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.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Merida Brass Monkeys Rnd 2

With some bad preparation (late nights and a long day in the cold the day before), I was ready on the start line, with two other CW riders Nick K and Brian B, it was cold but not as bad as the 2nd round last year.

I was back to SS and the start horn went and off we went. The usual suspects shot away at the front with the gears, pah! Nick went past on a little descent and I sat into a rhythm and my first 2 laps went well, better than expected.

Entering the 3rd lap the cramps started and I would fight them until the end of my 5 laps, finally shaking them with 1/4 of the last lap to go and some how finish 27th in the 4hr.  More a triumph to my stubbornness, rather than physical capability on the day.

The fact that things started to come good towards the end, gave me more confidence for fixing myself on the fly for the big races for next year.  Banana's, gels and 2-1 fixes cramps, fact, but no real science from me to support it. :)

Friday, 16 December 2011

Muddy rides

Looks like Wednesday mornings mudfest of 3ok's may have been a good warm up for this weekends 2nd Rnd of the Brass Monkey series.

And as it will be a cold muddy day out, Tonka my faithful 29er is back to SS config and we know that is the best way forward and I hope to be flying again as gears seem to get in the way.  It will be good to see Nick (cycleworks) and Brian out and hopefully charging.

Hope everyone has their winter woolies ready.


Friday, 9 December 2011


The session at the wall went about as well as expected from the climbing perspective, but from the point of view of having a good stretch and giving the legs and lower back a rest it was great.  A little sore today, but in general feeling better than after yesterday's ride and muscles that felt tight are now lose again.

A bit of cross training really does help.  Noticing that you have blown a seal on the forks on your workhorse training bike doesn't.  Better rebuild the Niner tonight, with a couple of rides this weekend it would help to have a working MTB.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

K's in the bag

This mornings ride was extra hard after very few hours sleep. Pretty much suffered all the way around and chose to ride some new trails I had been shown the other night.  This lightened my mood and I ended the ride with a smile.  It's funny how sometimes just riding and not worrying about the stats, helps the mood and motivation.

Off to the climbing wall tonight for a change of scenery. :)

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Night rides.......

like last night are the ones that keep you going and keen.  Out with the crew, with a slightly more laid back pace, some new trails, some good climbs descents and a bit of a laugh.  More like this should keep me fit and fast in the winter.  Getting 2.5hrs on the single in the mud, dark and cold is always a good thing.

Keeping it chilled and fun like last night has its place and last night it was needed. Training without training.  :-)

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Merida Brass Monkeys Rnd 1

Rnd 1 and we were greeted with a nice day and sunshine.  Lined up and had a good start, exploded a little bit as expected for about 5 minutes and then found my rhythm. Charging over the line and off on to my 2nd lap only a few minutes behind the leader, things seemed good.

Into the singletrack again, a few turns and bumps and SNAP!, my crank sheers off and my race is over.

Not much you can do about that, next race.


Monday, 21 November 2011

Endurance MTB Training

As the nights draw in, it is hard to stay motivated sometimes.  But relieving the pressure of the training schedule and the long rides for me, ensures I keep riding through winter and keep the base fitness at a good level.

First of all it is hard to get out and do long k's after work or before work in winter, just mentally hard, staying hidden under the duvet seems a better options.  But you don't get fit by getting soft around the edges, but don't beat yourself up if you miss a session, mentally or physically this might be what you need.

But how to get through a winter of riding to maintain or even build for a 12 or 24hr solo race?  Find good riding partners, they don't all have to be able to get out at the same time, they don't all have to be super human or own a MTB if you have a roadie or CX. The immediate key for me is variety, this keeps me interested and willing to head out.  Riding mates that are out at different times gives you the opportunity to get out and helps you commit to some rides.

Shorter Rides/Time on the bike
Do shorter rides, but more of them. Ride often, be on the bike as much as you can. Ride in the morning one day and the evening the next.  Mixing it up helps prepare the mind better for the mental games when you are sat in the saddle for 12-24hrs. Do some really short (1hr) rides at odd times late night early evening.  If the roads are dry and clear head out for a long road ride for a day here and there.

Local Loops
Having a couple of local loops that you ride often as well helps, time yourself on each ride.  Don't look to beat the previous times, just try to keep riding it in that sweet spot where you feel fast and strong, but not pushing 100%.  This will help to see how you are improving.

What about hill reps?
Yes, but find a short interesting loop that you can do the climb and then weave down a short bit of singletrack to the bottom and then climb back up again.  Don't try to kill yourself initially, ride it once comfortably and check the time and then aim for the same time, do about five reps. The last few will feel uncomfortable but push through.  The next time aim for a few 5% quicker of the climb time and have a short sharp hill climb and a long enduring one, endurance MTB courses will have both.  I find once I start to plateau it is time to start pushing a lot harder on the reps, this often ends in tears of the last rep being painfully slow, but it all helps.

Long rides.
Of course these are key and you should try to get a couple a month at least, but riding shorter stuff daily will certainly help and requires shorter recover times.  With the long rides I like to mix them up from flat to hilly, a day out with friends to a training ride head down bum up.  Keep it fun, keep it interesting.  After all if things get boring it is harder to be motivated to do them.

Recover and reward.
If you have had a hard long ride or a few hard short days and the legs hurt, maybe a day off or a 30 minute turbo spin or short easy ride is in order.  If your commute is part of your training, give yourself and extra 30minutes or whatever seem suitable for the commute length extra.  Not recovering can lead to prolonged injury and illness.

A reward, have that apple pie with cream or that chocolate brownie, you probably deserve it.  You probably deserve that beer or glass of wine as well.  I find removing the nice things from my life just doesn't work for me in fact it makes me start to resent the activity/sport, so I just don't do it.  Close to a race I am a little more careful, but that is about it.

Listen to your body, it knows what it is talking about, it really does.

Does what it says on the tin.  Race through winter, short, CX or something similar to the Merida Brass Monkeys.  It keeps you heading for short term goals and can be lots of fun, even if miserable and cold, you're a mountain biker, that is what you signed up for.  CX races are short, fun, very fast and just a little different and you can do them on your MTB if you don't have a CX.

This is more of a brain dump for those thinking 12-24hr MTB solo and some of it may be useful, some may not.  But the idea was to provide some insight into how I stay motivated and it may help.  Their are others that are clearly training machines and will have a tight schedule and deviate little from this and that might work for you as well.

