Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Cheeky nightride

So yesterday lunchtime I ran home early (literally) to greet the plumber (who never showed), and then snurled up (a combination of snarling and curling) in front of the fire to read some dusty Marketing tome for the rest of the afternoon in preparation for next week's lecturing. Next thing I know, some purple cows ran past me and the sun was shouting encouragement. And my mother was riding a bike which as shiney and new and she was popping the raddist manuals I've ever seen!

At which point I woke up, realised I was getting nowhere and checked my phone or sign that the outside world still existed. "Oooh, a text"... ANY1 4 CHEEKY NITERIDE? 6 @ USUAL PLACE.

Oh yes. You understand, I had to check the new bike was running smoothly in preparation for my weekend race. And I was asleep so its not like I was achieving anything. Right?

Kit on, lights clicked in, swung out the garage door to weave through the traffic and hit the dry(ish) trails with the TNC (Tuesday Night Club). Pleasure reconvened.

I did finish reading my chapter later that night, but was in bed by 9!



A big ol' sorry to anyone that regularly posts, we had to activate the word recognition thing in the comments section because we were starting to get a lot of the weirdest spam. And frankly you don't want to wade through that stuff. OK, so the pretty panties link might have been an exception for any number of reasons, but that's what Google is for - go and find them if you must, Minx will have no part of it:-)

I have been the worst blogger of them all recently. Mainly because I've been struggling with injuries so there either hasn't been much riding or it's been confined to rehab pootles round the lanes. But I met up with Vikki (yes for the first time ever!) a couple of weeks ago and both made a pact to write more, even we aren't quite as hardcore as the rest of the Minx bloggers. (Although Vikki's reason for not riding so much at the moment is that she's training to run a marathon- so that would just be me that's not hardcore then.) But I figure there might be riders out there that will be reassured that it's not all racing, grrrrrr and freezing miles on a road bike, plus of course I make the other Minx girls look good....

I will try not to whine too much on the road back to fitness.


Sunday, 24 January 2010

begin again

Tonight, I have been writing. Putting together the plan for the spring and the summer, scribbling in the calendar, filling entries, doing sums.

Hit the North 1.5.
Downhill races in Wales and Scotland.
110km audax (two tea stops).
Yorkshire summer 'cross series.
Bristol Bike Fest.
Brighton Big Dog.
Megavalanche and Passportes de Soleil.

Yup, I think that's all the niches covered.

(I'm going to need a lot of shorts.)

But, truth be told, it's been a little hard to focus on all of that. Because I've been reading, too.

It's been a slow start to the year. Last year was slow, too. Plugs dead. Spark gone. Happy to potter. Lately though, I've noticed it coming back. The desire to get to the top of the hill first, when you're riding on your own. The determination to be smoother and neater, to leave trails that switch and carve. The pleasure to be found in riding in the rain and the wind, knowing it makes you stronger, the pleasure in the pain.

The onemorehillism.

It's back. I'm happy. But I'm taking my time.


Dragging it up by its hair

I'm talking about my fitness. This week has hurt a lot. I am trying to draf my fitness up by its hair, kicking and screaming. Last year I coasted, played and generally let my fitness and speed drift slowly away. Now I need it back and have to start again. And it hurts!

The week was long and semi-tough. Then Friday arrived I rode for 100 miles in the pouring rain and blasting wind. Not at all fun! A heavy bag on my back with sodden merino meant my shoulders were aching and still are, two days later. I collapsed by the fire on my return and was asleep in seconds. Not a pretty site.

Yesterday I could barely stagger around the flat so stayed in, warm and dry, and worked. Today I was out at 7 for an hour of swimming followed by 3 of running. Aching quads running down the final descent, shoulders still sore and chafed arm pits. Toes have turned a nostalgic black.

Do I want to be fit this badly? Yes, I reckon I do. To be honest I have loved the last week. It has reminded me of what life used to be like, before I got a proper job, when all I had to worry about was who was coming on the next epic ride and whether I had enough change for the cake shop.

Sport, as Howies so succinctly put it, is simple. And it makes everything better. And running today in the sunshine of the Mendips, chatting to (and in fact overtaking) mountain bikers and horse riders) made all of us feel silly, childish and utterly indulgent. And incredibly happy.


