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.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Want It Wednesday #16 - 2012 Shimano XT Chainset

I know its a bit of a contrast to my last Want It Wednesday where I claimed my desire to get a single speed bike but I stumbled across the new 2012 XT cranks which is now done in a twin ringed option rather than the usual three.

 Shimano will cater to cross-country racers with a new 2x10 crankset for XT

It's one of the nicest XT chainsets they've made in a while and would even make do if I were to use it for single speed. 

Two chainrings has always made sense to me, The smaller 'granny' ring is just two small in my mind to be of any real practical use and I find a 42t chainring just too big.  This sits well on either side of those two sizes for something that is much more usable.

This also comes in black option.  Got to say the whole 2012 XT range looks very well designed, and I was pushed to narrow it down to one piece, I want, I want, I want it all!  I've run XT on my Kinesis for the last few years and its been brilliant stuff.  (apart from the dire shimano chains give me sram any day) But after all these years its started to complain.  The front mech gets a bit stiff and the rear mech isn't always reliable unless I lube it to death.

Its time to get saving!!!!

So who else is doing taking part today?  Well Today I'm joined by a whole group of people whos 'wants' you should go check. We've got Merry*Death Paul,  LindsayNeil and our newest member Cervelo Girl. I'd happily recommend them all.  Click on the names to see. So go on what are you waiting for....Click, Click, Click

If you'd also like to take part in Want It Wednesday too then go to my tab on the top of the page and follow the instructions.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

That'll Do Pig, That'll Do

Well, that's it.  Two weeks to go and now all my main training for my 24 hour race is done.  My last long ride was today and apart from a few hour long rides and my regular commute to work I am now winding down and resting up.  I've allowed myself a longer taper than I'd normally do for a race but I want to be fully rested and injury free.

I'll be quite glad to finish my training to be honest, it's been a mixed four months.  I'm not sure how I got this idea to race 24 hour.  Guess I've always really admired those who go on big adventures or do things that would push a persons body to the max.  It was a passing thing on Youtube of all things that got me thinking about it.  I saw a video on the 24 hours of Exposure a unique 24 hour race in that it was for solo riders only and was very geared up for 'rookies'.  It just seemed so tempting, so by the evening I'd asked the wife who said ok.  Before I went to bed I'd entered and paid up, before I went to sleep I was already regretting my decision.

I knew the training would be hard.  But in a way it isn't as hard as normal XC training where you have to do lots of interval, power and speed training on top of a good base of endurance.  This was all about the long ride.  Hours in the saddle with some fast tempo pace thrown in for interest.  Personally I hate interval training, I have a real mental block to it and can muster all manner of excuses to not do.  Long riding is really what I do anyway.  Just going a bit longer and not standing chatting was all that changed in my attitude.

Why I found this hard though, was time commitment.  I am first and foremost a dad and husband who just isn't selfish enough or prepared for the arguments of going out all day every day.  What this has invariably meant is early morning rides on my own.  I don't have friends who want to be out riding at 5:30am and I don't blame them.  It can be lonely at times though not to mention tiring, I'm usual heading home as people are getting ready to go out. I've grown this nack of now talking to myself which my prove useful in race.  Its been dark, extra cold first thing but eerily beautiful and it feels like I'm the only one out there watching the beautiful sun rise over hard frosted fields and meadows.

I have as a rider totally changed from the one I was last year.  I have lost 6.5kg in weight am now only 61kg, and so have regained my climbing prowess.  That and I now spin at a much higher cadence.  I'd become a real stomper over the years averaging around 70rpm but through training now spin closer to 90rpm meaning my legs are more efficient but ultimately I can ride longer without fatiguing my legs.  This is probably evident as after 6 hours in the saddle I am still fresh enough to play football and rugby with the kids for the rest of the afternoon.  Its a promising thing for my future race.  While I don't feel I've had enough time to train (two more months would have been better) and so won't place highly, I will survive. 

Sadly my last month of training has not been so good as its been hampered by regular minor injuries, which has meant me backing off my training load.  I am now in better condition but of course a niggling doubt has crept into my head of whether I've done enough.  But I guess that question will always be there.  I could have trained more but then I could have made the injuries worse.  I thought it better to start my race a little less fit but ultimately in one peice and with a greater chance of finishing.

I've done all I can do now training wise.  I have devised my plan for eating drinking.  My bike is running and working well, I've got lights for 8 hours of darkness and a nice big tent. I can sit on job well done.  That'll do pig.  That'll do.

