Monday, 8 October 2012

XT MTB Enduro

Another race another quagmire! Swamp racing seems to be the theme for so many races in 2012. I have already had the mud syringed from my eyes by the St-Johns ambulance after one event this “summer” and I don’t think anyone who was there will ever forget the conditions at Black Park, where riders were being pulled from their bikes with hypothermia. So in hindsight maybe the  XT MTB Enduro at Hawley lake near Farnborough wasn’t that bad! At least the sun was shining! However, there were long stretches of deep standing water to be navigated and sections where progress through the gloop was almost impossible. Rear tyres slipped, gears skipped and chains sucked!

A frenzied fireroad dash got us underway, riders weaving from side to side as they hunted for grip. On the first climb my chain tied itself in a knot, coiling itself away tightly under the chainstay. It took an eternity to unravel, by which time I had lost touch with the lead group. I plunged on through the slop, brakes were worthless anyway but my brake pads had dissolved away before the 2nd lap. As the laps progressed a racing line began to form, snaking between the worst of the puddles. Although churned by the passing of 100’s of tyres other sections became impassable. The section I named ‘comedy’ corner was the worst: as you approached steering had little impact on the bikes direction and once you were pointing the right way, the rear tyre spun and fish tailed hopelessly however carefully you turned the pedals.

Perserverance paid off as I made up places finishing just off the podium again in 4th from a field of 89 in the 4hour solo.

So a great result but now it’s time to count the cost. Sunday provided the opportunity to service wheel bearings, bottom brackets, chains, rear brake pads, and rebuild forks.....! Plus I’m still washing the mud from between my toes!

Monday, 1 October 2012

September Monthly Summary

Miles: 686.3
Riding Time: 42hrs 53min
Highlight: Tour of Britain TV appearance (See below)
Low Point: No racing this month

After the wettest summer I can remember the September sun shone. Although I have not had any races to report on this month, I have been out racking up the miles. In fact 686.3 is my highest monthly mileage EVER!

The backbone of this record busting distance has been my commute to work. This month I only resorted to the car on 2 of the 15 days I was in the office. Ok, it means I have to wake up 30 minutes early, but with the sun invitingly peaking from behind the bedroom blind this hasn’t been such a hardship. At the moment I obviously want to spend my evenings at home with the little one. By cycling home I get some training miles under my wheels and by avoiding the traffic I’m still home only 15 minutes later than normal. Plus there is the warm satisfaction of having saved approximately £6 every day in petrol.

The cause of the recent sunny weather was undoubtedly my new mudguards. Almost from the day I proudly fitted my SKS Chromoplastic mudguards (in gloss black) the Indian summer began. I was genuinely quite pleased when it rained on my way to work last week! My wife of course thinks I’m getting old. As she points out, only a few years ago I wouldn’t have been seen dead on a bike sporting mudflaps. Imagine the extra weight, the drag and just simply how totally uncool they look. I agree, they are the cycling equivalent of a pair of M&S slippers. However, as I tip toed through a shower the other day I did smugly smile to myself as I caught a young lad with a long brown stripe of road detritus up the back of his white Rapha jersey. I’m sure that from behind a mask of streaked mud and grit his envious eyes blearily admired my full length mudguards, clean face and unsoiled clothing as I imperiously glided past in comfort. I’m thinking of fitting a useful basket to the handlebars next....

On the racing front, I have pre-entered the Merida Brass Monkeys enduro series which runs from November through to January. Obviously 1 hour dashes along the A259 are not the perfect training for 4 hours muddy and technical MTB racing. However the motivation of a goal to work towards should help get me out on the road at 6.30am, even now as the mornings grow darker and the weather inevitably takes a turn for the worst.
Merida Brass Monkeys - – I missed out on a top 5 position in the series last year when I was struck down with man flu at the final round.