Monday, 18 January 2010


Eighteen days in and I have managed my first ride of the new year. It was a seriously athletic endeavour, the pub and back for lunch with Trio. Even with the perma-drizzle it was a fab trip out and I'm already looking forward to next Monday.


Tuesday, 12 January 2010

The Cycling Brand... what does it mean to you?

Fi writes:

My research team at the University of the West of England are just getting going on a massive project investigating the 'brand' of cycling. Brands are clever marketing tools which are really just a set of associations people have with something (and they are often signified with a logo or visual material in some way). So, a 'Gucci' bag means so much more than just 'bag' because the Gucci brand has a set of associations. Same goes for Howies, or Gore Bike Wear or Swobo. The brand adds value.

We are interested in whether cycling has a 'brand' and whether one can be created which people can build a relationship with and which will make the whole act of cycling so much more appealing to non-cyclists. We are really targeting those folk who 'could' but don't. You know the type - rusty old bike in the garage from former days, easy 3 mile trip to work, they do it in the car (spit) and are fit enough, or at least could be, to pedal there in stead.

I have a challenge for all Minx blog followers. Can you tell me in a few sentences what 'cycling' means to you.

I'll start:

Cycling is the core of my life and permeates through everything I do. I stand tall and shout from the rooftops, 'I Am A Cyclist'. I commute, road ride and race, and ride mountain bikes. The linking threads through my cycling consumption are 'fast' and 'fit'.

In advance, many thanks.

Monday, 11 January 2010

There's something about a new bike

I can't afford it. Nope. But...

Well it's exactly the right geometry. And so pretty. After years of searching for the perfect hardtail, I reckon I've got it.

It's laid back, got mahooooosive forks, lots of rock-clearance and super wide bars that just ache to be pushed down hard around tight twisty corners.

I took it for a ride tonight in the hard packed snowy trails of Bristol's singletrack. It flew. It rode up everything I pointed it at and wouldn't let me go before it jumped and flicked and slid all around those rooty trails. It wasn't scared of the dark, of the shadows and invisible drops. It was brave.

It made me smile.

It... will... be... mine...


Thursday, 7 January 2010

Don't let the sun go down on you

I was 14 miles from home, tootling along on my hard tail on the road (you won't catch me on a road bike on the ice), slow but steady after a big week already, and then... the sun went in.

It wasn't exactly balmy anyway so I didnt' think it would make any difference, but it was like something dished by Harry Potter's Death Eaters. The life dissipated from my feet, then my calves, knees, quads, then my core. My fingers started hurting in the cold, my lips cracked and chapped. And what's worse, I slowed down even more. I couldn't generate my own heat, by body just stopped working.

I had eaten the bars I'd taken, I couldn't drink because I had mittens on and didn't want to stop to get my bottle out and risk cooling even more. I just plodded forward, gradually seeing the miles behind me.

It was eerily empty. I arrived back in Bristol at rush hour, only there were no cars at all. On the A370 from Weston Super Mare, normally a road to be avoided at all costs on 2 wheels, I swung down the middle of the road to avoid the icey edges, without any fear of being cut up. Bliss!

Eventually I struggled up the steep sides of The Avon Gorge and collapsed into my flat where luckily my housemate had the fire on full and I was fed tea and handed blankets to thaw.

So, don't let the sun go down on you... but otherwise, make the most of the car-free world!


Monday, 4 January 2010

New girl on the block :-)

This is my first blog post as a Minx team rider so a little about myself maybe and then (as I AM British) a little about the weather!

I'm Elaine and I have been a fat tyre addict for about 4 years.

There... I said it...:-)

The last two have been totally unbearable with me entering, riding or racing anything and everything (OK, well except cross.........yet)

My list of places I want to ride is still longer than the places I have riden & I love my local "trails out the back gate" just as much as I do Afan or the Alps.

I seem to have collected numerous, very expensive bikes and random parts, in my garage fairly rapidly (I really have no idea how that all happened as I am always skint)

MIT.....I ride for fun.

