What's wrong with this picture....?

Headed out of Exeter on a hilly training ride to Princetown yesterday morning and had barely left the city limits before it all went horribly wrong....

I had just climbed Dunsford Hill and was on the descent towards Pocombe Bridge when a car, travelling in the opposite direction, suddenly made a right turn into the Ide Lane junction right in front of me. Before I knew what was happening it had struck me, my head smashed the windscreen before I was sent up in the air and, according to witnesses, did 2 full somersaults before being spat back down onto the tarmac. The police arrived and I was whisked off to A+E in an ambulance....

....the force of the impact was such that my frame was split in two with fractures on both the top tube and the down tube :(

Not a good day :(

South West Cyclo-X - Round 4 (SWCX Champs), Stover School, Newton Abbot

Well all the predictions of a wet and muddy race were true...Just prior to the 12:30 start for the main race the heavens opened and it smashed down with rain for around 15 mins. This on top of the rain which had fallen steadily on and off for the past 48 hours meant it was definitely going to be a gnarly race....

Gridded on the front I got a great start and headed out in second behind Roy Wyle Smith (eliteVelo) but soon found I was being held back a little so jumped on the front. This lasted for most of the first lap before Dexter Hurlock (Mondraker Racing UK) got passed me. I tried to hold his wheel but was in danger of going too far into the red so decided to let him go and ride my own race.

I began to pull away from the following group and was riding at a good tempo until disaster - heading into the wooded section I flatted the front tyre on some glass buried in the wood chipped section...sh1t!....and as I had only just past the pits I was forced to carry/drag/try and ride/run around half the lap to the second pit entry before I could swap bikes :(

Of course, by the time I eventually got to the pits and got going on the spare bike I had quickly slipped back down the leader board and I was now riding my MTB which was way slower in the slick conditions.... it's amazing how much mud and grass it collected as the race progressed (compaired to the cross bike), it must of nearly doubled in weight by the end making each lap progressively harder.

I tried to regain composure, dug deep and fought hard to regain as many places as I could as made my way up through the field of tired and flagging riders. A pretty frustrating race really...the MTB was shod with fast rolling dry tyres so it felt like I was riding on balloons with no grip whatsoever.

In the end it was damage limitation but I still managed to take second spot on the Seniors podium with Dexter Hurlock (Mondraker Racing UK) taking the well deserved win and Matt Noble (Plymouth CX) taking third.

So not a bad result considering :)

South West Cyclo-X Champs - Weekend Weather Check

Just checked the forecast for this weekend's South West Cyclo-X Champs at Stover on Sunday.....gonna make for some wet and gnarly race day action.....so no file treads ;)

....let's hope it's fast and loose....

Bring it on!

South West Cyclo-X - Round 3, Sun 29 Sept, Dartmouth

Another early start as we packed up the van and headed out to the Round 3 of the SWCX in Dartmouth.

Straight to sign-on followed by a quick lap of the course between the early races and it was back to the van to get changed and do a turbo warm up.

Around 12:25 we were called to the start to get gridded. I was gridded on the front row so got myself in the central space ready for the off. 12:30 and boom! - I got a great start and led out though the first half lap until a line choice error saw me off the bike and I was immediatly relegated to 5th.

Slightly annoyed with myself I chased back on to the riders in front - I saw that Tim Carpenter (3Sixty Performance) and Matt Noble (Plymouth CX) had managed to get off the front so threaded my way through the field with some sneaky line choices through the technical corners and got back on their wheel.

I then got back out in front and decided to try and make a break so rode quite hard and pushed the pace up. I managed to get a gap and just kept the pace high to see if they would chase. I could sense Tim trying to hunt me down but by the end of the second lap I had a lead of around 10secs so just kept pushing to increase my lead.

As the race unfolded the the order began to change behind me with Tim now racing James Bovey (MDCC) for the Vets category win. By 2/3rds of the way through the race I had increased the gap to around 30secs I then eased up slightly and just concentrated on riding smoothly and consistantly whilst managing the gap.

So I crossed the line with the both the overall and Senior category wins - So stoked!! Even though I'm still a Junior in all other cycling disciplines this is my first Cross season in the Senior category so to take the win is pretty special :)

Thanks to Cycle Sport South Hams for putting on a great days racing with a fantastic course - the best X course I've raced on. Thanks also to my coach Roy at eliteVelo and Mid Devon Cycling Club for all their help and support.

