Category Archives: Events

Posts about events

Winter Riding Update

So we’re past the winter solstice, Christmas has been and gone and we’re into a New Year.

I managed a reasonable amount of miles over the festive period and I appear to have shaken off some sort of low level illness that seemed to sap my energy and power that was making rides much harder and less enjoyable.

I managed 6 rides over the break from work, with 3 in the new Year where I felt more like my old self.

The local 20 mile loop, which tends to  be the most ridable, is proving to be a real slog of a ride after all the rain we’ve had. Sodden ground has moved to thick sticky mud meaning drivechain issues and a lot of energy to get around. No such thing as free-wheeling downhill – it requires pushing as hard as you can while trying to stay upright.

I did try a spin out on the canal tow path a couple of times, one was wet and fun the other on Boxing Day provided every man and his Nan out walking and 3 punctures.

I took a day to head to Cannock on the 2nd where I did a lap of Follow the Dog followed by the Monkey Trail. I really enjoy riding them and it’s the first time in ages I’ve visited to ride them solo. Times were on the slow side given the slippy conditions but it was great to get out with hardly anyone else around.

Follow the Dog and Monkey Trail Strava records.

All rides have been on the Yeti as new upgrade parts have arrived and are waiting to be fitted. I’m going to trash the current SLX \ XT bits in the winter mud before I head to Plush Hill Cycles for Al to rebuild it for me. There’s a post in draft about the upgrade which I’ll finish this week.

 

Wiggle Mountain Mayhem 2013

It’s been announced today that Mayhem is moving to a new location.

I can’t say it’s a big surprise after last year, and it will be good to have somewhere new to ride. The press release says it’s somewhere never used for cycling before and with well made forest tracks that drain well. Clearly a statement made to try and win back some riders who no doubt said never again after the mud-bath of 2012.

It’s less than 40 miles from Eastnor, which is a large area but my money is somewhere westwards towards Wales, maybe the Wye valley.

Dates are 15/16th June and wherever we end up going I’m sure Pat and the team will put on another outstanding event. Can’t wait for more details…

 

Winter break

Fear. Pain. Excitement.

These 3 words became the strap-line for a recent 2 day trip to North Wales when I rode with a mate at Coed-y-Brenin and Nant-yr-Arian.

We both had a couple of days holiday to use up before the end of the year and for one reason or another we’d not had our regular group winter weekend away. With spouse passes were applied for and stamped, holiday from work booked, B&B sorted we set off for Dollgellau in North Wales on Sunday night. It was a fair old trek to get there and it rained for the last part of the journey but we booked in at 7pm and were in the pub by half past. A couple of beers and food in a local restaurant and it was decided to start off with the old Red Bull trail now called Tarw Du.

Monday 3rd Dec 2012 – Coed-y-Brenin

The carpark was eerily empty when we got there at 9.30 with only a few cars, non with Coed-y-Breninbike racks. It seemed that we were alone in our idea of an early December days riding on a Monday. The joy of riding on a pair is that there is less bike tweaking and general faffing about. New pads had been fitted on Sunday night so the bikes were taken of the rack and we were ready to ride in no time at all. As we have similar fitness and ability levels we decided to ride 2 trails each day where in a larger group you’d struggle with darkness closing in around 4pm. All that extra bike tweaking, mechanical issues and waiting for the slower climbers/descenders means you lose valuable riding time.

Tarw Du

The first ever UK trail centre route, sponsored by Red Bull, is an iconic trail. You start off riding through the red bulk horns and there is a shortish fun singletrack ending with Seven Sisters section, to start to get yourself dialled in. It’s a good indicator as to what’s to come.

Snap, Crackle and Pop are short and interesting

MBR

The cafe was empty. We were the only customers and although not hungry decided we’dCoed-y-Brenin eat which in retrospect was a bad idea. Cheese and Tomato panini after a cooked breakfast and  couple of hours riding made for a slow start to the afternoons lap of MBR. There are some cracking sections, most of which I can’t recall the names of but I do know that I enjoyed Rocky Horror show.

Evening

The Stag Inn provided us with a couple of pints of decent beer plus a decent sized meal. An early night followed so we’d be fit and ready for day 2

Tuesday 4th December – Nant-yr-Arian

It’s a fair drive from Dolgellau to Nant-yr-Arian and it seems the vast majority of the EU funding money is being spent adding 6ft to the width of most of the roads. An hour or so later we arrived to another almost empty car park. We made the third car with bikes and parked in the most sheltered part of the car park to avoid the rather cold wind.
The plan was more of what we’d done at Coed-y-Brenin so we set off to ride…

Summit

Not as long as Tarw Du, nor as extreme but Summit is a cracking trail. The highlights are The Italian Job and Mark of Zorro sections with High as a Kite to finish.The rest is either a bit of a slog (The leg burner is just that and Emanuelle is really just not worth it) or not overly exciting.

