Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Mens CX World Cup Namur 2011 extremely tough course under the worst conditions (apparently the women had it worse!) that goes right down to the last bend. What's not to like ?!?!?!?

Monday, 19 December 2011

NDCXL Round 11, Sherwood Pines

51st out of 156.  Brilliant fun !

Wow, that was again a fantastic race. Great weather, Teresa, Dave and Lewis spectating and almost a festive air (there was some tinsel on show !)

The course wasn't as twisty as some which is a great thing in my book. A couple of fireroads and a very tiny bit of mud made it one of my favourite courses of the year so far.

Lack of some top end training in the last few weeks meant that I felt underprepared - whether I actually was or not is another thing - probably made about 2 places difference ?

It's been a great league so far and looking back at the races for "an all in great day" I'd rank them ...

1. Alfreton park - amazing weather, mum came along in the campervan and not too twisty
2. Holme Pierrepoint - amazing weather, a course that seemed to have everything. It felt like a class course.
3. Sherwood Pines - amazing weather, not too twisty or muddy

Dave Fletcher won (Boardman Elite) and Dan Booth also passed me (Cult Racing) - great to see them making it look so easy.

Results here

Training now turns to running, which I've tried to do a bit over the last week or two. The 30th December beckons !!!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Monday, 5 December 2011

Open 5, Bacup

5th Male Solo out of about 70 starters, 4h46m

For those of you who haven't heard of Open 5 before, this is their website and they typically do pretty long running / biking / kayaking adventure race type stuff through hilly and mountainous terrain.

I'd do more of their events apart from the kayaking bit, which just doesn't float my boat (sorry about that).

I've done 1 in the recent past - up at Haworth with James Block about a year ago - sadly, my eagerness far outweighed my ability to work out which controls were worth anything, so I came home tired, but way down.

This time, I was more prepared to get it right - I now knew that they put the high value controls in the middle with the lesser ones around the edge (that's the opposite of what I'm used to). I also learnt to take a big waterproof bag so that I could cross off the low pointers even if it was raining. I even learnt to put the control descriptions on my arm, so I could read off the exact values as I went round. Perfect.

What could possibly go wrong ?!?!?!?

Well, my preparation on the morning wasn't perfect, I was still getting changed and gear faffing at 10:15, so I was late to set off which also meant I didn't have time to read the instructions. I never read instructions really unless I've got time to kill, which I didn't. And anyway, I do these kind of things week in and week out, so why would I need to read instructions ?!? Well, have a look at the MTB map and you'll see what my initial problem was... not obvious ?
MTB map with Lee Quarry insert

Well where are controls 1-5 ??? 

They're not marked = utter confusion !!!
Lee Quarry inset with controls 1-5 marked (?)
I asked a guy on the start line who was helping out but who also hadn't looked at the instructions or map and we concluded that controls 1-5 were marked on the inset Lee Quarry map. Phew. In fact, if you look at the Lee Quarry insert, you can see controls 1-5 in faint blue. Sorted so set off. Erm, I couldn't seem to find number 1 - but no problem as I'd get that on the way back to changeover for the run. Hold on ? I couldn't find 2 either ? Too cold to hang around.

Hold on - I found 3 but there was no control there ? This was getting silly ? Someone else found one near me, so I dibbed in. Eventually I stumbled across another. Just then it got too windy and cold to stand around so blow it out was the only option. I got going up towards the Cragg Quarry link. As I cycled up the very long hill into a very strong headwind I was thinking how strange it was that they'd not put any controls in Cragg Quarry. Hey ho. Time to sweep up some controls. 

Picked em up in the order of 8, 7, (fanny around Cragg Quarry looking for the bridleway that  links to contruction site / mast before 13 which I couldn't find so straight to) 14, 19, 20, big shiver after that 10 minute descent, (should have gone to 18 in hindsight), 15, 11, 10, 9 then back to the changeover not seeing any more around Lee Quarry as I zipped through. I never felt at all fast and had virtually eaten and drunk nothing. 

Run map
Bottle of fuel at transition and a bit of a struggle to get fell shoes on, then off on the run. I'd got cold in transition, but it didn't hit me until I walked up the climb reading the map working out the course - I couldn't stop shivering, well shaking actually, shaking all over actually. Just get running I thought and head up quick. Soon got going, overtaking people and generally feeling ok now. Straight to the first control, then straight to the 2nd, and so on. Pretty easy nav, and great running across bogs and tussocks and legs felt really good too. 

