Category: Blogs

NWV’s first trip to MARS

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.

  1. Front Quick Release Skewer – Quick-releases must be firmly closed and the lever not exposed.
  2. Hub Bearings – Grasp each rim and rock it from side to side to check for play in the bearings.
  3. Front Wheel Spokes – Check al the spokes for tension by flexing them in pairs.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Front Forks – Check for any damage to the front forks.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Bottom Bracket – Check by trying to rock the cranks from side to side to see if there is any play in the bearings.
  11. Crankset – Check that both crack arms are tight on the bottom bracket axle.
  12. Chain Rings –  Check for loose bolts, that the rings run true and for any wear on teeth.
  13. Pedals – Check that the pedals are complete: no missing screws, no excessive wear.  Check they are fastened tightly to the cranks.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Seat Post Pin – Check that the pin is secured and adjusted to the correct torque setting.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. Rear Wheel Spokes –  Check al the spokes for tension by flexing them in pairs.
  22. Rear Hub Bearings –  Grasp each rim and rock it from side to side to check for play in the bearings.
  23. Rear Quick Release Skewer –  Quick-releases must be firmly closed and the lever not exposed.
  24. Rear Triangle –  Check for any damage to the rear chain stays and seat stays (the rear triangle of the frame).
  25. 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.

And finally, “hey, let’s stay safe out there”

Michael Hurworth
(NWV Club Dad)

Pullar Cycling 3-4 Road Race – A Cuthill out of his comfort Zone!

After another frustrating trip to Halfords the bike is loaded on the car and kit is being packed for my first road race. All the usual kit questions go through my mind, skinsuit, winter gear, jersey, shorts, tights, whatever happened to those baggy shorts I regularly ask myself? Throw in whether i should use my new Velo coloured helmet or the trusty battle scarred one, prizm lenses in the glasses or photochromic, its enough to make a certain old pro shake his head in disgust or Rebekah (my Wife) for that matter. I decided to take all my summer kit and none of my winter kit for racing in March, yes I have made this mistake before.

This time I had also managed to get the family involved to make a weekend of it so as well as packing my 2 course pre race breakfast I had to make room for luxuries, clothes, swimming costumes, barbies, children etc. Luckily for them the turbo folds pretty small otherwise toys would have been kept to a minimum.

Finally after some M6 Friday afternoon action we get to the stonker of a hotel I have booked. Rebekah says I have finally realised what the required standards are and we are living large. Family stuff takes precedence over the next 24 hours with just an hour course recce for me on Saturday morning to see how flat and windy it’s going to be, very to both but I am happy. I also have to go and buy better gloves as it turns out Cockerham is bloody freezing and my fingers were numb after 1 lap never mind 4. This is one lesson I may never learn but there may be some good kit on offer every so often.

Race day sees me up at 6am for my 2 course breakfast, Weetabix, Honey and Banana followed by Beans on Toast. I normally spread this over a whole morning pre race but with a 9am start time, needs must with me not trusting myself to mess with gels/bars mid race. I had to eat fast though as i was breaking the 3 hour digestion rule but prioritised sleep this time. I then chilled out until getting on the turbo at 7:20.

Turns out a turbo and cleats on a wooden floor in a first storey apartment makes a fair bit of noise but hopefully the presumably delighted people downstairs thought it was just Rebekah walking around in high heels and doing the washing. Warm up done, sweat cleaned off the floor and i said bye to everyone and rolled down to Cockerham to meet ‘Mr I love a Puncture’ Will. The kids ran after me to give me one last hug as i was leaving and left me hoping their 6th sense was off and we didn’t need such a big goodbye but it was nice. It really helped having them there as it took away the guilt of missing time with them to race.

After finding Will at HQ and his last minute puncture repair (And panic he had the short valve inner tubes for deep wheels) we got numbered up, completed warm ups, attended the riders briefing and were ushered into the starters pen – aka the car park for the rolling start. I was a little back after toilet stop 931 of the morning but spotted Will further up and managed to sneak in behind him. This was it, a rolling start behind a lead car with motorbikes and everything. I was properly racing and this was going to be great was what was going through my head as the peloton rolled down to the start!

