Friday, 22 February 2013

Cold? What cold?

Baltic out innit? Monday and Tuesday I was suffering from numb fingers and toes (and other parts), I had treated myself to some new shoes last week so after getting home with frostbitten tootsies on Tuesday night I finally got round to fitting some cleats. Lake mxz303s, mmm toasty warm. Not cheap but these things appear to be the dogs danglys for cold weather. They're quite roomy inside, space for big socks and still be able to wriggle your toes. They're pretty high aswell so hopefully when mated with my stealths they should keep the water out without resorting to cumbersome overshoes, we'll see, mind you all that insulation will mean that when I'm riding these in our typical summer conditions (ie monsoon) my feet may get a bit sweaty. Anyway it's cold at the minute so with these and my ancient alturas (akin to thin palmed ski gloves) that I dug out of the wardrobe, I've been nice and warm the last couple of days. Lovely.

Sniffles wise? Yeah that cold is still ongoing, the whole family is afflicted but for once I've gotten off lightly, wife and kids are all coughing and spluttering, I've just got runny nose and feeling a bit off, still riding, just taking it easy on the climbs. Trails are firming up again too, nice one.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

HtN 4

The guy on the cross bike who overtook me on the last fireroad section is about 10 meters ahead, I follow him over the fade jump seeming to hang in the air for ages. I see him slow, cut left and dismount to carry down to the stream crossing, I keep my speed up, go straight on then grab a fistful of brake at the entrance to the techy rock chute, nothing announces your arrival (at speed) like your tyres spitting gravel, cross guy sees me and lets me pass infront of him, I splash through the stream power up the steep bank on the other side and hear a few whoops of congratulations from the spectators as I sprint away. Now that's mountain biking. This racing lark is ace!

The morning of HtN dawned with a cough and a splutter and not much enthusiasm, my cold was taking hold and I was feeling tired. The plan was to drive down with the family but I wasn't feeling great and CBA getting the kids ready for a race I wasn't very excited about due to lack of prep and not fancying my chances of coping let alone doing well. Considered riding with gears but grabbed the SS as it was nearest and ready to ride, decided to just ride slowly to the race. Got there about 9:30 signed on, chatted to a few peeps (loads of familiar faces around) listened to the mayor open the trails then we set off. I'd perked up a bit so plonked myself into the middle of group 2. The start was ok breathing hard but comfortable, got chatting to Trio on the way up and soon got onto the new singletrack where Trio admonished me for not sounding excited enough at riding swoopy singletrack (even when my heart is singing weeeeeeee and wahoo I just can't vocalise it, not got the voice for it, sorry). Couple of line choices on this bit so I managed to take a few places then a few more round the start/finish field and the first go over the chin, after that I tried to settle into a steady pace. I was running my gravity dropper which meant I could downhill fast with confidence, on a climb before a down I'd cheekily grab a couple of places then use the downhill to create a gap which took the faster (usually cx) riders a while to make up. The stream crossing being my proudest moment, took the cross guy ages to reel me in again :-) TBF he was a mountain biker who had just started riding cross (we chatted while crossing the field of despair), I wouldn't fancy riding that stream crossing on my CX bike just yet either.

After the first few laps we started to lap people but everyone was pretty cool with being overtaken, even on some of the wider sections of singletrack, also took a few places on the climb to the motorway bridge on every lap, on lap 4 the marshall said I'd ridden it like it was my first lap, erm choice, but I had pushed extra hard that time and almost blew up as a result but managed to hold it together. Nick craig lapped us on the top singletrack section, came flying passed a few of us, I tagged onto the back of him and managed to hold onto him all the way down, then he obviously rapidly disappeared when the trail turned upward. Faaaaaaast. I actually saw some good CX riders this time, (I've no doubt there are lots of very skillful CXers at the front but midpack where I usually am the cxers are quick but struggle a bit on the more technical bits) Followed a few down some tricky stuff and they were pinning it. The final crossing of the field of despair was horrible, proper losing the will to go on. A fast guy lapped me on the approach to the chin and then crashed, oh dear, had to track stand just above the rooty drop while he picked himself up, stream crossing was full of people so no more showboating :-) and I nearly lost it on the downhill after the motorway bridge but limped home in tact. Finished just ahead of a lady I'd been keeping pace with through much of the race, turned out to be Jenn from STW. Didn't beat Guy Martin despite Si having evidence of him struggling with a bit of mud ;-) He managed to get some more good crash shots too.

