Monday 19 December 2011

On one of those Dirty Discos for Planet X

Pic: Ed Rollason Photography/British Cycling

I rode my first race for Planet X yesterday.

I knew saying that would sound weird - the Planet X team has featured some quality riders over the years. Think original road hardmen Lovatt and Tanner in the early days, right through to the current crop of talented young riders and triathletes. Definitely way, way out of my league.

However, the recent growth of Planet X sister company On One's stable of bikes with the new Dirty Disco cross bikes, as well as mountain bike brand Titus means the addition of a more eclectic bunch of largely Northern based crossers and mountain bikers to the fold.

I'd 'appropriated' the Dirty Disco from the then incapacitated team rider Dave Haygarth back in October and have waxed lyrical about it ever since. It's been really exciting to be in at the beginning of the disc brake revolution (yes, that's what it is) within cyclocross and my ridings and reviewings have hopefully aided On One in establishing a firm footing within this new emerging market.

Either way, I've been taking the Disco around everywhere, and it has generated a great deal of interest at races and on the social networking sites that I share with a growing chunk of the cyclocross community. Discs will eventually become accepted as the norm, as the technology develops further and more efficiently and the Disco as a disc-only, affordable all carbon frame will no doubt become as well loved and used as the Planet X Uncle Johns that I and many others have been riding for years.

And my race? That went OK too - not as far up as I would have liked to have been, but hovering around the top 20 in a combined Senior and Vets field at Leverhulme Park, Bolton on a suitably muddy and slushy course. No clogging issues at all in really quite bad conditions, though I did change bikes mainly because I needed to keep my young son on his toes in the pits. The dirty (no pun intended) bike immediately got reused when I offered it to a fellow competitor who had broken his own rear mech and had no clogging issues for the rest of the race. Best bit? Hoofing down the main wooded descent, drifting both wheels delightfully whilst feathering the discs for control.

Steep, slippy descent - one finger braking control. That's the Disco experience in a nutshell.

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Friendship is........

...... a helping hand. Neighbour, training buddy and friend Mark Turner shoves me on the way to my/our only podium of the season - 3rd in the Xmas Madison Cross at Clayton, Manchester. Well done us.

Pic taken by SportSunday, regular supporters of NW cross. More on them soon.......

Vlaamse Druivencross from Overijse - 11 Dec

My favourite cross of the season - always a tough, hilly, often old skool course. And right in the heart of Flanders, with some great kasseien sections........

Friday 2 December 2011

Slick Disco

I find the word 'hybrid' a rather inelegant term for a multitude of sins across the biological and manufacturing worlds, and shudder slightly on hearing it applied to bikes in particular. It conjures up images of ill-conceived designs (or breeds - think Labradoodle), with a mish mash of components, that shine in none of the areas in which they are designated to operate. Neither road bike, nor cross bike nor mountain bike, these unfortunates of the bike world are destined to wander the margins of bike performance, forever consigned to mediocrity....

Of course that is the perspective of a true bike snob, for hybrid bikes are in fact the ideal machine for someone who is not prepared to invest a ridiculous proportion of their income on two-wheeled equipment for their leisure.

And for me, as a confirmed crossista, and one who has not owned a mountain bike for about 20 years and a road bike for only a few out of those 20, I have always secretly liked the simplicity of a do it all bike - one that can perform well across more than one chosen discipline - road, cross and even mtb style terrain. The concept of hybrid then for me, is one of semantics and snobbery, for in fact I am indeed always looking for that ideal multi-purpose machine.

I've ridden my cross bikes on the road for ages now, not really a major imposition since i don't road race, crit race or time trial out of choice. I find a cross bike excellent for both short and long road rides, comfortable and reliable, if slightly aesthetically challenged when shod with thin clincher wheels. For sure, they lack the out and out climbing prowess of a shorter wheeled road bike, or the the high speed cornering of a crit bike. But for an average punter like me, that's fine.

