I haven’t blogged for a couple of weeks due to a road trip that came in two parts. The first trip was over to Glenmore Lodge to attend a three day Velotech Platinum bike maintenance course. The trip didn’t start well as we couldn’t get over the Lecht even with snow socks, so it was the long way round and shredded snow socks. Fail.
On arriving at the lodge we met excellent instructor Alex and delegate Ian and set about the next three days building wheels, bleeding brakes, facing and chasing, reaming and occasionally getting frustrated, but I got there in the end and now I’m properly qualified to lead Velotech courses up to Gold level. It was the most chilled out course I have ever done, mainly thanks to Alex. Wheel building is the closest I’ll ever get to knitting (but I’ve got to learn to bake before that). So cathartic and relaxing. It’s like a form of meditation.
Whilst my travelling partner-in-crime, Brenden, had work to attend to in the morning and evenings before and after the course. Ian and I made use of this spare time riding in the dark. Mornings spent ascending the climb to the Cairngorm ski station waiting for dawn to come up and evenings exploring the local environs before dinner. We got to know each other really well as we kinda tread a similar path. With Ian though, his main strength appears to be with hill running and with being based in Northern Ireland, has represented both north and south of the country in international events. I look forward to contriving a bike tour to go and see him soon and he seems keen to run our local hill event the Illuminator next year. Check out his Blog. It's ace.
With only Saturday to “recover” and get organised for the next trip, despite youth coaching in the morning and MTB with the Velodees in the afternoon, once Sunday arrived it was off to Dunfermline with my daughters to try and finish in the top ten of SCX4. Another great race, my favourite thus far, all in mud, mud, glorious mud. Job done, ninth, and then south to Manchester and stay with my folks for a few days.
So whilst my kids were getting spoilt rotten, I was attending the International Cyclefit Symposium which was kicked off by Professor Steve Peters (renowned for his work with Britains top cyclists and author of the Chimp Paradox). Being me, I had to get the first question in, though I’m not sure he appreciated it as I was curious as to why Mark Cavendish was so dismissive of his methodologies as stated in the Manxman’s book, “At Speed”. For a nano-second I thought I’d provoked his chimp, but Prof Peters is way too clever for me and probably saw me coming before I did.
No time for cycling on this particularly Monday as straight after the last presentation it was straight over to the Seipps in the Peak District for dinner. I was having a cup of tea with them a couple of weeks ago and Tom’s mum, Anne suggested I bring my eldest daughter round. She’s been following Tom on his exploits ever since she saw him on the Adventure Show at the tender age of 9 doing the Strathpuffer with Dad, Rich riding as a chaperone. Both Rich and Tom are Team JMC riders and given the plans the two youngsters were hatching we could be seeing some mixed pair racing and ambitious challenges in the very future. Wonderful.
Day 2 of the symposium was what I came for - keynote speaker and my all-time cycling hero Graeme Obree. Of course I had to get the first question in, which he seemed to like. I then got chance to catch up with him on a few occasions, even sitting next to him through one lecture of aerodynamic bikefitting which allowed us to engage in a very interesting discussion on aerodynamic field testing. Graeme’s idea is so simple, it’s brilliant. Typical Graeme Obree thinking and another experiment to try.
During the second day the legs were getting twitchy so I decided to forego lunch and do an urban tour of Manchester on the CX bike visiting landmarks I recall from yesteryear and some new ones that have sprung up since I left for Scotland at the tender age of 18. It’s a great city Manchester. It’s amazing how easy it is to take things for granted.
And so on Tuesday night it was back up north, stopping in Penrith to get my tea from my favourite diner, “The Little Chippy” where the girls made a friend with a ginger cat called Mylo who liked to sit on people’s shoulders and once positioned wasn’t on for moving. That seemed to be the highlight of the wee tour for my girls. Simple pleasures. Much laughter. Ace. And no I’m not getting a cat girls!
Overnighting in the van at Stirling Services seemed to work pretty well and it allowed for an early-ish start, but not too early, dropping the girls off at school en route and then stopping to take breath before piling through the hundreds of emails which had slowly and surreptitiously had ganged up on my inbox.
Busy times, business really starting to boom now. Good. That was the plan, long may it continue. Just don’t forget to stop now and then and take stock.