Monday, 29 November 2010

Video: Danny MacAskill hits the streets of London

Bloody Awesome as always

Cwmcarn Twrch Trail then over the top of the mountain to Mynydd Maen & back

Riding up the road to the Cwmcarn Trail Centre
Sunday Morning I woke up early to get out on the MTB for 4hrs worth of  training. I open the front door at 8am and decided it was far too cold so I waited an hour and went out at 9am. I went straight up the road to Cwmcarn through Risca to get their quicker.
The road that leads up to the Cwmcarn Trail Centre was closed as it was really icy and although I've live in the area for over 30 years I had no idea there was an alternative route up there and the car park was half full already at 9:45.
Before I'd even got to the trail centre my water bottle was already starting to freeze up. I put the bottle in one of my pockets to keep it a bit warmer. I had another bottle in my bag side pocket. I didn't check that. I didn't hang about to see who was about I just set off up the trail. I was suprise how much snow was still about. lower down. Where there was no tree cover there was compacted snow and where the trees stopped the snow the trail was icy and solid. If it hadn't been so cold I'd say it would be very fast conditions if it was a used in a race. Grip was never a problem. I went up to the top and had a play on the jumps and a few trips down the XC switchback section.
Right up the top there is a gate that leads to the mountain above. I saw that at least two riders had gone up there from their tracks so I thought I would join them.
Some iced up single track lower down the trail

More icy single track

The bumpy fire road (smoothest I've ever ridden it)

Riding over the top of Twmbarlwm and then North over towards the OS trig point Mynydd Maen it was very cold. The snow was solid and there was a lot of ice. I had ridden up there in the Autumn with my daughter and the all the large puddles were frozen solid. Some of them were about 30ft long and I could ride over the edges of them OK. I was riding down a large rut that seems to be about 6 inches deep. I'd been riding down it for a quite a few metres when I heard some cracking. Suddenly I just dropped about a foot maybe more into the water below. I managed to stay upright and not get wet. It came as a bit of a surprise I must say. The temperature according to one of the riders at the top of the Twrch Trail was about -5. So over on Mynydd Maen with the wind chill it must have been quite a bit less.
The view from the top of the mountain was fantastic. Apart from some electricity pylons there was no sign of anything man built. I could see the Bristol Channel, England, The not so black at the time Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons the sky was that clear. To the South through West to North it was clear. From the East I could see dark clouds and feared some bad weather was coming my way so I thought it best I head back to the Cwmcarn Trail. On the way back I made my own way going over different tracks not following the two tyre tracks I had followed before. It's hard work not knowing the tracks and having them covered in snow. I met a group of three riders on their way up had a quick chat and headed back to the Twrch. Climbed over the fence at the top of the Jumps section and had a few more runs down them. On last run I met three blokes who were having issues with one of their bikes. looked like the one chap had blown his forks up. Not the nicest of rides back down for him.
On the way down the downhill part of the Twrch Trail I found it very icy. I don't think I touched the front brake once and took it very easy. when I got to the car park at the bottom I thought about going for another loop but thought better of it and headed home via the canal tow path. I certainly didn't expect to come across a fishing competition. Those guys looked cold all sat there with their Roach Pole trying to catch what exactly?

Bloody good day on the bike I say  Hopefully will get back up there on Sunday or maybe Afan Forest
Very icy single track that had no tree cover

At the Top of the Twrch Trail. Left or Right (I did it both twice)

Just above the Twrch Trail riding over to Mynydd Maen

OS trig point on Mynydd Maen at 459ft

Looking North towards the Black Mountains

The frozen canal on the way home

A bit of a cold day for a fishing competition 

Monday, 15 November 2010

The Kielder 100 is sooner than I thought

Camping at Mayhem 2010
The Kielder 100 is on the 1st weekend of September. I had already entered the event almost a year in advance.  Just seen a tweet from the organiser Paul Davis of SIS Events that the event is a third full already, that the B&Bs are already fully booked and that the campsites are already taking bookings. I guess I should have seen that coming. I will be camping for sure. It's the last week of the school holidays & my kids have never been to Scotland. 
So the massive family tent I bought for times such as these will be put to good use again. 
I guess preparation such as booking things like this is as important as the training. Imagine I get through the entry lottery for the Leadville 100 entry. Then that will take some organising. That event is in Colorado.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

