Monday, 22 December 2008

I hate your SUV!


Raced CX yesterday. Oli won, which surprised me- he must have peaked twice this season: This weekend and The Olympics. ;-) I bagged fourth despite repeating my errors of the last round (too big a gear and crashing!).

I also borrowed a Surly Big Dummy from Cass, who is away meditating in Asia. Ten days with no talking. I can’t imagine it, but it’s certainly a challenge! Anyway the bike is great! Really stable but equally more nippy than you’d imagine. It’s just really fun, and I want to play with it more! Dummy up!

World Team Challenge- Cyprus


Sorry for the gap in postings but it’s that time of year and between Christmas parties, work and trying to get some riding and running in I’ve been pretty busy.

The World team Challenge was a great event. I really liked Cyprus and it was definitely the best venue I’ve been to for one of these events. The journey build up is always a little tense, but this time at least the journey went smoothly. I got picked up at 3am and made for Heathrow, terminal 5. We effortlessly cruised through security, seeing no evidence of the chaos the media had led us to believe in. The journey was long but pretty un-eventful, so by the time we got to the hotel and grabbed dinner it everyone was pretty much ready for bed.

Thursday was spent preparing for the event- assembly bikes, a quick ride and then a ride to loosen up the legs and stocking up on supplies. By the evening we had time to have a swim and a bit of relaxing before the event briefings started.



Friday morning saw us start the first stage high on Mount Olympus the area was lovely and the weather was beautiful and sunny but with snow hiding in the shade. Challenger stages are never easy to explain (that’s part of the attraction of the event!) but the general format of this one was a four hour ride and run with twelve “challenges”. The challenges could be done in any order but you had the added complication of having to collect points to allow you time in each of 3 zones. We set off at a casual pace but kept going steadily, slowly knocking off one challenge at a time. Some were puzzles, one was hill sprints, one was carrying people, good performances gave you time bonuses. In the end we managed eleven of the twelve and comfortably won the stage.

The next stage was back at the hotel at night. We had to solve puzzles and run around to get materials in order to construct canoes. Again we had a solid performance, winning the stage. Finishing quickly would have allowed most teams to go to bed early but instead we went through course notes and strategy for the stage the following morning. Unfortunately this didn’t pay off.


The third stage saw us split into two pairs. The two pairs had to communicate using flags and then run to appropriate checkpoints to “buy” goods and then run somewhere else to sell them. Unfortunately, despite a generally good performance one silly error landed us with a huge penalty (excessively large in our view). This knocked us down to sixteenth in this stage, which placed us third going in to the final stage. For the final stage the ranking equated to a penalty; nothing for first, five minutes for us, and increasing as you move down the table. You have to sit out the penalty towards the end of the stage. I’d already seen the map of the final stage so knew it was going to be tight. 1km run then 25km downhill on the mountain bikes followed by a 5km run and punctuated by 4 “Brain Cells” where you had to answer a puzzle or sit out a further penalty. We got off to a good start, leading the field to the first Brain Cell. Then we got the puzzle wrong. As we sat out our five-minute penalty several teams passed us. So off we chased. The second question we got correct and put us back in the lead on the ground. We chain-ganged along the coast slowly extending our lead, right up to the third Brain Cell. Where we, once again, got the question wrong and we lost the lead. Now we knew that it was going to be super close. We still had to sit out our five-minute penalty (for qualifying third) and the leaders, Sanlam Investment Management from South Africa, were in front of us with no penalty. By the transition into the run we had made up a fair bit of time and we came almost together. We sat out our penalty as they made almost three minutes on us- quite a margin to make over 5km! Those few minutes were tense. We set off at a quick pace, and as the weakest runner I opted to get a tow from Pete. Team before pride. There wasn’t much talking going on- just time splits when we caught a sight of them. Slowly we got closer. Then is a rocky-as-hell section we caught them. Showing their sportsmanship they let us past without a fuss and wished us luck. We then hit tarmac and the pace quickened. There was a long straight, but no one looked back there was no point- we couldn’t go any quicker. We got to the hotel with them out of sight and headed to the final Brain Cell. We knew this one was an observation question. We had to put a series of photos from the course in the correct order. It was a tough call, so we made an informed guess. Wrong. The South Africans came in about 2 minutes down. The now knew if they got the question right they would beat us and win the event. If they got it wrong, they couldn’t make up the time. So they deliberated over it. All we could do is wait. But they got it wrong. Then the US Air Force came in, and again got the question wrong. As we counted down our penalty we knew we had it in the bag! 4 of us ran around the harbour while Chewy had to swim across. We helped him out and ran over the finish line together to claim the title for another year!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Challenger Worlds 2008

In a couple of hours I’m of to Cyprus for the Challenger World final. Teams from all around the world have qualified for this event as a culmination of a years worth of heats held as far apart as Singapore, New York and German. The event runs Friday and Saturday, but we don’t know the format until it starts. On past experience it’s likely to include cross-country running, mountain biking, canoeing and orienteering while all the time having to solve tough puzzles and crack complex strategy! It’s not easy!

