Thursday, August 9, 2012

Laandan 2012 - Limpicks innit

Not much has been happening on the racing front for the last few weeks so I thought I'd write about my recent trip to London (there is a bike theme so don't worry).

Just like millions of others when the Olympic ticket lottery was announced sometime last year I greedily applied for as many different and varied events as I could. Oddly the only tickets I'd actually be successful in getting were for the mens road race. An event that you could watch for free. This didn't put me off and I shelled out for the privilege of sitting in the stands by the finish line. An added bonus was I could give my second ticket to my Dad for his Birthday. He's a pain in the arse to get gifts for.

I was a little cynical about the Olympics leading up to the event but I'm pleased to say that the whole event and atmosphere in London blew me away. Me and my Dad got the train down from Bristol and decided to walk from Paddington across Hyde Park to the Mall to take in the sights. It was nice to be a bit touristy as it's not normally something I get to do when visiting friends in London.

A large Colombian

Once in the stands I was surprised to find out it was a bit of a free for all for where you could sit. We chanced our hand at sitting as close to the line as possible. Somehow we managed to get in what seemed like a bit of a VIP section (it wasn't but that's how it felt) just a couple of rows behind Peta Todd (Mrs Cav) and baby Cav and an assorted cast of hangers on and Hello magazine cast offs

Paul Smith                                                                                      Bored Ed Milliband

Matthew Pinsent interviewing Mrs Cav

Anyway you all know what happened in the race GB got worked over by the rest of the world and Vino sprinted to Gold from a break from the break. I wasn't overly bothered who did win (I'd have liked Cavendish or better still Phil Gilbert) up until a really annoying dick sat behind me started moaning about Vino. Without sounding like a bike snob he was one of the new breed of cyclists who was just sat regurgitating what he'd read in the last edition of Cycling Weekly and talking about the Etape and how he'd love to race but his bike handling skills weren't up to scratch blah blah.

He got quite upset when I started chanting Vino, Vino, Vino and asked why I was supporting a drugs cheat. I told him that you didn't want it enough unless you took drugs, and was he forgetting that GB had a reformed drugs cheat in their squad. My Dad asked him if he saw any difference in athletes taking performance enhancing drugs and city bankers cheating. Poor fella and his mate got in a bit of a miff at that.


Oh and I said hello to Boris Johnson on the way out and he asked me if I was well and had I had a good day. Yes thanks Boris I did

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Bearded Man Black Mountains 3 Day

(A Bearded Man Earlier today).


I'd heard loads of really good feedback from last years BM3D so was really keen to sign up for the 2012 edition. With that in mind I looked to prepare as best I could for a weekends racing. In fact my preparation was so efficient that it wasn't until I arrived at the race village just outside Crickhowell that I realised I'd left my kit bag in Bristol. A crazy drive back home ensued and I arrived back at the site with under half an hour to spare to get ready and ride the short prologue route.
                                    Race Village

The prologue was 2 laps of a nice little out-and-back loop with some nice little bits of singletrack and some fast muddy descents. Riding on the adrenanlin of my Bristol-Crickhowell-Bristol-Crickhowell road trip I managed to complete the course in an eyeballs out, back end and front end all over the place style in 38:20 about half a minute behind Matthew Duggan in the singlespeed category.

Stage 1

Day 2 saw the field line up ready to tackle just over 70km and over 2300m of climbing. Actually I hadn’t realised how far and high the route was until after the event. Had I taken the time to read the route description I may have reconsidered riding the event on a singlespeed. Actually I’d have just reconsidered riding the event.

However as much as mine and my fellow riders legs would soon be protesting all 200 of us rolled out behind a police escort towards Crickhowell and some serious climbing. I ended up hanging on to Aiden Harding (Singular) for the day and almost turned myself inside out climbing up the killer climb (for me anyway) of the Hermitage which bisected Mynydd Llysiau and Waun Fach mountains. Although it tends to be the pain induced climbs that remain etched in my mind I feel I would be doing the stage and the event a huge injustice if I didn’t highlight the amazing views and fast techy descents through Wales’ finest singletrack that (climbs aside) were the mainstay of the BM3D.


I managed to finish the day in 4:06:52, the same time as Aiden, and just under a minute down on Matt Duggan (who incidently had missed the start and produced a storming ride to pass nearly the whole field on his way to the finish. He passed me like I was standing still. Which judging by the way I was riding on the day is a fair enough description).

Back at the race village in the Glanusck Estate we all swapped stories of our day over the FREE BEER supplied by one of the many event sponsors Tudor Ales. If the days riding hadn’t won me over the post race drinks had me signing up for 2013 even before 2012 had finished.

Day 2
With a slightly heavy head, and even heavier legs I lined up for Sunday's stage. We'd been told in the briefing that even though this stage was longer it would be 'easier' then yesterday's. I wasn't convinced and told myself I would err on the side of caution and start off steady. So with only a couple of minutes of the stage start I was as suprised as anyone to find myself riding with the front group. I managed to roughly maintain my position until the first big climb of the day. This took us up and above the Tal-y-Bont resevoir which if you took the time to have a look around provided you with once again another amazing view of the Welsh countryside. By this point my memory is a bit of a blur although I do remember a bit of a slog of a road climb followed by a long, long descent which saw me once again attempt, and fail to hold on to Matt Duggan's back wheel. Actually this was a theme that would be present for a large part of the day. I'd seem to be ahead on the climbs only for Matt to bridge across and pass me on the technical descents. None of which helped in my ongoing, and largely futile, efforts to shed my xc 'Jey-boy' image.

