Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Bike and life goes on.

It's been a  while but I feel it'll be good to blog again.  So let's briefly update everything.

New job in April working in Cestria Cycles in Chester le Street.... I'll cover stuff there in more detail.
New race team.... Cestria Cycles RT, well it makes sense.

2016 season, few road races, no success, few mtb races no success, cross racing since August in the V50 aged related group, 3 wins locally, some decent placings in national events and 19th in the UCI world Masters champs in Belgium.... solid again.

The World Masters was a great weekend and has been an ambition of mine for some time, so it was good to realise a long held dream.  My form and fitness was not at it's best, again weight being an issue.  I rode/ran well from a good grid position and held my own.  I only wish I could get rid of this lard.....??

Start of the V50-55 race.  I'm far right under the banner post.








The sand of the Zilvermeer took it's toll on me...






I've come to the conclusion that considering my weight and lack of fortitude on shifting it, it's in the mind, I'm doing ok and I should hold myself up as a mediocre talent who with a bit of hardwork and ambition can punch above their class.....

That'll do for now.... thanks.




Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Jekyll and Hyde on a bike.

Anyone who has raced on a bike will know that heavy feeling on your shoulders that tugs them down with dread and that ' I can't be arsed' feeling.  It happens to us all somewhere along our journey to bike heaven, but I don't expect it at the start of the season and my first time trial of the year.  But here I was on a very windy Saturday afternoon at Belsay with the timekeeper saying 'hello Brian, you don't look too keen?'  Yep I nodded with a pained expression of some old shire horse looking down at an un-ploughed field, it had to be done and the quicker the better.

I am not a natural time triallist.  I ride them as they are cheap and easy to get too and some of them can be quite satisfying, can be!  The Barnesbury CC hilly 21 is not normally one of my most satisfying ones, it's too early in the season and the weather is usually cold, wet and windy.  Today was just windy, but very windy, well blowing a right hooley.  As I find riding on the tri bars on my time trial being an uncomfortable and nervous place to be on the best of days, I was feeling very cautious and nervous about the crosswinds today.  I find with age you think too much about consequences, that sows doubt and that makes you think more and that slows you down.  On nearly all the steeper downhill sections I opted to holding onto the full bar for stability and I actually free-wheeled most of steepest hill, Middleton Bank.  I must have lost loads of time through thinking and being cautious.  Still I finished in one piece.  My time was not too bad, but was down the placings and lost to club member Neil Payton as fastest club rider and a trophy to boot!  It was a fine win by Carl Donaldson from the GS Metro to beat John Sturman by just a single second!

I don't like time trialling now, it's too hard, as the famed Tour de France star Greg Lemond said once, 'it doesn't get easier, just faster',  is so true.  Since my trapped sciatic nerve affair in 2011 I find that I am constantly racing in pain.  Sitting in one position on the bike just makes it worse and I get a growing aching pain radiating down the back of my right hamstring and into the knee.  It's like racing with one and a half legs!  Now I know there are riders out there with worse injuries and ailments and many, well all really, para-cyclists will put me to shame, but this is me and my leg on my bike trying to go fast.  In cross and road races it's not such a big deal, as you can get up and out the saddle and free-wheel and other such things to relieve the stress, but in time trials you can't, unless you want to loose time.   The hilly events are better as the hills allow me to move around and ease any growing tension.  So here I was 4 miles into the first time trial and feeling the ache set in and groaning to myself, not again not again Mr Hyde!

And that is the problem.  I know how to alleviate most of the pain and discomfort but just about every week I fail to take the proper precautions!  A good warm up, not a pootle up and down the road, but a good sweaty spin on the turbo or rollers!  Stretching more and exercising the muscles each evening and morning instead of some haphazard effort every other day.  Wearing leggings or something else over the thighs to keep them warm!  I know what to do, but the Mr Hyde in me creeps over onto my shoulder, usually by about Thursday or Friday and I enter into a stupor of can't be arsed attitude.  Maybe it's just spring season blues after a hectic cross season, it has been the first time in over 20 years where I had a full winter of training and racing?  Whatever it is Hyde creeps into other aspects as well, diet and eating being the notable one.  I start of with good intentions at the beginning of the week, but by the later part the crap food is being consumed in copious amounts.  I take a day off from training and my body goes into starvation mode and I crave sugary foods, all the weeks good intentions gone!  A friend recommended using an app called MyfitnessPal, which allows you to log your food intake.  It's good and simple to use and a few bikies have been using it with good reports on weight loss.  I used it for 2 weeks, found out I eat too many  bad calories on a non training day and then promptly stopped; the Hyde effect. Just what I knew.

