Wednesday, April 27, 2011

RAS Mumhan 2011

Just returned from Ireland having ridden this years RAS after a last minute call asking if I'd ride for Surrey League. I was planing to do a 4-dayer in Newcastle but couldn't turn down the chance to ride the RAS.
This year it was just 3 of us (John-Heaton Armstrong, Lee Tunnicliffe, myself) who rode rather than a larger contingent which usually represents Surrey League. John has or is going to post a full report on the Surrey League site so mine's going to be brief.
Great racing though, very aggressive on every stage, lots of fast riding (the bunch spent many happy hours lined out doing 40-60km/hr riding in the gutter!! ). And to top it all off we all got a nice tan.

Stage 1 Killorglin and Sliabh Luachra / 105km / av sp. 38km/hr

Flat to start with then kicked up and continued to be a rolling course until the last 5-10km. The race was neutralised for 12km due to road works then was absolutely balls out from the flag. A constant fight at the front and lots of attacking which eventually caused a split which I missed but Lee made. Did eventually get away with 6 or 7 others and with 5km to go back wheel started to lock up and I had to stop to get a wheel. The bunch rolled passed me in the process and I had to ride the last 5km in the wind eventually coming in 5min+ down. Lee did really well and got 8th, John finished in the bunch.

Stage 2 Dingle and the Conor Pass / 126km / av sp. 35km/hr

Would need the climbing legs on today! course had a few KOH climbs before the final climb of the connor pass to the finish line.
Flat out from the start again and an early crash on the narrow coast road caused a split which was brought back to everyone's relief. Soon enough there was a break of 20+ riders which Lee had made. With a few of the contenders from stage 1 in the bunch I kept my eye on them and stayed close eventually getting into a chasing group of 6 riders. With the break in view ahead of us we hit the connor pass and it was every man for himself. Came in the top 40 today.

Stage 3 Waterville and Valentia / 142km / av sp. 40km/hr

A course with plenty of KOH climbs today.
Sore legs this morning so the prospect of a hilly course was worrying. Suprisingly the legs felt fine as soon as we got going and the speed ramped up once again. I fought to stay at the front and went with the attacks eventually making the break when the field split up on the cat 2 climb. Some really windy / exposed conditions and rough roads out on the coast made for hard riding and with the pace high (40-60km/hr) the group was lined out riding in the gutter. A small group or riders made a break 10-15km from the end and I got away with another rider 5k from the line eventually coming in 28th. Lee and John finished in the bunch.

Stage 4 Killorglin and Milltown / 114km / av sp. 42km/hr

2 x flattish circuits then 10laps of the town.
Today was basically the hardest 80km race I've done followed by a 10lap crit!!
The field split 10-15km in with some of the contenders left if the bunch. Lee made the split so John and myself were left in the bunch where the teams in contention started to ramp the speed up in a desperate attempt to close the gap. It was hard riding for what seemed like an hour with the bunch lined out and the 10 laps of the town still to come. With the gap not dropping to below a minute there were a few lulls in the pace before ramping up again for the first lap into Killorglin. I felt ok over the 10 laps and stayed up near the front where the prospect of a crash was much reduced. Lee in the break got the prime on the 5th lap and came in 15th. John and myself finished strong in the bunch with alot of riders having been shelled out over the 10 laps.


Lee 19th - great ride
John 66th
Myself 57th

Monday, April 25, 2011

F&*K Kate and Wills, let's go riding

We're going riding on Friday, if you want to join us, feel free — you can grab the route from

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sunday, April 17, 2011

"What fucking AWFUL kit"

I happened to be standing right by Deano Downing when he said that. That's just the response we were after!Vicious-1
Bloody good rides by both the Marks today. It were hard out there by the look of it.

TESCO Rutland - Melton UCI International CiCle Classic

167km - 4hr 28min - av speed 38km/hr

Epic race again this year and managed to do a bit better despite chain slipping off at one point and having to chase back on for over an hour.

After a good 50-60km warm up around Rutland water the race really got going when we hit the farm roads. With 150+ riders bottle-necking into the narrow country lanes the chaos ensued with the top riders going hard at the front and the punctures, crashes and general fighting for space happening behind.

