I get 'cross

My journal of cyclocross
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Cyclocross is too rad. If you are not caking yourself in mud this winter then you need to.
Its even better when the season is over and then some random cyclo cross thing pops up half way through summer. It reminds me there is only five months until it all kicks off again. Boom
Dylan Coulter took this shot below. Check the Vimeo of behind the scenes and how he got the snaps.

Vimeo Vid

Why is Alexandre Vinokourov nonplussed?

--Because he has no eyebrows

--Because his celebrity doppelganger, Conan O'Brien, is having a hard time right now
--Because Astana is using tartar sauce as chamois cream in order to save money

--Because Ivan Basso's sunglasses are hovering mysteriously above his head
Wahoo. Pretty pleased. Not quote 'there' as a complete bike. Missing panache with it's looks. But boy is it nice to ride.
Got new bar too. Deda Newton Shallow.

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After some discussion with Curley and TC. We've worked out who's not just got the legs. I'm racing the Chesire Classic at the weekend and catching a lift with Rachel after her flight back from Majorca. So that's plenty of hours to discuss the faces of the pro peloton.

Curles has a definate soft spot for the mighty Thor Husvord but he's one man. The rest of his team have faces for radio.
Our hot list started to ramble on but we definately agreed on...
Damien Cunego (Lampre),
Iljo Keisse (6 Day legend),
Spartucus - can't disagree with those legs (but only with his helmet on, his mop lets him down)
Heinrich Haussler - (Cervelo)
Lance - Curles reckons he's ok, I'm not so sure?
She backed up her suggestion with this video though... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDawlrIeaVM

Sad thing is - these little pedallers are all foreign. Where are the Brits or even a British team. HOLD UP. think again Rapha Condor Sharp, now those lads are definatley bringing home the bacon.

The most amazing thing about this, is that it’s real. It’s not a joke. Nor a piece of fiction. It’s true. For real.

Yes. The entire list below are items that was available for purchase on a flight over the Atlantic. Unfortunately I don’t remember if it was with United or American Airlines, so I can’t give credit. But it was one of them.

The indoor dog restroom
The voice activated R2-D2
The world’s largest writen-on map mural
The tabletop photo studio
The preserve your memories slide and negative converter
The all-in-one child air travel seat
The only stainless steel wallet
The remote controlled manta ray
The LP and casset to CD recorder stereo system
The “keep your distance” bug vacuum
The configurable pet gate
The rolling on and laptop bag
The motion tracking web camera
The easy iPod media sharer
The always fresh pet drinking fountain
The arcade legends full size 100 game system
The home floor scrubber/polisher
The world’s largest crossword puzzle
The versatile console to card to dinner table
The androscoggin sheepskin skippers
The peaceful progression wake up click
The original sleep sound generator
The precise-portion pet feeder
The pet ramp and staircase
The one touch any media iPod uploaded
The genuine Turkish bathrobe
The genuine Turkish towels
The physical therapist’s hot/cold wraps
The superior comfort bed lounger
The hard surface floor dream cleaner
The airport friendly laptop bag
The marshmallow shooter
The shirtpocket underwater camcorder
The configurable outdoor/indoor pen
The upside down tomato garden
The wireless speakers iPod dock
The only swiveling and reclining deck chair
The adjustable feline scratching platform
The no blind spot rear view mirror
The star wars battleship game
The closet organizing trouser rack
The wireless remote controlled pan and tilt surveillance camera
The 14 gallon no spill portable gas pump
The best garment steamer
The only digital camera swim mask
The solar insect zappers
The portable touchscreen video poker game
The museum precious metal cleaning plate
The insect repellent hat
The million germ eliminating travel toothbrush sanitizer
The one step DVD/CD duplicator
The pet owner’s robotic vacuum
The trestle patio table and stow away chairs
The three suit rolling garment case
The birdwatcher’s motion activated camera
The harbor mountain welded steel log crib with cover
The portable hammock
The natural attractant mosquito trap
The 150 country travel adapter
The preserve your memories photograph converter
The voice interactive alarm clock
This is drivel, but you don't have to read it. I wrote it for myself to remember. You'll feel the same when a bike you've had for ages has to be suddenly snatched away via crash, theft or crack
If anything Specialized make well priced, well designed bikes. Buying a Spesh removes any kind of risk associated with a premium purchase. Ok they lack a bit of passion, heritage from the golden age of bike racing and well everyone's got the Big S so sadly it doesn't make you clever and your not that special.

My bicycle conquests
Ok, first bike ever ever was a Raleigh Blue Bird. Then we found another one in the woods so my sister and I rocked the same look for a while. Another time and another story.
First proper bike ever was a... you guessed it, a Specialized. Hardrock Sport to be exact, had it two weeks then it got nicked off the roof rack the day before a family cycling holiday around Amsterdam. Had to ride a random borrowed Trek for 2 weeks. Sucked.

Then I went to Uni (circ 2004) and I needed a bike to leave in the garden. What was it... a Specialized. This time a cromoly Sirrus. Found in skip, 19 inch frame, rammed the seat right down, skinny bars and stubby stem.
Covered the little beast in stickers - called it the Sticker Bike. Still got it. My sister rocks it to Herne Hill everyday.

I decided after living as a uni student for four years time had come to grow up, proper bike, proper goals.
You know when you just have those moments when you just want one really nice thing to own in your life. For some its a cars, a camera, a fishing rod. Decided for me it was a bike. Could I actually ride, er no. Had I ridden a bike for longer than 40 miles, er no. So anyways, why not buy a carbon full ultegra bike that will be ideal for a 1 hour ride...?

