Wednesday, 26 January 2011

The Recovery

The Virus
So what I have/had is/was Swine Flu. Six or seven days of sheer Hell. The really cool thing is now I am getting better. I feel better every day. I have had nasty flu like this before about six years ago. That time I caught it out in Tarifa, Spain. I was out there on a kitesurfing trip became ill on the last day then had to travel home with the flu on the plane. My ears didn't pop for two weeks. Last week was almost like that. My left ear still has a good bit of fluid in it. The thing is I am getting better. I'm working at least. Five days off work on the sick was bad enough. I was told by the doctor that I probably wouldn't be fully recovered until three weeks of the crap. I can't see me being back on the bike until the first weekend in February. I have to wait I know until I'm totally recovered. Too many times in the past have I come back from illness too early only to get ill for longer.
I have a three day rule normally. Three days of no illness at all and then I feel like I am ready.
So my 'new' first race of the season is Round One of the Welsh XC series. I will be there if I am ready. Oh and I need to get down to some serious training.

Until then I better pop to Tesco's and get another few boxes of Kleenex anti-viral tissues. They are like pimped up Balsam ones.  Oh and some more Lemsip Max Flu.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Badger Flu

The plan was to wake up on Sunday morning nice and early to do a long ride on the MTB. The alarm went off at 6am and up I got. I felt a little groggy to say the least. Feeling very tired I reset my alarm for an hour later to see how I would feel later. (still with hope of getting an early ride in). I woke up later on and felt even worse. My whole body ached, I had swollen glands in my neck, a slight fever and a sore throat.
Ah great I thought. I'd only just had 18days off the bike in December due to a chest infection.
Four days later with as many packets of Lemsip Max Flu consumed I'm still no better. Three days off work and Four days of training missed. I think tomorrow I better get my ass to the doctor. Swine flu who knows? I'm sure there is nothing I can do other than do what I'm doing. Spending most of my day lying in bed feeling sorry for myself. Today was the first day I managed to watch a bit of TV. District 9 on Sky Movies. Thank God for Sky + as I paused it and went for a sleep for an hour half way through. It wasn't boring I just couldn't stay awake.
So to the doc's in the morning if they will see me and fingers crossed this doesn't go to my chest or I'll be out for another 2 weeks at least.

I've got some training to do. It was starting to come together well. On Sunday I had another 4hr Gorrick Brass Monkey event planned. Well that's not going to happen. Kettles on for the final Lemsip of the day. It's a Blackcurrant one. Ohh Nice

Oh and that film District 9. Wow bloody awesome. If you haven't seen it I think you should.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Twrch Trail Winter Nightride

Sometimes there are not enough hours in the day. The training has to be done though. The plan was to get up early and get out on the bike before me wife goes to work. Normally I have to get back by 11:30 so a decent ride is possible but I woke up to find my dog wasn't feeling too good. He's been sick. by the time I'd checked he was OK and cleaned up the mess it wasn't worth it. I'll be honest I didn't get up super early either.
I took the kids out on the bike midday when I could have been watching the Manchester United v Liverpool game. My eldest on her little 20in MTB and the other behind me on the trailer bike. However much fun it is it's not training.
When my wife got back from work I cooked the dinner, found the Moon with my daughters telescope, washed up etc.. All this takes time and delays the start of my ride. 8:30 after reading my kids a story I manage to get out.  Lights charged and ready I was off to Cwmcarn for two laps. It was very cold. The days have been mild for the past week but as the sky was clear the temp dropped. No idea how cold but was below freezing I'm sure. I was dressed OK so I would be fine. I was thinking of riding up off road up the canal path but I guessed it would be better just to get there do my training and get home.
Lighter, Brighter, Faster? Diablo/Prolight Combi
I was going to use my Exposure Diablo for the first time. On my Giro Prolight helmet I don't think you can get as much power for such little weight. My helmet with light probably weights quite a bit less than quite a few helmets on their own. Hopefully will be an excellent combination for racing. Coulpe d up with my Hope 4LED it was out riding (hope replace this with an Exposure MaXX D asap).
By the time I got to Cwmcarn it was just past 9pm and there was not a soul in sight. The puddles in the carpark were already starting to freeze and there was an amazing frost. With my bright lights shinning on it it looked like someone had tipped a massive tub of glitter and spread it on everything. As I know the trail pretty well and the lights were good found I could ride pretty much as quick as I could in the day. I shot up the first few climbs up to the top. Some joker had randomly stacked rocks around the trial. Some were un-naturally balanced so there is no way they would have landed like this. This was all over the trail pretty much every section. I found it funny. I wonder what time some would have bothered to have done it. I probably wasn't the only person to have ridden in the dark but was probably the last person to have that evening. At the top on my 1st lap I must have had a good mobile signal and received a few texts and Twitter alerts. I stopped and answered and then carried on. The down hill was good fun in the dark. I'm not the quickest in the day but felt like I could go just as quick.
Starting my 2nd lap I put in a big effort. This was today's training. I might as well make it quality training. Big efforts on the climbs then take it easy on the down hills and as quick as it was safe on the flat. It feels a bit odd being out on your own so late. All you can hear is your heart beat most of the time. Anything that is reflective is a distraction. Sheep are just plain spooky at night, all you see is their eyes at first. Someone had dropped their Specialized thermal Winter Glove. You'd never see it in the day I'm sure but the reflective bits were clear as day with my lights shining on them. On my second lap just as you get to the concrete bit that you some times have to walk up if its a bit damp I totally shat myself when I caught a glimpse of what I though was some random person just standing there. I'd never noticed it before. I hadn't seen it on the previous lap as I'd put the bike in the granny ring and ridden up the concrete. this time I got off and walked. So I saw the big wooden statue for the 1st time. Spooked with my pulse racing on I went. I went a bit quicker on the final downhill bit knowing where the jokers had left the balanced rocks. I finished the lap just after 11pm. It was really cold so I stopped and put my Goretex jacket on. One very swift ride home on the road and it was time for a well deserved bath. Really impressed with the Exposure light. I can ride with confidence with it.
Lower down the trail.
A View from the top
Not a very impressive pic but the view looked fantastic to the eye