Here lies the crux of the Jekyll & Hyde, it's about your personality and character.  I love racing and competing, the hubbub of fighting out in a race with the nearest rival, the buzz of anticipation, nervousness, eagerness and adrenalin all rolled into one.  I missed it for 20 years or so and only now do I realise that I love the feel of race day and all that it entails.  Probably why I love cross so much, it's compact, neat and tidy in an emotional sense, a thrill a minute.  Road racing is similar, but I still have to find my road head and become comfortable in the bunch again.  So if I could I would  race every other day rolling along on this emotion of competition, the thrills of race day keeping me focused.  But you can't and maybe it's the 'downs' later in the week that affect my focus?  That's me!  Up and down roller-coaster of emotion and enthusiasm.  I can remember the most common comment on school reports went, ' shows a great deal of enthusiasm, if he could only focus....'  Your personality drives you through life, it's you, how you think, learn, decide, act, take pain and reflect on your actions.  It's the most important aspect to becoming a champion.  How many times do we see some great sporting star and wish to be like them only for them to display attributes that we do not really want, arrogance, selfishness, greedy, bullying, vindictiveness, rule beating, cheating the list goes on..... In fact I could be describing just about any great professional rider we care to mention!  That will to win at all costs!  Although I despise Lance Armstrong for what he and others have done to our sport you cannot deny his total commitment to winning.

So I'm not quite sure what this rambling blog has to do with racing on a budget, I guess enthusiasm and motivation doesn't cost anything but then it doesn't come cheap?  There is always a payback, whether that is weekly, monthly or annually you need to re-charge the mind.  Eva and I were talking about just yesterday, she says I'm too easily deterred and will put psychological obstacles in my way, it's true, but then I can easily bounce back, mostly.  My Dad says 'never knock yourself, there's plenty of folks willing to do it for you.'   We are what we are, although time will modify our character to a certain extent, the question is do I want to change?  If I could turn back time?  Well it's all immaterial really, I am the keeper of my mind and will continue being who I am, I just really need to get my arse in gear and focus on those goddam awful time trials!  Ride less of them, focus on the  important ones, and use the road races as a means of recharging my emotional batteries.  I should be thankful that after 20 years away I'm in a position to race again and enjoying!  Hey-ho the road goes forever onwards!



Results for the Hilly 21 TT:
http://www.barnesbury-cc.co.uk

Monday, 10 March 2014

Gearing up for the Road Season.


It's been a few weeks since I last posted anything up on here, partly due to the fact that February was bit of a lazy month for me and the bike, but also a great deal of naval gazing and anger about the redundancy situation at work.  I just did not really feel like writing anything.  However when I started this project I said to myself that it would be an honest account of my year that would also give me some focus on my thoughts and feelings.

So where are we then?

The cross ended at the beginning of February and I had a few days off and slowly got back into riding, just long steady rides up to 70 miles and 4 1/2 hrs or so.  I don't do cafe stops on a Sunday prefering to get back home early.  If I felt tired or lethargic I just took a few days off, in fact I had 14 days off the bike but manage to do about 600 miles for the month.  I kept things going but with no pressure to train every day.

It also allowed me time to strip down my cross bike, clean the equipment and check it over for wear and tear.  To be honest most it was going back onto my race bike for the coming road season.  Everything looked fine and was not worn out, so with new cables and chain the old Ribble Sportive bike was rebuilt.  I had thought about a new frame but knowing that I may be without work by May, this was beyond my expectations.  I also had to rebuild the mountain bike that had lain dormant for over a year or so.  The brakes on  it were broken, my own fault as I forced the hydraulic fluid reservoir cap off in a rage and splitting it in two.  Naively I thought it was 'just an dust cap', but it wasn't.  I finally sourced a replacement and re-bled the brakes and replaced the pads.  First impressions look good.  I can brake!

It's an old bike about 8 years old with old kit and forks on.  Again I thought about buying new, but again abstained from using the plastic card.  There are a few local MTB races that'll I race this summer, mainly for training and cross skill work. the bike will get me through, but I won't be competitive on it.

I still haven't really decided on a programme of events for the summer, normally I concentrate on time trials but last summer saw me racing in the local TLI road league and this year was going to be a full-on road season.  The problem is the lack of races  in the region.  There are a few in Northumberland but due to restrictions placed on by the local authority hardly any on Teesside and North Yorkshire.  They have a load of closed circuit races.

