All photo's are Copyright of Scott Swalling or the tagged Photographer. (Background photo Scott Swalling Photography).

About Me:

24Hr MTBike racer and general bike rider, climber and mountaineer. Good coffee drinker and cake eater (any cake, seriously, don't leave your cake laying around). Also, I like to try new things that challenge me.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Gorrick Brass Monkey and Summer Monkey 2016

Hi everyone,
It has been an age, life has been busy, work, house stuff and of course the pitter patter of little feet have arrived in our house, with the birth of a first child Molly, over a year ago now.  She is awesome!

So a quick update.

Brass Monkey Fatbike category was won, without a win, but consistency across all the races including the first round in the Summer Monkey 2015.  Pretty happy considering there was plenty of illness and trip back home in amongst it all.

Next was Battle on the Beach, massively under prepared and I got the hosing I expected to, finishing 12th I think.  Always, a great event.

Then it was back to the a Gorrick race, the Gorrick 100.  It was going OK, not great but OK.  Until it went a little less than OK for a girl racing.  She fell and I assessed her arm to be broken and waited track side with her until help arrived (or in this case a close friend) which I then went to check where the ambulance was (about 100 metres away and heading to her).  I pulled the pin there as many riders had passed me now and there was little time to grab one final lap.  I hope she is recovering well.

Next Summer Monkey 2016, in a depleted field due to other races on the same weekend, saw only one challenger Duncan Hard and if I am honest, whilst I had done more training, certainly not enough to take on Duncan.  Add that to my bars rotating on the 1st lap, as I listened to the Torq settings and I was behind the eight ball.  Having said that, I did my best to ride as hard as I could and tried to make it around to grab one final lap, due to the new timing format.  I missed giving myself enough time to do another, by about 4 minutes.  The course was one of their best yet, with good climbers, fast sections and some very good technical bits. Finishing 2nd in the end in a field of 3 as even other entered on the day to race fat chose skinny instead.  Although, I was about 5th overall in the 3hr Cat. Silver linings and all that. :)

A few things are now planned, which I will update soon on.

I also, had a very fun if wet trip to Bike Park Wales the other weekend and can recommend it, even in the wet.  This was the first time it has rained on me in Wales when I have had a bike there.

Giving it the Black Beard snarl at the Summer Monkey 2016
(photo: Kevin Sheldrake)
Also, testing the Alpkit Love Mud Scope carbon bars thoroughly, on a rough technical course.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Rob Lne Memorial Route (Ride)

Hi all, (Sorry I know there is always someone asking for a small donation) So don't feel compelled to donate, but a Share or re-tweet would be nice.

On the 26-28th September I plan to ride a a loop of 300 miles incorporating the North Downs Way, some of the Saxon Way and South Downs Way and back from Winchester to Guildford. A suitable challenge that I plan to approach as a bike packing adventure and hopefully will add an option to those looking for a challenge that is quintessential Southern England riding.

I plan to ride this in memory of Rob Line, a friend, cycling nut and genuine great guy who unfortunately lost a long battle with cancer recently. Rob loved cycling and loved cycling in the Surrey Hills or where ever his wheels lead him really, it is that spirit I will carry with me on the ride. I also invite any of Robs mates to join me for sections of the ride, I will have a SPOT (will go live around 0700 26/09/2015) so you work out where I will be, and I will love my phone number with each of the Cycleworks shops. That way you can drop me a text and we can meet on route.

Rob Line:
Rob’s passion, life, was riding his bike. During his long illness, he tried to ride as much as he could in between all the treatments. Sadly his illness eventually stopped him, but he still watched every cycling event there was on the tv, kept up to date with all aspects of the cycling world and working at Cycleworks when he was able to. He loved the Surrey Hills and the North Downs and had so many great rides up there with all his mates.

I will leave from Guildford early on the Saturday 26th Sept and plan to return to the Guildford Cycleworks at Burpham, on Monday the 28th, for tea and cake, and invite Robs friends to join me either riding in for the last few kilometres or at the shop. Where Anita will welcomes us home.

Rob was cared for by:
Dr Shaffer’s (Brain Tumour Fund) and Woking Hospice
So I am also raising funds towards these great causes:
The link is here: In Memory of Rob

Pedal on Rob.

Thanks in advance and thanks to those providing support.


Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Battle on the Beach 2015

A Cycling's Battle on the Beach is fast becoming the must do race of the year, and that was only after one year. ;)  So there was no doubt that I would race it again this year and with an expanded entry, I was joined by 599 other riders/racers.

Held at Pembrey Country Park the site lends itself to a great family atmosphere, easy access and other activities to do over the weekend, even it is just have a walk along the ample beach.  There are kids events, roller racing on the Saturday eve, and a fun event mixed in with the race itself.

