Friday, 16 April 2010

Barrmill Road Race, 1st!

Well, I guess my luck had to come good some time. This past saturday I decided to have a go at the 56mile Barrmill Road Race (Scottish TLI event) in Ayrshire while I was down in Glasgow visiting my sister, and at last a decent result, I took 1st place from by a solo attack a few miles from the finish!

Going into the race, I knew myself that I had the form capable of getting a decent result, all I had to do was get out there and do it. After the poor result at SXC1 Kirroughtree, I started to think that the fact I wasn't doing well was just in my head - like a mental barrier that I had to break through. I think this partly down to all the poor performances last year, I was starting to think that maybe I didn't have that winning edge any more. But then I was thinking to myself, how can I go so well in training yet perform so poorly at a race? I had the wattage numbers and times to prove to myself that i've got what is required, but i'm not getting the results. So I decided it was just all in my head. I kept telling myself that for this race and sure enough, i've at last proved I can win again!

I left my sisters flat at 8am to make the start for 10am in Barrmill, near Beith. After a fairly firm but steady start, taking a few turns on the front and learning the 9mile course, prior plans of conserving energy went out the window as usual and I was off the front, 20miles in and joined by 3 other riders. Unfortunately that attempt was dragged back, as were the other two attempts I made to get away. However, on the last lap I could see that everyone was starting to look pretty tired. From a previous break which I missed, there was 1 rider up the road with about 30 seconds on us. After a few attempts to get away by other riders, we hit the climb round the back of the course where everyone was starting to feel the lactate burn and I decided it was time to try again. This time it stuck, and I was on my own, giving it 100% to try and get across to the lone leader. I caught the rider with about 1 mile to go, we did a couple of turns together and looking at him, I weighed up the decision that I wasn't going to leave any chances for a sprint so I attacked again, and crossed the line a few seconds ahead, closely followed by the main peleton about 30 seconds back.

Very happy, as although it wasn't a huge race i've proved to myself that i've still got what it takes. I went out the next day and did 70miles with fellow racers Alan Clark and Dave Henderson (bit much for a recovery ride!) and still felt pretty good, considering! I'm racing in Contin next weekend for round 2 of the SXC, so with refreshed mental determination from this result, I think I better go get my arse on the MTB again and see what I can do! My employer has just put me on a 3 day week due to a lack of work at the moment (dry spell up here), so this is exactly what I need to build on this great start to my season.

Ciao for now!

Friday, 26 March 2010

SXC Round 1

Morning all!

Just back from the first round of the Scottish MTB series at Kirroughtree, Dumfries. Looking back, this venue was probably where I scored my best result all season last year, with a 2nd place finish behind UK pro Paul Oldham. I was getting the whole pre-race jitters feeling all week about the race and felt confident of my fitness, so was looking forward to getting back onto the MTB race circuit.

Unfortunately, the weekend didn't go quite to plan. On saturday during practice, I did 2 laps pre-ride of the course. I felt good on the bike fitness wise, although perhaps a bit rusty on the technical sections. My confidence grew as on the 2nd lap things were flowing very nicely, so I thought I was on for a good result. However, come race day, I warmed up with fellow racer Dave Henderson and could tell straight away I wasn't feeling so great. Off the start, I decided to pace things out and hold back. I rode with seasoned racer James Fraser Moodie for the first 3 laps, as we sat in around 10th place in a fairly high quality field of riders.

With very little snap in the legs, I was simply struggling to sustain any effort, so decided it wasn't going to be my day and backed off to use the race to hone my bike skills by spinning the climbs and flats and attacking the technical sections (which it was great for - awesome course!). I enjoyed the encouragement from spectators giving shouts of "well ridden" and cheering as I did so, which picked up morale!

I eventually finished in 11th place, which certainly wasn't the result I had hoped for, given the fact i've been going better than ever in training, and putting out the best wattages on the Kurt Kinetic i've ever seen. Admittedly, I haven't been putting in the hours on the Mountain bike as much as i'd have liked, but for me to be that far off the pace was a bit of a suprise. However, although it wasn't my day, I enjoyed the race, and the course was really top class and fun to ride. I'm planning on racing again in 2 weeks time, this time on the road at a Scottish TLI 56mile Road event so it will be interesting to see how that goes.

Over and out!

Sunday, 28 February 2010

La lluvia en EspaƱa!

