It has been a long time since I’ve done a proper one of these- chiefly because the podcasts are where I do most of my thinking out loud when it comes to bike stuff. The danger though, is that once you’ve said it, you can’t edit it- not with Seb’s editing style anyway- it all goes in. With a blog however, you can take a bit more time and create perhaps a more succint point than just casual chat with two other equally sarcastic and opinionated people… If you haven’t listened to Chasers yet- check it out here:
But I do endevour to use this blog more- as I enjoy writing and getting my ideas out- even if no one reads or agrees- it’s more than beneficial anyway!
Before we start, please do check out our new MMXX Season 1 casual collection. The idea is we have multiple seasons during a year and each one is limted edition, so when it’s over, the designs are gone. So get them while you can! We do this for the love and certainly not for the money- it all goes back into new designs and ideas. So any support you can show us is MASSIVELY appreciated, whether that is telling friends, sharing posts or buying something even as small as socks- it makes a big difference.
Check the range by clicking the banner a the top or here:
If you are a listener of the Podcast or reader of the Blog, you will be aware of my change of direction last year very much towards riding and racing more offroad than onroad. I discovered offroad again after doing it so much when I was younger and just became disenfranchised with the entire idea of road- get shouted at by angry people in cars, hit potholes, ride on the same boring bits for hours. Compared to offroad, where every time you go out it’s a different adventure and such a good workout too. There was also the element of crashes in road races I was meant to be racing in and it just felt like there was only negatives compared to the positives and the promise of a season of cross approaching.
With that, I sold my road bike, bought a lovely Vitus cross bike and set about having as much fun on it as possible for the remainder of the good weather. That meant my first cross bike (a Crux) was relegated to Zwift duties and sitting in the pits looking sad at cross races. Except the time I didn’t take it and got a flat- justice for the Crux right there.
I had the best time racing with and meeting all the amazing Cyclocross scene and had the most fun on a bike. I cannot recommend cross enough- but again- you’ll know that if you’ve listened to the podcast or read a blog.
As the season has finished, I’ve turned my attention to the year ahead and felt a relative empitness in that there wasn’t really any goals or events to train hard for. Due to racing at the weekends, my training had dropped dramatically over winter as I wasn’t doing te 3-5 hour ride at the weekend so felt like although I was cross race fit, I had work to do on my general cycling fitness to add to all the good short intensity stuff in my legs.
I had convinced myself that doing Zwift races and then weekend rides etc would see me through but it didn’t give me that exctiment of having something to work towards. So I have decided to balance road with offroad and enjoy both.
With that, I’ve decided to use Trainer Road again and follow a plan as best I can to get the most out of my time on the bike. I have a new quiet direct drive trainer that means I can train before work which hugely helps with following a plan- giving me some consistency. That all starts next week and I’m looking forward to getting into some intervals whilst watching The Thick of It. I’ll miss the racing on Zwift but I’ll just get it in real life instead.
I’ve joined a fantastic new team in Crawley Wheelers Race Team that want to race exactly how I’ve always wanted- as a team and with tactics and ideas. I want to ride for and with others and make racing exciting. The plan is to do the Handicap series, the Goodwood series and any road races or town centre crits I can make if life allows. The key being that family and life takes priority at weekends when we get to see eachother! The other brilliant thing about CWRT is when it comes to cross season and other events, they are the number one, so I can’t wait to see how I can help and be involved and hopefully with TCC too.
A problem though- I had sold my road bike. Which leads me onto my next point…
How much bike do you really need?
Thinking the grass is always greener is something that so many of us fall into when it comes to cycling. Once the idea gets in your head that you’d be faster, or perform better, or get that better result if only you had x, y or z. Once it’s been thought- every ride or race without it is purely just a waste. Whether that’s genius marketing or a flaw within myself, or both, I don’t know. But I recognise it and am making a stand against it. I want to prove to myself that I have enough, I don’t need to constantly upgrade and change things to make me better or faster. If you can afford it, then sure, go for it! But I feel I have more than enough in an expensive carbon cross bike that again is well overspecced for what I do. I didn’t want to (and can’t) do the same again but with a road bike- even though I pre-disposition to think thay anything other than a beautiful Venge Pro or System Six will mean I do terribly in all races, even if I am in the form of my life.
It’s simply not true, a new bike is such a small factor in performance and when compared to performance per £, is laughable. Many people have many reasons for buying such bikes and believe me, if I had the spare cash, I would- but as I don’t, I’m not going to ride my current bike and wish it was something else. I’m going to love it and enjoy riding it, knowing that I’m not on something worse, just different.
The Crux is that bike. I’ve borrowed (stolen) Ed’s wheels and stuck on a £10 Planet X stem and created what I believe to be a truly beautiful bike. I love the geo of cross bikes, with the high bottom brackets they really feel like part of you when you ride them, and the control and responsivness is amazing. It’s everything I need to race on. 8 speed Claris groupset with a Tiagra old front mech and chainset, canti brakes with carbon pads and it’s good to go. Gearing wise it’s not massive- 46-12, but I can happily spin at 120 which is good for 35+. If I lose a sprint for a podium because I ran out of gears, I’ll buy a second hand Claris 50-36. Until then, It’s fine!
I’ve already gone up Harting Hill 30 seconds quicker than when I had my Cannondale, so it’s got no issue with road riding that’s for sure. I love the fact it’s a second hand cross bike now turned race bike. Weight wise it isn’t too far off what I’ve had before- and seeing as I don’t weigh much, it isn’t the end of the world. It has a story, character, and I can’t wait to get funny looks or comments from roadies as to why my road race bike has 9 miles of clearance at the forks and chainstays. The new Hope track bike is similar I guess…
It all stems from Seb’s love of the Cannon (his Cannondale- check our Instagram of it) and how he has always returned to it from whatever fancy bike he’s had. His love and enthusiasm for that bike made me want to do something similar.
Gravel Chaser 3: The Spring Classic
Spring is fast approaching (if you say it enough times, it will happen) and as the classics are now underway (how good was the opening weekend!!!) I wanted to talk about our very own classic.
We’ve refined Gravel Chaser after two brilliant events to give people something we know they’ll love. 50 miles of mixed terrain, with mainly flowing gravel track and singletrack.
We had 50 places open and at the time of writing there is just 1 left. However, there will be some extra slots opening up as the demand has been so high.
The aim, as always- is to ride and have fun, with some sections where people can test themselves should they wish. There is a pub at the start and at the end, where we can share stories and check times and pictures! All abilities are welcome- with there being B options for any technical sections so you’ll be fine no matter what.
I rode part of the course the other day and it was fantastic- hopefully it’ll dry out slightly but we do want some mud for the adventure.
Please come and get involved and tell your friends!
See you soon