So the plan is to mix and match, road races, mtb, time trials and circuit races.  Cross will I hope be my main focus.  So with all that in mind I travelled down to Middlesbrough on Saturday and entered a 3/4 category race around the closed circuit at Prissick.  It was fast and dicey with a great crash mid-race just to settle my nerves.  It seemed everyone survived apart from one poor unfortunate who broke a collarbone I believe? You must realise that this was my first British Cycling race for over 21 years!  I did ok, apart from loosing time on the corners as I hesitated a touch, which meant chasing to catch a wheel again.  I had a few digs off the front but sat up for the finish, I never was a confident sprinter!


A few shots from 3/4 Cat race at Prissick, I even hit the front!

So after all that I was persuaded by another evergreen, John Davidson to ride the E123 race later that day.  Well that was an eye opener!  Fast from the gun, I found myself hanging on for grim death for about 4-5 laps passing riders getting spat out the back as I kept closing gaps I lost from my poor cornering!  A break moved off the front after 20 minutes and the pace picked up to 28mph, gaps formed all over the place and although I closed 2 down the third was too much and I popped a gasket and got spat out.  I chased in vain with John and a Gosforth rider, but I should have taken John's tactic of sitting up to be lapped and slip back into the bunch.  By the time we were lapped my best riding was behind me and I only lasted  a few more laps.  Eventually I finished 2 laps down and 34 miles of racing in my tired legs.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself!  It was great to be back into a bunch and with some high speed racing in my legs, it can only bode well for the future.
John Davidson, Cestria Cycles CRT, showed me how to corner at speed and not to loose wheels!


So after all that at the weekend I'm now re-evaluating the summer programme, do I race on the road more?
I really want to do everything race all the time, I love it!  But I need to be a little sensible, it can be expensive and with not knowing where or what I will be doing with work by April I need to be a little cautious.  I may have the time to train but not the funds to finance it.  I have a road race entered on the 22nd March up near Ford in north Northumberland, perhaps after that I'll decide where I'm going.  As from now, the training starts getting serious!

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Closing out the Cross Season.

Last weekend was the last race of my cross season, a Scottish affair up at Dunbar.  I must admit I was pleasantly surprised by the John Muir Winter Carnival and races.  Organised by a Triathlon/bike shop from Edinburgh, it covers a whole range of events, running cross, rowing, swimming etc.  you get the idea, active stuff.  There was a good crowd, enjoying a cool but sunny winter day.

The race was an open event, that is everyone thrown into together, with the 2 ront rows being seeded.  I didn't expect to get seeded so I lingered around to ensure I was as near the front as I could get, about the thrid row.  Ewa had said before the race I should have gone up to the organiser and asked for a gridding, sadly I'm not like that.  Says a lot about me really.

The course got a little churned up on the hills by the lake.  Photos courtesy of Bob Marshall.


So 110 or so riders line up and off we go onto what was meant to be a neutral section.  In Scotland? Fat chance!  Pace was fast and I was about 20th as we hit the flooded lake section, where there was only really one line next to the fence.  Into the woods and I was passing riders, past the pits and again I was picking off riders.  As you clear the wooded section you hit a sharp left hander and onto the boggy grass and mud.  My front wheel slid from under me and I hit the muddy grass. I was up quick and away but lost a place or two.  Now that mud was deep and and it was gloopy and it was going to become hard!  This was the start of the tough grass section that included obstacles and steps and two run ups.  In warm up I managed to ride these, but in the race and grass and mud cutting up it meant running up and freewheeling back down as you snaked up and down the hill..  That was the course and as I started the 2nd lap I was about 10-12th.



Now you know when you are racing and something happens so quickly within a fraction of a second and afterwards you realise that you were so close to a having a 'big one', it gives you a shudder?  Well I had one.  The dry line down the edge of the field and lake narrowed down close to the fence towards the end and there was a large wooden trough sticking out about 10 inches high.  I forgot about it.  I was sitting on a wheel keeping to the 'good' line when the rider pulled to the right, I flicked my wheel and missed the trough plank by millimetres!  Feck!  that was too close.  Get past and choose your own line!



