Thursday, 29 May 2008

Scottish XC Round 3 - 2nd Elite/Expert

Howdy people. Just got back on Monday from the 3rd round of the Scottish XC MTB series which was (for once) held nice and close to me at Fyrish, just outside Dingwall. I'm still grinning about this one as it's pretty much my best result ever, so i'm very pleased. What's also good is that it could be regarded as my "local" race as it's as close as it gets with just a 60ish mile drive from Ullapool after the 2hr 45min ferry crossing.

Arriving at the course on saturday, I soon realised that this one would be a true test of skill and fitness. The course was described as "old skool" by many, meaning that there wasn't anything in the way of man made groomed berms or surfaces here. Instead, what you basically had was a lot of climbing up some very steep and loose fireroads, through some wooded sections and then a long, natural surfaced singletrack descent through the trees which was full of holes/roots and technical bits to really catch you out. A real nice course!

Myself and Dave stayed at the friendly Fyrish B+B where we recieved a nice warm welcome, with the lady owner even letting us use her kitchen to knock up some Pasta the night before the race, having failed to find somewhere locally that actually served Pasta (Dingwall people appear to live on chippy's and indians...). Anyhow, the B+B brewed Pasta satisfied the fueling strategy perfectly, and after a good nights sleep and some pre-race oatmeal, were good to go!

It appeared that i'd have a good fight on my hands at this one, as Ross Creber (Science in Sport/Trek), Andrew Barlow (Whyte Bikes), James Fraser Moodie (Pedalpower) and Kenny Riddle (An ex-scottish champion) amongst others, were all registered at sign-on. Not so bad I thought, a top 5 and I would be happy. However, I had the gut desire to really lay things out today and try and beat Andy as he's only been winning from me by a small margin in the last few races.

Off the start and into the climb. Ross Creber, being a full time cyclist and british olympic development squad rider, really ripped things apart with a mega fast start, with everyone breathing out their rears trying to hang onto the pace up the climb. I did my usual kind of thing, starting a bit slower but keeping an eye on Andy, and after the first lap, I was right on his wheel, dicing for 2nd position. I felt within my comfort zone on the climbs so decided to hold position and let things unfold. Lap 3 came and James Fraser Moodie appeared to be closing on us. After seeing this, Andy attacked hard and pulled out maybe 30-40 seconds on me, but I just kept the current pace going as I thought it was too early in the race to be digging deep. James never managed to close me down completely, and dropped back during the next lap, where I started to close in on Andy again. Lap 4 and I was on his wheel again, and I could tell he was suffering so decided to make the move. Into the climb, I stepped things up a gear, which proved successful and I arrived at the top of the course solo (although hurting quite a bit) and knew at this point I was home-free unless I made a major mistake on the technical descent. I soon arrived across the line in 2nd, 2mins in front of Andy, with Ross winning, being a good few mins in front of me. A very tough race indeed, but with a very euphoric outcome. Such a good feeling accomplishing what you've set out to do!

Right now, i've decided to take my first rest week of the year for both a physical and mental break, so have been relaxing and doing a bit of walking and stuff. All the racing sure takes it out of you, i've been sleeping like a baby for 10-11hrs the past few nights and am constantly hungry. I like to think of it as repair mode. I haven't even taken my bike out of the Van! My sister is also home at the weekend so we are going to do a spot of Trout Fishing, and i'm also planning on getting the motorbike (Honda Fireblade) on the road.

That's it for now, catch you people later :-)

Sunday, 18 May 2008

British NPS/Whyte Enduro Rnd 2 Report (3rd/3rd)

Hello fellow cycle readers! I've been meaning to type this one up all week but i've been pretty busy, while also trying to concentrate on recovery as it has been a tough couple of weeks.

Due to my home location up on the Isle of Lewis here, British National races are normally pretty much out of the question due to the travel/cost involved, but as the second round was visiting Drumlanrig Castle (just north of Dumfries) this year, I thought i'd take the opportunity to mix it with the "big boys". Like most of the British NPS, the XC races are on Saturday, followed by the Whyte Enduro series on the Sunday which I hadn't initially planned to do.

Making the most of my time off work, I hadn't lifted off the training since the last race so was feeling a bit more tired than usual. Myself and Dave H from Pedal Power kipped at his dad's hangout just outside of Glasgow the night before, fueling up on some Pasta I knocked up, and headed down on the Saturday for the Race. A quick pre-ride of the course showed it was pretty much the same as last years SXC so it didn't take long to familiarise myself with things. I really wanted to try and go with Andrew Barlow (Whyte Bikes) at this race, but as I hadn't raced an NPS before, I was gridded right at the back so it didn't look possible.

