A Week of Contrasts

My week started with great news, my first sponsor, Eat Natural have given me lots and lots of bars ( I do tend to go through them), so thanks to the Eat Natural Marketing people. Please follow the link on the right to their website for more info on their tasty bars.

Anyway back to racing and training, Wednesday evening ride was great with fireworks going off everywhere, some bangs a little too close for comfort and a little scary to be honest though.

Fridays ride brought sunshine and a fantastic display of Autumn colours so I put the camera in my bag and stopped a few times to get some piccys. At the top of my first climb there were at least 20 deer wandering about, but it was too dark in the forest to get any decent pics. I then followed a circular route of the chase going down as far as Gentleshaw. The thought the best leafy displays were in Birches Valley and on the road from Longdon up to the Wandon cross roads, with the Beech orange’s almost glowing in the sunshine.

I had been looking forward to doing another Cyclo Cross race, and Sunday gave me the opportunity in Bromsgrove. Cath and Holly were off at the Yvette Baker Trophy Qualifier near Tamworth so I had a relaxing morning templating the new kitchen worktops and a quick blast down the motorway in time to see the Vets / Women’s race at 12.30 in which fellow Walton Chasers Neil Lawford and Beth Clayton were competing. It was getting very muddy and the rain came just before the end. At 2pm when we started it hadn’t got any better and there was a cold wind blowing from the SW. I had decided to keep my bike clean and didnt ride a recce lap, just walked parts of it. Even on the first lap it was very muddy, with parts of the course becoming unrideable. I had a good start and then started picking my way up through the field. The bike was becoming harder and harder to ride with the mud balling up round the gears and brakes. Then came a very painful hailstorm (well it is for me being bald as a coot!) whilst I was out on the most exposed part of the course. It only lasted a few minutes and then turned back into heavy rain. The great thing was that it seemed to clear the muck off the bike and from then on, although the going was harder and it became very slippery, the mud didnt ball up on the bike and the gears worked well again. I was very pleased with the 24th place but my legs started to tire on the last lap and my heart rate trace for this time was noticeably lower which reflects this. Getting changed in the car afterwards was a challenge with filthy clothes and I didn’t notice the state of my my face until after I had called into a petrol station for a choccy stop, no wonder the chap behind the till was giggling ! – Thanks to Neil for the X-photos
Mark Stodgell

      Mud  

Mirrors, Sweat and No Gears

My first spinning class….
A lack of a working rear light (I think the wet got into it on Wed), and no dry bib-tights forced me to try a spinning class at Stafford’s new leisure centre instead of my normal Mammoth road ride. On Sunday night with my parents on duty to look after Holly  I got dragged to Cath’s Pilates class and whilst there I picked up a timetable for spinning. With the onset of grim weather and dark nights now Winter is upon us I have thought for a while an indoor session would be a pleasant change.
Other than sweating all over the floor it was very good. Apparently the session (run by Graham) is much more ‘dancie’ than others, but the arm waving and lunges didn’t worry me and in fact I thoroughly enjoyed it. HR monitor showed I could have worked harder and now I know what to expect Ill be able to keep up a little more momentum between efforts. I will definitely try and exchange one of my road rides this winter for a spinning class from now on, or perhaps add a session if I have time………

Mark Stodgell

Stafford Leisure Centre

More Snow and a visit to the World Cup Races

The day started with a much more successful ride up over the same col as Wednesday, still lots of snow around but amazing views and sunshine. I returned via the Moel Authur pass (granny ring and out of the saddle most of the way) and then ended up being a bit late back as I got stuck behind a huge herd of misbehaving cows which were being driven up the road to Cilcain. Lots of poo all over the road means the bike will have a good clean tomorrow.
After lunch Holly and I drove to the Velodrome in Manchester for the UCI World Cup. (Cath and her parents followed later) Its the first time ive been and I was amazed to see quite how steep the banked section was. We had a great time watching the keirin, the sprints, points and scratch races, and Holly got to see a podium ceremony with Vicky Penddleton on gold. There was also a demo of the new British Cycling endorsed WattBike. I had a go and it is very very good, and a bargain at £1650. I was quite pleased with my 1107 Watts max power output, but I’m a little short of Chris Hoys 2200 Watts, mind you bet I could beat him at an MTBO 😉

Commitment or Madness

Wednesday night and we are over at Caths Parents in Mold as it is half term week and the comute to work from here is about the same as from home. After a rest day yesterday I thought it important not to wimp out of training tonight just because it was a bit cold and wet.
I put Holly to bed and then went out planning to stay on the main roads and intending to do the climb to the pass that goes over to Ruthin next to Moel Famau. It was very cold – 3 degrees and raining and very dark. I was OK going up, keeping warm but was having second thoughts when it started snowing. I was near the top so carried on, crested the col and looked down over the Ruthin lights shining out below through the driving snow. It looked quite enchanting. Turning for home I then realised that the reason it wasn’t too bad coming up was because the wind was behind me all the way.
I ended up with the brakes on pedaling down hill trying to keep warm and not being able to see much at all in the driving snow and rain, particularly when oncoming drivers do not dip their lights. Grrrrrrrrrr……..
I got back and undressed straight into the washing machine, poured water out of my Gortex winter boots and dived straight in the shower to warm up.

why why why did I not bring my Turbo Trainer with me !!!!!!!

