Mungo’s Hi Fi feat. Pupa Jim – Bike Rider #cycling

“Everybody should ride bicycle.
Bike for me,
bike for you,
bike for everyone”

I’m sure we’ve all heard Queen’s Bicycle Race and Kraftwerk’s Tour de France. You may even have heard Chemical Brother’s Velodrome – theme for the Olympic Velodrome – it did slip rather unnoticed beneath the boards. But until Don Letts Glastonbury preview show over on BBC 6 Music, I had never heard the pure reggae joy of Bike Rider by Mungo’s Hi Fi feat. Pupa Jim. If I used headphones I would be skanking on my bike, but probably not a suitable stylee for the club run. Enjoy and thanks to Rich Broad for the link.



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NCRA Rockingham Speedway, Warming up

We were a dozen pointless 3rds group chasing a much larger 4th cat group. That group contained Adrian, David H and Tom – Michael and Kyle were chasing points over at the MK Bowl 4ths only race. Behind me, Jake was in the scratch group.

My group’s first twenty minutes were as close to perfection as you’re likely to get at Rocko. Our chain gang may not have been the most elegant, but we worked consistently from the start. Bit by bit we were closing down the 4ths. Five more minutes and we would have them. Except someone decided to demonstrate what big cojones they’ve got and attacked. A couple more chased him and within seconds he was back in and our group went dysfunctional. We lost our rhythm. Some of us tried to get the old mojo back, but it wasn’t happening. Instead a couple more decided to attack.

In the end a group of three split off. They made hard work of getting across – I should know because I was one of the few in our group still taking turns at the front. One lad – I thought he had been dropped because I hadn’t seen him for so long – found himself at the front and just sat up. Ian from Peterborough told him to do some work, or something to that effect (no swearing). He replied that one of his mates was in the group of three sitting between us and the 4ths. Seriously I thought, that’s your reason for not doing any work? You’ve got a bunch of stronger 3rds and 2nds bearing down on you, but you’re trying to protect your pal, whose trying to bridge to some 4ths and will get caught by the stronger 3rds and 2nds, by sitting in. Well, it is a tactic, I suppose.

The pointed thirds caught us and a couple of minutes later, at the head of my group I joined it to the 4th cats’. It was a relief; the last five minutes had been unnecessarily hard for most of us.

The next question was, could we stay away from the 2nds? The answer was three quarters of them. With 4 or 5 laps to go four of them caught us. Jake and bunch of the fast young lads were now in the main group.

On the last lap I kept towards the front. It was warm and I felt fitter than I had done all season. On the penultimate bend I was in the top 10, another rider separating me from Jake. A good position and, if I could hold it then points were on the cards. Approaching the last bend I was on the inside, but a stream of riders slipped by on my right. I got squeezed around the bend, but once round space opened up and I did the only thing I could. I sprinted and finished 14th, 12 places behind Jake and my best placing this year. The rest of the club riders finished safely in the bunch. Next week I’ll aim to get some points, although I might need to remind Jake he still owes me a lead out….

Over at the MK Bowl, Kyle and Michael took a St Neots one two. Overall a good evening’s circuit racing for the club.

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NCRA 2-Day, Day 2, race 3

By the time I got to Southwick HQ I was warmed up and no, I hadn’t ridden over or anything like that, rather I’d had the car heater on full blast into the footwell. It was a vain attempt to finish drying off my shoes after yesterday’s race. I caught up with the others; Jake was feeling confident, David wasn’t giving much away and I was just expecting a lot of suffering for my legs.

We started from HQ neutralised. This was good because it meant we climbed Southwick Hill at a sensible speed and it gave my legs a bit more time to acclimatise. We continued neutralised over the hill to the first left bend. Once we were all safely round the flag was pulled in and the racing began. And guess what, the pace was instantly fast. The bunch strung out. The rush of blood from brain left me reasoning faster is better because the race will be shorter. 

In a race I like to tackle Southwick Hill in the small ring – I can spin easily, and keep my legs fresh and responsive for any sudden change in pace. naturally then, on the second time we climbed my chain refused to shift. I flicked the gears back and forth to make it move and by the time it had I was a few metres off the back. Not a problem and I wasn’t the only one. The bunch however were climbing quickly and I wasn’t getting back in, just holding the gap. Over the hill and the pace lifted I was having to ride hard, really very hard to avoid being dropped. A Fenland Clarion rider was with me and we worked together, although to be fair he did more than I. At the next tight left bend, where the bunch had to slow, we got back in. 