BOOM! We crossed the line and this got real! The rolling peloton became a surging animal, speed doubled, space shrank and there were bikes everywhere and my legs had disappeared. I spotted Will moving up through the peloton but I was fighting to hold on and slowly sliding backwards. All those thoughts yesterday doing the recce of possible attacking places were replaced with ‘I am getting dropped 5 mins into my first road race!’ A stern word with myself made me pull up the big boy lycra and I moved up the outside of the bunch with a calculated gamble on the white line to get into some sort of decent position that earned me some shouts from the ‘Mr Play by the rules whilst it suits’ crowd.

Dave near the front of the action

I spotted Will and got in the wheels, realising I had to race smart. Sticking out in the wind had allowed me to move up but had cost a lot of energy. I needed to shelter or the wind would be sending me out the back. Whilst I had been realising this was a race a small break of 3 went and fair play to them as they impressively stayed away all day and smashed it. Halfway around the 12 mile lap we turned and had the first taste of the tailwind, now it would be cruising on the wind. Wrong again as the speed clocked up to 30mph. I was in the game now though and emptied myself when I needed and drafted to recoup energy when that was needed. I also spotted an ‘experienced’ rider drifting around the wheels and followed him and learnt a lot in the next 24 miles, unknowingly to him this was probably my best move all day. The last 3 miles of each lap contain the only lumps in the race with 3 small rises. Everyone was smashing into these and slowing greatly at the top but I kept cadence high and crested each, carrying good momentum through and conserving energy. This formed an ill advised plan in my head whilst we smashed through Cockerham and back into the headwind.

Will following wheels..

Laps 2 and 3 went by pretty smoothly but were still hard work, sprinting, hiding, sprinting, hiding, little panicking and so on. Another small group of 4 got away but i was a little back at the time so unfortunately missed the break without being able to do much about it. By this time I felt like I belonged and I was really racing, even returning a few of the shouts I had been given out just because I could! 

The last lap had me battling to stay up near the front and I followed a few attacks but unfortunately nothing stuck so I finalised my plan for the hills. I was going to hold back slightly and attack over the top to get up near the front with my extra momentum. I knew I had to wait to at least halfway up the last as there was too much road and headwind to go earlier. My plan kind of worked but when it slowed someone completely blew in front of me and as I had not positioned on the outside I had nowhere to go, by the time I had got around the race was gone. I chased for a while but alone in the wind i was not catching the sprint. I sat up and watched the sprint for the line as sprinting for 30th place is not a cool look. Being in the mix for 7th for 49.5 miles will do for my first race though so I am happy.

It was also great to share the experience with a fellow Velo racer. Having a coffee and cake ‘debrief’ (Told you i felt like a real cyclist!) with Will was great, talking all things bike and how the race had gone was a nice ending to the event. After the Time Trials with Robin has felt very similar and brings a real enjoyment and camaraderie into all the hard work.

Looking back now my plan was pretty stupid as i have intervalled School Hill to death and hills are generally a strong point for me. I should have trusted my legs and the work i have put in to ensure i was always right up there and give myself a chance, that is one lesson i will learn!

Overall feeling is that I am very happy, I was at the business end racing for top 10 for all the race, raced pretty smart, matched sprints and did alright. Work is needed to get really in the mix but I will do as much as I can and even if I don’t manage it I am really racing! A great weekend in a fantastic part of the world, I rode my bike really fast (50 miles at 24.3mph and also spent time with the family, PERFECT!

Ride safe and if you fancy giving it a go be brave!

Dave

Two Weeks to Go!

Forget Christmas, ignore all the decorations going up everywhere, you can’t possibly think about it until after the next big event of the year.

 

The first (reformed) North Wirral Velo  Club Dinner and prize Presentation is just two weeks away!  It’s going to be a fantastic night of eating, drinking, dancing and celebrating the success of the club in the past year. The venue this year is The Manor in Greasby.

 

 

A guest speaker has been confirmed for the event, and the evening will also feature the world premier of “NWV – the Movie” (imagine the Hangover meets Dodgeball but with bikes).

