10 Nov 2007

RAF Cycling Buddy Rides

Coed Llandegla - Saturday 10 November, 2007

This is undoubtedly going to be a winter of trail centre riding for me, especially now that I have found this gem only an hour and a bit away. Now I love my riding in the mountains with an OS, a compass and cheating with my GPS. However, when there is a howling gale and driving rain, this place is still bursting with morale. I will be back.

The setup has been provided by a private company that were looking to generate some revenue from their forest when the market for newspaper dropped due to an increase in usage recycled paper. As a result the trailhead facilities are spot on. An excellent café with bike washes, bike shop and classroom for MTB courses to use.

The trail itself is very synthetic, which sometimes may be a bad thing but on this occasion it is most definitely good. It kicks of with a steady gradient climb from the off on a buff, well drained track where you can comfortably climb two abreast and have a sociable chat. It does go on for a while, but due to the friendly gradient and twists and turns, time soon flies by. The first section of singletrack descent set the tone for the rest of the ride, winding up the speed and confidence with nicely rounded humps. These allow you to jump to your hearts content if you ride them hard, but for the less confident rider are just as nice to roll over. The majority of corners are bermed but with a nice flat bit at the bottom again for the less confident rider.

Soon the first section (Roller Coaster) splits of onto on of the new black sections. They are black not due to rocky technical sections, but more due to the height of some of the hairpin berms and a few of the jumps immediately preceding twists and turns around the trees. These sections just flow so well, and you soon learn that by staying off the front brake and letting the ‘g’ push your tyres into the perfectly prepared turns, allows terrific momentum to be carried.

For payback there are some short sharp climbs that whilst they hurt a little, the soon have you back up for the next perfectly planned descent. As for the woodwork, well I shall not put you off because when it comes to this stuff, I am soft. It is very clever the way the trail builders play with your mind and that is all I will say on the matter.

Thanks to Si, Andy Rich and Moose for a cracking day out. Two laps makes the travel worthwhile at 21 km each. It also means that a bit of familiarity enables you to ride it a lot harder the second time. Despite some inclement weather, the superb drainage has made sure that this trail will be a great ride all year round. Get yourselves over there.

Happy trails..... Sam

5 Nov 2007

RAF Cycling Buddy Rides

Penmachno - Sunday 4 November 2007

For those of you that have not ridden the Penmachno trail in North Wales, you are missing a real treat. I rode it earlier this year but since then a second loop has been added which increased the total ride length to around 30 km. We had a cracking day. The weather was actually perfect, yes perfect. Clear blue skies with the faintest of white wisps in the air, crisp cool air and warm sun on our backs when out in the open. As the nights mist weaved its way up and out of the trees we departed the car park on the first climb of the day.

Three of us headed over from Cosford. Andy, an old-time MTB’er who is now having a mid-life crisis and just splashed out thousands on new MTB kit and Pete, a former roadie who is returning to cycling from several years out and has decided that knobbly tyres are more fun.

The trail makes great use of the Penmachno forest in the Snowdonia National Park. What makes it impressive is the way in which it has been built by volunteers from the local village and how it rides better than some significantly more expensive ventures in Wales. The additional loop takes you higher for longer, with some tremendous views. It is by no means just about extra miles for miles sake though. The additional distance is primarily made from more singletrack and an epic boardwalk section suspended above what can only be described as a quagmire. A tremendous amount of effort has gone into a flowing sustainable trail. There is no messing in the boggy sections of the forest; there must be hundreds of metres of boardwalk and furthermore beautiful slabs of rock have been placed to ensure you keep moving over streams and bogs. Not bad value for a £1 donation in the honesty box.

What is also a little different about this trail is the way it takes you out of the forest, affording some excellent views as you pound across a rugged and sometimes narrow pavements of rock before charging you down escarpments interspersed with switch-backs some of which are bermed. The final descent is a real roller coaster with compressions and turns on the crests. When we rode it, it was very slippery due to the decomposing mulch of pine needles and leaf under tyre. In summer, it must be fast.
Happy trails..... Sam

Avoid Confusion

The previous posts in this Blog have been taken from the RAF Cycling Club's participation in the 2006 TransWales and 2007 TransScotland events.

Posts added to this Blog will now be from present day happenings.


3 Nov 2007

Day 7

- 14:00 2 June 07 -
Jacko has reported in.
Cookie and Dan have been put in an immense performance all this week. Dan has been Dan, fast and furious as ever. Cookie, poor Cookie. His back has been in bits all this week and has not recovered at all from his escapades prior to coming on TransScotland.

Both riders have been fantastic. Gav Brown has also been brilliant and did some great riding. Overall the atmosphere has been great all week.

- 19:40 2 June 07 -
Trev Batey has reported in.
I can officially confirm that the Royal Air Force Cycling Team taking part in TransScotland '07 came in 4th place overall. Last night af the special stage they completed that in 4th place which took them into 4th place overall from 6th place. This was due to a number of factors. The fifth placed team (Cool Runnings) got lost on the night stage so that was one place gained as they were only 9 seconds ahead of us.

