Ripping up the (January) Blues

January. Month of the blues. That typically means blue fingers and toes. The misery of missing out on our evening sunset rides, the (blue) icy weekend club rides and avoiding the usual club run route thanks to blue stuff (or brown!) running at pace down the street having spilled it’s banks.

But for me, this January has been 2 different kinds of blue. Cyan and the Blue Run.

Clean bike? Clearly not yet started!

Clean bike? Clearly not yet started!

This time last year I started my hunt for a CX bike. I didn’t want to spend a huge amount and would be more than happy with a 2nd hand bike. That’s fine for most, but do a search for new CX bikes at my height (that’s 158cm for those of you that haven’t met me) and it’s a struggle, let alone approaching the second hand market. 12 months on and with the help of a friend in Holland, I finally became owner to another Bianchi frame in some very traditional Bianchi colours.

The Bike Build
With the BB fitted by the local bike store, I was determined to build the rest of the bike myself. OK, I say myself, I had some help! But even then, it was easier said than done. Firstly, it’s the little things you don’t think about, resulting in a couple of trips to and forth from the bike shop to pick up ferrules and cable guides that I hadn’t considered when making my list of components (does such a list exist?).

Fitting the rear derailleur I realise I’m missing a bolt. Being Campag it’s not so easy to replace and so onto eBay to buy an old mech for parts. In the meantime, we fit the brakes, some snazzy Planet-X Frog Bolloxs which should be simple but, what I later learn is called the yoke, snaps as we tighten it. Bugger! Bike build on hold again until I can find a replacement.

Finally with the rear mech fixed and fitted, we attempt the gear routing. Campag specific wire goes through hole A and and comes out hole B….. at least, that’s what the instructions told us to do… did it work? NO! So, a couple of emails to a Campag mechanic friend and some handy tips and tricks shared, the gears are finally working. Rear mech fitted, bike is now working as a fixed gear at least. Just the front mech to complete…. and this is where we hit the wall. The wire is holding perfectly in the shifter, but can we get it to hold at the front mech? Can we heck. Getting a little impatient and really wanting to hit the trails, we give in and I drop the bike into the shop for them to complete the job and check over our work.

So finally, after 4 – 5 weeks of bike building (and a little over budget), I excitedly picked it up yesterday.  Bike number 6 took pride of place in the living room for the evening. But there was something significantly wrong – it was looking too new!

Hitting the Trails
Waking up to icy roads this morning, I jacked in the club ride, packed the car and headed over to Swinley Forrest in Bracknell.  My little brother spent much of his teens riding his fixed jump bike here, but this was the first time I’d ventured over there. I quickly realise what I’ve been missing out on.

The car park is packed with mtb-ers and walkers. I quickly ask a passer-by what state the trails are in – Good luck on a CX! They’re pretty unridable this morning’. Great. Well, I’m here now, so may as well give it a go. After all, my main intention is to get MUDDY!

Stopping to catch my breath at top of the sngle track on Blue Run

Stopping to catch my breath at top of the sngle track on Blue Run

I set off following the signs for ‘Mountain Bike Trails’ and soon come across a comprehensive hub detailing the different routes by distance and technical ability. Not much different to ski runs, the trails are set up from Green Run – 1.2km long with gentle dips on a wide track suitable for complete beginners and families, through to Red Run – 13km of extremely technical terrain of single twisty tracks with boardwalk climbs and lumpy descents, all of which are clearly marked in sections throughout.

New to the trails, CX and my bike, I start off on the Green Run and do a couple of warm up laps. It was great to see a 5 year old girl testing out her new bike skills with some expert advice from her MTB Dad, Helen Wyman’s going to have some competition!

Satisfied with the response of my brakes and gears, and slowly getting used to a different kind of cleats, I move onto the Blue Run.

Moderately graded, the complete route is 10.1km long and designed for novice to intermediate Mountain Bikers. It starts out on a pretty wide (although muddy) path, quickly descending into a single track through the pine forest. With some sections of the trail called “Full Nine Yards“, “Devils Highway” and “Stickler“, it’s not hard to imagine why this isn’t suited to the beginner. I also can’t imagine too many new to CX would be so comfortable either, but sticking to my rule of ‘always commit’ and wearing my ‘Fearless’ nick-name on my sleeve, I managed to weave, descend, jump and climb my way down the run.

I very quickly felt comfortable on my bike – trying to keep my pedal stroke smooth, I powered through thick mud; surprisingly managed to climb up over some steep sections stepped with tree roots, put my BMX lessons to use in the pump sections and only once came off track, luckily getting on the brakes to come to a clean stop before heading awol into some trees.

Other riders were extremely friendly, stopping for a quick chat and happy to sit behind until safe to pass or pull up to let you through. I managed 3/4 of the route before I started to get numb hands, even though I was wearing MTB gloves. Each section intersected by the fire-roads, it’s easy to drop off once you’ve had enough (although funnily enough, I found these harder to ride than the trails as they were so deep in mud!).