 

So, if you fancy a great night of food and entertainment for just £25, email hello@nwvcycling.club for info on buying tickets*

 

Hope to see you there!

 

OB1

 

*Subject to availability, terms and conditions apply (see absolutely nowhere else for more details).  North Wirral Velo isn’t a trading name, it a cycling club. Not buying tickets could reduce the amount of fun you have before Christmas.  Drinks go down but can come back up.  Please drink responsibly. And dance responsibly if you have drunk responsibly, or dance like nobody is watching if you haven’t drunk responsibly. Please remember that if you’re not living on the edge, you take up too much room.

 

Pedalin’ a Cycle Better than Penicillin?

As I try to justify my latest cycling purchase I thought I would look back on my last year. It feels I have not much until I write it down and realise I completed;

 

  • The Fred Whitton
  • A full crit race season winning Litherlands 4th Cat series
  • Raced TT’s
  • Climbed up Asterton Bank (Thanks Simon – Ridiculously hard!)
  • Organised a TT & was active with North Wirral Velo (NWV)
  • Ride London
  • Bowland Sportive
  • Won a bet with Mr D for actual money!

 

All that I have bored people with throughout the year though so thought I might look into why a bike that I have rode 6000 miles on is now too big for me. My earth shattering conclusion is; quite simply I want to buy a new bike!

 

What I have done this year is found new ways to love cycling and potentially bankrupt myself. I once said to Rebekah that we actually had cheap hobbies but then found out how expensive crafting actually is, I bought her the Di2 of Die Cutters for her birthday. Back to cycling and racing this year was my new thing. Crits are a strange business, hurtling around at 20-30mph 30cm away from complete strangers is a great buzz, incredibly hard but very rewarding when you finish. Finishing is not always with everyone else though as switch off for a few seconds and when you switch back on the race has gone, actually sometimes this happens when you don’t switch off and just do not have the legs!  TT’s are just pain but really appeal to my competitive streak. These I really enjoyed even when I was chasing the ‘NWV Legend in the making’ around Rainford (Great ride Robin).

 

Through all this what really stood out is the people. Cycling feels like something of a throwback to when people were kind and actually spoke to each other rather than text. Yes, the tech is there but riding a bike makes people nice and friendly 99% of the time. Puncture on a bike and you will be offered help from other cyclists, puncture in a car and you better get walking pal!

 

Whether it is a NWV club run, TT’s with seriously good riders, crits with young and old alike it simply does not matter, riders are just nice and friendly. I turned up to some car park (famous as a dogging site on google) in March for my first TT and was confronted with full on TT bikes, pointy helmets, disc wheels, and skin suits (basically very, very tight Lycra!). Immediately I was thinking the worst but 5 mins later people were talking to me and wishing me luck. There was even a very excited, crazy guy that turned up and used some Jedi like skills to take pictures of me in my best Lycra at several different parts of the course, said crazy man has also helped me incredibly this year.

Basically cycling costs a lot, effort (We have all thought we might die rolling up a hill), money (This new purchase will (not) make me faster!), time (The better you get the further you go) but it gives you so much back. Cycling actually makes you a better person and my year proves that. I go to the cafe/pub and strangers ignore me and I them, add a bike and all that changes.

 

So whatever your challenge over the next 12 months, mountain or mole hill, fast or slow, long or short just remember cycling might occasionally win the battle but it will make you healthier, happier and a more confident person (If you can go out in public wearing Lycra you can do anything!). Just remember to wave at fellow cyclists and ask if they need anything when you see an upside down bike. Do this and you too could actually take £10 off Ant or even find Chris!

 

Ride Safe and pedal like f*$k – Dave

Night Crawlers, errr Climbers!

On an unseasonably warm Wednesday evening in October, the North Wirral Velo re-established the annual club hill climb champs.

