Cyclocross Tubeless Wheels and Tyres.

We have full inflation!

We have full inflation!

I dedicate this article to those in search of full inflation who despise mopping up pools of liquid latex. At times my bike shed has looked like a scene out of Ghost Busters, with pools of ectoplasm everywhere!

The search for a tubeless set up for my cross bikes has been both long and painful. I like the idea of not having to think about pinch punctures whilst riding my local gnarly trails and for events like the Three Peaks Cyclocross Race. However the worry of whether they would stay inflated just became all too stressful.

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Those close to me, know the trials and tribulations of Phelan’s tubeless conversion kits. I had tyres which stayed inflated for a year, then others barely making a week. Another tyre decided to dump it’s contents in the back of the car. I have enough stress in my life and I certainly don’t need worries with my hobby.

My last Three Peaks made me realise that for the sake of reliability I just had to dip my hand in my pocket, flash the cash and sort it. There’s no point travelling to an event only to find the night before, your bike sitting in a pool of ¬†latex. Yep one back tyre did that at 9:45 p.m in the B and B and another on my spare bike did the same when I reached Helwith Bridge. I only had a few miles to go which kinda made me laugh. I’m getting older and my bikes are all deflating! Is somebody trying to tell me something? Well I’m not sure about that, but Phelan has had enough.

IMG_2022Now I am not really a bike geek. If somebody I respect tells me something works, that’s usually good enough for me. All I did know was that some tubeless tyres don’t seem to seal well with certain tubeless rims. So off I trotted to The Bike Factory in Whaley Bridge, to ask their advice.

I am now the proud owner of some lovely wheels built on Stans No Tubes ZTR Alpha 4000 rims with Hope Pro 4 Hubs in a rather yummy go faster red. As for tyres I opted for Racing Ralph Evo CX s. Well that was about four weeks ago and I am still fully inflated.

IMG_2024So the moral of the story is, if someone says this has worked well in the past, it probably does. We can read articles until we are blue in the face but experience is everything. ‘Well it is for me anyway’ as she pedalled off into the distance ūüôā

Big thanks to Fred Salmon and the team at The Bike Factory!

In The Green Zone

 

In the green zone on Axe Edge

In the green zone on Axe Edge

It’s been nearly two months since my last cross race and I have to say I haven’t felt the ‘love’ for all things muddy. Finishing the season blasted and with a niggling injury, I’ve been happy to take things easy and slot in a bit more running. There’s a simplicity to running I love. No bike washing,decreasing, soaking clothes in a bucket…… just one pair of muddy shoes by the back door.

You can only sit on your laurels for so long before the urge rears it’s ugly head! It’s been happening for a few days and so today I had planned a 3hr+ ride over the Cat and Fiddle on a road bike. That’s all I’ve been riding recently. I like the idea of park and go when I return to the house and giving it a token squirt of WD40. The whole operation can be completed in about 10 minutes, if you get a real shift on. You can imagine my horror when I looked out of the window this morning and was faced with snow. So that was that, cross bike out and bite the bullet!

Going up in Macclesfield Forest.

Going up in Macclesfield Forest.

So glad I did. I have had such a fantastic ride today. Admittedly at the beginning I tried to scoot round any mud but once my mud head was on, off I went. Today I have ridden along a disused railway path; nipped along roads; negotiated snow packed bridleways through Macclesfield Forest, and joined the 4×4 brigade on a tiny road covered in snow. As well as topping out on the Cat and Fiddle along with loads of others, admiring the Winter Wonderland.

‘Yes’, to the man in the LandRover, this bike is the 4×4 of the cycling world and I am having fun. I am emulating my childhood, out on my pony, going where ever I fancy, be it road, trail or track. ‘No’ to the lady fell runner, I’m not going to fall off in the snow because with a bit of skill and a sense of adventure, I can do anything on this baby! ‘ Yes’ I am no longer a spring chicken, but I still love the thrill of riding something technically difficult and the sense of achievement of arriving on a summit.

Opposite the Cat and Fiddle

Opposite the Cat and Fiddle

Cross bikes, the true ‘do what ever you fancy bike’. I love them with a passion. Today Phelan has truly been in the green zone, have you?

http://believeperform.com/performance/emotional-thermometer-controlling-competition-anxiety/

 

Core Skills Session

Loving developing core skills with a great group of ladies. We’ve been working on balance, co-ordination, gear selection and cornering. Really looking forward to a bit of dismounting, remounting cyclocross style next time along with descending.

Here’s a little video clip showing the team in action.

The ‘Newbies’ Guide to Surviving a Cross Race

First mud fest of the year.