It may have been 2 degrees when I set out, but I was anything but cold. The blue run was a success and as I came to the end, part of me wanted to go at it all day. But car parking ticket due to expire, I followed the signs back to The Look Out.

I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did and at least expected a fall here or there (who knows what the MTBer was on about when he said it was un-ridable!). With a CX sportive coming up in 2 weeks time, I can’t wait to get back on the bike.

Bianchi & Giro

What I rode:
Bianchi D2 Cross with Campag Veloce 10sp
FSA Omega Compact Road Bar with Deda Elementi Zero1 Stem
Ambrosio WS 23 Wheels with Schwalbe CX Comp Cyclocross Tyres and Planet X Frogs Bollox Cantilever Brakeset
Shimano Deore XT M780 SPD XC Race Pedals

What I wore:
Not much different to my every day cycling kit – bibs, leg warmers, Helly Hanson long sleeve base layer, Bianchi Winter Jersey, Skoda wind & rain proof jacket and a neck buff.

Giro Reva Womens MTB Shoe – these were surprisingly comfy for a first ride!
Specialized BG Gel WireTap Glove (A little big for me, these started to rub where padding meets handlebar)

 

 

 

Hayley Davies

Hayley Davies

Writer

Riding since Feb 2011 Hayley is a 30 year old female who loves adventures. If she’s not on one of her many bikes or in the water on a bodyboard/surfboard, then Hayley is probably out looking for something new to keep the adrenaline pumping!
Website: www.hjdonline.co.uk

Novice League for Women

After the success of last year’s inaugural Cycling Development North West women’s road race league, I was approached by Carley Brierley, a female coach in Blackpool, to assist her with developing some women’s race training sessions for women in the New Year, which Huw Williams has instigated.

CDNW Great Budworth

After an overwhelming response, and all three sessions being oversubscribed within a week of going live, I decided that it would be a good idea to try and ease the move into road racing for women by including a novice league within the women’s league, especially given that there seems to be less early season circuit races (in the North West at least) this year.

Last year, a guy called Sean Jackson, of Cucina Cycles in the North East, provided some sponsorship money which I used for the Most Improved Rider Award and the Most Tenacious Rider Award.  This year, we will be scrapping these awards and, instead, the money will be used to provide for the leaders in the Novice League.

You might think that I have gone off on a tangent with this concept, however the women who took part in the CDNW women’s league last year really improved as road racers as the season progressed.  The races were aimed at developing confidence whilst being encouraging, with 100% (yes, that’s right 100%) of the women who completed my end of survey said that they would definitely recommend the races to a friend, and with this in mind, some novice women racers might be put off about joining the league thinking they don’t have a chance.  But by holding a separate “mini-league” I hope to reach out to those women so that they will have an opportunity for a race within a race.  Ultimately, there aren’t enough women to hold two separate races, but I know from experience that racing with second and third category women is much better than racing with fourth category men!

(c) Ed Rollason Photography

So ladies, if you want to get into racing, here is your chance!  You will need a full racing licence (as you are racing on the open road) however if you are thinking of racing anyway, a day licence costs at least £10, so if you plan on doing more than three races, you will save money by purchasing a full licence.  For the record, I am not a sales person for British Cycling, I am just someone trying to persuade more women to have a go at the sport I enjoy.

If you haven’t bought BC membership yet, you can find more about it here: http://www.britishcycling.org.uk/membership

If you like the thought of giving racing a go and would like to register for the league, as a woman you don’t need to be a member of an affiliated club – it costs £5 to register for the league and you have to agree to marshal a race (it can be one you are riding if you can find somebody to do the marshalling for you):  https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/club/subscriptions?&club_id=6406

 

Muddy Hell!

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All Images ©AEhotos

 


Knog Muddy Hell
Herne Hill Velodrome
Saturday, October 27th, 2012.

Knog Muddy Hell earns it’s name. Nick Craig dominates in tough conditions.

Finally, after three years with dry conditions Knog Muddy Hell truely was a mud-fest. Plenty of rain leading up to the event, plus downpours on the night and the action of over 700 wheels, churning up the course created difficult conditions for competitors but great entertainment for spectators.

Course designer Phil Glowinski, created a smooth, flowing course, whilst maintaining the popular features of wall-ride, bridge, whoops, muddy corner and hurdles but it was the conditions which had the greatest effect on the results. A confident Nick Craig knew that his years of experience at top level off-road riding would stand him in good stead. Fresh from his recent win at the (slighly warmer) Mountain Bike Tour of Langkawi Nick indeed provided a master class in technique, though he was distanced in the sprint from the start, his superior bike handling soon saw him opening up a big gap with National Junior champion Hugo Robinson chasing. Hugo however suffered a mechanical as did many others, Ed McParland made a valiant effort to catch the veteran, but it was never going to happen and Nick took the £400 from Knog with a huge gap.

