guestcollectiveriderblog/oneseventwentysix – winter returns pt.2

Cameron Preece, who races with us, gives his views on the London League so far from a Junior perspective…

After racing cyclocross (and the London League) for the first time last year I was really looking forward to getting going again this year. My season started straight out of the blocks at Round 1 (Stanmer Park in Brighton) – a venue I hadn’t raced before but I’d heard about the big climb last year followed by a technical descent back through the woods. Our category (Junior Men) has now been given our own start time (one minute ahead of the Vet 40) which made it a lot easier to spot exactly who I needed to race for position. Adrenaline definitely got the better of me and I went out super-hard before completely falling apart mid-race – managing to hold on for tenth was a good enough start but I certainly learnt that my starting effort was not one that I could keep hold on top of for forty minutes!

After being handed the number 13 plate for the whole season I now knew what to focus my training on and two weeks later I raced at Herne Hill. I struggled and couldn’t really get into a rhythm during the race, however two weeks later at Round 5 (the second at Herne Hill) I had a much better race and came in at 4th – my best ‘cross result to date.

I missed Ardingly this year due to being in Koksijde to watch the World Cup and after a pretty duff race at Happy Valley in Brighton the week after that I once again focused my training to looking for an improved performance at Leeds Castle. I got another strong start, and I managed to hold a better pace throughout the race whilst feeling a lot stronger than I had done at previous races. I was happy with 7th here considering some of the guys I was up against.

The next round was at Cyclopark, which would be a test run for the National Trophy race the following week. The course itself was brilliant and had everything a ‘cross course should have – sand, hurdles, a steep run up and tricky off camber bits etc. Finishing 11th was frustrating and I was annoyed not to make the top ten but really enjoyed racing on such a good course.

Then the big one,… A double weekend starting at Penshurst on the Saturday – After a running start and a killer climb towards the end of each lap I was sitting in forth before having a bit of a battle with a training partner of mine (Matt from SFA). On the last lap we were together until a deep rutted section where the mud got the better of me forcing me to dismount creating a gap between us – hopefully we’ll battle again this year. The day after that I was back at Cyclopark for my first National Trophy race. I was up against some brilliant riders but I felt that I put in a good effort considering that I’d raced the day before. The whole day was a great experience and I will definitely be looking to do more races like that in the future.

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The most recent round of the London League was at Frylands Wood. It was a cold and muddy race with a fair bit of running and I struggled to get much power down anywhere, it was more about how technical you were in the mud! With that not being a strong point of mine I was pleased to claim another important top 5 helping my overall result for the season.

Time now to get in some good training over the Christmas period before getting back into racing in the new year.

 

Photos by Glen Whittington and Richard Howes. 

Cameron rides for the Southborough & District Wheelers. He races  road bikes, TT and ‘cross at local and national level. He receives personal support from the.æight.bicycle.cømpany.

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oneseventwentyfive/aeighttech – Canti Race-bike Updates

The.æight.bicycle.manufactøry’s first ‘cross bike has had a fantastic start to the season claiming plenty of top ten’s including one in Belgium – a week away from racing last weekend has given us the time to make some tweaks and have a look at some of the tech involved in the best ‘cross bike I’ve ever ridden…

Riding eight races on a frame which I built solo has been an absolute treat – even though I made no compromises with the geometry, the bike fits me so perfectly I really couldn’t have hoped for better. When the bike is on the turbo I immediately feel at home and when you ride it into the woods I can feel everything underneath me speaking at max volume! So there’s no need to change anything about my bar/stem/tape/post/saddle – my custom Fizik saddle and tape still looks boss too so finishing kit-wise there’s nowt to change.