First mud fest of the year

Last weekend was my first really muddy cross race of the season. As I approached the car and began sorting myself out, I felt rather pleased with myself. It wasn’t about my result, because that was the performance I had expected, but rather that I was now, a well organised cross racer. You might think, what the hell is she on about? But I can tell you life is much improved from my initial mud fest in Baggeridge Park a couple of years ago.

I recall approaching the car with it’s light blue upholstery, my backside and gloves plastered in mud and everywhere else, an interesting shade of brown. It was freezing and I knew my priority had to be getting dressed and warm. But how? I didn’t know where to start! I was on my own, but somehow, had to galvanize myself into action. How could getting undressed under a towel be that hard? I opened the car door with filthy hands, covered everything, and sure enough the car door closed on my muddy bum, as I reached over to fetch my clothes. There went the nice light blue interior and you can only imagine what it was like trying to ram a muddy bike into the back of the car.A total freezing mucky hell!

This isn’t a guide to buying a big van, pressure washer or organising staff to help you. We all begin by going to small races on our own with minimal kit. So how can you make it a bearable experience? Well here is my personal guide to surviving and making the whole thing enjoyable.The key is organisation.

I have the luxury of two bikes which are carried on a tow bar mounted rack. This has been the best present I have every had. No more mucky bikes in the car! I always pray for rain on the journey home, hoping I will arrive back with two sparkly bikes.

All post race clothes, shoes etc are thrown into a special plastic tub which can be swilled later.¬†I do carry water, but usually a fair bit of this has to be used to wash the bike down after the practice ride, so there is little left for washing.Yep that sounds dreadful but believe me if you attempt to clean up with limited resources, the mess seems worse and most of it’s left on your towel. It seems better to just let it dry and jump in the shower at home. The use of a wet wipe on your face may be useful if you need to buy fuel or heaven forbid, talk to the RAC on the way home!

Faced with muddy wet legs, nice stretchy trousers like joggers or lycra bottoms pull on easily over filthy legs. Go for ease and speed, this is no time for vanity. You’ll just look like one of the ‘in crowd’!

On the way home I usually stop at the jet wash. I am slowly redistributing parts of the country, to a garage forecourt in Leek. Speed is your friend because by now you are dreaming about sitting on the settee with a well earned cup of tea¬†and it’s beginning to get dark.

Once at home, all the muddy clothes are left soaking over night in a preprepared bucket outside by the back door.The washing machine usually gets a reprieve until the next morning.

So there you have it! Phelan’s guide to making a muddy cross race as easy as possible. I have no doubt you may have some additional ideas yourself. All you need to fret about, is how to pedal fast.

An after thought – Do you think dried mud under lycra feels like varicose veins? Not that I have got any but it does feel weird, Let me know? lol

For all those older cyclists with aspirations of grandeur (a.k.a achieving our personal best)

A post for all my older friends and acquaintances who wrestle with the age old question, ‘what the hell am I doing?’

I frequently sit down and have a think about things I do. Should I still be racing?

Racing in a former life

Racing in a former life

Am I making the improvements I’d like? Is the amount of time I spend pursing goals¬†justify the end product? Does the training time and competing have a detrimental effect on those around me? Can I make the switch from long MTB endurance racing, to a short sharp cross race?

So what do I do? I read inspirational race reports, about veteran riders achieving amazing things and training articles to keep me going during those moments of self doubt. They pep me up and keep me going. It gets tough when the majority of people around you¬†can live a life of inactivity, think you’re totally nuts and really ought to bow out gracefully. Well people like me can’t! We love that feeling of being alive, pushing ourselves and feeling fit and healthy. So my fellow obsessives, nutters etc……. This article in Cycling Weekly is for you. Read, enjoy and may it feed your soul with determination and possibilities.

Don’t let age slow you down
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The 3 Peaks Cyclocross Race Through Rose Coloured Specs’

Steady girl!

Steady girl!  Photo by Alan Dorrington

Crawling my way up Pen y Ghent , a well meaning spectator shouted,’ Think about the retrospective enjoyment!’. I remember thinking, ‘ Oh shut up!’ at the time, but now it makes me giggle. Yep it is very much about the joy of completion and all those carries and dodgy descents are pictured through rose coloured spectacles. That’s the quirky thing about this cross race. The remembering is better than the ‘doing’!

Covering a total of 38 miles, the 3 Peaks Cyclocross Race, ascends the three highest peaks in Yorkshire, Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen y Ghent. The hills are connected by 18 miles of road and the rest of it consists of long carries and rocky descents.

The joy of Simon Fell

The joy of Simon Fell

This year a staggering 650 eager souls all lined on the start. For the majority of riders, getting the body and bike round is enough of a challenge. But of course, the front runners are chasing winning times, usually around the 3 hour mark.

