Friday, 28 February 2014

New JustGiving page

I've just set up a new JustGiving page so that anyone who wants to do so can donate. There's a texting service available too, to use it text IOAN87 £5 to 70070.

Thank you in advance to everybody who is kind enough to support me and Wales Air Ambulance by making a donation!

Monday, 24 February 2014

A weekend of training

With my first race of the year only a couple of weeks away and only about 5 hours clocked up on my new (to me) bike, I decided I needed a full weekend of solid training.

I started on Saturday morning with some drills to practice technical skills, some of which I got from a DirtWise DVD (good ol' Wattsy):
  • Full lock figure 8's
  • Rear brake slides
  • Slow wheelies
  • Nose wheelies
  • Power slides
  • Weaving around obstacles at speed
During the rest of the weekend I rode a combination of sticky mud, tree roots, ruts, climbs, cambers and insanely slippery grass track! I also managed to squeeze in a nice relaxing road ride into the countryside to cool off and take in the scenery.

When I got back from my ride on Sunday, I set to work preparing the bike for the up-coming Brechfa Rally. I cleaned it well, then greased everything like I normally do. Then I moved onto my "race-prep" as I like to call it, which is basically just doing my own scrutineering.

For those of you who aren't familiar with it, scrutineering is the inspection of your bike, which is performed by the club running the event, before you start. It's carried out for safety reasons and if you don't pass, you don't race.

I found a couple of things; a couple of bolts that needed tightening, a missing cable tie on one of the plastics and more importantly, worn front wheel bearings. Off came the wheel and half an hour later it was back on again and sitting snug with no play.

Spot on and ready to race!

Thursday, 20 February 2014

BikePark Wales

I went for the first time the other day. In case you haven't heard of it, BikePark Wales is a new-ish mountain bike trail centre near Merthyr Tydfil and let me tell you, it is brilliant! Great practice as it happens because the trails had high speed berms, jumps, tight technical sections and steep descents.
Not only that but we unexpectedly had perfect weather, what a day out for only £5!

We got there by 9am and rode up to the top 3 times before zipping down the mountain on a mixture of blue and red trails. The uplift service is £30, I might consider that next time, it would be nice to be able to ride all the trails in one day.

Anyway, we were all a bit spent by about 2pm so off we went, but I'd recommend it to anyone. There are trails to suit all levels of ability, the blues are great fun because they're fast and flowing, the reds are much more technical. I fancy having a go at one of the technical black runs next time.

Monday, 17 February 2014

A walk around my Wales Air Ambulance EXC

I'm so happy with how the bike's turned out, it's a real head turner (which is exactly the point)! For those of you who may not get a chance to see it up close, here's a short video to showcase the custom graphics I had made at Fusion MX.

YouTube video popularity

I'm very pleased that the race videos I've uploaded to YouTube over the last year have had over 5,000 views in total! If I can repeat that this year, that'll be brilliant exposure for Wales Air Ambulance. The most popular video from 2013 is "Welsh 2 day enduro 2013 - Day 1 - Rhayader Special Test".

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Crash bang wallop, what a video

No, I'm not supposed to fall off, but things don't always go according to plan. Here are some of the best crashes captured on my helmet camera in races and practice in 2013 for you to enjoy. CUT!

Sunday, 9 February 2014

2014 video intro

I have finished preparing my video intro which will be used for all my videos to come from this season's racing and I'm looking forward to using it!

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Wales Air Ambulance photo shoot: part 2

On Sunday, I visited Welshpool airport once again for a photo with the Mid Wales crew and helicopter. Many thanks to the crew and Anna Evans from Wales Air Ambulance for making this happen. The visit lasted around half an hour, but in that time, two calls came in, the second of which they needed to attend. Yet another reminder of how busy they are.

Here I am, proudly posing with some of the great people that form part of the Wales Air Ambulance service. In the background is the Mid Wales EC135 helicopter, Helimed59:

Monday, 3 February 2014

Official Wales Air Ambulance volunteer

I'm very happy to announce that I am now an official Wales Air Ambulance volunteer! I will continue doing all I can to support this great charity, hopefully my efforts will encourage others to do the same.

Spare(s) time

It's come to that time of year when I need to sort out my pre-season spares. In the short time I've been racing I've figured out a few things, one of the most important being that you have to maintain your bike well and make sure it's spot on for each race.

That being said, you can't account for problems you might have during the race. To help try to overcome those, I bring a big box of spares with me to each event, just in case. It gives me peace of mind knowing that I have them waiting for me if I need them.

Thanks to ET James as always, I've got everything I need for now, here's the shopping list:
  • Michelin Enduro Comp III
  • Michelin Enduro Comp IV
  • Michelin BIB Mousses
  • Front and rear brake pads
  • Front and rear wheel bearings with seals
  • Front sprocket
  • Rear sprocket
  • Renthal O-ring chain
  • Air filter
  • Gearbox oil
  • Spark plugs
I'm bound to pick up a few more things, but that's the main bulk out of the way.

Buying mousses hurts the bank balance, but I am convinced it is worth the money, it suits me really well because I make a set last the whole season and I don't have to worry about DNFs due to punctures!