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

January 28, 2019

No rest for the wicked…

Filed under: Uncategorized — dgpowell @ 12:58 pm

…apart from the last two weekends, where there’s been no CX races, obviously.

After a brief hiatus, during which I grew to love the whole “not having to pack everything / spend hours cleaning and fixing everything” routine that a gap in the league calendar provided, the NW races leapt back into action last weekend with a return to Blakemere Village. I’d enjoyed the previous round held there and had high hopes of another fun course. I may have been getting a bit fed up with all the faffing before and after racing, but once on the bike, I was still as enthusiastic as ever to go flat out.

Last time round the course could be summed up with the phrase “never more than 3ft from the next corner”, this time round it was dominated (to my mind) by a huge straight section taking you from the far side of the course back to the pits at warp speed. A rare opportunity to slam the chain onto the big ring and hammer along. Cool. Don’t get many of those, especially at this time of year when you’d expect ground conditions to be somewhere between “mud” and “doom” – somehow this time round the course seemed even drier and grippier than last time.

As expected, the speed off the start line was fast. Within a few seconds Rob and Tyler had managed to open a gap on the rest of the field – me included – but I got my head down and paced myself back up to them, trying to use the strong tailwind giving us an extra boost along the stright to my advantage, while keeping steady when we turned to ride back into it as a headwind. No surges in speed, just a constant effort to close the gap gradually.

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Myself and Martin made contact a lap or two into the race and, wile I contemplated “sitting in” behind them for a lap, Martin seized the initiative and immediately attacked. I wasn’t sure if either of the lads would be able to respond after their lightning quick start, so realised I’d have to go with him. I jumped to stay on his wheel and heard Rob do the same. The 3 of us hung together for one more lap, with Martin setting a pace fast enough to eventually shed Rob. And then there were 2…

As we hit the – as I called it – hill reps section, I decided that my legs seemed to be happy enough with the race so far and I’d have a dig to see what happened. Well, as the hill reps section involved 3 stomps up the same slope, each with a tight bend at the top and drop back down between each, I decided to have 3 digs in a row. I knew Martin would be able to close down one attack with the greatest of ease, but what about 3? If he managed to stay with me there were enough laps left for me to recover from the attacking and if I got a gap I had a slightly tailwind assisted straight immediately after to push on and build on it, so off I went.

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To my delight, a gap opened up, so I set about burning a few matches before turning to face the wind – get as much space between us as I could before it became harder for him to get back with me. Approving noises coming from the pits as I rode past them spurred me on and I set about pacing myself round the course like I had for the first lap or two, balancing my effort as much as possible in case Martin got back to me. For a few more laps I kept everything as similar as possible – same line through each corner, same gear shifts at the same time, metering out and surges on the climbs and riding steady through the corners.
It had started raining quite heavily but he course was holding up well, so the levels of grip on offer remained good, with everything staying rideable. The bike didn’t seem to be clogging up with mud so I decided I wouldn’t swap to the spare unless I had a mechanical issue. More approving noises from the pits told me I was opening up the gap steadily with each lap. Just stay steady, don’t start mucking about trying to rail round the corners or sprint up with e hill reps like a mad man, was the order of the day.

The last lap bell started ringing a bit earlier than I expected. I took a few glances around to make sure there were no counter attacks coming, saw that my lead was – barring disaster – good enough to get me round safely and started to worry about what to do when crossing the finish line.

Maybe you’ve never thought about this before. Maybe you’re so used to winning races you barely even notice it. I don’t win that many bike races (and you can stop shouting “that’s an understatement!” right now, thank you very much…), so what was I going to do to look awesome rolling over the finish in 1st place? It’s a contentious issue – cyclingnews.com has a good article dedicated to the best and worst finish line salutes – and I ended up getting so stressed about it I eventually settled for a simple “one hand in the air”, rather than anything particularly memorable. Maybe I should add some “finish line celebration” practice into my training (oh stop laughing).

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Thanks to Ellen for all the pics!

And that was that. With just one race left as a member of the senior category (officially), I’d got my first win. Bit last minute, but hay ho, better late than never. On to the final round next Saturday, then it’ll be time to think about SUMMER! Woo!

January 6, 2019

Three Course Meals

Filed under: Uncategorized — dgpowell @ 10:44 pm

I thought I’d got away with it a bit at Macclesfield last week. Despite being in the middle of the Xmas / New Year period and all it’s calorific trappings, I didn’t feel too sluggish. same notch on the belt buckle and a decent spring in my step. All the extras caught up with me today though.
The Waddow Hall course was delightfully not flat. 1600ft of climbing in just over 8 miles allows for nothing but either going up or thundering back down again. Ace. And, usually, my forte. I like a good climb, me. Lungs popping, jaw slung low as you fight gravity and traction while bouncing off your own internal rev limiter. Torque over horsepower. you get the picture. Problem was today I would be tackling the course and racing everyone with quite a few mince pies tucked safely away round my midriff. 2nd helpings and days spent eating rather than training are not conducive to skipping up hills.
Never mind. I decided to class today’s race as an abrupt end to the gluttony and set about pushing myself on a route that appeared to be an awful lot of fun.
I got a half decent start, right up to the point where half a bird’s nest leapt up into my rear mech. Although it didn’t jam the gears up I knew I’d have to dive into the pits on the first, frenetic lap rather than concentrate on staying up with Isaac as he opened up a bit of a lead on everyone else. Drat and bother. Down to fifth and some gaps to close then.
Where I’d normally make up a decent chunk of time, on the long dragging grass climb that broke a lot of hearts (and lungs) during the day, I had to suffer like a dog to make up any time at all. Not that anyone found it easy, of course! So I put as much effort onto letting the bike fly on the descents to close the gaps in front. It may have looked a bit “all over the place” but I had great fun doing my best “foot out / flat out” impression.

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I managed to work my way back up into 3rd, behind Martin, with 4 laps to go and what followed was some of the closest racing I’ve done in a long time. Over the new few laps we swapped places countless times – neither ever far back from the other and neither at all aware we were closing the gap to Matt in the lead, so engrossed were we in our own private battle.
The final result came down to one moment, on the one flat section of the course – an innocuous looking, slow speed hairpin bend just past the pits. Whoever was in front out of this corner held all the cards really; the following descent was too narrow to risk an overtake, and after one last corner the final drop down to the line was simply too fast to get alongside and past. Despite being a good minute or two from the line, those in the pits would be able to see the end of the race, barring disaster.
Into the hairpin I was just in front. I picked a tight line, working on the assumption that a slip would push me wide ‘closing the door’ on any attempt by Martin to ride round the outside of me. My front tyre washed out, as I thought it might, but somehow my foot popped out of the pedal as I fought the bike back into shape. A moment of not being able to put the power down was all Martin needed to lunge past as I flailed, clipping back in as quickly as possible and jumping on to his back wheel as quickly as I could. Daaaaaamn!

3rd place it was. You can never be too grumpy about a result when you’ve been part of some really good racing, so I’m not grumpy at all. Hopefully the next two rounds will be just as entertaining! 🙂

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