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

July 27, 2010

Back to the old school

Filed under: bikes,lunacy - mine,Racing — dgpowell @ 11:07 am

Many, many moons ago. Long before the idea of “training” came into any sort of bike riding equation, a few of us used to race at a little, local race series organised by Leisure Lakes, near Southport.
Not having cars at the time, we’d ride the 10 or so miles down there whatever the weather (I remember riding there one wintery Sunday, fighting through snowdrifts covering the deserted roads, battling against icey winds only to find that the race had been cancelled – that was somewhat unpleasant…), race out hearts out for an hour or so then ride back again.
I had my first taste of success in the fun/novice category, winning the series title with some decent and consistant results. I think I only won two of the races outright, the rest of the 6 race series I managed to finish high enough to amass the points needed for the ‘overall’ and to this day that is still one of the best series of races I’ve ever been a part of.
It was always close, flying through the trees at what felt like warp speed (until the top category guys came roaring through), lungs hanging out and legs burning until the finish line. There were no ‘tactics’ to speak of, no fast lap – steady period – fast finish or anything like that, just ‘go’. No planning for what you hoped to do later in the race in the way you would during 24hr races, you got your head down at the start and tried not to look up until someone told you it was over.


If I could only keep one race ‘trophy’ it’d be that one. Not the Mountain Mayhem metal thing, or any of the Strathpuffer mugs, just that plate for winning the fun/novice series back in 2002.

Sunday, against all odds, felt like a return to that heady time. The ride over to the race might have been more than twice as far and the course, rather than being a few laps of some woods behind a shop on a caravan site, was a tough mixture of purpose built, swooping singletrack, steep climbs and rocky descents but the basic principle ended up the same.
As soon as the race started any tactics went out of the window; a slipped pedal meant that, for a second, I felt like I was going backwards and had to chase my way back up through the pack. Shortly after which my saddlebag ejected itself from the seatpost and bounced cheerily across the race course. normally I’d leave it, get on with racing and hunt for it once the event had finished, but I needed it for the (long) ride home. I couldn’t risk loosing it so had to stop mid-first-sprinting-lap, wait for the entire field to ride over it – both the category I was in and the ones ‘below’ it – grab it, wipe it off, refit it to the bike and get back on.
Obviously, in a 1.5hr race, faffing about at the side of the course like that for a few minutes meant I was someway off the back of the field and had little chance of getting back up to the leaders, but it also made the plan for the rest of the race very easy: catch the person in front, overtake them then drop them. Repeat. Go flat out until someone tells you it’s over.
So that’s what I did.
I chased everyone in front of me and worked my way back up through the field, getting cheered on by loads of enthusiastic marshals, until, just over an hour into the race people started tellling me that I was back up to 4th in my category and was closing in on 3rd.


I knew a fair few people had dropped out with punctures and other course related mechanicals, but that was surprising news. Spurred on with how well I was doing I kept on trying to eject my lungs and set fire to my legs until I caught the guy in 3rd and set about trying to open a gap.
Sadly, in a ‘daft moment’ while lapping one of the slower racers I rode straight into a Big Pointy Rock and punctured. The tyre took a while to deflate, so I rode as far as I could and, thinking I was on my last lap, jumped off and started running (which wasn’t easy over the rocks, in carbon soled shoes). 4th place re-passed, offering his condolences (which was nice of him) and I’m pretty sure 5th went past too before I reached the start/finish line, only to discover that I had another lap left to do.
I think my exact words were “bugger that for a laugh” when told I could either drop out just be classed as finishing a lap down, or carry on and run an entire lap. The puncture meant I couldn’t get a near-fairytale ending to the race, but I’d loved every minute of what I’d been able to ride and finishing on the same number of laps as the winner didn’t seem to matter, so I plonked myself down at the side of the course, chatted to a few other people who’s race had finished prematurely and set about the laborious task of changing the tube (thankful that’d I’d picked the seatpack up earlier, as it had all my tools in it).
Tyre sorted, I hung around for the presentations, was given a shoe bag as an award for running a lap to try and finish (not entirely sure that this wasn’t a bit of a piss take at my lame running, but still happy someone noticed I didn’t just have a tantrum at the side of the course!) and then rode home, buzzing after a great bit of racing, just like I used to. 🙂

