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Well that didn’t got to plan. The great tails of the Pippingford course, got me out of my rehab and off to the races. Technical, fast, short hard climbs, everything I love and suits my riding. I was prepped and as the race was only 40 mins away I was at the course in plenty of time to get a practice lap in. Well it was needed, to work out the lines to “run”. Pippingford hadn’t enjoyed the bone dry spell we have only 20 miles south, in Brighton.

May have changed the Racing Ralf to a Rocket Ron but I dont think the Ron would have really been that much better on the exposed clay climbs. I certainly would have made sure my (unused for a long time) granny was working. Over 2,000 ft climbed in an XC race not usual for me.

So to the race, this was the second race in the series so everyone from race one (I wasn’t one of these) was gridded. I line up about 45th, so lots of work to do on lap one. Other than missing my pedal I got a good start and skipped about 20 riders. Over the next half a lap made up more spots getting in to 10th as I crossed the line for lap two. I could hear two riders coming up to me and held them off for the majority of lap two we traded places and I got back in front keeping my position.

Lap three things start to go a bit wrong, build up of crap on the gears leave the front mech rubbing and chain sucking every time I switch gear. I had a plan that running certain sections was quicker than slipping and sliding with the Ralf, this was detrimental to the back twinge. Another slip of the back wheel and a right foot dab sends shock waves through the spine. I loose focus with the nagging pain, 3 crashes later I’m really cheesed off. Perhaps I’ve come back to racing too soon. The final lap was a coast to the finish, at points I was ready to can it and go home but I suffered through and finished the pain fest in 13th. Not to bad as I only dropped an extra spot after duelling for 10th. The final lap was 9 minutes slower than my first. Time to be sensible and get well and strong.

My lesson – recover fully and then train before racing. Otherwise it will be a longer road.

Thanks to the team, Euan and Mike for pictures and the shouts


Saturday wasn’t a good one, having had another treatment on the back on Friday actually made me feel worse. Saturday was spent in a great deal of pain so I had written off Sundays race, the kiddies were away so I spent the evening stretching and I was in both hot and cold baths in the vain hope I’d wake up ready to go! The sleep and rest must have done me some good as I felt better, about 70% so I jumped in the car.

Well you couldn’t ask for more with the weather and the trail conditions. The Gorrick team put on a great course, a few little changes just enough to keep us on out toes. Managed to line up on the second row, not to optimistic as I look across at a few ex-elite riders that have reached a certain age. I’ve realised that age don’t slow anyone down, if you train and focus you can certainly retain your form. These guys have, so I was there to enjoy the race, try to sneak a top ten and re adjust to big wheels.

I normally have a good start but the guy who lined up in front of me had pedal issues so I had to drag myself around him before wrestling my way up to the front group.

The pack split quite quickly in to two groups 4 guys on fire and the next four included me. The course was just to my liking berms, bomb holes and flowing single track. Enjoying being back on a 29 remembering how great they are, I rotated from 6th to 8th and back again. We catch the tail end of the super masters close to the end of lap one so the group splits again. 5th and 6th still in grasp but no place to easily pass in the single track. They gain about 10-15 second on me and 8th, we get stuck in and again trade places a couple more times over the next lap. Cross the line for the 2nd time with Rory from PR/Bike tart breathing down my neck cursing the big wheels, I had rolled away from him in certain sections.

The start finish line is on a hill and as I push the pedals to crest it my back spasms again. I’m seated and now aware that my post has dropped a good inch it’s bolted (not well enough) so I try and keep the pace up but each seated pedal hurts. I get out the saddle and make chase but who am I kidding 40 mins raced and another 40-45 to go. I treat the remainder of the race as a fast ride and work on my handling, I loose a few more spots but still draw on the positives. The recent training block has got my fitness levels up, just got to incorporate a bit more speed work, get the back fixed and we are happy days.

I can’t wait for the dialled race back to arrive, then I won’t have to cobble bits together from the shed and hope they work. Then no more excuses.

First Race, lots of excuses.

Frazer —  February 28, 2012 — Leave a comment

So in my usual fashion spent the majority of Sat night fettling with bikes. I’ve got a new full sus 29 as I’m waiting for the Cyfac to be finished. I’ve not raced it yet so the back of my head says take the old race bike just in case.

Having swapped the 29 wheels around the Avids didn’t like the new rotors so it had no breaks. The 40 mins I had for warm up was now getting swallowed up with pedal, number board and tyre pumping.

I arrive at the start line and the usual 20 riders for the Super Vets had exploded. I got on the front line more by luck than judgment. Paul Hopkins, Lewis King, Dean Mason, Rich Featherstone all guys that I know are fast but I’ve never raced against.

The horn goes and we are off I get a good start and slot on the back of about 8 riders. I could have gone a bit harder at the beginning but wanted to claw back rather than drop back.

My legs are screaming as I didn’t warm up and the pre race gel I normally take was forgotten about while faffing. “Oi Clifford focus.”

As soon at those words crop in to the brain we are in the single track. Catching my breath on the flowing berms, I look down and see a shiny root at 45 degrees and think that could mess someone up. That someone was me, I find myself on my ass with riders flooding passed me, I drag my bike up its now like trying to join traffic on the M25. So lots to do!

One of the reasons to go for a good start is to clear the pack and have a fluid run on the first lap. It’s safe to say I didn’t get this.

After lap one I was 4 mins down on the leader and 2 down from where I should be mixing it up, I dig in and try and lap as many as possible. I didn’t feel warm till the end of the first lap, not a great opening lap. My head was down for most of the 2nd then I bumped in to a few riders I knew so rather than chucking the towel in I carried on and enjoyed the course as much as I could on a HT26.

It’s safe to say my back still isn’t right from last years CX incident and I need a dialled race bike, thank goodness that’s on its way.

I’ll lick my wounds, get my back clicked and come back for more in a few weeks.



Thanks to Joolze for the great image!
The Gorrick Course was great as usual.

First Race, New Team

Frazer —  February 21, 2012 — Leave a comment

Well this is new for me, start of a new season and a new sponsor, it’s been a while since I’ve ridden anything other than a KMP bike.

I’m looking forward to this weekend and giving a new bike a try and the start of a new age group, yes I’ve joined the vets. I hear it’s as hard if not harder, as they have had years to learn some old tricks.

The lure of Juice Lubes racing was simple, fast guys custom bike and a common goal of the nationals. Something that wasn’t planned for with the KMP. So a new shirt and new bike, well ……

Custom bikes and team kits can be a law to themselves so it will be the emperors new clothes and a full suss 29 this weekend.

Wish me luck and if you see an old fella on course give him a push.