Tuesday, 28 August 2007

D2D, the 3 Peaks & a cracked frame.....

Summer never really arrived, and it's already time to think about the last events of the year.
First up should have been the 3 Peaks cyclo cross race. I did start training for this at the start of 2007, with plenty of miles on the crosser and a few xc runs each week. However, I was spared a very long walk in the Yorkshire hills when my old cross bike suddenly snapped in two places. Although that meant a long walk home in the wet, it would have been nothing compared to what might have happened if it had broke during the race itself.
I decided that buying another cross frame was'nt worth it for just one race. So instead went and bought myself a nice shiney road bike.
Crossers are fast and great for old field edge stuff, but you can't beat a 'proper' mountainbike for the real rough stuff.
So the 3 Peaks is'nt happening, it's a shame because I would loved to have done it, even if it was just to say I had!

What is happening is the Dusk 2 Dawn, a 12 hour race held in Thetford Forest between the hours of 8pm and 8am.
Again I'm going into the solo classification, and again my old friend Aaron will be there as will Marcus, all of us battling it out for local 12 hour solo honours.
I've ridden the D2D course before, and it has to be the easiest of all 12 and 24 courses, so I hope to do at least as well as I did in the Twentyfour12. The biggest issue for D2D riders is having enough light for the 12 hours, though hopefully Nick-No-Balance has sorted that for me.
All that remains to do is to stay well and fit for the next few months, and perhaps lose my summer holiday belly!

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Kona Sleepless in the saddle

Catton Park August 14/15th, not actually racing this one, but there as my mates helper on his attempt to turn in a top ten position.
Helpers, or 'Pit Bitches' as they're known in the trade are there to provide help with food and water, minor mechanics and race times and positions.
Unusually in this game we call 24 hour solo's, the weekend weather looked spot on for chalking up a good placing. Dry, hardpacked, sunny and warm, perhaps a little too warm though. However, Nick-No-Balance's ethnic origins, and the fact he has very little surface area would all go towards helping him.
The race started at 2pm with the mandatory run to spread the field. For the next six hours all I really had to do was keep my rider watered and fed.
Straight away my experience in this sport told me that there would be many riders that would 'crash and burn'. Riders were going hell for leather, taking advantage of the dry fast conditions. I told Nick not to worry about his position until about a good seven or eight hours in, and to keep it steady and concentrate on the long term. Of course I did'nt need to tell him any of this, he knew what to do. Sure enough right on schedule riders started pulling out, tired and dehydrated. Now we could look at the standings, they were'nt bad.
The next casualties would come in after midnight. Riding tired in the dark can really make you think twice about what you are doing. And seeing youre tent and sleeping bag each lap can weaken many a mans resolve.
The dark and rain took more riders out. Nick was now within reach of his target. Even the previous years winner was no longer in the running. Nick had also by now ditched the full suspension Trance for the Kona Unit singlespeed, and soon realized why it was the weapon of choice for so many soloists.
During a short'ish break from helping, Nick had gone into 11th overnight with Rod Mason in 10th. Nick had been shaddowing Rod all the race, though it was very unlikely he could pass him. During the final hours some confusion set in, the bike Nick was running had no computer and the pit timing computers were running a few laps behind. We knew Rod had ridden to 9th, so was Nick 10th?
On the final lap I went on course to shout some last words of encouragement, it was then that I heard over the race PA that Nick was 10th. As soon as he passed me I ran to the finishing straight. He seemed to be taking for ever, then he appeared. As he wheeled down the course to give big Pat Adams the obligitory high five, the PA again annouced Nick in 10th. He had done it.
We were both very happy, but at a loss as what to do next after 24 hours of racing and mooching about. Nick after some time decided to wait until we had the official results before announcing it to the world. Unfortuneately this proved to be a wise move. What had happened overnight we don't know, but Nick was still 11th.
That is still an outstanding result, though he found it hard to swallow. We both came away from the Sits with many lessons learnt, Nick knew what he could do, and I had seen what not to do.
Needless to say we will both be back next year, though I might have a pop myself if my riding and 12 hour races go well.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Bontrager twentyfour/12

Woo-hoo done it.......finished the 24/12 I'd been so looking forward to.

The venue was the Cotswolds Farm Park, and I arrived there Friday the 13th. Any idea that this was going to be a stroll in the park soon went the minute I turned my Landrover into the race arena. Within yards I was struggling to keep the motorized 4X4 in a straight line, Jesus I had to race on this.

