Monday, 22 October 2012

Dusk 'Til Dawn

I have seen Dusk 'Til Dawn advertised for the past couple of years and always thought it was to far or too bad to get to so never give it to much of a thought to enter, then earlier this year my sister in law and her fella (Lee) moved near to Thetford this then give me a thought... 

Maybe I should enter! but it was another lapped race, I know I'm not good at these events due to the boredom factor of going round the same lap over and over, but for some reason this seemed diffident don't know if it was due the dark, or that the course was flat and fast (and dry) I'll never know. 

We arrived in the solo's area set up the tent and built camp, and went off to get some tea (the meal in the evening, some people call it dinner, but they are wrong) for the first time ever I felt like I had a proper support crew, Lee and Suzie had agreed to do shifts and do a couple of hours each in turns to supply me with food and water (well Torq energy drink). 

8pm came round quicker than I expected and along with the start of the race, I was hoping to get a couple of hours kip before the race but my mind was working overtime thinking of everything that needs doing I started to prep my bike fit the number board and chip, this was going to be the first race on the Whyte and only it's second ride. 

I lined up at the start line and waited, we didn't have to wait long, and we was off. The ground was a bit damp in places but nothing like Mountain Mayhem earlier in the year and was quickly drying up and becoming very fast, and for some reason I was flying, missed the first feed station (my fault because I couldn't find Suzie and we hadn't arranged a meeting point, first lesson learnt). I don't know if it was me or the bike but I seemed to be going faster and faster, I got to lap 4 and pulled in for my new bottle, my strategy was to get a new bottle each lap and down a gel to keep me going, it seemed to be working so far, at this point I was in 3rd place, all of a sudden I was in pain I had neglected to re apply some cream, I tried to ride through it but took some time out to try and sort my self out by this time I was down by 30 or more places.

By the time I plucked up the courage to get back out on the bike I was down in 80 odd'th I went out and did one final lap mostly standing and chafing, I got back a couple of placed to bring me back to 63rd. 

As a result the bike seems very good to ride and handles very well, it doesn't feel like a 29er and goes like one. 

BIG Thank you to my pit crew.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Kielder 100 (50) and new bike.

This will be 2 posts in one, you lucky lucky people :) 

I popped in to the local bike shop knowing full well what bike I want and knowing the 2013 model release was imminent, after no um'ing and ar'ing what so ever I slapped down the deposit on a Whyte 29c Team, preferring a triple chain set over a double I thought it be best I ordered all at the same time. The release date was not until a week later around the 3st September the race against time begin, my first planed race was the Kielder 100 on the 15th September, that give me 13 days to get the bike from the factory to the shop then to me then tested and check it.

The bike arrived in the factory and was shipped to the shop by 10th due unpacking/checking/sorting of the shipment, that now give me 4 days until I had to collect the bike from the shop then check over the bike and leave for Kielder on Friday morning. buy Tuesday night the bike was ready to be collected leaving very little time to check it over and set it up the way I like it. 

I covered the frame in leading edge tape to protect it (like i do with all my bikes) the controls was lined up the way I like them, then due to a meeting I was waiting for the first ride. Rushing home from work on Wednesday like a little child to go for a quick blast, nothing special just a spin up to Darwen Tower. The first thing I did notice was how powerful the brakes are, bearing in mind I have had all makes and models over the years but the new 2012/3 Shimano brakes are simply awesome, truly 1 finger brakes. After a couple of minor adjustment and the bike was ready. 

I have chosen the Whyte 29c Team because the slightly slacker head angle(1) and the size of the frame was perfect, usually 29er's come in 19 or 19.5 inch frame, I wanted a 20" frame half inch makes all the difference and it looks fantastic. 