It was with interest then, that I stuck some skinny road tires on the wide rim 29er clinchers that come with the On One Dirty Disco Rival build and headed for a play on the roads. Unable to do anything Disco related without stalking newly signed On One rider, Dave Haygarth, I gatecrashed his day-off morning ride round Calderdale to see how much my enthusiasm for the offroad antics of the Disco would crossover. Dave entered into the spirit of the occasion with his own slicks on one of his Discos.

Dave is more succinct than me, and usually more perceptive so here is his blog entry:

To an outsider there’s little difference between a cyclocross bike and a road bike.  Many people actually buy them as ‘all round’ bikes to deliberately ride as touring or commuting bikes.   It’s not hard to see the logic – they’re comfortable and a little more forgiving than a steeper angled road bike with more clearance. The modern ‘cross bike has moved nearer and nearer to a road bike with racier geometry and stiffer materials, so it makes sense in a way to give it a go.
The improvements in ‘semi’ mudguards also means that mudguard eyelets and stays aren’t needed.  My pair of quick ‘snap on’ race guards meant I was ‘comfortably dry’ over the less-than-dry moors and valleys.The first thing I noticed was how far ahead the front wheel felt when riding on familiar roads. It looks and seems a long way away despite the fairly steep head angle on the On OneDirty Disco I ride.  This translates in to that bit more comfort on the road.  A couple of cm on the wheelbase of the bike – particularly in winter – gives a more forgiving ride. Other than that it felt pretty much like a very responsive and easily controlled road bike.  It’s amazing what a hard pair of 23mm slicks can do to the bike that chews up the dirt at the weekends.
If I had to own only one bike (tssk… heaven forbid) then it would have to be a ‘cross bike.  And forgive my brand lurve, but it would be this ’cross bike.

I'm not going to add to that really - I too loved the chunky feel of the Disco. It's off-road performance translates nicely to the road to give a comfortable and responsive ride, as Dave says.

Which let me to ponder..... would the Disco make a good sportive bike in the summer before being returned to cross duties in the winter? For me, not overly drawn to a high end road bike, the answer is definitively yes. It has double bottle cage mounts to help seal the deal. And could it moonlight as a fast commuter too, given the ability to fit removable mud guards? I would say so.

Is the Disco a hybrid? Clearly not, but it is not the proverbial one trick pony either and manages to give a  pretty convincing performance accros a variety of terrains and disciplines. As to owning only one bike? Well, I refer you dear reader to the time honoured truth:

desired number of bikes to own = x + 1


Wednesday 30 November 2011

Dirty Disco twins - video evidence

From the sublime racing of Koksijde to the faintly ridiculous at Hasy Sports Centre..........

Myself and Dave Haygarth putting the On One Dirty Discos through their paces whilst attempting some coherent form of cx training. All a bit random but great fun.

Cyclocross Training in Haslingden from Dave Haygarth on Vimeo.

Monday 28 November 2011

Euro double bill - (part 2) Koksijde World Cup

One of the classics of the cross calendar, the Duinencross from Koksijde. Ein sandcross......

Euro Cross double bill - part 1

Recent GVA race from Hasselt below - last weekend's WC Koksijde race to come later today:

Monday 21 November 2011

Morvelo - Ride Everything

Morvelo are an independent cycle clothing brand down South, and have cross close to their hearts. Oli from Morvelo contacted me to pass on their new promo film which contains some serious horsing around on cross bikes, pretty nifty skills and a reasonably dodgy bike change.....

The clothing is pretty sharp too - I'm quite drawn to that Giro-pink jersey and this Super Prestige T-shirt does it for me

Anyway, sit back and enjoy a couple of minutes of unadulterated cross fun.....

Thursday 17 November 2011

FMB Super Mud review

This Autumn saw the arrival of the much heralded FMB Super Mud tubular. For several seasons now, I had been gathering my own and others Dugast Rhino treads (as well as some carefully preserved green Michelin mud treads) and sending them away to Francois at FMB for recasing.

The rationale behind this was that although Francois makes the best (yes, better than Dugast) cross tubs available on the planet, his SSC, Fango and Grippo XL treads were great, but not according to conventional wisdom, as great as the imperious Rhino mud tread.

