XC Mountainbiking

XC Mountainbiking

Spring Time On The Home Trail

Birdsong, Sun breaking through the trees, and the leaves growing again. Spring. My favourtie time of year.

Singlespeed racing

Breathing hard. My face hides how much I love racing even on one gear!

Downhill Mountainbiking

Downhill Mountainbiking

Tour de France

Sunflowers on the Tour

XC Racing

World Cup Racing where the best fight it out over some of the most demanding terrain


Taking the sport to extremes

No matter what or how you ride, enjoy the trails out there.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Look Forward To Racing

I enjoy racing.  I'm regrettably rubbish at it, but still find myself enjoying it.  Its always the same on the start line, butterflies in my stomach, the knowledge that I won't do well, the hope that I will.

My biggest problem when it comes to racing has often been limited by many factors.  It used to be that I didn't drive, then it was more there just weren't any local races nearby.  Then I have a family and my time is even more limited.  As my children grow older the opportunity to race has increased.  There is now a great local little race series were I could compete in four or five races through the spring and summer.  One a month is not a great many to big racer types but when substituted with some road racing its enough for me.

I did couple last year when the North East series started (after a ten year absence).  It was great fun, sadly I just wasn't prepared enough for off road racing again.  It had been many years since my last and I'd spent lots of my riding time on my road bike.  Worse still I was supposed to ride Masters Cat, which is a whole mixture of racers who used to ride Elite, Expert and Sport which meant a very varied field.  I managed to wangle my way into Sport Cat but even then I got hammered!  I ended up about 3/4 of the way up the field.  Still at least I wasn't last.  My climbing was competitive, its a shame the same couldn't be said for my technical skills!

This year I really want to race again.  After a year on I'm itching to start training and race again.

I was looking with interest at the race videos that I posted in a recent blog for turbo training boredom.  It features some local US races.  I was quite struck by how low key it was but also how bad the courses were to race on.  Don't get me wrong, the singletrack looked great fun to ride on but apart from maybe one climb it was ALL singletrack meaning that there was just no overtaking areas.  That would just annoy me.  You'd just have to hope someone would let you pass.....or they fell off.  Also, wheres the spectators?  How lonely can a race get out there? 

So I thought I'd show some video footage of the last MTB race I did last year.  This took place at Dalby Forest which also hosted a World Cup round and is fairly typical of races in the UK

As a last note this is being ridden by pros who make this look fast.  In the 3rd video the climb at the beginning is seriously steep.  I very rarely engage my granny ring (small ring) even in the steep hills of Scotland but I'd have not managed without.  It was a very testing course for that reason!!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Want It Wednesday #7 - Look 920iCR

Well this caught my eye and I feel for it instantly.  Its probably not every ones cup of tea, but I have no doubts that it will turn heads.

This is french company Looks', new mountain bike. The 920i CR.  It forms part of a small range of their bikes including both hardtail and full suspension bikes.  It is without a doubt a real marmite set up with the top tube having a hump back profile that allows it to seamlessly go into the stem.

Its probably a contrast to my argument about the need for 29ers in mtbing, it certainly brings about no extra function but I think it looks gorgeous.  It looks so stream lined and just very different.  The bike itself is a 120mm suspension bike with a high modulus carbon frame featuring 12/15mm rear/front axle format, taper steerer and a pivotless rocker activated rear suspension.  The stem also comes in a variety of lengths and angles.
Could this be the future of design?  Maybe not.  However, while 29er geometry is trying to still settle itself, consider this frame design with 29 inch wheels.  The taller frame set up would address the front issue that comes with putting on bigger wheels.  It would allow bigger travel forks and not upset the way the bike handles.  Have Look missed a trick here?
Still the bikes range from £3499 to £2999.  I'll be waiting with interest on any reviews about this bike but for the time being.....I WANT ONE! :)

For other Want it Wednesdays you can also see Pauls blog here.

You too could join in, the more that take part the better it becomes.  To do so just go to the tab with 'Want It Wednesdy' and follow the instructions.

Monday, 24 October 2011

29 Inch Wheels a MTB Necessity?

I'm going to be blunt here and put my opinion out there.  I don't like odd new trends. And the influx of 29 inch wheel mountain bikes is just that, an odd trend.  I notice with interest many of the blogs I follow (particularly) in the US that 29ers are on the rise.  In fact it was quoted recently in What Mountain Bike that 29 inch tyres are now outstripping 26 inch tyre sales.  This is quite a staggering statement when you think about it.  Baring in mind that the majority of mountain bikes are still 26 inches and cover a greater range of bikes in most manufacturers range.

