Monday 29 December 2008

2008 - Recap

The Chris Hoys

Keeping my second cat road racing licence

Being able to do a women's race every week at Crystal Palace

Winning prize money for a team series race and a track omnium all in one weekend !

Getting a trophy and various goodies for being 3rd placed woman and Lanterne Rouge at the same time in the Vaujany cyclo sportive - all with a police escort for the last 50km !

Getting to be a podium girl at the Giro di Sardegna cyclosportive

Watching Nicole Cooke get gold at the Olympics

My London to Paris bike ride - watching the Arc de Triomphe emerge above me in the autumn evening sun as I rolled in to one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

The friendly and exceptionally well organised Sean Kelly Tour of Waterford

Having a whale of a time ski-ing at Val d'Isere

The beautiful views of the mountains from my bedroom window at Le Bourg d'Oisans during La Marmotte week.

The Shanaze Reades

Breaking my rear mech at Lydden Hill cyclo cross just when I was in second place

Missing the start of a cyclosportive at Ruthin and riding the whole 80miles all on my own.

Regularly being the first one out in every "Devil take the hindmost" track race

The Southeast champs for both cyclo cross and road - setting off way too fast at the start, blowing up soon after and spending the rest of the race going backwards

Watching Shanaze Reade crash out in the final at the Olympics

Getting that dreaded cold twice this winter !!

Missing too many track races due to rain

Falling just short of a podium place a bit too often in the women's cyclo cross races !

At least the good bits outweigh the not so good bits - so the year wasn't so bad after all.

Sunday 28 December 2008

Last race of the Year !

So that's me done for 2008
13 cyclo cross races
13 circuit races
13 track races
3 open road races
2 cyclosportives
2 multi-stage cyclosportives
2 mountain bike races
1 time trial

So I've raced once week all year, with a couple of weeks' holiday. Pretty fun packed. Well, in fact I didn't race for the first few months of the year so I ended up racing more than once a week so things were even more fun packed and pretty energetic !

So I am glad to have made it through what seems to have been quite a busy schedule. It'll be interesting to see how the 2009 schedule looks. I plan to see out the cyclo cross season right to the end, so I will be racing in early 2009. I am not sure how many road races I will do, as I might err on the cyclo sportive side things - it seems that's the new trend when you get older. (Well, it's better than ploughing up and down a dual carriageway in a time trial I suppose !)

Anyway, I did my last race of the year yesterday. It was at Footscray Meadows, near Sidcup and I was happy with the way things went. Still not good enough to get on the podium these days, but I feel I rode ok considering I had travelled down from Yorkshire at stupid o'clock in the morning to make it for the lunchtime start. A few coffees later and I was as right as rain with a zing in my pedalling !

Note the pictures of the lads racing in the bunch, and notice my rather frugal attire. That was the main problem I had with the race. Despite racing as hard as I could, apart from my (big) hands, no other part of me could keep warm. It was the first time I did a race without breaking a sweat! By the time I'd finished racing my teeth were chattering uncontrollably and my legs were twice as thick with goosebumps. It seems that contrary to what I'd believed, I'm not a real Northerner.

Anyway, looking forward to more fun (and warmer) races in 2009!

Thanks Santa !

I didn't get most things on the list, but I have got a new cyclo cross frame.

The clearance should be better as it is a genuine cyclo cross frame. So it will be different to what I have been using - a catch-all frame that does a bit of off-road/cycle touring/cyclosportives etc.
That should definitely help me in a week's time when I come to riding in that messy gloop also known as the in-field at Herne Hill Velodrome.

I just need to bide my time while the good people at Geoffrey Butler's transfer the old components onto the new frame.

One thing that Santa could have worked on is the Minx clothing. My club colours won't mix well with the red and black of my new Planet X bike. I will definitely have to get some new kit.

Dear Minx/Assos/Rapha
- please send any special deals my way. Thank you !

Wednesday 24 December 2008

Dear Santa.........

For Christmas please could I have:

A bigger flat: 2wheeled horses take up alot of space otherwise I'll have to get rid of the furniture

A 'cross bike that doesn't clog with mud: mine feels like I'm riding with the brakes on

A self-cleaning 'cross bike would be a good idea too

A self-cleaning flat

More time: work and life get in the way of training sometimes

Perhaps you could get me a butler who can take care of some of the above

A pair of legs that have with the power of Serena Williams and the elegance of Halle Berry

Runproof, waterproof make-up - I wanna look a babe on a bike, like the Italian girls

An indoor velodrome near my house

Cool Minx-girl clothing. I promise I'll walk the walk to match.

