Monday, 30 November 2009

It just had to snow right!

Lets face it November's weather has challenged the best of us! Part's of the country have experienced almost a years rainfall in 24hr, the Tweed almost doubled in size over night and on more occasions than I really care to remember I have had to contend with soaking wet feet (don't you just hate that!). So it was of no surprise when I woke up on Sunday morning, looked out the window and I saw the rain streaming down the window (first thoughts were this bike is gonna be fun and slippy), but I wasn't prepared for the snow that was about to follow - it defiantly has to be the first of the Glentress Duathlons with weather like that ............ha ha!

For the first time I can remember the first duathlon was completely sold out - it's really nice that the series is seeing the support that it truly deserves. Pete, Elspeth and the rest of the gang had once again set up a flawless race course that only ever guarantees one thing . . . . . . . . its gonna be tough out there but surprisingly fun too (don't be fooled normally the fun part is only sensed when you are actually finished and alot of the time I think it is just relief :) he he!)

At twelve o'clock sharp we were off (thank goodness because it was freezing!), it was as rapid as usual as everyone battle for a position on the firetrack road, the lungs got a bit of a shock with the lack of recent racing and just the sheer coldness of the air. The course was the same as last year but due to the wet weather the descents were a little more interesting - I was loving the slippy-ness! It caught more than a few people out as I watch some rather sore looking face plants in front of me! From there it was up and down, up up and down with a little more up before returning to the transition area. By this stage my hands were pretty numb and the whole task of taking off a pair of biking shoes and attempting to tie up laces on running shoes was providing to be just a little too difficult - after a few to many minutes I was off out on my run. My stomach was going berserk, it kind of sounded like a washing machine - yuk! The whole run was a bit torturous for me as I just really felt that I didn't have a lot of energy, at which point it really started snowing (check out how happy I am in the photo below), it was made slightly worse by the fact that it was an out and back run so I could see the girl leading and the other competitors chasing me down-eek! I managed to hold on to second place after Elke Schmidt who was flying at the front of the field taking a convincing win and finishing in 8th spot over all! The whole race was pretty tough and I never really felt like I had a second gear - must have forgotten to pack my gear box!

Once again a really great tough event!

Thanks to the bike patrol - that half covered digestive biscuit and cup of tea at the end were the best I have ever tasted! The only thing that was missing was a bit of Carl's banter, but you guys did him proud!

Happy to have a rest today!


Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Something green and shiny to make you smile during the dark winter months!

Another season down . . . . . . .

I don’t think I’m alone in the feeling that the 2009 SXC series was defiantly one of the best yet! There were surprises around ever corner, some great new courses, some great twists to old courses and as always some great folk out there competing and supporting! However the mere mortals among us drew a great sigh of relief as we crossed the finish line at Drumlanrig as that signified the end . . . . . . at last time to put the feet up for a while and recovery.

Don’t get too comfortable thought! Winter is fast approaching and if you get stuck inside too long with you feet up, well it may just become a bit of a habit . . . . a bad habit! As the nights draw in and the nip in the air turns into a bit more than a nip, that bad habit might just become to tough to break- be careful (eeeekkkkk)!

Winter is a funny old time especially in Scotland, the weather is unpredictable to say the least and even with his best efforts Michael Fish has a pretty poor chance of predicting what is actually going to happen! But that kind of adds to the excitement I guess, I enjoy being out on the mountain bike when it is wild and the wind is blowing a hooley around you, it’s pretty cool! Last winter however my patience got tested on more than one occasion after getting frost bite on the road bike, being blown with my bike completely off the track and for more times than I care to remember attempting to cycle in snow that was just silly deep (great for playing the longest skid though!). But my biggest hate of the winter has to be that after every ride you seriously have to strip your bike if you want the components to last even half the winter, and that’s just boring! Especially when it’s freezing outside and I would rather be sat in side with a nice cup of tea and a biscuit!

But this year it’s going to be different . . . . .

With a little help from my buddies at The Hub (the bike guru’s that they are) my eyes were opened to a hidden little treasure . . . . . The Genesis IO-ID. Genesis are pretty smart cookies and at a last somebody has actually designed a bike suited to withstand British winters and all that they can throw at us, plus they are pretty sweet to ride too (always a bonus). The IO-ID is a pretty trusty little stead, it has a really nice geometry, an apple green Reynolds 520 double butted frame (it’s cool check oot the pic’s), Rockshox Recon race forks and Shimano 575 brakes. But that’s not the impressive bit, the rear hub is a Shimano 8 speed Alfine that proves to be a winner on so many accounts – the restricted gear ratio is ideal for improving power over the winter, there is no derailleur so go mad, ride over heather and such like without a care in the world yee hee! The bike is a little heavier than a normal hardtail because of the rear hub but again the weight gain is perfect for winter training. But the genius bit that just makes me smile is the reduced maintenance, no rear cassette or derailleur to clean after ever ride only a simple chain! Thus meaning I will be spending less time cleaning my bike and more time enjoying the nicer things in life – remember the tea and biscuits!

IO-ID’s are extensively used on The Hubs hire fleet, but are only used a maximum of 35 times before retirement, at this point good homes are sought for each and every bike! The only prerequisite is that when you purchase one of these little babies you promise to have fun on it! Each bike is fully serviced after every ride and again before going on sale (many with brand new components) so in many ways it’s as good as new. So if you fancy grabbing yourself a little winter bargain you can pick up an IO-ID for only £499, check them out at or head along and have a chat with the dudes at The Hub (they really do know what they are talking about!). Still not convinced? Hire one of the bikes out for the day and take it for a whizz around the trails, then if you decide to buy the bike you will be refunded the hire charge – spiffing!

So tell me what you would rather be doing this winter . . . . cleaning your bike or drinking tea? It’s a no-brainer for me!

Yee ha


Monday, 9 November 2009

Tinto Tinto it aint no disco disco!

The 2009 season was a tough one that was for sure! I had peaks in my fitness that were just incredible and on the whole was stoked with the outcome of the year! It is a pretty full on year racing straight through from April to September, so by the end of the last race I drew a big breath of air in relief for the rest that lay ahead. I took a month off training which gave me time to recuperate and regenerate in prep for 2010, it was great catching up with family and friends and hitting the trails only for fun helping me to remember why I started mountain biking in the first place - yee ha!

As October approached it was time to shake off the cobwebs and get back into training! Its so bizarre how quickly your body starts to shut down after a period of rest and the first few weeks of training were quite intense! But somewhere along the windy road my body started to remember what training was and I started to recover between sessions - relief big style! So for now its full steam ahead.

Saturday the 7th was Tinto hill race and I just had to go back and try it again. It's funny when you participate in sports events and you forget all the bad memories and only remember the good . . . .dam it :) It was a cracking day and that attracted lots of runners with a record 298 people attending! When I was stood at the foot of the hill I was flooded by bad memories of what lay ahead and they did not disappoint! I always find it really bizarre during running races at the volume of people that are around you, talk about people coming into your personal space . . . . . at one point I looked up and I had a guys ass in my face . . . not so pleasant! The climb was tough as usual and all the false peaks got me again :( but I was faster to the top - yipee. The descent was pretty loose and slippy in bits but fun . . . . as the gradient flattened out towards the end of the race I got passed by more than a few whippets - gutted! On the whole though I was a whole 3 minutes faster than last year - result! I finished 160th out of the 298 runners, 10 spots up on last year :)

The last few days have been tough, my body is broken and stairs are my nemesis!

A slighty tired