 

More than 50 years separated the youngest to the most senior of riders, with a vast range of abilities in between.  As such, the event organiser and TT legend Robin Hennessy had used some ancient Chinese magic to work out a handicap system to level the hill climbing up hill playing field.  Otherwise known as Strava segments, Robin calculated the handicap times on the Thurstaston Hill segment that nearly all riders in the event had a time up.  This, as usual caused a lot of debate, particularly the ones who had used a moped to record their Strava segments.

 

To the race, and first off was Monsieur Denby, a self proclaimed pre race favourite, having ridden the course 46 times in the last month in preparation.  However, he sportingly wore 17 layers of clothes to slow himself down in the warmer than normal weather.  He was closely (actually a minute) followed by the real race favourite (on actual time) Dave “The Racing Leg End” Cuthill.  His carefully prepared starting effort was interrupted by paparazzi in a car in front of him trying to get the front cover for next months “Take a Break”. The car in question soon sped up and Dave maliciously drafted behind it to turn any time lost into a good 24 second gain.

 

Next to start was Mike “Dark Horse” Hurworth who was still reeling after losing the club TT to Mike Hornsby and was hoping to go one better.  Unfortunately Robin was onto his previous generous handicap and so penalised Mike to give him little chance of an easy victory.  Following Mike was Jon “carefully edited my Strava segment to ensure victory” Doyle, who, given a massive handicap had time to ride the climb without breaking a sweat, and as such still looked cool and composed at the finish line.

 

However, the big guns had not all rolled out as yet and first of those was Pete “I don’t think 10k for a bike is excessive” Clarke who flew out of the start looking for a fast time to show all the young upstarts how it’s done.  Following Pete was Anthony “I’m rubbish at this, no actually I’m ok” Doolan who started like a bullet from a gun.  Let’s just say that pacing himself is not one of his strongest suits. Then, as the flash bulbs popped, Scott “I haven’t coughed like this since 1993” O’Brien rolled to the start line.  He set off in true TT style, only to have to ease up round the corner and ride sensibly the rest of the way.

 

Then one of our international club stars made a surprise appearance, having flown in especially from New Zealand, chasing the dream of gaining the massive kudos as club hill climb champion.  Whether it was the jet lag, the extremely retro steel LLoydy bike or vast quantities of pizza eaten just 20 minutes before, Russ Jones fell short, but not very short of his goal.  Last man  off was the one everyone else feared when he rolled up to the start.  Henry “H” Timewell, son of former club member Steve, decided to give everyone reason to go as hard as possible up the climb.  Despite riding a mountain bike with full knobbly tyres, H, only 12 years old shot up the climb to claim the first Junior prize.

 

 

It was a superb event, well organised, especially the post race analysis  in the Anchor pub, Irby.  Thanks to Robin for organising it, Steve Timewell for the pushing off and to guest timekeeper, Mrs Nicola O’Brien.  But more over thank you and well done to the riders.  See you next year!

Onwards and Upwards

As the North Wirral Velo is officially into the start of it’s second year “back in the saddle”, tonight sees the Annual General Meeting being held at the Velo’s new club rooms in Pensby.

It is planned that the club will meet regularly over the winter months for various fun activities, plus turbo training, Zwifting, circuit training etc  We are also hoping to have some coaching sessions for our aspiring new racers, so that they can build on the success we have enjoyed this year.

 

The club hill climb champs is fast approaching in October, swiftly followed by a night of celebration, drinking and eating at the Annual Club Dinner.

 

The dinner takes place on Friday 16th November at the Manor in Greasby.  Tickets have sold well but we do have a few places left if you want to come and see us in our dancing pants instead of Lycra (unless your dancing pants are actually made of Lycra(don’t knock it until you have tried it)).   The dinner will also consist of a prize presentation for achievements through the year and be the official premier of “North Wirral Velo – the movie”, so lots to look forward to!

 

Hope to see you there and out on the road…

Ride safe

OB for the NWV

Weekend Roundup 10th and 11th March

Some epic rides this weekend and some epic coffee stops!

The hardcore section went on the “Road to Hell” to find themselves up at Llyn Brenig in the snow!  A challenging 72 mile loop in the best conditions, quite a ride when there is still snow on the ground!

