Friday 20 August 2010


Noun: sufferance - patient endurance especially of pain or distress

I sat about this Friday afternoon just gone, somewhat dazed and confused after ‘specialist’ 3 Peaks training with Dave Haygarth. It only lasted a scant hour but – ooof!

I say ‘specialist’ as it involved a warm up on a monster climb up onto the moor – a descent down a shattered river bed (under 6 inches of water) but posing as a track – a walk/scramble up a 45 degree slope easing off into water logged peat bog caressed by a howling gale – an attempt to shuffle into a run and summit up further steep slope onto Holcombe Moor – before an exhilerating career down the other side, wiping sweat from my eyes and trying not to crash before turning left to go down the shattered river bed again and repeat. And again if really strong.

This is the essence of 3 Peaks training then - specificity and mental torture. Oh, and a fair degree of pain too. It certainly was a shock to the system but a welcome one too. Being able to zone into the steady but multiple outputs of effort on foot and bike, interspersed with boneshaking and slightly nerve-wracking descents is a key ingredient for a successful Peaks. It's not fast and furious like normal cross - more a long concentrated effort where mental preparation can be key. Ease off and drift off in the Peaks and you lose minutes at a time. Not to mention, skin if you lose concentration on the descents.

Dave was, as ever generous with his advice and tips - I've ridden the Peaks a few times now but still have much to learn and as my powers wane with age, need every last trick to make up time.

Good things to salvage from the experience:

We did only 2 reps as it is early yet and we are fresh into this type of training….4 reps is the goal by mid Sept?

I could see Dave for a lot longer than last year on the descents before he disappeared… getting better at going down.

I could nearly match him on the walking climb bits and lost less time than normal on the running….strong legs at the moment.

Bad things:

I am still way off the pace of the top riders like Dave when it comes to descending….he has ordered me to get chicken levers. Or else.

My shoulder is killing and has instantly developed '3 Peaks bump'.

The mental torture of doing this is nearly as bad as the physical pain – seriously.

Still, I am definitely ahead fitness and technique wise compared to this point last year and hopefully will toughen up over the next few weeks.

An hours cross is going to feel like cheating compared to this nonsense.

All the photos are from 2004/2005 including evidence of my own near abortive attempt at a Peaks comeback in 2005, 13 years on from 10th place in the 1992 race.....

Thursday 12 August 2010

gluing cross tubs


Original post:

It's that time again. Gluing time. Tub devotees are either re-gluing old tubs or gluing up fresh ones. Helping friend and tub newcomer Stef the other night with his quartet of new Rhinos on handbuilt old school rims was a joy - passing on a skill that many baulk at for its mess and difficulty.

Well, we only got a little glue on ourselves and none on the sidewalls, so it was a pretty neat job really. I did the first and Stef got stuck in (sic) on the second and third. I sent him home, ready to fly solo on the last.

So to all of you thinking about it, or fretting about it, read on. I posted the following back in August 2008 but it is still relevant now. I have updated a few of points from then but the basis is still, and will continue to be the same.

Opinions on gluing cross tubs are as numerous as conspiracy theories for 9/11. I have had a few requests on how to do it, so thought it might be a timely point in the seasons preparation to put some thoughts down.

There is no hard and fast method that one has to use, though most of the accepted methods overlap in many areas. In the end it's best to use what works for you - if you have confidence in what you have done, it will save time on the course and avoid skin-threatening moments.

For a great insight from a Euro pro racer, Greg Raine, scroll down for post entitled Sticky Fingers

Stu Thornes' ( Belgian method – this is slightly more controversial as some people suggest that no Euro/Belgian mechanics are doing this. Either way it is fast and the tires seem to stay on very well (from personal experience)

My method is set out below and is adapted from Simon Burney’s book as well as advocated by Richard Niewhus who owns and makes Dugast:

1. Lightly sand new carbon rims/lightly sand and clean old rims

2. Put new tub on old tub rim , inflate and leave for a few days to stretch. DO NOT inflate above 50 psi or it may explode. I have heard horror stories about people using 90 psi and wondering why their new Dugasts went pop – they are not designed to run much over 50 psi! While stretching, apply Aquaseal or SeamGrip to proof and protect the sidewalls. DO NOT miss this out - yout tubs will rot and look tatty very quickly. It may not work so well on non Dugast and FMB eg Grifo with a different material for the sidewall to the tub.

3. 1 thinnish layer of glue on rim (Vittoria or Continental) – leave overnight

4. 1 more thinnish layer of glue – leave overnight. Ideally do 1 more layer as well to be sure – leave at least 8 hours to dry as always. That's 3 layers.

5. Put 1 layer of glue on base tape allowing it to soak in as much as poss. When dry after an hour or so put back on old rim to keep stretched. Leave 8 hours again to cure.

6. When you have done all this (phew) then you are ready to assemble – put a final layer on base tape (no more than 2 as it stiffens the tape too much) followed by a final layer (thickish) on rim. Be generous and concentrate on the edges. You glue the base layer first and let it tack up while you glue the rim, as it creates less mess handling the tub and is easier to center the tub on a wet glued rim. Leave no more than 5 mins max and put tire on rim.

