Radcliffe Trail Race

Entering this race seemed like a good idea at the time, despite the race being in the week after Sleepless. I knew yesterday however that I was far from ready for a 5 mile off-road run at full pelt. I knew I’d be slow and I suspected that I might just die on my ass halfway ’round. Ah well, it’ll be reet, etc.

I’d probably know a lot of the local lads doing it so it might be a good social occasion (or at least a means of letting people know that I’m still alive). A bloke that I don’t know spoke to me at the start about Hit the North and how he’d done the last 2 races and was keen for us to do another. After reassuring him that we will be we lined up.

There were only 45 people taking part in this race, which is a shame for the organisers and was going to make it very easy to come last…I lined up at the front anyway, somewhat optimistically.

At the first climb and the start of the off-road trail I was in 10th-ish I think. I was already finding the pace difficult – my legs were complaining something rotten and we were only half a mile from the start…I dug in and tried to ignore the discomfort. I was slowing down. A couple of runners passed me. Then another, and another….this was daft. The last one to pass me was this old bloke who was running like he had rickets…sod this I’m either going to have to pull my finger out or just stop.

I pulled my finger out and got back a couple of places. I lost a couple more I think but I mostly held my position both up and down hills. For the final mile or so I was really just hanging on, knowing that I was in about 15th place. I didn’t want to be any further back than that.

Over the canal, down the path then onto the running track where I saw Vince at the end doing the timing. ‘Hello, you’re 15th’ he said and handed me a bottle of water. Rather surprisingly I managed it in 35.39. Not mega-fast but not too bad considering I was knackered at the start. Most importantly I wasn’t beaten by any girls. The first female was a whole second behind me in 16th place 😉

I’ll probably plan better next time and make sure I don’t include 5 miles of hard running as part of my ‘recovery’ routine, because that really did hurt quite a lot.

Nice tanlines!

Sleepless in the Saddle 2009

After a rather chaotic couple of days packing for the weekend, sorting out kit for the race itself, building the new bike, setting off in the van then realising I’d not packed any clothes and completely forgetting my HR monitor we finally arrived and managed to pitch the tent before it went dark. Dave and Wayne arrived just in time for it to go dark 😉

Simon arrived on Saturday morning, Rich and Anne were just around the corner, we had a proper ‘hood 😉

After a couple of spins around the campsite, some umming and ahhing, comparing mine and Dave’s bikes and passing around of the Ragley TD-1  to Dave and Rich, I decided to give the 470mm carbon forks a go. They were much better handling-wise. Not quite as Brant had originally intended but I was much more positive about using the bike in the race as the change of fork transformed the bike for the better.


It was so good in fact that I only bothered to ride the spare bike (the Scandal) for one lap. The Ragley TD-1 was riding brilliantly through the muddy stuff, up the steep short climbs, fantastic at speed going downhill and much more comfortable than the Scandal over the bumpy bits. There were so many large exposed roots on the course but it really didn’t matter – I could just pop the front wheel up and over the obstacle and carry on, no worries.

It’s great, in other words. We’ll have a play with different forks in the near future to get it spot-on, so basically it’s an ace bike that can be made even better.

So anyway, the race starts and I simultaneously start to feel quite rough. I think the heat was getting to me and I wasn’t happy at all. 6 hours in and I’m thinking of calling it a day, when Deb tells me to ‘just try another couple of hours’. Once the sun started to go down I felt a lot stronger. I rode well thoughout the night, ate well and just kept going until the sun came out again….once again I started to feel sick and far too warm. Don’t worry. Not too long now. Just MTFU.

SITS Sleepless In The Saddle 2009_Mr_Terrahawk

photo credit: www.qwertyphoto.com

By about 8am I was in 2nd place, but only marginally. I dropped down into 3rd I think during a brief water bottle/chain lube stop and that’s where I stayed for the remainder of the race, each time I rode through the start/finish I was being cheered and encouraged by friends and strangers alike. It was ace, and on relfection quite moving.

Dave and Wayne gave me the Energy Gels Of Heroes and told me that there would be an outside chance of 2nd place if I crammed in 2 laps instead of one ‘lurking’ lap. So, rather reluctantly, that’s what I did. I say reluctantly because I thought I might die. The heat and pain was now really opressive – I felt like I had nothing left…at that point I got a bit faster. Not much, but a bit. Maybe 10 minutes per lap faster.

I finished in 3rd place 😉 No amount of energy gel was going to allow me to catch Mike Hall in 2nd. I completed 25 laps, just the one behind the winner, Rob Dean.


Despite my result, I was gutted for Dave who dropped out after a few hours, then dropped back in again when he started to feel better then rode at warp 5 for a bit. Too late for the result he really deserves but some impressively uber-fast lap times on the other Ragley protobike.

Simon did fantastically well (even though he would probably play down his achievement) finishing 6th place vet, 19th overall. He did that on a singlespeed too.

Finally, big shouts out to all the cheering folk; Andrew ‘Spider’ McHugh and Son, Rich, Anne, Gingerflash, Chris and the USE gang, Ben and Mark for the manic woohoo’s, Jenn, Trio, the guys and gals out on the course (particularly fellow soloist and birthday girl Clare Starkie for the regular words of encouragement), Mrs Sparkle, Andy for the use of the shower in his motorhome, Dave and Wayne, Brant for sorting me out with a great bike and most of all Deb and Mike for being the tippest-toppermost pit crew ever.


So that’s this year’s 24 hour races all done. Last year I wanted to improve my results but I probably wasn’t expecting a 2nd, 3rd and 5th in the three 24 hour events I entered so I’m understandably over the moon. I’m still going to be busy with the Manx End to End, Dusk Till Dawn, 3 Peaks Cyclocross, hopefully a few winter ‘cross races and of course some daft/epic training rides then preparation for next year, but for the next week at least I’m going to put my feet up.

Ragley Ti 29er prototype

IMG_3874 (Large)

This just arrived from Lynskey (via Brant’s car) yesterday, just in time to be thrown together ready for SITS this weekend. I know it’s not best practice to ride a new bike in a 24 hour race (or do anything new for that matter), but I’m sure it’ll be fine. I’m taking the Scandal anyway just in case..! First impressions are that the front end is very low, as low as a 26″ wheeled bike in fact.

I only had a blue headset, which kind of clashes with the Singular fork that we’re using, but for testing purposes this fork is the correct length and rake for this particular frame so we’ll see how it rides with that and take it from there. Dave’s frame is different from this in that it suits a shorter-raked fork (a pimp-ass carbon job).

The full bike weighs bang on 24Ibs, however with lighter wheels and a carbon fork it’d be 23 or less.

IMG_3875 (Large)IMG_3873 (Large)

More detail at www.shedfire.com

SITS weatherwatch

I know I said last year that I’d not be racing at Catton Park this year, or any other year, but I am. Even though the course is a bit pants when it’s dry and deteriorates alarmingly when it’s a bit damp, after the decent rides at CLIC24 and Mountain Mayhem and the fact that I should have (depending on the speed of US or Taiwanese courier firms) a shiny new bike to race on hopefully sometime this week, I’m going to be there again. Me and Dave are doing a glitzy product launch 😉

At the moment the forecasts I’ve seen or have been looking at suggest that maybe, perhaps, with a bit of luck…..it’s going to be dry. Ish.

I’ll pack Small Block 8’s, Racing Ralphs and Cyclocross tyres. Maybe flat pedals and fell running shoes too. Ready for owt.