January 29, 2011

Saturday saw the first round of the Velo29 Winter Series at Croft Circuit near Darlington. With some members of the club resting their legs for the coming day’s BUCS Cyclocross Championships, this was a chance for those who had never raced before, like myself, to get a first taste of the scene.

The club fielded a strong team of 6 riders with veteran Ed Garrett leading a field of young hopefuls interspersed with the odd triathlete, rower and Durham University – AURA Cycles’ very own Bavarian Bulldozer, Jakob aka Jens. With a good entourage of supporters and team tactics laid down from the night before, we were feeling pretty confident that we could make our mark on the event.

The race would be 8 laps around the 2.1-mile circuit. As 30 other riders assembled for the start, I tried to concentrate on the job ahead whilst cramming in a last minute energy gel, ignoring the guy riding the 3 grand Pinarello who had pulled up next to me… Lesson 1: Don’t be intimidated by other people’s kit.

Pace from the off was fairly brisk and it soon became apparent how much you need to concentrate when riding in a tight bunch, especially around some of Croft’s twistier sections. One small misjudgement could result in a very expensive pile up and a lot of angry people.

Matt Leake

Going into lap 3 I got the nod from Captain Garrett to attack a little bit in order to try and up the speed of the race. Perhaps being a little over-enthusiastic in my first race I took off full gas down the start/finish straight imagining the bunch strung out behind me as they tried to hang onto my wheel. The first time I dared look back I was shocked to see I’d developed a sizable gap on the field, although no one was putting in any effort to reel me back in… The public would later describe the attack as “epic and inspiring”, however, the race was not even at the halfway point and I was consigned to the fact that I didn’t have the talent to go it alone to glory. After 1 ½ laps of my breakaway I was back in the bunch. Knackered. Lesson 2: Don’t attack too early, unless your surname is Cancellara.

As the race reached its climax on the final lap the pace was high and attacks were coming thick and fast. At this point the Durham University-AURA Cycles train got into formation and was in its element, Richard Abraham ruthlessly pouncing on any attempts to get away. The team’s aim was to lead out the sprint for Ed, whether he actually needed this is a different question, as he charged over the line throwing his bike to see off the two closest competitors by a tyre’s width. Had he “gone too early”? Not at all, and Ed recorded the club’s first victory in what looks to be a promising season. Special mention also goes to Sam Hatfield who had a strong sprint to finish in 9th.

All in all it was a fantastic experience and those who were racing for the first time pulled up at the finish with massive grins, still pumping from the adrenaline. The club will be back at the three remaining events in the series to try and get more wins and hone racing skills and fitness for the rest of the season.

RoadMatt Leake2 Comments
January 23, 2011

Saturday saw the first round of the Kielder Mountain Marathon series. At 50km, this was always going to be a tough race, however course changes brought about some interesting results.

With only three representatives from Durham-AURA, the race was more about testing legs than anything else.  Kat Broadbent was racing in category B, along with the previous winner of last year’s series. Despite being her first event of this kind, Kat had a great first lap. However during the second lap she stacked it on a rock drop, and came down hard on her head. Unfortunately (although probably the best decision) the race marshals decided to pull Kat out. For Kat however this was sufficient to at least take something good away from the event, as the route was far more technical than expected, and she was coping well.

The course itself was a mixture of red and black trails, with some pretty difficult rock gardens to negotiate, which resulted in a few riders opting to run through these sections. Each lap, the riders had to endure some steep ascents up technical trails, followed by long slogs on fire roads. These were interspersed with snippets of great technical descent, but what goes down must invariably go back up. The latter section was almost all fire road, which included some large loose rocks. Most riders suffered pinch punctures at some point, however a canny (or rather lucky) descision by Matt Wilson to run a high tyre pressure paid off, and he rode puncture free all race.

In the category A men’s race were Alex Bedwell and Matt Wilson. Unfortunately Alex also suffered from a crash related injury and had to retire, leaving Matt to slog on. A severe lack of motivation, played its part in causing Matt to lose lots of time in the first lap. The second lap was started in a better, more determined mood, however this was short lived, as he then stacked it round a switchback, suffering a knee injury. As the adrenaline kicked in, this minor injury could be ignored and he was soon back on the bike. After a faster second lap, the third saw the onset of cramp, and the last painful 30 minutes were spent riding through it.