But I can tell you one thing that is key, we all like to make it fun, so keep it FUN.

Peak Weekend

Popped up to The Peak this weekend with most of the team heading to Denali and a few others.  Mainly to get to know each other better and just have some fun climbing the grit in pretty good grit conditions.

It was the first time on grit for some and others the love affair continued. All round good climbing was done by all the stand out being Will dispatching Black Hawk Bastion E3 5c (Stanage Popular), me having a mini adventure on an E1 bold for even grit standards, but eventually getting to the top, then on Sunday at Froggat cleaning Rat Bag E2 5b after I had been rained and hailed off it on a previous attempt.  Charlie overcame some height restrictions and found faith in her own gear to clean Tody's Wall HVS 5a.

Others like Dan, Tommy and Phil, cruised all weekend lapping up the conditions and enjoying the bold varied climbing that can be packed into the short climbs of the grit edges.

The paparazzi was out in force so there should be some great photo's appearing soon and I will steal some for a photo update on here.


Friday, 28 October 2011

Cervo Rosso

Now and again, you buy something that really makes you take notice or it has a profound affect on what it is purchased for.  Lets take Born in Switzerland-Made in Italy, run by an Australian Cervo Rosso ( ).

I recently joined the Cervo Rosso International Test Team, not quite International Rescue ( ) but just as exciting.  I waited excitedly for he new kit to arrive pictured here (ignore the duvet, I'll blog about that later).

First thing you notice is the gear looks and feels pro, it even looks fast, the choices of National Pride jersey's is a great idea and of course mine has Australian green and gold.  The few times I have worn it it the compliments have been many.
Slipping into the gear for the first time makes you feel like a pro as well, the flats seems the body hugging cut and the wide cuffs on arms and legs make it comfy to wear for long periods of time.  Those that know me know I do long bumpy rides on and off road, so comfort is a priority in my gear.  CR deliver this in truck loads.

The shorts are designed to sit on a bike and maybe spend a short time at the cafe, but you are meant to be riding not eating cake and drinking tea or coffee, that can wait until the legs are wobbly.  I have sat in these shorts a few times now, mainly on my CX bike and if they are comfy on that little beast, loooong road rides and MTB endurance rides should not be an issue.

They are aimed at the serious road rider, but the quality of this kit will certainly stand up to the punishment I can throw at it, which is considerable.  Maybe another set is needed for MTB, hmm maybe two?  Keep some nice and clean for those cold but sunny winter road rides.

CR easily meets and surpasses some of the other top brands in the quality, look and feel.  Longevity will have to wait to be measured, but I suspect success here also.

Look out for The Red Deer.

A massive and cold task ahead.

Late last year, Will H and I had a brain wave to head to Denali, as things started to take shape it then fell apart for a few reasons. One being Nik and I bought a house, yay! :)

But that initial start to planning and fact gathering that Will and I did had sowed a seed that had been germinating in the back of my mind, until it has grown into a large vine twisting its way through my mind and taking over a small amount of my consciousness and knocking on the door of my daily thoughts.

So I asked Will and Daniel the question first, "How about Denali next year?"  They both thought about it and said "Yes".  We were on.

The team has now expanded to also include Tommy, (who has posted similar on his blog), Alex and Nick.  I also hope for a two recruits, one a Dr and one from a supporter of the trip Peglers, rounding the team out nicely.

So what is the objective? Well, lets get our heads around the size of the challenge first and how we plan to spend 28 days on the coldest mountain in the world.  After that the first objective is to stay safe and return with all digits and extremities intact.  Second, is climb the ordinary route (if you can call it that) the West Buttress, if the mountain is good to us, Daniel and I have spoken of one of two other challenges and I am sure the team is conjuring others as well.

But next stop, supporters, sponsors, gear :)  training and logistics.

Its along road, at least my 12 and 24hr racing gives me a load of suffer-fest training that will be invaluable.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

The new CX ride from Kinesis Bikes UK

Well after some curious thinking and prompting from Phil Moore, I took the plunge.  With cycling for me if it has two wheels, no engine and a chain I am interested, if it has off-road tyres, I am more interested.

So it didn't really take too much prompting, before I got hold of a FiveT CX frame made by Kinesis and started to the build from my spares box, a couple of spares from friends and donor road bike.

The result is a 1x10 block, skinny tyred little beast pictured below:

Ready to race, even if the current forks are a little flexible, I just won't brake.  Yet to be tested in anger, but so far it has delivered what I expected.

Thanks to Jon for the shifters.
Phil for the fork loan and prompting.
The lads at Cycleworks Guildford for the fine tuning and new rear mech.


Slate, I do love it - Part Two

After another night of high winds and rain, as we snuggled deep into our sleeping bags in the comfort of the hut, a more leisurely start to the day was taken as it was still wet and windy.  A quick trip to Llanberis gear shops and then we headed to Australia Upper, the Gorbals Level first, far to windy but some nice looking routes.

Next we checked out Skyline Buttress Level, immediately some routes caught Ant's and my eye.  So we all geared up and headed to the routes.  Actually, it took me an age to get sorted, but soon enough I started up my chosen line, just as the wind started to pick up.

Through some thin climbing and some yo-yoing I made it to a flake and the third bolt, just as the wind changed direction and increased.  This was as the holds got smaller and route finding more difficult.  by this time Claire had started up behind Ant.  I was taking my time.  A bit of discussion with Nik, then with Claire (offering a rope from the top once they were up, which I suggested "might not be bad, but don't rush to drop it").

By the time Claire disappeared from view the wind died a little, I had sussed a line and set off, a few more limpet moments as the wind buffeted me and I was at the next bolt, then a bit of route cleaning and another long run out and I was at the last bolt.  Some lose blocks, some gardening and Ant and Claire encouraging me from the top and I was there.  I thank them both for getting at the ready for me.

Nik started up and had a broad smile all the way up, she made nice move after nice move.  Once she arrived at the top and we spoke about the route, I could start enjoying the route.  The wind had made it difficult to do so.  Even the point when the wind blew solidly for several minutes and I was glued to the rock giggling, had been pushed to the back of my mind.

Back at the base of the climb something was bugging me, I looked at the guide book, after confirming the (fine) line we had climbed, it really was lovely climbing now that I played it back.  It turns out I had linked The Skyline Club and Antiquity, in doing so I created a new and logical linked route, Antiquity Direct E1 5a, 40m.