We’ve won the event for the last 4 years, although I’ve ‘only’ done 3. The rules have had a bit of a tweak this year but once again we are out there to win it. You can keep up with the results here.

Snow + Rocking!

I realise I’ve been very quiet on the topic of my clothing selection, there’s been a reason for that: I’ve been trying to sort out a sponsor. At last I’ve got there! Snow + Rock are going to be providing me with clothing and much of the Survival gear I’ll be taking with me. I’m really excited! They have a store very close to my work and, even before this was organised, have been a great help at selecting kit. I’ll be getting a few bits soon (boots!) but I still need to deliberate over some other stuff so expect more news soon.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Fuel for adventure!

Mule Bar sent through a load of bars for me to take out to Cyprus. Included were the new Apple Strudel and Liquorice Allsports. The Strudel is a new firm favorite. Yum.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Gears of War



I got a little package through the post the other day. My gears are here:

On-one Stainless steel Chanring 32t

On-one Groove Armada Sprockets: 1 x18 t, 2 x 20t and 1 x 22t.


They are all very nicely finished. I’m especially impressed with the chainring. I suspect I'll get some more of these in the future. On the Pug I’m intending to run a 18 and 20 on one wheel and a 20 and 22 on the other. I'll space them outboard as far as I can, but space them a bit further apart from normal.


Is it still a single speed when I have 3 different gears? Does any one care? I suspect “no” for both.


Spoke and nipples also turned up, so, hopefully, I'll get the rims drilled, and the wheels built up this weekend. I’d better check I've got a suitable long bolt and enough spacers to dish the hub in the jig.


As an aside Brant from On-one completed Iditabike a couple of times and wrote some great articles about it in, now defunct, UK mag Mountain Bike Pro. He’s been a great source of information about how I “might not die”. Cheers Brant.


Currently I'm trying to sort out a big pile of old parts and clothing for tomorrows bike jumble at Mud Dock. Hopefully it will add a bit to my flights fund!

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Mmm SMEG!


I just noticed that Alpkit have started their Christmas competition. You can win a one-off SMEG fridge. The one in the picture. "The competition is not open to Alpkit employees, family and especially not Alpkit sponsored athletes." Killjoys ;-)

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Ghost Trails

I just got a copy of, Iditarod Invitational racer, Jill Homer's new book- "Ghost Trails". If her blog is anything to go by, it will be great. Get it here.

Dynamic


Sorry, more rubbish camera phone pictures. I was supposed to be racing...

Saturday I headed up for my first attempt at a Dynamic Adventure race. I was feeling a bit under the weather, with the onset of a horrible cold, and probably should have stayed in bed but a chance to stretch my legs was too tempting. The Intelligent Sport World final is less than two weeks away so I wanted a bit of a test of my navigation skills and a nice run in the countryside. Although as Challenger team mates Chewy and Pete are out injured and ill respectively above all I really needed to stay healthy!

Tom and Big Dave paired up and I raced solo. I opted to run first, with half a mind to skip the cycling entirely in an attempt to avoid the sick list. It was a lovely frosty day and the wildlife was out in force. I had planned a conservative start with options of how much to do on the return leg, depending on how I was feeling. Due to this choice I soon found myself breaking new trail through the frost and ice. I lost track of the number of deer, pheasants and foxes I saw as I ran alone through the mist. Overnight ice had formed on all the trees and long grass. When the wind blew it would flake of and it seemed as if it was snowing huge flakes. It was all very pretty. Visibility wasn't great but a couple of hours in it lifted for an hour or so, just long enough for some fantastic views.

My legs felt good but the cold was hampering my breathing so I took it easy and enjoyed the day. The navigation went well, with only one over mistake. I cleared all checkpoints in 3hrs 20. I got back to the transition to re-evaluate. In the name of conservation I opted out of the ride section, a move that was a little disappointing, as I thought I had a good chance to win my category. It turned out my run time was only 15 minutes slower than Tom and Dave who went on to win overall, so not at all bad.

