Friday, 25 March 2011

My Local (little) Killer Climb

Killer Lane
This is the lane around the back of my house in Newport, South Wales. It's where I do some of my interval training. 20% for most of the way with a 26% kick at the top.
it's not very pleasant but it's not meant to be is it. Its only about 150m long and I can either turn around and roll back down or do a little loop that I have.
The loop starts at the bottom of the climb up to the top, I turn right then continue up a further 150m at 9% where you go round a one way system that is flat. I then shoot down a hill and turn left at the bottom. Turn on to a main road and ride along this for 300m. I then turn into my street and immediately off it up a steep cobbled climb. 15% for about 200m. This takes me to a very short downhill down some single track, over a railway bridge and back to the start.
Sprinting up this hill is not so good on my full sus MTB. When I get my hardtail 29er I should be able to put the gas down a bit better. I look forward to it. It's nice to get out for 30 mins or so and do some real hard training.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Feel the burn: Swain's Lane

After work I decided that I'd head to Regent's Park for some Chaingang action then do some hill sprints up Swain's Lane. The plan was to do an hour or so getting to the Inner Circle and around it and then head up to Swain's Lane. John my mate and I were lucky to join in with some of the London Pheonix club who where were doing quite a well drilled ride. It wasn't too hard but we knew the climbing later would be tough.
Coming out of the wrong gate (it all looks the same) we took the wrong turn and ended up going up a massive climb (for London).

The plan was to do 5 flat out (well as near as flat out as possible) climbs of Swain's Lane. It's Evil what ever speed you ride it. We scrubbed one go so we were down to four as we had just done the big climb to Hampstead.
The last time I did repaeats of Swain's Lane was the very last ride before I got Swine Flu. The pain was back.
The first one was evil. My legs were screaming before I'd even got to the halfway point where it gets steeper. 2nd time I just couldn't ride so hard at the start. Going through the steep bit I felt OK and this was the pathetic one. The 3rd was better as I went hard over the top. The 4th and final just felt terrible. I knew this was the last so I sprinted going over the top slightly cramping as I got to the last speed hump. Oxygen debt is an understatement. I couldn't talk. Just how it's supposed to be.
Back for more next week but with my PowerTap to see how pathetic my legs really are.

7 weeks to go for the big one

Just looked at the calendar and much to my horror I realise I only have 7 weeks to go to my first 24hr solo. Great Scott! Now there's another thing. My Scott Scale 29r Pro should arrive sometime soon. Six or so weeks should give me enough time to get it dialed. It's a big move for me. From fullsus to hardtail and 26" to 29".
The training has been going well for the past few weeks. Accommodation and plans on how to get there sorted.
The big test of what food & drink is best is yet to be done. Should have that sorted by the end of the month.
Bring it on!

Black Park XC & what not to do before a race.

OK my first Short XC race of the season. I've missed two rounds of the Welsh series but I wasn't going to miss the Black Park XC. This was my 1st race back mountain biking last year. I did it on a borrowed Giant Anthem which a collegue kindly let me have for a few weeks as my Lapierre was delayed a bit. Last year I punctured on the penultimate lap and due to having no spare tube I ran half a lap to get it fixed.
This year I thought I'd have some luck. The forcast in the week before was for rain on the weekend so I left my trusty Rocket Ron tyres on my race wheels. later in the week it became clear that the race was going to be a dry one. Black Park is really fast and I decided I'd use my fastest tyres. I had limited room in the car so it was one set of wheels that's it. Choose wisely! So the night before I put my Bontrager XR1 tyres on. They are not Tubeless ready but I have run them plenty of times with out innertubes. They are super light and super fast. Never had an issue with them. Confidence was high.
I loaded the car and drove to London the night before the race. Staying at my sister in laws not too far away. The morning of the race we had rain. No hope in Hell in getting my wife and kids out there if it was raining. So alone and a little late (I wanted to spend as much time with my children as possible) I headed to the race.
On arrival I set up my bike to find no air in my rear tyre. Wonderful! All I needed. No idea why today the seal had gone but normally fine. I borrowed Simon Ernest's (AW Cycles) track pump and pumped it up. All was good again.
I didn't really leave enough time to do a recce of the course so I did half of it. It felt pretty similar the the previous year. I was happy. On the start line ready we watched the Elite guys shoot off into the distance. 15s to go then off went the horn. The mass sprint for the 1st corner was a long one. I think it was about 700m. A Hell of a lot further than the previous year. One chap obviously didn't do any sort of recce as he turned from the right hand side to the left to try and join some single track we had used last year. I really thought he was going to take everyone out. We were lucky all he did was put himself dead last. I think I joined the single track in about 4th or 5th place.
It took all of about a 3rd of a lap for me to start struggling with the pace through the twisty stuff. I must learn to ride a bike a bit better. I had a few chaps asking if they could have a go as I was leaving gaps. I let them past and tried to hang on to them. Most riders probaly don't think the Black Park race is technical but for me it is.

