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 http://www.reevax.be/ 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 ... http://www.supertravessia.com/

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..