Friday, 21 November 2014

The Watts Power Stations Cycle Challenge - COMPLETED



As you might recall, Sunday 9th November was the day of my big cycle challenge around the East and West Midlands to celebrate my Dad’s life in the area, 12 months after he lost his battle with cancer. 



I really couldn’t have asked for better weather for this time of year, the crisp morning giving way to some lovely sunshine in the afternoon.



I had a great ride down memory lane to Castle Donnington stopping off at Hockley Heath, Cheswick Green and the CEGB HQ in Shirley.   By the time I arrived in Castle Donnington I’d covered 60 miles on my own and was happy to meet up with AT&T colleges Ian Bramhall and Nick Barlow, who were to ride with me for the next 20 miles to Willington power station along with one of Ian’s friends, Ken.



After parting with the guys and my family at Merica Marina, in the shadow of the disused Willington cooling towers, it was another solo ride along the river Trent towards my final destinations.  Negotiating closed roads by the site of the old power station at Drakelow, and then on around Hams Hall to eventually arrive in the dark at the Marie Curie Hospice in Solihull at 5:15pm … to a welcome party of family and friends.  Along, enjoyable day in the saddle with a few unscheduled detours took the total distance up to 130miles!



So far I have raised over £850 to help Marie Curie continue their work supporting terminally ill patients and would like to thank each and every one of you for your support and generosity in this.

Just finished @ Marie Curie Hospice

Friday, 10 October 2014

Getting Ready for the National Trophy Series

The National Trophy Series is a season long set of 6 cyclocross races around the UK that starts in October and finishes in January.  The top racers from around Britain and occasional some up and coming Euro-crosser are attracted due to it's UCI ranking of C2, which means there are some reasonable points available in the elite races.  As supporting events there are races for veterans and youths.

This weekend see the series opener in Shrewsbury.  Always a good event due to the great organisation from Dave Mellor and his team at Sundorne Leisure Centre, where a fast and technical course is always offered up.
  

Personal organisation and preparation for the serious cyclocross racer is a little different from the usual athlete.  There is more kit and klobber to think about to make sure that every eventuality is catered for.  The weather conditions and terrain are key adversaries that can if not given the appropriate respect will cause more impact than a lack of fitness.

Time must be given for riding the course to familiarise the best lines at the start, but also an eye must be kept on how they may change throughout the race.  Assessing the ground conidtions with a view of how the weather may will determine the tyre tread pattern required, and the terrain will need to be considered when setting the tyre pressures so that the best traction throughout the course can be achieved without flatting at the wrong moment.  

Choosing the right clothing to make sure that the racer doesn't suffer in the cold or overheat if the sun does come through.  Making sure that if there is rain then clothing doesn't soak up the water becoming heavy and sodden.

What this boils down to is an approach that is 'never leave anything behind'.  Take everything and the kitchen sink, as you'll only be kicking yourself later if you leave something behind.  This is generally determined by what vehicle you have available, if any, to get to the race and whether you are sharing it with anyone.  If you watch any of the Euro TV channels that cover the big 'cross races then you'll have seen that all the top racers have their own motorhomes or the use of a team one that will allow them to have all their kit taken to the races and have space to change in the warm and dry. 

The first few 'cross races for me are usually used to back into the swing of things and make sure I have all my stuff sorted.  This is even more relevant this year as I'm now a sponsored rider for Cult Racing who have provided me with a great lightweight race bike, 2 sets of spare wheels, race kit and mechanical/maintenance backup.  So I need to make sure I can play the part even if the fitness/health is a bit dodgy at the moment.

WMCCL Round 4 2014
    

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Stickin' ya neck out

In the last week I have been and stuck my neck out on a couple of occasions to try something new and to commit another Winter of hard riding.

Firstly, I'm now a sponsored cyclocross racer riding for Cult Racing.  Owner of cult Racing, Paul, had asked for willing/wannabe racers to submit details to him for selection so I thought it would be worth a try and hit send, not really thinking anything would come of it.  Low and behold I got an email from Paul last Wednesday to pop in the shop to try out the bike and collect some kit!  

My first race in Cult Racing colours is coming up on Sunday 14th at round 2 of the West Midlands Cyclo-Cross League in Henley-in-Arden.  I then have quite a full racing programme over the next 4 months (see the Racing tab above).

The second time for me to put my neck on the block was yesterday when I announced that I would be riding 200km in Novermber (just 2 months away), to raise funds for Marie Curie Cancer Care.  It's something I had been thinking about now since my Dad passed away last year at the Hospice in Solihull.  I could have done any number of organised events, big or small, but I wanted to do something more personal and relvent to my Dad.  My Dad worked for the CEGB man and boy, for over 35 years, so I thought it would be relevent to cycle to those sites he had worked at in the Midlands after he and my Mum moved down from the grim northern mill towns of East Lancashire.  I had planned something much grander over a full weekend, including tough climbs on and off road, but my wife made me see sense with the fact that there will be limited daylight hours at this time of year.

So, now that it has been announced and I have donations coming in already, there is no backing down.  I'm a little apprehensive as the distance will be quite a lot more than my usual "long" commute to work, and now with committing to race there will be little scope for "getting the miles in" at the weekends.  I will therefore be trying to increase intensity in the hope that it will then help me "go long" at an easier pace.  I can but hope.