These 3 sections really make this trail great and we arrived back at the cafe in great spirits.

Pendam

After a quick coffee and cake-fest (Coffee and Walnut for Pete, Chocolate for myself) we Packing updecided to ride Pendam in the afternoon. Our hearts wanted to ride Summit again but the legs said something shorter and it includes The Italian Job and High as a Kite so we knew there were some fun sections. I don’t remember much of the rest of the trail but the second ride of the sections we did in Summit were much faster and smoother.

Quick change, hose down bikes and we were headed home.

Final Thoughts

I’m writing this a week after and the lasting memories are of the Fear of riding fast down some of the rockier sections, the Pain of the climbs and he sheer childish Excitement of taking 2 days off school to go ride my bike with a mate to single some amazing singletrack. It’s trips like this that make getting up early and riding the muddy fields of Warwickshire in all weathers to get fit, worthwhile.

Both centres and trails will be packed in the summer, but I feel we got the best deal, riding in early December, on empty trails, on amazing bikes with no waiting around. I’ll be booking more holiday and heading to Wales soon.

 Info
We stayed at : Ivy House B&B in Dolgellau
We rode : Yeti ASR-AL (Dave), Giant Anthem (Pete)
We enjoyed : Tarw Du, MBRSummitPendam
We filmed using : GoPro Hero2
We ate at : Stag Inn, Dolgellau
We had: a brilliant 2 days

Winter riding update

I’m disappointed.

I’ve not really upped my riding from the usual Sunday morning to include early morning and nights. I want to but I seem to have barely enough time to get all the normal life things done. I feel like I’m putting on some weight as well but I guess winter can do that

Last Sundays ride was a proper winter outing though. Started off dry when I left home, started the tiniest bit of drizzle on the way to meet up. gradually got heavier as the ride went on. The trails were 7/10 on the muddy scale resulting in a couple of dabs through the woods where it got tricky. Pete lost his front wheel and ended up in a ditch. I was covered in mud, soaking wet and a bit cold.

The key to enjoying riding in the mud is to keep up your momentum. At one point I dropped behind Pete on a muddy section after I dabbed and riding at my normal pace wasn’t closing the gap. Dropping a couple of gears and spinning back up to my normal 95 cadence made a dramatic difference. The bike squirmed around with both front and rear sliding but keeping the speed up  and your vision well ahead means it soon recovers. Slight downhill sections become great fun as the bike slithers all over the place and rather than catching up on the path after the section feeling tired, I was on his wheel during the downhill and ended up grinning like a child.

Strava ride log

A great ride – the cold, wet, muddy ones tend to be.

Coaching, the best upgrade you can buy.

I’ve been riding bikes since I was a kid and mountain bikes for 25 years. I’ve raced, ridden trail centres and headed out for a days with a map and hours to enjoy.

I’ve learnt all the techniques from riding and experience (maybe falling off as well) as well as reading magazines and watching and talking to people far better than I am.

So having gone all this time with no coaching, I’ve had 2 cracking sessions in the past year. The session a few weeks ago has given me a whole new focus on riding so I thought it was worth writing up a few thoughts. Good coaches are hard to find and reputation and word of mouth is by far the best way to find someone

Earlier this year I used a voucher my lovely wife bought me for Christmas with Peaks Outdoor coaching. I opted for a whole day 1-on-1 session up in the peaks to help with my mental block of riding my full suss Yeti ASR down rocky descents at a speed faster than a snail (maybe a slight exaggeration…).

I had a specific goal in mind and once we found a few sections that I wasn’t confident on to tweak my approach. The result was exactly what I was after as  my confidence was vastly improved, I picked up a few tips and was much faster as a result.

Earlier this year a mate booked us a group session with Tony at UK Bike Skills. We were a mixture of ability and experience from decades of MTBing to a couple of years yet we all progressed, learnt new skills and mentally came away changed men.

What makes a good coach?

Tony is a good coach.

He is often called ‘Jedi’ which is entirely appropriate as his approach is very much a mental one. He understands people, what makes them tick, how they learn, what they are scared off and how they are progressing.  A good coach doesn’t just run through the manual of how to ride, they tailor the techniques to each person.