On the the thrid lap I was getting the flow of the course right and I felt like I was quick. Then on one corners I heard a burp noise from my rear tyre. It had gone down a bit and released a load of air under pressure on the side wall. Disaster! I stopped to make sure it was OK and it seemed a bit flat but OK. What I should have done here is put a tube in it. At this very momment. A lap later at pretty much the same place even though I cornered a little slower it burped again. I continiued a bit and it burped again. I stopped and filled the tyre with that Zefal foam. Jobs a good un. It was firm.
All this time I was faffing with my rear whel all the riders I had dropped had caught me up again and the leaders of the Vets race that started off 2 mins behind us were catching. One familiar face from road racing caught up with me Paul Crook of West Drayton MTB Club. I found that I could stay with him around the course and we seemed to be well matched. On the road though Paul would rip my legs off but off road we seemed more equal. Coming round to start our 2nd lap together I heard Jody Crawforth two more of the Elites thundering down the singletrack towards us. I let them past straight away as you do. I didn't want to hold them up at all. Finishing the lap we were back on the firetrack. I powered up the fireroad like a typical roadie trying to make up for what was lost on the singletrack. Simon Ernest popped from be hind me to join on the group of Elites. The pace they were doing on the firetrack was slower than I expected. I stayed behind them know that the moment the singletrack arrived they would be gone. Surely the moment we had rounded two or three tight corners in the trees the speed and class of the Elite guys showed. that's why I ride as a Master.
Must have been only 15 seconds or so later 2010 Masters Champ and now back to Elite Scott Forbes shot past. Looked like he was closing down on the group ahead. A few more corners and It was juist back to me and Paul Crook. Half a lap later my rear tyre burped out a shit load of air again on a corner and went totally flat in one go. I had to stop and push some more foam and CO2 in. I took my time as the valve wasn't palying ball with me and I squirted foam all over myself. I wanted to finish so I needed it to work.
As before the group of Masters in my race were catching up again as I'd stopped. I soon dropped them and finished the lap and the race. Coming accross the line I was told I was 27th. Hands on head "How the hell?" I totally believed somehow I was 27th. Moments later as I was warming down. "Sorry Jason you were 12th" That was more like it. With out my silly issues I'd like to think I'd have got around 6th. Turned out I was 13th. Not my best performance but I've not been back on th bike long. I did my second race of the season. I'll just take the miles on the bike right now.
So don't change your kit just befroe the race, don't turn up late & do pre-ride the course if you are technically crap.

Monday, 7 March 2011

I feel like a proper racing cyclist again

As soon as I knew I was racing for sure I set out to shave my legs.

There is nothing worse than hairy legs in cycling shorts. It's been tights weather until now (still is for training)

I'd keep mine trimmed if I was training on the track but when you have hair like I have shaving them is a royal pain in the arse. So out came the clippers then the 30 mins sat in the bath.

