2016 review (mostly) in pictures

hover or click for witty captions…

So many people to thank for all of this – everyone at Jungle Imports and Santa Cruz for the support and amazing fast mountain bikes, Phil at Scott Sports UK for the bike that helped me win Revolve 24, Team JMC, Tom and the staff at Exposure Lights, Nils at Lyon for the brilliant Ortlieb bikepacking gear, Stevie at 2 Pure for keeping me stocked up with go-go-food, Chipps, Hannah and the gang at Singletrack Magazine for giving me chances to do cool things with very cool things, Steve and all at Islabikes, Phil Evans and Kate Hobson for the Sri Lanka experience that I’ll never forget, Sri Lankan Airlines for the Business Class flights with curry, all the curry chefs who’ve fed me in 2016, The Sleaford Mods, all my mates and to everyone out there that’s shouted ‘go on Jase’ from the side of a road or muddy field somewhere for the past 12 months.

No thanks to – angry French thugs, Spanish trains, crappy injuries.

The M3 Project 256 mile challenge – update

Running (at least for an infrequent runner like me) is a gamble. You can do it for as long as you stay injury-free but if you’re unlucky, injury seems to strike decisively and without warning. One minute you’re trotting along pretending to be Mo Farah, the next you’re dragging your broken body home like a train wreck survivor. Something that would be a minor niggle when riding a bike seems to be a complete show-stopper in the world of running.

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My 256 mile December challenge had lasted just 9 days before I picked up a muscle injury. I’ve done ‘something’ to my upper leg (ok my arse muscles in other words) that means I can’t run AT ALL. I can barely walk without pain and running, a whole week later, is still impossible.

So I’ve had to abandon it. I might have another go in January.

At least my bike still loves me.

In the meantime, Alan, Dave and Dean are still going and have just reached halfway! Remember they’re running for a great cause and imagine not having a roof over your head this Christmas (or at any time really). Drop them a few quid here. 

 

The M3 Project 256 Challenge

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It’s good to do something different in the winter. A change is as good as a rest, as they say. Unless the ‘change’ is about as restful as running 256 miles in a month, that is.

It sounded like a good idea until I thought about it properly, but that was before I thought about what December’s running challenge actually entails.

On the 1st of December I’ll run 1 mile. On the 2nd I’ll run 2 miles. This will continue until I run 16 miles on the 16th December, when the mileage will decrease each day (so 15 miles on the 17th), ending with 1 mile on New Year’s Eve.

The two middle weeks look quite tough and I’ve never been out for a run on Christmas Day (that one’s a 7 miler).

To put things further into context, 256 miles is over 30 miles further than my total running distance in 2015. It’s my poor toenails I feel sorry for.

It was my mate Alan’s idea. Alan works for the M3 Project – a local charity that provides vital housing support for young people in the area and along with Dave Haygarth and Dean Pointer we’ll be raising funds and awareness for them.

Salient points:

  • Under 25s now represent half the people in homeless accommodation.
  • Young people are now the group most likely to be living in poverty
  • Recent figures from 2015 indicate that on any ONE night in the UK, 35,000 young people are in homeless accommodation and that is without the hidden homeless…
  • Hidden homelessness involves young people sleeping rough or sofa surfing, most of whom will not be in touch with services or receiving support around their homelessness. This figure is estimated by Centrepoint to be nearly 10 times higher than the ‘known’ homeless levels, at just under 300,000 on any ONE night in the UK.

Please think about how you can help, be that sharing, funding, or whatever.

I’ll be posting updates on here, on Strava and the usual social media channels as December plods on, plus there will be news appearing on the M3 website. There will be no escape from me begging for donations. You can donate here

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#december256

 

Relentless 24 2016

“You ok mate?”, another rider goes past, perhaps he recognises me. Perhaps he’s seen me before, stopped at the side of the trail either eating something or trying to coax my rear tyre into holding air by pumping it up and calling it “a f**kin’ tw*t”. I wasn’t swearing at it in a frantic, Oh My God I’m Losing Valuable Seconds sort of a way though, like I did at the World Champs race last year.
I don’t know why I was swearing at it, but then I often swear at misbehaving inanimate objects.

