2020, I got fit, raced twice (did ok), then the world fell apart. The END! Roll on 2021.
2021 is going to be a pretty big year for me as I turn 40 in April. I know you all thought my grey beard was premature, but I really am that old!
Having got myself fit and with my race specific goals shifted to 2021 I started thinking of a cycling related challenge to mark my 40th year and was drawn to the Yorkshire Beast (Again). I have looked at this previously but have been put off by people’s reactions to riding 200 miles in 1 day with 16,000 ft of climbing, over 100 times up West Kirby hill! No more being put off though, 2021 is the year and I am signed up for the 19th June. Please see link below for more info.
Obviously, this is going to take some planning and hard work to complete as you must complete the ride in 16 hours or be captured by the ‘BEAST’, a fancily painted van! To help me with this and my Cat 2 racing ‘dreams’ I have enlisted the services of Scott Maclean at Kinetic365 to plan my training and keep me focussed. Scott will also stop me from reading about training when I am not training so I do not completely neglect me family and grinding myself into an angry, fatigued mess like I turned myself into in 2019.
One advantage of making this crazy decision is that I will have to get (unfortunately not another bike but I will have to get my carbon frame fixed after finding a very untimely crack in it), some more quality gear from Blake Pond and team at Nopinz, look how happy it made me last time.
On a more sombre note I also want to use the ride to raise awareness (Possibly some money too!) for charities supporting MS & Dementia. My wife Rebekah and I have both had family members effected by these conditions and both are truly devastating.
My plan is to document my journey to the Beast as well as the day itself so hopefully it will not be too bumpy a ride and supply some good stories/pictures along the way.
Last Sunday saw the NW Velo ride out in 3 groups, tailored to different abilities and distances.
The A group of big hitters went out into Wales to smash the climbs and generally hurt each other.
Group B also ventured into Wales and had a scenic ride up the Horseshoe Pass from Llangollen. A tough ride, but kept together at a generally sensible pace.
The C group took a more sensibly flatter route out through the Cheshire lanes to Tarpoley with a coffee stop at the Old Fire Station cafe.
During the week, the evening rides were similar, Tuesday was the social spin, a steady 25 miles around the lanes ending up at the @thethatchraby for a welcome pint and a natter in the outside courtyard. Fantastic service as ever!
Also on Tuesday 4 of our members entered the BNECC evening 5 mile TT on the Clatterbridge Road. All turned in excellent times: Mike Stanley 12:22 Mark Donaghy 12:57 Andy Chung 12:55 Robin Hennessy 11:17
Well done to the TT lads, we hope to see a few more trying it next week!
Thursday was the “chaingang” ride, with a great workout for those looking to improve fitness and hone bunch riding skills. A bit of tractor drafting went on but generally it was a well drilled squad flying around an 8 mile circuit averaging mid 20’s mph.
If you are interested in joining us on any of these rides, then please get in touch!
The North Wirral Velo’s annual club dinner/prize presentation is on this coming Saturday (16th November). It’s a night to celebrate the past 12 months of the club’s success and gives both of the non-follicly members a chance to let their hair down. As for the rest of us, we’ll just get drunk and do dad dancing.
As well as the prize presentation and buffet, there will be (of course) the world premier of the latest much anticipated NWV movie. The lucky attendees get to see it before it’s public release (probably a DVD in the bargain bucket at Aldi). But more importantly there will be a talk from our guest speaker, Helen Bridgman. She was one of the very talented and courageous Internationelles team that rode the entire Tour De France route one day ahead of the race.
Thanks to everyone who has supported the club over the last year, we continue to grow and continue to introduce people to cycling and riders to racing.
A large contingent of the club were in action at the annual Tour De Mon sportive on Anglesey at the weekend. A strong showing of 14 riders (despite 2 DNS’s) turned up early on Sunday morning for the 106 miles Mawr event, with winds gusting up to 40 mph for the whole day.
Despite an overly enthusiastic pace set early on, the club stayed together (mainly) for the whole ride. However, we lost two riders at Beaumaris who were suffering, one from illness, one from a back injury. Fortunately a team car was on hand to pick them up and get them back to base.
A superbly organised event by Aim High Events on a very scenic course circumnavigating the entire island of Anglesey. The sun shone for the whole day (despite the horrific weather forecasts earlier in the week) which made it all the more enjoyable for everyone involved.
