little on the way back from lack of food before starting the ride and now will be carrying emergency flapjacks at all times to combat any loss of energy.

Got a good weekends riding planned... club run on the road Saturday followed by meeting a racing friend on Sunday for some pre Thetford training at sherwood pines forest park... lots of singletrack so quite similar to Thetford.

Checked the registered entries for next round of Thetford, all the usual suspects and a few editions over round one... gonna be quick.. gonna hurt alot...:)

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Giving training some thought

After last weekends good result this week has been filled with much thought and planning....

Not all thought has been bike orientated has University dealt me a cruel blow in the shape of Foundation Design... for those who do not have any idea what it involves your lucky and i would keep it that way.. anybody that has to deal with it on a day to day basis or is in the process of learning it i feel sorry for you.

Thankfully i still managed to get a full weeks training in... Monday was a day of rest after sundays efforts, tuesday on the trainer for 45mins, wednesday night riding on the singlespeed, Thursday on the trainer again and today club run for 65 miles with some good hill efforts..
Friday i lose as i travel back to Nottingham but i commute to Uni on the singlespeed everyday giving a steady 12mile round trip to loosen the legs..

The thought i have been having is how to get more training or better quality training into my week... i cannot argue that my training isn't working as it is... i've only been riding for a year and a half and i'm happy with the results.
My first thought was a session of swimming 3 mornings a week but thats gonna cost... now i'm considering 30 minutes on the trainer 3 mornings a week, but how to structure it?? It would mean getting on the trainer the morning after a 45 minute trainer session, doesn't sound too good but i envisage a morning session to be a medium effort not intervals... anybody with any greater knowledge of training feel free to get in touch.
I got to raise my game for next year as i want to do well at the big endurance events before going to the Croc.. and with the announcement of a 24hr road race next year finances permitting is gonna be alot of fun.

I reallly wanted to get some pics of my SUPERSTAR parts that are fitted to my bike but unfortunately i forgot to take any before taking it to TSW Cycles... i got a shifter that won't shift and Dave now tells me my forks need a tune up... this is an expensive sport.

The hunt for sponsorship for the forth coming season hasn't turned up anything at the moment... hopefully if i can stay consistent through the winter with the racing this may drum up more support.
A full sponsorship package is the dream but i think even if i can just get a loan bike for the year then the Trek unfortunately would get sold to cover race fees and fuel etc

Think i'll get an hour on the road bike for some hill work tomorrow... weather is cold but sun is out and roads are dry.. just feels fast to be riding when the air is nice and crisp.. makes you glad your a rider:)

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Thetford Winter Series Round ONE

I seem to spend my racing life 90% of the time at Thetford.. not complaining as everytime i race there it brings something new... races are super well organised and it suits my style of riding..

Bike and kit was packed on saturday night... got up and out for 7.30am...

Sometimes wonder what it would be like to be able to wake up when you wanted, roll out of bed and laze around for the day... pretty sure it would be dull as dishwater.

After a good showing at Dusk till Dawn i had imposed alot of pressure on myself to get a good race in here... after all i had just sold a lovely pair of mavic wheels and a set of maguras to fund the day!!

As always happens even though i leave myself plenty of time to get somewhere there is always some greater force at work which is hell bent on making me arrive at a race no earlier than 4 minutes before a start wether its my arch rival the sat nav trying to send me across fields or in this case a road closure..
Pre riding the course in my book = the first lap.

Got there and parked... sign on was real quick as the event had sold out with pre entries and just a case of collecting my number.
Kitted up and bike of with 15 minutes before start.. i had got Paul (West) to bring some new conti tyres for me as my speed kings he gave me originaly are totally shot showing thread through the tread after a rough outing at Coed y Brenin, i had raced dusk till dawn on them and wasn't prepared to tempt fate by changing tyres so close to start.
My warm up unfortunately was a ride to the start.
I shuffled myself as far forward as i could get to start line... about 20 riders back.
A minutes silence for Rememberance day was observed... a kind thought on the part of the organisers..

and GO!!!

Managed to snake my way upto top guys.. a group of 6 of us... this is all new for me as i tend to work my way through the pack as race progresses.. have to confess that this was easier.

