Brocton & Milford Regional Event

I’ve been looking forward to this event for weeks. I don’t do as much foot orienteering as I would like, mainly because we can’t be bothered with running on poor quality West Midlands country parks etc when we live right next to some of the best terrain in the region and are so busy doing other things. We tend to prefer to compete less often but don’t then mind travelling further to get the quality.

Living on the map should obviously give me quite an advantage, and calling in to the house for a quick hot ribena and buttered crumpet on the way to the start was a treat you don’t normally get at an event.

I basically had a cracking run. I was unsure whether I was now ready to tackle a M35Long course but I’m glad I did, winning by 8 mins, although still making a minute or so of mistakes. The course was very well planned, the weather lovely and a great atmosphere at the finish. Results here.

So it now looks as though I am now officially back to full length orienteering courses after 6 years in the injury wilderness. To say im chuffed is a bit of an understatement, and am looking forward to it hurting getting out of bed on Monday morning as its a feeling I’ve not had for a long time. I really feel like I can draw a line under my whole sesamoiditis injury episode and move on.

Mark Stodgell

Walking on Sunshine 118bpm

Monday night is normally my fast long road ride with a group from Mammoth but as Cath had to go to an Orienteering Club Committee meeting I had to miss out this week and stay at home. I needed a session so I dragged out my little used turbo trainer and gave it a go.

Cath suggested just before she left that I borrowed her ipod Shuffle which is crammed with her ‘running tracks’. After a few adjustments I started my session outside on the drive in front of the garage, temperature -1 degrees, shorts and winter shoes, what I must have looked like to passing motorists!

After warming up I switched on the shuffle and decided as I don’t currently have a heart rate monitor or cadence meter I would just pedal at the speed of whatever was playing.

The first track was ‘end of the world’ REM – talk about going straight up to max effort – 105 bpm
then Green Day’s American Idiot   – 96bpm after that Green Day again – ‘when I come around’ – 50bpm – up through the gears and out of the saddle it being a bit slow
Robbie – Hot Fudge – 100bpm, and so it went on, not much rest but I was having a great time and dripping all over the tarmac even with the low temperature.

After 40 mins on came ‘Walking on Sunshine’ Katrina and the waves. I got stuck in remembering it was the ‘first dance’ at out wedding where we just grabbed everyone out of their seats and on to the dance floor (Cath and I don’t do that whole smoochy dance stuff). I then thought this is quite quick, then the turbo trainer collapsed and started squirming side to side. I stopped mended the turbo trainer, reset the shuffle to the start of the song and started again. I only just made it through the track, legs and lungs burning with the effort of trying to stay with the beat.
I warmed down to Supergrass’s ‘alright’ and then went to go and find out what cadence I was trying to achieve for 4 mins – 118rpm

I now need to put my own realistc spinning music together, anyone any ideas……

Mark Stodgell

West Midlands Cyclo-X Rnd 8 – Solihull

I nearly didnt get to the race. A huge pile up on the M6 Toll in the horrendous weather completley blocked the motorway. It must have just happened as I was one of the first cars in the queue that quickly built up. As I didn’t witness it and there seemed plenty of people milling about getting things sorted I got going as soon as the motorway was partially clear. The weather all the way down was a combination of hail, lightening and torrential rain, but it eased off a little as I got to the event. The Vets/Ladies/Youth race was still in progress, so after I signed on I watched and cheered on my new clubmates. After lots of pondering I have finally decided to join Lichfield City CC. I can’t wear my own sponsors logos etc at Cyclo Cross and other British Cycling events once I get a racing license for various reasons, so I thought I’d join a club where I already know a few people.
Donning the club Jersey, quite a few club members introduced themselves and seemed to know who I was, I made to feel most welcome, and am glad I’ve joined.
The race itself was a bit star studded. Liam Killeen was in attendance (watching Mammoth’s Mechanic Darrell competing at cross for the first time on his old bike), and a Columbia Rider Roger Hammond. The mud was sticky and disgusting, the course tough with lots of running and huge head winds, plus the rain started again. I enjoyed the course, particularly outbraking the cross bikes on the slipperly decents, and other than being laped by Hammond mid race I only got lapped by the other top riders on the last lap. The gears just about held together only causing me a problem on thr last lap, but I didnt lose any time to them. I ended up 18th ( out of 44) which I am very happy with, I’m not sure how much quicker I would be on a cross bike, but I have decided to finish the season on the mountain bike. Results


