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

June 22, 2011

Mountain Mayhem 2011

Filed under: bikes,Racing — dgpowell @ 11:24 am

I raced this year. Last year I rode well, but never felt like I was part of the race for 1st, this year I did, for the first half anyway.
Pit stops were short and to the point, not that I was gven much option, the gathered Team JMC masses under the Ragley gazebo would swop bottles, refill jersey pockets with gels and shot bloks, drag mud encrusted bikes from underneath me and replace with a shiny clean version in less time than it took me to start moaning about aches and pains. I usually found myself being shoved back down the course by Wayne before any sort of excuses could form in my head.
For my part, I realised that bringing up how much of a battering I was taking from the ever increasing ruts and braking bumps wasn’t going to change anything and had decided, quite early on, to stay positive. Any “Are you still going OK?” style questions as I pulled up outside what resembled an illegal rave as much as a pro-team service area would be met with, at least, an “Aye, I’m doing alright”. I wouldn’t sit down, or hunt for reasons to dwell (though I ‘may’ have propped myself up against the race-food-covered table a few times as the hours dragged on), I’d just ask for what I needed and try to crack on with as little disruption as possible.

1

9 hours or so into the race, after creeping up through the solo field I actually crossed the line in the lead, having caught Ant White up just before the descent into the race arena. He seemed surprised. Not as surprised as me, but surprised nontheless.
I tried to keep my head in check and not just blast off for a fast lap straight after, risking blowing up and paused in the pits to eat something and get a decent amount of fluid down my neck as he rolled back past, stopped for less than 30 seconds and disappeared back into the night in a supremely controlled and well practised way.
I’d hoped to keep the gap between us down as the night wore on, maybe trying to push on a bit more through the next morning and see if I could get back into the lead in the final stages of the race, but a few mistakes in the darkness combined with Ant’s super consistant pace meant I found myself over 20 minutes back.

My chances became more based on Ant having some sort of problem…or running out of energy (this, I knew, just wasn’t going to happen!). I kept a similar pace as I had through the night, still fed and watered by everyone in our pits without any delay between lap, bouyed by the news of Jase fighting his way up to 3rd place, riding, waiting and hoping that an opportunity would arise.

With only a few hours remaining it was becoming clear that, although the gap between Ant and myself wasn’t exactly huge, it would be enough of a cushion for him to react to any real race move I could make, but as the sun was shining, everyone helping me had worked tirelessly through the night and my legs were still responding I thought I’d put some effort in for a lap or two.
An injection of pace up the hills knocked 13 minutes off my previous lap time and managed to close the gap to 1st by the best part of 10 minutes, which felt great. I knew it wouldn’t be enough to really put me back in contention – and as expected Ant as able to raise his sped enough to maintain enough space between us to make catching him, overtaking him and dropping him pure fantasy – but it cheered me up enough to enjoy the last couple of laps (through clenched teeth admittedly) and roll over the finish line with a smile.

podium1

2nd place for the 2nd year running. Can’t really complain about that – the win would have been good, but, despite having done more 24hr solo races that I can remember, I learned more about how my body will respond and how I can limit the time lost in the pits more in the future. Progress. Something to take forward to the races yet to run this year and a nice trophy to go with it. That’ll do for me.

Big, BIG thanks to Wayne and everyone who hung around the trackside pit area through the race, shoving food down my neck and keeping my updated with how everyone was doing. Scraping mud encrusted bikes clean and keping me in good spirits for 24 hours can’t be easy, yet every lap I was met with smiles and selfless encouragement. Awesome stuff!

June 15, 2011

OS Mountain Mayhem 2011 WeatherWatch

Filed under: lunacy - mine,Racing,rubbish weather — dgpowell @ 8:53 am

No.
I’m not doing one.
Bugger off.