That's about it for now.
I know most of these items are a bit tricky to fit down a chimney, but see what you can do.

Thanks so much in advance for your attention.

and a Merry Christmas to you all!

2Wheelchick :-)

Friday 12 December 2008

In the News !

My cycling antics may be fun to me and a few others, but they're not exactly headline grabbing. However, I have somehow made it onto a cycle news website - London Cyclesport. It mainly concerns cycle sport in London and the South East, but it covers cycling topics from further afield since people race in other regions and abroad too. Of course, it's also updated quicker than the cycling magazines. As a result, the readership of the site spans nationwide.

So, I was quite surprised about being asked for an interview about my cycling. "Why not ?" (I chuckled). Now that I've gotten over the initial embarrassment of seeing my mug on the front page, I actually feel quite pleased and glad that I've been portrayed in a good light.

Anyway, see below for the article. It's about cyclo cross, and as mentioned in it - Have a go ! There's about 6 weeks left before the season ends so make the most of it.
Oh, and thanks to John Mullineaux for suggesting this !


Interview: Maria David - 11/12/08

Maria David is a regular competitor on the cycling circuit taking part in road and cyclo cross. On behalf of Maria has been interviewing a number of women racers for a series of features soon, and we thought it approriate that she should be first to be put in the interview saddle. Maria is currently taking part in the Mosquito Bike London Cyclo Cross League.

How long have you been racing cyclo cross?

Properly racing since 2006, though I muddled my way through a season in 2003!

What made you decide to get into it?

A few people told me how much fun it was and that it’s a great way to keep fit during the winter. Mark Wyer (who now coaches in the Eastern League) ran a series of training sessions at Eastway, and I was immediately sold on the idea.

What do you like about cyclo cross?

It’s such fun. Doing it brightens up gloomy winter days. It’s sociable and a good family sport. Even though it’s a race I don’t get anywhere near as nervous as I do before other types of bike racing. It’s also an excuse to fling your bike around, get all muddy and no one’s gonna shout at you saying "What have you been playing at? Look at the mess you’ve made!"

How did you find your first ever cyclo cross race?

I was so nervous and scared of everything – the course, my bike, myself. I waddled around the course slower than my grandmother!

How has your season been so far?

It’s been better than in previous seasons, so can’t complain. My form dips in November/December though as I lose the speed from road racing and all my training revolves around long slow rides.

What bike do you ride?

I bought a Pearson frame a couple of years ago, and put on the components from my then road bike.

What training do you do for cyclo cross?

Nothing specific. I train for road stuff and hope that cyclo cross benefits from that. Sometimes I prance around the park at South Norwood Lake practicing dismounting and re-mounting my bike.

Which is your favourite venue?

Stanmer Park. It’s got a good mixture of grass and wood trails, plus lovely speedy descents. There’s also a big hill to jazz things up. I also welcome any excuse to go to Brighton!

Do you drink during the race?

Yes – a couple of sips.

Do you ever get any of those "Horse refuses to jump" moments when you come to an obstacle during a race?

I don’t get them so much now, but when I have done so I try to remember times when I successfully rode something similar. I also pause and watch the line that more experienced riders take. Recc’ing the course well also avoids those problems.

So, with all the mud we’ve had this season what makes you keep on coming back?
Riding the London League is addictive. You want to see how well you can do against your fellow competitors over the season. Also, it’s good to catch up with the regulars and have a chin-wag. I must admit that this season’s mud has been a bit trying though.

Any tips on getting the mud out of your clothes and off your bike?

I hand wash my clothes before putting them in the washing machine. If anyone has tips for the bike they would be most welcome!

What do you do during the spring/summer?

Road racing, cyclosportives plus a bit of track at Herne Hill for training.

So how have you found moving from smooth tarmac to the bumpy rough stuff?

I am ok with it now, but initially I found it a very difficult concept. It also helps if you have a bike that doesn’t let you down much. I’ve been quite lucky in that respect.

And for you, how does cyclo cross compare with road racing?