Surprisingly the effort had left me feeling quite good and I started trying to move forward. On the winding back road to Southwick I saw an arm go up ahead. Someone had a flat. Then I realised it was one of ours. At first I thought David then saw that it was Jake. Now here was a snap decision. Jake was third overall and had a good chance of bettering it, certainly more than me way down in fifty something place, but there was no neutral service. So I dropped back, pulled over, gave him my wheel and sent him on his way. 

Walking back to HQ the race convoy passed me. I dug out my phone and started timing. David was at the back, having realised what had happened, and signalled he would drop back to pace Jake back. 

Thirty seconds later I saw a Welwyn rider struggling to get back. 

Forty five seconds. Empty road. 

One minute still no sign. I hadn’t thought the wheel change had been that long…

A couple of minutes later I heard voices chatting merrily away. Jake and another dropped rider rode around the corner. He had decided he couldn’t make it back on. David didn’t make it back on either. I was disappointed at the time, but with hindsight it sounds like Jake’s call was probably right; The bunch was being ripped apart at the front and if a rider of David’s calibre couldn’t get back…

Rowland had offered fro me to jump on the back and ride around for training, but I decided to head home instead. When I left I followed the bunch up the hill with several laps still to go. It was smaller than I remembered. A kingscliffe rider was slipping off the end, shaking his head as he realised his race was over. The race was in pieces by the end and only a handful were left for the sprint. Corley cycles rewrote the GC taking first and second on the day and overall. 

Finally a huge thanks to the NCRA, Rockingham Forest Wheelers and Peterborough Cycling Club, Commisaires and volunteers for putting on an excellent weekend of racing.

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NCRA 2-day: Day 1, TT and 50 mile Road Race

Grey skies hung over Middleton and as the first riders on the TT start list set off the rain began falling. It wasn’t heavy but it did give some strength to the tailwind. By the time I lined up at 10.52, the rained had eased.

The start was quick, pushed along by the wind. At the drag my 43kmph started slipping down, but I managed to keep it over 40kmph. The right turn and the final drag to the finish was hard work and I crossed the line at 6.40 by my reckoning, 6.35 by the official one, so I’ll go with that. Racing with me from the club, David finished with 6.18 and Jake =3rd on 5.52, 6s behind the race leader George Fox. Joe was DNS thanks to mechanical problems. Three second claim members were also racing – Gareth finished on 6.35 for Peterborough, Ed made a round 6.00 for Bonito and Wayne, I think still suffering with his knee from the Tour of Cambridgeshire, finished on 6.45.

My time left me at the bottom end of the field, but it was a major improvement on the earlier Rockingham 2-day so I suppose I should be happy with that.

Over lunch the rain cleared and the roads dried off a little, but more was forecast for the afternoon…

The first lap of the Middleton circuit was dry and fast. Attempts to make a break were tried but they didn’t succeed.

Over the Bringhurst climb for the second time and the heavens opened. The rest of the race was framed by a grim succession of heavy showers and gritty spray. My helmet doubled up as an isotonic sweat salt drip. I needn’t have bothered with my second bottle.

Despite the rain I didn’t see many punctures, but unfortunately David was one of the casualties, being forced out shortly before the third climb through Bringhurst. For our small team, this meant Jake really was on his own at the front.

The Bringhurst climb was OK, the part I found difficult was the following descent to Drayton; each time we got over, we had a sharp left turn made the pack slow then accelerate. This caused us to string out and dangerous splits started to form. I got most of my days exercise chasing back in to the pack. Ashley was similar but for different reasons. Here the road winds through the village, but out of necessity as much as speed, parked cars made the bunch stretch. By the flat open road we were full pelt with a tailwind.

On the last lap I was starting to feel the pace – we were looking set for a sub 2 hour 50 mile race on a rain soaked circuit. While I was hanging on at the back, Jake was leading at the front. Middleton can be a dicey sprint and the organisers knew this, so with 1km to go I sat up, safe in the knowledge we would all be getting the same time. David, Jake’s dad, cheered me across the line and shouted something – it took a moment to process – Jake had won! An excellent result and another step closer to his 1st cat licence.

