Category Archives: Biking Adventures

It’s finally ready! Trans Alp 2016 cut one.

The Trans Alp bike race was one of the most incredible experiences and I cannot wait to do another stage race.

Here is the first video created by my Dads film company. Thanks Dad!

Thank you to everyone who supported our journey we could not have done it alone.

Hannah and Michelle x

Advertisements

An adventure to Afan

Last weekend Michelle, and I travelled to Wales for Battle on the Beach, the UK’s only beach race which takes place in Pembrey country park, South Wales.

On our way we stopped at Afan forest to test out our legs on one of their trials. I haven’t been to Afan in ages and this is the first time my new Specialized Era has seen rock!

IMG_2568

We decided on White Levels and started up the climb, it was very rocky with some big step ups in places but the 29er wheels ate up the ground. This is the first time I have been on something technical with this bike and I felt really confident on it with my 700mm handle bar and full suspension. I felt invincible! We soon were descending through the forest on tight singletrack,

It felt like I was flying as my bike made easy work of the rocky and rooty terrain.

One of my favourite sections is a board walk through the trees with some little steps and thinner sections and off camber turns. It’s really good fun and tests your nerve and ability to focus on what’s in front of you and not look down!

The 15km White levels loop is a great red trail with an even amount of ascent and descent. The climbs are technical in places and hard work, but the descents make up for it in excitement. This red trail has something for everyone, whether you like carving through the trees or feeling exposed racing down the mountain side. It packs a lot of features into a 15 km circuit.

It is well worth investigating Afan’s other trails when you are in South Wales.

Here is a short video on the best bits in my opinion!

Mountain Mayhem, Blog from midnight to morning

It’s 23:51 and I am waiting for Martyn to finish his first double lap. I don’t usually start blog posts half way through a race, but then my races are not usually in a pair, for 24 hours, so why the hell not! Plus there is so much to remember I need to start now as I fear my brain will not be the same come 12 noon tomorrow!

Today started in the usual way me making breakfast for me and Martyn, the difference today being we would be sharing in this adventure together. After practising the course together yesterday I was excited about racing as a team but hadn’t really considered the fact when one was riding one would be resting so actually apart from the hand over the baton there would not be much ‘time together’ never the less I was excited about the race, along with those beastly pre-race nerves I always get!

IMG_0690

At 11 we went to rider briefing followed by a Le Mans style start, I pulled the short straw and started which meant not only would I be riding the first lap I would be running the 800m to my bike! Not one for running I wasn’t thrilled by this idea.

I lined up helmet on bike parked behind me and when the horn sounded slowly crept forward into a run all the time being mindful not to trip or twist my ankle! The first lap went without a hitch and I passed the baton over to Martyn ready for his first lap and headed back to camp.

Now an hour is usually a long period time, but for some reason these ‘resting’ hours seemed to go very quickly compared to the time spent on the bike.. Anyone who can explain this please do!

IMG_0692

We had decided to do one lap on one lap off until 6pm and this worked really well I got in some fast lap times, perhaps getting a little over excited!

Each rest stop I would have a small carb snack mainly malt loaf or porridge seemed to be my nutrition of choice, also yoghurt coated peanuts and raisins so scrummy!

IMG_0696

6pm arrived quickly and I headed out on my first double lap of the day, half way round I felt like my pedal stroke had become a bit jumpy so stopped and got off and wriggled my crank arm, sure enough my bottom bracket had come loose I gingerly completed the lap, luckily as I came round to our base Martyn was standing on the side line ready to cheer me on so I pulled in after a quick decision Martyn sacrificed his two hour break to go back on the course so I could get my bike fixed. As expected I couldn’t get a new bottom bracket so had to do with getting it tightened.

IMG_0688

Once Martyn finished his lap I went back out on my double lap just as the sun started to disappear the forest was so dark I was a bit shocked by how much the tree canopy sheltered the forest floor. It seemed like double laps were becoming my nemesis as this time my headlight gave up on me, so again I pulled into camp which and grabbed a new light before heading back out for my second lap. It now seemed pitch black in the woods, the wind seemed to have picked up and every tree branch now resembled some scary monster trying to pull me off my bike! I worked hard to stick with people not really being a fan of the dark! Especially at the Skratch laps lakeside trail!