Dads at dawn

I had another fairly easy week this week. Monday nights ride was fairly short, essentially only two of us were out and we didn’t fancy the dark lanes round Coven on our own with poor lights, good ride though, in clear cold conditions, pushing hard from Potal Pool roundabout tucked in behind Russell Falder was exhilarating. He is a very good Junior Road Rider about to start his first Senior Season.
After a steady ride on Friday my highlight of the week was a Mountain Bike ride on Saturday morning with some Dads from Holly’s School, Berkswich. Steve Cope invited me indicating it was an early start – 7.15 from punchbowl car park. I ummed and aarghed and went to bed on Friday night deciding it was just too early and that I needed a lie in. At 6.57 I woke up and thought I could just about make it. Well I was 2 mins late, but they were all still extracting bikes from cars and getting ready, though 4.5mins from home to punchbowl is a personal best. We climbed the German Cutting as the sun came up and were treated to a spectacular sunrise over the Sherbrook Valley. It was a fairly leisurely ride but I had a good natter to the other dads. 3 of them only had passes that let them out till 9am so off they went leaving Steve, Simon and Myself (who all had passes till 11) to do a bit more. Steve did incredibly well on an early 90s Diamond Back, with canty brakes and rigid forks, definitely a candidate for I showed Simon lots of secret singletracks in and around Abrahams Valley and Sherbrook which left a smile on his face as he had only done Follow the Dog in the past. He has only come back to MTBing recently and his bike was a great combination of new and retro bits, so lots of banter was had about components from the past that must have left Steve wondering what we were on about.

A bad day at the office.

Event report – Dark and White Winter League rd 2 – Hope / Castleton

My first 3hr event since my ‘proper’ training began in July of this year. To be honest I had high hopes of doing well, although I am considering the league as good training as opposed to a target for this year as 3hrs is much longer than a normal MTBO.  The weather was fine, with great views over the Peak District and beyond and I was looking forward to a good day out in the hills. The D&W events are consistently some of the best ‘Trailquests’ in the UK, which are well planned and use acceptable mapping on fairly accurate 1:50 thou OS maps. The controls are not hidden and are well marked on the ground with red and white tape. These differ to MTBOs by being score events, ie there are approx 20 -30 controls worth differing values are spread over a large area and the aim is to bag the most points in the 3 hr time limit visiting them in any order.
My normal technique is not to hang about at the start, just make a decision which control to visit first and get going, probably in less than 30 secs of getting the map, then plan my route on the fly. If you are going to be in the top few you really have to get most of the controls anyway, so this normally works for me.
BUT – Sunday was different; it was very well planned with lots of options. You would have had to been Superman to clean up, particularly with the condition of some of the tracks after the previous week’s weather, therefore I essentially blew it. I should have left out two lower value controls, towards the beginning of my chosen route at Mam Tor, which took in large climbs, rather than scooting around trying to get them all. When I realized this it was too late, I was already committed. I then compounded it by desperately trying to collect controls on the dash for home to improve my score when I was already late.
I could roll out some excuses about a dodgy bit of mapping by a dam which was obscured by the control circle which lost me a few minutes, or about the 20 or so horses I had to stop for, or the busy road I could not cross and the nightmare chain suck on the granny ring, but it was the same for everybody and it evens itself out over the 3hrs and is part of the event.
In ‘trailquest’ events with a fixed time you are penalised for being late on a ramped scale, i.e. a couple of mins late is fine, more than 10 and you start haemorrhaging points. Suffice to say I was 13 ½ mins late and lost 35 of my 205 hard earned points and ended up well down the field.
So time to take some positives forward, I felt I was very strong on the hills, particularly the climb up to Mann Tour from Castleton, and I’m sure if I had picked a different route I would have been up there with the leaders. Lesson learned, perhaps spend another 30 secs looking at the map before starting and don’t assume I’m going to get them all but a couple …..
Oh and to rub salt into my wounds I lost my Garmin 305 – GPS tracker and heart rate monitor – I had one small crash and some of the tracks were extremely rocky and it must have fallen out of its bracket – like I said, a bad day at the office….
Results available here….
Mark Stodgell












Mudguards and an unscheduled rest day!

I missed a couple of training rides this week and had to cut one short. Monday night’s Mammoth road ride was going well when I managed to break the battery mounting bracket with my knee. I couldn’t face the dark lanes with just a small flashy light so went home via the middle of Stafford under street lights. It would have been safer in the lanes, 4 times I got cut up on that little stretch by inconsiderate drivers.

I decided it was about time to get some mudguards onto the road bike. I got some on Tuesday and decided on Wednesday evening to get them on before I went out. 2 hours later with an electric drill and pliers brought to bear they finally succumbed to my frustrations, hence no ride that evening as I didn’t fancy going out at 9pm with an early start the next morning.

Thursday night was spent at Alan’s new house in Shap, and as normal the two of us ended up having more beer than was strictly necessary. However out we went on Friday morning for a 2 hour ride through the mist and drizzle and worked it off. The mountains were very eerie and the roads quite scary at 70kph on some of the descents, I could hardly see anything through my specs.

After my Saturday morning spin session I spent an hour making sure my mountain bike was still working after last weeks X-race. Two new sets of brake pads and copious amounts of lube later it is now ready for Sundays Dark and White Trailquest… will follow tomorrow!

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


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