Just outside of the top 50, that'll do me, surprisingly did better than last year, dunno if that's down to me being fitter (seriously doubt it) there were less fast people this year (hmm) or, as someone on STW pointed out, mtbs having an advantage on this course compared to CX. Wonder if I can manage top 50 next year? Anyway it was a great mornings racing, was slightly disappointed that everyone beggared off before the prize giving, infact one womens category resulted in an empty podium, ho hum. Pedalled home for a refuel and soak in the bath and moved very little for the rest of the day. Guess I should really do some more of this racing stuff.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

if TV/TP * tCoF < 1 then crash and redo from start

TV tyre volume
TP tyre pressure
tCoF trail coefficient of friction

Testing conditions lately eh? Been skittering about on snow slush and ice on teeny tiny CX tyres, thought I'd got it sussed on friday, hammered all the way home, throwing the bike around and pushing it into corners, dips and bumps and the bike only tried to kill me on the wet grass off camber corner near home, which I was fully expecting, brilliant! I later figured out it was probably because I hadn't topped up the tyres in ages and they were down to puncture territory, pumped em back up on monday and back to nervous handling, that's a bit vexing. 50 front 60 back is proving to be puncture resistant but it's a rough ride.

finally made it out for a mtb ride tuesday night, 3 weeks since the last snowy one and we did pretty much the same route. After a while on dodgy handling CX bike I was looking forward to shedloads of grip that fat rubber and bouncy forks supply, I was to be disappointed. Climb up barrow bridge same old, up edge lane and we got the first signs of ice, few slips from the back wheel. Onto burnt edge and we hit the snowline, snow and ice everywhere and some proper hairy moments so I dropped tyre pressure down to silly low and didn't do too bad after that. 2 lads was fun, nearly stopped dead in a snow drift on a steep bit but rode it out, the gulley at the end had ice at the bottom, excellent!

Back up hole in the wall apart from the stream crossing it was icey but doable. We rode to the mast with some trepidation, would san marino be snowy fun or sheet-ice hell? Well it was a bit of both TBH but more of the former. Not as fast as last time and a couple of dabs/tripods, the big drop had an icey run in and out and I fluffed the approach anyway. Did the chicane and suddenly no snow again, weird. Si had an OTB on the big trench just before the road when the bike stopped dead but no harm done. Off to the quarry, the first section felt and looked different but rode ok, got to the steep bit with the big rock and immediately ran into trouble, ended up stopped on the downslope back wheel a couple inches off the ground. Hmmm back up and try again, went for the rock drop just front wheel rolled over the back hooked up on something and I crashed into the side of the gulley. ouch, pedals had hammered both shins and my glasses smooshed into my forehead when I hit the side. Ouch. I rolled out the way and Si cleaned it, I decided to go back up quickly and go again before I lost my nerve, I noticed loads more rocks than usual and a "present". DOg turd bag surrounded by a ring of rocks in the middle of the trail, hmmm, someone laying "mines" on the trail? Cleared that and set off, as soon as I started realised I hadn't given my bike the once over after the crash but I cleaned the drop, stopped at the bottom to check and yep bars were well wonky, oops.

Rode upto the scouts rd, seemingly disturbing a party, big night out at the car park eh kids? Dropped though smithills, both of us nearly got taken out by a new rut and then headed home, my front super tacky tyre at 15psi making a proper racket as it constantly peeled itself away from the tarmac, draggy as hell but did the job, I just need to remember to top them up before the next proper* ride, them variable tyre pressure bikes are starting to sound like a good idea.

*ie rocky


Trip to the dentist meant a long ride to work last week, fun tho, except for the quarter mile of woodchip, really slow going, should have detoured. Looks like they are tarting up the old leigh/worsley train line. Couple of "um, why?" moments.
Road to nowhere

With full working pedestrian crossing (linked in to the cross road) bizarre.