Below are a few pics from the event, thanks to Andy Chung for his contribution as club’s action photographer.
Mike “The Bollard” Hornsby made his comeback ride on the club’s Tuesday night ride. He had been off the bike for 4 weeks after a collision with a particularly aggressive bollard on the Burton Marsh Greenway (BMG).
To mark the occasion, and as a special treat for him, the ride took to the BMG so the club could remember the “fell-offen” with a minutes silence at the memorial bollard.
In a moving speech, Mike thanked the club and his long suffering partner Paula for their support though a very painful episode in his cycling career. Despite the shock of meeting his nemesis face to face again, Mike held his composure and spoke with confidence about the future, and his hopes for being able to ride passed this and all other bollards without being drawn in to photograph them at speed before ploughing head long into them. He also thanked Cheshire County Council for erecting the plaque in his honour.
The sombre mood was further lifted by the usual stop at the “Thatch” on the way back for a round bought by Mike himself. He really is a team player.
Chapeau Mike, and hope the bruising clears up soon (but not the swelling) and you can launch your Speedos modelling career.
Ps Send us your selfie with the memorial bollard on the BMG to be entered into our competition, “Who’s the biggest bollard on the road”. First prize will get two tickets to the NWV annual club dinner and prize presentation in November. Remember to use the #mikethebollard hashtag and follow @nwvcc to qualify.
After the recent spell of fantastically hot weather in the UK, the weekend, for the North West at least, was a wash out. Some of the braver members of the club got an early ride in on Saturday, missing the worst of the weather. The rest (and yours truly included) wimped out in case we melted.
Many will have used the free time to watch the Tour De France closing stages and marvel at the cycling talent seen on our TV screens competing in the biggest and arguably toughest race in the world.
What a lot of people won’t have been aware of is that a group of women, called the Internationelles, completed the entire 3,400 kms tour route one day ahead of the race to promote equality in sport. They wanted to, and indeed did, show the world that women deserve such multi stage grand tours and deserve equality in race coverage and prize money.
One of those brilliantly talented cyclists was Helen Bridgman, honorary NWV member and married to Will who flies the NWV flag down south in that there London.
Will was lucky enough to be able to go out to France to support his wife and the rest of the ladies for their last few days in the Alps and triumphant ride into Paris.
On behalf of the North Wirral Velo (and many, many others I’m sure) we would like to say a massive WELL DONE!! A tremendous achievement for a very worthy cause.
The North Wirral Velo turned out on mass for the recent Sigma Sports West Coast Classic, in the lanes of Lancashire.
Fourteen from the club made the trip to the start in Preston for a very well organised event. The course was a scenic 97 miles through the Lancashire countryside taking in a couple of tough climbs in the first half of the event.
With only one puncture to deal with (even though it took 4 punctures worth of time to fix) and a couple of feed stops the ride time was a very respectable 5 and half hours. Official times where in the region of 6 hours 42 minutes which was good enough for the Silver award.
Overall it was a great day and the NWV train devoured all in it’s wake, despite missing two of the clubs key rouleurs (one through injury, one through beer)
The next big day out at an organised event for the NWV is the Tour De Mon in Angelsey on Sunday 18th August, although there will be a lot of miles put in by the guys before then!
The NWV meet every Sunday at 8am at the Glegg Arms and every Tuesday at 7pm at the Red Cat. If you are looking for a friendly group to ride with, then please come along and join us!
Following on from last week’s post about the traumatic bollard related incident involving one of members, tributes have been pouring in from around the cycling world.
The Wirral section of the VCUK cycling club made a stop at “Mike’s Bollard” as it’s now formally known to show their support for such a good cause.
Other members of the cycling community simply left anonymous tributes on social media, some with flowers
The NWV had it’s usual Sunday club run last week, and even though Mike is well on the road to recovery, he was not well enough to participate. So the club paid it’s own tribute. It was an emotional moment, some of the lads moved to tears when they thought of how close Mike was to losing a boll**k on the bollard.
The biggest suprise came from the Grand Depart in this years Tour De France. At the start of the opening stage the great Eddy Merckx appeared out of the roof of the lead car to start the race and produced a replica of Mike’s Bollard to stick on the roof in a show of solidarity.
Hopefully Mike will be out again next week and be back to steering AROUND bollards and other stationary objects.
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.