North West solicitor Hillyer McKeown completed a 33 mile charity ride at the weekend in questionable conditions. Amongst their riders was the North Wirral Velo’s own Matthew O’Brien.
The ride was in aid of Jamie’s SDR Journey.
Jamie is 4 years old from Liverpool. He suffered 2 significant bleeds on his brain after being born at 30 weeks and was subsequently diagnosed with cerebral palsy. As a result, Jamie suffers from extreme muscle tightness in his legs and cannot stand or walk unaided.
Jamie is a good candidate for a life changing operation called SDR (Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy) which would greatly reduce this tightness, but this is not currently funded by the NHS. This procedure would immeasurably improve Jamie’s quality of life and may even allow him to stand on his own two feet in future. He would also need at least two years of intensive physiotherapy afterwards to maximise the benefits.
In spite of the health problems Jamie has suffered from, he has rarely complained about what life has dealt him and he has endured all his treatment like a trooper. We are now in the perfect window for the SDR operation.
Any donation would be greatly appreciated and would help Jamie fulfil the potential we know he has. You can donate from the link below
The weather wasn’t the only mixed bag last weekend, the members of the North Wirral Velo were doing a variety of cycling activities too.
Current club TT champ, super quick Robin Hennessy was chasing his sub 20 minute 10 mile dream with another great effort in the St Asaph event. It was a tougher day than he hoped weather wise so his 21.09 was a very respectable time. We are confident that it’s only a matter of time, (see what I did there) before Rob joins the sub 20 club…
Meanwhile, in a massive room in Manchester, one of the club’s other educators was trying his hand on the boards for the first time.
No, not performing arts but riding on the velodrome. Clearly struggling with the basics, Anthony Denby, pictured below wondering if he has his gearing correct for such an incline. He does love a climb though…
And in Wales, a big turn out on the Sunday club run, saw the lads stop to pose with a blue tree and a ride around the hills to Loggerheads.
If you fancy joining us on a ride, please contact us through our social media pages or email us firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also come along to one of our monthly club meetings in Pensby.
Evergreen Pete Clarke recently represented Great Britain in the 2019 World Sprint Duathlon Championships in Pontevedra, Spain.
A duathlon, for those not familiar with the event, is a three part race consisting of a 10 km bike ride (with no bike), a 30 km bike ride, then a final 5km bike ride (again with no bike).
Pete’s final position was 30th out of 64 in his age category, even though he didn’t run at all for 3 weeks due to Piriformis syndrome he has suffered with since November. Pete managed a consistent 7.40 minute pace for both runs and pulled back a lot of time on the bike were he impressively finished 3rd fastest in 53 minutes 12 seconds. It was a hilly course with 800ft of climbing so the club rides into Wales payed off!
Pete reflected, “The whole event was so great and competing in my category against the world’s best was memorable. Got a few stories to tell of the friendly banter with the other nation’s competitors! I would like to thank the club in helping me over my injury on the club rides in letting me do the routes I was comfortable with.”
A big well done to Pete, as always a great ambassador for the club, but also a great ambassador the sport and GB! Long may your cycling and cycling without a bike, continue!
A busy weekend for the Velo as the club was well represented in may parts of the country.
North and East… The Tour of the Pennines
An intrepid band of some of the clubs hardest grimpeurs and rouleurs went to the North East to fly the NWV flag in the Tour of the Pennines Sportive. While some made a trip of it and went the day before, some were more hardcore travelling up at v. early o’clock to get to the start in Northumberland.
The lads got around the challenging 78 mile route with the nearly 7000ft of climbing and were rewarded with medals. Some even got a rub down and a few beers
An enjoyable day out for the boys at a well organised event.
South and East…. Herne Hill Velodrome
Meanwhile at the other end of the country, our very own track maestro Will Bridgman was showing the southerners a thing or two on the…er.. “concrete boards” of the legendary Herne Hill velodrome.
Not that he needed to, but Will again proved why he is the most angelic member of the NWV by winning the Devil Take the Hindmost event. A fantastic result, well done Will, keep the flag flying!
Northish and Westish… Basically back nearer to home
Despite the number on “international duty”, we still managed a club run at the weekend. Venturing to the dizzy heights of the MTB centre at Llandegla.
The club now has regular weekend and Tuesday night rides. If you would like to join us, please email the club email@example.com or contact us via our plethora of social media channels.
Dave Cuthill’s journey to racing glory continues as he recalls his experiences in April…
The last month has been my most active racing yet with many 2 race weeks. I have certainly been operating out of my comfort zone and even though results have not been matching my pre-season ‘dreams’ I am doing alright.