With a good group moving away at around the 80-90km mark I found myself in the chasing group and was actually feeling quite good. Then, during one of the laps around Owston my chain managed to jump off the big ring as we were going hard up an incline. This took what seemed like 5mins to sort out and once going again I found myself TTing back to other riders most of which I passed until I got going with Dan Duguid from Sigma. We rode hard together for around an hour until we managed to get back onto a chasing group.

Going into the last sector of off road, which was a terrible piece of road, I felt strong and with 2km to go was thinking about the finish. All hopes of crossing the line were dashed though as we were stopped on the exit to the main road and told that we were outside the time limit!!!!!

Still got placed though and am pretty chuffed. Hopefully next year will be a better performance.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Our newest member (temporarily!)

Ok, before you shout at me, I was asked to "guest" ride for a team in the 7th edition of the Rutland Classic. The team was ViCiOUS Velo, punk rockers who ride bikes! If you see the kit, it's unmistakable!!


Anyway, being a UCI race, we were required to sign in the day before and this was probably my first indication I was out of my depth with the likes of Malcolm Elliot, Zak Depmster, Dean Downing, Rob Halyes and even Ian Field kicking around the hotel car park! And that was just the domestic teams- Belgian, Spanish, German and Irish teams were making up the 165 strong peloton.

On Sunday, the centre of Oakham was packed with press and stars- although our kit was providing a good attention grabber (I was asked to pose with the mayor!) before we set off, each team was welcomed to the podium and a quick interview introduced us to the crowd- our aim for the race? "find a pub"

The race set off at a blistering pace! And I mean blistering! Such a large bunch caused a few crashes early on, not surprising with closed road spreading the bunch across the road. Our average speed for the first two laps of Rutland water was 48.3k/h! We hit 80 k/h on the slightly downhill sections! It was impossible to check where I was in the bunch, too scared to look behind.

As we entered back into Oakham, the roads narrowed dramatically and with street furniture and traffic islands in abundance, it became harder to hold a position. At one point, I had to ride up a footpath across a grass verge just to stay upright. (sorry to the spectators!)

1hr 25mins in and we still were on an average speed of 47k/h. The all he'll broke loose as we turned sharp left and into the farm lanes.

Vision immediately obscured by dust and the lack of the road edge meant just pointing the bike forward, shifting to a bigger gear and pushing through.

The bunch remained generally in tact for the first half of the race, hills I had feared seemed to be less of a challenge as we approached most of them at 40k/h you were half way up them before you knew it.

The sectors through the farmyard were mind-blowing. Absolutely no Tarmac, just hard packed dirt, rubble and gravel- major skills required.

I remember thinking As we past through the feed zone "what a silly place to put it? We are all going far to fast here" turned put, it was an ideal place- you just didn't get a chance to let off the power!

It was at about 100k that there was a split in the field, I was with a group of around 60 riders including Dave Clark, Rob Hayles and half of Spain by the sounds of it! We worked on to pull the groups back together, but the hammer had truly gone done now. A touch of cramp sent me to the back of the group in a second, with little I could do about it. In amongst the team cars looks like a good place to be when you see it on the telly- but trust me- when 32 team cars are thumping across dirt roads, it's the last place you want to be. I drafted behind the KTM car, then Endura Racing, them Rapha Condor before managing to tuck up behind Sigma Sports flash Merc. Struggling to see the group ahead, despite it only being 100 yards from me, I tried to relax and wait until a return to Tarmac.

The sector through the farm and village again took it's toll on my rear tire, punctures in this event are a "when" not "if". I flipped the wheel out, holding it aloft as car after car brushed past me. My only hope was a neutral car to be near the rear of the following vehicles. Alas, it was not to be and my race had ended at 120k.

A kind spectator game me an inner tube ( I can't afford a guaranteed tub puncture) and I rode back to the feed zone to watch the end of the race be fought out.

It was certainly impressive to watch, and even better to be a part of (for 3 hours at least) and clear from the faces of the riders at the end that it was just as demanding for them.

Zak Dempster Rapha Condor Sharp took an impressive sprint victory. A hard fight at the end of a long 4hrs.

Mark Thomson

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Public Image

It's all about your public image these days, even for us. Apparently some people have already been upset by what we're doing but we've got nothing to prove. We ride our bikes, ride hard and don't have to apologise to anyone for getting off our arses and doing something positive. If you don't like us, tough, we're not going away any time soon.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Oi, Andy, what are you doing?

Sorry, I've been taking advantage of there being no cross races to ride my mountain bike. Good times!