It was a very fun event and I'll have to have a look in to doing more in the future.


photo by Lipsquid.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

One Of Those Days

It really was One Of Those Days. Mel left first thing in the morning, she's away for three days on an outdoor training course. I'm jealous and will miss her. I had a glass of juice and a bowl of cereal, nice and relaxed. I picked up my commute bike. Overnight puncture. Arse. Now in a rush, I grabbed up the newly built (or rather bodged) touring bike. It needs some reworking, and reminded me about it all the way to the office.

Work was too much, well, work. Nothing went to plan, and seemingly nothing got done. I found-out that my Challenger team-mate, Chewy, is injured and plans for the Dynamic at the weekend, and our trip to Cyprus in a few weeks are up in the air.

I rushed out as soon as I could leave, looking forward to the long way home. Then on the first off-road section I binned it over the bars at a fair old speed. My left foot failed to come out of the, well past it's use-by date, Time pedal. I landed on my knees and chest, for a split second it want that bad, then the rear rack crashed down on my coccyx. Argh. I lay there for a moment, checking I was OK. A bit bruised and battered but not that bad. I picked myself up, and headed home on the road. Within three miles I nearly got hit by the same number of cars. First one cut a corner at speed, second one overtook me then turned off a few feet later, then a red light jumper. Some really bad driving.

Sometimes I really wonder how we live so long! I think I deserve a beer and another couple of chapters of The White Spider. Hopefully tomorrow is a better day!

Sunday, 16 November 2008

SW 'Cross



Last night was James and Raluca's leaving party. Bristol will miss them. Seeing as it hasn't stopped raining since they moved here perhaps we'll have a dry winter though...

Nice to catch up with Dom and Louisa, Sam and Deano.

Today was the local Cyclocross race. I finally got my X0 out of 3 Peaks build in to it's normal drop-bar form, and had my first proper use of the tub wheels I got cheap from Dom. Unfortunately I couldn't find my chain whip so I ended up on too steep a gear- 39:15. The course was leafy and quite hard going in places despite there being no real climbs.

I took of with the leaders, sitting happily in 5th until half way through the second lap when I high-sided it in to a bush. Got it back together and made my way back up to 6th. Had a good battle with Dave from John's Bikes, but he eventually got the better of me. Towards the end I was reduced to running past lapped riders. Despite the bike going well and me feeling strong. Finished on the same lap as the winner, 6th. 39:17 for the Cris' 'Cross back there.

Pic by James' brother David.

I am not a number!

Ok thats not true I'm happy to be Racer 35. Woop!

Saturday, 15 November 2008

I found the lost member of the Happy Days gang

Really.

Yesterday afternoon I went out with our work Challenger World team. The plan was for the 3 teams to do a mock stage. The basic jist was running and Mountain Biking orienteering to collect sets which allowed us to answer questions and play darts to score more points. Tom and set of on our bikes while Chewy and Pete set off on foot. We were having a fun ride despite the mud. We rode up a white lane to Charmy Down, a deserted World war 2 Night Fighter base. It's a strange spooky place with cows grazing on the runway and loads of derelict buildings. I'll have to have more of a look around (perhaps on a trip out to here). On our way down a guy in a nice old Merc was stopped on the road, we had a chat for a few minutes. Apparently they want to build a car park over the airfield, but he's been trying to stop it. He also mentioned that there are now wild Boar in the area- I'd not heard of them so far south. Interesting. Anyway, as he drove of, Tom and I realised that we both recognised him as an actor, but couldn't put our finger on who he was. I had to search he web when I got home, but finally found him.

Despite a really good ride, which our team completely got the wrong end off the stage. Consequently we completely messed the event up and came last. Better now than in the real event...

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Cheers Griff!

I got a package from Uncle Griff at Trek. Thet's a big pile of Bontrager bits I need for the build kit.

