The longest day of summer.

140 miles across sea and southern bridleways

This time next week I will be on the xman journey!

The 27 weeks leading to this point have flown by and now I have no more time to prepare physically. Just enough time to compose my kit and my thoughts!

I am feeling really exited that its eventually time for the ultimate test and also proud of myself for the ever increasing sponsorship raised. I am wondering how much my final figure will be?

To anybody who has been reading the insights into my life lately and who hasnt done so already I would really like you to make a donation via the “please sponsor me” link at the top of this page.

To everyone who has sponswored me THANK YOU SO MUCH! I never expected to raise so much.

24 weeks down -only 3 to go.

I’ve been focussed on training for XMAN for 24 weeks now and keeping you updated nearly every week along the way. It was at the beginning of this time that me and Kimberley (my girlfriend) discovered we had our first baby on the way. So far she has been had very little support from me as I have been focussed on training and eventually the end of my training/the moment of truth seems to be drawing closer and closer. One chapter of my life is about to come to an end and whilst I am anxious to see if I am made of tough enough stuff to call myself an XMAN I am not embarrassed to admit I will be glad for it all to be over…

Its been really tough not giving Kimberley the time I would of liked lately. Dragging myself out of the house in ungodly hours to swim, ride or run in the dark, cold and rain (its rained allot this year!) has left me quite uninspired for 3 hobbies I previously loved. I have spent the last few months with nearly constant muscle ache and a guilty feeling each time I fail to resist the cookie jar and the worst part is that even though I’ve never trained as much as I have this past year my results and times don’t indicate the truth behind my committed lifestyle.

10th June 2012-Coniston UKMTBTRI Olympic distance triathlon.

I competed in the above event again this year after what I felt was a good performance in 2011 where I finished in 12th place. I hoped to improve but on the exact same course as last year I was actually 9 minutes slower! Throughout the whole race I didn’t seem to have any extra speed available from my legs and I completed the event still feeling very fresh physically but mentally I was quite upset-I was convinced that with my higher volume of training this year I was going to be quicker.

After two weeks of thinking about what happened I am eventually feeling positive again. Although slower than last year I did feel that I could of done the whole thing over and over again, I didn’t feel ruined afterwards either. All the long rides and runs I’ve been doing have had the exact effect that the most basic rules of training say they would. Training slowly for long distances with the aim of increasing stamina does not make you faster!

3 more weeks to keep the focus and I will find myself at the start of a race I already want to be over, it’s been a long journey so far just preparing myself for what’s to come on the 13th of July and my excitement for becoming a dad has exceeded any hopes I had for XMAN. I hope I enjoy the race, I hope that I am fit enough, I hope the fact I am finding this really difficult is convincing people to donate money to a brilliant cause and I hope at the end of it all I make my family proud.

I cant actually believe whats just happened!

Its 11pm Whit Friday and Ive just got in from a longish mtb ride after work, I had been out about 2.5 hrs when I arrived at a short climb I was planning on repeating.

My bike had a full strip and rebuild today and was working perfectly, the trails were dry and hard, the night air still and warm and my legs felt strong and fast. 

After the first climb I felt surprisingly good and descended at warp speed braking only for one of the wide and open loose corners after nearly going too wide. I climbed again and ate an energy bar. “I could do this till my light runs out” I said to myself. At the top I turned and started down the loose and weathered broken farm track again, faster than before and didnt touch the brakes, I wanted to take the corner I braked for last time tighter without slowing down. Mistake. I went wide on the corner with no choice but to pull up and lean back as I floated and dropped into the darkness not able to see what was coming. 

The drop was around 3 foot and I landed on the upside of a rivers embankment, stopping abruptly and without pain- falling backwards into comfortable long grass. Why hadnt that hurt, why did my bike seem to have endless rear travel on impact? 

Picking my bike up I had a moment of panic, my rear wheel was separate from my bike! Had I snapped my frame, broken my rear derailleur, broken my wheel axle? Panic at the thought of buying a whole new rear end which would cost more than I can afford.

Ha-Just my mech hanger, a £15 part that did its job perfectly. Long walk home though.

Now is that good or bad luck? I cant decide.

No wrong turns or big mistakes-wish granted!

Last weekend was Wetherby Olympic distance Triathlon.

West Yorkshire, an amazingly sunny day, a hot (20degrees!) beautiful river swim and straight flat bike and run. I took no wrong turns, didn’t loose my shoes or drop my bottle and am pleased with my result.

I finished the race in 2:22 a respectable time I am really pleased with, my actual position was 56th or something like that? Considering my strengths are technical mountain bike sections and hills, the course didn’t suit my strengths at all and my weakest discipline showed quite clearly as I lost a lot of places on the run. Never mind-I could of carried on running for much longer at that pace and didn’t seem to be able to run any faster. Good for XMAN not good for 10ks.