Halfway through a bog, I bump into Mick Kenyon so neither of us feeling competitive, we start chatting away and he explains to me how controls 1-5 were 'on the red route somewhere, you just had to bump into them'. Not my idea of a nav event. He also explains how the numbers I'd been looking at on the Lee Quarry inset were actually the information board numbers and nothing to do with the event ! Nice. After the event I also notice that controls 4-5 were on Cragg Quarry red route, and were worth 60 pts. Bugger. Probably went straight past em too.

Just left was to sweep up the run controls. Didn't see a soul in the last hour which was strange but I think a lot of people blew it out early as the conditions were atrocious. There's very few times I've been that cold in an event. Biking + Wet Sleet = No fun ! Anyway, I really enjoyed the run and felt great at the end, in fact I noticed that my legs weren't even aching. Back 15 mins early, download and watch the awards ceremony. Open 5 do this bit very very well.

Turns out I did OK, 5th in my category. Just gotta work out where I'd come if I hadn't cocked up lee and cragg !

Results here
Fannying around Cragg,
generally lost
1st Run Control - No I'm not looking at the map cos I'm lost,
I'm working out my 'best route choice' actually !

Monday, 28 November 2011

CX Nationals Rd 4, Derby

I missed this as I was running, but it's a brilliant course down Moorways...

Koksijde World Cup, Superprestige

Full footage, brilliant tough course - skip to 1h10min to get to the exciting final lap or so. British Women did well, 3 in the Top 10 !!

D&W 3h Mini MM, Hayfield

17.5 miles and 1,050m ascent, 2h46min (15 mins early)
4th out of 160, pleased !

Wow - my legs didn't like that one !

First race in ages, probably all year for fell races so my hopes were not high - perhaps Top 10. Started off OK up the Pennine Bridleway to South Head, bit slow but generally enjoying it.

I started to feel less comfortable going down the first hill though towards checkpoint 22. Tarmac.

It's the general leg tightness / hamstrings feeling short / calves perhaps not stretched that made me feel like I was taking even shorter strides than I used to (and I've always got short strides!)

I noticed I wasn't catching people up as quick on decents as I probably used to but that's not a surprise really with all the cycling.

Blue skies made the rest of the day a joy, but the climb out from Birch Vale up towards Rowarth soon took the edge off that. Ascents were now slow too !

Then came the hard route choice bit - from 15 with 1 hour left do I (not feeling confident about my ever slowing pace!) go for it and head for 13 (25 pts) then be in danger of getting back well late or sweep up all remaining controls apart from 13 ?????

Well, I bottled it and missed out 13. I've just checked my splits again and I was actually at checkpoint 12 with 1 hour to go. Now I think if I'd have known that I'd have gone for 13. Anyway, as it started to pan out I was in line to finish really really early (20 minutes) so I snook in the 5 pointer too which I wouldn't normally do as it was out my way.

I think missing 13 was the wrong choice, but I was not confident in my legs. It's also the first time on a D&W running event where I've not covered the whole of the outside circumference of the course. Well, I am over 40 now !

A great day topped off with a cracking Raspberry scone, jam and cream in the great little Hayfield T Shop with Krish, Helen and Pete Baker.

Results here

Monday, 21 November 2011

MTBO Dark Peak 61km Enduro

Victory !!  1st out of 81 on the long route.

Teresa and me headed up to Chapel for a relaxed 830-9am start. Driving through really thick fog on the way up we thought it was going to be a trudge, only to be greeted by blue skies and cloud inversions north of Buxton.

Edale Panorama - cloud in the valley, clear up top !
A great hard day's training - beating Pat Higgins by 6-7 mins which is always good as Pat's a great rider. Really good riding from Chapel over some new stuff around Rowarth - a nice climb and descent logged there for future rides !

Route took us from Chapel past Birch Vale, Rowarth (all new to me), then PBW back down to Hayfield - Roych Clough - Rushup - Edale - Hollins Cross - Castleton - Bradwell - Dirtlow Rake - Peak Forest - Chapel.

Got a bit muddy and gloopy round Hollins cross - the climb up was extremely slippy mud and the descent down was actually not too bad.

Results here

NDCXL Round 10, Holme Pierrepont

Exiting the bombhole - probably too steep to walk up 
 Well, that was my favourite race of the league so far...

* Awesome weather.
* Lots of fast bits
* Damp under tyre, so no mudfest
* Some tricky sections too

Still only got 51st out of 150odd, so top 1/3rd.

That was what a race is all about - a brilliant hour.
I'd not done any hard cycling all week apart from easy cycles to work everyday, but to be honest I felt better for a break from hard training. I was even looking for to doing a final final lap only to be lapped by the winner (Dan Booth) a few hundred metres before the finish line.

Results here
Carnage going round the bombhole area !

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Monday, 7 November 2011

UK Climbing iPhone App

Just discovered this amazing App on my iphone which auto links to UKClimbing and UKHillwalking Top 10 photos of the week.