Well I couldn't be more chuffed, I contacted the guys at Ground Up and they suggested getting it on the wiki, so I did.

Ant and Claire had also had a great days climbing and we all seemed content like fat cats that had just eaten and found the sun shinning through the window their favorite cushion.

It was time to head home and I did so, with a warm feeling that my climbing mojo was back and Nik's certainly was.

Slate, I do love it - Part One

Without much of any climbing under the belt, Nik, Ant, Claire and I headed for North Wales.  It was time to get my mojo back and for Nik as well.  We were also being a little posh, not staying in the van but Ant and Claire's climbing club hut, it was very comfy and warm, during the nights of howling winds and driving raining.

Ant and Claire arrived in their car, "Yay, I'm not driving for once"  Ant let one of the tyres down, "I think we have a punctures, can we take the van Scott?"  :-) After a not so epic drive we arrived at about 3am and got to sleep.

In the morning, a slow start and good breakie and we were away to the slate quarries, to Australia lower, to see young Will and stay out the wind a bit, well not much.  Anyway, during the day we (Nik and I) dispatched a few easy routes and just enjoyed the day and the slate and reminded ourselves that it is unforgiving.

Soon my attentions turned to a classic, Looning the Tube, and as the wind picked up and the sun went away, I stepped onto the tube and headed out.  (Nik wants to lead this route so Claire jumped on second)  I headed out to the first bolt, hands freezing and unable to feel my grip, then the chain and spike. I warmed my hands and then started up the crack and was soon at the top.

It was all over very quickly, possibly the fastest I have ever climbed a route, thanks to the cold and wind.  Claire started off and made short work of the route also.  Although over quick, Looning the Tube lived up to my expectations, fun with some different styles of climbing, really enjoyable and I look forward to happily seconding it when Nik leads it.

Next I failed miserably on a 6b and Ant sent an E2, it was time to go and time for dinner.

It was also time to ribbed Claire about her fire lighting skills. :)

Dusk-til-Dawn 2011

A race I've not done before and wont again.  The course was a bit boring and far too flat for my liking, but mainly boring.

The usual tasks of arriving, setting up, registering, practice lap and relaxing and eating before the race completed. At 8pm it was time to roll, Clive B and I lined up supported by my Nik and Brian B.  It was wet and a bit shit, oh well, have raced in worse longer and done a lot better than I'd do here.

Race started and for 6 hours things went well, good pace, eating well and I was staying warm, but soon things went wrong.  I could eat or drink much from this point for an 1.5hrs or so and this was going to be an issue.  I eased the pace a bit and forced in some gels.  (What was going on?) None of this made sense, I pushed on for two laps like this and was into 7th.

I finally could stomach food again and carefully loaded up on my next pit stop and headed out in to the murk again.  But soon I was feeling terrible, I wobbled around on the bike in parts and lacked power.  This lap would take ages and I would crash a few times, one which knocked the stuffing out of me.  I was done.

I limped back to the pits, where I couldn't go on, I felt woeful, dizzy, still can't remember half of what was said or happened and abandoned the race.  Helped to get in the shower in Brian's caravan and some more food in me, I first passed out in a chair and then once awaken by Nik, again in the van.

I'm still not sure what happened and can safely say this didn't shape my view of the race or the course.  But over the next week as my body took some time to recover and I struggle to eat, I clearly had picked up a bug or some how damaged myself internal.  I just wasn't right.

All recovered now, with some time away from the bike and my psyche is back and I look forward to some CX and the Brass Monkey Series.  Not to mention more climbing.

Shorter posts

.......well that is the aim from now on. Short and sweet, easy to follow and several blogs might make a mini-series. :-)

Thursday, 22 September 2011

SSUK Champs

Last Saturday as I arrived at Pippingford Park for the Single Speed UK Champs, my mind was psyched, but my body wasn't willing.

Bumping into Phil Moore pre practice lap only served to increase my psyche for the event.  The practice lap itself proved interesting in the wet and with a 100 odd competitors out there in the wet the race was going to be fun and tough.  The lack on mud tyres forced a rear sprocket change to ensure I seat down for longer to get more grip, which would turn out to help quite a bit.

With yet another le mans start and my bike being at the bottom of a large pile, meant I was on back foot from the start.  I eventually found my bike and started in the last 10-15 riders, a short foot sprint through the nearest wobbly starters and then 250m's sprint to the first bit of single track served me well to gain a few spots.

From this point I would need to get creative with overtaking lines, run the muddy hills that others walked and pass as many as I could on the couple of open climbs and the downhill section.

In parts the course had got really technical because of the mud, one section of this was the drop-ins, the first of which I cocked up, had to try to run down and took the arse out of my shorts, which would prove to be entertainer for others.  Funnily enough the drop-ins  caused me no further pain.

The beer stop I thought would give me the chance to sneak past others, as I had to drive home that night and had such a bad start, I passed it by each lap.  I used my right butt cheek hanging out my shorts as a good excuse. :-)  The only issue with this ploy, was the fact that the faces seemed familiar each time I went passed. (Some had stayed there for the whole race).

So some more creativity beyond riding through the gap of the girl and her bike who crashed 2m's in front of me or the high lines out of corners.  Putting the bike down at one point when trying to get passed one guy, I remounted, caught him by the next set of berms and straight lined the corner to get passed, a power slide inside another rider and another spot gained.  Maybe ramming the guys bike who panicked to get out the way was too much, but I did apologise and he only laughed and apologised too.

The race was short and sharp and the track great, the conditions could have been better, but that's mountain biking.  As for the start, well I think this made my race, everyone has the same chance of this happening to them in such a race and I just laughed about it and then went about the business of racing and having fun.  Remarkably I ended up 14th unofficially and 4th officially (once again everyone after 3rd was 4th).

A great race, great to see everyone again and now back to the long stuff. Dusk til Dawn in a few weeks.


Thursday, 1 September 2011

SSWC 2011 - Co Limerick, Ireland.

After a long tiring journey we arrived at our hotel for the next few days in Co Limerick, Ireland for the Singlespeed (MTB) World Championships.  The event was being hosted in a nice little village called Kilfinane a few k's down the road.

The next day we were up at a far to civilised time, got ready, had breakfast and made our way to registration Kilfinane.  After registering there was a lot of milling around and chatting to others and friends over for the race.