It's now Friday morning I dropped Suzie off at work and packed the car and headed off to Eals Lodge B&B, last year I must have gone a very long way round it seemed to take forever to get there but this year's trip seemed very short. I dumped all my stuff in the room and headed out for some dinner and to register, and get an early night due to the 5:30 start. I had a very bad night's sleep not to sure if it was excitement or stress from the week running through my mind. It was now time to get up, quick shower and get some breakfast,  porridge and toast was my fuel of choice. 

A couple of weeks ago a banged my nose and as a loud crack resonated through my head I new it wasn't good, but no swelling came and the pain wasn't that bad to start with but in the healing process pressure building up in my sinuses, then came the intense constant throbbing that can only be described as brain freeze like when you eat ice scream to fast. I got it check out and I had broken my nose (well cracked it) I prescribed my self some Sudefed and it seemed to work and the pain was gone but only until the Sudefed wore off...

Well back at the start line, 3, 2, 1 GO, we was off, we all took it easy following the lead car and up the road, the bike seemed nice and I was going well, don't know if it was me of the bike I was passing people left, right, and center, then got to some little technical sections aware of the new found brake power, I took it easy to start then fun took over. 

I reached the first check point in good time and stormed on through and headed to the mid way point, then it hit me, I had forgot the Sudafed it hit me in a way that the pain killer had instantly just stopped working. Approaching the 50mi mark I had a choice do it call it a day or continue and suffer, I called it a day mainly because I enjoyed the ride and was on good form and had nothing to prove, but once I got back I was told the second half was easier so I might have been ok. If I had of done the 50mi option form the start I would have got 1st or 2nd place, I guess that's nice to know But because I entered the 100mi option and dropped out to do the 50mi option it didn't count (rightly so though).

Great weekend catching up with some friends, and the new bike is awesome, cant wait to ride it again at the Bronte BigK Bike Challenge on Sunday (http://www.sueryder.org/Get-involved/Events/All-events/2012/September/Bronte-Bike-Challenge)



1. Slacker head angle, this all related to the tube that connects the handle bars to the forks, having a slacker angle gives more control and more comfort when going down hill, but having to slack of an angle can make it difficult when going up hill 

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Race against time

The race is on, as you know (from my last post, sorry about the miserableness of it but hopefully this will be a happier one) I entered the Kielder 100 but this has become more a race against time to get the the start of the race. I ordered my new bike (more about that later) mainly as the Tour Divide bike, but with the intention of using it for the rest of this season as a race bike and to get some training in.

I was contacted by the LBS (local bike shop) who said the bike was on order and will be arriving at Whyte on the 3rd September, it will take aproximitly 1 week to be delivered to the shop then a couple of days to prepare it with the upgraded kit, leaving me/Ruggy (Ruggy is a team mate who is a expert in fitting protective tape to frames) a couple of days to cover it with leading edge tape and test it and more importantly to get used to the ride. Will it arrive in time?!

The new bike is the 2013 Whyte 29c Team, the 29c Team is in the team Torq colors a total coincidence Torq Fitness are sporting me and Team ELMS. The upgrade, originally the bike came as a 2x10 setup (2 cogs on the front and 10 on the rear (just for you mum)) and though while I'm at it I would upgrade to the 2012/3 XTR kit {goes weak at the knees}. You may have guessed I am a bit excited about the new bike.


The Kielder 100 is the first race of a couple of busy months, if any one's at any of these races I'll see you there :) Kielder 100, Bronte BigK Bike Challenge, Dusk Till Dawn, the Bear Bones 200 and the Calderdale mtb Marathon are on the same weekend so will have to decide when the time comes.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Busy, Busy ,Busy...

