Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Brass Monkey 4 Hour Round 2

As round 2 of the Brass Monkey Winter Series approached I was pretty excited and highly motivated about racing at Ash Ranges a year on from where I won my first race for TORQ. Multiple pre rides of the course revealed some fantastic new singletrack sections, and only a small amount of ice and snow remained after the freezing conditions we’d been exposed too over the last few weeks. Any possibility of riding a dry course disappeared though the night before the race as heavy showers hit the venue turning the trails into a muddy wet mess.

500 riders lined up Tuesday morning to take part in the 4, 2 or 1 hour events. After a warm up I squeezed my way onto the front row of the starting grid and focused upon the manic 4 hours that lay ahead. The siren signalled the start, I led the race up the long tarmac road to the right hand turn spreading the field out behind. After this I let Phil Gale take the lead and set the pace, after the first lap Phil and myself had already pulled out a minutes gap over the chasers.

Shortly into the second lap I was left riding alone out in the lead, not the most fun scenario with 3 hours remaining! Eventually the conditions began to take effect on the bike wearing away brake pads until after 2 hours I was left with no more than the back plate of the brake pads to stop me.

Approaching the final hour of the race the course emptied as the 2 hour and 1 hour races finished, this left the course open and easier to ride with no backmarkers left to overtake. I was struggling for motivation though by this point as the conditions seemed to worsen as fog covered the venue. Unsure on the gap back to my rivals I was forced to head out on a seventh lap which eventually proved unnecessary as I rolled in to take the victory 1 lap ahead.

Dropping down the final descent into the arena field safely I felt a massive sense of relief, and once I crossed the finish line to take the victory it made the last 4 hours of pain and suffering worthwhile.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Happy Christmas!

2010 is coming to a close and preparations for 2011 are well underway. I’ve made an effort to not let the weekly training hours go too mad just yet, it’s important to stay fresh and motivation for the big months of January, February, and March where training makes a real impact on the season.

The poor weather you’d think would put a huge downer on motivation but I’m loving the cold snowy conditions these last few weeks, getting home in the middle of the winter and not having to clean the bike is pretty darn fantastic! I’ve been logging in regular 4 to 5 hours base rides these last few weeks. Riding in the snow has been great power training and should help my technical ability in muddy races.

Hopefully all this training will give me the edge over my rivals this Tuesday at round 2 of the Brass Monkey Winter Series. Having pre ridden the course I’m pretty excited about the race. They’ve made a load of changes from last year’s power course which I won on. Numerous new singletrack sections and a few additional short sharp climbs will further increase the high intensity the track demands.

Thanks for reading the blog this year, following my travels, and providing me with some fantastic support. Happy Christmas!

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Snowy Times

The snow has arrived to southern England again for the second time this month. Whilst it seems that many people just can’t cope in these “extreme” weather conditions with maybe 4 inches of snow on the ground us mountain bikers are rubbing our hands with glee and hoping for more snowfall (or at least I am!).

The local trails this morning were covered with a fresh coating of snow which glistened brightly, only animal footprints had previously disturbed the perfect blanket.

Our bicycle tyres made a crunching noise as the snow compacted and the wheels searched for traction. The covering of snow hid the trails features; we rode almost blind trying to remember where the rocks, roots, holes, and stumps lay. It was only a matter of time before someone was rolling around on the floor in the snow having hit an object or skidded out of control.

Passing car drivers or walkers gave a curious glance wondering why we would even consider riding our bikes. We would smile back and laugh a little more as the fun continued.

After numerous accidents and much laughter the ride was complete, 4 hours 30 added to the training tally. More tomorrow please.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Brass Monkey 4 Hour Round 1

Just back from a tough day on the mountain bike, 110 km’s in all including the 90km Brass Monkey 4 hour enduro event. As explained in my previous blog I’ve been excited about this series since the final round last winter. After a venue change to the fantastic trails at Porridge Pot Hill I was even more motivated to collect a decent result. The organisers had constructed a fun flowing circuit which proved extremely demanding and rewarding.

Teammate Tim Dunford and myself led the race from the very first corner emptying the tank perhaps a little too much over the first 2 laps with low 30 minute laps. On the 3rd lap we caught the back of the 2 hour race which had just started and were slowed by backmarkers who were difficult to pass in the tight twisty singletrack. This combined with legs that needed a little recovery time meant that our chasers started to claw back time.

Tim and me had some good banter out on the course and were sure that the gap was large enough for one of us to secure the win. On the penultimate lap I realised it would be touch and go whether we’d have to go out on an 8th lap. Our slower pace meant that on the last lap to our surprise we were caught by the 3rd place rider. Tim shrieked “we’ve been caught” and like chickens running from a fox we attacked. We pulled out a safe gap once again but we kept the pace high, Tim’s chicken legs proved too fast on one of the climbs and the elastic snapped.

Eventually Tim pulled out a minute’s gap to take the win arriving shortly after the 4 hour mark. This left me to take 2nd and Matt Page of Wiggle to take the final podium step. Having only started training again 4 weeks ago I’m satisfied with the result and happy to have lost to a teammate.

Thursday, 25 November 2010


Here’s a quick blog written to fill a spare ten minutes. Last week I spent a couple of days away enjoying the fantastic trails at Afan Forest in Wales, the trails were in a fantastic condition particularly on Monday before some light rainfall Tuesday night. Monday I ripped up the trails with an old college mate enjoying railing the descents. Then Tuesday I rode for five and a half hours around the Skyline and W2 trails. Skyline had a few diversions in place but the singletrack was fantastic and there was a great sense wilderness and peace from being out there alone.

Training over the last two weeks has gone really well and the legs are already feeling an improvement, hopefully then at this weekends Brass Monkey round one I can finish one place higher that last year where I finished second. A pre ride of the course presents a surprisingly dry trail which if the weather stays fine will create a fun and testing circuit for a race where entries have sold out.

I’ve been pretty excited about this winter series all year and now can’t wait to get on that start line at Porridge Pot Hill on Sunday morning. Will bring you an update post race.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010


The off season gave me an opportunity to analyse what went right and wrong this year. It also gave me a chance to look back at the equipment the team used.

The TORQ Performance team were lucky enough to be riding lightweight carbon fibre frames from Kona with Ritchey components, Fizik saddles, Schwalbe tyres, Alex rims, Sapin Spokes, Superstar hubs and headsets, Crank Brothers pedals, RockShox forks, and Sram XX brakes and gears.