We managed to leap frog the fourth placed team who were 44 seconds ahead of us. The massive massive drive through from the boys made sure that this team were now 38 seconds behind us. The third place team were still over 2 minutes ahead of us, but this was no missed opportunity for us. We are going to have beer tonight and then home tomorrow.

We'll have photo's for you next week sometime. The weather again has been kind to us today and the lads even stopped for a beer at lunchtime. After 65km they eventually made it over the finish line and were showered with beer and champagne by Jacko and myself.

See you all on the Forum!!

Still to be confirmed is Gavin Brown's position, we have him down as being 31st overall.

Day 6

- 18:00 1 June 07 -
Trev Batey has reported in.
Just a quick update for tonight. It's been glorious weather all day - thanks for the Met forecast (Ged). The guys have been basking in total sunshine with little warm wind and temperatures being around 17-18 degrees.

The team got to the first food station on todays linking stage which was 37km in 3 hours, where they had a long lunch relaxing and enjoying sitting next to the Loch.

They got themselves into Peebles / Glentress area before the cutoff time of 1500 hours. Quite a few teams and individual riders got caught out on this, not realising their tiredness and the complexity / severity of today's ride - all suffered time penalties.

This did not affect the RAF team although the RAFCC solo rider Gavin Brown, missed the cutoff by 20 minutes and will suffer 2 minutes added to his overall time. This is not a major worry for him and shouldn't affect his standing.

2206 is the night ride for us. We are all prepped ready to go. The boys are fed and are now got their heads down taking an afternoon siesta.

At around 1900 hours, I will be pre-riding the final special stage to pass on info about it. It should be around 8-10km long. Their is nothing more to be said apart from that the weather is good for tonight which will make this an awesome night stage, very fast indeed. It all hinges on this tonight, the boy's will be going hell for leather, nothing to loose - all to gain, a podium place is still possible. Given that it's a night ride, 1 mistake can be very costly - a place or two? Hopefully there will be no mechanicalsand the guys will really go for it.

We'll have the full results tomorrow for you around 1600 hours after the presentations. Tomorrow's stage is around 100km and will still be harsh on the legs. The weather should still be good for it.

Hopefully, we'll be moving up the standings tonight.

- 23:00 1 June 07 -
Trev Batey has reported in.
This is TOTALLY PROVISIONAL and has yet to be OFFICIALLY VARIFIED until tomorrow, but the team that were in 5th position ahead of us, 1 rider has come in the other took a wrong turning and got lost - so they are out of the running.

Our times for tonight were: Dan 29:16:127 and Cookie 31:48:579

The team in 4th position (overall) had times of 30:50:841 and 32:57:541 and under my reckoning this makes 1 minute 4 and 1 minute 9 per rider slower than our riders.

So in my opinion we should have 4th place overall - although this has yet to be confirmed. Fingers crossed

The boys rode out of their skins [expletive] awesome, they have done us proud.

We'll know the Official timings for sure tomorrow.......

Day 5

- 11:00 31 May 07 -
Trev Batey has reported in.
We're a bit worried with the storm that came in off the Solway last night and had to lower the shelters down to the ground to prevent it being blown out of the camp site. Despite the appaling overnight conditins all was clear and sunny for todays special and linking stage.

Special stage was in Mabie Forest and was a 10km relay loop. Dan took the 1st leg 5km climb to hand over to Cookie for the descent. The team had an excellent smooth ride finishing 6th in the team competition. We'll have to wait until tonight to verify the overall standings and check the results but I'll txt you (Ged) later. Gav's result not available yet.

They are now linking back to Moffat before a long day tomorrow and the 4th special stage - the night ride. Thanks to Jacko and USE, we should be lit up light Christmas Trees, so no worries about not being able to see where we're going and also with a high start we should be racing in last light, again to our advantage.

I've stopped in Dumfries to launder their kit so that they start the last few days clean and fresh, hopefully giving us a psychological and morale boost.

Jacko is working till late helping the many riders with broken bikes and is cementing the RAFCC reputation.

The Navy are doing well but were never a threat. Looks like the podium will be down to the wire between 4 teams based on the results from the final stage, so fingers crossed.

Sorry we can't provide pictures en-route but we'll give you what gallery pics we have through Cookie/Mark for Mon. Cheers.

- 20:50 31 May 07 -
Trev Batey has reported in.
As I reported earlier, the boys came in, in 6th place and remain in 6th place overall with a total time of 32 hours 54 minutes and 44 seconds. Our efforts so far leave us with a 9 second gap from 5th place, 44 second gap from 4th place and 1 minute 28 seconds from 3rd. It's sounds like a mammoth task but it is closely fought.