A few minutes later I stopped my bike computer on 1 hour 55 minutes. 60 miles tomorrow; 12 laps on the Southwick circuit; 12 times up that long and steady hill. I think I’ll have earned my Father’s Day beer after that…

Jake, race winner, and me post race. Photo by David Hennessy

Jake, race winner, and me post race. Photo by David Hennessy

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NCRA Rockingham Speedway Scratch Race 2

There was a good turn out from the club for the second Rockingham scratch racing. In the 4th cat race we had Michael, Kyle (a rocko virgin), Adrian and David H. Jake and I were in the 2/3 race.

Our race started predictably fast and there were serveral attempts to force a break. A couple of riders did slip away but, I think they were eventually reeled back in. At 35 minutes the pace ratcheted up a notch. Repeated attacks were made and at one point it looked like a significant break might establish. This pattern repeated a couple more times but the big breakaway never quite made it, although it was hard work for us in the back half of the bunch, constantly chasing the pace setting lads punishing from the front.

Four laps to go and there were two riders ahead. An easing of pace, as we turned into wind, brought me to the front. Perhaps because of my rare appearance at the sharp end of the race and since no one else looked to be making a move, I decided to attack. I checked behind only to see no immediate reaction from the pack – obviously I’m not the same threat as my team mate Jake, so they gave me half a lap before a push from the bunch brought me back. I slipped in and fought to keep near the front.

But for the next two laps I paid for my attack and drifted back as other riders outpaced me out of the corners. Two riders were still away.  A St Ives rider tried to bridge and Jake followed. On the last lap Jake made contact with the two breakaway riders. I guess they both knew their fate was sealed; Jake won and I finished safely in the bunch.

From the 4th cat race, Michael and Kyle took 4th and 9th respectively while the old boys David and Adrian finished safely in the bunch. A good evening for the club and for Jake and I, a good warm up for this weekend’s NCRA 2 day…

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Tour Series Peterborough

I left a Champagne reception at the British Library for Peterborough. Not often you hear that but when it comes to cycling the city just keeps on giving. After hosting the Tour of Cambridgeshire, tonight it was hosting the penultimate round of the Tour Series.

I made it up just in time for the elite men’s race and had a thoroughly enjoyable evening. There were a small group of us from the club and I bumped into many more people from other clubs including ToC organiser Tom Caldwell, exhausted but still buzzing from the weekend. I think the buzzing bit applied for most of us and there was one question on everyones lips; are you going to Denmark?

The race was fast and furious. A small and strong breakaway established and stayed away, but containing Ed Clancy the outcome was inevitable and his win convincing.


Lining up



Too fast on Bourges Boulevard


The final breakaway. Ed Clancy on the left went on to win

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UWCT Tour of Cambridgeshire Gran Fondo

Where to begin with the Tour of Cambridgeshire Gran Fondo! Saturday afternoon I picked up my numbers. The TT was in Full swing and I bumped into a few club mates heading off for the start line. I think that’s the point when it sunk in just how big an event this weekend was going to be. Back home I readied the bike and tried to relax.

Sunday morning I was awake at 5am. I really could not get back to sleep, so I got up, got ready and hit the A1 to Peterborough. I joined what little traffic there was and most of that seemed to be ferrying bikes north.

I arrived about 8am, went for a potter around the stalls set up in the Peterborough arena, and chatted with some familiar faces. Other club members started arriving soon after and a  meeting point was agreed. I think in total there were around 35 of us riding from the club and of that six of us were heading for the race gate – me, Joe, Michael, David’s P and H and Adrian. Having got his entry after the race deadline, Jake was going to chase us from the second gate.

We were this far back...

We were this far back…

The "team" relaxing in Gate 1

The “team” relaxing in Gate 1

We arrived at our gate mid morning to find it filling up rapidly. With the race was due to start at midday, a long hour and a half wait lay ahead.

Two minutes before noon a bang and a hiss silenced the riders around me. Someones tubs had popped in the heat. He lifted his bike out of the gate and then we were off. The first few metres were a shuffle, but once we on the main road out the pace quickened. It really quickened. Although the road was wide I was surprised at how uncongested we were. Passing slower riders was easy, so our group charged forward. If we wanted to remain in contact we had to.

