Saturday, 11 September 2010

End of Stage 1 Tour of Britain

Wind, rain but a finish in the sun. A spine-tingling finish, amazing atmosphere.

20 mins to the finish. Board banging has started!

Teams must be soaking, good old Lancashire rain has been hammering

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Mascot action

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Wind and rain for Stage 1.

Mule ride on the beach anyone?

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Friday, 10 September 2010

On route to mighty Blackpool for the ToB...

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Thursday, 9 September 2010

Best nutrition, Best energy, Best Bar

Mike Blewitt's Kielder 100 at the sharp end

Kielder 100 - Round 2

by Mike Blewitt on Sunday, 05 September 2010 at 22:12
Although last week was my last Continental Marathon, yesterdays Kielder 100 was my last Northern Hemisphere marathon for this year.

One Lap
One Rider
One Adventure
One Hundred Miles

That's the marketing anyway. In reality it's one big rocky forest, and eventually it seems like you're the only rider out there, despite looking over your shoulder constantly, there are many 'adventures' and I still think it's 104 miles.

Last year was the first time this ran and it was in typical Northern English conditions - rain, wind, mud - well 'ard. There were two hundred people there, and a fair whack of carnage. But word went out. Here was an ultra endurance race in the UK that was raced from the gun. And so there were well over 600 entries this year.

To be honest, I was still a bit miffed after last years event. The race note from then sums it up. So the past few weeks, once I had managed to score an entry from one of the many who decide to pull out, was about thinking strategy. Last years strategy was boost from the gun and see who can stay with it. Which isn't a terrible idea, as it cuts down the number of people to watch very quickly. But more people means a greater depth of field. I sent out a message James Hampshire of Fisher 29er fame -he supplied me with a 14 rider hitlist, with the wise words "some people have been training specifically for Kielder, and not racing much else". Well what's the fun in that??

Last week I was pretty apathetic about racing until a non-ranked 'cross race at Herne Hill. If it's midweek, evening and in London, I seem to enjoy the hurt. That 50 odd minutes of agony and ecstacy was enough to flick the switch in my head. I couldnt sleep until 4am that morning.

Staying well out of Kielder (not hard, it's pretty small) meant an early start and a fun foggy bandit country road drive in, with some very loud music going in a car that smelt of embrocation. The midges were out in force on the start line. We didn't need to grid particularly early, as the top 25 had numbers as such, and it had been requested that people would make room if we wanted to push in. And they did "you come through here fella..." Nice.

Neutral was neutral, but it was worthwhile staying in the front 10 wheels. It was still time to suss things out, and I hate a chat to Masters strongman Phil Morris, last eyars winner Neal "Sit on" Crampton, and mainly focused on warming up. Off goes the car, and BOOM! Strung out. Slooting into 5th wheel, then passing Simon Earnests AW team mate who was dangling to take 4th wheel. We were ever so slightly clear over the top, then into a heather clad old forest road descent. Tricky ones, these. I missed the line change and was stuck left, second guessing if there was anything (stump, log, rock, hole) under the heather while the other 3 went right. A gap grew, and was maintained. At the bottom I could see Crampton about 50-70m back, with more behind. About 150m up I could see Simons yellow gilet  - so he probably wasn't working, but he was in the early break. IN two minds, I pushed pretty hard for the next few kms, until I did decide to situp and let Neal get on. He reckoned he was hurting. And to be fair, he looked pretty shite. But his turns weren't frequest or strong. The gap remained, but by 21 mile feed we had been caught by Matt Page, Phil Morris, Josh Ibbet and about 3 others. But the EB had also been caught.

