About Dave Johnston

Cyclocross and Mountain Bike racer for Dirtwheels Cycles

I’m back

Not quite Arnold Schwarzenegger.

That is true in so many ways.
After 6 months away from racing, following a late diagnosis of glandular fever, I made a return to racing.
Having had a few years of racing year round in mountain bike and cyclocross races, I finally had ‘a winter’.

And how did I make my comeback? In a 3 man Team Time Trial of course.

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Cold, naked, shivering, in a car park, in the woods.

No this is not the start of a Twin Peaks inspired sexual fantasy, nor is it the start of a Crimewatch re-enactment featuring me and Stan Collymore.

It is how I spent part of Sunday afternoon.

This weekend was the first of the British Cycling Cross Country Mountain Bike Series at Sherwood Pines.
The temperature barely got above freezing point, and there was snow everywhere. Well, nearly everywhere. It turned out that under the snow was mud. Lots of it.

The races started on Sunday with a brilliant win for Dirtwheels young prodigy, Jake Poole who won the Juniors; beating amongst others, Nick Craig’s son Tom.
Jake providing great inspiration to Sophia, the young daughter of one of my friends, Ian. Sophia has recently broken three vertebrae in her back in a fall from her BMX. Jake, having overcome the same serious injury in the last 18 months.

Dirtwheels boss Nicky Hartle rode brilliantly in the Vets Womens to finish just outside a podium place.

Then in the afternoon, which had brief moments of sunshine, (leading to frantic attempts to top up suntans for those recently returned from the Dirtwheels Training Camp in Spain) came the Masters and the Vets races.

Martin Graham, AKA “the Flying Scotsman” started the Masters from the number 1 slot.
Unfortunately a saddle related mechanical saw him drop to a still impressive Top 20 finish.

The Boss (Neil Hendry, not Bruce Springsteen) and I lined up on the grid for the Vets race.
Neil had a really good, ride slugging it out with Jough Watson from Charge Bikes.
It was also the first time that I had ever seen him muddy.
And me, well I raced, and then I shivered, cold and naked in a car park, in the middle of the woods.

Rob Watson also did a super job of pit duties for me, even extending to having hot food ready for me when I crossed the finish line and cleaning my bike whilst I struggled to get changed.
I owe you one Rob.

Other notable rides included my good friend Fern Henry finishing second in her first year racing in the Expert category.

And spare a thought for the amazing Joolze Dymond.
Whilst we race around these often cold and muddy courses, Joolze can normally be found lying in a ditch somewhere, inches away from a cyclist on the edges of control, taking superb photo’s like the one below.
Thanks Joolze.

JD4_8003

Check out her brilliant blog and website:
http://joolzed.blogspot.co.uk/
http://www.joolzedymond.com

First come first served

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I spent ages trying to find a wittier, funnier title based on a euphemism that Frankie Howerd would have been proud of. I couldn’t come up with one.

After my first full season of racing with the best cycling team in Yorkshire, Dirtwheels Cycles, and a year that saw several other firsts;

My first podium
My first child being born
My first National Series race
My first UCI stage race

I realised that my cycling life is made up of a series of firsts.
So as I continue to race through 2013 I will be going through some of my cycling firsts, and what they meant to me.

So, my first first, to get this up and running is my first bike.
Being a child of the Seventies it was all about the triumvirate of Raleigh Moto Cross styled bikes: Grifters, Boxers and Strikas.
Bikes that paved the way for the E.T. lead invasion of the BMX’s.

And my first bike was the little brother to those off-road styled bikes.
It was a Raleigh Chukka.

chukka

But unlike the one above mine didn’t have stabilisers.
My Dad refused to put them on, and for that I am eternally grateful.
I learnt that if you fell off your bike it hurt, so you kept that bike upright.

The off-road bug has clearly stayed with me as I now race Mountain Bikes and Cyclocross.
Unfortunately that lesson about not falling off is one that I am still trying to remember.
I have now graduated to a fantastic Felt 29er as my race bike of choice, and still no stabilisers.

felt 29er

The next generation

dwcrudy

Just over a month ago Kate and I became parents for the first time.
Kate gave birth to our daughter Rudy.

After the birth I took almost 2 weeks off the bike.
I managed to do a bit of running just so that I didn’t go totally flat.
If the truth be told, I needed a bit of a break.

I am still getting out on the bike a bit, but I am spending more time on the turbo.
Which given the crappy weather is no great hardship.

Rudy has already been to 3 cyclocross races and doubtless will go to many more.

So the next generation of Johnston’s is here.
Better get some Dirtwheels Cycles babygrows ordered.

