Straight Outta Hackney 200k Audax 2015

11pm Friday night was as good a time as any to enter the Straight Outta Hackney 200k audax organised by Justin Jones from the ACH. I thought it would be a good idea to actually ride my road bike before PBP and this started from the Salisbury Hotel, Harringay, about an hour away from me and seemed like a good one. It had nothing to do with the promise of free beer and bbq after the finish, honest 🙂

Owing to the early start and lack of traffic, I arrived at the start at 7:10, way too early but better than arriving late… again.

We all rolled out at 8am and I quickly overtook the bigger bunches and was alone for a while until I found a group of four who were moving pretty rapidly so I latched on. This group shed one bloke but lasted until the first control at Ickleton (destroyed some cake and sorted a bottle refill) where ZigZag (I found out he was on YACF after the ride) took off on his singlespeed (respect!) and was never seen again (except when we briefly crossed paths in Cambridge).

The rest of the ride was then a solo ride for ZigZag and probably anywhere from 5-30min back, myself. I stopped at Cambridge to refuel and then again at the Puckeridge control where I chatted to Tim S of SteamRide audax fame (yes, I’ll probably ride your 300 this year!).

Zoomed back into London after lots of pretty lanes, plains and villages and headed to the organisers house, then trundled up to the pub to officially finish and enjoy some refreshments (he means beer). Spent the time waiting for the other riders to return getting some valuable PBP tips from ZigZag and some of the other riders. Damon Peacock was there with some cameras again and interviewed me! Fame! I wanna live forever… Fame! 😉

A few hours later we headed back to Justin’s place where he’d sorted out beer from a friend at Five Points Brewery as well as a great BBQ. What a great finish to a ride! To be honest I would’ve loved to have done my normal thing and got trashed but I was actually a good boy and chatted more to the friendly folks before riding home to my poor cycling widow.

So, many thanks to ACH and the volunteers and everyone who turned up to ride and be merry, I had a great day out!

Red Bull Photo Essay – The Mersey Roads 24 Hour Time Trial

The Mersey Roads 24hr Time Trial National Champships, July 18th, 2015
The Mersey Roads 24hr Time Trial National Champships, July 18th, 2015 © George Marshall

The Mersey Roads 24hr Time Trial National Champships, July 18th, 2015
The Mersey Roads 24hr Time Trial National Champships, July 18th, 2015 © George Marshall

Revenge of the DVT!

After the flight back from the 24hr Worlds in 2014 I found myself with Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) in the left calf (“deep perforator vein within the medial aspect of the left soleus muscle which extends over a length of 5cm”). Cue many needles (Fragmin/Dalteparin), many blood tests and 3 months on rat poison (Warfarin). This DVT episode was over on March 1st when I took my last Warfarin dose and then promptly crashed after hitting a pothole on my commute home. Cue many more hospital visits, blood tests, x-rays, physio, etc.

Spin forward to July 1st and I’ve been diagnosed with another DVT, again in my left calf (left peroneal vein to be precise) but this time with no obvious cause – no flights, no long days in the office, nothing obvious anyway. Yay! It’s now July 9th and for a week I’ve been jabbing my stomach with a combination of Tinzaparin and the leftover Fragmin syringes I had from the first clot – my abs are sore – it feels like I’ve been doing situps all day.

The clotting profile blood test results from July 1st won’t be available for 6 weeks to 2 months for some reason so the cause of the clot will remain unknown until then (could be remnants of the first clot, could be genetic or it could be another disease). In the meantime I’ve asked to be put on Rivaroxaban (thanks Alex!), an alternative drug to Warfarin that doesn’t need constant blood tests to monitor INR level (clotting speed). I’ll find out about this when I go back to the hospital on Monday.

Oh, I also found out that my red cell count is low – I’m likely low in iron – seems odd given my gloopy blood but it’s just like me to have the worst of both worlds – slow blood AND not enough red cells. No wonder my training has fallen in a hole!

So, I will continue to wear my sexy (not sexy) calf compression socks and I’ve bought myself a Garmin Vivofit fitness tracker band which you wear all the time and it vibrates when you’ve sat immobile for too long. It’ll probably just mean I drink a lot more coffee than I do now.  All of this just weeks before the National 24hr TT. Timing, kid, you’ve got it.

Raltech disc cover & 11-speed cassette spacing?

Raltech disc cover 11 speed cassette spacing
11spd cassette rubs on Raltech cover by default.