And now things didn't go so well. The food drops at feeds work ok, but it's a long way off a euro feed. The volunteers are great, and they make an event run. But if I was a volunteer I'd firstly be  bit more vocal and cheer people on. And maybe I'd organise numbered feedbags a little better than randomly spread on a tarp. I was chasing, hard, with Mule Bars rammed into various packets, and one in my hand while hitting singletrack. Eventually everything got stowed, but the chase into the next climb caught up with me. The climb had more covered old forest roads, with plenty to lose traction on. We all got a little bit string out, and descending the same skittled a few of us. I had a good line change through undergrowth to tripod to tree to top tube moment, but Josh crashed and I saw his pedal body in the middle of the trail. How he got it all back together I never found out. A moorland climb followed, and I think this is where the strongmen came out to play, as once I was dusted off the front group of 5 were out of sight.

The next 10miles were spent with Josh, riding super strongly. I was suffering, but hoping to push through and come good. But on the flats, downs, ups, I was bouncing off everything and it felt like my Spark just wouldnt roll. I was alone, with Josh and Matt in sight at times. Matt had to pull the pin, but by then I could no longer see Josh, however I had new company from behind. Another 29er! Maybe CX bikes aren't the only 29" wheeled bike worth having?

Right about now I purchased a big house on struggle street and had a one man house party. The climb over the moors to the piper on the border was still good, and brutal. Joolz Dymond said the leader was 12 minutes ahdead, and that everyone was hurting. Yeah, well me too. The next 40 odd miles from there I was getting a sore neck from looking over my shoulder, and a numb right leg from an overly tight ITB. While I hadnt given up, I wasn't chasing, but surviving. I thought I saw Phil Morris ahead at one point, but not for long.

Crossing the line was gratifying. It was good to be finished, as always. I rode up the hill past the castle and to the carpark, stripped to my bibs and lay on the grass. Someone asked what time I had done: 8h33min 51sec

"That time would have got you 4th last year! Well done!". Hmmm thanks mate. My bike was hidden from view, so the Number 3 plate wouldnt have been visible.

Drier but slower? Stronger but weaker? I'm not sure. But I left a fair bit of me out on the first 30 miles of the course. There were just plenty of other good, strong riders out there. And that's good for mountain biking.

Will I try again next year? I'm still at the no stage. I think the NUE has some opportunities in 2011.

... . Sun oot

Message on the hoof

Heading to Islay..

Message on the hoof

Check out Dave in Jack Wolfskin

Met Dave a long time ago in Chile when he was launching "Pantalla", Chile's first cinema magazine.

A multi-talented fella this one and always out in the "great outdoors" with his wife Alison and their boys. They are blessed living out in Mammoth Lakes, Cali.

Dave wrote an incredible guidebook which is about a million times better read than any other guidebook I've ever read and if you want to dream and go there, you should buy it: Yosemite & The Southern Sierra Nevada

This pic from the new Jack Wolfskin catalogue:

Tristar Monaco - Zamora, Lequatre, Mallet - relay winners as Livestrong Team

Try beating those three...really!

3:17:27 for the awesome threesome competing in star-studded company in Monaco last weekend in the relay event.

Marcel, who we all know well and who this summer has already won Embrun and France Ironman for his 5th time(!), was accompanied in Team Livestrong by Grégory Mallet of 2008 Olympic swim relay silver medal fame and by our favourite Pro tour rider Geoffroy Lequatre who we've met up with along the way. Geoffry won the Tour of Britain 2 years ago and is now with Radioshack.


We keep getting messages from Tim @ Cadence Ventures who's our distributor down in NZ. They've had a torrid time with the earthquake and keep on getting aftershocks.
Good luck to you all. Looking forward to having you all back online and up and running.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Clive teaches us skills at Mabie - MTBSKILLS.EU

Message on the hoof

Message on the hoof

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Intrepid adventurers - Rob Lee and support Clive Forth....

...Take refuge in the Shed at Mabie after throwing in the towel half way through the Lands End to John o Groats MTB route - 6 days and half way...
Message on the hoof

Leith Nirvana loop

Thanks Nirvana Bikes for the Leith Hill loop, a tough 30 mile ride. Well worth picking up their nice laminated map! It made an awesome Saturday ride!

Monday, 6 September 2010

Going up...

Message on the hoof

Message on the hoof