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, 28 January 2014

Brass Monkeys - Rnd 4

26th Jan, saw the last of the ACU/Gorrick Brass Monkeys Rnd for the series.  Due to work, weather, life in general and concentrating on building core strength to set my year up I had not been on the bike much, but hoped for continued improve.  In short that is what I got.

Moments before the start it started to rain and it would do this up until a few minutes after I finished, challenging shall we say, as was the course, but apart from one hill that got to slippery for a single speed it remained very rideable, well done to ACU/Gorrick for an well planned course.

The race and weather would be brutal and there would be many retirements, crashes a plenty and more than a bit of sideways action :)  I mechanical forced a short stop after lap 2, but with it fixed I continued and it didn't plague me again.

Riding through the rain, slop and mud, squeezing past riders as I could nabbing many as they struggled on the sharp climbs, things seemed to go well.  In the closing k's of the last lap, the legs finally felt a bit heavy, but I found that my lower back was feeling strong enough continue to drive my legs and my pace didn't ease too much apart from getting caught in some traffic.  Try as I might I could not find the extra speed to slip past the Start/Finish under the 4hr mark for a cheeky extra lap.

However, finishing 10th in Vet 4hrs, was another improvement and has certainly continued to keep me motivated for the year ahead.

Special thanks to Wolf Tooth Components and Weldtite, keeping the single speed running smooth in some grim conditions.

Alpkit, thanks for keeping me warm before and after the race.

Cycleworks, there might be a full service coming your way. Ta  ;)

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Thank you and welcome

Last year I had some great support by sponsors:

Wolf Tooth Components
and, Cervo Rosso.

A massive thanks to you all and I look forward to working with you in 2014.  I truly hope that I added value for you all over the past year and hope to do the same again this year. :)

As I start 2014 I also get to introduce K-Lite as a new sponsor for 2014.  K-Lite based in Australia are a small dynamo lighting outfit with a great set of ethics and innovation.  I have been researching dynamo lighting systems since a conversation with Rob Dean sometime back and it is a bit of a mine field, but there are also several companies making great products.

But, K-Lite make a great looking product that has some great reviews, the technology stands up and their ethics are great.  Being a smaller company they will be more innovative moving forward also.  In fact I noticed this to already be the case, they really do have very open minds.  With this in mind and wanting to make the move to dynamo system, I contacted them and Kerry has been fantastic in response and I look forward to working with him and K-Lite in the future.

Batteries not included, will I didn't want them anyway. :)

Lets start 2014

So Rnd 3 of the Brass Monkeys done and an improvement.

Whats next? Well Rnd 4 of the Brass Monkeys.

I also, fancy some ice climbing somewhere and maybe some late winter early spring Peak District climbing sometime.  That would be a nice start to the year.

The garage is pretty much all set to be a pain cave, come workshop and even sometimes a garage.  So training should be conducted all year around and with no real excuse.  Also, means Nik will have the house to herself, she is stoked. ;)

I have also already entered several races:

A Cycling - Battle on the Beach.
Wildcat Gear - Two Ton 'O Gravel, gravel race/ITT/event rather than race.
Bontrager Twenyfour12 of course, it is just the best race of the year.

I am very likely to enter a few other, but more on that later.

There is certainly a plan to have more fun and do some more fun stuff, so some more UK based bike packing is on the cards too and maybe a trip back to the Dolomites with Dan, who knows.

All I can say is I am excited about this year and apparently Nik has a god feeling about it.

ACU/Gorrick Brass Monkeys Rnd 1, 2 and 3

After crashing and trashing my back in the Gorrick Torq in your Saddle 12:12 in August, I hadn't done a lot on the bike. I was tired, sore and a bit fed up.

But I duly entered the Brass Monkey winter series (Army Cycling Union and Gorrick).  Each year I look forward to this, but on the start line for the 1st Round I felt weak and uninterested in racing, but I still got on with things, well the best I could with my back feeling sore before evening starting.

Long story short it didn't go well and my back increased in pain and soon I was struggling to pedal let alone race and so I pulled the pin in pain and limped back to the van.  It was good to see the other Cycleworks team members and friends do really well.

Back to the osteo, back twisted, crunch and put right and a great deal of strength and stretching exercises issued and I was told to climb more (can't complain about that).  Whilst I started to do this a week later I threw myself and road bike down the road quite hard and once the bruising came out the next morning I could bare walk for a day or two, so I had a stay of rehab for an extra few days. Damn it!

I managed two rides before the 2nd Rnd of the Brass Monkeys and surprising managed to ride into 17th on the day, after some wheel issues and ensuring I took things comfortably.

Soon Rnd 3 was upon us after the Christmas and New Year season and two days of stomach bug made it hard enough to function as a human, let alone train.  So this race would be handle purely by a years accumulation of training and stubbornness.  In some very heavy conditions that a fatbike may well have be a better option I managed to ride into 13th, but not before have some loose chain issues and then some getting stuck behind a hundred+ 2hr racers on a lengthy bit of single track (it did hone my overtaking skills though).

So I am happy with one thing mainly with the above, I am improving again, building strength and have learnt how to managed the back if it does flare up.  However, that is becoming less of an issue, Yay!

Rnd 4 is not far off and I hope to get some more training in and be better prepared so I can see more improvement.  I have set most of my cycling goals for this year, so seeing improvement this early in the year would be a positive.

Fingers crossed.


Ok it has been a while since my last blog, so lets do a super quick round up of 2013 both climbing an cycling.

Firstly, my climbing over 2013 was a little quiet with only a few trips away and nothing outstanding climbed, other than the trip to the Dolomites with Dan.  However, it is fair to say that when I did get away I was generally at my limit, which is always nice to be able to do when you haven't trained or climbed much. So not a bad year in all and has given me some focus for 2014.  Probably nothing hugely exciting lined up, but things will progress.

Cycling, well after 2012 it couldn't get any worse.  Starting the year without having a serious back injury was certainly better.  But burning the candle both ends for at least 3 months kicked my arse a bit and this showed in the first few races.

But things improved, with an 8th at Twentyfour12, 3rd at the ACU/Gorrick Are You Tough Enough and a 17th in the 2nd Rnd of the Gorrick Brass Monkeys after a double injury month (must stay upright more often).

There were a number of Top 20's but these really served to frustrate me, but now motivate me for 2014.

A big thanks to:
Wolf Tooth Components
and Cervo Rosso

For your support throughout the year, always nice to work with down to earth, honest and fun people.  I hope I can provide better results and still the same level of feedback and product testing and promotion, as I have done through 2013 in 2014.

A big thanks to Nik, Dan and others stepping in for Nik or joining me on trips as much of this would never happen without you all.

Strangely, the high-lights of the year are not the 2 best results, but the biking trip to Bormio with some of the CW crew, Nik and Chris and the Dolomites climbing trip with Dan (we plan to head back).

All-in-all a pretty good year and have got to me some great people and have some real laughs.

All the best for 2104.