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.
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.
As the country is seemingly on course for a no deal Brexit, the Executive Board of the North Wirral Velo have been putting together plans to mitigate any negative impact it may have on it’s members.
With uncertainty as to the flow of imports into the UK, the NWV has been stock piling useless essentials ahead of any potential supply chain interruptions. Items that the club has been panic buying include Spokey Dokeys, handlebar plug tassels, inner tube dust caps and those annoying lock rings that newbies still put on the inner tube instead of throwing them away. There is also a large stock of playing cards and pegs (in case anyone wants to sound like a motorbike).
Of course the ramifications of a no deal Brexit have potentially much graver and far reaching affects on the economy. Major employers may move their operations into the Eurozone, in sections such as finance and manufacturing, causing job losses. Big concerns as to the flow of imports for items as basic as food and medicines have been one of the main talking points of the whole Brexit debacle
In an attempt to try to combat any issues “down the road” the NWV have started bulk buying medical items such as cold and flu remedies, in case anyone get the sniffles, blister plasters for those new heels and hang over cures for after the Tuesday night social ride.
The NWV have also entered into negotiations with various markets outside of Europe to source suppliers of waffles, bacon and syrup in an attempt to keep their favourite cafe, Cleopatra’s in Holt, well stocked for each Sunday ride visit. A spokesman for the club said:
“Cleopatra’s haven’t actually asked for any help, but as a major part of the clubs business is trading in waffles and bacon, we felt duty bound to try and help maintain the high standard of service we receive from the bistro in Holt. We just hope that no other clubs get wind of the stock we have and decide to get in before us and scran it all.”
There have been rumours about border control checks on the Welsh-English border as the Welsh have (the same as a lot of English people) changed their minds about Brexit after the 52% leave vote of the referendum. The issue of a hard border with Wales or “Cafe-Stop” as Brussels have labeled it will affect many cyclists on the Wirral and in Cheshire as they ride in search of a few climbs before going for waffles and bacon.
The NWV Executive Board have been in negotiations with the owners of Cleopatra’s who’s premises are technically in Wales. The Board have proposed an audacious plan to dig a tunnel from the Farndon side of the Dee, under the riverbed, a church, quite a few houses and come up into the back yard of the cafe itself.
Head of projects for the club, Dave Cuthill, has estimated the cost at around £8.3 million and stated, “we may need to put the subs up a bit to cover the cost”.
As we head towards October 31st, nobody knows with absolute certainty what the state of the nation will be after that.
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!
There was a great turn out for last Sundays NWV club run into North Wales. The group set off for a spin over a few local climbs including the “easy” side of Penbarras and the long steady climb of the Nant-y-Garth out of Rhuthin.
After a stop at the Fisheries for a spot of lunch it was back home via the well used Burton Marsh Greenway to the Wirral.
Unfortunately one of our Mikes had forgotten about the set of bollards in the middle of the path, despite having passed by them at least 3,500 times.
Whilst trying to get a shot for NWV cycling photographer of the year, Mike had a complete breakdown in common sense and decided to ride headlong into the bollard. If you have ever wondered what the answer to the age old question of “what happens when an unmovable object meets an unstoppable force?” well, now we know. The answer is Mike lands on the deck in a pool of his own blood worrying about how his bike is.
Good news is that the club did have another three Mikes out that day, so we could afford to lose one without much disruption. Other good news is that Mike is ok and after a check up at A&E is allowed back into the mental asylum from which he had escaped from for the day.
The local council have commissioned a plaque for this bollard that will commemorate the level of stupidity that occured on this day.
So if any of our readers are thinking of riding along the Burton Marsh Greenway, stop and take a selfie with the plaque and remember to use the hashtag #mikethebollard and post it to our social media channels on @nwvcc
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
General club meeting open to all, incorporating a bike safety and riding position check clinic!
Make sure you bring your bike so our club experts can check everything over and offer practical advise on anything that could be improved. This is the first meeting of what we will set out as monthly meeting through the year. There will be a bike mechanics section in most meetings to cover a range of topics.