First lap of 6.5 miles in 26.15!!

Rachel as always was on hand up duty and doing a great job.... first bottle change went smoothly till a mile down the road when i went to bite open the valve and ripped the whole lid off.. certainly wasn't going to stop to put it back on so had to ditch it..

This mean't next lap i had to get another bottle when i would have gone for a gel or food.. i alternate my hand ups so i don't have to slow right down, but not so fast that i take Rach's arm off...

I still managed to stay with the lead group but with the density of back markers on the course you were having to chase back on for every little hold up... very very tiring thing to do when you already going some.

On the fireroad section after the start/finish at start of 5th lap i heard Adrian Scott joking that this was hard... i agreed and suggested a gentlemans agreement not to attack till last 100m:) He thought it was a good idea but did say that things were going to get harder..
How right he was... 3-400m later came the first bombhole and i got spat out the back of the group... hunger had kicked in due to my missed feed and i had to result to survival mode for a while..
left me riding in 4th spot with 5th close behind...

On around lap 6 i managed to break from the 5th place rider and get a comfortable gap..

Lap 8 brought a number of surprises... i had a few gels and energy bar in me so was starting to come back on... first surprise was catching Gareth Montgomerie (Singletrack/Pipedream).. he had stayed with leading group when i went out the back and i didn't expect to see him till finish.. obviously another victim to hunger.

So i had calculated a possible 3/4th place depending on age of riders in front... i could live with that.. just hold my ground and grind it out.. so i thought..

Unfortunately Anthony White (Extreme Endurance/ BETD Goldtec) had different ideas... he caught me napping on lap 8 and came past me like a train.. i've never rode with him mid race but i heard he was a machine and the gear he was pushing was LARGE!! I managed to grab his wheel and the pace went up considerabley from what i had been riding.. we exchanged position a number of times and the singletrack sections were really attacked... back wheel skipping all over.
Thanks Anthony for getting us back in time to go out for another lap!!!

I managed to ride away from Anthony on the final lap.. later finding out that shortly after this he snapped his chain... not surprising given the amount of torque going through those pedals!!!

Then one final surprise in store was catching Adrian Scott with a mile to go... another victim of the early high pace...

2nd place secured... very happy with how i raced and definately learned alot riding up front at the start..

Luke Smith taking the win 6 minutes in front of me.

Back home to a well deserved take away pizza... well i earned it.

A more professional report of the event ...

Pre race preperation...

Saturday morning was to be a spin out on the road bike to loosen the legs up in preperation for sundays racing...

I had planned to go out on my own and devise something around 20 miles and relatively flat as i know these rides are meant to be gentle but my brain won't ever let me ride my bike like that so its always all or nothing.. at least if it was flat i couldn't work myself too bad.

As it happened 8.40am got a text from my road riding and racing good friend Stuart... he was back from working away and wanted to go out on Clarion club run.. perfect as it would be relaxed and any efforts to raise the pace would be reigned in by the other riders out for a more sociable run.
Stuart (Pryce) was my motivation this year to get road racing and get the 3rd cat license, we had set the target of getting on the bottom rung of the road racing ladder at the start of the year.. and by july we had got with a cheeky bandit effort travelling to win a race in another region and Stuart with a more consistent campaign with a few top finishes... anyway he's smaller and lighter than me, kicks my arse on climbs and can always find the right wheel in a sprint so i gotta take all the chances i get..

The run was fairly local and at a really steady pace.. me and Stuart peeled off and rode the last 15ish miles on our own at brisk pace but still being able to hold a good conversation about the world of geotech engineering... sounds dull but hey i'm studying it and its good to talk to someone in industry..

Got home with a nice 50 miles done.... a little more than i wanted but at a steadier pace then i would have done on my own so in the long run a better choice..

Managed to get bike to bike shop in afternoon to fit the SUPERSTAR Components BB and Headset....

Dave at TSW Cycles fired them in quick smart and they look and work great, got Dave to set my bike up so i could get full range of rear cassette from the big ring... I knew from experience that i wouldn't need to use the middle ring at Thetford and from a mental point of view i love to be in the big ring, makes me feel fast.. stupid i know but every little helps.