Tomorrow is a very long day indeed and will be extremely taxing to all and sundry. 65km linking stage with over 2100m of climbing followed by the fourth and final special stage a night stage which will be around 10km and starts at 2200hrs. It's all to play for and this night stage will be the make or break for final placings.

The Royal Navy are in a commendable 17th place overall and our awesome solo rider Gavin Brown is now in 31st place with a time of 33 hours 17 minutes and 58 seconds.

Wish us well.

Day 4

- 11:00 30 May 07 -
Trev Batey has reported in.
This morning I went for a pre-ride of the course with the organisers, helping out to make sure if the course was all marked up correctly. The info I gathered from the pre-ride would have been unfair to keep to ourselves as a team, so on my return I shared my experiences with everyone so they had no nasty surprises.

It all went well in this mornings time trial through the lush woods of Dalbeattie. The riders endured much technical rock trails which were both fast and extremely twisty. A brilliant course and a credit to the trail designers - it was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

The RAFCC team did exceedingly well and came home in 4th place with a time of 43:19:400 - awesome. To put this time into some perspective, the fastest pair back were National riders with a time of 39:19. Second placed pair came in at 42:38 and the third pair at 43:02 so as you can see there is not much in it and leaves us in a position to continue to contend for a possible podium position.

I hope to have our overall standing position and times tonight but something tells me we may have leapt a position to 4th overall, if not third.

The boys have continued to push out a great performance despite Dan Lewis crashing in the rock garden. Luckily, he escaped with only minor cuts and scrapes. The linking stage for the rest of the day is a steady 60km trudge to New Abbey which has one big climb in the middle of the ride. It'll be a steady recovery ride with no real time limits being set for the teams arrival. The bikes are fine and our boys are both ok too.

The Royal Navy team came in on the special stage in 18th place, so no real serious contention from them at all. However, they are so low down in the field after taking a wrong turning on their first special stage.

Gavin Brown the RAF's solo rider came home in 32nd place with a time of 51:01 - very respectable indeed. The weather today is stonking!! Beautiful sunny skies with a warm temperature of 15 degrees is just perfect. It's a huge difference to that experienced on the first day and has lifted everyone's spirits.

The boys will be having a well deserved massage tonight from the travelling masseuse that has been accompanying the organisers.

- 20:39 30 May 07 -
Trev Batey has reported in.
The RAF team has dropped down to 6th place overall, however do not despair. Their are only 33 seconds separating 3rd and 6th place and 4th to 6th separated by 7 seconds.

Tomorrow mornings special stage is another relay - but a hill climb and descend with Dan going first followed by Paul Cooke.

Day 3

- 07:00 29 May 07 -
Trev Batey has reported in.
Good morning, just a tiny blurb from me this early Tuesday morning to let you know that the RAFCC solo rider Gavin Brown lies in 34th place from last night's special stage with an overall time of 46:08:163.

- 20:00 29 May 07 -
Trev Batey has reported in.
Jacko is too busy at the moment fixing bikes and has now been employed full time by the Merida mechanic, so he is really happy like a pig in brown smelly stuff looking after other people!

Nothing much to report on after last night's special stage. Today's 100km stage was thought to be tricky but in the end was not arduous at all. The guys went for out for 60km to the lunch stop and really enjoyed the beginning.

Cookie managed to pick up a puncture but we've been fortunate on that one. Really great technical riding this morning and as the support crew, we met them for lunch. All going well.

After lunch it was an easy 40km spin on what was mostly tarmac, so the boys enjoyed that spinning and stretching the legs off on the return leg - all very chilled out.

The boys even stopped off for a coffee at the trail center and kindly sent us (support crew) a text to say they had stopped. We were wondering where they had got to as they were taking longer than expected to finish the stage. This was a welcome break for them which just added to the day making it all the more enjoyable.

The weather has been gloriously sunny today and hopefully it will hold out for tomorrow and beyond.

It's an 0905 start tomorrow with a team special stage with both riders going out together to complete a 15km dual effort as fast as you can. The average time from the pair will be added to the timings gained from the previous special stages.

I'll be up early and will be doing a pre-ride at around 0700, so that I can recce the trail and get some info to the boys, just to stay that one step ahead of all the other teams.

Everyone is fine and well and the bikes are holding out. Again, we are all looking forward to tomorrow.

After the special stage, it's an 1130 mass start for a 6km ride onto the next location. Tomorrow night I hope to bring you the latest positions and timings at the half way point of this TransScotland '07.

Day 2

- 21:40 28 May 07 -
Trev Batey has reported in.
"Greetings from Drumlanrig Castle. Started out this morning on a 45km linking stage, a short stage in order to prep for special stage this evening.

The guys got very fortunate, we were lucky with the weather. Scotland has clearly missed off all the rain that has been battering England. Despite the lower temperature and wind, everyone dressed up warm just to be on the safe side as a lot of guys got caught out yesterday. Things improved massively and the guys cruised steadily through 45km in 3 hours coming out at Drumlanrig Castle which gave them a good 5 hours rest period before this evening's special stage.