The SSWC is not like other world champ events, there is a serious side to it and larger more fun side to it and of course the parties.  Whilst some party the whole event, others wait until after the race.  The fun atmosphere brings the element of costumed riders, with everything from Rainbow Bright to Stormtroopers to lost of cross-dressing and a set of badgers, undoubtedly everyone's favorite.

Anyway, I had come to race and wanted to do well.  But with little training thanks to injury it was going to be a tall order, with some whippet looking riders from the all over the globe and the boys from Singular.  I knew key to doing well I had to start fast and carry on that way, something the small amount of training post injury had been working towards.

We gathered for a race meeting, then we rolled out to the mountain (Ballyhoura) under Garda escort, placed our bikes in the start area and walked away as the marshal's moved them, hid them and did god knows what.  With a le mans start confusing the hell out of many we were off, find your bike and get pedaling. Many of the more serious guys and girls bikes had in fact been left only, mine and a German guys bike were where we left them.

I jump on my bike and took off after some of the whippets and the current world champ.  It was a frightening quick start and took it's toll on me at the top of the first long hill.I would suffer for the first half lap, due to not being use to this sort of start.  As I was passed by many I managed to keep my cool and let my legs come back. On the third climb of the lap everything seemed to come together and I started passing those that had passed me.  By the end of this lap I was flying.

On the second (the last) lap I was on the attack and was joined by an American guy, we accelerated up the climbs railed the descents and tapped out the flats, we caught more people that had passed me on the first hill, then back markers as we rode the last of the big hills we egged each other on and pushed each other around as we passed several riders.

We crossed the top as he pulled away a bit, but were together again as we speed down the descent, through the forests over the boardwalks and across the worse bit of the course (an unforgiving bit of rocky trail.  As we arrived at the last undulating climb I saw four riders off in the distance made a note of their colours and set about chasing them down.  This broke the elastic between me and my chase partner.

I cleared the last hill, having caught two of the riders and now it was all down hill :-) down the grassy dodgy chute I caught another.  Through the next section I could see but didn't catch another guy until the sharp left hand turn and managed to force the 29 inch wheels inside his bike as he turned wide.

The rest of the descent from here is hard to over take, but those who I caught paid attention to race rules and moved over quickly when they could. Through the bermed section I saw Nik and she yelled at me to let me know I was that far back from the front runners, but I knew it was over it was about.

The course from here was fast and fun and I enjoyed every minute, catching a few others both those that had passed me and some back markers.  As I neared the finish there was a small twisting bit with rocks and trees, a spectator yelled rock, I replied trees as I hurtled around the rock and through some trees then we both yelled BEEEEE! as I approached a girl riding in front of me dressed like a bee, she panicked and crashed, which made the crowd laugh, but not here. "Sorry" yelled, managed to zip past another lycra clad whippet up the small climb and down to the finish.

Officially 4th, like everyone beyond 3rd.  Top 20 overall, by Nik's by Nik's calculations.

A better than expected result considering the lack of speed training, some intervals and hill sprints to come before the UKSSC.

Thanks to Nik for her support, it was great to meet some of the Niner crew and to all those that organised the event, a massive thank you from all of us that took part.  :-)

Happy riding!

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

SSWC only 10 days away

With the Single Speed World Champs only 10 days away and only having 3 weeks to test my ankle, change myself as a rider and build speed. It has been stacked up against me going into this race, but I am very keen to get stuck in now and just see how quick some of these guys really are.

I said change myself as a rider, by that I meant build speed, not just be able to ride for 24hrs, I can do that.  But how fast am I over a short distance or say 40km's?  Well last night over 30km's of some of the hardest hills on the North Downs an average of 20kph suggests that the fast work over the last 7 days is paying off.

Only time will tell, but having people like Singular's Steve Webb and Dan Treby lining up, you know the pointy end will be fast and unforgiving and this has got me psyched.  Who knows what the rest of the world is bringing to the party, but the UK is certainly got two of it's best SS beasts heading to Ireland in 10 days.

I love the alps, despite what they throw at you.

The alps: a winter  play ground for the rich and famous, for me it spells adventure.

Well keeping things short, a few of us headed for the alps in the first week of July. Expecting a mixed bag of conditions and weather and the alps delivered just this .

We hand planned to do an easy route to acclimatize, but several things conspired against to shuffle the plans.  A short discussion had us arrive at the decision of getting on the Forbes Arête, a long committing route.

The route runs left to right from the obvious snow slopes to the summit.

So Sunday saw Paul, Tommy and myself head off earlier than really required to head for a bivi spot on Le glacier de tour. We stopped at the Albert Premier refuge and decided to wait until late in the day to cross.  As I had been elected crevasse poodle I had the final say on when we would leave.

We crossed the glacier and found a good spot to bivi and set up camp, relaxed, soaked up the atmosphere and sorted some dinner.  Soon we would settle down for a restless night of sleep.

Paul and Tommy enjoying the sun at the bivi.

When we woke for whatever reason, we decided to stay put for a while. I noticed a team advancing on the route start, then another and another.  After a considerable amount of faff we were on our way, an hour late (mistake one, which concerned me a little).

With me once again elected point man we headed off, picking the best and safest lines up and across the route. After quite a bit of climbing we arrived at the ridge and started along it.

We had made steady pace with a few little rests and son caught two other groups, unfortunately in a position we could not climb past. This would also be the first belayed pitch. We moved on after 20 minutes or so.  Whilst exposed this pitch wasn't this difficult.

As we moved on, our momentum seem to ebb away, but the route was fun and the weather was great, if a little windy.

After a few interesting sections I noticed the weather changing and became more interested In our pace and how far we had left. With many gendarmes and false summits it was hard to see what was left.

Sat on a belay with the rope warlord around a block I was buffeted by the wind and noticed the weather was closing quickly and earlier than expected.  Tommy arrived at the belay and asked me if I wished to lead the next pitch. I pointed out I was part of the belay.

Tommy lead on across an exposed and icy face, soon Paul would have to start climbing, then I did as well. We had gear between us, but we weren't sure if Tommy had reached a belay. He had though.

I traversed next to Paul, giving him some ice climbing tips and cruising the pitch being in my element.  We soon arrived at Tommy's which was bomber and I headed on, we pitched a couple of pitches. Dealed with the second unexpected mid route abseil and then it was time to start moving as one.

I really wanted us to push on, the guys keep moving with me to a point where I would need to down climb and then traverse a sheet of ice, pretty much unprotected as I would be the third climber after lowering Tommy as far as I could to speed things up.

