Monday, 29 November 2010

NECCL Rd 5 - new faster colours

Lying in bed with the phone constantly refreshing the event website.. no change... it was still on.

The recent cold weather had seen a good foot of snow dumped over the week and there was no more putting off my first snow cross experience.

The first challenge was digging out the car... the next negotiating the various driving styles I encountered on the hour drive to the race venue.. afterthis nothing would be a problem.

The car showed todays was racing would be in a very manly -5 degrees ... the event car park park was already filling up as I arrived... you can never underestimate peoples desire to get out and ride :)

Near 60 riders and a few fields wiith 8" of snow covering the race was going to be amazing... made better still as although last week was my first sign on for Velo Club Moulin this was my first week wearing the colours...

.. and almost as good as that my new wheels had been finished so I would get to race on new tufo tubs :)

The course had some really tough sections but on the flipside also had some compacted sections were you could get good speed up but overtaking would mean coming off the good line and fishtailing through deeper snow... doesn't get any more fun than this.

My start was less than ideal... 50 metres of clambering to get both feet in the pedals then riding squarely into a plastic marker post saw me distinctly mid field with lots of work to do.. seems like this is becoming the norm for me every week so it didn't worry me.

The racing went... sit in on the deeper snow sections into everyone elses groove... pop out on the wider compacted sections and steal a few places.... repeat.. any foot down on the floor would lead to you not being able to clip back in so running any sections was avoided.

I cut my way up through the field and could see a group of 4 riders ahead.. then I heard the commentator announce they were fighting for 4th place so the chase was on to get across to them... when I did we had a great battle.. everytime I got up and past I would panic a corner and dab loosing the ground and places I had made... I ended up sat in 5th place on the bell lap.. just behind 4th place.. as we got to a steep climb 4th place went to the side to look for the better line and I gambled and smacked it straight up the middle through the crap or mud and snow... both of us coming to the top close but I had a half wheel and nipped through... a quick blast out the saddle and a few turns later saw my best result so far with 4th place.

The power of Velo colours is great :)

Next week Northen CX champs.. weather and roads allowing i'm hoping to break the top quarter of the field.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

CXNE RD 7 - Stainton

A week after Gateshead and an £80 parts repair bill later I was back at another cross race.

The Stainton venue was windy and cold... watching the Junior race from the comfort of a warm van the motivation to get changed and get riding was low.

With no National Trophy race on the field was stacked with some top quality rider... Oldham, Ward, Murray, Moss, Nixon.. the list was extensive so today wasn't gonna be easy.

First sign on for my new team for 2011... VELO CLUB MOULIN ... after other new Velo rider Dave Crawley's 1st place on his first outing for them the pressure was great :)

After a quick change myself and Neal, who'd come for his first cross race experience, pedalled out onto the course... to not long after turn around and head back to the van.. I had changed rear wheels and forgot to fit a spacer to inside of freehub so cassette was rattling.. luckily I had other wheel with spacer with me and was able to borrow tools and sort it.

The course looked pretty awful but once on it it rode really well... plenty of turns, a nice climb, transitions from dirt to tarmac which were only surpassed in their bike sliding ability by a set of off camber bends which were really tricky.

Just before start Neal decided that he had a rear flat so made for the van only to make it back in time to get going... I was mid field on the start line and spent the first lap executing some high risk dubious cornering overtakes to cut my way up towards the top 10.

On a set of low boards that could be bunny hopped I saw new team mate Dave Crawley standing with his bike, later found out a snapped rear mech... I feel your pain Dave!!!

The race was excellent... I had a great battle for most of the race with the same Malton Wheeler rider as we exchanged places two or three times a lap... He would be a little quicker through the turns but I would get on the gas on the climbs and take position back.

About 45 minutes in I was overtaken by the leader ... Paul Oldham... no great shame as the form he has at the moment I was surprised it didn't come earlier... another 40 seconds later then Steven Ward came through... a North East rider having a great battle with Oldham and squeezing out the other Hope factory boys for the second place spot.

A lap to go I was just behind my Malton Wheelers rival on the start finish climb so I rode hard past and then buried myself for the rest of the lap.. in doing so I caught and lapped Neal who looked to be enjoying himself too much... one final out the saddle effort and the race was done... 13th place in a good field of riders... I know I have a more to give so looking forward to North of England CX champs in a few weeks.

Picture courtesy of Lee Adeola (

Videos of the race can be seen here;

Video 1
Video 2

Monday, 15 November 2010

CXNE RD6 - Gateshead Stadium

Riding really strong... 40 ish minutes in I was lying 4th.. 20 second gap to 5th and I was feeling good.. then..

