Monday, 31 December 2012

Rapha Festive 500

I'm fairly new to Strava, I had been against the idea for silly reasons, but in actual fact it provides useful data and lets you have a look at what other people get upto, especially in races.

Over the Festive period, 24th-31st of December to be exact Rapha & Strava host the Festive 500, basically ride 500km in 8 days, or 38.5miles everyday, simple.

I started half heartedly on xmas eve with an incredibly wet XC ride ride in the Quantocks in Somerset. Damn! only 3hours of riding, 21miles.

I'd never ridden on xmas day, so whilst my family were at church I went out for a road ride, felt rough and couldn't stay out too long, 22miles, bugger!

Boxing day, after xmas day cycling chat with friends the challenge was on, festive road club ride, 50miles, still behind schedule.

Thursday, day out with the family at Longleat safari park, fun times ice skating, get home lights on, go out for a road ride, 28miles, windy and tired.

Friday, better weather and I had no plans, rode the opening section of a local sportive, very windy again but no rain, 57miles, getting there.

Saturday, torrential rain and flooding, no matter, miles to ride, unfortunately I broke my front mech and got soaked, losing interest now, 23miles done, 108 to go.

Sunday, I'd worked out what miles I needed and planned to get up early and ride before my road club ride, woke up to rain and gales, went back to bed. Got up and rode 62miles with the club, felt good despite the wind, got home and had lunch, checked the weather for monday and it looked awful, decision made, stocked up on food and headed back out, 46 miles needed, 47.8miles achieved, 110.5miles in a day, after a long week. 502.5km complete with a day to spare!
So 2012 is over, it has been a good year, I'm a UK and European champion which is pretty  cool, i've learnt a lot but still have much more to learn!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Gorrick Brass Monkey's rd.2

It feels only a short time ago that it was a cold round 1 of the 2012 Brass Monkey's 4hr Xc Enduro Champs, 3 short weeks later it was round 2. The venue was Deepcut Barracks in Surrey, a venue I know well after racing there twice last year.

After meet and greets with my fellow racers it was time to line up for the start. A wide starting line with a 200m sprint to a sharp right turn then into the woods, ever since crashing at the Gorrick 100 fast starts have not gone well, I hit the woods inside the top 30, but knowing the course I knew I could make up places quickly. 

The first lap went well, the course was tough,with few places to recover it was going to be a tough race,the single track sections were fun, and generally in a good condition for the time of year. I settled into the race and rode the second lap by myself. By the end of the second lap I had caught and passed a  few riders. 

The 2hour race started, but luckily due to the longer lap times they had started far enough in front to spread them out, which caused less bottlenecks and effort to pass slower riders. The third, forth and fifth laps were great racing, duelling with "Mr Consistent" Richard Penning for overall race position,  it proved to me that maybe gears will be good for my future racing!

On the last lap I passed through the pits without stopping, keeping my head down I pushed on hoping to catch a few other racers, to my surprise I managed to catch and pass Simon Lingard. After this I was glad to see the finish!

Another good race from the Gorrick crew and i'm really happy with a 6th place, the new gym sessions are making a big difference, and i'm looking forward to the xmas break and the final round.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Brass Monkey's Rd.1- 2012

So.... back to racing, luckily after last years Brass Monkey's 4hour endurance series I know what to expect, fast, close racing on great courses!

The weather had been atrocious in the run up to the first round, but knowing the venue, and how the event organisers are careful with course selection I took a gamble on running summer tyres.

After saying a quick hello to my racing buddies I went off to get ready, and to warm up. The start had been moved from last year so I arrived a little late, I managed to get close to the front but my start was terrible! stuck behind a line of slow riders I had to bide my time until the fire road section.

I cleared the slower riders and chased after the fast boys, the rest of the lap was great fun, I recognised most of the course and the mud was minimal, with only two major hills, luckily the new bike is as fast up hills as my single speed!

On to the second lap I caught and past a Wiggle Bike Shop rider and I could see endurance supremo Ant White and speedy Simon Lingard in the distance, I felt I could catch them,until a tree jumped out on me. Bugger! get back up, checked bike, looks ok, check me, sore Knee, get back on the bike and ride on, ouch, still have a sore knee. Limped round the rest of the lap.