Earl Crow bars, 25mm rise
King Earl post, 330mm
Race X Lite Stem, 110mm 7 Degree
Race X Lite grips
Bar ends
Inform RL saddle
26x2.20-2.50 tubes (lets see if they work!)
Trek Angel cage

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Random factor, like a tractor


That was a random weekend. Very little in the way of riding but got a lot of things sorted. Managed a 3 hr ride straight out of work on Friday then a quick shower and dashed to meet Mel and head to the airport. Ran in to two sets of friends in the bar- Dylan, Clare and baby Cadel and The Boy Wonder. Time for a quick chat then jumped on the Queezyjet to Glasgow. By coincidence we ended up sat by a guy, Liam, who was on his way up to DJ a gig. He’s in to dirt jump bikes so we got chatting, turns out he was friends with Parry from my old local shop- Psyclewerx. A couple of drinks later and the flight had (ahem) flown by. We said our goodbyes and headed of to Trina (her photo again) and Jon's flat. Jon mixed up some of his famous Bloody Marys and we chatted until past our bed time


Saturday morning I had to get measured up for a Kilt, for my wedding next year. As predicted it was a very easy, but expensive morning. One more thing crossed of that list. After a bit more shopping we headed back to the flat. For some reason we decided to start mixing cocktails... The rest of the night goes a bit fuzzy, but suffice to say some mixes were worse than others, but I cant remember which were which. I slept well.


Sunday saw us rise earlyish and head over to to the SXC race in Peebles. As I hadn't brought a bike I borrowed Jon's trusty Roshambo, while he rode his “Supra Beasto” with an Endomorph front tyre- not very 'cross. That said, he was dressed as a Ninja, which you don’t see a lot of in Belgium either. The field was about 100 strong and the course was very good. Euro-style I guess- lots of grass and tricky, slippery off-camber corners but several fast tarmac sections. Fun! I didn't have a very good start but I had a few fun battles with the people around me. About 20 minutes in I finally got in to a rhythm and put in a few quick laps and enjoyed picking people off. I kept feeling stronger towards the end and finished feeling pretty happy with myself. No idea where I came but that doesn't really matter, does it?! After a quick change it was time for the kids race, which also had a large field. They all seemed to be loving it and it was great to watch them, elbows out against each other. At the prize giving they all won something and got an enthusiastic cheer from the crowd. We scoffed birthday cake and bacon rolls. Anja won the women’s category, much to her surprise. I won a beer for having a beard. All good.


After that there was just time to get back to Glasgow, cook and eat some bolognaise and catch our flight. Really feels like it was more than a weekend.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Rollapaluza at Mud Dock


Since running in to Casper and Winston at SSWC07 I've been trying to get Mud Dock to host a Rollapaluza roller racing night. Last night it finally happened. There was a good turn out with about 70-80 racers and a lot of spectators. Unfortunately I got knocked out in the round (I blame the endurance training!) but that gave me a good chance to spectate, enjoy a few glasses of the Portuguese red and catch up with some friends. The normal crew were all there, but it was especially good to see Gord and Gooner who had both made quite a journey. The crowd was noisy and the racing close. fantastic!

Although he only came second, ride of the night was definitely Duncan Ferris who posted the 7th fastest time ever!

It was a top night hopefully it'll be repeated soon!

sorry about the camera phone pics...

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Lunchtime in the woods, lunch at the desk.

I went out running this lunchtime. It's the first time I've managed it in a while- I'd forgotten how much fun it is. 45min to 2hrs out in the woods certainly breaks up the day! Today was fairly short but eight people were out, which was a nice size group. I hadn't planned to in out today so i'm now enjoying the excuse to fill up on junk food.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

12 hours of Local

Last Friday Mikey decided to go for a big local ride. 8pm to 8am. We rode all our favorite trails, had some good chat and then went for breakfast. Unfortunately Mikey managed to smash the one GPS we had with us so I have no idea how far we rode. Ah, well. Are hours in the saddle or miles more important? All in a great fun ride though, this is set to become a more regular feature of our riding.

Picture is us at 7:30 am, Ashton Court with Bristol behind us.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Friday, 24 October 2008

Crunch

The pound is down to 1.52 against the dollar. That essentially means my entry fee has gone up £100 in the last few weeks. :-(

12 hr local ride tonight with Mikey. Should be fun.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Reunion

I had a good ride down to Exeter on Friday. 100 miles on the road. Quite a nice day and a rare chance to move quickly. The rest of the weekend was a lot more relaxed- it was 10 years since I started University so we used the excuse to catch up with some old friends. Found a LP copy of Excellent Italian Greyhound, played a little bowling and generally tried our best to catch up.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

WOW!

I just heard from Chipps he says:

I took the liberty of mentioning your campaign to Mr Stamstad. He says "That aheadset cap is great, I am honored."

Thats pretty cool in my book!

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

The Ride Journal

The Ride Journal have been hassling me to submit something for a while. I finally sent them something about "why the iditarod has latched itself into your brain as something you'd like to do, and what your doing to prepare from it here in the UK." it will be in issue 2.

