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

November 26, 2018

Rebel without a clue

Filed under: Uncategorized — dgpowell @ 11:33 am

Another round of the National Trophy last weekend, over in York. A great venue for racing and, during previous races I’ve done there, a good course. I was looking forward to it.

I headed over on Saturday to have a look at what was in store and to cheer on the NWCCA riders in the vets races. The ground seemed greasy but firm, with the off cambers still totally rideable with a bit of finesse. A few practice laps after the racing had finished confirmed that I’d be better swapping to gripper but slower rolling tyres ( I was doing a lot of ‘sideways steering’ which, while fun, wasn’t exactly fast).

The drive over on Sunday was done in heavy rain. I knew what that would mean for the course. Those greasy but firm cambers would be muddy, ruined grovels by the time I got to race on them. The already sloppy, running section at the ‘back’ of the course would be like something from a Somme based war movie. Bugger.

I didn’t bother doing any pre race riding on the course. I knew it would just knacker the bike, get me covered in mud and just make me grumpy! Instead I wandered back to the van, past a Belgian lad warming up, in his own gazebo, with is name all over it, stuck up next to his huge van with a picture of him on the back of it, proudly smiling away in his team kit, surrounded by sponsors logos.You don’t really get that at the NW races. It was slightly off putting.
Anyway, I sat i the back of the van screwing in the longest toe studs I had to the race shoes, pinning the unlucky race number “13” I’d been given onto my jersey upside down – as is the unwritten (until just then) rule to avoid bad luck – while reminding myself I was lucky enough to have Dave and Paul already stood in the pits with my spare bike, ready to spend hours getting cold, wet and muddy just so I could race.

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Yeah. Where are my toe studs ..

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The race itself went, well, awfully. I had no appetite to ‘get stuck in’ during the start sprint. I didn’t trust the off road tyres on the tarmac (covered in a fine sheen of mud) while riders around me were flailing from side to side. I must have been very near the back by the first bottleneck and could see the leaders already the best part 30 seconds up. I know you should always keep optimistic while racing, but I already knew I’d be getting pulled out early. A few mistakes here and there on the rest of the first and 2nd laps meant the gaps to the fast lads just opened up massively. I was wasting time fighting my way through the tail end and not making overtaking moves stick because I was angry with how badly it was going.

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Pic by Liz “cheering through the mud” Grimley

Although I eventually settled in a bit – and even started to enjoy it (thanks to everyone cheering me on, it definitely stopped the mid race sulking!) – I did end up getting removed from the race before the end. I missed the cut by just a few seconds, which was even more galling given how badly I’d ridden. If I’d just got my lines learned a bit, ridden a bit more assertively (I’m not the greatest skills wise, but I’m far better than I was showing o the technical sections), maybe I could have carried on regaining places at the end of the race.
As it was I finished in a lowly 35th. A bit dejected. I decided to blame my race number, which was still visible through the mud and nearly got me in trouble with a commissaire who said he couldn’t read it and that I shouldn’t have had it on upside down. I was in no mood to make my “it’s the right way up every time I crash” joke, so I just stomped off to apologise to Dave and Paul for sort of wasting their afternoon.

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Pic by Sarah “cheerleader” Grimshaw

I think the next National Trophy I’ll be doing is the Shrewsbury round (the others are way too far to travel!), hopefully I’ll get back further up the field again there!

MASSIVE thankyou to Dave and Paul for pitting for me – a bike change every lap was needed and they kept me rolling on shiny clean machines, with slick bike changes and encouragement at every handover. I’m pretty sure the bikes went home cleaner than they arrived. Awesome, awesome stuff. 🙂

November 19, 2018

Deaf in one ear

Filed under: Uncategorized — dgpowell @ 11:30 am

I didn’t win this weekend’s race.

I’ll just let that one sink in as it’s no doubt come as a bit of a shock.

OK. Now we’re settled, this weekend’s race was a return to the seaside – Ulverston this time – for another NWCCA round. Once again, as at the National Trophy at Irvine beach park, the sun shone brightly and the scenery was worth taking a couple of minutes to appreciate. I even let Angela leave the pits for a second or two to see the seaside 😀

The course was pretty dry and, I decided after watching the Vets and women fly round, damned fast. A few cheeky ‘power’ climbs with loose surfaces a corner-y section followed by a flat out flat bit round some rugby pitches. Good fun. You even got to have a look across the estuary at the start of each lap (briefly) to remind yourself that you were having fun on bikes at the seaside.

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I’m on there somewhere, getting the classic awful start. Pic By Paul O’Halloran

I got my usual awful start, concentrating far too much on getting clipped in cleanly and getting swamped by faster starters. I fought back through the pack, having a bit of a battle with Rob from Macclesfield Wheelers, before briefly getting back up to Giles and Tom from Wheelbase, who were busy racing each other. Annoyingly/typically, I made a few mistakes which let a gap reopen to them, so I eventually crossed the finish line nearly 20 seconds back from them, in 5th place. Drat.

