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

May 14, 2020


Filed under: Uncategorized — dgpowell @ 2:52 pm

How’s your lockdown going?
Mine’s going pretty well TBH. If anything I’m barely noticing it. Thanks to the continued hard work from Lee from the Transition MTB Group, my daily routine is much like it was before we all got told to go home. Each week my plan for exercising drops through and I fit it around my Working From Home rota with glee. Each week I progress a little bit and work towards hitting the CX season (in whatever shape it ends up taking) in brilliant form and every day I get to see that someone is closely guiding me through the training and reacting to how I do. I get all the structure and routine needed to keep going through this weird period, with non of the stress of trying to understand what I need to do to get better and how to react to how I’m performing. It’s brilliant. I hear about people frantically taking up new hobbies, getting stuck and getting frustrated with them…I’m just pushing my existing hobby further and loving it more and more!

A little bit of structure and continuation, in these crazy times

OK so there’s no denying that the lockdown makes many things worse, from the lack of joyous clamour in a shared office (my current co-worker doesn’t get involved with paper aeroplane throwning competitions in the same way), to trying to cram an entire family into a selfie shot
I’m missing chucking the bikes on the back of the van and buggering off to races with mates or just into the countryside for a few days

But with any luck all of that will be back before all this nice weather gives up and goes away (and the van’s never been cleaner and more ready to go!)

So, there we go, I’m feeling pretty lucky and stronger than ever right now. Hopefully see you all soon 🙂

PS Sorry if that did actually read like an infomercial – it wasn’t originally intended to, I’m just genuienly made up with how things are going because of their help.

March 16, 2020

The empty chill as the house lights come up

Filed under: Uncategorized — dgpowell @ 8:02 pm

Safe in the dark, nestled in the warmth of hundreds of likeminded equals, you’ve stopped time and lost yourself in the moment as your favourite band provide the perfect surroundings. For a short while, perfection is shared out between those in attendance (and, you hope, those one the other side of the stage). Flinging yourself around as best you can, knowing everyone is doing the same thing and loving it just as much as you are and not wanting it to end.

I glance at the Ride Time feature on my watch as I spin under the arches , halfway round the race course. 1hr 56mins. Damn it.

You know this song really well. You realise, as it ends, that it’s all over. The band waves, shouts thankyous and march off stage.

I’m not going to get round half a lap in 4mins.

It can’t be over like that. Surely there’s more hits to be blasted out. One last dance, sing-a-long, anything. The darkness remains, but the stage is still empty…

2hrs 1min says the watch as I see the timing tent appear round the final corner.
“One more lap Dave” shouts Jason. I beam a mud splattered grin. Hit the North for one last time.


Hit the North 7
Fastest bike in the world, that. Fact. Thanks to Sally Burgess for the pic.

One last chance to clean the stupid steep climb (nope, never mind, I’ve done it a few times already, so it’s fine). One last chance to really rail the rapidly drying singletrack sections (yep, ace). One last chance to pretend I’m a downhiller on the double drop before the first water splash (yep, so much gnarl!). One last chance to grin and worry about nothing but riding a bike as fast as I can (yep, glorious).

The final song reaches it’s crescendo. Your throat is hoarse from screaming along. Everyone’s is. The band triumphantly take their leave, the house lights come up, the heat dissipates and the arena begins to empty. You’ve nothing left but somehow it’s over all too soon.

Hope there’s another one of these gigs. That was awesome.

March 8, 2020

The ‘long drawn out acceptance speech’ post

Filed under: Uncategorized — dgpowell @ 7:52 pm

No, not really. You don’t have to shuffle about uncomfortably on your chair, wishing someone would bring another bottle of complimentary wine to your table, while someone on the stage witters on endlessly about everyone they’ve ever met on their journey to this exact point right now and how they couldn’t have got up there without them. I’m not going to bore you to the point that your legs go numb and your face starts to ache with the fake smile your fighting hard to keep up, this’ll just take a mo’

Yes, those are Tunnocks tea cakes. Yes, that’s what you win. Yes, it is awesome.