Some awesome shots on there at the moment including this one which is just mesmerising.

Previous weeks Top10's are also available to download too !

MTBO 3hr Winter League 2, Grindleford

Route fm Grindleford :
1,16,17,18,21,19,22,20,11,9,5,13,12,15,3,6,7,8,10,,4,2. And relax!
38 miles and 1,900m climbing : 2nd out of 162 = Pleased!

What an amazing day and to be honest what a surprise.

All I'd done since Tuesday was stretching really - been feeling very lethargic and legs just ached. Lots!

I wasn't optimistic, but a coffee in Grindleford cafe first soon sorted Dave n me out.

Setting off in glorious autumnal sunshine - it was clear that it was going to be a fantastic day in the saddle no matter what. Heading out from the start, my legs were filled with lactic within 100m. Not a good sign and typifying what I'd been feeling all week so not unexpected. Things didn't get any better as I went up Sir William Hill either. Going up hill has never felt this bad!

Anyway, thoughts of jacking and having a scenic ride came and went. I saw a guy heading to control 1 in front of me on a Whyte. Soon caught him up, but as soon as he saw me behind him I caught the racing glint in his eye. Right ! That's it ! I thought - nothing else for it but to try and welly it up the hill and see what happened. Thankfully from that point on, legs felt pretty good, not great.

The route evolved as I went on and soon noted how a sweep along the top, down the left along the bottom then up to Wellington Monument followed by an inner loop over the Calver quarries was a logical route choice. Pleased I spotted it as it did seem to flow all the way.

Beaten in the end by Oli Holmes who I more than expect to beat me as he's a top elite rider (and he doesn't pay for his Orbea bikes!). Oli's route was similar but he slotted the 15 pointer in near Pilsley. I couldn't even see a BW marked on the map, so instead of this one I did the awful 'rocky' one for 10 pts up near the quarries.

With hindsight, I think if I'd have missed that one out I would have got 10pts less, but not lost 13pts in being 8 mins late, so may have ended up with 295pts instead of 292pts, but it's irrelevant as Oli got 308 or something.

Hathersage Outside afterwards topped off by a blue skies drive home and very very very tired legs AND arms! Not felt that empty for a while.

A good feeling though.

Beat Killian, Andy Douglas, Pat Higgins so very pleased with that.

Results here

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

CX Nationals Rd2, Beaumont Leys

Colour coordination - Paul Oldham & Hope
Beautiful day.
Really enjoyed watching this one.
It really is very VERY good spectating at one of these. Only bettered if it had been the womens race too !
Cycled home, 50 mile odd.
Great Flickr album from Joolze here
She never ceases to amaze.

Monday, 31 October 2011

NDCXL Round 8, Rosliston

Not many got up this slippery slidy beast !
Wow ! Talk about in at the deep end !
No mud all season - then pow !
Proper mud.
Not sure if I had my tyres too hard (well over 50psi) or what but it got very messy. Not in a bad way though - apart from the 3 corners on lap 3 that I took disastrously and probably lost at least 20 places ! Regained a grip after that.
Lots of broken rear mechs apparently.
65th out of 167.
Results here

Sunday, 16 October 2011

MTBO 3hr Winter League 1, Edale

Another day of perfect autumnal weather, despite car saying 6 degrees and me not having mitts, sleeves and shorts !

Nevertheless a good ride apart from probably 10 mins wasted getting to 16 (nearly got to Win Hill then doubled back and a stoopid route to 9 probably wasting 3-4 mins. I think the opposite way round was optimal as my push up from 17 to Hollins cross was dire !

Never mind, more haste less speed - as ever !

Results here, 4th out of 147
5,10,13 then wrong way to 16 then long way to 9,20,15,17
then big push up to 1,3,4,11,19,18,6,12,7,2

NDCXL Round 6, Alfreton Park

Well, that's what bike racing is all about.

Stunning day. Picked mum up on the way to Alfreton and met Teresa there after she'd done about 50 mile with Rich (wore him out apparently !).

Parked the van up and out to test a few laps.  Great course similar to last year but with more section in the woodland. Very dry and fast but not overly twisty like Allestree was.  More climbing and descending on this one too, which played to my strengths.

My start was terrible with people passing me left and right. People do seem very very agressive with some plain stupid overtaking at completely wrong points on the first lap. Like before the first log hop when there's a line of us (10?) steadily getting over it, when all of a sudden out of nowhere through all the brambles a bloke carries and stumbles his bike passing about 3 riders. Good luck to him that's what I thought ! A few 'queues' like this meant more time slipping away to the top 30 guys.