Strangely enough the month started with me learning a valuable lesson about not resting enough. After my Road Race debut (See previous blog) I decided that seeing as though I was not racing the week after I would literally blow myself apart to then come into the busy schedule flying for the Oakenclough RR 0n the 14th with a lighter week beforehand. In reality fatigue kicked in, training results were terrible and then I got ill by being run down. Lesson learnt!
The 10th was my birthday so my pre-race build
up consisted of visiting Knowsley Safari Park and eating lots of……..everything
basically, then a mad dash home to get the bike, drop the family off and get to
Litherland for round 1 of the new Cat 2/3/4 50 min race. Unsurprisingly this
shambolic preparation led for a great birthday but rubbish race that saw me
dropped after 10 laps. I TT’d around after that so I at least earnt the
crackers and cheese supper but basically one to forget.
14/04/19 Oakenclough Cat 3/4 Road Race (30th out of 62)
This I was looking forward to, hills I can do
and the first half of each 10.5 mile lap was indeed uphill and into a headwind just
for good measure. After waiting around for the ambulance to clear the remains
of the earlier cat E/1/2 race we rolled out behind the lead car for the neutralised
rolling start, then BOOM! The race started and immediately the attacks started,
the race was blown to bits inside the 1st 5 miles. 1 group of strong riders
went up the road, 1 group went backwards very quickly and me not being
positioned properly was stuck in a middle group. The majority of the 3rd group
was pulled out on safety grounds by the commissaire at the end of the 1st lap
and the rest went at the end of lap 2 for being too far back.
I was left slightly frustrated at this stage by
my group as the majority did not want to work but eventually a small group
formed who would and this saved our race whilst the others were dropped and
eventually pulled/dropped out. We worked together and kept a decent pace and
either passed or recruited members dropping off the lead group and for 1 lap
were the fastest on the road (According to the commissaire in the safety car). Unfortunately,
we were too far back from main group after the initial time wasted getting
organised to effect the race but we finished when half the field did not. Even
though I may never see my 2 ‘mates’ again it was a great feeling of camaraderie
All in all I was happy with my form as I proved fairly strong for the whole race and could now swallow gels faster than the addicts in NWV! (Thank you Scott for making me rethink the no fuel strategy, I would have been found in a ditch otherwise singing about Pink Fluffy Unicorns dancing on Rainbows!) Speaking with people at the end of the race the general feeling was if I learned how to position I would do alright going forward and I had completed one of the hardest races on the calendar.
This time I managed to hang on for 14 laps after a proper warm up and eating properly. Not much to report though except I need to improve my race craft, hanging on the back of these fast lads just increases the effort required until the inevitable drop happens. My biggest achievement tonight was catching up the people who had dropped me as part of the group when I was putting a decent TT training effort in after being dropped.
This was another chance to see how much I had improved from last year when I completed event in 56:46. I had a late start so the NWV support crew gave me a very enthusiastic wave on my warm up to the start as they were heading for syrup covered waffles. (With their usual pinpoint planning they managed to miss Robin and Mike as well but at least the thought was there boys!) The race itself went reasonably well for me, I managed to hold my HR at 180 bpm as planned and a cadence of 85+ rpm. I have been working on increasing my cadence since riding the 2 Up with Robin last year and am starting to feel the benefit as I can now hold a constant higher power for longer. When I got back to the HQ I was given an initial time of 54:00 so I was a little disappointed as I had absolutely emptied myself, got a dedicated TT bike and only finished 1:46 better off. On my way home I realised a mistake had been made, contacted the organisers’ and it was changed to 52:00. An improvement of nearly 4 mins had me feeling much better about life and the wrack of PB’s on my Strava was nice. On the TT’s I am climbing well but need to improve on the long flat sections to really start getting somewhere, event though my power and position have improved more work is needed.
24/04/19 Litherland Crit (15th out of 15, due
to the crash)
A different Litherland tonight as it was wet and cold but initially saw a big turnaround in my fortunes. I not only held on to the main bunch, I was right in the thick of the action and doing well. Unfortunately, 2nd to last lap I overcooked the hairpin and lost the back wheel when racing for 7th. This was very frustrating as I had been particularly good on the hairpin all night and had just got a little gap to take into the last lap that would have boded well for the sprint. On the plus side it was a massive improvement and I had managed to jump up and unsuccessfully tried to catch up meaning me and my bike escaped unscathed. This felt like somewhat of a turning point even though I was dead last. One comment from my fellow racers also made me smile, “You looked like you were circling the plug hole with a bike attached to your feet!”
