enough to make me buy one
enough to make me buy one
It is always down to preparation. Rarely will you do well at a race unless you are fully prepared.
For the Strathpuffer my intentions had been good but then some things came up that messed with my plans a bit.
1. I started work on a documentary series on Syria that saw me filming away from home. Istanbul life was hectic enough and although I tried to hit the gym – those horrible gym bikes never feel like real training.
2. I came back to do one last long ride – before my taper – but whether it was the 2 degree weather, my pathetic wet gloves and freezing feet. The bugs i probably breathed in flying in the day before … but I got man flu sick. I spent Tuesday,Wednesday and thursday going to bed at 8pm and trying to sleep it out and get healthy.
3. I had the equipment sorted. Great bike lights, new cleats on my winter boots, toasty Sealskin mtb gloves and spare discs for the bike.
I spent Friday driving up past Inverness to the race location at Strathpeffer. I was swigging calpol and cough medicine and downing cold and flu tablets and treating myself to throat lozenges …. I wasn’t pretty. But then out the front of the window the view was a tad scary.
Got there and saw the accommodation for the night …. we were hardly roughing it.
Race day rolled around and Dr Heart was going first – I had cycled 50m up the road from the camper to realise the whole fire road was iced. So after the bunch went past i started to put on the Schwalbe Ice Spiker Pro’s
I didn’t get them both on in time for my turn to lap – the tubeless was not going to work so Heart did a second lap and in the confusion so did I sans dibber …. Dr Heart said a few cross words (naughty C and F words) and headed out on the 3rd lap. The Ice Spikers were amazing I couldn’t stand on the trail but i could cycle it which I find quite mind-blowing.
The course was great – fireroad climb technical rock section singletrack across the top then a sweet descent back to the start – all just 10km long
… our camper was halfway up the fireroad so the laps on strava always include our off lap.
Robbie and Huw were another team of pairs and they sped off on their laps – after a few laps they were running 4th and we were 15th …. out of 50 pair teams. Huw was bashing out laps of 37min within a few seconds of that (and all night stayed in the 45-47 mark) and Robbie was steady at 42min (which he did for the whole race) Da Automaton
My breathing was sketchy post cold and I had my HRM beep me if it went over 145bpm so my laps were a slow 45min – 52min. After 6 laps i had to ask Tom to do a double as my coughing now had an iron after taste. Huw and Robbie were now tying for 2nd and we were up to 7th although 1.5 laps behind. Dr Heart, Huw and Robbie were also all on 29er’s which got me thinking …. (but for another post)
But after my 8th lap I said I couldn’t do anymore (well I couldn’t afford to get sick all week). My legs felt great and if it wasn’t for my cough I am sure I would have lasted. Dr Heart pulled on some more impressive distance but then got shut eye for 5.5 hours. When we were both up again Huw and Robbie were winning by 10min and we were back in 15th although Thom did a last lap flyer and he clawed us up to a 14th.
The winners won their prizes … then it was a 4hr drive home …. YAWN
There is a Strathpuffer LITE (in SUMMER) …. Mmmmmmm maybe
And YES of course there were FAT BIKES there
The plan was hatched we were going to practice.
Dr Heart as he is now known is my partner in the upcoming race the Strathpuffer 24 (aka stupidfest). the plan was made to go up to Laggan and ride the Wolftrax route that is supposed to be a good guide on what we are do to encounter in the Strathpuffer. I was fired up and changed the oil in the rohloff Speedhub on Friday and loaded my bike ready to go along with lights changes of clothes as well as sleeping and bivvy bag as i wasn’t sure whether we would be spending a night in a hostel or bothy or even a car.
Here is a description:
The red route is a fantastic 15km experience in two sections – but watch out for Wolftrax’s predatory instincts! For the inexperienced it is technical and challenging; for the experienced, it strikes a good balance between being rideable and interesting.
The upper red route uses the existing black-graded singletrack climb and exit. With a fast descent and a choice of ‘opt in’ features, you’ll find the views that open up quite stunning.
Much of the lower red trail is narrow black shale with embedded rock obstacles, drop-offs, rock causeways, boardwalk and lots of tough little technical climbs.
Look out for features such as Air’s Rock, a challenging slab reminiscent of ‘The Slab’ at Dalbeattie, and the natural rock features of the Bhadain Boulder Field.
After Fang Corner, you can pause for breath at the Blue View and watch your fellow riders try to tame the Bike Park. The trail doubles back, bringing you into the Wolf Run: 300m of bermy timber boardwalk, twisting tightly through the trees and depositing you in the Bike Park.
Hurtle through for a short but immensely enjoyable blast back to the car park – and, more to the point, the tantalising cakes on offer in the café.