The weather was blowing clouds all around us playing havoc with the visibility. I arrived at the belay, grab a few bits of gear and pushed on, not stopping, and we moved as one again.  This time all the way to the summit, which we turned on the "wrong side".

With the weather swirling around us on the summit and feeling tired, spirits were a bit low. A couple of quick photo's and we headed down.

Down: we crossed the last bit of the  ridge to a col and started down, I backed marked as it was steep an soft snow. Tommy soon found an abseil point, as it was now snowing and murky, we opted to follow the abseils down as we knew they went to the lower col, which led to the glacier.

Tommy did a great job at following the abseils down and getting us to the col. After a break a chat an few phones calls to let people know we are ok but won't be off the mountain tonight and Paul certainly wouldn't make his flight, we set off again.

I was point again due to the crevasse fields and my pigeon senses. I set a pace and would maintain this to the glacier and then across the glacier. We were all tired, but we knew the glacier was soft from the high temps, darkness and rain threatened and we didn't want to be out for long if they beat us.

As we moved across the glacier I managed to roll my ankle heavily, but kept moving (I'd learn later I broke it in doing so). Sooner came to the moraine and knew we were close to the refuge and soon were.  Finding a fast flowing stream we got some water in as we faced dehydration and went to bed. In the morning we headed down to the valley to a well earnt breakfast and wished Tommy a happy birthday.

Whilst we had work well as a team and took our individual responsibilities well and Paul did remarkably well considering his experience. We made one mistake we changed our plan last minute.

Due to the break in the ankle the rest of the week would be a wash out for me and would curtail Tommy's trip as well.  Which I still feel bad about, only now as I finish this off can I say the ankle is nearly normal again.

South Downs Way - Winchester to Eastbourne

Probably a few months back now, Nick, Nathan and I headed out to do the SDW one way so I can recce the route in prep for a double attempt (there and back) under 24hrs Single Speed. More on that in future when I stop breaking myself.

Anyway, keeping it short. It was a great day out and the trail whilst not technical has a few nasty climbs and some fun fast descents and I look forward to getting on it again soon coming back the other way and sometime the double.  I am very keen on the double and after riding it one way and feeling grand at the end of it, I know it will go.  :-)

First climb got the blood pumping.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Riding, biking, cycling, cranking, going for a spin.....

whatever you call it, it is the same thing.........getting on a bike and going for a ride (cycling).

Even with a trip to the alps to climb looming, cycling still dominates my training.  When I have pushed myself climbing this year it has gone well, the head is right and the skills are there, goals have been achieved.  Maybe it is this that allows me to focus more on the cycling, or maybe it is this?

Last night, with about 15km's to go on my commute home, I rode over a small stone clearly at a bad angle (there are no good angles to do this at) as the stone pinged off and hit a fence on the far side of the road with force, there was a familiar metallic twang and the rear wheel went wobbly immediately. "Oh crap!" Stopping and looking at the rear wheel I couldn't see the suspected broken spoke, so I pinch the pairs of spokes around the wheel until.........Ping! the broken one popped loose.

Thanks to the chap who rode passed and didn't even offer a groan of interest, fortunately not all Surrey cyclist are like that.

Spoke removed and rear brakes fully loosened off it was time to continue.  My knee that had gone quietly pop earlier that morning decided it wanted to play up again.  So the ride home was going to be a slow one, a human and bike limp if you will.

As the sun shone and the rear wheel kissed the seat stays each time it passed through them, and the back end wiggled like and excited dog, I noticed my pace.  It was still high considering I was in limp home mode.  I certainly wasn't going to increase it and was more than a bit keen eyed for bumps, holes and not standing when climbing the hills.  "This back wheel could fold at anytime" I thought.  Credit to Hope for a sound factory built wheel, it did not.

Arriving home I knew I'd miss the night MTB ride with the crew, but for some reason, despite the pain in my knee and the broken spoke being a pain in the arse I as was still happy.

It's that last bit I question, I love being in the mountains, climbing, walking, etc... If I have a bad time doing these activities, I'll be honest, that is what I have "a bad time".  I chalk it up as experience and smile that I got to see another lovely part of the world.

I could have a shit ride in an industrial waste land and for whatever reason I will still smile.  This is the point for me with cycling I guess.  It seems to be a pure outlet, it washes the dirt of a long day away or allows you to escape and clear the mind of life's troubles.  At  relaxed pace I dream and think of the last ride, the next ride, climbing (it's always there), the next race, what next to do on the house. At full pace my legs sear, my brow sweats, heart pounds, lungs burn and only catching the guy in front counts and then the next one, and then the next......

But at the end of it all, I'll still laugh, still smile and still want more!  Cycling is often referred to as a passion, rather than a sport or activity.  The feelings one experiences can experience at any level, are testament to this statement.  I can't fully explain why, but it does make me feel alive every time I ride, my winter climbing gives me the same buzz, but cycling is/can be a daily occurrence and has even altered my perspective on my own feelings at times.

I guess it is as much an escape as it is a passion, a love, but for many it is much more than just a sport or activity.  For me, it has become part of me again, a part that I don't want to lose again.

29inch tubeless Pythons..........thanks Hutchie

The gang at Hutchinson have done it again. I used to ride Hutchie Python Golds and nothing else until the trail turned to stick mud.

I made a return to the python the other weekend in it's 29inch incarnation. Simply put if you ride a 29er and love the smaller version get these tyres.

The trails ridden on these are the normal mixed bag of soft sand, churned trail, rock Flint and chalk, tree routes, fast fire road, sweet sweet single track and technical and grinding climbs.  The pythons chewed through them all and even on the odd wet tree route they found enough grip in the slide to keep me upright.

They are fast as is expected from pythons and you can lean them over on all surfaces.  Just make sure you run them a little soft but not too much as the will kick out on everything if too hard. That makes for and exciting first technical descent.

Only negative I could find and it is little due to being new, they were a battle to get on the rim initially.  Forget tyres leaves for this job, rolling them on was the only option. The second attempt after ensuring they seat properly was a bit easier.

A day in the Surrey hills

After failing miserably to organise transport to the start point and end point of the SDW (mainly checking train times).

I managed to recruit Brian for an 80km ride (ahem) in the Surrey hills darting around single track and grinding the big hills.

We set off at 8:30 ish, in dry but overcast threatening skies. Soon enough we were in to the first of many climbs.

