Tag Archives: Trevor Allen

The Hotel Switch

I didn’t book the hotel for my current stay in Germany.  I just walked in and asked for a room.  I have an agreement with the hotel group, so I pay the same flat rate whenever (40 – 50 nights a year helps with this).  This was a mistake, as there is a conference in town this week.  So I was given a room for two nights, and then needed to check out.  A colleague’s sofa was then going to be my bed.

I went to work, but left my stuff at the hotel in the storage room.  At the end of the day, I had decided to go for a ride, but needed to get changed.  Back to the hotel to get changed as this is where my things were.  The manager was there, and told me they had a cancellation.  There was a room, but a smoking room (in Germany smoking is still very common unfortunately).  I took it, because of the hassle involved in the plan for the evening (ride, come back to hotel, get things and go to the other side of the town with a suitcase and a bicycle, shower at a friends house, and then go to dinner).  Within 10 minutes of getting into the room, I was then offered a non-smoking room.  Excellent.  But there is a lesson learnt.  I need to book my room in advance.

Got some pedaling done too.  Monday, I got a lift to work, then grabbed my old faithful Kona to commute on.  The ride is about 5 – 6 km from the hotel, going the scenic route along the Mosel river.  So Monday, I rode 5km!  Yesterday, I really wanted to spin my legs out a bit, so 5km to work in the morning, then after work switch to the test Canyon road bike, 5km aback to the hotel, change and then off on a 35km ride with Trevor Allen.  I also rode around the town a bit to get food.  I think a total of 50km for the day.

The ride itself was just up and down the Mosel river.  Almost completely flat with only 166m climbed.  It was gentle with an average of 28.7km/h by the end of it.

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Coffee to go

It was cold.  The alarm went off at 8am, and I rolled over and thought about how warm the bed was.  Outside the temperature was minus 4 degrees.  I reluctantly pulled myself out of bed and threw some porridge oats into a pan, added some milk and put the hob on at a low heat.  I then started making a mental list, as I went into the study to one of the bike clothing drawers.  Scrambling around I found a pair of tights, a thermal base layer and a winter jacket.

Kitting up takes ages in this sort of weather.  That wasn’t the worst of it though.  The worst thing was that I needed to put the bike on the back of the car to go and meet with Abi and Sarah riding for Charge.

Now I use a Saris Bones bike rack.  The reason I mention the type is because it is awesome.  It really is that good.  It anything, the weakness of it is the same thing that makes it great.  It is based around an aluminium tube, about 10cm in diameter.  The legs and arms slot on to this.  It has notches to allow different positions depending on your car.  The thing with it though is that this tube construction makes it massively secure – doing away with hinges and pivots – but also makes it a little time consuming to fold up.  On a cold day like this Sunday, it is also very cold.  So cold in fact, that my hand initially stuck to it.  It zapped all of my warmth right away.  Assembling it was not fun.

After about 20mins the bike was on the back of the car, and I was happy with how secure it was.  Back into the house for a cup of tea to return feeling to my hands!  I stuck the TV on for 10 minutes with the still warm hot water bottle under my feet.  Then I make a coffee to go.

I was heading to Sarah’s house.  Sarah and Abi are friends who I know through Trevor Allen, who is sponsored by us.  Both of them are good riders, with Sarah being a lot newer to the sport than Abi is.  Abi has was bottle fed mountain bikes as a kid, and consquently her whole life – she is kind of crazy about it – driving up from Bristol for this ride – Bristol, where she had only been for one night having been in London the day before.

I don’t ride enough.  This last weekend was glorious though.  The road ride on the Saturday and this, on the Sunday.

We winced at each other in the cold, joking about whether we really wanted to do this.  There was no way that we weren’t going to though.  By this time we had all committed so much effort to it.  Off we headed into Crowthorn Woods.

It was perfect for riding.  The ground was frozen solid.  The sun had peeked through the clowds and the light was perfect.  Crowthorn is swooshy singletrack – and plenty of it.  I am slowly beginning to know my way around and with Sarah’s parents living just around the corner the ironic thing was that we let Abi lead.  That is the fun of this place, you can go in circles and not have the disappointment of feeling that you aren’t getting anywhere.  Everything is so interwoven and intertwined.  It was a couple of hours of bliss, and I long for the next time.  Long for it.

So why don’t I ride today in the snow….?  There is no snow where I am.

Shaved Legs

So I shaved my legs.  I had to.  I needed to feel like a cyclist.  I know.  Feeling like a cyclist can be achieved other ways.  Ingesting the contents of the medicine cupboard, for example.  Oh, I jest.  No, the reason I needed to feel like a cyclist if because I was going to race.  Now, the best preparation for racing is training, and careful planning and discipline regarding your sleeping patterns and food.  Everyone knows this.  However, we also know that this isn’t always possible.  Try being ill in bed for the time you set aside to train.  Try being delayed at airports so that sleep is just a distant wish and getting to bed at a reasonable time is out of the question.  Try having to eat junk food in an airport as a result.  None of these things were actually preparing me in any way that would actually give a slight advantage.  Now realising this, I did the only thing left that I could think of to demonstrate my dedication to the cause.  I shaved my legs.

The race in question was Bontrager Twentyfour12, in Newnham Park, Plymouth.  Back in 1994 I had watched Johnny Tomac, David Baker, Barry Clarke, and the whole ‘Grundig’ World Cup crew race here.  It was now my turn.  Only…. It wasn’t.  I was stuck 15miles from home on a closed motorway going nowhere.  Getting there for the start of the 24hr period was out of the question.  Luckily I had planned with Rory from USE to ride duo for the ‘Torch Bearer 12hr’ starting at midnight.  I had wanted to be there to see Sally Bigham start though, not to mention Trevor doing 24hr solo.