I dont train and seem to do OK racing that way. I always told myself that I will ride as long as I enjoy it and as soon as I find myself riding because I have to or it says so on a chart on my wall then i will stop for a while and climb again (my other passion)

If I have a big event like a 12 hour (No... I will never solo a 24) then I just ride more. I sometimes call it training but thats only to cover up the fact that I am infact going out on the cross bike on the road for a few hours so I dont have to clean it when I get home!.. and to me, thats training rather than riding :-)

I once started crying when I tried to explain to someone just how amazing riding made me feel. So I guess that makes me terminal!.. I realise that I wont feel like this for ever so I am going to ride as often as I can where ever I can and accept that when the mojo goes, which it may well do, then I do something else until it comes back.
I have as yet, NEVER found anything in my life (all 40 years of it!) that gives me the kick that riding my bike does.
An unknown quote I have on the wall in my garage says "Nothing inspires me to ride, riding inspires me to live"...

So 2010 sees me joining Jenn, Fi, Lisa & the other girls cranking it for Minx and I cant wait...
I did quite a few events last year in pairs and solo and have now managed to finish 3, 12 hour solos, 2, 24 hour pairs including the Strathpuffer (NEVER again.. OUCH) and numerous other Enduro and sprint events. I am going to concentrate on Enduro events this year but I daresay I will do my local Gorrick sprint series as its quite the social gathering and I ride with a great local club who are always there to support and cheer me on no matter what jersey I am wearing.
This year I am also racing through the winter which is a first as I usually rest a little!.
The Merida Brass Monkeys Enduro series is 2/3rds of the way through with me with one first and one second place so its all to race for in the last event of the series on the 31st January.

I have also got quite the expert at snow riding this year.....:-)
I ride from my home near Swinley Forest into London quite often and I decided to ride into town to meet a friend for lunch on the ONLY day this winter that the whole of the South came to a complete standstill in the snow.
So the first time I throw my cross bike onto my back and run, is up Ascot hill past the lines of stationary cars just to keep warm! Stopping occasionally to help push a car or two.
If I hadnt actually done it I wouldnt have believed it was possible to ride a road bike on sheet ice and not only stay upright but actually get traction to climb up hills... so that was a 3 hour ride home, past all the people stuck in their cars, a little chilled by the time I got there but very well practised in ice riding with some very steady and constant pedal stokes and easy on the brakes!

So bring on 2010, dry fast trails, good kicks, no mechanicals with ale and cake a plenty....:-)

I look forward to meeting and riding with you all soon.
Happy 2010 and Happy smiley trails.....


Sunday, 3 January 2010


My second training ride. 5hrs in sub zero temps.

I wore (from the bottom up)
- thick(ish) merino socks
- shoes
- fleece lined overshoes
- shorts
- fleece lined bib longs with foot loops (but a hole in the knee)
- skin tight long sleeve base layer
- thick merino base layer with thumb holes and zip up the neck
- thick windstopper long sleeve jersey
- gillet
- windstopper gloves
- goretex over-mittens
- buff round the neck
- fleece lined windstopper skull cap
- helmet
- sunglasses

So, what do you reckon? Was I cold, warm or a sweaty mess as I plodded around Monmouthshire and Western Bristol? Answers on a postcard.


Saturday, 2 January 2010

New Year New Focus

For a year there has been no 'training', no real racing, no tricky choices to be made over cake or abstinence. It's been heaven. I needed it, to counter the race-mad culture I had slipped into in 2007/8. Once it stopped being fun I gave myself a good talking to, dusted off the baggy shorts and stripey socks and got out for some serious kicks-n-giggles. A little bit fatter but a little bit wiser.

So how do I find myself in 2010 with an email from BADTri Team Captain congratulating me on my acceptance in to their Road Racing Team?

Is this the End As We Know It?

No. This is the start. They are a great bunch of girls who love 'hoofing it' on road. And with the fitness road racing will give me (believe me I need it) I will be able to hoof it on a mountain bike once again.

So, what of racing mountain bikes?

My mountain bikes are made for racing. I have three gorgeous bikes and am buying a new frame to pimp up my hard tail (big bouncy forks, bling wheels, shiney grey parts... you get the picture). But I don't want to race round in circles any more. I want to sharpen my elbows and race my boyfriend up and down Welsh mountains, race my own shadow round my local trails on those (will they ever arrive) long summers evenings and race the girls round the trail centres with the thrill of a cold bottle of beer egging us on faster and faster. Racing is FUN... bring on the speed!

So 2010 is going to be about going nice and fast and enjoying every second on my bike, no matter what size tyres it has.

But I draw the line at socks on the outside.