Sunday, 23 December 2012

How to GET MASSIVE


Just a really quick update mainly to say I FINALLY got round to doing a wee strength training video. It's probably not going to be what you would expect...

When back up North for holidays I don't bother getting a gym membership (troubled student finances plus the fact I live in the middle of nowhere so want to spend time in the wild where I belong!)

Thus strength training each week consists of a series of “farmyard exercises” using interesting substitutes for weights!

Anyway the video is pretty basic but it was a bit of fun!

Working full time this Christmas for race funds means 5.45am starts for morning sessions and cramming in evening sessions before bed...very tiring but it will all be worth it soon!

HOWEVER on my days off I'm having a great time!! Biking and other adventures – Last week I had my first winter mountaineering trip with my mum and Jamie, 50mph summit winds, deep snow and ice axes – crazy fun!!





On way to summit before ice axing to the top!

Have a lovely Christmas and New Year!
Check out the Gallery too!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Not long until Christmas DINNER

It is December already...

The knee injury has really held me back in training recently – It became infected beneath the knee cap so took a bit longer to heal and now I have developed a chest infection so having a few more days off. NOT enjoying the way things are right now at all but it happens to everyone and it could be much worse AND I have my last exam tomorrow and then its the holidays!!! 

In between knee and chest infection I did manage to get some training done. Including a test road ride on the newest addition to my bike family – a Giant Avail. After deciding a road bike would be the next step in training one of the road cyclists from Dundee University – Sarah Stephen (absolutely pinned on a road bike) happened to be selling her old ride! Perfect timing! The narrow bars required a little getting used to, they are literally half the size of the ones on my mountain bikes! It's a completely different style of riding but so much fun.

Newest member
Sunset


























Unfortunately winter weather is kicking in now so the roads are either covered in ice or covered in salt – both of which are not ideal for cycling on...this means only one thing...ROLLERS.


Kitchen training
Roller training is tough, not only are you inside (in my case a claustrophobic  damp student flat) but your also attempting to balance a moving bicycle on 35cm wide moving cylinders. It is really amusing for spectators but a bit tedious for the cyclist. Safe to say the neighbours definitely know when I'm training/attempting to train on the rollers. Good music on my good headphones (Beats by Dr Dre) gets me through the sessions though and it feels great to get them done.  

With the addition of a road bike to my life I can no longer put off becoming a STRAVA addict. There is no way I can afford a fancy GPS phone or a Garmin so I am borrowing one on occasion (Thanks Jamie!!). This means I won't get to update it much over the Christmas period but check out my profile and follow me if you have an account...I will get some good times up there when I return to Dundee in January! http://app.strava.com/athletes/1293682

The steezy strength video is on complete hold until I'm better but lots of rad filming is taking place in the next four weeks and some sweet videos will follow.

My Christmas will be spent training hard, seeing family and some of this – http://static.themetapicture.com/media/funny-gif-ostrich-skiing.gif. Also working at the new Superdry store in Inverness which will be really exciting and enable me to save up race funds for next season.

Better get some revision done...everyone stay safe and enjoy the snow! Gallery has some new pictures and my season is beginning to take shape in the Upcoming events section...exciting!

So many layers!
Ps. Although I referred to my flat as being damp and claustrophobic ..I love it really and would not wish to live anywhere else except maybe a chalet in Les Alpes at this moment in time.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

RAD


Lots to catch up on so go get a snack or cup of tea or something, it could make this read more enjoyable!

First of all I'd like to say how proud I am of the DUMRCC boys for hiking up the Sidlaw hills to do a naked calendar photo shoot for charity! (Put down your cup of tea NOW) As traumatising as it is...it is a fantastic picture and well represents what the club has to offer. Nice one boys ;)

Uni LADS

The Sidlaws are a small collection of hills just outside of Dundee. They have some brilliant single tracks trails that are pretty steep and rocky and make some fun local riding. Spent an afternoon up there a fortnight ago in the coldest, wettest conditions I have ever experienced but it was still an enjoyable trip.

Charlie and I - freezing but smiling
I've also been enjoying a bunch of local single track across the Tay firth at Tensmuir Forest. It's quite a spin along the roads on the XC bike but it is well worth it. The combination of pine needles and soft sand makes the trails challenging resistance training plus the little home built cuts through the woods are narrow and fast. Great for night riding (when you don't have a cheap dodgy imported “bike lights” on your bars that plunge you into darkness every 10-15 seconds).

