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.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

New bike - Kinesis Racelight

After much deliberation and consultation with Nick F and Dave at CycleWorks a decision was made to go with a Kinesis Racelight KR-810, with Chorus group set, Mavic Open Pro wheels with Record hubs.

Not only did the decision take sometime, but as those who have ever built a bespoke bike or anything for that matter will know, you will end up waiting for something.   Firstly it was the seat post, didn't ship with the bike, no matter,it would get here.  Then the choice of wheels caused another delay, no matter, getting what I want the way I want it.

CycleWorks kept me abreast of all the bits arriving and built it rapidly and then the wheel wait began.  I went in to the shop several times for other reasons and had to stare at it on the shop floor.  In time it would be done.

I lost track of the actual wait, but was excited to get the call that the wheels were in and they would be built soon.  In fact they were built and on the bike several days quicker than Dave suggested.

The bike was ready, that it below.

So the obvious questions now start to get asked, how light is Racelight? extremely so much so that I am surprised and smile smuggly when folks with their extremely expensive bikes pick it up.  It is very white and a bit different and has got a lot of attention at the groups rides and New Forest Rattler.

But more importantly, how does it ride?  Well I had my hopes up and I wasn't disappointed.  Dave and the guys had done a great job on the bike.  Just like the Guildford boys had done on my Single Speed.  the bike fitted perfectly and was a dream to ride.

It accelerates like a startled hare, you can't beat hand built wheels and the job done on these is second to none.  The frame, fork and crank combo wastes no energy, everything goes through the drive train and to the tarmac.  The speed has been demonstrated a few times now. :-)

Climbing, it is fast and agile, and I can dance on the pedals or sit in the saddle comfortably dependent on the gradient.  It even provides Schleck like acceleration when you gun it sat in the saddle, pitty about the rider.

Descending, wow.  I didn't expect it to descend like this, fast stable and reliable.  Responsive to every tweak of the bars and sound over the dodgy parts of a quick descent, the bars Easton SLX's, dampen the rough stuff just enough without giving anything away when I get out of the saddle and give the cranks a hammering, pulling on the bars like a mad man.

With already a few 100k's under its belt on longer rides and the New Forest Rattler and my short hilly TT loop with sprints to finish, this bike seems to be delivering in all areas.  Obviously a long sit in the saddle TT and I would not enjoy it.  But TT's are for "interesting people" to say the least, give me hills and descents please.

Top bike, love riding it!!!

Dave, Nick and the CW crew, cheers.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Cycling and Bonking (No, not that sort of bonking!)

Today I bonked on the bike, like I have not done in sometime. Proper wobbly and lack of power, even some stars at one point when lifting my bike over a fence. Several hours later and with much food in me, still not great. Fingers crossed it was just a bonk.

But it was a timely reminder of what a terrible feeling this is when it happens, it costs you a race or the fun of a ride and causes a reasonable amount of frustration as you sit there concentrating telling your legs and body to do more, but they/it can't. You need food, but it is only a short ride and what you have is gone, it is just one of those moments that your body says, "Sorry, no more, just enough to get home".

I tried to dance on the pedals out of the saddle to get some warmth into my legs as they felt ice cold as it has become quiet autumnal now and I had been caught out by this, leaving leg warmers at home, not much happened. I was also nursing a painful right knee and hip home, although this is better now, some warmth in the legs on the way home would have been nice.

So you start out, feeling Ok and then without warning bang, the speed goes from your legs, you can't react to it and you just plain slow down. In a race you get spat out the back of a group on a MTBike each incline gets harder and the technical sections you lose your flow and bounce around like an old ute on a corrugated track.

But where has it come from, I ate well and have done so for weeks/months now. Do our bodies have different ways of warning us? Bonking, is saying chill for a day, just go through the motions and enjoy the cycling. Or is it the end of a cycle of training and I am being told I need to work on speed for a while?

Either way I hate the feeling of bonking, blowing up, whatever it may be called? It is that feeling of: Have I missed something? What could I have done better? Did I do anything wrong? Have I over trained? Just nice for it to happen in training rather than a race, a positive to finish on.

Off to bed full of food now, the wobble has gone. :)

Back in the Trad game

After yet another summer of injuries (see previous posts) I finally found my way back on to some trad climbs last weekend.

I headed down to Swanage with Daniel and we met Rob and Pete down there. We wondered down to Guillemont as there is a good selection of climbs.

Why Swanage, it is limestone. Last two times I have climbed on limestone I have a) had a massive fall and landed on a slab, walked away, and b) been run over by a rock the size of a flagstone when topping out in the Ruckle. I have never got on with the limestone gear placement and it really is crap for trad compared to so many other rock types.........oh, its close that's right.

Anyway, Swanage Trad is all sea cliffs with mainly abseil approaches, so it is pretty fun and committing, but the locations are great.

We arrived and soon abseiled in and I elected to climb the first route, Daniel belaying. It didn't go accordingly plan. A couple of sits (resting on the rope) to sort my head out and then a couple of falls and my head was sorted and completed the first pitch, bypassed the dodgy belay for a better option and Dan, soon followed. Then he lead the second pitch and the route was done.

Next Dan lead Spook a great E1 5b, he lead this easily and I followed with surprising easy for the amount of climbing I have done on rock this year.

Next route I had much more success on a Mistaken Identity, VS 4c, which from the ground look a bit loose, but turned out to be a very nice climb. Trad head restored I had a good play with gear and I am more comfortable now with limestone placements than ever before. The top out (finish of the climb) and belay were somewhat interesting though.

Whilst Dan followed, Pete and Rob uttered those three very bad words "One more Climb", it was 16:45.