Me at the feed

Finally Matt and I arrived at the feed to be told we were somewhere in the top 10. Pretty chuffed with ourselves we set off on the first part of the climb which would lead to the 'Gap Route'. We'd all been told that this would be amongst the highlights of today's ride. Sat at home a couple of days after the ride it's hard to convey what it was about the 'Gap Route' that was so enjoyable though those amongst you who have ridden it will know what I'm getting at, and those of you who haven't I suggest you get out there and ride it, or better still sign up to BM3D 2013.

The only slight dissapointment was to be on the descent when our route was blocked by a huge flock of sheep. I asked the farmer if we could get past, and warned him about the 200-odd riders approaching, and he suggested we do so but to drop down the hill a bit to not spook the sheep. What followed was the farcical seen of around 10 mountainbikers mincing through a hillside of bracken travelling at the same speed as a mocking flock of sheep. Eventually Matt, being a local (sort of) and well versed in the management of sheep rode through the flock. The sheep didn't scare and we got through and off the mountain in one piece.


There then followed a crazy little section which consisted of babies head rocks hidden from view by bracken and brambles. It was the sort of trail section which could have seen the onset of a sense of humor failure. However these events breed a sense of 'we're all in it togetherness' which just saw us laughing the whole way through.

By now I knew I was well in the top 10, but also knew there was around 10 km to go and several geared riders pursuing. Matt had also managed to distance himself from me on the last section so I was left to chase him down luckily with the assistance of another rider. After a couple of km we managed to catch Matt who told me he'd lost his pedal on the climb of the 'Gap'. By now we were all driving hard to get home in as quick a time as possible. After some time I turned and was suprised to see that Matt wasn't there. I did what any decent minded person would do and attacked as hard as I could all the way to the line in a time of 4:09:22 and in 6th place on the day.

After a short while Matt rolled in after his pedal had fallen off once again on the run in to the finish. His time was 4:11:18 which meant I had some how won the singlespeedcategory by 30-odd seconds.

The Black Mountains 3 Day is a great event. It somehow manages to combine the laid back atmosphere of a smaller event with a slick organisation some larger events could learn a lot from.

Photography courtesy of Ed Rollason and Charlotte Knee

Thanks once again to my amazing sponsors:

Niner, Ergon, Stan'sNoTubes, Loco Tuning, Rotor, Geax, Topeak

Monday, May 28, 2012

Erlestoke 12 - Race Report

I always struggle remembering what happened throughout the course of a race so please forgive me if the following is a little bit of a mindless ramble. That and I'm still recovering from my post race recovery, which mainly involved me sitting in my pants drinking beer. Actually I think an apology is due to my neighbours for that too.

Anyway the Erlestoke 12, formerly known as Set2Rise an event which ran from 6pm to 6am, which now runs from midday to midnight. A really, really enjoyable singletrack heavy course organised and run by SPAM biking. I'd raced Set2Rise a couple of years ago and got a third in the solo 12 but that edition of the race saw it rain for the first 9 hours. This years event would be entirely different and saw the majority of racers struggling at some point with the high temperatures.

Following the usual pre-race chatting to friends, bike fettling and panic over the realisation that I was woefully unprepared for 12 hours racing in the baking sun, all the racers assembled ready for the off. From what I can recall my race pretty much went; Good start (perhaps too good), got hot and bothered and wanted to pack after about 2 hours, got more hot and bothered and more fed up with racing bikes when I should really be at a barbecue or a pub beer garden somewhere, got even hotter and....well you get the picture, it was hot. Followed by a couple of really fun hours of darkness which with the help of Maxx-D and Diablo lights from Exposure saw me back in love with racing mountain bikes again.

After all this I crossed the line to be told I'd finished third in the 12 hours solo. Pleased, relieved and completely knackered that strange mix of feelings you get when you finish a solo. Did the podium then set off to look for a 24 hour Maccie-D's.


Once again thanks to all of our amazing sponsors, hopefully I gave a good account of myself:
Niner, Ergon, Stan's, Loco Tuning, Rotor, Geax, Topeak, Exposure

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

CRC Mtb Marathon - Builth Wells

Here's my belated report for the first round of the CRC Mtb Marathon series.

By now I'm sure you've had the opportunity to read any number of reports on the event which would do an infinitely better job at detailing what happened on the day than I will. Scot's report on cyclist no1 was even nice enough to offer an excuse for how badly I rode. For those of you who may not know I became a father for the first time a couple of months ago and have been moaning to anyone who is prepared to listen about the impact parenthood has had on my, already shoddy, cycling performance.

Anyway as much as I'd like to use my daughter as an excuse, in all honesty you're either on it or your not. Sadly on this occasion I certainly wasn't. So much so I can barely remember what happened on the day (post traumatic stress has this effect I'm told). We seemed to start fairly steadily, with me feeling ok, then proceeded to go up a series of huge hills, which went on and on and on and.....and I blew my doors completely. The following 2 and a half hours or so was spent with me staring at my front wheel trying to maintain some composure through streams of snot and sweat. Thankfully by the time we hit the wooded singletrack section in Fforest Fileds (home to various Welsh XC rounds in the past) i'd recovered enough to not only enjoy the trails but be able to ride past the event photographer with my mouth closed and attempt my best MBR-esque pose. This only left the last little section to the event arena and the finish.

Thanks once again to Niner, Stans No-Tubes, Ergon, Loco-Tuning, Rotor, Topeak and Geax tyres. Fantastic sponsors and products all of which performed much better than me on the day.