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Wheel-wise the handbuilt Ultegra/CX-Ray/OpenPro have performed brilliantly and despite Mavic’s recommendations they’ve set-up beautifully with three different sets of tubeless tyres now. Speaking of which, I’ve been doing loads of training on VeeTireCo’s excellent T-CX tyre which again sets up tubeless pretty simply – it’s a tiny bit narrow for the cross-country trails that I like to take my bike along but perfect for gravel and a recent day spent in the South Downs. The profile is an odd step shape, which in use helps bite into off-camber corners. The company is currently working on more ‘cross tyres so it’ll be interesting to see what comes.

Recently I won a set of Baby Limus which again have been set-up tubeless despite warnings of that not being possible – I’ve only spent two rides on them but initially they feel like they’re going to stick to anything. They’re probably the closest thing to a tub I’ve ever ridden and technically they should roll even faster due to the lack of a tube – we’ll see when we race them!

The Nokon cablesets are working well and seem easy to adjust – I would think I’ll be using them on most of the bikes in the future. Along with Ultegra mechs, which although are not the most recent version, which haven’t skipped a beat! I’ve completely stripped the chain and then cleaned it with an Ultrasonic Parts Washer, before treating it with Ceramicspeed’s new UFO Drip formula. Independent testing by Friction Facts proves that this treatment is the lowest friction lube or wax available – the added bonus for me is that testing has shown that the chain picks up less sand and grit, keeping my bike working for longer in the race.

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Probably the biggest change I’ve made after the last few races has been the Praxis Works crank. The guys have been on at me for a while to give there chainrings a go – Praxis use a cold forging process which forces a plate of metal into the chainring shape with a huge force (unlike milling which cuts through the grain of the metal). Because the grain of the metal is kept intact the process makes for very strong and precise rings. The lifetime of the ring is improved and accuracy of the shift is perfect.

All of these changes will be tested in racing conditions – it’ll be interesting to see what happens and what’s possible next.

#aeighttech #aeightracer

Photos by Glen Whittington. 

Glen rides for the Southborough & District Wheelers. He races mountain bikes, road bikes, TT and ‘cross at local and national level. He receives personal support from Helly Hansen, Wildside Cycles and the.æight.bicycle.cømpany.

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t h e . æ i g h t . r a c e r . i n s t a g r a m

 

oneseventwentyfour – winter returns

Now, in full winter-mode the Cyclocross season heats up with three London League races and a National Trophy…

My first set of races went so well that I went into my second block of racing and training in a slightly over confident state – Leeds Castle was a proper reality check. From the moment we opened the car door the freezing winter wind hit us, chilling me to the bone regardless of the warm-up gear I had on. Reaching into the kit bag it was definitely a day for the insulation layer before Cameron and I set out for a sighting lap to set our tyre pressures.

The race itself was bonkers quick from the get go  and I really struggled to find a rhythm – last year everyone was complaining about how rutted and bumpy the course was, but I didn’t feel that – this time it was causing havoc with my concentration. Eventually a few laps in I got my head into the right place and started to enjoy it. I managed to roll over the line in 14th place which wasn’t a complete disaster, but hopefully it’ll be one of my weaker results!

With a lot more concentration and a new tyre I headed to Cyclopark for one of my favourite course in the whole calendar – made more important this year because the upcoming round of the National Trophy is due one week later. I had everything sorted this time and immediately felt comfortable on the beautifully prepared course. Lots of good riders had turned up to try the course out so the first lap in the lead group was pretty intense.So intense that I really messed up a corner and lost about 10 places before I could get back on – I settled down and refocused!

I was running well in the sections that demanded it and despite lots of mud I was just about clipping back in each time! As the sun began to set the race sped up and I focussed on staying un-lapped after last week’s disappointment – after a fast last two laps I came home in 13th which in the present company was a cracking result – the fire was back and I got my head down to training and eating correctly before Penshurst on the following Saturday.

A Saturday race was a bit of a treat really – Penshurst is great fun and a new course was bonkers tough. Coming from a mountain bike background I was pretty much at home in the slop of Sussex clay that had worsened through the day. On the final lap I struggled to hold off an attack and unfortunately lost contention for 10th place, but a very solid 11th was a good start to the double header weekend – time to get home, wash the bikes and sleep!