The XX groupset broke all the rules when Sram introduced the first 10spd mountain bike groupset earlier this year. The combination of 2 x 10 instantly became a market leader as cyclists realised the huge benefits of this revolutionary product. Rival companies scrambled out an alternative product but the XX groupset remains the best available. The carbon chainset is one of the lightest on sale whilst remaining strong and robust unlike others I’ve used in the past. The cassette which takes 9 hours to produce paired with fantastic derailleur systems helps produce perfectly accurate gear changes. The shifters with their carbon fibre levers paired with the matchmaker system for a minimalist handlebar setup creates a precise and instant change. Any previous negative thoughts about the brakes quickly disappeared with setup proving easy and the product staying reliable all year. The SID fork remained plush and included the first hydraulic lockout lever.

Another favourite product was the Schwalbe tyres. The Racing Ralph, Rocket Ron, and Nobby Nic provided a fantastic trio of tyres to cope with all conditions. The Ralph’s and the Nic have been around for many years but the Ron is a relatively new product. I found the Rocket Ron perfect for soft loamy soil as the tread could dig into the soil and provide great traction for railing corners or climbing steep loose ascents.

I’ve been using the Crank Brothers pedals for a number of years and was thrilled at the prospect of using them again in 2010. The Egg Beater’s are super light and have an open wing design that offers loads of mud clearance meaning the pedals don’t clog up when conditions turn nasty.

All of the products this year were fantastic but these 3 were my personal favourites. Thanks again to all the sponsors who supported me and the team this year.

Sadly this year’s race bike has been returned to team HQ and is now for sale. You can find details of how to purchase a TORQ Performance team bike here

Monday, 25 October 2010

Ready to start

The off season seems to have flown past and now I’m just days away from starting preparations for the 2011 season. I got back in the gym last week which caused all kind of aches and pains, hopefully the winter gym plan will help build back up the strength to withstand the tough race schedule I’ve already started planning. It’s nearly time to begin building the legs with miles but I’m eager to get going and feel like its time to get riding again.

Base training for me is the most enjoyable training I get to do all year, no specific zones, no lung bursting efforts; just long days on the bike enjoying great trails or roads and the countryside with friends. 5 months of training lay ahead of me before the first major date on the calendar.

Last year at this point after signing for TORQ Performance I was eager for success. At the moment I’m still talking to teams but the level of interest has been fantastic from both teams and individual sponsors. Im looking forward to putting behind me the team negotiations and the contast emails and phone call.

For 2011 ive planned things a little differeant with less cross country races and more marathon races. Many new and exciting adventures lay ahead next year and this is a huge motivation.

The next race is already on the horizon, the start of the fantastic Brass Monkey Series is just 4 weeks away and once again I hope to compete in all 3 rounds. For me these 4 hour races act as fantastic training, a bonus however is that the events are held on some quality trails which are great fun to ride.

After the final Brass Monkey I’ll conclude my base training and will start building up intensity in preparing for the cross country races that start in March.

Racing at the Brass Monkey Series last winter

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Off Season

There's not much to write about but here's a short blog to keep you updated.

The off season is going pretty well, I’m eating lots of nasty food which I don’t normally get to eat once I’m training, and the bicycle wheels have been pretty stationary since Newnham. Pizza and banoffee pie have been the highlights of the meals so far! I’ve put back on a few pounds but as normal this will only help keep me warm during those winter base miles.

Yesterday evening I rode the bike for the second time since Newnham. The Mountain Trax Wednesday night shop rides are great interval sessions especially when riding a heavy big travel freeride bike and the rides always create large amounts of amusement. The Exposure Maxx D and Diablo did a fantastic job giving me 2000 lumens to light up the trail. I’ll be excited to try the new 1800 lumen Six Pack when it’s available in a few weeks.

Last week I attended trade day at the Cycle Show in London with the aim of gathering potential contacts for sponsorship. So far the hunt for 2011 teams seems to be going well, hopefully everything will be finalised by November so I can forget all the negotiations and concentrate on riding my bike. Will post more news when I can!

Monday, 27 September 2010

Season Complete

So the year’s season is over, the last 2 races didn’t go the way I’d have liked crashing out of marathon championships and crashing in track practise for the British XC final. A small slip of wheels at speed on a greasy descent sent my flying along the rocky ground tearing a cut just below my elbow requiring stitches from an ambulance crew. After an evening taking a cocktail of painkillers I still didn’t get much sleep and by Saturday morning I was feeling pretty knackered. Still undecided I went to the venue but after riding the bike it was obvious that it wouldn’t be wise for me to race.

A sad end to what’s been a fantastic year. I must remember all the magical moments from the last 7 months including the world cups in Dalby, Houffalize, and Offenburg, the 6th and 11th place in the national series, my silver medal in the national cross country championships, my trip to the Alps with GPM10, the hard fought race between 3 TORQ teammates at the Big Welsh Enduro, chasing down the lead quad bike at Twentyfour12, and the amazing fun I had at the Gorrick 12hr. I’ve made many new friends along the way and gained lots of happy memories.

Saturday’s end of season party was pretty epic aswell! I think we proved that not all xc racers are lightweight drinkers and that we can have a good night out returning back to base at 5am. Huge respect to Phil Lenney, George Budd and Carla Haines who then after very little sleep raced the Newnham 60km enduro later that morning!

Racing for the biggest and best cross country team in the UK this year has been a huge privilege. TORQ team management did a fantastic job to create such a huge list of sponsors and gather such a great group of riders. It’s been great getting to know a new bunch of people.

Here are a few pictures of this year’s best moments.

Magnificat '6hr team timetrial' sportive

Dalby WC Pro Sprint Eliminator

That silver medal

Im excited thinking about next years possibilities already but plans are still undecided, the training has now finished and I’m resting but the team negotiations are just beginning. Hopefully I’ll have some more news next time I blog.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Final training

Over the last week I’ve been training hard in the French Alps completing 5 days of mountainous riding with a total of roughly 23 hours in the saddle. Hopefully with a little rest the season will finish with a high this weekend at the final national series round. Here are a few photos for you to enjoy from my little trip to southern France.

Room with a view on Alp d'Huez

Village at base of Alp d'Huez

A small village half way up Alp d'Huez

On the Tour de France finishing straight at the top of Alp d'Huez

Top of the Col du Lautaret

Outlook from the Col du Galibier climb

Peaks above the road up onto the Col D'Izoard

Climbing through the Mercantour National Park to the top of the Col de la Cayolle

Friday, 3 September 2010

Fantastic video from this July's Twentyfour12 at Newnham Park with some good shots of me leading out the first lap !!

