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.