Out of the 600 riders, many choose just to enjoy a fun event and ride a course that is a little different than the normal mountain bike or CX course.  It is even a little different to what the professional beach racers from the Netherlands and Belgium are used to, it is really quite unique and Matt Page and the team at A Cycling know how to run a slick event that is befitting of a great location and super fun course.

So the course is fact, technical in bits, has some short nasty climbs (some sandy), soft sand and 4km (6km on the start lap this year) drag up the beach where in the right group you can fly.  There is a mix of fat bikes, CX, MTB, MonsterX even a couple of tandems this year, with Open, Age, Fatbike and Single Speed categories.

As usual this year Matt and the A Cycling crew had ordered the weather.  I had arrived and was in relatively fine fettle as wise the Fatboy. (see below)

(Photo: Anna Cipullo (BikeSoup))

After a week of study and a training course I was fired up to race and keen to give it a proper crack.  Getting to the start line early with Sam Pantling, had myself and many friends and familiar faces right on the start tape.  Being in the first bunch down the beach is pretty key to a good result I learnt last year.

 Crowded start line
(Photo: Anthony Pease Photography)

After the required start line encouragement and waffle (you have to have some waffle), we were under starters orders and away in a flash.  The for me went something like this, out the blocks well, avoid a 29er struggling in the sand, rider over a fallen bike, get into the front bunch after a bit of slalom and pin it.

The front group formed with some very very fast boys (KOGA Race Team) and other and 4 fatbikes, Roki Read, Paul Wynn, Sam Pantling and myself.  The pace was insane30+ kph down the beach, ebbing and flowing a bit, but I was lamenting the lack of a 34t upfront.  It settled for a bit then exploded (Old Man Crispin Doyle) attacked the bunch, this was too much for me and the elastic final broke. I couldn't spin that fast my knees were already steaming.

A few other groups edged pass before I found my legs again, wheeled on to the back of a small group and wheeled suck like a leech until the soft beach exit.  I took a tighter line an floated across the soft sand on the fat tyres, passing 20+ riders, I must have dropped from about 40th to somewhere in the 220s. A short stretch of road and a sharp corner and I stole a few more back and we charged onto a bumpy dirty road that narrowed and I went to work, weaving and pushing my way past other riders, at one point riding along an embankment using the extra traction to overtake a group nearly falling over itself.

So it was into the single track and the reason why I tried to stay with the front group, the queues, you have to suck it up and smile in a couple of spots as there is no way past. Soon I was on the charge again, using the advantage of the fatty on the soft sandy sections and the extra grip, not slowing much if at all for corners. The first charge through the Rollers was great, I could choose any line, so I did.  

We wiggled through the single track and double track at speed and before long charged through start finish and headed to the beach again, with a minor detour thanks to a meddling fool. But the A Cycling crew fixed this quickly and it didn't affect anyone much.

Back on the beach over the soft sand I gaped the group I was with passed a couple of other riders and then joined forces with another guy on a 29er and rolled 30 sec turns perfectly along the beach. The two of us hold 32ish kph along the beach and passing other riders at speed on their blind side.  As we approached the exit he slowed due to the wet and soft sand. We thanked each other as I speed off shouldered the fatty and climbed the sandy ramp off the beach and charged on. Towards the single track again.

My cohort and I on the beach, 2nd lap.
(Photo: Anthony Pease Photography)

After the first bit of single track, something didn't feel right on the bike.  I stopped and found my left crank arm loose, I tightened and got going again.

Back in to the single track picking lines to squeeze past or waiting patiently for the next fire road section a stole a few more places. Through the Rollers again, I spotted Anna C, we cheered each other on, the fatty made short work of the sandy climbs here and I managed to pass a couple more people, splitting 4 riders at one point as they struggled in the soft sand.

Realising my crank was loose again.
(Photo: Anthony Pease Photography)

Once again I soon passed through the Start/Finish, pushing hard, but it felt like my crank was loose again. Stopping again, this time I wanged the bolt up as tight as I could, losing a few places as I did.

Off again and on to the beach for the last time, once again I joined forces with another rider and buried myself taking the lion share of the work and belted along the beach passing others.  Leaving the beach I was determined to catch those I had already passed once.

In and out of single track I worked hard and soon climbed the last hard climb of the course and spotted Anna again who was on her last lap charged to the end.  Catching her again, we rode together for a bit until we hit the Rollers again and the fatty gave me the advantage in the soft sand.  I now charged towards the finish, in the Welsh sunshine, through the last few bits of single track and on to the road section to the finish, the big tyres rumbled to the line and 6th placed Fatbike.

6th and not far behind 5th and even 4th (maybe a loose crank arm behind them) with the sun shining at such a great event, I can say I was pretty happy.

Once again a great event, with a great course and atmosphere, with loads of like minded riders having fun, racing or not. I will certainly be back and Matt and his team at A Cycling have a winner on their hands with Battle on the Beach.

Still smile when I think of this event. :)