28/04/19 Fibrax Wrexham RC Horseshoe Pass
Mountain TT (24th out of 47)
My entry into this was met with some surprise
by Robin and Scott, Robin in particular with his “Are you mad?” This race was
very tough, starting from slightly lower down than the Britannia Inn this was
straight up the ‘Shoe’, over to and down the Nant Y Garth towards Corwen before
heading back to Llandegla and back up the ‘Shoe’ to finish at the cafe. In
reality this means 32 miles of pain. I actually climbed well with 12th best
time up the main climb on the day and descended bravely but was slightly
apprehensive on the wet roads after sliding on Wednesday, next time the Nant Y
Garth is being given full gas all the way! Never having done this long a TT (or
this hilly) I was not completely sure how to pace this and also next time I
will probably race with pockets so I can neck a few gels. Again, the flatter
rolling sections of the course were where I lost time. This is not lack of
effort as HR shows but I need to find power from somewhere, possibly just more
riding in the TT position. Next year I want to improve on my 1:35:20 (I was
quicker than my official time as I got to the start late like a T*T!) but will
have some practice runs on what is actually a really nice route. Afterwards I
said this was one of the hardest things I have done on a bike, but I am keen to
do again and not sure it was as hard as the Oakenclough in hindsight. What I
definitely do know is I need a different saddle!
Still feeling the effects of the Shoe TT, I gave Litherland a miss to allow another day of recovery and did the Hatton TT hosted by Runcorn CC and Frodsham Wheelers with Mike Stanley. This was a great little course with some technical parts that made it interesting. Apart from being a bit too brave (Stupid) on the first corner and nearly ending up in a forest I had a good run to finish 10th with a time of 23:55 and HR 183 bpm to prove I left it all out there. Anyone thinking of giving TT a go should have a go on this event, a well organised and enjoyable night. Special mention to Dougie Turndodger for a very impressive debut even though the upstart beat me!
This race saw me completing 8 laps of a 6.3
mile course above the Lune Valley, a simply stunning part of the world. Leading
up to the race I was still struggling with a hamstring injury so was feeling
very apprehensive as even walking was causing me pain. After much stretching
Friday/Saturday I decided to dose up on painkillers and hope for the best, I have
a week off racing afterwards so can deal with the consequences then. 7:00am
Sunday, car was loaded, both breakfasts consumed, and I was off.
Signed and numbered up I decided a lap recce
and few sprints were more worthwhile than the turbo before the rider briefing
and the views alone where vindication of this. The recce of a slightly hillier
course than I was expecting also had me thinking ‘What am I doing?!’ with
Oakenclough still fresh in the mind! Having learnt a little about position I
got straight behind the lead car for the neutralised start and despite the
drivers’ best efforts we set off safely.
From the off I felt much better in this race, the
pace was high but even though I was working hard on the flats I felt alright
and as soon as it kicked up, I naturally started to move up. My pre-race
apprehension dissipated until shooting pains started down the hamstring. This had
me thinking I might pull out after lap 1 but like a hero I pushed through
(Mainly as it was a 90 min drive to get there) and amazingly the pain went
completely after me really kicking up a hill in a last ditch effort to test it!
Pain free and feeling like I belonged I got more aggressive and tried a few
attacks and followed any that went off the front when I needed. My ‘attacks’
really only succeeded in tiring me out, but one had potential when I bridged a
break. I got over but then sat up as no one else looked interesting in going on,
in hindsight I could and should have gone again but caution got the better of
me. With how I felt even if it had failed, I would have been able to recover in
The rest of the race was pretty
straightforward with all moves covered until one slipped away on the 45 mph
descent of the 2nd to last lap. I had chased another break straight before and
missed the one that stuck annoyingly. Even though I missed it I was starting to
read the race a little more. Eventually, I rolled over the line at the back of
the main bunch after attacking too early on the last lap (I got my hills mixed
up) but it was a good if mistimed move that if done 2 hills later would have
had me finishing much higher than my eventual 33rd. 33rd sounds rubbish but
when it was obvious I had blown my chance of top 10 I sat up in the last 50m to
stay safe and with better timing I would have been properly up there. The legs
were definitely up to the job if the brain is somewhat lagging behind!
Overall, I am pretty happy with how my racing
is going, alright the results do not look great written down but I feel I am
definitely moving forward and am really enjoying the TT’s and Road Races. Road
Races in particular feel like a proper event so I will be looking to do as many
as possible the next few years, I might even be able to string a complete race
together in that time so that podium better watch out!