July 22, 2010

Never less alone

Filed under: bikes,lunacy - other peoples,Racing — dgpowell @ 9:58 am

Racing things like ’24hr solo’ events is probably the biggest misnomer in the world for me.
Even when I’m rolling though the start/finish arena in the early hours of the morning, when the only noise is the gentle thrum of the generator, powering lights that highlight just how deserted the usually-packed arena central is, I’m not alone.
It’s just me riding back up the first climb on the course – on any course, of any race – into the darkness, but i’m not alone. There’s no-one alongside me, feeling the chilling spray coming up from wet grass hit my shins, coated in hours worth of dust and dirt. But this is hardly a ‘solo’ attempt at the race.
Same goes for pretty much every ride I do. Tuesday afternoon of this week I went out for five hours, in the rain. No-one sat behind me getting a face full of spray off the rear wheel as the roads became boating lakes and the trails at Gisburn forest seemed to sink below the surface of a new inland sea, but it wasn’t just me doing it.

I wouldn’t be as far up the field as I am at the races, in the middle of the night and I wouldn’t be hurtling round the trails in the rain without the support of LOADS of people. People who seem happy with me using the fruits of their labour for reasons that, despite any claims of nobility, don’t amount to much more than “because I like riding bikes a lot”.

Take a look at this mid-race pic (no, it’s not just an excuse to display another pic of me on the way to winning something 😉 )


That bike’s practically designed to fit around me and the peeps at Ragley are happy for me to rag the tits off it. They keep coming up with products ‘That Just Work’ and send them over, giving me more opportunity to do well at races (and Daft Rides) than I would otherwise have a chance to do.
The bike’s working flawlessly, mainly because the drivechain’s in top notch condition, despite hours of flith being thrown at it, because the top blokes at Squirt give me stuff that keeps it that way.
I’m there, racing, (and not flashing my nipples…) because the aceness of the guys at JMC IT have taken the worry out of budgeting for races and coated me in kit.
I’m not curled up in a ball, under the Berlingo, shivering and unable to form coherant sentences because the hard working guys at 2Pure have kindly provided enough Clif energy food and drink to keep me fuelled right the way up to the point where someone organising the race steps out and tells me to stop as it’s all over.
Those same guys at 2Pure also take care of my ability to sit down while riding for long periods (I know I’m stood up in the pic, but I did sit down once I’d got round that corner and it didn’t hurt) by providing lashings of Chamois Butt’r. Which has been a bit of a revelation, far surpassing even the cleverest of potions I could come up with for long distance botty-happiness (and I’ve spent lots of time coming up with different arse-lard formulations…)

See; there’s only me in the pic, but I’m only there because shedloads of people have got behind me and Jase, supplied us to the hilt with stuff that (probably shouldn’t say this in case they’re reading) we’d just end up buying anyway…
I think that’s ace.
Properly ace.
Awesome even.

Of course, if you ever want to try out any of the stuff we’re cruising round on, looking smug, that’s half the reason its there – give us a shout…we might not apply the chammy cream for you, but if it means you’ll get to try something new that you might end up liking as much as we do, then that’s ace with us 🙂

You can keep up to date with what we’re up to – what races we’re doing, where we’re doing silly long rides and often just what cakes we’re eating, on Twitter: We’ve both got our own Twitter accounts and we both put stuff on the ‘team’ Twitter feed, @Team_JMC_Ragley

Team JMC Ragley

July 19, 2010

Hit the North – Measuring success

Filed under: lunacy - other peoples,Racing — dgpowell @ 1:22 pm

I thought I’d die on my arse at (the final, ever) Hit the North, what with not doing much in the way of riding since Mountain Mayhem. Not that I minded, I was looking forward to using it as training for the “big” races on the horizon and I knew it’d be a good laugh, so I turned up suitably unworried, planning on finding out what state I was in over the 8 hours and what my body would put up with.

After meeting up with Wayne and Jenny (first time endurance racer & pit crew), doing the sign on thing and instructing the ever helpful Angela in the fine art of mixing half a bottle of fruit juice with half a bottle of water I waited for my turn in the changing room pop-up tent I’d bought the day before – while Wayne discovered the delightful sensation of applying chammy cream before a long ride – before wandering over to the ‘le-mans on acid’ style start.

