Stafford GP – Crit Race

Last Wednesday night Stafford hosted a round of the Elite Circuit Race Series. This criterium race around the town centre is tight with many 90 degree bends. It encourages breakaways and exciting racing.

I’ve been meaning to go for the last couple of years, either as a marshal or spectator. This year I picked up Holly from swimming early and we made an evening of it.

The Stafford cycling community was out in force, with familiar faces in every direction. Eventually we settled for a position on the barriers just before the finish to get the best views of the action.

We arrived to see the end of the youth races and it was good to see so many Lichfield City Cycling Club ‘zipvit’ jerseys flying round, which has encouraged Holly to want to re-join and start their training nights again!

There was lots of pzzaz pre-start with sign on, each rider being given a union jack / BC flag to give out. To get Holly involved I managed to get Rapha Condor Sharp’s – Dean Downing’s attention and got his for Holly thinking he would be mixing it up the front and he did not disappoint. We also were supporting local Metaltech Scott rider Matt Gee. Its worth remembering that the difference in support for the various riders varies hugely: Matt turned up at the race straight from a full day’s work !

The track was still damp and slippery from rain earlier as the riders strung out from the gun behind the TV bike but immediately Graham Briggs and Rico Rogers broke away. The chasing pack stayed 10 seconds to 20 seconds behind for the whole race. At ¾ distance the heavens opened and the rain caused a number of crashes. Rapha Condor put the hammer down in the last 5 laps trying to catch but Briggs and Rogers held their lead with Briggs taking the sprint finish. All very exciting….

For more details on the remaining rounds of the series see



Cadence Sport and Steam Rollers

I needed a fast road ride today so though I would pay a quick visit to Adrian Timmis’s new shop in Barton under Needwood. Specializing in higher end road bikes and particularly bike fit, CadenceSport’s new premises are very swish being an ex kitchen showroom. Ada has added some tour memorabilia and of course the de rigor 42 inch plasma on the wall for watching the action unfold.
The journey there was quite amusing, I came up to a couple of fairly long slow moving traffic jams. I edged to the front twice to find a steam roller, complete with caravan in tow, Fred Dibnah style. The smell was fantastic and looked so right chugging through the old villages of Kings Bromley  and Yoxall. I later noticed a sign for a steam rally near Barton, they had a long way still to go!
Lots of photos of the new shop on Ada’s Blog –


Combining a long ride with a trip home in the car can be a good way of munching up the training miles without impacting too much on family time, cycling to where we are off to, or getting dropped off 3 hours from home!

So, at the end of our Cornwall holiday I found myself dropped off  just off the A30 south west of Exeter, on a lonely lane, with an 80-odd kilometre to ride back to my parents house near Taunton.

Last year I rode from Exeter Services via the A38, which was very boring, so this time I picked a more interesting route via Crediton and Tiverton through lots of back lanes and rural roads.

After a quick warm up on a more major road I dived left into a warren of little lanes, twisting and turning towards Credition, past curious little villages, old farmhouses and a patchwork of fields.

The road rolled over a seemingly never-ending series of short climbs and descents, before a fast drop into the market town of Credition. The last time there was about 20 years ago for the 100 th run of Kirton Hash  (set up by a couple of pals from the South West Junior Orienteering Squad), one of the many Devon Hash House Harriers groups now running. In fact I think it is now possible to hash every night of the week in the county (for those not in the know a description of Hashing can be found here).

From Credition I had a long slow climb up in to more typical Devon rolling countryside, with hills and dells sprinkled with farm houses, small woods and very little traffic. It was simply sublime as the sun slowly dipped towards the horizon.

Unfortunately, from Tiverton I had a 20 minute section on a very busy dual carriage-way, which was very unpleasant, before rejoining more familiar roads through Wellington and on to Taunton.

Parts of North Devon are just so far off the beaten track that time seems to have stood still and remind me of the area around Taunton 25 years ago. I look forward to a more relaxing ride through this beautiful area one day.

Climbing in public

Down in Cornwall for the week on holiday I spent a while pouring over an OS map trying to find a big steep hill on which to do a series of punishing low cadence reps on.

I found the perfect incline a few km down the coast from Treyarnon where we were camping.

The climb up from sea level to approx 80m at Mawgan Porth is vicious and has a very steep hairpin towards the top before a gentle gradient for the last 100m which makes for a brilliant thigh burning session.

The added plus was that there could be no wimping out once started as it was a very public hill, circling a pitch and put course, and with a slow stream of beach goers trudging back up the hill to their cars and caravans giving me very strange looks as I slogged my way up and wizzed down the 3.5 min climb.