Thank you, thank you , thank you, thank you to everyone I’ve ever met without whom I…Ha, not really. BUT – and I feel pretty safe saying this without checking first – a huge thank you, not just from me but from everyone who raced this year, to all the heroes who’ve helped us, put up with us, pitted for us, marshaled while we play out on the course, put in the hours organising the events, the league, and just generally taken time out to further the sport in general.
We only get to enjoy ourselves (and we do enjoy it, despite the occasional bout of grumpiness you might have had to put up with!) because of your hard work and there’s no end of respect for what you’ve done. I hope it’s brought you some satisfaction because it really has been fantastic.

After 6 months worth of racing I’m utterly chuffed to get to look after the V40 trophy for this year. The names already engraved on it read a bit like a who’s who of NW based CX hitters, so having it sat on my shelf, where I can stare at it all summer, is just brilliant. What’s even better, is that I got it by absolutely loving every race. It was hard, don’t get me wrong, but it was on the good side of difficult and has left me with even more respect for everyone I’ve been on course with. I’m not just spouting pleasantries when I say I can’t wait to do it all again next season, I really can’t.

Plans for next season are already well underway (and a big thankyou to Lee who’s already hard at work to set up another season as successful as the last one), so the winner’s Tunnocks* will have to be eaten quickly, there’s preparations to be made. 🙂

*The prize for the ‘highest finishing Dave’ in the NWCCA league. Which is, of course, an utterly brilliant idea. #comeonDave!

Horwich CC V40 winning team
The winning Horwich CC V40 team. Available for after dinner speaking at very reasonable rates.

January 26, 2020

Angels with dirty faces

Filed under: Uncategorized — dgpowell @ 9:29 pm

“Ahh. I’ve gone the wrong way. That must be it. Why is no-one shouting at me about it?”
I think to myself as the final off-the-start-line flourish of the season gets underway.
It’s so quiet. So empty. There’s no flashes of colourful kit exploding around me, no rasping of heavy breath encompassing me (I always thought it was my own I could hear!), just a silent expanse of green flowing faster and faster underneath my rocking shoulders and thrashing legs.
I roll my eyes upwards in my down turned head. The coursetape is still in my peripheral vision on both sides. I’ve not sprinted off in a random direction like a mis-pointed firework, I’ve got…a good start!
I’m still in a delighted bubble as the comet-like Nick Whitley fires past me on the right hand side through the first corner. By the second corner I’m in third as Ian Taylor glides past. I’m surprised those in the timing tent are still upright and not fainted in shock as we pass.

I’m also delighted that I’m not having to out brake people into the first few tighter turns, because I’ve not got any.

OK, slight exaggeration. I’ve got one. The front one. I’ve no idea what’s happened to the rear. I’m sure it was fine when I put the bike together the evening before the race, but rolling down to the start I’d pulled the lever to be met with nothing in return. Not “poor quality” braking. Not “a progressive slowing rather than an anchor”. Literally no effect. No noise, no slowing, nothing.
I’d ridden around for as long as I could with the lever pulled hard, hoping that I could build up some heat to burn off whatever contaminant had stolen all the friction, to no avail. For the duration of the race, the left lever was to be nothing more than a comfort blanket to hang on to.
I decided to look at it in as positive a light as I could – the off camber sections of the course (of which there were MANY!) were grippy enough if you didn’t hassle your tyres by trying to brake and hang on at the same time. I’m terrible for touching the brakes mid corner (and thus hassling said tyres), so, today, problem solved…at the back end anyway. I can haul on the lever as much as I like, at all the wrong times, without unshipping myself. Hurrah, right?!

I can hear the thundering, the mechanical clacking, the gasping, scuffling thrashing of the rest of the race just behind me as we head towards the pits for the first time, but that’s where it’s staying. “Just ride smooth” I remind myself as we drop into the lower field of a million corners “surge when the course opens up and trust the grip in the bends”. No places are lost as we all drop down through the first few hundred thousand turns and slight gaps begin to open as we retake the height we’ve lost.
I try to keep an eye on Ian and Nick, who flow round the bends so smoothly. I try to emulate the lines, weight balance and speed as much as possible. This Mario-Cart of a race track should be my Nemesis, with nowhere to lay down any power for extended periods, just a constantly weaving line of berm/off camber/up/down/left/right/grippy/greasy bends, but for some reason I’m loving it. Less flailing, more composure, even trying to keep my feet clipped in and balance the bike round the turns on the slippery surfaces.

