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, 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!