Dreader than dread

I only had two major events on my hit list this year:
TransGermany Mountain Bike Race and the 3 Peaks Cyclocross Race

TransGermany proved to be so much more than I could have imagined, my best ever time on a bike.
In the run up the 3 Peaks Cyclocross I was feeling a real sense of dread.
I wasn’t looking forward to it at all.
It is a tough event at the best of times but the weather leading up to this years edition only served to increase my unease.

Now as anyone who knows me will tell you, I am what is technically known as a ‘scrawny get’.
Cycling is one sport where this is often a benefit, but it does leave me prone to getting very cold, very quickly.
After my real suffering on the last day of TransGermany due to the cold and wet conditions, the prospect of lugging my bike up the 3 highest peaks in Yorkshire in similar conditons worried me.

My good friends and fellow 3 Peaks Cyclocross competitors Ryan Henry and Geoff Beetham tried their best to assuage my fears, but I was scared.

As we stood on the start line in non-stop rain, I zipped up my waterproof.

The zip broke.

This was going to be a long day.

It was hellish, the rain was constant, the wind, reaching speeds of 50 mph.
The ground was barely visible as most of it was submerged.

Even the usual cameraraderie that makes the 3 Peaks Cyclocross such a special event was lacking.
Everyone was simply gritting their teeth and getting on with it.

The highlight of the whole day for me was riding through the lake that had formed on the track up to Pen Y Ghent.
I am not exaggerating when I say that it was up to the headtube on my bike.

So from really not looking forward to it, I went to simply laughing at the ridiculousness of it all.

I finished 90 places higher than last year, and I left Helwith Bridge smiling.
It really is a magical event, once it gets under your skin it changes you in subtle but significant ways.

That night my teammate, Rob Watson and I, spent several hours sharing the funniest sights and events that we had experienced during the race and making our plans for next years race.
I think we were both coming to terms with one of the toughest races we’d ever done.

Important Results
Ryan Henry – Flatout Cycles – 9th
Geoff Beetham -Retrobike – 14th
Rob Watson – Dirtwheels Cycles – 35th – 1st Under 23
Ruairi Revell – Dirtwheels Cycles – 100th
Ben Cooper – Dirtwheels Cycles – 152nd
Nick Elder – Dirtwheels Cycles – 162nd
Davey Johnston – Dirtwheels Cycles – 170th
Terry Beddis – Dirtwheels Cyles – 382nd

Warning signs

Sometimes you need to to have a break.
I have been working hard at work, getting the house ready for the imminent birth of our first child, I have carried on training and racing.

I have also been falling off my bike.
Nothing serious, no bad injuries. A few scratches, scrapes and a cracked fingertip.
I should have read the signs.

I raced at the final Nutcracker MTB race on Saturday.
And I did 2 things that I haven’t done before this season.

Firstly I got a great start. I went off like a rocket and held it all the way up the first climb.
Then I crumbled.

The legs were so empty, not just the legs, everything.
I felt like somebody had pulled the plug out.
It was horrible. I was totally nailed and still had 2 hours of racing to do.

So I am going to have a holiday.

Take a few days off, get away from everything for a few days with Mrs J and Milo.

I can’t wait.

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Jumpers for goal posts

At the start of this year I had 2 goals.
Well 2 goals in a cycling sense anyway.

They were simple:
Goal 1
Complete TransGermany

Goal 2
Continue to improve at the 3 Peaks Cyclo Cross.

Goal 1 was not only achieved but I managed to exceed my own expectations.
And once it was done everything sort of went flat for a bit.
It had been such a focus for so long that once it was over I sort of felt a little bit empty.

But not for long.
The Sunday after TransGermany I was back racing again.
This time at the NPS at Kirroughtree.
It wasn’t my best race ever.
I was cream crackered.
And managed to smash my nadgers on my bike.

Which brings me to how your goals can change.

Mrs J is now 24 weeks pregnant.
So there will be a new addition joining us.

So with my first offspring due 1 month after the 3 Peaks Cyclocross do I change my target of bettering last years time?

Perhaps.

As a result of racing at Kirry I moved up to just outside the top 20 in the national rankings.
So as a back up target do I now aim to finish the season in the top 30, the top 25, the top 20?
I don’t know.

But I do know that there are going to be some more challenges, and changes of focus over the next few years.

All sensible advice and suggestions are welcomed.
Here is the boss giving me his advice and wisdom before Kirry.
Something along the lines of ‘try not to permanently damage your ability to pro-create’ or something like that anyway.

Oh and a song that I like, about goals.