Friday, 23 January 2015

Rouken Glen CX

Buried south of the River Clyde is a park defined by fine, tall trees, rhododendron, the waterfalls on the Auldhouse Burn and old, Edwardian buildings. A gem in the heart of this gritty city, Glasgow. 

Once owned by the Crown, the park was given to the people in 1904, and the RGCX team took the natural contours and beauty of the park, applied considerable skill, and created a hard fought, icy cyclocross race of the highest caliber. 



Split into an A and B race the vibe was relaxed, but no less competitive. With sub-zero temperatures for a week before the race, the ground was hard and snow lay several inches deep in places.

VC Moulin was represented well in all classes: it was good to stretch out the gammons with my homies for only my second 'cross race this year.

I was slotted into the B race, along with Fraser, Ainsley and Maddy. There was some of the usual, nervous banter before the start, at the bottom of an access track. A quick warm up was not enough to keep the cold from our bones but then the hooter signaled the off - 55 minutes plus a lap to go.



I was fortunate enough to have some appreciation of music from 'the man' for this round and Gibby Haynes laconically worked his way through 'Dancing Queen' as we climbed back up to the course, getting the sluggish blood moving through cold limbs. It seemed appropriate, as the legs wound up the climb: "you can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life".

Joining the course, it was clear it would take no prisoners. Off camber into the soft mud under a canopy of trees, then a sharp drop and climb to skirt the top of the course and the race MC. (Iron Maiden, 'Hallowed be thy name').

After the lap finish line, a grassy bank acted as a kicker to jump if you wanted, before another off camber traverse into a run up and then a rolling section before a series of chicanes and a steep climb - rideable with the application of some sausage - into a section routed around copses of trees, a double barrier hop then back to the top of the course. AC/DC, 'Sink the Pink' - the beat helped with the pedal stroke. With welcomed recovery sections allowing me to come down from red line after pumping the big meat up the climbs, the course and me were making friends, fast.

A few laps in, I was lying in third place to Fraser. I knew Maddy was close behind and a charging Matthew Smith was sitting just ahead - so close that I could hear his breath at every turn. The pace for the first 30 minutes was blistering - The Bronx, 'Young Bloods' suited the high heart rate and physical exertion. There came a point where the traffic thinned enough that I could clear the longer, steep climb by going hard right and I knew I could use this to pass Matthew, who was shouldering the bike.



True enough, I forced the pass with a hernia popping effort. Faith No More's classic 'Epic' and a smattering of Clutch fed the fire and my legs felt strong and willing. My new tubeless set up allowed me to get ragged around the corners, adding to my traction and I was truly enjoying myself. Idly, I began to wonder if I had it in me to challenge Fraser, who was still out in front, but serious consideration gave me clarity. Barring a mechanical issue or implosion from him, our positions were set.



Matthew kept battling, coming back at every opportunity. There was no way to stretch and break our elastic bond: several laps from the end, just as I began to feel a little comfortable, I nearly opened the door for him to drop me for good. A poorly judged jump into the off camber corner before the run up, led to a squirrelly landing and I dropped my chain. AC/DC - "Thunderstruck". No doubt!

I had to pull the rear wheel out of the frame to get the chain back on. As I began to tighten the qr again, Matthew came flying past and I could see him exert his will on the cranks. This was going to be tight.



He tore off into the distance, aiming for the chicanes. I gave chase but tried to stay calm. No need to red line straight away - assess the moves and situation. Still feeling good, I tackled the steep climb on the pedals after the chicane and gained some ground. Memory fails me but I think I may have even slipped past here. We were so close - it was no suprise as he took me again just on the top section of the course before the finish. I hung on and gasped for air. With one or two laps to go this was going to go to the wire. Another hard effort on the steep climb while Matthew dismounted and ran gave me just enough to stay away - ragged breathing, the taste of blood with every respiration. I dug deep to make the pass and could only hope it was the definitive move of my race. Rob Zombie, 'Superbeast' - it couldn't have been a better tune.



So it was. I rolled home extremely happy with my second place, a firm hand shake and mutual respect with Matthew and happy for both Fraser with the win and Maddy in 5th overall, first women home.



