Sunday, 31 January 2016

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Central CXL Round 14 Kettering Cross

Today should have been the final race of the season, a day of racing followed by celebrations in the Black Lion afterwards for all those that had raced at some point this season. I even had the cigars ready.
However.....the cancelled round 12 had been re scheduled to February 6th, so it was now sort of business as usual, so the booze goes back into the cupboard.
We'd all seen the snowy lap video, but you couldn't help but notice it was warming up. Snow covered courses that then thaw can be the worst type, look at Milton Keynes last week. Whatever we were to face, it wasn't going to be as bad as the previous week. This was actually some small comfort!
A small band of us arrived at Kettering, actually the smallest. Ross the only senior. Mike, Barry, Miles and myself all 50 plus vets, and not a single 40 plus vet.
Upon arrival we walked the course, it had a familiar feel, sort of Woburn'esque. I really liked what I saw and couldn't wait to get going.
After walking the course we went out for a practice, what a course. Even 'the hill' that people said you wouldn't get up was cleared, would it still be clearable after the Novices then younger vets had raced it? So that, I thought was the worst of it, sadly it wasn't.  Call it the home straight or whatever, there was this long section with only the most gentle of inclines, if that, it seemed to defy traction.  I was sweating cobs riding it and thought that if Darren was here I'd be in trouble.
Pre race practice on the hill

We went back to the vehicle to clear our bikes and continue our warmup on the tarmac.
It was bloody freezing in the open, and the skies had definitely darkened. I needed to get underway.
The whistle called us up to the start area, we were a very small field which seemed to be the theme of the day. However grid position banter was high, typical of late season races when we've all turned in our quota of counting races. On top of that the Rainbow jersey had been sent to the back for being a naughty boy, no special treatment in cross. Rules is rules.
I traipse through the quagmire to take my start position and luckily my rear wheel is on a concrete path so all good for a fast getaway. Miles behind me can't quite squeeze onto the precious firm surface. Such a shame.
We get sent off pretty quick and I get a great start, already past some better riders when we're out, heading downhill before turning into the base of the main climb. I overcook it, far too much speed and I slide right instead of heading left and slap into the thorniest of trees. For a second I think I'll be stuck here all race pinned down by the thorns, Bugger it, I just rip myself out I'm too zoned out to feel the pain they leave in my legs, arms, back and neck. As I panic to get going again Miles passes me, I shoulder the bike and run the hill in pursuit of him. I watch him remount and I do the same, only I'm still in a descending gear, the effort of hauling that gear up the hill nearly makes my lungs burst.
Miles is now in front. My lungs are burning and I'm straining to loosen my helmets chin strap just to let in more oxygen. My priority is to not lose sight of him. As well as not to fall off or break anything. It's race umber nine for me, and I just need to finish to qualify in the overall rankings. I settle in to follow, but every now and then Miles pulls away. It really hurts to keep up, but I can see that the 'in racing' is helping us to cover ground quickly, as we're closing in on riders up ahead.
Miles is making some good line choices, which I follow and it helps. I also go full tilt on the descents feeling pretty certain it won't hurt too much if I get it wrong.
It's not until we reach the hurdles that mark the start of the dreaded anti traction section that we part company. Miles follows in the wheels of one of the top lady racers, I opt for the other side of the track and I just watch them both pull away. I cross to their side, but almost come to a standstill doing so in deep mud that separates us. At that point it looks like it's all over. Miles is the farthest ahead he's been all race.
At the end of this dreaded section the track funnels into a narrow path, and becomes extremely tough to ride. I'd already decided in practice that I'd run this to save my bike and legs. Miles has opted to ride it, which he does, but it's clear it was hard work for him. So I close in again, the running has paid off.
We're on another lap and I'm now right on he's wheel. Miles is riding well, but I'm feeling slightly better and mark him turn for turn.
One thing going through my head

There's not much in it as we come near to completing another lap. We jump the hurdles, Miles to the left me to the right. Miles choses the line that has served him well all race, I opt for the last remaining green stuff on the other side. Finally I find the grip on the section that has eluded me all race long. I move past Miles taking the lead for the first time since the start.
We'd both heard the bell so expected to have one more lap once we'd completed this one. However on this section just before it funnels we are lapped by the solo race leader with not much more than a hundred meters to go.
I look down the course to see him go under the flag. This meant the race was over, we'd not get that extra lap.
Metres to go and it doesn't get any closer

I hit the funnel running with Miles opting to ride, and right on my heels.  I jump on as the course opens up and to my delight both feet clip in straight fuss. I just have to power up and cross the line, if Miles passed me then so be it, I just give it my best and take the flag inches ahead.
Barry follows in some time later, with Mike completing the foursome.

