Seven.

 

Before….

The usual faff, some rushing around, bike issues and half a day spent on a visit to the passport office for a fifteen minute long meeting all finally dovetailed into a hassle-free trip southwards to Peebles.   Its just a shame we forgot to pack the camping chairs.

James, legendary pit manager, was on hand to run things with his usual clockwork precision, I was stressing about nonsense not worthy of the effort and somehow, almost inexplicably, the sun was out.

We arrived in plenty of time, set up in the solo pit area and got ready for the day.  We ignored the racket from the louts a few spots down, had a final check of the bike (still a PITA) and I started to warm up.

After the race briefing, people started to suit up and congregate so I thought I should join them.  Pink seemed to be the right colour, it feels more like a race jersey as I’m always wearing the black ones plus it matched my new socks.

I was all ready and with some final words of encouragement from the legend, it was time to go.

As usual, I ended up in the back third of the pack and incapable of allowing a sensible photo to be taken……and the the gun went and we stood still for a while until the pack moved. :-)

Lap 1

The first climb saw the usual race tactic – picking off riders one by one as we ascended.  Lots of them, indicating how far back I must have started.  Never mind, its always this way.  The furst lap went right up the fire road, to break up the field, so I took full advantage, hoping to avoid one of those annoying Selkirk-style bottlenecks at the first singletrack section.

We hit the Buzzards Nest car park then shot down the blue rout to join the singletrack and the queue.  Bollocks. :-/

I made a smart arsed comment about Selkirk and the rider next to me smiled as he clearly understood….

Once past, it was onwards and upwards again, picking off some more riders then back onto the singletrack for more smiles and a dodgy root that I had a feeling would become an issue as the race progressed….

It wasn’t long until I was heading back down towards the arena and I found myself wondering if there wasn’t going to be more climbing from lap 2 onwards……..

Lap 2

Ooooh, I was right.  Lap 2 saw us heading off in a different direction from lap 1, climbing up the singletrack ascent parallel to the fire road, then dropping down  over the road and up another to Magic Mushroom.  Big smiles, boardwalk at speed.  BOOM.

We joined back onto the fire road to the Buzzards Nest car park for a bout 3 seconds and headed straight up a different climb.  A bit of a drag, but over soon enough.  We then joined the singletrack climb to the car park then the rest of lap one’s course from there.

I wasn’t getting into a rhythm though.  My back was aching a bit and things weren’t helped by being blocked by a rider on the final descent who ignored all polite requests to pass, kept stopping and dabbing on corners and seemed to be completely out of her depth.  I remained calm though, any attitude wouldn’t solve anything and once we were out of the trees, I could get back up to speed.  I’d worry about how much time I lost there afterwards….

Lap 3

Things were not going to plan.  I started the lap with a longer stop than planned, for a pee, grabbing food, popping some painkillers and rubbing in some voltarol gel.  I eventually got back out and started back round.  As the lap progressed though, my back continued to ache and I was starting to worry.  No, really worry.  In the space of ten minutes, I had talked myself into and out of bailing, cancelled Selkirk the following week, uncancelled it but generally, I was starting to freak the fuck out.

As a friend pointed out to me afterwards, it was as if I was having a condensed version of a 24 hour race and the ups and downs usually spread out over that longer experience….

I rolled back in, popped more pills (bad me!!!) and slowly rolled back out, pausing to avoid some idiot who had left his bike half-in the lane .

Lap 4

Suddenly, as I climbed back up to Magic Mushroom, everything clicked.  My rhythm appeared from nowhere, my legs decided to pay ball and back issues faded.

Things were now fun, something which, if you had asked me about 40 minutes before, I’d have denied the possibility of ever happening….

Photo by Bob Marshall - http://www.bobmarshall.co.uk/

Photo by Bob Marshall – http://www.bobmarshall.co.uk/

So, i was up, round, back and smiling.  Well, on the inside anyway.

Lap 5

Lap 5 was a carbon copy of lap 4, all the way round to suffering road.  That climb was starting to get hard, so I decided to walk the top half, like about 75% of the other riders around me.  I slowed, lifted my leg over and was suddenly stricken by spasms and cramp in my thigh.  This was new….it was also a Very Bad Thing.  I stretched it out and got to the feeding station.  The lovely marshall offered me a banana….now, I hate bananas with a passion, but needs must.  I wolfed it down, ate some cake then pressed on.  I had been at the feeding station too long and vague attempts at mental arithmetic were coming up short. My aim was 7 laps, maybe 8 at a push.  8 was now impossible, but 7 was well in reach – I’d just take stock at the end of the lap and take it from there.  If there was more cramp, there could be issues but I decided to not worry about that quite yet……

 

Lap 6

Lap 6 flew by.  My brain was functioning again, I took a note of the time I passed the feeding station and concluded that, if everything went to plan, I had loads of time to get 7 laps in so knuckled down and got on with it.  just one more lap to go.  Fingers crossed….no issues, no blockers, no cramp, just riding….