I'll let someone else tell the story of the A race, but congratulations must go to the organisers for a fantastic race. Strongly competitive but with a relaxed and welcoming vibe. Sweet as! Looking forward to next year already.





Saturday, 17 January 2015

Foxlake 2014.

Foxlake – 29 November 2014

Foxlake was a return to what felt like proper racing following a
tedious slog in ever decreasing and muddy circles the previous week.
It’s not fair to criticise a race due to the organisational effort
that’s required, but I’m afraid Lochore Meadows a week earlier was not
my cup of tea.

Foxlake, however, ticked the boxes. A muddy lakeside field, woodland
single track, some cheeky climbs, dismount in a beer tent and a fun
atmosphere with the race being part of the John Muir Winter Carnival.
It was also a non-championship series race, so with just a single race
it was good to be racing alongside different faces from the usual old
goats in V40 of which I proudly belong.

After initial gridding by Jimmy McCallum and making clear it was his
race and his rules, he set everyone off on the dash for the first
climb reached by a fast and sloppy right-hander after a muddy field
crossing. Front riders rode the rooted singletrack, but further down
the field a nifty dismount was required to navigate the bottleneck and
avoid clash of pedals on frames and the occasional carnage from a
misplaced foot. Hitting the graded road at the top gave a chance to
clip in again and muscle through the crowded 10 meters before a tight
right-hander over a small drop-off and descend to the second climb.

Crossing the same metaled road at the top, pine trees changed to beech
and the field started to open out. A wide loamy surface provided
opportunities to overtake and be overtaken. The loam bottomed out into
another tight right-hander followed by a steep pull to the road and a
fast grassy slope down to the main arena. This required speed to be
shed to weave round and over some partially buried roots.

Popping out of the woods into the field again, more nimble maneuvers
we called upon to traverse a small banking and avoid off-camber
slippage before hitting the beer tent. A mandatory dismount over a log
in the tent brought quality beer-fueled heckling and then a short
climb around a sloped banking on the final part of the course. The
course marked here was different to the previous year, giving easier
opportunities to pass on the climb or in the corners.

And so it went on, settling into the rhythm of the race, picking
places to push or catch a breath. Improving lines on turns and chasing
down those in sight and keeping at bay those behind. Gradually the
three climbs dubbed the ‘Foxlake Alps’ began to take their toll,
giving advantage to the fit and I managed to gain a good number of
places in the final 5 laps.  This effect was more pronounced due to
short laps with riders completing 12-14 laps compared to the normal
6-9 before the final bell.

My personal battle was with Davie Hamill and although I was quicker in
the tech, he eventually got me on the climbs and I just couldn’t pull
back the 40-50m he put in. Although tough, I liked the course and
think it suited my fitness and head at the time. Settling into a
rhythm and grinding out climbs are unusual in a cross race, but
definitely worked for me with the addition of just enough tech thrown
in to catch out the weary or napping for a bonus place.

The personal VCM battle was missing with the usual V40 riders of
similar pace not racing, but Graeme Warren lapped me mid-race with
Simon Fairfull also passing at some point, no doubt battling with
Colin Shearer. Graeme went on to place overall in 8th with Simon 17th
and Colin in 19th. Marty was behind me in 54th a bit back from our
usual close finishes.

Overall it was a great race, rounded off by some big screen action of
Milton Keynes World Cup in the tent along with oven baked pizza and
Knops beer from nearby Direlton. Can’t say better than that.

Overall and category positions out of 125 entries:

1 – Mark McGuire
2 – Rab Wardell
3 – Sean Clark

8 – Graeme Warren (6th senior) VCM
17 – Simon Fairful (11th senior) VCM
19 – Colin Shearer (2nd V50) VCM
34 – Russell Stout (10th V40) VCM
54 – Martin Steele (18th V40) VCM

23 – Anne Ewing (1st Female)
28 – Jane Barr (2nd Female)
58– Katie Carmichael (3rd Female)

Stouty

Friday, 16 January 2015

fast. bad. dangerous.

Fast. Bad. Dangerous. 

Pick any two. 