Much excitement then when US cross legend Molly Cameron sent me over the summer, a top-secret spy shot from Francois of the new FMB tread - destined as a Rhino-killer.

Molly confirmed what I had been hoping - that Francois had upped his game and met the Rhino hegemony head on. In the shot, the tread looked like a direct Rhino copy, with extra hooks on simply to avoid copyright type issues.

In the flesh, the tread is something different altogether. First impressions when the box arrived, to be eagerly ripped open, was of a quite different tread in many respects. Yes, the familiar arrows are there, but tipped with an extra barb at the bottom, they take on a different aspect. More importantly, they are much finer than on a Rhino - thinner and smaller and slightly shorter in height.

The attention to detail in construction is where the FMBs shine over Dugast - this year Francois has been adding an extra layer of material onto which the base tape is sown. This thickens and protects the most vulnerable part of a cross tub, the base tape/rim interface. This is where most tubs rot out, Dugast sometimes in only a season or so, even when Aquasealed. Not only does Francois factory proof his tubs with a substance that lasts longer than Aquaseal anyway, but this double layer near the basetape extends their durability by at least a season, meaning you may be able to get 3 seasons use with normal care and attention. It is for this reason alone, as well as the stronger materials used generally that I firmly believe FMBs are the best artisan cross tubs in the world, beating offerings from Dugast with ease.

The other significant difference is in the orientation of the side knobs. This is where I believe Francois has really done his homework. And possibly, if I may flatter myself slightly, as a result of the legion of green Michelin Mud treads I had been sending his way for conversion. As any green Mich Mud user knows, their grip is spectacular - as good or better than a Rhino. And they will also know from experience that much of this superior grip is down to the mud shedding abilities of the green tread against the Rhino which has a tendency to ball up. Balled up tires = ballsed up cornering as no matter how grippy at first, the treads begin to loose their awesome bite.

This has certainly been borne out by my own unscientific testing of both types in training and racing - Rhinos are superb in wet, greasy and sloppy conditions. But they loose their edge when things get stickier......

So how has Francois adapted a successful formula to his own ends and to what effect?

Well, he has clearly studied the green treads I kept sending him in the post - green treads have a concentration of knobbles toward the outer edge keeping the mid flanks of the tub a little clearer and allowing not only the predictable grip in cornering but also allowing the tread to shed mud as it things thicken up. Looking at a Super Mud in profile, that same double row of knobs close to the very edge of the tread is present, and the gaps are slightly bigger than on a Rhino tread. Using smaller, finer knobs is a also a winner - it allows equally competent grip but aids that all important shedding process.

The result?

Grip in wet slop is every bit good as a Rhino, and arguably as good as a green Michelin FMB conversion. But if things stick up a bit, then that awesome grip remains as it does with a green FMB, whilst the Rhino begins to struggle and slide away.......

This incredible grip combined with the construction and durability advantages outlined above make the Super Mud an absolute winner, and indeed what I had hoped for - a Rhino killer.

There are other great mud tubulars out there - think Specialised Terra or Challenge Limus - but if you are looking for the ultimate handmade quality and performance that you previously thought was only available with a Dugast Rhino, then I think you may have found your choice.

FMBs are hard to come by in the UK but cross promoter, importer  and general gruff Derby man John Holmes can set you up - call him on 07946 461972 to see what he can do.

Tuesday 15 November 2011

Niel Jaarmarktcross 2011

Here's a higher quality vid (taken from HD coverage) of the Niel Jaarmarktcross on 11/11/11........

Normally a mudbath, this years race was clear evidence of the unseasonally dry and warm autumn in Europe so far. Watch out for the acrobatic Tom Meusen (Fidea).

Friday 11 November 2011

Update from the Disco.

I reported recently on the arrival of a new kid on the cross block, the full carbon, disc only Dirty Disco from On One.

Available as a frame and fork package or a SRAM Rival build, I've been riding and racing the Disco for a bit now and have splashed out on that rarity, for now, carbon tubular disc wheels too. Suffice to say, my initial positive impressions have been reinforced and the party is in full swing now.........

