Sunday, March 6, 2016


We've just got a box full of these Specialized Purist bottles. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

It's mostly about the bike

Learning curve
The 2015/16 cyclocross season has been my eighth with proper cross bikes.
I'd done cross races before, but always on a mountain bike. I'd always thought of cross as a bit stuffy and anti-fun, older men with hats and frowns barking instructions, not very mountain bikey at all.
After a long spell of tendinitis in my knees, I decided to give the road/track/mtb racing a bit of a rest, but still wanted to compete so thought I'd give cyclocross a go, after all, some of the best looking bikes are cross bikes aren't they?
I'm of the opinion that if I turn up at a race and have the best bike, then 50% of the battle is already won. With this in mind, in 2008, I did what most newbies do and spent all my money on one sweet, carbon-laden ride.
Tricked out with inappropriate tyres pumped up to inappropriate pressures (for the conditions), but brimming with swagger, I portaged headlong into a new world of mud, suffering, joy and camaraderie.
It was only once I started riding in in the National Trophy series that I realised the error of my ways, and that two bikes were essential. I eventually managed to get the cash together to buy an almost matching bike. Thing is with almost matching bikes, one will always be preferable to the other and the unwillingness to change onto the 'lesser' bike when conditions dictate can be disastrous.

2015 - Change of horses please.
My ViCiOUS VELO team mates Ben and Claire both work at Condor Cycles and ride the Terra X frames. I'd always had a bit of a soft spot for their good looks & subtle curves, and really like the frames too. 
One thing led to another and I sold my carbon specials and ordered a brace of custom painted retina burning orange Terra X Disc frames which would be produced in Italy just before they shut down for August.
This was pushing it a bit to get them built up in time for September when the cross season really gets going.
Collecting them from Condor's warehouse only seems like yesterday, but with only one race left for me this season, I can safely say I'm a happy customer.
There's always going to be a slight weight gain when changing from carbon frames to aluminium, likewise from traditional cantilever brakes to discs, but the increase in mud clearance and supremely stiff rear end, coupled with brakes that actually work go a long way to compensate.
I've followed current trends and opted for a 1 x 11 gearing set up, this further reduces the potential for mud building up around the drive train. I started off with no chain guide but found out they're an essential piece of kit to avoid the chain un-shipping once the going gets heavy.

The bikes look SO neat, identical in every way it really is hard to tell the difference. The paint job certainly gets attention and compliments the ViCiOUS VELO kit perfectly. As a result I've been papped a lot more than I was on my old bikes. I like the attention they get as it relieves me of any pressure to perform.

Photo courtesy of pro fan Gem Atkinson

The build;
Frame - Condor Terra X Disc 58cm
Fork - Easton carbon with tapered stearer
Wheels - 24mm carbon tubular with Novatec hubs
Tyres - FMB Slalom green compound (dry), Dugast Rhino (mud)
Brake levers - Shimano ST-RS685 hydraulic STi, 11 speed
Brake calipers - Shimano RS685
Brake rotors - Superstar Components 160mm front, 140mm rear
Chain set - SRAM CX1, 38t, 175mm
Chain - KMC 11 speed gold
Cassette - Ultegra 6800 11 speed, 12-28
Rear mech - Shimano Ultegra 6800
Bottom bracket - SRAM GXP threaded 
Pedals - Crank Brothers Egg Beater SL
Seat post - Ritchey Pro carbon
Saddle - Ritchey WCS Streem
Stem - Pro PLT 100mm
Handlebars - Pro PLT 44cm
Bar tape - Fizik Superlight day glow orange

It glows!
Picture - Kevin Knox

Picture - cyclocrosshandbook

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Cross is back - Bas Vegas, Essex.

It's the very first race of the cx season and ViCiOUS Peggy wearing 13 (the unlucky way up) wins the the U8 girls race. There were only two of them in her category but she won. Luck is for hippies.

Meanwhile in the grown-ups race, Delia won the women's race. She doesn't need luck either. 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Holiday in the Sun

We've been riding up and down mountains in the French Alps. It was hot, sweaty and exhausting and we feel like we've taken a good beating (just like a good mosh pit should be). Now bring on the cyclo-cross season.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Matt No-Balls: Battle On The Beach

This weekend saw the 2nd annual Howies Battle on the Beach at Pembrey Country Park, the site of a former World War TNT production factory. Last years inaugural BotB saw 225 riders race the 3 lap format, over a course that consisted of fire roads, singletrack and beach terrain and was the first race of its kind within the UK.

