Friday, 24 December 2010

LVRC National Cyclocross Championships

Ashorne in Warwickshire hosted the 2010 Championships, and greeted the forty plus souls that made it there with a temperature of -12 and deep laying snow. The original line up had seventy two riders on the start sheet, but the weather put paid to many a riders plans .

The course was 'old skool' and designed by Mick Ives. The usual hurdles were replaced with old fashioned fences and the course ran through fields, woodland and a working farm. A few practice laps were priceless, for under the picture postcard snowy landscape lay a myriad of frozen solid tractor ruts, that would later send many riders airborne. I let as much air out of my tyres as possible and lined up with the forty plus assembled riders. I looked side to side and wondered how many of these guys held the one hundred and seven international and national titles that had been listed in the race info.

I got my answer pretty quickly, all of them I reckon as I hung on third from last breathing like a rusty train! I kept a few in sight and made ground through the woodland singletrack, but swiftly lost it in the open fast ground. This sadly was the pattern for my whole race until for a bit of variety I took a big off leaving a streak of the red stuff in the snow and my bars and levers having an argument with each other. I was forced to walk back to the marshals intending to quit. However they encouraged me to go on for what was probably my last lap. It turned out I had two left, the first one was dreadful as my mojo had totally gone and I was all over the place. I calmed down for the final one, got around cleanly and gained a place in the final metres.

I came 19th, or so the results say, but they only list twenty two finishers. Was/could the attrition rate be that high.

The race was a nice end to a dreadful year, marred by the accident that cost me a lot of racing. 2011 has to be accident free...touches wood,fingers crossed etc and hopefully I'll be lining up for the Belgians for the first road race of the year.

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Central CXL Round 9

Hillingdon Cycle Circuit paid host to the final round of the league last weekend. The course was a new layout and was drying by the minute and the event was a cat B so good racing was ensured

I was racing under my new team HCT Belgians thoughnot in the new kit as it had not arrived. Excited by this and the fact it was the last league race of the year I got off to a good start and passed riders on the second lap, whilst making sure I kept in contact with the riders ahead of me. However on the half hour my backache returned and my times slowed. Racing became just riding as all those I had passed got their revenge. I know my problems stem from the accident that cost me my 3 Peaks and first five rounds of the league earlier this year, and I've vowed to rectify the problem for next season. The result wasn't good, though my last lap was a little quicker.

Next is the LVRC National Championships where I'll be racing Cat C 50-55 age group. Not sure what to expect there?

Friday, 26 November 2010

Central CXL Round 7

Better 38th, the pain from the accident is still there and hampering things, but hey ho.

VC10's event was at Green Park, Aston Clinton and was an excellent venue. Another circuit of two halves. Windswept flat fields of plasticine and technical sections taking you off in the direction of Aston Hill.

Anyway it's still progress, and I was finding a minute a lap on a fortnight ago. So this weekends event will be interesting, and made even more so by a dose of the deadly man-flu.


Friday, 12 November 2010

Raleigh Lenton Marque 111

One of my recent finds. It's a 1958 Raleigh Lenton Marque 111. Aimed at the clubman, it's built with early 531 tubes. The chainset is an old Stronglight 49D cotterless. The bars and stem are later GB offerings. The headset, bottom bracket and seat bolt are all Raleigh originals. I'm hoping to have this built by Spring 2011. I don't plan to have it repainted, as the old paint has a wonderful patina and the transfers are irreplaceable.  

Round 6 Central CX

Managed to get my first cross race of the year under my belt, when I entered the Team MK Cyclo cross at the National Bowl.

The Saturday kick-off meant that the usually small Central CX field swelled to over eighty riders at least, with seventy six finishers. It was odd to be lined up with Notts & Derby league riders. I came in a lowly 59th place. Even though I did go off piste and had to retrace my route, it only cost me five places tops.

No racing this weekend, but next week it's Green Park in Aston Clinton. The venue is below Aston Hill which is a popular mountainbike circuit and was a top flight XC course many years ago. If the weather holds I'll ride to the race. Looking forward.  

Friday, 5 November 2010

November 5th but no fireworks!

Not been the best of times since last posting. I left off during preparation for the 2010 3 Peaks Cyclo Cross. However an industrial accident mid September put paid to any ideas of competing this year, in fact I've also missed the first five rounds of my local cyclo cross league because of that accident.
I have done plenty of riding, but all pretty tame stuff whilst trying to avoid doing anymore harm.
That said I'm sat here on the eve of the Milton Keynes round with a cough, but in determined mood to race.
Still no point brooding about it!

On a slightly nerd'ier note, I've managed to get hold of an old road bike to restore. It's a 1958 Raleigh Lenton Marque 111. Tis a nice old thing, made from early Reynolds 531. That's going to hang from the garage wall, and hopefully over time I'll accumulate all the right period parts to get it up and running once again.

On the subject of bikes. The Planet X is in regular use as I don't have to save it for race days anymore. The Pearson crosser is in full action over winter. The Giant XTC has been dismantled for winter and ready for a few upgrades hopefully to be ready by Spring. The Claud Butler singlespeed road bike is still mid build. The Raleigh is hanging from the wall. And finally the old Trek 8000SL is ready to use as my winter off roader.
Should be able to have a good winters riding with that lot.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Hilly 100

We rode the best part of the 'old' Harp Hilly 100 today, with a few extra nasty climbs chucked in for good measure.
The idea was to help my mate back to fitness, and help me towards my 3 Peaks training. Though at some point in the ride just after climbing over the Crong* I sat up and said - "what's the ****ing point of this, I'm not worried about the riding it's the walking I'm terrified of". He just looked at me and we rode on in silence, like you do when one of you has the hump.
We clocked up 93 miles of the best hilly stuff around in a very good time even though we weren't pushing it. Actually I've recently discovered that if I ease off a tad I get around my known routes in the same time as I do when I go for it. I can only assume that the steadier pace means less recovery sections. I know I feel much better at the end of the rides now, and as I'm not racing road anymore I don't need to push it any further.