The local downhill tracks across the bridge have been getting hit hard too. I finally managed to hit a rather large gap double - with a fallen tree raised between the gap making it bigger! I chickened out of it last time we were riding there but turns out (like most trail obstacles) its actually very easy and it was just doing it that first time that was the challenge. My confidence is improving so much on the downhill bike and I'm loving getting out on it again even if short day light hours make it tough.


The fitness side of training is still going well. The university club have started attending a weekly class held by the ISE (our student gym) known as “conditioning”. It's fantastic! The best way to describe it is “hilarious-day-time-sweaty-night-clubbing-minus-the-drinks”. Picture about 60 students in a sports hall carrying out 45 minutes if intense “knee lifts”, “spotty dogs” and skipping from one side of the hall to the other to loud music. AMAZING. There is actually a lot of running involved as well and you can make it as intense as you wish by pushing yourself harder. We are a lucky club to have such a reliable sports union that all happen to be a great laugh and good fun too :)

Road riding!!! New addiction! Chain-ganging is one of my top five favourite things to do now. The speeds you can reach and the miles you cover without even noticing them fly by make me want to ride until someone physically removes me from the bike. I don't have a road bike of my own yet but hopefully once I get my old downhill bike (Devinci Wilson) and cross country bike (Kona Caldera) sold I can get my hands on something. Looking forward to checking out the road race scene next summer. E-mail me if your interested in more info about either of those bikes for sale!

The Sports Union held their annual ball for the university clubs last Friday. The DUMRCC attended all looking swag and a grand night was had by all! The ball consisted of a three course sit down meal which was epic followed by a combination of ceilidh dancing and disco dancing with those old school flashing disco lights and massive d-j set up at the back of the dance floor. It was like being in P7 again!

Sports Union Dinner - cycling club
Finally and most importantly...

This weekend was my first bike competition after two years out of racing. The “Dudes of Hazzard – This is Enduro Now” was an all-mountain bike race consisting of three timed downhill stages and two large ascents of the Glencoe hills in between. All three stages were very muddy and very rocky. Stage 1 was particularly rocky and steep towards the end. Stage 2 was short but very pedally involving lots of quick gear changes and stage 3 was just simply FUN down a hill, pretty flowy and a few steep turns towards the end. During the race at stage 1 I managed to hit a bomb hole with my front wheel (covered by a puddle it didn't look as deep as it apparently was) this resulted in a few stitches across my knee cap at the end of the day but I still made it to the finish! Very happy with my result making it to the podium in 3rd place only 15 seconds behind Lee Craigie who rides for Lapierre. Katy Winton who rides for Kinesis Morvelo Project did super fast times and won the women's race by plus three minutes (Iv'e got some challenging catching up to do!). I know I have written this about five times now but seriously...2013 downhill season – SEND IT!

Women's' Podium
The photo gallery has a few from this weekend and keep an eye on the video gallery as this week I'm going to put together a steezy strength training film with a mate which will be a good watch.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Bike lights & thermals ON



I have good news and not so good news.
The good news is that I have acquired a new bicycle…A friend of mine has sold me his Giant Trance (the red bike I’m on in a few pictures in the Gallery) and its absolutely fantastic! With all this talk about the new and developing craze of “enduro” riding I believe now is the best time to get your hands on an all mountain bike. They are so much fun – being able to descend any downhill track AND to enjoy climbing back up is a great combo!  In other good news I am heading home this weekend to see family and to check out an old road racing bike my mum has…my project over the Christmas period is going to be to try and revive this bicycle so I can start smashing out the miles and chain-ganging with the other road cyclists at uni. 
yeahh boi
The bad news is that I appear to have developed coeliac disease which means I have a gluten allergy. So, pasta, bread, biscuits, cakes, pizza…all off the cards now. It’s not serious and pretty common however making the change to a gluten free diet is going to be tough but I’ll manage fine! Might even help me reduce my 21.6% body fat! (Which is normal guys don’t judge me…)



High over the roots. ALWAYS.













My family and I















On a more happy note training is going well as always, with winter fast approaching thermals and seal skin socks are out every day! (Everyone get your bike lights and reflective jackets on please!) Days are getting shorter so downhilling is confined to weekends only now but the week is being packed with spinning, road riding, roller sessions, running, weights and core work. Went to stay with a friend - Rory Brown Kerr – up and coming university American football player ;) - in Edinburgh so hit up Innerleithen again with the big bike and yesterday I met some mates from racing at one of my local tracks which was a good laugh.  Having the trance now means lots of hike and bikes in remote, steep, rocky Scottish hill sides. I have a new plan to add to 2013, as well as returning to downhill racing, I’d like to try out a couple of duathlons, enduro races and road time trials, it shall be a busy summer!

