|Xx race training by Nick Popham midlands xc champion 2014-15||
This was going to be the first race of the season on my new super X cannondale too with a hill start where I was 2nd to the top of the 2nd hill then racing side by side with Greg Slatter to take a 360 tumble but get back on the last lap in 5th in v40 7th in 40-49 vets
This was going to be a fact finder race for both me and josh, 300 on the line for me a lot to deal with on one course loads broken mechs and people falling off a hard race so happy with 8th in v40 vets and 10th in 40-49 vets
On the Saturday it was the mens road race, I had 9 police and 12 team marshals to organise on Esher corner section a mile long and 10 deep and in some sections unbarried the most challenging experiences of my life , with no incidents like the tacks being thrown in another section, we pulled it off praise from both the police shop owners and the public was brilliant in the heat, Back to the van and a Box Hill ride was in order.
Day 2 with the ladys race and did it rain thunder and lightning but we survived not quite as busy but still challenging till the end no chance of a ride today
This time we were in Kingston where all the noise was coming from says Wiggins, Just by a crossing point but with a long stretch of unfenced section this was going to be the Ladys time trail section and with a police man called Martin we managed it well with only a couple of times the crowd kept coming out into the road as the riders appeared but overall a great event with loads of people cheering for all the riders.
Mens Time trail time so had to move outside Hampton Court and what a point on the corner before the straight, when Wiggins came in for his gold the cheering was defining, then went mad and put there arms up when he crossed the line. Back to van after this, walking past the presentation and another 6k back to the van to get going on the Time Trail route and that was brilliant.
Wow where do I start after taking a fellow racer round the block for a warm up we arrived back just as they were lining up maybe not the best prep, then got in the channels and had to wait 25min till the start in the heat , I was in the 2nd line , I could not get through when the gun went off , the ones who I thought would spint off had a slow start, everone came round sides blocking us. Finally we were clear, I was Top ten first lap, it was a fast course with the previous races were touching 18 min laps, we came in about 19min After my coach advise to lower my tyre pressure to 18/16 I hit a root and burped all air out maybe should have stuck to my us all 20/18 always a good rule not to change things before a race ,my gas canister in pocket was empty had not tested it recently? so ran half lap to the pits , after the pits I was off again thanks to my coaches Dad on the third lap got knocked off bike by master rider , and ended up finishing 27th but I finish 5 laps very fast dry hot work
My proud moment being involved it the 2012 Olympic games, only one week to go till the road race start, hopefully will be on the Mall for the start.
Coedy brenin was going to be a warm up going fo the long dragons back with a few sprints on the hills, but there was one after another diversions that started to take the fun out of a trail I loved so , I shortcutted and went for the best bits as loads of it crosses over then a blast down the river ridge back .
The Penmachno Trail about 18miles was challenging trail from the start with a steep fire road that turns right and climbs again and again, I climbed hard as I always do planning on a good strada time at the end, it's great for looking back n analizing your ride.
With some steady climbs after this taking in some more spectacular scenery that you can catch in the corner of your eye, this is a tight trail that demands your full attention if you are planning to hit it at speed, . The trail uses plenty of forest roads but also includes some decent singletrack incorporating bridge crossings, elevated wooden sections and stream crossings, the whole ride water waterlogged with clean puddles , I think most people only venture on the part 1 trail the chaps I passed on the part 1-4 I cought up again after the part 2 -9 and back on the 1 at junction 1-7 I think anyway , again I was pushing it s bit. Part 2 was a lot more technical with slabs after slabs to negotiate and like Coedy brenin is best to do at speed.
Unfortunatly the British Nationals course is waterlogged so the council have called it off , Heath n safety bet should have seen mayhem.
So I think a trip to Wales will be in order Llandegla or Coedy brenin .
Being busy with family in the afternoon I entered the Cannock Chase Summer Classic for training as the National Champs is in a few weeks my coach wants me to do it for training focusing on 85% race pace. Got 1st place in another great event this time by Go Run & Ride using the last midlands xc course they designed, with a few improvements making it even more challenging not just for experienced racer but for first times too. Its great to see local events brought to the chase.
Riding for Cycle Shack and using my trusted Accelerade Hydro and Schwalbe's Racing Ralph 29er 2.1 rear and Rocket Ron 29er 2.25 on my cannondale ultimate I set off after the pre countdown whistle went catching us all of guard,
Following another Cycle Shack team mate initially until I passed him clipping a tree on the way with my bar ends.
Having experienced this part of the course, i was able to Pull ahead rolling the 29er tyres over the ruts after my previous days test laps I had blasted on the 26er, it was certainly more flowing with the 29er wheels through these sections all the way down to the bottom end to the course managing to stretch a few min lead.
