Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Brass Monkey 4 Hour Round 3

The first race of the year was the final Brass Monkey taking place near Aldershot in Hampshire. Just to make the start line would be a tough task with our flights landing from Gran Canaria at midnight before the race. Luckily our flights landed on time and I managed to get about 5 hours sleep before the alarm clock started beeping.

Arriving at the race venue the cold temperature was a shock to the system, going for 25 degrees centigrade to 3 degrees wasn’t huge fun! The race once again was a sell out so after my warm up I made sure of a good grid position on the front row by arriving a few minutes early. Having training hard in the mountains of Gran Canaria and after being deprived of sleep it was difficult to tell just how the legs and body would cope with the following 4 hours of pain.

I immediately took the lead up the first climb from the start line leaving me with a clear path ahead whilst the hundreds of riders behind battled it out for positition. Pretty quickly a small lead group started to form including myself, Phil Gale and Gareth Montgomerie. Having pre ridden the course before flying off to training camp I made sure to lead all the singletrack sections, half way through the first lap this fast pace on the tight twisty tracks meant Phil Gale had dropped off the back of our group.

Until lap 4 Gareth and I shared the pacesetting, however on the first climb of the lap the legs were still feeling amazingly fresh and I decided to try a small tester to see how Gareth would respond. To my surprise it was enough to get a small gap over the 2008 XC National Series Champion.

I edged out a lead over Gareth until he was out of sight and for the next 3 laps I rode alone to take a hugely satisfactory race win and overall series win. By the end of the race I’d cycled over 41 hours during the last 9 days, doing 5 to 7 hour rides in the mountains made race day almost seem easy even against some hugely talented competition!

The Brass Monkey race series each winter forms a key part of my winter base training, and the organisers put in a huge amount of effort to build in my opinion some of the best race courses in the country. For this reason I’m excited about returning again for next winter’s series.

One final thing i'd like to add is a little thank you to all the kind people out the course whether racing or watching who shouted kind support my way throughout the event.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Gran Canaria Training Camp January 2011

Last week 9 riders including 3 of the 2011 TORQ riders gathered in Gran Canaria for a weeks training camp. With temperatures ranging from 20 to 25 degrees centigrade it was ideal conditions to complete the third week in our hard January training block. Having flown in early evening we had enough time to unpack, visit the supermarket and beach, and build our bikes for the following days training.

With base miles still the key focus we headed out for a steady 5 hour day to break the legs in. Riding from the beach to the highest point on the island at 1940 metres certainly woke the legs. However the route chosen into the mountains was an easy ride in comparison to what lay ahead in the following days.

Day 2 was a really tough day on the bike, after riding west around the coast of the island we headed inland on the GC200 road before heading upward on the GC210. After already riding for 3 hours through the fantastically stunning mountain roads we choose to shortcut up the dreaded GC606, otherwise known as the Valley of Tears. Standing at the base of the GC606 we had no idea that ahead of us was 11kms of tarmac climbing at a 20% average gradient with sections of 28% gradient! The climb snaked its way up the mountain and with temperatures reaching the high twenties it proved a huge test. An hour later we finally appeared at the top of the GC606, a road we’ll never forget!

Monday and Tuesday we once again completed 5 hour rides with over 3000 metres of ascent each day. A well earned rest day was taken Wednesday where we rode down the coast to a small resort called Puerto Rico where we enjoyed some fantastic strawberry milkshakes in a nice café by the marina.

Thursday was an epic day as we completed a huge 105 mile loop on the island taking 7 hours. The 3500 metres plus of climbing included some steep ascents and proved to be an excellent days training. The descents from the top of the island every day were fantastic fun but today the views on the descent through the valleys were stunning.

On Friday with already sore legs we completed a shorter 4 hour ride up to one of cafes near the top of the mountain before descending down the GC60 which acts as a savour road for any rider staying near Maspalomas. The road descends for 40 kilometres straight down to the southern point of the island and riders can average about 35 miles per hour from top to bottom!

With tired legs and thoughts turning for some riders to Sunday’s race we completed a 2 hour ride with a few intervals to keep the legs moving before packing our bags and heading to the airport.

Along with the TORQ team last week the island played host to riders from the BMC road team, Leopard Trek road team, Bulls mtb team, Ergon mtb team, Rabobank womens road team, Alriksson Go Green womens road team, Cervelo womens road team, and Great Britain team.

Our week long trip to Gran Canaria was a fantastic week of training, laughter, sunbathing and ice cream eating. In total the TORQ riders completed around 35 hours of riding over 8 days.

Many thanks to Tim Dunford, Mel Spath, and Ryan Sherlock for showing us some fantastic routes. Also thanks to Stuart Harvey, Steve Middleton, John Pybus, Paul Hopkins, Ant White and Phil Lenney for joining Josh Ibbett, Sion O'boyle and myself for the week in Gran Canaria.

Gran Canaria training from Josh Ibbett on Vimeo.

Video of Gran Canaria

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Gran Canaria

Just waiting for the sun to rise this Friday morning, still pitch black outside, once the suns shining I’ll be out on the road for a quick spin to keep the legs moving. This afternoon we fly to Gran Canaria for a week’s warm weather training. Not got much time to write a long blog but hopefully next weeks mountainous training will complete a good month of training and this will reflect in some good results at the end of the month when the team gather at TORQ for power and lactate testing.

Looking forward to lots of this

Will be taking lots of photos and i'll check in once im back home

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Thanks for joining me over the past year and following my journey which has included many highs and several lows.

2010’s biggest highlight was that Cross Country National Championship silver medal, I went into that race with only one aim which was to win the gold medal so to come away with second was a small disappoint, I was happy though in the knowledge that every bit of energy was left out on the Pippingford race track. The season’s low point came as I crashed out of the Marathon National Champs where my eye was set firmly on another shiny medal, torn shoulder ligaments were the only thing I took away from that race. The injury still plagued me 2 weeks later at the final British XC round in Plymouth and with just a small slip of the front wheel during practise by season ended with another scar added to my torn body.

I took away from the year many happy memories and learnt many lessons. Without the help of TORQ and the team’s hugely generous sponsors my journey could not have taken place, thank you! Once again in 2011 I’ll be riding in the black and orange colours of TORQ, news on the team’s sponsors and rider changes will be released over the next couple of weeks.

My schedule for 2011 is already pretty full and I’m excited about the year ahead especially the opportunity of racing more regional based events. World Cup’s and European marathon events will also feature in this years travels.

Next week I fly to Gran Canaria for training camp before returning to defend my lead at the final round of the Brass Monkey Winter Series. Following this the team will gather for a weekend of performance testing at TORQ HQ in Shropshire. My full schedule can be found here