 

Photo by Bob Marshall - http://www.bobmarshall.co.uk

Photo by Bob Marshall – http://www.bobmarshall.co.uk

Lap 7

My mental ariithmetic told me that I had about 1 hour 20 left to squeeze in a final lap and lap 5 was just over the hour mark.  Ideally I wanted to be at the feeding station before 5, giving me loads of leeway for the final burst towards the arena.

I didn’t stop as I went through and just rode on, upping the pace a tiny bit as I headed upwards.

I reached the feeding station with time to spare and flew back down to the arena, arriving 15 minutes before the final cut off.

 

I was done.  Finished, burst and happy.

The weather had behaved, the bike had grudgingly played ball, other than the squealing brakes and BB creak.  My back hadn’t behaved but I had dealt with it.  I got the planned 7 laps in.

I had ticked this box now, there was no need to do it again.

Although….I could always come back and try to get in 8 laps next year……………………  :-)

Thanks then….James for another legendary performance, the 99% of riders that smiled, enjoyed the day and didn’t have an attitude problem, all the marshals but in particular the lady at the feed station and lastly the organisers for a great event.  There’s even an ace wee video here:  http://vimeo.com/67756730

Now, who wants to organise FifeLove?  :-D

 

Stretchmarks and suspicious stains

Before winter, everything gelled.   Two sets of wheels set up tubeless – a pair of Shimano XT UST wheels on the singlespeed and the DT Swiss on the Canyon with the addition of the DT Swiss kit.

Winter came though and the rear tyres on both were swapped out for some Conti X-Kings which performed well all winter but weren’t tubeless compatiable.

Spring returned and it was time for tubeless to join it.  A simple job surely…….

(L)UST Maxxis Crossmark back on the XT, sealed and inflated in 5 minutes.  Maxxis Ikon back on the Canyon…..an hour later and it still wouldn’t play ball.  It appeared that the tyre had stretched a bit so it wasn’t tight enough to create a proper seal anymore.  It didn’t help that the edge of DT Swiss’ PoS rim strip had curled in slightly.  I was fighting a losing battle and pissing sealant away all over the garage floor.

So, plan B……(L)UST Crossmark back off the XT and on to the DT Swiss.  Ikon onto the XT.  The Crossmark went up fairly easily, after a little faff.  The Ikon on the XT….still no joy but confirmation that it had indeed stretched.

Baws.

Plan C?  Raking through the garage….a pair of old and very skinny Conti Vapors (dating from the days of minimal 29er tyre choice), a slightly used Bontrager thing (great but not tubeless friendly), a set of F+R Schwalbe Rocket Ron (F) and Racing Ralph (R) – ‘tubeless ready’ according to the sidewalls, anything but based on painful experience.

I found my spare Crossmark – wire bead, but it had run well tubeless last year so on it went and…….no joy.  Still, it was tighter than the Ikon.

Time for plan D.  I made a makeshift rim strip out of a buggered 26″ tube, cut out the valve and trimmed it all to fit.  The thinking was simple enough – create a better seal and compensate for any stretching.  I chucked a pile of sealant in (meaning I had managed to use way over 3/4 of a bottle on these two wheels….) and inflated.

Lots of air seepage but lots of bubbles too and finally, after too many hours of pissing about, I had two wheels back in tubeless guise.

So much for it being easy.

Re-Sprung.

It was here.  I saw it.  I rode it.  I experienced it.

It was Spring and it was here for over a week.  Blue skies, trials that were drying out nicely and riding well.  Riding fast.  Holidays, windows of opportunity all dovetailing for a good bash at the first couple of weeks of intensity training in ideal conditions.  Training that is fun though.  I’m surrounded by lots of great riding so the training feeds off the trails which feed off the training which……  Hooning around stuff is great fun.

I was having so much fun that I forgot to take any photos, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

However, its okay now.  It rained overnight and now there was an opportunity to take photos…..

.

And on we go……………

Its now British Summer Time, I have some time off and I even managed to persuade James come out to ride up a couple of hills.

Yes, Summer is now here, as is apparent by the continued snowdrifts and ice at elevation.  However, its regressed back to the good kind of snow so its been days of hammering around fast flowing trails, with the distinctive crunch of slightly frosty powder under your tyres.  Drifting round corners and pinning it down packed down snowy trails…..

It could be worse.  Lots worse.  :-)

Sprung

March 2012…

March 2013….

I’d taken stock of the situation, pulled a plan together and started to get my head down.  I’d booked a little bit of time off, plus there is the upcoming Easter break.  All good for ramping up the mileage and getting some proper training miles in before intensity training kicks off in April..

Oh wait, I got ahead of myself there as the weather has once again decided to get in the way.

So, March has turned into a series of snowy rides, the kind where its too cold to consider stopping and taking a pic and make sure you drink lots in case you have to defrost a component later in the ride.

One of my favourite trails has been off limits, difficult to access thanks to drifts and others have had their character changed completely (sometimes good, sometimes less so….) However, yet more have ridden like its the middle of a dry summer….except for the fact its -6c thanks to the windchill.

Its been great fun. :-)

Tall. Grumpy. Scottish. Pick three………