I’d been feeling increasingly ambivalent about this race, the UK 24 hour champs, for a few weeks. As far back as Revolve24 I’d been thinking that it would be a good idea to sit this one out but couldn’t put my finger on why. I’d assumed it was because I was riding around in a circle 167 times.  As is often the case though, I carried on (reluctantly) preparing for the race, the delicate training/work/family balancing act becoming more and more tricky.
Even during the long drive to Fort William, I still had doubts and was questioning my reasons for taking part. It felt like there were several tails all wagging the same dog.

"It'll be reet"

It’ll be reet

“It’ll be ok once the race gets started” I thought.

At first everything was ok. I’d been super-organised in the past week and Deb and I had a plan. We’d chatted it through on the way here and all being well and apart from necessary bike swaps, I should be able to race pretty much without stopping.
The plan was working for a couple of hours. I rode from 6th place up into 2nd without too much drama and felt fine – I was sure that I could keep this going for the next 22 hours….

22 hours. Jesus wept. This shit again.

It sort of hit me right then.

After thirty or so 24 hour solos, now I’m getting overawed by the length of the thing. Shouldn’t I have done all of this 25 races ago?

The Relentless course was as amazing as ever, my Santa Cruz bikes are amazing and so is my support. But I honestly didn’t care enough about the outcome of the race to actually ‘race’. I tried to focus, but instead I ended up talking myself out of it. Not because I was feeling weak or soft, just because I thought I could spend my time doing something more interesting.

Perhaps it was also significant that my youngest daughter’s birthday was on Sunday too, so as far as ‘talking myself out of it’ was concerned, there was plenty to get stuck into.

I bailed out of the race at 9 hours, deciding that if I was going to pull out I’d need to do it before the point where I’d need an extended recovery period. It’s ok breaking yourself if you’ve finished a race but a bit pointless otherwise.

I felt a wave of relief wash over me. I expected that to change into feelings of failure and regret after an hour or so, but that didn’t happen and it still hasn’t done. I just felt relief. I also felt guilty that I’d dragged my family 350 miles north for a bike race that I’d just abandoned. I’ll listen to my instincts next time. A lesson learned.
Instead of racing, packing up and going home, we rode the cable car, went out for breakfast and had some fun.

Bike racing will still be there when I decide to return to it, but Eleanor will only have one 9th birthday.

Now, where are my running shoes….?

Relentless 24 countdown AKA the loneliness of the long-distance cyclist

It’s less than a week now until the start of yet another 24 hour solo championship. This time it’s the UK championship, ‘a race within a race’, held at the same time as Relentless 24 up in Fort William.

It’s a race I’ve a lot of affection for and I’ve done well there several times in the past. There’s a good list of toughnuts on the starting list so it’ll be another fast and furious job and we’ll see how things pan out.

While I’m looking forward to the race, I’ll be glad when it’s over, if I’m being perfectly honest.

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Maybe it’s my sparkling wit or my choice of aftershave, but aside from one or two occasions I think I’ve ridden on my own for 10 to 20 hours per week since I got back from Sri Lanka in the spring. Nobody’s fault, but it’s not much fun after a few months. Time for a break, ride bikes for a laugh, go for a run, go to the pub.

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The race is the easy part.

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The real highlight of the past few weeks though was the Coed Y Brenin Enduro event – it really was brilliant, that.

It was a good job it wasn’t a race – lining up at the start line of a bike race or event is getting earlier or I’m wandering down there from the car later, but when I got my act together and wandered down to the start line there must have been 500 or so people already there, ready for the off.

Someone next to me at the start told me that there was a small gate about 1k from the start, which as you can imagine would be a terrible bottleneck with so many other riders in the queue, so my ‘relaxed’ start soon became a flat-out charge up the hill for a kilometre until I reached the aforementioned gate. I think I was about 30 men back at this point rather than a few hundred so didn’t have to queue but probably looked like a bit of a div while I raced uphill, out of the saddle at the start of a non-competitive event.

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All finishers received a mug and a bottle of beer too, which was the icing on a Proper Day Out. It was so good that I rode a second lap after I crossed the finish line. Got to make the most of it after I crawled out of bed at 4am to drive to Wales.