I was feeling better by the end of the lap, and carried on. I had dropped to 20th so had my work cut out. Over the next few laps, I clawed back 10 places despite having to clear what seemed like a thousand 2hour racer's, I sometimes find passing lots of riders difficult, it can be best to be patient and wait for the wider sections, but this takes time, I found short bursts of speed along the edges of the course helped pass in the narrower sections but I can only do this for a short time! I will know for the next round to be back around the lap before 12 o'clock!

I was happy with 10th, the course had slowed towards the end but it was still good fun, the new bike was great and I seemed to have the legs to race with the fast boys, I need to refresh my off-road skills before the next round in 3 weeks!

Chinese 29er review- Carbonal Gaea 29er

I’m obsessed with bikes, but i’m quite tight with money. As much as i’d love a Scott Scale or a Santa Cruz Highball the high frame costs are out of my reach

I’d seen a forum thread on MTBR which featured chinese carbon 29er frames, it was almost 100 pages long and mainly positive views, a few horror stories, but as with many things to do with cycling I take these with a pinch of salt. Still undecided on which frame to pick I emailed a few contacts who I knew had a chinese frame, they both came back saying that the Carbonal Gaea was a safe bet, it also had the best suited geometry to my needs, as I had noticed many had incredibly short top tube lengths compared to the seat tube, the head and seat tube angle were also similar to my Niner frame.

A few promptly replied to emails from the seller at Carbonal and I had ordered a 19” UD matt finish frame, with integrated headset and shipping, for the some of £320. 1 week later it arrived, packaged well, but with 
very little documentation.

The build was simple enough, I’ve built a few bikes so i’m quite confident doing it myself. The internal gear cable routing caused a few headaches but my choice of Alligator I-link cables was to blame for that. Setting the rear mech was also tricky, the original mech hanger was not of the best quality, so it promptly snapped after a small amount of fettling, using the correct tool I hasten to add! replaced with a UK sourced alternative the gears work spot on, I used a 1 x 9 setup as I am used to one gear, so nine is a luxury. I imagine a 2 x 10, 3 x 10 or 1 x 11 would work just as well with the correct front mech.

I was not familiar with the tapered headset type, but the two bearings fit into a race, which is a structural part of the frame, I used an FSA 1.5” to 1 ⅛” adapter so i could run my existing 1 ⅛” RockShox Sid XX fork, no problems encountered.

The remainder of the build was simple: the brake routing is neat and simple: i’m using a mixture of Hope and Superstat hubs on Notubes Stans Crest rims, I particularly wanted a hub with 10mm quick release skewer compatibility to improve rear end stiffness and as Hope’s are too heavy and DT Swiss too expensive I went for Superstar, I know sealing isn’t great but the bearings look easy to replace.

Overall the quality seems good,I have noticed due to the incredibly short headtube is that the brake levers and gear shifter clash with the top tube, this can be remedied by having a stem which points up instead of down and more spacer, but as I prefer a low front end I will gamble on protecting the top tube and having low torque on parts which clash, incase they need to move. Initially I have had trouble with the seatpost slipping, i’ve heard this can be a problem, i’m working on a few remedies, carbon paste and well placed zip ties have helped, but it still slipped 2mm in 4 hours so it requires more thought.

So in conclusion initial thoughts are good, with a tough but simple built the complete bike with pedals etc is 21.8lbs. Its first proper outing was at the first round of the Brass Monkeys 4hour race series, I had a silly crash which saw me chase back to 10th overall but the bike felt good, fast on the hills and handled well in the slippy conditions. I plan to get the matching rigid fork to save my suspension forks over the winter, and matching carbon wheels to increase stiffness still further and reduce weight.

I decided to buy the matching rigid fork, initially put off buy the longer a-c height than my Niner rigid fork. First ride seems good, it is less refined than i'm used to, very stiff, with no "give" compared to the other forks i've tried, but for a winter fork for local riding I am happy so far.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Season Review

My season started back in April with a big aim to win the single speed category at the 12-hour UK and European Endurance Championships. I really enjoyed the race, the location was amazing and the atmosphere felt great due to the lack team categories. For me the race went exactly to plan; I lead the single speed category from the first hill and felt comfortable for the majority of the race. My only regret was losing 4th and 5th place in the last two lap; the huge amount of climbing really hurt me! 6th overall at the National Championships was a good start to the season.