Looks like it’s going to piss it down, for at least half the race. That’s all I’m saying. 🙁

June 13, 2011

The Gisburn Dirty Dozen (12 hour) race

Filed under: bikes,lunacy - mine,Racing — dgpowell @ 1:48 pm

The bet was “3 laps more over the 12 hours”. It was a fairly hastily conceived contest and probably not all that well thought out by either party, but it was agreed, done, hands had been shaken (well, OK, not actually shaken, but it had definitely been agreed).
3 laps more than Budge and Andy, over the course of the 12 hour race, or Jase and I would be facing Certain Death by Chili.
Oh boy.

Most people would have been eyeing up their overall position in the race itself – looking for a podium, finding out who their closest rivals were as the race unfolded and battling against them. For Jase and I it was all about those precious 3 laps.
OK again I exaggerate. We were well and truly stuck in a battle with the un-aptly named “Bringing up the Rear” duo, who were blistering their way round the course while we got to grips with just how rutted up and, in places, worn out the course had become since last year (and in my case smashed myself into it, owch).

As the sun finished rising, baked the damp trails dry and shone down on lap after frantic lap by everyone racing, every second was becoming precious. A slip on a still-damp tree root, a missed gear change, drifting ever so slightly wide on the exit of a fast corner, it felt costly.
Halfway through and we were in 2nd place by just a handful of seconds, closing in on 1st, looking through the tightly packed trees for a flicker that might be ‘them’. 1 of the 3 needed laps up on Budge and Andy and closing in towards getting the 2nd. Fully immersed in the ordeal. Lungs hanging out on the climbs and everything hanging out on the descents. Flat out racing and loving it.

DD2_076

As the afternoon ground on and teeth became more clenched on the climbs we continued to push, taking a slender lead. Getting the 2nd lap up on our Team JMC rivals. Fighting all the way. A slow puncture on one of my laps may only have extended the lap time by a minute or so, but it felt like an eternity. It spurred me on, more pushing hard against race battered legs in the following laps. Jase’s teeth came out. Angry eyes locked on the trail ahead as we drove to stretch the advantage over 2nd and take the 3rd lap.

As the sun began to tumble back earthwards and rainclouds peered over the surrounding hills we got the victory. 1st place in a great race – the winning margin just 10 minutes over the whole 12 hours. We didn’t, however, get the 3rd lap, missing it by around 15 minutes.

15 minutes that may as well have been another eternity, as I sat down in the pub, faced with a plate of TerrorChilli. I wasn’t sure if it was steam coming off the food or the plate dissolving, I just knew it was going to hurt, but a bet’s a bet and tastebuds can heal (well, I hoped so anyway).

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I ate. And after a few minutes, regained the abililty to talk, suggesting that I’d been given a slightly less thermonuclear dose.

It was, for Team JMC, a hugely successful race – Jason and I got the win in the pairs, our chilli combatants Budge and Andy took 3rd (after also being tightly wrapped in close racing all day) and Phil…well Phil romped away with the solo win. Impressively.

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You can check the results here to see how close everything was.

Hopefully lots more fast, close racing to come this summer. That was ace 🙂

June 9, 2011

Rapha do a nightride

Filed under: bikes,lunacy - mine,lunacy - other peoples — dgpowell @ 2:07 pm

They don’t do things by half over at Rapha.
Getting ready to go out for a ride as the sun sets is a rather peculiar feeling (unless you’re Jase – in which case it’s the norm) and nothing can quite prepare you for the feeling for rolling though Manchester on a Friday evening, trying to warm up and avoid thousands upon thousands of middle aged women stumbling out from a Take That gig at the same time. (OK this wasn’t strictly part of the Rapha organised bit, but it didn’t half add to the ‘overall vibe’…)
Suffice to say we arrived at the meeting point somewhat muddle headed, not as mudle headed as a few of the stumbling drunks we’d ridden past en route, but muddle headed nontheless.
A quick sign on and handful of freebies later (freebies are A Good Thing, mmmkay) we set about necking freshly and expertly brewed coffee in order to maintain some sort of grasp on the evening. Swigging cappucino we read through beautifully designed and printed the audax style route card, slowly coming to the conclusion that this was no ordinary ‘vat of tea in the corner of a musty village hall & handwritten unintelligble route descriptions’ style bike event. I felt slightly guilty stuffing the guide into my jersey pocket…

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At the stroke of exactly 12.32am the group set off. 11 of us in total, making a wonderfully rag tag peloton of overtly expensive carbon, retro steel and “it’s all I could find in one piece” cyclocross bikes that wound its way through the sodium lamp lit back streets, chatting and nattering as the mixture of excitement and massive doses of caffiene worked their magic.