Good afternoon readers and fellow cyclists. I'm just starting to get back to full recovery from our fairly epic training week in the mountains of southern spain. The conditions were interesting to say the least! On arrival, although a bit on the nippy side, the weather "seemed" quite nice. Not so - the next 5 days we would experience heavy downpours, hailstones and gusting winds!

The day we arrived, things started nice and easy, setting up the bikes and heading out for a nice easy 1 hour spin on dry roads. Our plan was initially go for easy day, hard day but we soon realised there is no such thing as an "easy" day in the sierra nevada mountains. Day 2 we had decided to go on a "brisk" 3 hour ride, but due to navigational error we ended up on a 5.5hour route which saw us all starting to flag and forced a stop and begging for food at a small town towards the end!

From there on every day was a matter of survival. Every climb was a race to the top, and each day finished with a "king of the mountains" style finish at the town of Lanjaron for those that had enough left in the legs to contend after 4-5 hours on the bike. Day 4 took us up a steady mountain climb to the highest village in europe where we encountered possibly the worst cycling conditions ever - what started as rain, soon turned to hail and snow along with mega strong winds. It was so cold it got to the point where I could no longer operate the brake/gear shifters. Not to worry - the pro's go through worse than this right? Well, possibly. As we descended down the other side of the valley, we then had to negotiate a mud landslide which had filled the road. Andy B chose the "straight through the centre" route and our moods lifted as we laughed watching him sink nearly waist deep in spanish mud! Luckily we all started to warm as the air temp improved lower down the mountain, which resulted in a nice finish to the ride.

After a much needed rest day, we were finally blessed with our first dry conditions which were very much welcomed. At last, we could hammer those alpine style descents at 40-50mph, Valentino Rossi style! That was, until a massively strong sidewind threw myself and Andy B into the armco barrier, resulting in Andy bending his front wheel, bending his forks and picking up several cuts and bruises! Luckily we were ok and were able to continue thanks to Simon, one of the guides from (cheers again!).

On our last day we picked up some race pace action from a couple of local pro riders which saw the heart rate sitting in Zone 5 for around half an hour! They were fast, and gave us all a good challenge, but considering we had 4 hours in our legs compared to their meagre 10-20km's we didn't do half bad!

So, despite the weather conditions I can safely say that it was a very productive week in terms of training. 22hrs in the saddle and around 400 miles isn't to be scoffed at. Everyone was riding strongly, so we were able to give eachother plenty of challenge on the climbs. It should make for some interesting racing at this years SXC. We also introduced Andy Barlow to the delights of a double espresso mid-ride, being that he was a coffee virgin. "This stuff is amazing" and "Tuned to the moon" are two quotes that I vividly recall.

So, that's about it for the mo. Preparation for the season ahead is pretty much complete, so let's hope things go well. For more pics, check out my Facebook!

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Heading for the Mountains of Spain!

Morning all!

This weekend i'm heading off to Spain for a week, for a repeat of last years training camp in southern spain, hosted by the nice people at . Fellow scottish racers Andy Barlow, Dave Henderson and Douglas Shearer are amoung the crew that are joining me for a weeks enjoyment (or should that be punishment?) on the roads and mountains surrounding the town of Lanjaron. Check the google map below if you are interested in the location!

View Larger Map

Despite the adverse weather conditions so far this winter, i've managed to get in some quality training which should put me in good stead for the year ahead. I can confidently say i'm in good shape for this time of year, and very much looking forward to the upcoming season. My friend and European Quad racer, John Mitchell (ATV world Yamaha) has been joining me on the roads for those longer miles, which has been a great help - not only to me but also for his off-season conditioning, too.

So, spain here we come! I'm very much looking forward to it, and will definately be more prepared than last years episode as I know what to expect from the grueling 15km alpine like climbs which we will encounter. Last year, every day was like a road race so, this will be my first real "high intensity" training of the winter so far, so let's hope the legs (and body) hold up.

My bike is prepped up with a 53/39 front chainset, and this time round i've decided to go for a 12-27 rear cassette. I ran a 25 last year and it was a bit of a "grind" in places, and feel I could have been more efficient by keeping at a higher RPM which i'm inclined to do. My "race" roadie hasn't seen tarmac all winter, so i'll no doubt be making a few other adjustments along the way (I always seem to be adjusting things...).