We ran down a ditch, up a slope, along some wooded paths, down a bigger ditch, back up a bigger ditch and (now thoroughly lost) back out onto the start/finish straight to grab the bikes and head out onto the course for the race-proper.

I set about finding a pace that was somewhere just below XC race, but well above 24hr, speed and got to grips with the slippery-in-the-rain course.
It was great fun; slipperly singletrack, followed by fast fireroad, followed by cyclocross style grovelling about up unrideable slopes, followed by purpose-built bermed-up trails, followed by more clambering, more fast bits, a looooong cobbled climb, some fast gravel tracks through a park and more groveling on foot meant there was something for everyone (to hate*) and kept the laps varied enough to remain interesting for the whole race.

The pit-crew-ettes of Angela and Jenny kept the supply of gels and chocolate buttons I needed to keep riding at a decent pace coming and even found time in their busy schedules…


…to keep me updated on how I was doing, race wise. After a few laps I found myself in the lead and, obeying the HRM, rather than various people telling me I could slow down as I was riding away from everyone, I kept the pace about the same for around 6 hours before beginning to ease back a bit and enjoy the trails.


The implosion I expected my legs would make didn’t happen and I finished the race (after a couple of minutes lurking with Wayne at the end) feeling pretty fresh, before having one of the best at-a-race showers ever, a top notch pint of ale from the beer tent and some tasty food from the caterers (who looked like they often sampled their own wares 😉 ).

After which it was podium time (because I won, y’see, in case you hadn’t figured that one out..), where I failed once again to look in the right direction while people took photos. Oh well. At last I was smiling and not covered in mud for once 🙂


Apparently that’s the last Hit the North.
Ever. Excuses like “Our families don’t know what we look like ‘cos we’re never there” and “We’ve gone grey/bald/got wrinkles trying to get this event going” were bandied about, but between you and me I think they just want to have a go at racing rather than organising 😉 but whatever the reason – good effort chaps, it’s been Awesome!

*Joking! I didn’t hear a bad word about the course – or anything else about the event (except maybe the weather) – from anyone.

July 15, 2010

Welcome to the Long Run

Filed under: bikes,Racing — dgpowell @ 9:45 am

Mountain Mayhem’s dust and proper racing is long gone, 2 self congratulatory weeks with little in the way of riding, followed by a slow build back up to training properly are suddenly felt guilty about and as a result it’s time to look to the future – to the rest of the season to see what’s coming up and how I’m going to use it to get back into shape:

  • First up is Hit the North, this weekend. 8hrs on a fast course should be near-hilarious given how little I’ve done since the last big race 4 weeks ago, but it should give me a great starting point to train from in order to have a chance at the other ‘big’ races on the horizon.
  • The weekend after has another Brownbacks XC race. Although they’re only a 1hr sprint, combine them with a big ride there & a big ride back and you’ve got some mighty decent training.
  • The weekend after that has got a big “Transcambrian ride” pencilled into it. No getting lost this time. A whole day in the Welsh hills is nothing but fantastic training for endurance racing.
  • We’re into August now, and that brings with it the annual trip to SITS. Last year I exploded in the heat, this year I won’t…and by this point should be back up to near race fitness, so anything could happen!
  • Then, after a few more weeks hard training we hit The Big One: The Kielder 100. Slightly worried about this, in a good sort of a way. I know there’ll be no problem with just getting round the 100 mile (natch) course, but I don’t want to ‘just’ get round the course, so maximum fitness needs to be back by this point: enough endurance to go for the whole race and enough speed to get round FAST. That shouldn’t be a problem though, I’ve learned a lot this year about what works for me training and race-craft wise, so I’ll be using all that knowledge to hopefully get me somewhere decent in the results.
  • Only a couple of weeks after the Kielder comes “that” race. The 3 Peaks Cyclocross. It’s mental…and addictive. Can I beat last year’s time of 3hrs 54min? Hopefully! More riding (and shouldering the bike up steep slopes) in the months leading up to it should stand me in good stead. In fact I’ve already started using the cross bike for training, which should help.
  • Another Brownbacks XC race the week after, then it’s final preperation time for Relentless24, up in Scotlandshire. I loved this race last year, simply because I rode it “blind” and got on with just finishing it and still managed a decent result. This year I’ll be aiming to be more competitive for the top spot on what will no doubt be a great course.
  • Then maybe I’ll have a quick sit down and a cup of tea

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