Race dates are out for the Scottish Downhill Association series 2013.  CANNOT WAIT! Dates are in the diary, goals are set…roll on 2013 (after gluten free Christmas dinner…)

Happy Haloween everyone!

Monday, 15 October 2012

"YOU.SHALL.NOT.PASS." ~ Gandalf the Grey


Just back from a weekend in the lake district...still buzzing so thought id update things now! So much shaving foam, so many lord of the rings quotes, so many people, so many bikes, so many mountains = best weekend this semester by far!

Helvellyn
DUMRC club took a minibus down on the Friday evening, quite a long drive but the tunes were blasting the whole way. Eventually we arrived in Bassenthwaite at the village hall we were all staying in with sleeping bags, made some dinner and got the uni banter going! Things got a bit crazy and one lad – Aidan, managed to fall into a bush and get the biggest thorn ever jammed right through his finger (it was sticking out the other side!!!) But all was well as we had a medical student with us who kept things under control and in the morning Aidan went off to hospital to get fixed up. Unfortunately he was unable to ride HOWEVER this led to me using his bike (Giant Trance) instead of my hard tail which I was super happy about but would have preferred it if we had all been able to ride together.


THE THORN



On the Saturday we hit up a local trail centre with fast swoopy tracks, some technical rocks and tree sections too. Some ascents were pretty brutal but all so worth it. Saturday night was excellent, got a full nine hours sleep and a good meal, woke up feeling great on the Sunday. We headed out to Helvellyn and did a massive “Hike and Bike”. Five hours of riding and carrying our bikes up this MASSIVE mountain where we got incredible views and great banter, we were joined by some people from the Orange Mountain Bike company who added to the hilarious quotes of the weekend so thanks guys :). The decent got pretty crazy in places and there were a few nasty crashes and I ended up having to ride down with no seat post as we couldn’t put it down low enough which was a bit...dodgy... but everyone survived...somehow and it was amazing fun.

Myself  and the boys descending Helvellyn 


Hike and Bike


Drove back up to Dundee last night, weekend went by far too fast. Can't wait to have some free time, maybe next summer and get down there for some more nuts riding. Thanks everyone involved for such a good weekend!








After trying Aidan's full suspension bike I’m dying to get a new one myself. The hard tail is fantastic for cross country and its done well but it is getting on a bit now and things are breaking that shouldn't break. Having an “enduro” style bike that I can climb on as well as hit up some crazy downhill would be fantastic from a training point of view. I'll have to starve myself for the next few months and scrape up some pennies and invest in something.

About to begin the descent


Before the insane weekend trip I was riding the new track up at Dunkeld again on the big bike (a regular training venue for us as it's only a half hour drive) . The 2013 season cannot come quick enough for me! The 224 is feeling fast and I just can't wait to be on the start line again.

Next few weeks are still looking busy! No chilling out time yet but “study” week is approaching where I get a week off classes to ride my bike and relax...and revise I suppose! Lots of spinning, running and gym work this week while I work out what I'm going to do about an endurance bike then travelling down to Edinburgh this weekend to tear up Innerleithen with Rory (a good friend from racing). Check out the gallery for Lake District pictures and also see the new section “Video gallery” where I'll start putting up some good riding footage.  
Downhill training at Dunkeld

Monday, 1 October 2012

October time!


Another crazy week gone by already! University is so busy and cramming all the course work in with training is leaving me with little time to “chill” but still loving it all!

Last Wednesday I experienced the most challenging cross country ride I have encountered so far...20 km of straight up and back down on the steepest, rockiest mountain path I have ever ridden! A lot of it had to be walked – cyclo cross style carrying the bikes over our shoulders of course! We had pretty good weather although it turned very cold and a bit wet towards the summit but this resulted in some lovely rainbows looking back down the valley. I would love to go back to that track with a downhill bike, the descents were insane however the cycle to the bottom of the steep section and push up would probably take close to a full day. The gallery page has some really cool pictures Jamie took of the ride and rainbows! Check it out!

Local track session
Keeping the cardio system in good condition by maintaining running has been great fun, the university athletics club has started up proper training again which includes really tough new sessions with the Dundee Hill Runners but definitely worth all the sweat and pain!

Exploring the local tracks again led to finding some newly built stuff, a short tight and off camber trail and a really fast flowing track with lots of jumps (almost like riding out in Europe – just much shorter, several pine trees and a lot of rain!).

