Friday, 29 January 2010


My brother needs some technical Foot Orienteering training to help him improve. He's an awesome runner, who has just been selected to represent Hampshire at XC, but his navigation in technical terrain is ok, but it could be better.

So, I offered him a place to stay in Sheffield for the weekend, and this morning, much to his amusement he was on his way to Sheffield at 6am! I asked GG (WOC relay winner 2008) to coach him and shadow him around a few courses I planned in the peak district. I tagged along, but took a few shortcuts expecting the boys to be running considerably faster!

It was a stunning day at Fox House, clear skies, patches of iced snow and a slight breeze. My southern brother thought it was freezing, whereas us hardened 'northerners' find it mild, like spring come early!

First course of the day was a rocks course, where Jack had to navigate between boulders and crags going from technical to vague and back to technical sections of the map. I think control 4 was interesting, as I ran past/behind the boys I was aware of Jack ... looking lost. Apparently ten minutes later he found the two HUGE boulders and carried on. The end of the course was over the valley so I sat down on the cliff top in the sun and watched as they ran up the hill, then down, had a conflab, ran around again and finally found the rock feature.

Whether it was the early morning, the 90 minutes technical training or a combination of both ... this was the result ...

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

An Amazing Sunset

This morning I was in Uni for 2 hours and then again in the afternoon until 3pm. During the two hour lunch break I headed to the gym for an hour's training and to read my book as I sat on the bike.

The afternoon turned bright and sunny at about 2pm ish and as I sat in the lecture, not feeling the most enthused by the topic being taught, my mind wandered to the beautiful weather and my planned training ride! I was out on my bike doing road intervals by half 3, and stayed out riding around to Hathersage and Ladybower for two hours. Wanting to get an extra interval in, I turned off the Sheffield - Glossop road at the top of the A57, onto a minor road which headed down the ridge. My slight route choice error, (and resultant ride home in the dark) turned into a good move, when I felt the sun warming my back somewhat and the world turned a tinge of pink. I figured that one awesome sunset was going on behind and stopped in my 5 minute recovery period to check it out ...

It was a beautiful sight on such a chilly afternoon, and my vantage point on the ridge made it even better.

I really enjoy evening rides. The smell in the air always reminds me of summer evening rides with the last of the day's sun keeping you warm and the air temperature being somewhat hotter than it is currently! My mind frequently wanders and I often find myself reminiscing about my travels over the last year. Before I know it, two hours have past and I'm knackered!

Monday, 25 January 2010

BUCS Cyclo Cross 2010

The last few weeks I have been getting back into training, managing about 13 hours of quality sessions per week. I'm not doing anywhere close to the hours I did last January, and, although I feel tired, I have made some changes to my training plan, which I hope will start having some positive effects by April!!

Below is a race report of the British Universities and Colleges Sport - BUCS. Cyclo Cross - Wolverhampton 24th Jan 2010

A few months ago I was somewhat tempted to do this race. Why not, I thought, I can buy a ‘cross bike, get in some races and might do ok. When it came to completing the entry forms I filled mine out and sent it, feeling pleased that I would be doing another form of cycle racing that wasn’t solely MTBO.

Funnily enough, I never got a proper bike, and never did any races. A week before the race I was starting to have doubts that I even wanted to put myself through this pain at all! My only experience was a full year ago, when I spent 60 mins groveling around a field axel deep in mud, and was spent by the half way point in the race. So, it is perhaps understandable that I was feeling nervous. 

Sheffield Hallam had entered a team of 4 men and 2 women. My team mate who won the Yorkshire and Northern CX races this season failed to show at the race, which was a huge disappointment to everyone. We drove down to Wolverhampton in the morning of the race and upon arriving, I noticed my front disc brakes were a little worn ... to tell the truth, they were a lot worn! A quick panic and change of pads and my bike was sort-of ready, albeit with 2.1 Racing Ralph tyres. After looking at the track, I realised I probably wasn’t at such a huge disadvantage having my MTB as the course twisted and turned constantly and the steep slopes to the railway line were muddying up throughout the day. My brakes proved superior on these steep sections, only aided by having suspension!

There I was. On the start line of my second ever CX race. With ten other University women. All of whom had the proper kit. Nothing like a last minute confidence boost!