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Gorrick 12:12 Torq In Your Sleep

The atmosphere at team endurance events and cross country races is completely different. At XC races everyone is just so focused on their race compared to these events where a group of friends get together for the weekend with a bunch of other likeminded people to have a huge amount of fun riding their bikes. Wow - team events can be so much fun! Gorrick 12:12 TORQ In Your Sleep took place at Minley Manor this past weekend, attracting a sell out turnout of 650 people. An 8.1 mile course of twisty loamy fast, hugely fun trails had been put together to test the riders’ strengths.

As title sponsors TORQ had Performance and Development teams entered in different categories ready to battle for the podium. Ready to take on the competition were Tim Dunford and James Lister who paired up, and Ant O’boyle, Sion O’boyle, devo rider James Gleaves and myself in our 4 man team. As midday approached the starting riders crowded into the start straight ready for the off which would be a 3 minute quad bike paced loop of the arena. The keener riders bumped and barged their way forward to just behind the quad bike as it made its way around the event village; the quad bike then buried the throttle and the race was on.

Off first I was keen to make my rivals suffer so kept the pace high and it worked as rider by rider the group whittled down surprisingly quickly to just 3 of us. Tim who started for the male pairs had been dropped unknown to me suffering an early mechanical setback, I felt bad as half way round the lap the only rider left behind my was Dave Collins who, along with his teammate, were male pairs podium contenders. I was dragging Dave further away from Tim but then as we entered a singletrack section called sponge bob I nailed my lines creating a gap which then increased enough on the following twisty climb to snap the elastic. Returning to the transition as the first rider is always great fun and super rewarding.

The male pairs had a tougher job after their early setback, initially falling 5 minutes behind but they kept the pressure up always hoping that the opposition would crack. 8 hours in they were rewarded as Tim swept into the lead just before transition; James with renewed energy sprinted away to begin building a gap.

A huge rain cloud that rolled in made the tracks’ soil turn slippery and greasy but the teams Schwalbe tyres once again provided fantastic grip. The rain was heavy but was only a short blast, after about half an hour blue skies reappeared, the heat and wind quickly dried the track out. From 8pm the team used its Exposure lights to illuminate the forest as night took hold. With the Maxx D on the handlebar and the Joystick helmet mounted riders were able to blast around the course with the same confidence and vision as in the daylight.

The male 4 team put time consistently into our competitors edging out a convincing gap, collecting the fastest lap of the day, and eventually lapping the whole field! After taking the lead two thirds of the way through the race the male pairs built up an inspired 10 minute winning margin. The pairs team were so quick, in fact, they could have finished on the podium in the male 4 category!!

Elsewhere the development teams made up of riders, team management, and TORQ employees rode to 11th place in the male team category and 4th place in the mixed team category.

Minley Manor and Gorrick hosted a hugely successful and enjoyable 3rd edition of TORQ In Your Sleep. The organisation was perfect, the arena was well setup, and the course was one of the year’s favourites. Hopefully you enjoyed the event as much as we did, see you there again next year.

Friday, 27 August 2010

August Training

I hate it when people don’t update their blogs so I apologise now because it’s been far too long since I posted. It’s been a busy month, I’ve not raced since Twentyfour12 but behind the scenes plenty has been going on. After national champs I had a small hope that British Cycling would give me a place on the World Champs squad for this years cross country race in Canada, no such luck, one has to question why every other national seems to take around 5 under 23 male riders and BC takes just 1. BC wonders why the riders in the senior ranks aren’t challenging for top 10’s at the world cups, surely giving u23 riders the chance to experience world cups and world champs are the best method to allow progression and improvement. At the early season world cups I rode the back of the grid was full of Belgium, Swiss, German and America u23 riders. Anyway, after not being selected I could set my focus on the last of the big domestic races, marathon national champs and the final national series round.

After Twentyfour12 I took a weeks rest to recharge the batteries and refresh the mind. Since then I’ve put in 3 big weeks of training but this weekend is TORQ In Your Sleep 12hr so I’m recovering and tapering in preparation. This Gorrick event as the title suggests is TORQ sponsored and therefore a huge goal for the team, as defending champions the pressure is on to perform. A preride of Minley Manor on Wednesday revealed a similar course to last year with a few new additions to spice things up. The loamy soil that developed over the summer had been dampened and compacted by the rain that fell on Monday, however after the rain we’ve had in the last 2 days the course is probably pretty damp at present. By Sunday though I’m hopeful of drier condition, either way it should be great fun.

Over the last few weeks I’ve started thinking about next years plans, we aren’t far from the end of the season so teams and sponsors will start looking to fill their rosters. Riding for TORQ Performance this year has been fantastic and the teams plans for next year sound even more exciting, so if they’ll have me the chances are I’ll be staying put. However I’m keen to have a few options open and will be trying to develop a back up plan, I’m already discussing possibilities with numerous other sponsors and teams. Watch this space!

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

The other side of the peak

Time for an update on my post national champs recovery. Lots of people thought I’d be doing the worlds cup rounds in Italy this weekend and Switzerland last weekend, unfortunately other race commitments and finances meant it wasn’t possible. It’s a shame as now my UCI points have leaped sky high I would be gridded around 120th instead of 220th. However these points I’ve collected will still be in place for next year’s world cup series when hopefully I’ll compete in a few more rounds.

After national champs I was ready for a break, however I was pretty excited because on Tuesday the O’Boyle brothers and myself were booked in for a day of fitness testing, technical training, and bike setup up at TORQ HQ. The day started with a lactate test, my levels were pretty much the same as when tested in December, it would have been good to have seen an improvement but because I’ve been doing all these taper weeks for races my aerobic (base training) level would have dropped off loads and my aerobic (interval training) level would have topped it back up again. Much more pleasing was my results on the power test, my levels had increased by nearly 60 watts and I smashed the best result ever recorded by TORQ up the climb  The technical training was excellent fun, we rode some quality trails in Eastridge forest practising climbing and downhill skills. After smashing myself up the mountain in the power test just 2 days after nat champs my body was fried; to recover for Twentyfour12 I took a couple days off from training.

Twentyfour12 (now in its 5th year) takes place at Plymouth’s Newnham Park Shooting Ground. The large estate reserves some world class trails within its ground for races such as this and the national cross country series. This event offers the opportunity for riders to participate in either a 24 hour event or a 12 hour event riding solo or with up to 8 friends. This type of race is fantastic for socialising and the atmosphere is always amazing with everyone camping for the weekend and a large arena area set up as the race hub. Last year’s race was my first race with team TORQ and my experience that weekend was a massive factor in persuading me to join the team in 2010.

