Sunday, 31 May 2009

10 under the Ben 2009

CranKitUp HQ on Friday evening waiting on furnture and support staff !

Henry who teamed with Gavin having a break and Colleen and Andrew who gave us lots of encouragement.
Fiona near the end of the last lap at hour 11. Still smiling!

The "Moonshine" winner on the right (a NZ race similar to 10 under) who won a trip to 10 under the Ben.

10 under the Ben 2009
The sun gods shone brightly and with clear blue sky and 30c temp it was hot one. 34c at one point on the course. A faster course this year a lot of climbs and some new technical rooty/muddy sections to clog the treads followed by sections of the rocky stuff on the Worlds XC trail. Each lap was about 11 miles. Fiona and I were in the mixed senior vets but no competition for us there so we raced out our cat in the mixed vets. We came 2nd mixed vets with 4 laps each but the winners pipped us in time. We were happy though as very many folk gave up or succumbed to heat exhaustion. No trophy which seems odd as the mixed trios with less laps get one so not much to show other than a sore arse, tired legs and sunburn!

The heat was too much for some !

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Evening League XC Race

Last night saw the WHW run the first summer evening league XC in Glencoe on the "Repack" trail. A nice evening on this gnarly rooty black saw 12 up for the challenge of 60 mins lapped racing.

Rory Watt 12 1.02.04
Gavin MacLean 11 1.06.53
Davy Gunn 10 1.02.31
Ben Miller 10 1.06.09
Ed Daynes 9 1.03.56
Mike Thoulis 9 1.04.21
Callum Fraser 9 1.07.05
Keith Melton 8 1.04.39
Andy Rodgers 7 1.06.51
Lachlan Blair 7 1.07.36
Nigel Miller 5 1.00.32
Alex Whitaker 3 DNF

A hard circuit with several over the bars for all competitors and many close calls with drop off the top. Hard work for me especially after a TT the night before but going well.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Gears & Climbing

On the average of 6.8% with a top at 21%, several climbs at 12% with another 50 miles to do on the Mor in September, I got to thinking about cassettes. My top ring on the Beag was a 25 and bottom 11 on a compact 50/34. Given the wind I could have spun more in the saddle with less honking with a 26 or 27. Trouble is most Shimano & SRAM cassettes are standard at 11-25 0r 12-27 HG or 12-26/28 SRAM (most Shimano road rear derailleurs only accept 11 to 27). Dura Ace has an 11-27 but at over £120!

The 11 is a must to avoid being under powered on a compact, so the solution top and bottom seems to be to make your own block. Buy any Shimano 12-27 and take out the fixed top section which is 21-24-27 and replace your 21-23-25 with this, but keep the 11-12-13-14-15-17-19. For only £30 you can get the perfect 11-27 covering all bases on a compact.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

The Bealach Beag Sportif

Some folk struggling up the hill below the sleet line
Looking up to the col with the top past the "Skye" line. Folk walking and an abandoned bikeNix, Foss, Fiona & Colleen. Foss having done a bit of CPR on the ill rider until the ambulance arrived. And it worked !

Beag in gaelic means small or wee. Not much wee on the Bealach Beag Sportif, which is really another name for a race. It’s a fair drive to StrathCarron where we were going to camp. Thankfully we did B&B in a last minute booking with someone who felt sorry for us. Snow, hail and gaels (who’s name is Mary) took us in and gave us a bed – full of grace this Mary but a real chatterbox. There was also the windy kind at storm force 5/6. Mary the landlady? She hates Skye folk she tells us, but listens to radio Portree via a Broadband connection and could talk the hind legs of a donkey. She must have been a “skianach” herself! The double bed in our box room was “Queen” size but the duvet was a princess, meaning 50% of the night I was warm and 50% Fiona - depending on who rolled over. Mary who obviously worked for the Portree branch of MI5 kept us up late finding out if we were Argyll Al Queda, and combined with the duvet meant that apart from a bit of water boarding we were not only well interrogated but strung out and tired before the ride.

Off we popped to Sheildaig to the start. What a bonny place. I first went there as a climber back in 1973. At that time Wull T and John Hardy ran the Glencoe School of Winter Mountaineering from Loch Carron. Never thought I would just be a biker and non MR person, but re visiting confirms my MR time has passed as Wull & John were good blokes when your back was to the wall. Nice to meet the Torridon MR lads who were providing first aid cover. In particular Seamus MacNally.

Anyway back to the event. The weather was shite and the first 12 miles gale, hail and rain with a headwind until Tornapress and the turn off over to Appelcross and more headwind uphill. You couldn’t see the top 6 miles distant for mist, and even below the mist it was obvious we were in for sleet or snow at the top. For those in the know Liddesdale is the local hill to train on. The Bealach Beag is steeper and longer in distance and for me only just doable in a compact at 34/26. Maybe x 5 Liddesdale - and steeper. Quite a few folk walked a fair bit apparently. The descent to Appelcross is dangerous and maybe accounts for why for the first time on a race, for me at least, we had to fill in next of kin details. Long steep 8% to 13% stretches with hairpins to catch out tired and cold brake hands. I lost lots of time on this as I was too scared despite being in the front group to the top. Too dangerous for a guy who’s had a back injury 25 years ago and a neck injury 3, that’s my excuse. Locals were out in force and it was a bit TdF like getting cheered on through Appelcross and beyond. For folk who got to this point it was easy to think it was all over bar the shouting as there was a tail wind and fast good road. Lots of roadie tactics and I got suckered at the lead for a long while until I jumped.

