London again

Once every few weeks I go to London to spend a day in our office in Clerkenwell. Its only about 2 hours door to door from home but it does make for a long day. In the past I have found myself shattered and unable to train in the evening. Today I made a conscious effort to drink a lot and also to have a decent lunch in a bid to put in a hill session this evening. Our office is next to Exmouth Market where there are street vendors at lunchtime selling various wares. A couple of curry houses set stalls up outside and do a ‘lunchbox’ for £5. It’s a fantastic deal with chicken, rice, salad, daal, and some flatbread, with a bottle of water thrown in too. I normally need a snack in the afternoon but today I was properly spoilt as a 1st class train ticket home was a pound cheaper than standard. Lots of complementary food and drink, they even had a healthy bean salad so my diet didn’t go off the rails.

Unfortunately I am not currently using the Boris hire bikes as my account is locked. No matter what I do, web, phone or email, I can’t seem to get the thing unlocked, so I am back to walking or the nightmare which is the tube at rush hour.

I’m sure in Clerkenwell there is a niche boutique bike shop opening every month now, dutch bikes was the most recent I spotted today. The latest trend seems to be very little stock and lots of white space, a bit like a trendy office with two bikes leant up in the corner, a bit like well…. most of the trendy offices around. Perhaps I should take everyone I know’s old crappy worn out mountain bikes down and stick them in our office window, put a couple of photos from the early 90s blown up on the wall and open a bike shop RETRO, only spelt with an E the wrong way round. I’d make a mint !

Warncliffe MTBO – Sheffield

The national MTBO series moved back to Warncliffe Forest, north of Sheffield this weekend. We last raced at Warncliffe at least 5 years ago and since then permissions have been difficult to obtain. Lucy, Helen and team did a grand job of getting us back in there….. until this morning when they were told one of the other landowners they did not know about would not give their permission for a section of the forest.

With controls out already, some frantic re-planning and map scribbling followed and the race was back on, great effort.

I had a while to wait before I could get a map and started 3rd last but this suited me fine, chilling out, nattering. The map unfortunately was a mess following the re-planning and it required careful checking to make sure you knew where the next control was.

My strategy being a middle race on a reasonably steep area was to give it everything on the hills, knowing I could keep it going for an hour. The single-track descents were a nightmare though, completely out of my comfort zone. I even burped my rear tubeless tyre for the first ever time, losing quite a bit of air. I decided to leave it a bit flat and enjoyed the extra traction it gave me on some of the climbs though I was bobbing a fair bit on the faster flatter sections.

The decent from 14-15 was completely bonkers, 6 inch bikes and full face helmets were needed really and I chickened and ran down most of it, mind you that was hard in itself. I lost about a minute on this leg as I didn’t see the slightly better path option to the north that many took.

The climb up through the last 3 controls was punishing, but I kept it going out of the saddle giving it everything. It all paid off and I came in second, just 19 sec’s behind Iain Stamp and 1 second in front of Killian.

To top a great day I also won the fastest ‘run in split’ and got a lovely bottle of Cherry Lambrini for my troubles, though winning an up hill leg like that has really given me confidence in my ability to climb.

results available at


routegadget here


Help Alan! I can’t get out of stodge’s shoes !

I lent my bike and shoes to a friend whilst on holiday in Cornwall the other week. I went off to the beach, Mark went off for a ride. Apparently on returning from an enjoyable ride Mark couldnt  figure out how to release the ratchet mechanism on my Spiuk shoes to get them off. Everytime he tried they got tighter and tighter until his feet started to go numb. He tried my phone which promptly rang next to him in the Caravan so using impressive ingenuity looked through my contacts until he found someone he knew was a biker (Alan H) and promptly phoned him for advice on how to get them off. Alan helped and after a few tries Mark finally found the release buttons and blood rushed back into his feet ! – £65 at the moment and fantastic value.

Rugeley Bike O

As I had produced the map for this event and know the area like the back of my hand, I decided to ride non-competitively at this event but was really looking forward to my first mountain bike orienteering on Cannock Chase, home turf, for ages.

From doing the map I new the weight of the points seemed to favour the north, so I headed out that way.

After a good start, although a little nettle stung, I could not find the end of the bridleway going to number 38 and ended up thrashing my way around Rugeley’s less salubrious estates, which don’t bear much resemblance to the OS map, before eventually doubling back for the control. I think I lost at least 6 or 7 minutes in total.

From then, to be honest, I wasn’t really navigating much, more route planning, though I had a wobble on Etching Hill trying to be clever going in on a different bridleway which was totally overgrown losing another minute or so.

After a fantastic big ring power blast down a 6 inch strip of dried mud which snaked its way down the cornfield towards number 31, getting huge ‘hedge rush’ from the corn stalks brushing the handlebars, it was a climb back up onto the Chase. Again I knew exactly where I was going with no need to refer to the map.

I seemed to be making good time so decided to take a gamble and go for the 50 pointer at the other end of the map on Cycle Shacks shop back door.

Unfortunately some tea leaf had nicked it !

I then careered eastwards, tucked down over the handlebars, time trial style, to try and get a control on Gentleshaw before heading for home.

I ran out of steam climbing back up towards Cannock Wood and Beaudesert but a gel got me going again, skidding into the car park just 40 seconds late.

Thanks to the organisers Matt from Cycle Shack and Dave Tipper, a great evening.

Preview – Warncliffe MTBO, Sheffield

The UK MTBO calendar returns to Warncliffe Woods this weekend for the first time in several years following permissions issues.

Better known for its extreme downhill routes, Britain’s best mountain bike orienteers with their race spec XC hardtails will raise a few eyebrows from the local armour-clad downhillers as they navigate the same trails.

Info and online entry here

More info about riding in Warncliffe Woods here

Fantastic Photos

BMBO Chair John Houlihan has sent me one of the photos he took in Sweden, thanks John 

British MTBO Long Champs 2011 – Longleat

This years British MTBO long distance champs was held at Longleat. The last time I orienteered at Longleat was 1989 ! It was my 17th birthday and I drove home afterwards, probably scaring my Dad half to death !

I seem also to remember writing ‘CHEESE’ in huge letters with electrical tape on my tent when we camped that weekend at the Shepton Mallet showground, no idea why…… happy days.….

With the Center Parcs right in the middle of the map now, planning was always going to be challenging. Unfortunately some confusion over the marking of out of bounds roads overshadowed what was a fantastic area with some challenging route choices and some vicious hills.

I had a reasonable ride, a little unsettled when I realised I had been OOBs but felt happy with my split times generally. A great ride by Andy Simpson, an old MTBO stalwart returning to the sport after a break of a few years, gave him the win. Em Benham took the women’s race.

Swedish Headcam Footage

Sorry, its taken a while and sorry its nearly 10 mins long but there were too many good bits !