* The Crong, a section of tight country lane near Dancers End that crosses the Ridgeway just off the old A41. It used to be a well known club hill climb in the seventies.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

The Grand Union

This little gem is proving a great alternative to roads as a route to my cyclo cross riding areas. The Grand Union is less than 1/4 mile from my front door. If I turn right I can cycle it to the start of my Woburn ride. If I go left it'll take me to the Beacon and Ashridge or a little further on and it'll land me near Wendover and the home of Aston Hill.
Tempted to get the Kayak out on it.

3Peaks Training goes with a bang!

Not only is my cross bike looking damn ugly in it's 3 Peaks guise, the thing decided to blow up today - or blow a rim off anyway.
Prior to that I had cycled the Grand Union canal before hitting the road and climbing up the rufty tufty side of Ivinghoe Beacon. I was hoping the Beacon would provide a good training spot for hike a bike work and fast descents, but the area is still a bit too lame to really test yourself.
I have now come to the conclusion that I'll never be prepared for the terrain based on what I have locally. And that my only chance of doing remotely well lays with the racing fitness I gained earlier this year?
I also had my first practice of running with a shouldered bike. Earlier attempts had proven painful, but a survival bag taped into the corner of the diamond helped a great deal - though it didn't help with the looks. If my bike could talk it would be saying 'What have you done to me'
Anyway after four hours of riding and fettling my rear rim blew, and as I was returning along the Grand Union I didn't know which way to go to find the nearest bridge and road. So I turned my mishap into another hike a bike running session. I got to a bridge and called the missus.
Just as I was thinking the day wasn't that bad a bastard Wasp stung me on the leg.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

3 Peaks is on.

I'm in. At this stage I don't know how to approach my training, so thus far I'm just riding as much as I can, and on the crosser if possible. I've mucked about with set up, but in reality the cross bike really isn't cut out for an event such as the 3 Peaks. I've tried several brake and pad combinations, but the best I can get is a gentle slowing down! I'm happy with Landcruisers as my rubber, they're very meaty-beaty-big n bouncy, plus I've added Cinelli gel pads to my bars......what more can I do?
I still need new shoes, gloves and a race Camelbak, ££££££'s.
Although I probably shouldn't have, I've quit the road season. The racing is simply boring now we can't get on the open road. I am still giving it the berries when I can on the road bike though.
So with speed work on the road covered, 'skilz' on the MTB and base work on the crosser I should be okay.
Still it's not going to be easy hauling my heavy old frame up the Fells.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

June . A good month for the miles.

Racing has been non-existent this month for one reason or another, but training on the other hand has been great.
The weather has been very kind, with the exception of the day of the XC race!
I've managed to get quality time on all three bikes so far this month. The roadie and crosser are soooo fast in these conditions, the MTB feels like a slug in comparison.
Had an important tinker with the cyclocross set up after agreeing to enter the 3 Peaks cyclocross race in September. Sadly I'll have to overcome my hatred of Camelbaks for this one, as a short test shouldering the bike soon had me whincing from the bottle cage prodding my ribs and the weight digging into my shoulder. I also found out that canti brakes though fine for race days aren't good enough to stop you on a fast rocky descents. A play with set-up, pads and position as well as some good new tape and gloves should sort it out. Other than that it's good to go, assuming I get in.
There is still one road race left in June, but my willpower is already flagging, the thought of circling the Bowl again is not a pleasant one.
Hope July is as good.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Summit MTB XC race June

A wet slippery course and my first DNF of the year due to a puncture. Not the only one though, I joined a little group of flat tyred racers back at the start/finish tent.
Sadly three weeks of poor races and missed events has taken away my edge. Next weeks Criterium is going to be a killer.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Classic Herts lanes part 1 'Bread an Cheese Lane' recently revisited during the Rapha HOTN.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

And six months later..........

Been uber busy at work with one thing and another the last six months, but thought I'd better lay down some words just so in a few years time I could tell what I was up to.
I left off back in November 2009 with two cross races to go. The Milton Keynes round went very well with racing right up to the flag. The Hillingdon round didn't go so well as I found myself ill at the start and retired after one lap. That was my last race of 2009 sadly.
2010 kicked off really well, I seemed to find plenty of time to ride and suffered no injuries unlike the year before. Feeling pretty good I entered some early season road races under the LVRC banner. However prior to that I had an unusuall sportive type event to do the Rapha Hell of the North, a 100K on off road event that was to pay homage to the Paris-Roubaix. What a fine event that was, great company and good weather with free Belgian beer and frites at the end.
My first two road races were in March, and guess what that's when I decided to get ill. So they went on ahead without me in attendance. The problem was that April had no local races to offer until the last weekend of the month. That meant sticking to some very keen training.
Late April and I was on the start line of my first 2010 road race. Not much I can say other than I held on! Two weeks later my I was racing in my second road race at Cranfield. Again not that eventful, but I did get dropped by the lead group and spent the rest of the race inbetween the lead group and the broom wagon group, still another finish.
The following week I was XC racing at Lotts Wood in Amersham and picked up 11th place.
The week after that! I was road racing again, this time finishing in the bunch after a tough race.
That's where it stands right now, with a season of road and MTB ahead. All hopefully working to elevate me a few places come the CX season.