A little bit of fettling has been done, nothing special, everything is all in order and the guys are looking good, fit and strong.

This evenings special stage went out in team order, the RAFCC team went out in 55th out of 65 teams, this proved to be not a problem and gave a good gap between each team to set off and they had a 10km special stage. This comprised of a 2 x 5km relay with Dan going out first handing over to Cookie. We came home in 5th place - a phenominal result with an overall time of 37:48:142. There is a 6 second gap betweem 3rd, 4th and 5th places so it's all up for grabs. We are so looking forward to tomorrow's 100km link to Dalbeattie. It's a long haul with a 9 hour cut off point and the weather is looking good for it. So overall no major probs for us, we'll be getting our heads down shortly.

The event is being well run and everyone is more than pleased with the service and support from the organisers, there is plenty of food and drink to go around.

Jacko is being well used fixing our bikes and everyone elses. Everyone are warming to us and most pop by to use our services in some way.

The Navy team are in 21st spot, unfortunately though, their solo rider was unable to make this evenings special stage and will probably be out of the solo competition due to his Scott pivot arm shearing around the weld point on the bottom pivot. Don't by a Scott they are cheap and nasty! and we continue to look after the Navy.

It's worth noting that within the team competition the RAF Cycling Club are competing against teams that have travelled over from Holland, Belgium, Italy and as far away as South Africa. So this just shows the perspective of how much this means to the cycling community that we are taking part in this.

A final note from me is on the pop up shelter tents that we have, they are well worth the investment that we have fought for, they have certainly raised our profile whilst making life easier for the team and the support crew. They will pay for themselves very shortly when they will be used in our other big events such as Bristol, Mountain Mayhem, Sleepless in the Saddle and of course, the RAF Champsionships.
These shelters have boosted the Royal Air Force' presence within TransScotland."

Day 1

Riding commences (27 May 07) at Selkirk Rugby Club with a 70km ride to Moffat.

- 16:30 27 May 07 -
Jacko has reported in.
"It's been quite an interesting day. It rained on and off for most of the morning with the heaviest being just when the lads were starting out. The trails were very sludgy indeed but the bikes came back in not too bad a condition and even Cookies's new bike held up fortunately. Cookie came off his bike and hurt his hand. He is now pumped up on Brufin and should be OK.

The team came back in just under 5 hours completing the 76km course, their arrival was very early compared to other teams despite the 2100m of climbing. It's been a good day, the trails were fairly good and held up well.

Overall, there are no major issues and everyone is very hungry looking forward to a pasta meal being laid on. Tomorrow's stage is only a short linking stage to Drumlanrig Castle where a special race stage will be held. Their is a lot of apprehension towards to the 100km stage, in fact their was apprehension by a lot of people before we started today. We are looking forward for some nicer weather as well.

We've got the big pop-up tent up and it look's fantastic. People know we are here, definitely!

Day T -1

- 20:00 24 May 07 -
News just in from the Team Manager. Not only will the RAFCC have an experienced team participating in this years TransScotland, but there will also be an RAFCC solo rider too in the form of mad-man, sorry, err experienced endurance rider, Gavin Brown.

- 21:00 26 May 07 -
RAFCC MTB Sec has reported in.
"All is well and the new RAFCC emblazoned pop-up tents have had a major impact on the entire camp site as soon as they were erected. Riders from TransWales '06 flocked to them to exchange stories of old and to re-kindle friendships established last year with newcomers also looking on.

Jacko was also put into action with repairing/servicing other civilian competitor's bikes. The RAFCC team members are settled and looking forward to what looks like will be a day of mixed showers and gray clouds as the participants make their way to Moffat, some 75km's away with a time limit of 7 hours.

A last minute worry engulfed the RAFCC camp at one point, in true 'Cookie' style, Paul Cooke realised he had no front mech to ride with and that his rear mech on his shiny brand new GIANT was totally mashed. At 8pm on the night before such a long ride this was something that was not needed and Cookie ended up spending £90 on parts from someone selling goods from the back of a van! It looks like the Royal Navy/Royal Marines and Army have solo riders taking part which will be competition for the RAFCC's solo rider Gav Brown."

Solo Rider - Profile

....Solo Rider

Name: Gavin Brown
Year started racing: MTB 2005
Achievements: Participant in Polaris challenges, Merida 100 Marathon's (as part of the Combined Services MTB Endurance Racing Series) and the Rat Race Urban Challenges. Hasn't fallen off for over 2 months!
Rides: Giant Anthem and Santa Cruz Blur
Views on what makes a good rider?: Getting out and riding various types of terrain. Remaining dedicated to training. Keep it enjoyable. Being tall and skinny (Unlike me!)
Favourite course: Peak District and The Berwyn Mountains
Favourite colour: Autumn colours
Favourite tune: Jerusalem
Biggest supporter: Kerry, my wife and riding partner