At the arena I met Aaron my co soloist and the rest of the Buzzards MTB club, the Buzzards were feilding a soloist, male duo, female duo and team. Though far more important than that, they had a massive dry tent and biggerer BBQ.

On Friday afternoon we all went out on a course recce. This was the chance to see if the 96'er rigid singlespeed would be ok. Well it was'nt. Geared it was, and the singlespeed badboy went back in the car.

One thing I'd say about the course, it had something to throw you off every few yards, mainly bombholes, roots, fallen trees, northshore and the slippiest off camber singletrack I've ever seen. One to take it steady on then.

At the start of the race I was feeling at ease, and seeing the guy on the start line next to me with his forks on back to front made me start giggling.

12 O'clock and we're off, downhill through Sallys Secret and STOP. Lap one was bottleneck city. Though great for checking the course out.

Lap 2 was different, nice and flowing, all the bits that scared me on lap 1 I just did without a thought. This is good I thought.

Laps 3, 4 and 5 go by without incident. And I start to think I'm going to do this. This is the point to feed up sort lights and lube the bike.

After a well timed ten minute food stop I complete lap 6, albeit slowly with a full belly. I arrive back at the pits to a briliant sunset. I have probably only got the chance of doing two more laps now as darkness has set in and I would have to pull something out of the hat to be in before 12 midnight, to give me the chance of getting in 9 laps.

Lap 7 in the dark goes without a hitch.

Lap 8 is started in the knowledge it would be my last, and that fact is hammered home when I start to get stomach acid. I decide to knock myself out on this lap knowing a beer, BBQ and soft chair await me at the end. Sometime after 12 I roll in. Just a downhill cruise to the camp is all that's required of me. In the camp Aaron is laying on the floor, welcome to solo world a say. Aaron and myself both knocked out 8 laps. The team managed 10, the male pair packed and the ladies pair got a podium place in third.

After 12 hours and a bit I was sat drinking San Miguels and downing burgers whilst watching the 24 hour riders slog it out until midday Sunday.

It was'nt long before the talk turned to future events, better lights and tyre combo's. And already D2D later this year was more than an idea.

12 or 24 soloing....................never say never again.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

The preparation months

Ooooh my first 'Big' event of the year is almost upon me. I signed myself up for the Bontrager Twentyfour12. I plumped for the 12 hour solo catagory, and the singlespeed sub-catagory. So in three weeks time I'll be on the start line of another 12 hour event.
I decided against the 24 hour race, as my previous efforts have gone to pot for one reason or another.
Though strangely I feel more nervous about this shorter race than I ever did about the full on 24's. I think in the past I either fooled myself that I could pull one off, or went out there knowing I could'nt do it. 12 hours however is do'able. And I think I might even find room to be a bit competative!
All that remains is one huge nagging doubt, based on the fact that I've felt good for some time now? Odd I know, but I worry that I feel good because I'm not trying hard enough, I only have the encouraging words of my peers who think I'm riding strong to ease my worries.
A little side dish to this event is a 'rivalry' between myself and another local rider whom I know very well. Both of us stomp the same grounds, but our individual approach to the event could'nt be more different, think the Tortoise and the Hare.
As the date for the race draws closer, I think all I can do is stay on top of my fitness as it's far too late for any leaps and bounds in that department. So now all my attention is fixed on the logistics of the event, or in other words what I'm going to scoff.
Anyway it's not far off and I think I'm almost there, well at least as there as I'll ever be. Only the day will tell.

Saturday, 12 May 2007

A hard nights racing.

I decided to enter myself in the FNSS round at the Milton Keynes Bowl, one of those good ideas at the time sort of things. Though as Friday evening drew closer I started to get nervous and wondered if I was doing the right thing. I was worried that I was about to be totally humiliated by a bunch of skinny race whippets.
A few hours later it was too late to turn back, I was in the race car park heading off to register. Minutes later with the bike all numbered up I went out for a practice lap.......Oh my God, that really is off camber, wet off camber. It was hard to beleive I was in Milton Keynes.
7.00pm and counting down to the start, the seniors have set off before us vets, thank God. A few minutes later and we're off, Jesus it's hard already!
I don't want to be at the back. At the top of the first climb I take a peek over my shoulder and I'm delighted the field is split in two big time, and I'm in the first group. The lap goes on and I'm already feeling it, however I manage to pass some other riders and I've stayed on the bike.
The second lap is caning me. So I settle in behind some riders just happy not to loose places, a technical or puncture would be very welcome right now! By now the short hills and off camber singletrack is unrideable. So taking a leaf from my old cross days, I jump off and start running. I mentally pat myself on the back for all the cross country running I've been doing lately. It's that, that keeps me in contention with the faster on the flat riders.
Lap three and I'm feeling good, so I tell myself to work harder. Burying myself and running the climbs and off camber sections see's me past the few riders I was keeping an eye on. Then another falls in front of me on the last lap, so another place gained. Now it's just head down and over the line. It's a good feeling, just dampened by the first seniors lapping me as well as the rain.
The finish. I'm absolutely buzzing as well as cold wet and coughing up mud and grass. When's the next one? Looking back, the bad weather was a disadvantage to the fast race guys otherwise I'm sure we would have been lapped far sooner. Mud and rain the great leveler.
From now on I'll be keeping an eye out for anymore xc races. I think I may have the bug.