TORQ Performance had originally planned more participants but with riders out injured options were limited to just Lydia racing 12hr solo, and a 4 man team consisting of James Lister, Anthony O’Boyle, Nick Collins, and myself. The pressure was high for the 4 man team after the disappointing result at Bristol Bikefest. I arrived early Friday to get setup and to spend a few hours on the course practising. The course was tough with some hard climbs and lots of flat fireroad sections, the fun singletrack made up though for the suffering.

I was sent off first to make use of the good form my body was in, Simon Ernest from AW cycles stayed with me all the way round the first lap and into transition where I handed over to Ant. From here the gap to our rivals started to open lap by lap. The opposition were strong though and we never were able to pull out a comfortable gap despite putting out some really good lap times. However when the weather changed to pouring rain the race situation changed. Sunset followed shortly after and darkness descended on the track, our USE Exposure lights however gave us the advantage and we continued to gradually open up a gap.

A few of my relatives dropped by the venue to say hello earlier on in the race, it was good to have a distraction from the racing for a short while, and was nice for them to come and see what this mountain biking is all about.

Team TORQ Performance successfully took the top step on the podium, followed by Moda UK and AW Cycles. Lydia rode superbly to take 2nd place in the 12hr solo female category. Promptly after the racing had finish the team fired the barbeques into action and we sat down for some post race grub and entertainment kindly provided by team management! The banter and comedy resumed for several hours finishing off an excellent weekend.

Since then ive been resting lots in preperation for a huge block of training leading into another 2 huge targets in September.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

National Cross Country Championships 2010

My national mountain bike champs weekend.

I’m just taking a break from the unpacking/ repacking that’s going on here at the moment. Tomorrow I direct the car north in the direction of Shropshire where TORQ HQ is located for lactic and power testing; comparisons to my results in November will be very interesting. I'm unpacking from today’s National MTB Championships where cyclists battled for their category’s stripy champion’s jersey and title of being the best in the UK. For all serious racers this is a huge yearly goal, massive amounts of preparation are put into being at their best for this event.

The weekend began on Friday with a video shoot with the BBC London news, the report was about the national champs and future stars that had a chance of winning a title at the race today. Steven James and myself met with the BBC and Henry Turgoose from the race organisation for an interview session out on the trails. The results of a few hours work were broadcast to about a million views during the 6.30 bulletin.

On Saturday I did 2 slow laps of the Pippingford track and 1 tempo lap. The 4.6 mile course was hard work and a real power rider’s course. There was a large amount of singletrack which required constant concentration. It was also really bumpy on the hardtail bike. After a bit of pre race bike maintenance I was off home to watch the tour de france whilst relaxing on the sofa. I was super confident going into the race and although I knew there was a clear favourite I planned to be in a position where I could grab first place should David Fletcher make a mistake.

Off the start line on Sunday I failed to get into the top 3 of David Fletcher, Billy Joe Whenman and Seb Batchelor, this trio quickly created a gap over us chasers, I knew I had to react fast and therefore attacked on the first fireroad climb. By half way round the lap I was with the top 3, however just after I bridged the gap David Fletcher made his race winning move which I couldn’t follow. Going onto the 2nd lap he had already opened a decent gap, Seb had dropped off the back unable to handle the pace. Billy was suffering as well and unable to make any contribution to the pace, I steadily upped the speed until he couldn’t keep up any longer.

On the 3rd lap David had some kind of mechanical allowing me to take the lead, I was unaware of this until he chased me down and then attacked away from me on the same climb he’d used to escape on lap 1. The race was really tough and on the 4th lap I was suffering, John Pybus got pretty close to me going onto the last lap but I quickly put the throttle down and edged out a more comfortable gap.

By the finish I was completely ruined and rolled across the finish line to take the silver medal behind Fletcher who took the gold, and Pybus who took the Bronze. 2nd place in the race is a satisfactory result, Fletcher was on superb form today and could have got a medal in the senior race. Looking at the lap times if I could have held on for another lap I could have taken a top 5 finish in the seniors. As well as collecting the silver medal the result comes with a nifty 60 UCI world ranking points which will hopefully fire me well up the world standings into the top 300.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

BikeRadar Live

The bicycle industry flocked to Brands Hatch this past weekend for Bike Radar Live where a huge expo area was created next door to the famous race circuit and the newly crafted cross country dirt crit course, the dirt jumps, and the dual slalom track. TORQ had a large stand within the expo area showing off and selling its products. The race team were in attendance to take part in the weekend’s Dirt Crit race which took place around a purpose built 1.5km loop incorporating sketchy loose gravel fireroad corners, tons of tight twisty singletrack, dual lines where you could save time if, for example, you rode the obstacle such as the northshore or the log jumps, a small climb, and a pump section back into the start area. It was going to be a furiously fast race with the circuit taking riders around three and a half minutes per lap; in total we would do just 12 laps. Nearly every top elite rider had been invited to take part in the competition and on the grid it could well have been a national race.

Andy Blair, Anthony and Sion O’boyle, and myself lined up excited about the prospect of racing the thrilling concept. Andy had an amazing start jumping from near the back of the grid right up to the front of the race, from there I sat on his wheel for a short while. Unfortunately at this time a group of 4 or 5 riders rode away as Andy suffered after his fast start.

Feeling strong after a few laps I bridged the gap to Billy Joe Whenman and Steve James. Some of the riders who had been ahead had punctured which meant the 3 of us were now in contention for the final podium place. Steve made a mistake on some double track crashing and putting him out of the race. With just 2 of us left the pace wasn’t maintained high enough which allowed Andy to start closing the gap on us.

Going into the penultimate lap I slipped out on the slippery gravel start road, Billy Joe got a small gap by the time I was back on the bike, and Andy had just got ahead of me. I chased hard but as I began the final climb I punctured on the sharp flints.

After 41 minutes of racing I finished a disappointing 6th place, however I was happy in the knowledge that my legs felt excellent. The Bike Radar Live surpassed the expectation of the TORQ team and hopefully we’ll return again next year to race another fantastic Dirt Crit.

Monday, 5 July 2010

British XC Round 4 Dalby Forest

The purpose built Dalby Forest race course this past weekend hosted the 4th round of our National XC Series. My Australian team mate Andy Blair and I arrived on Thursday early afternoon planning on gaining a small advantage from being better practised and rested than our opposition. The last time we’d been at the arena was World Cup race day earlier on in the year, with the events organiser only just arriving before us the events field looked dramatically different to the circus we’d be part of last time.

Were we really still waiting for the circus or had it just arrived!

On Thursday the course was in great condition with dust covering parts of the track, rain that night would dampen the dust and create a few puddles but did no real damage. The tracks main features Worry Gill, the new bus stop drop, Medusas drop, the horrible rocky climb and the Rabbit Run were all included. The technical and demanding nature of Dalby meant lots of accidents during Friday practise with ambulances and even air ambulances making a regular appearance scooping up the injured and transporting them away to hospital. It’s a shame so many people got injured and hopefully it doesn’t mean the course gets diluted next year for the national, chicken runs exist for a reason.

