Sunday, 22 March 2009

Back riding and in a ditch

The chest cold has gone and finally after almost two weeks I am back riding again. I have had three ride in three days including riding with some fast kids and I felt good. One of the rides was at Drumlanrig the trails were amazing dry fast rooty and thoroughly involving, the sun even shone I was in heaven.

Today was a road ride with K and I crashed after 10minutes. I had noticed before that my road bike had a tendency to slip out when conditions were damp but I didn't expect a two wheel drift round a corner. I approached the corner at a moderate speed and leant over only for the bike to start to drift, a quick correction and then lean and slide again. I managed this twice including a bit of braking in between but with the corner on a steep hill I had little time and slowing down wasn't an option. I almost had it when I hit the verge and went flying over the bars landing in a heap covered in mud down one side with the bike flipping ending up in heap in the road. Luckily I was unhurt soft landing and so was the bike so we could continue our ride.

2hrs 15mins into a howling wind but I am just glad to be riding my bike again. Pic to follow.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

No Mates

Stuart's pals leave him behind.

I ended up doing a Stuartie-no-mates ride this afternoon after getting up at 7am to drive to the Sma' Glen near Creiff to discover a brake pad had parted company with the backing plate (I'll leave you to speculate on the make...). Being pretty disorganised, generally, I only had some Avid pads with me for my Shimano brakes. Doh! What an eejit.

So I had to leave the others to it and drive home to replace the pads. Consolation prize was a great (if rather short) ride in the Ochils from Tillicoultry to the Silver Glen to Ben Cleuch and then down the brilliant descent to Mill Glen.

This is half an hour from home - bring on the longer evenings now that the Vernal Equinox has passed.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

CRAFT moment?

This morning was beautiful. Slight easterly breeze, sun up at 6am, cool. I headed off to work at 7 and realised when I got to the top of the hill before Auchtertool that I'd forgotten the camera I'd laid out last night.

So you'll just have to picture the scene...

winding country road, a copse of beech trees to the left with the ever-present buzzard on a nearby fencepost; there is a wrought-iron sign for "Auchtertool Kirk" which sits beside the stark skeleton of a long dead oak and perfectly frames the view east over the mist-filled valleys to north Berwick Law and the Bass Rock in the distance.

I didn't beat my Dun -> Kdy time today, though I was faster to the Mosmorran roundabout; however coming home was superb. Light wind from the NE, sprinting up all the hills in the big ring before taking a detour to ride the singletrack from Cowdenbeath to Crossgates. I made it home in 1hr and 1min, 3 minutes quicker than my fastest time on the usual route which is 2km shorter.

Last post, I vowed to go slow and take some pictures. Double fail. Sometimes I Can't Remember A Fecking Thing...


Illness is a factor in any training preparation that is best limited wherever possible. Mine started last Sunday after riding with a Talent team rider. I had felt okay but suffered on the hills. It was when I got home and suddenly felt like I had to sit down and rest that I knew something wasn't right. My throat had been a bit hoarse in the morning but nothing of note. Monday morning and I was officially ill, by Tues it was a struggle to get up body all sore and my voice sounded like I smoked 40 a day. So i'm faced with enforced time of the bike, although I did manage a 2hour ride on Friday as part of my work mostly sessioning sections(mmmm not like work really)

With that time of my bike I have time to ponder bike setup and why my hands get sore on certain runs at Glentress. I phoned TF tuned and they tell me my forks rebound can't cope therefore the forks pack down. I've tried several different grips and varied the settings on my forks so this seems to make sense. So now the question is do I upgrade my Rebas with a PUSH upgrade or just sell them and go for seomething new????????????????????????

Saturday, 14 March 2009


The commute to work is beginning to get easier. There's no longer a need for expensive LED lights to illuminate the way as it's daylight at 7am when I leave. It's not getting dark until after 6 in the evening, so the ride home is less The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul that it was in early January.

I'm getting faster too. I broke the World Record for cycling from my house to my work twice last week, getting it down to 55m 40s on Wednesday and then 54m 14s on Friday. The average HR is starting to come down as well from somewhere up in the 170s to a less-alarming 159bpm. Still looks like the metabolism of a hummingbird to me, however.

So, actual quantifiable progress. An added bonus is the early signs of spring. The flowers are starting to emerge from the ground and there are lots of birds around in the mornings; buzzards on fenceposts, skylarks, meadow pipits and lapwings singing their songs and a flock of waxwings visiting from Northern Europe.

I'm going to slow things down next week and take some photos.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Black and Blue...

... and Red.

Stuart rides his bike two days in a row. But he's too lazy to take any photographs to prove it.

Saturday sees a 6am rise to be ready for 7. Craig and Jim turn up at the appointed hour and we head up the road to Aviemore, though I'm not sure I have everything I need for a wet, windy day in the hills in the middle of the "skiing season". The plan is to be on the bikes by 9am, get two different rides in and be back in time for tea. The reality is somewhat different. Diversions from the plan include: a stop for coffee at the excellent Ralia Cafe, a disintegrating jockey wheel within 100m of the car park necessitating a trip to Bothy Bikes, unfavourable weather and a host of other minor niggles that mean we don't actually get going until 10:30.