Poor Ross was up next in seniors, there were only fifteen racers in this event. All of them good and on a tough course. I think it was hard for him out there, but finishing this punishing course would bag him a lot of points, wiping out those bad races.
We cheered him on from various places. I told him that he wasn't feeling weak, it was the course that was feeling tough. It was a brave almost solo effort, that saw him bag a place even in the dying metres.

Another good show by all LBRCC riders. And it was announced that we'd be hosting a round next year? I only mentioned it, looks like the committee have another job on their hands.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Central CXL Round 13 De Velo CX Milton Keynes

No words needed, super tough, broken bike and first DNF. Enjoy this great short video from Fraser kynaston, who was definitely on the right side of the barriers today.

Special edition directors cut.

Off camber downhill action

Enough is enough, time to bust a mech

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Lion Of Leighton 2016

The first running of the Lion Of Leighton was due to be sometime in April, in a sort of homage to the Spring classics. But LBRCC members are always eager to crack on with things whatever they are. So instead of waiting until April, mob rule dictated we'd run it in January. Without time to organise this ride into an event I simply pasted up the route and gave a brief description of what to expect. Bare in mind I planned this to be ridden on tough dirty roads, farm tracks and bridleways. Fine'ish come April, but possibly unrideable in mid winter.  Still with bravado born in the Black Lion January, 3rd was picked as the chosen day.
It didn't matter to me what the day would be like, as I could hardly not ride it. Sadly though the day was grim, it was cold, it was dark and it was grey with promised rain on it's way. Still about twenty riders rocked up, and a lone Barry who was there to lead a G3 ride. Unfortunately for Barry not a single G3'er turned up, nor were there any G2'ers or G1'ers, just Lion riders. So Barry was press ganged into doing a section of the Lion with us.
We left the Black Lion promptly at 8.30am and set off for the most rubbish roads I knew of. The first time I heard the words 'Oh here we go' behind me was when we turned into Well Lane. A narrow farm road with puddles hiding wheel grabbing pot holes, before becoming a broken up gravel strewn twisting short climb. At the end of the lane our large group was already strung out. So I decided to send some faster riders off ahead to form two groups on the road.
Then what's that noise? air leaking from my back tyre that's what. Super tough 28c's seemed no match for the first bit of rough stuff. So I sent another group off whilst Tom and Steve waited for me to swap tubes.  Then it started to pour down.
We set off half expecting to find small groups fixing punctures along the way. The idea was to leapfrog along making sure any stricken riders were accompanied. By Winslow not far from the first sector we came across Malcolm fixing a flat. We were proper wet already and decided we'd stick together just for the cheer!
A few miles later we were turning onto the first sector of the day, or Sustrans 51. When I'd ridden this over the summer the way was firm, dry and dusty. Now it was filthy and you had to play pot hole roulette as deep rain water obscured any dangers. I went for speed rather than picking my way. Worked.
We cleared all three sectors of Sustrans 51 so it was rather ironic that Gareth punctured as soon as we hit smooth tarmac when turning for Newton Longville.
While Gareth was carrying out repairs a small group lead by myself went off ahead. A bit of a grim road section lay ahead for us, but there was the promise of another sector soon after. We rode into the headwind, the rain and spray to Stoke Hammond. Here was our first bridleway sector, a nice one over the Grand Union, past mill and farm and then into a turn that would take you up the 'Gravelberg'. Gentle rhythm gets you to the top without going backwards in the grit. At the top we met another group containing Kate, Wout, Bob and others. Toms group containing a back on the road Gareth caught up pretty soon afterwards.
We set off to go down Bragenham Lane, a bloody awful road, but strangely okay today as the heavy rain had washed away all the usual debris that covers most of it's entire length. All down safe we headed up an impromptu sector leading to Ashleys  house where he had prepared coffee, bacon rolls and cake ( we all owe you one Ashley) we also raided Ashleys inner tube stock and took advantage of his track pump.
A path from Ashleys lead to a short damp dirty climb. Easy after a short break, and ahead was a longish, flatish road section passing through Eggington and the Five Bells. Sadly the MTB contingent fell behind along this section, the small wheels and gears no match for leggy road and cross bikes.
The MTB's fell back and the group became two with a few hanging back with the MTB'ers.
The next sector was another section of Sustrans 51, and it lay just ahead of the Five bells. I took the pace down hoping to see Kate, Wout and Ashley with the MTB'ers pop into view. But no chance. The wind had really whipped up and we were heading upwards onto the downs. Once into the open the rain is sideways and the wind is blowing with such force that my muddy bike soon becomes jetwashed clean.
We leave the base of the Downs heading towards the London Flying Club where we'd turn off  for Totternhoe and Eddlesborough and face the Ford that I'd once fallen into.
Ford cleaned we faced one of the best and longest sectors, from the church on the hill down to Ivinghoe Aston and onto Pitstone. A real corker even with mother natures jet wash trying to knock you off. The first half of this long sector being the best with you riding hardpack. The second half of this sector is muddy, but so wet it's easy to cut through. You're in Pitstone when you get to the end, and there's a nice steady road section to follow. There's a store here that sells pies and pastie's, but we can't stop in these conditions so we press on for the Watery Lane turn off.
Watery Lane is a peach of a little country lane and an LBRCC favourite, and features on many of our G rides. The lane takes us to Gubblecote and onto Long Marston to take in the looping sector in Puttenham. The tarmac here turns hard left, but we head straight on and off the tarmac and onto pot holed gravel. Like all the other sectors this one is also hardpacked, though it's still pot hole roulette and I find speed here is your friend. We're going to loop around here. At a natural turn the track becomes....shall we say a little less travelled! Though we all clear it. Still looping left we hit tarmac and look out for the bridge over the Grand Union that'll mark the next left turn.
The path alongside the canal is the worst we've been on, and it calls for a lot of finesse to keep traction and stay upright. I can see by the mud on one of the riders that they were clearly all out of finesse! We can see the next bridge up ahead that marks the next left hander, but it takes and age for all of us to reach it in these deep muddy conditions. We all gather on the bridge sheltering out of the rain  so we can start the homeward bound leg altogether. We cover the final part of this sector, riding back up the track that brought us to here. Now we're on the road heading for Mentmore and then Ledburn and the going for the moment is a little easier.
Everyone's a bit achy going up the hill in Mentmore, but all soon recover as we descend going past Train Robbers Bridge and on to our turn in Ledburn. We're close to Leighton Buzzard now, but we have a small final sector that diverts us away from home. We dog leg over the B488 and head off road passing under the bypass with the Grand Union once again by our side.
On tarmac once again we ride pass Tiddenfoot lake and turn onto one of Leightons cycle paths, we cross the Grand Union once again and continue to Grovebury Road a familiar route out of town on Sunday club rides.  After only a few hundred yards we once again turn onto a cycle path, riding at first through the towns industry and then on through parkland. The parks cycle path takes us almost directly to the door of our finish at the Black lion.
Our group of six are the second group to arrive. The group that went off almost from the start are already here, five of them in their pants getting dry in front of the pubs burning log fire. They hadn't suffered and punctures, in fact no technicals. Though they did miss the bacon and coffee.
I think of the twenty, eleven completed the ride. We had two guests from NBRC though sadly one of them had a show stopping off.....rider and bike okay. They were the first two casualties  of the day. A couple more had only planned to part ride the course so peeled off after midway. The final non finishers called it a day as they were still on the road when the weather became almost dangerous to carry on riding in.
Sadly because the weather was so bad hardly any images exist, it wasn't a day for standing around saying cheese unless you had a bacon sarnie in one hand and coffee in the other. Please send them on if you do have any.
I think the club will leave this route alone and possibly not ride it again until April as originally planned. Look forward to it.

