Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Bristol Bikefest Pre-amble

Pre-amble Pre-amble
I'll admit to some hesitation when sitting down to write this post, I've made a decision to keep the blog up to date though and I guess this forms part of the thought process which I set the site up to record.

Bike Races hold a love hate grip over me, I love the thought of something to train for (I very often find that without a date on the calender my training fades).  The problem is, in the past I've got myself stressed out over fitness, weather, tyre choice, food choice and a thousand other items which really only deserve as much air time as it takes to dismiss them.  Kate finally sat me down  a few years ago and explained the impact this was having on her, since then, I've stepped back and taken events as nothing more than an opportunity to ride my bike surrounded by others.

Historically, admitting that I felt fit was setting myself up to be beaten down by others, this is the next step in my 'rehabilitation' and proving to myself I've changed my outlook.  Yes, I'll be racing against mates, but if they win then fair enough, I've got a 7 week old baby and a 3 year old toddler who between them ensure that sleep is rarer than rocking horse shit.  Getting to the event in itself is going to be an achievement.  Trying to teach Dash that it's the effort and the ability to keep trying even if that means an acceptance of failure has highlighted my own past failings, so yeah, here's my own thoughts on me ahead of time, if I'm proved wrong, then I'll be proved wrong whilst giving it my best effort..

I've contemplated the Bristol Bikefest for a few years, it looks like a fun event, it's close to home and the course receives favourable comments from the biking forums.  Unfortunately, it's always fallen just ahead of the Mountain Mayhem, an event which was always the big part of my biking year, more recently, it's been only a few weeks ahead of exams.

When my old buddy Ad sent a text and asked if I was free to join him as a pair for the 12 hour race I had a few minutes of contemplation, with exams a (temporary) thing of the past and Mayhem now longer holding any real interest I admit to being very tempted.
The chance to catch up with some friends I've not seen for a few years and the option of riding somewhere new sealed it.  It also filled a nice space in my training diary between the Wye Valley Sportive and the Triathlon in August.

So, where am I then in terms of preparation for a race?

Whatever happens, we're going to get a top 10 finish, checking the entry list, it appears that there is only 10 pairs signed up for the Singlespeed category, see? it's all about finding positives.  The Singlespeed may be an issue; I've only recently converted after a number of years as a geared rider.  I remember that the events I did with only one gear went well, speed wasn't an issue but the way of riding is slightly different and that is something which I'm short on practice at.

I admit I'm getting fitter, distance is no longer a thing of concern, I'm knocking out 35-40 mile rides without issue at present and running wise, I can get out and do a half marathon distance run happily, that's an improvement on previous years; probably not quite to the level I was at 2 years ago, but life has changed since then and I'm probably fitter in a more sustainable way now.

The good thing about the increased fitness is that I feel better in myself about clicking into the pedals and rolling out onto a race track, that, along with the chilled out attitude I'm working hard to foster and I can honestly say that I'm really looking forward it.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Farewell to old faithful

I've never adopted a revolving door approach to bike ownership, in fact, going back three generations would see a bike that was bought and ridden during the late 90's.

I can still reel off every bike I've owned and how I eagerly awaited their purchase, planning components and the trails I would try them out on.  That covers the mountain bike side of things, road bikes are even rarer, my first road bike was bought for me as a ten year old, countless miles were covered until I became enchanted by the possibilities of off road biking and it was sold to help towards the cost of its muddy replacement.

The next foray into road riding came as an 18 year old, my aging car transported me and a mate 50 miles from home to buy a bike which I had read a description of in the free ads, the test ride consisted of bouncing down the curb and pedaling to the end of the road and back to ensure nothing fell off.  I still remember the sweaty afternoon spent cutting off the solid rear tyre which the previous owner had fitted in an attempt to reduce maintenance requirements to zero.

That bike was upgraded and much loved, accompanying me through my early triathlon outings, a high speed crash which saw me run over and transported to hospital consigned the bike to the garden shed for a few years until I had the heart to admit the frame was beyond salvage.

A few years ago I had the urge for a return to the road, a work colleague at the time was a massive cycling fan, a member of the cycling club to which he belonged was selling his winter training bike, a few weeks passed and the bike was still for sale.  Turning up at his house on a wet saturday afternoon I saw a bike which would do me fine, I stared in awe as he proudly showed me the 2k road bike which he kept for best, wondering why the hell anyone would spend that money on a bike that would only ever feel tarmac under its wheels.  I handed over the money he was asking for though and a Ribble Audax came to stay.

Commutes to an old job were done on it and although the guy I bought it from had barely ridden it despite spending money on good quality components, I just didn't get it.  Like the faithful puppy which, although beaten still loves its owner, the Ribble sat in the garage, never feeling the sun on its matt black paint for longer than the 16 mile round trip.

With Redundancy came the prospect of selling stuff, whilst my On One received Diplomatic Immunity from all such discussions, the future of the Ribble was uncertain; eventually being saved at the eleventh hour by the offer of employment in Sheffield.

Shortly after starting my new job it joined me early one Monday morning as I turned the nose of the car north and suddenly, it had a purpose.  My car was left parked Monday to Friday and the daily cycle to and from work became extended to include 30 or 40 mile long forays in the Peak District.  My Ribble was my link with home and between us we set out to get lost, find ourselves again and plan adventures for the following day.

I was still a mountain biker, but I began enjoying the tarmac again, time had healed the mental scars from the crash and endless roads through stunning scenery exorcised any remaining demons of road riding.  Returning home, I settled back into off road riding, but at the start of this year I set out to complete a half Ironman triathlon.  This necessitated the use of a road bike and once again my faithful pup was waiting.

The Sportive I completed last Sunday sealed it, I was officially in love with road riding again.  I admit that when racking my Ribble alongside the high end carbon bikes already in place I felt the kind of shallow embarrassment normally reserved for being caught by your mates whilst kissing an ugly girl.  My Ribble transported faultlessly me round the course though, overtaking many of the high cost, low speed velos of the other competitors to a silver medal time.

Since then, an accelerated purchase plan has seen a new bike arrive and the Ribble which has served me so well be consigned to an advert on ebay.  I may have a brand new and high end road bike to face my new adventures on, but the bike it replaces holds a place in my affections which will take a long time to fade.