If you didn't see issue 1 buy a copy now before they're gone. It really is very good.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

"late summer heat"

I just got an email from Bill Merchant- one of the race directors. I thought I'd share it. Stuff like this gets me excited.

"Hello to All

Some of you are probably still living and training in late summer heat but in South Central Alaska the leaves have fallen, morning low temperatures are below freezing and it is snowing outside now. I was told they had 2 ½ feet of snow at Putilla the other night. Many of us here hope to be biking, running and skiing on snow covered trails soon. This type of weather always puts the Iditarod Trail back in my mind day and night. My head is busy with memories of past races and racers, details to get ready for the next race and of course excitement about seeing all our friends from the lower 48 and around the world in February.

We already have a lot of old friends on the roster and several rookies we look forward to meeting this year. Kathi will be race director during the race and I will be on the trail as one of the trail breakers. Rob Kehrer called me and we are glad he will be back for his 5th year as trailbreaker and checker at Rohn. Be sure and tell Rob, Lisa, Terry and Jasper thanks when you go through Rohn. Putting a trail in over Rainy Pass, building trail in the Dalzel and being the checker in Rohn is about as tough a job as you can find. Without the hard work of a lot of people we would never have the Iditarod Trail every winter.

As conditions on the trail change though the winter I will keep you updated even though all the veterans know the only time you will know what to expect is moment by moment while you are on the trail. We have had two years in a row of good trail conditions but what it will be this year we just have to wait and see. However bad the conditions might be I think it's always better than a good day in the city.

I hope all of you have a great winter training season where ever you are.

Bill"

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Sad Pug

Before

The Pugsley is looking rather sad today. Sam from Singular Cycles borrowed the Paul levers for a show bike so it seemed a good chance to strip the wheels: I'm re-using the rims. However I don't have the new spokes or correct size holesaw I need before I can re-build them. A lot of the other parts have to come off as well. The bars are the wrong shape, the saddle is worn out, the pedals are plain rubbish... One thing at a time.
After

The Cycle Show

On Friday I got the train to London Village for the Cycle Show. I hooked up with Jim from Alpkit. We had a good chat about some future projects as well as the design of the kit I want for Alaska. Turns out, while he was at Peak, he made some frame bags for a racer, but couldn't remember who it was (Who was it? that intrigues me). He was super positive about the whole thing and I'm sure there are some good things in the pipeline. I'm keeping quiet for now, but the prototype stuff will be up here when I get it!

After that I ran in to Jimmy from Mule Bar. I originally met him, and Alex, at the TransScotland. At that stage, they were some of those guys pushing a new p
roduct that they really believed in but hadn't taken off yet. Thankfully, unlike most of *those* people, they had a really good product. This year they had a new Apple Strudel flavour, which is my new favorite. Although the Piña colada is still right up there!

Then Lunch with Griff from Trek. It seems like next year I'm riding for the same company as Lance, Mr Clean and some super good dh riders. The Athertons deny it's them.
So no pressure! I'm just a step below them in the food chain, honest...

Then beer and schmoosing, the obvious choice was to find Chipps. Not only does he know everyone, he can smell a free drink from a quarter mile. After drinking all the free wine at the booth beside Singletrack we headed over to Continental who had some great wheat beer. At this stage it degenerated. Although it's interesting to know that both Nick Craig and I have worse looking legs than Chipps. And Martyn Ashton is very coy about how much he works out. Something new ever day.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Seeing double

Going to re-build my wheels. Here's the first step- Hope Pro II single speed hubs. Cheers for getting them Gooner.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Après pub bivy

Friday night we headed out to the pub for Kirsties birthday. A good time was had by all. When we got kicked out I headed to the woods, a couple of hours on my town bike had me ready for bed. I set up camp in an old quarry on a comfortable bed of leaf mulch. I got woken up a couple of hours later by heavy ran drumming down on my bag. I took that opportunity to put on thin fleece. I had decided to try using a Gore Concept Gilet (thanks to Matt Carr for the loan). It's an awesome bit of kit- essentially it works like a normal gilet but if you stop you blow in to a hose and network of tubes inflate to provide a remarkable level of insulation. However in this application it didn't work too well. Firstly, most of the tubing is on the shoulders and back, This works well while stood up or on the bike, and while this will provide an element of protection from the cold ground the front doesn't really hold heat in. Secondly, after a couple of hours the tubes deflated, not surprising really seeing as I was lying on them but the fact it I was then essentially just wearing a Goretex gilet, which isn't really the tool for the job. Shame, it didn't work its a piece of kit, just not for sleeping in.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Penny jar


Several years back I got given a bottle of Bruichladdich single malt. While the whisky is long gone the tin has moved with me, from my mouldy old flat to our (still not done up) house. It has been slowly filling with coins waiting for this day. A good old-fashioned, low-tech, solution for those of us who aren't good at saving. I've got to give Kathi a call to sort wiring my entry money, just got to wait to be paid. Then got to worry about flights. Yikes.

