Monday, 28 November 2011
Monday, 7 November 2011
Whickham, RD3 Neccl, changed all that … although the weather on the day was fair, no rain and mild, the fact the course sits nicely on a hillside and previous days of rain gave rise to the usual sticky mud that this course is known for.
The course itself was a great mix of a slippy long descent with switchback corners to try and negotiate … a long drag/run back up to the bmx track then even a section of wooded singletrack before a ride back to the pits and a slippy set of corners before starting the descent again.
What Whickham is really famous for is the course mix of sticky mud and sections of gravel which tears off mechs and hangers at will !!
Unfortunately the first victim of the day was Cross Club rider Rob Walker, snapping a rear mech on his practice lap so was resigned for the first time this season to the sidelines and took on the role of team heckler.
I managed to get a good start but a lead group formed ahead of me that I just couldn’t get across to… I need to work on this … Soon enough the race began to develop at a fast pace as the course started to take its toll quickly on bikes.
Quicker than I could reel riders back the course was tearing their bikes up … as the laps went by the lead group had been decimated by mechanicals and although I lost a few places later in the race I still found myself in 5th place at the end.
I would like to take this placing as a move forward in terms of fitness but in reality the field was thinned by the course devouring their bikes, I prospered on this occasion as the trusty Fuji held together although it had gathered its own weight again in mud during the race.
Photographs thanks to Grace and Jay
I feel a degree of loyalty to this machine as it was the main facilitator allowing me to get back out on a bike after breaking my knee cap … far easier than pushing a singlespeed gear everywhere and off roads where I could potter along at my own speed.
The bike remained stock for a few months as I used it for riding and training but as racing loomed the itch to ‘spice’ it up set in and I finally started to lavish some time and money on it.
First to get replaced where the stock wheels, although clinchers are fine and good nothing beats cyclocross tubs when it comes to grip… I had a set of Zipp wheels mooching around the garage so after a friend, Rick Perry, gave them the once over and fettled any little cracks that had began to surface I had a local shop glue on a set of Tufo Cubus tubs tyres. The Cubus is an out and out mud tyre with great grip in the worst of conditions.
Once the wheels were set the brakes came next … a bargain find set of TRP Euro carbon canti’s where had when a shop misplaced the box and fittings … a set of Swiss stop yellow pads later and I had brakes that worked enough to be useful.
Drivetrain was changed as the bike had been used and abused by journos as a test bike before me so new chainrings, 46/36, and a new cassette, 12-28, were fitted along with a new chain.
My final finishing touch was to remove the not so mud friendly white bar tape and replace it with black … and for true US styling added the shotgun cartridge bar end plugs ..
So far the bike has had a few outings although with my fitness still lagging behind the bikes capability there has been no stand out races… I hope to remedy this by the new year if not before.