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Following on from my opening blog; it was my first race of the season a couple of weeks ago down in London at the Olympic Park for the Eastern XC series set up by the Mud, Sweat and Gears gang!

Nerves we’re already setting in prior to the race at least two/three weeks before he kick off as I was wondering on how many possible outcomes of the race were there going to be? Not only with these thoughts but also with dark thought on, am I going to be fit enough? Am I going to be on form? etc. etc.

Andrew Hinchcliffe , All Terrain Ride in Peace Rider , at Eastern XC series

 

I have done a few of these events set up by the MSG guys and what a day they put on!

For most of the races below Birmingham (usually generally I class anything below Sheffield as the South or southerners!), I tend to go down the night before to get myself fully prepared before the event; I know there are some guys who do the one shot hit, but for me it suits to head down the day before. I can usually pre ride the course familiarise myself, and set myself up for the following day. I have always believed in the four P’s! ( Poor Planning =  Poor Performance).

We arrived the night before nice and relaxed, recce’d the course and completed basic admin tasks, and then settled for dinner in London with friends before a nice night’s sleep.

Course

The course was fantastic, man-made but great! A fast flowing single track course with many opportunities to overtake and take the lead! Not amazingly technical which suited me, but nonetheless exciting! We had a number of rock gardens to contest with nice following berms which when perfectly dry can gain some speed out of!

Race Day

Race day came along too quickly! Before knew it, we were up and having breakfast and away to the event!

Once parked up I went through my normal routine firstly signing on followed by checking bike, checking gear, preparing pre-race, race and post-race fuel and getting my post-race clothes ready!

I started off with my warm up and gently jogged for ten/fifteen minutes followed by a couple of warm up laps to gauge myself against the others, I met up with a couple of guys form my previous season racing who I went around with which helped relax my nerves.

 The start was soon approaching…

14:00

I was on the start line right at the front in prime position to take the first corner.

14:15

The claxon went and we were off! I flew out of the start line like a bullet; I shocked myself. I hit the corner flat out straight onto flat open single track where I powered down. I focused purely on keeping myself out at the front; it was short lived!

The first lap went really quickly and I was nicely placed in the front group, with the 2nd group following closely. I stuck with the guys as long as I could, but unfortunately my handling skills let me down a few times in the corners and I started losing time. 5seconds here 5seconds there!

The second group swallowed me up quick but I was in a good position.

I was happy, It beat being at the back! Laps three, four and five went quickly. The aim for me was to stick in with this second group. It was a great battle taking the lead, dropping back but great in terms of finding out where my skills were, where and what I needed to practice and concentrate on for the future

Lap six came along and my energy started to dwindle. I held on as long as could to the finish.

I came in at 9th in the Elite/Expert category. Probably the best result I have ever had!

It was a positive for me; I learnt a lot but also had shown and proved that my fitness and skills were better than the previous season, and that my training hadn’t been to waste!

Roll on the 19th for the Midlands XC series opener at Sherwood Pines!

January & February is a good time to round up and reflect on your previous season and the entry back into base training following what is believed to be a well-earned break! (He says lightly!!!)

The 2016 season has been a very interesting and big learning curve for me with some massive highs and more than enough lows; for some of you, you may not be aware that this is my first semi-professional season racing just purely mountain bikes in the XC arena as my background was originally racing Cross Triathlon for GB. It’s certainly a massive transition from the two disciplines without stating the obvious!

For those of you who are not aware, Cross Triathlon involves an open water swim usually in the sea or a lake, followed by a mountain bike section typically a marathon type single track circuit and not very technical with the final discipline being trail/fell running.

The MTB XC arena tends to be laps of a particular technical circuit lasting usually no more than 1hr 30minutes whereas CrossTri could last a competitor up to 3+ hours dependent upon the course.

“Where does this all lead?” you might be saying?

Well my career in MTB XC started roughly at the middle end of 2015 (August 1st to be specific!) following a shoulder injury which I was incredibly lucky getting away with no need for invasive surgery in my right shoulder.

The MTB-XC career plan started when I began losing motivation and drive for triathlon and after long discussions with my coach decided enough was enough and to make the transition early into MTB XC. This is where the big plan came into effect!

The BIG plan.

So the big plan, which came to fruition in 2K15, was to have a 3/4 year race career in XC with the ultimate goal in chasing the “Elite” category status with my current placement in the Expert category

Adam Hinchcliffe in action for All Terrain Cycles

The aim of the first year (2015/16) was to ultimately get me racing and used to this discipline. I lacked experience in this arena!

The 2016/17 season is going to be my developmental year, so to build on my past experiences and develop the skills and weaknesses I found last season.

I started the 2015/16 season at a weight of around 85/86kgs which for a 6ft racer wasn’t particular ideal. Not only this, I was putting out wattage around 235. For the amount of work I was putting in was absolutely nothing?

