Pearl Izumi Champion Day 2017

This Saturday I will be travelling to Milton Keynes to Maddison to spend the day with the 2017 Pearl Izumi Champion Team.

Drawn from all walks of cycling life, age and ability we have been chosen as brand advocates for the year, all enthusiasts, bloggers and social media addicts. After the inevitable team kit photos and briefing, we will be riding out in our different disciplines for a few hours, the mountain bikers heading for Woburn trails.

I will be riding and competing in Champion Team kit this year – looks bright so you should see me coming !!!!

For more details see http://www.pearlizumi.co.uk/championteam

 

Chillington Hall – orienteering  planning

Walton Chasers last event at Chillington a few years ago got it a reputation. A reputation – based of fact, that it was a bramble fest – armoured trousers needed. I took on planning an event on this area for a couple of reasons, we had a very small window at the close of the shooting season to update the map (which I can do) and the sheer challenge of producing some hopefully enjoyable courses on such a difficult area!

I concentrated on providing huge routechoice legs, keeping people out of the brambles and hopefully provide runners with some beautiful vistas and views of the estate grounds.

I had to arm chair plan the courses over the winter and gained access at the beginning of Feb – just a month before the race. A recce showed lots of felling and the brambles even worse, but we did get access to the grounds around the hall itself and most of the parkland so I concentrated when re-planning on making the most of those.

A week before the race and along comes Doris (the storm) – big trees down and a very waterlogged area with lots of mud!

I put out all the controls on the day before the race, just leaving me to check them and wake them up on the morning of the event (electronics). Saturday was beautiful, almost perfect spring day – Sunday though dawned cold with a front racing through which caught me good and proper out on the area with torrential rain which then turned to sleet and snow.

By the time the runners rocked up it had improved and then event went well with over 150 competitors enjoying the parkland, with the start and finish based in the ‘model farm’.

Quick analysis of the GPS routes people post afterwards shows the big route choice routes seemed to have worked – so happy bunny me!

ZWIFT at BIM Show Live

My day job is as an Information Management Consultant for Major Construction Projects and Estates Management at PCSG – whats that exactly I hear you say – well its making sure the right document, drawing or 3d computer model is available in the right version at the right time to get things built and then to maintain them going forward – sometimes the acronym BIM is used – Building Information Modelling but my role goes well beyond that.

Anyway the UKs main conference on BIM – BIM Show live was this week in Newcastle. I was speaking with one of my clients and generally networking but one of the exhibition stands run by BIM Technologies had a zwift hill climb challenge to raise awareness and money for MIPIM charity ride later this year. (MIPIM is the worlds premier property and development conference in Cannes)

Olly Thomas from BIM technologies is taking part in the Legal and General MIPIM bike ride and he cajoled me to have a go at the challenge (not that I needed much persuasion)

The leading time was 2.41. Ive never ridden a zwift before and on the TACX Neo it was amazing – I went out way to hard trying but soon settled into a decent rhythm and using the gears to keep the cadence high.

With about 20 people cheering me on I smashed it in 2.27 but was completely broken afterwards and it took me about 30 mins before I was back to a normal temperature, even then with no blue inhaler with me I was struggling with wheezing for a couple of hours !!! you dont think youd need an inhaler at a BIM Conference !!!

Later on someone pipped me by 2 seconds and finally Olly jumped back on and managed 2.17 but ill take a vets victory I think 🙂

Good luck to Olly on his way to Cannes – you can sponsor him here https://race-nation.com/sponsor/e/65001

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kona Fire Mountain 1991 – reborn

This photo is of my 1991 Kona Fire Mountain, taken outside my Student house on column road, Cardiff in about May 1991. I road the bike both for commuting, recreational mountain biking and even the odd race until about 1999 when I bought a replacement (Raleigh ex works race machine). I then lent the bike to a Walton Chasers junior who took it off to use as a student commute in Sheffield for about 5 years. I got it back briefly and then gave it to a friend who used it for commuting in Matlock before moving to York and using it there for a commute until about 4 years ago.

Eventually her bike to work scheme made it redundant and I got the frame back and it has been gathering dust in my garage.

I’ve been thinking about building a commuting hack bike for the 4 mile ride into the station when I don’t take the Brompton with me on the train and thought the Kona frame would bring a bit of Retro to the Stafford station bike racks.

I’ve used all sorts of old bits, with a donated fork and just had to buy a seatpost and a stem to get it up and running.