Team - Profile

....Rider 1

Name: Paul Cooke
Year started racing: Road 2003, TT 2000, MTB 2003
Achievements: 3rd cat road licence, 10 mile TT PB of 22.23, annually participate in SiTS, Mountain Mayhem & Combined Services MTB Enduro's, survivor of TransWales '06
Rides: 2005 Giant NRS Composite
Views on what makes a good rider?: Technical skills with a reasonable amount of speed and power
Favourite course: Any man made trails in Wales
Favourite colour: Red, black or gold anodising
Favourite tune:
Biggest supporter:

....Rider 2

Name: Dan Lewis
Year started racing: 2005
Achievements: Combined Services MTB Champion, RAF Cycling Champion (Road & MTB), Represented Wales in New Zealand World Mountain Running Championships, Bronze Medallist in Inter-service Athletics Championships, survivor of TransWales '06
Rides: Specialized Stumpjumper, Kona Explosive, Ridley Crossbow (cyclo cross / road bike)
Views on what makes a good rider?: Hardwork, dedication and being a little mad!
Favourite course: (or trail) Home which includes Cwmcarn
Favourite colour: Mud
Favourite tune: Pink Floyd - Comfortably Numb (a**e!)
Biggest supporter: Family

TransScotland 2007

7 days, 7 stages -
the ultimate MTB challenge

The Royal Air Force Cycling Club will be participating in the arduous TransScotland '07 during 26th May - 3rd June. Hours of training, planning and more training are like distant memories to the riders involved.

Day 7

18:53 19 Aug 06 -
(From GED) Expect a BIG update, results and many photos very soon! - 19:56 19 Aug 06 -
(From Ged). I arrived at the Event Centre in Builth Wells at around midday. The weather was horrendous, just a sample of what it had been like all week. A quick meet up with Andy Holmes, “H” (Team masseur) and RAFCC TransWales ’06 Team Manager Jacko and after the pleasantries were exchanged a very wet and heavy 12x12 tent had to be put up (hint – a storm proof www.ezup.co.uk with sides would have helped). As soon as that had been done the first riders of the day crossed the line (Team Mojo Suspension). The 12x12 was made into a rider’s masseur’s parlour ahead of the boy’s arrival.

The arrival of the team across the line was met by an almighty cheer from the small crowd that had gathered. The boys crossed the line side by side, clearly showing their colours after just after 4 hours of riding. Looking wet and dirty you could see the relief in their faces accompanied with overly big grins.

Paul Cooke sighed a relief as he stated that the descents in general throughout the week were the most memorable, as for the ascents – no comment. Today he suffered only one puncture and no other injuries.

Mick Cutler on the other hand couldn’t recall a single bit of the week that stuck in his mind as it was all excellent riding. Today, he had a new rear tyre on (Kenda) and was not happy with the performance it was giving back to him. The rolling resistance was very poor and quite sketchy in the wet.

Chris Prior was glad the last stretch was on the road, he had missed it immensely. He was still feeling quite fresh despite his heart rate not being as high as previous rides. Chris is supposed to be road racing tomorrow (Sunday) but “I think I’ll give it a miss” he said with a cheesy grin on his face clutching a well deserved beer.

Dan Lewis was met on the line by his devoted parents. He too, was glad to finish but also felt quite fresh. He said that last night was probably his best stage as he knew he had to close the gap on the Army Team, he had passed two fellow riders on the timed stage and himself was not passed.

Jacko was very proud of the Teams, they had excelled themselves and represented the Service well. Every night, the RAF campsite was buzzing and had many visitors needing advice, tech help for their bikes and to exchange stories and the odd bottle of beer. He also couldn’t get over the £25 an hour charge being made for tech help by an established bike shop and some souls needed help every day, “luckily the Royal Air Force Cycling Club was on hand”!

- 20:26 19 Aug 06 -
Hot Off The Press

TransWales '06 Overall Result: WE BEAT THE ARMY CYCLING TEAM !!

7 th and 13 th places

Day 6

10:00 18 Aug 06 -
The weather this morning is atrocious, more heavy rain and it has been thundering too. It's one of the guy's birthday today (someone from a civvy team), and as a treat we are busy getting the cakes in and some candles. When the photos start filtering through from today, don't be spooked by seeing 5 riders in RAF tops, we are giving this guy a treat and he is loving it. A bit of fun to spook the Commissaire's as well with 5 RAF riders and not 4 (ha ha). - 18:25 18 Aug 06 -
The boys are well into their evening special stage, I didn't get to see them off as I have been fixing bikes. We've had loadsa punctures today - (poor comms, lost contact).

- 18:37 18 Aug 06 -
It's been an up and down sort of day today. It started off very wet - (poor comms, lost contact).

- 18:51 18 Aug 06 -
Very long and testing day. 15/10 was one comment. The boys are back from their special timed stage and are fully spanked! They are looking forward to the last stage and the finish. Beer is a great motivator.

