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

September 8, 2019


Filed under: Uncategorized — dgpowell @ 8:40 pm

Please don’t be broken
Please don’t be broken
Please don’t be broken
The hideous sound of carbon wheel rim smacking against unyielding stone step went right through me. The lower-than-I-thought-it-was pressure in the rear tub had offered little in the way of cushioning and the first couple of pedal strokes away from the step up out of the baron at Hoghton Tower were a lot softer than you might have expected from a sprint to the finish line when you’re leading the race with 2nd and 3rd place right behind you.

Frankly I would have deserved to knacker the rear wheel, the way I’d been riding. I’d managed to get back up to the leaders after slamming on the brakes during the first sprint from the start to avoid having a big crash as another rider swerved across in front of me (a ‘racing incident’ rather than anything sinister or overly reckless), not once, but three times. Each time I’d thrown away the results of the effort by wiping out needlessly, having to pick myself up, hope no-one saw (of course they did) and get back into the chase.

Pic by Ellen

Eventually I managed to string enough laps together with no rolling around on the ground to get on terms with Ste and James and from then on it was just a proper battle round the stodgy climbs and (ace) swoopy descents. I was in front when I exited the wooded section on our final lap. I was almost grinning about having made it over the tree roots upright rather than sprawling around in the dirt as I had done in previous laps, but with no time to glace around I had no real idea by how far behind or how quickly anyone was closing on me.

Thankfully I had enough space to mince a few wincing pedal strokes away from the step before crossing the finish line in 1st. Chuffed. Chuffed and sore, as I’d managed to whip off all the scabs that had formed over last week’s grazes, leaving me with freshly bloodied shins again. One day I’ll get round without crashing…

A mixture of elation and pre planned stupidity saw me ride straight back over from the finish line to the pits, quickly swap over to a freshly cleaned bike (thank you pit crew!), squeeze an energy gel down my neck and back to the start line to race in the seniors event. I wanted to get as much race level practice in as possible (and god knows I needed to keep practicing the skills!) without any stress, so I’d promised myself I wouldn’t get too caught up in the racing.
Obviously that plan lasted all of about 10 seconds. From mid pack off the start I worked my way through the racing around me, ignoring the little voice in my head that kept chanting “Exactly what is fueling all this effort? You’ve had 2 gels since warming up for the V40 race.” and “You should have had a drink in between races. It’s very hot isn’t it…” It was hot, which I hadn’t really planned for, and I was beginning to feel like hydration was going to start playing a part in the effort soon enough, but for now, chase people down.
I made my way from the mid thirties up to about 13th place before the metaphorical wheels came off. Seeing the lap board read “5” (hello to everyone at the start/finish line who kept cheering me on!) as the first twinges of cramp set in was a sobering sight. 5 of THOSE laps, with all those sharp, steep climbs. Maybe I should have just finished the first race and bought myself a coffee instead…

As those laps crawled past I started to drop back through the field, less and less able to stick on the wheel of whoever past me each time someone did, focusing on getting up the climbs without dismounting and riding the tricky sections cleanly while ignoring the dead feeling coming from my now empty legs. I couldn’t form any spit to get rid of any mud that got in my mouth either, which was pretty grim. grim enough to make my mind up when someone shouted that Giles wasn’t that far behind me. I had the option of putting in one final (no doubt feeble) effort to get across the line before he lapped me, or just plodding on at the pace I was at and finishing straight away, one lap down.

He was very gracious as he rode past to his first win of the NWCCA season, while I gazed vacantly down at my stem laughing internally at my own stupidity for picking this particular race to try and “double up” for the first time. 🙂

“You dick” Pic by Ellen

I finished 16th, as it turns out, which falls into the “could be worse” category.

September 3, 2019

Back at it for the first time

Filed under: Uncategorized — dgpowell @ 10:03 am

By golly I’ve missed cyclocross racing. By the time I’d parked the van at Blakemere I was ready to get ragging round the field, in fact by the time I’d filled the van with all the nonsense that seems to go along with racing cyclocross these days (once upon a time it was one bike > ride to race > race > ride home on what was left of that one bike, now there’s two bikes plus spare wheels plus warm up wheel & turbo, 2 full sets of kit, track pump, jetwash, numberous barrels of water & other bike cleaning stuff, etc etc etc. Enough to fill a medium sized van, basically) I was ready to get stuck in. Pre riding the course and cheering on the V50s for a bit wasn’t doing the trick, I needed to get stuck in 🙂

As my first race as a V40 I wasn’t gridded (I could probably have begged and pleaded to be let up near the front row, but the idea of doing a “don’t you know who I am” didn’t really sit too well with me), so I lined up a few rows back and, after some gentle banter (“Who let all these kids in”/”You know about the rule where we stop mid race for our Complan” etc) it was finally time for that last pre-start whistle deep breath.
I’d been training well for it and knew I was in decent form, Lee from Transition Coaching’s been putting in lots of effort to get me ready to race. This may not have been our ‘peak’, but I knew that start whistle wasn’t just for this race but for my next step in getting properly fast and fit. I think I got my best ever “off the start” first few pedal strokes as the whistle blew through an explosion of giddiness! We’re off!

Within seconds everything felt right with the world again. Fighting my way up through the field during the frantic first lap – ‘cross is a lot more physical than road racing, there’s quite a bit more leaning on each other through the turns when you’re all battling for the same line, somehow though it’s always good natured. There’s some touching of elbows and you might run a bit wide on a corner if someone’s trying to pass you, you know that you’ll receive the same when you’re the one overtaking, it’s just part of it, it’s racing. It’s ace. especially when you’re all flat out on a great, swooping fast course.
I got up to a group of about 5 people up at the front and took another deep breath. Onwards and upwards.

Up into 2nd, with Ste Henshaw right with me – retaking the place each time we got to the barriers I was opting to dismount for while he hopped over them (we may only have been a couple of laps in but I was already planning on keeping myself upright and safe until the business end of the race) – always flat out and absolutely loving it.
As happened a few times last season, I lost concentration for just a second, this time while making a relatively slow turn across a gravel track and completely lot the front end as the front tyre gave up traction, dumping me down on my right knee and (worse, as fa as I was concerned) on the drivechain side of the bike.

I left up, remounted and did the classic “don’t look, just hope everything’s still working” gear shift. The mech started clattering against the spokes well before I was in 1st gear. My leg was pretty scuffed up too, but who cares about that, the mech’s buggered!
I nursed the bike back to the pits (if I’m being honest it worked just fine for most of the lap I had to get round, as long as I didn’t need to change down any lower than 3rd, but you never give it 100% if you’re half expecting something to give up completely). On to the spare bike and down to 5th.

It took me a lap or two to get back into the swing of the race (and to ignore my now quite sore knee!). I managed to get back on terms with the 3rd and 4th place riders (Roy and Bill – I’m learning who’s who in this category one race at a time!), eventually crossing the line in 4th after (and this is slightly embarrassing) forgetting that we only race for 40 mins not 50, d’oh!

First race over. My form is good. My bikes work when I don’t smash them into the ground (thankfully it was just the easily replaceable mech hanger that was damaged). Everyone I’m racing with seems to be loving it as much as I am. Can’t wait for the next one. 🙂

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