Tuesday, August 30, 2011
|Lining up for day 1.|
- wake up, find clean chamois
- tell legs to shut up about the dull ache and ride
- clean bike, lube chain
- drink recovery beer(s), eat
- hang out in team bus and talk shop about the race
- glass of wine to put you sleep
|The norm: heather, sheep, and incredible views.|
|Good weather, by Welsh standards.|
|View from the remains of Clun Castle.|
|Make time every day for beer and puppies.|
|Stunning, lush, green.|
|Fix a muddy flat. Nick had some creepy green slime for sealant.|
|Riding and drinking crew.|
|2011.08.13 Trans-Wales Challenge|
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Trans-Wales Mountain Bike Race are in the bank, including 3 "special
stages" (think a 'cross race in the middle of a 4 – 6 hour slog
through grass, dirt, tarmac). For me this means I'm up to 5 long days
in the saddle, totaling about 375 km. I'm sitting somewhere around the
top 10, but that could get better or worse after tonight's results
If you had asked me yesterday after the stage if I'd ever come back to
race this thing, I probably would have said no. We woke up to rain,
wind, and soggy ground that had been saturated all night. To top it
off, the stage took us through proper Welsh moors: boggy, soggy,
energy sapping grass covered in sheep shit that had been turned into a
pasty consistency that just sticks to everything. There wasn't even a
special (timed) stage to keep it honest, so it was really all about
survival, and for some, making the time cutoff (for every minute you
come in late, they add a second to your overall time). Many of the
grassy climbs were walked with the wind lashing away.
On top of the draining soggy grass, many of the trails on the course
were sheep paths, really just narrow, peanut butter filled ruts that
catch your wheel and toss you sideways. It was a miserable day.
But, a couple of the limey bastards here joined me at the local pub
and we had a few pints of Carlington (shite beer) and told tasteless
jokes. Plus, I learned that I'm not the only one to finish an
endurance race naked.
And today I awoke to a new day. Good weather, very little grass, lots
of tarmac and fire road to pass the day quickly, and then some amazing
singletrack to end the day. The special stage was a terrifically
technical rocky descent. Not sure I had it pegged, but I felt smooth,
if not a little conservative.
The only real crap bit of the day is that the technological marvel
known as my Specialized Epic Expert 29er has developed a horrible
crunching, groaning creak when I pedal. We've pulled the cranks,
checked the bottom bracket. Maybe it's the rear hub, maybe it's one of
the bearings in the suspension linkages, either way it's not easily
resolved and it sounds like broken carbon every time I pedal.
I'm going back to singlespeeding.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
to ride a bicycle is "sheep." Bring your velcro gloves and your kilt,
as I'm told that's why Scots wear kilts: sheep can hear a zipper.
But seriously, to make Welsh mud, mix 43% soil with 52% sheep shit and
5% water. Then take it and throw it all over your legs, back, and
bike, and you have a good idea of a "dry" day in Wales.
Today was one of those – a dry day – and also the first day of
"racing." The Trans-Wales stage race is interesting in that it's
illegal here to RACE on public carriage ways, so 90% of the 75 – 85 km
stages are untimed. Somewhere in the middle of a stage, there will be
a timed Special Stage. Today's was a 1 km hill climb.
So basically imagine doing a 3 minute cross race in the middle of a 5
hour easy ride, and you have a general idea of the format. Given that
I rode the entirety of today's stage yesterday, accidentally, I took
today to enjoy the company of the other riders and take some photos.
And I've been pursuing my favorite new pastime, chasing sheep on the
bike. Those little bastards can run, and they like to dart in front of
you randomly. Great fun.
Since I'm still on the mobile, I'm having trouble with pictures, but
I'll see what I can do. Time to finish my 2nd bottle of Stella (crap
beer here) and head to dinner.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
from my mobile. Bear with me as I'm going to keep it short.
Today's Lesson: pay attention to course markers, or don't, actually.
So today was a "warm-up" prologue with no actual bearing on the
overall race starting tomorrow. The course was essentially the first
half of tomorrow's 1st stage, then head back to camp. I was sitting in
about 15th with a kiwi singlespeeder, and at the bottom of the descent
we saw a course marker to out left and followed it. Problem was, it
was tomorrow's marker and not today's, which we would have seen if we
Long story short, we arrived at tomorrow's stage finish and realized
the error, and called for a ride home. So it turned out we had about
80 km of riding and 6500 feet of climbing - all on 40 km worth of food
and water (1 bottle of perpetuum, 1 clif bar). So tomorrow we'll run
this stage again, but with all the beta!
Oh, there are lots of sheep. Lots. More on that later.
Tuesday, August 09, 2011
I present to you the FZK Special Issue Team Road Bike:
|Proof that bike lust can be satiated with only a few bucks spend on spray paint, vinyl decals, and some bar tape.|
|2011.08.09 FZK Team Bike|