On a completely related subject thanks to all who have donated so far, it's all helping making it a reality! Topcaps are now spelt correctly...

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Date change.

The start date for the race has been put back a week to align it's self with the Iditarod Dog Sled Race. The new start date is Sunday March 1, 2009, looks like I'll be en-route on my birthday.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Three Peaks 2008

That was a weekend of two half's... Saturday was a relaxing day with (pretend twin) Jon and Trina (that's her pic). Followed by a slap up meal and a few drinks.

Pic stolen from Steve there's some great photos on his flickr page...

Sunday saw my third stab at the Three Peaks Cyclocross race. This is a pretty brutal race over three very big, very steep and often very rocky hills. Mountain bikes aren't allowed. On my previous rides I've always destroyed a rear wheel which has somewhat slowed me down... This year my number one aim was to get round with the bike intact. The weather was very good- not too hot but the ground was pretty dry and fast. No surprise then that Rob Jebb won for a record 7th time in a row and took time out of his own course record as well. I took the ride fairly steady, my single speed slowed me down on the road sections but I seemed to out ride everyone around me once we hit dirt. On the final peak I was still feeling fairly fresh so pushed it a bit harder and came in just over 4 hours, and the first of the few single speeders. The bike held up pretty well, with the exception of a grip coming off and the saddle slipping it all seems in working order, I must have been riding smoother than it felt. Even the body isn't feeling too bad. I can go much faster another time and as I believe I was only 9 minutes behind the single speed record so there's something else to aim for in future.

Pic by Dave, more great pictures.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Friday night bivy

In the name of kit testing and fiddling with setup I was in need of a good bivying trip. I opted to head out late on Friday, after a couple of beers and a film, Mel headed to bed and I went out the door with the Pug. Down the secret river singletrack, up through Ashton Court and in to Leigh Woods. About 01:30 I arrived at my planned location for the night. Within a minute my Bivy roll was off the handle bars and I had jumped in. I had a beer and played about with my Whisperlite for a while then got my head down for a few hours. I slept in an old Rab bivy with my Topbag and a bit of foil bubblewrap (loft insulation) as a sleeping mat. No good for Alaska but a great setup for fast and light missions in the UK. I slept like a log but woke up about 7, happy to wake up in the sounds and smells of the woods. It was a lovely bright day so I quickly packed up and headed out for another ride. As you do.

So how did the kit testing go? First up lighting. Normally I use the excellent Exposure lights but in Alaska i will be needing a greater runtime but I'll be able to get away with a lot less power. On this occasion I took a Alpkit Gamma and ziptied the Joystick to the top. The Gamma is a great bit of kit- With the Luxeon LED on low power there was adequate light to ride with and a 20hr burn time. However once in camp I switched to the low power white LED to preserve the battery. Another nice feature us the rear red LED. Build quality is great and they only cost £12.50! Brilliant. I'm intending to pack one as my spare for Alaska. Main torch looks likely to be a Petzl Myo XP belt unless the new Exposure head torch comes together in time.

Powergrips are not something I've ever used so I thought I should try them as they should work well over big boots. Better than I suspected, even if they do get a bit tangled in the undergrowth if you don't clip in straight away.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Batman rides a snow bike



I watched The Dark Knight yesterday. The Batbike reminded me of the Pug. Although I guess 4130 is a bit lowtech for Bruce Wayne. Besides, it's actually looks more like a Hainbrink or Burro...

Monday, 15 September 2008

Kit, kit, kit...

...going round in my head. So I'll get some Neos. But what boots?

I need to re-build my wheels. Hope hubs I think. Should I splash out on 80mm rims in place of the Large Marge?

Too much to think about...

I love it!

Sunday, 31 August 2008

Home

Oh yes it's nice to be back from California...

Just back from some cider with, amongst others, Rob from Extreme Endurance, seems James Leavesley is stepping up for the full distance next year. And yes, thats his dad, Roger, running the short race. Good luck guys.