Anyway, it soon became apparent that I'd dropped loads of places on the start (probably about 70-80th place at a guess) so had to work hard to make em up. I made up loads of ground on the long climbs and just about held my ground (if I concentrated!) on the flats n downs.  The course was lovely and swoopy and was an absolute pleasure to ride. I think I nearly smiled at several points.

Nice to have mum, Lewis, Teresa, Dave and Martin there too.

I lost a contact lens two laps from the end which initially slowed me down, but once I realised I knew where all the roots were already, I was riding it as fast as previously I think.

Finished 48th out of 176 finishers. Not overly pleased with that, but I did overtake masses.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

MTBO Night 2hr, Monsal Head, 1st out of 54


After two nights off I did feel better with legs slightly rested.

The last few weeks of chaingangs and racing have been really tiring. I find the Tuesday and Thursday sessions very hard and last weekends CX at Allestree left me feeling empty, so Tuesday night's session with Derby Mercury this week was taken 'easy'.

It seems to have paid off with me winning last night - and more importantly beating local rivals Andy Douglas and Pat Higgins - both great MTBO riders.  Only Andy and me cleared the course. Really happy as my tyres being hard meant 1 loose rocky descent from Eyam to Stoney Middleton was 'amateurish' at best and a control up on Calver Moor was overshot (couldn't find the track).

Only disappointment on the night was my helmet light packing up just before the last control - good job I didn't need to map read after that otherwise I'd have had my joystick in my gob !

Battery is meant to last 2.5-3h. It only did 1h50. Not good.

I also mounted my joystick upside down - under - the handlebars. This meant that it gives a lower light casting more shadows which is actually really useful as it shows up rocks that way. Helmet lights don't show up rocks really as you can't 'see' the shadows !

Control order : 1,5,7,4,10,13,16,12,14,15,9,6,11,8,2,3
Results here

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

24Hour Solo 2012, Newcastleton

Dates have apparently just been released - although they're not on this weblink, sorry. Apparently it's the 7th April 2012 which is a whole month earlier than last year.

This means quite a few things ...
  • No birthday celebrations the day before - I'll need to line a beer up on the finish line !
  • Less daylight - more torchlight. A quick check on some sites shows that daylight early April compared to early May is approximately 2 hours shorter (presumably 1 in evening, 1 in morning?). I better get upgrading my batteries then...
  • Less time / no time for summertime training.  Having those longer nights just makes it naturally easier to do longer rides. Oh well, looks like I'll have to practice night riding before the event too.
Note - that all of the above assume that I will be entering - something I'm really not sure on at this point in time.

Watch this space.

Re-looking at the 2011 results, I've just noticed that if I'd have been 'arsed' to go out and do two more laps (at the end) then I'd have been 4th Vet male. Yeah, I know that's a big 'if', but it's interesting. Keith Forsyth in 3rd did 2 more laps in the same time that I did (plus 30 mins). If he had two bikes, then it's easy to see how he did it. I lost soooooo much time sorting my bike out. Not good.

3 Peaks CX - Excel Analysis

Dunno about you, but I was itching to find out how I did on certain legs as I knew I'd done terrible on some legs with mechanicals. It's always good to think about what 'cudda' been.

Well., I produced this Excel file as soon as the detailed results came out, but as Blogger hasn't allowed me to upload Excel or pdf's I've been unsure how to make them public !

Dropbox to the rescue...

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Shimano CX70 Brakes - Initial thoughts

Well, they arrived 1hour before yesterday's race but I've got them on now. Goodbye to the old Froglegs - and to be honest I'm glad to be rid of them - they turn descent descents into nightmares.

I only fitted them this morning, but needless to say they've already had a hammering on the hills round here and initialy thoughts are very good.

Even though they're clearly not bedded in and the pads don't yet sit square on the rims, they're infinitely better already.

I'm hoping that they live up to Shimano's habit of generally not putting a foot wrong with either MTB or road equipment. I'll try and put a full review up soon as I've not found anything on the web yet as they are very VERY new out.

NDCXL Round 4 Allestree Park

47th out of 175 in 29 degree heat !!
Didn't feel like I was riding well / fast at all.
Probably linked to beers n curry the night before (having to go back to sleep once I'd got up!) then nearly keeling over with heatstroke on the second half.
I lost about 10 places at the end, in a situation where I normally make places up.
I think without the heat effects I'd have ended top 30. Never mind - bring on round 5 next week !
Results here

Sunday, 25 September 2011

3 Peaks, 2 Punctures, 1 broken pump

Well, what a disappointment.

It was all going reasonably up until the summit of Whernside - 112th and generally making masses of ground up on the roads and the climbs. Took about 40 riders between bottom of Ingleborough and top of Whernside. Didn't feel hard either.

