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.