The last couple of months have been lets say eventful and busy... I will spare you the details but it hasn't been much fun and I'll spare you the misery :( but things have been picking this last couple of days so I thought I'ed write a blog post :)

On the racing front it's been quite quiet no real races, or adventures just a couple of 100+ milers and training rides a couple of Camping rides, and long rides to visit family. In a couple of weeks I have a second go at the Kielder 100 after last years miserable attempt (I don't want to tempt fate but...) my back seems to be holding up ok and this year I've booked my self in to a proper B&B to try and get a good nights sleep the night before, and hopefully my new bike will be here in time (keep an eye out for the now bike blog post). Just placed another Torq Fitness order because I have seen I have run very low in gels and bars. and finally the new team kit is looking good, we just need to place an order now :)

Sorry it's a short post, but hopefully I'll have something more meaty next time :)

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Terra-Nova Photon 1

I have just realised that I have not posted about my awesome new tent (or if i have i cant find it so here is a new one) about 3 or 4 months ago I bought the Terra Nova Photon 1 from the most unlikely of places (Sprots Direct) because it was the cheapest place on the web. It was still not cheap for a 1 man tent, but it was the one I wanted. The Terra Nova Photon 1 is a sub 700g tent that is ideal for adventure racing and light weight bivvi rides getting away from an actual bivvi bag (that I didn't fancy at all). The first thing I notices was the weight, and the quality. My initial worries was can i fit in it at 6'4"? ok no worried there, I have more room than in my little 2 man tent (ok not for 2 people, but moving about room) it feels taller due to the raised end poles, an has enough room to store stuff inside.

I have used my new Terra Nova Photon 1 tent a couple of times so far and I've good experiences every time. The tent fits nicely in my frame bag leaving loads of room to pack around it (if needed) and weighing in at just under 670g including repair kit, pegs, and bag to hold it all in, I guess i could shave a bit off with out taking the extra bits but a perfect weight for my tour divide.

You may have seen in my blog that I have been on 2 bivvi rides testing the tent and to use it was fantastic, easy to put up and take down. on first impression the pegs seem very flimsy, but they seem to work well. I think I will get some more heavy duty Ti ones for resilience.


The tent is very well made does everything an adventure racer would want while not using a bivvi bag, for me a tent adds a great deal for comfort for very little weight. 

Keep your eye out for more reports soon :)

Monday, 9 July 2012

Team ELMS

2012 is a big year for sport in the UK, that's right it's the year Team ELMS began. Team ELMS is a small cycling team in it's very early days. With help from a couple of sponsors, thanks to Juice Lubes, Torq Fitness and East Lancs Medical Services (ELMS) for all the initial support and continuing support.

We have a team kit design (but not finalised) hopefully ready to go to print soon.

 
More info coming soon, so keep your eyes out for us.
 

Saturday, 7 July 2012

New Arrival from PHD

My old Mountain Equipment sleeping bag is getting a bit old and well used, and well love, it has served me well over the years (and will continue to serve me for none bivvi rides) but for the Tour Divide I will need every little help I can get, so I decided to get a new bag from PHD Mountain Software :)
 

About 5 or 6 weeks ago I put my order in for a custom bag with a material upgrade and an extra length and a couple of extra little things like no zip, more water resistant material around the foot and head areas where it is more likely to get damp from either breath or feet touching the end of the tent.

 
You may have already guessed it arrived yesterday morning :) Sad I know but I'm excited about testing it out.


The bag is very light at only 680g for -5 degree considering my old bag is about 1600g.

Hold tight for a bivvi ride report, soon hopefully :)

 

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Mountain Mayhem Muddy Mess

The camp ground was already heavily waterlogged so there was no where to camp, anyway after much slipping and sliding we managed to find a spot that was nothing like level but it drained well.

How bad can it be! its reined hard all week and there was a little burst of no rain while I put up the tent and set everything up, while my Dad had fun toeing the rest of the team's caravans in to place. The camp was set and the rain started again then stopped and started (well that's how it was all weekend)...

Its race day, I had a surprisingly good nights sleep. We all line up for a La Mans style start all ready sinking in to the ground and mud, but the count down began 5, 4, 3, 2, and GO!!! we was off, I soon realized how little running I had done, I got along the first running straight and the course turned away from my bike "wow wow where we going my bikes that way" then it turned again and again going on muddier and muddier paths, finally after about a mile and half got to the start finish strength where the bikes was, I don't know if it was the adrenaline of shock that I was running but I ran all the way.