Andy on the steep climb up to Medusa's drop

The racing was greeted by sunny skies Saturday morning and when we arrived on site the camping ground and car park were nearly full. After a decent warm up on the rollers it was time for gridding and a TORQ gel. From the start I was quickly up into the top 10 around the arena field, however as the race literally jumped onto the first singletrack section I was swarmed by flying elbows and lost a few too many places leaving me with work to do. Having been practising my lines I felt confident on the descents but was unable to push on properly because of the traffic until the second lap. Groups had begun to form but the top 10 was a little distance ahead, my training has clearly worked though and it allowed me to make up lots of places on the climbs. My heart rate was comfortable and my legs were great.

By the penultimate lap I was in a group of 3 with Rourke Croeser from South Africa, I allowed the 2 other riders to set the pace and perhaps relaxed too much. I attacked from this group on the descent of Medusas Drop and the final long steep climb shortly after. By the top I see Lee Williams ahead, along the Rabbit Run I sprinted as fast as my legs would allow, coming into the arena there was only a few seconds in it, however Lee had enough energy left to hold that small gap and deny me the top 10 I was after.

Post race I was happy with my performance and last year I would have been really pleased. There was a quality field with all the UK’s top elites and some quality overseas riders in attendance. However having now analysed the results I can’t help but think what might have been had I not messed up the start, 11th place will have to do though. Hopefully I can improve on that at the final round in September and maybe achieve my series goal.

Post race to finish of a quality day we watched some of the other races, then retired to the nearby b&b to watch the Tour de France opening prologue, and finally went to Pickering for a curry with Paul Hopkins, Andy Parsons, Dean Frost, and Simon Allard. Then on Sunday we joined the same four friends for a couple of loops of the marathon course, then the superb red route, and some monkeying around on the black route northshore. A reminder on how much fun a race weekend can be.

Up next for me is some fruit picking tomorrow (strawberries, raspberries, gooseberry’s etc = yum yum!!) which I’m pretty excited about and lots of TV time watching the Tour De France. Oh and some training. Also Bike Radar Live Dirt Crit is next weekend followed by the all importance National Championships in 2 weeks.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Magnificat 130 Mile Sportive

The Magnificat Sportive Challenge was a new event this year building on the success of the Highclear Castle Sportive. The event was sponsored by TORQ and Matt was keen to have a team presence at the event and he very kindly enter us for the 127 mile distance!! It was an early start on the day, I was expected large queues of riders waiting for number boards and long delays, fortunately this was not the case, I was surprised at the excellent organisation. The facilities on offer at Newbury Race Course were a welcome addition.

We prepared ourselves for the ride eg packed our jersey pockets full of gels and bars. Then we waited until the deadline to set off allowing ourselves the opportunity to hopefully catch and overtake everyone else taking on the distance. A few riders were absent but we had a strong group for our team time trial! Anthony, Sion, James, Tim and myself set off at a gentle pace... for the first few minutes before settling into race mode and picking up the speed.

Nutrition was highly important on what would be a long hot day in the saddle, fortunately the many feed zones along the route were well equipped with pre made TORQ energy drink ready for riders to refill their bottles, there were all sorts of other temptations on offer including sponge cake, flapjack and bananas, as tempting as these goodies were we stuck to what we knew would work best and what was planned with an energy bar or gel along with a 750ml of energy drink every hour.

The hills along the route quickly appeared, we opted to be sensible on the climbs, for the start at least and instead put in a big effort in on the flats, each one of us spending some time on the front of the group before dropping to the back for a bit of rest. Along the way we caught groups of riders, some were struggling so we offered encouragement; other looked strong and tagged onto the team for a short tow.

Unfortunately along the way some of the team were struggling with the relentless speed, others were keen to push on and still felt strong. James, Tim and I remained together and all felt strong. James had a bit of a moment but the trusty life safer that it the TORQ guarana gel re-ignited his legs ready for the last 20 miles.

After 5 hours 30 minutes I realised that we were close to achieving a sub 6 hour time, however it would mean averaging a whopping 24mph for the last half hour! My legs were still feeling very amazingly good, James and Tim were also willing to give it a go. We absolutely nailed the last 12 miles but missed out by just 2 minutes!

6 hours 8 as our official time including stops. In total it was 6 hours 2 of riding, 126.5 miles and 8000 feet of climbing! We'd achieved the fastest time but more importantly we'd all really enjoyed the event riding as a team and having a laugh along the way. The organisation was superb and they’ve created a quality event, I hope to be back next year.

Friday, 18 June 2010

The Battle of Bristol Bikefest

Bristol Bikefest was next up on TORQ Performance's extensive tour around the country. Ashton Court was home of my mountain bike training for 3 years while I studied at the University of West Of England. Its a tough and demanding circuit with its energy sapping climbs and miles of singletrack with huge rocks and roots battering your bike beneath you. On a good day when you're riding well Ashton Court can be a massively enjoyable experience, however it will punish anyone who doesnt give it the respect in deserves. Perhaps that's what team TORQ forgot to do.

Ive raced Bristol Bikefest now 3 times, twice in a pair with my previous teammate Calum Chamberlain winning last year, and now for a 3rd time with TORQ. It was an event we were hot favourites to win, however there was several teams on the start line who could quite easily pounce should we make any mistakes. The event started off well enough with Anthony O'Boyle appearing after just 22 minutes in the lead having had the chance to experience the thrills of these wonderful trails on the front of race, Andy Blair was next, then me, finally followed by Nick Collins. We quickly started to pull out a gap over Bad Ass Bikes who are also now lucky enough to be riding the same fantastic carbon Kona Kilauea hardtail frames we have.

After a few hours we'd built up a comfortable 10 minutes gap, however the TORQ team management never lets the riders relax and we were ordered to keep drumming out the fast lap times. I was thoroughly enjoying myself and setting consistant 20 minute laps. Disaster would soon strike though with Nick Collins having a huge crash substituting some of his skin for some nice gravel from a high speed fireroad section, a combination of road/ gravel rash and a massively swollen knee meant we had lost a rider before we'd even reached the 5 hour mark. It was a major blow to the team but the other 3 riders were feeling strong and ready to battle on.