Urban backdrops bagan to fade away as we rode out through Ashton-under-Lyne towards the first climb of the day up Mottram Moor, which held the honour of having the only “prime” of the night.
Early-ride-eager legs saw quite a few of us pick up the pace, all gunning to be the first over the top to take any glory on offer. I had no idea where I was going, how far it was to the top, or even exactly where we were supposed to race up to, I just put my head down and kept cranking at the pedals, waiting for a rush as I got mugged by Jase, Phil and John, who seemed to know where the finish line was. To my suprise (and secret delight) the rush never came, from my vantage point (hanging limply from the bars, as my lungs attempted to escape, head so low I could see behind me) I could see bikes thrashing towards me but as the sound of my rasping breath reached near crescendo levels they dropped away again. I’d hit the top in front and for my efforts I was rewarded with a really rather pimpy Rapha Essentials Case

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From there the true hills began. As did the true nightride experience; the utter darkness of the empty countryside lit only by what lights you had on your bars made for some fantastic ride-by-the-seat-of-your-pants descents – made even more exciting by trying to chase Jason down roads he knew quite well when all I could see were the fast flowing white lines marking the edges of the carridgeway – there was no shortage of adrenaline induced giggling each time we regrouped and began exaggerating how close we’d come to losing it on corners that had leapt out of the blackness!

Riding through a deserted feeling Macclesfield, attention turned to the main climb of the day (erm, night) over the Cat & Fiddle, a climb normally buzzing with speeding motorists and boy racers, at 2.30 in the morning it was as deserted as you could possibly wish for. Totally slient apart from the deep breathing of the group as everyone pushed themselves hard ni the cool night air.
As the climb continued, groups began to spliter off the back of the pack until Jason, John, Phil and I were left, pulling ourselves towards the pub marking the pinnacle of the ascent at the front.
Backwards glances revealed a string of bright lights weaving their way upwards as the seemingly endless turns of the road wore down legs. We pushed on into an ever growing headwind, eventually hitting the top just before 3am, as the blackness of the sky showed the first signs of warming towards morning.

top of cat & fiddle

Regrouped again, our peloton began to plummet back down towards Buxton, urged on by the promise of mid ride refreshments. Again the descent became a game of staying in the blackness between the two white lines, going as fast as you dared. The wind began to roar as speed built up and corners started to come faster and faster, each one railed around, leant right over, wishing for lights to pierce further into the gloom.
I yelped.
It was intantaneous.
Fully leant over, feeling like I was inches away from “getting my knee down”, with riders hanging right on my back wheel suddenly the black space between the white lines wasn’t black.
It was white, sort of wooly and had a pair of startled looking eyes!
Through luck as much as any skill I managed to drift wide enough to not clatter into the lamb, as behind me all hell broke loose. More shouts, the squeals of cantilevers wrenched against rims, the high pitched squeak of tyres loosing grip and sliding across the cold tarmac filled the air as nighttime reactions were tested to breaking point.
How we all managed to stay upright and not embedded in a small sheep I have no idea, but suffice to say we hit the outskirts of buxton very much awake…

We barely needed the coffee on offer from the Rapha moblie truck-come-shop-come-hanging-out-area-come-cinema, parked up in a layby just out of town. I imagine may of the early shift lorry drivers did, as the sight of a group of lycra clad cyclists, swigging brews at Silly Early am was probably the last thing they were expecting, but gathered around the Gaggia we were still buzzing from the ride so far.

Refreshed and refuelled we headed back out across from the Dark to the White Peak as the brightness of the pre-dawn sky began to illuminate the scenery we suddenly discovered we’d been missing. Rolling hills swathed in morning mist kept the effort needed high as we cruised through Tideswell and began to climb over Miller’s Dale. Once again the group fragmented on the ascent as tiredness began to hit home, just as the sun exploded over the horizon, almost instantly warming the chilled air.

