300 kilometres, 8700 metres of climbing, 4 days, 800 Riders, 1 World Champion, TransGermany 2012

Well I did it.
I completed TransGermany 2012.
It was the most amazing event I have ever taken part in.
800 riders, including World Champion Christophe Sauser, closed roads, entire towns shut for stage starts and stage finishes.
Crowds lining the streets.

It was a dream come true for me.
To spend all day racing my bike. Then resting, having a massage, having a meal, sleeping and getting up to do it all again day after day.
It was heaven.

And at times it was hell.
Climbing over 2700m in a single day, spending over 2 hours 30 mins with my heart rate at over 160 Beats Per Minute, seeing my teammates crack and fall behind me on the climbs, and knowing that this was only the first of 4 days.

It will take me a few weeks to properly get my head around it, and when I do, there will be more of it on this ‘blog. Much more.

So for now, a brief run-through.

Day 1 – 73kms – 2758m of climbing – 4 hours 26 mins (Sauser 3 hours 5 mins)
Today was all about climbing.
That smooth steady rhythmn and the sweet pain in the legs. The pain that you feel as ‘good pain’, the kind of pain Time Triallers talk about.
Hours of cadence drills on the turbo paying off.
Today I really surprised myself, and I enjoyed myself

Today I also had the pleasure of meeting the great Dane, Lasse Sommer.
Boy can that guy descend.
I quickly decided to follow his wheel on the last descent as he dropped like a stone and then we worked together on the run in to the stage finish.
At some point on the last descent we hit 75kmh.

I also handed on my nickname today to a worthy new owner.
Marius ‘Foot Out’ Ingjer.
On the days first descent on what the German’s know as ‘schotte’ (loose gravel) he was ‘foot out’ and often beyond his limits.
To the point that at one stage, I followed him around a corner and watched him slide his bike speedway style until he was pointing back up the hill.

Today was my best ever day on a bike.

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There’s no ‘I’ in team, but there is a ‘D’, a ‘W’ and a ‘C’

Until this year I hadn’t been in a team for a long time, a very long time.

Riding for DirtWheels Cycles for the last 6 months has been brilliant.

It is so easy to under-estimate the huge benefits of being part of a team.
In no particular order here are some of my thoughts.

• Turning up at races and seeing a host of new team-mates who soon become new friends.
• Cheering team-mates on and being cheered on when you are racing.
• Sharing car journeys to and from races.
• Lining up on a start line with team-mates.
• Having team-mates and Team Managers handing out water and food at races.
• Shared experiences, shared jokes, shared training rides.
• Lending, borrowing, sharing; advice, bikes, equipment and kit with team-mates
• The mickey-taking, the banter, the new nicknames. Yes, my wish for ‘Foot Out’ as a nickname is starting to stick, along with a handful of new nicknames.
• Being out on a ride and bumping into a team-mate.
• Plus the incentive of not wanting to let the team down.

In a nutshell, being part of this team is like having an extended family.
So, thanks Neil and thanks DirtWheels Cycles.
This team is really starting to become a part of me, to the extent that ‘DirtWheels green’ as I am sure Dulux would call it is starting to find it’s way into more and more of my wardrobe and equipment.

Nice beard

Russell: I saw Richard Madeley earlier today and he looked nice and ‘andsome. He sort of leaned out of his window and said, “Hey, you alright Russell?” And I went, “Alright, Richard? Where’s the beard?” Cos apparently he’d had a beard recently.
Matt: Do you know what? Do you know what that means as well? A gay man who has a wife, they call that his beard.
Russell: Oh my god he thinks that I think his marriage to Judy is a sham! Oh no! What have I said? I did, I looked over and went, “Where’s the beard?” And he went, “I’ve just got rid of it, it wasn’t working out!” OH NO! Watch the tabloids, watch the tabloids!”

I am no fan of Russell Brand, nor am I am fan of Russell Grant. And I don’t approve of sham wives or sham husbands either.

The above conersation on Radio 4 whilst not being Russell Brand’s most famous radio moment, the prescience of his ‘watch the tabloids’ comments aside, always made me wonder…….

Why aren’t there more beards in sport?

Since my face to tarmac interface a year or two ago I haven’t had a shave.
I keep my facial furniture tidy(ish) with beard trimmers.

And whilst there does seem to be a growing trend, if you’ll pardon the pun, for several cyclists to retain that unshaved, 2 day growth look, a la Mark Cavendish, there is still a shortage of real beards.
You know the sort of thing, a man’s beard, a grizzly adams, wildman, kind of beard.

So where are they?

Perhaps Russ Downing has the answer.

Oh and when I said I hadn’t shaved, of course I shave my legs, well it just wouldn’t be cricket otherwise.

The Krypton Factor

Last weekend was the North of England MTB championships at Aske, near Richmond.
Aske is perhaps best known for being the site of the Krypton Factor assault course.

The weather when I set off from home was warm, calm and sunny.
When Kate, Milo and I arrived at Aske it was cold and windy, very, very windy.

The race was dominated by Dirthweels Cycles riders with 4 of us in the Top 10 in Sport.

