Wednesday, 25 November 2009
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
Wednesday, 16 September 2009
“ZipVit as a nutritional supplement is very important to us. The gels are very good and have a really good taste.”
I can only assume that you are not talking about the orange flavour caffeinated gel that I recently tried. I was attracted by the claim that it had more caffeine than 2.5 cans of Red Bull. Jeeeezus, that would be a lot of cafffeine even for my espresso-addled body!!! So I shoved it in my back pocket before the start of this year's Etape to have on the foothills of Mont Ventoux as I felt if I ever needed some caffeine, that was going to be the place. The conditions were not ideal as it was horribly hot in the forest, but I can honestly say that this gel must rank as one of the most unpleasant substances I have ever had the misfortune to eat. It has a paste-like consistency (a bit like a PowerGel), which I really dislike, preferring the more liquid gels like High5 or Torq. It is also high volume (like GoGels). So it was pretty nasty. Bad consistency, and lots of it. It actually made me gag and I had to wash very small mouthfuls down with water. It may have worked, but it was truly horrible. OK, so it was a free sample so I shouldn't be too ungrateful, but sorry, no stars!!
Tuesday, 5 May 2009
I did my first Omnium track event at Herne Hill on Sunday. This consisted of -
1. 12 lap scratch race (i.e. normal race)
2. 3 lap sprint (heats)
3. 12 lap 'Devil Take the Hindmost'
4. 3 lap sprint (final)
5. 12 lap points race
I've done quite a few training sessions and informal scratch races at Herne Hill but not a formal event like this. I was racing in the B Cats - there's also an A Cat group.
The Scratch race went OK, top 10 I think (just about), all quite fast and furious. The first two in the sprint heats went through to the final and I think I won my heat (very close on the line though), so went through. The Devil was tough - all about positioning and was annoyed to go out on the last elimination lap (2 riders out per lap). Still top 10 though. Sprint final was really close, 6 of us started and 4 of us were very close on the line for the top places. Not sure where I came on that one.
I was a little worried about the Points race, with 4 sprints (3,2,1 points in each for first 3 riders), pain was going to be a fairly prominent feature. I covered an early attack and scooped 1 point in the first sprint for 3rd, and then hung on for 2 points in each of the next 2 sprints (5 total). By the last lap I was still in the front group, but fading so I sat up. Still not sure where I came, but I think I got a podium, possibly 2nd.
So overall, I ended up with 4th position overall. Pretty happy with that for my first Omnium, and you BC points fiends will be interested to know you get points for track events too! Not sure how many yet, but they are rumoured to be quite generously distributed.
Tuesday, 31 March 2009
Monday, 30 March 2009
Wednesday, 25 February 2009
This time I was looking for payback and a good solid result to count towards the best 3 results that make up the series rankings. Still standing 21st overall despite only finishing 2 of the 3 previous races, I was gridded near the front. Fellow London Phoenix rider and riding buddy Stuart blagged his way to the front with me, and went on to overtake me following the start (cheeky beggar). I was deliberately being a bit cautious as I didn’t want to get caught up in any more accidents! Stuart stayed in front for part of the first lap, and I narrowly avoided another crash in the first singletrack section.
The course was absolutely superb! Pretty much dry (apart from a few areas) and offering just the right amount of grip to rail through the many bermed corners between the trees, ‘speeder-bike’ style (think Star Wars: Return of the Jedi). Throw in some fireroad sections, add a couple of short but reasonably demanding climbs, and the course had just about everything (other than the usual ‘bomb holes’). My lap times for the 7.6 mile course were all in the 33-34 minute range, and after the slowish start, I started to move through the field a bit. Traffic on some sections was an issue, and number of times my earlier efforts to drop other riders came to nothing as I got stuck in a traffic jam in the very narrow sections. By the last of the 4 laps I was battling with 2 other riders who had overtaken me on a fireroad section and were clearly on a mission. Sitting ‘third wheel’ and coming into the last climb, the bumpy ‘Plumbuster’, I overtook one of them and then halfway up the climb went past the other, managing to slot in 3 backmarkers between us by the top (a good security measure). The last 2 short sections were much wider, so I put the hammer down up the last uphill section to come in 14th (out of 183). Pretty happy with that, but most of all I had a great time on the bike (which performed perfectly as usual). Honourable mentions go to all my team mates, including Matt Webber who, with the help of some Go gels, passed me on lap 3 to finish 10th and Stuart Lockyear, who was a very creditable 10th in the Vets.
Friday, 6 February 2009
I thought it would be good to get some for my Club, London Phoenix, so put the word out to see who was interested. Initial feedback was good, so I asked the folks at VC Graphix to design us some custom stickers using our club logo instead of a national flag. With a bit of feedback and fine tuning, we soon had a great looking design (no extra charge), and ordered up about 20 sets. Feedback on the club website has been very positive, and the service from VC was brilliant. They also offered a good deal on the order as it was reasonably large.
The stickers are extremely durable (they are not thin) and providing you clean the frame beforehand (I use a little isopropyl alcohol), they will stay firmly put. They even seem to resist mild jet-washing (although not the kind of jet-washing my riding buddy Stuart does, which tends to remove the paint!). No signs of UV fade either (some of my original ones are over 3 years old now).
All in all, a great service, well priced and best of all it makes you look like a Pro (alas, no performance enhancement noticed yet). If you want some, email Holly (firstname.lastname@example.org) and she'll get you sorted.
Tuesday, 3 February 2009
I got the all clear to go this time provided I took my five year old and here pal to a gymnastics party in East Ham(!) later in the day. Sounded pretty fair to me. Luckily the weather gods were smiling, with blue skies but a fairly brisk cold wind. I was seriously impressed with the facilities at Hog Hill. It felt very strange to be at a cycling event where the toilets were actually clean, and the rooms warm. Race numbers on (very fiddly), I did a couple of practice laps in the 'direction du jour', anticlockwise. Immediately apparent was the strong headwind going up the first rise and down the main descent. Serious effort would be required to break away down the hill. Next, through a series of tight, swoopy corners, and back into the wind for the run up to the fabled 'Hoggenberg'. From some accounts, it almost seemed as if someone had made a serious miscalculation with the plans by putting in a "really nasty" climb on a relatively small circuit. As it turns out, I found it a little anti-climactic. OK, the top bit kicks up a little, but it was not too bad. In fact, I kind of liked it!
Off we go then! The first few laps were fairly uneventful, and I stayed out of trouble while I got used to the course. Soon though it became clear the wind was going to cause a few problems, particularly on the climb out of the top part of the circuit to the long descent (not to mention the 'Berg). Sure enough, pretty soon the field had splintered, and a group of 20 or so out of the original 32 formed at the front. There were a few half-attempts to attack on the 'Berg', but I got the feeling these were just testing the legs (and the field). Anyway, I made sure I was near the front on each ascent, and felt pretty comfortable considering my bruised (and curiously yellow) knee from last weekend's crash on the MTB, and the 2 bottles of Bordeaux my Dad and I had shared the night before! I think a few more people dropped off over the next 20 minutes, leaving a group of about 12-15 riders. We started to lap a few of the slower riders once the '5 laps to go board' came out, and I started to feel reasonably confident of a good placing. I was finding the 'Berg to be no problem and was riding it in the saddle most laps while the guys beside me were huffing and puffing a bit.