The chosen climbs didn't go well for Pete or Dan. Pete and Rob opted for another route, next to the one Dan was on, then thought it a bit boring and were interested in the route Dan was on. After several goes Daniel back off and I had a go, a couple of rest later and two nice falls I backed off completely knackered.

We switched routes with Pete and Rob, Pete lead our route easily (he was the right height ;-) ) and I lead the rout Pete was on, and HS I think and managed to run this out from about half height as it also proved to be interesting for route finding and only had large gear placements, I had no large gear.

After these routes, we quickly sorted gear and walked out, it was about 20:00 by now, The one more climb jinx had bitten us. Will we know better next time? no, Did we have a great day? Absolutely!!!

It was great to be back on trad, even on "slimstone" and the day had turned out better than expected and it has done my trad head a world of good. Just maybe I can push up through the grades again and get on the 3 routes I really want to climb this year. Time will tell.

I'm a happy trad rat again!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

12:12 TORQ in your sleep

The Start

The 12:12 Torq in your sleep is a 12hr mountain bike race held not to far from Guildford on some military land which they have kindly allowed the organisers to hold the races on.

It was my first attempt at a 12hr race and was to be treated as a learning curve. Although I have done some endurance MTB races before back home, never a 12hr. This was to be a taster.

For a week I had eased back from the little training I had done and started to carbo load. Feeling bloated and heavy by the Thursday just prior to the race on the 30th August, I decided a bit of climbing wouldn't hurt so close to the race. But the climbing did prove that I had gained "hopefully" useful weight.

Saturday I did a pre race ride with the TriTalk crew, a flat sensible ride, was the plan. Not spanking Club ride groups and traffic light sprints, but this seemed to do the job of blowing the cobwebs out of the system.

Anyway, Sunday morning arrived Nik and I set off after packing the van to the race venue Minley Manor, thank you army and thank you Army Cycling for negotiating the use of the land for Gorrick events and for all of us riders.

I registered, set up the pit and the van and went over for the rider briefing. Stock standard rules which some would ignore and others just plain not understand, but that is racing.

So 12pm rolled around and we had a rolling start, teams edge their way to the front and so did some Solo riders (I will next time), whilst many others dropped to the back to stay out the way of the sprint at the start. We were off.

some parts of the track got jammed for the first few k's as the riders sorted themselves out and others proved that they had very little bike handling ability on what was not an intensely technical track, but it was perfect for a 12hr race. Need to remember we were going to be riding this for 12hrs not 2 and half. Too technical and half the field would be about after 6hrs.

The tracks was "excellent" I think the course designers got the mixed right, whilst the course didn't feel any tougher as the hours ticked by it clearly was proving to be for some.

More riders were found in a cloud of dust at the side of the track, clinging to a tree. Some would sprint past many of the Soloist in the pursuit of team glory on the fire roads, only to display the technical handling ability of a drunk hippo on a uni-cycle. One team member causing one girl to step off her bike and three others to heavily brake as he sprinted past with the speed of a greyhound and then ducking back in and hitting his brakes hard to make the corner. The chorus went something like "you w4nker"

My race overall was going well, even finding time to chat to the second place Solo Female as we seemed to be lapping at the same pace for a while. I was enjoying the track and the riding maybe a bit too much, rather than worrying about the race.

Even feeling as good as what I did, I enforced a 30 minute stop at the 6hr mark, this was the strategy for me to get through this race and I was sticking to it, rightly or wrongly (probably the later, but I know this now). I stopped, chatted to Nik, changed clothes ate a bit more and then headed off. Apparently I looked tired, but I did feel fine.

Out on the track I had to find my rhythm again, the biggest loss from the stop, the next lap I decided it was time to get going and had planned to push two 45 minute laps and then for the next 2hrs push a a little harder around the 40 minute mark to cross the start/finish just before 12 to grab another sneaky lap.

I went pass the pit yelled something to Nik, I don't remember now and was certainly pushing harder but finding it easier. Soon I came to the bomb holes, down and up out of the first, down .......crunch, snap, ting, rattle, tick tick tick.........a bad and familiar sound.

It was dark now and my lights had flashed down into the bomb hole before raising out, laying in wait for someone rear mech was a stick, a big stick. The damage to the bike was one removed rear derrailuer and dropout, two bent spokes. The damage to me nothing and the race was over. I was only about 3/4 of a mile from the start/finish and rules are you complete the lap you are on. 7 miles on foot in cycling shoes would take longer than was worthwhile.

The End

I trundled back to the pit to find Nik and tell her what had happened and then report to the timing team. TORQ in your sleep was over for me.

After a shower, Nik and I sat there track side cheering the riders on and trying to spot the guys and girl I had been chatting to as they went by and cheering "Go Solo" to every rider with a glow-stick, the warning light of the solo riders.

The chap next to us came in 5th in his age group, great work Richard and the other guys on the other side 2nd and 3rd in the Open Men's Solo. The girl I had lapped with, went on to a great second place in the Open Women's, whilst a lunatic (I suspect he is a very nice chap) on a Single Speed took first in the Men's Open. RESPECT!

A special thanks to my pit crew and cheer squad Nik, you rock! To all the other riders and I am sure I say this for all solo riders, thanks for the encouragement, in particular the Army Cycling Union.

Gorrick, you will see much more of me, keep up the great work.

Cycleworks, thanks for the great support and I'll stay away from sticks next time, but prepare the card payment system. ;-)

I learnt a lot and will be back, it was brilliant and my type of suffering. As for the lessons learnt, I'll keep those to myself for now.