Overall, the race was carnage. The turnout is never high for the first round, and this year was no exception. 40 riders started, and only 25 finished. Matt rolled in at 20th, in the exact same position as last year within his class. So overall not an overly successful race, however, the racing season is only just beginning…

MTBMatt WilsonNo Comments
January 19, 2011

From BBC Wear

Durham University is set to hold a national cycling event on Sunday 30 January 2011.

Durham University’s cycling club will host the British Universities and College Sport (BUCS) Cyclocross Championships.

It will be held in conjunction with the penultimate round of the North East Cyclocross League.

It’s hoped that around 200 cyclists of all ages and experiences will take part over the course of the day.

Read the rest of the article on the BBC Wear Site

BUCS Cyclocross 2011, NewsNathan EdwardsNo Comments
January 15, 2011

Friday was the last day riding, so we took it easy, winding down after a week’s hard training. But we couldn’t resist one last blitz up vall d’ebo. All our aches and pains were forgotten once we hit the slopes up this awesome climb, absolutely ramping it to the top. Kat even got a few extra brownie points to complete the week, managing to stay ahead of a couple of the boys (ok, so she had a pretty decent head start and averaged a heart rate over 175 bpm, whilst the lads still managed to hold a conversation). Then we descended the same climb. And it was a hell of a descent! Andy typically defying what should be possible on blind hairpin bends, beating us all to the bottom.

We cruised through Pego, along the beautifully smooth roads (we’ll miss these in Durham) to Denia on the coast for a cafe stop. No ice cream this time, so we had tarte de manzana (apple tart) instead. we’d obviously chosen the right spot as a continental swiss team pulled up next to us.

On the way back, Nathan had some fresh legs to spend, so went for a 20 mile sprint back to the villa. This meant he missed out on a BMC rider overtaking us. Alex and Rich were having none of this, so we kept pace with him for a while, sucking his wheel until we had to turn off.

After our last 57 miles in spain we just had the climb back up to the villa. This particular climb, I don’t think we’ll miss, but the weather, mountains and company we certainly will. It’s back to Durham now to ride a few people off our wheels up Stanhope and hopefully a brilliant season of cycling ahead. See you next year, Benidoleig, Adam and Alex!

RoadKat BroadbentNo Comments
January 13, 2011

Day 6 immediately got off to a bad start when discussing the probabilities available for breakfast. A day on our cycling training camp revolves around cycling, eating and sleeping, so when we realised we had nothing to eat for breakfast there were some unhappy faces around. Fortunately we did have some dry oats left, so we managed to make a stodgy lump in the bottom of our bowls consisting of dry oats and cocoa powder. A few lucky riders managed to get their hands on cold pasta and baked beans from the night before, positively revolting but equally carbolicious. We reluctantly chomped away, knowing that we needed the calories for another tough day in the saddle, 135km around the coast to Calp then back up over the Coll de Rattes.

Unfortunately, we were one man down from the start, with Alex’s knee suffering from the ridiculus forces he has been driving through his pedals. A day of work and recovery were in order for him, whilst we set off and immediately ran into Garmin-Cervelo cruising along with their car in tow. A steady pace was maintained across the initial flat, coastal roads with an amiable tailwind blowing us southwards. With another big ride scheduled for tomorrow, Nathan headed back after 80km, and the remaining four of us continued on our merry way to the cafe on the coast at Moraira. A few members of the team, who will remain anonymous, were getting rather excited when young, female, British riders cruised pass getting some quality winter miles in and topping up their tans ready for the summer.

After coffee, we headed on down to the busy resort town of Calp and then swung round inland and headed for the hills. At this point, Kat was riding out of her skin to stick on the wheels and she was pretty determined to stay with the lads for as long as possible. In the end, the ascent of the Coll de Rattes was one pedal stroke too far for her so we stuffed her pockets full of grub and said our goodbyes. A steady, tempo pace was set up the final climb with the thought of the amazing descent to end the day motivating us on. Rich duly claimed the King of the Mountain points at the summit then it was a case of handing the work load over to our friend gravity. A few cars were intent on ruining our fun but we soon got past them and nailed the fast, twisty descent.

