Friday, February 26, 2016

The Derby Divas

I have mentioned before that my cycling is mainly of the Tea Shop Tours variety but not all cyclists follow my excellent example.  Last year some of the members of my club, Derby Mercury RC,  entered the LVRC National Track Championships. Derby now has its own velodrome and many in our club have been inspired to take up track cycling, gain the necessary accreditation and race in the Track League.... with some very encouraging results. So much so they entered the LVRC National Championships held at Newport last October and came back with quite a sizable medal haul.

Not to be outdone, some of the ladies in the Club also decided to take up Track Cycling and entered the Track League, again with quite a degree of success.  So, inspired by the veteran men's effort last year, the Derby Divas were formed and are aiming for the Masters Track Championships to be held in July, again in Newport.

Now this is a significant step up in class from the local league and some serious training and dedication will be required.

Track cycling is to cycling what 'track and field' is to athletics, with racing for a wide range of riders and body types, from short, timed, solo sprint races to long high endurance bunch races. Track cycling is all about speed, technique, tactics and nerve; all the things I lack which is why I admire the efforts of those brave enough to compete.

The Divas formed last year and were prominent in the local Track League where often they could be seen hunting as a pack......

..... before pouncing for the kill.

All of this requires plenty of desire and grit, especially in the solo events when the legs are shrieking for you to stop.

But fast times require the power to be applied from the off...

..with the coach keeping a benevolent eye on your technique

I am looking forward to following their progress and  the Russian Steps exercises should in particular be a really great photographic opportunity...indeed I could almost, though only almost, feel sorry for what lies in wait for these girls.

Thank you ladies for inviting me along to watch.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Rutland and Beyond.... an OAP's Adventure

For those of you who read my last post, Driven by Targets,  you will know that following last year's abject failure to achieve the objectives, I have decided to become even less competitive and just pootle around.  However a friend, a keen audaxer, has set himself the target to complete 10 Baby Audaxes ( 100km or less ) this year and after many discussions in a local coffee shop he persuaded me to join him on the first one, the Leicester Forest Cycling Club's  Rutland and Beyond Audax.. A gentle introduction with some beautiful scenery he said.

The weather forecast promised arctic weather and high NE winds, with the winds having the cruel capability to alter direction dependent upon the cyclists heading.

In the event my friend decided that the combination of zero temperatures, high winds, and a very early start made staying in bed at home a preferable option, leaving me to attempt a solo ride with the aid of my trusty garmin and an old fashioned bit of paper with writing on it .. I eschewed maps as I can never read them properly, but more of navigational issues later.

I have joined Derby Mercury RC this last  year, not with the intent of cycling with them, far out of my league but just to help out as a gofer at events, and I mentioned that I was undertaking this event. This inspired Team Mercury to also have a go and so Mark, Debbie, Phil and Nigel, the Mercury Marvels, entered.. For this foolhardy crew, a mere 100km was not worth getting out of bed for and so they decided to ride both to and from the event to raise a more respectable 200km ride.  In order to assist them they had recruited two sacrificial lambs in Mark and Sarah from Cycle Derby to act as their lead out team.

And so, around 160 cyclists converged on Ride HQ at 08-15

I had a plan. Not to be put off by all these fit young people and to ride at my own pace. I know I dont climb well and there were plenty of climbs on the course so I had stocked up with my home made malt loaf and flapjcks and a bottle full of fluid to lessen the risk of dying completely on some far forgotten hill. Eat little and often was my moto.

And so, positioning myself at the rear of the peleton we set off and encountered the first climb after 800m. It became apparent that perhaps I am not the world's worst climber as some seemed to start suffering already, indeed quite a few people never managed to complete the course.

Navigation is another skill I lack and as I  approached Rutland Water a couple of riders in front of me whom I had caught up, suddenly veered off left against all the advice of my Garmin!   It was then I discovered that not all riders out on a Sunday morning cycling around Rutland Water are neccessarily in the audax.  And so to the first Control Point

Lots of people came over to chat to me, but it seems it was not my scintillating wit they were interested in, but my Mercian Vincitore Special.

The Mercury Marvels had stormed past me on the hill into Rutland Water, resplendent in their kit, my Mercury jersey was well covered in multiple layers so as not to degrade the image and also I needed layers to keep warm.

Loving numbers, I had flipped through the garmin screens, a big mistake!  From here on in my turn by turn instructions vanished and I had to resort to following cyclists butts ( not always a pretty sight ) or when alone relying upon the cue sheet with its original Egyptian Hieroglyphics

The hills kept on coming and I was beginning to wish that I had chosen a Shimano Groupset instead of the Campagnolo as that would have allowed a much lower bottom gear (30/29 is my lowest ) and though I rarely engaged that bottom gear I did at times  envy the people twirling away on the steepest climbs.

There is a reward from the hills though. At one point the view into the valley with the viaduct stretching out across the peaks is a marvellous sight. It was around here that I saw a large red kite flying low in the sky espying out the young lambs as a potential lunch..or perhaps he was waiting for me to fall.

Just prior to the third control point is The Hill, a leg sapping lung busting monster for an OAP. I was determined not to let it beat me and though my brain was telling me to get off and push, my inner self would not relent, and indeed I passed another couple of riders on this climb.

For those who reached the check point and cafe early there was plenty of food

Some even were treated to a Valentine Lunch!

However by the time I arrived the place was packed with sunday tourists and stifling hot with wait times up to 45 a gel, a piece of malt loaf and I soldiered on

The last section was probably the toughest for me, the wind was horrendous and the terrain very exposed...but I made it!!

For those who like statistics the Strava Ride is here 

To give an indication of how I coped, my normal ' Suffer Score '; for my T-Shop Pootles is around 50...this ride was 388  .... I have never been tis close to the edge before

But did I enjoy it?  Yes

Did I feel a sense of achievement ?  Yes

Would I do another Audax ?    Well.......