The rest of the season was a mixture of highs and lows. My next race, Gorrick 100, lasted two minutes. I rode down a hole and face planted the floor. I've still got the scars to prove my mistake! I was lucky not to do more damage, but I'm annoyed it happened. Next up was Erlestoke 12. Not feeling my best after my crash, it felt a struggle. It was a hot day but I dealt with it well. I won the single speed category with 1.5hrs to spare and came 5th overall.

Next up, after a rest and a trip to the Physio, was Bontrager Twentyfour12. I had an unexpected result in 2011 where I was third overall! Unfortunately it wasn't to be this year; the terrible weather destroyed the course and made single speed racing very arduous. I quit after 6 hours. Maybe I could have struggled through another 6 hours but my head wasn't in it and it would have left me broken for weeks after.

I'm not used to having races not go to plan! I was beginning to loose interest so, in an attempt to change my luck, I fitted gears to my race bike and headed to Brighton. The Big Dog is a great race and therefore the big boys have started to show up en mass! I wasn't expecting to do as well as last year, but rode a solid race and was surprised and happy with 6th overall.

My last big race came with Dusk 'til Dawn, a classic endurance race which has been plagued with bad weather for the last two years. Luckily for me it was dry, if slightly cold. I rode sensibly from the start, letting other soloist ride off in front, knowing they were pushing too hard too early. This plan worked for me as they quickly faded and I was in second. I suffered from the cold towards the end and never caught first, but I was happy and it was a good  way to end my main season.

My plan for next year is based around doing shorter xc and marathon races, with only one 12-hour race. I hope it'll leave me more enthusiastic to race more. It means unfortunately that my steel single speed bikes will no longer be first choice; despite their comfort benefits they are too heavy when built up with gears to compete against the carbon whippets.

I'd like to thank my supporters for this year, The Bicycle Academy, TF Tuned and Mulebar, they have been very useful & generous.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Dusk 'til Dawn. second solo male!

My first 12hour of the season was six months ago: Exposure 12. Six months later and I'm lining up at the start for my fourth. Dusk 'til Dawn is the biggest night time 12hour in the country and starts at 8pm. It was my second attempt; I’d tried it in 2010 but biblical rain and a lack of experience saw me drop out after six hours. 
Although there had been heavy rain over the 24hours previously, the course was fairly dry, running fast and was much flatter than I’d raced before. This meant lots of pedalling and very few proper hills, which are usually my strong point. Luckily I had chosen to use gears again, which meant I had more speed on the flat, and because I was borrowing a pair of Strada Carbon 29er wheels, which were super light and stiff, my bike was almost normal compared the one I usually race with!

I had a mellow start, but made good progress through the masses on the start loop. I was conscious that I needed to clear the traffic before the singletrack started, but was also remembering just how long a 12hour race is! I quickly got into a good rhythm, spinning a low gear on the gradual slopes and over taking riders in easy places.
For the first few hours I was keeping an eye out for other solo riders’ glow sticks, giving away their positions, and noting how hard they were trying!  I’d overtake a few before the singletrack, then they'd power past me on the flats; I figured they wouldn't keep that pace for long and let them pass.
As time wore on my ability to keep warm in 5 degree average temperatures was difficult. I don't like to over heat but I was struggling to feel my feet. Nevertheless I was in third and feeling good, enjoying the course without feeling tired, and having quit caffeine two weeks prior to the race, the caffeine gels were giving me a nice lift every few hours.
Everything was going to plan, I felt comfortable and knew the darkness would only last so long... After nine hours my main light ran out of power, quicker than I'd expected due to the cold, but luckily I had a spare and only had half a lap with just a head torch.
Soon enough it was getting light. With over 100 miles in my legs they were still turning and I was in second place!! On my next pit stop Dad told me I was only 10minutes down on second. Loading up on gels I set off to do my final two laps. The penultimate lap went well, but halfway through my last lap I could feel a big bonk brewing! I checked the time, it was a fast lap and I could get back before 8am and do another lap if I held it together. (Un)luckily I rolled in at 8:01am, missing the extra lap, but it didn't matter. I hadn't caught first, but I’d secured second and my best overall result to-date!
Big thanks to my Dad, it was such a cold night but he never once complained. Thanks again to Strada for the loaned wheels and TF TunedMulebarRob Lee and The Bicycle Academy for all their support this year! Now, time for a week or so off riding, a stag do and then to decide what I’m doing next year.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Newport Velodrome, track try-out

I’ve been meaning to try a velodrome track session since I missed my clubs taster session almost a year ago. Luckily a riding friend of  mine booked a session and made me commit to attending.