Time to race...........

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Ta da! Thanks a Bunch Stella McCartney

If you want something stylish doing then for gods sake don't ask a designer to do it.  Or more specifically don't ask Stella McCartney to design sportswear for the British Olympic sports team.  Oh damn it too late.

The famed designer unveiled her ideas for Britain’s Olympians on Thursday with uniforms that made imaginative use of the union jack . The designs, a closely guarded secret for months, were shown at the Tower of London in a gala event that combined fashion’s razzle-dazzle with the star quality of top Olympic competitors.  Out with rail-thin fashion models, in with real Olympic stars.

TeamGB athletes

This obviously was a large challenge and judging by the reaction that it has received, a total flop.  So many people of argued and complained about its lack of britishness, particularly the lack of red (an important part) within the flag.  I really am not impressed, and I just can't believe this has been allowed.  Well actually I can.  I can imagine the scenario.

Olympic Committee "Hey, lets hire a famous British designer to make our British sports kit" (met with experts nodding in agreement)
pay said famous designer god knows how much and send her on merry way to draw.
Stella: "Ta da here's what I could be bothered to design in between my real job"
Olympic Committee member 1: "oh.....it's err.........
Olympic Committee member 2 ".......nice........
OC1 "oh sh*t what have we done........."
OC2 "it's to late now there's only four months to go.  We'll be laughed at"
Stella "thanks for the money suckers"
skips off merrily

Yep, good call people. well done.  Why in gods name couldn't you have gone to, say and art design college and asked the students there to design a series of kits.  You know give them some incentive of money for first prize, choosing the best kit by putting it to a vote and hey presto you'd more than likely end up with something we all like.  Oh, and saved yourself a fortune in the process. Duh.

But no we end up with something that has subdued our colours for the sake of being arty and 'designer'  Seriously would the Americans stand for it if they made the red stripes a subdued blue and the white stripes and stars grey? Just a note to my American readers your kit is also been designed by a famous designer.  Ralph Lauren I believe.  Fingers crossed he's better than Stella.

Here Sir Chris Hoy is wearing the US postal kit......oh no wait that's the Olympic Kit.  Sorry my mistake.  I've heard comment that he looks like he's wearing a bib. *Sigh*.

Now don't get me wrong, it is fairly smart but it just doesn't represent our nation.  Oh well.  Lets just hope it not a sign of future disasters for the games.......anyone know if the stadium is built yet?

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Bloggers Bikes!

I have on my blog a page called Bloggers Bikes.  Its not new, in fact its been there since I started my blog last year.  My bike has been sitting there very lonely all this time and I've just not got around to giving this page the attention it deserves.

Now I know that all you real cyclists out there love your bike(s).  Some of you clean polish and nurture them like they were your own children and love others to take notice of them.  Well this page has been created for just this reason.  You can put them on this Gallery.  I don't care whether its your best race bike, commute bike, battered rig or even an on going project.  If you submit your photo I'll ensure that your name is linked to your blog site so others can get to know you a bit more.

All you have to do is send me an email with a picture and any stats you'd liked mentioned (weight, parts etc) to jezandu@hotmail.co.uk

Just like to thank Cervelo Girl for starting the ball rolling and whose bikes I'm now proudly showing off so go check them out!!


Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Want It Wednesday #15 - The Single Life

Hello Want It Wednesday partiers (and those who'd like a go!) This week I may have been more cryptic with my title so lets see if these pictures help you get an idea........
On-One Carbon XC Whippet

Kinesis Decade Virsa Prestige

Getting the idea yet?


Ok, Ok you get the idea......Singlespeed bikes.  Its an odd thing but I have just got the urge to ditch all my gears and go singlespeed.  I hear my calling so to speak.  Its high time that I got myself a new frame as my current one is feeling its age, and I've been taking things into consideration that I've never had to contemplate before..........whether it has a swappable rear drop out.  The two frames above do, but this is just a choice selection of the bikes I could possibly go with.
With a swappable hanger I could change my bike from geared and if I desire to single speed without the need for a tensioner.

Perhaps I'm going mad, but I also want to go fully rigid too.  Light and simple bike.  Just pure riding.  Sounds ideal to me!

So who else has a bikie desire for this Wednesday?  I am joined by Paul and Neil who you can check out by clicking on their names to see their great blogs.

If you want to take part then please go to my tab marked 'Want It Wednesday' and follow the instructions.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Want It Wednesday - Reminder!!!!