I've put a donate button over there ->
No pressure. £6 gets you a topcap! email me at cap @ daze of tundra.com because I'm not on paypal every day.

Hopefully the story will give you your money's worth...

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Santa Cruz



Well, its been a long couple of days. Staying at casa Bontrager tonight after the 12 hrs of Canuga Street. 25ish mile laps in the sun and dust, more details soon but a teaser photo...

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Steve's bike before the start of SiTS


I think Ag must be telepathic...

SiTS



I spent the weekend at SiTS. It was one occasion when I was really glad not to be racing. Not because of the horrendous weather, but as I got to watch a great performance from a good friend. Jac was taking part in her first solo 24. And what a gutsy ride it was. The weather was pretty grim from the outset, and the course was covered in claggy mud that reduced the ride to a push. Jac soldiered on right through and pulled out a super impressive 3rd place, and as far as I can tell the only girl on a Single speed. Chapeau!

Jac's account is here.

Next up I'm off to SSWC in sunny California. Oh yeah!

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Merch.


Ok, so the obvious answer is "Spell his name correctly", anyhows Uncle Rory from U.S.E. is etching up some of these bad boys (with the correct spelling).


They are going to be available for donations towards my Iditarod entry fee. Hopefully they'll make you ride longer. Or eat more Poptarts and anchovies...

Twentyfour/12

This seems like a long time ago but it really needs writing about...

24/12 is a Bontrager sponsored 12 and 24 hr race. Due to the 69er Collective's tie in with KB we were all keen to get there and do our bit. Matt and Trippy raced solo 24 while Goon, Woody and I enlisted Phil The Horse to race in the Open 24.

It's been quite a few years since I've raced at Newnham Park but the trails there are awesome and knowing Martyn and Keith had been hard at work I was sure the event was going to be great.

Friday night we arrived at about 7ish to find Trippy "partied out" and Goon drinking a very large Whisky from a plastic cup. It was going to be another one of those nights... We relaxed in to it.

Race day dawned, but all was not well. I couldn't hold any food down. Then I remembered the sandwich I had had the previous night. I remember thinking it was a bit warm, but saying to myself "it'll be ok...". Oops. I stepped down from taking the first lap. Woody put in a scorcher and then I went out. The course was great, all very rideable on a single speed but a little flat in places for it to be really fast for us. As per Martyn's normal courses there was a lot of singletrack- more than enough to make you want to go out again. I settled in to a nice rhythm but my body wasnt happy, the lack of food was making me feel week already. I got round in a respectable time, despite almost going over the bars in the river crossing. The others went out then we moved on to double laps, by then I was really green. I managed a single and then had to make a trip to the toilet and then bed. Very early.

When I awoke it was Sunday morning. The others had soldiered on through the night and we were sitting pretty in 2nd place. I put on my fresh lycra and got on my bike. I still hadn't managed to eat much, but by now I was holding down fluids so I hoped this was enough. I really wanted to get out there and give the others a , much deserved, rest. I forget how many I managed, but I squeezed a few singles in and hopefully this dragged up our average time. As the time ticked down it was clear that we were in a two horse race with the XC racer/Fisher 29er boys, with their ringers from the Colnago team. I headed out on our final lap knowing only a mechanical would let my catch Colnago Monty, but it wasnt to be. I did, however get the pleasure of a beer shower (towards the end of this video). We finished in a solid second place (and as the only singlespeeders), 20mins down on the winners but a whole two laps clear of third place.

Chris did really well for his first solo 24, getting 14 laps in. Unfortunately Matt had to retire early with ongoing issues from dehydrating himself really badly at the Spanish 24/12. Big shout to James "Nine toes" Leavesley, Iditarod rider last year and winner here.

Martyn puts on a great event. It really surprises me more people don't come to them. The courses are great fun and the atmosphere is always really good. Come on people make an effort, we'll be back!

Pic: Phil The Horse, in his Endura "ringer" kit. How pro?! As an aside, I think we first met in that there field about a decade ago at the BUSA mountain bike race. We bonded over Metal Christmas, next year he's being my best man. God help us.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Enter Sandman

Today's plan was to head down to Weston on the Pugsley. The aim was to play about in the sand. Thankfully, just before I left I saw an advert for T4 on the Beach. Seeing as the beach is due to be filled with McFly fans I think I'll head to the woods instead...

