Twinkly Dave – Mud splattered bicycle and pizza enthusiast Growing old disgracefully

October 19, 2009

Lost my feet for the first time since summer

Filed under: bikes,Racing,rubbish weather — dgpowell @ 11:35 am

Had another up-early start yeserday, before the sun bothered to make an appearance, to ride over to Lee Quarry to have a go at the last in the series of xc races there. I’d had a go at the first in the 3 race series but had pulled out after my leg, which was still knackered from the Coast to Coast Race, gave up on me (I’d missed the second race as it clashed with the 3 peaks), so wanted to banish another “didn’t finish” demon. Finishing Relentless24 last week, albeit at a non-racing pace, felt good so I thought I’d get a shorter, fast race complete too.

Just doing the 1.5(ish) hour race didn’t seem like enough training for the Strathpuffer and the final Daft Ride of the year though, so the alarm was set for just before 6am (uuugh, still don’t like early starts!) to give me enough time to get dressed, stumble round the house, eat something and shuffle out the door before riding a similar route to the one I’d used to get me over to the MTL challenge a few weeks back.

It was chuffing freezing as I set off into the darkness, despite adding an extra jersey, skull cap and liner gloves I was shivering madly as I rode the first few, mostly downhill, miles from the house. My upper body was practically boiling in comparison to my feet however, which were crammed into a pair of race shoes that still hadn’t dried out from their last wash mid week the week before. Horrible over-cold foot pain stayed with me for most of the first hour before, mercifully, they slipped into numbness just as the sun started to pop it’s head over the tops of the hills.

By the time I got to Lee quarry and found the signing on tent the temperature had failed to rise above “it’s not summer anymore” and my the numbness in my feet had spread halfway up my shins, which was annoying, but the ride over had been wonderfully quiet – I had the world to myself (save for a few torch carrying dog walkers up near Darwen tower) and the autumnal colours of the trees, lit up by thee early morning sun almost made the unappetising hour and lack of warmth worthwhile.
I signed on, coughed up some cash and was delighted by one of the organisers letting me leave my camelback in the back of his car to make sure it was safe during the race – top stuff!
Nervous pre-race toilet visit done I lined up at the bottom of the first climb, removed the last of my extra layers of clothing and, realising I had no-one to pass it to to look after, threw it over a fence, hoping it would still be there when I finished the race.

The race came and went, I just sort of sat at a pace hard enough to make my legs and lungs hurt a bit, not wanting to go flat out and blow up when I had another ride home to come, but not wanting to waste the opportunity to hammer round the trails.
The race seemed to setle down around me too – I dropped the people just behind me on the first lap and lost sight of most of the people in front of me within a couple of laps, with the bloke in front of me being an occasionally glimpsed blur of movement a few corners ahead, always travelling at the same speed as me.

The marshalls were all cheery and a group of hecklers at the bottom of the main climb kept the atmosphere fun with some top notch shouting and advice (“just do a really fast lap, then you’ll win”) and I ground my way round until the ‘bell lap’ without incident, save my feet coming back to life about 2 laps in, in a pins-and-needly way.

brownback xc

I did a bit more 2 wheeled drifting on the last lap, just for fun and gave it some effort on the last descent before remembering that, being evil swines, the organisers always have the finish at the top of the biggest climb on the course. Oh well. Head down for a bit longer and just grind it out until cheers and claps bring on the finish line seemed to be the order of the day – there was no-one behind me racing for whatever place it was I was in.

Race over I stood around shivering at the finish line for a bit to clap home the other racers before rolling back down the hill, extricating the top I’d flung over the fence before the race from an annoyingly spikey bush and making my way down to the sign on tent to get my camelback back from the organiser’s car.

The bike got lots of attention as the crowd grew for the prize giving and, warmed by the re-addition of several layers of clothing and a nice brew from the catering van, I answered as many questions about it as I knew the answers to while letting everyone poke and prod at it (I’m not sure what flicking a set of carbon forks can tell you about them, but feel free!).
I hung around to watch the prize giving, thinking I’d come 4th in the race (and was happy enough with that), had a laugh at the utterly random (but totally wonderful) way in which the spot prizes were given out – fair play to the two lads who got prizes for flirting with the girls in the timing tent – and got the shock of my life when I was called out as 2nd place in the racer category. Thankfully I didn’t get a trophy for coming 2nd, as there was absolutely no room in my camelback for anything like that!