MDCC Dartmoor Hill Climbs, Sat 28 September, Haytor

Woke up to thunderstorms and torrential rain on Saturday morning but we packed to van regardless and headed off to Haytor for the first of the MDCC hill climbs.

We arrived pretty early so decided to do a quick reccie up the hill in the van to check out the conditions. The road surface wasn't too bad but the cattle grid was very sketchy and as we ascended further we entered the fog. Visibility was quite poor toward the summit.

We signed on and were the told the race was to go ahead and as I was the first rider of the day we headed back to the van to get changed and do a warm up on the turbo with the plan being to complete the warm up 10 mins before my start time of 10:11 and then drive up to the start line.

We arrived at the start and had just got the bike out when one of the organisers approached us and asked if we knew the start had been delayed for 30 minutes and that the course had been shortened due to the bad weather :S

So it was now smashing down with rain so I had to sit it out in the van and wait with the warm up pretty much wasted...Oh well!

Eventually it was time for the off and for the first 2 mins or so my legs felt crappy but eventually that went away and I settled into a steady rhythm and began to pickup the pace.

Ended up taking the Junior win by around 40 seconds with a time of 8:41. Not bad since this was my first hill climb event and I was on a mid weight road bike ;)

Sadly the Widecombe hill climb planned for the afternoon had to be cancelled due to the deteriorating weather conditions but I'll definitely give it a go when it's re-scheduled.

Drop Bar Double

Full on double drop bar action this weekend....

On Saturday I'll be racing the annual Mid Devon Cycling Club Dartmoor hill climb event. Haytor in the morning followed by Widecombe in the afternoon....brutal.

Sunday sees Round 3 of the South West Cyclocross League at Dartmouth School...gonna be a mint weekend of racing! Check back on Monday for the results :)

Tour of Britain, Stage 6, Sidmouth to Haytor, 20th Sept

The day the Tour came to town......Stage 6 of this year's Tour of Britain was being played out right here in my backyard on a lot of the roads I train on so I spent a mint day yesterday in the thick of it.

Max, a few of his Uni friends and I decided the best thing would be to soak up the atmosphere and catch the finish up at Haytor and ride some of the roads on our way.

I left Exeter at just after 10 and headed up over Haldon via Shillingford and then on through Chudleigh to Kingsteignton where I met up with the others.

From Kingsteignton we headed out to Bovey Tracey and then up the Haytor climb to the summit where we found a great spot along the barriers to watch the finish.

Really enjoyed the day, was so good to get the opportunity to see world class riders at such close quarters. 

We headed out for a blast around Dartmoor once we'd seen the podium presentations and as we drifted away from Haytor towards Widecombe we were passed by the Movistar team car who then proceeded to hand us a protein bar, felt just like a Pro....for a split second....awesome end to a fab day :)

South West Cyclo-X - Round 2, Sun 15 Sept, Wellington

Sunday morning and a short hop up the A38 over the border to Wellington in Somerset for SWCX Round 2 at Courtfields School. Autumn has suddenly arrived....with a chilly start to the day and rain promised for around lunchtime....just when I'd be racing....should be good!

A quick practice lap between the youth races unveiled a nice fast course with not too much tech or running which would mean a fast and furious race. By now the wind was beginning to pick up and with wide open fields to race around the likelihood would be that some drafting would be required.

photo: Simon Rawling
Around 30mins before my race I did a good warm up on the turbo before heading down to the start line where I was gridded on the front row with a stacked field of 65+ riders. After a slight delay we were off and I got a mint start, happy to sit in second place with Vin Cox leading it out.

photo: Simon Rawling
As always the pace of the first lap was high with National Champ Steve Davies moving through to the front. I tried to stay on his wheel but knew the pace was too high whilst american rider Kamden Reedy pushed on to battle with Steve so I dropped back to the next group of four riders - Matt Loake (Southfork Racing), Tim Carpenter (eliteVelo), Matt Noble (Plymouth CX) and Alister Lovell (Royal Navy Cycling).
photo: Simon Rawling
As predicted the rain started to fall halfway through the race and the surface became pretty greasy and as the laps progressed the two Matts dropped off from the group making it a three way battle for third place overall. This group worked really well with Tim and I sharing the workload on the front to manage the gap and maintain our position.
photo: Simon Rawling
Having left a bit in reserve and knowing overall third place and second Senior was within reach I knew I had to attack so decided to make a break. Halfway around the final lap I went off the front of the group and sprinted all the way to the finish line.

photo: Simon Rawling
Stoked!.....my first season in Senior and a third place overall and second in the Senior category - oh and £20 prize money....sweet!

