Wednesday, 27 July 2011


Bontrager 24/12 solo 24 at the weekend. It's Wednesday now and I'm almost awake again. The right forearm I trashed at 10 at Kirroughtree, that came back to haunt me in the wee small hours of the morning and again on a final three bonus laps, feels almost normal.

My legs are still sore and heavy. And I'm on holiday. Home-brewed latte in the sunshine. Ian Banks' latest novel half read on the patio table and a pile of unread tomes to follow. A scruffy house waiting patiently to be spruced up and then the world's a slimy sea-shelled thing - Scotland, southern Spain, eastern Europe, you name it.

It's nice to stop moving. Physically and metaphorically. The weekend was ace. The best 24-hour course I've ever ridden by a country mile. A brain-frying mix of slippery roots and fast singletrack, moorland rockeries with scenic ponies tagged on and a great, mellow atmosphere.

Definitely going back next year with a fully-functioning body - touch wood - for another go.

But right now it's kind of nice chilling out on life's hard shoulder.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Don't trash your arm before a massive trade show...

Just back from four days in sunny Germany - W├╝rst, Kartoffeln, W├╝rstkartoffeln, mit Speck, you know, sausages, more sausages and meaty things with potatoes at various prices. Anyway, always good to catch up with people in the outdoors industry, but this year I took my mate 'Crunchy', my interestingly swollen and slightly yellow and audibly creaky right forearm...

I crashed a couple of times riding 10 at Kirroughtree with a mate last weekend. I figure one injury was impact, the other was more of a sprain, both the right forearm sort of area. Anyway, to cut a dull story short, it was a great weekend with nice people and my arm got a bit sore.

The trouble with having a very delicate right arm, of course, is that you can't shake hands with it. So you end up using your left hand. In a weird, Freemasonesque reversed grip sort of way. And then the obvious question is: 'Oh, what happened...'

My favourite brand stand - Dong Garment, one of the big swinging, erm... anyway.
I reckon I told people I'd crashed a mountain bike around 50 times in two days. Oddly, though the arm was uncomfortable, it wasn't sharply or searingly painful. Just a bit sore and ouchy if you twisted your hand too much. But loads of people seemed convinced that it was broken. I don't think so. It seemed to pain them more than it hurt me. Which was odd.

I once interviewed Joe Simpson and he explained that the endless repeated telling of traumatic events apparently helps post-traumatic stress sufferers by making the actual events feel like story that happened to someone else. Ironically in my case, repeatedly telling the story, gave rise to sort of post-traumatic stress of its own.

Eventually I chose to shake hands a risk real physical pain rather than suffer the horror of telling the story once more.

Other things, a small box of Ibuprofen costs almost a tenner at the pharmacy in Zurich airport. At Tesco in Glossop, the same box retails for 42 pence... I've decided not to emigrate to Zurich airport any time soon. And no, I didn't buy them.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011


Woot moggy! We're going racing....
I'm training again properly, have been for the past couple of months - well, properly for me, real racers and that can look away now. In the middle of that funny thing when your body starts doing things that you didn't think it could and the brutal high intensity intervals start to make sense. And that feeds the motivation for the next ones.

I have a bit of a grudge match with a solo at 24/12. Last year's was a mess. Head a bit wonky from memories of the year before's 12-hour solo and the crap around it, thanks for that. Leg a bit wonky after someone knocked me off on a benign arena track catching the end of my bar on a pointless overtake - 'Oh, was I a bit close?' What do you think, muppet... - and then, when I should have just dug in and got on with it, the realisation that no way, back in the real world, was I going to be able to race pairs at SITS two weeks later and, in the process, would badly let my mate Dave down badly.

Which was obvious. And if I weren't so stupid and hadn't been so blase, I'd never have put myself in that position. But the end result was that I bailed on the basis that I'd live to fight another day at SITS. Which I did, but not very well because I'd already done 11 racing hours and my back self destructed at three in the morning.

But anyway - none of that this time. Just 24 solo at 24/12. One aim - to finish the thing and enjoy riding it, because oddly, despite being a not very endurance athlete - all fast-twitch muscle and sprintiness, me - I really like soloing. It feels like good value for money. The pace is relatively mellow. And you get to watch the course unfolding like a good book, shifting and changing and wearing.

And you get to know the course, the smoothest, most economical lines, the bits where you can relax and flow for free speed and...

So there it is.

But first I get to race 10 Under Kirroughtree with a mate at the weekend as a pair. A final blurry speed fest, hopefuly, by Ragley but with fat, fast tyres, to get that out of my system. Then a bit of a taper. A long drive and go.