Published: 18th April, 2012
Midlands XC 1. Vets. Leicestershire. 19th Feb
Ashby Del La Zouch; sounds a bit exotic, well kind of.
An early season blast around blue route gravel and some muddy bits. It was a bit of a scramble at the start. I made it up to 5th on entry to the muddy wood and 4th on exit. I spent the rest of the race catching glimpses of Paul Ashby just ahead. Lewis King and new fresh faced Vet Chris Rathbone had got away and were opening a chunky gap together ultimately Chris just pipped Lewis. I struggled to carry the speed on the blue route cinder berms; by the end of the race I still couldn't do it. 4th.
Bright skies made it a top day out.
Andalucia bike race 26th Feb
Richard Rothwell and I paired up. Lots of other Brits had the same idea of a good training race in the sun. The entry price was reasonable although they tried to "nickel and dime" racers with the add-ons. We did our own thing which had its challenges, 3 hire vehicles were ultimately needed. Boo.
Skinny Northumbrian Rich was strong on the super steep stuff and "Fenboy me" was strong out of the blocks on the flatter sections. The race itself was ace, not too debilitating, and we were happy with the result of 5th in the Masters (30+ category).
Here's our race report:
If life permits I would like to do it again. My tapas blowout at the end was a bit over indulgent, but nice.
Tapei Cycle, Taiwan
2 days back in the UK before the big Taipei cycle show. The show was then nailed, some photos from the show:
I can't waste a trip to Asia just on the urban jungle, so routed (kind of) back through Lombok, Indonesia.
(I've never seen the sun in Taiwan)
Lombok , Indonesia
Get there before it turns into Bali. It has some of the best beaches and surf around. It's cheap and there's a very big hill (3750m volcano) with a long nasty road climb either side. Nice.
I could write a book about Indonesian things, but here are 5 tips
You actually can get away from all of this though, unlike Bali. I'll be returning at some point. This trip was more cycle touring than training. There was some bad weather which washed loads of bridges away. The roads turned out to be made from chocolate tarmac but in my world warm rain is good rain.
New buddy Glenn catches a Lombok wave
I catch one aswell:
Many more broken bridges to cross, a metaphor for life or just cowboy builders?
Where's Danny Macaskill when you need him?
BMS XC 1 Vets. Sherwood Forest. 25th March
Back to the jungle in sunny Sherwood Forest. It is essential to get a good start here. I somehow managed to get to 6th on entering the first stretch of single track. A comedy crash saw half the Vets field behind go down like dominoes. The last racer the escape this was Chris Rathbone.
The next half lap was spent wishing I was somewhere else, totally redlining to stay with the top 5. The elastic snapped, I just about kept Dan Cook ahead in sight. The whole field stretched out just behind me. On lap 2 I overcooked a corner and didn't fall on a pile of forest pixie feathers but pile of logs. My eyes watered, my knee still hurts 4 weeks later. I dropped a few places but it wasn't a good enough crash to claim injury and pull out. On lap 3 I had got back to 6th and started to see Dan ahead again.
I put in a surge and caught Dan on the final lap, he had been having some gear issues. Steve Hallam was on my wheel. I put in another push to get over "that drop off" (I felt I was rolling the techy sections quite well). With 1 km to go I went over "that log" in 6th. On the run in I was such a gentleman and let a surging Ian Taylor and Steve Calland contest 6th spot.
(trying the new 39er wheel size)
The Vets standard is super high this year. Lewis King won the race, with Paul Hopkins in 2nd. Chris Rathbone made it from the back of the grid to 3rd . Ian Taylor also came through from the back. Lewis waded through all but 2 of the Masters field to post a faster time than the Masters winner savage stuff.
Eastern XC Round 1 - Vets. Suffolk. 1st April
Is it possible to find a course that is flatter than Thetford? Yes it is - welcome to Tunstall.
After a brief kilometre of glory Paul Ashby went past me. The rest of the race was spent pushing a stiff pace with Andrew Manning. On the last lap Andrew weakened and I got a high point scoring 2nd. It was dry, twisty fun. I'm still coughing up the dust.
UK 12 hour champs. Newcastleton - a long way from anywhere. 7th April
A higher priority race this weekend. Although I was in the Vets category I was looking at the overall win as 12 hours is a good race length for me. If you start at the same time as all the other people the fastest person is the winner, right?
(organizers of the Andalucia Bike race that note, THIS is a neutral start)
In the 12 hour Rich Rothwell and I took an early lead in the first two laps. Matt Page came through on lap 3 and pushed on. I couldn't respond but felt it was all about the second half of the race where I figured I'd be stronger. Rich managed to stay with him and then pushed on ahead strongly. On lap 3 and 4 a strong looking Dave Powell danced on the pedals into the distance. I was now in 4th. I had to hold my nerve. I had thought this race through and planned bike changes on the 26in wheel for the later stages when my legs would be tired.
It started to get dark around lap 7and I felt strong. I put in a couple of quick laps and caught Rich and passed Matt who had a big tyre issue. I wasn't sure whether Dave Powell was ahead or in the pits tucking into a pre Sunday roast. On the 10th lap Matt surged through. I was a bit weak on the final lap, a few mouthfuls of Cola weren't enough but Rich was still dropping off. So 3rd overall, and 1st Vet.
The race is less painful than the organising, packing, unpacking and travelling. Thanks to Sean (Bertie Maffoons) and Dave (M Steels) in the pits. There were lots of nice touches from the race organisers, SIP I particularly liked the race winner's medals which could be used as a coaster, or ashtray.
photo: http://www.joolzedymond.com/joolzeD/FrontPage.html cheers Joolz
Midlands XC 3 - Vets. Birstal near Chesterfield. 15th April
A good old skool Northern course. Big wheels, brakes that worked and the ace Lefty fork made it less daunting than in the olden days. It was wet and I chose a rear mud tyre which helped on a couple of key sections.
photo: http://www.robcrayton.co.uk/midxcr3.htm - cheers Rob
At first I didn't have the stomach for it after the 12 hour race the previous week and oscillated on the first lap around 5th. However, although Chris Rathbone had disappeared everyone ahead was in sight so I dug in a bit. By the 3rd lap I was riding with Dan Cook jousting for second. I pushed on but Dan held in there about 5- 10 seconds back, every backmarker was a threat to being caught as was the soggy bog field 300 metres from the end I held second just and was pretty happy with and surprised with the result. I had only done a recovery ride and BIkram yoga session in the previous week, so probably had fresher legs than I thought.
Next up, Dalby in the wet. Not looking forward to the roots of Medusa.