I quickly established within the first half lap, that I was probably going to finish 5th. I had left 4 of the girls behind in the mud and slope sections, whilst the other 4 (looking rather pro) had sped of leaving me in no-mans-land! A bit of head-to-head corner racing with the veteran men proved to go in my favour (perhaps my boisterous road riding skills came in useful, with a little undertaking and use of elbows). I found the first 3 laps ok, pushing a good pace, and with the course not too muddy, I was able to hold a good speed. The final 15 minutes were a painful 15 minutes, where the course suddenly got progressively muddier, bringing back all kinds of Mountain Mayhem 2008 memories. 

Some looking over my shoulder ensued, and one of the girls was gaining, slowly but surely. A bit more power through the pedals. A bit more effort in the mud. A bit more air into my lungs. A bit more of that burning sensation in my legs. And a bit more pain, and I was in the finish, in 5th place!

Amusingly, despite my hesitations pre-race, I didn’t want to drop out of this one, I didn’t have any of those negative thoughts that mid-race can sometimes prove fatal. I enjoyed it, and I can see that next season, cyclo cross will be a great way to improve my cycling skills. I am sure, without a doubt, I will be attending the 2010 season, with the proper kit in hand and a racing licence!

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Snow snow snow!

I've spent the last 5 days in Sheffield, and, since I had finished my dissertation before New Year, I have spent most of the daylight hours out skiing. Mostly I've spent a good 4 hours playing around on the 'piste' the sledger's have made, but everything is made much tougher with no ski lift to pull you up to the top again!

Today however, my legs are feeling a bit tired and in need of a change. Since the snow is expected to last for at least another week, if not increasing in depth today with another band of snow due from Russia, I am not in any rush to head out to the 'piste' today.

Instead, I went for a 75 minute run ....

I've not really done much Foot O since I took up MTBO 3 years ago this March, and apart from being badgered into the occasional training session by GG or parents, this is pretty much the first I've done of my own free will. And do you know what? I loved it!

There was something rather nice and peaceful about doing a Foot O session around Bingham Park running through pristine snow. I did wonder on a few occasions what it was that had motivated me to run through snow-hiding-brambles-and-all-kinds-of-crap, but nevertheless, I managed it, and found all 50 checkpoints :-)

This afternoon I'm out to the gym for some spinning intervals, but other than that, I suppose I had better crack on with some Uni work. I don't think the excuse ' I was playing in the snow' will hold up too well!

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

A fun day...

I have spent the past 3.5 weeks at home in the 'warm' but sunny south of Wiltshire with my family. Brother = annoying pest. Sister = socialite. Parents = much love and many treats, nice food from Mum and bike rides with Dad. Dog = many cuddles, licks, purring (on her behalf) and a hell of a lot of fur! This has been the longest length of time I have spent at home since I left for Uni 2.5 years ago. I usually head back for a week, 10 days at the most, before I disappear again into the realms of the North, as yet unexplored in great detail by my family!

After a brief flurry of snow 5 days before Christmas, and many hawfrosts and cold sunny days after, I have spent a fair amount of time inside (relaxing) and outside (running and biking). It amuses me that after my first Adventure Race, I have taken up running again to get fitter. Especially considering I still find running boring, mostly due to the fact that I don't go very fast, and lack any form of running fitness to be able to go very far. I usually end up staring at the same piece of tarmac for a long time...

Anyway, I had written 95% of my dissertation before xmas, so I took a good three weeks off before looking at it again. After making a few final changes I had it printed and bound, with 10 days to spare before the hand in. It is due in on Friday, so I have very little to be getting on with until lectures start again on Monday!

Found my skiing boots in the loft at home, and my wishful thinking paid dividends when I got back to Sheffield today to find several inches of snow :-) Thanks Dad for driving me. Bracken seemed to enjoy the trip too, and a snowy walk around the Cemetery was ... just right.

After persuading Dad that I did need a pair of ski's I spent 5 hours, trekking up Porter Brook for 90minutes, and made an attempt at skiing. (Note: I've just re-read this post, and I have no idea what the last sentence was actually meant to say!) Once I had remembered how to turn a corner, it was much more fun without stone walls and barbed wire fences approaching at a slightly out-of-control speed! I then set myself the challenge of skiing back down from Porter Clough (usually at 25 minute moderate MTB ride from my house) back into Sheffield. I managed this ok, working out how to propel myself forwards when on the flat (either stopping and getting a push from James, or getting a tow). We must have been quite a sight on occasion in Endcliffe Park. Me on ski's, James on his snowboard!