TT’s I have to find more power on the long
drags to catch ‘Robin and the Hitters’ but the great thing here is it is as
much competing against myself so there is always something to aim for.
The new format at Litherland is not helping my
results in the Crits as it is generally a Cat 2 race, the lads racing have a
lot of racing under their belts and are very strong. I may have a decision to
make of whether saving £15 a week and fitting another training ride in is
better than racing or even TT instead each week. I will see how I feel as the
season progresses, but it has also made me realise I need to work
harder/smarter to get to be a true Cat 2 whilst still ensuring it stays
enjoyable as that is the real reason we all ride the bike!
Anyway, today I got an email from Barnsley Road Club asking all competitors if they are fit enough to ride their race in the Holme Valley in 2 weeks’ time that I have entered, guess that will be another easy one for me if I make the field!
The North Wirral Velo’s first meeting of the bicycle Maintenance And Repair Section (MARS… see what I did there?) was well attended last week. Led by club dad Michael Hurworth, the group went through the basic “M” check that all riders taking to the road should do on a regular basis.
The M Safety Check List for your Bike
Session 1 Wednesday 03/04/2019
The M Safety Check List for your bike is a nose to tail series of checks that follow the form of the letter M. Most checks should be carried out prior to any ride but especially a club ride to ensure not only your own safety but that of the others you are riding with. If you are riding more than 100 miles per week then all checks should be carried out at least once per week, this can be done as part of your cleaning and maintenance routine. Like all repetitive tasks, the more you carry the task out the faster and more proficient that you become at completing the task so this should not be seen as a chore but rather as a demonstration of concern for your own and fellow riders safety and well being.
The beauty of this method of checking
your bike is that the only thing you have to remember is the M, you
methodically follow the letter (or imaginary orange lines!) checking everything
that you come across. No part of the M-check is very technical, you are
looking for obvious signs of damage or wear so don’t worry or overcomplicate it.
In this first instalment I shall list the 25 checks* that should be carried out with a basic instructions on what to check and how to perform the check, more detailed instructions for the more complicated adjustment processes will be provided as a separate topic at a later date.
Front Quick Release Skewer – Quick-releases must be firmly closed and the lever not exposed.
Hub Bearings – Grasp each rim and rock it from side to side to check for play in the bearings.
Front Wheel Spokes – Check al the spokes for tension by flexing them in pairs.
Front Rim – Spin the wheel to check that the rim is true and centred in the forks. Check the Rim Wear Indicator on bikes with rim brakes.
Front Tyre – Check the tyre pressure and adjust to manufacturer recommended pressure. Ensure the valve is closed and the dust cap is secure. Check the Tread Wear Indicator (TWI if the manufacturer provides). Check the tyre walls for splits.
Front Brake (Calliper or Disc) – Apply the front brake. Brakes must make contact with the rim before the lever is pulled back more than one third of its travel. Ensure that the brake blocks/pads are not rubbing on the rim/disc when the brake is not applied. Check the blocks/pads are not excessively worn. Adjust or replace if required. Check for any signs of wear or fraying to the cable, or excessive “sponginess” if hydraulic.
Front Forks – Check for any damage to the front forks.
Headset – Check if there is any rocking or clicking in the headset. Grasp the head tube with one hand and apply the front brake with the other hand. This will steady the front of the bike so that you can rock the bike back and forth to establish any rocking or clicking in the bearings. Adjust if required.
Handlebars – Check that your front wheel and stem do not move independently, and that your handlebar clamp bolts are tight. Perform this check by standing in front of the bike, holding the front wheel between your knees, and twisting the handlebars. You can prevent any movement by tightening the stem bolts and the handlebar clamp with a torque wrench tightening to the recommend torque setting.
Bottom Bracket – Check by trying to rock the cranks from side to side to see if there is any play in the bearings.
Crankset – Check that both crack arms are tight on the bottom bracket axle.
Chain Rings – Check for loose bolts, that the rings run true and for any wear on teeth.
Pedals – Check that the pedals are complete: no missing screws, no excessive wear. Check they are fastened tightly to the cranks.
Front Dérailleur – Check that the gears shift correctly between the chain rings. Adjust if required. Check for any signs of wear or fraying to the cable.
Frame Triangle – Check the frame triangle looking for obvious defects including wrinkled paint around where the top tube and down tube meet the head tube.
Seat Post Pin – Check that the pin is secured and adjusted to the correct torque setting.
Saddle – Grasp each end of the saddle and try and rock it. It should not move, either up and down or side to side and it should be in line with the top tube.