Disaster struck again and again repeatedly for the next few hours with Ant and Andy both suffering multiple punctures. We still maintained the lead but by just 2 minutes, at this point when we really needed to get control and rebuild a lead I had random mechanical failure deeming my bike unpeddalable. I was forced to run for over 10 minutes in which time Bad Ass Bike slipped passed taking the lead from our grasp. We were 10 minutes down, luck really had gone against us.

The riders pulled it together though and chased hard, unfortunatly we just couldnt close the gap down, we fought hard but lost in battle, Ashton Court had beaten us. We'll be back next year to try once again to claim the top step.

Next blog on the TORQ sponsored Magnificat Sportive will be online in a few days.

Monday, 31 May 2010

WC 3, BMBS 3, & Big Welsh Enduro

World Cup round 3 took place in Offenburg Germany over the weekend of the 22nd and 23rd of May. On journey to the race took 2 days, on Wednesday we stopped off at a B&B near Reims in France, before finishing the drive Thursday morning to arrive at our hillside apartment on the edge of the Black Forest. We were greeted by wet conditions but the surrounding mountainous terrain excited Ant and myself who were excited to get exploring the area. A few hours later we returned to the apartment caked in mud but with massive smiles having found some awesome trails.

On Friday we had the first taste of the world cup course which is renowned for its technically demanding nature in the dry, in the wet however it was insane! Drops with 90 degree corners at the bottom, rooty singletrack section, steep switchback descents, massive root gardens, and long dragging climbs all coated in greasy mud made for entertaining practise lap as every rider at least once found themselves on there bums sliding down the track. Luckily by Saturday the poor weather had disappeared and temperatures in the 20’s meant the track was drying out quickly, even higher temperatures on race day meant the track was completely dry.

From the start line I felt good and moved up some good place, however no sooner had I made this progress I began to tire in the heat. Maybe I went too fast at the start, maybe I didn’t drink enough, maybe I just hadn’t done enough training, either way I blew on the first lap and from that point on my time in the race would be limited. It annoyed me that I’d gone all that way to have such a rubbish race, and even more that we’d sat in that apartment for 4 days doing very little riding resting up for the Sundays race when we could have been doing some amazing rides in the Black Forest mountains. On the positive side we did get to eat lots of amazing cakes!

The following Saturday was British XC round 3 at Margam Park in Wales. The rainfall on Friday night ruined the track turning it into a slippery muddy mess. By lack of training in the mud was highlighted as I rode like a pansy and fell off the bike at every possible opportunity. On lap 2 I called it a day.

After my disastrous performance on Saturday the Big Welsh 75km Enduro offered me the perfect opportunity to rescue the weekend and to have some fun. I’d been looking forward to the enduro for some time, firstly because it offers an opportunity to race something slightly different to the top end body crushing effort of the normal cross country race, and secondly I’ve never really tested my diesel engine in a longer distance race. On the start line there were numerous names that I recognised and also teammates Tim Dunford and James Lister. I was a little nervous as didn’t know how the race would unfold, the plan was just to follow the pace of the leader if I could. James set the pace right from the start and on the first 15 minute climb he ripped the field apart leaving only a small group together. I then had a few digs on the flatter parts of the course and on the downhill’s in an attempt to reduce the size of the group. Team TORQ broke away during lap 1 from the rest of the field; however the pace on the climbs was just too fast for Tim at the start of the second lap and then me one lap later on the same climb leaving James to ride off into the distance to take a well deserved win. On the start line I thought the enduro would be a good practise run and learning opportunity for James and me who are participating in this years Transalps stage race, what I’ve learnt is that James is going to absolutely kill me on the climbs, time to invest in a tow rope! 2nd place for me was a good result and an enjoyable way to complete my late finishing spring campaign. It now time for some rest and recovery before my next big training block targeting British XC 4 and Transalps.

Monday, 10 May 2010

British XC Round 2, Wasing Estate, Reading

After racing the world cups the last couple of weeks I was confident that my race pace would have increased since the first round of the British XC series. I was excited about the race and hopeful of a good result.

From the start my legs felt pretty good jumping up the grid well into the top 10. After a bit of argy bargee where I probably wasn’t aggressive enough to hold my position a group of 5 riders quickly began to escape. Over the next few laps I caught and overtook riders who were beginning to suffer on this tough course which sapped all your energy. Going into the last couple of laps I was catching riders capable of winning a national quality race, I was in 6th place and just 20 seconds from the podium. Gareth Montgomerie was in 5th place and my target. On the last lap I got within about 5 seconds of him but wasn’t able to close the gap any further. It was a massive pleasure to ride over the finish line to collect 6th place, especially this early on in the season. My training has been going well but this result now gives me even greater motivation to break into the top 5 to reward the team and sponsors for the commitment they’ve shown. Bring on the next set of races!

Thanks to John Newport for the photos. See for more photos from this and other events.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

World Cup Round 2 in Houffalize, Belgium

This past weekend team TORQ Performance made the journey in the fun bus to Belgium for the second round of the World Cup series. On Thursday after a long journey we rolled off the motorway and into the town of Houffalize were preparation for the weekends festivities were in there final stages. Travelling out of town we soon reached our beautiful gite positioned in a small farming community of around 10 to 15 houses.

Friday and Saturday we practised the course which included several very steep climbs, a rock slap drop, some flowing singletrack, and a leg bursting start loop. All week the weather conditions were amazing with sunshine and temperature up to 27 degrees centigrade. This left the course loose with dust covering the bikes after each days riding. On Saturday evening it began to rain lightly, we hoped that the drizzle would purely dampen down the dusty conditions that had developed. However some harder rain during the morning and the thunder storm that moved over the venue 40 minutes before the start of our race meant conditions changed to slippery unpredictable mud.

A chaotic start with blockages on the singletrack meant the start loop took double the time that it had taken in practise. The leaders by the end of the start loop already had a 6 minute advantage over us riders further back in the field. After the first 2 laps where I rode a steady tempo I then began to push up the pace on lap 3. At this point I was catching riders and was racing with a couple of familiar faces from back home; teammate Andy Blair and friend Chris Minter. The mud by now had begun to dry and become sticky, this was causing all sorts of bike problems for the riders. I began to get issues with my bike causing the chain to fall off the chainset, unfortunately this meant I had to run the last climb on the 3rd lap loosing me 5 positions, I knew this may be the last lap I got to ride so was chasing hard on the descent but couldn’t find room to overtake. With the 80% rule always threatening and short lap times being produced by the top riders we could fall just 14 minutes behind before being pulled out of the race. On the 3rd lap of the race course I was pulled from the race finishing a disappointing 172nd, what was worse was that I still had fresh legs and felt I could have pushed on much harder, lessons learnt for World Cup round 3 in Offenburg, Germany. These World Cups though are all about the experience, racing at Houffalize was so special, especially with the thousands of fans lining the entire course. It was great having a large number of Brits travel over to watch the race, thanks for the support.