The ride on the last lap was tiring – I was cold, hungry and the weather hit me hard – horizontal rain ruined visibility and wind even blew me off the stone trail at one point. So finished with scraped leg and ego deflated. Laggan was frozen up to last week and I must admit it is a technical red. Unlike Glentress which has great flowing sections and is brilliant on a hardtail – i think Laggan rewards the dual sus rider more. On my first loop I went onto the wooden rails thinking that although soaking and slightly slimy they would be wire meshed like glentress – WRONG – front went away on first turn and slam I went off to hug a tree at the side. Even if I had spiked tyres on i don’t think you could ride this. Judging by marks on the ground where I fell and footmarks back up to alternative route my mistake is a common one …..
That night found a great hostel in the village 7 miles away had a great hot shower then hit the hotel bar for food and 4 lovely pints of Spitfire Sledgehammer. Next morning it was back to the trail for one final loop in daylight (and to remind ourselves that it wasnt too crap) then back to the ladies and kids. This time was quicker even with tired legs – had two dabs on red upper route but went clean through the lower red which was pleasing.
Judging by the signs on the cafe – this is now shut so bring your food and drink with you … and remember to pay your £3 parking fee which pays for the trails ……
New for 2012, Carver’s original Ti Fat Bike gets a redesign and becomes … The O’Beast. The biggest (pun intended) adjustment to the Carver Bikes O’Beast frame comes in the form of extra tire clearance adding ample room for the large 4.7″ Fat Bike tires. For 2012 Carver opted to spec the O’Beast with a versatile 44mm head tube allowing riders to run 1-1/8 or 1.5 inch tapered forks. Other new features include a replaceable derailleur hanger / dropout and a nice brake bridge at the disc caliper mount for added stopping power. The 2012 O’Beast comes in a brushed (polished) finish only and now comes with rack mounts.
Since moving 3 years ago across the city I have only managed to head west and go on my old trails a handful of time and i think that in the last year i havent done one ride on my old regular. This morning i headed off early and headed along the canals then up the kelvin river walkway and then on road to Milngavie. The West Highland Way is a famous walking trail in the west of Scotland (here comes a description)
The 154Km (96miles) Route starts at Milngaviepasses through Mugdock Country Park, follows the shores of Loch Lomond, passing Ben Lomond, through Glen Falloch and Strathfillan, crossingRannoch Moor, past Buachaille Etive Mor to the head of Glencoe, climbing the Devil’s Staircase, descending to sea level to cross the River Leven at the head of Loch Leven before entering Lairigmorand Glen Nevis and finishes at Gordon Square inFort William.
The terrain ranges from lowland moors, dense woodland and rolling hills, to high mountainousregions in the Scottish Highlands. These environments provide habitats for a diverse range ofwildlife species, both flora and fauna
MY ROUTE ON STRAVA here
Like is says my start is Mugdock where there are many trails cutting across the park – what i noticed this ride is how wet all the trails were despite the fact that there has been little rain these past 2 weeks … it goes to show more how wet the summer has been. None of the streams have the typical low summer flow and the trails still have water running across them that is slowly draining out of the hills. Needless to say i was soon caked in mud.
There is nice rock and roots section quite early on to get your singletrack technical head in gear … then a haul along to Carbeth Loch then through a gate and a steep technical climb (Rosies Gate to treeline) – I seem to remember there was always a risk of spinning out in the past and the effort to get up without falling off was always a challenge but today i had no issues and Strava said i had a PR but i know there are about 100 tracks from the past that i haven’t uploaded so i am sure i have done it better in the past …
After Rosies there is now a more level graded road as the forestry workers are in cutting down some sections of the forest … as i was hammering along I glanced a new trail heading off to the right so went for an explore. Someone has been trailbuilding as there are sections of wooden ladderwork over some muddy sections but not all the mud is covered as i discovered when coming off the trail and sinking the front 29er wheel nearly up to the hub in the mud. The sections under the trees were completely muddy and the Racing Ralph on the rear was soon a mud didc happily spinning and sliding and occasionally biting into the trail … I think it may be time to get some better traction all round tyres (this is Scotland after all)
Back home and a quick shower for the bike and then for me …. now time to start cooking the roast Sunday Lamb (organic Shetland Lamb as well YUMMMM)
It must be an age thing but I quickly forget just how good mtb’ing is – the last 6 months I have been spending more and more time on the titanium lynskey road bike and I forgot all about my other Ti bride – the beast that is my rolloff geared titanium carver 96’er.
Friday morning and I had time – well a 2 hr slot before picking my youngest up from school. I am supposed to be tapering (ie no exercise) for the half marathon on Sunday so it was never going to be too hectic. I bombed down the canals close to the house and headed to a small wood on a large house estate where there were wee climbs as well as a few singletrack sections. I haven’t been in this wood for probably 2 years and these last 2 winters have seen some big storms.
The woods had seen some carnage – some steps that I use to ride down were blocked by the biggest oak tree destroyed in the storms.
There some nice additions a felled tree arching across the trail –
some new singletrack sections – and on coming home STRAVA says I weaved through the chicanes at a record pace king of the mountain for a day or two…..