A Birthday Trip to the Ronde van Vlaanderen Cyclo

imageThe best bit of racing during the Winter means I can be indulgent and slowly plod through all the things on my bucket list. I don’t have to worry about tapering or recovering! So when asked what I wanted for my birthday it was easy. Not matching handbag and shoes, but the chance to ride the Ronde van Vlaanderen Cyclo.

In preparation I racked up a few extra miles, taking in the pleasures of the Cheshire Cat on the way and a crawl up the infamous Mow Cop. I had the miles, sorted the gearing and so just needed to get on the Shuttle.

Lucky for me, I have friends in Ghent. Once in Calais, the journey was an easy hour and a half. I had reservations about being in Ghent, aware that many people stay in Brugge, but it was perfect and only took thirty minutes to get to Oudenaarde. Oudenaarde is the Cyclo’s administrative centre and the start of the middle and short courses. All the courses finish there too.

I signed on Friday afternoon to avoid the Saturday morning panic.The town was already packed and humming with impending excitement. I felt more nervous than I do for a race! Continue reading

Post Season Active Rest

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After the National Cyclocross Champs I was so in need of a mental and physical rest. After completing a fair few mtb races, I dived head first into cross racing in September. I knew it wasn’t ideal but it was what my heart said do, at the time. This year mtb racing will be non existent apart from the National Marathon Champs. I feel I just need to move on.

So here I am enjoying three weeks active rest, which so far has included riding with friends; a bit of fell running and some zumba, I’m loving it! When I was riding well, I always included a period of active rest, but have ignored it over the last couple of years. That was a mistake. I’m having fun and will feel so rejuvenated in a couple of weeks time, both mentally and physically. Slowing down has made me realise just how blitzed I really was.

If you’re like me and like to live life flat out, it’s not easy slowing down.  I have include a link which might make you change your mind. The article is aimed at those who race in the Summer, but obviously is relevant to those who dabble in the dark side of cross racing as well.

http://doctorholmes.wordpress.com/2014/01/22/my-2014-smart-goals/

The Fred Whitton Four Season Challenge Ride

I love a personal challenge so I’m off to ride the Fred Whitton Four Seasons Challenge with some crazy gals from Women’s Cycling Sheffield ( WCS) . We will be taking in 112 miles of the best ups and downs in the Lake District. Hope I don’t get too philosophical at 60 miles!

It will be 1 more thing ticked off on my bucket list. No time to loose Phelan because life is so short! Check out this link, it may just be the thing you are looking for.

www.fredwhittonchallenge.co.uk/four-seasons

So what are your goals for 2014?

imageAs I find myself with only 3 cyclocross races left this season, there’s a bit of unease! What now Phelan? I love planning and having things mapped. Is there anything wrong with that? Well I think not, because goals keep you motivated. So here are mine.

Competitive goals
Full season of cross, achieving my personal best at this stage
Good ride at the National Marathon Champs
A ride I am pleased with in the 3 Peaks Cyclocross race

Non competitive
Ride the Ronde van Vlaanderen
Mary Townley Loop
Cheshire Cat Sportive, riding up Mow Cop
Run along the Kinder Plateau
Have fun riding with a friend in the Peaks

Well that’s a start for me. Anything else will be a bonus. If the competitions all go ‘pear shaped’ which sadly sometimes they do, targets based on personal non competitive goals will carry me through.

So what’s on your agenda?

Keeping the wheels turning

Good times!

Good times!

Trundled up to the North West cx race in Rossendale this weekend. Always enjoy their courses and it would be a good opportunity to meet up with some new ‘Here Come the Belgians’. The course was already awash, so I knew it would possibly be a challenge, but heh this is cross racing!

Probably ran most of the course. When I say ‘ran’ I do mean ‘ran’ in the widest sense of the word ranging from a plod, to having my feet at ‘ten to two’ to get an edge. Not quite what I planned, whilst thrashing away on the turbo to improve my acceleration out of the bends. May be that was my mistake! A cross course can involve a fast hack with your shades on, or a total mud bath .

In retrospect it was a good learning experience and I realise I still don’t have the full set of armour! More importantly the course may be nothing like you predicted and the game plan will have to change. It may not be what you like, but it’s what’s required, if you want to play the game. So get your head round it!

Remember you paid for it, so you may as well enjoy it! See you at Beacon Park in the New Year.

Thanks to Bob Mc Minn for the use of a rather nice photograph.

The Ying and Yang of Cyclocross

Younger but racing for longer! Oh joy!

Younger but racing for longer! Oh joy!