The trails were in pretty good condition and Brian and I took turns in navigating the old and new trails. One requirement of the ride was to find loads of climbing for me to build more strength on the single, chasing Bri on his Epic made for a good workout.

With The Beast (Shere), Pitch, st Holmbury, Leith and White Down climbs in the mix we did actually go over the 2000m's of climbing i wanted to do and finished with 88km's at a pretty decent pace for an old man on a single.

Next big ride will be the planned SDW recce ride.

Anyone keen to join me?

Friday, 27 May 2011

Belated 24hrs of Exposure Report

Under week after the Gorrick 100 I was in the van with Nik, Phil ( ) several bikes, spare wheels and load of food, heading for The Scottish Boarder and Newcastleton for the 24hrs of Exposure.

Last year this race hadn’t gone so well, with an injury to my right wrist getting worse by 8.5 hrs.

Though this year I had made the challenge harder for myself, thanks to my success at the Gorrick 12:12 last year. I was racing 24hrs Single Speed and would be up against it with Dan Treeby and Rob Lee along for the ride.

After a decent drive we arrived, drop Phil at the Morvelo bunker, set up camp at the track side, ate, tinkered with the bikes one last time and went to sleep in the van to the sound of heavy rain. It fell all night, this was going to be an interesting race.

Morning came, the rain still fell, whilst I ate the first of two breakfasts and put tyres on wheels (I like a little tweaking to do before a race, it calms me down).  The rain stop for a few hours, in which Nik awoke and helped me prepare and soon we were signed in, lined up and pedalling behind the lead out crew from Newcastleton, they peeled off and things got serious.  But the rain wasn’t falling at the moment, that wouldn’t last, in fact the rain would fall for probably 21 or the 24hr’s of the race.
I settled into my pace and then noticed the back wheel on the Niner felt off, a little wayward, “damn it, I forgot to tweak those spokes” the first lap would see me riding carefully so as not to trash the back wheel entirely.  It soon ended, I grab my spare bike and head out, whilst Nik got Wayne Farrell to tweak the back wheel for me (Thanks Wayne).

Second lap down, back on the Niner and the rain was back as well, and would stay until about 10am Sunday.  The laps ticked off well and I didn’t get excited and chase others down or hold their wheels.  I had a plan and the only thing that was causing issues to it was the two bike changes had thrown out my two lap strategy.  “Don’t panic, I can adapted” so I did.

Soon night would be here and I would be at one with the bike, the trail and myself.  I light the dark, the riding at night and we would be treated to hundreds of frogs and a few voles lining the fire roads as we cycled past.  The night wore on and my legs ticked over, but one mechanical problem was reoccurring.
Nik had been awesome as usual and was wielding tools, drink bottles, gels, mars bars and my pasta, lots of pasta.  But we could not resolve the problem of the loosing chain.  We tightened the ECB a few times and within a half a lap the chain was loose again. “Hmm?, remain calm and finish the lap”.  After a really good go at sorting this and the resultant lap being a massive 2hrs, I decided to deal with it.  Unfortunately at was this point I made another error.

In faffing with the ECB, I forgot to eat, I knew this at the time and grab a bunch of gels, two mars bars and wedge them in my jersey. I set off, and after the second climb, went to the dark places, even the frogs couldn’t help distract me from them, on the 3rd climb the long one, I wobbled a bit them a lot, then had to stop, next to a pine I thought was a person at first. I stuck 5 gels and a mars bar down my throat, wobbled a bit more, then everything came alive again and I was off.  This unfortunately gave another 2hr lap, but at least I was still upright and pedalling.

Next pit stop saw a bunch of food thrown in, Chris and DrJohn making me laugh and helping out whilst Nik had a kip.  I was on it again.

The laps ticked over with the worse hills ridden until I had to walk a bit and the rain kept falling, 2 changes of clothes on my upper body would see me through the night. As the hue of the morning light arrived, I breathed a gentle sigh and smiled ever so slightly smugly.  This is the point when you know you have made it.

Now my head turned to knowing where I was, but the timing system employed by SIPEvents is less than perfect.  It does the job, but doesn’t allow pit crews to work out easily where you are and the time were only available in one are in a event village that was spread out.  After several laps in the day light I had to stop and talk to the timers, Joolze telling me to harden up and head out again, I did, in fact for two more laps.

Nik and the crew encouraged me to press on as well and I couldn’t believe I was still catching folk on geared bikes this late in the race. By now the rain had stop, but Wayne yelling come on each lap continued and people lining the pits clapped and cheered everyone on.  I did my best to “Pedal Damn It” the catch cry that adorns my top tube on my Niner, it had help on a few occasions during the night.

With all the encouragement and time ticking down the last lap and a half were done with no rear brake pad’s as I rushed back out, surprisingly there were no moments to talk about and I soon finished my last lap.

In a race that I found really tough at times I had done better than expected, finishing 13th overall in the men’s and 2 in the Single Speed Cat.  To say the least I am pretty chuffed with this, in fact chuffed and a little surprised.

Massive thanks to Nik again and thanks to everyone that encourages us all to press on through to the end.  Your calls of “well done”, “good stuff” and “keep riding” accompanied by the claps help more than you think.

Nik, your hugs smiles help a million times over.

What’s next, god knows, but it might be a bit silly.

Anyone got a spare pair of legs?

(Pics to follow)

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Gorrick 100

1st of May this year saw the return of the Gorrick 100 a race I finished second in last year on the single in woeful conditions.  This year the sun shone brightly and the weather was perfect for racing.  A fast dry course with new sections would prove too quick for a single speed overall.

When a race goes as you plan there isn't much to write about really, especially if the conditions are perfect for racing.  My laps ticked off nicely and I rode through the field and into the top 20 in the 6th lap.  Finishing this lap I noticed we had already done 100km, an interesting point and b the end we had done 117km's.

Only the wall and a small sharp soft hill had me off running/walking for a short stint, on the other climbs and single track is where I continued to makeup ground on the bulk of the field. The last lap continued as the race had started, just a little more effort being laid down.

By the end of the race I had managed to climb my way into 13th overall and first single speed home in the 7 lap category.

I was really happy with this result despite being well down on last years, there was a much better field this year and the racing was faster and less people dropping out in the better conditions.

It would prove to be an excellent warm up for the 24hr's of Exposure the following week.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Eelmoor - First Rnd

Cycling is a funny thing, one second it can be going as planned, then in blink of and eye the clatter of carbon frames crackles through the evening.

