11
Sep
19

Feet of Endurance

Feet of Endurance

I think my head must be damaged as after doing a few longer MTB races I found myself roping Em in and heading to East Sussex to do an Event called “Feet of Endurance”, just a 6hour pairs event.
I have put a link here to the website as the boys at Eventrexuk do a few other things as well.

Feet Of Endurance

My plan was simple really, run a few laps and have a rest then run a few laps and just see what happens. No real goals on position, just thought it would be nice to support a new event and see a few friends.
I’m also aware that I have a half marathon coming up. I have lacked long runs and lacked efforts above 800 metres for a while.
Simple huh ?
So we got there early and registered, Adam went through the course at a briefing and the usual crew of mixed ability and mixed groups trotted off, solos, pairs, quads and sixes. As we strolled down the first hill a group of 6 or so were together and at least for a while it stayed like that, felt like we went downhill for a while and then the climb back to the arena started. By this point I had settled in next to the leader thinking relax and don’t push but as we came into the arena I hit the front and trotted off, I felt smooth and easy dancing over the roots and around the trees. (The course is well marked trails dancing their way through Pippingford Park with a great marshals, drinks stations and warning signs at appropriate points) Having dropped back down again the course levels out for a few Kms of “flat up” where you felt the pace pick up before the final climb and then the stairs back into the arena. I arrived at the end of lap 1 smiling as I had run smart but stunned to see the pace and determined to back off. Obviously in my world back off is relative when you reappear 32 mins later. No drama at all and what a great course, nearly 1000 feet of ascent/descent in 8.4 miles(2 laps).
I focused on fuelling and then Em appeared in the arena to the call “I hate you” assumed as she smiled it was ok and milled around. After 45 mins or so she came up the hill and I set off again this time determined to back off.
I used to love running the off-road marathons and ultras back in the day and this was obviously apparent as I danced round another lap in 32 mins and again chastised myself for the pace I was running, leaving the arena I really did back it down and was socialising with the marshals(basically anything to slow me down). My body intervened and I was forced to stop for a wee!!! No drama really as we were not racing anyone just getting the miles in. There was a rooty descent down to the MTB course and disaster struck as I slammed my foot into a tree root(thank goodness I had trail shoes on) and stopped very quickly. Pain was instant and after composing myself I set off very easily to make it back. I was running ok but descending hurt and there was as much of that as there were ups. Still I was back in the arena after 68 mins so a 35 min 4th lap was pretty acceptable.
Once Em left I walked around, ate and tried to see if I would be OK, sadly I concluded that trying to run another lap wasn’t wise so when she reappeared I spoke of concerns and she was like “that’s cool we stop when I finish”. I informed Adam (Race director) that we were stopping so between us that was 6 laps in 4 hours (3rd pair in the end).

Conclusions and wrap up.
What a great venue if you like to run trail or ride an MTB (they ran an off-road triathlon the day before). The course was hard and the roots made it technical at points but wherever there was a need there were marshals and signs on the course. All in all hard but very runnable (okay ability dependant you may want to walk a few climbs).
Organisation was spot on with chip timing is always good. Facilities like food and the important toilets and showers were nearby.
If you are a runner or triathlete and fancy a challenge then Eventrexuk events may be for you.
Personally I have had a bit of a shock as it seems my lack of miles have bitten me hard, the toe is recovering as is the ball of my foot which had blistered a bit on the hard ground(I wore trail shoes when maybe a sturdy more cushioned road shoe would have been better) however my quads are ruined, 3 days since the race and I haven’t run yet(bike rides are fine). This tells me that just because I can run X fast maybe when I lack mileage, I should be a little more careful, add to that I only did 4 laps and not 6 and maybe just maybe this is a warning and a let off.

6 weeks until Relentless 24hour and a new single speed to get used to so back to the bike !!!

