Brass Monkeys Round 2

Round 2 of is now done. This didn’t start well though! I arrived at Brads house around 07:15 only to find that he was ill and therefore wouldn’t be joining us (Pete, Harry & me) for this race…
So the 3 of us headed off to the venue, it was a 2 hour drive so we arrived in plenty of time to get ourselves changed and sort any last monute tweaks to the bikes. I sorted my bike and Harrys, while Harry started breaking up the ice that had formed on the puddles, yes it was cold. Pete had a few last minute tweaks he had to do to his bike too, mainly change his broken chain. Pete and I had entered the 4hr Enduro, not sure why, we never ride for 4 hours. Harry had entered the 1hr Fun. By now it was 10:15, Pete and my race started at 10:30, Harrys 10 minutes after that. This is where it all started to go downhill and not in a good way. Pete had threaded his chain through the rear mech wrong, so 1/2 a pedal stroke and, snap, another rear hanger gone, and with no spare hanger this time that was Pete race over before it even started. I still started, around a minute late as I was trying to offer a solution to Pete, go single speed… he didn’t.
The course was great, the normal XC style we have come to expect from the Gorrick team. A good mix of assents and decents, techincal sections and fast flowing single track. I did find it tough going though and knew that I would struggle to keep up a reasonable pase for 4 hours, so when I came across Harry half way in to my second lap I thoght it would be good to ride with him for a while and support him through his 2nd ever proper race. He was really struggling and I think welcomed the company for a while. I did soon leave him again though as I wanted to try and complete 4 laps. However 2/3 into my 3rd lap I suffered the dreaded onset of cramp in both legs, I tried to ride through it, but eventually my left leg stopped all together. I had no choice but to stop. I knew at that point that I wouldn’t be able to ride for the 4 hours and that this lap was going to be my last. Gutted, but at least I’m improving on previous races, I think.
Matt and Richie also came down to support and hopefully I can get hold of some of the pictures Richie took. With any luck Richie will be fit again by the time round 3 come around in a few weeks time. Hes’ out injured at the moment, and maybe we’ll see Matt racing again soon, who knows.
GPS track and stats from my GPSr

Round 3, 22 January ’12. I think that might be a cold one…

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Brass Monkeys – round 1

This years round one of brass monkeys is over, thank god!

That was a tough race, and i think we all need to do some more long rides. We started off well and were all together for a while, Pete managed to get a small gap on me during the bottle neck que, i wasn’t able to close the gap either, but at least it wasn’t getting any bigger. I had it in my mind that i would catch him later in the race as he beigns to tire, that theory wasn’t tested though as 3/4 into the first lap he managed to snap his rear mech hanager again! I did stop for a while but only to check he was ok and had all the tools he ws going to need.  Brad and Rich were some way back by now and I didn’t really know what was going on with them. I pressed on through the second lap only to see them both stood at the side of the track taking phots of he as I went passed. It turned out that Brad had an astma attack a short distance into his second lap and that Rich had snapped his chain.

Pete did manage to get his bike fixed and continued on to complete 3 laps in 03:47:38

I also only managed 3 laps, nothing wrong with the bike or any other valid excuse other than I just wasn’t fit enough. my time for the 3 laps was 03:22:50

We also had a new wanna be racer. Harry, he’s only 11 (12 soon) but as the age is categorised at the Jan race he was eligable to do his first ever race, so he was entered into the 1hr Fun race. He was using my old bike with the saddle right down, so it is a little too large for him. Neverthe less he has been using it for a while now so used to how it handles. He did suffer a little too, he’s never ridden anything like this before, nor this kind of distance 7.4 mile lap. I did find him trying to strech out some cramp suffering a little towards the end of my 2nd lap. All things considered he did do very well, finishing last place with 1 lap in 1:57:00. He was quick to point out that out of our group he was the only one who actually completed he race, we all dropped out before our 4 hours was up.

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Training – alt route to Bath

Another great early morning ride. It started of a little cold on the old lungs but soon warmed up as the sun got higher. My speed is increasing a little week on week, I have this route down to 1:27 now, not great I know, but I do have traffic to contend with going through Hanham I also seem to hit every red light. I’m not a cyclist who just ignores red lights, in fact those that do are just plain stupid, red is there for your own safety…
Hopefully I can keep these early Saturday morning. Rides going, eventually it might just become habit, which will make them even more enjoyable.