Attention women cyclocross racers.
Velo Club Moulin is recruiting riders for the 2015 cyclocross season.
Now that the mud has settled on 2014, its time to start planning and getting in shape for next winter. So if you think you meet any two of the requirements then send your resume including a brief rundown on who or why you are to;

vcmoulin(at)gmail(dot)com

Basic requirements
1. You must be a women (no youths)
2. You must race cross
3. You must race cross
4. You must race cross

Other than that you are a free spirit.

Velo Club Moulin is an independent race club with the primary focus on cyclocross. though any other form of riding bicycles hard is encouraged. We have no structure or clubhouse or chainganging or training sessions or coach or performance plan or money but we do live for cyclocross. Imagine a band of privateers all racing in the same kit and you are close to where we are at. We are affiliated to the mothership BC and endorse responsible and aggressive riding. Full details of what we can and can't do for you will be available to any successful applicants

Good Luck



pic by Michael Martin

Monday, 24 November 2014

Don't call it a come back.


It has been a long time since I threw my leg over a cross bike and my cross bike over a barrier. Still, the last day of my 40th year seemed a good time to dust off the flying dismount and test out some under used legs in the ever decreasing circles of Lochore Meadows. I have never raced there before and it was suggested that I wouldn't fall head over heels with the course. I was willing to put that to the test to see my good buddies from VC Moulin and get some blood pumping.

Prior to the start the commissaire flexed his 'I am the law' muscles by demanding that I remove my tiny speaker and iPod from my bike. A safety issue, apparently - potentially doing as much damage as a bar end. I never knew my music taste was so, well, tasteless? I hope he felt good. It made me a bit sad: has it really come to this?



The start was not as furious as expected: perhaps the heavy going through the grass and mud slowed the pace, or perhaps I was simply too far from the pointy end to notice. The MC Escher designed course had us looping in an impressive, laws-of-physics defying, circle of taped off grass. With the previous classes and our huge number of wheels, it rapidly disintegrated into a mud bath. All good fun, for a while anyway.



It was bizarre to come in to the second lap and hear Jammy over the tannoy yelling that it was only 29 minutes to go. That would mean I was probably only going to ride 4 laps. Of a entirely flat ~2km course. Do the math and you will see that the average speed wasn't exactly electric. Very 'cross.



It was good to loop around with my main men Chris Marquis and Martin Steele. Chris pressed his advantage, moving easily up the field, after I crashed out, sat on my rear wheel, one hand barely maintaining a grip on my bars. I had lost the front wheel around a corner, whilst rebelliously trying to get AC-DC to play out of my stashed speaker.

Martin and me traded places for a little while, until he left me fighting my own private battle with the build up of organic debris and mud that was all but bringing me to a standstill. I can't say I enjoyed the race - but that is not the same as saying it wasn't good to do. The team acquitted themselves well: see the placings in the Scottish Cyclocross link and a big thank you to Sue for taking care of VC Moulin's smallest fan.

So, perhaps I'll see you in a field some time soon. Ride on.



Pics by Trina.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

this aint no picnic


With two feel good rounds under our chamois, it was time to head to Irvine Beach for Joksijde. The Walkers Cycling race is now part of SCX folklore, it’s a course like no other and one that always delivers. I shouldn’t need to tell anyone reading this about the course but in case you need to, please refer to last years review of this race here or alternatively here. And like last year, I would reiterate the point, “yep, I could race that course every week”

Stevo in full flight and smiling (pic by the Press Room

After the balmy heat of the first two rounds we could be forgiven for speculating a lovely sunny day beside the seaside. Mother nature had other plans though and as the weekend got ever closer the weather warnings got ever more severe. Wind and cyclists have a peculiar relationship, it is very much like that slightly creepy, heavily fragranced aunty who demands a kiss at Christmas but then slips you a tenner when your mum isn’t looking. Today the wind was demanding a lot of kissing and in fact some heavy petting in a strictly one way relationship.

I’m getting into the earlier start of the V50 race, it gets it out the way and the courses are generally in better shape because they haven’t been hammered by all those fat V40’s. I did however get myself into a bit of a flap and it all became a mad rush for the line in the end. Now as we all know the start is a pretty crucial element of cross racing, you certainly don’t win from the start but you can very easily lose. Bizarrely it was announced that we would all start together (J/50/W) and if that wasn’t odd enough the gridded women were put in behind the gridded V50, this added another layer to getting a decent start and was a real blow for the un-gridded women more than the old blokes as they had to hustle for position amidst grumpy old men. The resulting start was messy, we all charged into the switchbacks and farcically attempted to find our place. I may have swore here and said some unpleasant things, I’m sorry if I offended anyone.