Onwards

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30
Aug
19

Another catch up blog

Well this was supposed to be France by the numbers and it will be but there are a number of other updates to give as well so this becomes another one of my oops it’s been too long blogs.

Let’s start in France

Quite simply the plan was meet Laurent and get some hard days in on the bike. To compliment that I had planned in easy days as well, this would also allow me to do a little running.

So the numbers:

18 miles run spread over 3 runs on the easy days

302 miles and around 15000ft of climbing biked, spread over 6 rides. 3 rides close to 70 miles with plenty of climbing without being anywhere near a mountain and the highlight being just over 2mins at 17% average. Northern France has climbs like Belgium or Kent rather than hours of suffering you feel in the alps, of course this just means you go harder rather than have an easy life. The other 3 rides were solo efforts where I stayed flat and easy. (these were the rides that allowed me to run and recover)

1hr 50 mins of Yoga.

What can I say about Laurent, he makes me look fat and climbs in a manner than just puts me in distress on a regular basis, he is also a nice guy with a lovely wife and daughter. As always I cannot thank him or his family enough for their hospitality. My French still leaves a lot to be desired. The training was all fine until the last day and I just ran out of run on a climb. Complete and total fatigue and so I rolled home for the last hour plus whereas Laurent went on a detour and put in a few more climbs. This was purely volume catching up as I just don’t do the hours, although I have started 24 hour racing most of my training is still just 45 – 90 min blocks and often just Z2. It was 6 good days of training and I ate well I just went bang.

The only Tourist bit I did really was a trip to the Etaples Military cemetery (pictures were on Instagram) and I still have no real words to describe how I felt. I just sat there quietly in my thoughts and looked out across the thousands of graves. As people we have a lot to live up to when you consider how many people on both sides died to bring us the peace with have been afforded in our lifetime.
There is a museum to see and also other signs of the military past that I will get to.

If you get the chance to go to Le Touquet it is well worth the visit. As someone said to me, we got the cliffs and the French got the beaches.
Last Saturday I went to CX school with Helen and Stefan Wyman, well if you can then why not. I really want to race CX this year so thought a brush up would see me good. It was at Milton Keynes so this was my first return to the scene of last seasons massive crash. I pretty chilled out but MK has seen me rip tyres off, snap chains and get injured so I was a little apprehensive. It is probably no surprise to anyone to hear that when doing the hurdles at speed I dismounted fine, cleared the barriers fine and then tripped over my own feet and landed in a bleeding crumpled mess with a pair of ripped shorts, no injuries as such but felt a real plonker. The lesson from the day was one maybe back it down a little as you have nothing to prove really ! The big take from the day was use the whole course. Uphill remounting, a course is 3metres wide so if you can’t see a flat bit use an angle. I beat myself 5-2 in practice but I’m not sure yet if it beats me running. More practice needed. I plan to attend another of Helens camps.

I had entered the Torq in your sleep 12 hour as a single speed solo to get some good hours in but due to the army needing Minley this had become a 6 hour at Deepcut. All joking aside I have no idea how to ride for 6 hours. Ironically the bike gods conspired against me and for the first time I had issues with the single speed, for reasons I still don’t fully understand it kept removing the chain. 6 times in the first 2 laps and by this point very little desire to continue. I convinced myself to fit the 20 sprocket and then put it all together tight. I rode nearly 2 laps before it removed itself again. Sitting down by the van I again fixed the bike and planned for 2 more laps however I didn’t count on ripping the tyre off the rim, gas pump failure and walking back to the pits. Game over now as I had neither the mental strength to carry on or the mechanical skill to allow any form of smooth progress. On the bright side including warm up I got 5 hours or so on the bike.
To finish off a great 6 days in France that rolled into the best weather ever on a bank holiday I spent the Sunday rolling down the canal on my CX bike, this was nothing more than social riding for an excuse to drink coffee and eat cake. A brilliant day out.

