Monday, 10 February 2014

Podium club

Paul 'Po' Sheers tasted the sweet smell of the podium club this weekend. It's a cluster of body odour, sweat and mouldy mud, a truly horrific mix of flavours that ordinarily would force your face to screw up in disgust, but when stood on any of the steps of the podium, those nasal treats change into something that reads like the side of your mums perfume bottle "A wave of extreme freshness meets with the pine tree top notes". 

And so, with a heady mix of cyclocross smells, low blood sugar from an hour of exercise and climbing high onto the altitude sickness inducing top step, Paul became a member of the Vicious Velo podium club.

I myself am very au faux with being a member of the club, so I've written down the set of rules for Paul to follow.

1. First rule of podium club, ALWAYS TALK ABOUT HOW YOU ARE IN PODIUM CLUB
2. If handed a medal, sniff it and then give it a good bite (see examples below)
3. Make eye contact with every photographer whilst you stand on the podium
4. Re-tell the story of how you got into podium club as much as possible
5. When describing your lastest victory, try to make it as long winded as ensure you are really impactful, honestly, people really do want to sit through at least an hour of story telling.
6. Wear your medal whilst doing everyday task, it should prompt people to ask how you got your medal (then see points 5, 6 above)
7. Remind others you are in podium club and they are not
8. If given flowers, don't give them away to your mum, keep them on a table in the centre of the room until they are rotting and dropping sludge on the table
9. All trips to the podium shall be with as much vigor as possible, jumping, shouting, dancing and fisting pumping should be part of ones routine. 
10. Be nice to the podium club fans, pass on the gift of them being able to meet you; a member of the club.
11. Get a blog, write about your membership to podium club

Thursday, 30 January 2014


Riders that look like....

Classics and  cycling sprint ace - Tom Boonen

Gary Barlow off of Take That (blonde on the left)

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Riders that look like....

... famous people

Marcel Kittel (cyclist, Giant-Shimano)

 Dolph Lundgren (Rocky, View to a Kill)

Monday, 20 January 2014

What I...

will not miss
Cleaning my bike in the dark, every weekend for 17 weekends

Getting my bike out of the shed the following weekend to find, there are still smeary marks and bits of dirt I missed.

Digging twigs, stones and clumps of sand from the seal of the washing machine

Training on a turbo in pitch black

Car Tetris

Jet washing my shoes, daily rotating the newspaper stuffing and pray they will be dry by the next weekend

Getting up a 7am on Saturday/Sunday and missing a re-run of Frasier by driving to a cyclocross race

Going on the M1

will miss
ViCiOUS pint-sized cheerleaders and 'Paul' the mud dumpling

Shredding off road on skinny tyres, feeling out of control and trying to go faster

Winning cyclocross races

Followed by awkward podium presentations

Signing people's autographs

Having a slightly bruised shoulder on Monday mornings

Running on muddy paths around Tooting Common as the sun comes up

Hanging out with ViCiOUS velo at races, making jokes, having ideas showers, smashing into bushes, yelling at them from the sidelines 

Trying to race in the cyclocross motherland 

The peculiar smell of damp mud

Finding a secret line on a section of course to go faster than everyone else

When people in the crowd call your name and cheer with as much energy as they can muster

Riding on the turbo and getting to that point where your muscles feel so tired they they fizz then feel white hot, sort of cold but that makes you try to go faster

My bikes are now in the loft, seven months and counting.

Friday, 17 January 2014

National Championship 2014 - Derby

Imagine mud and then image riding on mud that feels like a slick frozen pond except with the added bonus of filth spraying on your legs, in your hair and all over the bike. That was the course at Derby.
The frost and hard frozen bike lines were melted within a lap of the first race on the course and by the time the gun went for the Elite Women's race the lines I was going to use were non-existent. The the mud's favourite task was to wrap itself in clumps around very part of the frame. Every gap, every hole, plugged by mud.
The canti brake bike went straight back in the boot of the car. It was go disc brakes or go home kinda scenario. The disc brakes ensured that for at least half a lap the wheel could spin freely. The instant a canti brake bike touched the mud, it gravitated towards the brake stopping on the brake arm and resisting the wheel. 

