Thursday, 16 February 2012

From A to B

Moving from Fife to London and going from unemployed to employed I expected to ride my bike a lot less. As it turns out the complete opposite is true.

I had already started a much more time efficient but intensive training regime in 2011 which although involving a significant amount of time on the turbo had resulted in a big improvement to my fitness. This has continued in 2012 and so my training time, apart from the odd weekend ride being slightly shorter, is about the same.

The major difference is commuting. I now commute to work by bicycle around 3 times a week. Currently this takes me around 30 minutes each way. Changing office next week this will increase to around 45 minutes but I imagine I will be no less inclined to get on the bike. I have come to love cycle commuting. My other options are the bus (taking over an hour) or the train and tube (taking around 45 minutes). Neither of these is very pleasant - lots of people, travel sickness (my new nemesis) and the only reason I bother at all is because I cannot cycle every day and not overtrain. If I wasn't a racer I probably would commute every day by bike.

I could now bore you stupid with the vexations of buses, taxis and cars, lack of showers and bike parking at the office (thankfully it is much better at the new one) and cycle commuting doesn't really save time, because you have to change and shower etc. on top of the riding time. But that bit of time at the beginning and end of the day where it is just me, the bike and my thoughts along with awe inspiring views down the River Thames is really rather life affirming.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012


Probably bad form to do a cyclo-cross season round up without havin written about a single race, but I think I've got some pretty good excuses. Moved house in October and started a new job which involves exams (at this point in time I have done 5 out of 16) so it's been busy! Fully settled into our small but perfectly formed flat, with nothing to do at work at the moment I have now run out excuses not to get up-to-date on the race blog front (plus I have discovered a way around the internet blog restrictions whilst at work!).

My first cyclo-cross race of the 2011-12 season was the 3 peaks race in Yorkshire. I previously wrote about our training for this and probably how on my last attempt I took 6 hours and vowed never to do it again. Given the terrain where we were living in Scotland I felt I had a much better chance at being able to survive this year and put some effort into getting used to carrying the cross bike on my shoulder up steep climbs. This did help me a lot, there was nothing in the event in 2011 that I found horrendous, but it turns out I am still just too slow at walking/running to have any chance at being in the top women's group. Add to this a face plant onto a rock slab on the descent of Whernside, and a slipped gear cable (which I should have stopped to fix in hindsight) and you end up with a disappointing race time and position. This is officially not an event for the girl who hated sport at school because all sport involved running!!

Rather bad self portrait!
Not long after this I moved myself down to London to start my new job and try to find a flat for Chris and I to live in. Fortunately my facial bruising cleared just before I arrived at work and they as yet have no idea how nutty I am! My next cyclo-cross race was the Knog Muddy Hell event organised by Rollapaluza at Herne Hill. Despite the fact that I was sleeping on people's sofas and only riding my bike to and from college across central London I just had to give this one a try. It has become and iconic event combining night-time racing and fancy dress. I cobbled together a Where's Wally outfit from Save the Children in Greenwich, dug out my slightly rubbish commuting lights and lined up to race. It was great fun (although I am still convinced the up ramp of the bridge that was installed should have been less steep) and it turns out Where's Wally is a good fancy dress! I think my hectic life caught up with me however and I decided to stop racing with a bit of asthma niggle.

Herne Hill turns out to have been my race venue of choice however (it helps that we now live a short cycle ride away). Since the end of October I have raced there twice more once for a London League race and once for the New Year's Day Madison in a team with Chris. The league race was muddy fun and was enhanced by my winning the women's event. Chris and I dragged Paul Davis of SIP Events fame along as well which always leads to lots of giggling. Again there was a great atmosphere and the organisers - ViCious Velo gave everyone wrapped Christmas presents as prizes. Great prizes at that. I now wear my warm cycling cap all the time.

The New Year's Day Madison has to be the best event yet. It was a bit of a last minute decision to race and Chris and I decided to go out and do a couple of hours on the road beforehand - just to warm up. We freewheeled down the hill to the velodrome again and tried to work out how exactly this madison thing was going to work. It sounded complicated but John M manages to make everyone act sensibly so there were really no issues. I somehow slashed my leg on a bramble riding around the course so the photos make me look like a right chopper with blood streaming down my leg! We had a few hilarious change overs one of which is captured on video.
So thats my cross season, over for another year. Next season I am going to do the whole series (I say this every year!).
Some dodgy madison skills on display

As usual - 'race face'