The following day was the big one – a day to roll the dice. I pulled my foot out of the pedal on the first sprint which was a right balls up, but I stayed concentrated and worked my way through the back of the pack before too many of the fast lads went – being a part of the snake that was working its way around Cyclopark was amazing – a constant stream of 60 riders riding at such a high pace…it’ll be one of the things I really remember about this season. The Belgian’s that turned up showed everyone just how it’s done and the rest of us went home with an education!

Results;

London League Rd.8 – 14th Glen Whittington – 01:03:40 at plus 1 lap.

London League Rd.9 – 13th Glen Whittington – 00:59:45 at plus 5:51”.

London League Rd.10 – 11th Glen Whittington – 01:01:14 at plus 6:43”.

National Trophy Rd.4 – 48th Glen Whittington.

#aeightbikeco #aeightracer

Photos by Glen Whittington, Cameron Preece and Pip Jenkins, Chris Lanaway and Dave Haywood and Richard Howes. 

Glen rides for the Southborough & District Wheelers. He races mountain bikes, road bikes, TT and ‘cross at local and national level. He receives personal support from Helly Hansen, Wildside Cycles, Four4th Lights, Vee Tire Co, Praxis Works and the.æight.bicycle.cømpany.

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oneseventwentythree – block one

October marks the proper start of the ‘cross season – so I booked up a few races and did some training, well sort of anyways…

I wrote about my first race of the season last time around – all that had preceded this was a weeks’ worth of training, by which I mean riding my bike and the odd run. Running is odd in itself, it seems to have such a rapid affect on the body, but I have to be careful with it as it seems to quickly take too much off.

Another week’s worth of training and I was ready for the second round of the #EKCX league. Newington was a bit of a trek for us in Sussex but the quality of the racing is so good that it’s well worth it. I had an okay start at Herne Hill, but at Newington they put me on the front row and it made a big difference – Eddie Davies was standing just the other side of the tape from me and told me to get the holeshot under his breath – I was so fired up that I very nearly did it, against some much stronger riders.

This gave me the confidence to go with the leaders and fight for position. Racing with riders like Michael Butler really improve your speed so the first three or four laps were exactly what I needed. Frustratingly made an error on lap four and I burped my tyre just before the pits – it didn’t cost me much time but 10 seconds is a lot on a dry course and it meant that I missed getting on Paul Sheer’s wheel. Paul was the man on the move but my battle was with a couple of other riders – I was putting moves on them everywhere I could and really working – I felt really comfortable and as the race went on I broke away from them to secure 5th place.

This set me up nicely for a trip to Belgium – it was supposed to be a race just for fun, but the #EKCX race had given me the confidence to attack the Flandrian’s in their own backyard. The LRC is the Belgian equivalent of the London League and the round I raced was at Bellem, in the north of Flanders and featured several loops through pasture and arable land with some MX whoops thrown in for good measure. A neat section through the centre of the farmyard where the announcer was, along with the music, food, beer stand and photographers tent made it feel like racing a National Trophy!

I somehow managed to get from the back row of the grid all the way through to tenth by the first corner – once we were racing we caught the other age group quite quickly so I wasn’t sure exactly where I was in terms of position – then disaster, another tyre problem. I was near the pits but couldn’t see Pip or my spare bike, so after a mild panic she came running with it, with my warm-up jersey catching in the front wheel!

Back on and after a lap I’d made my way back to a couple of the riders I knew I could beat – I passed them and made my way back to the rider I was racing against before the tyre issue and after one final lap rolled in just behind him in 8th place – amusingly as we’d been warned by a friend who lives in Belgium, the organisers decided that there were actually another two riders who’d mysteriously finished ahead of me and credited me with 10th – still it’s only a fun race for me, so I grabbed a photo and settled for watching the pro’s do their thing at Ardooie and Koksijde.

