Monday, 23 July 2007


Jeesh what a weekend. Just had to share. With new found freedom (long story) I spent the ENTIRE weekend riding my bike. It was great. No guilt, no calling home and no worrying I should be doing something far more grown up and sensible with my time.

I cycled over 100 miles on saturday and over 100 miles on Sunday. Just because I could. I listened to the radio on my new phone (it's a week of news) and giggled my way all over North Somerset and Devon, drinking in the views, dodging the showers and generally indulging myself in a lot of pedalling fun.

OK so my legs may be a little on the tired side today but I still managed to get back to Bristol last night in time for a quick shower and de-lycra and head off to a new Spanish restaurant in town for a paella with a bunch of mates.

In my book that is the perfect weekend.


Saturday, 21 July 2007

summer tyres

I don't do the whole 'what tyres' thing. And, from chatting to other women in the shop, it does seem to be an exclusively male phenomenon. Most of us ride the same tyres all the time, maybe having a set of muds if it really matters but otherwise just getting on with it. None of this rifling the shed because the trails might have dried off a bit and therefore it might be time for the stickies, but on the other hand there'll still be a bit of slippery muck out there so maybe we should stick with the spikes, but what about the roots.... blah blah blah.

There's pleasure in riding the same tread pattern all year round and getting used to it. How it rolls, how it grips, and how it doesn't grip - all of this makes you a better rider. And gives you one less excuse for being crap. I sense a theme here.

However - it has not stopped raining for two months. I am fed up of grey skies, puddles and flint-strewn roads. In a fit of temper, I've just put the summer tyres on the road bike (baby blue, matching tape), otherwise I am not going to get to use them until next year. No matter that we're currently cut off from the pub by the overflowing river and the sky is full of thunderclouds, I am sick of tying down my lovely light bike with stiff, leaden Ultragators. Punctures be damned, I'll carry three tubes a ride if I have to but somebody has to take a stand...


Monday, 16 July 2007


Home from Twentyfour12. Must be something going on at Glyndebourne this week, because I shared the train back with far too many people wearing tuxedos and posh frocks. With race number still tied to bike, muddy trousers, bruised shins and nasty smells eminating from my bag, I got a few twisted looks from people who don't know any better...

The course got, and is getting, some stick. That's to be expected. I spent the whole race wishing that the mud (first treacle, then porridge, peaking at 'just' plasticine and then regressing to miserable, thick, porridge-of-frustration again when the evening dew came down) was dust. I could see and feel the potential in every swooping bend and rooty climb, and at times was close to tears for wishing that I could just hear my freewheel whirring away down one, any of the descents rather than pedalling just to keep moving downhill.

We were all just very, very unlucky that the past two months have seen a ridiculous weather system settle on the UK; if it had been dry then the course would have been very fast, and huge amounts of fun, and rewarding to riders who enjoy a challenge and whose strengths lie in proper trail skills and the ability to remain focused for hour after hour, rather than just roadie fitness. But still, this is Britain, and to design a course that relied so heavily on deeply wooded singletrack cut into Cotswold clay hillsides without any contingency plan for poor weather was, possibly, silly...

Still - the event is only a baby. Two years old, and already it offers something that sets it apart from the others. Rootsy and personal, a great venue, and with potential to become one of the toughest races on the calendar. Long may it grow. I won the 12 hour solo with 12 steady laps and only one serious sense of humour failure (frustration at empty post-Mayhem legs notwithstanding, am pretty pleased with that), then went to bed for a few hours whilst it rained and rained, and then shed a few tears watching the 24-hour riders rolling home. How they did it I don't know - well, I do, but still, I'm glad the bike was packed away by then.

BIg hugs and well dones to Deano, Paul, Lisa & Nick, and Grant & Phil for sterling 12 hour efforts all round (especially Phil's "sprint finish" through the darkness).

And more too, for members of the family - Tracy and Matt for their smiles-through-gritted-teeth, Family Minx for moments of peace and clarity amongst the tiredness, Team Cotic for comedy grumping and unaccustomed-lycra-wearing faux-pas, and Mr.& Mrs.Dave's sunset pics. And finally Fi, for brilliant support, jollying and not-helping throughout, and an eye-opening glimpse into the bittersweet world of team solo racing.

Now then - odds on a dry Dusk til Dawn...?


Monday, 9 July 2007

Merida Marathon games

Had an awesome day yesterday. The best ever. One of those days that reminds us why we ride. I went over to Builth Wells for the Summer Merida 100k marathon and rode the entire thing with a self-indulgent smile on my face. I chatted to my dear friend Rob (effortlessly floating up the hills while I struggled away) and blinked in awe at the landscape. The most magical moment was towards the end while we were high up in the mountains. The sky was blue above us with wind torn mountain-rugged clouds and all around us in the distance were storms raging. It was like we were kept safe up on our mountain - just us while the rest of the world was drowned in rain.

The 6 hour ride was tough and there was a lot of up but when the descents weren't exhilarating and seriously steep they were gentle and rolling and gravity-defying. As Rob put it at the bottom of one, wiping the tears away; 'It's like flying'.

I'd recommend them to anyone for a brilliant day out. No racing, no pressure just awesome memories.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Yes and No

Yes I feel recovered after Mayhem. No I didn't when I tried to go out with my local triathlon club for a quick 30 mile spin last weekend. Legs were ok but had strange feelings akin to COPD that rather slowed my progress.

Complete 2 stonking solo hours this morning in my local woods at sparrow's fart soundtracked by Queen, the Clash and the Chemical Brothers. Odd but works for me. Miraculously without spilling blood on the slippery rocks. When WILL the sky run out of rain?

So now what? Well the Rockies, that's what. New bike is being built as we speak and I am searching the net for retailers of 'bear spray'. (Surely a misprint of 'bug' spray?)

So yes I'm feeling better after destroying my calf at Mayhem. No I haven't learnt my lesson about recovery and yes mountain biking is the best sport in the world. Ever...


Monday, 2 July 2007


Take one 24 hour race. Add a hectic week with minimal recovery time, interspersed with repeated rainy soakings and standing around on trains with the great unwashed and what do you get? Yes, a miserable cold. Bah. With the Tour's arrival in London only a few days away and a full weekend of bike-related festivities planned it couldn't have come at a worse time. However, help is at hand in the form of chicken noodle soup - 4 cloves garlic, half a thumb of ginger, 1 whole chilli, chicken, noodles and half a lime. Oh yes, those germs are history. Now, where did I put those tissues...


(PS. Jay Petervary finished the GDR yesterday in 15 days, 4 hours and 18 minutes. That's an average of just under 165 miles per day. Wow. And ouch...)