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