The Disco originally came via the On One test team (aka Dave Haygarth) with a zero lay back seat post and short 100mm stem. It made the handling vivid but slightly ungainly to ride for my lanky 6' 5" frame, especially as the frame is actually a L/56cm rather than the biggest XL/58cm size. That said, with a 120mm stem, and seatpost with average layback, I have recreated the position on my previous Uncle John frames even though they are actually XL in size.

This is in large part due to the pretty tall headtube and relatively long toptube - in other words this is quite a large 56cm frame. If you see what I mean. I fits me fine, even at my height and the smaller frame than i might normally ride, merely sharpens the handling with no trade off in comfort.

Apart from emphasising the stealth, weapons grade impression of the already naked carbon frame, the unbadged rims and Novatec disc hubs that I sourced from Hong Kong and built up for less than £250 have turned it into a full on race machine. More on that in a bit.

That said, I've ridden the Disco on the road quite a bit (mostly with my son) and it makes a great mile eater - stiff, comfortable and agile in hilly terrain. Commuting duties would be dispatched with ease and aplomb on it, with the On One 29er XC QR wheels giving flexibility for road, hybrid and off road tires alike. The lower maintenance and wear of the discs versus caliper or cantilever brakes would be a real boon here during the winter months.

But you still have that option of taking it off road on rougher stuff too, mountain bike trails and the like, as it is supremely capable on really quite rocky terrain with the discs and that massive chunky fork with 1.5" bearings doing the work for you. 3 Peaks training has been put to bed till next year, but I can't wait to get it out on the trails and hills in East Lancs. Double bottle cage mounts add to it's flexibility as long ride off roader too.

But for now it's cross season, and that means 1 hour blasts around muddy parks and fields. With deep section carbon wheels and FMB Super Muds, the Disco is genuinely a real race contender. More than can be said for it's rider....

The first proper test, at the Pignut Hill, Northwich round of the NW Cross League showed up the ease with which the Disco handled deeper section, stiff carbon wheels. Sometimes when I've used carbons, the reduction in braking power on slippy rims and their stiffness can make the bike handle less confidently than when set up with more traditional alloy rims and tubs, particularly on the technical sections.

Discs take that all out of the equation - braking is the same or better than the best alloy rims, and the 2x lacing I chose for the wheels gave stiffness but compliance when it got twisty or bumpy. It was fantastic to have a point and shoot bike that you could throw into corners and descents. Confidence inspiring too for me, as blinding technical skills have never been one of my attributes.

As I reported on twitter the other day, the Disco has become the bike that just makes me giddy to get out and loon around on - off and on road. A great overall package and at £599 for frame and fork or £1499 for a SRAM Rival build like the one above, it's a great way to get into carbon for cross, something I must admit I hadn't really expected myself to want to do. Subsequent full builds from On One will no doubt come out next year - expect equally great value from them too.

Thursday 10 November 2011

GVA 2 - GP Mario de Clerq at Ronse

Last weekend's GVA race from Ronse - fill your boots.

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Koppenberg Cross 2011 - full video

Here's a special treat - I've uploaded the full Koppenberg Cross race from last week, complete with pre-race interviews. Get a brew, alcoholic or otherwise and put your feet up....

Monday 31 October 2011

More from Petites Reines - Allez Christel!

If you have been calling in here for a while you will be familiar with the Petites Reines series of films, following women's racing and it's riders.

This film, kindly sent in my direction by Paul Goulden of Still Searching (@Ripoph) showcases French National Champion Christel Ferrier Bruneau preparing for this cross season, aided and abetted by her husband:

A peine la saison route terminée, il faut changer de discipline pour un exercice totalement différent dans la sphère du haut niveau.
Quelques jours de tournage au coté de la championne de France sur route 2011 Christel Ferrier Bruneau et de son mari entraîneur.
Préparation au calendrier cyclo-cross et recherche de partenaires/sponsors pour la saison à venir.
Portrait d'une cycliste dont la ténacité, la rigueur et le travail ont su la hisser au plus haut niveau.
Ce film documentaire essaye de montrer également les obstacles que doit franchir une athlète afin de pouvoir continuer sa passion dans les meilleures conditions possibles et avec un maximum de moyens permettant d'optimiser ses performances à venir.