With the race under way, the field bottle-necked at the first singletrack section. I was trying to nip through and pass people where possible, but with so much single track, I was being held up considerably. However, after 3 laps of the 5 lap race, I had worked my way through the main traffic and found a good rythm, passing riders along the way. Thankfully the Rockhard Racing crew offered to help at the feeding zone again, with the big man Alistair Crichton handing out my bottles, giving great encouragement as always (Cheers mate!). In the closing stages, I managed to get the hammer down properly and made my way up to 3rd place, finishing 25seconds down on 2nd. A great result! I got to step up onto the podium for the second time in a week, and recieved a nice glass trophy. Full Report on XC . My buddy Dave Henderson also had a great race, winning the Sport Class!

Having finished the race feeling a lot fresher than normal (or so I thought), I decided i'd try and make the most of the weekend, and do the Whyte Enduro the next day as training. Dave wasn't so keen as he was feeling slightly ill, so after trying to "blag" a lift from various random people, Rockhard came to the rescue once again, this time in the form of Alistair Crichton's wife's people carrier. (hope she didn't mind the muddy seats Al!). Waking to an early 7.30am start, I met himself and Morven Brown (Rockhard's fast female xc racer) and we headed on' down to the race for some Enduro action!

The legs felt slightly heavy but after a gentle warmup, I was good to go, and entered the 75km event. The start was pretty fast, with some guys going off at breakneck speed (not a good idea for a 4hr+ race) so I paced things easy to start with. After an hour or so, I was joined by another couple of riders, and we were slowly making our way up the field. Eventually, I ended up riding with a Nevis Cycles rider doing the Vet's race, who put in a big attack with well over an hour of racing to go, so I dropped back and decided to hold pace. Single track... roots... Singletrack.. roots, then more Singletrack and roots, mentally this was turning out to be a tough race. However, before I knew it, I only had 15km to go so started to up the pace. I passed another couple of riders and crossed the line with a strong finish. Not knowing where I was placed, Ben Thompson from Nevis Cycles informed me I came in 3rd (!!) so it was a step up to the podium once again for the 3rd time in a week! Rockhard's Morven Brown also had a great race, placing 3rd in the Womens 50km, so it was smiles all round :-)

Feeling rather "toasted", it was back up to Glasgow to satisfy the post-race munchies at my Sisters flat, after which I decided to indulge in a single pint of fine spanish to celebrate. Big thanks to Alistair Crichton and Dave Henderson, who helped make a good weekend of racing even better!

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

SXC Round 2 Report - 2nd!

Round 2 of the Scottish XC MTB series took me all the way south to Dalbeattie, just outside of Dumfries. The pre-ride on Saturday showed some good weather and a cracking technical course with some running sections so things were looking good. Bill Ross from Rockhard Racing had supported me at the feed zone last round, albeit with burger in hand at one point, so as this bunch of friendly paisley lads were offering to do the same this round, I offered to race in a Rockhard top for the race. This time round, "The Fish" stood for near on 2hrs at the feed zone for me, giving great encouragement on every lap. Cheers again guys!

Race day arrived and the weather looked promising. After a good nights sleep at the nearby Cowans farm guest house, I was good to go. A fairly brisk start saw me sitting in the 2nd leading bunch at the top of the first Climb. Andrew Barlow and Paul Newham had shot on up ahead, but I had them in sight so thought i'd stay put and see how things developed. Within another lap, Newham had dropped off and joined me, so we worked together into the headwind along the long fireroad sections to try and close down Barlow. A few shouts from spectators said 2mins to Barlow, and I was well within my limits so on lap 4 I decided to put the hammer down and see if I could close things down. I soon dropped Newham who seemed to be fading, and was closing on Barlow but it wasn't quite enough, so settled for 2nd, finishing nice and strong. A great race, and a great result this early in the season!

And now... bedtime. I'm still trying to recover from the antics at the weekend... more of that later ;-)

Living like a Pro

Well... i'm not quite a pro cyclist, but thanks to a week holiday from work, i've been dedicating my time to full time training and racing. Not been on here to update as i've been making the most of the superb sunshine over the past week, which not only produced some great cycling weather, but also the classic cycling "half leg/half arms" tan. Oh dear. Well it looks good with the cycling kit on at least! The past week has seen me racing 3 times (Scottish XC Round 2, British NPS Round 2 and Whyte Enduro Round 2) so as you can imagine i've been on the go constantly, travelling about and training in between. Got some nice results as well. I'm going to put up a separate report for each one so stay tuned!

Right now, it's back to work so back to "part time" cyclist for the foreseeable future. Lunch time now, i'm starving :-)