The Spooky Wooden Man

Taking the kids to the races: The Welsh Madison Champs

On Saturday evening I took my two girls to see the Welsh Madison Champs at Newport Velodrome. I wasn't sure what they would think of it. I guessed they would get bored and we be leaving after half an hour. Well how wrong was I? They loved it. Explaining the rules of the Madison Devil was a little hard so I just told them about the hand sling. The fact they were paired up and you if you came last you were out. Seemed simple enough. I took some colouring pens and some puzzzle books for them to at least not get too bored.
The warm up confused them as they couldn't understand why they were not racing even though some of them were going very fast. The racing started and they kept asking me who was the best. I had no idea other than that the 100%Me guys would be fast and probably the Wiggle boys to. They picked Wiggle Team as they were easy to spot and Wiggle is a funny word. I had no idea Ben Simmons of Wiggle was doing the National Cyclocross on the Sunday and just assumed the one Wiggle rider was him. It wasn't it was Jon 'Euro' Cannings and Anthony O'boyle of team Torq. So my kids were shouting for Ben and Boyler. Only later when I spotted Cannings in the crowd did I realise. Oh well.
The Wiggle boys got a bit confused with 3 sprints to go and thought they were out but sadly they were not and they had already dropped back. 100% won the Madison Devil my kids had no idea what was going on but loved cheering and that was that.
The next race was the 'B' Madison, the race for riders not keen on racing with the Elite riders. There were Girls in this race. My youngest found out that number 27 was a girl called Emily and that's what she screamed every time she passed. I think they like this event the best as there were girls riding. There was a crash on the far side which we missed as the girls were in the toilet. Glad they missed it. Not nice to see crashes.
The main even was one of the most one sided races I have ever seen on a track. The 100%Me boys who are GB development are both awesome. Both local lads. Jon Mould and Sam Harrison. They didn't win all the sprints but they did lap the field five times. Matt Rowe was commentating and is clearly quite pally with they boys riding. Lots of banter about Jon Mould's yellow Mavic shoes through out the race. This time my girls shouted for Wiggle and Cwmcarn Paragon. My daughter shouting Cwmcarn as loud as she could was quite funny. Most of the evening we were sat next to Legro and Lee Povey of Fast Track Coaching. They had some riders in the races and Lee was coaching them from the wings.

What a night. They announced that the next races would be held at the Velodrome on the 5th of Feb. That should be a little easier for the kids to follow.

British Cycling Report

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Early Season Race Plan: Jan - Apr 2011

Been trying to work out what to race in prep for the season ahead. The early focus of my season is the 24hr Champs starting on the 7th of May. I have to try and mix family life, training and racing. It's not easy. With my wife now working both Saturdays & Sundays I can't travel too far too often. My two girls will have fun travelling about with their Dad no doubt.