Full results from the race can be found here.

Big thanks to Mark Deakin for a great event and Simon Rawling (www.simonrawling.com) for the fab photos - many more from this and previous events can be found on his Facebook page.

Southern XC, Round 5, Sun 8 September, Avon Tyrrell

As the 2013 XC quickly draws to a close I headed up to Avon Tyrrell early on Sunday morning for the final round of the Southern XC series with Tom Dunn. Patchy weather with heavy rain showers on the way up meant a wet race was on the cards....brilliant, was really looking forward to some wet racing after this super long dry spell! I thought it might inject a little interest especially knowing this was going to be a flat race track where outright power would be key so probably wouldn't suit me too well  :)

On arrival we quickly got changed and went out on a practice lap. The course was pretty good fun -  very tight and twisty with a lot of bumps and, if the rain came into play, some potential slippery root action :)

The Junior race kicked off at 12:30. I got a good start off the line and tucked in behind Joe Griffiths who led it out for the first half lap before Sam Stean made a move to the front, I jumped on his wheel before he began to pull out a lead.

photo: Fizzeek MTB
Joe then dropped back to fourth and I spent the middle part of the race battling with Liam Earl for second place. Although it was very close racing I couldn't quite match his pace towards the end of the race on this course so happily took the last spot on the podium to come in third. All in a good solid performance and enjoyable day's racing.

Cross Season's Almost Here

With the MTB season drawing to a close and the start of this years cross season just around the corner I've decided to do it properly this time and invest in a cross bike for racing and winter training rides on the road.

Savings + 18th birthday money + a bit of help from my parents = stealthy black PlanetX XLS :)

Have updated a few of the components to make it a bit lighter - DT Swiss XRRS 29er wheelset (incl 10mm bolt-through rear axle) with 160mm XTR centerlock rotors, Selle Italia Monolink carbon seat post and saddle - so it's all ready to roll straight into the first race at Bodmin in two weeks time - bring it on - can't wait!

Check out the full 2013/14 South West Cyclo-cross calender here.

2XC Series - Round 5, Sun 11 August, Haldon Forest, Exeter

Sunday saw the final round of the 2013 2XC Race Series at Haldon Forest.

The track was the same as Round 1 which meant sweet technical descents with some challenging climbs. The weather was mostly dry leading up to race day which would meant a fast race with the odd boggy patch.

Got a good start following Harry Smith (Certini) into the first single track. Settled in behind him for the first part of the lap and made a move once we got out onto the fire road climb where passing was easier.

Instantly pulled a gap on the rest of the field and settled into a good rhythm at a comfortable race pace.

By the end of the first lap I had built a lead of just under a minute to team mate Tom Dunn and continued to extend the gap each lap whilst riding safely to ensure no technical issues or punctures!

I finished first Junior and overall race winner with a lead of 3:22 making it a Hot Pursuit Cycles 1-2 with Tom Dunn coming home in second.

So sadly another 2013 XC series comes to an end - big thanks to Alan Drury at Mid Devon Cycling Club for once again organising some great racing!

Dartmoor Classic, 23 June

Wind, rain and hail but still a cracking event. Gold medal and joint 4th fastest time of the day (out of 2449 riders) for the 100K....not too bad for an MTBer!

Juice Lubes South West XC Series - Thank You

This years Juice Lubes South West XC Series was a great race series with each of the rounds producing fantastic prizes but the goodies for the series win were simply awesome!!!

A huge box of practically every single Juice Lubes product....

....and there was more - another bag contained a voucher for a Kask helmet of your choice! Unbelievably generous, so I chose this beauty....

and Claire from Juice Lubes very kindly hand delivered it the same evening!

So just wanted to say a massive thank you to Claire and everyone at Juice Lubes for supporting the series and providing the fab prizes and to Jay and Maddie and everyone else at Fully Sussed for laying on a great seasons racing - it's been rad!