 

Whilst the main of the club’s committee where on a more sedate route with the Chairman and Secretary enjoying the fantastic cuisine and hospitality at Cleopatra’s Coffee Shop in Holt.

 

The Social Sec was further afield, not cycling but enjoying the local delights on a mountainside in France…
Whichever flavour of cycling you enjoy, just get out and enjoy it!  But most of all…
Ride safe!

From Couch ‘tater to Bike Racer

Cycling and I have not always travelled along a smooth road, there has been many a pot hole to disrupt my progress. As a kid my adventures were cut short by having the same bike stolen twice (yes, twice!) and its replacement also stolen the first night I forgot to lock it up. After this, my parents gave up and gave me a football to save money!  This may have been a blessing as the week before I missed a 90° bend coming downhill way too fast and had to be peeled off a wall by my friends and patched up by an older sister, maybe not a terrible experience for a 14 year old.

My next foray into the cycling world was commuting the five miles to Birkenhead a few times a week but even this had issues. I proudly went and bought one of JD Sports finest but by the end of the first week I had one cassette shear off and a frame snap in half. The latter resulting in me and my bike being delivered home in the back of a Hackney!

The start of my ‘serious’ cycling was in bed one night when I decided I needed a challenge and signed up for a Coast to Coast (C2C) bike ride from Morecombe to Bridlington called Way of the Roses (WOTR). Basically this decision was based on me getting fat and making strange ‘ooh’ noises putting my shoes on etc, after being active in many sports clubs kids (2 girls, so I now know all the Disney princesses!) and marriage had curtailed any of these activities. Somehow, I also managed to get my old school mates to join in this ride and one of them suggested we join Strava to help motivate each other through the training, thanks for creating that monster Trout!

The next day (30/11/14 – I checked Strava) I put on baggy board shorts, tracksuit top & my converse beach shoes and braved the back of the shed to dig out the Hybrid. I rode all the way to Upton (6.1 miles at 13.7mph) and back and survived. The next day Strava tells me I was ‘Getting Practice on Hills Now’, which included the Alpine Climb of Blackhorse Hill (10 miles at 14.5mph)! After a few months and many miles around the Wirral I decided I was ready for a proper ride and decided on the Horseshoe Pass as my destination, 88 miles door to door.

I was now armed with padded shorts worn under my baggies (Eternally grateful to my wife Rebekah for this present), a cycling top, helmet and a new cyclocross bike as we all know a road bike is made of paper and I wanted one to last with me.  That was it, I set off at 6:00am and actually made it to the Ponderosa Café pretty much unscathed. Unfortunately, on the way back I found out why it is important to eat on a ride and I had my first ‘bonk’! I literally ended up crawling into the ice cream parlour at Parkgate and practically inhaled a litre of ice cream. This fuelled me home where I perfected my new found crawling technique into the house. Rebekah checked I was not going to die and then proceeded to call me an idiot and laugh quite a lot.  Any pain I felt was forgotten when I proudly/smugly uploaded to Strava, you all know that feeling!

Somehow this did not put me off but did make me realise I needed to be better prepared and going out with one water bottle, £10 and a phone wasn’t wise. Luckily at this point I had never had a puncture otherwise it would have been a 40 mile walk back from the top of ‘The Shoe’!  Safe to say I now carry the food, water and a mini cycling survival kit on any ride.

Next up was the actual WOTR that we all completed in 3 days and can honestly say was one of the best weekends I have ever had, 6 friends, 6 bikes completing 180 miles including ‘The Hill out of Settle!’  Anyone who has done the ride knows what I am talking about with its 20% gradient. As a starter challenge I would highly recommend a C2C as they are a stiff but not impossible challenge. You feel immense pride and satisfaction dipping your wheel in both seas and ‘that’ feeling uploading to Strava. The only downside is finishing at Bridlington or Sunderland but it can’t all be roses. After this, I followed up with my first century at the Manchester 100m (13/9/15), not too hard as it is mainly flat if you remember to eat. By this point, my confidence had soared and I purchased ‘100 Hardest Climbs’ by Simon Warren.  If I could climb ‘The Hill out of Settle’ I could climb anything! With this in mind, I selected the Hellfire Pass (Bwlch-y-Groes) in Wales, rated 10/10 but no match for me and my CAADX!