I fell on the opening lap and lost a few places. By the 3rd and 4th lap I was most running the originally ride-able sections. My running ability enabled me to take back a chunk of places (thank-goodness for Tooting Common Tabata runs).
For a final two laps I was locked in battle of being chased by the former Junior Champion, Hannah Payton and trying to catch up to the former World Champion Tracey Moseley. I could run the sections faster than Moseley but she definitely had the edge riding in the mud. Where I started to slide sideways she would continue straight, when I got off to run, she would ride a couple bike lengths more before dismounting.

Happy to get back to 11th, but annoying I couldn't make the top 10 spot. It was a tough race but the  transitioned into one where soft light pedalling, pointing the bike against the camber was the only way to get around. Hope, try and glide, I didn't feel my physical fitness was coming into it. Another lap I think I might have got another place back or perhaps if I hadn't fallen within the first three minutes of the race, maybe I'd have been better placed?

Huge thank-you to the Barnes family. Graham, Emily and David help pretty much ensured I was 11th and without their help I wouldn't have had a nice clean bike ready every half lap! 
Another huge thanks to ViCiOUS Velo crew, especially Paul and Delia for coming with me on my silly Belgium whims! We've had some great times over the tunnel. 

1 Helen Wyman Kona FSA Factory Team 41 14 0 0
2 Nikki Harris Young Telenet Fidea Cycling Team 1 14
3 Ffion James (J) Abergavenny RC/Lane/Govilon 5 37
4 Abby-Mae Parkinson (J) RST Racing Team 5 54
5 Amira Mellor (J) Paul Milnes/Bradford Olympic RC 6 32
6 Diane Lee Team Mulebar Girl – Sigma Sport 6 58
7 Alice Barnes Scott Contessa Epic 8 24
8 Bethany Crumpton Hargroves Cycles/Specialized/Trant 9 2
9 Delia Beddis Vicious Velo 9 8
10 Tracy Moseley Malvern Cycle Sport 9 28
11 Claire Beaumont Vicious Velo 10 11
12 Hannah Payton The Kinesis Morvelo Project 10 30
13 Sarah Murray 12 56
14 Sarah Lomas (J) Scott Contessa Epic 13 15
15 Tamina Oliver Team CTC 14 2
16 Isla Short (J) Team Thomsons Cycles at 1 lap
17 Rachel Fenton Trek Bicycle Coventry at 1 lap
18 Rebecca Womersley Scott Contessa Epic at 1 lap
19 Anna Cipullo Hargroves Cycles/Specialized/Trant at 1 lap
20 Jessica Wilkinson (J) Birkenhead North End CC at 1 lap

35 riders

Thursday, 9 January 2014

"After you've been running for 8+ hours every little thing becomes an incredible luxury; at mile 21 I drank a cup of flat Mountain Dew and I swear it tasted like unicorn tears."

Read that on The Oatmeal, the author of the blog just ran a 50 mile ultra marathon in 11 hours. P.S the blog has nothing to with running , more comics, quizzes and jokes.

Interviewing people while they run....

...I think that that's a very novel idea! 


Last weekends race (Flickr)

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Bpost Bank Trofee #4, Essen (GP Rouwmoer)

Image: Balint Humvas for 
Delia and I wanted to do another cross race in Belgium that was at least UCI - C2 or C1 in classification (higher than British National Trophy races).

We have to pick them not on the course but on the distance from Calais and so it came to be that we registered and entered for a race in Essen, a small town on the boarder of Belgium and the Netherlands, now home of superstar cross rider Zydnek Stybar.