Looking ahead now with CX just around the corner, I have entered 2 leagues with the main focus being a return to the Central League. I have no National trophy ambitions this year I just want to get the bike and myself moving again. Strangely I say this, I haven’t ruled out ending the year at the nationals…. Yeah I’m baffled by this one as well. I have also entered a half marathon and a duathlon(will need the TT bike !!!)

30
Jul
19

Exposure 24/12

So a funny thing happened, I did a 24hours solo MTB race on a singlespeed. After this a whole host of things happened.

I entered another one !! See blog title above

This time it was different as I got in “Der quietschende Wagen” and headed to Plymouth to do a totally unsupported 24 hour race. On arrival I found the solo camping and parked the van. I was around a good mix of experienced and novice riders and a wonderful lady who was supporting a 12hr solo had a kettle. I had my own coffee, love is :¬)

As is now practice I test rode the course and as also seems to be the way put the smaller gear back on afterwards. The good news was the bars I had replaced and all the levers all stayed in place.

Most people who know me are aware that I like to get someone else to do the mechanical work on my bike so when I do anything I am nervous. Having bumped into the Banjo boys I tested the new gears by riding round to see them:¬)

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With the baco foil bus ready I socialised beforeheading to bed around 10pm. As expected I was awake on Saturday at 0500 so got up and did some Yoga in a field. (I know I haven’t got my head round it either) I also went to have a shower but with no power it didn’t happen, at this point I was missing my hotel :¬( I started eating and hydrating ahead of the 11 am start and sorted all my stuff out.(Did I mention the young lady with the kettle ? I had another coffee)

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Glorious sunshine and the Orange man was ready to go. Rolled to the start and went to the back, tactical again so not to go out too hard, I think this worked for about 10 mins really as I think I hit the climbs a little hard in the first 5 hours. Fine to a point but I was also pushing on going downhill and this was to be my undoing later. After 2 laps I stopped and changed my drinks, all good so far and around 16300 I had my planned burger from the van. I had ridden with a credit card and was annoyed the burger place didnt do chips or coke but it wasn’t fatal. During my break I was stretching out as my back and left shoulder were starting to feel the pressure of descending. I met MR 24/12 a single master who said I should run less pressure in the tyres. I had 24/26(F/R) as it was hard and rocky but took advice and let some air out. Sadly I think the damage was done as when I came in for my stop 2 laps later I was in a lot of pain.
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I took a break to stretch my back and shoulder and review so far. I had gone a little hard and at this point I wasn’t sure if I was enjoying it. Beyond 2 marshals at the top of the hill(Ladies you wer fabulous) there was not a lot of atmosphere on the course, maybe everyone had started too serious this year including the marshals many of who really came to the fore on Sunday.

Around 2245 I went to bed, I had wanted to ride later into the night but I was sore and a little disappointed. Good news was I slept really well, the bad news was it took me 45 mins to get moving in the morning so it was 0345 before I headed back out and the feeling was that it was cold. I made a big mistake it here and put on arm warmers, a buff, thicker gloves and a jacket, strangely enough I was cooked come the top of the hill so hard to strip off. Rolled the rest of the lap not riding too well dropped off the stuff and headed out again, this lap was even worse. Sleep had seen me wake, struggle and ride badly. I stopped after 2 to stretch my back and shoulder. This all went wrong as my core temperature dropped and suddenly I was shaking so wrapped in a duvet I lost another hour!!!!

TADAH !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I emerged an hour later like a new man, I was energised and ready to go play, what was funny was so was everyone else, the course atmosphere was alive, people were chatting as they suffered. Many comments about me riding the singlespeed(seems the outfit works as people asked me about Mayhem) and stunningly not just my stupidity but my bike skills on the course. My ability to climb is not in doubt but when someone in a team riding full suspension pays you respect having chased you down a technical descent you feel good. I stopped and offered a pump to someone with difficulties at some point in the morning. There is more to this 24 hour stuff than just smacking myself silly. The marshals were engaged on more of the points which helps when its getting tough so I had some banter. I was still working in 2 lap blocks but having found the effort everything was more manageable. (Did I mention the lovely lady with the kettle?, Yes I had another lovely coffee from my cool machine).