For me, it’s about doing my personal best and if that results in a good position it’s a bonus. Having the benefit of already completed one event in 2012, I had made a few tweaks to my preparation and ride on the day. Rather than take a Camelbak I carried small bottles, ate and drank mainly on the road, rode the descents quicker and pedalled harder on the road. Prior to the event, I spent a lot of time on very rocky tracks. Trained on the Monkey Trail at Birches Valley Trail Centre, on a cross bike ¬†and moved my saddle forward which seemed to improve bike control.

Shaken but not stirred at the finish

Shaken but not stirred at the finish

Having finished 4th in my age category, despite having a raging sore throat 2 days before, it’s an ok result. It’s spurred me on to make plans for next year. What has happened to thoughts like ‘I can’t possibly carry this bike anymore’ and ‘what the hell has this race got to do with cycling?’ I couldn’t tell you,¬†but all I do know, is that it’s an amazing thing to do and is strangely additive. Am I going to be one of those riders who tells tales about their 10th, 11th, 12th …… ¬†3 Peaks? I think I know the answer and that does make me laugh!

 

 

Winter, why not give cyclocross a go?

Julie PhelanLooking for something exciting to do this Winter? Why not give cyclocross a go? Some fantastic regional races are already up and running, the details can be found on the British Cycling Cyclocross page. If you like short sharp racing where you can turn up, race round and be back on the settee for tea time, this could be for you!

It’s a discipline full of contrasts and that’s why I love it. I start racing in September with my sunglasses,on dry and fast terrain but finish in January/February with as many clothes on as possible, up to my knees in mud.¬†Courses can be a mixture of terrain, ranging from grass, woodland, road and gravel tracks,each requiring a different style of riding. Off camber, banks and steps all add to the fun and provide a different skill, perfected by the serious cross rider. I am no power house but the different elements of cross enable me to make gains in different areas, so it almost becomes a case of ‘horses for courses’. Clearly if you want to be a good cross rider you need technique, speed and strength. Don’t let that put you off! Cross is full of fun loving weekend warriors, who are up for something different. Let’s face it you’ve got to have a sense of humour to hack round a muddy field in the depths of Winter only glad in lycra. Julie Phelan

No you don’t need a cross bike to race at local or regional level, a mountain bike will do. That’s how we all start and as for the kids, well there’re usually races for even the smallest. A truly inclusive sport which caters for all, have a go! ¬†It’s very addictive and when you complete that race knee deep in mud, you’ve scaled that muddy bank which felt like the Eiger, you’re going to feel so proud of yourself. Arrrrrh that warm glow when you’ve done something really worthwhile. See you there!

If you’re still in two minds maybe this little trailer will change your mind. It makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck, but then I love cyclocross!

(The complete film ‘For The Love of Mud’ can be bought from Vimeo of demand)

Women’s Training Day – 5th September

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Based at the Birches Valley Visitor Centre, the aim of the course is to develop women’s confidence to enjoy riding off road. In a relaxed, no pressure atmosphere the morning session will cover elements such as cornering and riding berms, braking techniques, riding easy drops as well as ¬†lifting the front and back wheel over roots and small rock steps.

After lunch, the group will set off on a guided ride to apply their newly acquired skills on the numerous tracks and trails found on Cannock Chase.

For more details or any questions please contact me using the email above. Payment can be made using PayPal or cheque.

Ridley-Western Summer Cyclocross Series

 Shelled but happy ! Is that nuts???

Shelled but happy ! Is that nuts???

The problem with deciding to race just in the Winter, is that the ongoing Summer race chat makes you feel a tad twitchy. So I found myself trekking down to Bristol last  Wednesday. The Ridley- Western Summer Cross Series has been running for a few weeks now and it has been in the back of my mind as a possibility.

The whole affair had a laid back feel, with a great group of people. I had a brilliant evening, riding a good course with a nice mixture of tricky turns, steep off camber sections, roots, steps and the added bonus of electronic timing.

Racing  in Pro Vision colours for the first time, I finished first in my age group with a sound performance.  Whilst I am not a big advocate of racing all year round, I must admit the occasional off season race certainly adds a bit of spice and keeps me motivated. More importantly, I have made some new friends who I know I will meet again for a bit of cross bike action.

Thanks guys and gals. It was lovely to meet you and yep the FlanRou on September 6th looks fantastic .

There are two races left in the series, so if you are down that way why not give them a whirl? https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/events/details/130080/Western-Summer-Cyclo-Cross-League-Round-9

FlanRou CXSportive, the Sunday after round one of the SW Cyclocross League which has a floodlit final. Both start from the same venue with overnight camping http://flanrou.com