I found using the Schwalbe Ron 29er 2.25 on the front it helped my cornering at speed better in the mud and the 2.1 Ralph cut through the mud nicely at the back, but still giving me a smooth ride at 22psi rear and 20psi front,
At the bottom end of the course I managed the first sharp climb in big ring first gear on my set up every time it is great to build your bike from scratch so you know what works at what does not.
I shaved a minute and a half off my lap times the night before after the heavy rain prob not best though to hammer the course the night before but I was only aloud out for an hour and I was having fun.
I must add looking at the conditions of the course the night before and when I arrived I made the decision not to use the Stans race gold 1300g wheels and trashing the Sram xx cassette n gold KCMC10SL chain like I did at mayhem and the Scottish National the weight saving in the mud is compromised, and Its great having 2 setups on one frame that gets rotated and works well.
After my third lap I slowed it down after being told the lead I had and cruised the last lap but not making mistakes, I have not pulled out of a race this year and after 24hrs MountainMayhem severe conditions I pride myself that I finish what I start.
I finished not out of breath and relaxed, and welcomed a massage on the tired legs from John Buchan wife at Vivifi which was great.
1 31 Nick Popham Cycle Shack / Forme Coaching 4 1.16.35 17.35
Happy with lap times but glad not overdone it for next weekend and have made some strada sections which allows you to see where one need to improve.
After arriving on Friday eve to the sight of a carnage of people trying to get there vehicles on the grass to camp, we pitched our caravan with my two boys, a good night sleep would be needed after race talk team
from lumicycle team mates for the weekend. First I ventured to see Scott the manager of SRAM UK to get my world cup brakes replaced , which I then collected at 9.30pm! . Morning broke with the sound of excitement I ventured back the areana to collect some schwalble tyres in the form of racing Ralph 2.1 29er from Tim my sponsor the some r4 and gels from Chris at Accelerade .
12pm the first rider was off he came 10th in the run which gave us a great start. Then two more, my turn next, and I was off wheel spinning everywhere the ground was soaked some sections were easier to run at, some ride like sprinting the flat sections, good thing I had my Oakley jawbones so no mud got to my contacts, 30 min to the bridge section before crossing the road, the other side was worse with trecherrous conditions, like a bad Glastonbury event then try n ride trough it, finally the downhill which I flew on being chased by shop team mate dan who was also selected to ride in a diff team with Scott. I chased him to the finish 1hr 11 min . 3am was challenging with heavy rain n rivers to ride through. On the last lap I was flying quite well while other struggled I passing 3 RAF teams n ARMY I ran where I could as it was faster later to find out I could not use inner ring as a stone jammed in it. for us putting us 1st vets 3rd sport
British Cycling Report
The weather played a decisive role as the 2012 Mountain Mayhem 24hr race turned into a mud drenched fight for survival. Billed as the UKs largest and most prestigious 24hr race, Mountain Mayhem has occasionally been derided for having few mountains and little mayhem. Not so this year as heavy rain in the preceding weeks turned the grassy course into a muddy wallow under hundreds of tyres.
The Mayhem always attracts a wide variety of different types of racers and this year was no exception. Team Scott and Hope Factory Racing were both fielding strong teams in the Expert Mens category, the evergreen Nick Craig and Paul Oldham both featuring, against equally strong squads from Hargroves Cycles and the sponsors, Wiggle Exposure. alongside these top class racers was a mass of weekend racers, recreational mountain bikers and have a go heroes, all wanting to cut that 24hr notch on their racing posts.
In the first lap the division was clear with the top racers attacking the run, led out by an RAF rider, whilst the majority jogged, sauntered or walked. After collecting their bikes, the expert riders took on a tough and testing course featuring long dragging climbs and steep, and occasionally twisting, descents. Despite leading out the run, the RAF team was unable to hold onto their advantage and it was the familar kit of Scott, Hope and Hargroves who led the first lap. After this it was always difficult to tell exactly who was leading without consulting the big screen, arduously put into position through the mud on Friday, or the small screens in the catering tent.
As the endless tyres churned the soaking course into mud, the race for all but the most competitive teams turned into a battle for survival against the elements. Survival for tired bodies and tested bikes as numerous bikes came back to the arena without chains or mechs, so completely clogged with mud that their numbers and even makes were indistinguishable, their riders equally blackened.
As night fell, the promised rain came, obscuring Eastnor Castle towering over the big screen and further soaking the churned up ground. Still working as well oiled teams, Hope Factory Racing and Scott continued to churn out the laps. Hargrove however, suffered and fell down the rankings to be replaced by Wiggle-Exposure. They weren't the only ones struggling. In the solo mens category, Dave Powell (Team JMC.it, on the podium for the last two years decided that enough was enough and retired, leaving Mark Spratt to take the lead and the eventual win.
As dawn arrived, Hope had a enough of a lead to ensure victory and there were no major surprises for the top teams in the final hours, except the weather which, after two days of soaking rain, turned out glorious, drying out soaking tents and equipment and making the task of moving hundreds of bogged down cars off the once green and pleasant site.