Juice Lubes South West XC Series - Round 3, Sun 16 June, Woodbury Common, Exeter

So, this weekend saw the final round of the Juice Lubes South West Series at Woodbury Common.

After spending most of Saturday at the grand opening of the new Hot Pursuit Cycles shop in Kingsteignton we headed up to Woodbury in the late afternoon for the Hot Laps event.

The Hot Laps course was longer than previous events but was essentially a flat, tight and twisty blast though the trees. I did a couple of laps on my old 26" bike but the back brake was not working so swapped over to the 29er. Did a couple more laps before posting a pretty quick lap of 2:00min dead and then called it night, hoping that would be enough to take the win.

Up and out early on Sunday as the race was starting at 10. Did my usual warm up and then headed out to the start line.

photo: Snapper Chick
Got off to a pretty poor start as I desperately tried to get clipped in - trying new Crank Bros Egg Beater pedals for this race.....yep, they're not for me and they'll be coming right back off again as I wasted a lot of race time trying to get clipped in.....XT pedals for the win!

Anyhow I managed to get back in the lead but I came into a downhill section with 2 line choices, went for the A line but rain that morning (and not having pre-ridden the track that day) saw me slide out on some wet roots and crash, losing a bunch of time in the process. The chasing pack rode the B line and passed me.

An eventful race.....
I rode super hard for the rest of the lap and got back into the lead once again by the end of the lap. I was leading into the main descent on the second lap and decided to try and pull out a gap on the descent but I went into the 'Nod Off' a bit to hot and went over the bars, slammed my back into a tree and winded myself. Eventually got back on, but once again had to chase down Adam King (Cardiff JIF) who was now leading.

Got back on his wheel going into the main climb and then passed and rode away from him to pull a gap. Settled into a better rhythm for the remainder of the race until a younger rider fell off, blocking the singletrack in front of me. I stopped to make sure he was OK before an adult came along and took over and I continued my race.

Top step on the podium!
Stoked to have taken the win despite a fairly messy race and to also take the series junior win ending on 239 points out of a possible 240!

Huge thanks to everyone at Fully Sussed and Juice Lubes for all their hard work in providing a fantastic South West XC Race Series..............really gutted it's over now though :(

BMBS XC Series - Round 3, Hopton Woods, Shropshire

Picked up my bike from Hot Pursuit on Friday evening. Race prepped and a new set of Crossmax wheels fitted....cheers guys!

Early Saturday morning we loaded up the van and headed north up the M5 to Hopton Woods to get a practice lap in prior to Sunday's race. On arrival around lunchtime we got registered and then headed straight out for a practice lap.

The track was amazing with one huge climb to the top and a sweet descent with a couple of intermediate climbs on the way back down. All the descents were flat out and not overly technical but had lots of line choices to keep things interesting.

Sunday morning we got to Hopton early and watched some of the first race before heading back to the van to do a turbo warm up and then got down to the start line.

Unfortunately, due to my DNF at the previous round I was gridded near the back of the field making the start much more difficult than it should have been with the top riders making a break from the off.

photo: Andy Whitehouse
I attacked at the start of the climb and began to move through the field and settled into a good rhythm.

At the end of the first lap I was up to 9th position and continued moving upwards throughout the race to finish knocking on the door of the top 5 in a respectable 6th place which I was super happy with having only been racing XC for just over a year now and this being only my 3rd ever National race.

photo: Mike Adams Photography
There is more work to do but I'm really looking forward to another hilly race at Margam where I should be further up the grid which should enable me to get a better start....can't wait!

This Weekend's Racing

Really looking forward to racing Round 3 of the BMBS National XC series this weekend at Hopton Forest. Not raced there before but I have heard it's nice and hilly so will hopefully play to my strengths :)

The bike has been spruced up with some new custom sponsor decals....

....and is currently with Hot Pursuit having a new set of super strong and lightweight Mavic Crossmax wheels fitted....sweet!

Bring on the weekend!

Welsh XC Champs, 19 May, Margam Park, Port Talbot

Great day's racing in Wales - warm sunshine, dry super fast trails and a podium result...it doesn't get much better than that - 2nd Junior after a crappy start and first lap crash!

photo: Roy Bevis

and a nice haul of points helps towards my current BC Ranking....stoked!