Day 5

07:54 17 Aug 06 -
Latest weather forecast has been sent to us from Ged. SEVERE WEATHER WARNING continues for Machynlleth and Llanafan areas. Should make things interesting. Will have to make sure tents are placed on high ground. - 20:15 17 Aug 06 -
This evenings BLOG entry starts off with a chat from Mick Cutler.

We are all very well here. Not sure if Jacko had mentioned this earlier but we are all riding around the linking stages as a foursome. This has been highly noticeable and many have commented on how good this looks, it’s professional and is the way forward as we can all rely on each other’s strengths to get us through this. We only had two mechanicals today on the linking stage, nothing major just a puncture which got quickly fixed. Today was another yucky, wet and muddy day and of course it was pretty tough! The support team have been superb all the way through this, in fact they have become the main centre point for massages, advice, and technical help – “need it doin’? the RAF’ll sort it” is the sort of thing we are hearing and it’s great to be popular and the guys are going down a storm here. A real credit to all.

(Jacko). This morning’s race went really well, all finished in good time. Should I mention that just before this, Mick was doing some maintenance? No really (ha ha). We’ve had no signal on our phones for most of the day, so we have not been able to update many people, let alone the BLOG. It rained for the first half of the day but it soon dried up and at the moment we have a nice blue sky this evening. This place we are at is sooo beautiful, Llanafan is the name and it is just so picturesque – unbelievable.

I don’t know if someone has said anything to a certain flying squadron, but today we have been buzzed by so many Hawk aircraft from all directions, it’s like some sort of media-ops frenzy and everyone has loved it. So not sure if anyone knows that we are here?

The boys pushed it again this morning in the timed stage and at present we are waiting for the results. They all performed really well and were on time. We’ll let you know tomorrow what they are due to the poor comms coverage here. We had one mechanical to mention today, the Commissaire's were going to send out a Chinook for Chris Prior whose chain broke on a climb, a 45 degree climb.

All in all, another good day. We fixed around 15 bikes today. Mick has had some trouble shifting through his gears and was restricted to using only 3 or 4 gears on the rear. However, after changing the cables (inners and outers that were all new) the inexplicable fault cleared and his now shifting fine. Bloomin’ XTR nonsense!

I am really ashamed of myself as I have not got any web access, I am always on the forum seeing what is happening and being at the sharp end, I still feel as if I am missing out. Kiffy gave me some updates on how good this BLOG is and how well it is being received.

I mustn’t forget the food. The food here is absolutely phenomenal. It’s some civvies catering company, don’t know who they are, but the food is wonderful, stacks of it and full of much needed calories!

- 21:05 17 Aug 06 -
Overall results are in after today’s race.

Mick Cutler & Chris Prior remain in 7 th place, over 1 minute ahead of the team in 8 th.
Army Cycling Team are up to 13 th place.
Dan Lewis and Paul Cooke are only 42 seconds behind the Army in 14 th place.

You want intense – you got it. Tomorrow is going to be a stormer !!!

Day 4

20:29 16 Aug 06 -
Quick update from Jacko, the RAFCC Team Manager before all competitors receive a mid-event brief from the organisers.

The event is going really really well, all involved have gotten to know one another and faces are now being recognised and the event feels like a family. The weather was a bit awry today according to Ged's forecast - it rained all day which was different to that forecasted by various sources. The brief is about to start, it's a bit like the Tour de France, where after each stage the leaders get to wear a special identifiable jersey - cool. Kim Hurst (RAFCC riding for BikeMagic/SheCycles) is in the lead in her category with no competition whatsoever.

We have an injury on the squad. Dan Lewis has hurt his hand, it's badly bruised and he cannot shift gears, however he's still plodding on.

The Army Cycling Union will be pleased to know that their team will be making an appearance in this BLOG but only as they know who Ride Above The Rest !! - 22:56 16 Aug 06 -
Hi everyone, (Jacko here).
Race positions are as follows :
Team 2 (Mick Cutler & Chris Prior) now in 7 th
Team 1 (Dan Lewis & Paul Cooke) now down in 20 th
Army Cycling Union are also down to 18th place.

Today’s weather has been astonishingly wet. A lot of riders decided to cut the course short due to the extreme conditions, their was an awful lot of climbing to be had and a lot of legs couldn’t cope with it all. Needless to say, ours boys did not give up and have been brilliant. Tomorrow’s ride is a linking stage and also has another special stage thrown in.

Our injured rider Dan Lewis has hurt his left hand. He is taking pain killers and is struggling to change any gears, hopefully some stronger pain killers can be sourced to aide him on his way – this should not however affect his riding too much (I hope).

We have had word out here that this BLOG is working well and that feedback from it is good. We’d also really like to thank everyone for their continued support and kind words that have been passed on to us; it’s been great and is a great psychological boost. We are very hopeful in getting top ten results despite the dip in positions, this was caused by Cookie having a puncture not long after the start of the night ride. He also broke his chain as well as having a few other minor issues but still made a good effort in coming home. The night ride was only 30 minutes long and although the riders started out a few minutes apart, they all finished that way too.