The descent off Whernside is bad - lots of drainage ditches on the 'top' section, then over the stile and it starts to get very tricky. That's where I had my first front wheel puncture. No problems I thought - take it steady and get it back up as quickly as possible. That was - before my pump pulled out into two pieces ! Thankfully, a very very kind spectator was standing next to me with a spare big pump - well I couldn't refuse could I !  I think I lost about 20-30 places but set off again to see more drainage ditches and 'those' rocky steps. Does anyone ride them ? No one I saw did.

Ribblehead - not my photo and not the same weather !
After that - it's a fantastic blast along gravel tracks to ribblehead (with a few stream crossing thrown in), down a steep grassy bank to the biggest crowds of the day. A phenomenal feeling. I must say, I didn't even look up at Ribblehead Viaduct. This was a lovely section to ride with so many people everywhere. I was going well so it seemed easy to look "good" pushing hard, soon to feel whacked when out of spectators view !

Yes that's me - no I didn't crash, a minor wobble!
Climbing up Pen y Ghent went well too - again overtaking 30 people according to the results. A couple of riders cried out 'whoa' and some spectators shouted that I was the fastest climber they'd seen. Well, I'm not sure about that but it was my sort of climb and I was loving it ! The climb and descent were again just classic stuff - quite some pushing at the top, but awesome on the way back down. Yes, there were several point where I had brakes full on, not slowing down at all - OMG ! All fine - until just above where Dave, Teresa, Martin and Lewis were standing where I got my second flat. I knew that if I got another, that with a broken pump it'd be game over.

Well, it was. Gutted that I'd missed the best and fastest descent of the day. Gutted to have travelled all the way up there to have not finished. Never mind - soon got my head round it, caught up with the guys and walked down holding Lewis's hand. Ah, bless him - I think he was more upset than I was !

Yes, smiling too ! About 151st at this point
I'd really enjoyed the early part of the race too - starting near the back of the peloton, I was passing people all the way to the first turn offroad. I probably started about 500th as not many behind me ! Simon's Fell was bad, ridiculously steep (hanging on to grass) but as a fell runner, this was a return to normality really ! Off Ingleborough it was virtually all rideable at speed, although I was a bit cautious. Good to finally drop out of the murk to see Teresa, Dave, Martin and Lewis, ready to taking the photo of me....

"One day son, you'll have a big bike like this"
"No Dad. Mine will be carbon fibre."

Will finish with this nice shot of Lewis and me by the van in the campsite at Stainforth. Ahhhh

So, to some up, it's really as much about upper body as lower body as it's pretty brutal on arms (with the rocks) and forearms - just trying to make the brakes actually stop the bloody bike ! Legs aren't tired at all really as there's not masses of cycling. Roads - yes, some climbs yes, but most of the proper climbing is a carry, apart from Pen y Ghent.

Top 100 and under 4 hours next year. The guys around me at the top of Whernside were all in the Top 100.
Two more great photo's I've just found - one of which you've just got to laff at...

This is the Bonkers bit

Why we all do it

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Dalby Forest MTBO Weekend

Nice weekend just gone. We met up with Sheila and Dennis and took the van and Lewis.  After a bad forecast and a torrential downpour on the way up, the weekend turned out really good compared to what we expected !

Saturday was my turn. A 3 hour MTBO round the woods, but I thought I'd use my CX bike as good training for next weekends 3 Peaks.

Saturday's MTBO Map - 3 hours
As ever, I was thwarted by bad route choice ! Never sure if I can clear the courses (as I don't know how hard they set them at NYMBO), I opted to miss a 5 pointer and a 10 pointer near the start and set about clearing all others.  Despite a 10minute cock up heading out of Control 18 east instead of west, it went pretty well on the cross bike, despite having no stopping power whatsoever on the descents !

Getting back to the finish nearly 20 mins early was the next "issue". I ran out of controls to collect, but I thought - "what the hell, I've done them all apart from 15 points".  Anyway, it was only on checking my results that I found I'd missed Control 16 (20pts) down near Worry Gill / Medusas drop area. Gutted !

I think I need to just go for all controls next time and lop then off at the end. I do also now finally need a better map board as mine just isn't good enough for competing at the top level.  Lovely evening including a look round the very swanky Pace bike shop in the woods and the purchase of a nice T Shirt.

A lovely Sunday morning on the High Rigg site

Sunday morning was just stunning ! Sunday was her turn, who along with Sheila and Dennis was doing the shorter 50k Marathon route over the moors.

Lewis excited about being in charge of the event !