So what's the plan for 2011

For starters I have to finish off 2010 with a good solid base of training miles in my legs. I've never raced over 6hrs before so it's important to get the miles in. Just after Christmas I have a 4hr Enduro planned. Will be good to race the end of the year with a bit of Christmas spirit. 
A trip up to Newcastleton on the Scottish border might be on the cards in January to recce the area used for my main targets of the year which are the 24hrs of Exposure and the Mondane Kielder 100. That should be a good weekends training and some cold camping. 
24hrs of Exposure, this the British 24hrs solo champs. I was told this is the best one to do as your first solo 24hr as it has a Rookie category and you get very good support. The entry fee is pretty high but you get looked after in this race rather than being left to your own devices (I hope I haven't got that bit wrong). It's a solo only race so there will  It's all the way up north on the border between England and Scotland in a place called Newcastleton. Looks a great place to spend a few days. I've no idea right now what I'm going to have to do to get myself round this course for 24hrs either mentally or physically. I should hope to have sorted that out in the next six months. 
The long climb on the final lap at Mayhem
Next on the plan is the OS Mountain Mayhem. Not sure if I should ride it solo or as part of a team. I really enjoyed it last year. I will have to make up my mind early spring as when the entry opens you have to be quick to get in this one. The course at Eastnoor Castle suits me well as it's  not very technical and I've not got the sharpest skills on the track (something I need to work on). 
The Bontrager Twentyfour12 is up next where I have already entered the 12hr event. I figured that you should keep these 24hr efforts down to just one or two a season. I'm sure it takes a lot out of you. Wiggle's Matt Page who is the current British 24hr champ says it takes a good 4-6weeks to recover from your efforts in a 24hr race. That sounds Horrific to be honest. It takes me a week to recover from a 5 day stage race on the road. 
I have a long break then from the long races until Mondane Kielder 100 which is a 100mile race that is one in one lap. It's based back up in Newcastleton up on the Scottish Boarders again. Now I know I can do this one well. I certainly will have the endurance to do this by September. You'd think so after have possibly two 24hrs and a 12hr under my belt. Hopefully I will retain some speed by racing as many shorter XC races as possible. I'm lucky I'm based in Newport, South Wales and London. Welsh Series early in the season mixed with the Gorricks and Beastway Series midweek after work on a Wednesday.
Hopefully there is no clash of dates between the Breacon Beast and the Mondane Kielder 100 or I maybe tempted to give the Manx End 2 End a crack which looks fantastic.
Sounds like a good plan at the moment. I might have to do a few road races. I still haven't won a road race and I've dropped down to a 3rd cat on the road after a big fat zero points for last season. Well it helps if you race and I only entered two races finishing neither (puncture & mechanical).
At a grand old 36 years, I'm in the Masters Category in mountain biking 30-39. I like the age group racing. I'm not sure British Cycling are keeping the age category for next season. Rumours say no. Fingers crossed it stays. For the Enduro, 12 & 24hr events its 18-39 then 40+ so it's only for the shorter XC races will it effect me. 

Friday, 12 November 2010

So I've got a Mountain Bike (What next?)

Coming down off the Gap Road
Brecon Beast 2010
Last year I decided that I would try something else. I had become a little tired of road racing and wanted something that was a bit more fun. Don't get me wrong, I love road racing but as I live between London and South Wales I was finding it a bit crap. I have the Cwmcarn Twrch Trail (I'll get back to that) right on my doorstep on the weekends and I thought I'd get myself a MTB. I really didn't intend to race just have a bit of fun. 
Before my bike had arrived I had borrowed a bike off a colleague and took it up Cwmcarn. Next thing I know I've entered the OS Mountain Mayhem 24hr race as part of a Mixed Team of 5 & had started to plan my season. So I entered a mix of XC races & Enduros.
I was into the MTB so much I only did two road races all season. I do plan to do more road races in 2011 but more for training than anything. 
I did the North East London based Beastway series which started very well for me. 1st race I was second in Masters. I was leading until I did my trademark one crash of the race. Most of the series I was in the top 4 or 5 with the odd week of Hell due to a puncture or broken ribs. Right in the middle of the Beastway series was the OS Mountain Mayhem 24hr. I raced this as part of a team. It was bloody awesome. I can't believe how much fun it was and how hard it was. I was riding for my club Norwood Paragon CC. A team of 5. 4 boys and one bloody fast Lady called Kaye. We did bloody good considering Doc broke his thumb. I had my trademark crash and Adam slept in a bit late one lap. We came 10th which wasn't bad considering. I saw the state of the solo guys and thought they looked a right mess. No way would I be stupid enough to try that.
I then did a few of the local races in Surrey which were pretty cool. 
An early round of Beastway

The high & low point of my season were the Enduros all the races i had done so far were no more than two hours long. The Low point was the 75km Big Welsh Enduro in Margam Park. I thought I was fit until I turned up to this race. Boy I had a shock. I wasn't last but not far off. If it hadn't been for some friends cheering me on I would have packed. 
The high point was the Brecon Beast which was 110km and up and over the Brecon Beacons mtns. I really enjoyed it. I was actually competitive pretty much the whole way round until I snapped a chain. When I crossed the line I was told I was 8th. confusion with the results puts me outside the top 20 but I know where I came. I suffered the whole way round but loved every minute of it. It was in the final kms of this race I pretty much decided that I was going to try a 24hr Solo. 
So there were are, I said it 24hr solo. At the London Cycle Show the XC Racer Shop announced that the entries for the 24hrs of Exposure and the Mondane Kielder 100 so I entered them both. Jump in both feet first, might as well and so it starts......

Better get training!