Despite the crazily early start I was feeling excited, if slightly daunted by my first track session. We quickly got changed and grabbed a bike, the group was of very mixed ability but we quickly got on the track, learning to ride within each section of the track, whilst overtaking the slower riders in a safe manner.

The first hour flew by, but luckily we had booked a 2hour session, whilst the second group were getting acquainted we had the track to the four of us! We had great fun trying our own team pursuits, the speed you can build up to with just one gear was incredible, and despite a few risky changeovers I was having a great time! I never realised from watching track racing on the TV quite how steep the corners are and how strange it feels to overtake people by going over the top of them!

By the end of session I was hooked! We discussed with the trainer about booking the next session, but unfortunately racing is still a long way off!

Anyhoo… Saturday is Dusk Til’ Dawn at Thetford in Suffolk, I have attempted this race once before back in 2010, I remember the race starting, the rain starting 30 seconds later and my bike, body and mind falling apart 6 hours later.

I’m hoping for a better race this time!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

South Downs Way in a Day

With my last race of the season just three weeks away, and having had a few days off the bike whilst at a festival I felt I needed to do a big ride. I have been meaning to ride the South Downs Way since way marking parts of the route for a off-road triathlon back in july, the SDW is fabled among cyclists, running from Winchester to Eastbourne it is just under 100miles with nearly 3000metres of climbing, some people like to do it over two days, some people like to ride there and back non-stop, I thought doing it in a day was good for me.

Leaving Winchester at 8:30am the first few miles come easily, one minor nav error near a disputed part of the route and a minor puncture for my riding buddy we made good time to Queen Elizabeth country park, then Next to Cocking for the first tap, 35miles, topped up and feeling good we carried on, during the next section my hydration pack bladder started leaking, less than ideal! I made sure I topped up at every tap, this delayed our progress but needed to be safe!

From Amberly onwards the gradient starts to get tougher, riding my beloved single speed I cope well with hills, a few had me walking but felt it was better to preserve my legs. From Ditchling Beacon onwards we had broken the back of the ride, although I knew the worst hills were still to come! We pasted a few other riders, one had set of at 5:45am and looked to be suffering, we gave him some encouragement and left him on the next hill.

With energy rapidly running out we hit Alfriston and the last big climb of the day, it was great, chalky climb with brilliant views and a gradual gradient, after this it was a quick blast along the top near Beachy Head and down in Eastbourne.

It was a really great day and a classic ride, total ride time of 10hrs, total moving time of 8:45hrs, I'll be back next year now I know the route more organised and more prepared and set a better time, and nobody mention doing the DOUBLE!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Brighton Big Dog, first geared race in two years!

I had booked my solo entry for Brighton Big Dog 6 hour months ago because i'd had such a good race last year, achieving a surprise 5th place on rigid singlespeed! Recently I had been feeling some doubt on how well I could do after a poor performance at Bontrager 24:12 and I had been struggling with motivation to train properly.

I arrived in Brighton friday afternoon, and rode a practice lap with my good friend Ronnie, from the Brighton Mountain Bike Club, he has always supported my racing and encouraged me to set my sights higher than I imagined I could. The practice lap was slippery and slow going, so my nerves were on edge and I was dreading another potentially boggy race! I'd chosen to race geared for the first time in years due to the lack of single speed class, I must say a big thanks to Scott Swalling for lending me the geared wheel, I would have struggled on the wet root sections if i'd ridden single speed.

Saturday morning arrived and I was feeling calm and more relaxed after the bad weather I had expected had not arrived. Lining up for the start I spotted the usual fast faces I have come to recognise, therefore starting the race I decided a top 10 finish was the race aim.