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Ten at Kirroughtree



Last weekend was due to be a, much needed, chance to catch up on some chores and sleep. That was until a 10pm decision to head up to Ten at Kirroughtree . We grabbed little more than our tent, sleeping bags, my 69er and our new Alpkit down jackets, and then jumped in Mel’s car. 4:30 am we finally hit the campsite. It was time to get up at 7:30, to attempted to find a race entry. Luckily for me Andy from Alpine had been dropped in it by his partner so I landed a place in pairs.

Andy headed out to ride a double but turned up after an hour having managed to snap his chain in two places simultaneously and being made to walk back down the course. I left him to sort it out as I headed out. The course was great, very singletrack heavy and relentless. The climbing was broken in to small chunks and hardly noticeable but the payback was a long fast decent at the end of the lap. When I got back from my second lap Andy wasn’t in the handover. I headed back to the camp to see where he was. I wasn’t expecting the answer to be "hospital". Apparently he had fixed his chain, then, while riding on the gravel car park, snapped it again and thrown himself over the handlebars. Everyone knows car park injuries are the worst, and it turned out his knee was pretty battered. I headed out again for another couple. The atmosphere was great but by now I was looking forward to a cold beer so I joined dR j0n and Marty from the TSPC as well as Damo (all the way over from Aus) who were "recuperating". As the afternoon drew on some went out for more laps while others joined us for more r&r. Andy got back from hospital but wasn’t up to riding.

As the race ended Phil and Anja took the mixed pairs easily and Jac won Solo. This, along with Phil’s birthday, gave us a good excuse to celebrate. Late in to the night.

The drive home was less pleasant but all in it was a top event and I certainly hope to be back next year.

Pic of Mr The Horse by Trina

Thursday, 10 July 2008

"What is this doost?!"


For some reason dust doesn't stick to the scars on my legs.

Bottom right: Wildcat gap, State College, PA. 2005
Top left: Ford Ka, Gloucester Road, Bristol, 2007

Monday, 7 July 2008

A Long Good Saturday

A few months back the the 69er Collective made a trip to the first round of the G2 Revolver series. A good time was had by all. I don’t think there was any way I was going to miss the second round, especially as our friend Ian was designing the course in Brighton.

In the week leading up to the event the forecast was for torrential rain. Matt, an ex-pat Brightonian told me “the course will be fun in the dry”, the lack of information telling me exactly what I didn't want to know. I packed the Mud Xs, left the Dry Xs at home and generally prepared for trench warfare...

Friday night Gooner and Anne joined us and we all crammed ourselves in to Mel’s little car. The drive down was a boring one but thankfully we made it there with just enough time for some Thai food and a few beers.

We woke Saturday morning to a pleasant surprise- bright sunshine. We headed over to the race site and got set up. I kitted up and lined up for the first lap. I had a solid start, out climbing most of the field and settled in to my rhythm a solid 3rd place overall. Unfortunately I missed a marker and didn't realise I was of course until I got to a road. As I pushed back up the hill I stopped Phil The Horse and a few others who made the same mistake. We rode the rest of the lap together, gradually picking of the riders who had slipped past. Goon headed out for his lap and I retired to the shade, in an attempt to protect my pasty skin. It was really noticeable that this race had a very chilled atmosphere and everyone was friendly- the banter in the handover area was top notch. Every lap I had a dilemma- I didn't want to go out and miss the chat but the course was too fun to not ride…

Ah, the course… As expected it was very good. Fast and twisty with a very high percentage of singletrack. Two climbs were tricky, but I managed one clean lap, which was nice. As the race went on the amount of dust grew, and in places it was hard to slow down in to corners, cue much sideways action. All fun. Come 8 hours I didn't want to stop riding, but there was beer to be drunk, so what do you do. Now’s the time for chat!

In the end Phil and Oli Pepper took the Male pairs category, on single speeds naturally. We managed 4th- a few minutes down. Party boy and his girlfriend took the mixed.

To round off the day pretty much all the racers re-convened in a pub in town. Fisher had put money behind the bar and it was good to see that serious racers cant resist a free bar either. Saturday blended in to Sunday but the chat continued. All in: A Long Good Saturday was just that. I'll be back next year.

Friday, 4 July 2008

And so it begins...


I've been talking about riding the Iditarod trail for more than a decade now. Looks like it's finally happening. This blog is going to follow my build up to the 2009 Iditarod Invitational.
More links and info about me should turn up over the next few weeks so keep 'em pealed
Pic by Steve Makin. Cheers.