Monday, August 09, 2010

Sleepless in the Saddle 2010

After saying "never again" in 2008 (when I was forced to walk the course), somebody revealed my work email address to a certain somebody else which led to me being asked if I'd step up and join Team Cake. I'm still having trouble coming to terms with what made me decide to do it again...

The weekend approached and once again I felt I'd not done enough training; finding the time to fit it in with everything else just seems impossible. Fortunately I went to France with a good level of fitness, and came away with an even better level thanks to the amount of riding we did and the lack of binge drinking...

I headed out on my first lap and predictably got caught up in traffic on the singletrack sections. As frustrating as it was, it was useful for getting a feel of the trail and picking the lines for the next lap. Since 2008 they managed to route the course so it incorporated much more singletrack, with only the odd open grassy section. This did mean passing opportunities weren't as numerous as in previous years but allowed for some creativity and 4X style manoeuvres.

It's difficult to remember through the haze specifics of each lap but I really found myself getting into the racing spirit, pushing myself hard on climbs to overtake riders I could see would hold me up in singletrack, even though I just wanted to slog it out (climbing has never been my strong point). The loud click of my Pro 2 freehub proved useful in announcing my speeding presence, moving riders out of the way but for the more stubborn rider, I actually didn't feel bad at all about making it clear I WAS coming past on their right/left. It's a race, after all?! We decided to do double laps during the night to allow a bigger gap between your laps, giving you opportunity to get "some" sleep, and I struggled a little with the endurance but managed to keep going and put in some respectable times, despite a toilet stop in the first and a search for the lost baton in the second. The lap following the double (my 6th) was the hardest, having managed to get some sleep I found myself wanting to stay asleep and had to really force myself to get up in the cold, damp morning conditions. The 7th came easy, though; I'm sure the knowledge of it being my last went some way in spurring me on!

I only managed to crash on my last lap, going down twice in corners where my Larsons suffered from lack of side knobbles and tiredness prevented me from correcting the slide. Thankfully, with only superficial wounds I was able to shake myself down and carry on to finish in a good time.

I'm ashamed to say I learned the benefits of lycra and feel the need for some serious gnar on a gnar DH course to offset the extreme jeyness of wearing lycra without any baggies on top.

Overall, I had a top weekend. Though it isn't my first XC race, it's the first time I've actually gotten competitive at an XC race and during one lap I caught myself thinking I wouldn't mind doing more of this... The course was excellent, the organisation and facilities were excellent and I'd thoroughly recommend it to anyone. Not the lack of sleep part but the racing part, that's a hoot. I think our 29 laps is a good achievement and everyone got on well and raced hard, thanks team (Rich, Alex, and Stu!). Thanks also to Simon for lending me his Hope light; it proved invaluable as a headlight as well as giving light generally when my bar mounted one gave out some time during my second night laps.

Mechanicals The X0 performed flawlessly and worked extremely well under load, getting me out of a few tight spots when I hadn't shifted before a climb/slow section, but I suffered skipping in the little ring at the back, thanks to not readjusting the limiter screws after changing wheels. Otherwise, the bike ran smoothly, with a couple of pressure tweaks needed here and there in tyres and suspension.


Pictures

Rob Crayton's Photo 2 (possibly lap 6?)

Sunday Morning


Campsite


Running Start




Thursday, August 05, 2010

Mountain Bike Cufflinks


I've been asked a few times and at last I've managed to get some bike cufflinks. See PoshCuffs.

These are proper mountain bike design, find them here.

Discount is available on application to me in The Chequers, Streatley (Friday Night Club) but you might have to buy me beer first.

We have some silver ones too but they are a bit 'roadie', I'll keep a look out for more proper bike styles.

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