"Will I take a compass?", asks Craig. "Nah. We won't get lost".

We get lost.

The first part is straightforward; up past Ryvoan Bothy and down through the trees to Forest Lodge, making sure we don't miss any turnoffs by virtue of taking the time to look at the map. Then we get to a road and switch off. Before long we're cycling past Loch Garten, which is not right. In fact, it's not even on our map. A cursory inspection shows where we missed a turn off and we're soon back on the right track. I'm feeling cold in the cutting headwind so I bash on, only to find that Craig and Jim have disappeared. I wait, then I backtrack to see them with an upended bike. Craig's crank arm has worked loose, which is an irritation on an undulating road, but could be very painful on a rattling downhill. We "fix" it and move on.

Then it comes loose again and the preload nut has gone missing. We jury-rig it together and then we get lost again. The conversation goes along the lines of "I thought you were navigating!", "I thought you were!", "You've got the map", "But you were out in front", "I was just trying to stay warm", "Anyway, you've been here before!", "True, but mens' memories are uncertain and the past that was differs little from the past that was not". That shuts them up. No-one actually says that, but we all wish we had.

Eventually we find the pass back to Badaguish and the track to Loch Morlich where the car is parked beside the ever-patient ducks. We'll head into town to Fat Tread Bikes to get a pre-load nut and I can pick up a bearing kit at the same time, the intention being to head back out to do a second loop around Rothiemurchus and Loch an Eilein. However, by the time we've admired some expensive frames and chatted for a while it has started to rain very heavily. Craig and Jim get changed in the car park and our weak resolve buckles. All-day breakfast it is, then back down the road in time for tea.

Sunday sees squally snow showers in the morning and I go through the motions of 'phoning Chris. He suggests an afternoon ride at Glentress. We climb up to the mast and for the first time in ages it feels pretty comfortable, though not quite easy. Every time I stop, I get cold quickly so we try to keep moving to stay warm. Snow blows around on a biting wind and it's good to get into the trees. The Boundary Trail is nice in places, but I'm not a big fan of the descents; little in the way of technical interest and lots of rough, broken surfaces which rob momentum and shake the flesh from your bones. It's almost a relief to reach the Redemption climb back to the main trails. We finish the Black and head up to Spooky Wood to ride the Red. Everyone has gone home so we have the place to ourselves. We do a couple of sections of the Red descent and then climb to the top of the Blue route to round off the day. It's a superb, swooping downhill which flows nicely all the way to the bottom. We've only been out for 3 hours and 15 mins, but it has felt longer.

My triceps hurt today.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Mid-table mediocrity.

Stuart enters a race.

There's a brief hiatus to my Transalp training on Friday night when I go out on the piss, for a change. Actually, it's much more civilised than it sounds; rather than drinking heavily in the pub before heading off to a club with some other middle-aged blokes in a poor parody of Steptoe and Sons, I go to a poker evening in East Wemyss. An opportunity to act like Henry Gondorff in The Sting, but lose money in the process, which Henry didn't. I go all in on a flush but lose to a better flush about half way through the tournament. I don't feel too bad on Saturday. The hangover was forestalled by drinking slowly and sensibly; however I've managed to aggravate an old war-wound. The "non-union scaphoid fracture" in my right wrist is hurting like blazes and I have a bike race on Sunday.

Things are not looking good.

Luckily I've hedged my bets by not actually entering the race until the last possible moment - on the start line. Unluckily, waking up on Sunday morning I can't find enough plausible excuses not to drive 5 minutes up the road to the venue. It's the Blairadam Blast, organised by fellow DCC member Grant. My wrist still aches a bit, but I can give it a go and pull out if it starts to hurt on the bike.

There's a good turnout for a drizzly Sunday morning. I meet Mark and we do a practice lap before the start. The wrist is absolutely fine. Either that or it just hurts less than the rest of me. The race starts with all the fast riders disappearing into the forest while Mark and I dawdle into the middle of the field. It takes most of a lap to get past slower riders and establish a position in the pecking order. Although it's only one and a half hours, it feels longer and I'm finding it hard to maintain a good pace. The first two laps hurt quite a bit and the climb up The Ridge is a tough one. Laps three and four feel better and I've settled into a good rhythm. A few of the lead riders start to lap me which is always a bit dispiriting.

By lap five I'm starting to run out of energy and make mistakes like a flying dismount on the slippery descent from The Ridge. I get in in enough time to start a sixth which hurts on the uphills, but is very enjoyable on the downs since I can just coast. It's a great wee circuit with lots of bits to look forward to. I finish on six laps in 1H 45m. Not too bad for the first race of the season in a strong field which was headed by James Fraser-Moodie and other Elite SXC riders.

I still need to get a lot fitter though - an average HR of 180bpm can't be a good place to be for too long.

Or maybe I'll work on my poker tactics.