The main section of the course

One of the descents

Our amazing accommodation

One of the calves that entertained us for hours

Me during the race

Monday, 26 April 2010

World Cup round 1 at Dalby Forest, UK

Wow, what an experience this past weekend was. That’s what it was really, an experience. At these first few world cups I’m not really chasing a result, finishing the race or being in the top 100 would be nice but essentially it’s all about learning the way.

My first taste of the talent these international stars have was in the Dalby Pro Sprint Eliminator. This race was a new concept designed to bring the racing to the audience. It certainly succeeded with about 100 of the world best mountain bikers taking to the start line of an urban circuit around Pickering town centre. Taking place on Friday night crowds lined the course whilst sampling the array of restaurants, bars and pubs that were open. The circuit itself started at the top of the climb on the high street, it then descended into a tight left hand corner before climbing up to another left hand corner. The loop then lead the riders through a cobbled grave yard, down a set of stairs, and over a small ramp. It then once again climbed before turning through someone’s garden, down a gravel road and back out onto tarmac before reaching the high street climb for the final sprint.

Each rider had to qualify for the finals by time trialing around the course and setting the best time they possibly could. Qualifying for the finals to represent team TORQ was Lee, Ant, and myself. In the finals 4 riders raced against each other with the top 2 finishers progressing to the next round. Unfortunately after hanging around in the holding area with no rollers or turbo trainer to keep warm my legs weren’t very well prepared to race against riders from the Cannondale Factory team and Merida Multivan team. Also in this round was British rider Steve James who went on to collect 3rd place on the junior world cup podium the next day. The 2 international riders quickly jumped away from us Brits, their acceleration left us stunned and we were unable to pull back the gap. Ant also suffered against the amazing power these riders hold. Lee Cragie on the other hand progressed all the way to the women’s final beating many world class riders along the way, she would eventually finish 4th just off the podium.

After a few days practising the world cup course in Dalby Forest it was time to finally line up for my first world cup. I was gridded 164th, however the grid position didn’t mean much when over half the field jumped forward from their grid with a minute to go. Once the gun went the carnage began, unfortunately the singletrack came just too soon and the field hadn’t spread out leading to massive bottlenecks. These delays in the singletrack continued for the first couple of laps, eventually however the riders spaced out and the lap times improved. I suffered mid race after crashing and twisting my saddle, this meant I couldn’t sit down for a couple of laps therefore loosing time and using up energy that I should have been saving for the end of the race. The race was 6 laps but unfortunately I was pulled out of the race after 5 laps because of the 80% rule, I was disappointed I wasn’t allowed to finish the race but my body was pretty knackered by that point anyway. My finishing position was 138th, certainly not very impressive but I had an amazing time, and now cant wait till next weekend where I’ll be racing round 2 in Houffalize, Belgium. Thanks for all the support from those of you who travelled up to watch and those of you who sent kind messages.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Prep for WC 1 at Dalby

Sorry about the lack of updates over the last week. My laptop stopped working Thursday last week so I’ve struggled to get online other than via my phone. Not long to go now till the first World Cup of the year, round 1 at Dalby takes place this weekend. The team is also taking part in the Pro Sprint Eliminator around Pickering on Friday night, should be great fun, getting proper excited, should be an awesome weekend.

With this volcano disrupting air travel its unknown quiet who will be on the start line. The entry list however is here
Unfortunately the Australia side of the TORQ team have already confirmed that they will not make it to the UK for the weekend, so disappointed for them. Would have been amazing to have the whole team together, guess we’ll have to wait till Houffalize next week.

The race bike is going into the shop tomorrow for its final tune up before the weekend. Quite interested just to see just how quick this thing can climb up some decent climbs, on the small short sharp climbs locally here it’s a true mountain goat.
Few adjustments + the bike will be ready for wc1 on Twitpic

Keep an eye on my twitter feed as I’ll try my best to keep you updated with photos over the weekend. If your at Dalby watching the race please come and say hello.

Friday, 9 April 2010

British XC Series Round 1 Sherwood Pines

Sherwood Pines kick started the 2010 British Mountain Bike Series into action on the 27th and 28th of March. The venue was a hive of activity all weekend with the launch of the new demo series, team relay Saturday night, and the main event on Sunday. With the TORQ RV situated within the arena, the new shiny equipment on show, and the team gathered together for the first time we launched ourselves into what will be 6 months of excitement. The season runs now until the curtain closer at the end of September with the TORQ Performance team in action most weekends.

The course at Sherwood is pretty much pan flat; however the pre ride revealed some new tasty technical sections. I can vouch for that having tasted the dirt during the pre ride after trying to ride too much speed through a tight right hand corner, I can assure you that TORQ bars taste far nicer! Multiple line choices, dropoffs, jumps, loose uphill blasts, and plenty of flowing singletrack were split up by painful fireroad blasts. The course provided very little time to recover with all the descents being too short to gain any rest. The tough course and the early timing of the event meant riders would be in for a tough day.

Saturdays team relay was around an arena based 2-minute circuit designed to give maximum spectator entertainment. 10 teams of 4 riders lined up at the start all itching to get their team to the top step of the podium. 1 rider would do the first lap, then tag their teammate so they could complete their lap, 8 laps in total would complete the race. There was a good atmosphere around the arena with plenty of people watching, the pressure was on! Going up against some tough competition including Billy Joe Whenman, Lee Williams, and the Orange Monkey team proved hard work on the first lap, I came into transition in 3rd, the team of Lee Cragie, Mateusz Wielgos, and James Lister did an excellent job to pull team TORQ up to 2nd position. After a strawberry flavoured TORQ recovery drink and podium presentations it was time to grab some food and prepare for Sunday.

Sunday morning revealed a fresh morning with the wind ripping through the arena. On the long fireroads around the course you certainly wouldn’t want to be riding on your own or sat on the front of the groups of riders that were likely to appear. The plan of action was to start hard attacking as high up the order as possible before the first singletrack, then to sit in the group doing as little work as possible, before finishing strong and picking off the fading riders.