Ainsley, calm collecting some more points (pic by the Press Room

I love this course as I think I have mentioned on numerous occasions. The off camber sections, the big dipper, the sand, the bumpy lumpy singletrack, its got it all. Today it also had a brutal wind that tore away any rest you might have got on the descents and pummeled you with sand and sea at every opportunity. I tried to get into a rhythm but it was so fucking hard to keep momentum going at times that my head went up and down like a demented yoyo. After a couple of laps out on the furthest of the off camber section I thought I felt my rear tub roll, I pedaled on and looked down it seemed to be rolling fine, I then forgot all about it. A wee group had got together and it was hard to shake riders off with the weather, Billy McCord snuck past and pulled one of the Angus Bike Chain guys with him but they were still within clear sight for the duration of the race as I did battle with another couple of dudes, whose names I haven’t worked out yet.

Last lap and at that same place I got the squirm from the rear tub only this time it wrapped itself around the wheel and I ground to a halt, fuck fuck, fuckity fuck. I floundered around attempting to pry it back onto the rim, this was a big mistake as I wasted way too much time, I attempted to run it back but by now my legs were fried and my run resembled a death march, slowly riders of every age and shape passed me as I hauled myself to the pits, grabbed a bike and finished the last couple of hundred metres. I was disappointed I wont pretend.  In other news, first time crosser Campbell Hall managed to get round one of the toughest rounds in one piece which is mighty impressive, I think he may have got the bug. .

Steady does it for Addy (pic by the Press Room

A quick change and reloading of the car and I was out to watch the V40 cavalry charge, damn there are so many of them, I missed the start but can only imagine what it was like. Our guys seem to be doing battle mostly with each other in this category; we were missing Gavin May and Simon Muir who are usually the fastest of our 40’s so it was up to the rest. Everyone finished (except another first timer Bikelove Carl) and speculated the glory of the mid pack hustle.

No sooner had they finished than the seniors were off, another packed field and they were blessed with probably the worst of the weather.  Our seniors are having a great run this year and this race was no different, Stevo, Graeme, Ian, Addy, Simon, Steven and Gareth all turned up for this one and made there presence felt. Meanwhile at the front Rab Wardell was wondering what he was going to do to shake off Grant Fergusson who made a rare appearance. The answer was nothing, a season of racing at world level has certainly put a gap between Grant and his domestic rivals. He stepped up a gear and cruised his way around never looking particularly phased by the weather or the effort, a different class. By the end of the race Grant had lapped the entire field right up to 3rd place! That third place was held by our own Steve Halsall who is having another great season as is Graeme Warren with another top ten finish, in fact all of our seniors are riding themselves inside out, mucho respect, 7 riders in this category, possibly the best represented club out there.

Irvine was over for another year and despite the weather I am already missing it. It goes without say, well done to Walkers Cycling.

How we doing.

Women
Maddy Robinson 3rd
Ainsley Turbitt 10th

V50
Colin Shearer 10th
Chris Duncan 18th
Campbell Hall 30th

V40
Martin Steele 45th
Davie Graham 46th
Russell Stout 48th
Fraser Waters 52nd
Chris Marquis 59th
Carl Lottering-Geeson dnf

Senior
Steve Halsall 3rd
Graeme Warren 7th
Gareth Jones 8th
Addy Pope  16th
Stevie Turbitt 18th
Ian Dunlop 19th
Simon Fairful 24th








Monday, 10 November 2014

the goody good times

Here we go again.

