Teko Socks

There aren’t many things as painful as cold toes when you’re out on a big ride in the middle of winter. The feeling that you’ve just dropped a couple of bricks on your feet is enough to make anyone dash off home early, grimacing in pain.

“There’s no such thing as wrong weather, only the wrong clothing” is how the saying goes. If you’ve got the right clothing though, happy days. Stay out all night. Hopefully it will snow and blow a gale. I don’t care. My feet are warm.

monkey

I’m lucky enough to have the warmth and comfort needs of my feet looked after in 2013 by Teko Socks – I think the entire operation is controlled by a knitted monkey so that’s good. They’re also manufacturing their products and obtaining the raw materials in a sustainable way, which I guess is important too.

I’ve been sent, just in time for the winter and the horrors of training for the Strathpuffer, a selection of warm socks that up to now have kept the ‘toes trapped in a car door’ sensations at bay. My current favourites, for obvious climatic reasons, are the organic merino “XC Light Nordic Ski”, which as their name suggests are good for Nordic skiing, so they should be fine for riding around in circles in a Scottish forest.

epgzq

They’ve been fine so far with repeated soakings, high-speed winds and freezing mornings. They’re nicely padded in the right places. They’re not mega-tight around the top. They’re WARM in so much that they’re a bit too warm for wearing around the house with the heating on. They look nice and they’re not dead bulky either. I’m well chuffed with ‘em.

The monkey has sent me a selection of other socks too, from thin summer ones  (which I’ve worn around the house a bit) to slightly heavier “SIN3ERGI” hiking socks that I expect will be bob-on for 9 months of the year.

The seemingly endless search for the right clothing (well, socks anyway) might actually be at an end 🙂

 

 

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I will never learn

After a frustrating week of suffering from a weird kind of cold ‘thing’, (not a full-on snotty cold but a listless, tired-out, just-want-to-go-to-bed cold),I knew I was feeling better as soon as I’d just knocked out six fast laps of the new ‘red’ trails and some other stuff in the local woods. Instead of feeling ill and that I couldn’t breathe I was able to push hard and was properly shifting again.

My week-long grumpy mood rapidly evaporated and I was wearing my head-to-toe suit of wet winter mud with pride.

I felt great for a few hours anyway….

Later that same day Debbie and I went to a party at a friend’s house and had rather a lot to drink. This was a Bad Move.

I was doing the Cumbrian Cracker cyclosportive the day after and my red wine and lager excess followed by a good, solid three hours’ sleep meant that I spent the entire ride feeling like I wanted to be sick when I should have been feeling on top of the world because my cold had gone.

Oh well. Better crack on then. Meeting up with Dave after the sign-on, we got ready for the off and I recounted to him just how many glasses of wine and cans of lager I’d drank the night before. It probably wasn’t loads and loads but it felt like one or two too many.

The first climb up Red Bank soon had me feeling sick, however for the most part the route isn’t terribly difficult. It seems that all the flattish roads in the Lake District have been assembled into one 60 mile loop and I was often thanking my lucky stars that none of the ‘proper’ Lakeland passes were on today’s menu. Once we arrived at the one and only feed station in Cartmel I devoured some real food and had a cuppa. Felt a bit better.

In spite of the amber weather warning, the predicted rain didn’t seem to materialise and apart from two or three (very) deep puddles, the roads were all pretty much clear of debris. What started out as something that I could quite easily have given a miss ended up being a brilliant morning of great views, good company and doorstep-sized slabs of cake.

 

photo: Sportsunday

About three and a half hours later, we arrived back in Grasmere, had a bowl of soup and I went home, bang on schedule.

Dave however did the decent thing and rode the route again 😉

 

The 2012 cyclocross season begins…..oh..erm…

 

Photo: Sportsunday

I don’t do many cyclocross races and bloody hell, it doesn’t half show. It’s down to a combination of things, but mainly really busy Saturdays doing family stuff means that it’s not too often that I’m able to wipe out most of the day on a one hour race in a local park, but sometimes they’re on a Sunday…and quite often I can ‘do’ Sundays….

Photo: Martin Holden Photography

The North West League race last weekend at Leverhulme Park in Bolton was a bit muddy. Ok, it was incredibly muddy. This mud, mixed with the deep layer of recently-fallen leaves resulted in a tough old slog around the course and for those of us without a second bike ready and waiting in the pit area, it meant regular stops at the side of the tapes to remove large wads of compost from the ‘cosy’ parts of the bike. With each lap, my bike maintenance stops (where I would alternate between pulling mud from the bike with my hands and prodding it away with a twig) became more and more regular. The highlight of the penultimate lap was trying to get my chain back on an encrusted chainring while watching THE ENTIRE CYCLOCROSS POPULATION OF THE NORTH OF ENGLAND ride past.

That was ok really. I said hello to Phil and a few other friends as they all rode past and I contemplated completing the race on foot.

I didn’t, obviously. After what seemed like an eternity of chain faff, I got going again and muttered and grumbled my way to the finish. 70-something-th place. Plenty of room for improvement/two bike strategies/singlespeeding.

It wasn’t all bad. Here’s some Good Stuff:

  • Tubular cyclocross tyres. I’d never ridden tubs in a race before, let alone a slippery, muddy race. Gawd I love em. Glued to my pair of Planet X carbon disc brake-ready wheels, I was able to ride every off-camber slippery slope and was left grinning from ear to ear every time I defied what I thought (in my clinchers and innertubes sensibilities) were the Accepted Rules Of Riding Bikes Up Steep Things-Physics. I’d glued them on properly as well, given they didn’t come unstuck, roll off and send me into a bush. Alan told me how to do it – watch this and learn.
  • A race 10 minutes from my house. Ten minutes from my house!
  • A bike that doesn’t try to kill me even when I spend an hour riding like a muppet. Ok, I crashed a couple of times but in the main the On-One Dirty Disco was as confidence-inspiring, stable and just all-round ACE in this race as it was in the 3 Peaks. I’ve no worries at all about doing REALLY big stuff on this bike. Watch this space…

 

Happy new year….

Here we go again. My solo entry into the Strathpuffer 24 was successful last night after the customary “stay up late and hit refresh on the computer keyboard repeatedly then bang your payment details in dead fast” session and effectively signals the start of the 2013 endurance racing campaign.

No more easy rides for a while. 12 weeks of hard training, balancing training hours with Real Life, mental preparation, worrying about the cost of it all, how far away it is (it’s REALLY far away), to-ing and fro-ing over equipment choice and weather watching.

Ok, it’s not all like that. I actually enjoy the training and preparation aspects of endurance racing as much as the racing itself – as well as the quite large amount of riding bikes involved I love noticing the inevitable increases in fitness and the dropping of excess weight. I love the smaller races in between now and the big day that to ‘normal sane folk’ would be pretty big on their own, entered merely to break things up, keep things sharp and to gauge progress.  Perhaps most of all, I love the planning of occasional big rides with friends – often friends who are in the same situation and will be racing in the same races throughout the coming year.

The last time I raced at the Strathpuffer things didn’t go entirely to plan but I did alright. I’ll probably be racing on a singlespeed again this time around due to having convinced myself that it’s the ideal race to approach on a one-geared bike (despite it almost killing me last time). Hopefully this time I’ll also be a bit stronger a little bit wiser….