Three previous winners of the Women’s event took to the line, and Louise Mahe took her second Knog Muddy Hell title with Claire Beaumont second, National track champion Corinne Hall did not repeat her podium finish instead Leona Kadir took third spot.

Supported by Vulpine cycle clothing the vets category saw a very competitive field, multiple Knog Muddy Hell winner Mick Bell could not repeat his usual top spot due to mud-induced mechanical issues and relinquished the top step of the podium to Kevin Knox of Vicious Velo.

Racing at the same time as the women and vets, 2012 saw the largest junior field in the history of the event with Chris McGovern the clear winner finishing up amongst the first few vets.

The ever popular Novice race had over 100 entries, the best fancy dress, two tandems (one pantomime horse) and the worst weather, this is when the rain hit and there were more than a few retirements. James Flury was best male and Lise Sorenson best female, both taking prizes from Cycelab.

The youth categories saw record levels of entries, organisers Rollapaluza claim that over 70 entry enquiries were received for the U12 event alone, because of the high level of interest they will look to accomodate more youngsters in 2013. In all over 350 racers took part with, despite the rain, hundreds of cheering spectators enjoying the racing, atmosphere, food, mulled cider, “Off-Road” Rollapaluza competition and bike polo skills try out.

AEphotos full galleries of all races: http://aephotos.co.uk/muddyhell2012

RESULTS:

Seniors:
1. Nick Craig
2. Ed McParland
3. Darren Barclay
4. Chris Metcalfe
5. William Thomson
6. Bruce Dalton
7. Richard Mardle
8. Jack Finch
9. Will Fooks
10. Uldis Karklins

Women:
1. Lousie Mahe
2. Claire Beaumont
3. Leona Kadir

Vets:
1. Kevin Knox
2. John Lyons
3. Nick Walsh

Juniors:
1. Chris McGovern
2. James Wood
3. Ashley Dennis

Novice Male:
1. James Flury
1. Keith Brewster
3. John Coolahan

Novice Female:
1. Lise Sorensen
2. Lesley Auchterlonie
3. Hester Polak

U16
1. Sam Titmarsh
2. Matt Clements
3. Thomas Finch

U14
1. Luke Mitchie
2. George Finch
3. Freddie Argent

U12
1. Noah Charlton
2. Charlie Craig
3. Aaron Freeman

Sponsors:
Knog
Cyclelab
Vulpine
Bonvelo

Cyclodam

We’d like to introduce you to the Cyclodam Cycling Club, based in the beautiful city of Amsterdam and run by the lovely Hayley Davies and Monica Haydock.

Cyclodam provide all you need from a cycling club; catering for beginners to the uber experienced rider, all ages, men, women, boys and girls. They will show you how to use a bike for exercise, for sport and for getting you home safely from work. It’s a great social way to make new like-minded friends from all walks of life.

They break their club into three logical areas that make it extremely friendly and accessible, no need to feel out of your depth.

They also run a number of social events including weekly weekend rides, and workshops on all things cycle related like nutrition and bike maintenance and fun trips to visit some of the worlds top cycling races, this year they are going to the final stage of the Tour de France, so if you’re in Paris for the finish keep an eye out for the Cyclodam guys and girls!

The three levels are:
Love Cycling: Beginner or out-of-practice cyclist, you either don’t know how to ride a bike, or believe you’ve forgotten how (you’ve heard the cliché!). Join them to re-explore the art of riding a bike from the Dutch Highway Code, basic maintenance and how to balance your shopping while cycling!

Intro to Cycling as Exercise: Whether you’ve grown up watching the Tour de France and see yourself as the next pro or just realize the benefits of cycling, Cyclodam will help you get to grips with using 2 wheels as more than a form of transportation.

Cycling & Triathlon Club (CTC): For the enthusiastic cyclist, Cyclodam’s road and triathlon group, ride, train and compete together regularly. Why not join them out on the road? All levels of expertise welcome. It’s a mix of girls, boys, nationalities, ages and experiences. Training as often as work and personal commitments allow they meet regularly to better their swim, run and cycling skills. You can also find many of them at national and international competitions. New to road cycling or triathlons? Don’t worry – they welcome and encourage all new members, beginner or expert!

 
What Cyclodam say:
What can you expect from Cyclodam CTC?
As a member of Cyclodam CTC, expect to push your personal goals and achievements further. We work hard to make sure all individual training goals are met as a club. At the beginning of the swim, run or cycle session, we identify what each athlete aims to achieve and work together as a team to meet these.

Aside from training, you can also expect a range of benefits as a member from our main sponsor Giant, and the opportunity to wear team kit (we’ll be taking orders twice yearly). And of course, having fun at our superb socials!

How can you become a member?
Becoming a member is easy. We charge 25 Euros per year for each member. This is to cover our costs and to make sure we can keep the club running and provide you with the best offers from local companies. If you wish to join, please send an email to [email protected]

For more information please visit the website: www.Cyclodam.com
or Facebook page: www.facebook.com/cyclodam

 


 
 

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