My teammate Dieter won the Elite category after a sprint finish with his nemesis this season, John Hopkinson.

And me?

I got my best result to date, 3rd in my category, my first ever podium.
The hard work is starting to pay off.


The water in Majorca……

So a week of training in wonderful Majorca with Geoff, Fern, Mrs J and a certain Mr Wiggins.
What can I say?
We rode lots, enjoyed the sun, caught a massive hail storm as we climbed Coll de Femenia, all improved our times up Sa Calobra, bumped into Wiggo.
Oh and that boy can climb. Geoff Beetham I mean, I wilfully hung with him as long as could and just as my lungs and legs felt like they were going to burst, and I felt the need to come down a gear i’d see him shift up to the big ring and pedal off into the distance.
After Majorca, we got home at 21:00, packed the kit for the Wiggle Enduro 6, finally got bed at midnight only to be up 05:00 the next morning and off to Catton Park.

The sunny Majorcan miles instantly started to pay off as my teammate and travelling companion Joey P, and I came a very creditable 14th out of over 100 in the Male Pairs.
And Geoff and Fern guesting for DirtWheels Cycles took 1st place in mixed pairs.
Add to that Nicky and Jane winning female pairs and DWC bringing a good fun party atmosphere to the event and it really felt like an extension of the holiday.

Foot Out

Earlier this year Kate and I attended the British Cycling Awards dinner.
Our good friend Geoff Beetham was being awarded with his MTB Masters National Champs award, and along with his Missus Fern, we were his guests.

Among the prizes for the well-known disciplines; mountain biking, road cycling, track cycling and cyclo-cross were a host of prizes for another discipline that in my ignorance I was barely aware of, grass track speedway.

Everytime an award was presented for grass track speedway they were met with shouts of ‘foot-out’.
Well they were from our table, and soon the neighbouring tables too were joining in.

But what am I trying to say? Apart from considering taking on ‘foot-out’ as a nickname.
I like the sound of Dave ‘Foot Out’ Johnston.
Well apart from the whole ‘foot-out’ thing that still makes me smile, I noticed that the dozen or so awards and National titles were spread across 2 clubs, and no more than half a dozen riders in total.

The point of this, yes there is one. Thank you for your patience, the point of this, is that if you want a National Champs jersey maybe grass track speedway is the way to go.
I don’t mean to belittle the efforts of the current holders of these titles but, hey, there doesn’t seem to be much competition.

So maybe next year, it’ll be me taking to the stage to receive a National Champs jersey from Hugh Porter, as the assembled masses scream my name,‘Foot-out’.

In the meantime here is a picture of my teammate and friend Joey Partridge very much ‘foot out’ at last weeks National Points MTB race at a very wet and muddy Dalby Forest.

And a picture of me fighting my way to a top 20 finish in the Sport category at my first National event.
Damn that hill was hard.

A Recession – 2 quarters of negative growth


Now I don’t pretend to understand what causes a recession.

And that’s what sets me apart from economists, bankers, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
They do pretend to know.
Thankfully that is not all that sets me apart from the very select group of people listed above.
Not that I have anything against economists. In fact some of my best friends don’t have anything against economists.

What I do know, is what it feels like when you get a puncture whilst riding your bike.
It feels bad.
It feels worse when you are racing your bike.
And it feels even worse when you are having one of those occasional ‘good days’ on the bike.
The rare kind of day when you feel like you can go faster, further and quicker than normal.

There is a French saying for one of those days when you have empty legs and can’t ride for love nor money.
They call it a ‘jour sans’. Literally a ‘day without’.
I don’t know if they have a saying for the opposite a ‘jour avec’ or perhaps just a ‘jour’.
Either way, on Sunday I was on a good day. I felt good, strong and quick.

And then….’….ppppppsssssssssssssttttttt’

The sound of air escaping from my back tyre.
That was part way through my second lap of four.

I managed to carry on riding, cringing as my rims banged and crashed against rocks.
I got a quick blast of air from a CO2 canister just before the end of lap 3 that just about saw me through to three quarters of the way through my last lap. When I finally succumbed and shouldered my bike and set off on foot.

I wasn’t alone in puncturing.
Several other Dirtwheels riders also punctured including Dieter who was looking good for the win in the Expert race.

Even with the puncture I was over the moon with my ride and with my result.

It was a brilliant event, with a great course. Great support, and a huge turn out from Dirtwheels, with riders in every race.
Highlights included:
Neil picking himself up after a crash to get 8th in the Male Vets and Nicky getting 4th in the Female Vets. Terry getting a top 10 in Grand Vets.
And 5 of us in the top 14 of Male Sport.

It was also a good event for our friends Ryan (1st Elite) and Emma (2nd Sport Women), Geoff (1st Masters) and Fern (1st Sport Women).

Useful Links:
http://www.nutcrackermtb.co.uk/
http://www.nutcrackermtb.co.uk/​Results/​Results_Gandale_2012.xls
https://www.facebook.com/​media/set/​?set=a.10150738057613679.423544​.583618678&type=1