The day as a whole was perfect, after the race me and Kimberley had an insight into our future lives as a family. We were looking after my goddaughter Alicia, my friends Jeff and John, his daughter Chloe (who all competed too) were there with their families and together we spent the rest of the day chilling by the river, paddling, eating ice cream, lunch at the pub and then that evening me and a very heavily pregnant Kimberley had Nandos for dinner. I cant wait to be a dad.

P E R F E C T

How many times will I have these excuses?

I took part in the wilmslow sprint triathlon two weeks ago and havent written on here since.

Nearly two weeks and I still feel a little foolish.

It was my first road and also my first sprint distance triathlon- it should of been a breeze…

  • I messed up my first transition trying to mount my bike like a pro and made the schoolboy error of knocking both shoes off the bike-this left me putting on my shoes in the middle of the road as unknowingly my drinks bottle emptied itself all over the floor.
  • maybe because I was dehydrated from not having anything to drink but 0.5mile from the end of the bike I took a turn nobody else did that day and added 5 miles (nearly half the bike course again) on as an extra.
  • because I rode further and had no drink/was dehydrated my run time was rubbish.

Do I imagine/halucinate signs that arent there? Am I too stupid to follow bright yellow signs? It seems to be far too regular that I go the wrong way when others dont!

I am starting to feel a little embarrassed about having excuses each time I race, I would really just like one of them to go smoothly and give me a slightly better guage as to how my training is coming on in relation to others. I am feeling confident I am going to finish XMAN in a time I will be happy with but would like some half good results along the way to boost my ego.

Tomorrow I am entering Wetherby Triathlon, an olympic distance road triathlon, an out and back river swim and an out and back bike and run too. In theory I shouldnt be able to get lost but am sure there will be a mistake I can blame my poor result on!

Sunshine, great mates and peak district descents…

Sunshine, swimming and happiness-at last!

After two weeks of complaints about the weather I can finally report on a little bit of sunshine!

This morning I ended the week with my long run and it was wonderful, worlds appart from last week, amazingly warm and it really felt like summer has arrived! This makes me very happy

I’ve been to salford quays open water swimming twice this week, both times I’ve felt much more comfortable with my sighting, the water temperatures and the distances too.

My running is increasing by 10% each week and so far I feel fast and strong. I hope I manage to keep this up!

Everything seems to be coming together and I am left with only one frustrating and difficult decision regarding my hairy legs. To shave or not to shave?

Another week in winter…

…its been raining again, and cold and windy. I am fed up with it.

After last weeks difficult sessions affected by the weather I’ve yet again had my training duped by the never ending winter.

One of the days I went mountain biking with my bestest buddy Richard Salisbury and hadnt made it further than 20metres down the field at the back of my house when my front wheel washed out on the waterlogged singletrack causing me an instant stop on a very comfortable pile of rocks causing the below bruises, cuts and swelling on my knee and hip-brilliant. We didnt turn back but I felt stiff for the next 3 hrs on the bike and actually fell off again due to wet slippy rocks at the end of the ride too!

Saturday saw another swim at Salford Quays, I didnt ride there this week and getting there in the car meant it was only the still freezing 10 degrees murky water that made me quake in my neoprene.

The pain from the cold of the water paled into insignificance at the sight of Chloe-a 13 year old girl braving the water with no whines or complaints and proceed to swim with me for the whole time at the same pace. “I was just swimming” was her very relaxed reply as I admitted I was trying to outswim her. I hope one day I can have moments like that with my own children-I would be the happiest father.

No matter how hard I try… its just not summer!

Grim cold horrible nasty wet hard…..

2 failed attempts at “real” triathletes training sessions have made me realize why triathlon is a summer sport.

Saturday I started the day at 6.30am, rode my mtb 15 miles down the canal to salford quays in the rain, arriving there soaking wet, cold and covered in sandy mud I struggled into my wetsuit. The 10 degree water temperature was as horrible as I had been expecting. After only 800m I couldn’t feel my hands at all and got out, struggled into my wet bike kit and barely made the short ride to work before collapsing into the shower. FAIL 1

That evening my 2nd attempt started to unravel, I went to a surprise good luck/leaving party. Curry and beer followed (I normally do not drink!) and 1pm to bed.

Sunday was a 5am start, my friend John met me at my house, mtb with lights on and trainers in bag. The idea was to bike, run, bike run etc. However, the previous nights concoction of beer and curry was making other plans! After a little over an hour on the bike me and John were atop saddleworth moors, soaking wet, running through knee deep bogs in the morning light, mist and believe it or not hail! The previous nights lapse in dedication hit me hard and left me with no choice- luckily john had some tissues. That’s all I need to say.