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Forest of Dean

FoD enduro was a few weeks ago now, it was a wet muddy and I’d
like to say miserable day, but miserable it was not. It was really muddy, from
the sticky bike clogging, gear munching heavy stuff to the wet slippery in your
face type.
We only entered the smaller 2 lap race as this was only to be a warm up for the
proper enduro event in North Wales a week later.

Right from the off I felt good despite the conditions, we
did start near the back of the main group, which meant that as soon as we
reached the inevitable bottle neck it all came to a grinding halt. Matt, Pete
& Brad soon caught up and I’d lost my lead over the others for a short
time. I did increase my lead again a little until Matt caught up on one of the descents.
We soon got chatting on one of the uphill’s to let Pete catch-up, Brad was
still a little way behind, after all this wasn’t a race for us. I got tangled
up with a small crash and helped some guy climb back up a rather muddy, steep
bank that he had fallen down. All was ok and no damage done, but Pete and Matt
had already ridden off into the distance. The course was good, shame we can’t
normally ride the same course when just riding from Pedalabikeaway. It wasn’t particularly
fast, but that might have been down to the conditions. With the first lap
complete, I found Matt lurking around just past the start/finish line. He’d
quit, but he was able to tell me that Pete was only about 1 minute up the road,
so I set out in pursuit only to find him walking. He’d broken his rear mech
hanger, he was gutted as he felt that he was in with a good chance of
eventually beating me in an event. With no repair possible he started the walk
back to the start/finish while I completed my second and final lap. I finished absolutely
caked in mud from head to toe, infact I think I was picking mud out from the
back of my eyes for a week.

Next event was the truly gruelling Coed y Brenin…

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TORQ in Your Sleep 12:12

TORQ in Your Sleep was yet another fabulously organised event
by the Gorrick team and title sponsor TORQ. We had decided to compete in this
race as 2 teams, 2 male pair teams, Matt and Pete as 1st team, Brad
and me as the 2nd team. Race start wasn’t until midday so we decided
to arrive that morning, get all the tents set-up bikes prepped before the 11am
briefing. I had just bought a new 6 man tent so dragged the rest of the family
along to support and to try out the new tent, so this took a little longer to
put up as it was the first time we had used it. We had managed to get a great
spot for viewing the race right next to the course. Bard and Eloise were
already set-up as too was Pete, Matt was sleeping in his van so didn’t really
have anything to set-up.
Almost ready to race
Brad and Matt took up the race start for the first start loop and full lap, they started
in good conditions but this did change and they did get rained on a little
through the first lap, the rain had stopped by the time they had to hand over
the baton. Matt came in bang on 1hr (according to my timing) Brad some 6 minutes
later. This just meant that I had to try a little harder than I had planned; my
intention was to catch Pete and pass him. However he knew that I would be
bearing down on him as fast as I could so he pushed hard too. The course had
started to dry out a little, this just made the mud sticky and the exposed
roots slippery, but still fast. Pete came in around 5 minutes ahead of me with
a lap time of 54 minutes. This gives us about 50 minutes rest before we were up
again, not long to refuel, re-hydrate etc. While Matt and Brad were out on
their second lap the rain really came down quite hard, they both managed to
come off their bikes on the exposed roots! They were both OK though, well so I
thought. Brad handed the baton over to me and I went on my way merrily on my
second lap, again the rain stopped for my lap but I had by now thought that it
was going to be better to just race my own race as Matt and Pete had pulled out
a good 20 minutes over Brad and me, so I took it a little easier with 8 hours
still to go before the end of the race. Just as well I did as when I came back
into the start/finish area I saw Brad standing there in normal clothes and not
fit to continue. His fall had been more painful than we first thought. Matt was
now on his 3rd lap and about ½ a lap ahead of me and Pete was
getting himself ready for his 3rd lap. Matt decided to stop racing
at this point, not really sure why other than his bum hurt. This meant that he
was going to hand over to Pete for Pete to start his 4th lap; he did
the first part of the lap before stopping at the campsite to eat and re-fuel. I
had already re-filled my bottle and headed back out on my 3rd lap
feeling good, still putting in just over the hour lap. However at the start of
my 4th lap I decided to stop and have something to eat back at the
campsite. I did stop for quite a while, probably too long. I waited for it to
get dark and put in a night lap starting at about 8:30pm, again the lap took
just over an hour but again I decided to stop for a little rest as I cramped up
on that lap. This time I defiantly stopped for too long as I relaxed so much I
didn’t go back out. Think that we all need a lot more training before we
contemplate doing a 12hr solo, that said, I think that the stopping and
starting doesn’t really help. It might be better to just simply keep cycling. I’ll
have to try that theory out one weekend.