Round One Callendar Park 
Better late than never with this one, possibly.  We bemoan the long wait for cross season all year and then it happens and we’re never quite ready.  So with unseasonally mild weather I headed to Falkirk for the opening round at Callender Park. Like last year the course was superbly laid out by Franco and Davie and looking resplendent in the autumn sun. This was my first foray into V50 I had to get used to leaving the house that wee bit earlier but yet on arriving it seemed even busier. Kids were zooming around everywhere on mini cross bikes, and anxious parents were bustling around ensuring everything was in place for their little darlings race. The popularity of cross among children (parents) is a strange phenomenon, in theory dragging your child to a cross race in the depth of winter could be seen as a case for social services intervention but drag they do and to be fair the kids mostly seem to love it. Because of the huge volume of young uns, sign on and consequently start times had to be shunted slightly, no big deal, it gave time for a leisurely wander round the course to check the changes and see how it felt under foot. The park is blessed with just the right amount of gradient and curves to make a superbly interesting course that keeps you moving and thinking for the whole race, not a lot of scope for recovery, despite the seasonal rain leading up to it the condition was firm and dry!

Quietly getting the job done, the rapid Steve Halsall (pic by The Press Room)

Soon enough the start time came around and up we lined, if I am honest by the time I had lined up I was already thinking about getting home, in retrospect it might not of been such a bad shout. I have to say I much prefer V50 to the rowdiness of V40, a much more sedate and gentlemanly category, don't get me wrong every bit as fast and fiercely competitive but a whole lot more civil. Anyway we were off and yep it was going to be fast unsurprisingly. I quickly lost touch of the race and my will to live and the bell lap didn’t arrive anywhere near quick enough. Round one done. Unfortunately because of other commitments I had to rush away so saw none of the other categories so cant tell you what happened but I’m sure it was a roost fest.



Round Two Strathclyde Park
Thoughts of why the fuck am I putting myself through this again filled my head for the next two weeks in the lead up to StrathclydePark, traditionally one of my least favourite courses but its always good to come home. So again, car loaded up the night before to make the early start and some new music loaded up for the drive. Arriving at the park I was greeted by more glorious Lanarkshire sunshine, once more mini racers were zooming everywhere and the air was full of the sound of burning rollers, somebody needs to find a way to harness the energy from this warm up ritual and tap it into the National Grid, surely a money spinner for a smart race organiser!
Anyway, on arriving caught up with fellow early starter Ainsley and we had a walk around the course to see what lay in store for us, it looked much the same as last year with some subtle changes and again seemed reasonably firm underfoot so potentially pretty fast. In fact the sun was ever so slowly warming my soul and a wee smidgeon of my ancestral enthusiasm was returning. After much more faffing and procrastinating, I decided I better have a semblance of a warm up. A quick sprint the length of the park and back was enough to remind me that is actually wasn’t that warm once out of the sun. The time was fast approaching for action and I was feeling less than ‘stoked’

Control, speed and elegance, just three of the things missing (Chris Duncan pic by The Press Room

Maddy in blur of speed, pow! (Maddy Robinson pic by The Press Room)

The starts of races are pretty funny affair, no two are the same yet they are all identical. A relaxed chatty vibe is followed by a nervous tension that then becomes an inelastic mass awaiting the freedom of elasticity. That freedom comes soon enough, the deafening shot of the starters pistol and we are projecting forward at a velocity bordering on the unsafe but fortunately we were safe. All too quickly we were onto the climb, oh that fucking climb, the nastiest little fucker of a climb in the SCX calendar. The nice thing about this course though, is once that climb is done, its pretty good fun and fast, in fact as fast as you can ride the descent really. Great last section through the trees and back into the arena. The race went fairly uneventful, I felt ok, stayed safe on the slippy corners and tried to punch when I could, there were some minor placing battles and all too soon it was over. I have to say I really enjoyed this round. I held it together, the bike held together and there isn’t much more to say. I've really warmed to the Strathclyde course, it is very different from the other rounds and that is a good thing. 
Maddy was going very fast, very.
I hung around for the V40 race and most of the seniors but then had to leave to get myself up the road. The V40 race is a clusterfuck, I am so happy to be out of it, the volume of riders and the depth and range of ability make it a bit of a minefield unless you are in the top 10% of what is going on. I really feel for these guys. What was going on however was a Glasgow United whitewash, 1,2,3!
As always East Kilbride Road Club put on an excellent show and everything from what I could determine ran as it should.

Great beard but he is only just getting away with that multi coloured helmet (Steven Turbitt pic by The Press Room)

How we did.

