Velo Club Moulin

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Born Slippy

Callendar Park - Sunday 20th October


 It's a bit late but the recent flurry of posts on here reminded me to finish this one.

Callendar Park was one of my favourite rounds last year when it was held in glorious sunshine.  This year the never-ending rain in the lead up promised to deliver a dramatically different course to last year's super fast track. 

Given the forecast I was surprised to wake up to sunshine in East Lothian.  The outlook for the day improved further when Alex Robertson tweeted a photo of a bright early morning in Callendar Park.  

The other big difference from last year was the size of the field.  There were 89 riders in the open race this year, a dramatic increase from the 56 who took the start last year.  Cyclocross seems to have grown significantly in Scotland this season.  I'm not sure if this is down to a 'Dig In' effect or is just a reflection of the increased popularity of cycling in the UK.  

Riding the course before the vets race I was surprised at how well it was holding up.  I was impressed with the changes that Franco and Dave had made to an already good course.  Given the conditions I was happy to see that the big off-camber right hander had been replaced by something more friendly.  This course seems to be the closest we have to a modern euro-style course and was quite a contrast to the previous round.

For some reason I found it harder than usual to get motivated for the start of the race.  My rollers didn't leave the car and I spent most of the vets race spectating and chatting.  A few minutes warm up in the park and it was time to head to the start.  Starting from the third row I got off to a great start but quickly found myself boxed in with nowhere to go.  After taking it steady in the traffic I went through the start line in about 20th place.  

It was slightly chaotic as we rounded the tree at the top of the short run up.  Having decided that it would be quicker and safer to run it I promptly slipped on a tree root.  My first thought as I hit the ground was that there were about 70 riders behind me and one of them was sure to run over me.  I lost a few places as I got back to my feet but my bike and I were both in one piece.

I then spent the next few laps in a small group which slowly split up.  Suddenly I caught up with Addy who had just fallen.  In a repeat of Auchentoshan I spent the rest of the race trying to get up to him.  On the one occasion I got close I couldn't clip in and by the time I had got my foot back in I had dropped back.

The rest of my race was spent trying to hold off the group of riders just behind me and trying not to dab my feet to avoid a repeat of the pedal problems.  I'm sure it was possible to fall off on almost every corner so this was easier said than done.  Because of the slippy conditions I found it hard to get in to a pattern in this race.  All of the slow corners followed by acceleration meant that I couldn't identify sections to get my press on or to recover.

Grant Ferguson passed me towards the end of the last lap which saved me from another lap and I rolled in 23rd.  I was initially slightly dissapointed to miss the top 20 but looking at the names above me I realised it was a good result.  I felt even better when I discovered that points are being awarded to the top 30 this year.

Thanks to the organisers of a great event and well done to all of the 388 riders who pinned a number on.  See you at Knockburn.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Steady Start...

All this talk on here about cyclocross racing reminds me that I've pinned on a number a bit lately.  It's gone steady with the hope of improvement...

As is traditional for me I opted to miss the opening round of the North West league in favour of riding up and down big hills in some sunshine (for we all know that long steady miles are the perfect prep for cross).  This year I dragged my sorry ass up the Angliru in Northern Spain the day before the Vuelta went up it (went back & heckled them suitably).  That was a hard day out, but ace.

Having missed that opening round I'd sacrificed my front row griding from the previous season's overall standing so went off to practice starting at the back at a midlands series race at Cannock Chase.  It was fast, dry and dusty with a healthy dose of singletrack and roots in it.  I liked it.  Kept working through the field and finished 8th in Seniors.  All good.  

Then I got a nasty chest infection.  Being a fool I decided to race through it the next weekend at North West rnd2 at Heaton Park.  I went like crap, finished 17th grumpy and more unwell.  Feeling utterly pants I took over a week off the bike to try and shake it off before rushing back to race rnd4 at Pignut Hull (it's got a cool name, but the course is a bit dull, backs on to a manky council estate and is full of dog turds).  I was somewhat lacking having had so much time off but battled through to 8th.

One day later and I lined up again for the Rapha Supercross in Phillips Park, Manchester.  I was disappointed to find out that the promised tequila shortcut wasn't in the senior race and that the Belgian beer tent was just an easy-up with a man selling bottles of Stella out of a bucket of ice for lots of pounds.  Anyhoo, the race was good fun, with one small exception (The Spiral of Doom would have been more accurately named The Circles of Tedium).  Picked up 8th spot once again.

One week on and I've gone & caught another snotty cold but was up for rnd5 of the NW league at Otterspool on the banks of the Mersey, where there's alway scope for a good course - fast bits, twisty bits, techy bits, cobbled climbs & off-camber bits.  We got all of that.  After a false start where we all went the wrong way, the racing was great.  My spindly legs lost out in a sprint for the line but still managed 9th.

