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.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Still waiting

We got off the ground briefly and took in the objective. But the mountain is marching to its own tune as they do. We are still waiting.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Looks like flight time

28th and just waiting for final clearance to fly. There is a bit of a buzz in the team now and some little nerves. Wish us luck and we will be safe and smart. Thanks for all the support everyone.

Below team ready to roll.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

The Talkeetna wait.

Not exactly flying weather so we are waiting for the weather to improve. We will be patient.


And ready to fly, after we have NPS briefing. Talkeetna is a kinda cool little place. Hope to have some comms.

Monday, 21 May 2012

3 days until flight

With 3 days nefore we fly out to Alaska, the team is excited. Me I'm trying to get work finished and some final training and rest.

Also, testing mobile blogging tool, just incase we find a service. :)

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Denali Team - Brecon Beacons

On the 21st/22nd, the bulk of the Denali Team Cold Cheeks (Nick, Franca, Dan and myself, Will joined us later) descended on the Brecon Beacons, with the aim to spend some time in the hills, test a few bits of kit and the Alpkit tents.  Fortunately the weather would play ball and be a bit wild and wet and let the tents get a good test.

Keeping this short, we got to test the Heksa on the Friday night and when Franca joined us in the morning we headed off into the hills.  First heading cross country to a Wellington Bomber memorial and then we walked onto the northern barrier of the Brecons and contoured around the Fan y Big, then down onto the head of the saddle below this and Cribin and set up our Alpkit Kangri and Zhota adversely to the elements to give them a real test (Sssh! Don't tel Col).

With the tents sorted, it was brew time, followed by more brew time and chatting about the tents, gear and what Alaska would have in store for us (I suspect a lot), mentally I think we are all a little reserved yet very conscious of what we are about to embark on.  Soon Will arrived as he had headed down from Uni for the rest of the weekend.

As the sun started to go down we cooked dinner and soon retired to the tents, as the wind started pick-up. With some idle chat we all soon were asleep.  Come the morning no-one was in a hurry and as I drifted in and out of sleep I only snored once and only got elbowed by Dan once.  My new SOL sleeping mat had been awesome, toasty warm.

Soon we where chatting about the tent and making a brew in the vestibule which when opening this to cook we saw what the wind was really like.  We finished breakfast hiding from the elements as the others started to stir in the Zhota. We could hear the wind and rain, but didn't really think much of this until we finally scrambled out the tent to break camp.  The weather was foul and we had been fooled into thinking it wasn't bad.

Soon we were off and heading for Pen Y Fan and hiding behind Cribin for much of the way.  By the time we reached the summit, there was snow and hail falling but not settling.  The team paced itself quite well and seems to have bonded really well and share a common sense of humor.  This is a huge relief as we all only knew 1-2 others in the team initially, but now seem to have already formed a great bond.

We all know there will be trying times and we have devised a couple of strategies to get around this, such as sharing tents on a rota and trying to rotate duties if movement on the mountain allows.

I think there are some nerves and I am glad of this as it will keep our minds keen.. There have been some little concerns about elements of the expedition, but this has served to show that we are all very happy to communicate our feelings with each other either directly, this makes for strong team in anyone's book.

With only a few weeks left the panic of have I got this, do I really need that and where is my passport starts.

I am looking forward to the 25th May, but also feeling a bit sad about the looming date.  I need to get lots of cuddles in before I go, a month is a long time away from my Nik.

Franca, Dan and Nick, top of Fan Y Big

Best Laid Plans and all

On 6th May it was Gorrick 100 time and the Gorrick team pulled a great and not too wet track out the bag nice work.

Arriving not feeling the love and having not chosen which incarnation of SIR9 to ride I bumped in to Chris Noble, Irish (Graham) and Darren Garlish returning from a long lay off. The first two convincing me to run single (it never takes much) I got sorted and was soon on the start line. We started and by the end of the first bit of technical track, myself, Graham Chris were in the top 20 a good start.

Chris was a few riders in front of me when disaster struck, a slightly dodgy line choice and Chris and his bike bounced down the track in spectacular fashion.  I was surprised and a bit disgusted at the number of riders near the crash that kept riding without considering a fellow rider crashing that badly.  I stopped and soon Graham, whilst we tended to Chris we kept calling to the other riders to get a medic. Many rode pass without taking any action, eventually the last rider in this start group stopped, then turned around and went back for help.  She soon returned and said help was on the way and offered to stay with Chris.

Now he was a bit more lucid and had someone else to take care of him, Graham and I said take care and headed off working together to ride back on.  We caught many riders by The Wall, which somehow I managed to clean and lost contact with Graham. From this point on I would need to work by myself to get any sort of result.

On a bit of flat grassy trails I approached a small furry lump on the ground and my heart sunk as I realised it was a tiny fox cub maybe 6 weeks old.  Not knowing what to do, but knowing it had been hit by the front runners I hoped someone would move it, but I vowed to do so if it was still there on the next lap.

Soon I would catch another group of riders nearing what should have been the last couple of k's of my first lap, somehow though as we sped along the fire road we managed to miss the turn.  10 minutes later we returned to where we had gone wrong and I immediately went on the hunt, drawing a few in the group with me.

I had lost lots of time and the effort making it up would tell towards the end of my race.  On the next lap, my opinion of my fellow MTBikers sunk even further, I found the cub still on the trail.  I stopped and gently picked it up, it was still warm, it had certainly been hit by the front runners as there was one tyre mark across its chest.  I placed it a couple of meters off the track and climbed back on my bike.

Quite annoyed with whoever had hit it.  Even if you don't like foxes or animals, whoever hit it should have had enough respect to move it.

I raced on and would pay the price in my last two laps for the chasing back on, where my times where my lap times stretched a bit too much.  The kilometers of flat fire road hadn't helped the single speed times either, but we are racing each other anyway.

On the last lap, Graham caught me as I was wobbling a bit from my double effort and he even offered a tow, which was kind, but I was a bit too knackered now and didn't wish for him to lose a place due to me.

Surprisingly I did find enough to hold off a late charger and even distance him thanks to a technical climb with a super fast descent after.  I rolled across the line in 28th in the 7 Lap event and was pretty surprised with that.

I guessed to myself I proved I can chase back hard from a terrible spot and that there is always time for a fallen competitor friend or foe and any fallen wildlife, a little of respect doesn't cost much.

To Gorrick, another great course and I get why there was so much fire road, weather has been great.  Also, are you ever going to consider a Single Speed category at the bigger races you run like the 100, Brass Monkey Series and 12:12?

Cycleworks, Alpkit and Weldtite - thanks guys.

(Photos to follow)