Having started with James I went from 235watts to 330watts with then a steady increase to 347watts! I aim to be hitting 390 by the end of the season. This just proves that, with the ight coach and training plan suited to you, you can change very quickly.

 

The 2016 race season was a big eye opener for me. I struggled massively with keeping and holding the pace with the front groups at the beginning of the season however by the end of my season In September I was holding quite close! I wasn’t always a podium potential but I was close too and actually finally got onto the podium in my second to last race which finished off the season quite nicely for me! I took part in over twenty races this season and had a positive incline all the way through

My season started with a race down at Cannock Chase, the “Cannock Winter Warmer” in the elite/expert category. This wasn’t just a winter warmer in was a WARNER! To what my season was likely going to be like! The race started off fast, I didn’t stand a chance! I held on for dear life at the back of the pack. Out of 25 I came in at 20. I knew from this there was to be some hard changes to my training.

I knew what I was going to be up against this race year!

The next race began the Eastern MTB XC Series (Mud,Sweat and Gears – more like tears in my case) down in Hintlesham in Suffolk. A long old journey! This race had a few more positive outcomes compared to the last despite the fact the whole course was a quagmire. I settle in tenth place in the mixed Elite/Expert category which was better than the last event.

The following races ensued; Midlands XC Series, the Nutcracker XC Series (Northern) the Southern Series etc. but nothing prepared me for the looming National Series.

The National Series started down in Wales at Pembrey Park outside of Swansea. The journey down was uneventful but incredibly long. Despite having a relief driver I was till tired by the end of the journey.

Having got there unfortunately a little late there was no time to practice which meant an early start the next morning!

The morning came quickly; my brother (pit man/driver/dogsbody) and I went to breakfast where I couldn’t stomach anything. Following this we shot off to Pembrey Park where I, I donned my team kit and shot off for a couple of laps. What a great course! It flowed, limited technical sections and fast. Perfect! Except every racer there was super-fast. I came in at 46th not the last I hastened to add but not great.

The season just got better and better for me which was great. I started getting in to small packs and actually racing rather than sustaining! I came away from the season relatively happy but with a lot of hard lessons learnt and a lot of areas to work on; but mainly still motivated and enthusiastic!

The end of 2016 start of 2017

Following the race season I had a couple of weeks off, more like three! Just to get my head and thoughts back. I wrote a summary on where I needed to and what I needed to do to get better.

The main area to concentrate on was to lose more weight. Having finished the season around 86kgs, I started to look at my diet, and started focussing on losing it!

The second area to concentrate on was improving my power output and sustainability of it. Which hopefully with the weight loss my wattage/kilo would soar up!

Then thirdly and which would come with experience was my MTB technique and skills.

The off season training has gone great, my weight has dropped massively including through Christmas, and my base output has improved.

Once December/January hit we started working on higher end outputs and power started soaring. However half way through January I hit a massive downer. We think potentially I over trained.

We’re still positive!

With the 2017 season looming; first race 26th February in London at the Olympic Park, nerves are setting in!

Let’s see how it goes!

Cull Cup and Duncan Sparrow Road Race, my first race of the season, and more importantly my first race for All Terrain. The start sheet was pretty intimidating with Team GB and a few of the other big women’s teams featuring on the list.

Melissa Greaves All Terrain Ride in Peace Rider in the mix at Pimbo

 

On the day there was a field of around 60 riders, not put off by the torrential rainy conditions. The big names were already lined up at the front when I rolled to the start taking my place at the back. Luckily I was able to make my way up to the front of the group easily and without any panic. Straight away this gave me a confidence boost and I settled into the bunch. The race was fast with both Team GB and Team Kuoto Torrelli riders continually jumping of the front. Some of the moves stuck for a few laps but nothing stayed away.

With the rainy conditions it was difficult to keep track of how many laps we had left. I love racing in the rain, but with no mudguards and heaps of gritty surface water visibility was very limited. I just focused on keeping myself in a good position near the front.

When the bell eventually rang on the last lap everyone seemed to panic, and what had seemed to be a pretty well behaved bunch became a bit frantic. I lost a bit of confidence and gave up my position. By the time we got to the final corner there were multiple screams of ‘hold your line’ with riders barging into invisible gaps and undertaking some dodgy manoeuvres to get to the front. At the end of the day that’s racing and hopefully as I get into the season I’ll become more confident in handling myself in the final stages of a race.

The finishing straight at Pimbo is quite long so I held back on starting my sprint, with hindsight I definitely left it too late. Although I managed to make up some places I could see a lot more girls in front of me than I’d have hoped. I was disappointed with my final position of 23rd because I had felt really strong. However, overall I was happy with my race, as I haven’t really raced at this level before or in a field of that size, it was a good start. I can come away with a good indication of my fitness and some learning points to take away for the next race.