In a cyclo cross race there’s not that same pressure to keep up with a peloton. Cyclo cross races are very much a game of 3 halves. Just because a few people burn off up the field at the start of the race, doesn’t mean it’s curtains for you. There’s a lot of unpredictability in a cyclo cross race, which makes it more exciting – both from a rider’s and a spectator’s standpoint. There’s also something more laid back about cyclo cross racing compared with road racing.

What would you say to those newbies considering having a go at cyclo cross?

Just get out whatever off-road bike you have and have a go! Everyone gets a buzz out of it regardless of how well you do.

Sum up cyclo cross in three words.

Tough but fun.

Watch out for Maria's interviews soon to be published on

Sunday 7 December 2008

New Training Tool

Him: Get up on the bike then.
Her: How do I do it? I've got nothing to balance on. The bike will fall over.
Him: No it won't, you'll be fine.
Her: Come closer so I can lean on you.

(He moves closer)

Her: Come closer, you're not close enough!! I need you to hold me!
Him: I'm there !!

(She climbs onto the bike with difficulty)

Her: Oh my God, the back wheel's sliding around. It's like I'm skidding. I can't do this !

(She quickly gets off.)

Her: Ok - I'm really scared, I don't know if I can do this.
Him: What are you gonna do, d'you wanna take it back and get a refund?
Her: I'll try again.
Him: Hang on. Let's move the furniture around.

(They clear the dining table to another part of the room.)

Him: Right - now move the bike forward, step on the stand.....get the bike into position and climb on.
Her: How??
Him: Just lean on the wall and climb on.
Her: Can't I lean on you?
Him: No, it's easier if you lean on the wall.
Her: I need you to be there and catch me. Are you watching ??? Be ready just in case I fall !!
Him: Look, I'm here. Calm down!

(She struggles to climb on, then places her feet on the pedals.)

Her: What do I do now ?
Him: Start pedalling with one hand on the handlebars and put the other hand on the wall for balance.
Her: Oh God, this doesn't feel good.
Him: You need to pedal faster than that.
Her: Ok.
Him: Don't look down, focus on something ahead and just learn to feel the bike. Relax.
Her: I can't relax. This is really scary.
Him: Keep pedalling, and feel the steering, as the bike moves.
Her: Steering, are you joking??
Him: Just learn to balance the steering with the movements of the bike. Try it.

(She steers the handlebars to the right.)

Her: Aaagh!! F**ck!!

(She clumsily jumps off, almost falls but is caught.)

Her: (panting)Bl**dy hell what did you ask me to do that for??
Him: I only meant a gentle movement. And anyway there was no damage done. I caught you.
Her: Don't ask me to do that again.
Him: Look, have another go.
Her: I really don't want to. I'm tired and stressed out.
Him: Just have another go. Just try 30 seconds.
Her: Ok - but only 30 seconds, right.

(She gets back on and very hesitantly starts pedalling while holding the wall.)

30 seconds later.......

Her: This doesn't feel too bad.
Him: D'you like it now?
Her: Not sure, but it's not as scary. Just don't go away. Stay close by.
Him: See if you can do 2minutes.

1 min later.....

Her: I'm tired, it must be two minutes now. Are you messing with me? I'm just gonna stop anyway if you are.
Him: No, carry on. You're doing well.

(Almost 2mins later....)

Him: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2,

Her: Aaaagh!!! Bl**dy hell,

(She falls into the wall)

Her: Where were you??
Him: Hmm it's not easy getting on and off these things. Anyway, how do you feel?
Her: (Panting and sweating.) That's it now, two minutes is enough. I'm so knackered -it's not the pedalling. It's all my arms and upper body! That is so stressful!
Whoever said parabolic rollers make it easy for beginners should be shot - my ar$e!

So, that was my first foray into the world of rollers. I like riding them now. I'm still not very graceful, but I can get on and off them unassisted, and I don't need anyone to be standing watching me the whole time. It reminds me of when I learnt to ride a two wheeler bicycle all those decades ago. (Though I remember the temper tantrums lasted over a few weeks !)

I can already feel that riding rollers is making a difference to my sense of balance on the bike, and also my pedalling, so I'll definitely be sticking with it. (Though, I still won't ditch the turbo trainer.)

Some people who don't have rollers may be put off getting them after reading this. Don't be - many people will have tried them for the first time and picked up the technique within minutes. (Fred did.) Also, once you're riding them, as with anything that you learn on a conditioned reflex you quickly forget what all the fuss was about and it becomes second nature.

Happy Training, my friends !