I took out about 5 or 6 riders on that lap and at one point I heard Ewa shout out that I was third?  Eh? how did that happen?  On the third lap pushing hard and over geared on the wooded climb and I was passed by this guy on a mounatin bike, he was gone man!  So the rest of the race was consolidating what I thought was fourth, however by the last 2 laps I could hear the commentator call my name out and I was third.  Apparently the mountain biker, Robert Friel was in front but had a mechanical and he re-took second off me.  He was riding well and nearly caught the winner Dave Henderson by the finish.  Both rode mountain bikes and were a good 2-3 minutes ahead of me in third.  Still a podium is a podium and I was quite pleased with myself!  It was a good way to close out the winter cross season.


So that was my first cross season after 20 years absence and I have enjoyed it greatly! Fantastic races and enthusiastic support from everyone.  A few wins in the NECCL league and winning it overall, and a top 10 in the CXNE vets/juniors league.  The CXNE league is extremely competitive and I was astounded by the quality of racing, with over 30 riders regularly finishing on the same lap.  The 'hitters' are very strong and are at a very good National standard, with a the likes of Dickie Noble, Tony Glover, and Kenny Johnson, up in the top 20 in the national events.  They are a class above me, but then I'm not doing too bad for a fat lad!

I managed to be within top 20 in the North of England champs and within a top 40 in the Nationals, 15th in my age group.  I've slipped and slided all over the place, huffed and puffed on the running.  I've more to come from these old legs and reducing my weight is the key to this.

Finally I think the most satisfying feeling that came from the winter cross is how Ewa has become so engrossed in the sport and pitting for me with my spare bike!  Frozen and soaked to the skin after some events like Ripley on New Years day but I hasn't dented her enthusiasm!  She's even booked up a hotel for next November's World Cup event at Milton Keynes, now that is being eager!

And a ,finally, my daughter Zofia, who was being woken up at silly o'clock on Sunday mornings and carted around by dad to races but was so patient, although not getting into the spirit of it (yet)!

Link to John Muir Cross photos courtesy of Bob Marshall:
https://picasaweb.google.com/113562417702657933373/TheJohnMuirWinterCarnivalCXRace2014

http://www.thetricentre.com/

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Planning the coming Race season. Mix and Match.

Even though I've still got a few cross races left, my mind has turned to the spring and summer months.  The original intention was to mix up a few road races and time trials and to set out a few targets up until August.  However after having a wonderful time in the mud this winter with cross races I'm having to reconsider everything and will have to take into consideration costs of entry into races, travel and equipment.  I've also decided to get back into mountain biking seriously this summer, see if I can strengthen myself up for cross.

 There is still no official word from work about what is happening about the youth service, although redundancy is still probable, just when we aren't quite sure.  So when I will be made redundant is anyone's guess.  It's worrying at the back of my mind, as there are precious few youth work jobs out there.  Either I strike lucky or it will be a complete change in direction work wise.

So when I put down all the possible events in the north east of England, there's quite a few clashes and not too many road races. I posted this up on Facebook that caused a massive discussion on road racing and the lack of events.  Cheekily I put it down to the growth of sportives, but in reality the causes and multiple and complex; increased traffic, lack of organisers, health and safety, Police reluctance and a whole range of events conspiring to push road racing to the fringe of our sport.  Back in 1989 I raced up to 50 days a year, many of which were local, now I counted 11 events, some of which were on closed circuits.  The sport has certainly changed, with more choice for a wider range of biking lifestyles, however for the traditional 'roadie', the good days I think have sadly gone.

So the question is, do I focus on road racing this summer?  As I write I'm unsure.  I had planned in a full road season, but with so few events locally it will go against me.  I normally need a number of races under my belt to find some form and I don't think there is enough for that. I had hoped on doing some LVRC vets racing but they are all travelling, with the Nationals down in Midlands I believe?  With mountain bike racing but at £25 a shot for entry I could do 3 time trials for that.  I'll also need to spend some money on the mountain bike, an old knacker job, that's past it's best.

I also need to get the qualifying time trial rides in for the Northumberland & Durham Cycling Association competition.  I finished 6th overall and 3rd in the vets competitions, and the club won the team award as well.  I enjoy racing, I would race every day if I could.  So there lies the dilemma, what to target and concentrate on?

Time trialling is cheap and accessible and I don't need to spend a great deal to compete.  Although I have been gloating at a disc wheel for £650.  I really don't know why I punish myself!


Road racing will be more expensive with travelling, there are a few local events and one promoted by my club, The Ballantyne Trophy I last rode as a junior in 1983, 31 years ago!  That must be a priority!