I’ve only pootled up and down the road – it rides OK but its definetley rose tinted glasses – how on earth I rode it up and down Snowdon in the early 90s I have no idea!

Forest of Dean – double header

The attraction of foot orienteering and mountain bike orienteering on the same day, a couple of miles apart and in the lovely Forest of Dean was just too good to ignore. The morning of the event dawned rainy and cold in Stafford by the forecast for FoD was good which overruled my initial thoughts of binning it due to a very light morning dose of manflu – well a runny nose…

The foot orienteering organised by Bristol Orienteering Club was superb, a gorgeous mature forest and well planned. I got into a great head to head race with someone I knew, Gavin Clegg, after I fluffed a control and had a great time. Good too was to catch up with my old junior coach Anne Donnell – now 86 and unfortunately unable to get out into the forest she was helping at registration, pointing people in the right direction. 

I shoved a tiffin and can of drink down my neck and then headed up the road to the Cannop Valley mountain biking centre – which was heaving with riders, the day having turned out to be really quite nice!

The Mountain Bike Orienteering was really well planned by Black Mountain MBO on an excellent map and after 2 hours of pedaling I finished tired and happy ready for the long journey home. 

Event report here

A trip to Costa Rica

This Christmas we decided to push the boat out and take advantage of the extended break for a big trip! Costa Rica was our destination. We had a fabulous trip to this wonderful country, below a few highlights and a few hints if you are planning a trip yourself.

Rafting – La Fortuna

La Fortuna is brimming with companies which will take you rafting however we struggled to find someone who would allow our Holly (13) to do anything approaching grade 4 rapids. In the end (booked from the UK) we used Wave Expeditions. It took us well over an hour to reach our river but it was worth it with over 15km of continuous rapids with very little respite. All three of us ended up in the water (all very exciting) and one of the other boats in our group ended up capsized…. twice !!

Although clichéd we did find out first experience of rafting excellent fun and at times a proper challenge. As with most orgainsed ours we finished with a ‘traditional’ meal, however this one was the best of them all by a long way. We also experienced here some ‘proper’ rain with it coming down in stair-rods.

Hot springs and river – La Fortuna

Just up the road between La Fortuna and Arenal is a random bridge over a small river near the Tabacon Resort. The great thing is if you find somewhere to park and follow your nose is you end up in a series of gravel and rock pools with lovely hot volcanic water to lounge in! and all for free!

Original Canopy Zip Lines – Monteverde

Another clichéd activity, although originating in Costa Rica! We opted for the ‘original canopy tour’ apparently the first one ever, conceived originally for ecologists to explore the canopy. Again this activity was brilliant, commencing with a huge tarzan swing out over a valley and then a series of some 15 zip lines we spent a fantastic morning zooming through the forest, culminating in an 800m long zip line which started in a tunnel of trees before launching out into space across a large valley!! Also included if you want is a rapel to the forest floor and a climb back up, first up through the heart of the tree and then out on to a very exposed ladder!

We had seen several zip line companies on our way out too ‘original’ and found our trip to be much less busy, commercial and had a great feel to it.

Montezuma

Cath fell in love with Montezuma! This ex-hippie community on the south tip of the Nicoya peninsula is very remote and unspoilt with the rainforest tumbling down to the beach. The only downside is the dust kicked up by the various 4x4s and quadbikes on the gravel roads but away from these are amazing beaches and of course the warm ocean, great for swimming and surfing. A highlight for Beer lovers is a nearby microbrewery La Selva– served UK style on tap in the La Cascada ‘B’ Bar just across the bridge from the hotel Amor de Mar.

 

Night Tours

In Monteverde and Quepos / Manuel Antonio we went on organised guided night tours around the cloud and rain forest. With a guide we slowly mooched around trails which by day could be walked very quickly but with 10 pairs of eyes and the guides knowledge we spotted all sorts of creatutes: Snakes, Frogs, Sleeping birds (balls of fluff) spiders and larger mammals. Without the guide we just would not have seen what we saw!

La Paz Waterfalls

On the way from Poas to La Fortuna La Paz waterfall gardens are great. We arrived early and had the gardens to ourselves. Getting past the standard zoo like enclosures which contain various rescue animals which although interesting the highlights are the waterfalls themselves which are spectacular and the humming birds. We were given small plastic ‘flowers’ to hold which contained a nectar like solution and the wild birds queued up to feed from our hands – amazing. At the end of the waterfalls walk there is a café which serves the largest portions of yummy cake we have ever encountered!