Get off your bike

Route 55, not a shared use pavement, just a quiet road you're directed along but for some reason you are supposed to dismount. Hmmm.
Nevermind, was nice to be out riding in work time. Been enjoying the offroad commutes, hard work sometimes, a bit slow going but it's nice to be able to chill out and look around you rather than be constantly looking over your shoulder or scanning ahead for numpties.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Snow fun/ 'sno fun

Not been on in a while, been busy at home and work so not had chance. The snow was a mixed bag for me, did an STW ride up at rivi, we were supposed to be going lakes but the snow put paid to that. My mojo was severely depressed and I nearly didn't show. Was meeting at the black dog I was supposed to ride over but my ambivalence meant that by the time I'd decided to go there was no time so drove up. Bloody glad I did, graham and tony took us on a route I probably wouldn't have attempted. Up rivi rd, spittlers edge, great hill to white coppice then around the reservoirs to rivi, up to georges lane and up kennel descent to the mast, san marino to finish. Spittlers was no worse than your average summer (can't remember last time it dried out properly) some snow drifts on the slab section made for interesting handling. Great hill was taken a little gingerly, the middle dirt road bit was icy but we managed, rolled by some walkers as one of them was almost on all fours negotiating a big patch of ice. See all the open moorland right next to you? That might be easier for you. The climb up rivi was slippy and georges was very icy. Kennel wasn't as bad as I thought. I Was ahead by the time I got to the mast road, very windy so I decided to duck into an inviting ditch out off the wind, stepped forward and slid on the snow right to the bottom, which below the snow was full of foetid ditch water, argh! Eventually scrambled out with wet feet, good job we're close to home. San Marino was a barrel of laughs, really good fun, tamped down enough by walkers so as to be quick but not icy so plenty of grip. At the bottom there was talk about riding back up for another go but it didn't happen. Rejuvenated my riding anyway.

Tuesday me and Si went up again, climb up barrow wasn't too bad, 2 lads was fun fun fun, lots of sliding, don't think I crashed but a few close calls. Wildeswood started with me on a steep slope, off the back of the saddle in snow upto my fork crown unable to move, took a few thrutchy hops to get going. Back up the rake and climbed up hole in wall, didn't clean it but not a bad effort. San marino was just as much fun as at weekend both surprisingly made it down OK. Dropping through the quarry we both crashed at different points on the chute, had to happen sometime. Back home through smithills, this snow stuff is fun.

Snow is rubbish, back to commuting, slipping and sliding and falling about all over the shop. CX bike is trying to kill me, goads me into going fast the as soon as it goes a little out of shape I'm in trouble, no margin of error what so ever. Fortunately by the end of jan the snow was pretty much gone, I was just coming to the conclusion that tubeless had fixed my puncture woes when I ran over some piddling little rocks in drinkwater park and they ripped my rear tyre. Spaff everywhere, grrrrrrraaaarrrrrrgh! Sweary sweary swear swear ****ing swear. Look around to see if anyone heard me, nope it's dark and miserable course there's no one else out. Empty out the latex bung a tube in, set off. Quite angry now so put the power down, build up a lot of speed and suddenly there's ice all over the trail right infront of me, I rag doll, physically keep as loose and relaxed as possible while inside my head a lot of pressure builds up, safely over the ice I unleash a torrent of foul mouthed abuse that puts my previous effort to shame. bike trying to kill me again, up onto motorway bridge notice rear tyre bead is popping off the rim, really quite angry now. Pump up tyre, set off get fone out to ring mrs to let her know I'm gonna be late (she's supposed to be going out) with gloves on fone it trying to call everyone in my contacts except her, stop take gloves off try again, get wrong person again and won't disconnect the call, muchos swearies and very nearly launch the phone. For the rest of the ride it took an enormous mental effort to not unleash my pent up rage, break land speed records, tear the track to shreds and completely screw my legs for the rest of the week (trains are knackered so on bike all week). I tell you for short races athletes should consider getting good and angry at something, it gives you so much extra speed, just gotta be careful you don't crash your brains out or bonk bigtime and end up in a world of hurt.

Rest of week was a bit less eventful, no fun rides but commuting was ok and with tyres rock hard (50/60) no trouble so far and the ducktape fix for ripped rear tyre seems ok. Bike hasn't killed me yet so that's a plus. Not a great start to the year for fun rides but bloody brilliant mileage wise, 530 miles, pretty good for Jan.