Rounded the days preperation of by watch 'The Flying Scotsman' .. not the train but Graham Obree.. the man is a living legend.. he truly is a machine, its a must see film for any cyclist or anybody in general really.. touches some delicate aspects of his life but true strength of the man has seen him though with support from loved ones and he is a truly great cyclist.. an underdog... hell he embodies the Shoestring Racing concept.. he did what he had to do with what he had.. and came out on top.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Just a few more days

.. before my winter racing programme kicks off.

As last year i will be racing hopefully all the Thetford Winter Series.... its a great place to race, they are super well organised and competition is always top notch so its an indicator of the year to come.

Spent this week mostly eating... its a chore but somebody has to do it:)

Really loading the body in preparation for Sunday.. plenty of carbs and protein this week.. aswell as drinking plenty of fluids.
Nutrition was a bit of a mystery when i started racing a year ago... my first 4 hour race i tried to complete without any food mid race just electrolyte drink... as you can imagine mid race i almost ground to a halt.
I have been put onto a training fuel which can be used in race conditions as an alternative to solids which i am keen to try as i always find it difficult to eat mid race when the HR is at 180+ and your gulping air like a fish out of water... have a sample of this training/racing fuel so will give it a go and try and put some thoughts on the blog.

This week hasn't exactly gone to plan as i wanted to get a ride out on monday and wednesday and turbo train tuesday and thursday.. leaving me friday as a complete day off and a ride out saturday morning to spin my legs before sunday..
As it happened Uni work got in the way on monday and wednesday so was left with turbo training tuesday and tonight, the rest of the week will go to plan.

This has prompted a renewed effort to get some cash together for Gym membership.... idea being that i can get a 40 minute swim in 3 times a week in the morning around 8am before uni and wednesday night will be core training in the gym.... healthy amount of cardio to supplement the biking at least for the winter till weather gets better and mornings get lighter and i can get a morning ride in.
Me and Rach are looking through the bills this weekend to see what we can shave to get the money together for the monthly membership...

Next update will be probably Sunday night post Thetford...

Monday, 5 November 2007


Superstar Components...

Neil at Superstar has kindly agreed to supply me with some top quality products at awesome prices.. a company that prides itself on selling the right parts for the right job with attention to detail going into every product.
Neil isn't concerned with having a 3 million item product range but instead keeping his product range specialised and of top quality...

Its a great help as they are the parts which i seem to get through the most of,
Brake disc pads and Bottom brackets in particular.

The colour choice was massive but i have gone for the ever popular gold which will look great on my red Trek and even better on the White and Black singlespeed
The bearing quality is awesome.. silky smooth and the product benefits from being spec'd by a UK rider for UK riding conditions.... so i don't think Neil will be getting regular repeat business.

The brake discs are designed again for UK riding... i spent more than a few quid on brake discs last year and it wasn't uncommon to be replacing a set of manufacturers pads after a long winters ride...

I have got the bike shop ready and primed for a quick turnaround on Saturday to get me ready for racing Sunday... i am a little superstitious about changing my bike just before a race but it would be rude not to with these parts on my hands...

I will give a regular update on how everything is performing and anything new on the horizon from Superstar as i know there are fresh goods in the pipeline and hopefully Neil will be kind enough to let me test a few..

Thanks again Neil....

Check out my Links section to take a look at the Superstar Range..

Saturday, 3 November 2007

change of plans

today was meant to be a long ride out to Rutland water with the clarion.... i drove back from Newcastle to Nottingham last night and Rachel had been off work with flu and had decided to take today off aswell to fully get over it.
I decided that rather than be out all day on the bike i would split my training into 2 parts and do a pretty intense flatter ride in the morning and some intervals in the afternoon....

Part one....

Put the road bike back together as wheels were off after the hill climb last week... attached the saddle bag..realised i had left all my pumps in Newcastle.. ready to go by 9.20am..

Route is out to Southwell.. up a nice 12% climb which is just short enough to muscle up in 52x23.. on to Thurgarton along some rolling hills... Hoveringham.. along the Trent to Lowdham.. Bingham then A52 home...