I'm still not rid of the niggley illness and I'm still catching up from taking time off the bike, so hopefully there's more to come.

Rapha SuperCross - Ally Pally

Yesterday I undertook my second cyclocross race (the first one being exactly a year ago!) I'm a little slow on the development of my cyclocross riding so I am to up the anti this year and fly the VCM flag a little more in the South whilst doing so. 

On arrival, the normal 'walk the route' was undertaken with Phil Moore and Dan Treby. There was no time to ride before the hoards of juniors started their race - there were about 30-40 of them, Islabikes occupying over 70% of the bikes ridden. Inspiring to see.

We were pleasantly surprised to see that a lot of the last two years heavily climbing routes had been replaced with a lot more grassy sections and a dizzy-spell inducing spiral section. There was a nice downhill through the woods but other than that there was a lot of long grass with a couple of gravel sections, most of which was into a headwind.

There were approx 11 Vet Women on the start line and I was honoured to be gridded, albeit last before the other ladies joined us. 

I started well but soon over taken by 3 of the more experienced ladies, I was then over taken by the 28 year old I was chatting to on the start line (who confessed to being crap at riding off road - good to know) so I managed to whip her butt on the downhill section and didn't see her again. I overtook one other girl on the last lap which brought me in 6th overall. Not too shabby I guess but annoyingly I'd only just managed to warm up on the last lap. 

My plan is to find more local races and up my game a little. I'm just waiting for my new Condor Bivio-x to be built which will be ready for Sam Alison's annual Chilli Cross mid November, oh and my skinsuit of course!

Update: sadly, having checked the results I wasn't sixth but 7th, not happy but hey, that's bike racing for you. 

Sunday, 27 October 2013

On the bonnie, bonnie banks...

A new venue for the Scottish cyclocross this week with a trip to Balloch, on the banks of Loch Lomond - organised by those stalwarts of the Scottish scene, Glasgow United CC, and based in and around the Loch Lomond Shores visitor attraction.

The course was largely nu-skool, with a definite old skool flavour. If you like Auchentoshan, then you'd have loved this one. An engaging mix of surfaces, with a wee bit of fast singletrack thrown in.

After last week's start at the back strategy paid off in exactly the way you'd expect, I opted for a position in mid-pack which seemed to work a wee bit better. As is pointed out in #SVENNESS 2.3 the sprint in a 'cross race is at the start and not the finish, so it was elbows out and off across the field.

One of the joys of SCX these days is that there's racing for everyone through the field - it might not be a battle for the podium, but there's always someone ahead to be chasing and someone behind to try to keep ahead of.  My race legs are still a long way off (not sure I've ever had them to be honest), but relatively happy with 33rd (and third) - happier still to be racing cross again after a three season lay off...

Of the other VCMers out today, I only spotted Davie briefly as he came backwards through the bunch following a first lap puncture and then tub roll, after a brief go on the spare bike he again punctured and it was to be a DNF. In the Women's race, Teri Wishart finished in 6th whilst elsewhere in the Vets, Simon Muir came home in 12th. In the Senior race, Ian Dunlop had a strong result and hit the top ten for the first time.

Two races to look forward to this week, Hallocross on Thursday and KnoCXburn Loch on Sunday in the next round of the Ridley Scottish Cyclocross Series.

Photo by Joolze Dymond - check out the rest of her photos from today here -

We got some new riders. Part 1

So we asked them, 
1. Who you are and how do you ride?
2. What music can make you punch through concrete?
3. Who will play you in 'Velo Club Moulin' the movie?

And this is what they said; 

Fraser Waters
1. Son, brother, father, husband, friend, geek, rider, dreamer, reader, fixer, scottish phototaker man. My riding style swings between 'reet smart dreamy and homestyle' and 'breathing out my ears' (arse if we're allowed to have expletives)

2. Jeru the Damaja - Ya Playin' Yaself

2. Steve McQueen - 'Racing is life, everything else is just waiting.'

fraser waters

Teri Wishart
1. My riding style is to always dress well on the bike, generally in as much white as possible.  Fools the competition into thinking that I might have skill (or OCD)

2. Blue Monday, New Order

3. Simon Kirkness (this has to happen. cd)

teri wishart

Kenny Pryde
1. At just over half a century old, Kenny Pryde is, remarkably, still earning a living as a cycling journalist after 20-odd, or 20 odd, years of pounding keyboards. His riding style is pure diesel. That's to say agricultural machinery which is a cylinder down and running on pink diesel. 'Twas ever thus.