With around 100 mins to go I knew I had 2 more laps but thought I could get round and do 3. Lap1 went well and so did the climb on lap 2 but someone on the far side I realised I was barely moving, the legs had left the building. I reached the girls who had been brilliant for 24hours and stopped to say thank you as I knew I wouldn’t be back. Coming back into the arena I was rolling but not much and yet still I could do one more lap. I hit the stabby climb one last time(owned it) and rolled towards a group of lads in the shade, I stopped then thought OH MAYBE so rolled down the hill towards my van and on the flat grass finally realised it was time to stop. I waited a minute from the line so I could cross after 11am and rolled in. Mr Singlespeed was there on the mic bringing people home, cheers mate it was appreciated.
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The bike, smooth for 24hours, I can’t thank James Whitford enough for the work he did on the initial build and am delighted the work I did held up as well. It’s mad I have a great full suspension bike and yet I race 24hours on the this.

I went for a burger and just sat in a heap for a while. People came over and just shook my hand and disaply respect that I had done 24hours on that !

I packed the van, the downside of no support is you have to keep your shit together(did I mention the lovely lady with the kettle, yeah I had another lovely coffee from my beans) and before leaving walked over to say thank you and give a little feedback.

To the woman who gave me the can of PEPSI MAX, you have no idea how much I appreciated that, it wasn’t coke but what a lovely thing to do and I loved that.

To the marshals, especially the girls. Without you the events don’t happen so thank you, thank you very much.

Mr Singlespeed and team, great course, an atmosphere that improved for me as the event went on, thank you and see you again I think.

I’m so bad with names so for this I apologise but the lady with the kettle, your kettle became my best friend, you made me smile and laugh especially with the fat lady sings comment on my last lap. BRILLIANT THANK YOU

24 hours of racing and this is my only real injury
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I got it by being nice and moving over for someone!!!

Conclusions

Disappontment that I rode for only 14 plus hours of moving time, I thought it was more so something I need to work on
Happiness I did 129miles !!!! so achieved my objective.
I can sleep in the van and function as a team of 1

15th overall and 7th Vet in an open race there was no single speed category.

At some point I need to experience crap weather so better enter Relentless as thats in Scotland so it is bound to rain.

I’m hooked ….

I only have 1 question for myself really, do I get a LAUF fork ? I don’t want suspension as such but do I get one just to take a little pressure off my body?

22
Jul
19

Yoga – it’s week whatever

I have after around 4 months decided that the week no longer matters and although I havent yet been seen out in public I am now someone who does and will keep doing YOGA.

I do still have plans to do a public session.

In other news I have ridden bikes and been running.

I have a 24hour race this weekend so brace yourselves for another story.

16
Jul
19

Yoga 24s and a shitty life really

So I think Yoga is week 15 now and even if I don’t race duathlon again it will stay in my life as there is no doubt my legs are the best they have been in years. The little twinges when running are not really happening and this morning on my road bike when I went “aero” there was no doubt i was more “aero” than previously. Although i have parked the TT BIKE FOR NOW there will be a need to revisit WattShop and get even more adjusted.

So we all know how much I enjoyed my debut 24hour? Well so much so that I am doing another one. There is no single speed class but I am riding single speed anyway 🙂 I hope to see people at 24/12 in Plymouth, I will be the guy in Orange.

Oh and I sold The FTO and bought a T4.

So I wrote a blog called Crossroads a few weeks back. Well there have been movements on this but at this point bike riding and work are good all other aspects of my life are a bit shit. Seems I really have made some bad mistakes and upset/hurt/offended a number of people. Now in some places I will apologise and try to grow as a person but some things are beyond my ability to move on from.

So there you have it .