After an unusual short two lap warm-up, the race started. I felt ok off the start, remembering to keep my head and not take any silly risks and as the first lap progressed I was out on my own, behind the lead group, but in-front of the main race group, I was happy with my position as the course still felt slippery, and a few uphill sections remained difficult to clear without stalling.

The second lap felt much better, the course was clear of riders and the slippy patches had started drying and sections I had ran the lap before where now ridable and the singletrack was fast and flowing. The third and forth laps were within +/- 1minute of each other, and I was feeling good, clearing the technical climbs and enjoying the course.

Come the seventh and my last lap I still felt good and had an out-side chance of catching 5th place, I attacked every climbing trying to make up 4minutes. Unfortunately it wasn't to be, I finished 6th overall, with the fast guys still in front, despite this I feel it was one of my best races despite the lack of podium, trying to compete against semi-pros on my 25pound, steel framed bike with nine gears is always going to be a compromise on a fast course, hilly course, but it's given me the encouragement I need to make steps next year to progress into being one of the fast guys.

I always enjoy going back to Brighton and I it was an opportunity to meet new face in the bike scene, including Sarah from Halo Headband, thanks for the sponsorship and the words of encouragement from the Brighton Mountain Bike Crew.

Thanks Russ for the great photo

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Bontrager 24:12 a race report (a very late one)

I had been looking forward to Bontrager 24:12, I wasn’t as fit as I had been but I was hoping my early season form would help me through.

We arrived friday afternoon, we quickly set up camp and I headed out for a practice lap, I enjoyed the course and felt it complimented my climbing strengths. Friday night came and so did the rain, boy did it rain! I woke up saturday morning to a very boggy campsite, undeterred I got ready.
I lined up at the start, we had been told during briefing that a few sections had been removed and we were lucky the race was still on due to the river level almost flooding the campsite! I got off to a relatively good start and completed the opening loop, during the first lap it started to rain again, but it was warm so i didn’t mind. During the second, third and forth lap the course was getting more and more trashed and i was struggling to get through the deep mud with my single speed gear, and I had to walk more and more each lap!
I swapped onto my spare bike with a lower gear, and headed back out, I struggle round again as sections of course were removed due to them being unrideable, I changed the gear to the lowest I could, I wasn’t particularly enjoying myself but I was in 6th so had to continue. I was struggling, i’m really not built for pushing bikes through deep mud and was losing interest. I made it back to the pits and decided I’d had enough, I was going to kill myself for a top 10 finish, poor attitude perhaps but I didn’t have anything to prove, I completed my last lap, got washed and helped out my racing buddy Scott Swalling who was racing the 24hr, I didn’t feel too disheartened and knew I had saved myself from two weeks of recovery.
Thanks again to Dad, stirling pit work as ever, and thanks Andrew for the use of the Mobi Washer it helped a huge amount!
Next race is Brighton Big Dog, then I have a break until Dusk til’ Dawn where I need to get I thin and fast again!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Bontrager 24:12 preparation with help from a few sponsors

With a less than a week till Bontrager 24:12 in Plymouth, where I will be racing 12hours solo I took friday off work and visited a few of my sponsors.

First up I visited TF Tuned in Westbury, having only recently gone back to riding with suspension forks i’d been advised that weren’t working as well as they could. Ian from TF Tuned had organised a one to one tuning session with Oscar, he quickly stripped the fork  apart, explaining what each part did and how forks new from the factory are never as good as they can be! changing a few internal parts and resizing the bushes to make  travel buttery smooth, everything was greased and the reassembled. I can vouch for them working so much better than they did when they were brand new, so thanks very much TF Tuned.

Second up I drove over to see Jimmy at Mulebar, one of the most important i’ve learned through the races that I have done is how important proper fuelling is during and after the race. Therefore I was happy when Jimmy agreed to help me out for this season, I picked up a few boxes of Mulebars and Megabites, I find that one of either, depending on lap length and an energy gel per lap is a good amount for me during long races, but it is not always as simple as that! Jimmy has great some racing and traveling stories and it reminds me there is more to cycling than just racing!

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Erlestoke Twelve

The week leading up to any race I do a weather watch, usually to check for rain incase in I need spare mud wheels, For Erlestoke 12 however I was checking for how hot and windy it might be! Saturday arrived and Dad and I packed the car and headed to the race.