Sunday, 29 April 2007

From Trail God to A&E in one day!

Can a new bike be possesed?

My new Inbred is chucking me off on most rides, though I must admit the new bike tempts me to do things on the trail that I would'nt normally attempt.

However, I think I know what it is. My previous bikes were 80mm travel...arse high....nose low jobs, and just to hop a fallen twig took a Herculean effort to lift the front wheel. The Inbred however responds all to easilly to any rider input, it's just one step away from voice command!

Anyroadup, I cleared a couple of fallen trees that I had been gagging to nail for ages. Then the other evening I decided to clear the said trees whilst maintaining my normal riding speed.

I hit the second tree, gave it a pull on the bars and a quick stomp on the peadal and................................

I ended up flipping the bike and lading on my back across the tree trunk, legs one side, head and shoulders the other. My first thought was 'wheelchair'. Then I realised I could'nt feel any pain, that bloody worried me, then the pain came thank God!. but I could'nt move. Luckilly the mobile was in the side pocket of my pack, and with it I called my missus to collect me, and some mates to collect my car.

A&E was quiet on Wednesday evening.

After some x-rays it was concluded that nothing was actually wrong with me, technically I was just hurt.

So now I'm sitting here pee'd off because I was about to get some running in and do some more treking with my daughter as well as soak up the dry dusty trails.

The shoes will just have to wait.

Sunday, 22 April 2007

Oh err new bike btw.

Here it is, one of your actuall limited edition of a 100, 853 On One Inbreds in Pompino Blue.

All glued together with full XT, 819 tubeless, Mono Minis, RF bars, Hope stem, Thomson post, Candy's, SRAM block & chain, Schwalbe tyres, and Bomber SL forks.

It's not 'just' about the bike.

It's been quite a while since I last posted, but then again that's probably due to my search for the more rounded lifestyle. That's not to say I've not ridden, oh no. I've had some quality rides in the last few months.
All three bikes are working perfectly now, infact I'm having 'Fettle Withdrawl' symptoms. Just nothing seems to be letting me down right now. Which has meant some fast route times and a hankering for just 'pushing it' a bit. Though just pushing it a bit recently had me flat on my back, winded, bleeding and bruised. So I've kind of reined that one in a bit.
Getting back to the title, I'm making the most of the summer to do other things. Like today, I decided not to ride but to head out for a long walk on the Ridgeway with my daughter and Toby the dog. You know it was great to amble along trails that I'd normally fly down. And without trying to sound all 'arty farty' I actually noticed the shapes of the leaves on the trees and the delicate grass on the chalky downs and err stuff. Hiking and camping is definately going on the 'should do more often list'.
I've also done a good deal of that other manly past time........DIY. Proper big jobs like roofing the garage, bunging up facias and gutters, and putting in new lights for my garage workshop.

However, riding the bike is the thing I still like to do when I've got some spare time and the family are happy to live without me, but more often now I prefer to do it alone. That way I can tailor every ride to suit myself. It also means that when I do meet my mates I enjoy it more.
I do have to keep an eye on my fitness a bit though as I've entered the Twentyfour12, just the 12 hour bit and I'll be soloing that on my singlespeed. With that in mind I try to have one half decent ride a month. It's only a bike ride after all, I don't have any goals, aims or targets to meet and I certainly can't be arsed with pulse rates (as long as I've got one I'm happy) or pedal revolutions and all that faff. To me these things are just like festivals, but instead of bands and mud they're bikes and mud. Happy times.
If you're interested the next 'goodun' I'm doing is the Bucks Off Road Classic 100k. I've decided I'm to ride that singlespeed as well. Partly to tick the 100k singlespeed box and partly because I'm a twat.
There is also a rumor going around that I might do the Three Peaks, we'll see.
Right now though riding wise I'm totally happy just to ride my local trails, the sun, the Pines, the sand and the lovely smells are all I need to make me one happy biker.