Travel, Beds and Munchies

The food and drink at this establishment is fine but the real attraction is the bird table out back next to the terrace. As long as the local cat is not prowling there is an abundance and variety of wild birds attracted of all colours, shapes and sizes.

The food at this roadside Soda is excellent but they also have a fantastic terrace view looking out over lake Arenal with a bird table which again attracts lots of colourful wild birds.

Montezuma has its share of low end backpacker accommodation. We however were in the beautiful Hotel Amor de Mar. Great location fantastic breakfasts and comfortable rooms.

This place is very cool – an old american transport plane converted to a bar…..

  • Sloth’s and Monkeys

‘Have you seen a sloth yet’ was the standard conversation between travellers with kids. We were lucky enough to see a sloth on the first morning but then did not see one until down in Manuel Antonio when we saw a few. We spent days in the middle of the trip eyes peeled for the elusive sloth and were getting worried we might not get to see one.

Monkeys seemed to be everywhere and if you couldn’t see them you could certainly hear them!

  • Getting up early.

With darkness coming at 17.30 and a dose of jetlag we found going to bed early and  getting up early (by 7 most days) was rewarding with attractions and beaches being quieter and packing more into the available daylight.

  • Cars and Roads.

We took a chance and hired a ‘normal’ car not a 4×4 and travelled independently. We found the driving to be challenging but fine. There are a lot of gravel roads which vary in condition and at times have huuuge pot holes and are sometimes very steep. The roads into and around Monteverde and the Nicoya Peninsula are particularly challenging. We found however that out Toyota Yaris sedan (ie with a boot) was perfectly OK and although some more ground clearance would have been useful did not stop us. The roads in general do require care and concentration and in the towns requires very defensive driving with eyes in the back of your head to avoid small collisions of which we saw quite a few. (we didn’t take out the extra insurance).

Pearl Izumi Champion Team

A couple of months ago I applied to be a member of the Pearl Izumi Champion Team. Amazingly they selected me along with lots of other people from a diverse range of backgrounds, abilities and 2 wheeled disciplines.

Next step will be a day in Milton Keynes in the New Year where we will get some limited edition kit, be briefed on what we will be up to, what we need to be doing as brand and cycling ambassadors and probably a ride out.

Initial introductions on our team’s private facebook group show we make up a jolly bunch keen to share experiences and I am looking forward to meeting everyone in 2017!

http://www.pearlizumi.co.uk/championteam

 

 

World MTBO Masters Championships 2016

britishteamWow, what a weekend…. Talk about burning the candle at both ends and in the middle, I came back completely shattered and longing for a long sleep but a great time with lots of old friends.

The event was completely centered within the city of Kaunas, the races taking advantage of the dense path networks inherent to rolling forests so close to large populations. The long race was well…… Long, very long, very very long and I was completely out of my fitness comfort zone. The mass start race was organised as a one person relay, riders coming back through the start zone a number of times, riding the various sections of the course in different orders.

I had a good start but as I came through the start after the second map I realised I was not racing any more, it was just a case of a challenge to finish the course. I eventually rolled in after well over 3 hours, completely broken…

Unfortunately there were a few problems with the Sportident Air in the results and with my experience of the system and my role at the event as  IOF Juror I spent a fair bit of time after the race helping out.

The Saturday brought the middle race in a spectacular venue across a huge bridge a short ride from the city center near the university district. I was much happier with the distance and had a good race but again I spent a fair bit of the afternoon in my role as a IOF juror before heading out to dinner that evening a a late night with lots of friends from all over Europe.

sprintmapSunday morning brought a hangover and very tired eyes as we headed out of the city to a beach alongside a river where the Sprint race was to be held. Luckily I had a reasonably late start so well the clock beeped my start time I was fine. The sprint race was one of my best ever races, on a fantastic map and other than a spidersweb of purple lines well planned. Riding off track was allowed so I used some foot O skills a little cutting through when I made a mistake but essentially had a great ride. Coming into the finish was great fun along a springy singletrack next to the river. As I crossed the line I heard my name called in second place…. there were a few riders left to finish so I didn’t hold out much hope but as I watched the screens over the next half hour it became clear I really had had an excellent ride and I was in third.

Unfortunately I found out to my embarrassment at the prize giving Id actually been knocked into 4th after a rider was reinstated however I was really chuffed with 4th.

We had another good night out in Kaunas on Sunday before I got up at stupid a’clock to head for home and straight to work. Overall a fantastic event and well done to the rest of the British team, particularly Charlie who yet again came hoe with a clutch of medals!