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This was to be our second race event of the weekend so, after a gentle spin on Sunday morning; we headed up to Winchester for the town centre criterium. Having only done three road races in the last two and a half years years, I have dropped down to 3rd cat, this gave some hope for a good ride.  The course was brilliant, with a long drag up the finish along the high street, before a super twisty, technical second half of the course.

I knew you had to be at the front from the start to be in with any chance of winning, so I lined up behind the lead car, and made sure I never dropped lower than 3rd place in the opening couple of laps. I soon moved to the front and went full gas up the finishing straight, bringing just two riders with me, Luke Gray (TrekUK) and Steven Dance from Andover Wheelers. We quickly opened up a sizeable gap on the chasers, but within a couple of laps, Luke put in a massive attack up the finishing straight. I quickly jumped on his wheel, but Steven was dropped. We carried on riding smoothly for the next few laps, but it wasn’t long before Luke was attacking again, jumping several times up the start straight, but each time I was able to get on the wheel. With two laps to go, Luke put in another attack, and it took a big effort to get back to his wheel. I decided to stay there confident that I could win the sprint. However, unbeknownst to us Steven Dance was never more than 10 to 15 seconds behind us, and as Luke slowed in the final lap, anticipating an attack from me, that gap shrunk very quickly… We turned onto the finishing straight and I stayed in second wheel, determined not to start my sprint too early and blow it. Luke kept it steady and just as we reached 150m to go and I was about to start my sprint, Steven came flying past us, and there was no time to get back on terms with him. I beat Luke in the sprint, but unfortunately it was only for second place… I was super disappointed to miss out on the win, but Chapeau to Steven on a great ride!

Winch Crit

Despite Euan also not racing on the road last year, he somehow managed to stay a 2nd cat rider, so lined up against the fast boys in the Elite/1/2 race. There was almost an hour delay by the time his race came around, so any kind of warm up went out the window, it also meant his first practice lap of the course would also be his first racing lap. The riders were called up to be gridded on the high street by the commentator who recognised both of us from mountain bike races he used to organise in the 90’s. This resulted in him going crazy down the mic whenever either of us hit the front!

When the flag was dropped Euan was immediately swamped by a load of riders, some who had no regard for safety and were dive bombing in to corners. One said rider eventually came off and looked to break his collarbone. After about 5 laps and lots of insanely quick cornering, Euan found his way to what he thought was the lead group, only to find out at the end there were 2 up the road from the word go. After several attacks, both solo and with fellow MTB’er Ade Lansely, and the chasing down of riders, the peloton shrank down to only 11 riders who were to contest the sprint for 3rd. We all know Euan is a shocking sprinter so his only option was to go a few laps early in a do or die move. He kicked hard out of the last corner with 2 to go, but kicked a bit too soon catching his pedal on the inside on the corner, causing him to fly off towards the barrier, luckily staying upright but losing contact with the group. He caught back on up the final straight as everyone was sprinting for the line, but couldn’t pass anyone, so finished 13th.  It was a fantastic event, with a great course and atmosphere, and also a good chance to catch up with old friends, some of who even had a mini fan club, hey Andy!

The Andy Gough Fan Club

The evenings racing capped off a great weekend, so both are in high spirits leading up to the final round of the British XC series on the Olympic MTB course this weekend.

podium

Two years ago Euan and I rode the South Downs Way both ways in a weekend, staying the night at his place in Eastbourne after the first day. The ride back nearly killed us, but it sowed a seed in our minds… One day, we both wanted to try the South Downs Double. That is, ride from Winchester to Eastbourne along the South Downs Way, and back again, non-stop and unsupported.

In 2012 I spent the summer working in Norway, so when the chance came to try and complete the ride, I jumped at the chance. I am very fortunate in that the company I work for, Ramboll, allow each employee a day off per year to take part in charitable events or to volunteer. With this in mind, I decided to use the ride to raise money for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance Service.

Now, before I go any further I should point out that this ride was never intended as a record breaking attempt. The riders who have broken the record over the years are all fast riders who have a proven track record in long distance races and more importantly, know the South Downs very well. I on the other hand, am a slowing XC racer who got lost the last time he tried to ride the South Downs Way…

The date was set for 30th August. A few weeks before Euan and I rode the first section of the ride from Winchester to Butser Hill, so I would at least be familiar with the first and last couple of hours of the ride. The plan was to start at 3am, to have as little riding time in the dark as possible. On a 200 mile ride, getting lost was not part of the plan.

In the days before the ride I studied Google Maps in an effort to learn the rest of the route, and tried to work out how much food and drink I would need. I measured out all of the Torq powder that I would need for the ride and put it individual Ziploc bags, and collected all of the various energy bars, gels and cereal bars I hoped would get me through it. The whole lot went into a small rucksack I would carry during the ride. I was able to keep a few hours’ worth of food in my pockets, and I planned to refresh them at each tap stop.