Prizes all given out I headed of home the way I’d come, forgetting to remove the race number from the front of the bike, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise as pretty much every walker I saw on the way home moved quickly and courteously out of my way, presumably thinking I was doing some sort of race that they were getting in the way of…in fact it was so effective I might leave it on for the next few rides!

And erm, that was that. All in I rode 93 miles, of which the race made up 21 and enjoyed another nice long Sunday ride, before demolishing vast amounts of food when I got home. Marvellous.

October 15, 2009

Relentless24 – a beginning of winter

Filed under: bikes,Racing — dgpowell @ 12:18 pm

After a summer of riding round the edges of fields, getting more and more bored, combined with dropping out of a couple of big races that I had been looking forward to, Relentless24 was to be a new beginning. I had two aims for it:
1) Finish. I’d not finished Mountain Mayhem or SITS, so needed to just get through the event.
2) Not race. It wasn’t a race for me, it was a start (albeit a les than usual one) of training for the Strathpuffer.

relentless-trophy

With these aims in mind I told Angela – who was getting back in to the swing of hanging around the start/finish area with half a ton of kit in plastic bags, in case i felt like i needed it – not to update me on how the race was going. Not to tell me what place I happened to be in, or how well in comparison to everyone else I seemed to be doing. I didn’t want to know, I was to take it steady, ride my own ride and finish, irrespective of whereabouts in the field I came.
She did brilliantly and I never knew how I was doing – even though at times she looked like she might explode, having given in and started watching the live updates. In fact it wasn’t until after the race, while we were sat in the cafe chowing down on cheeseburgers that she finally lost the battle to keep quiet and blurted out how I’d done and in her defence it was at least partly because she thought I’d have to go up on the podium, so I would have found out anyway.

I stopped on pretty much every lap for a quick bite to eat – there was no way I was going to run out of energy and blow up on this event – and, as it got colder overnight, I started having a Lovely Cup of Tea at each stop. This reinforced the “I’m not racing” strategy and gave me something to look forward to each time round…though I was a bit sick of tea by the 11th time!
I managed to eat right through the event, not loads ( I never manage that) and stopped eating/drinking while riding when I got sick of the taste of energy drink/gels (something to remember for the ‘puffer – carrying water and drinking it is more useful than carrying sickly energy drink and not being able to stomach it), but didn’t come close to blowing up and even enjoyed demolishing a big cup of porridge in the early hours of Sunday, rather than feebly nibbling on the edge of something tasteless while retching, like I normally do.

The ride, generally, went well, the course was a lot of fun – the first ‘semi-lap’ to spread the field of riders out a bit worried me as the vast majority of it was fireroad, but the first proper lap (and, obviously, all the other laps after that…) had plenty of swoopy singletrack, some nice techy rock sections and a few fast rocky descents.

The bike felt ace right the way through – in fact it encouraged me to go a bit too fast during the night and I ended up sliding the rear wheel sideways into a big pointly rock at full pelt, snapping a spoke, cracking the nipple of another spoke and taking a big chunk out of the rim. Oops. That took a good 10 minutes or so at the side of the trail, fettling by the light of my dinottes, to get the wheel straight enough to spin through the frame without the tyre hooking up on the chainstay. Immediately after which the remainder of the spoke – still attached at the hub – unwrapped itself from where i’d tied it and jammed itself into the cassette and chain. More fettling ensued, though I kept telling myself I wasn’t racing anyway and that I could take as much time as I liked as long as I got it fixed and didn’t drop out.
Apart from that the bike was faultless – fast on the descents (I had fun riding round with terry, chasing each other down the drops for a coupe of laps while chatting away inbetween), comfy over the bumps and sprightly up the climbs. Sadly the saddlebag gave up and launched itself into the undergrowth towards the end of the event, never to be seen again, but that was on it’s last legs before the race, so I wasn’t too gutted about it.

relentless-podium

And that’s it. I finished. It didn’t seem like a ‘biggie’ or anything special (certainly not worth writing some existential epic about anyway, so sorry if you were expecting one!) and I was about ready to pack up the tent and head off for a couple of days chilling out in the highlands when Angela gave in and told me I had to collect a trophy for coming 3rd in the senior men’s solo (which equalled 6th overall solo), only 1 lap down on Josh Ibbett, who won (and 3 down on Alex Slavin, who rocked a nice 24 laps and took the overall). In fact I finished a measley 5 minutes down on 2nd placed Dave Buchanan, without ever knowing I was closing him down in the final few hours.

This bodes well for a more successful winter I reckon. I’m up for some good hard training and am feeling much more motivated than I have been over the summer. Bring it on I say, at the next 24hr I WILL be racing 🙂

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