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.