Monday, 30 April 2012

December 2011 - Another Race! - and longer rides!

First week in December saw me retiring to Thetford Forest for the second race.....

Again heres what I wrote in my other blog;

I carried on regular training and entered again for Round 2 which was he;d at a different part of the forest.  This time I did at least know roughly what to expect!  The course for the second round included a bit more swooping single track and a few jumps and bombholes here and there which were a bit scary!  I felt stronger for the second round as I was 4 weeks fitter!  This time there were 29 entries and I managed to finish 12th.

This race was again a new experience for me.  lee was ill and unable to make it so i was at Thetford on my own.....  which of course is always going to be a little daunting having no friends around!  i arrived stupidly early, so had plenty of time to get nervous!

The rest of December saw me doing a similar amount of riding overall, although a chunk of it was over the Christmas break!  I was now getting used to the Giant XTC3, and as i was getting more and more into it I had decided to give clipped in pedals a try so a set arrived over Christmas from Ebay, and i got myself some shoes!

it took me a whole 6 miles before I did the common schoolboy error of forgetting I was clipped into the pedals and falling distinctly unglamouressly as I stopped after blasting downhill and having to stop at a gate!  being clipped in certainly helps give a benefit and efficiency to the pedalling action......  i could see in part why about 90% of the racers at Thetford are clipped in...... but the downside of course is that off road you can't just dab your foot down on a tricky bit!

December saw several longer rides of over 10 miles and on the 31st set myself 2 new personal bests for the time!  I covered 12 miles in an hour for the first time, which included 10 miles at a personal best of 46 minutes.

Tracked mileage for the month was 153 miles so up a little on Novembers... and again maybe 20 miles or so untracked here and there!

The 3rd MTB race of the Thetford Winter Series was not until the end of January, so I had a few weeks to continue preparation!

November 2011 - A Race!

November saw me enter my first MTB race!

Heres what i wrote on my scooter racing blog-;

The Thetford Whyte Winter Series is a set of 4 Races held between November and February and attracts a full capacity of 500 riders to each race.  Classes are split by age group with distance options from 2 laps to 4 hours (!)  So somehow on the first weekend of November I found myself deep in the Thetford Forest lining up with 500 other loons to race bicycles around a cross country course about 6.5 miles long.

It was very much a baptism of fire and not even having been to a mountain bike race before!  I had only been training a few weeks really at this point and had no idea what to expect really!......   My engine tuner Chalky White is a keen and regular cyclist and I had his advice ringing in my ears......  " Don't go off too fast and burn yourself out " .....

I found that on the downhill singletrack swoops I could make up a lot of time.... but then immediately lose it when we hit the open fire track roads and uphill stretches.  I just didnt have the strength in my legs to keep up the same pace on those bits.  I ended the 2 lap race in 19th place out of 34 starters so overall I wasn't unhappy!

This gave me a good start to the month and I really enjoyed the challenge of starting a completely new sport aged 48!

My tracked cycle miles was a bit less than the previous month - winter and dark nights were kicking in, but at the end of the month I went back up to Sherwood Pines and actually did 2 laps around the Red Route ( separated by a rest stop ) with a few members of Witham Wheelers cycle club.  It was difficult to compare my time with previous as the down side of riding in a group is that they keep stopping and playing catch up!  So although the recorded time was a couple of minutes over an hour... there was a bit of stopping and starting involved!  i was pretty shot after a second lap though...... probably the hardest day I had done so far at that point!

I still wasn't really doing many rides over 10 miles but was still continuing to feel stronger and fitter, and continued to notice improvements in recovery time, and a bit more weight lost!

October 2011 - Talked into racing!

October 2011 was when I guess I started to actually say that I was a Cyclist !  i tracked myself covering 171 miles In October..... so with a few additional untracked journeys here and there, I would think the true mileage was probably just under 200 miles in the month.

I rode my bike to work quite a few days ( 5 miles round trip ) and was aiming to build up to 15 mile or so rides on the weekends.  i was riding out quite a bit along the Grantham Canal.  This is a nice place to ride, and with the main part of it being flat along the canal, it was giving me a good measure of improving fitness as the route is consistent!

The month also saw my first regular rides of over 10 miles (!) and a trip to Sherwood Pines where theres a red route around 8.5 miles long.  I did a lap around it in a bit over an hour.  My business Partner Lee talked me into actually entering a mountain bike race at Thetford Forest in November so i was starting to build up some mileage in preparation for that race!

This was the first month that I started to see a difference in myself in terms of fitness.  I started to notice that I was noticeably less tired riding, and recovery time afterwards was much quicker... so that had to be a good thing.  I was pleased that I'd let Lee talk me into entering a race as it was part of a 4 race series over the winter, so I hoped that this would give me an incentive to carry on riding despite the darker nights.

At the end of the month I also decided to buy a new mountain bike after trying Lee's at Sherwood Pines . my Specialized hard rock was a good bike, but was now 8 years old and bikes keep progressing technically, and Lee's new GT handled and performed so much better!

In October I also had a trip to Rutland Water and had a look at the Giant bike shop there, where I tried a Giant XTC3 ....  which I really liked.  Its an XC race designed bike, it has a nice fast, cruising stele.  Its not designed for throwing around as such, but I liked the feel of it.... so a search began on Ebay to look for one... in time for my race first weekend in November

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Why Cycling?

Like everyone I guess I had bikes as a kid, and was hardly off them...... then once I started work and got motorised transport the bikes went.  Funny thing is I really don't remember selling them.... they just seemed to go!

Then in 1985-7 I had been skateboarding again ( another thing I stopped when I started work! ) and on the fringes of the skateboard scene I saw my first references to Mountain Bikes.  they were far from mainstream in those days, so of course they appealed to me even more because of that.  I read articles about the mountain bike pioneers in America and then bought myself one of these newfangled machines!

I remember buying some of the early mountain bike magazines including Mountain Biking UK , and I remember having a Mountain Bike Club sticker for 1987 on my bike!  I had Ordnance Survey maps and guides to places like the Lake District where I went off to ride up mountains like an intrepid explorer! Those early mountain bikes were so dated compared to todays highly developed bikes!

I gradually stopped riding so regularly until I was 40 when I bought a new more modern mountain bike - a Specialized Hardrock .  This at the time (2003) was like a Rolls Royce compared to my old MBK bike... it had an oversized alloy frame, V brakes, 24 indexed gears!  Amazing!

I rode this bike on and off when it was fine and in the summer.... again, like many others just went down as far as the park and rarely went further than a couple of miles.

Fast forward to 2011......  a period of depression and ill health led to me starting to ride my bike again.  These days with modern technology and Apps for gps cycling trackers I suddenly found it quite interesting to be able to track my mileage and I found I enjoyed being out on my bike.  For health and wellbeing you really can't beat cycling!  My business partner is a champion cyclist and encouraged me to ride more.

I remember around July / August time 2011 going out on my bike, and coming back sweating profusely and exhausted - dead proud of myself for riding a whole 5 miles!

In September  i rode my bike a whole 35 miles over the month, and then it was in October that i would say I really started riding regularly.  I rode to work quite often and was going out on my bike a couple of nights a week riding more regularly and further distances - up to 10 miles at a time!

So..... what were the benefits I was finding??  Well I loved being out in the open air.  It was brilliant for my general health and wellbeing and as a tool to fight against depression I can fully recommend it!  I felt much healthier, and was starting to lose some weight as well!

It was by the end of October that I would say i was a regular cyclist... getting keener by the day!