I realise that most people reading won't have a clue about the above places but some people might and i am going to be using this blog to track my training so i want to know what i did on what day.

All going well till i got back to the city centre and bike felt squirmy through corners... whilst waiting at the traffic lights pushing down on the bars the front end had give.. don't remember fitting suspension so only one thing it could be.. Flat Tyre!!!

No pump but luckily it was going down slowly... managed to nurse it all the way home praying it didn't completely deflate on one of the downhills rolling home... as anyone who has ridden road and had a front tyre deflate at speed will know that you are going down like a sack of s**t...

Good steady 37 miles.. 1 hr 46mins... 1555 calories ... max HR 188 ... Avg HR 161..

Part Two...

After this mornings puncture i took the opportunity to take my michelin race tyres off and fit my bontrager winter tyres..

Shorter road ride out... out to Papplewick and Linby which is relatively flat with a few drags... nice and quick roads through Hucknall then a set of 6 short climbs...

These short climbs are great for intervals.. all of similar length so climbs are flat out on the drops as hard as i can go then spin the downhill...

18 miles ... 54 minutes, although 3 minutes off my fastest time tonight was about effort on the climbs... 772 calories ...max HR 181 .. Avg HR 157...

a productive day...

Friday, 2 November 2007

A little more training...

Just a quick update to say that i haven't been sat at home in front of the tv with my feet up.. although that does sound good.

Wednesday night... Halloween.... tried a little variation on my coast training run by veering off at Holywell Dene and heading on the road to seaton sluice... road on a mountain bike i know but good for a little extra mileage...
Have started to feel alot better this week after a few weeks of man flu lurking..

Thursday night... Longest day at Uni to date getting home for 8.30pm ( who said students are lazy.. and i was in for 8.30am).. by the time i had eaten and got ready it was 10pm before i got on the turbo trainer for the usual 45 minutes.
I curse the garage not being attached to the house when its freezing cold and i have to start my turbo training with a jacket on but when you want to train at 10 at night then its perfect..

Hopefully all being well there is a Nottingham Clarion club ride going out tomorrow morning to Rutland water in leicestershire... good for at least 90 miles round trip.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007


Every racer has that place where they can train in a Rocky style to try and achieve the peak of physical fitness....

This is mine...

To the untrained eye this may look like a bike on a static trainer surrounded by a selection of garden tools and general household items... but this is in the true spirit of Shoestring Racing... budget training at its best... there are no power meters here.
A turbo trainer.. a fixed gear road bike... heart rate monitor to make sure its still beating.. and a laptop ( my mums) and dvd ( 24 solo or Overcoming) to try and stave off the boredom..

Turbo training is a twice weekly affair at the moment... 45 minute sessions... warm up... 5 x 2 minutes intervals at maximum resistance.. 10 minutes at a medium effort.. warm down..

I can't remember how i devised this session or even the reasoning behind it but i did it all last winter and it worked... so if it aint broke...

Monday, 29 October 2007

Look back at Transportugal

Just been sent some pictures of the Transportugal race i did this year so seems a good time to write a little look back post... and tonight for once i have little work for my Msc.

Don't want to cover every stage more just look at the stand out moments that still seem fresh 4 months on...

Suppose the first place to start was the lead up to the race... i had been doing alot of road racing and was really hooked on it, i had entered the Transportugal on the night of the entry opening back in october 2006 and really hadn't been doing alot of mountain biking during the spring. I was in 2 minds whether to go or not.
In the end i decided what harm could it do.. at worst i would get some decent mileage in and a sun tan and come back to my road racing faster.

Arriving in Portugal i was met by Louize... the reason really i was there as i had found out about the TP through a mutual friend.. she was the liason for the foreign riders and really did her job well that week making sure in a land of carnivores that this little vegetarian had something to eat every night.
It was that first day that i met another Brit entrant.... I new i would be joined by Al Wilson and Matthew Barton as we had already been in contact with each other.. however Paul West was a new edition to the British contingent and proved to be a source of much comedy during the week ( i will write nice things about you now Paul but in 12 months when i'm in the Australian Desert and your to blame and times aren't good.. then my tune may change)...