Come 12 o'clock I queued up at the start line, with fellow racer Szabi Bandli, we chatted over previous races but more importantly I kept a cool head. I got off to a reasonable start, careful not to go into the red, holding back on climbs, whilst keeping an eye on my single speed competitor. The course was great, a few parts were riding slow but I knew they'd get quicker, first lap complete, quicker than I thought, bottle swapped with out stopping. I kept like this up for 4 or 5 laps, dad told me I had a 15minute lead, this was good news, I slowed a little, only 4hrs in and a long way to go.

6pm came and the temperature began to cool, I was feeling strong and loving the course, it had emptied out which made it easier to maintain a steady pace, Andrew & Maria and my Mum & sister had come to spectate which was nice and my local club members who had finished racing were also offering encouragement.

Around 10pm we checked the split back to the closest rider and I was well up, I swapped onto my rigid bike for one more lap, I still feel I had more in my legs, apart my knee which had begun troubling me. Rolling in at 10.30pm we checked my time, I had won the single speed title and as I wasn't counted in the open I called it a day, 15 laps in 10hours 30minutes, 1st single speed, unofficially 5th overall.

Big thanks to The Bicycle Academy for their continuing support, Mulebar for keeping me Fuelled, Morvelo for their comfy kit, my Dad for being a pro pit man and everyone for there cheers, another great event from SPAM biking and  loved the Charge Cooker 29er frame and Surface Jacket prizes!

Next race for me is Bontrager 24:12, 12 hour solo, its not for a few weeks so I a chance to rest and rebuild.

Big thanks to Duncan from MBK Photos for the speedy photograph

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Gorrick 100, A disaster.....(warning, nasty face content)

I’d never raced the Gorrick 100 at Swinley Forrest before, but as I arrived early sunday morning I was quite excited. After chatting with my racing buddies I lined up on the second row, the klaxon went and i got a flying start, easily within the top 10 entering the first bit of single track, I took it steady as it was slightly slippery, i left the single track and headed out along a muddy part of fire road, I had another rider to my left and decided to overtake through a puddle……..

The next thing I know i’m on the floor, feeling very dazed and disorientated. Two racing buddies stop to check on me, they show obvious concern and call for the ambulance, turns out the puddle was hiding a foot deep hole! The next few hours sees  me bundled of to hospital strapped to a board in a neck collar, I had two x-ray and a CT scan before they gave me the all clear 5-uncomfortable-hours later. I’m now left with a black eye and bad gravel rash on my face and knees, but still, could have been a lot worse.

My plan is still to race Erlestoke 12 in three weeks time, it was my first big win last year and i’d like to defend my title, but time will tell what I decide for definite.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Exposure 24:12, A race report

24 & 12 Hours of Exposure is the European & UK 24 & 12 Hour Solo MTB Championship race, it’s held once a year in Newcastleton on the Scottish boarders. For anyone who competes in endurance MTB events the race is one of the most important of the year. I was racing in the 12hr open male category on a single speed, against geared and single speed riders alike. The race was the culmination of 5 months of training, under the watchful eye and guidance of Rob Lee. I was feeling good but it’s always hard to gauge the rest of the field, especially so early on in the season.
Gathering in Newcastleton town Saturday morning everybody was in good spirits and relieved the night rain had passed, leaving a dry, if a little nippy, April morning. I’d opted to race in my usual Morvelo race kit and Gore gillet, knee & leg warmers, as an easy option to control my temperature.
Before I knew it we were being led out of the town behind some towns people to the sounds of a piper marching in front. The first lap was at a comfortable pace. I clocked the single speeder I thought would cause me most trouble and endeavoured to put a gap between us during the traffic.
As the laps rolled on I was conscious to pace myself. Each lap was 11miles with 430meters of climbing, so fuelling the engine was an important task, I tried my best to eat one gel and one bite-size Mulebar per lap.
After six hours of riding I was half an hour up on the next single speeder and seventh overall, I decided to swap from my lightweight, but high-geared Niner 29er to my trusty Singular Swift with a lower gear, this immediately gave my legs a rest and the next lap felt good.
As dusk began my Exposure Sixpack and Diablo came out, I love night riding and find it doesn’t slow me down, although I was beginning to tire, I was up to 4th overall, which I couldn’t believe! In fact it was a massive surprise.
Unfortunately my next two laps were slower as the temperature dropped, rolling back in at 10.30pm I added more clothes and quickly headed back out knowing I was on my last lap. Luckily my last lap felt great and I actually sped up.
I finished in 6th overall in Open 12hour male, 1st single speed by over one lap. I’m so happy I’d manage to win the single speed jersey, and happy with 6th overall.
Got to say a big THANKS to my Dad for his great pit work, and having raced at many venues I can say that Rock UK was one of, if not the best venues I’ve been to, with a great atmosphere and faultless organisation by SIP events.
Roll on next year!!
My blog can also be view here  as I am riding as part of their team this year =)