Torq in Your Sleep Photoset

Next race is Forest of Dean in September.

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Bontrager Twentyfour 12

Well it’s been a few weeks now since we competed in the Bontrager Twentyfour 12 race in
Plymouth. We opted for our team to compete in the 12 hour instead of the full
24 hour, like last year. This was a good decision but did mean we only
completed a couple of laps each. My older brother also travelled down from North
Wales to compete in the 12 hour solo (mad)

I started the race with a small start loop to help disperse
the group before continuing on through the main race loop. The start loop was
ridden at a steady pace along with by brother, but as soon as the race got
started properly Alan left me. Now I can only talk about myself but I knew that
the race was a long one so I wasn’t going to push myself too hard on the first
lap. The lap wasn’t a difficult or very technical but there were a few nasty
uphill parts (I hate going up, especially on a bike that wasn’t mine, but more
of that later). My first lap took a little over 1hr 20min before handing over
to Matt for the second lap, he was quicker than me taking a little over 1hr
before handing to Pete then Brad. This meant that I had a good 3 ½ to 4 hr rest
before heading out on my second lap. I went out on a borrowed bike again. I’m
borrowing a bike because my race machine was stolen a couple of weeks
beforehand and wanted another XC race bike to do the race on. Thanks to Zero
Group, Garlands I had a bike to do the event on. I did take my all mountain
bike with me too, just in case I didn’t get on with the borrowed one. Anyway my
second lap was slower again and I was struggling to get on with the settings of
the Bionicon, although given more time on the bike I think that it could have
been a fantastic piece of kit. This second lap took around another hour 20 but
without the start loop. Things weren’t looking good. Now with another 4 hours
wait I loaded up on food and water and went wandering with the kids to take
photos and generally get my thoughts together. The others were out on their
laps and by now the sun was beginning to set. By the time I had to ride again it
was going to be pitch black. I was ready in the transition area for when Brad
finished what was going to be his second and last lap. I headed off on my third
and final lap in total darkness with only the lights on the bike for company. I
also started this last lap on my other bike, this immediately felt a lot better
than the Bionicon, then it would, I’ve had years on this bike and know exactly
how it handles and how to set it up for me. This didn’t really improve my lap
time though as I had to stop a couple of times on this lap due to cramp,
ouch… Still I was having fun. I finished this lap with about 40 mins spare
and expected one of the others to pick up the last lap. However that wasn’t to
be. We covered 9 laps in around 11 hours 20. I also think that the starting and
stopping between laps contributed toward the cramp.

I think that if I knew there was going to be no around to
take up the last lap I would have pushed on through and completed the 10th
lap. This would have meant a final placing of 17th overall,  instead our overall placing was 23rd.

Our next race is all booked and again it’s a long 12hr race.
This time it’s Torq in your sleep but as Brad and I against Pete and Matt, this should be
interesting…

My 24/12 photoset

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CRC MTB Marshbrook

A good weekend had by all at the CRCMTB Marathon – Marshbrook. Brad, Myself and my son travelled up on Saturday afternoon and meet with our older brother Alan, who had travelled over on Friday evening with his wife (Anna) and son (Morgan). We didn’t have long before it was time for me and Alan to head down to do the CycleActive skills coaching session, which was included as part of the entrance fee to the main event. I did somehow manage to fall off on the way to this, obviously I need all the help I can get with my bike handling skills!! I think we learnt something and hopefully will be able to put some of this into practice when out on the trail. This lasted for around 1 ½ hours, during this time Brad set up his tent and went for a wonder around the site, Harry and Morgan ran around playing and making new friends with other children on the campsite. After the session I went back to the campsite to set up my tent, which doesn’t take long, which was just as well as the pasta party had already started. So as soon as I was settled we headed back down to the event village to fill up on pasta, this was also included in the entrance fee and was really quite nice, with a mix of around 4 pasta flavours. We didn’t really hang around here instead we made our way back up to the campsite and fired up a BBQ for some chicken pieces a few rolls and a nice cup of coffee or 2, a good old general natter.