The Army Cycling boys managed to raise the effort to put pen to paper this evening

We are battered but not broke but are now struggling a bit as the rides are taking their toll, especially after today which had some long long climbs. We’ve had a few mechanicals and have gotten by on superglue! We are hoping to better our results but our legs are feeling it now.

(Jacko, again). The RAFCC support team have been very busy, not just with our own teams. We have managed to get the guys stuff into a local laundry to be cleaned and dried and also ferried in other riders their too. With us working hard building up some fine public relations, we’ve made some good friends and friends of the RAF Cycling Club. At every stage as well as the catering guys their has been no other services apart from one guy offering a very extortionately priced service for fixing bikes. As a support team, we have supported many others in this event all for free and so many have been so appreciative of this. It has built up a nice atmosphere and with a bit of camaraderie thrown in to make this such a fantastic time.

If you get to have a look at the pictures that Andy Holmes took of the night ride which are now in the Gallery, you’ll see some stunning images. There is one of Dan Lewis in mid air; to be honest he flew down most of the course hardly touching the ground. When that particular photo was taken he saw so much air that he was scarily out of control but somehow carried it off well.

Finally for tonight, we’d all like to extend our sincere gratitude to USE (Ultimate Sports Engineering) for generously lending both of our teams, use of the new Joystick helmet lamps (for FREE) after they heard that Paul Cooke’s lights had failed him. Without this unexpected support I am sure our times would have been not as good. Thank you USE.

Day 3

- 11:43 15 Aug 06 -
The Official TransWales ’06 website has now been updated and features a write-up from the first two days activities. A rather blurred picture of the RAFCC boys in action can be viewed here. - 13:45 15 Aug 06 -
The support team have just arrived at Coed-y-Brenin and are hastily setting up camp as the heavens are just about to open. Team Manager Jacko, ensured that the riders got a decent nights sleep last night and this morning they were again eager to get going. No mechanical issues or troublesome injuries to report at this time.

- 16:24 15 Aug 06 -
The latest weather forecast has been passed to Jacko ahead of tonight's night ride which is the second special stage of the event. Rider's are to expect the conditions to be cool and wet.

- 18:50 15 Aug 06 -
Good evening everyone from Mick Cutler. I am really enjoying this event, everyone is so friendly and the biking has been great. Shame about the weather, it’s now raining heavily but the support team have been doing an excellent job and our tents are all up for us. They have done a great job so far.

Not long till we start the night ride, we are supposed to be doing the MBR route but rumour has it that we’re doing the Red Bull but we’ll see. I am really loving it, the rides are just like our normal buddy rides.

Chris Prior is now our pathfinder, he was pretty close to stacking today head on with a car down this one road. He was ahead and the roadie in him went over the white lines attacking a bend and then the lights of a car were upon him. He locked up, snaking and swerving and he managed to stop himself by grabbing onto a dry stone wall. We send him 50 metres ahead now just for the breaking distance (laughs). He’s sat here waiting for his heart rate to calm down !

The course today was quite extreme, pretty rocky but the whole organisation is good and the course is very well signposted and the Support is just awesome now that Andy H has joined us.

- 18:55 15 Aug 06 -
Jacko the Team Manager echoes Mick’s words about the added support by Andy H. before it was taking quite a while to put up all the tents in time, but now Andy is here, we have it all done in 20 minutes and he’s been snap happy too!

The boys had another cracking ride, unfortunately it’s raining and has been since we put up the tents, but as per Ged’s weather forecasting it should ease up later. There is word that some of the timing is not right and Team 1 could be in fifth place but we can’t confirm that just yet. The night ride tonight is gonna be bit harsh on some people, it’s that dodgy flint / shale stuff that can be a nightmare to tyres. There’s gonna be some broken people out there tonight. In fact there’s some people already broken just after the normal stuff, they can’t handle the distances, reckon many will not be doing the timed stages and will just try to finish, albeit in tatters. Our boys are looking good, again no dramas with anything. Should have the positions sorted in the morning.

- 23:10 15 Aug 06 -
News just in from the night ride. Mick Cutler, Dan Lewis and Chris Prior returned in one piece. Unfortunately, Paul Cooke suffered a puncture. No other details available as to the length of this delay.

Day 2

09:30 14 Aug 06 -
First special stage at the Trail Centre at Nant-y-Arian is now under way. Second linking stage from the Trail Centre at Nant-y-Arian to Machynlleth commences at 13:00. - 09:40 14 Aug 06 -
The turn out for this inaugural event is very good and all riders are enjoying the experiences already. Each rider has been given a rather large green holdall to safely have their accommodation (tent) and posessions transported from one location to another. However, it is the RAF Cycling Club's teams that are the only one's with any support team following them stage by stage. Every other rider has to endure the ride and then breakout a campsite before being able to relax and also pack up their camps before a ride, not so for the RAF boy's. Later today, Andy Holmes (RAFCC photographer) will be joining the support team after also enduring the weekend's harsh conditions and riding like the wind in the 24 hour enduro, the Kona Global Sleepless In The Saddle. How is that for committment?

