Been a funny few weeks…. some real ups and downs. Let’s get the downs out of the way first! I usually have a cast iron immune system so was gutted to get a heavy cold. Which turned into stomach problems. Which then morphed into a bad throat. And then back to a heavy cold again. The whole episode dragged out over nigh on three weeks meaning that little meaningful training could be done. And I drove Charlotte insane with my wingeing about loosing fitness. Heck, I bet I’m annoying! Well, better to get ill in the off-season. It’s finally petered out now and I’m ready to get stuck into the winter training (which, worryingly, I kind of look forward too).
Now the ‘local’ bit. I’m delighted to say that M Steels Cycles in Newcastle have offered me fantastic support for the coming year, on top off my existing sponsors. Steels is a high quality shop that has, over many years, built a respected profile in the north east. (The owner, Joe Waugh, was an Olympic cyclist). They have achieved their reputation by uncompromisingly catering for enthusiast and serious cyclists, offering loads of top drawer road and mountain bike stock. Chief spanner and all round good egg, Dave Buchan, will also be providing me with mechanical support at some of my target races. Oh, and they have provided me with a rather lovely full suspension bike that will compliment my existing hardtails…. I’ll be posting some pics soon but for now I’ll just say it’s flippin’ amazing and it’s Lance’s off-road steed of choice….
I’m very excited about the local partnership because it means we can work together closely. Steels are very keen on getting the name out there in the north east, and as I have found over the last couple of years, I really enjoy the promotional side of the sport and doing what I can to support quality cycle companies.
And this weekend just gone was the first major foray. We ran a Specialized demo weekend in Rothbury, Northumberland. It was primarily laid on for a large local mtb club, The Beamish Oddsox. For the very reasonable sum of £30 guests got to ride 2011 Spesh bikes in some ace Northumbrian singletrack and enjoy dinner bed and breakfast at newly opened Tomlinson’s bunkhouse. Thanks to Jackie for putting up with twenty or so muddy, wet cyclists and bikes for two days! It’s a beautiful bunkhouse and cafe which we did our collective best to ‘bed in’. It’s another local business that deserves to do well and I’m sure it will if this weekend is anything to go by. If you are looking for a walking or biking break in Northumberland it comes highly recommended.
The riding was great fun. It had rained heavily in the run up to the weekend, so the steep ground between the roots and the gritstone was gloopy and slippery…. brilliant fun, especially in the dark of Saturday night….
On the Saturday evening we sat in the pub whilst Dave gave a masterclass in wheelbuilding…. what he doesn’t know, you don’t need to…. 4mins 32 seconds to lace a wheel. A VERY useful man to have in the pits!
Anyway, I got past pint number two and had a choice; pints number 3/4/5… or another night ride home and another 40 miles in the bank by the time I would return for the Sunday ride. Fortunately the latter won out…. it was pouring down but that ‘it could be anytime’ sensation kicked in as I climbed out of Rothbury and I revelled in the ‘atmosphere’ of a wild winter night…
We all had a great weekend. The Beamish Oddsox were a fun sociable bunch and, even after only meeting them on the Saturday morning, there was a great atmosphere and we felt part of their group too. (A very different experience to my solitary threshold and tempo sessions on dark and deserted roads…). And I always like that buzz you get from taking people round your local patch… it always reminds you just how good local can be.