Steve Whittaker's Friday 5s

Having only done the Kirton 5 before I thought it might be interesting to have a go at some of the other Friday 5 mile Series this year, taking place over the last three weeks. Brief report with 3 down: 
All three very different so far in both conditions and terrain, and interesting to try courses which are totally unfamiliar. Quite a few Shufflers out and a couple of guys from work to compare notes with.
First off Ipswich - All the chat at the start was about "the hill", worryingly. Quite warm and a bit breezy. Start and finish at St Joseph's, headed off due south down a steep hill, under the A14 and up the other side through Belstead village, then across sandy fields blowing up dust clouds into your eyes and lungs. Loop back and last mile or so up "the hill". Kept a bit in the tank, so managed to keep going on this last stretch, though there were quite a few walking, and back up to the college. Nice setting, would do it again.
Next up Kirton - perfect conditions, quite cool, kept layers on until the last minute. Usual tactics of hurtling off to the gate at the end of the field and then being passed for the next 2 miles. Good pace though, and a 5 mile PB for me.
This week was Stowmarket (held at Hawley Park) - On the face of it a nice setting in rolling parkland and woodland. In reality, gale force winds, a twisty narrow course and very very slippy in the mud. Two laps, first of which adopting a cartoon-like banana skin running technique trying to stay upright (much to the amusement of the younger suppler runners nearby). One guy blasted past me twice at pace only to end up on his a**e, the third time he kept going though. There was shelter amongst the trees, but the finish was up a stoney steep slope with a 28 mph head wind. All hopes of a PB dashed, but highly entertaining.   Approx times for the three: just over 35, 33 and 36 mins respectively.

Final instalment on the Friday 5 races (for anyone thinking of next year  ;-)   ):
Bury – picturesque setting for the start in Tatton Park south of Bury, though got a bit cold waiting to start in the drizzle. A fairly muddy lap of the park before heading out on the country lanes and the sun came out. About 1 mile of long uphill drag before turning back and trying to make up some lost places on the steeper descent. Seemed to take a long time to get to the park and struggled to get a rhythm with some old guy stomping and gasping in my ear for most of the way back. Into the trees and a boggy sprint to the line. 99th, 33:45 but my best age category placing of the 5. Excellent tea and chips.
Great Bentley - was this Friday and another longish drive again good to share with some Shufflers.  This was billed as the must do race to get your PB, flat and all on roads. More of a mental test with long straight sections with lots of time to dwell on how far ahead those who had passed you (and had considered hanging onto) had got. Found this the hardest. Missed a PB by 10 secs. 96th 33:15. Glorious huge slab of fruit cake to refuel.
All in all, great to have completed the full set (all different), sadly I still get a buzz from pinning on a number.
No series placings published yet but by my calculations I ended up with 8th place for my age category, so chuffed with that.
Strangely my entry to Ipswich as a Woodbridge Surfer got translated to be a Woodbridge Shuffler, so felt compelled to join.

Morzine Five

Morzine V – (Morzine Faster and higher IV)
   Woodbridge Surfers – Extreme Division (Team Hot Pizz)

A DP Production 2012 – Fueled by Vodka
Special Thanks to Team Citrus & Poached Eggs

As a last minute casualty to a virus, we all knew that IC would be sadly missed; the lack of his delicate precision riding and alarming pharmaceutical usage would not go un-noticed. But as someone once said “The show must go on and let’s spend his deposit in the bar.”
Special thanks to Steve Franks for holding the pre-production/fill the 5th seat /get CS drunk and in the car party.

This year DP allowed us a lay-in, another (as it turned out quite important) hour in bed, so 4am Melanie’s Mystery Machine gathered  up this year’s participants, of what turned out to be a very mixed but fantastically exciting 5th visit to the Alps. It was a dry journey and after 12 hours in the seat we rolled up to a dry Morzine, knowing rain was on the way. (Rain;  annoying in the UK, dangerous on hills). A swift beer, rather dubious table snacks and then on to the chalet, the accommodation choice was good, although it took a day to get hot water.

Monday morning was bright but threatening clouds, but we excitedly collected our rides, velcro’d on everything we had and like the kids on Christmas morning, we hurried to the lift. The conditions were not going to put us off, nor was the swift 100+ bikes per hour cable car being temporarily replaced by a double- lunchbox-on- a-wire 30 per hour, disappointment. An hour later we were there, we were on the mountain, unable to contain ourselves, some of us had to scent mark immediately, it then was ours and we were off.  Conditions were worse than we had expected and thick mud and polished wet roots filled the wooded areas, it was a real challenge! Confidence in the bikes grew as the faster out-of the woods sections started to dry, but the rain came and went keeping it interesting. A little mishap for everyone and even a little back flip for AM, proving there is still plenty bounce in all of us.  Back to the temporary clubhouse to remove mud from all creases, discuss the day over fine home cooked food and maybe beer or two. As forecasted the rain carried on heavily through the night, ensuring we were to have another day slipping in the mud.