Lewis and me volunteered to help marshal a control as Steve Willis was short of volunteers. As we had the van it was easy. Lewis was very excited when I told him we were in charge of the event ! He was very busy asking riders if they needed a water top up !

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Apprehension and Excitement : 3 Peaks Cyclo Cross

Well, this Sunday's rest is going to be amazing - be it good or bad.
It's the reason I bought a Cyclo Cross bike 9 months ago. After going to spectate last year, there was that feeling of - "oh my god, just look at what these guys are riding over, hats off to them".

If you watch the whole of the video below, watch out for the most epic climb and descent in any bike race - probably in the world, as it's only in GB that something so silly can happen. We were gob-smacked last year how half of Yorkshire seemed to head out on to the mountains to spectate. It's just a massive event with it always being over-subscribed nowadays. There's still 700 on the entry list who got in.

The climb is up Simons' Fell at about 1:20. Pretty scary!
The descent is about 3:45 which I am very wary about !

It's not just the terrain, it's the fact that effectively you're doing it on a modified road bike.
After last weekends' "taster" using my cross for an easier MTB-O event, I can now say rocky descents are nightmarish. Brakes don't stop you and your eyes pop out their sockets with the jarring from the track.

No flat handlebars this year. No Rob Jebb this year. But they've got me !

Taking the Van up to Stainforth Sat pm and Lewis is coming along.
I can't wait - any bets on the number of punctures I'm gonna get ?!?!?
Hoping for 4 hours, but will probably be slower. Just gonna aim to enjoy it.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Matlock cc Chaingang, 23.6mph

A lot faster than last week, but kinda felt easier. Legs were tired after Tuesday cycling up the A6, but no problems on the ride.

First climb to Hassop out of Bakewell, legs absolutely felt like they would explode - I think there was no blood left in them, just lactic ! 

Soon recovered though

Sunday, 11 September 2011

MTBO Torver

Well, a great weekend was topped off by two flat tyres when I only had one spare inner tube ! Nightmare. Can't say I enjoyed the 1h10 walk back in the wind and rain either.

Never mind, there was some great riding - you forget how good the Lakes really is for riding wet or dry and I got back just 1 minute late !

Results are here

Dave n me used the van as the forecast was dire and parked in Staveley. We checked out the new Hawkshead Brewery bar which was very swanky and rounded off with a couple in the Eagle n Child - one of our favourite pubs in the lakes I think.  Up with plenty of time, we snook in coffee in Wilfs to set us up for the ride.

Great weekend all in.

Just gotta order two of these prints now...most original print I've seen for ages !!

Friday, 9 September 2011

Chris Akrigg Trials Video (and fall)

it all seemed to be going well until about 4min 20...lovely video, but not a nice fall
Not If, But When from chris akrigg on Vimeo.

Matlock cc 1st Chaingang, 23.4mph

Crikey - that wasn't much fun ! But then again that's why I go.
For once, the hills were the toughest bits which confirms that I'm either off shape or slightly under the weather.
20 odd miles either way gave 43 miles in 2 hours.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

BMBS 2011 Video, Wasing

BMBS 2010 Video, Wasing

Midlands 2011 Video, Eastridge Woods

RRP Midlands XC Series 2011, Round 4 Eastridge Woods from Richard Solaini on Vimeo.
Footage from round 4 of the 2011 RRP Midlands XC Series, held at Eastridge Woods Shropshire, on September 4th 2011.

Music by Louis

Midlands 2011 Video, Hanchurch Woods

RRP Midlands XC Series 2011, Round 3 Hanchurch Woods from Richard Solaini on Vimeo.
Footage from the 2011 RRP Midlands XC Series held at Hanchurch Woods Staffordshire.

Music by Louis

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Stanage Edge Walk

Love this shot

OK, yes there was some tweaking to the sky !
Hope I've added not detracted from the shot

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Brownbacks Lee Quarry, Round 3, 21 August

(courtesy Yorkshire Gallery)
Great race the weekend up at Lee Quarry, Bacup. I'd never been before and I'd heard great things about it so half the reason I wanted to race was to check it out.

It's a great area and on the day, the Brownbacks guys set up two courses - one for "heros and lads" classes and one for the "warriors and racers" classes. As it became apparent on the practice lap that Dave and me did, we weren't seemingly doing much of the sweepy, swoopy, bermy stuff I'd heard about but quite a bit of up with some down ! Right at the end of the practice lap I'd felt a ding on my back rim for the second time and this time it flatted - good timing to remind me to up the tyre pressure - a lot !