Sunshine and wildlife

With legs still very tired from last Sundays efforts at the Compass Sport cup I have had an easy week. Work has been tough with a huge presentation on Wed, then working till 3am upgrading 60 odd workstations. Thursday nights club run from the Garsides house had a great social feel to it, with Ray getting the Spam award for running the wrong course last weekend.
The weather today was amazing, bright sunshine, with only a little of the promised wind. I decided to just go out and enjoy riding round the Chase on my roadbike as I am out on the mountain bike with Alan tomorrow.
Within 15 mins id seen 5 deer, a fox and countless squirrels. The fox ran straight out in front of the bike near Chase Road Corner, probably the closest I’ve been to one. The views into the valleys were great with the Autumn leaves and bright blue skies above. Views out towards The Peaks and The Wrekin also spectacular, with no haze at all.

I stopped for lunch at Birches Valley Cafe, which is now very good, and then bimbled home, legs still struggling on the hills. Cath was back so we grabbed the camera and headed out into the conservation area where Chasers are holding the British Orienteering Champs in 2010 to get some publicity shots.

Having designed the logo I have got to put together a basic flier in the next month so it was fortunate to get some good weather.

National Inter Clubs Final – Compass Sport Cup

I had thought of missing this as there was a Dark and White Mountain Bike event on up North but thought I’d better represent the club, even if it just meant taking points off of other clubs.
After a fairly tough weekend and early part of the week training I had a couple of rest days on Thurs and Fri, but went out on the mountain bike on Saturday and zoomed round Follow the Dog. A planned houseful did’nt materialise as our friends who were coming up from Cambridge came down with D&V. The upshot of this is I probably didn’t drink as much as I would have done. After a head to head race at Chris and Karens Wedding O, I had an idea I was fairly running fit, but I suprised myself and a few others by storming round 10km in 67.18 today. I had a few controls on the heels of Nick Barrable and realised then that I was going OK and made very few mistakes but my legs towards the end got very very tired. I have to decide now whether to carry on M35 shorts or step up to the long course next year !

The course was very fast and furious but lots of room for error in the low visability holly woods and gorse thickets strewn over the area. Holly had a great time with the other Chasers ‘children’, although some of them are now in there first year of Uni, waving her chasers top as one by one we all came in. I hope Tom Roach is OK he had a very bloody head as he came in. Lots of photos available here…

I didn’t get dropped !

Came home well chuffed tonight. I have been going out on and off with a group of riders starting at the Mammoth shop in Milford for a couple of years. In the past, especially earlier this year I have been well an truly spat out of the back of the group to find my way home on my own many times.
The route leaves Milford, weaves its way out through Stafford out on the Wolverhampton Rd, under the M6 then into the lanes behind Penkridge. It then returns to Penkridge before heading again south through the lanes, crossing the A5 down to Coven. It then crosses the A449 , the A5 again and returns to Brocton via more lanes near Shoal Hill, with the speed really cranking up from the Potal Pool roundabout.

Today – a first, I got to Brocton Cross Roads in the lead of the chasing pack, about 1 min down. At one point two chaps who were drafting me overtook, and wow what a difference when I sat in behind them, I had a rest for about 1 min then went out in front again and kicked for home, a great feeling, particularly with a race in my legs from yesterday.

First Cyclo Cross Race

The Lichfield Leg of The Midlands Cyclo League was too good to miss for my first Cyclo Cross race. Ada has reccomended these as good winter training and I can see why.
With fantastic weather, temperature in the mid 20s, Holly and I arrived in time to help on the Vets race so Neil could ride. Calling out race numbers for 45 mins and entertaining Holls was fun, then it was my turn. I recognised a few people in Stafford Tri tops and said hello but mainly it was very fit looking types on very swish cyclo cross bikes. The start was a bit fast and furious but we then all settled down. I was lapping on average at about 5 mins, with Holly egging me on at the finish line each time. I got lapped twice by the leaders but as Holly rang the last lap bell I was pulling up through the field. I thouroghly enjoyed my first cross outing, but the bike obviously slowed me down. However I was really suprised how poor the bike handling skills of many of the other riders were, so big advantage there. Can’t make the next one as am running CSC for Chasers but I will try and get to as many as possible this winter.29th out of 47, 2 laps down.

 

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