Thing is, though, it kind of felt like I was in the lead, simply because of the support I was getting from all the way round the 1.3 mile course. I was getting so many cheers / shouts of encouragement / feedback on how I was doing / mild sarcasm / professions of love (not from Angela, I noticed…) I started to feel a bit guilty that I wasn’t streaking away from the rest of the racers like some sort of international superstar. I know it’s fun to cheer people on – half the fun of race day is watching the other races and hurling encouragement / mild abuse from the pits/sides of the course (in fact it’s well worth going to a race even if you’re not taking part in the ‘riding a bike’ part of the day, just to cheer people up by shouting at them!), but it made such a difference to me, I ended up grinning from ear to ear by the final lap. Ace. Thank you.

Another National Trophy next weekend (provided my poorly van is fixed in time…). Not at the beach, which will feel odd!

November 5, 2018

Beggars can’t be choosers

Filed under: Uncategorized — dgpowell @ 11:31 am

I try to like Beacon Park. I really do. I’ve had some great fun races there – from thrashing my legs off in the Midweek Madness MTB races that have taken place during the summer on my singlespeed to supermodder CX races that got me my 1st ever podium finish in the NWCCA league a few years back – but there’s always something about it that puts me off.
Last year’s race there very nearly saw me give up bike racing for good. In fact it very nearly saw me giving up leaving the house for good, so utterly horrible was the weather. It was less a race and more a collection of people giving themselves hypothermia while simultaneously writing off their bikes and murdering their pit crews in a sleety, snowy Armageddon. Not fun. No fault of the organisers, of course, in fact it was miraculous that they managed to hold a race there at all, let alone one where you could still ride a bike, despite everything being shin deep mud. With a move to November, rather than January, I had hopes that no-one would freeze to death this time round.

As per usual my sat nav managed to find a new way of getting me to the race site – I have never arrived there having followed the same route twice. I have no idea why each and every time seems to require me travelling along new and hitherto untested roads (if I’m being honest, despite the park being about 15 miles from my house, I had no idea where it actually is!), but by the time I get to the (full) car park each time I’m slightly panicked that I’m going to the wrong place! Maybe it’s a cursed land or something, in a parallel dimension…

When I finally found a spot to wedge the van, in the 3rd car park I tried (the downside of CX being so popular, I suppose) a glance at the clothing being worn by other racers suggested that the previous year’s snowmaggeddon might not be in attendance. In fact bare legs were on show. Maybe this year would be alright!
Parked up and kit dragged through what feels like about 50 acres of woodland (think “Blair Witch” with more lycra) I set off on the #2 bike for a look at the completely redesigned course. After getting lost with Ben a couple of times in the sea of course tape and dead ends as the kids races, with their own courses, cut across the adult race route I managed to figure out where we would be going. It looked like it could be good fun. Long, power straights, short, sharp climbs and a few slippery corners. A bit of everything. Nice.
To get myself settled I decided to do a couple more laps. Which turned out to be a mistake.

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Suboptimal warm up lap ??

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An innocuous gear shift caused the mech to abandon ship, leaving me with a long walk back to the pits from the far side of the course and just one bike for the race. Back to believing in the Curse Of Beacon Park!

Or so I thought.

Within minutes of getting back to the pits, I’d been offered the use of SO MANY other bikes, from riders in the V40 and v50 categories that, in complete contradiction to the well known phrase, this beggar had his pick of the crop!
I was a bit taken aback by the generosity on offer (why everyone seemed so willing to lend me a bike when I was quite obviously so clumsy I don’t know!), but utterly chuffed to be part of a scene where everyone’s so quick to help other riders out. Cross is boss.

The race itself went both badly and quite well all at the same time. For some unknown reason I set off in the small chainring, leaving me spinning wildly within seconds of the starting whistle, being overtaken by pretty much everyone. D’oh. A few ‘brave’ manoeuvres on the first lap saw me start to work my way up through the field (apologies to Joe Peatfield, who I cut up horribly…) and over the following few laps I clawed my way from about 25th up to 5th.

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@twinklydave giving it some

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A high speed (but surprisingly comfortable!) crash/slide out on a descent saw me drop back a place or two, and some very scrappy riding while I was all worked up by it meant I didn’t start making up places again for another lap. Another crash towards the end of the race, as I caught up to Martin, meant I eventually crossed the line in 3rd place. Another “what could have been” sort of result because of the poor start and crashes, all of which were entirely my own fault, but a better finishing place than might have been. I’ll stay positive and be chuffed with a podium. 🙂

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Thanks, as always, to Ellen for the pictures. A coffee must be due as payment by now!

Thankfully it was a ‘one bike’ race, so I didn’t have to pull into the pits and do a “eeny – meeny – miny – mo” style bike choice from all the ones on offer (again; thanks to everyone, you are all awesome) and I have enough spare parts ‘in stock’ to repair the damage, so I’m declaring the Curse of Beacon Park over 🙂

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