Back from riding and racing in Flanders I headed to Happy Valley for round 7 of the London League. I’m not sure why I go well at here, but it’s pretty much always been a happy hunting ground for me. I felt strong straight away and stayed with the lead group for the first lap. I was loving the fast flat corners and the techy wooded sections – like at Bellem, the course was very dry in places and very wet in others so tyre choice was hard but I think I finally nailed it. They felt great all the way through and gave me the extra grip I needed on the slippy banks and of camber corners.

I had a great battle with a Nuun/Sigma Sport rider and after about ten laps (with only a few more to go) I finally broke him – I haven’t gone mad with the training but everything was working well and was now paying off. There are still a few riders up the road that I know I can beat but after four races I’m satisfied with how it’s going – now I need to step it up again after a rest week and improve on where I am in the London League.

Results;

London League Rd.5 – 15th Glen Whittington – 01:00:23 at plus 1 lap – out of 103 riders.

East Kent CX Rd.2 – 5th Glen Whittington – on same lap – out of 35 riders.

LRC Rd.8 – 10th Glen Whittington – on same lap – out of 34 riders.

London League Rd.7 – 6th Glen Whittington – 01:04:52 at +2:29 – out of 65 riders.

#aeightracer

Photos by Glen Whittington, Cameron Preece, Pip Jenkins and John MX. 

Glen rides for the Southborough & District Wheelers. He races mountain bikes, road bikes, TT and ‘cross at local and national level. He receives personal support from Helly Hansen, Wildside Cycles, Four4th Lights, Vee Tire Co and the.æight.bicycle.cømpany.

t h e . æ i g h t . b i c y c l e . c ø l l e c t i v e

t h e . æ i g h t . r a c e r . i n s t a g r a m

 

oneseventwentytwo – late starters

oneseventwentytwo – late starters

After a proper break I finished building my ‘cross bikes and headed up to Herne Hill for Round 5 of the London X League…

The London Cross League is where you go to keep some fitness through the Winter – Herne Hill is where you go to prove to yourself if you’ve still got what it takes. I started coming here years ago and loved it straight away – the league has swelled in proportions since then and this is the first weekend I can think of where the numbers have been capped and the field maxed out. Good times? Bad times? I’m not sure, but I made sure I stayed near the front and shouted clearly when we got to the lapped riders – the last time I was here a wavering backmarker broke my ribs so I was keen that there wouldn’t be a repeat performance!

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The gridding seemed good and I got a fairly quick start, following Wilf around the outside of the first corner – he managed to pull his foot out of the pedal, but it didn’t seem to slow either of us down much. Into the woods for the first time I was well placed near enough in the top ten to get on with business.

Senior Video by John MX;

A lap in and suddenly no drive! – I’ve tested my disc brake bike for about six-months in all conditions and never dropped a chain, but it would seem that the rough brick laden surface of Herne Hill is something that wasn’t ever encountered in the wilds of Scotland or the local Sussex trails, so off my chain came! This close to the start [looking at the video] I lost 10 places in the process of getting it back on – bugger.

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The next three laps or so were spent reclaiming the places that I lost which I managed to do, but at a heavy cost. I was now seriously in the red, but my bunnyhops were getting slightly better over the hurdles and I was saving a fraction of time over each set. Not having to get off the bike made such a difference, but unfortunately on the big run-up at the back of the circuit I never really had enough space to ride it – too many riders around and too many memories of my last race at the Velodrome!

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My aim for my first race back was to finish in the top twenty and hold off being lapped – whilst I achieved the first part, the second part was to be scuppered by Jon Dennis who is just simply on fire at the moment. Very few riders in the whole race managed to stay un-lapped and that’s made more impressive by the large field – I can remember anyone lapping such a high percentage of the race. I managed to hold off everyone else and actually started to get into the swing of things by the end. My last lap felt god in terms of line choice and fitness – I just need to add the strength in now.