Great course - I made the mistake of not taking enough water (had half my tiny bottle before the race started). Also - getting chainsuck from my middle ring from about 4 laps in, so I never really felt like I was "racing" more like riding. No mechanicals though

Start line with Quarry Trails in background (courtesy Yorkshire Gallery)
7th I think in the Warriors class which was fine really. Disappointed that we never had chance to take in the sweepy stuff that the heros and lads course seemed to, but there's a reason now to get back up there, ride it properly and check out Cragg Quarry too (which looks awesome from what I've seen from the Mary Townley Loop).

Friday, 19 August 2011

Campervan Outing - St Davids, Pembrokeshire

We'd never been to Pembrokeshire before as with a tent, we were not keen on 5-7 days with potential rain and winds perched on a cliff top with Lewis.

With the van, that's not an issue - the weather can do what it wants. Thankfully, it didn't. Great weather, lovely walks, lots of family tag-a-long cycle rides and a few beaches interspersed with great pubs.

It's a lovely area which reminded me of a cross between the west coast of Ireland and Scotland.

We stopped at Hendre Eynon campsite which was nice but was a bit like a couple of huge fields with people dotted round the edge - big and spacious, but an empty feel !!!

Teresa impressed us all by making a maze on the beach from scratch !
 There were only about a dozen people on this beach. Fantastic, including caves (obviously all potentially containing buried treasure !)
There were only about half a dozen people on this beach which is only 1/2 a mile from St Davids.

Lunch stop with views over to Ramsey Island.

These photo's are from our picasa album

Monday, 8 August 2011

Sleepless in the Saddle (5 men in lycra in a campervan!)

What a fantastic event that was !!!

My first ever team MTB event so just went along for a social more than anything with some of the riders from Buzz Bikes (Belper) and around.

Shop owner and ex Elite roadie Stefan rounded up 4 of us with last minute illnesses and dropouts making it a bit of a Thursday / Friday text-fest.  I don't know Stefan that well, and had only met one of the other guys from Buzz Bikes B team before, so it was going to be a great weekend all round in terms of general chin wagging and perhaps riding too.

It's only down the road (30 mins in campervan) so preparation was no hassle. On getting there, the campfield was absolutely huge. There were thousands of tents there, some vans and lots of bikes and fettling ! It's meant to be the most relaxed 24hour team event out there and I'll certainly vouch for that. Stef certainly did his bit though to make sure we knew we had to kill ourselves for the result he wanted !

On arrival, all talk was of the course. What else is there to chat about with 2 hours to go ! Tyre choice was not a topic on my list as I had two tyres on my bike and that was that. Mud, hardpack or grass - they'd have to do.  The guys used two main words to describe the course - rooty and twisty, with some sections you could barely squeeze your handlebars through. Nice - gonna suit me then - NOT !

A quick reccie of the course with Ironman (type event) Simon was full of banter and the usual "I wonder how handy he is" chat without appearing overly enquisitive ! Thankfully the reccie wasn't full of roots and twists. Yes there were roots and yes there were twists, but nothing as bad as I had got in my head !

I was nominated first leg as they'd latched onto the fact that I could run. Anyway, it was longer than I thought at about 5 mins (and bloody fast too !). Think I got to the bike in about 15th place. Sadly, I couldn't find my bike so I reckon I lost 30 places there ! Never mind - I soon made em up on the first climb. Very long and very gradual - just what I like !

A rhythm would soon develop - make ground on the flat / downhill / straights, lose it on the twists and have people on their brakes almost rubbing into my backtyre.  The first lap was far too frantic to be concentrating on 'body positioning', 'balance' and other such words uttered by Ed Oxley the other week.  It was simply a matter of ;

  • Brake as late as possible going into a bend
  • Probably overshoot a bit
  • Brake some more
  • Wobble a bit, then
  • Power out of the bend and lose the guy behind me who is completely hacked off with me jamming on my brakes !
The course was brilliant - lots and lots of singletrack. Nothing majorly technical, lots of fast sections. A couple of steep short climbs and about 40 mins long (not 1h15m like at Newcastleton which was too long).

It soon became evident that Stef was lapping a tiny bit faster than me and the others were slower. This was basically the order of the day until sunrise when Stef lost his pace (I think he bonked big style every bloody lap !!) and I stepped it back up after the loss of about 5 mins on night time laps. Stef then seemed to be lapping about 3 mins slower than me.

Results weren't taken too seriously really, apart from by Stefan, his wife Caroline and his daughters who were all keeping themselves very busy reporting back split times to us. At least someone cared what position we got !

We were not credited with a nighttime lap which didn't record as we went over the timing mat which meant we were actually 10th Enthusiast males out of 102 teams in that category. Not bad. If it would have been Stef and me we'd have been Top 5 easily.

Great weekend overall - a bit like a camping weekend with riding thrown in really !

