Friday, 30 March 2012

2012 - Returning to the track!

Last week saw most of the BSSO 2012 riders at Mallory Park for the Official pre-season test day.

I arrived myself all full of optimism and parked up next to my old mate Matthew Gooch who was out to play on his Street Class Jet 200.

It was great to see all the riders and catch up with a few for a chat.  Some new faces this year as always and a few notable absences!  With the riders meeting over it was a quick check over and fuel the bike then onto track.

Initially felt somewhat rusty as I have sold my road bike and the rebuild of a Jet200 has come to a stop, so I''d not ridden a scooter at all in 5 1/2 months so first lap out felt well odd !  I took my time but the scooter felt nicely quick down the straights so felt OK.

After about 4 laps though I really started to feel the pain from my broken ribs. ( result of a snowboarding accident a couple of weeks earlier!  )  It seems that whilst the ribs were up to mountain biking they sure as hell weren't up to the braking forces into Edwinas and the hairpin!

I was pretty glad to be honest when the first session was over as it was pretty painful!  I dosed myself up with painkillers and checked the bike over, and all too soon it was back out on track again!   The sessions were coming round really quick.  After lunch I did just one more session before admitting defeat to the pain as it was making me feel pretty ill and certainly unconfident!  The last thing I needed was a spill and further injury!

In the last session the exhaust note had changed and inspection revealed that a mounting had come loose and also the muffler was breaking up.  There was also some oil appearing under the engine from the mag housing that was so troublesome last year! A quick patch up and I let Matt go out to do 3-4 laps to see how he enjoyed a modern race scooter.  He came back with a grin !

This week the engine was stripped and checked - the excess oil had been caused by an oilseal failure so I was glad to have found it before any damage was done.!

A new seal was fitted and the mag housing bearing re-greased and all cleaned up.

A new Gianelli muffler has now been fitted too, the old one is probably repairable though and can be relegated to spare.  The new muffler is carbon and has a different design end can to the last one.  i doubt theres any performance difference but they do look nice.  If they are good enough for Charlie Edmonds then I am sure they will do for me!

This week sees the first round of the 2012 Championship when we visit the Croft Circuit in the north east for the first time in a few years at the invite of the NEMCRC.

The Lambretta Club GB have been supporting the meeting and we're expecting good numbers of spectators!

I will be doing up on pain killers, but Mallory had definitely put me very much backwards with my recovery for the broken ribs and have been in much pain again since!  I shall just have to dose up on the painkillers for the weekend I think!

No pit crew this weekend.... :-(

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Winter Racing - 2 wheels - No Engine!

Towards the end of last year I had started to ride my mountain bike a bit, but after the seasons end this became more regular and in a weak moment my business partner talked me into doing a proper race at Thetford Forest!

A couple of weeks before the Thetford race we went up to practice at Sherwood Pines Forest Park where there's a red route which would be a good test.  I did the 8.5 mile lap there in my fastest time so was bouyed with confidence.  I didnt have the energy for a second lap so whilst Lee went off to play I amused myself by doing a few runs down the very first section of the route against the clock to see what time I could set on the short section.  Best I could do was 1 min 24 secs.  Lee had just taken delivery of a new GT Mountain bike so whilst he was cooling down I took it off down the same route to see what the difference was......  I  did just one route and despite fumbling gear changes and not being used to the set up of his bike against mine i straight away did 1 min 16 secs...... 8 seconds gain!  You  know what this means........................   yes  a new bike needed!

A couple of days research and I narrowed the choice down to 2 specific bikes........  one of which I found for sale having been only ridden a handful of times up and down a lane........ and it was less than half the new price.....  so after handing over lots of notes (!) there I was the proud owner of A Giant XTC3 XC Mountain Bike

The Thetford Whyte Winter Series is a set of 4 Races held between November and February and attracts a full capacity of 500 riders to each race.  Classes are split by age group with distance options from 2 laps to 4 hours (!)  So somehow on the first weekend of November I found myself deep in the Thetford Forest lining up with 500 other loons to race bicycles around a cross country course about 6.5 miles long.

It was very much a baptism of fire and not even having been to a mountain bike race before!  I had only been training a few weeks really at this point and had no idea what to expect really!......   My engine tuner Chalky White is a keen and regular cyclist and I had his advice ringing in my ears......  " Don't go off too fast and burn yourself out " .....

I found that on the downhill singletrack swoops I could make up a lot of time.... but then immediately lose it when we hit the open fire track roads and uphill stretches.  I just didnt have the strength in my legs to keep up the same pace on those bits.  I ended the 2 lap race in 19th place out of 34 starters so overall I wasn't unhappy!

I carried on regular training and entered again for Round 2 which was he;d at a different part of the forest.  This time I did at least know roughly what to expect!  The course for the second round included a bit more swooping single track and a few jumps and bombholes here and there which were a bit scary!  I felt stronger for the second round as I was 4 weeks fitter!  This time there were 29 entries and I managed to finish 12th.

With a 7 week gap to Round three to allow for the Christmas period I carried on training.  Round three was f@*#ing cold I can tell you!  The race started in minus 4 and ended around zero! This time I knew a little more so paced myself .... but a little too much on the first lap and got stuck behind a few slower riders through some of the stretches of single track through the forest.  This can be really frustrating as its virtually impossible to pass without forcing a way through. i ended this one in 12th place too .  I checked my times against the winners and found that I was 110% of the winning time in Round 1 but was only 107% at Round 3 so I was definitely fitter and faster!