There is no time limit to the session, it ends when we can’t ride any longer be it mental/physical tiredness or a lack of light and the training doesn’t stop on the day as he is open to you getting in touch afterwards.

I can’t go into his techniques but they work. At the start of the day we were doing small drop offs next to a 6ft table top that we all agreed we would never ride. Come the end of the day we had all cleared it plus the gap jump.

All coaching is good if it works for the person being coached. Tony makes sure that the way you learn is built into how he approaches the session. Many people find it mentally tiring as there is a lot to take in and think about but it’s probably the single biggest leap forward in my riding that I’ve made ever. Local trails are now being ridden with a different perspective, bikes have been set-up differently and my biking mojo has been given an always welcome boost.

The write up of our session has more details and I can’t recommend a session with Tony. It’s the best upgrade you can possibly make to your riding.

Read the coaching Blog.

 

Allez Wiggo

What an incredible 3 weeks we’ve just witnessed.

Brad might have been marked as the favourite for GC but did anyone really believe that he would win, and by such a margin, and from another Sky rider, and that Brits would win 1 in 3 of the stages …

It’s been reported on in detail in the press but I think what has appealed most is Brad’s lack of media training, his outburst and swearing came across as an athlete with passion.

I spent all my days during the last 3 weeks avoiding all media so I could follow the live coverage recorded from ITV4 and then my evening staying up late watching it unfold. Decent cycling coverage has been sadly lacking the past decade or so and so the benefits of digital are helping with mainstream coverage. I spent 3 hours on Sunday glued to the TV with Wife and Daughter – watching history unfold – all of us gripped to a niche sport on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Amazing,

So hats off to: (in order of importance)

  1. the SKY Riders – They have to do the incredible job of riding the miles and being professional when the media tried to show cracks in the team
  2. Dave Brailsford – for having the dream and making it happen
  3. ITV – for showing so much live coverage

you can’t forget the other teams/riders/support crew  but without the 2 above it woul dhave been just another Tour. They have changed British Cycling, indeed British sport.

Brilliant Gripping and hopefully for a lot of youngsters, life changing.

Monday night quick spin

With legs tired from Sundays 36miles and a frustrating day of work, I took off after dinner for a quick spin on the road bike.

I did a variation of the quick 30min loop I often do when I’ve not got a lot of time and tried to pace myself rather than the usual ride-like-I-stole-it pace.

My mojo is still high and being fit and strong enough to sprint up some of the hills (small that they are) is such an exhilarating feeling.

Roll on another ride in a day or 2.

Ride details

Sunday’s Road ride

Whenever Pete can’t ride I’m left with a dilemma as to what and where to ride and this Sunday it was laziness and Wiggo that prompted the choice of a road ride.

The Yeti still has mud tyres on it from Mayhem, the Van Nic wasn’t cleaned after a midweek  evening ride so with the Tour in full flow, the road bike was the only choice at 7am on sunday morning.

I need to fit in some longer, lower  effort rides as most of the time I ride at race pace so this proved a decent opportunity to keep the HR low and enjoy a solo ride on a quiet Sunday morning. I tried to keep my HR in the 140’s and to start with the proved not to difficult, but as I’ve found over the past 18mnths or so I seem to take nearly an hour to get warmed up so the latter half of the ride was at a slightly higher pace.

With no plan as to where to go I stopped a couple of times to work out a route on my phone to try and get back home at a reasonable time. It would have been nice to have been out a bit longer … maybe next week,

I’ve been uploading my rides to Strava recently rather than Sporttracks as I can access the rides anywhere and upload as I’m riding if the Garmin runs out of juice. The ride log shows I averaged 17mph which is better than I was expecting as I took it quite easy.

Later on during Sunday I got a headache and felt very tired = not enough fluids and I need to ride more.

 

TdF one week in

What a first week it’s been. I don’t think I’ve been this caught up in a tour since the late 80’s when Greg LeMond won for the first time.

I got slightly disinterested during the Armstrong era but with my renewed interest in road cycling, a British Team and decent TV coverage it’s hard not to get back into it.

Cav looks good with just Bernie to look after him, Wiggo is looking and sounding like a winner, Froome is awesome : bring on the second half of the race.

The Tour

What a year of sport we’ve got and one of the highlights has to be this years Tour de France.
It’s always exciting and with Wiggins and Cav both now at Sky who have some experience of tours there is real british interest and hope of a GC win.

The prologue timetrial started today and as with most of the tour I’ll have to record it, avoid all media and watch it late at night.

Cracking ride by Wiggo, clearly in good form but a long way to go. Roll on the first stage.