Women have it easy I tell yah. And if you want to know why male cyclist shave their legs I suggest you google it. If I had a pound for everytime someone asked me I'd be a rich man.

Finally the first race of the Season: Wentwood50

I'm lucky that I even got to the start of the race yesterday morning. I entered it late and missed out on an entry. When I was in Spain sunning myself I received an email from the organiser asking me if I wanted to take a place and swap names with someone. I made sure I had someone to look after my kids and accepted. Getting back from holiday we found out that my wife's Mum had been taken ill.
It wasn't until fairly late on Saturday evening did I find out that I could ride. I managed to get a babysitter.
I got to the start and went signed on. It was bloody cold standing in the queue but it went smoothly which was great for a 1st time event. The tent did smell of dog poo though. Wasn't nice. We were called for the start at about 10:20 for a 10:30 START. I was pretty cold but I knew we had some climbing to do from the gun and I'd soon warm up. If I'd been wearing what some of the guys were wearing I'd soon be over heating.
I didn't get to do a warm up as I had to drop my kids at the babysitter as late as possible. I got dressed, fixed up my bike just in time. Not ideal but hey you take what you have.
The start was on the road (which were closed for the start and finish) We went straight up the road for a few miles to the top of the ridge and into the forest. I was near the front on the road but not at the front. With no I was warming up nicely and made sure I didn't over do it early on. This was my first race of the year and only forth ride in almost 8 weeks.
I ended up in a small group of around 6-7 riders through the first few KM off road. At one point I was just following wheels and who ever was up the front of our group had taken us off course. I think a few of us had gone the wrong way as we were alerted by riders coming up the hill we were going down asking if we had seen the sign. Err nope. Anyway we soon found it. You really had to keep an eye out for the arrows. They were big and yellow but somehow we were still missing them. I don't know how we missed them to be honest as they were pretty clear but we were missing them.
I was enjoying myself but my body wasn't. Me legs were working OK but my arms, shoulders and back were aching. For some bizzare reason I was convinced I'd put my Skins compression tights on backwards. There seems to be too much padding at the front. All I had done was failed to pull them up enough. The shorts became a pain as I was looking for negatives. catching on my saddle. Fact is I was very rusty offroad. My skills are not the great at the best of times but pretty much two months without any off road riding I was struggling. I fell off whilst trying to put an empty gel pack in my pocket (I wish everyone else would have tried as much as me keeping the place tidy).
On the up hills as normal I would pull away from my group. then on the technical downhills they would catch me up. I really need to get out and practice more on the technical stuff.
about 2/3 through the race the small group of three i was with turned wrong again. This time we were defiantly off course and had clearly missed out some course. There were checkpoints around 3 in all for the 50km course. I had all three. I wasn't about to cheat but it was hard to find where we went wrong. A rider going the other way told us we had missed out 7km. turned out it was less than a km. I'd done more than that wrong already.
The great thing about the route which also was probably where so many went wrong is with some of it the route was natural. There was no obvious trail but easy to go wrong. It was great. With about 8km to the finish we had a long fireroad climb which then turned into a steep road climb. being local i knew this climb well. My head went. I was tired. The lack of fitness was showing. I got to the top of the hill knowing the way home was all downhill. Big ring the whole way.

I finished the 50km in about 3hrs 10. So way down. I didn't push myself too much but I clearly have a lot of work to do before my 1st 24hr race in 9 weeks time. basically I am in the shit. The 7 weeks of no riding has put me somewhere I haven't been for a long time. Can I do it YES I CAN

Pics and results up soon on I loved the event. Very well organised with the food stations and excellent route. I will be back next year for the event and back up Wentwood forest in a few weeks for a ride.

The Blackpark XC next week. Can't wait

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Video: Norwood Paragon CC 2010 Season

What a season. I am looking forward to the 2011 season and what the guys can do. For much of us the season starts this week.

Can't wait