The day was called done shortly afterwards when my failed rear brake caused me to dismount head first into a river on the first descent of the day. Cold, wet, tummy/bottom ache and serious mechanical forced the session to an early finish- just ride run ride. FAIL 2

Hopefully next week will be better.

13 WEEKS TO GO.

Another week another race!

20 mile mountain bike “race”*- ROTARIDE

The race started with all competitors at the bottom of a collection of football fields, on inspection prior to the start I knew over 100 riders would try to fit through a single rider width gate at the top.

With the knowledge of the approaching bottleneck start at the gun I sprinted the field and made it to the gate first! As I passed through I was worried I had pushed to hard to get the wholeshot and was going to instantly lose a lot of places but I didn’t. The course quickly turned technical and I held the lead for about 15 minutes. I only dropped to 2nd place due to missing a sign, I held 2nd place for alot of the race and only dropped down to 3rd because I dropped my bottle about 12miles in. I held on to 3rd place the whole 20miles till the end of the race. I had made it back to the finish and was really pleased, the two guys in front of me had put some distance on me and deserved their places, I had put a big gap on the guy in 4th place too. I was literally at the finish but didnt see the turning-I had passed it (there was no marshal or sign?) and looking back confused I saw 4th place turn in and roll to the finish “what place did I come?” he said- you came 3rd mate, but you don’t deserve it!. Not like I am bitter…

Anyway, I put in a good effort, ive never placed so well in anything ive done so far and am quite pleased looking back. Once again it was a brilliant day riding my mtb in the sunshine, I ran straight off the bike too with my mate and training buddy John making it a brilliant brick session too! Another good week in my legs.

Next week and its time to drag out the wetsuit- open water swimming here I come!

I posted a twitter update about being the 3rd loser. I want to explain, I am not naturally competitive but as I am entering races and am close to competitive on the bike I am trying to force myself into having a winners cut throat attitude. 

*I call it a “race” because officially it cant be a race. Its on bridleways and open roads which its currently illegal to race on. A rubbish law that needs sorting out in order for decent mountain bike races to take advantage of this country’s awesome bridleways.

12/24 HOURS OF EXPOSURE

This weekend was the 12 and 24 hour solo European mtb championships.
 
A brilliantly organised event held in a small Scottish village called Newcastleton on the scottish borders.
 
For me it was a Fitness test, a training ride, a good gauge of my current fitness level and… hard!
 
9 laps
99 miles
5000m ascent
13.5 hours
1 puncture
1 burped tubeless tyre
1 slightly bruised ego
 
Perhaps its because I lack the ability to ignore other peoples efforts or not chase whoever is in front of me, or possibly because I am a show off who loves pulling wheelies and skids for the crowds of people cheering in the pits, possibly just because I am too used to riding flat out from years of racing olympic distance triathlon where the only speed is AFAP- whatever the reason, the pace I rode at from the start was much more suited to the 12hr race rather than the 24 I had entered.
I never expected to be able to keep it up for the whole 24hrs and I was happy to push on for as long as I could, as hard as I could and simply see how far I could get.
 
Other than a short time when I felt pretty flat after about 6 hours I was lapping consistently between 1.15 and 1.30
 
I arrived in the pits after lap 8 (88miles) and was asked how I felt, my very genuine reply was ”I feel great! another bottle, new lights and Ill do another” with the sound of metal blasting through my ears and lactate acid pumping through my legs I sprinted out of the pits feeling invincable. 3 miles later and it was a very different story…
 
I broke, I broke pretty badly and all of a sudden it became very hard. All the climbs seemed longer than before, steeper and lonelier too. I was walking allot of the climbs and simply hanging on for the descents, I was taking chicken lines around jumps and drop offs (very unusual!) and was barely managing to keep the focus at all- in fact at one point when I had pretty much stopped, slumped over my bars and hoping for some sort of divine intervention when a passing rider spoke the obvious but wise words “just dont stop moving or you will never get back”. I Put myself back on the bike and managed to crawl my way in for what I decided was the last lap I was going to do.
I could have slept for a few hours and then done some more, I could have just done more straight away (ridiculously slowly!) and seriously broken myself and looking back I could be disappointed
I am not disappointed- I am actually quite pleased, I can take away a few good things from what happened and think I am on my way to good form for my main objective this year. I can/should hopefully be able to ride the distance, I have nearly ran the distance and open water swimming starts next month-I just have to bring it all together!
I really cant thank my “pit bitch” Rich Salisbury enough for the support he gave me this weekend, without it I wouldn’t be anywhere near as happy with my result. Rich I owe you BIG time!
I also owe a big thanks to my dad for paying my entry, without his help none of this would be happening and there would be no money going to charity.