But why the sudden influx of sales?  Is this a passing thing?   It would seem not, as 2012 would seem to be the real push with the 29er range with most bike manufacturers having one or more models that you can buy.  Wheels, tyres and spares are becoming more varied and accessible.  It looks like 29ers are at the front of serious bikers minds when they are considering their next purchase.

What I don't get is why.  Is it just natural curiosity or do people believe that this is the future.  Sadly, I think its a case of something new to buy syndrome, why bother getting a 26er again?  I wonder how many of those people actually stop and think whether there is a real need for them.  Arguments have been raging over its pros and cons; they role better when at speed, are more stable, verses their lack of agility and weight.  There appears no overall advantage to either, its just an alternative.  Its not like full suspension where there are obvious advantages.  Weight always went against Full sus but these days its becoming a very weak argument as they are so light these days.

There is nothing about them, that would even tempt me to buy one.  Not yet anyway.  For now they just look ridiculous, ungainly and ugly and I can't see any need for them in my twisty trails.  Manufacturers are still trying to get over the whole problems of geometry too, so its not even a very sorted concept if you ask me.  In some cases suspension is less to cope with the altered angles a bigger wheel has on the frame.

I've come to the conclusion that some people still think that 'bigger is better'.  After the years of working in shops with bikes you would not believe the amount of people who are only small trying to fit themselves on the biggest frame they can, as if they got something smaller they would be looked down on.  You can see this with people who buy cars or houses.  Its a child like thing that they 'must' be better, showing off their new big toys.  The only way I often made these people see sense was to a like it to buying new clothes and ask the question 'would you buy your clothes in xxxl when you where only a medium?'  No was always the answer.  Are big wheels a 'bigger is better' influence?

Would you buy a 29er when 26 do the job as well?  I guess that is up to you.  You may have gone and tested one and been impressed and inspired to buy one.  But take heed, take a new 26 wheel bike out, test a few in fact and tell me then whether its really worth the jump up in size.  Its all too easy to get giddy over something new and novel over what you already have and not be objective enough.

I suppose what ever happens I shall be seeing more on the trails in the next few years (not seen any out yet!) and if its still getting people out and making them grin then I will still count them as part of the biking family.  Just don't expect to see me following the crowd.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Want It Wednesday #6 - Coffee Cake


Yep this week I've gone none tech and moved onto the desires of most bikers.  Well amongst my friends anyway, who all seem to live for the stuff.  Yep the good ol' cake.  I love it.  I know you all have your likes and dislikes with cakes and I'd love to hear your favourites.  I was tempted to make a new page on cakes alone.......but then I could be taking this whole thing just that little bit too far!!!

So for this Wednesday I choose my favourite cake.  Coffee and Walnut cake.  Yummy, odd probably as I don't like coffee, but there is something about this cake I really like. To date my mum still makes the best out there but I don't get to see her very often so have to make do with what I can get. So here's a picture for you to drool over.......

If you too would like to be part of this bit of fun then now is your chance.  All you have to do is go to my 'Want It Wednesday' tab and fill in your link blog and name.  That way people can visit your site to see what you've been blogging about.  The idea is that firstly its a bit of fun and gives you something else to write about but also the more people that take part the more traffic you'll have to your blog and hopefully gain more followers which can't be a bad thing! See my original post and idea here

You can see Pauls Want it Wednesday and his blog here. Nice bit of kit there!!!  Looking at my front mech and wondering if it needs changing too!
No Charlie this week???

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Mark Cavendish Finally Signs For New Team!!!!

So after far too long speculating I can give you an up date on the final decision.  A few hours ago Mark put on his Twitter Page 'It's............Team Sky!' So there you go.  What most people thought and probably only made complicated by journalists over speculating.  Good move, I shall wear my Team Sky kit with more pride now!!!