All Terrain Ride in Peace Team Rider David McNeil reports on last nights York Crit.

Only 20 pre-registrations for the 3/4 race but EOL brought it up to 40 riders. First few laps were dodgy as people reminded themselves how to ride in a group. Quite a few took the cyclocross line (the grass!) in corners. No big offs though. I was happy to sit in the pack as we shelled out about half of the field by the final 10 laps. Things got ropey again thereon. Lots of dodgy riding and several junior riders gave an appalling account of themselves. The 20 stayed together and with a few hairy moments on the bell lap I elected to back out of the final hairpin carnage. After the obligatory crash was avoided I was happy to cross the line at the back of the ~15 strong bunch which was pretty strung out after the corner fracas. Happy enough to remain upright given the various scrapes going on around me. Good to be able to comfortably sit in the bunch. Useful reminder on the importance of positioning and moving up effectively too though. Always miffed not to place but I’m still not confident to commit to a bunch Sprint after my nasty crash last year. Guess I need to make sure I set up break always! Less good was the conduct of those juniors who after chucking their weight around in the race (such as it is!) Proceeded to gob off pretty spectacularly after it. Commisaaires and organisers didn’t seem fussed and didn’t grip it which was a shame. They’ll just act that way from now on, or until a big boy throws them into a hedge!

Get set for cycling

Thursday, 02 March 2017

For all but the very hardiest of us, cycling tends to be a summer sport so, as we enjoy the first signs of spring, it’s time to dust down the lycra and make sure that you and your bike are in peak condition, ready for the season’s cycling.

Bike maintenance

The starting point, of course, is to make sure that your bike is in tip top condition, not only for optimum performance and to prolong its life, but also to ensure your safety. If your bike has been standing in a damp garage over the winter months, it may be suffering from a flat tire or a dry chain and now is the best time to get it tuned up and ready to go.

winter bike service 3

Advanced Bike service at All Terrain Cycles Workshop

If you’ve invested in a decent bike, it’s worth taking it to a trained mechanic and getting them to give it a good check at least once a year – this may actually save you money by making it less likely that you’ll need to replace components prematurely.

A professional service at a reputable bike shop usually includes adjusting or replacing brakes; checking the gear indexing; inspecting the wheels and tyres; changing cables; checking the headset and frame; and degreasing and re-lubing moving parts. All of this will give you a smoother, more energy-efficient ride as well as preventing bigger mechanical problems from developing.

Once your bike has been fettled by an expert, keep it in good working order by making sure that you clean it thoroughly after every ride – wipe the tyres and rims, check for flints, inspect the brake blocks and lube the chain. It’s also fairly easy to keep your bike in good working order yourself by investing in some basic repair and maintenance tools and doing a little DIY servicing.

Also, carry out a check of all your safety accessories and ‘on board’ essentials – are your front and rear lights working; is your tire fixing kit complete; do you have enough water bottles? Have a look at your kit – do you have both your cycle gloves; is your helmet comfortably adjusted; have your cycle socks disappeared; and are your cleats caked up with mud?

Bike fitting

So, having ensured that your bike and accessories are in a safe and optimal condition, are you confident that your bike has been set up correctly for you? In recent years, more and more riders who want to get the best from their bike, both in terms of performance and comfort, have been turning to professional bike fitting to ensure the optimum riding position.  Making sure that your bike is correctly adjusted for your body proportions and cycling goals can also avoid injury after many hours in the saddle.

Pro Bike Fit at All Terrain Cycles

Pro Bike Fit at All Terrain Cycles , Salts Mill

At a bike fit, a trained technician will spend two or three hours looking at your current bike set up, your riding style, your individual measurements and your body composition. With your bike mounted on a turbo trainer, you’ll be put through your paces with every aspect analysed from the perfect positioning of the cleats on your shoes to correct reach, handlebar width and height, saddle position and even knee over pedal spindle! Using a state-of-the-art jig, the technician will be able to easily adjust the rider/bike interface in order to more accurately custom fit the bicycle to the needs of the rider. A professional bike fit could make a huge difference to your cycling comfort this summer.

Remember, if you haven’t been in the saddle for a few months, take it slowly. Build up gradually and include increasingly longer rides as part of your weekly fitness plan.  Also take time to get used to being on two wheels again, particularly in terms of traffic awareness, so you can safely enjoy warm weather pedalling.

And then there’s the most fun part of preparing for the season ahead, get down to your local bike retailer and stock up on the latest gadgets and gizmos to improve your comfort and enjoyment – not to mention making your cycling friends jealous! From powerful LED lights to a high tech bike computer, there’s plenty for the cycling enthusiast to choose from. And don’t forget to pour over the very latest lycra outfits which will make sure you’re noticed when you’re leading the pelaton…