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Dark & White Mini MM - Longshaw

Well, I was really looking forward to this one - there's something about running around Longshaw / Higgar / Padley that's so much more rewarding than just running anywhere else. The evening didn't disappoint and I got several views which nearly made me fall over rocks on the path in front of me.

As I said to Krish afterwards, there wasn't a single moment out there running which I didn't really enjoy !

That said, I picked a pants route and I've not run properly for over a month, so I was very pleased to clear the course and come 3rd overall

All topped off by free Chips and decent beer in the Cliff Inn with Krish afterwards.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Hardwick Hall MTB Race - 5th

Results are finally up for the race a few days ago - very pleased - 5th Overall, 1st Vet - YAY !!!!!
Well, this only happened as the descent was fast and swoopy (not twisty) and the climb was just massive - it went on for perhaps 1mile +.  Generally playing to my strengths.

I loved the course, the weather was brilliant and Teresa and Lewis came to cheer me on. All topped off with a beer in the Hardwick Inn afterwards.

This was the last of the MTB Race Nights for 2011 - I've really enjoyed them, pity they're not publicised more widely.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Learning to ride a bike...

Well, I've finally got round to using my 40th Birthday present from lots of you kind folks - a one-to-one tuition day with Ed Oxley of Great Rock fame.

Although I can ride fast and ride all day, cornering / balance and moving weight forward and backwards over rocky terrain is something I'm just not as good at compared to other riders, so that's really what I wanted to improve on with Ed.

It was about a 2 and a half hour drive north this morning which made a really pleasant change to half an hour south every other morning.  There's something about heading North - especially to Calderdale and Hebden Bridge - that feels so much more right than heading south.

I know Hebden Bridge quite well having done some fell running there, some adventure racing, some mountain biking and of course the Mary Towneley Loop passes right through it.  It's a lovely small quiet town which is bustling with unusual shops and boutiques and loads of cafes more importantly !

We met up 10ish at Blazing Saddles. Ed's a really relaxed guy so that made it easy for me. I think me having a lot to learn made it easy for Ed too !

Heading up and chatting, we were on the hunt for something 'cornery and twisty'.  I wasn't quite sure where I was going wrong when it came to cornering as people always make time up on me on a twisty course but Ed soon spotted it - well, he didn't spot it more to the point.  It seems I sit 'on' the bike rather than 'in' it. A good session of arm bending and leg and ankle bending soon loosened me up a bit !

Views were sensational as we'd climbed quite a bit quickly (as is always the case in Calderdale as much of it is quite steep).  After Ed thought I'd made some progress we headed down to practice trackstands which seemed completely alien to me (balancing a bike like clever gits do at traffic lights!).  I then admitted that I found cornering to the left easier than cornering to the right - Ed was very quick to capitalise on this as no sooner had he said it but we'd found a steep ish right hander that probably 20% of the time I'd get round.

After 3 disasters, my confidence was in tatters ! Was this really what I wanted for my present ?!? Anyway, attempts 4-7 were 100% successful thanks to looking ahead, leaning correctly and braking correctly. Down and out into Hebden Bridge for lunch - 30 mins or so lapping up the glorious sun eating al fresco. Very nice.

After lunch I handed over to Ed who I think by now had got the judge of my strengths and weaknesses. We did a good ride out (2-3 mile) to a stretch of the Pennine Way near gorple res. I could see a slither of singletrack climbing into the distance - this was it - what I'd feared and heared horrid tales of - the dreaded Hebden-tech !

Thankfully, Ed had lined up something right at the top end of my abilities - small drops and small rock climbs. After struggling on the first step up, Ed cheered me up no end telling me there was another one bigger still and one after that even bigger ! Oh god !!!

Anyway, I persisted with Ed patiently diagnosing problems and listening to my excuses, and eventually I cleaned all 3 steps 3 times in a row each. The last one was seriously tricky being a groove at an angle so at last I felt I'd done something well.

We ended with a beautiful climb, then picked up the Pennine Way again on a moorland contour, then picked up a 3 mile descent including some nice rock drops - some I cleaned, but some I didn't in Eaves Wood. All great stuff though  showing what absolutely fabulous variety Hebden Bridge offers.

I think I should have learnt by taking a full carbon bike to Calderdale - home of big rocks - that my bike might not stay intact for the whole day ... You can probably see from the picture to the left that my far side (right) KCNC bar end looks a bit droopy - well an early rendezvous with the ground showed me why carbon handlebars aren't the best idea  in tricky rocky areas.

"Never mind" I told Ed, "I'm sure my friends will club together and get me some new handlebars too!!!"

Brilliant fun day - thanks Ed. Lots to learn and lots to practice over the coming months. Pity the journey home wasn't half as much fun.