2. If there is one piece of music that never fails to elicit a response, it's 'New Rose' by the Damned. "Is she really going out with him?"

3. That guy out of Grosse Pointe Blank, whassisname, him, he would play me. Failing that, John Hannah. English women think all Weegie blokes of a certain age sound like him. 'He was my North, my South...'.  Cheers John Hannah!

kenny pryde

Simon Fairful
1. An easy-going father of two who loves to ride bikes. Reasonably quick uphill, reasonably slow downhill.  Smooth on the pedals but not so good at letting it flow on technical sections.

2. The Jam, Going Underground. Primal Scream, Loaded is a close second but there's no way I can punch through concrete for 7 minutes.

3. No idea.  Michael Caine, for the similar nose.

simon fairfull

Good luck to all of them and welcome into our mob, wear your colours with pride and keep the faith.

Bring the Pain

The season is now properly underway, with round 2 at Callender Park behind us and round 3 looming on the horizon. But what of Callendar Park in Falkirk, pretty much the perfect venue, central, plenty of parking and more importantly huge potential for a very good course. Our hosts Franco Porco and Davie Lines laid out a course that is set to become the one by which all others are measured. Virtually all on grass, with corners of every description, (did anybody count how many corners?) an abundance of off camber, slippy and slimy and slippy again. Add to that the biggest field ever seen at a Scottish Cyclocross event and everything was in place for a great day racing.

Maddy in control

The new format with women, V50+ and Juniors racing first is certainly proving to be a good one, I am pretty certain it has helped encourage more women and V50 men into the scene and if these numbers hold for the season it will have been a great decision. In the womens race round 1 winner Maddy and round 1 sign on queen Ainsley were representing. With 30 women lined up this was going to be a new experience for both, unfortunately I missed most of this race due to getting myself ready for my own race but from what I can gather it was pretty fast and furious, Eileen Roe (Ronde) back for this round and looking lean held on for the victory with Maddy taking a great second not too far behind, these two seem to be rising above the rest of the field and it looks like they will be picking up the pieces of last years battles for the rest of the season.

Gavin working the wide line

Veteran 40+ next up and the bggest news was the return of the mighty Martin Steele alongside Simon Muir, Fraser Waters, Gavin May and myself. Apparently 95 signed on for this race, which made for a pretty heady start but more importantly made for superb racing right through the field. Again credit to the course design as it easily soaked up the riders and there was never any problems overtaking providing you had the legs. After the disaster start at Auchentoshan I was determined to play safe and try to get into a reasonable group and take it from there, happily the start was problem free and I found myself in with some new faces and we were off. Simon and Gavin went off like the proverbial two bob rockets and that would be the last I saw of them until the end where they finished healthily in 9th and 13th respectfully. I had great fun in with a mixed bunch of guys including John McComisky stuck to my back wheel like shit on a blanket, to be fair he pushed hard and kept me entertained with some top shelf banter and language. Tragically my strategy was foiled when race winner Gary McCrae (Leslie Bikes) shot past us like we were made of stone on the home straight and denied us another lap of battle, all in all it was superb to actually feel like I was racing with a relentless stream of racers ahead and behind there was no room for mistakes.

the Gazelle like Ian Dunlop

The senior field up next and VCM hopes were on Steve Halsall, Brendan Milliken, Addy Pope, Simon Fairfull, Gordy Mackenzie and Ian Dunlop. Another huge field nearly 90 riders took to the now very greasy course, the race was won very early by Grant Ferguson, who showed what a difference being on a World Cup XC team can make to your performance, behind him though there was fierce battling going on, this wide course really did encourage good open racing. Our guys were led by round 1 podium boy Steve Halsall, who put in another strong ride for 6th place, which will stand him good in the league placings. Brendan Milliken opend his season with a 19th, Addy a couple of places behind in 21st, Simon in 23rd, Ian 25th and Gordy 34th. Again truly awesome results in a field as packed as this one, keep it coming. 

Applied Pressure™

Phew, it was an exhausting day and one that folks have been talking about since, again a huge thankyou to the organisers and their army of helpers.

Lots of racing over the next week with Lomond Shores Sunday 27th, Hallocross Thursday 31st and Round 3 at KnocXburn on Nov 3rd.

Bring it on. 

all photos by Anthony Robson 

how we doing
Maddy Robinson 2nd
Ainsley Turbitt 13th
Simon Muir 9th
Gavin May 13th
Fraser Waters 39th
Chrisd 48th
Martin Steele 63rd
Steve Halsall 6th
Brendan Milliken 19th
Addy Pope 21st
Simon Fairfull 23rd
Ian Dunlop 25th
Gordy Mackenzie 34th