Careful – check the tread direction on the back wheel BEFORE you put it on as you do not want to take off again. Place valve in valve hole, and pull either side of tire outwards before settling on rim. Dont put the bare sticky rim down on your floor or carpet - aside from any grief you might get about this, you can get dirt or fluff that will compromise the bond. Check valve is not twisted to side.

Continue to pull tire on rim trying not to get glue all over you and all over side wall. If it has been stretched enough and taken off rim at last minute then this should not be too much of a struggle. I use feet without shoes to hook toes over bottom of rim whilst pulling tire on at the opposite side. Centre tub gently and bit by bit, so base tape is evenly visible around the rim on both sides.

7.Now inflate to 40 psi or so and roll tire with weight across floor to help push tire onto rim. You can also roll the deflated tub gently along the length of a broom or mop handle. Take care not to squish the tire off centre. The edges are where the tire sticks, not so much the centre so always glue the edges well and pay them attention. Leave at least 24 hours before riding.

Done. It is not as bad as it sounds once you have done it a couple of times and got well organized. Time and patience are the key and I have not rolled tires that have been glued on with multiple layers over several days and with love and attention.

Reward yourself with a Duvel, Vedett, Chimay or similar Belgian brew. Always more fun with a Euro cross race playing on DVD in the background.

Note: I won't be taking responsibility if your lovingly glued tubs come off at any point. Check them yourself before riding each time.

Tuesday 10 August 2010


Found this lovely little vid on youtube........via Molly Cameron

My Flemish isn't up to scratch yet, but think lonely marshall post, black and white Flanders images and cobbles. Plenty enough I would say?

Click to open full screen in separate window.

Tuesday 3 August 2010

it's nearly time...

I'm sure self respecting and capable crossers all over the place have been preparing way in advance of 1 August but for me, this date always marks the start of the beginning of the new cross season. And it occupies a significance and resonance in the year calendar accordingly.

(And no, Hit the North at the beginning of July doesn't count as cross training as it was clearly insane trying to ride 8 hours on a cross bike on a mountain bike course. I live and learn.)

Those keener and more adventurous than I may have been riding crits, mountainbike races and other competitive pursuits. I usually content myself with social riding and the odd long sportive or ride. It probably shows come December time but to be honest I can't sustain that competitive urge all year, nor square it with my domestic situtation.

I like the rhythm, the solid predictability that the summer cross routine brings. Peaks entries have gone in at the beginning of July, confirmation is received (hopefully) by mid July but it's too early yet to go at it full gas - note to self: need to keep some powder dry for the long winter months. So July is hols, road rides and ignoring that slightly anxious feeling that Peaks preparation should be well underway. There's still a long way to go yet - even friend and obsessive Peaks guru Dave Haygarth doesn't let himself loose till mid August. Usually at least, as this year he proved me wrong by recceing Whernside on foot on 1 Aug, but by his own keen standards that is unusual.

But after 1 August - things have to happen. Now. I start taking every opportunity to ride the cross bike, ramp up the running (or start if really laid back), think about equipment choices (dream about emulating Dave's 3 bike strategy for the Peaks). Introduce more quality training.....

Of course this is always complicated, nay muddied, each year by the competing demands of the 3 Peaks and the 1 hour League races. Neither seem to fit neatly together. Of course, the base strength and fitnes for the Peaks will pay dividends later in the season, but going from a 4 hour slog fest to a 1 hour burnup in the space of a week is hard for the terminally talent and time limited, like myself.

A slightly whimsical twitter question the other day produced the responses I knew would come - train for the Peaks and the season will follow, stupid. Or something like that. No one wants to grovel around the Peaks, and my propensity for cramp seems unabating. But time is the killer here, so I set to thinking about how to prepare for both with the minimum of time, though not necessarily, effort.

Here are my own tenuous strategies and tips - I'll let you know in October whether they worked......

A few times a week, ride off road to work and back, instead of on the road (luckily I have the environment to do this). Need. Upper. Body. Conditioning. Plus the double training dose of Human Growth Hormone, or whatever my own legal and natural product is, won't go amiss.

Do longer off road intervals - 10, 15 and 20 minute efforts. Not flat out, but not hanging around either. Enough to build fitness but without being part of the long rides I should really be doing.

Brick sessions - a la triathlete. Off road ride or intervals followed immediately by fell run. Saves time, increases training load in a shorter time frame and is event specific.

In fact, do 30 mins hard off road, run 20 mins and then repeat. Again, if able. My cramping seems to happen when riding hard and then getting off and walking/running. It may be nutrition, or hydration or maybe just the shock to the system. Given that I can cramp going out of Ingleton on the road to Whernside, you may see my predicament and concern. It's a one way street from there I can tell you....

So, we shall see. A successful lunchtime foray around a local cross circuit doing 8 min reps followed by a calf crunching run straight up Rossendale's industrial fell side has left me suitably wasted. Onwards and upwards.