15 WEEKS TO GO

Last week…

…I did a last minute “adventure” race in the lake district thanks to one of my friends teammates pulling out. It was a perfect day in the lake district with my dad and Kimberley, the weather was perfect and I made some new friends too.

The race itself included running, biking, running, kayaking and then running again. Ive never done kayaking before and I am pleased to say that going in a straight line wasnt as hard as I thought it was going to be and coniston water got OWNED.

The weather was so hot that day(24degrees!) me and my teammate Jonny Pryke both struggled on the last run due to not drinking enough on the bike section and ended up loosing some places-the tragic thing was that because we werent paying any attention at the race breifing we thought there was another bike section to come where we could make the places back. There wasn’t and we finished in 12th place, I think we could of done much better if we had listened to the race briefing but it was an awesome training session if nothing else and I felt brilliantly strong all day and was a very good gauge as to how training is going.

This week…

…I was in Edinburgh with work setting up the latest edition to Evans Cycles fast growing domination of the bike retail industry and you should see the place. Growing up with dingy bike shops down alleyways ran by bearded hippies is a world appart to the modern purpose built high street shops that just show how much money and public interest is in bikes at the moment and I am really glad to be a part of it.

Even though I was busy working at the new shop I managed a few sessions running and riding in the brilliant city and I fell in love. Its a place full of culture, awesome architecture, great restaurants, close to the sea and brilliant countryside-I wish I lived there.

Getting back and feeling like I had missed out on some training this week I made an early start (4am!) today and set out on my mtb. I took my bivvy bag and after a local loop I rode the long fireroad climb to chew valley reservoir in Saddleworth where once on the moors I had a little sleep and waited for the sun to come up. An awesome experience I hope to do more of this summer.

Next week…

…is the long anticipated 24hrs of exposure mtb race. Its a massive unknown as Ive never ridden my bike for nearly as long (not even half!) but I have managed allot of night riding as preparation and hopefully my fear of the dark wont affect my night lap times. 

11 WEEKS DOWN 17 TO GO.

14 Hours riding.

This week I’ve ridden my mountain bike-a lot. I’ve not ran or done anything else and I’ve loved it!

Most of my riding has been done alone on peak district moors and at night, its not getting any easier (mentally) and after 4 hours alone I still drive myself crazy!

I have however realised a few things from my solo night rides…

I’ve never been so happy. I really love my girlfriend and everything about our lives together, I love the thought of what’s to come in the next few years as we have our first baby. I really get on with my dad, my brother, my sister, their families/children and kimberleys whole family too. I really miss my mama but now try to think of the good times before cancer and am at least happy in my memories of us together. I have an awesome house, car and bike, I am happy in a job where I get to talk about bikes all day, I get on with all my colleagues and have a brilliant circle of friends. I have support from some brilliant companies with my training and together we are doing brilliant things for others who aren’t as lucky as I am. Ive also realized I might be a little bit scared of the dark!

I’ve spent the past few weeks talking about my training but this week my training had made me realise I am happy and I want you to know, I haven’t been so content with my life in a very long time and I really hope it stays this way!

10 WEEKS DOWN-18 TO GO

7 Hrs Riding

2 hr running

2 hr swimming

stretching- a lot.

My legs felt amazingly good Monday and Tuesday after my 18 mile run on saturday leaving me really positive all week.

On Friday I made the drive to Whinfell Forest with Kimberley to spend the weekend with my family at Center Parks. Ive been looking forward to this for months and not only is it a brilliant way to spend a few days with the family but it just so happens that Whinlatter forest and the Altura Trail is only a 15 minute drive away-bonus!.

Spending the weekend with my dad, brother, sister and their families (3 nieces- 4years,3 years and 9 months) has given me an indication as to what life is going to be like for me in the future when my own baby joins the family in August. Besides from constantly being tired I cant wait! 

Being tired out was probably contributed to by my early morning starts. As Whinlatter forest was so close and I need to increase my bike hours it was far too good an opportunity to miss. 4am each morning my alarm sounded and within 30 minutes I was on the trail-once again, alone in dark woods with only my thoughts for company.

On the second day, getting ready in the dark taught me a valuable lesson…

30 minutes into my first lap I wondered why I was suffering from severe chaffing? I put it down to the 3 hours riding in the wet from the day before. About 30 mins after this as the sun rose it highlighted the mistake I had made- I had my bibshorts on inside out!

Already wet and muddy it was too late to turn them around and feeling rather foolish I had to continue my ride with gritted teeth as the skin on my ass was slowly worn away… 

Lets hope that my buttocks aren’t in too bad shape for more hours in the saddle next week!

Bit of an insight into my training so far…