Once racing it went well.  I felt pretty good despite piss poor preparation.  I also remembered just how much fun riding in the dark could be.  Rory was flying too.  Admittedly, he has been a better athlete than I ever have, but his lap times were giving me something to live up to.  I had to push to keep us in the game.

Endurance racing through the night is a strange old thing.  I don’t know if you can like it.  At the time, there is a little voice saying softly and menacingly in my head “you know, you don’t have to do this.  This is silly.  Go to sleep”, on the other hand, you get in after a lap and want to do the next one.  It is like a reverse drug or something.

The events themselves do the best to be a little surreal too.  From the jazz singer belting out the songs in the arena at 2.30am, to the full on disco with smoke machine and lazer in the furthest part of the forest.  It makes you raise a wry smile.

The course was great.  I mean really really good.  Really good for a days ride through the woods.  Possibly less well suited, if we are being honest, to 24 hour racing.  The technical sections were pretty technical, and there was little respite throughout the lap in which to recover.  The singletrack though… it was all worth it for the singletrack.

Back to those technical sections….. well, the effect of 2500 people riding on a course doing laps is that anything that might be slippery will be polished by skidding tyres and become like glass.  Tiredness also sets in, and as daylight comes, there is a little thing telling you that you should be going faster.  That is when it happened.  On my fourth lap, in the rooty section something went wrong.  The bike suddenly stopped moving forward and I was thrown over the bars.  I landed on my face and head, smashing my helmet and giving me a mouth full of mud.  The high pitched ‘you’ve been hit hard in the face’ sound rang in my ears.  My nose must be bleeding.  I must have lost teeth.  I will certainly have two black eyes.  Will I be able to ride back to the arena?

I decided to take five mins at the side of the course to gather my thoughts.  Not that “fuck” really needs much gathering in the thought process.  My knees hurt, and my face did.  Grab the water bottle and wash yourself off a bit, was the only thought going through my head now.

Most of it was mud.  Some of it, on my knees, was blood.  But most was just mud.  My teeth were all in my mouth and fine.  Vision was okay.  Helmet, well, muddy, but appeared all right.  Bike, okay.  I got on and gingerly rode back to the arena.

Rory was there, waiting….  “You know what bud, I think it is over for me.  I landed on my head.”

“Go and see first aid, I’ll be back in a bit”.

The helmet was smashed, cracked in a couple of places and clearly having taken a knock with compression visible too.  There were no other injuries, and I was patched up.  My neck ached, so I called it a day.  I became a spectator, and that was almost as good.

Sometimes its nice when you can recognise some of yourself in someone else.  Trevor, riding around there with the gritty determination that I now lack in my riding, reminded me of how I used to be.  He was clearly pushing things farther than he had before and was in a trance like state.  He knew that he just had to hold it up to take third.  He did, and everyone, all of the crew and myself were delighted for him.  It was a great ride, and he deserved the place up there on the podium,

That afternoon I drove back to my parents place to shower and eat.  There, pealing the dressings off, I couldn’t help but think how much more it would have hurt if I was ripping hairs out too.  My preparation had paid off after all.

Reading material

There are no end of cycling magazines. On a monthly basis we get Bike (Germany), Bike (USA), Bicycle, Tour (Germany), MBR, What Mountain Bike, Trekking Bike (Germany), Pro Cycling, etc etc etc.

Recently though I have seen a trend towards more upmarket, more exclusive publications. Perhaps they are aimed at the stockbrokers like the scathing reviews of Rouleur which suggest they were just cashing in. My personal opinion is that Rouleur was fabulous, aimed at a different market to the traditional, perhaps formulaic magazine. The weight of the paper, the quality of the photography and the lack of adverts (although product placement is beautifully done) as well as the locations, and the nostalgic and romantic approach had me all misty eyed. Not all cycling fans want to read about the latest carbon this or that, and the lifestyle and cultural side of things was where they spotted and filled the gap.

Mr USE (Trevor Allen*) gave me a new publication yesterday. The Ride seems to share a fair amount of Lifestyle positioning with Rouleur, but is crossing over to the mountain bike segment. The list of contributors reads like a list of who is who for the last 15 years in cycling. Names such as John Tomac, Jo Burt, Chris Hoy, Dave Yates and even Pharrel Williams!

Perhaps this is what we should expect from publications in the future. There is no rivalry, there is very little product snobbery (high end is the name of the game, but experience and lifestyle articles look at everyone, regardless of what they ride, or what their financial investment is, or isn’t. It is about their investment in the sport). To be honest, the MTBers versus Roadies thing had become very tiresome to me over the years, as has the baggies versus lycra, downhillers versus cross country, and every other petty little war within the mainstream press. Magazines should embrace everyone. Ride seems to be going the right way. Intelligently written articles for the intelligent cyclist perhaps.

The downside? It is £7!

Issue 2 of the Ride.  Great artwork

Issue 2 of the Ride. Great artwork

*Trevor is in fact a student at Bath University. He is doing his placement year at USE / Exposure and is a top lad. Currently targetting 24 hour racing and going for a Solo effort, he is always up for a ride and is more of a face in the UK than I am – deservidly so. To catch up with him, visit Exposure at the Exposure Big Night out… details here