So, that's about it for now, to the mountains we go! Lookout for my report (will pics) soon after arrival.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

A winter on the turbo?

With all this snow we've had across the UK in the past few weeks, it seems it hasn't been the best winter training start for a lot of riders. I've actually managed to tough it out ok, although my road bike has only seen tarmac (and gritty/icey tarmac at that!) once in the last 3 weeks. As an alternative to the planned long road miles, i've just been getting out on my mountain bike when the surface has been grippy enough (not too icey), visits to the gym and of course plenty of turbo workouts.

Last week I actually clocked up more miles on the turbo trainer than I did outside. Now, once you mention turbo sessions, a lot of riders cringe, but with the right setup they can actually be quite enjoyable. The key is good cooling, a good turbo setup and plenty of cycling DvD's to keep the motivation high. For workouts, you can get a good, productive session in just 1 hour - I find to be great for this - check it out!

I've got my rig setup in my bedroom, in front of my computer which has TV channels and DvD via remote (if you are too lazy to get off the bike and click the mouse ;-) ). A simple cooling fan from your local bargain centre and i'm good to go.

To gauge the effort and workout, the tools i'm using are a Kurt Kinetic watt computer for power output and a Polar CS200 computer which has heart rate and cadence functions built in. Simple enough but all that's required.

Add to that a good cup of joe and there are no exuses for a winter of indoor training :-D

Saturday, 26 December 2009

White Xmas!

Well, with all the snow around here right now, I wasn't going to let it stop me getting out on such a nice xmas day to test out my latest Xmas present (some new MTB shoes), so I decided to hit the snow and ice covered roads with my GT I-drive training steed - all 26lbs of pure full suspension fun!

Admittedly, I was still slightly under the influence from over-indulging the night previously, but I had once heck of a good cycle... clocking up 35miles on the MTB in crunchy snow and ice isn't the easiest surface to ride on, but somehow I felt faster than ususal. Now whether this was due to the beer intake the night before, or my pimpy new race shoes, I don't know! I will have to experiment with pre-race beer loading during the race season and find out (hah). Here's a pic of my fresh new Gaerne G.Wallaby MTB shoes. They fit real nice, and so much stiffer than my old Diadora Team Racers, very pleased with them! Look good don't you think?

So, that's about it for the moment. A big merry xmas to you all. Hope santa was good to you! Oh yeah, almost forgot! If any of you are into music and playing guitar like me, Baba, a best mate of mine has a cool website, The Boy and The Bar Stool . He's written a stack of his own stuff, so pop on over and take a listen if you are interested, awesome stuff! (Merry xmas, dude).

One last shot.... pentland road just before achmore. Stopped for the call of nature :-D

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

I thought it about time...

Hey all! I am total pants at updating you all, ain't I?? Well, here's my first off-season update. Especially for Kenzie' seeing he nagged me about it so much - haha! (Seriously man, you should get yourself a bike and start riding with us, too)

Well, after a short layoff i'm now firmly set in my winter training routine. My GTR Ultra carbon is firmly strapped to the turbo trainer with watt computer, all set for the nights which are too wet and windy to venture outside. Mudguards are on my Giant Road training bike and i've been doing a bit of cross training as usual - in the form of running, and there is actually a local XC running race on after the new year which I may just enter if I feel i'm good enough (can't hurt, can it?). Avoiding fell/hill running this time round - definately too risky for the injuries. Also doing a little weight training this year, just to mix things up if nothing else, although not too much on the upper body as I seem to bulk out quite easily which isn't what you want as a cyclist.

As far as on the bike goes, i've taken time to reflect on last year, and i've decided to switch back to more traditional training methods this winter (i.e. keeping intensity lower, and building volume) as that's what I did the winter before the 08 season which was my best to date. I think too much intensity last winter killed me (although I arrived at the first race in good form) and I was a bit mentally fatigued, so when the virus struck it just wiped me out completely. My first real intense sessions will likely be the Freeride Spain training camp in Feb with Andy Barlow and crew - very much looking forward to that! On the plus side, the season finished on a high - I came in 2nd at the Ullapool beag road race, which wasn't too shabby.

So - here's looking to a good season next year. I plan to do a bit more in the way of road racing next year, too. Right now, i'm feeling nice and focused and looking forward to racing stronger than ever. Quite happy with how things are going at the moment. Easy does it as they say....