It looks like I might’ve finally cracked the issue of the cassette rubbing the Raltech disc covers due to their not being enough space behind the cassette. It was thanks to this blog post from Dark Speed Works.

Below is a copy of their guide for my notes. It’s for an 11-23T Ultegra cassette (DA doesn’t seem possible because it has a 2-3-1-1-1-1-1-1 config and I can’t find the individual sprockets to swap out the 3-block). The idea is to convert it to 10spd but with 11spd spacing and move the whole cassette out a bit.

“The solution on this cassette is slightly different from the previous two. You will need to buy a specific 17T cog for Ultegra 6800 cassettes (Shimano part no. Y-1Y917200). And you’ll also need two 2.18mm 11s cassette spacers for Ultegra 6800 cassettes (Shimano part no. Y-1Y953000, Shimano calls them ‘sprocket spacers’). Once you have these parts in hand, before mounting the 11-23 cassette on your wheel, remove the 17-18T sprocket unit (with cogs riveted together). If you drop out this sprocket unit and replace it with the 17T cog that you bought, the cassette will still have a progressive gearing spread (the same gearing that Shimano uses for 10-speed 11-23 cassettes). And one of the extra 11s cassette spacers that you bought will be used as a ‘behind-cassette spacer’ (see below). So, to create and mount the hybrid 11-23 cassette, you would put on the rear wheel freehub body, in this order:

one of the 11s cassette spacers that you bought (needed as a behind-cassette spacer)
the 19-21-23T sprocket unit (these cogs are riveted together)
the 17T cog that you bought
one of the 11s cassette spacers that you bought
the 16T cog
an 11s cassette spacer
the 15T cog
an 11s cassette spacer
the 14T cog
an 11s cassette spacer
the 13T cog
the 12T cog (cog has an integrated spacer)
the 11T cog (cog has an integrated spacer)
Finally, the cassette lock ring (properly screwed on).

When you’re done, you should only have the 17-18T sprocket unit left over. Properly adjust your 11-speed rear derailleur limit screws for this hybrid cassette, test it out thoroughly, and you should be good to go. (Save the 17-18T sprocket unit should you ever need to convert this cassette back to full 11-speed.)

2015-06-14 Newbury RC 12hr TT – H12hr/8

278.60 miles

This was supposed to be an A event for me – I wanted to have a crack at breaking the 300 mile mark for 12 hours. At the end, I was almost 20 miles down on last year’s distance, having achieved none of my goals. Fail.

The race consisted of 5 hours on the ball, sitting pretty, so to speak, nailing my selected power and then LEGSGOBANG! a rapid decline such that I (barely) finished the event having averaged the power I’d typically ride during a 24hr. Meh. Big ol’ cup o’ meh.

All I can pin it down to is having a dose of the squits the day before and the morning of the race. Theory being, if your guts is dodgy, you’re body isn’t properly taking on nutrients and I basically just ran out of energy, even though I was eating my Torq goodies just fine.

The next 7 hours were then a feeble procession with a few attempts to pack (quit) but my team wouldn’t let me! I’m not one to bail on a race without there being a fatal mechanical or a hospital visit involved so the going must’ve been grim! Thanks to them I did get a 12hr training ride done and I guess it was still the second fastest 12hr I’ve ridden but when you know you can do so much better it sucks to fall apart so bad on race day.

Congrats to Mark Holton riding the second fastest 12hr ever, a 316.74mi, just behind Andy Wilkinson’s Comp Record 317 miles and Jill Wilkinson who rode the second fastest women’s 12hr ever with a 269.85mi ride. Also, nice work to Hoppo who bashed out a career high 270.89 miles.

Unfortunately due to the general feebleness of modern humans there aren’t many 12hrs run these days and the remaining events clash with other races/rides I’m doing so it looks like I’ll have to wait another year to crack the 300.

WLCA 25mi TT H25/2 roadworks H10/22 2015-06-07


Thanks for letting me scrape my entry in Jim.

Having pre-ridden the 25 mile course a couple of times the day before I knew there were roadworks in place on the A4 and assumed they’d be completed by Sunday but alas, no. I guess they decided that it was easier to set up two-way traffic lights and a tonne of traffic cones and delay everyone than fill in the little hole around the drain.

So, arriving on Sunday with some unfinished business to attend to on the ‘ski slope’ H25/2 course, I was gutted to find out the race had been shortened to a 10mi using the H10/22 course I’d PB’d on earlier in the year. My annoying 1:00:04 on this course will remain a while longer.