                                      The sun came up to reveal a brighter but still very wet day as we fought amongst ourselves to decide which two would get in the kitchen,(The chalet lovely as it was, had a dungeon, which was damp and cold, (which someone seemed to enjoy), but the kitchen was tiny, ( you could have a free moving cook, but his bitch had to move around in culinary harmony) as it turned out DT was to dominate in this area in the morning,  he would go on to provide us with a double portion of protein each day – “Aller à travailler sur un œuf ou deux
When we hit the mountain we tried to stay away from the rooted treachery of the woods and as we spent more and more time on technical runs, there was definite increase in speed and despite the conditions, a bit of air was appearing on every jump. A red run which was fast becoming our favourite, with its tight one foot high but smooth berms, which although were still wet, could now  be taken at some speed. As my confidence grew towards the end of the day, I let it go a little more, starting to clear a few of the table tops and with being a bit ragged on the corners, I expected to see a little gap behind, but all were line astern as we dropped onto the fire track. The conditions and the more limited area, could easily have felt a restriction but as it turned out and more so as it started to dry, it seemed to focus and we went go quicker.                                                                                                                             The feeling of being able to go as quick as you like ended abruptly as we squeezed in just one more run. This now familiar run exited the woods on to a open gravel track and all that lay between us and another safely completed day, was now Steve’s jump, one, two, three bikes cleared it and where is DT? Back to the chalet to view the on-board footage, for him to soak his wounds and give himself a damn good talking to.

The weather fully turned on Wednesday, the temperature was up, the sky was blue, it was going to be a sick day, we were going to smash it up large, we were pumped.  Well actually everything hurt, but after ibuprofen, ibuprofen rub, paracetomol and two cans of coke, then we were pumped. A run that starts at the top of the mountain, drops down to Let Gets, it is red but black in places, plenty of jumps, very rutted in the braking  and with berms that are in excess of 15ft high was now dry and very, very fast. It felt like 20 mins and that your arms have swollen with lactic acid, but it is only 7 and the muscles that need it (hand grip & fore arm) are just not strong enough, you need to concentrate more than any other time, especially if DP has the video camera attached, no matter how quick you go, you know he will so close that you can almost feel him pulling pixels off your back. With the day going so well, it seemed that it was the right time to do my annual groin stunt (land badly, miss the seat and feed everything soft that I have through into the back wheel until it hits the frame) this year luckily nothing squeezed through the gap. The journey back to Morzine each day involved a couple of miles on the road, fast straights and switchbacks, tonight there was targets cars. Having caught them, it was not long before the first had enough of freewheeling bikes trying to get past and pulled off to lets us by, the second was a lot tougher, he held it together under the pressure and was saved by a slight incline. Rossi could have learnt something from the style and finesse shown on the tarmac.  It was a long full-on day, exhausted, 4 of your cheapest biggest beers was requested at Dixies. Followed by another culinary delight back at Alpine HQ with a bottle of 2 Euro wine, 2 games of Petanque, some king of beer, a DP vodka mix, Euro on the telly and in bed by 9.

Thursday, the last day was exceptional, not a cloud in sight and it was going to be hot. It was now only two days before the Portes du Soleil, an annual Downhill & MTB event, and the mountain started to fill with slower victims who needed hunting down riders.  After a few runs on the now familiar Let Gets tracks and perfecting dragging the back wheel to warn slower riders of their position in life, we made the move across to Mont Chery, the home of the World Cup (my that is steep) Black run. Our presence very quickly attracted the attention of some pit girls who we managed to keep at arm’s length by allowing them to photograph us in front of Mont Blanc. 

It was not completely dry and the black is now showing its age a little, but it is clenchingly steep for about 100 metres, as an experiment I released the brakes for a split second, it is safe to say I will never do that again, it was like free fall. One of us seemed to spend a lot of time in every gulley he could find, but now well into the forth full day there were not many body parts that were not tired and mistakes easily made.  We sedated ourselves with lunch, the gallette seemed to fit the bill as the waitress made the understandable mistake of describing the main ingredient as a cocaine like substance. It was wholemeal flour of course.
After lunch we headed back to Let Gets for the rest of the afternoon, it was bone dry outside the woods as the temperature had soared past 30 degrees.  We somehow found a little more speed and the last couple of hours were the fastest of the week. The last run of the day was the 6 mile trek into Morzine, it was mixed terrain with 2 miles or tarmac in the middle. The last half a mile before the road a straight 30mph+ grass track, we knew the best line from the days before, stay left out of the ruts and let it all go, then wish you hadn’t because of gravelly corner with a catch fence. Having caught two riders at the fastest point, one decided he would throw himself on the floor in front of us, a little stunned he got up and walked between us at speed, we did ask of his well being, but really we just muttering as we could not decide which one of us was going to run him over. Not stopping gained enough time to catch freshly re-wired lift for one more ride before Morzine 5 came to a close. A cool down on a gentle green before we reluctantly handed back the bikes and once again and secured “ 4 of your largest and cheapest beers” In the town  38 degrees confirmed that is was damn hot and when you filled all that your are wearing with sweat, your blisters have burst and you can hardly grip, the beer tastes extra special.

Woodbridge to Morzine. 10hrs 32 mins driving,  12hrs 30 mins journey total (each way)
659 and a half miles (each way)
Average, 63mph and 40mpg
7 Hours of video footage for AM  to sort
41 eggs consumed
No mechanical failures & no punctures
Pharmaceutical  costs  reduced by 87% (mainly due to no IC).
No fractures.
Oversized lunchtime Pizzas – avoided.
Alcohol consumption reduced by a fifth.
Possible new boy entry into the “Most skin removed in one incident Coutts award”
The annual AM (I think I will try out this ditch next to the track with one wheel only and get away with it again) snail lesson.
Morzine V, muddier and men down, but faster and higher still, already a classic.

 Coming Soon Morzine VI   (New Heights or High and Furious) applications in writing to DP (Organiser and nice bloke)