Yoga works

Bike racing rocks

Life sucks

Hahahahaha

26
Jun
19

Mayhem 24hr Single Speed SOLO !!!

It all started with a why don’t you come and support us at Mayhem to which I replied, “but I don’t camp”

Off the back of this statement I suggested in the hope my friends would talk me out of it that I would just ride the 24 hour as a solo, chilling but riding. Nobody talked me out of it and I sat shaking my head as I not only entered the “solo” category OH NO I entered “SINGLE SPEED SOLO” category. Much shaking of my head followed but with that came a plan.

The bike was upgraded, HOPE brakes, wheels, cranks, dropper seat post and a saddle I trust. More time at Cannock riding the bike but I also realised I needed longer efforts so canal jaunts on the Epic(suspension and gears) in the evening and in the morning followed as I attempted to add the endurance that a one hour racer doesn’t have. I also entered a few races just to feel some pain, no resting around these as everything became about volume and being a litle tired. Safe to say God did his best to stop the fair weather rider from getting out but I put on a jacket and I trained, no I didn’t enjoy it but I was focused.

I am not a nervous person around races but to say I was a little apprehensive about a 24hour SOLO is being polite. I was SHITTING myself really!! It’s not like I haven’t gone long before, Comrades, World 100kms, Endure 24 in a team of 8 and a 5. Torq 12 as a pair, Bristol bike fest as a 4, 3 day stage racing on the bike. The thing you notice here though is nothing says 24 HOUR SOLO either running or cycling. My longest solo bike race was a 5 hour mtb effort the week before Mayhem. Granted this event from an engine point of view went well and I was able to ride the following day feeling great.

Race weekend

Pre ride – for the love of god this is going to be hard was the only thought in my head, I covered it well and concluded it would be okay if I put smaller gears on. Burping my tyre on the A line and deciding to ride the B at all points made the pre ride worth doing. A quick chat with James, the 20 was on my bike and the 28 was going on in the morning.

Mini stess – seemed there was no pit for solo riders to put gear and as I was with friends I had not got camping next to the course. One of the few moments I looked agitated all weekend.

Race day – got their early and tested the bike, tiny gear and lots of giggles, I was flat out at 110 rpm for about 12mph on the flat but this should have meant I could climb most things sat down. Thanks to Team JMC for space in “their area” and to V for agreeing to do my crew work. I was ready to race.

Strategy – I had this great idea to dress like a mountain biker and not really race but focus on riding around steady and relaxed. Furthermore I would take stops and ride with V when she was on the course including the first lap. All of this designed to stop me racing in the first 6 hours when I could really break myself.

They are off – it was a “Le Mans” start with a 500 metre jog to break up the field and it is safe to say we did not rush the run and set off really just getting a feel for the course.(I am not going to talk about each lap) No drama to discuss at all with me stopping each lap to get a new drink bottle and a gel(reflection and a change later in the race was 750ml bottles and more than 1 gel). I stopped after 5 hours or so and shared my initial concerns about how hard the course was and doubts I would get through. All this chatting while I ate a burger, drank coffee and even took my shoes off.

Part2 – another lap with V which helps keep my effort under control and I kept winning the battle of killer hill(32% at its sharpest point and I climbed the bugger more than I failed it) On my 3rd lap of this stint I made the decision to stop as it was starting to go dark to allow me to rest before riding in the darkness.(Another mistake, on reflection I should have ridden into the darkness and then rested when night was at its peak)

Part3 – into the dark dark night !! I have a new light and it is pretty damn good. The first lap was brilliant, I was sharp and awake and actually for the first time realised I was thinking about my next event. However, on lap3 it all
went a bit to shit as I bounced off a few trees and to all effect rode into some low branches. For the only time in the 24 hours I was directed onto the A line as someone had crashed badly on the B line. a bouncy tri pod descent was successful but I didn’t want to do it again. I pulled off and headed to base camp.