- 13:27 14 Aug 06 -
Todays second stage has been delayed by around 30 minutes which is helping to give every rider an extra breather and last minute faff, checking bikes, tyre pressures, equipment etc etc. The RAFCC Team Manager is more than happy with the guy's performances this morning as they really turned on the gas and pushed themselves to the limit. This afternoon is a 33km linking stage to Machynlleth, which again is expected to be yet another enjoyable ride with the final 10km being downhill to the end of stage flag.

- 21:20 14 Aug 06 -
An outstanding effort today leaves RAFCC Team 1 (Dan Lewis & Paul Cooke) in 6th place overall with RAFCC Team 2 (Mick Cutler & Chris Prior) in 11th place overall. Jacko, the Team Manager has been left impressed at such a performance by the boys today. Speaking from the Machynlleth Leisure Centre, Jacko said spirits were high in the RAFCC camp, so much that it was overspilling to the Commissaire's who have been flying Hawk model aircraft around the riders as they relaxed after another good days riding. Mick Cutler sustained a gash to his leg on a rocky decent but the wound is now patched up and is more like a scratch and shall not affect his performance. However, it has affected him in a different kind of way - he cleaned his bike - SHOCK HORROR !

Day 1

Started today (09:00 hrs 13 Aug 06) with an 85km slog from Builth Wells to Nant-y-Arian with approximately 2600m of climbing to be had.

Image courtesy of www.roysrides.co.uk

- 21:21 13 Aug 06 -
Still waiting for news from the RAFCC TransWales Camp.

- 09:00 14 Aug 06 -
News in from the Team Manager. Apologies for the delay in this report but it is due to the lack of mobile phone coverage. The boys had an enjoyable relaxed ride yesterday. Setting off from a cold and windy Builth Wells, the going was easy to moderate and after a nice lunch the sun came out to bless the riders on their way. No major dramas on this leg of the ride although Mick Cutler suffered a broken pedal and split tyre, all now rectified. Both teams arrived 40 minutes before the cut off point all in good spirits. A good nights sleep was had by all.

Team 2 - Profile

....Rider 1

Name: Paul Cooke
Year started racing: Road 2003, TT 2000, MTB 2003
Achievements: 3rd cat road licence, 10 mile TT PB of 22.23, annually participate in SiTS, Mountain Mayhem & Combined Services MTB Enduro's
Rides: 2005 Giant NRS Composite
Views on what makes a good rider?: Technical skills with a reasonable amount of speed and power
Favourite course: Any man made trails in Wales
Favourite colour: Red, black or gold anodising
Favourite tune:
Biggest supporter:

....Rider 2

Name: Dan Lewis
Year started racing: 2005
Achievements: Combined Services MTB Champion, RAF Cycling Champion (Road & MTB), Represented Wales in New Zealand World Mountain Running Championships, Bronze Medallist in Inter-service Athletics Championships
Rides: Specialized Stumpjumper, Kona Explosive, Ridley Crossbow (cyclo cross / road bike)
Views on what makes a good rider?: Hardwork, dedication and being a little mad!
Favourite course: (or trail) Home which includes Cwmcarn
Favourite colour: Mud
Favourite tune: Pink Floyd - Comfortably Numb (a**e!)
Biggest supporter: Family

Team 1 - Profile

....Rider 1

Name: Mick Cutler
Year started racing: 1994
Achievements: 5 times RAF MTB champion, 1st overall in 3 consecutive day mtb races, 2 separate Isle of Man hill climb courses, wins and set course records, and still current record holder
Rides: Orange E6 hardtail and Scott Genius RC20 full suspension
Views on what makes a good rider?: Dedication and discipline. Admire people who give 100% effort to their riding and still know how to enjoy themselves
Favourite course: Bordon Champs course
Favourite colour: Green
Favourite tune: Beautiful Day by U2
Biggest supporter: Juanita & Coady (wife & son)

....Rider 2

Name: Chris Prior
Year started racing: 2005
Achievements: 7th team place at SiTS, many top ten finishes in recycling.co.uk league
Rides: Specialized Epic, Specialized Allez (being built)
Views on what makes a good rider?: Drive / determination and good lungs
Favourite course: Road: Bole Hill MTB: MBR trail (Coed y Brenin)
Favourite colour: Blue
Favourite tune: No fave tune, but quite into Snow Patrol at the moment
Biggest supporter: My Mum (obviously)

TransWales 2006

7 days, 7 stages - the ultimate MTB challenge

The Royal Air Force Cycling Club's elite riders are participating in the arduous TransWales '06 during 12th - 20th August. Hours of training, planning and more training are like distant memories to these riders.