The first lap went ok, I though to my self this isn't too bad the mud is tough but I can cope, I managed to clear the first lap, then after every one else had been through on the second lap it started to get worse, and then it started to get un-ride able, pushing the bike round the 3rd lap was impossible my gears didn't work, my wheels didn't go round, stopping every 100m to try and clear some of the mud from tires and drive chain only for it to clog up again instantly, I decided to try and take a brake half way round the 4th lap and get a couple of hours kip (I think most people did).



When I woke it wasn't raining but the word on the street was the ground was worse that ever. I got my kit on with full intention of finishing the lap that I started before my kip. It got closer and closer to the cut off time and I still had no intention of heading out. Although I was torn between going out to push my bike for another lap and half to get 6 laps in and getting changed and heading to the start finish line to cheer on the finishers including Team JMC.it vets team coming home in second, and watching Team JMC.it's Jason Miles coming over the finish line on a FAT bike (that had entertainment value alone.



I know the picture do not show how much mud and how grueling and relentless the course was....

Thanks to my Mum and Dad for being my pit crew, and Team JMC.it for letting me join there camp and using there pits, to be truthful I think they had the hardest job (well done guys). Until next time :)

Monday, 11 June 2012

Kendal Bivvi Ride.

It's Thursday, it's raining, it look miserable out my office window and still I thought it would be a good idea to go for a bivvi ride over the weekend.

I dug all my kit out of the loft to get it all in a nice neat pile ready to be loaded on the bike on Friday after work. I was still undecided if I should take or leave some things but I got them out none the less and added them to the pile.

I got home after work and started to check my kit again before loading on the bike, after fighting with the Velcro and straps on the frame bag, and bar harness for a little while the bike was ready to be loaded. Packing the tent in its usual spot in the large pocked of the frame bag, and loading tools in the small pocket. Well! that's the easy bits done. Now to squeeze the rest in. 

Loading the saddle bag... 
First off was lining the saddle bag with a thin/light weight dry bag, then stuffing as much as I could in to it, in goes some cloths, flip flops, camping mat, tarp, charger, and other bit and bobs. I though to my self I have . STOP!!! no food, me and Suzie made a quick run to the Supermarket, to get some well needed supplies, sweets, packets of eat cold food, mixed fruit and nuts, more sweets, Soreen, and some Nobbys mixed Fruit Nuts and Biscuits, also not forgetting some Torq Fitness Bars and Gels. Well the extra space I thought I had was now filled with food, although a bit squashed.

Then loading up the bar harness, picking up another light weight dry bag and started stuffing my sleeping bag and the rest of my cloths and stuffed a little bit to hard, and the bag tore in 2 (just thinking now lucky it was at home and not packing to come home), I dug out a more heavy duty dry bag and started stuffing again, sleeping bag, and the rest of my clothing then strapped it to the harness. 



The bike was loaded, the camel back was filled with water and I was read to go, but the question was where?

This Bivvi Ride was to test kit and have a get away for a well deserved 'rest', I wanted to find a camp site so I picked 2 options both was weather dependent. The first and most interesting option was a little island, but the issue was if it was bad weather the ferry's would not run, they said I would have to give them a call on Saturday morning to check and they was expecting high winds (meaning the ferry's would not be working). So I took the 2nd option and found a campsite just north or Kendal, between Kendal and Shap. 

Ok, The Bike is loaded, the route is loaded in the GPS and I'm ready to roll.

The ride is only 60ish miles so no need to set off too early, but I was excited and decided to head out just after 9 in a rain free windows. Not long after setting off, it started spiting, but it was expected. The roads was clear(ish) and it was quite easy going, until I reached Preston where the heavens opened, I though I'm not in any rush so I pulled over in a bus stop until it eased off a bit. 