I'll pop back if anything special happens. Right now I'm working out how to get the contents of my Camelbak into a saddle bag, I hate Camelbaks and their kind. Freedom is what I want.


Sunday, 4 March 2007

Too ill to ride or illin & chillin

Made that old mistake of going out too early after a bought of illness today. I had been ill for about two weeks and was gagging to get out again. So I took the oppertunity to hook up with some guys heading out to Ashridge, I knew damn well it would be a hard days mudfest, and I was'nt wrong

Heading out of town with Ivinghoe Beacon in the distance covered in mist, I told my buddies that I would do the sensible thing and cut off well within the ride.

With the Beacon out of the way I'd planned to do a 'bit' and head off.

However, that 'bit' got longer and longer. Each extra muddy mile I did was telling on me. Every root was banging through the rigid forks, up the narrow drops and into my cheast and arms. Each push on the pedals sent the road tyres spinning, then the mantra started Ineedknoblies....Ineedknoblies........Ineedknoblies.

Now realising we were out at our furthest point, pure bloody mindness set in, and I became determined to see this through, nothing was going to stop me not even losing a crank, nor the blocked up wheels not even the final ice like chalk climb.

Then we reached a familiar point on the route, one were I knew I'd just have to keep pedling to make it home.

That's when the sun came out, well no it did'nt we stopped at a cafe for coffee, but it was a welcome little break. Though we could'nt stop for long as we were freezing, so we gulped it down and set off.

The cross bike was in it's element for a short while as we rode on hardpack out to the Beacon. Then I had to make a decision, either decend by road or drop down off road knowing I'd have to walk the wet chalk climb that shoulders the beacon. In fact I was walking well before that, even standing out of the saddle on the flat would have the wheels spinning for grip.

A short walk soon led to a just manageable chalky decent which I just made, though one leg was flapping about waiting for the expected off!. However, I was soon on the type of Terra Nova that does'nt give way under you, some people call it Tarmac.

Here is were tradition states that we have a freewheel race follwed by a chaingang home. I think it's about seven miles in all, today we kept it a constant 22/25MPH. Though I always have to remember to save a little energy to get off the lights in town.

4 hours and 15 minutes later I'm peeling off wet muddy kit.

Then it's panic time. I'm showered and rested but my pulse is about 140bpm.....sheeeet. So what do you do when you have a problem? contact STW of course. I spell out my diagnosis via the internet, but my pulse finally starts to drop, 120...100....90.........80. It stops there, but then I realise I'm running a temperature and I've hardly drunk a sip. So I conclude that my late illness, minor dehydration and temperature are to blame. So that's OK then!

So it was a tough day, on the wrong bike. On top of that I was still unwell. With hindsight I think I was stupid to ride so hard. I must remember this day for when I'm ill again.

Sunday, 18 February 2007

Carver 96'er & trail clearing

Well today the Carver 96'er got it's first full test. The designated area today was Woburn Sands, and the ride was to coincide with some time trail clearing.

So with the Camelbak loaded and secateurs to hand off we set.

ASBO! my BMX freewheeel went straight away. It is commonly known that BMX freewheels are the Chav's of bike componenets. Not to be put off I gingerly continued with the ride, waiting for a gonad/top tube interface at moment, as long as I kept spinning and the pawls remained in place I would be alright.

Anyroadup, that aside the Carver turned out to be a top piece of kit. The first thing I noticed was it's cornering I was cutting off bits of trail with each turn and pedaling fast into the singletrack, so ok it can handle.

can it climb? yes it bloomin can, though I was afraid of the freewheel going so did hang back a bit, most of the climbs I did sat in the saddle (not ideal on a singlespeed)

Obstacles? again no problemo though again the freewheel thing! Though I did find out that suddenly I'd become a wheely expert on this thing....a quick tug and woohoo.

Basically I'm well chuffed this bike the two short tests I've given it show that it does'nt lack in any department. To improve things for the future my mate Nick-No-Balance is building a new Hope rear wheel, thus doing away with BMX style freewheels forever. In the meantime I'm bunging an old XT/Mavic 819 with Gusset converter on it just to keep riding. can't wait to really put it through it's paces.