Looking at previous videos of the race, it has historically always been muddy. The course is in a field with a disused railway station and crumbling former ticket hall in the centre of all the racing.
Flat as a pancake, they course designer had added with own man-made obstacles to force the flow of the race. Two earthy mounds that you'd need to sprint up, a bomb hole (that I struggled to ride out of), a metal stair run up and a metal bridge to ride over.
The final obstacle which I doubt was man-made but must have delighted the crowd was the mud> Thicker than thick, stickier than glue. As soon as my wheels touch the first bog that just past the start/finish line it sank in, stopping my bike and almost bucking me forward. Running was the only option but no easier. The sludge swallowed my foot, muck reaching up to my shins.

The race went pretty well, we got quite cold waiting in the car before the race, waiting in the grid I was shivering.
I followed Delia through the first muddy running section pushing slower riders out of the way. We remounted in 20th position. After the second lap I faded slightly, not managing to rail my bike through the very twisty turns as efficiently as others.
It was a relentless course, I looked for sections to rest on but there were none, if you didn't ride hard all the time your bike would come to a stop.
After slogging through twisty turns at the back of the course, there was then a run up. Then sprint accelerations to get over two consecutive mounds before hitting another deep bog that you had to really focus on to run through. Concentration fell to gathering all ones strength pulling my feet clear  from the deep troughs I was creating with each step. Then we remounted on thick mud and had to do a seated power acceleration to get through it otherwise you'd ground to a halt and have to get off again.
On the last two laps I rode as hard as I could and ran as fast as my heart would allow, I won back two places and ensured I was no way near being lapped by the eventual winner, Sanne Cant.
Image: Gabby Day rides past the decaying ticket hall.
Balint Humvas for
Image: Nikki Harris runs through the second bog.
Balint Humvas for
Image: After the race.
 Balint Humvas for
Image: World Champ Sven Nys strains to ride clear of the bomb hole.
Highlights of the junior and women's race below follow by full coverage of  the men race. 
For women's highlights fast forward to 2mins 40 seconds - provides a pretty good flavour of the course.

Final Result:
1. Sanne Cant, Bel
2. Helen Wyman, Gbr
3. Nikk Harris, Gbr
19th. Delia Beddis (same lap)
26th. Claire Beaumont (same lap)

40 finishers

Bedlam @ Bethlem - London League Round

Opted out of the National Trophy in Shrewsbury because originally no Vicious riders were planning on go and its a really far away course, a good course but a long way away. 
Decided to ride London League a course that uses the grounds of Bethlam Royal Hospital. This would be my first race since Christmas break and the race in Essen. 
There is a wooded section and if the course designer deems it necessary, and this one did, the option to use a large open field. With the awful rain of Christmas it was a bogged, waterlogged 1km of solid riding into the wind and against the resistant of long chewed up grass.

Notes from the race:
Poor start - shouldered bike through the first technical, pushing inept people out the way
Caught up to the 3rd place woman (Onett Deli, a Hungarian MTB champion). 
Rode with Onett who had plenty of power on the thousand metres of grass - but was struggling to keep up with her, but focused on just sticking to her back wheel. 
Her efforts enabled us to ride back to lone leader, Louise Mahe.
Onett then proceeded to run out of energy, I attacked Louise and kept the pressure on for the last 2 laps to secure the win. 
It was filthy muddy but my gloves soon got soak and had no grip. 
The appalling weather seemed to play in my favour.

Happy with that ride. Initially I thought I would have finished 2nd at best and 1st was too far gone.

This Sunday is the National Championship in Derby - race time 12.45

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Coffee NO NO

Just read this on a product, "The cup can take up to 3oz/80ml, perfect for those after meal espresso’s or to give yourself a boost in the morning."