V50.
Colin Shearer 6th
Chris Duncan 16th

Women
Maddy Robinson 1st
Ainsley Turbitt 6th

V 40
Gavin May 20th
Chris Marquis 29th
Simon Muir 45th
Russell Stout 47th
Martin Steele dnf (tsk tsk)

Seniors
Steve Halsall 2nd
Graeme Warren 7th
Ian Dunlop 12th
Steve Turbitt 17th

Not such a bad day in the motherland. .

The end



big thanks to the  The Press Room for all the pics, support these guys. 







Sunday, 2 November 2014

creatures of the night


Hallocross

Lets open with a nice little snippet from the Jehovahs Witness website (www.jw.org)
"The Bible warns: "There must never be anyone among you who . . . consults with ghosts or spirits, or calls up the dead." While some view Halloween as harmless fun, the Bible indicates that the practises associated with it are not. The Bible says: "I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the lord and the cup of the demons too."

When I read this off the back of a web search about the origins of Halloween the penny dropped with the precision of the guillotine slicing off the head of naughty aristocrat who had been caught with his pants round his ankles at the foot of the queens bed. Within that little paragraph lies all the reasons I would want to dress myself in suitably stupid, dumb, scary (probably not) and unsuitable for cycling outfit, throw a leg over my cross bike, flick the switch on an overly bright light and race around a damp (but oh so warm) country park in the dead of night for an hour. Yes I do want to consult every last one of those ghosts and I want to embrace every ghoul and goddamn demon that’s ever wandered across my path. Because for one hour in October nothing else in the world really mattered, except the sheer beauty of riding bikes hard with smiles on our ungodly faces.

dumb, stupid, scary. pick any two (pic by Addy Pope)


First up well done to James for picking this event up when it needed someone to, there aren’t many occasions when bike racing is fun while you are doing it, sure afterwards as we dwell on our awesomness we realize maybe we do enjoy it but while we actually race it never usually feels that awesome. Cyclocross perhaps lends itself to the weird, for it is indeed a sport that lacks a lot of sense, a sport designed to punish and brutalise both rider and equipment, throw a bit of self humiliation into the mix and it almost makes more sense.

"When you're dead, you're dead. Thats it."
Marlene Dietrich

So on what was possibly the mildest Halloween evening on record over a hundred mostly suitably dressed and like-minded souls prepared to go into battle with the demons of the night? And battle we did, mass starts like this are a bit hair raising anyway, add into the mix unsuitable attire and darkness and the spicy cocktail is complete. We pedaled and cranked our way around the start loop, to start the race proper (did anyone else hit that hidden rock right on the race line before the swinging sponge section?) The pace as you would expect was frantic and the short but sweet lap made for some super fast racing, no let up at all with only a couple of muddy sections to give you any bother.

loved this section. (pic by Addy Pope)


By lap two I was feeling ok and riding in the mask wasn’t as bad as I had thought it was going to be but then I went to hop over the log, front wheel up, mask slipped over eyes, kerashhhh. I went down like a gravediggers sack when he hears a Bobbies whistle. In the few seconds between flying and hitting the deck it occurred to me I hadn’t crashed for quite some time, in fact this was the hardest I had hit the deck in ages but bounce I did. You can’t beat that adrenaline rush that you get from a crash. Elbow, hip and knee felt a bit sore but everything was working so back on the saddle I got and tried to compose myself as best as possible.

The laps seemed to keep coming until eventually there was a bell, nobody really wants to hear about my race that much so I wont bore you, big shouts to all who entered into the spirit of things, too may to mention but all winners in my opinion. And on that subject, anyone turning up to a Halloween CX race and rocking out in their team skinsuit, I’m sorry that’s a mighty fail and you have missed the point. There are plenty of opportunities throughout the year to keep it tight and ‘pro’ Hallocross is not one of those. If you cannot love the absurdity or the overwhelming positivity that this event encouraged then stay at home. We all need fun and Hallocross delivered. Until next year. . .

thankfully he put the mask back on shortly after this pic was taken (Jimmy Mac by Addy Pope)

how we did:

seniors
7th Ian Dunlop
14th Andy Wardman
20th Simon Fairfull
women
2nd Maddy Robinson
Vet40
10th Chris Marquis
15th Martin Steele
Vet50
2nd Colin Shearer
4th Chris Duncan