Round 1 of the series was a sell out and this meant some huge categories including over 50 elite male starters with several international riders attending keen to get some racing in their legs and possibly collect some UCI world ranking points. Also in the Elite race with me was my new teammates Andy Blair, Anthony O’boyle, Sion O’boyle, Nick Collins and humpty dumpy Tim Dunford. Off the start I nailed myself but my lack of zone 6 power and lack of race efforts in my legs showed and I was struggling from the off. Having concentrated on endurance miles and longer efforts up until this race I hope to be a lot stronger by round 2. Unfortunately groups began to form and I was in the wrong place stuck behind a rider who was slower in the singletrack, this allowed the top 10 to get a gap which quickly became to big to close back down. I was left fighting for 11th place in a group of 5 or 6, included in this group was Liam Killeen who must have been binding his time. The group split up in the last few laps and I really began to struggle as the race got nearer its end, in the penultimate lap I popped a bit and was left all on my own in 15th place trying to chase back. On the last lap I could see riders ahead of me so dug deep and rode my legs off, unfortunately it wasn’t enough and after catching 14th place going into the arena I didn’t have the energy left for the sprint.

In the end I finished exhausted in 15th place having left everything out on the track. It wasn’t quite where I’d of hoped to finish but looking at the results the time difference to the top 10 wasn’t huge.

Top effort from all the team, especially James Lister who’s an endurance rider yet managed to overtake the whole sport field which included 60+ riders to finish 2nd place! That was TORQ Performance’s first national weekend, 3 podiums completed an excellent weekend of fun. Next up for me is the Southern XC this weekend.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Team Press Release

For those of you who havent seen the press release about the 2010 TORQ Performance team, here it is! This was sent out to press midway through March.

In just under 7 days time, that well known nutrition brand TORQ will be unleashing an exciting line up of talented riders ready to take on the might of international and national competition. For 2010 TORQ have raised the bar and have registered 4 pro riders with the UCI to enable them to compete at the highest levels. These select riders are Anthony O’Boyle, who is currently racing and training in Australia and first signs are that he’s already upped his game and 2010 should see him take huge strides on the international field. Next up is Tim Dunford, an experienced elite rider with years of consistent results, he hopes that 2010 with be his springboard to greater achievements. Ben Thomas is an up and coming elite rider who has showed remarkable application and already, notable pre season results are coming in thick and fast and finally Australian rider Andy Blair completes the pro line up. Blair has been a member of the Australian National Squad for many years and has many world cups to his name. Along side this uber elite TORQ squad will also be 6 other talented riders who we will watch develop and undoubtedly dominate their respective races as the year unfolds.

The creation of this has only been possible firstly with the backing of TORQ boss Matt Hart, who thoroughly embraces the new team structure says "TORQ’s Performance Mountain Bike Team is a heavily sponsored professional outfit and the objective is simple. To unite some of the countries most accomplished Mountain Bike racers into a team with unrivalled strength in depth and to set an example to everyone involved in the sport that high-end performances are achieved in symbiosis with generosity of spirit, courtesy and integrity."

As a long term supporter of grass roots mountain biking in the UK, Hart is now undoubtedly proud to be part of this big step forward for the TORQ team. Through the hard work of dedicated team manager Rob Barker the team has attracted an impressive portfolio of sponsorship that will enable them to quite literally ‘reach for the stars!’ The partnership with Kona remains strong and for this year the team will be using a customized version of the new the Kona Kilauea, the company’s first step into the carbon market. SRAM have stepped in to provide flagship XX group sets to dress the bikes, which will be topped with Rock Shox World Cup Sids to deliver a knockout machine that weighs in under an impressive 20lbs. While a whole host of other top quality sponsors fit the team out to help them on their way to achieve their aims.

Barker commented on the new TORQ outlook:
“ We will see TORQ step into the world arena with our heads held high. With a full season of both international and domestic races, TORQ aims to be a force to reckoned with at many major events and being fortunate enough to have strong army of sponsors our aim is to promote their amazing products as well as race our hearts out aiming for that top step. We will be competing at the British Mountain Bike Race Series, where we hope to dominate the Team relay event as well as perform outstandingly across all levels as well as target World Cups and many more domestic endurance team based events”

Ben Gaby marketing manager of Kona explained their involvement once again with TORQ:
'Kona Bicycles are delighted to be working with the TORQ racing team again for the 2010 season. We believe the team has the correct balance of focus and approachability, with some exceptional athletes that can tackle the diverse 2010 events calendar. The team will be riding the brand new Kona Kilauea carbon race hardtails, developed for the rigours of top mountain bike racing.

Team Line up 2010:
Andy Blair - Elite
Anthony O Boyle - Elite
Ben Thomas - Elite
Nick Collins - Elite
Sion O Boyle - Elite
Tim Dunford - Elite
Lee Craigie - Elite Woman
James Lister - Endurance
Mateusz Wielgos - Expert
Lydia Gould - Endurance

Sponsor line up:
TORQ - Nutrition
SRAM – Group sets
Rock Shox - Forks
Avid - Brakes
MET - Helmets
Kona - Framesets
Ritchey – handlebars /stems /seatposts
Super star components – Hub & Headsets
Alex Rims - Rims
Sapin - spokes
Exposure - Lights
Fizik - Saddles
Juice lubes
Lake - shoes
Jagwire - cables
Schwalbe - Tyres
Crank Bros - Pedals
Bike Box Alan – Bike boxes
Nomad Bike Washers
Stans no tubes – Tyre Sealant
Cycleops Powertaps and Trainers – Training aids
Fibrax - brakepads
Champion system – Performance clothing
Maxgear – eyewear/compression clothing/tools

Monday, 5 April 2010


Welcome to my new blog, you can also follow me on twitter as benthomas88. I’ll be trying my best to keep you updated with how training and racing in going with my new team, the UCI registered TORQ Performance Nutrition mountain bike race team.

I originally got the racing bug back in 2005 when I started my first cross-country race which was a Southern XC race at Swinley Forest. Although I didn’t do very well I thoroughly enjoyed myself and set about planning what races to travel too in 2006. After racing Junior in 2006 I moved to the sport category then next year when I became an under 23 aged rider, at the same time I moved to university in Bristol. After my first year at uni and having had some success in the sport category including some national series wins I started taking training more seriously. Having qualified for expert in 2008 I was determined to see how far I could go.

Well the latest is that I’m now in my second year racing elite category mountain biking. Racing with Olympians, World Championships quality riders, and Commonwealth medallist’s means reaching the podium is pretty darn hard work! During my first year I had mixed success but in June was offered a contract with the TORQ team, by the end of the year I’d agreed to join and had also successfully gained enough points to race at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup. I’m now in training for my keys goals for the 2010 season, these include my participation in the World Cup which kicks off in the UK in just 3 weeks time, the part of the team based in the UK then plan to race the rounds in Belgium, Germany, and Italy. Its going to be an exciting year, in fact the excitement has already begun with the team launch taking place at the British Mountain Bike Series a week ago!

I hope you enjoy following my updates. You can read previous blogs written by myself on my previous teams blog here