We made a pretty spontaneous trip up to Greame and Fiona’s farm on Saturday to catch up with Katie’s branch of the family, meaning that Lily and Elsie had seen all of their six cousins and all their aunties, uncles and grandparents in the space of 24 hours. Great trip to the farm including all the normal animal chaos (no inpromptu lambing this time but some taming of a frisky horse to be done).
We had Phil (my brother) and Anne with their three children and my mum to stay on Xmas day and had a brill time. So much went on my head’s a whizz but we seemed to cram a million little memories into 26ish hours.
A load of photos here. My own personal favourite moments were Angus saying “I can bite my own toe uncle Dave and it well hurts” and the fairy hunting going on on the lovely walk through Redisher woods in idyllic Boxing Day sunshine.
There seems to have been an irritating number of cutesy “look at a puppy kissing a kitten” type emails hitting my inbox recently. Much more than normal. I’m not sure whether the global economic crisis is leading people into some sort of goo induced love of everything innocent; maybe the escapism is the way out of things.
Anyway, I just throught I’d post this reminder that the world is strill a very ugly place, as are most of the animals in it, as this post on Ugly Overload proves.
Leaving the house for a day seemed even harder this time round given that Lily had spent almost all day in bed on Saturday and Elsie was up about six times on Saturday night… cyclocross is tough on family life this year for us and I haven’t been able to really get into the training as a result. However, Katie was quite on top of things at home when I left (even if I wasn’t) and once in the car I got my head into racing mode.
The course itself was just the best cyclocross course I’ve ridden in many ways. It was a good mix and required so much concentration from start to finish. The grass was slippy and muddy, but there was only one real short running section.
I also got on top of things right from the moment the gun went – holding my place (for a change) after the start and picking my way past a few riders on the technical sections – of which there were plenty. (So many people seem to use their brakes on these muddy courses on corners – losing time and making themselves skid!). The field was a lot better this time round too and it was nice to see Nick Craig, Oli Beckinsale and Ian Bibby back in the top cyclocrosses.
I finished pretty much where I normally finish in terms of positions – 24th – but in a larger field I know I did a bit more of a ride this time. It’s really odd though – preparation was dreadful in the two weeks before with almost no training and disturbed sleeps… I just don’t know how to predict these things any more! Lewis also did a blinding ride for 7th after similarly rubbish preparation (stomach bug!).
Some things from my childhood are just so flipping great. There were never any fires in Trumpton, were there? No wonder with these gents on the ball.
It was Lily’s school Christmas Concert on Tuesday and she and some of her friends danced a delightful penguin dance. Sorry for the rubbish mobile phone quality of the fillum you’re about to watch. (Lily’s the one on the far left at the start and finish)
What’s the music called? It’s so familiar and on loads of things but I don’t know what it’s called and who it’s by. I Googled it: Perez Prado – “Guaglione”.
Oh, and on the subject of fish, which we almost were (it’s something on most penguins’ minds):
Two fish swim into a concrete wall. The one turns to the other and says, “Dam!”
My annual payback day came on Saturday – the day when I organise a bike race of my own, and as usual it was one intense combination of utter stress and deep satisfaction. It’s not just me doing things – obviously – and this year just like all the others made me feel such a glow at all the really ace people who mucked in and made things happen. It was also a special year because Lily rode her first event. I say ‘rode’ – the harsh conditions of snow and hills made the Under 12s race – like all the others – a real genuine slog. I knew I’d be called on to push and help out all the way round the course, but for so many of the children there was more running than riding. That said, the sense of urgency in Lily’s running – like that of the other children – was so utterly heart warming. This was a race – not a walk in the park – and there was no moment in those 15 or so minutes that Lily had her mind on nything other than getting round as fast as she could. She shouted to me in the middle of the race something that sounds of no consequence to many people: “Dad – I’m really happy”. I knew exactly what she meant. She was competing – giving her best, and getting something directly back from it. Sometimes if we don’t compete we forget that simple feeling. Having had this snow stick around made the day quite arduous for me and the team around me. The course needed to be drasticlly re-routed as the tarmac paths were packed solid inch-deep ice. This meant that the riders had no relief from the mud that sat under the crust of snow. A tough course in tough conditions… hats off to all competitors, young and old. 73 photos here My report on the North West Cyclocross Assoc website here. British cycling’s report here with loads more photos.
It’s my eldest niece’s 17th birthday on 26th November and it really, honestly feels like a couple of years since she looked like the photo below rather than like this.
Anyway… talking like that just makes me sound old, something I’m happy to keep on pretending to fight. Lily really was fascinated by the fact that Jenny was going on seventeen and was really keen for us to send this video to her… Happy Birthday Jenny from us all and welcome to adulthood. It’s fun – enjoy it!.
Bolton friends and wonderful pop band Merchandise have just ‘released’ my remix of their track ‘Glitterati’ on their website.
The remix was an interesting experiment in cutting things back to the core; the original vocals by Brad Wood are used from the track but nothing else and I decided an orchestral arrangement would go well with the reflective mood of the track. The idea behind this was also inspired by Cinerama’s ‘Airborne’ which featured David Gedge’s vocals directly on top of Cello and not much else. It’s something about the subtle but definitely northern dialect that lends itself to this and something that Brad shares with Gedge.
Listen (for a limited time only!) to my remix on Merchandise’s website here: Glitterati (Minnellium Mix). The remix will also go out on CD as a B Side to a single in the new year.
Had the ENORMOUS pleasure of catching up with two friends who I last saw in 1988 last weekend. Yep – read it – more than 20 whole flippin year have gone by since I last saw Hamish and Bobby and I can honestly say that it felt like yesterday.
This is the way things are when you’ve spent so much quality and intense times together (at school in this case). I felt like we could have just been sitting out A Levels the next day.
Reminder to self (and to each other I hope) to not leave it 20 years next time. Get together planned next May… must get it in the calendar.
Things seem to be going along fine for me in the big cyclocrosses this year; nothing stunning happening but I feel that little bit stronger than last year and my training’s a bit more focused and targeted.
The Mallory Park venue has mixed memories for me; in 2006, I had just about my worst ever cyclocross race and started to question what I was doing it all for. In the 2007 race there I revelled in the filthy and freezing conditions to finish 24th and really chuffed not to be lapped by the flying foreigners at the race.
This year’s was a great new course with a series of really awkward adverse cambers and a sticky, wet grass course that became much more adhesive as the day wore on. I had a slightly dicky start, with someone hooking up their bike to my spokes, and as a result had a bit of a battle trying to pass a few people on the first lap. This in turn sent me into a bit of strength debt and I only settled in about ten mins into the race.
I stayed upright and rode well. The Cannondale CX9 was just a dream once again and I decided not to change bikes, as the mud was keeping out of my gears, etc.
The only down side was that I was lapped on the final lap by the French race winner who was on a bit of a flyer. Finishing @1 lap is never a nice feeling. I’m looking forward to being the one who’s doing the lapping next year again when i start to ride the NW trophy races again.
Results and British Cycling report here.
It seems ages ago now and it’s hard to think it’s just a couple of weeks since we had a great few days in some brilliant weather on the East Anglian coast. Just got round to editing together the video last night. It’s almost exclusively beach stuff but that’s pretty much what we did in the daylight.