Wish I’d wiped my nose! Snotty face! Pic by Ellen

I’m able to get past Nick on the one straight bit (OK, exaggeration again, there are at least three straight bits…). I keep trying to match Ian, as we tick off another lap. The gaps between us aren’t shooting up and when the course allows, glances forward and backward show we’re still all close enough for the flecks of mud on chins, the corner-of-mouth spittle, to be visible.
By the third lap, Ian’s smoothness has moved him further ahead, my clumsy but fun thrashing in the straights has gifted me a bit more space to Nick. I have to mentally slap myself a little when I start to give up the chase – Ian is no further ahead of me than I am to Nick and I’m worrying about getting caught. I take some of the worry and try to mash it into more positivity. Ian is only one mistake ahead (unlikely, based on how he usually rides, but you never know) and he’ll be as aware of where I am as I am of him. I’m riding well enough for once to not be making my usual mistakes, so Nick’s got to speed up to get back on terms. The race stays on until the chequered flag (A cliche, but I’m mid race, so you’ll have to forgive that one).

By the time we finish, the gaps forward and backward are around 25 seconds either way. I have brought myself to a stalling halt on one corner with a poor line choice, but unleashing what feels like a million watts with the one foot attached to it’s pedal somehow stops me throwing all my advantage away. Obviously you always want to be first across the line, but on this particular course, with it’s endless turns, I’m in no mood to be disappointed with second.

Off camber skills being appraised mid race by Adam…

Mud and sweat plastered grins begin to fill the area just past the finish as I catch my breath. Everyone seems to have enjoyed it today. It seems like a fitting end to a season that’s mixed an eternity and the blink of an eye. From the dust of Blakemere in September to the mud of…well, everywhere else after that really, every face I can see has done themselves proud. It’s probably a slight oxygen debt that makes me think that we’ve transcended a mere collection of bicycle races and become part of a far higher ‘scene’. Actually no, it’s definitely a slight oxygen debt. But it’s been good, all of it. I’ve loved it. I can’t wait to get it all underway again.
As I’m fighting the badly pinned on number off my arm, James Dalton nudges me. “This’ll be yours next season” he smiles, pointing at the race number he’s dropping into the tub we’re all taking turns returning them to.

January 19, 2020

Deeply grounded

Filed under: Uncategorized — dgpowell @ 7:52 pm

I think the North West cyclocross scene is almost overly blessed with wet conditions in which to race. I quite often watch the Belgian races wondering if they get bored of all the fast, well drained, almost bone dry courses that seem super buff on my HD laptop screen. I bet the white sock sponsors love it.
Far, far away from all that nonsense, Marl Pits provided all who chose to race there with an almost overly friendly hug. Another race that you took home with you and scraped into neat little piles in the back yard / shower. Another course that seemed to be scared you might leave and clung at your ankles with every footstep screaming “Don’t go! Stay here with me!”, refusing to let your foot move as you tried to step forward. And that was just the bit past the pits.
Combined with an unrideable (and unRUNable, to 99.9% of the people there) steep climb and some ‘proper’ descending in the woods what we were offered was some brilliant old skool ‘cross.

Marl PIts cx
Pic courtesy of Graham Dean

The racing was close. By which I mean Rob Jebb and Rob Hope ran away and that was that. But it was close elsewhere in the field. I had a huge amount of fun throughout, trading places and just generally getting ‘stuck in’. It was bloomin’ brilliant.
OK so I stuffed up the steep drop (and figured out why all the mountain rescue people were stood there at the same time…), which doesn’t feature in the Big Book Of Racing Well, but even that felt like part of the old skool vibe. It wasn’t until my 3rd lap that I realised I was taking it too steady and put in a bit of a push to see if I could close the gap to Rob Hope at all (nope), after which I settled in to just enjoy the racing and appreciate the enthusiasm being offered by those at the side of the course.

Pic by Ellen

A ‘distant to 1st and 2nd but close to 4th and 5th’ 3rd place in the end. That was a lot of fun. Here’s hoping Salford offers more of the same close racing next week 🙂

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