Not wanting to return home with any surplus energy, Andy drove the pace down the valley, before Matt jumped away to take the ’50′ sign on the way into Benidoleig. Another great ride complete and only 2 days to go!

Quote of the day: “It’s no more of a sport than Darts”      (about a certain ‘sport’; known by all, but quoted from Rich)

RoadAndy MilesNo Comments
January 11, 2011

Today was hard, let’s not lie to ourselves. Even on the flat stuff we had mental head winds.

So we set off this morning, with all the Cambridge lads and Helen, over to Oliva; working hard over the lumpy terrain in the wind before hitting the longest and, on average, steepest climb we have come accross yet. Kat was on form again, nailing it to the top and quite literally destroying the boys’ moral.

Rich and Ming decided to go AWOL, disappearing down a descent, while the rest of the team  headed off in search of a cafe. This was about 50 miles in and a few were already suffering. Turns out the spanish just can’t get enough sleep, and everywhere seemed to be closed.

At this point the group split; some looney tune (Andy) decided to go for a little detour up the coll de rates, while the rest found their own way back home. Helen and Kat hit the wall big time, but the 18% climbs just kept on coming until they wound their way into Castell de Castells, desperate for something to eat. Luckily someone had actually decided a siesta was a rubbish idea and had opened a bar, where they had the best sandwiches and coke/coffee of their young lives.

In the last hour of the ride we finally hit some descent. The sun was still out, the wind was behind us and we were full of sugar. Perfecto!

Quote of the Day: “Seriously, Kat, you’re awesome at hills. Someone better give Johan Bruyneel a call.” – Alberto Contador (who we met in the bar, eating some meat).

RoadKat BroadbentNo Comments
January 09, 2011

The second day of preseason saw the first long ride. At 123km, with an 8km climb up to Vall D’ebo, most of the risers suffered at some point. Despite the pain, today was a fantastic ride with stunning scenery and a great feeling within the group. We teamed up with the Cambridge guys (and girl) who have been here a few days longer than us, as well as two locals who joined in with the group riding for a few kilometers.

The addition of the extra riders resulte in the Val D’ebo climb being taken at a slightly higher pace than was probably wise given the number of climbs left to conquer. Which brings us on to the first lesson of the day; pace properly…

Descending gave everyone a chance to have some fun, and wide sweeping corners on the final 26km descent allowed us all to pick up some speed. Despite bonking earlier, Nathan found a second wind and set off with Rich after and Andy. Alex chose that moment to bonk, and took a chilled out pace til he recovered, cramming a gel down and wishing for a fresh set of legs. So, our second lesson of today; take more food.

The final act of the day, was a mammoth food shop. Matt ‘volunteered’ for this particular duty, and set off with a shopping list comprising of pasta, rice, bananas and ‘discount christmas shit’ to name a few. Unsurprisingly, the checkout lady dished out some odd looks when he took 48 bananas through the checkout.

So, with food shopping in mind, our quote of the day;

“get some of the tit cheese” – in reference to a local variety of cheese…

I would like to bring news of the girls ride, however all I can say is it was shorter than yesterdays’ ride…

RoadMatt WilsonNo Comments
January 08, 2011

The hill up to the villaAfter geting here on Thursday, when Alex, Andy & Kat got here around midday, and Nathan and Matt closer to midnight. Yesterday was the day for getting the bikes together and getting out on a ride. True to form, Alex had a problem with his bike and required a bike shop, so he and Andy rode the 15km to the bike shop, while Matt and Nathan put their bikes together. Kat went out on a ’2 hour’ ride with Helen, a girl with the Cambridge group staying nearby.

The afternoon ride started at 1 with 3km of steep descending from the villa at the top of the hill. The ride was beautiful, riding along smooth spanish roads in 20ºC is a long way from the freezing temperatures of northern England. With two relatively large climbs in the ride we had a good work out, and some fun descending to do.

So after 77km, we turned left up the 3km climb back to the villa. We made it… just, well everyone else made it fine, I (Nathan) died on the climb. When we got back to the villa we found that Kat wasn’t back yet, in fact, she got back an hour later having been out for 6 hours! In the afternoon we eventually welcomed our final member, Rich, to Spain after he’d experienced the ‘joys’ of spanish public transport.

Quote of the Day

“We got lost” - Kat Broadbent

RoadNathan EdwardsNo Comments