So as I gather my thoughts it's going to be a mix and match summer season, few time trials, few road and a few mountain bike.  As for main aims that will take some more working out.  For the moment I'm happy with these thoughts.

And as for the disc wheel?  Well if anyone wants one....

http://www.edencycles.com/Citec-Disc-8000-Carbon-Tubular-Rear-Wheel-p/citecdisc8000trwda.htm

Saturday, 18 January 2014

National Cyclo cross championships 2014, and the aftermath.

To be honest I've struggled all this last week to begin writing this post about the Nationals, even now it's a struggle. And it shouldn't be.  One thing I promised myself with this blog that it would be 'warts and all' narrative, my own feelings and thoughts however it be.

The weekend was a mix of emotions, being overwhelmed with the whole experience and racing, which for a middle aged guy is saying something.  Last year went I went to see the Tour de France in the Alps, that was a 'wow' feeling, this was different, more absorbing, I was part of it, even if it was just a little.  I think at the end of the weekend I had a great regret, I wanted more and would have to wait another whole year.

So to the race.  Simply put it was muddy, with some mud and a bit more mud and a touch of tarmac, and a sandy bit.  Even in drier conditions I would not have performed well as there were some tricky cambers and bends where I would have struggled.  Before our race started I watched the senior vets perform and was impressed again by the quality and speed of these guys!  However this and the other races just resulted in the course becoming more cut up and gloopy!  It was thick mud that stuck and clogged your bike. 

I met up with a friend I had corresponded with for a number of years on a running forum, but had never met in the flesh.  So together we set off to do a lap, and half-way round, our bikes were covered with wheels unable to turn. I headed to the pits where Ewa and my brother were helping out with bike cleaning.  We started to clean mine down to make it a bit more workable.  I have to describe the pits, it looked like Napoleon's retreat from Moscow!  Thick deep mud and pooling water, a fine mist of spray from the jet-wash's and a constant drone of engines.  Minions clothed in water-proofs busied about, some with grimaces, but most seemed to be enjoying it.









'Twenty minutes to the start' went the announcer, better make a move then.  I should have moved quicker!  I missed my gridding by about a minute!  Mistake number 1!  I heard a name of a guy who was not riding and sneaked past the Commissaire. I was at least 3-4 rows further back from where I should have been, I looked behind, not many behind me, shit! You fool!

So let's get the race over with, bang went the gun, whoosh went the hitters, bimble went us at the back!  First right hand corner, carnage in the mud and water!  I manged to go far out to the right and miss most of it and pass a few.  Through the pits and into the woods and the first run up, I zipped up on the left, missed a crunch of riders, passed about 10 on the left and BAM!  Someone from the right swerved in the mud and took me out into the tap and down I went!  All that effort was wasted as all those riders came past me again.  And that was basically the story of the race.  Lots of running, in fact I ran too much in hindsight, preferring to stay safe rather than risk a wipe out on the greasy cambers.  Well who's to know?  The whole race was all about finding a fast line, powering through it taking a few riders and then falling off and going back again!  I was like snakes and ladders on a bike, just too many serpents heads for me.  I fell when running, I fell when riding, I fell in the sand!  My last fall was the worst, in all that gloop at the pits my right foot jammed in the mud and I went 'arse-over-tit' head first into the mud, my calf cramped and I struggled to get up on one leg!  Honestly!

Well I finished my first national champs for 21 years and ended up 38th, round about where I expected, and 15th in my age group (45-49), respectable.  Nick Craig from Team Scott won the event, nearly lapping me in the process, I could hear him approaching from behind with the commentary.  I should mention the sterling work of my 'support team', Ewa and Alan in the pits and having my bike ready every lap, and to Gillian (Alan's wife) and my daughter Zofia for being at the start and finish with warm clothing.  Zofia also took these photos as well!  And finally all the shouts and encouragement from the CXNE supporters!



We stayed over for the night and had a great time with the folks from CXNE talking and drinking all night.  Then up early to watch the racing on Sunday which was great fun. However all I could gleam from watching the hitters race was that they are fitter, faster and way way better than me.