As I tucked in to one of my sandwich's and watch the world go by, the rain started easing. I finished my butty and put on my pack and headed off again. 

Shortly after leaving Preston the rains cleared and I wouldn't say the sun come out but it was better than rain. I passed through Garstang and then stopped for a bite to eat (bacon butty) at a road side cafe. Riding through Lancaster, then in to Cumbria where I meet a couple of guys (Jonathan and Wisarut) standing at the side of the road, I pulled over for a chat, I found out they was cycling the LeJog, after chatting for a while we decided ride together for a while I found out they was going through Kendal, so at this point we said our good buys and parted ways. 


Arriving at the campsite, the sun was still trying to break through, I setup camp and headed off to find some food. I found a local Morison's and had my self some stake and mash in the cafe.


I sat watching the sun going down and get a well deserved relax.


Woke up late for me (around 9ish) and got up and started to pack my things away ready to head home, I decided to try and pack my bike different, OK it was only a little change, I decided to put my camping mat in the dry bag with my sleeping bag (on the bar harness) and it seemed to fit better that way, and be more stable. I then squeezed the rest of my kit in to the saddle bag and was happy. There is a couple of thing i didn't use and don't need to take with, the main thing being the Tarp, extra unneeded weight and bulk, I also need to rethink clothing for the evening/night. 

On the journey home the weather was nice, dry and the some was trying to break through. I stopped just out side Garstang for another bacon butty and then headed home.


Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Quartet of School boy errors

The first race of the year and totally made a mess of things.

I arrived at the CRC Marathon at Selkirk on Friday morning with the plan to get some good rest and maybe a little ride in before the race on Sunday, the weather was rubbish to say the least so putting the tent up in the poaring rain was not much fun. I then sat in the tent, little gas heater burning gas like no tomorrow (well there was none for tomorrow it was empty in a couple of hours). Feeling a bit of a cold coming on I thought I may as well get in to my sleeping bag and have an early, woke several times in the night and had a bad night sleep, but at least the rain had stopped.

Finally got up around 0730 and made some breakfast, I know I'm a terrible cook but even i was disappointed with my cooking if that's what you can call it :(

Having good food is important for keeping and maintaining energy levels, but having limited food and crap food is not good...  School boy error number 1...

Sat in the tent completing to go and spin the legs, or chill and limit the sore throat in hind sight I should have gone for a spin stretching the legs... School boy error number 2...

Day 3 and the day of the race, woke to a very warm tent, glorious sun shine, I knew it was going to be a warm one, I thought with the weather over the past couple of week I wouldn't need summer kit (especially in Scotland) but school boy error number 3...

Waking up in a hot tent, not feeling the best and with a storming headache I neglected to notice how dehydrate I was. School boy error number 4...

Setting of on the ride/race I new from the outset I was going to struggle, but how much I was going to soon find out, first climb was long but not to tough, then came the first decent it became apparent what ever tire choice I made would have been a wrong one the ground was greasy and 'entertaining'.
I was heading down the hill and happily slipping a sliding my way through a rut and came across some people pushing there bikes (yes that's right pushing) down the hill and as I saw it I had 2 options try and hop out of the rut or squeeze past them (stopping wasn't an option) so I went for the squeezing past one again in hind site probably not the best one. I got past them OK but in doing so I started pin balling down the rut, and that point I knew it wasn't going to end well... I managed to scrub 10 or 15 mpg from my speed and before I was launched off the bike, lucky the ground was still wet and soft, with a nice tuck and roll maneuver I was up on my feet back on the bike before the next guy caught me up. As the ride went on my head got worse and worse soon approaching the 45k cut off I took the option (not an easy decision but the right one I think) I got back to the tent, tried lying down but that wasn't easing my head, only one thing left was to pack up an go home :(

So things learnt; eat well, drink lots, sleep well, keep the legs spinning, and dress appropriately.

Selkirk is still one of my favorite courses, I will be back next year :)