We also found time to do a bit of trail clearing. The area is covered in thorny gorse that goes straight through cycling gloves and this is what we spent time clearing. Oh and swilling coffee dutyfully carried around by N-N-B.

So overall one of the most chilled days of the year so far.

Finally sorry to all the other trail users today for my verbal outbursts (it's not torrettes spell check) just due to that flipping BMX freewheel jobbie.

Saturday, 17 February 2007

New bike

Just a quickie!!!!

The new frame arrived, the first test had me grinning and laughing out loud. Well before the EBB pooped it's pants that is.

Full test and report later.

Sunday, 11 February 2007


Sums up Sundays ride!
Shame really because I missed the midweek downfall of snow. The warmer weather, the melting snow and the recent downpour led to some of the worst conditions of the year so far.
Luckily I met up with an ex Buzzards riding mate, we confessed that if we had'nt met up, we probably would have cut the day short.
The conditions meant that nothing exciting was ever going to happen, and it did'nt.
The only subject of discussion on the ride was our choice of bikes. Out of no choice I was on my crosser, Marcus however was on a 5" travel Spesh Enduro.............singlespeeds would have been a better option.
Erm. That's it really.
My new bike did'nt turn up.
Ooh hang on I went for a run, well more of a Nordic skiing session without the skis or the snow. I'm sure there must be a market for mud skis? Even with my trail shoes on I went over twice and was in severe danger of splitting my difference! If I do that run again and tell myself 'I really must get spikes at somepoint' again, I'm gonna punch myself in the face.

Winter is wearing thin, is all I can say.

Sunday, 4 February 2007

Alone again...naturally.

Who sung that?
Nevermind, there seems to be a pattern developing here. First it was the comfort of Singletrack World, then into the big brave world of our own site, Woburncrankers. Now I'm here all alone, just me and this blogspot.
A bit like my riding. Where once there were many of us, it now seems I have to ride all alone. Perhaps they just hate me! I don't think I smell.
So I've just done my first ride since starting this, and a run as well.
The run was meant to be a group night thing, but it turned out to be just me. Me alone again, and the full moon, and the warewolves, and the trees that come to life and twist your ankles with their feely roots.
Well at least it was a fast run!
Then on Saturday I took the cross bike out again, yep you got it, me the cross bike and no one else. In fact does anyone ride on Saturdays?
The good thing is, I'm getting some good rides in. All non stop, all fairly longish and the cross bike gives you a darn good workout, in fact that's all I've ridden since Christmas. I'm hoping that when I do get round to riding a mountainbike again it'll seem like a peice of cake in comparison.
Apart from the night run and my cross ride the only other bikey things I've done are to watch Gunne-Rita Dahle on telly. And prepare all the parts for my soon to arrive new singlespeed. The long awaited replacement for my old and busted Inbred. Oh it's a Carver 96er since you ask. So hopefully this time next week I'll giving you the low down on it's first ride, and some piccys of course.

Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Smiler Biker; The wonder years

Forget all that childhood stuff. Things got serious in good old 1975 when I pulled on my first racing jersey, the gold white & green of Kenton RC. The next decade saw me through Time Trials, road races, track and hill climbs wearing that jersey, not to mention too many expensive racing bikes.
With the eighties came the first signs of boredom so changes needed to be made. I can't remember where I saw the article, but I remember reading about the Haiwai Ironman triathlon and became facinated. So much so that that mag sat beside the pan for a year. After a flurry of spending on goggles, rubber hats and various running shoes I found myself on the start line of the first ever British Ironman triathlon. I found myself in that position, though only for half Ironmans for the next five years. Occassionaly I would make returns to road racing or make forays into marathon running, but the triathlon bug stayed with me until the Olympic distance killed it off as far as I was concerned.
Kids! That was next, and though I tried to keep on racing, one day it all got too much and I collapsed with exhaustion.
For a few years after that my gut grew in sequence with my hair, and my rubbish bin had more empty beer cans and fag packets in it than potato peelings and Evian bottles.
Then one bight and sunny day in the Yorkshire Dales whilst staying with some mates, I was introduced to moutainbiking, did'nt ride one, just introduced. This was for me I thought.
So off to the shops, and straight away I see a bike I like, a Mongoose Zero-G for a tad under nine hundred quid, mmm a bit too much I thought, I'll think about it. A week later it's six hundred, right I'm having it. However, when I return it's three hundred....great.
So that's kinda how I arrived here. Too many 24 hour races and enduros later, I'm starting to have fun, I always loved riding in the past, but now it's fun and sort of nice to stop and look at the trees every so often.