I did the usual shopping about, asked for a deal. I went with Specialized Ruby, had a better subtle look about it. At the time Ruby had just been released, it was a nod to the growing sector of female cyclists.
In the first road race after the winter I finished the race in 5th. From there I rode that bike all the time. A car hit me on it, I rode crits, sportives, everything.
Never let me down always comfortable. Old faithful.

New era
The Spesh was never a top dog, it was never designed to be a jaw dropping bike and plus it doesn't have uber components. I got the itch to get something uber - I bought a Look 555 frame on a deal I got, dressed it up with uber light carbon, ceramic chainrings, Dura-Ace, the works.
But when it comes down ito it I dare not ride it. Its upsetting but me and the Look never formed a bond. I brought that frame into the world, stuck a load of stuff on it but it never really developed and evolved into the machine the Ruby has come to be.

It's not a question of fit why with the Look. It's something I can't put my finger on.
I think it's because I treat the Spesh mean and it comes back fighting.
Smashed it over cobbles in the Arenberg forest (2008), did anything happen, no. Yes my arms ached after riding all the sectors of Paris Roubaix but I was able to ride the next day.

Early 2009 I got better as a rider after my first cross season. I removed the compact carbon cranks and stuck on standard Ultegra SL's at about the same time some jimmy whacked me on a roundabout I lost a lever and an O from my Oakleys and had to upgrade to Ultegra SL shifters.

A hairline crack has appeared between on the non driveside of the BB. The lacquer has slightly bubbled underneath it around the crack too.
Within half an hour it was sorted Specialized asked for the frame back and they will swap it out for another frame. Thing is they only have an S Works Ruby to exchange. Of course I said yes to it.

Epic events on Ruby
Purchased Autumn 2007
Rode a winter season on it 07-08
Won my first road race on the Ruby-2008
Rode a wet, cold and slightly snowy Tour of Flanders-2008
Rode Paris Roubaix-2008
Raced a season of Palace 2008;
Rode a complete winter on it 08-09
Rode sunny Tour of Flanders 2009
Raced at the Tour of Ireland on it. Grabbed a top 10 finish on stage 3 -2009
Rode down a canal in Belgium where Kristof Ramon took a picture
Rode Rapha's Hell of the North grave ride.

Went to Wales, stayed at a Welsh person's house (team mate Tracy @teecee37) had Easter Eggs and all sorts. Did lots of riding. It was good there were hills, a race and hills.
I've made a rather crude photostory. Camera of choice - iphone. Yeh I know its lacking in any kinda of commitment a great blogpost not even got a flickr gallery. But then I'm working to quantity not quality people.
Day 0 - Arrival and a spin. The data and photos are missing because I didn't have my Garmin charged or my iphone. But bascially on Friday we did 50 hilly miles towards the route of the Dragon Ride. It was good but we took it easy.

Day 2 - All Rapha women's wear got ridden in and tested in sun, fog and spitty rain today. Rode to Barry Island for a photo at 'world' famous Marco's Cafe, off of Gavin and Stacey. Barry Island is a seriously not nice place. I guess like Southend but Welsh. We looked out on the beach, saw some litter and then went off riding.

Day 2 - When we got back there was the need for Curles to tell me about the hole in her other pair of non-Rapha shorts. The hole was created by the saddle bag. I had to agree it is a very common problem. I didn't care for her story though...

Then we went and got a Chinese.This photo is where we were deciding to get vegetarian duck or not

Day 2 - Race and training ride got compacted all together. We met up with Jif Cardiff and our other teammate Ang. She raced the day before in a handicap was was unable to join us for our first ride of the camp.
We rode 17 miles out to the race, the race was a around a motor circuit run. Forza Spring Series 2. Big headwind down the start finish is all I can remember. Quite a big field I rolled around in the bunch trying to work my way forward but it was fairly fast. Hence I made myself work much harder by hanging around at the back, with 5 to go I was floundering and slammed the brakes on as a crash happened. That was it the bunch disappeared and I decided that was my day done. Would have like to have finished but that is racing and I should know better for hanging on at the back because thats where the crashes always are!
Curles took the win for the women with Ang taking second. Their finish was roughly mid pack, good work though against brutish boys. James didn't fair so well in his first road race and was mid pack but shamefully beaten by the Rapha Condor girls.
As a break tried to get away in the race, I flicked my Giro Haviks off my face (somehow, a freak occurance) and I they were lost to the wheels of my competitors. The lens survived so the boys at Giro sent through a replacement frame for me. Phew not so gutted.

Day 3 - Big training ride. Roughly 10 riders headed out. Featuring Ang and her coach Del, myself, Tracy, James and Curles. Hilly and fast. Knocked out 40km/h on the flat for the first half that really shock the legs out. There wasn't much time for photos this was pure training and no cake. Much to some riders disappointment. But in the immmortal words of Dean Downing "eating' is cheatin"
Thankfully there was a massive Roast Lamb dinner to finish the day! We then headed home, tired but trained.
Roll on the season!

Got plenty of washing to do now though. Messing room time!
Missed the ride this year, hanged out in the Welsh valleys on a training camp with team mates. Ate far too much chocolate but it was a good to ride and meet up with the riders in the squad who I don't know so well.
We watched the race after getting back from training ride and race on Sunday. Thank goodness for Sky +.

Going to add some more photos later, can't be bothered right now

Basically I've become untidy. There is no way to stop it. There is going to have to be a serious hour dedicated to cleaning before I go off to my first fairly important race of the season.
Bang tidy, watched another storming episode of celebrity juice tonight but have now missed two sucessive nights of eastenders, not good.

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