Sunday, 19 July 2009

Ras yr Yddfa / Snowdon Race

Not your typical fell race. For starters there are crowds of people at the start/finish to cheer you on, which never normally happens. Then there's a helicopter that follows you up the mountain, filming your every move (assuming you're in 1st place) and most importantly there's the shoes - it's not a race for Walshes and Innov8s, it's more Nike and Reebock. It's pretty much tarmac and rock all the way, grip isn't really a problem, comfort is (comfort, fell running - in the same sentance?).

Thought i was coming down with Swine flu the night before, felt bobbins, couldn' see anyway I'd be racing on saturday, but didn't feel too bad by the morning, just a bit lethargic. All of which disappeared when the race started. I started with Matt but realised that even for my modest aims we were way too far back in the field so put on a burst to move up the field before we left the tarmac when passing would just get harder.

Predictably enough Matt left me soon after we hit the path, but I tried to stop him getting too much of a lead on me. I passed Swiss Schali (aka Patrick Schalbetter) soon after Halfway Station - although he was still with me above Clogwyn, which was about where Emlyn Roberts passed me. This was not a good sign for my personal battle with Emlyn - I figured I needed about 2 minutes advantage on him at the summit to have any chance of beating him.
As the gradient eased off the visibilty dropped to nothing, the path narrowed, the number of walkers seemed to increase and the lead runners started to pass me on their way down. I guessed (fairly accurately) that Matt had summitted 2 minutes ahead of me and reasoned (not so accurately) that I'd easily regain this on the descent. Emlyn ran away from me on the loose section above Clogwyn and I eventually caught Matt at halfway station, but I couldn't shake him and after the tunnel he passed me again as I ran out of puff on the flatter section. I caught up with Matt by the time we hit the tarmac but I didn't think I'd have any chance of keeping up with him over the final 400m through Llanberis. Unluckily for Matt he cramped up on the steep descent before that and finished 8 seconds ahead of him - shades of Lemond vs Fignon on the Champs Elysees? Perhaps not.

Summit time: 1:03:58
Stage Position: 165th
Descent time: 31:46
Stage Position: 80th

Overall time: 1:35:43
Overall Position: 127th

I'm happy with that :)

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Not quite a road century

I had intended to do a 100 mile road ride yesterday, but it didn't quite happen. Woke up ridiculously early, so I was on the bike at 6.30am, but it was a glorious morning and I was plenty warm enough with just a jersey, arm warmers and gillet. Rolled down to Llanberis, climbed up Pen y Pass in a rude head-wind, then down to Betws y Coed. Shortly after that the GPS batteries died (no, of course I didn't take spares). through Penmachno and past Llyn Celyn to a cafe stop just north of Bala. Then Trawsfynedd, Prenteg, Beddgelert, Penygroes.
The first 95 miles felt fine, the last 4 miles took 30 mins. Felt quite tired afterwards.

99.6 miles
3290m ascent
7h 40m
Max Speed 45 mph
1 malt loaf
3 chocolate brioche
2 boiled eggs on toast

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Ras Moel Elio

Moel Elio is my local run, from the front door I can be on the summit in 40 mins, so I know it quite well. The race stars in Llanberis tthough, so there's more climbing to do, but that was OK. What was quite definitely NOT OK was the wind that was blowing over the summits - it wasn't quite blowing you off your feet - it would have had to be ooh, about 3mph stronger to do that, but I was blown off course a few times and when it started hailing, well, that just wasn't funny. I estimated the wind speed was 50 - 60 mph, apparently someone measured gusts of 80 mph on the ridge!
Anyway, it was nice to drop off te front of Moel Cynghorion and eventually get out of the wind. For some reason I wasn't happy on the descents, but had a decent run otherwise, finishing 28th in 84:57.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Dyfi Enduro

What a great event - it's so good that virtually everyone I know stayed away this year! No matter, it probably just meant that Saturday night was slightly less beer-fueled, good to catch up with Chipps and Emily though - and Stef & Gemma (eventually).
The course at the Dyfi is a lot of fun - well, the descents are a lot of fun, it helps if you enjoy climbing because there's 3500m of it, but nearly all doable on the Singlespeed.

The numbers:
Distance: 60km
Ascent 3500m
time: 3h43m
Gear Ratio: 32:19
wheels: 29ers

The food:
2 clif gels (first one 20 mins after the start!)
1 flapjack
2 bits of fruit cake
1 chocolate brioche

The pain:
Yes, after 2 and a half hours quads, calves and lower back were aching in unison.

The fun:
Lots of it on all the downhills :)

Looking forward to next year!