Making the transition from a minimum of two hour MTB racing, to a  40- 60 min blast has not been easy. May be genetics have played a part and sadly I’m not getting any younger. Still with help and a lot of hard work I am making headway but as in many things in life, it’s not always an easy path. Having completed a block of short, hard, cyclocross specific training today it all went ‘pair shaped’! Guess that’s the ying and yang of sport. For every up there’s a potential down and a determined person refocuses; dusts themselves down and starts again.

So just because you’ve rested yesterday Phelan and driven over to the West Midlands final cyclocross race doesn’t mean it’s going to go well. Good start today but then disaster burping off a tyre. Then’curtains’! Oh well, I am sitting here thinking about all the positives I can claw back from today and just have to say to myself, this is just one of those annoying downs. Refocus woman because you have been pleased with yourself recently. This journey continues!

The face says it all! The 'pleasure' of cyclocross racing!

The face says it all! The ‘pleasure’ of cyclocross racing!

 

 

So what should you choose? Discs or cantilever brakes for cyclocross?

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A much debated question to which the answer may be dependent on what you can buy. The ‘die hard ‘ cyclocross riders, looking to the continent for their lead, still can’t see a place for them in traditional cross races, but what about us weekend warriors? I know I am not the first person to suggest this. Sure they add weight, but do the disadvantages out weigh the benefits? I still wasn’t really sure about this myself until this weekend.

 

This Sunday I nipped over to the Yorkshire Cyclocross League race near Sheffield to ride a challenging course in the mud. It had all the usual features plus some interesting downhill grass sections with turns at the bottom. Looking at the mess of other people’s bikes, I thought I’d ride the ‘disc bike’. Did I have leaves stuffed under the brake straddle wires? No ! Did I have to drag the brakes down the slope in order to take the speed off? No! I ripped down and slammed them on and off at the bottom. For me ‘it’s a ‘no brainier’ ! I can stop at the last minute with my hands on the hoods and in difficult conditions, only used one bike. May be its a good option if you haven’t got a spare bike in the pit. Might just get you round with a bit more.

I have included a link to an article published in Velonews. See what you think. May be its a case of ‘horses for courses’?

http://velonews.competitor.com/2013/02/news/cyclocross/the-fall-of-discs-what-weve-learned-about-cross-disc-brakes_274587

Notts and Derbys’ Cyclocross League, Allestree Park

image What a fantastic league this is turning into! At least 36 women put their front wheel on the start line. A mixture of abilities means there’s something for everyone and you can have your own race within a race.  Entries are taken on the day or you can pre enter if you are a British Cycling member.  It’s short, it’s sharp and you can be home for tea time! Why not give it a go in a non threatening, fun environment. You never know, it might just be the thing you’re looking for !

Notts and Derbys’ Cyclocross League

When the going gets tough the tough get going!

Happy girl and the settee is calling!

Happy girl and the settee is calling!

As the memory of warm days fade and all pervading grey takes over , motivation gets difficult. I like to throw in a few things to keep me going. Sometimes it’s a ride with friends, a new venue for a bit of mountain biking, or a rip round a field on a cross bike. Today I found a rather nice sportive.

A crap weather alert for today, sent this girl off to Carsington Reservoir to do a Dark and White Peak Challenge Events sportive. Loads of grinning and climbing have left my legs with that well used feel, and looking out of the window at the rain, I am feeling very superior. Good choice Phelan! May be I should have an emergency list for a rainy day. Hope not!

Dark and White Challenge Events

 

Goals To Keep You Sane

I don’t know about you, but each year I need a goal which isn’t competitive but based around a personal challenge. Why, you may ask? It keeps me sane when the competition isn’t necessarily going how I planned. It takes the competitive pressure off, provides a fantastic opportunity to experience something both motivating and new. If I was a young, up and coming athlete maybe this wouldn’t be the best approach but for someone older, who in real terms is getting slower, it keeps my head on the level. When reviewing the year, I don’t just dwell on competitive goals but the other things I have achieved as well.

So what have I managed to squeeze in so far? The C2C, numerous Alpine climbs, the 3 Peaks cyclo cross race and a few ‘centuries’ on the road. So that was the none competitive focus completed yesterday. A tough 100 mile in the Peak District curtsey of the Wiggle Peaks Punisher. It was really hard, I feel absolutely shelled today but I have a warm glow inside. Suddenly all the ups and downs of competition are put into perspective. I’ll never be a superstar but I am in my forties and still taking life by the horns.

So try it. It may just relight your fire!

Shelled but happy at the Peak Punisher

Shelled but happy at the Peak Punisher

Check this link out!