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.


Monday, 1 September 2014

The Blink Of An Eye

WOW - Six months has past in the blink of an eye and quite a few things have occurred in that time.

I had a great race at Pembry Battle on the Beach and a few weeks later took delivery of a new Koga Beachracer which has been superb.  I've had over 900 miles of endless fun on it racing up and down bridlepaths, towpaths and it is surprisingly speed on the road too.  

I've taken the Tank down to the Devon coast and tried it out on the flat sands at Pembry and it has performed admirably each time.  At Pembry there was a noticable improvment riding over softer sand when compare to riding the Disco at the Battle on the Beach so I'm looking forward to next years edition with excitement.

Things have been a bit quiet on the event front, unfortunately I had a DNS at HoNC this year due to illness.  My planned TT failed to materialise due to pickiing up a particularly nasty stomach bug in May which knocked me out for a few weeks.  However my work's cyclo-commuting team took the team price in the Redditch Cycle Challenge again!

With the kids exams over and our holiday touring around Europe in the motorhome completed successfully, I'm now starting to gather myself for the forth coming 'cross season.

I have now re-started my running regime of 3 steady runs per week, and will be taking them on the trails soon.  The 'cross bikes still need a fair bit of feckling to get them in shape and I need to start some higher intensity work to get me back in shape too!  I'll be starting my 'cross skills work this week too and I'm hoping to get a full season of racing in this year.

Also, on Sunday November 9th I am going to be riding 200km around the East and West Midlands in an attempt to visit the old power stations my Dad worked at, and hopefully raise £300 for Marie Curie and they provided so much care and support for him this time last year.