Memory Lane

church, cheddon fitzpaineI’ve had a couple of weekends down at my parents in Taunton recently and have spent a few hours training in the lanes and old villages, soaking up the memories and enjoying fine views over the Vale in the May sunshine.

Quantock Orienteer’s were holding a‘JOG’ (Junior Orienteering Training event) one Saturday afternoon, organised by Judy Craddock who with her husband Roger introduced me to Orienteering in 1982. I thought I would drop in and say hello and after a natter ended up scuttling around a sprint score event in my cycling shoes skidding around the corners on my cleats, trying to beat 12 mins, as well as helping out a bit before continuing my training ride up into the Blackdowns.

Queens College was a great little map and the planning caught me out forcing me to retrace my steps for one control I could not get too because of uncrossable walls and fences. It was good to see lots of old faces and I will try to make a few more QO events in the future when I am down in Somreset.

Cycle Shack Visit

Moda Minor .jpg

With the new season fast approaching, being tied up at work and sorting permissions for the British Champs I’m organising taking up far too much time, Cycle Shack kindly offered to sort out my race bike. They have finally managed to get the air out of my brakes that has been plaguing me for months and replaced a couple of wheel bearings. I took Holly down early on Saturday to pick it up and to scrounge a bike box to line my bike bag for the forth coming trips.
Holly now has her eyes on the Moda junior road racing bike (the Moda Minor which luckily it’s still to big for her but only just) and has asked Matt for a price on 2 x 20 inch blue tyres for her Isla bike.

Apparently the new team kit is now on order. The team now has support from juice lubes, so I now have some of their dry lube to try.

Zip Vit LCCC Sponsorship launch

10am this morning saw Holly and I rushing to get to Zip Vit’s Headquarters building in Rugeley after a very broken nights sleep, as Holly had had a sleepover for her birthday, but not a huge amount of sleeping was done.

We were a little late so missed the mass photo session but managed to get our new kit on in time for some racing around the enterprise park, Holly in charge of the lap boards.

I only had my mountain bike, complete with map board, so decided the B race might be a better idea than the A. With no warm up I sat on the start line with 10 others on various carbon racing steeds feeling a little daft. On the whistle I went off hard, not really knowing how long the course was, how fit my fellow competitors were, just knowing it was 10 laps. I lead the first few laps before those tucked in behind powered past at the end of the back straight as we turned out of the wind. Rather than tuck in and have a rest I stupidly raced back up to the front again. This carried on until eventually after passing holly ringing the bell we settled into the last lap. I kicked far too early and blew up just before the last corner, shattered I backed off as the peloton surged past me on the finishing straight leaving me in their wake. I learnt two things, 1) a little about racing tactics and 2) I was cornering faster than the road bikes meaning either I was being foolhardy or they all need to commit more to their cornering speeds.

We then got cool Zipvit goody bags packed with bars, gels, beans and a couple of water bottles. Thanks to Zipvit, whose contribution to the club is substantial, we now all look smart in subsidised kit and also have some tents and feather flags to raise our profile plus investment for the future.

Using Barclays Boris Bikes

Barclays Boris Bike key in one hand, iphone on with the London Cycle App in the other, I wandered out of Euston Station at 10am this morning having got the 8.30am train from Stafford.

The iPhone App showed a map with 4 cycle stations within a couple of minutes walk of Euston. Clicking on the stations on the map showed availability of bikes and I chose the Doric Way station as all the others had no bikes left.

Helmet on (I brought one with me), I pushed the Barclays key into the slot next to the bike I wanted to take, waited a few seconds for the green light and off I went. Simples.

Boris bikes have 3 gears. I just left it in top gear the whole time, but they are heavy and slow and often need a fair bit of effort to get off the line at the lights. The riding position is very upright and high, great in the busy London traffic where you need to be as visible as possible.

I’d already sussed out where I was going to drop off the bike. After 15 minutes riding I just bumped up the kerb and rode it straight into the bike station post at a bike station near our London office. Dropping the bike off, you wait for the green light and go. Even more simples! At that point, though, I turned around and grabbed my laptop bag which I nearly forgot was bungeed to the front of the bike on a perfectly sized bracket, and walk the 100 metres left to the office.

Unfortunately, for the bikes to be really efficient, you do need to know your way around London, which I don’t. I was using a general sense of direction and a quick look at a map every 5 minutes or so. Traffic lights and one way streets are also a frustration on the major routes so finding the back streets and lanes that are traffic free is the key to getting anywhere quickly.

Overall, the bikes are great, and as long as the weather is good I shall not be using the underground again when visiting London.