CAMPING TOOK PLACE !!!!! YES I SLEPT IN A TENT !!!!!!! IT WAS HORRIBLE !!!!

Part4 – Simple approach, ride with V as the sun comes up and then add a few laps before having breakfast. It has been mentioned before that with very little sleep I seem to recover really well and funny enough I felt brilliant and knockedout the next few laps with no drama at all, my battle with killer hill still being won by me, the only strange thing was the fatigue in biceps and left side(the crash was coming back to haunt me). Breakfast arrived just in time. No messing around as I had bacon and coffee with a relax as once more the master plan was in play.

Part5 – the final stint, lap with V and a chat, took a big bottle 3 gels and a bar and announced I was going racing. I had no idea what this meant except I had 2 hour left and was going to push myself a bit. After 22 hours this is an
interesting thing. it went well until around 1100 when I was starting to feel the shoulder again on the climb, my wrists were getting really sore, I realised I was avoiding holding the bars properly and most strangely my feet were sore. I collected a bottle from V and headed out on lap 20(this had been my target for my first event, lap 19 had seen the 100 miles come up). I was riding well in the legs but struggling to hold the bike on the bumps. On the last descent of the B line I made the decision to stop at the end of the lap as I nearly crashed losing hold of the brakes. With this choice made I rode the killer hill a final time with a real smug satisfaction. Rolled past V telling her I would not be doing any more and went for the line.

WRAPPING IT UP !

20 laps and 107 miles 15000 ft of climbing. A commical 7.1mph but wow I am hooked. I loved this, loved the atmosphere, the marshals were brilliant, the course was a challenge I was up for. I was already thinking about how I could go faster just sitting after the line.

My hands are blistered, my body aches, I’m upgrading certain bits of kit and I’m entering more races.

Mountain Mayhem I shall see you next year.

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ps. I really didn’t have any full blown crashes !!!!!!

06
Jun
19

Crossroads

I have considered not publishing this blog.

I’m not a person for deep serious blogs about me preferring to talk about coaching, training and well basically sport but here is a thing.

For all my noise I’m actually quite a private person but I’m troubled by life right now.

Even though not 49 yet I am 50 next year, my daughter is 18 now. I have spent over 2 years in my current contract at work but it even looks like that is coming to an end. 3 years prepping for a sporting event next year and now not sure I want to do it.

Safe to say my private life has not been that smooth since leaving MiniGs mother and although I have tried to “do the right thing” it is safe to say I have largely failed at being a parent, partner or husband. I have paid my way, I have attended a few of my daughters events(said the wrong thing at these on occcasion). I have tried to offer support and see my daughter but the gaps between us all have grown these last few years. Or as she said “we have nothing in common” she has a point I’m sport and she is her mothers daughter and wonderful with animals. To the extent that these last few years I have felt tolerated due to financial support but not really needed beyond that. Her being 18 and leaving school is just part of the equation.

I need to make some big calls in the next few months and as always there will be repercussions.

The questions I am asking myself are these:

Do I want to be a contractor or get a settled role and grow with a company.

Do I want to work in my current environment or finally embrace my love of coaching?

I can honestly say I dont work for money, it has been nice to support the family, I enjoy what I do but it’s not my passion.

The world is now full of coaches, brands, ex pros etc.. I’m not a name and wasnt a great athlete(oh I am solid for sure but not great), my coaching works and I get clients on reputation but is it enough?

In effect the real questions are these:

Who is Mark Shepherd?

Do I like him?

Is he happy?

What makes him happy?

Is his hapiness important enough to risk upsetting others?

Right now I’m sad too often and spent way too much time looking at all the mistakes I have made in the past.

Today I am trying to look forward and see what’s out there but how does a 50 year old man of average sporting ability and intellect completely change direction?

You spend a long time dead at which point it doesnt matter but while I am here I’ve reached a crossroads…..




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The Dark Lord Speaks

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