We left Peterborough for the gently rolling countryside west of the A1. The climb up Bullock road passed by easily, but the pace remained relentless. The drags became harder and harder. Some where the pressure being applied at the front split the bunch. It was a big bunch and to be frank on the narrow roads and as far back as I was there wasn’t a fat lot I could do about it. Joe, David P and Michael were the right side of the split, the rest of us were not.

We charged through the Giddings, but at the bottom of the hill a rider on my outside overcooked the left bend. He hit the Tarmac and sent half a dozen riders on his right into a ditch. We were now down to a smaller group of around 30riders. David H was still with me but Adrian had been dropped. Incredibly we managed to get some organisation going, yes a few riders insisted on putting the hammer down when they hit the front, but mostly it worked and running into Alconbury it looked like we might even regain contact, but we never did.

At this point I need to say something about the support. Some support came from families holding up banners urging their Dad/Mum/Son/Daughter on, but mostly it was from the locals whose homes and villages lay on the route. Some sat on their front lawns, others crowded around the local pub or held out hands to high-5 a rider; everywhere we were cheered, clapped and encouraged onwards. In Alconbury Weston, David and I were at the front. I used to live here and the pub were I used to drink had put tent up outside. It was crowded with spectators. What the hell I thought and I waved my arm around urging them to cheer louder, and you know what, they damn well did! I could get used to that kind of show boating! The crowds on the route really were great and their support deserves a very big thank you from all of us riders.

Alconbury airfield was hardwork and best forgotten. We powered down Walton Hill, then up the next small climb out of Wood Walton Village. It was the last climb before the Fens, from there the next notable gradient would be a bridge over a Fenland drain.

With a strong crosswind I knew the long slog up to Pondersbridge on the Whittlesey road would be a battle. Unfortunately our group didn’t echelon quite so well as the group behind and as we turned onto Oilmills road they caught us. I think we must have swelled our ranks to over 100 riders.

With a tailwind we tore across the Fens. The was going was fast and easy; I snacked and chatted with some familiar faces, but the wind and road were taking us east, Peterborough lay off to the west. There were some hard miles still to come.

To ease the shock of the headwind, the first road taking us west was Dykemoor Drove; a gnarly tessellation of concrete slabs with grass between the cracks. From Benwick we followed the Circuit of the Fens route to Whittlesey, the bridge over Whittlesey Dike the first gradient in many many miles.

In Farcet and Yaxley the crowds urged us on, and I at least was glad of their encouragement. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one as by now there were a lot of tired legs in the group.

We were almost home, but probably we were running towards one of the trickiest part of the course. I think a lot of us local riders knew it too and started moving forward. At Haddon, the road would narrow drastically to a tight single carriageway. It came as a surprise to the lad in front of me who pulled an endo. We all stayed upright but I was mid bunch and this section would be too narrow to easily pass on. Still the chance to move forward would come soon enough.

We turned onto the A605 for the run in to Peterborough. The road was wide, the wind was back in our favour and we were moving fast. It was a thrilling ride and probably about as close I’ll ever get to a Grand Tour bunch sprint. I kept on the right with room to move. A line of riders started moving forward and I followed them, like a tentative shoot we extended away from the bunch, running parallel to a line on the left. We became the leading tip of the peloton. I was right up at the front leading over 100 riders. We swung on to the showground, a couple of tight bends helped me keep my position onto the finishing straight. My legs were going to jelly, but I was out of any potential trouble, or so I thought. I hadn’t noticed a sleeping policemen used for the timing chips across the road. It gave me a bit of a wobble and lost me a couple of places. I rolled across the line just outside of the top 10 of my group. 3hours 22minutes, 177th overall and 31st for my age group. David came in not far behind for 218th.



Over the finish line I almost collapsed to a standstill. A kind helper thrust some water on me and tried to usher me out of the way but a sudden cramp had rendered me briefly incoherent.

We joined back up with the rest of our racing group. Joe, Jake and Wayne had all had minor scrapes, but no major harm done was done.

From my perspective it had been a unique and superb days racing. No short circuit repeated over and over but an entire route on closed roads with all the variety that brings. Sure there were teething problems, but for the first event, for such a huge undertaking I thought the organising team did a truly excellent job and I know they’ll learn from the feedback to make next year even better. I can’t wait.

And now? It looks like I’ve qualified for the UWCT amateur world championships in Denmark. Right now I think it would be rude not to go…

Heavier than I expected and definitely not chocolate

Heavier than I expected and definitely not chocolate


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