I set off from Winchester just after 3am on the 30th August, with Euan and his fractured pelvis leapfrogging me in the car. He would meet me at major road crossings, video camera in hand, to give me encouragement and let me know what the latest fundraising total was.

I tried to keep up a steady pace, spinning my legs on the climbs so as to not build up and lactic in them so early in the ride. I was using two Bryton Rider 35s to help with navigation. Although not ideal, the breadcrumb trail at least helped me know if I went off course. In the early hours I was unsure about a few turns and did a few circles, but on the whole everything was going to plan. However, at some point before the first tap at Cocking, I lost one of my water bottles. As I was riding un-supported, this meant I would have to rely on the one bottle for the remainder of the ride, and ration the water I had between each tap stop. Luckily, the day dawned cloudier than forecast and the tap stops are sufficiently well spaced that it didn’t become a problem until much later in the ride.

I was making good progress, and was on schedule to hit the turn at Eastbourne in just over hours. Then the problems started…

Looking at a map, the last few hundred metres are straightforward. You cross the road and follow the path downhill to the signpost. Turns out, when you’re me, nothing is as straightforward as it seems… I inadvertently started following the wrong signs, but I quickly realized and turned around, heading back to the top of the last downhill. I asked a dog walker which path was the one I needed, and raced off where I thought he had pointed. It wasn’t. I ended up in the middle of a golf course. I stopped, looked around, and plodded off back up the hill again. Once again, I got to the top, and head back down the other track which turned out to the right one. I eventually hit the turn in 8:36, and turned into the face of a giant headwind. It was promising to be a long ride home.

I started on the caffeine gels and tried to keep on eating. After so much energy product, my stomach was not having a good time, but I knew I had to keep on eating or else it would get very messy later on.

Somewhere just before halfway home, I missed a turn, flying down a rough track and ending up on a road I didn’t recognize. I slowly turned around and began the painful ride back to the top. Other than that, and the incessant headwind, I was making steady progress and was trying to calculate what time I would be finished. As time went on, I was convinced that my time would be well past that of the current record holder Josh Ibbett. I hit Butser Hill again, and bimbled up very slowly, stopping at the top to adjust my lights as the sun was setting.

However, as I approached Old Winchester Hill I thought I could be in with a chance of the record, and was boosted by seeing my wife Nicole at the top of the hill and I sprinted off down the hill with one hour to get back.

In the end, I completely hit the wall with about 3 miles to go after getting a bit carried away thinking I could break the record. I crawled up to Cheesefoot Head forcing Torq Bars down my neck. At the top, the final climb of the ride, I let out a little yelp of joy and patted myself on the back before freewheeling as much as possible the last couple of miles back. My final time; 17:54:28, less than 7 minutes slower than the record!

I immediately said ‘never again’. But now, three days later, I know I can go faster. If I hadn’t got lost I would have been about 30 mins quicker, and maybe wouldn’t have blown if I hadn’t lost that bottle so early on. I also know I can be much fitter than I have been this year. There is certainly the potential to go much quicker, at some point in the future. Maybe…

If anyone would like to donate to the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance, you can do so here http://www.justgiving.com/Ross-Adams2

Euan has made a short film of the adventure, that you can watch here:

Chasing Shadows – The South Downs Double from Euan Adams on Vimeo.

Ross Adams from Juice Lubes Racing riding the South Downs Way double in aid of Hampshire & Isle of Wight Air Ambulance. Ross completed the mammoth 200mile ride in 17:54:28, 6:58 off team mate Josh Ibbett’s record, despite going off course 3 times and riding an extra 45 minutes.

You can support Hampshire & Isle of Wight Air Ambulance but sponsoring Ross here http://www.justgiving.com/Ross-Adams2

Filmed and edited by Euan Adams

Music ‘Choir of Young Believers’ – Hollow Talk

I was looking forward to getting back to the Olympic course at Hadleigh Castle after racing the test event there two years ago. I knew the course was really technical, and it’s constantly up and down nature meant that there was nowhere to rest.

After two laps of the course on Saturday evening, I was confident on all of the A lines and looking forward to the race. Unfortunately, Euan had managed to get a puncture on the first technical section, twice, and so missed out on Saturday practice. Instead, he rose early and headed out for a lap or two before the first races of the day. As Euan headed out, I went and sat by the first drop off, watching how other riders were taking it. After watching a youth rider literally ‘huck to flat’ and not quite make the landing, I was expecting to see Euan, but he didn’t come into view, and I couldn’t see him elsewhere on the course… Then I overheard the marshal’s radio saying there was a crash on the rockiest part of the course and the doctor was needed. My stomach filled with dread as I realised that the rider down could be Euan, so I took a walk over to that section of the course and found Euan on the floor with the race doctor. He wasn’t moving, and his first words were ‘I think I have broken my hip’. Uh oh…

I ran back to the caravan to find out parents, before riding back down to Euan and accompanying him back to the first aid tent. After an initial check over, it was decided he just had soft tissue damage, and after a few hours he was up and about, moving very slowly using a bike as a crutch. After x-rays today (Monday), Euan has been confirmed as having a fractured pelvis, and so his 2013 season is over.

