Sunday, 26 February 2012

'Hot' new frameset :)

I don't feel quite ready to unleash this full item yet but all I will say is huge thanks to Pat at Ison Distribution the UK guys for Salsa for supplying a Gravel Eating Monster ...

.. Salsa being a brand I have always loved it is exciting to finally get my hands on one for a big event..

A little taster image ..

Build will be happening this week hopefully ... next weekend hoping to come back with the full low down on the bike build and its maiden voyage :)

Training fit for purpose

The only way to know what its going to be like to ride for 12 hours is to ride for 12 hours.

It had been a while since I had ridden for 12 hours or more ... never on a cross bike as by the very nature of cyclocross most time spent on a cross bike in one sitting is usually an hour so it seemed fitting to head out and just see what happened.

The route was simple ... head out on the Reivers route to Bellingham (just before Kielder Reservoir) .. swing north east and keep riding along the pennine cycleway until I hit Berwick upon Tweed then turn south and ride home .. easy.

The weather was great in that it was dry and sunny .. what wasn't so great was the headwind I had for the first 3 hours all the way to Bellingham .. so strong at times it was blowing the earphones out of my ears !! .. on a side note thank you to VeloBeats for the producing such great riding music :)

The north westerly journey to Berwick was mainly a crosswind which was great ... the route was very 'rolling' ... never ridden this route so had no idea what to expect .. a ton of small hills.. some medium sized one.. mostly lanes but sometimes off road too .. a real mix ... first stop of the day came after 6 hours in Wooler ... quick Co-Op shop stop for more water and an energy drink then back off again.

I reached Berwick after 8 hours ish of riding and was happy to make the turn for home ... only 70 ish miles remained ... I tried initially following the Sustrans Coast and Castle route No.1 but it was pretty convoluted for a man trying to get home so to eat some miles I jumped reluctantly on the A1 .. luckily this far north its not as busy with a decent if small hard shoulder to ride on... 21 miles later just past Alnwick just as it was getting dark I chose to take the coastal route on a quieter road.

Then at Ashington feeling quite tired I suffered a puncture :( A quick change then home via Bedlington, Seaton Delaval, Earson ... back on familar ground the miles went alot quicker ..

Home finally in 12 hours 40 minutes having covered 180 miles ... so I can ride for 12 hours plus .. discovered a few little niggles I need to work out ... another 2 months of training think I will try another one and see how if at all I have improved :)

Fuelling the Fire

In all the time I haver been racing one thing I have yet to master and am notoriously bad for is nutrition ... when to eat, what to eat, how much to eat ...

I have been told a million times the basic principles but never listened ... with this years goal being the Dirty Kanza 200 I wanted to put everything into this race so am paying a little more attention to food for fuel.

With this it was well timed that fellow Brit Dirty Kanza entrant Rick Perry secured us some great sponsors to provide us with the products we need.

First up on the bike nutrition ... riding for 12 hours plus requires variety in what you eat.. energy products alone are great but sometimes you need something more natural and a little less engineered... Eat Natural Products have supplied us with enough bars to support all the training that we plan to achieve between now and June and I will be taking some with me too ... they are great tasting natural bars that offer a welcome break from energy product .. right now my personal favourite is the almond, apricot and yoghurt coated :)
Making sure I get enough calories on the bike is one thing but the importance of recovery has been stressed over and over again so I have adopted a recovery drink and snack straight after any training session .. the drink is a chocolate milk or dedicated recovery product .. the snack is protein rich product called Bounce Balls. Another all natural product .. noticing a theme here .. they deliver all important protein for post excercise recovery ... I have been using 2 flavours.. peanut and almond ... both taste great and take the hassle out of figuring what to eat.

Huge thanks to Eat Natural and Bounce Foods for fuelling this adventure :)

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Brrrrr !!!!!!!!!!! Hit the North- 2012

Hit the North is an event I will never miss .. ever .. I love the course and the atmosphere .. even the organisers are alright :)

The event is 2 hour long affair and is always a battle between cyclocross riders and mountain bikers or more importantly cross bikes and mountain bikes .... last year the event was muddy and a cyclocross bike was the weapon of choice .. this year I gambled on more mud so the cross bike was chose.

The trip down started at 5am with Cross Club riders Adam Cooke and Rob Walker also racing .. soon as we arrived the cold was evident.

Signing on there were alot of familiar faces .. always good to catch up with people that you really only see at races.

Getting ready and 'warming up' (unsuccessfully) I couldn't feel my fingers ... the start was for the first time right at the lowest part of the course leaving a longer climb ahead right from the gun .. on the start line I was on the front row ..

after a bit of shuffling around I found myself 6 or 7 rows back .. right behind Guy Martin of Isle of Man TT fame ... straight off from the gun the ducking and weaving started to try and get on ...

alot of people I think underestimated the climb and there was alot of people fading before we got to the singletrack.

The course was rock hard frozen .. cross bike getting a little bullied on the frozen ruts .. the descents were a little cheeky and I opted to run a few sections ..

what time I was loosing on the downs I felt that I was more than holding my own on the climbs ... the lower part of the course was fast flowing singletrack and a lovely descent with berms .. lots of fun !!!

I managed to get away relatively unscathed until on consecutive laps I slid over smashing my bottle cage and then the following lap shoulder charged a tree .. donated plenty of skin to the cause.

Towards the end of the race although I was still catching and passing the back markers there was a sizeable gap to the place in front and behind me so I got to ride at about 80% effort and enjoy the singletrack... I even managed to get through the time cut off and get another lap in.

I finally finished 21st ... not a fantastic result but what I took away from this event was so much more than a result ... I thoroughly enjoyed racing my bike ... I lost nothing on the flat or the climbs so my legs are good even if my bike handling needs some work ... I now just need to build this comfort and effort over 200 miles and at around 40 degrees hotter.

Bring on June and the Dirty Kanza 200

All pictures courtesy of Ed Rollason Photography