That'll be all!!!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Bit of catch up and Danny Macaskill

Pat Mcquaid - image http://www.telegraph.co.uk/

Sorry folks its going to be a short one from me tonight.  Not got much done in the way of riding as I've been busy with the family.
Just a few round ups to some previous posts.  Firstly, my fear of the UCI governing itself and doing its own drugs tests in a way to prove the sport is clean.  It appears that little drugs testing was done in this years Tour of California.  Although a set up of the American governing body USADA was set to do the tests and use the UCI labs for the tests, things fell through at the last minute.  There seems to be ever ongoing battles that some say the UCI shouldn't be left to govern the sport and that outside governing bodies (the country's the races are held in) should be allowed to dope test.  This would ensure fair testing although the UCI claims it wouldn't.  This whole cock up left a race with little dope controlling, with only urine samples taken instead of blood.

The UCI continue to make me angry and Pat Mcquiad , They seem to fail on many aspects of doping and if allegations are proved, that they are also easy to bribe and corrupt.  Put Paul Kimmage in charge, that's what I say.  Sorry if that upsets the Lance Armstrong fans out there!!

It made me think though.  I know many Lance Fans out there.  Many standing by him as the continued allegations of his doping case continue.  The evidence is strong and yet people still stand by him.  particularly those from America.  If my favourite rider Mark Cavendish got accused, I'd not want to believe it either.  You'd hope your hero's or nationals are beyond such things.  Should we be so naive?

Other news on Cavendishes move to Quick Step have been quashed by its co owner who said talks were made but no commitment has been made, so no move will go ahead.  So where the hell are you going Cav?

Anyhow that's me for tonight.  I thought I'd leave you with a couple of videos which I saw on Television recently of the amazing Danny Macaskill.  It defies belief what some people can do on a bike.  Watch and cry next time you try hop on your back wheel..........

Oh and Want It Wednesdays this Wednesday if you want to take part!!!  Please see my tab at top of page :)

Friday, 7 October 2011

Overcoming Turbo Training Boredom?


I once read that a rider, in order to train for a 24 hour solo race, sat on his turbo trainer for five hours looking at a blank wall. Which can only have been mind numbingly dull to say the least.  But it got me thinking (can you tell I've got training on my mind?!). How do you go about making a training session on your turbo trainer more entertaining.
 I've already mentioned in my previous post that I find it hard mentally to go beyond an hour.  Rubbish I know.  I also suffer burnout really easily if I have to use it for many months at a time.  Normally I just sit looking at a blank wall listening to my IPod and some funky motivating tunes. Its tolerable.  But only just.  I've tried watching TV but found it way to distracting, my focus wained and I found myself giving a lack luster performance.

But it was last night that I hit upon a possible solution and one I quite liked.  YouTube.  There are loads of Videos with images of pro downhillers showing us really why they are the best in the world.  I often find myself slack jawed at how fast they ride stuff.  I often wonder how much I'd be dabbing a foot while they blitz over the ground without what looks like little regard for themselves, but which is apparently also titled as 'skill'  So here's a video to get you pumped up from RAW.  This is followed by a big however..........

HOWEVER. Training to this kind of stuff can be at times a bit distracting, and I've found myself tensing up watching them ride which I don't think made for a great training session.  But I came across these two videos instead which I'm yet to try but I really like the idea.  It reminds me of those turbo trainers which you can attach to your computer.  Its basically footage from an xc race, taken from the start to the finish and is shot in first person perspective.  Both videos are about an hour 15 mins which make for a good length whilst training.  They also have no music so you can listen to your own or listen the laboured breathing and the tyres on rough track.  What do you think? 

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Micro Intervals

I often wonder how many people out there suffer lack-of-time-to-train issues? I know I do.  I have a family, a job, like many of you out there.  Fitting in the hours to get me fit is almost as hard as the work out sessions themselves!!  I could on average do about 6 hours a week maybe 8 max.  Its not enough to make me the most competitive person but enough to make sure I'm not last!!.

However, even these hours can be challenged by the terrible weather that we can suffer here during the winter. Gales are common with bad winds for weeks at a time and the snows over the last few years have lasted a good two months with road conditions too dangerous for even vehicles let alone bikes.

So really that means its time for that so loved weapon........the turbo trainer.  No matter how enthusiastic I can be about getting fitter after 20 minutes I'm clock watching wondering when that hour will finish.  As a rule I don't tend to do more than hour, primarily as I find it a chore, its not fun and if I have to be on it a few times a week then I find myself burning out all too quickly.

My real problem comes when I'm supposed to be out on a long endurance ride of 3-4 hours, and the weather is stopping me. An hours turbo training session just isn't going to cut it.  I'm not sure what others do.  Can people really tolerate indoor training for three hours?