Round 4 saw a brilliantly sunny day - must be summer! - and unfortunately I was about to learn some important points!  Normally training stops a few days before a race, but on the Saturday I felt pretty good and it was a nice day and after I had checked the bike over and cleaned and lubricated i decided to go out for a nice easy ride....... enthusiasm and boredom had the better of me and I ended up doing almost 16 miles! This would come back to  haunt me!

I arrived at Thetford a little later than the previous races and signed on then set off for a short ride to warm my legs up.  I set off from the race paddock following a couple of guys around the first part of the circuit.  Once we crossed a fire road we turned off and headed down the fire road... I had only planned a short ride and assumed like me they were taking a short cut back.....  then for some reason it struck me that they had no race numbers on their bikes.... ooops .... I was following some guys who were just out for a ride!  Long story short.... I turned around to head back.....   but must have missed a turn somewhere ( all trees look the same! ) and now I was plain lost and disorientated . 

Race start time was now only 15 mins away and after stopping a guy to to ask him found I was a good 2.5 miles from the race paddock!  oops!  I consulted his map and headed off in what I hoped was the right way ... flat out......  I could hear a loudspeaker then through the trees saw the red flag.... phew......  the first classes had all gone off and there was less than 3 minutes to the start...... and i was about knackered from riding back flat out!  No time to top up drinks.....
Watch the left hand side coming towards camera... black / yellow clothing with red helmet

I managed to shuffle ( push ) my way to the second row and was still getting my breath back as the horn went to start the race!  I just went for it and pushed hard and after some elbow banging through the single track and a rather solid clash of handle bars  I was in 10th place at the end of the first lap and had passed about 20 riders of the next class that had started 3 minutes earlier.

On the second lap I got caught up in a couple of other peoples crashes including one going down through the fast sweeping single track when I was just lining up to pass a guy when he hit a tree root and binned it!  As I was only about 12 " behind him I had nowhere to go and after running over him found myself in a heap on teh floor with my feet still attached to my pedals|!

At about 75% race distance the previous days mileage and the 11 miles 'warm up' suddenly hit and my legs were shot!  the two crashes and my jelly legs meant a couple of guys had snuck past and I just didnt have the strength to chase them back down.....  All part of the learning curve though!  Don't train too much!  I ended the race 13th.

The final points totals for the race series are not published yet but I am 6 / 7th overall so was quite chuffed with that for my first foray into cycle racing at the grand old age of 48.

Getting so into Mountain Bike Racing over the last few months has been an absolute godsend really and I have really benefitted from being outdoors and away from all the stresses and shit in life.  I am a stone and a half lighter than at the end of the  scooter race season and a 34" waist for the first time since my late twenties!  Which can only be a good thing.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Detox over....

After 9 days of Aloe Vera gel it was kinda nice to have a change!   The whole Clean 9 program was not actually as hard as I expected it to be and I definitely felt stronger physically for it!

Its hard to describe but you really do feel cleaner inside..... kind of like your pipes have been cleaned out!

End result was 9 lbs weight loss, and as part of the program you take various body measurements.... all of which were between 20 and 40mm smaller by the end!   The program 'encourages' your body to burn fat from all over it so you really do feel like you have lost the weight and physical size.

I really thought I could well feel weak during the process but once past day 5 it was quite the opposite.  Going out for an evening 10 mile mountain bike ride, twice during the last few days of the detox I actually set new personal best times for a 10 mile distance, and no aching legs the following day!

Would I recommend it.....   Yes definitely!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Nine Days to Clean!

Last Thursday I started the Forever Clean 9 programme .

This is a system which lasts 9 days and is designed to cleanse your system and lose some weight and burn away fat ! I have always been sceptical about this sort of thing but my business partner did the same system last year and benefitted from it so I thought I would give it a try, thinking also it would give me a focus after a stressful time .

See the details here >>

 So for the first two days the programme was the same ..... Drinking Aloe Vera gel, taking Bee Pollen, the natural appetite suppressant Garcinia, a powder shake, and plenty of water! Notice the absence of any food!!!! I enjoyed a chicken & mushroom pie and chips the night before. Felt like the last meal of a condemned man lol.

The first day was pretty tough by the end. The Aloe Vera gel is certainly an acquired taste!!!! The vanilla shake was not bad and tasted like very weak custard! By evening time I had a spitting headache (which I had been warned about ) and a very disturbed nights sleep . 

The second day was said by many to be the hardest to get through, but for me wasn't actually as bad as expected. I wasn't as hungry as I expected to be either. I did feel a lack of energy though which I guess is understandable.

On day three the same process of Aloe Vera Gel etc could be supplemented by a small meal in the evening of 600 calories, which ain't that much really! This was made harder by the fact that I was seeing my brother who had booked a meal at a traditional fish and chip restaurant! I just had a small dish of 2 homemade fish cakes and a few chips. By now I had actually got quite used to the process and whilst I felt hungry I wasn't ravenous and actually if it wasn't for being out for a meal I could actually have gone a full third day without a meal. 

Day 4 was the first time I got weighed - I had lost a full 6 lbs in weight! I went out for a short ride on my mountain bike and found energy ran out fast ! I measured waist hips and chest and had lost 15 - 25 mm in size. Thighs had lost 20mm too!

Day 5 saw my energy levels returning to normal and I was quite into the pattern of everything now and it was getting easier with every day. The Aloe Vera Gel is still an acquired taste though! 

Today is day 6 and I was a little hungrier today so the small evening meal of turkey breast mince, pineapple and rice was most welcome! I felt energetic and fit so this evening went out for a ride on my mountain bike setting a new personal best time of 45 minutes to do 10 miles including going through town so I was quite chuffed with that !  at the end of the ride I felt strong and sure I could easily have done the same again!