It wasn’t long before it was time to get our heads down and sleep for the night. Harry and Morgan decided they wanted to sleep in the same tent with Alan & Anna so I had a whole 2 man tent to myself.

Morning came around pretty quick as the sun rose up over the horizon around 4ish, which woke me, but I managed to burry my head back into the sleeping bag for another hour or so. I think I eventually got out the tent around 6ish. Alan was already up and the kettle had just boiled, so time for another coffee. Not long after Brad got out his tent and joined us, by which time we were both prepping our bikes for the main event. Brad managed to get the bacon on the stove which made Harry and Morgan come out around 7 and Anna some time after.
There’s not much time left now before the start time, we had all been asked to arrive at the line for a briefing at 09:30 and a start time of 10:00am. We were there in good time but there were already hundreds of riders at the line. We’ve been told that there were just over 1,000 riders, which made for a slow start, I don’t know for sure but I would guess that it took us at least 5 minutes to get through the start line and out onto the road where we were lead out by a lead car to pace us. We didn’t see the car though as we were so far back down the field. It didn’t take long before we were out passing people though and onto the main trail. The first climb wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and I felt good, maybe because I was passing people still. However when I reached the top there was a small decent before heading off through a very small single track section, I lost a load of time at this point as there were hundreds of riders all trying to get through the same narrow section. I must have travelled 20 yards in 10+ minutes, which was frustrating. After this though there were no further hold ups. The route was 100% rideable, all be it a bit steep at some points. There were some occasions when I was cycling at the same speed as some of the other riders that had decided to get of their bikes and walk. But I kept the moral high ground by staying aloft my trusty steed. I felt that the tarmac sections were the hardest; maybe it was the heat that was coming off the black stuff. I did stop at the first feed station for around 10 minutes to stock up on water, eat a banana and have a little rest. Not really sure why I stopped but seemed like the right thing to do at the time. Next time I’ll just replenish my water and leave, I wasn’t really seeing this event as a race, rather a test of my stamina. I did stop again at the summit stone only to do a Geocache, which didn’t take long. It was pretty much all downhill from here. Past the second feed station and down a nice flowing single track decent. I did run into problems just after this with really painful cramp and muscle spasms in my left leg. I thought there was still another 5 miles to ride at this point so took the time to stretch the cramp out and take on a lot more water. However as it turns out I was only about 1km from the finish which crept up on me quite unexpectedly. The advertised distance was 45km but it actually turned out to be only 40km. This was the only disappointing thing of the whole weekend, other than this the event was well organised, well signposted, just as an event like this should be.
Event Route and GPS data

While Brad, Alan and I were out on the trail Morgan and Harry done their own CycleActive skills coaching sessions, ate burgers and ice cream, and generally had fun. Anna stayed with them and chilled out a much as she could.

All in all a great weekend camping with a cycle ride thrown in for good measure.

The results havn’t been published as yet, nor have I loaded my GPX file. As soon as I have the results I’ll update this post.
Next race weekend is Plymouth Newnham Park on the 23/24 July. http://www.twentyfour12.com/

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Wooton-Under-Edge Triathalon prep

It’s 1 day before the W-U-E Triathalon. Alan (last years’s winner), Mike and I went for a spin around the bike course today. We headed out from the pool and cycled the whole route. It was a steady pace, which suited me as I wasn’t really feeling it today. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll feel a little more competitive, although the thought of having to run is kind of scaring me.
I’ll be off to bed earlier tonight as it’s going to be a very early start in the morning, 5:30 alarm call so I’m ready to leave the house by 6:50. This should get me to the pool for 7:30 checkin and 8:00 start. I’m aiming for a sub 2hr race.

Come back here for the race reprot and results.