All of this happened before I had even had any breakfast. So with Euan relatively comfortable, I headed back to the caravan to get ready for my race.

After a good warm up, I lined up for the race with stiff legs after a morning of running around, and new found nerves about the technical sections, with Euan clearly demonstrating that this course doesn’t take any prisoners. As the gun went, I went backwards, and by the top of the first climb was second last. Brilliant! Due to my woeful start, I was then held up at all the technical sections on the first lap. I plodded on, and slowly my legs came around, and after two laps, I was riding pretty well, and making good progress through the field.

I kept on moving, but due my terrible first two laps I was lapped by the leader on lap 6 of 7, and so my race was over with a final position was 25th. Looking at the lap times, I was there or thereabouts when compared to riders who finished several minutes in front of me, but I just could not go fast enough in the first two laps.

Sunday was my last XC race of the year, but I still have one challenge left…. On Friday 30th I am riding the South Downs Way Double in aid of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance. 200 miles and 25,000 feet of climbing. I am a bit nervous. If anyone would like to donate any money to such a good cause, you can do so here www.justgiving.com/ross-adams2

Images courtesy of Mike Adams

BC XC Round 5 Hadleigh

Juice Lubes —  August 21, 2013 — Leave a comment

Well anyone who follows me on Twitter (twitter.com/EuanAdams) or Facebook will know that last weekend didn’t go so well.

I rocked up with the parents on Saturday afternoon to set up camp and wait for the arrival of brother before a few test laps of the Olympic course. Ross had raced the Olympic test event for GB 2 years previously so knew the course much better than me. We headed off up the first climb to triple trouble, the first technical section of the course, a rocky slab drop, and duly followed him over the edge. Only to be met by a ppffsst, rear flat having caught it on the edge of the middle slab, bugger. Ross rode on and I headed back to change the tube and meet him for another lap. Back up the first climb and over the drop, I felt the rim hit ground but it appeared to stay up so off we went. 100m later the tyre was completely flat, now rather peeved, back to van, new tube, new tyre (with puncture protection) then back out, only to find they had closed the course 10 minutes early, arse. No lap for me this evening.

Next day I got up early and headed out before the first lot of races started to finally test the course. Off the first drop, no puncture, result. Next section down Minters drop (named after Chris Minter who left part of his chin there during the test event), no problems, over the board walk, easy peasy, leap of faith, done, rock garden, big crash, fractured pelvis.

See pic, the bit on the right is the swelling on my back and not my pot belly.

Euan's Injury

So I didn’t even get to ride a full lap of the course. A big thanks to the medical team for taking care of me and my mum for bringing me food (I hadn’t even had breakfast). So my season has ended early, which means I’ll miss my big end of season goal, Xterra England in 3 weeks. So a winter of rehab and I’ll be back bigger (fatter) and stronger than ever, but not on the XC scene. I’m hoping to concentrate more on Xterra races and half iron distance tri’s next year. I’ve been racing XC for over 20 years (started when I was 6) so its time for a break. I’ll still be mixing it up at MTB races, Ross and I have unfinished business with 24/12 for a start, so we’ll see what next season brings.

Ride safe kids.

This weekend was a big one for Euan and me. We had two races planned, both of which had the potential for some podium action, and we were keen to make the most of it!

First up was the Brighton Big Dog, a race that has built up a reputation as one of the best of the year, with a great course and relaxed atmosphere, no doubt helped by the fact the race was sponsored by a local brewery.

Euan had the honour of riding the first lap after my efforts at 24/12 and, after a slow start on the opening loop, came through in second place in the male pairs event, just a handful of seconds down on the leaders (who included team mate Simon Earnest). With laps being just over 25 minutes we weren’t sure whether to go with double or single laps, but with the course being so tough with short steep climbs that really made your legs sting, we stuck with one lap each for the duration of the race.

After about four laps, we suddenly found ourselves in the lead, as Simon in the leading team had missed a turn. Euan came into the transition area with a healthy 30 second lead, and I went out hard to try and extend it. The lap was going well, until I hit the longest downhill, a tight twisty and rooty trail. Unfortunately I caught a group of slower riders just at the wrong time, and couldn’t get past before the downhill started. By the time we reached a wider section of track where I could pass, Simon had all but caught us, and I ended the lap just 10 seconds up.

From there on, Simon’s team slowly edged away from us, and we increased the gap back to third place. By the end of the six hours, we were comfortably in second place, and I was able to take the final lap relatively easily to make sure my legs weren’t completely destroyed for the next day’s racing. We were pleased that after our DNF at 24/12 we were able to claw back a bit of pride with our podium place and rewarded ourselves rightly with fish and chips. Perfect recovery/prep food for the next day’s Winchester Crit.