Anyway, recently I've come across a solution to this.  It always said that with little time to train you have to make every ride count.  Micro Intervals may just be my answer and yours too if you suffer the same problems.  Simply they are short intense efforts of up to 60 seconds or less repeated with varying lengths of active recovery.  It recently been discovered that micro intervals help train the physiological processes that support much longer efforts.  They boost the level of VO2max an individual can access, having a positive effect on fitness.  The advantages of doing short intervals like these compared to long ones is that you maintain pedal efficiency more,  making each interval more effective.  This training is no secret, Pro riders have been using it more and more over the last few years.  Many no longer have to ride the 6 hours needed a week but have been riding for four but included micro intervals into their training at the beginning, middle and end.  Good evidence of micro-intervals comes from the British team whom many come from track racing where micro intervals are drilled into them.

Some example workouts as used by pros: 
40 seconds hard then 20 seconds easy repeat a set of ten for time:  This can be done on the turbo trainer or on a long ride.  Good for road riding.

30 seconds flatout efforts then one minutes easy in between:  Good for speed and endurance

10 seconds hard followed by 20 seconds easy. Two matches of 15 minutes with five minutes in-between: Effective for Power.

Well this is all just a guide line but hopefully with a session like this added into a limited ride or workout you'll reap in greater fitness than you would normally.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Mark Cavendish, Will He Won't He?



So appears that Mark Cavendishes move to Sky isn't as clear cut as we might have suspected.  It was pretty much assumed that this would be his new home but since becoming world champion no confirmation of his signing has been confirmed.  It would now seem another complication has come about.  His bike and desire to stay using Specialised Bikes.  If he went to Sky he'd have to use Pinarellos which despite being lovely bikes means he'll lose backing from specialised who are keen to keep him as part of the advertising.  Sky can't change their bikes as they have a contract. 

So rumours are rife that Belgium team Omega Pharma-Quick Step could be on the cards as they will be riding Specialised Bikes for next year.  Obviously the team has denied this but team sky are no long confident of keeping Cav either.  It would be a good move.  A great deal of his HTC team mates have moved to this team as well as the current World Time Trial Champion Tony Martin.

Wish he'd hurry up and make up his mind.  But I suppose its a big deal for him.  A good team will lead him to victories.  A week team could see him loose out.  Which should he go for? 

Lacking Motivation


Ah its no good.  My body appears to be shutting down ready for hibernation already.  Winter is coming.  I'm not a seasonal rider by any means but I do ride less when the bad weather comes.  The cold is bearable but the last few years we've had heavy snowfall in November and December so riding just comes down to nothing.
I'm feeling a bit sheepish as I should be on a trail run this morning, but I'm here blogging instead.  Trouble is at this time year I have no motivators.  I've said to myself that I want to pick up again and start racing some MTB events in the Summer, maybe a 24hour race, Endurance and the local Race series as well as some local road crits.  My 'plan' is that I'll start training from the beginning of January.  In the past I've started in November or December but because of the snow have ended up a lot on the Turbo Trainer and by June have just found myself burnt out.  Unable to put in good miles in the winter has meant my race endurance suffered.  So I'm thinking that a later start some smarter training and I'll be in a good a shape if not better but be ready to race for a whole summer! 

In the mean time I'm just going to have to keep active and not become a bum.  I may not be out running but I'm still riding to work and I'll do my weekly run at the weekend instead.  See all good.

What I'd really like to be able to do is cyclo cross.  So many of the blogs I read on here a pictures of people at cyclo cross races.  Slightly muddy affairs on grassy fields, gets my races juices flowing.  But then I think to myself that cx races at this time of year probably aren't so bad but come mid winter its probably just grim.  I've toyed with the idea of getting a cx bike but wonder if I'd be wasting my money.  Maybe I should have a go on my mountain bike and see if it would be a good investment.  Wonder if then I'd have better winter time motivation to train?

I weighed my self at the weekend and was not surprised to find that I was at 63.8kgs or 140.7lbs.  Thought my trousers felt tighter.  I seem to be up two percent in fat as well.  Looks like a bit of fat sitting on my middle.....love handles!  For years I've weighed 57kg or 126lbs, a great weight for a climber but since I've hit my mid thirties my weight has fluctuated so much more.  My aim therefore in training will be to at least drop close to that weight. 

So that's the plan.  Just need to pull myself away from this computer now!

Happy riding folks.