.. nothing I could do from there on in.

Roll on RD7 on Sunday.. bike should be fixed and i'm ready to go again.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

NECCL RD4 - Preston Park

Back to where my cross season this year started... 4 races back and under the BCF banner I opened my cyclocross season.

The course here is an excellent mix.... short sharp climbs, wooded singletrack and wide grassy drags for losing or gaining places.

As a change for this race the course was altered slightly and ran in reverse... this coupled with a heavy downpour the day before leaving the grassy sections wheel suckingly wet it made for a challenging course.

So to keep with the theme of change I had opted to strip my bike of its front mech as I had rarely used it in any of the races.. with this change I upped the front ring to a 38t leaving the 12/25 out the back.

I've identified that i'm not the best starter in the world.. in fact i've had awful starts every race so far and with such a short race every little helps... this time round I wasn't taking any chances so pre start I stalked Alan Nixon (Blackhawk Bikes)to the start line and pulled right up next to him... front line and a clear field ahead no excuses.

As the race started I was immediately in a better position although still not the best start it was infinitely better than previous efforts and I was about 10th going into the singletrack muddy descent.. this descent fired the riders into a sharp left hander and then it was into some slippy singletrack.

By the time we had reached the section where the course double backs on itself I could see that the lead group had a little gap already.

It was immediately clear on the first lap that the new gearing was maybe a little steep and I really had to mash the pedals hard to make the slippy climbs.. that being said I wasn't losing any places and was gaining on the riders in front.

The wooded singletrack was nice and twisty and passing was best left till you were out of it but as we caught the back of the field quickly there was no option but to try and weave through best you could..

The racing was very close and I was pushed from the start... about 40 minutes in I was caught and dropped a few places... although the riders never pulled out a very big gap and I would get those places back not long after and hold them to the end.

The mud had started to gather around the wheels and I was glad of the extra clearance the disc brake set up allows me although it felt like I had gathered a fairchuck of the course on my bike and was now carrying round with me for extra training effect.

On almost the last lap I saw Alan Nixon running off the course... broken mech.. I was happy that my bike was still working well but as the race entered its final lap I was pushed hard by a rider from Malton Wheelers who stuck a pass on me as I had to dismount and run a climb when my rear wheel broke traction and I span to a stop... as we started the final drag up before the start finish field I passed him again and this time when we enetered the field instead of diving for the sides and seeking an easy line I just gave it all straight down the middle.

Another great race and a satisfying 6th place.

The race was won by Dave Crawley (Velo Club Moulin) who looks to be taking his place at the front of the field for the forthcoming events.

New wheels and a 11-28 cassette this week in preperation for sundays CXNE race :)

Friday, 5 November 2010

100th Post!!! NECCL RD3 - Hetton Park

Happy to still have something to blog about 100 posts in :)

In my effort to improve my cross racing I am taking in not only the CXNE BCF run series but also the NECCL TLI run events:)

Last Sunday saw RD3 of the NECCL series and although I have missed 2 rounds already the overall series is based on best 5 out of 8 events so an overall decent position is still to play for.

Hetton Lyons Park is a popular cross destination featuring some good sharp little climbs and off camber muddy descents... the weather decided that after previous weeks of easy going that it was time to get into the 'Real' cross season and let rip with a good level of rain for the duration of the event but when you are breathing hard and tasting blood the weather doesnt even register.

After a pre ride of the course tyre pressures were lowered... not since Arrowhead snow race have I dared run such low tyre pressure... numerous times I felt the rim hit a root or rock.

The start was on tarmac for a good 100m before firing into an S bend... again I struggled to get a decent grid position on the start and I had to spend the first half of the race picking my way through the field of over 80 riders before settling into the natural order of the race

The leaders were out of sight and I was left chasing the same 2 riders for probably the last 20 minutes of the race... we were very evenly paced so the gap never seemed to decrease... as the final bell lap came I sprinted the start finish straight to try and finally bridge the gap.. in a narrow singletrack section which climbed steeply I caught onto the back of them then on the next straight section made a move on the outside and past.
The next corner was hard left straight onto a muddy short climb.. I washed my front wheel out having to dab a foot and allowing the rider I had just overtaken to pull alongside.. I put in another effort and squeezed just in front as we hit the singletrack straight immediately apologising for the abrupt overtaking manouevre.

I pulled away leaving with a comfortable gap at the finish.

9th place... I am gradually creeping my way further up the finishing list.. I started the year aiming for top 15 finishes but now want to push myself harder and get into the top 5.. as conditions worsen I think my chances of getting there will grow.

NECCL RD4 this Sunday :)