Wednesday saw the first of the Eelmoor circuit series kick off and Cycleworks (CW) fielding quite a number of riders in Cat 3/4.  Roland Chuter hiding near the front as well.

With quite a head wind on the start finish straight I had already planned to hide in the pack for a while, the 130k's from the day before in my legs needed a bit of warming up first.  The plan worked, for the best part of half of the race I hid in the pack.  This was a scary place to be that night, there was some very dodgy riding and huge amount of line changing without thought for the riders behind.  On the corners and just about every lap the same guys seemed to be getting yelled at by someone, several of the juniors had joined the Cat3/4's and this made it even worse.

As the race moved on CW guys could be seen drifting up and down the pack, Dave, Nick and I had seem to settle in to the pack nicely, as some of the other CW guys either had a dig off the front or covered the breaks, young Mike was doing quite a bit of work and would be rewarded at the end.

We started to move forward in the pack, with the black and white jerseys around the front and both flanks.  The overall pace seemed slower than normal, but the normal sprints out of the corners added a hint of spice, however with a few good turns of the pedals I found myself on someones wheel.  Down the back straight on one such occasion the wheel I found was Roly's.  We chatted briefly and got down to business.

Accelerating out if the bottom corner near the front of the pack (maybe 6th wheel) there was a familiar sound of carbon and bodies hitting the ground.  A quick look and none of them were CW, Roly was just in front of me.

After this the pace dropped a bit for a few laps and some riders got very twitchy, especially a couple of the kids.  But this settled down a bit and the pace picked up again.

5 to go - not much happened.
4 to go - an attack off the front, that lasted until the hit the head wind again.
3 to go - the jostling forward started.
2 to go.........

With only 2 laps to go and my legs feeling good I was moving forward in the pack, we cam through the bottom corner and in to the main straight for the penultimate time.  The pack moved left then back right a bit, there was a decent gap on the right and I started to accelerate to move much closer to the front of the pack. A few riders had caught my wheel not matter, still a lap to go, back there was Nick K (CW Guildford).

The line I had chosen was clear and the pack was holing its line, so I keep accelerating.  The plan to hit the front at the start finish and try to keep going. Then the most incredibly stupid thing unraveled in front of me, one of the kids (number 30), looked over his shoulder noticed us coming and the gap at the same time, almost turning at a right angle to jump in front of me on my line, he clipped another riders back wheel, pin balled of him in to a CW rider (think young Mike) bounced off him and hit the ground right in front of me.  I had a split second to get the front wheel up and over him but then I was down, as I rolled over I heard the sickening clatter of carbon fibre and thump of bodies, catching a glimpse of one of the guys coming down knees first.

I had somehow self corrected and slid down the track stood on my cleats, watching as other riders stopped and swerved to narrowly miss being involved, it was a strange perspective to have of a crash you had been a victim in.

Nick K got up as did the kid who had very obviously caused the crashed by so erratically changing his line, the chap who had hit knees first was on the ground still as Nick cleared the bikes I waved the other Cats around the guy until he was moved painfully from the track.

A few choice words were had with the kid before he ran off to his mum.  It was made clear that he had caused the accident and that he needs to think about his actions.

As we waited the Cat 3/4's came around to finish the race and young Mike zipped over the line for 3rd, Dave F, I think got 7th and I am not sure about the others guys.  I think Roly got 15th and Nick and I got wobbly front wheels and few cuts and bruisers.

That's racing, but we did lodge a complaint about the lad and a couple of others also did the same as he had been dangerous all night apparently.

Lets see how next week goes.


Friday, 1 April 2011


not something I talk about, I do it, but not about it.  I won't start now.  But a brief note on what is important to me and I think maybe others (some types of cyclists) should consider. ENJOYMENT!!!!!

This morning was a classic, meeting another cyclist (a triathlete in this case), giving them a hearty "Hello" and my normal stupid grin. I tried again when we stopped at the traffic lights, looking straight at him and repeating my greeting and grin.  He looked at me, looked at me a bit more and simply snarled.  Am I really that offensive or was he not a morning person?  As the lights changed, I smiled, shrugged my shoulders and rode off.

I am a great believer, you will only get good or better at something if you enjoy it, so to the grumpy man this morning and the chap the other night.  Try to smile, be friendly, when you are in the hurt locker, this can really help and sometimes releases you from the pain.

Its also just plain rude to behave like that and can't make you any happier.  I love cycling and even when being torn apart by fellow riders in my crew, I'll still find time to joke, smile and reply when spoken too.  It is part of the enjoyment and community.

But overall things, ENJOY IT!!!

Yours The Smiling Loon of Surrey.  :-D

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Interlude from proceedings

I know I haven't finished the Kandersteg 2, maybe 3 part blog. But I will.  I also learnt recently, that for my age I still bounce rather well.

A couple of weeks back after getting over bear flu, I headed out to the Cycleworks demo day, they had a Air 9 Carbon there I just had to ride.  The bike was amazing, one of the best bikes I ave every ridden, possibly the best MTBike.  Set up in rigid and single speed it was the perfect machine for darting around the trails of the Surrey Hills and I suspect further afield. Duly added to wish list.

The only downside was I managed to get my first crash for  2011 out the way and in the process partially separated my left clavicle from shoulder.  This hurt alot for a week or so even with copiuos amounts of painkillers, you know the amounts that have unpleasant bodily affects.

It soon started to settle down and my appointment with my new best friend (a recommended Osteopath) arrived and after the first session it felt better, was strapped well and I knew the exact extent of the injury. Partially (tiny tear) torn ligaments, bruised tendons and muscle.  Right I can work with this information.

However, no MTBike riding or climbing for two weeks will be painful, can I take a pill for that?  The good news is I can ride the roadie and the weather has just become mint for road riding................and rock climbing.

Oh well, at least it wasn't broken.

(clearly, not my collarbone)

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Kander-what? Kandersteg!

Kandersteg, a swiss mountain town nestled at the end of a pastoral valley in the Bern-Oberland.  Home to langlauf (cross country skiing) and more climbable ice than you can shake a Nomic at.

Last year sometime Rob invited a few of us to join him and Ramon in Kandersteg for some winter fun, it did take much convincing to be honest.  Fast forward, Tommy, Pete and I are in The Red Peril and on our way to Kandersteg and arrived somewhere around 9:30 am and The Red Peril promptly broke.  Insert cursing that you find appropriate for my character.

