Wednesday, 24 December 2014

2014 End of Term Report

7179 : Miles ridden
478 : Hours in the saddle
10 : Races
6: Top 10's
2 : Podiums
0 : Wins

First Gorrick Podium
Low point:
Crash at  Dunsfold 4th Cat Road Race
Favourite Ride:
Sunny Good Friday blast through Porridgepot and other Gorrick classics with Matt Craner and the crew.

2014 Summary:
2014 has been an enjoyable, rewarding and successful year of racing, with podiums and consistent top 10 finishes. Things started positively in January when 9th at the final round of the Brass Monkeys secured 5th place overall in the four race series. Even better, Spring heralded my first podium finish since 2012 and first ever at a Gorrick event after 11 years and nearly 50 attempts. There was another strong top 10 result at the Kawasaki Enduro in May before my season hit a bit of a speed bump.

My first (and quite probably last) foray into the world of road racing ended in a South London hospital ward. It had started well, as I enjoyed the experience of racing in a large peloton on a warm, sunny, evening. With the line insight we opened up for the final sprint and at 30mph the rider in front of me unclipped and nose dived to the floor. His cart wheeling bike bringing me and several others hurtling to the ground. Six months after my slide along the asphalt, cheek bones have healed and luckily I still have both my ears, but the scars are still visible.

Missing the bulk of the summer races, including the nationals, was frustrating but provided me with an opportunity to just get out and ride. Evenings after work were spent under blue skies on the green South Downs, enjoying the glorious dry trails. When finally it was time to start training again, the dry weather meant I could pile on the miles commuting to work. This was lucky because my fitness was shocking; numerous times I was left trailing off the back of a social group ride. However, as I racked up the miles the weight dropped off and strength returned to my legs.

My return to racing in the Autumn started just as the Spring had finished, with another podium at a Gorrick cross country event. Despite another week in hospital during October I was back in time to finish 7th in the Masters Plus category at the final XC race of the year.

Unlike last year I had very few long rides under my belt going into the winter endurance races so a series best of 8th in atrocious conditions at the first round of the Brass Monkeys series was a personal triumph.
I’ve really enjoyed my cycling in 2014, the uncompetitive summer was frustrating but it was nice to forget about racing for a bit and revel in the simple enjoyment of leaving the house and exploring the local trails. Competitively it was rewarding to get back on the podium and I was generally pleased with my performances, since I’m not getting any younger! (Only two years away from the Vets category now!)

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all my readers!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Weight Weenie – Part 3

The final part of my gram shaving exercise really is just nit picking! Weight savings are negligible in the grand scheme of things, but the prices are low and it satisfies my inner bike geek!

A bike is covered in steel bolts. Companies like Pro-bolt offer a complete range of far lighter aluminium and titanium fasteners, in a range of colours to match your ride. Individually the gains are insignificant, but if you start to consider ten disc rotor bolts, four for the disc callipers and handlebar stems etc. there are small but cumulative gains to be had.

It isn’t suddenly going to propel you to the front of the race but mentally knowing you’ve optimised your bike does provide a physiological crutch when you’re on the starting grid staring at the other riders tricked out race rigs.

Bottle cage bolts. Replacing the steel bolts with aluminium saves more than 50% - 7g.

Replacing the bolt in my seat post clamp with a Titanium replacement saves 3g.
Weight weenie saving: 10g

Monday, 15 December 2014

Brass Monkeys : Round 2 - The Christmas Cracker

Santa on his way to 11th place!

After the mud bath that was round 1, Sunday produced a perfect crisp winters day for the 2nd installment of the Brass Monkeys series. The course provided some awesome fast technical trails mixed with long taxing fireroad climbs. It was a frosty start but the sun was shining and bikes stayed relatively mud free after 4 hours racing.

For me it was a race of two halves, the fast stop/start nature at the beginning of the lap suiting me perfectly. From the start I even stayed with George Budd and the leaders for the first few miles until we reached the swoopy army trenches section. All day I made up ground and passed riders early on, only for them to catch me again later in the lap.

My run of top 10 finishes came to an end (just), but I finished strongly ahead of several riders who I haven't beaten for a couple of years. I think they were surprised to see Santa coming through!

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Weight Weenie – Part 2

The most ‘bling’ weight saving upgrade also provides the most significant weight saving. I have replaced both of the existing front and rear quick release axles with Italian crafted aluminium from Carbon-ti. Yes, this means sacrificing the quick release facility, but in longer races I am carrying a mini tool with me anyway, and in shorter cross country races I don’t carry any spares, so I wouldn’t be in a position to fix a puncture anyhow.

The standard Shimano 142x12mm axle plus Rock Shox 15mm bolt thru weighed in at a portly 164g.

Carbon-ti front and rear axles are a featherweight 69g.

Weight weenie saving: 95g

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Weight Weenie – Part 1

This is the first of a 3 part series covering some gram saving changes I’ve recently made to my bike.

With the 4 hour winter marathon races in mind, I turned my attention so reducing the weight of tools and spares fighting for space with the fig rolls in my jersey pocket. The obvious place to start looking was the Crank Brothers multi-tool. Including a chain tool, along with the usual assortment of Allen keys and drivers, it is quite a chunk of metal. Taped too it is usually a replacement chain link, which does have the potential to become unstuck and lost. 

The replacement Top Peak mini tool weighs only 74g, but doesn’t include a chain splitter. This weight I moved to the bike by using a Specialised SWAT headset cap. This replaces the existing head cap, with a clever integrated chain tool. It also provides a handy and secure storage location for the chain links.

Weight before: 180 + 22 = 202g

Weight after: 74 + 29 = 103g

Weight weenie saving : 99g