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Still waiting for my Junior Team-mate’s result but here’s the video of Cameron’s race;

Results;

1st Jon Dennis – 11 laps in 59:33

15th Glen Whittington – 01:00:23 at plus 1 lap – out of 103 riders

#aeightracer

Video’s be John MX. Photos by Glen Whittington, Cameron Preece, @samholdenphotos and John MX. 

Glen rides for the Southborough & District Wheelers. He races mountain bikes, road bikes, TT and ‘cross at local and national level. He receives personal support from Helly Hansen, Wildside Cycles and the.æight.bicycle.cømpany.

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oneseventwentyone/aeighttech – Red eTap (Demo C60)

Colnago’s C60 is the perfect showcase for the latest equipment – a racing bike that’s comfortable enough for the road and climbs like a demon – fitting it with the latest SRAM Red eTap WiFli, Zipp 303 NSW wheels and the brand-new Pirelli P-Zero Velo road tyres makes for quite an inspiring demo bike…

The eTap sales box proudly proclaims that, “there is a level where your equipment matches your dedication”, which sounds like a bold mission statement. With that kind of intent SRAM have set the tone, but can they deliver? Last year I built a project bike up with standard 303 wheels and the first version of eTap – the result was a usable bike that weighed less than the magic 6.8 kg’s. Since then the boffins at SRAM/ZIPP have tweaked the wheels and the group to allow an even lighter bike to go up even steeper hills!

The wheels have a new textured braking surface, which helps with both water shedding and heat dissipation – in both areas the Zipps were already market leaders, but the new surface treatment is even better. The freehub body also features a retention system which removes most of the friction when the wheel is freewheeling, which saves another few watts. I’m also experimenting with a Ceramic Speed cage at the moment and possibly bearings to follow, but more of that to come in future blogs,…

What I can talk about is the all-new Pirelli P-Zero Velo road tyre, which straight out of the box feels amazing – I’m usually not one to jump on the-next-big-thing hype, but I’m into tyres and this one felt completely different as soon as you pick it up – paper thin but of a reassuringly good quality. On the demo bike I’ve fitted them with standard Zipp rubber tubes, but I’m also trying a pair out with some latex tubes. Initially I felt right at home trusting the front to grip and nothing has put me off yet – the real test will be how the tyre performs in the rain, but for the time being it feels fast. Oddly I’ve observed not much difference to my normal tyres on rough roads but vastly less rolling resistance on smooth tarmac, perhaps is unsurprising when you think about the Italian brand’s motorbike racing technology and development. More testing to follow!

The Specialized Power Saddle is a great piece of kit and I got on well with it straight away. Some customers fit this for comfort reasons, but for me it’s all about fit. The conventional rear section gives way to a short stumpy nose which allows the rider to get much further forward if desired, or by adjusting the tilt allows the rider to open his/her hip joint much more than most standard saddles therefore curing all kinds of discomfort. It doesn’t seem to work for everybody but it’s definitely worth trying, along with a BG fit or something similar.

Colnago’s C60 frameset is truly a work of art – I honestly never tire of waxing lyrical about the beauty, design and technology of the Italian brand’s flagship frameset. With countless lug and tube options Colnago make an enormous range of sizes and colours and everything is produced in house in Italy – they really are one of the very few brands that can truly do everything from the start of the design to the finished frameset and it’s an absolute pleasure of mine to be able to finish that process by bringing the bike to life! Riding this one was a-dream-come true and despite the purist in me wishing for Campag, you have to accept that at the moment the best groupset technology is coming from Japan and the US.

eTap just feels so connected (which is an odd thing to say about a wireless groupset) – my way of explaining this is that it feels like a track bike in every gear. I’m not sure if this is because the mech is under more tension or that the combination of materials works better, but I think the underlying reason is just a very high build quality. The levers are just the right shape, uncluttered and have just the right feel – the mechs look clean and functional – the cranks almost disappear into the C60 frame, but on closer inspection the carbon layup is beautiful – and the brakes are subtle in appearance, but like anchors on the road! I’m a Shimano fan and a Campag fan, but I really don’t have a bad word to say about eTap and after a-years-worth of testing and fitting it, the groupset has proven itself to be up to the job of being mounted on even the finest frames.