Friday, 1 January 2016

North Bucks RC '10' New Years Day

So after saying I'd never ride a time trial again, I ended up buckling. Still I held on for nearly thirty years.
Miles sent me a text, it was nearly 9.10am and I was still tucked up in bed.  'pick you up or see you there?' By that I assumed I was racing, we'd sort of mentioned it already, but I was secretly hoping he was hungover and I could stay in bed.  Ermm 'pick me up'. I had twenty minutes to get my kit sorted and on, have some food, shit shave and wash......skipped the shave and whip out the bike.

9.50am my money was in the timekeepers box and a number was being pinned on. I had just enough time to nip up the road, hardly a warm up, before putting myself in the starters hands.

Thirty years........and just five more seconds to go before I'm off.

Off I go winding the pace up steadily. Long and short of it I spent the 10 miles in a state of utter confusion, I couldn't quite remember what to do. Striking the balance between keeping top speed and dying on my arse was beyond me. For instance at one point I thought I was fading, took a while to realise I was going uphill into a headwind. When I did select a bigger gear the Garmin shot up another 1.6 MPH.
Got in at 29.13, somewhat slower than three decades ago and maxing at a long 21.

I 'WILL' have another few goes, today was on a standard steel road bike with no aero accessories on bike or rider. I'll try some clip on's and perhaps drag out the super dooper carbon aero wheels, what's that a minute or two?
Both on short 29's
Determined to beat the funny bikes