The first day a proper was spent travelling far north to the start... that night we all assembled our bikes... It was reassuring to look round the room to see most peoples forks cost more than my bike..

..the evening meal was an eye opener, i was sharing a table with what proved to be the cream of this stage race and the usual banter was taking place everyone swapping stories of where they had been before... mostly the same race names... La ruta, Transrockies, Transalps, Crocodile Trophy... a few not so common.. Transafrique.. yeah a race across Africa 3 months long ( George Oertel you have too much money and are definately crazy)..
Me a stage race virgin in the company of much more seasoned riders... i was reassured by Pepe from that " i had chosen a hard one to start with" .. roll on the next 1000km

Day one and up early to watch the guys with time bonus set off ( Transportugal runs a handicapped scheme so older riders/women get a head start as it were so whoever crosses the finish first is the winner)...
Within 10km of our start i had gone of course, crashed and stopped to help Paul West has he'd double punctured.. what would the next 990km bring.

The first 3 days can be summed up by two words... Sore Feet... for some unknown reason in my wisdom i had brought my fancy carbon soled mtb shoes.. i had ridden maybe 3 hours in total in these.. racing for 7-8 hours a day in heat = swollen feet.
I was in so much pain i thought my race was over... My toenails had gone black and life was not good... step in Al Wilson withthe Sidi's from heavan.. size 10, 2 sizes bigger than my normal riding shoes but my feet could move and when clipped in they didn't feel too bad.
The next stage was like having new legs... i had been riding the first 3 days.. i would be racing the rest of them.

The rest of the days went really well.. i felt stronger everyday and clawed my way back up the leader board into a more respectable placing... not to say everyday went like a dream.

Day 7 was a real low point, i think my seatpost had slipped and after sitting with the leaders for the first 50km my knees were in agony to the point where i wanted to stop and have a little cry... thank god for Vince Haag that day.. we rode together and he got me through a real bad spell..

a special mention for the race mechanic who not only kept most competitors race machines in top working order but managed to coax my cobbled together effort through 1000km of Portugeuse terrain.

I think thats what i loved about this event... some people were racing, some people just plain surviving but its really nice to be around people who truly understand your passion and never think to question why we were riding a 1000km across Portugal it was just an everday part of life.
I rode with some great people that week... Tom, George, Tim, Vince, Martin, Aad, Hilary, Carol and alot of other people too... never a bad experience.

If you were ever to consider this event i would highly recommend it... yes at times it'll be tough.. there was times where i found myself riding alone for long periods of time and combined with exhaustion found myself to be quite emotional i know from seeing the faces of others at the finishes each day i wasn't alone..
But the experience you draw from it is worth it... i know the entry is nearly full for next years event and i won't be going this time around and i really wish i was going back.

Oh well 2008 is the year of the Croc... better get more miles in.

Portugal can be seen in 8 days here ...

A new training tool

As i now live in Newcastle during the week i now have the luxury of being able to go mountain biking from my back door, its not that my parents house is situated in a great mountain range but unlike Nottingham i can access some woodland trails in return for only a few minutes of road riding..a fair exchange.

So Monday which was my designated day of rest, in the new regime monday = Night Riding.

After repairing my singlespeed after last weeks rock/chainring incident i managed to get out just after 7.

With the Ay Up's lighting the way i headed off to do my normal lap through Holywell Dene, along the sea front by St Mary's Lighthouse and then a spin back along the road and cut back inland at Tynemouth.

It was tonight that i rediscovered one of the greatest training tools... a method least practised by some of the greatest athletes of our time... a method that can only be used in dense woodland in the pitch black.. FEAR!!

I have always been blessed with a vivid imagination, where others can watch horror film after horror film with little or no affect i'm reduced to sleepless nights...

Just entering the singletrack section of the Dene tonight the imagination kicked in and fear took over.. singlespeed was spun out all the way to the coast... great work out and i'm pretty sure that even with daylight aiding the cause i couldn't better the speed carried through the singletrack.

The rest of the ride was thankfully without any fear inducing environments and even the head wind home didn't seem to matter tonight so long as i was in the safety of the street lights..

Home in a round time of 1.08.44 ... 950 calories gone.. average HR of 158bpm...