Monday, 2 April 2012

Exposure 12, almost there.....

So its 5 days until Exposure 12, the bikes are almost ready, taking both of them, six wheels with tyres for various conditions, enough energy gels and Mulebar's (who are supporting me this year) to sustain me, my dad (and pitman) has kept the camping side of things organised, as I have a habit at arriving at races with all my bike kit, but minus any useful camping equipment, the drive up has been planned, emails and tweets circulated to riding friends who are racing as well, the weather is being studied to ensure I have enough clothing, but i'll probably just take everything! 

So there we go, I just need to avoid crashing on my taper rides and I need to remember to enter the 12hr single speed category, as the 12hr open cat has last years 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th placed riders swapping from the 24hr race, i'm quite excited to see how I fair against the top guys of the racing scene, but I need to remember to race my own race, its been a while since I've raced for 12hrs!!

Monday, 12 March 2012

Still no racing, but will be soon

It is less than a month till I head to the Scottish Boarder for Exposure 24/12, the UK and European 12 & 24hr championships. I have wanted to do the race for a while, I had planned on entering it as my first 24hr, as they have a rookie winners jersey, but after last years rookie jersey went to the overall winner of the seniors race as have since decided to wait on entering the 24, instead I will stick to the 12hr race, and aim for a podium finish in the single speed class.

For such an important race it is very early in the year, moved forward from May as to not clash with the new World 24hr Champs in Italy. With some help and guidance from Rob Lee we set up a 10week program to get me there in good shape, I am currently on my last 3 week block and i've been riding more hours than I ever have, but recovering much better than I have in the past. I have decided not to enter any XC races as it usually takes a whole day out of riding for a 2hr race, I am hoping missing these types of races won't take any of my speed away, but I feel the longer training rides are of more benefit.

So far I am feeling positive and fairly relaxed about it all and looking forward to racing a solo's only race. I have lots more riding and race prep to do but I have a few weeks to stress out about that =)

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Road Bikes

I have always been against buying a road bike, mainly because a high percentage of roadies look like this:
Undeterred and aiming for a more structured training regime I signed up to cycle2work through work, thinking if I wanted to get one I didn't want to use my savings in the process (plus I will cycle to work)

I bought a Planet X Team Alu, as it seemed a good spec for the money, with almost full Sram red group set and some decent finishing kit. Since getting it last week i've done over 220miles and enjoyed it so far, the simplicity of popping out for a few hours in the evening and coming back not covered in mud has its benefits, plus I enjoy my long xc rides more at the weekend, without exhausting my local trails or destroying my good bikes! I must avoid becoming a full-on roadie but for the time being its working well.

In other news my sister has produced some cycling related screen prints, which she sells through her online  shop. They would make a great gift for anyone into cycling or a nice addition to your workshop/bike cave, so please have a look =)

Thanks for reading and enjoy the spring weather


Saturday, 4 February 2012

Trying to Survive the winter/News

We're currently suffering a rather nasty cold snap!! luckily i'm on a smaller week training wise, so less time to survive in the minus temperatures.

Its only my second year of proper winter riding so i'm still learning all the tricks to keeping warm and keeping riding. Here are a couple:

I am a big fan of Exposure Lights, a few years ago when I was deciding which brand were best they seemed to offer the most complete package, with no external battery pack to get muddled with. The first light I got was the race maxx (middle) at the time it was middle of the bunch for brightness and burn time, but it got me through my first 12hr solo and I still use it for road riding.