I was surprised by how the dark changed the perception of the course, a course I would say after riding it several times I knew well… But things seemed to have moved the smooth line through now had a tree stump and the more technical sections felt hard, I didn’t seem to be able to find the nice flowing lines I had enjoyed earlier in the day. When I came back into the arena this time close to 11pm I new I needed that good two hour break my legs weren’t that tired but my arm and back muscles were sore and I was craving hot food! Meatballs and pasta sorted out this craving and to make sure I was properly re-fuelled I had a porridge pot for good measure!

So I am now sitting in camp waiting for Martyn to get back and the plan is a few hours rest before starting again.

IMG_0709

At the moment we are lying in third place and have completed 13 laps so far not bad going for our first 24 hour race. I am very impressed with Martyn’s stamina he has not had time to do much training but seems to be breezing round.

Dawn Raid.

IMG_0710

After a well-earned and needed sleep I woke at 5 (slightly later than planned) and got breakfast ready. I had been having some bike issues so Martyn took the first lap. The last couple of hours went by in a blur of eat, ride, repeat. We decided that if I put in a fast last lap and got in just before 12 Martyn could then go back out, this worked well and I completed a fast lap feeling exhausted but proud to have finished as Martyn headed out for his last time. Meanwhile I started to get camp packed down, a little while later I looked up to see Martyn go charging through, sadly I missed his big finish (I’ll be there next year).

We sat down and had a well-earned rest Martyn had a celebratory beer or four! We had held on to our third place even with a 4 hour nap! So felt really happy with our achievement. Going up to collect our trophy from Princess Anne, who owns Gatcombe Park, was a moment I won’t forgot she shook our hands and asked how we divide the laps and I said I did the lions share! Actually only two laps more than Martyn so hardly the lions share but Princess Anne found it amusing. As you can imagine he won’t let me forget this!

IMG_0685

Thank you to Pedal 2 Pedal sponsors, Bike Fixers, Dog Tag and Grip Grab. Thank you to the organisers who put on an amazing event it was our first Mayhem and I am sure we will be back!

CICMsnQWwAM-udW

Training ride around Dunwich Forest

My latest training ride edit, from Dunwich Forest with my highly skilled videographer Dad! (thank you Dad). I love heading home to Suffolk and racing around Dunwich forest it is an unspoilt part of the countryside with wild natural trails and secret spots of singletrack.

One of my favourite rides involves a plank ride through the marshes, a path of steps to hop down and a beach ride past Sizewell nuclear powerplant with the waves crashing against the shore and the sea air you can’t help but fall in love with the beautiful landscapes you can reach on two wheels.

Winter begins!

Today I officially started my winter training after a couple weeks off. Winter training means lots of endurance miles and strengthening up my core ready for the new season in March.

With a clear weather forecast I opted for the slightly more fun off road ride. Starting in Petersfield I headed out to Queen Elizabeth Country Park (QECP). A good road warm up climb brought me to the back of QECP and yes another climb this time a fire road climb which are the down pour over the last couple of days had left leaves sprawled out over the chalk making for slippy riding to say the least!

I headed further up and onto the new blue trail which weaved through the trees, its a good blue great for beginners as the corners are nicely spaced and the gravel surface is beading in well to make a hopefully winter resistant trail!

QECP

Making my way onto the red trail it was great to be out on my bike again, the air was cold but from all the climbing I was toasty warm as my bike swooped down the steep red sections. Dodging puddles as I went, partly not wanting to get wet and partly as my tyres were pumped slightly too hard for sticky wet riding.

Working my way back to the top of QECP the sun shone low through the trees making seeing far ahead difficult so I had to slow down. This gave me time to take in the scenery the stunning colours of the leaves burnt orange and golden brown contrasted against the bright green moss.photo 3 - Copy (3)

 

The trails always look different in the winter, more severe, as the leaves retreat and the trees are left bare. Winter riding brings new challenges, not only how to keep warm but the clear line through the trail has now vanished and in its place is thick layer of mud ready to swallow your back wheel should you enter a corner with too much speed. The opportunity now presents itself to be the ‘black sheep,’ as following where those other bike tracks have gone is going to end up in the goo, so the game is now find the line around the mud that is still on the trail!

With the red completed it was now time to head back up the blue and on home. The sun was fading quickly which pushed me onwards and upwards towards home.

Grip Grab

Finishing the blue climb I took a slight wrong turn and ended on a gem of a singletrack run which soon spat me out onto the road lower down than I expected in the village of Buriton. Rolling into my drive it dawned on me how much of the trail seemed to still be stuck to my bike!

Silverback Syncra photo 5

2 hours 18 miles, a good start to the winter.