How wrong was I? There are really no words to describe the pain this climb puts you through, it is simply horrendous and how my heart didn’t explode I will never know.  What really hurt me though was I had to stop and put my foot down and then to rub it in I got a speeding ticket driving home. On the way home I was put through the torture of my ride partner proudly describing how he got up in one, not being smug as he was understandably proud but every descriptive word was like a stab in the eye. It was on this drive home I vowed ‘Never to Walk Again’ and cycling got serious.

The next day I threw away the baggy shorts, bought a new helmet (marginal gains and all), banned the lower gears and basically set about riding up any hills I could find in as high a gear as possible. This included completing the ‘Whole Hog’ sportive that was immense. Just short of 90 miles and 9000 feet of climbing. By now, I had a shiny new carbon road bike, a Giant TCR that is my pride and joy (turns out road bikes are not made of paper!)  What I remember of this ride is that everyone set off like a train, I was riding through Glossop thinking how can I keep this up for 90 miles but it all calmed down and my training came through for me. Turns out, I am a pretty strong climber and the descent off Holme Moss in bright sunshine is something every cyclist has to experience.

After 8 months of hill training and charging around the Wirral as fast as I could I judged I was ready to settle my score. I plotted the route on Strava, found a willing victim to keep me company and set the date.  Eight months after my initial failure all my training paid off and in 18 glorious minutes conquered Hellfire. It was still as hard but now I was mentally as well as physically armed to keep going and after 5 inglorious minutes recovering in the car park recovering we took some celebratory photos and set off home. If you ever collapse in a car park in the middle of nowhere do not expect help from the old couple eating a picnic in the car, from my experience checking on a lycra clad cyclist lying in sheep poo is not worth delaying the eating of a cheese sandwich!

The following 18 months has seen me cycle through wonderful parts of England and Wales including the Forest of Bowland, large parts of Yorkshire and Snowdonia.  Bowland and the Electric Mountain outside of Llanberis are particular highlights.  I also completed another C2C with my brothers this time and my eldest brother Simon is now a fully fledged convert as well.  Him and the two Anthonys (also NWVCC members) have all been roped into my ‘adventure cycling’ rides that currently totals 29 of the 100 hardest climbs. Beware, more are coming fellas!

The end of 2017 has seen me join the North Wirral Velo Cycling Club and what is my newest challenge, RACING! My above training meant I was now decent on a bike but racing had never crossed my mind. I was certainly no slouch but as my youngest Thea would say I was no where near rocket speed!  The first time Scott mentioned it I needed convincing but after a little research I found out he knew a little about it (his story to tell) and thought I would try. It was crazy, I had gone from the Alpine Climb of Blackhorse Hill to signing up to a hilly 14 mile TT in what felt no time at all.

At this stage it would be great to say I romped to victory on the 24/02/18 in true Hollywood style but the reality was I was overtaken after 5 mins by the fastest thing I have ever seen on a bike whilst I was travelling at 32mph! This just spurred me on however and Scott’s words came back to me about riding my race and don’t worry about anyone else.  I did and completed the course in 36:55, 23.1mph average over the 14 miles.  I am incredibly proud of this as my target was 40 mins and I had beaten it by over 3 mins. It did hurt but again that pain was forgotten by pressing ‘upload to Strava’! (I did mention earlier it was the start of a monster).  The whole event had been brilliant and one I will not forget, everyone there was so supportive including the other riders and were happy to chat and offer encouragement. I have already signed up for another so that sums up my feelings, if in doubt give it a try!

My only cycling regret is not starting earlier. I am fitter, healthier and happier all through cycling (probably should mention Rebekah, Grace & Thea too). I have also met new friends and found the whole ‘cycling community’ to be a great set of people that will always help when needed, especially out on the road. I have seen many great things including a riderless horse and cart charging through north wales and hope to see many more. I implore all to set yourself a goal, work hard and reap the rewards cycling can give.

Ride safe

Dave Cuthill

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