So what did I conclude from all this? I'm too fat, way too fat.  Planning helps and knowing the routines at the bigger races.  There are a hell of a lot of guys and gals out there taking this damn serious, with all the kit and team back up and a very good level of fitness! I need to up my game over the summer. If you are competing at this level you need 2 bikes and they really need to be exactly the same.  I noticed a massive difference between  mine two, in weight when carrying and in grip. The Dugast tubs on my good wheels are so much better in the mud, especially at low pressure and I am now riding at much lower pressures and feeling confident about it.  And that is the problem when racing on a budget, you have to compromise.  Should I have a set of really good carbon wheels and an average pair on the spare bike, or spread the cost over 2 decent pairs?  I think the the former, you generally ride the good bike the most and that is where the expensive wheels need to be.

Next race? CXNE round 14 at Durham on Sunday.

So 2015 Champs?  Leaner, meaner and faster!  Training starts now.

Yer just gotta get back up and carry on......


Finished at last, 38th overall, 15th in my age group.


Nick Craig took another vets title, and went on to take bronze in the senior race the following day.  Some athlete!

Evergreen Chris Young rode well for 5th place.

Best of the CXNE riders, Tony Glover 12th, just got the better of Richard Noble.


Dickie Noble, 13th.



Links
Our photos of the national cross champs.
 


















Monday, 6 January 2014

Count down to the Nationals.

The Pain of Chains!
First purchases of the year, chains and cassettes and tape and the like.  I might as well get them now when I have the cash.  I also got a bike workshop stand, quite cheap but with good reviews. I got it for Ewa to help her in the pits in cross races, but it may come in handy with an idea I've got.  More about that later.

There was a time in my youth when cassettes were called blocks had 6, 7 or maybe 8 sprockets and lasted a life time!  I run Campagnolo gears and I was shocked to find out how short a cassette lasted on a winter bike.  I put a new one on at the beginning of last winter about October, by December the chain was wrecked and needed replacing.  The new chain just would not mesh with the worn sprockets so a new set were bought, now only a few 1000's miles along they are like sharks teeth!.  I try to take care of the chain and cassettes with regular cleaning and de-greasing but the quality of the metal and the thickness, or lack of, material does not allow them to survive for long.

I run 9 speed on my winter bike for longevity and race on 10 speed.  These chains are even worse and I've snapped a few, even wrecking 4 links in a time trial last year, resulting in a walk up the hill and a pick up from a spectator.  I still say it should not happen, chains should be bomb-proof, God knows what 11 speed are like!  I run good chains either KHS or Campag's own, normally mid range, maybe I should invest in the top end ones, but at £40 or more, is it value for money?  As I don't buy them, I'll never know.


National Cyclo Cross Championships
Next weekend it's the National Cyclo Cross championships at Derby, an event I've been planning for all winter.  This will be my first individual championship for over 20 years, 1992 being the last one I rode.  I'm competing in the veteran category now, which is very very competitive!  I rode (badly) a national trophy event at Durham back in November and finished 29th.  I was shocked at the quality and ability that some of these 'old guys' can race!  Some of them like Nick Craig, give the pro-elite riders a good run for their money!  Nick, still a pro rider himself for Scott, won the vets race last year and then went on to finish 4th or 5th in the senior event!  Quite astounding!

So what am I expecting next weekend?  To be honest I don't know, pain and heartache in equal measure is my usual reward.  I've been training hard, but mostly on my own, which does not really help me along.  My biggest handicap is my weight, at 76-77kg, I still about 10kg over my race weight.  Now I know that that was 20 years ago and I've come down from 90kg just a few years back, but 10kg is a lot.  As Ewa says in races, 'everyone in front of you is skinny, you look chunky'!  Chunky and cross racing don't go together.


Chunkiness!  Taken at CXNE,Gateshead October 2013.

 My expectations are to try for a top 30 finish, if I get a good start - there's over 115 hopefuls riding and it's grided, so I'll be down the pecking order.  To be honest I'm not too bothered because just getting to the Nationals and racing at this level was out of the question 2 years ago as I had 7 months out with a prolapsed disc and sciatica, which still troubles me now.  I have thoroughly enjoyed the journey this winter with cross racing and pleased with my progress.

I've managed to drop 1kg over the Christmas hols, so perhaps if I'm good another 1/2kg may come off by the weekend?  This week is going to be mainly speed work and intervals.  I always thrive best on intervals, then an easy end to the week and travel down on Friday.  There will be a whole crew of CXNE riders, family and helpers there so at least the atmosphere will be good!  Wish me luck!  I'm aiming to be the best lardy arse at the race!



Another fine shot at the Ripley Cross in the rain (2nd).  That bridge sagged when I got on!
Photo Courtesy of Jo Allen.

link to National Cross champs:   http://derbycyclocross.org.uk/