The next 20 miles are the hardest of the race. Numerous 10 to 12% steep hills out off the saddle on the lowest gears and only just doable, followed by fast descents to carry you onto the next big up. This side was drier and what a stunning piece of coastline if your not too busy breathing out your arse to look. By this time knees are hammered – really hammered, and pre race fluid choices made some difference. I had an electrolyte/carb on my first bottle, but by this time I had a suck on the high caffeine/carb on bottle two. Very quickly I was strong again and felt good. Meanwhile not too far behind, Fiona was having a good ride and was going great and almost at the front of the Lochaber ladies - and she stopped to take loads of pictures (mad!) 3 of which I have posted. Colleen is strong and fast and Fiona couldn’t catch her or Nix. Nor could I catch Andrew who flew past me on the descent into Appelcross. I definitely lack fibre in the downhill.

Fiona & Colleen both witnessed a next of kin situation with a rider getting CPR after exploding from a medical rather than fall event. Need to find out if he survived. There have been many serious injuries on this ride but the marshals did a good job of warning us when possible.

There was no let up in hills till the very end back at Sheildaig. Truly buggered legs and 2hr 56m for me, and Fiona came in at 3hr.30m a very good time indeed. Would I do it again? Emphatically yes, but with a 5* B&B and King Size bed armed with knowledge of the route, and having worked on the mental as well as physical strength to maybe improve on this years times. Sunshine would help …………

Friday, 8 May 2009

Worlds Lightest Mountain Bike

Merida have unveiled a new carbon hardtail, the 0.Nine. It will be used by the Multivan Merida Biking Team this season and will be available to buy later this year.

The 0.Nine replaces the current Merida Carbon FLX hardtail, which has won five world and five European championship titles, as well as 15 World Cup victories.

With a claimed frame weight of "close to 930g" (approx 2.05lb, 18in size with regular bottom bracket), it is said to be 200g lighter and 20 percent stiffer than its predecessor.

Despite this increased stiffness, Merida say the 0.Nine is actually more comfortable than the FLX thanks to its Flex-Stays and new tapered seat tube which allows the use of a slimmer, more flexible seatpost (27.2mm).

Michael Wilkens, in charge of marketing for Merida in the UK, said this in-built flex in the stays and seatpost gives up to 40mm of 'suspension' travel. He said: "The 0.Nine is very much scratching at the ceiling of what's possible in terms of carbon technology. It's extremely lightweight, but also compliant.

"I rode it at the team launch in Majorca and I've never ridden a bike like this before. I had high expectations, because the FLX is a very compliant bike, but this is in a different league. Making a frame that's light is one thing. It's even harder to make something that's light as well as compliant but at the same time stiff in the bottom bracket."

The frame is guaranteed for five years for riders under 120kg (approx 19 stone), including for race use – something that is excluded in many companies' small print.

Versions will also be available with BB30 bottom brackets. These weigh 30g more than the standard model but are said to be 35 percent stiffer than the Carbon FLX.

The 0.Nine follows hot in the footsteps of Merida's Ninety-Six featherweight full-suspension racebike. It was designed using computer modelling and stress testing usually reserved for the performance car industry.

Prices are yet to be confirmed, but with the Ninety-Six retailing for £7,500, the 0.Nine isn't going to be cheap. Framesets should be available by late summer, with complete bikes following at the end of the year.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Liddesdale the Right Way Around (anti clockwise)

A great ride today in very mixed conditions but made up for by good company. It's so nice riding with a group that doesn't take things too seriously yet are strong and fit but also enjoy a laugh and bit of a social. Gavins MacLean and Lindfield, and Colleen and Andrew Foggo with Fiona and I. The way out of Glen Tarbet was hell on wheels with a 30mph wind and sleet against a black intimidating sky to the west. By the time we got to the climb up Liddesdale we were cold and soaked. Luckily the weather gave us a break on the climb which has to be the best leg breaker in the area if attacked. Gavin and I attacked and did it in 12mins then went back down a bit for another dig to the top. From the top the wind really got up as a cross wind and the descent to Kingairloch was fast, hairy and wet. By this time we needed food and drink so headed off right up Loch a Chorie to the newly opened "Boathouse Resturant". We walked in and did a double take as it was posh and full of Sunday lunchers and nearly went back out. Thankfully an old friend who used to live in the village called us in and low and behold it was Kurt Larson who owns the Boathouse it seems and who's daughter Catriona runs it. We were treated to the best sandwiches in Morven if not the whole West Coast, and soup. This is a seriously lovely spot and the food is superb, we all agreed we would return either in posh garb or whatever. Back down to Kingairloch we stopped above the church and admired the stunning clear blue water of Camus na Croise bay and nipped along to see a wedding coming out of the church. Andrew spotted a cottage called "Elastic Cottage"which he commented was "a bit of a stretch" at which point Fiona nearly fell off her bike in hysterics. Back along the Loch we had the wind at our backs and tore along with a stop to see a Sea Eagle, big hairy goats and several near misses with sheep and cows back to Glen Tarbet where we decided to road race a wee Giro D' Lochaber to finish back at Corran, then a nice wee jaunt back accross to the "mainland" and the realities of non bike life.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Appin Run

Went for a longer training run today on my own as it's wet. Got to Letershuna then had to hide in a tree because of hailstones. Lots of surface water and a good slide past stalker. On down to Creran and two laps of the TT curcuit to make up the miles then back to the Stalker caffe for a huge Latte and egg roll followed by the heaviest but best bit of cake in a while - possibily made of Kryptonite as the run home from there took 37 mins to make a 49 mile run in total.