Rear Brake (Calliper or Disc) – Apply the rear brake. Brakes must make contact with the rim before the lever is pulled back more than one third of its travel. Ensure that the brake blocks/pads are not rubbing on the rim/disc when the brake is not applied. Check the blocks/pads are not excessively worn. Adjust or replace if required. Check for any signs of wear or fraying to the cable, or excessive “sponginess” if hydraulic.
Rear Tyre – Check the tyre pressure and adjust to manufacturer recommended pressure. Ensure the valve is closed and the dust cap is secure. Check the Tread Wear Indicator (TWI if the manufacturer provides). Check the tyre walls for splits.
Rear Rim – Spin the wheel to check that the rim is true and centred in the forks. Check the Rim Wear Indicator on bikes with rim brakes.
Rear Wheel Spokes – Check al the spokes for tension by flexing them in pairs.
Rear Hub Bearings – Grasp each rim and rock it from side to side to check for play in the bearings.
Rear Quick Release Skewer – Quick-releases must be firmly closed and the lever not exposed.
Rear Triangle – Check for any damage to the rear chain stays and seat stays (the rear triangle of the frame).
Rear Derailleur – Check that the gears shift correctly up and down the cassette when in either of the chain rings. Adjust if required. Check for any signs of wear or fraying to the cable.
*This list is for guidance only. If you have any doubt as to the condition or performance of any part of your bike and don’t know how to fix/replace it, please seek professional help from your local bike shop, or find a local cycle club with a wealth of cycling knowledge and experience to join and ask the club dad. Please get in touch to learn more about the club and meetings.
This weekend the Velo had 3 riders in the Chester Road Club hilly 14 mile time trial, near Broxton, Cheshire.
Robin Hennessy, Dave Cuthill and Mike Stanley were in action on an unseasonably mild Feb afternoon.
Dave was off first of the team and recorded a superb 33:49, good enough for 18th overall in the event, but more importantly a massive 3 minute improvement on last year. A winter of hard work is paying off!
Next off was Robin, looking ever the pro, and got round in a blistering 32:38, which placed him 8th overall. He was closely followed by Mike who recorded a very respectable 36:39, a good 3 minutes better than his veterans standard time. Overall three great rides at the start of a great season to come! Thanks to the Chester RC for a brilliantly organised and run event.
First race of the season was on Saturday and
it went pretty well except for the pesky NWV ‘Legend in the Making’ getting the
better of me again! (Great ride Robin, 33:12 is a top effort – 2nd)
After a few months of training it was time to
strap the new improved TT bike to the back of the Fiat 500 and head off to the
dogging capital of the world, Broxton roundabout and its infamous car park.
Robin pulled in 5 mins later (Also in a Fiat 500 – new team car?) in the
tightest pair of jeans i have ever seen, I assumed the car park has a dress
code I didn’t know about! Soon after we started our warm ups, my methodical
approach compared to Robin rolling down the main road a couple of times. Each
to their own and either way we were ready and set off with numbers 4 and 5 on
I went flying down the A41, avoided being
killed, falling down cavernous pot holes, climbed a few hills, overtook a
couple of people and was generally having a good if painful time. That was
until Robin came flying past in his ‘relaxed’ fit Lycra but even this couldn’t
dampen my happiness at the finish line when I finished in 34:17. I had gone
2:38 faster than last year and as a bonus eventually finished 6th. (ELATION)
The week leading up to this had seen me go
through a number of emotions that racing gives you. I had planned in 2 practice
runs on the same training runs I had done the previous year. The first was
destroyed when after putting in a massive effort into a headwind i was stopped
by traffic going for Sunday dinner. (FRUSTRATION) The second attempt nothing
went wrong except me being slower than the previous year! (DESPAIR) Rebekah
rightfully suggested this could be down to wind speed and many other variables
but what did she know, I had wasted the last 4 months and that was that!
The morning of the race was also a bit of a
roller coaster. I woke up NERVOUS and ANXIOUS that i would be worse than last
year. I was prepared, had worked hard, lost weight and improved all my
equipment (Pointy helmet and everything!) but I still might actually be slower.
However, this all changed when my 2 daughters
surprised me with a good luck card they had secretly made. Below is my Facebook
post that sums up this best, but fellow racers please remember this is meant to
be FUN so ENJOY it and be happy for other people’s success!
First day of the race season for me today and the girls surprised me with a card they sneakily made. It has taken me back a little as I do feel guilty missing time with them to train but it has also made me realise I have been working hard and it’s now time to just ‘enjoy’ it and whatever happens, happens. Good luck and stay safe to all the other racers.
Stay safe, ride hard and don’t be afraid to step out of
your comfort zone!