The Wildside Demo Bike is available to test ride for 2-3 days at a time including weekends. There’s a small charge for wear-and-tear which (when you fall in love with the frame and order one) is taken off the cost of owning your own bike/groupset/wheels. For more info contact me (glen@wildside-online.co.uk) or the shop and book your ride now, to find out for yourself what all the fuss is about!

#aeighttech #aeightracer

Photos by Glen Whittington. 

Glen rides for the Southborough & District Wheelers. He races mountain bikes, road bikes, TT and ‘cross at local and national level. He receives personal support from Helly Hansen, Wildside Cycles and the.æight.bicycle.cømpany.

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t h e . æ i g h t . r a c e r . i n s t a g r a m

 

oneseventwenty/aeighttech – Eurothrash

Forget racing, if you want to thoroughly thrash yourself, a trip to Eurobike is guaranteed to leave you completely frazzled. Here’s my top bits from three days at the show…

I’ve never been a massive Zipp fanboy – somehow the big white logos didn’t do it for me, but I started to look at them when Wout Van Aert and Anna Van Der Breggen started using them. Recently I’ve built more bikes up with the brand and I’ve really started to fall for them. The 302’s I used on a fully custom bespoke-build started me thinking about the brand and then I got to demo the 303 NSW wheels on a Wildside Cycles bespoke-build that I built. Now the brand has added tubeless compatibility, their own tubeless tyres, more disc options and a very exciting 650 wheelset to cover pretty much all usage.

The Dura-Ace Powermeter looks super clean and tidy, as does the Stages double sided powermeter. Time will tell which one works best, but we’ll get them on some bikes and see over the next few months.

Ceramic Speed is a brand that I’ve worked with before along with Lightweight wheels. Testing the systems out I think that the Oversized Pulley System seems to work really well – rider feedback has been very positive and the Danish brand has released a new chain treatment to help further reduce friction. Lightweight have developed a disc brake wheel which looks like it’ll do the business for high-end builds and they’ve also widened the rim width in their new lines, which was well overdue.

Lots of exciting things are going on in the bearing world (obviously that’s my definition of the word “exciting”) and I managed to get my hands on a fairly new product, which will be on my bike by tomorrow evening, so keep your eyes peeled for some fresh #aeighttech in the next few weeks!

DMR’s SLED looks amazing in the flesh and their friends at Praxis Works were showing off some real surprises. A new Girder Carbon and Zayante Carbon crank help support the top of the line options and they seem to tick all the right boxes. The great thing for me is the readily available options in terms of ring choices – doubles, singles, boost, sub compacts, etc all fit on the same crankset which is compatible with just about all frames! I’m looking forward to testing out the new Zayante M30 Carbon X which is claiming some impressive stats!

Chris King have a new colour out! Matte Candy Pink – just buy it all.

On the Colnago stand where do you start? I found myself wanting one of everything. The Prestige is really sorted and now comes with a really smart paintjob, as does the V2r which is especially beautiful in the black/gold art-deco paintwork. The Arabesque and Master both continue to stun, but of course the C60 is the bike that gets everyone drooling. If I could I’d have one of each colour – the painted lugs are such a simple touch which won’t ever look tired, unlike me after trying to take everything in!

The best thing though has been catching up with everyone and sharing so much knowledge and ideas with different people – I’ve really learned a lot and got some great new tricks up my sleeve for bikes to come – now to get back to the workshop!

#aeighttech #aeightracer

Photos by Glen Whittington. 

Glen rides for the Southborough & District Wheelers. He races mountain bikes, road bikes, TT and ‘cross at local and national level. He receives personal support from Helly Hansen, Wildside Cycles and the.æight.bicycle.cømpany.

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t h e . æ i g h t . r a c e r . i n s t a g r a m