Allez Christel! from Petitesreines on Vimeo.

Friday 28 October 2011

Women's World Cup Cross Rds 1 and 2 - Plzen and Tabor 2011

Here are the first two rounds from the Women's 2011 WC series.


Monday 17 October 2011

A big weekend

Photo: Cheryl King Images

Most people sensed it this weekend - the Rapha Super Cross Series is a game changer for the world of UK cyclocross. Rather than repeat what others have said more eloquently elsewhere, I direct you to Dave Haygarth's comment and analysis of what transpired on Saturday last, repeated in glorious Yorkshire sunshine the following day. Read it and see if you agree. I for one certainly do.

For London cross fans, you have a week to wait but something special is coming your way and you'll love it.

It's not that every race should be like this - absolutely it shouldn't as localised, grass roots racing is what keeps the sport accessible and fresh. However, throw in some ingenuity and corporate muscle from Rouleur and Rapha and suddenly the future of UK cross looks even more enticing than it already was.

Here are some shots of the weekend:

Photo: Cheryl King Images

Photo: Jo Allen

Thursday 13 October 2011

Down and dirty with the Disco

It's been a while since left of field UK manufacturer On -One made a cross bike. The last iteration was a classy titanium affair that was snapped up by those in the know and ridden at elite level and chipper level alike, as well as making a rather nice 3 Peaks bike too:

Fast forward to 2011 and On-One are back, not only with designer Brant Richards on board again, but with a brand new cross frame, a la mode in carbon and sporting discs - unofficially named the 'Dirty Disco'.

Some people's clouds are other people's silver lining - Dave Haygarth's recently broken collarbone and unnervingly long inside leg measurement meant that that the temporarily riderless Dirty Disco has found it's way to me. And so I've been enjoying some early season races and training rides on it, the first time for me on full carbon and on cross discs too.

This is a pre-production version of the Disco so I'm not sure what eventual kit it will end up with, suffice to say On-One's keen pricing and eye for value will mean no doubt that it will be a killer package.

The frame is full carbon, I'm not in possesion of the details as such, suffice to say it is light, very stiff and comfortable to carry. A huge chunky bottom bracket helps the stiff but comfortable ride whilst the chunky forks are particularly reassuring and direct in feel. Overall, the geometry appear race performance oriented but with perfectly adequate clearances for a modern cross frame. A potential mudfest at Brockholes, Windermere will test this properly, but the Disco passed the Horwich Humdinger slopfest test easily, lasting the whole muddy race with barely any buildup of mud, and arguably less than other canti equipped bikes around it.

This Disco is running Avid BB-7s (road) for its discs and they are stunning, even without the hydraulic assistance of other systems. Braking is of course powerful, and progressive, always with more on tap if needed. What really jumps out to this first time disc user is the sheer ease of use - the lack of effort in the execution of a braking manoeuvre.  With the braking taken care of so easily from a physical point of view, you can expend more energy and attention on riding fast. It also has SRAM Rival on it - another first for me but intuitive in its use, and reassuringly chunky in operation. Other kit includes an FSA Gossamer chainset with cross friendly rings on it, and Planet X post and stem. All sound stuff.

The On-One branded hubs, Chris King style and rims (clinchers) are, to my tubular-centric tastes, surprisingly good, with Schwalbe Smart Sam tires. These have been more than adequate for cross training and feel great on the road too. For racing I have been putting on some custom made Strada Handbuilt Major Tom tubular disc wheels with handmade FMB green Michelin tubs. The absolute business when things turn muddy.

Riding the Disco has been surprising. The phrase 'sum of all it's parts' is particularly apt here - no one attribute jumps out, the whole pacakage just gels. That is not to say that the Disco doesn't climb like a rocket - it does. Nor that it doesn't track in corners like it's on rails - it does. Nor even that it is vague and skittish in technical descents - because it is anything but. It just simply comes together in one complete package that lets you get on with the riding, fast or slow, dry or muddy and does not intrude in any way at all.

