Monday, 24 February 2014

Thou shalt not pass

I've developed a nasty squeak in my crank. It could be my bottom bracket, but leaving the bike last week in the garage without a wash-down has evidently resulted in some 'mechanical'. 
The weekend was run free. Not that that is anything to crow about, especially when nuggets like the national xc, Devilla trail race and the Netherhall 10 mile road race were on. Instead, I opted for a club ride on the Saturday morning, an easy 35 miler, followed by a gutsy 55 miler on my own on Sunday. Spring is trying to muscle in to the last vestiges of Winter (or what Winter we've had). It's elbows aren't quite sharp enough yet though, so even though it was mild, there was a force 7 south westerly blowing as I ploughed a lone furrow past Ponteland and Stamfordham to the A69 where I turned and stopped to take in the delights or the Matfen café shop. Although it's only a wee village, the café charges more for sitting in for a cuppa, than sitting on the bench outside and only having come out with a couple of quid, I sat outside watching the occasional bikie fly past in the tailwind. It was then up to Walridge and onto the Belsay road with a billowing, hornblower of the wind behind me. I wasn't tempted to gallop though and, instead cut north to the Molesden road where progress was baulked by this inconsiderate tree.

This morning, its back on with the trainers, with 5 slow miles round the lanes and tracks and another session at the running club tonight (if I'm lucky).  In the meantime, I'll get the hot soapy water out to give the bike a rub down and full on lube with the WD40.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Roond in circles

I had Wednesday afternoon off. I hadn't planned to, but it was a quiet morning and rather than shuffle around the office, I decided around 3pm get my gear on and do some proper bike miles. I headed out past Pigdon and Netherwitton, round the back to Rothley and back. I added a few more to clock up 35 miles around the top of town. It was cool but still. Good bike therapy.

Last night I missed the group so spent nearly an hour trawling around town looking for them. As I ran around in the dark, I wondered what the chances of coming across them were. Given that there are three or four main areas for running at night in the place, in theory, you would think the odds are around 3 or 4 to 1, but the timing makes it nearer 30 or 40 to 1. The direction of travel is also important. Afterwards, having ran 7 miles on my todd, the young un came in and asked why I wasn't with the group. I said I had got out late and ran around the town looking for them. She had seen them in all the places I had been, where she'd been also, but not seen me. She then added she'd seen another clubmate running around on his own doing the same thing. Think of it; all these lone figures scratching around the dim, dank Morpeth streets looking for running company. Makes you a bit sad, n'est ce pas? The bottom line was if we as a group had got our s*#t together, we could run down the club and find out where the group was on any one night and save ourselves a lonely night out on the streets.

I'm planning a 7 miler through the woods at lunchtime today and maybe an hour on the bike later.
Having shelled out £30 a pop for an Edinburgh Half marathon place in May, I need to be thinking about dipping my foosty toe into a sweaty competition or two. The main aim is to coach the broken body through 13 miles never mind a podium place.  Mrs M has advised me I'm accompanying her to Ingram Valley on Sunday for a recce for the Brough Law race. I remember getting lost in thick fog there the first time I did it. Finished well up, but probably because I'd cut half the course out.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Foxlake Cyclo Cross and Trail Race

It was an early start for the trip to Dunbar this morning, but we were away for 7am, cutting our way north along the empty, black expanse of tarmac that is the A1. The sky was a burning orange above.

Having entered the cyclo-cross at Foxlake, the young 'un had decided she was going as well, to run the earlier trail race, so we were parked up and I was supping coffee by 9am just as Prasad showed them a clean pair of heels over the 14km beach and forest trails.

By 11.30, I was geared up and ready for a mudfest along with around 100 others. The course took in some gravel road, a long flat boggy straight of grass and then it was into the woods for some seriously technical ascents and descents. Logs, roots, ruts and stumps. But the killer section were the bunny hops and short, sharp grassy knoll at the finish line which was super heavy, cloddy and sapped the very life out of your limbs. 

Starting at the rear,  the first 200 metres were marked by a couple of pile ups and I was lucky to be riding at the outside and kept well out of the way. I had taken time to do a couple of practice laps around the woods and was pretty happy with the way things were going during the first couple of laps, passing riders who were either low on endurance or losing time with tiredness...that's when the bike handling can get pretty ragged. There was a great crowd there and the finishing area was thronged with folk, many no doubt enjoying the spectacle of men and women flogging themselves into oblivion, coming unstuck in the mud or coming off on the tight bends as the course cut up.

My training has been poor in the last few weeks as I've been bothered with a bad knee, and just as I was getting over that, a dose of the lurgy, so nothing to blog about: I put any negative thoughts aside and concentrated hard as I battled to keep the work ethic going over the last 20 minutes of the 50 minute event. I could feel the lactic building up in both quads through the last climb in the woods but it didn't amount to anything and I was relieved to see the finish line, finishing somewhere down the field.

Funny thing. Had I ran the trail race I might have finished top 6 or 7 perhaps. In this event , I was well down, but the course, weather and crowds made the experience memorable. The downside (and there's always one) was that it took 2 hours to clean the bike, my gear and me afterwards but nothing that a pint and a curry couldn't sort.  That's the CX bike hung up now until October.

Photos of the event at Bob Marshalls excellent site (see link on right hand side).