Based on last years success its no surprise that this years event was also a sell out. What was more surprising was that it sold out at its new capacity of 600 riders within days of its unique midnight new years eve entry opening, which saw a twitter frenzy amongst those that attended last year whilst most people vomited to the sound of old lang syne. By 9am New years day, more than 250 entries had been submitted.
This event last year was my first cycle race of any description and its uniqueness - that it sees mountain bikes, cyclocross bikes fat bikes and everything else in-between race together, over the same course with relative parity - that made me take that plunge into racing.

Myself, Paul and Ben headed to Wales to test ourselves against a strong field of races including international entries from Holland, Belgium and Ireland as well as MTB and CX racers from all over the UK. This year in its slightly altered format saw a mass running start on the beach, where we left the soft formidable sand and headed in mass down to the tideline in search of harder sand to mount. I mounted too early in the soft sand and cost myself valuable time as Paul on a CX bike and Ben rocking a unique retro Kona FS 26” MTB frame fitted with 700c CX wheels (with all of around 0.01mm of tyre clearance in the rear) got away and made it into the lead group of about 50 riders whilst i failed to make the gap from the 2nd group on the 5km of beach into the welsh headwind.

After 3 laps of beach, single track and fire roads the race was won by a Dutch beach racer Ramses Bekkenk of Holland’s KMC-Mitsubishi-Koga in a time of 01:21:12 ahead of his team mates Bram Rood & Stefan Vreugdenhil. Paul finished 35th in open male in 01:36:13 (50th overall), Ben finished 50th in open male in 01:40:38 (79th overall) & I finished 51st in open male in 01:41:41 (83rd overall) from a field of 183 in Open male and almost 600 in total.
Those post NYE minutes we all spent getting our entries in paid dividends as this years event was just as much fun as last years. Sure all our results didn’t quite live up to our positions last year, but the event from its 1st to 2nd running has moved on so much and can now genuinely be seen as a significant win in any riders palmares. Im already looking forward to next years event which has been penciled in for March 20th 2016. For me, its now back to racing Mud Sweat and Gears at Round 3 on the 10th May.

Sunday, February 15, 2015


With the cross season over, its a good time to start riding my bike just for fun, no aims, goals, targets or expectations other than putting a smile on my face.
There aren't many better places to do this (within a relatively short drive) than one of the numerous trail centres in South Wales. We chose to go to Afan at the beginning of February for just that reason. I suppose it'd be considered a bit of a gamble going so early in the year, but I've been blessed (no such thing) with good weather in the past so I was quietly confident we'd be fine again this time around...... and so we were.

Up on top of the Skyline loop, which is the longest trail at about 44km, it was a proper winter wonderland, snow crunching under tyres, crisp cold air, blue skies & sunshine. 


I hadn't ridden a full suspension bike since a having a couple of laps around a car park on a ProFlex 852 (I think) back in the 90's. But, as I'd sold my mountain bike last year I needed to hire one from the trail centre bike shop and full-sus was the only logical choiceThe guys in the shop were very helpful and had the bike, an Orange 5 ready to go when I turned up all eager on Saturday morning. They have a range of clipless pedals to cater for most, or flats if you're a true beginner. The suspension was dialed for rider weight in about ten minutes, and we're ready to go.

Our crew were all experienced off road riders, albeit most of that experience in cyclocross. Thing is with trail centres, they're designed for riding in so its unlikely that dog walkers or ramblers are going to be encountered on the descents so riding as fast as my confidence allows me is pretty easy to do. Its also pretty exhausting work, the climbs are gut busting on a bike with shallow geometry designed for going down, and the rocky descents are bone jarring and tiring on the hands, which is probably too much braking on my part.

One of the newest trails at Afan is the Blade and is definitely one of the best. The views are spectacular too, although I guess I shouldn't have noticed them really.
We had a few punctures while we were there but that's to be expected when you're crashing around over rocks resembling bear caws, flat irons and houses.

Jeeeeez this is a boring blog post, we had a great time is about the strength of it, there's pictures, a video that I robbed off youchoobs, what more do you want?

Who went on the triiiiiiiiiiiiiiiip and what were they riding?

Me (Paul, Po, MuddySundays call me what you will) - Orange 5
James (drive) - some KTM thing with a dodgy dropper post
Ben - Kona Hei Hei full-susser (retro)
Claire - Specialized Fate hardtail
Delia - Specialized Fate hardtail
Rob Purcell (NVCT mug) - Trek Superfly hardtail & Orange 5
Mark Perry (All Terrain Cycles) - Giant hardtail

We drank beers, watched some surreal telly, went to the pub, ate MASSIVE portions in the Skyline cafe and laughed lots.
We'll go again some time. You should go too. 

We stayed in a comfy self catering cottage with a secure lock up and washing facilities for our bikes.

Here are some divs in the long grass.