Racing it, I found I barely even thought about the bike and what it was doing - it just did it, calmy and with poise. At the Humdinger Cross last weekend, it railed slick muddy corners around dead turns, inspired much confidence down the fast descents into more tight corners and climbed its way up on the slop competently. I didn't really notice it in the sense I wasn't thinking about how it should have done this or that. It just got on with it.

Overall, it isn't as flamboyant as a white suited Travolta strutting his stuff - there are other more exotic bikes out there that can do that. It is however, no wallflower to the dance - it's just competant in a non-shouty way and that's probably why I like it. I've never been one for extroverts.... ahem.

Wednesday 12 October 2011

Rapha Super Cross is upon us

After a last minute scare with impounded cowbells, final preparations are being made by the respective race organisers and the Rapha Super Cross team for a weekend unlike any other weekend of UK cross, kicking off on 15th October at Brockholes, Windermere.

Saturday's Brockholes is a NW League event, a firm favourite on the NW League calendar with the iconic Brockholes course providing contrasting course conditions over the past 2 years, from mudbath to frozen snowy waste, but looking good this year for another mudbath. Sunday's race is a dyed in the wool Yorkshire League event, at Huddersfield, on a windswept field-based course that is bound to be a real test.

Both will have the full Rapha Super Cross treatment - cowbells, beer, music, lots of spectators, a good dose of silliness and marshmallows.

And an elite race with some of the finest UK cross riders, in addition to the League faithful supporting races:


(Eight teams of five riders - field of 40)
• Hope Factory racing
• Charge Bikes
• Hargroves Cycles-Specialized-Trant-Next
• Rapha/GB Development
• Sigma Sport-Specialized
• Scott UK
• Team Wiggle
Guest teams:
Windemere – Wheelbase Cycles-Cannondale
My own involvement will be somewhat more low key, but exciting for me, having been invited to ride in the 2 Northern support races in the candy stripe colours of the US based Rapha-Focus cross team.

If you are within striking distance of either venue, I urge you to come along and watch - the UK hasn't seen anything as exciting since the World Cross Champs came to Leeds in 1992. It will be as near to a fusion US/Belgian cross as you can hope for. 

Racing starts at Windermere at 11am and Huddersfield at 10.30am. The headline elite races are 2.30pm at Windermere and 3.00pm at Huddersfield.

Tuesday 4 October 2011

Rapha Super Cross build up - part 1

From Andy Waterman who covered the Ronde van Oost Lancashire earlier this year for Cycling Plus, a cheeky little teaser for the forthcoming Rapha Super Cross Series.

Expect more nuggets and a reveal of what I shall be wearing for said races...

Super Cross 2011 from Super Cross on Vimeo.

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Women's World Cup cross race - Kalmthout 2010

As promised, here is some more Women's cross racing featuring the seasonally challenged race from Kalmthout last year. This years race takes place in somewhat warmer conditions, this coming Sunday, but has lost it's World Cup status. The circuit is pretty technical in any conditions but the slush and snow produced some great racing across all categories:

Tuesday 27 September 2011

A day on the Peaks big dipper.

4 hrs 6 mins - a full 7 minutes slower than last year. After all that training, all the work on technique, the cunning changes to equipment,  the no-boozing (mostly), the positive self-talk......

Pic: Ed Rollason

See that above - that's a grown man's lip quivering that is. This year, the Peaks was and still feels, like an almost overwhelmingly emotional challenge. OK, and a bit physical too.

From the incomprehensible shock at the steepness of Simon Fell (despite being there many times before), to the heart-rending sight of training partner and confidant Dave Haygarth so obviously broken but persisting on, with a dose of utter loneliness on the road to Penyghent sandwiched in between - heck it felt like a hard year. A rollercoaster of emotions, up and down often in diammetric opposition to the angle of the terrain.

Down but not out - Dave nurses his broken collarbone before gathering himself and walking/coasting to the finish. In 4 hrs 10 mins!
Pic: Andy Holden

At the finish, all talk was of the tough conditions, windy on the road, boggy off it. Of crashes, and near misses - usual Peaks stuff. It was a hard year no doubt, but as ever I kept things smooth and controlled, mostly.