Riding at Innerleithen on Saturday brought back all my memories of racing SDA (Scottish Downhill Association) races and got me even more excited for next season! The old tracks are all still there with a couple new lines and although they have been mega washed out by the rain they are still brilliant! Managing full runs without uplift is a bit challenging and time consuming but pushing up and sectioning is still improving my riding as well as my strength.

LOADS planned for the next couple of weeks - a weekend trip to the Lakes for some tough cross country riding followed by another trip to Innerleithen and then my first uplift weekend at Dunkeld with the Diva Decent girls at which I will be pushing for a heap of full runs. I shall also be having a go on a proper road bike tomorrow night for the first time...really want to get one myself however being a student some things just aren't financially possible these days...will be heading out with the Dundee University Roadies and joining the Dundee Thistle Cycling club for some " chainganging"  - can't wait!!!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Things are going well...

Morning training - the best skies!

It's been a brilliant week since I posted my first blog! Been training hard, morning and evening sessions which is tiring but feels great! Fitness is feeling good although I am still suffering with knee pain which only effects me when running (an over use injury that seems to be getting better with rest and stretching) and I currently have a cold but thankfully there is plenty of Lemsip in the flat and I have zinc and vitamin C to take – which seems to be debatable whether it helps or not!? Now that the moaning is out the way, here’s what has been happening...











The University Sports Union is fantastic at supporting the cycling club...there are several minibuses available for us to book and use for transport out to tracks. Last Sunday was a big club cross country ride at Glentress finished off with (a few hundred) laps of the fun park. I love this trail - the downhill sections are pretty quick and even the climbs are really technical. Yes, I was the first to crash...giving myself some good looking cuts and a couple of bruises to add to the collection, but as far as my saying goes – if your not bleeding after riding your not pushing yourself hard enough (within reason...).

The annual Sports Union Charity Relay was on Wednesday afternoon, teams of four with each runner doing an 800m lap around a field to raise money. I ran for the athletics club on this one, both our two male teams and female team took all the 1st places! So well done guys – reining champs!!! Well done to the cycling guys who did the race in body armour and full face. Our local downhill track got a hammering on Wednesday evening straight after the run and Thursday night was a wet cold muddy but super fun XC ride in the woods just outside of Dundee.
Dundee University sports teams!
Saturday was spent at Dunkeld sectioning the track - great weather, nice and dry. This is a very technical race track, loads of rocks and roots with a steep, tight rocky top section – perfect for practice. My confidence wasn't as great as I had hoped it would be, but that will come with more riding and time, main thing is I am having an amazing time biking again! It wouldn't have been a successful day without jumping into the icy cold, black river at the bottom (I have a thing for leaping into any water I see!). This was probably the root cause of my cold however it was fun at the time!

One of my fave sections at Dunkeld - rocky but fast!
Iv'e just arrived back from an afternoon at another one of our local downhill tracks, reminded me very much of the riding I have back home in Inverness. Quite steep, very tight between lots of trees and extremely slippery, especially with high rollers (type of tyre) on my wheels – felt like I was riding with slicks on (a smooth non grippy tyre NOT designed for MTB!) But made it all the more challenging! So riding is going well, I am looking to focus on getting tracks flowing – full runs maintaining speed without stopping. The next week I am super busy as usual cramming in uni work with training but it will all be worth it one day! More pictures from this weekend to follow – check out the “Gallery” page!  

Friday, 14 September 2012

First Blog!

It's quite difficult starting one of these up! Especially after two years out of the race scene! I'll start by summarising what I have been up to in my time off!

University - amazing! Anatomy & Physiology at Dundee is a tough course but well worth the effort as it's such an interesting degree. I love learning about how the human body works and I believe it will make me a better athlete knowing what goes where and how to look after myself properly. Dundee has a brilliant Mountain Bike club that train regularly and have great social spirit - the boys are all a great laugh and road racer Morag Eagleson from Dingwall is a super rider and great company :)

Running - Being a competitive character I need to have goals and competitions to work towards - that's how I function! So joining Dundee University Athletics Club and Inverness Harriers pushed me as a runner and I have made some amazing friends. After only a few months of training I won the North of Scotland cross country championships and represented North of Scotland in the Scottish Inter Districts Championships - which was an awesome experience (even if I did get completely thrashed!). I began training with Olympian Liz McColgan and attended a training camp with her and some other athletes in Portugal for two weeks at the start of this year.  I plan to continue running but am looking forward to focusing on getting back to racing Downhill and aiming for world cup level again in a few years time.

Plans for now - I intend to spend this winter training hard and working on increasing speed and confidence on the bike. As well as passing my third year of my course. It will be tough but having time off has made me realise how focused I am on getting back to racing and I can't wait to see what happens next season :)