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Ritchey Bike Fest – Ashton Court, Bristol

Well, that was an interesting race. I thought that we were going to be in for a hot dry day, as Saturday was hot. How wrong I was! I woke early Sunday morning as I hadn’t prepared any of my cycling gear the evening before and the first thing I noticed was how dark it was, 6am this time of year is normally light. Then I noticed the rain, lots of rain. I guess we can always have dry race days, this was mountain biking and races start at advertised start times regardless of what the weather is doing.
I arrived at Ashton Court with about 40 minutes to spare, so I was a bit rushed, but made it. The rain was still coming down and didn’t look like it was going to stop anytime soon, it was cold too. I decided to start with a long sleeve top to keep some of the cold out, I could easily ditch the top later if I got too hot. The start was a Le Mans style start (I hate running) Pete shot off and grabbed his bike and rode into the distance. Brad, Matt and I picked up our bikes and started up the hill at a steady pace. Brad wasn’t happy though as Pete had taken the wrong bike, he’d taken Brads, silly boy… He did notice and stopped at the top of the first hill so they could swap back. This only ruined Pete’s start and gave us a chance to catch up, which wouldn’t actually had taken long even if he’d taken the right bike from the start. Matt and I took the first lap at a steady (chatting) pace, then all of a sudden Matt had lost my wheel and I was leading our team. Not really sure how that happened as I didn’t think I had increased pace. I went through the start finish line in about 35 minutes (+5mins for the Le Mans start) with rain still hammering down. From this point on each lap seemed to pass by quick quickly, it was slippery in places but the trails held up really well. The spots of Ashton Court that used to get really bogged down in the wet were holding up to a lot of abuse meaning that there were some riders putting in some absolute blinding lap times. I did start to get a bit hot coming through to start my 3rd lap so I ditched my top and continued through lap 3 & 4 in my race top to finish 30th overall and 1st in the team. The other enjoyed the race, Brad did actually complete 4 laps, but the rules are finish within the 3hrs or the lap you are on won’t count, he was 58 seconds short of claiming 4 laps. Harsh, bur rules are rules… Pete completed 3 laps too but stopped after his 3rd not attempting to get the 4th in. Matt stopped after 2 laps, think he had mud in his gears and was having shifting trouble.
Our times were
Jason Cole – 02:41:29 – 30th – 4 laps – (1) 00:40:38, (2) 00:39:08, (3) 00:40:28, (4) 00:41:13
Brad Cole – 02:19:06 – 43rd – 3 laps – (1) 00:51:40, (2) 00:41:01, (3) 00:46:24
Pete Beale – 02:27:59 – 47th – 3 laps – (1) 00:42:39, (2) 00:46:01, (3) 00:59:18
Matt Ancrum – 01:25:58 – 51st – 2 laps – (1) 00:42:11, (2) 00:43:46

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Saddle Skedaddle Race 4 & 5

First up I must apologise for not blogging as much as I should have. They were both were Saddle Skedaddle ones.
The penultimate race was a bit of a bit of a failed race. The opening lap for Brad and I found us dealing with a fellow racer that had crashed. At first we thought it was just going to be a case of picking him back up from the floor and untangling him from his bike. However he was a little worse for wear than we first thought. He’d come off pretty bad and concussed himself, he was still a little shaky and not feeling too good. We decided to stay with him and get some medical help. One of the marshals come to the scene quickly, the medical help were already busy dealing with another crash, a pretty bad one by all accounts. We took this opportunity to move the man we were dealing with to a location that was going to be more accessible by 4×4. This took some time as he was still a little wobbly. All this excitement ruined our race, we were happy to help and hope that if I ever need the help someone will be willing to give up their race for me.
The last race was a good race, well for me anyway. We started off good but immediately got caught up in a little off on the start line…weird…Brad had mechanical issues with a broken chain on the first lap, I was chasing Pete and Matt. I soon passed Pete and was then chasing Matt. The course was great, one of the better of the Saddle Skedaddle ones in my opinion. As I passed the start finish line I passed Matt who had stopped with back problems. To be fair though he was all strapped up and done well to complete 1 lap. This put me in lead team position for the first time so far this year. I hammered through the second lap making up a few places along the way.
All in all the series was good it had its ups and downs but got me back in the saddle racing again. I’ve enjoyed it so much so that I splashed out and bought myself a new cross country racing machine. The first race on the new bike will be 1st May, organised by the same group as the Saddle Skedaddle races, Gorrick 100. We are only going to be doing 30km but by normal standards this is 3 times the distance. I think we are all looking forward to it and looking forward to the challenge.
Stay here for more updates on the Gorrick 100.

Saddle Skedaddle Spring Series 4 photo set

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