And I was faster, I 'know' I was. The splits tell a different story - slower on the descents, slower on the road - but that is only half the picture. I flowed more, I took more risks that were calculated and that paid off. The mojo was there going downhill, something I had worked on all year.

Pic:Martin Henson

Ultimately, however I was undone by wind, wheel sucking bog and a shocker of a transition from Ribblehead to Horton, riding alone and hesitant over how much to save for the final climb to come. Salvation came late in the form of the fast and consistent Isla Rowntree (2nd Lady and current Vets National Cyclocross Champ) and she led me steadily up much of PYG before forging ahead. Some time saved.

Pic: Neil Coverley

Not much left then, other than to make it down safely and quickly. It felt fast down PYG, it was fast, well for me but it wasn't enough to clip under the magic 4 hours like last year. And hence the disappointment. Few were faster this year in the tough conditions, though fellow Belgian and perennial running mate, Richard Allen improved significantly to ride home in 3 hrs 55 mins - a superb effort, the foundations of which were laid as he walked away from me at the very steepest section of Simon Fell. Chapeau, through gritted teeth.

So in true emotional Oscar-winning speech style, I would like to thank Dave for his sharing of the pain of Bull Hill reps and many many wise tips, and Konrad Manning (Rapha) for his co-operation on the road out of Ingleton - now there were two well dressed riders if ever I saw them. Thanks too to my wife Margaret, who indulged her paranoid husband beforehand, cooked all weekend for our guests Greg and Pauline, and even brought the kids to cheer Dad in. And as ever, my now experienced and trusty support crew in the form of Mark who delivered bottles and a bike right on cue - thank you so much and please don't get any ideas about riding in future years..

Monday 26 September 2011

Quicker yet slower

I was quicker up the climbs, and quicker down the descents. So why was I slower?

The physical and emotional maelstrom that is the Peaks is waning now. I shall gather my thoughts, and a few pics and debrief shortly.

Wednesday 21 September 2011


I've done it in previous years, but never so close to the event. In hindsight, I don't know why.

Myself and Konrad Manning from Rapha, one of the key brains and brawn behind the Rapha Super Cross series, headed up on this last Tuesday before the Peaks to have a look-see at Whernside. On foot at a jog, of course, due to the legalities of riding in the area, though this is actually the best way to do it, allowing for a more stately perusal of terrain, and line as you progress.

We found a mixed bag of improved surfaces (from last year) and some real boggy and sticky ones due to the recent wet conditions. Make no mistake, at the time of writing this looks set to be quite a wet Peaks, irrespective of any rainfall on the day. That said, as we discussed, considering the terrain the Peaks traverses, and the annual rainfall seen there, the actual route is surprisingly dry, even in a wet year.

The race appears to go the wrong way up a one way street.....

More importantly, I have some amazing new lines off Whernside, courtesy of Konrad's eye for detail and scouting ability. These are of course a closely guarded trade secret but will ensure swift and easy progress off what is one of the more intimidating descents in the Peaks.

We also had to pause our descent down the hill to wait for the Air Ambulance to land to evacuate a casualty - a sober reminder of the severity of the environment. It looked like a precarious business as the pilot took several attempts to lay it belly down on the peat bog, having retracted the undercarriage to avoid becoming bogged down.

Incidents aside however, things are looking good for Sunday. Now, about that weather.....

Monday 12 September 2011

We got cross

Images from the recent 'Get Cross' cross skills day - morning session with Ed Oxley at Lee Quarry, Bacup.

The afternoon was led by Dave Haygarth covering more cross race specific techniques in the mud in Stubbylee Park, Bacup.


Beard envy from Greg @billyfishWORC May

Jason '@Mr_Terrahawk' 

Picking lines and riding 'light' over rocky terrain

Tom '@24Tom' was very smooth. Bloody mountainbikers.....

Unweighting the bike for obstacles

Plenty of this stuff in the 3 Peaks


Getting a pump on on the pump track

Move those hips Greg