Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A long time coming......

I've never done this blogging before so forgive me if I waffle. In fact don't forgive me, mug me off next time you see me.

I was supposed to start my summer race season on April 1st this year, even if it was my birthday, I was planning an all out assault on the Mud, Sweat & Gears Eastern Mountain Bike Series, determined to win the Sport category. Its a five race series through April, May and June and having done a couple last year, really like the format and the courses.
After a long, hard cross season, a brake from racing in March was much welcomed. Short though it was, it gave my legs and mind the time needed to recoup and regain the enthusiasm for racing. Queue a big oily spanner in the works in the third week of March in the form of a chest infection - wizard!

I'm not a big fan of the doctors. but needs must so off I trot to see 'a' doctor, not 'my' doctor, just 'a' doctor that might be available when I'm there.
In I stroll and explain the symptoms, she listens to my chest as I breathe and confirms that I have a chest infection - thanks doc!
Then perusing my notes and mid conversation, she slips in that "you have spin-bifida, is the pain constant?".............. WHAT?
Long story short, its nothing to worry about, but I'm going to have it checked out at Kings College Hospital next week.
So a course of antibiotics later and the chest is still not cleared entirely but there's no way I'm going back to the quacks so just dose up on stuff I can buy over the counter and get on the bike again - BANG, manflu, which triggers off the chest again which in turn means I have a week off work (and the bike).
Not the start I was hoping for!

Right, back to the whole point of this blog entry, racing.
I missed the first round of the M,S&G series but was ready and raring to go come round 2 which was at Hylands Park in Chelmsford.
Days of heavy rain had flooded 60% of the course, the worst section was hub deep in water so the bikes took a real pounding.
My cyclocross skills obviously paid off and I won a very tough race in just under two hours, comfortably beating 2nd place by nearly three minutes.
I didn't know I'd won though, what with lapped riders and other categories starting in front of me, so only when half way home and recounting the day with Big Bobby P did it dawn on me that I may have won.
No photographers made it on the day due to flooding, and I didn't make the podium (if there was one), some may doubt that I actually won!

The following week ViCiOUS Kev and I were off to Ixworth for a bank holiday Monday village centre crit session, Kevin had ridden it before and rightly sung its praises. A great days racing which reminded me of the good ol'days of town centre racing, Bexleyheath, Sevenoaks, Maidstone, Chatham..... none of which are run anymore - bloody Sunday shopping put paid to that.
Anyway, the format for us was a 20 minute race each to warm up, then an invitational race later in the day, A or B depending on how you impressed the judges. The short race meant it was frantic from the start and moving up on the tight circuit tricky. Starting at the back was my downfall and after 20mins of gasping for air, rolled over the line in 8th place, not enough to catch anyones eye so I was off in invitational B - 40mins plus 5 laps.
Kevin had a similar race and was 14th, a great result considering the Raleigh Skoda pro team had shown up on mass to take all the prizes.

After a few more races and a fair bit of rain, it was time for the final invitational races, I wasn't exactly chomping at the bit to get going, but we'd come a long way for only 20 minutes, so going I got, and after 5 laps, the whistle and flag signalled that there was a prime to be had next time around. With breaks often formed after primes I thought I'd keep my eye open for a potential wheel to jump onto. I chose the wrong one and watched helplessly as a rider from Welwyn Wheelers disappeared off up the road - marvellous!
Here goes nothing I thought and pedalled hard out of the top corner and away down the back straight, quick check under the arm and no ones coming with me so I tuck into the drops of my newly built up Specialized and settle in for a long chase - around 30 minutes later and no closer to or further away from the winner, I cross the line in 2nd place having lapped nearly everyone else, some twice. Turns out the winner should have been in the A invitational, but I wasn't going to start kicking up a fuss about that.
Kev does have a picture of me clutching some very welcome winnings I believe...... ah, here it is, cheers Kev.

Next up was round three of the M,S&G Eastern Series which was also the Eastern Area MTB Championships. Held at Thetford Forest where I'd never ridden before, but been to watch & was really looking forward to it, hoping quietly for another win.
A blustery and dry Saturday coupled with sandy, well draining soil meant it was going to be a dry and fast race.
Sundays weather was the same again and there was even some warmth in the sunshine, this is more like it I thought.
Elite/Experts first, then Masters, then Juniors, then my lot, the Sports category, all gridded according to overall standings in the series. For some reason I was called up first in the Sports which I wasn't going to argue with, but even then I was on the 6th row of the grid with a good 40 riders in front of me. It was going to be a frantic start, sightly down hill, tailwind and on hard pack fire road. The guy next to me asked if I was planning on moving over at the start to give him room, must be a newbie I thought! But, with the words of John Mullineux in my mind "be nice to each other"refrained from telling him to do one and said it depends where they go, pointing to the riders in front.
15 seconds to go, grip the bars, deep breath.......... PEEEEEEEEEEP went the whistle, backwards went seemingly everyone else as I banged down the gears and through the field, dust and stones flying and crashing into carbon down tubes, making a horrible cracking noise.
Quarter of a mile or so of sprinting elbow to elbow at the sharp end before hard braking for a 90 degree left into a grassed fire road, knowing the next turn would take us into a block headwind, I settled in behind a big fella biding my time.
25 metres or so before the next right hander I popped out from the string and pushed harder and braked later than most and was then comfortably into 3rd place. 
The top guys were really charging on and I was thinking I won't be here for very long. Sure enough, a few came past me seemingly knowing my shortfalls in the tight, twisty single track sections to come. Thetford has miles of them too so I was in for a hard time.
Half a lap went by until anyone that I recognised as a Sport rider came past me, and there were two of them, another half lap with them before they proceeded to drop me in the technical bits. Two laps on my own before catching one of them back again, he then sat on me for the whole lap, a quick brake test to get him in front and give me a rest. I was getting the hang of the single track now and he was slowing me up so put a big dig in after the headwind section and he was history. Now, where's the leader? The next three laps saw us checking each others positions at exactly the same point on the 7km lap. Eventually after 6 laps & 1hr 50mins I came across the line absolutely spent, back, calves and bingo wings aching and my mind still racing, no doubt fuelled by the gels and energy drinks that I'd probably OD'd on during the race.
46 seconds behind the winner and an overall finishing position of 10th of 71 starters and I was a happy bunny.
Photos seem hard to come by from these races, but here's one of my medals what I got from the MTB races. I like medals, but prefer ca$h.
Next up is the first of the Beastway Wednesday night mtb races at Hog Hill, I'm riding Expert this year so will see how that goes. Gonna get my butt kicked in the Divisional Champs road race this Sunday, then its off to France with the ViCiOUS massive for a training camp (le pi$$ up), which unfortunately means I miss the 4th of the M,S&G series so will have to make sure I win the 5th and final round on June 17th to give myself any chance of taking the overall.

Well that is a load of waffle, you were warned.
Peace out mofos

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

ViCiOUS Caps

ViCiOUS Caps yeehhhh. 1 cap, cotton made by Mama Demaggio in Italy, comes with badges.

 £10 on Pay Pal + £1 UK first class postage

We'll also send to Europe but first drop us an email for details viciousvelo@gmail.com

Or ask us when you see us, we'll be lugging a few round to the races we go to.

Or go into Condor Cycles they sell them there too.