Wednesday, 29 February 2012

February Summary

Miles : 443.7
Riding Time : 31 hours 43 minutes

Highlight: Snow riding!
Low Point: Lack of training

Winter arrived and although I did enjoy 2 or 3 rides in the snow it really did hamper effective training for a couple of weeks. It was good to finally get racing again last week. Despite the average result I took a lot from the experience which I can build on and carry forward.

The races come thick and fast next month and things start getting more serious. 18th March is the 1st round of the Southern XC Series. The video preview is now available.

Monday, 27 February 2012

A Fresh Start

After two false starts, the 2012 race season finally got underway yesterday with the 2nd round of the Gorrick Spring Series. The 1st round may have been cancelled due to the snow but only a few weeks later the sun shone and although there was a frost when I left home it certainly felt like spring had sprung by the time I reached Swinley Forest.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog I intend to use these early races as part of my training so I purposefully hadn’t set myself a target. I just wanted to enjoy myself and get the legs and lungs used to the speed of XC racing again.

The start is critical to XC racing, it is the hardest and most stressful part of the event and can make or break your day. Ideally you need to be towards the front, unfortunately everyone else has the same idea and it becomes a flat out sprint! Most races start on a wide open trail suitable for 100 jostling riders, but pretty soon the first technical section reduces the race to single file. Now as you can imagine 20 cyclists nose to tail is quite a long queue and if you’re not in the right spot you can quickly find yourself a long way behind the front of the race. It is probably better to be nearer the front holding people up, than sitting behind slower riders while the leaders race away. However, it’s no use sprinting off wildly and then dying of exhaustion after ½ mile. So you push as hard as you can, stick your elbows out and try and maintain position while exerting as little effort as possible. It can be a scary and brutal place!

My start today wasn’t good. It wasn’t really my fault I just got baulked and penned in while riders streamed past. When we reached the singletrack I found myself midfield and spinning gently along as if it was a Sunday jaunt! I used the climbs on the opening lap to claw back some positions and caught Alex Taylor who also rides for South Downs Bikes. I passed him but he stuck with me and we finished the first lap nose to tail. On the second lap I used a hill, which would probably be better described as a wall, to attack and try and break away. I created a gap and worked hard to maintain it, but as we reached the end of the lap he was back on my wheel and we swapped positions several times. On the final lap he managed to gain a gap of a hundred yards, which I couldn’t pull back and he finished just ahead of me, frustratingly taking 15th and the final points position.

So, I had a huge amount of fun and I had enjoyed a dry and fast course. It taught me that my technical skills are a little rusty but my climbing strength is still there. I suppose I am disappointed with 16th having finished in the top 10 at the autumn Gorrick races last year but 2012 is underway and there are plenty of races to come! 

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Fast Find Team Jersey

My awesome new Fast Find jersey has arrived! 

I sourced the jersey through Owayo. Their online design software allows you to add your own text and logos to their standard templates. Its easy to move things around and save multiple designs so you can decide which is best. They were also more than happy to deal with low order quantities, although there is an additional charge.

They were very helpful when I asked questions and assisted with the design to match the colours. Quality of the jersey is superb and delivered to my door in 3 weeks.

Friday, 17 February 2012


February has been a difficult month so far. Eventually I cleared the asthma only for the snow to cause races to be cancelled and hamper training opportunities. I have had this week off to fit a bathroom at home and again I have been struggling to fit in many miles. So today I took a break from plumbing and tiling, to do a 50 mile road ride.  The route included a couple of tough climbs, including the horribly steep Bexleyhill just north of Easebourne. I was glad of that new 32 tooth cassette at the back!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

S-Works Prevail Helmet

I have just received an S-Works Prevail helmet. The quality of the construction is excellent although one of the graphics was wonky until I decided to remove it altogether. The retention system is adjusted by a dial at the back and can be infinitely tuned to achieve a very comfortable fit. The padding appears to be much better quality than my previous S-Works helmet. The pads in that helmet fell to pieces as soon as you even thought about washing them. The straps are a really thin, almost ribbon like material which makes them softer and more comfortable. Although it fitted me perfectly there is no adjustment of the harness around the ears so if your ears are in an unusual position you might have difficulty! Like any helmet you should always try it before you buy.
My helmet weighs exactly 200g and you hardly notice it is there. There are giant vents running from the front to the back, looking in the mirror you can still see most of my head under the helmet so cooling (not really an issue at the moment) should be excellent. While looking in the mirror it is obvious that the helmet looks bulkier than the previous S-Works, so you do look a little like something from Mars attacks. Despite this Specialized claim that the design focused on the aerodynamic performance to reduce the drag. I haven't been able to test these claims yet but every second counts! Price is £160 which is comparable with other top end helmets.

The only question is will the colours match my team kit?

Sunday, 5 February 2012

S-No-w Race! Gorrick Cancelled

The 1st round of the Gorrick spring series was cancelled due to the weather. So Ian, Dave, Jon and myself set out over Whiteways and Bignor to explore the winter wonderland! Much slipping, sliding and general messing about ensued. Basically it was a great opportunity to act like a big kid!