Saturday, 28 June 2008

3rd at Scottish Champs!!

Evening readers. I'm happy to say that i've just bagged myself another great result of the season with 3rd at the Scottish XC MTB Championships. The race was held down in Glennifer Braes, Paisley last weekend which provided a controversial course which had very little total climbing and long, grassy drags across fields and through a couple of wooded sections.

My good friend Dave Henderson who is dominating the Sport category this year offered to put me up for the weekend, which was great as he lives not too far away in Edinburgh (thanks for that again Dave). We both hit the course on the Saturday to get in a practice lap, but being more of a climber, I didn't hold out much hope of doing so well on the flatter course which kind of resembled a Belgian cyclocross circuit. Despite criticism, I actually quite liked the course and could tell it would really test your fitness to the max, as there was pretty much no-where to rest.

However, come race day, we were hit with some heavy rain and on walking up to sign-in we could see that everything had changed - the course had turned very muddy indeed. The fact that everyone was mounting up 1.5" Mud tyres didn't make me feel any better about the situation though, as I had an almost semi-slick rear and worn Conti Explorer up front, and no other tyres with me. Trying to stay calm, I knocked the pressure down a bit to try and find some grip.

The race was started 200m down a rather steep, World Cup style, tarmac road climb which had been closed off for the race. Being the championship round, Sport and Elite/Expert were all started together, so there was a fair old peleton of riders elbowing and shoving once the start whistle went. I took no chances at this one, and powered up the outside, straight into 3rd/4th position behind Andy Barlow before we hit the mud. The effects of my recent cold were soon evident as I was coughing up all sorts of nasty snot and flegm soon after the start (eww). Half a lap in, I was holding Andy's wheel, closely followed by James Fraser Moodie and another couple of riders. Up front, Gareth Mongtomerie (who had just won the Elite British National race the week before) and Rab Wardel were driving things on. Before long, James Fraser attacked and I followed through, which appeared to leave Andy unable to respond (!!). That was the last we saw of him for the race. The two of us plowed on ahead, but were soon joined by my mate Dave Henderson for the next lap or so (top effort Dave!).

From then on, it was pretty much myself and James battling and trying to stay upright for 3rd position. We kept getting shouts advising 1min to the leaders, but on lap 3, I made a bit of a mistake which gave James a little gap. However, in traditional style, I kept something for the last lap, and came past him just into lap 5, with him unable to follow. With my sights then set on Rab Wardel, who I could see just up front, it was "full hammer" to the finish. Disaster then struck with about 1km to go, as the rear mech jammed up, ripping the hanger clean off!! I proceeded to run with the bike, hoping that i'd make it to the line before James caught me. Let me tell you, the run hurt more than the entire race, I must have gone completely anaerobic for those few mins until I crossed the line, thankfully with James still out of sight.

Beaten up and caked with the finest Paisley mud, I was however quite content with 3rd spot on the podium. Nice to reach one of my other goals of the season. I also figured that the recent interval work must have payed off. I'm definately one of the lightest riders on the start list so doing so well on a flat course must mean that i've upped my wattage output a bit. Just wait for a course where power to weight comes into play - Fort William is the next round and it's on the World cup circuit ;-)

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Back on form

Well, thanks to some strong will power and constant lectures from my parents, I took 2 complete days off the bike after the cold hit me and woke up on sunday fully cured. It just goes to show how some proper rest really can help with sickness, as i'm normally reluctant to relax and keep training, only to end up feeling crap with lingering symptoms.

I kept the first couple of days back on the bike nice and steady, with little intensity to be on the safe side, and ramped things up last night with a few short interval sessions. Went on the Hebridean CC club run tonight and can confirm that i'm back to form, legs are feeling *very* good indeed, so very much looking forward to the Scottish Champs this weekend. The entry list shows some fairly top competition, so it's going to be a tough race. Keep tuned for a report!

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Just as everything was going so well...

Hello readers. At the moment, i'm sat in the house doing as little as possible as i've been hit by a bad cold. Feeling pretty weak/tired with it and the nose is streaming so decided the best way to get better quickly is to lay off training. Not a happy chappy, but I haven't had any illness since the new year so I really cannot complain as we are half way through 2008 already (where has it gone to?!).

The Scottish XC MTB Championships is on next weekend, and as you can imagine, it's not exactly the best preparation but these things happen. On the positive side, the speed work i've been doing in the last two weeks has brought through some of the best form i've ever had, so I think that i'll still put in a good performance if this cold clears quick enough. Very surprised how quickly i've responded to the speed work, i'm really feeling that the large amount of base training over the winter has payed dividends for this. I did a pretty hard 65mile road run last sunday and walked into the house feeling fresh as a daisy.

I've never been a fan of taking medication when you are sick unless you really need because it never seems to do much for me and just fills your system with stuff it isn't used to. So, at the moment i'm just drinking lots of (non caffeinated) fluids and sticking to my healthy diet, while watching the premium section of, which is keeping the cycling adrenaline flowing ;0)

Peace out people.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Back to the plan...

Well that's me back into the training regime after a 5 day rest period off. It kind of felt a bit strange not to be riding the bike, but it was great to just relax, and take the chance to catch up with some things that i've been meaning to do for a while but not had the time to. Last weekend, I went fishing with my father and sister in some cracking weather, and we managed to catch 4 brown trout which was just great. I was also permamently hungry, so can confirm that after eating my way through the kitchen and sleeping loads, i'm fully recovered! Thankfully the weather has held out, and the sun is still shining so it's been a joy to do anything outdoors.

After a layoff, I always go back into things with re-kindled enthusiasm so this week i've been up before college every morning doing interval training on the turbo, followed by an easier, recovery session in the evening. I figured it was a good time to start some speed focused training as i've not been able to do any structured speed work yet this year with the busy race schedule i've had over the past few months. Things seem to be working very well indeed so far, the legs are feeling very good and I can feel benefit from the speed work already. Last year, I really started riding on top form after this type of training session, so hopefully i'll respond well to them this year too.

The Scottish XC MTB Championships is on the 22nd of June so I won't be racing until then, instead i'll just be focusing on training leading up to the event. If last years course was anything to go by, it was fairly flat so it may not suit my build so well, but the course is all-new so with any luck, I might be blessed with some tough climbs. Currently on day 2 of rest after a hard 4-day block, so will be enjoying the sunshine tommorow with a 60miler in the morning and easier, recovery session in the afternoon. Adios for now amigos!