Anyway, after finding Rob taking time out to get a new do, we found some food, some coffee and decided even after driving through the night, climbing was a good idea.

In an attempt to keep things readable I'll try to break this up a bit.

05/02: Tommy and I climbed the first 3 pitches of Ausstiegsvariante Links.  I was completely knackered from the drive through the night and the pleasant 3M felt more like a Wi5.

Sunset at the end of the first day.

06/02: Tommy, Pete, Rob and I headed to Ueschenen.  The approach was first Rob comfortably negotiating the icy/snowy road in his Landy whilst the 3 of us thought of other places to be.  Pete at one point was thinking of walking long behind the Landy.  Then and easy walk to the crag thanks to Rob's driving.

Anyway, at Ueschenen, still feeling tired I did not get on well. Dogged an M7, got completely shutdown by an M8- (my arse) and then couldn't finish another M8, even after several goes and two big falls.  I elected to take a few photo's and watch Rob send Pink Panther in fine form and different style to "his" first ascent of it. (Pic below)

Rob on Pink Panther, Ueschenen

07/02: After a late start, we decided to check out Blue Magic and Rubezahl at Staubbach.  But both these routes proved to be quite wet and it would be a late start.  Tomy and I checked out Baretritt after a bit of sledge fun. But found this to be too wet and falling down.  So some more sledging fun, a wonder through the woods and we found Rob and Pete about to get on Arbonium, so we elected to climb Rattenpissoir 5+.

I climbed the first long pitch to a wet cave belay, I did have a bit of a am I good enough moment, but soon gathered my senses and then climbed to the belay like a man possessed and running it out alarmingly as Tommy would point out, when he arrived at the belay.  The second pitch appearing too wet and Tommy already soaked we bailed and headed for the Chalet and food.

08/02: We drove into Gasterntal to look a new area Rob had spotted.  Gasterntal is an amazing area with a terrific atmosphere.  Whilst the new area was a bit wet and maybe a bit smaller than first thought.  The true adventure on this trip was digging the Landy out of super soft powder (we should have been skiing) twice.  The first time I seemed to be ending up in photo's taken by others, rather than getting their help.  Hmm? ;-)  (Below the Landy appears through one of the tunnels on the road down from Gasterntal.)

More to come.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

3 Rnd Gorrick Brass Monkeys

Wow, its been a while and I have been pretty busy.  Between Nik and I settling into the new house, work, MGA, biking and climbing, life has been moving on.

Well after 3 days of feeling rubbish and one day of feeling ok, after a stomach bug I lined up for the final Brass Monkey round, the only SS in the big boys race from what I saw.

Anyway, long story short.  On a really great course on a chilly but dry day, I got spanked.  The food I was putting in was only serving to replace what had been lost in the week and on lap 3 or 4, I bonked and had to pull the pin.  I rolled over the line to finish whichever lap, ambivalent to the fact that I was even in a race.

So a disappointing end to the series, but after a great second round finish.  I think I can build and start causing others pain.  Some short Gorricks first, before it gets serious at:

See you on the trails, yes I do have bog wheels.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Home training

With the house taking up much of our time and the snow and ice melting just as we have time to get away.  Nik and I finally sorted somewhere to get some home climbing training done.

Hopefully, we will be able to get strong for some up coming trips.

It will do until we can build a shed and a small wall.

Brass Mokey Rnd 2 - Wet and cold

With very little training since the last race and lots of house decorating, it was difficult to get motivated for this race, but I arrived at the race with the ice still solid on the ground and most of the snow now melted.

Registered, I slowly sorted myself out, had a cup of hot tea and chatted to a few folk and Karl, making his return to MTB racing after a little absence, he chose a tough day.

Soon things were underway and the order of the day would be Ben from TORQ schooling everyone in 4hr again. Anyway, the usual queues at the first bit of single track happened and the legs would have to deal with pushing the single speed at lower than ideal speeds for a while.  Halfway through the first lap and things cleared up and I found a rhythm and held it for the next two laps.

Most parts of the course were holding up well, but some were becoming a slushy mess of mud, water, pine needles, twigs and the occasional fallen rider. Nearing the end of the third lap, cramp in both my thighs and both my calves set in, about the time my back started acting up.

The fourth lap although feeling slower (it was) I seemed to still pass people, although 4 minutes into the fourth lap, things got far too uncomfortable.  After passing a group of riders, I was off the bike stretching in pain, cursing my fitness and struggling to get my caffeine gels out of my jersey.  A fellow single speeder, offered me a Shot Block (small jelly blocks full of caffeine) I'm Ok, thanks mate" as I finally got hold of my gels, still cursing my lack of fitness and prep.

I was off again soon and caught the same of riders individually over the next 5 minutes or so, as a few 2hr races went past I held their wheel for a while to forget about the pain.  Phil, from CW Leatherhead went past on the long hill and we exchange encouragement, as I suffered on.

I turned the pedals to cross the start finish again and head out for the fifth lap, this was and extremely painful lap and I knew I would need to man up to get another lap done.  Passing a few more 4 and 2 hr riders I felt marginally stronger and the cramps less and about halfway through the lap, I picked the pace up a bit, but not enough two other 4hr races caught and passed me.  Staring the sixth and final lap, I gorged two gels and stomped up the bitumen climb.  With my back in agony, I stood on the pedals.  With most of the 2hrs riders finished the track was clear and free flowing, which was good as my rear break pads had gone and it was front breaking only.

After the long climb again (back killing me) I entered some single track, swoop through it and charged across the top and down the hill on the other side for some relief and then up the shot climb on the other side.  I sighted the chap I had been vying with for the entire race (the in battle had raged as we passed or outlasted others).  I caught him on a fast but twitchy downhill section and let the bike run, I'd not see him until the finish now.

The rest of the lap was ride as hard as my back let me as my cramps had eased enough to ignore and run up the chewed up sloppy hills that I could no longer climb.  I passed some other riders I had and soon came to the last technical section and the long open slight down hill run for home.  My combatant soon arrived and we had a chat and laugh about the constant fighting between us.

I had no idea where I had finished and was in too much pain to care at that point, but later found out I finished 11th.  I was stoked with this as I had felt rubbish for 3 laps, and had hoped for a top 20, this finish was far greater than I expected.

Gorrick and the Army Cycling Union, thanks for an excellent course, one of the best so far and a great event.

Now can January, be better again.  Some training is in order now the house is more organised.