Monday, 27 April 2009

3 Peaks Race

24 miles, 1500m ascent.
I've had better days.
Got to Horton reasonably early and was registered by 9am - over an hour before the race start. Went back to the van to get changed and found I'd picked up the bag with cycling shoes in, rather than running shoes - not good. A quick phone call confirmed that the desired running shoes were back at Diane's house in Bentham and they were promptly delivered to me in Horton 7 minutes before the race start.
Up Pen-y-gent was fine. On the way down I was consciously trying to take it easy and was probably being too casual about it until I tripped and landed flat on my face. No real damage done, the bloke behind asked if I was OK and then remarked "well, it looked quite good!". I was feeling fine at Ribblehead and shortly afterwards I passed Cath and then Derek from Tod Harriers and had a few words with them. Started feeling less good as the climb up Whernside steepened. Cath passed me, then Derek and we had a few words. Just below the summit I felt a twinge in my right calf, but nothing serious, had a quick stretch against the wall at the top, because I'd read that it was a good idea to help stave off the "Whernside cramps" and set off along the windy ridge.
At the first stile my right calf locked up - I could see the muscle was in spasm - assumed it was cramp, tried to stretch it off and it calmed down but it didn't go away. Walked on for a bit, stretched some more, shuffled on, stretched again, but it wasn't really getting better - I was going to have to do the rest of the route with just one good leg. Walking was OK, I could do a slow run with short strides, but my right leg wasn't doing anymore than that. It had stopped being a race for me (not sure what I was racing against, but still...) and was just about finishing now. I briefly considered retiring at the Hill Inn, but decided to push on because I could.
Eventually shuffled into Horton in 4h57m, feeling a bit tired and a bit frustrated, which was a bit weird as I didn't have a target in mind - I suppose I just wanted to go as fast as I could - and that didn't happen. But you can't take anything for granted in something like the 3 Peaks. Even though I felt fit enough, strong enough and pretty confident before the start, it's still a hard route and there's plenty of scope for things to go wrong.
Guess I'll have to do it again next year :)

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Ras Moel Tryfan

Damn, that was windy!
First race of the Great Arete Tuesday night series last night, a 3m dash up Moel Tryfan from Y Fron. One of the windiest races I've ever done, which certainly spiced things up a bit - almost came to a dead stop at one point when I sort of ran into a wall of wind. No idea where I finished but it felt like I was going OK and I crossed the line in 22m15s - which probably qualifies as the shortest/fastest race I've ever done.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Damn fine weekend

Went for an early run up Snowdon yesterday with Matt as a sort of early practice for the Snowdon Race. Nice steady run up the Llanberis path (well, a fair bit of walking up to and beyond Clogwyn) got to the summit in about 1h10m, had a short faff with shoes and came down in about 40 mins. At the last but one gate a walker asked if there was a good view from the top, I couldn't help laughing and pointed at the cloud which was sitting at about 800m, "no, it's kind of cloudy and windy up there!". If his eye sight was so bad he couldn't see the clouds, why was he bothered about the view? Anyhoo...

Had a short rehab ride with Sue in the afternoon from Capel Curig - Ogwen and back. Dinner at every Londoner's favourite Snowdonia pub - it's never a good sign when your fish pie is vaguely tepid, so I'll not be going back there in a hurry. On a brighter note, stopped off at the Fricsan on the way home for a majestic pint of Purple Moose Glaslyn - so good I had 2 in fact.

Today was another rehab ride with Sue from Bontnewydd to Felinheli, taking in the Garddfon (Hartleys Cumbria Way) and Yr Harbor (er, J20 - no beer worth drinking). Got home and walked down to the Snowdonia Inn with Pippa (Jennings Cocker Hoop).
As if all that wasn't good enough, it hasn't even rained. Brilliant!

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

3 Peaks Training

Started doing some properish training for the 3 Peaks. Went to Salisbury for 21st/22nd and went out do to a 3 hour run - underestimated how much ground you can cover in the absence of real hills and nearly fell off the map somewhere east of Figsbury Rings. Anyway, pieced together a mostly off road kind of there and back route that took me over the magical 3 hour mark, Tracklogs says it was the best part of 19 miles. Didn't feel too bad afterwards, although a couple of rubbish nights sleep left me feeling pretty lousy for the rest of the week. Ho hum. Really must try some mountain biking down there.

Last weekend I went up to Bentham to do an actual recce of the actual 3 Peaks. Walked up Pen y gent with Pippa on saturday and did a nordic walk / run of the Race route minus Pen y Gent on Sunday in a steady 5 hours. Quite pleased to be feeling OK after that :)

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Ras Moel Wnion

I did Ras Moel Wnion (4m, 1500’) on Saturday, which was also Matt’s first fell race. So I wasn’t too happy that new boy had the temerity to pass me on the steep climb up Moel Wnion when I was feeling fairly rubbish. I decided that it was a useful training run even if I wasn’t going so well and it was a nice day to be out anyway so I kept going and felt better as the race went on. Luckily for me, Matt didn’t yet own a pair of fell shoes and was consequently struggling a bit on the steeper descents – and this race has about 3 descents which get progressively more technical, so I was able to catch him coming down off Gyrn. I think I passed a couple of others on the final descent from Moel Faban and finished in an unconfirmed 44m50 – quicker than last year, but the start/finish had moved so there was less ascent this time.

Went for a lovely ride up Drum the next day – IN THE SUN! It was great :)

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Long time no blog...

To borrow a line from the marvellous 'Flight of the Concords', when I'm doing interesting stuff I'm too busy having fun to write on my blog. When I've got time to write on my blog, there's nothing much to say. Anyhoo...

Had a flippin ace weekend - did Ras Moel y Ci on Saturday (Sue's first fell race!) which was great. Hadn't done it before - a long steady climb, which was hard because it was all runable, followed by a short techy descent and a mix of mud, rocks, tarmac, fields, missing out the legal short cut through my own general ignorance. Sue comfortably achieved her goal of not coming last and managed a top 10 placing in her catergory, which was better than I managed. Grrr!

Went to Penmachno this morning and met up with SteveM & 360 and ragged it around loops 1 & 2. Just me & Dave really, as Steve's knee wasn't working so he ducked out early on. I made the rash decision to singlespeed it. Weirdly, my legs feel quite tired tonight. New (well, to me) Fox forks on the Karate Monkey and I have to say it went like stink, confirming what I've long suspected - that fully rigid bikes are for cocks! You heard it here first...