Hi everyone who likes to take part in my Linky party and anyone considering taking part! 

Just a reminder that due to it being a leap year and last Wednesday being the 29th February,  Want It Wednesday will not take place this week.  You have a weeks extra grace and so posting will resume next week making it the normal second Wednesday of the month.......hopefully that makes some sense!

I'd just like to say a big thank you for all those that take part in this, its great to get people together in a shared way.  I'd particularly like to say a big thanks to Paul and his blog for supporting from the near beginning and I think only missing out on one Wednesday since he started.  Thank you.

If anyone is thinking of taking part then please just do it.  Its not hard and you don't even have to do it all the time.  Just go to my 'Want It Wednesday' tab and follow the instructions.  There are some previous posts on their to give you an idea of what can be used.


Grumpy Bastard Strikes Again.

Some of my more astute readers will remember my grumblings of a cyclists that do not wave back when out on their bikes and my ever increased grumblings with this one guy who continues to blank me (Previous post here). A man I affectionately call 'Grumpy Bastard'.

Things haven't really moved on much and despite my loud over exaggerated shouts of MORNING! and waving like an over active idiot (nearly resulting in my disastrous departure from the road I was on), grumpy bastard continues to look dead ahead unflinching. Damn you!!

On Friday, whilst working at my library as the day was coming to an end, a gentleman who I have served a many a time came into the library. He always asks for the same books to be restamped, and as far as I know he's had them for many months now. Conversation is very limited the only thing I know is that he rides a bike and previous attempts at striking a conversation on this point have failed. Totally.

However, it was while serving him that something struck me on this day. His cycle top. As I finished serving him my mind just went into over drive. Have you ever had something dawn on you? That slow realisation and pieces of puzzle just fit together? A eureka moment I think you could call it.

THAT TOP. Oh my god that top...........I've seen that before......where.......going past me on the mornings........black trousers.............no it can't be................Grumpy Bastard??!!

As he went outside he went to his bike, put his helmet on and dark glasses and got on to ride away. Oh my god its IS grumpy bastard!!!

Elated at my discovery I went back to my computer and now actually know the mans name. Funny World. Funnier still is that today I passed him in the town I work in and he smiled at me! Horray! I nearly fell off again!

So now I guess I'll have to change his name to.........'not so grumpy person'......?

Thursday, 1 March 2012

David Millar - Racing Through The Dark - Book Review

I'll start this review of this book I recently read with a bit of honesty.  I have never been a fan of David Millar.  I could go further and say I've never liked him.  Normally, I am very supportive of our British riders, viewing them as the under dogs in a competitive domain that we never until recently dominated.  Yet Millar was someone I just couldn't warm to, at least not in seen interviews or stories I'd heard about him.  He came across as arrogant, a pre Madonna, a young man with fame going to his head, and off the rails.   His exile from the sport for taking EPO came of no surprise to me and I was pleased that he was removed from the sport and I didn't welcome his return with open arms.  I know I wasn't alone.

Its is probably strange then that I should even read this autobiography.  This just so happened to come onto my desk at my library and I couldn't resist it, I'm always a sucker for stories on doping in cycling.   Perhaps this book could change my own opinion of him.

David Millars book starts a long way from the excitement, glitz and glamour of Tour races and wealthy life style but in Biarritz police cell.  Millar stands stripped of his dignity, his dream career and left with doubt and unknowing of his future as a caught out cycle EPO abuser.

The book then takes us back in time to Davids early life, from here it continues on a moral journey with a battle within not only cycling, but also himself and those around him.  This takes him through a period in cycling history when the usage of EPO was rife and how eventually he would become involved by an unforgiving cyle and money world.

It is a powerful and gripping read and gives a great insight to the secrative world of cycling.  Millar is totally frank about the people he meets, quick to praise strong friendships and those who stood by him, briefly mentioning Lance Armstrong and Bradley Wiggins.

The later part of the book deals more with his come back to sport a seamingly changed man and his now strong stance against drugs within cycling.

This is certainly a book every cyclist should read, and has changed my mind about the real David Millar.  Certainly the person he was is hard to like, but as I learnt more from him about himself and cycling the more my opinions were changed.  By the end of the book Millar not only makes me like him but actually reforms my faith in cycling as a whole.  That yes, there are those that cheat but in racing you can win clean, you can even race a whole tour clean, and that there are now teams through in house doping that are the new future for the sport.  A cleaner sport. And I for one couldn't welcome that more.