Saturday, 27 October 2007

7.11 mins of torture

Busa National Hill climb race..

Never raced a hill climb before.. looked pretty straight forward and compared to a long mtb endurance race must be a walk in the park.. its only a mile or so long for goodness sake..

How wrong was i....

Race wasn't till 1pm so decided to stick the road bike in the car and the mtb on the bike rack and go ride some trails in the morning... Chatsworth and Rowsley routes were really close.. Rowsley would have been pushing it for time and energy so Chatsworth route was chosen.

13 miles round with 3 decent climbs to raise the heart rate... out on the Trek for first time since D2D race as at Uni i only have my singlepeed mtb and fixie for road... Trek is so fast!!! just love riding it... 1 hour 14min round.. just taking it nice and steady..

Got to Hill climb venue.. Curbar Lane... 11th off from a field of 150 riders... bike out of car, donned second lot of riding kit and took a spin up the hill... its steep... and long.. in lowest gear and still pedals feel stiff.. this is gonna hurt.. ALOT!!

Time passed till start with a quick nap in the car then stretch and few sprints up and down the road.. few minutes to go now so take up position in line on start... starters being watched by fellow non riding students on one side and riders warming up on turbo trainers on the other.. my minute man is in bermuda shorts and riding a mtb...
5 seconds.... GO

Nice big slip of rear wheel straight of the start... rain hasn't dried and hill is slippy.. so now i can't stand up as there is no grip and when i'm sitting i'm lifing the front wheel..i develop an ugly hybrid riding style and grind my way up the hill...
After 200m i could see my minute man... a few guys at side of road shout some encouragement " go on you've nearly caught him".. at this point i decided that if i didn't catch him then my bike would be disposed of and we would never speak of bike riding again..

Never ever worked that hard... i could taste blood and heart rate had ventured into unknown territory...

Crossing the line i couldn't control my breathing.. what a workout..

Coast down the hill watching the tortured souls grinding their way up... posted a time of 7.11 mins... off the pace by a minute or so.

Think this chapter of my cycle racing life is best forgotten... maybe will try another hill climb one day... but not soon... oh for a nice 4 hour mtb enduro...

the beginning...

At the age of 27 i decided that i wanted to ride again.. it'd been a good 10 years since i last put tread to trail... i had just quit smoking and wasn't the build of your average racer...

It was agreed between my self and my now fiancee that a 'budget' bike was all that was allowed to see if i stuck at it.... Halfords + £250 = one average mountain bike.

I rode as much as i could, at weekends with a great group of guys from Mtb Britain forum... first few rides were par for the course.. pain and suffering a plenty and generally being crap. I rode more and more and eventually the bike exceeded its useful life...

Luckily this coincided with my desire to try my hand at racing... i had raced when i rode bikes in my teens, never really set the world alight but did enjoy the race within a race you would usually have with riders of equal ability...

The new bike was more up market hardtail.. delivered the week before my first race.. BHF chainbreaker 4 hour endurance... a field of about 80 riders saw a 10th place finish.. followed a few weeks later by Dusk till dawn 2006 12 hour race and a 22nd place...

Over the winter much training was done...

This year led to some road racing gaining my 3rd cat license, a great trip to race Transportugal stage race... 1000km in 8 days... after a crappy start managed 14th place, and many other races.. some good.. some really bad.

Up to the present... just 3 weeks ago i raced Dusk till Dawn a year on.. 3rd place in the solo category ( missing 2nd by 11 seconds)..

At the age of 29 i have returned to University to study an Msc... with a mortgage and bills all monies are spoken for... the plan was to hang up the race bikes for a year and pick up again after graduation but after having a couple of good results at the end of my season i just can't bring myself to sit back and let the racing world pass me by..

So the creation of the shoestring racing... this isn't a club or a team more a way of getting the job done.... just trying my hardest to get racing.. selling old to buy new, great friends and a supportive fiancee are allowing a start to be made.

This is a highlighted history of my riding which i may or may not ellaborate on further.. so many great people to thank so little time...

I will try and update as much as allows... training as always is being done and racing proper starts 11th November.. Thetford winter series beckons..