Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Back from Spain and Portugal

I've not done that many MTB marathons in the UK, but of the ones I've done, I've never been given a huge box of vegetables just for finishing. Check out that produce! Looks good eh? Unfortunately there was no room for 3 aubergines, 4 cucumbers, 3 courgettes and half a dozen peppers in my luggage so I left this little haul with the guys at www.puremountains.com who had arranged our entries (which involved much arguing in Spanish) and put us up for the long weekend. If you're their next guests, you're in for a treat!
The race was great and I've included the GPS route here. Check out that first climb - from just about sea level up to 1550m in around 40km of riding. This climb alone took 2.5hrs. Ouch!

The descent was great fun though and I'd taken advice that you needed to be at the front of your group going into the singletrack, so this is what I did, sprinting for my life to get to the bottleneck first. Being one of the only riders in the race on a full-susser, I left my climbing companions for dead as soon as we hit the downhill, a rocky, Peaks-like descent that had you working almost as hard as the climb.
I eventually finished the race in 20th place, in 3hrs 56mins, 25mins behind the winner (a former pro roadie who wins most of these events by all accounts). This isn't official, but I reckon I was the first rider using a camelback and/or had a helmet peak (an MTB'er inother words). I felt this deserved a Jamon (as given oout to the other winners) but the organisers weren't forthcoming with this prize.
With the heat, the sun and the wind, I was absolutely exhausted by the time I crossed the line. Fortunatelty, another benefit of racing in Spain (and Europe in general) is that the town likes to ply you with food and drink as soon as you finish. And that includes the local lager - lovely stuff! Jenny from Pure Mountains was doing the driving so we riders could enjoy the magical rehydrating properties of Cruzcampo (served up by a 10 year old ginger kid - you don't get that in the UK either).
The results to the race can be found on the website of the orgnaising club. Here's the route - and don't forget to check out that climb!

Prior to race I'd been in Spain and Portugal doing a couple of features for MBR. Here's a video of some of the riding we did with Pure Mountains in Sierra Nevada.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Hussein Chalayan @ the Design Museum

Spent the day wandering round the Design Museum in London taking photos and feeling hungover. There's a Hussein Chalayan exhibition on at the moment: he's a Cypriot fashion designer who does some pretty off-the-wall stuff, including mechanical dresses that change shape while you wear them. It's kinda, part art, part fashion, part architechtural engineering. Good stuff.
More photos on my Flickr, more details of the show here: http://www.designmuseum.org/exhibitions/2009/hussein-chalayan

Monday, March 02, 2009

Back on the road

I did my first road race on Saturday, the San Fairy Ann crits at Hog Hill in Essex. Actually, is it in Essex or London? I'll have to look that up.
Either way, it's just about close enough to ride there so we (Andy Eagles, Simon Bird and me) rode over from Dulwich. It took an hour and twenty minutes at an easy pace on horrible roads, but at least we made it - more than can be said for our teamate Kevin who tried to drive and got stuck in traffic.
The race was ok. I got round and came 14th which is not too bad, but not amazing either. I need to lose a bit of weight before I'm going to be competitive on the hill there - it's a real killer, especially when you have to ride up it every 2.5minutes. Ouch.
Andy Eagles rode really well to come 7th after riding agressively all race - chapeau!
The corners at Hog Hill are great, as is the surface which is really smooth and grippy - perfect for just letting off the brakes and going really fast. Next time, hopefully I'll put my cornering skills to good use off the front of the bunch rather than trying to get back on after losing touch on the climb.
Next week it's the Jock Wadley Memorial Road Race around my old stomping ground, Colchester in Essex. I'm predicting 135km of windsept misery as the big guns show off to each other. I'm not looking froward to it one bit.