Don't do that, ever. Blocks the absorption of iron from your meal. If we break this down into simple terms. Iron = your blood = you need iron = not ill, less tired, better riding and recovery.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Bushwhacked - Bradford National Trophy

Well well well. The result of two other people coming together on the opening corner and I'm the one in the hedge. Not just any hedge, a leafless, solid twig wall.
7th 9th in National Trophy from basically a sitting start. 
Happy & not happy with that. Excited about racing Essen next weekend but not about the gouge in my leg.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

December's Turbo Track List

Thought I'd mix up my play list ready for Christmas. These tracks are best played loud through ones earphones in a fixed space. Remember kids riding with headphones on the trail or the road equals danger. 

Disclaimer: listening these tracks won't cause a  direct improvement to your VO2Max, wattage or lactate threshold, but they will help you get through the toughest of tabata's and the most painful pyramids providing a stepping stone to your next performance goal (that is, if you like drum and base, garage and dance music).

Monday, 9 December 2013

Double Cyclocross Weekend with a European Escapde

Photo: Balint Humvas report

Photo: Balint Humvas report on
I returned to Antwerp to race Soudal Classics – Scheldecross. The aim was to beat last year's 20th place but mistakes in the cut up deep sand on the opening lap forced me right down the field. The third lap a similar sand related mistake occurred leaving me floundering on the beach. The fourth lap, the jigsaw went together perfectly and I made it to a group and then rode through them to secure 29th and make up 5 places.
I know I would have been much faster and further up the field if  in the technical sand I have run the moment my Dugast touched the golden grit but in the practice laps I could ride it, it had just become alot more cut up as the day went on.

I felt tired but excited to race in Ipswich at the Southern and Eastern Championships. The course was open and flat, no climbing and a few technical wooded section, a bit of sand and a run up.
Strangely I wasn't gridded, so lined up a row back from Louise Mahe (Mule Bar Girl). When the gun went I struggled to get past the back markers on the early bends and the time gap to Louise went out to 20 seconds.
I caught up to 2nd place at the end of lap 1, but the twists of the course meant I had to sit on and catch my breath and wait until the start/finish straight to attack and overtake. The 10 second lead Louise had remained and she was motoring away on fine form. Another sand related mistake happened on lap 3 when I wasn't quite clipped in after the run up and then in the wrong gear for the little bump after, it meant I lost another few seconds. In the end she just pulled out a lead that I couldn't shut down and I felt I didn't quite have the power to eek about another 2% after riding a tough race in Antwerp.

Data from the race:
              Lap 1 - Lap 2 - Lap 3 - Lap 4  - Lap 5
Louise - 11:07  - 7:21   - 7:25   - 7:25    -  7:33
Claire -  11:24  - 7:22   - 7:33   - 7:35    -  7:31

My silver British Cycling medal to add to the other three!

Monday, 2 December 2013

My Cyclocross Sunday

Took a basic EOS camera to round 4 of the National Cyclocross Trophy in Milton Keynes. 
A cold day with splashes of winter sunshine. 
These are a few incidental shots.

I finished 11th from the field of 25. Had some annoying pedal issues on lap 1 and 3. After a muddy run up I just couldn't engage the cleat and for nearly a whole lap I balanced the right-hand pedal, occasionally kicking it to clear mud or just in angst that I was engaging. 

The first time up the steep weaving switchback I was too nervous to climb out the saddle for fear of slipping off the tiny metal surface. My calf began to twitch with the onset of cramp. A flood of riders came past. 
On the second approach past the pits finally, quietly clicked into place.
On the final lap I prayed it wouldn't do it again as I drew closer to 12th place. I was in luck and put my head down dug in as I saw 11th ahead, it came down to the final corner before the start finish, I got to the bend first, held the line and as soon as my tyre touched tarmac began to sprint. Nail the position on the line. 

December is packed with important CX races, which will make base building over Christmas alittle easier. 

1st Dec - National Trophy, Milton Keynes
7th Dec- Soudal Classic, Scheldercross Anterpen (C1)
8th Dec- Regional Championships
14th Dec - National Trophy Bradford
21st Dec - Bbank Post Trophy, Essen (C1)