  1. 23rd of Jan Merida Brass Monkey Round 3 Aldershot, Surrey Website, Course, 4hr Enduro 18-39
  2. 13th of Feb Welsh Mountain Bike Series Round 1 Treforest, South Wales Website, XC Masters Race
  3. 5th of Mar Welsh Mountain Bike Series Round 2 Builth Wells, South Wales  Website, XC Masters Race
  4. 6th of March Wentwood 50km Mountain Bike Enduro, Wentwood, Newport, Website, Enduro
  5. 13th of Mar Black Park XC Race Black Park Country Park, Bucks Website, XC Masters Race
  6. 3rd of Apr Welsh Mountain Bike Series Round 3 Website Coed Y Brenin, North Wales, XC Masters Race
  7. 9th of Apr Exposure Lights Big Night Out Builth Wells, South Wales Website, 40km Night Enduro 18-39 
  8. 10th of Apr Legstretchers Memorial to Betty Pharoah Road Race Wick, South Wales, Reg B RR
  9. OR 10th of Apr Cycles MTB Marathon Series (powered by Mercedes-Benz Vito Sport) Builth Wells, South Wales Website, 100km  Enduro
I will be adding in some Road Circuit races as well as the above no doubt (need to get my BC 2nd cat back). This with some damn hard training should be ideal prep for what is planned for May. South Downs Mission Towards the end of March. 

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

First (& Second) Ride of the Year

The first ride of the year was on New Years Day. I got out for an hour with my eldest daughter. She is 7 1/2 and rides a pink Specialized Hot Rock 20in Mini MTB. We are lucky that there is a disused golf course not far from out house where people walk their dogs. I've been teaching my daughter to ride off road here. It's not bad at all. Some single track and lots of different paths to follow. The Golf course has long over grown but you can see clearly from the Google Map shot what it once was. It would make a great venue for a cyclo cross race but it would never happen as it's private land and I'm not sure your allowed to walk your dog there let alone ride a bike there.
What was Tradegar Park Golf  Course
The scond ride of the year was on my own. I had planned to ride the South Downs Way on the Bank Holiday Monday but plans don't always work out. I stayed in Wales a day longer and headed out to Cwmcarn like I do often. I had planned to get a good six hours plus in but feeding my children and a quick rebuild of my Crankbros
rear hub meant I got out of the door a full two hours later than planned.
Over the New year the temperature outside was quite mild. I was in my garden fixing my bike and it felt OK. So I headed out in leg warmers, clubs shorts, no overshoes, one thermal top my Assos Jacket and a Gilet. I'd only ridden about 2 miles and it had started to snow. my buttocks were pretty damn cold. Why spend £175 on winter tights if your not going to use them. Riding fast to keep warm down the canal tow path that runs from Newport all the way to Cwmcarn and I was OK.
Getting to the Trail Centre car park the snow was like the slight dusting on the top of a Victoria Sponge cake. The lower sections of the trail were still very muddy like they had been a few days before. It was quite slippy over the rocks but that adds to the fun right? With my legs getting cold as I stopped for a drink and a chat in the car park I decided the training starts now. I hammered it up each climb like I was in a race.
My legs felt very good. You get enough of a breather in between climbs to recover quite well. On my second lap the snow was coming down quite heavy. The Trail was pretty much covered white now. Just brown where the tyre tracks we pushing the fresh snow down into the wet mud. The massive snow flakes were annoying as I had forgotten my Jawbones (glasses) and the odd one was hitting me in the eyes. On one occasion I closed my eye, hit a tree route and went over the bars. So glad I didn't hit anything hard.
Second lap was the same as the first. Fast up the climbs recover on the flat and downhill bits. Third lap wasn't quite as fast but only 90 seconds down on the previous two but it wasn't down to a lack of effort. The snow was getting pretty heavy and it was getting a little slippy out there. I don't think I have put my foot down so much apart from when we had the solid ice. A muddy ride back home on the canal path. Long bath and relax.
A good days training. I felt a lot better than I did on the ride a few days before. Time to get back on the road bike and get some miles in.

Pics from my last few rides: All Twrch Trail

The first short fire road section of the Twrch Trail

One of the many hairpin corners

The second and longer fire road up to the top of the Twrch Trail

The Mist up the top. Couldn't hear anything apart from my heart beating

Looking down the trail (see snowy pic below to compare)

Where has Twmbarlwm gone in the mist?

A light dusting of snow

Looking down the trail from the top

This is the amount of snow that settled in about an hour

Looking down the valley from the bottom of Twmbarlwm 
The only place I have ever used the granny gear
on my Lapierre
I have been riding the Twrch Trail for about a year now. It's always been great in bad weather. It has this almost all weather surface that until now hasn;t really cut up. After the tow lots of snow and the freeze thaw that goes with it the whole trail has loosened up quite a bit now and is really cut up. I have never seen it so muddy.

All pics taken with my crappy iPhone 3GS camera
Twrch Trail