So, to the 10. It was a spluttery, snotty, horrible ride that may or may not have been well paced (I’m writing this weeks later) and I fell short of my previous best by 16 seconds, even with a supposedly faster setup. Luckily with all the hype around Wiggos Hour Record attempt that night I knew that the air pressure was totally crap for racing so… Excuse 1098: Air Pressure Too High, ACTIVATE!

Beast from the East 600k (helpers ride) audax – 16th May 2015

The Beast from the East starts from Waltham Abbey and heads southwest to Taunton Dean services before returning via a different path to the start. Check out the Beast from the East route here.

Even with a bit of a headwind the first half of the Beast was very enjoyable – nice weather, interesting scenery (stopping to watch skydivers those ‘Tank Crossing’ signs stick out in my memory) and some good chatting and lunch stop with Adrian O’Sullivan. Adrian is in training for the TransAm Race, a non-stop, self-supported road bike race along the 4,233 mile Trans America Trail. He’s proper hardcore!
After getting a bit lost finding the services, I grabbed a sandwich and bottle refill and headed out again, wanting to get to the next control for dinner before it was too dark. Uh oh, it seems the Garmin 800 did one of its numerous ‘tricks’ and doesn’t have Stage 5 of the route available (yes, it was definitely copied, I’ve had this issue before when it just ignores files you add to NewFiles). Anyway, perfect opportunity to try out the Garmin 810 I bought as a backup.
The darkness moves in and initially it’s not too bad, as the roads are big, not full of potholes and not busy. I take many a wrong turn during the night, ie. ending up on an overpass, riding 20m above the road I’m supposed to be turning right onto! Cue median strip jumping and big U-turn.
Some of the navigation issues were my fault but a lot of them were caused by the Garmin 810 being a piece of crap. The device would just freeze so I’d be happily following the current road while it looked right and then eventually something would seem odd, like the distance not going down or whatever and I’d swipe it and nothing would happen. It was locked up totally and I had to power it down, wait for a GPS fix again and them resume the Course I was on. It was utterly ridiculous and I’m still trying to sort it out now – it’s likely to go back to Garmin as not fit for purpose and I’ll get another 800 as a backup instead or maybe just stick with my old eTrex.
In the early hours it got REALLY cold. I thought I was clever packing long finger gloves, leg warmers and arm warmers after getting cold on the 400, but it still wasn’t near enough. I was looking around for something burning to warm up by! At one stage I was going to ask some police in a small town to put me in a cell to sleep and get some heat back in. Nothing was open so I couldn’t get a warming coffee for hours. I think I need to work a bit more on what to carry in terms of clothing and food – since you can’t buy either at 4am on a Sunday!
So, it was pretty miserable until the sun started coming up around maybe 5am. It got a bit warmer and I knocked off a few more miles, as well as adding some extra as I visited every service station in the Chilterns – none of which had a working toilet!!! and then OMG I’ve never been so happy to see Beaconsfield services! They were open, sold coffee and had functioning toilets. Bliss. City boy here used to stuff being open at 4am.

Thanks to organiser Mark Brooking for letting me ride the route-check event. Apparently night time temperatures were as low as 3C!

Severn Across 400k Audax – 9th May 2015

Quick Summary of the Severn Across 400k PBP qualifier I rode this month…

4am – Cycled out to start, arrived late again but not as late as last time so I’m getting better!

Cycled, saying hello as I passed Ray and Mike, got wet, ate cake (thanks @YarntonNursery).

Cycled, got wet again, talked to Frank for a while, dried out by standing outside a cafe eating cake (Tewkesbury).

Cycled, said hi to Martin at Tesco and ate a Turkish Delight (Chepstow, this time not experienced whilst covered in grit after changing tubes).

Cycled, ran out of fluids (stupid small Lucozade bottles) so stopped for a pint and grabbed bottle refill from a pub in Malmesbury.

Cycled, memory failing me now but definitely went for more food oddities at Membury Services – steak crisps? wtf? Pocketed a Jimmy’s iced coffee for later.

Cycled, darkness descended, dodging deer decidedly dangerous during descents. Impressed that Henley put on a fireworks show for my arrival, that was very nice of them!

Cycled the long way to the finish based on the GPS and picked up a receipt in Chalfont St Peter (need to check credit card – that’ll cost me).

Headed to the HQ to see if anyone was there and told the previous community centre users what I’d been up to, the bloke was amazed at the distances covered.

Liam arrived just as I had my phone out to ask him what to do with my brevet card. Consumed a bakewell tart and an espresso and rolled on home, arriving some time before 1am.

2am schleepies!