Through a still asleep and silent Buxton for a sencond time as the route turned and began weaving back towards Manchester, we turned our attention to the the return climb over the Cat & Fiddle. This time the climb was shorter, but the breaks between groups became larger and Jase, John, Phil and I decided to push on back to the velodrome in order to finish the ride before we lost too much of Saturday.

Spinning out 52×11 gearing was the order of the descent, before hitting the flat, taking to some dual carridgeways and getting our heads down for some fast paced spinning through Stockport as the world begain to wake up around us.
The remnents and casualties of Saturday night’s exuberance were crawling their way home through litter covered streets as we chainganged our way back through the outskirts of Manchester. Bleary eyes not quite focussing on us as we thundered through, trying to come to terms with what they’d been up to the night before as we did the same…only for very different reasons!

We rolled back up to the velodrome at around 7am, having some trouble getting grips with what time of day it actually was, before agreeing in principle the idea of many more adventures in a similar vein and heading home to start the day, exhausted and aching…

June 6, 2011

The Way of the Roses

Filed under: bikes — dgpowell @ 11:00 am

Or
“I got up HOW early for fish n chips on the prom?!”

A 3am start, a 3 hour drive from my house over to Bridlington, meet Jase, chuck his stuff in my car then another – even longer – drive to Morecambe. Hell of a start to a day.

The Start

A bit of posing at the beach for photos and we’re off! Through the town centre then on cycle paths right through Lancaster and into the hills beyond, wonderfully traffic free even on a Friday morning rush hour.
Birds tweet, the sun shines warmth down on our backs and the seemingly empty roads flow across Lancashire, through towns and villages I half recognise from other rides in the area, it’s an idyllic start and just keeps getting better as we skip through Bowland and hit the foothills to the Dales.

Iconic hills rise up over the horizon, loom over us and pull at our legs as we keep the pace high. Dry stone walls and quaint villages follow the route. I resist the temptation to whistle the theme tune to Postman Pat, even though I half expect to see his little red van pop round a corner at any point.

We barely need to stop to check the route as the road signs guide us round pretty much every corner, in fact we don’t make a concerted stop until we reach the centre of Ripon. The smell of a bakery coincides with lunchtime and creates an unresistable force, dragging us in through the doors and forcing us to buy numerous pastry products, while locals quiz us on where we’re off to, where we’ve come from and why we’re so mad as to consider riding from where we’ve been to we’re we’re headed…

We can’t really come up with a decent answer. In fact there doesn’t really seem to be any need for one. It’s a nice day, we’re riding bikes in the countryside, is that not enough?

York

Back out onto the road, suddenly very flat…and fast! Biggest gears are employed and spun at a frantic pace as the route bobs and weaves it’s way over to York. 110 miles in, the chance of a photo stop outside the minster is too much beore more greenlaning, back roads and custom made cycle lanes fire us off in the general direction of the Yorkshire Wolds.

Off Road Section

Occasional crossings of the busy main roads remind us of just how quiet and peacful the ride has been – rarely heading in a straight line for long, the meandering design seems to empasise the sprawling nature of Yorkshire’s countryside. From a vantage point high up on the Wolds in every direction right up to the horizon the ground is a verdant green and wonderfully peaceful. Only a short section through Stamford Bridge reminds us that it’s Friday night rush hour – on the route it feels like a lazy Sunday afternoon, a slower pace of life seeming to be The Done Thing by everyone but us, who are still cranking along, wishing for larger gears as we fly though Driffield and start to wind our way back to the seaside as stomachs beginto remind us that it’s getting on for teatime!

The End

We hit the prom as the sun begins to set, quickly pose for more photos before seeking out the nearest chippy and setting about replacing many lost calories. Hard earned fish n chips taste the best!

More driving, all the way back to Morecambe to collect my car is done in torrential rain that kindly held off for the whole ride before finally heading home and crawling back into bed 22 hours after I’d crawled out of it. Job done 🙂

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