Then I needed a head torch, I bought an Exposure Diablo (right) and was amazed how bright it was for such a small unit, and its easily removed from the helmet mount, no nasty velcro, just a plastic snap-in connector. As I started doing longer races I decided i needed to upgrade my main light, after shopping around I found an Exposure Six Pack at a good price, the unit might be quite large, but once its on the bike I don't notice it, and when it does get dark the light it throws out is immense!! the burn time on medium is 10hrs, which is still over 1000lumens, compared to my 480lumens max on my race maxx, and 3hrs max of 1800lumens =)
Exposure lights might be expensive, but they're made in the UK, great build quality and they look great!

A recent winter time purchase were Altura Attack Waterproof shorts not only do they keep my arse dry and free from wiltshire mud, they also help keep me warm on the coldest days worn over my winter tights.

Despite only riding the one speed lubes are still important to keep the drivetrain running smoothly and prolonging chainring & chain life, i've been using Green Oil lube and bike wash, the lube is great as it stops the chain turning black and gungey like most bikeshop brands and keeps lubing even after 50miles of winter riding. When I do wash my bike the Eco bike wash does a great job of shifting dried on mud, plus its natural and not purple like a certain other brand...

In Other News
Found out I came 5th overall in the Gorrick Brass Monkeys endure series, I was pleased with the result as it was my first attempt of the series and despite one dodgy result I was consistent for such an early season race series.

For this season Rob Lee  a cycling endurance legend and someone i've read about and admired for many years has offered to mentor me, I feel privileged and excited to have someone who knows the race scenes so well helping me, I will go into more depth soon when I can announce more exciting news, but for the time being thanks Rob!

Thanks for reading


Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Gorrick Brass Monkeys Rd.3

I raced the last round of the Merida Brass Monkeys on the 22nd of January. Another nice sunny day with a strong wind met us at Aldershot. Having read that the course was in good condition I had fitted my fast rolling summer tyre, adamant they'd be ok.

Having ballsed up round 2, I wasn't seeded, therefore started in the crowd. the start was fine, moved through the crowd, making sure I didn't try too hard as I knew it was a long race! the course was great, almost totally dry and very fast in places, the hills suited me as they were long which I like.

The race progressed well, I was making ground and despite not knowing my position I felt strong and maintained a steady pace. On the last lap I knew if I pushed on I could manage a 7th lap, which would have put put me in the running for a podium, unfortunately 1/4 through the lap I punctured, panicking a little I inflated the tyre, rode off and it went down again, one more can of co2 and it sealed. I took off keen to make up the time I had lost, I rolled in 5minutes after the cut off, with my last lap being 5minutes slower than the others, would have been tight but felt strong so could have managed a 7th lap.

Finished 6th overall, happy to be feeling stronger and pacing myself well. No set plans of my next races, but might have a go at some spring xc races!

The big target is 12 hours Exposure, the national and european 12hr championship race which is on April 8th, scarily soon! must remember how to ride a bike for 12 hours!!!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Christmas, Base and Jay Bars

So another year survived, I had a productive bike riding christmas, getting out on a few nearly 50milers, exploring a few areas near me that i had overlooked in the past. Having a GPS has helped me ride to areas i'd normally have got lost trying to find, but i still try and avoid loosing the course line, i it doesn't have a map, so can't explore too much, i found this to my peril at swinley forest where i tried riding a route i'd found online. bloody hard on a 1 x 1" screen!

I'm trying to ride lots of base miles so i've entered a challenge on Endomondo from a forum i use quite a lot, it shows just how much some people ride!

I've been experimenting with odd shaped handlebars, whilst racing at Kielder 100miles single speed legend Dan Treby flew past me on a climb still sitting in the saddle, he uses the same strange bars so thought i'd try them. They make getting up really steep climbs easier as your body is positioned better, and i can get up climbs seated easier as you can use your upper body more. They work well on technical single track as you get more leverage. So far i like them, shape they weigh 0.4kg =/

Hopefully in the next few weeks I will get my official introduction from my sponsors and support then work out where i'm racing this year!

Someone sent me a cool suuuuper wide angle photo from a race, looks like i'm a small boy riding my dads bike, but i like it =)
thanks for stopping by