Mountain Bike Shenanigans

IE Security Flaw
June 30th, 2004

First up an important warning to all of you reading this on an Internet Explorer web browser. There’s a major security flaw that means any information entered on secure webpages (https) may be compromised, which may ultimately lead to your bank accounts being emptied if you use that computer for on-line banking.

From: Gilles
Subject: Enough is enough

New IE Malware Captures Passwords Ahead Of SSL

SANS Internet Storm Center is reporting on a new strain of IE Malware. This one targets bank customers, which in itself is nothing new. But the catch is in the way it does it: it installs a Browser Help Object (BHO) that can capture login information before it is encrypted, and ‘watches for HTTPS (secure) access to URLs of several dozen banking and financial sites in multiple countries.’.

Check to see what BHOs your copy of IE is hosting using this free utility. Then get yourself a new browser. My current recommendation is either Netscape 7.1 or Mozilla Firefox. Tabbed browsing is the way ahead.

Here’s Chilly’s x-ray. And to go with it here’s an e-mail from Brooker:

From: Brooker
Subject: Re: Piccies

Just goes to show cycling IS all it’s cracked up to be !

Sorry Sir, Kirk started it.

Mountain Mayhem certainly seemed to claim its fair share of bike bits this year. As I mentioned a few days ago Chris has been running a Rolhoff rear hub recently and theoretically it should have been ideally suited to the course. Well that’s the theory. In reality it wasn’t happy with all the mud either.

From: Chris
Subject: SSMM

All was not well on the rohloff front …….. getting ready to do my first lap (2nd out) and looked down at the back of the bike to see that the ‘speedbone’ i had made on friday (due to the one from hibike not turning up in time) looking rather bent. I was sure the item i had made would be strong enough but i was proved wrong so a quick change of bike meant that i went out on the yeti, not ideal to say the least.

Problems with the yeti started early on, there was no way that 2.5 diesels were going to work well in the mud and they soon became 3.5 slicks! Same problem as most with chainsuck which resulted in my chain snapping (so i thought ) just after the bombhole, in actual fact the powerlink had come undone (must have happened while back pedaling do get rid of the chain suck) so i had to run the final part.

Got back to the pits and converted the inbred back to a ss (took all the bits need with me just in case!) and did other two laps on that it was a welcome relief to push a lighter bike up the hills in the mud although i though it better to push than carry when i picked it up on one of the climbs and it must have weighed 40 lbs.

final lap in the drying out condition (about 12.30) and the course was fast and some of the climbs do-able for me on the ss (all bar 4×4 and powerbar) and the bike felt good.

I wish the speedbone had turned up as the rohloff would have been ideal, spoke to a guy on the nicolai with the rohloff and he was having no problems. That and some 1.5 tyres and i reckon you would have been fine.

We managed to keep going all night and came in 68th in mixed which we were really happy with as non of us are that fast but we just kept plodding on!

Damn, that’s an impressive placing. Sure beats what we managed to pull out of the bag. Oh well at least managed to beat UK Postal…

Accident and Emergency for Chilly
June 29th, 2004

Actually felt reasonably normal today apart from the need to consume three times the normal amount of caffiene to stay awake.

Here’s the few photos that I took at the weekend. I would have taken more, but the weather was pants. There’s a load of links to photos in the gallery section of the official race website:

_ Wet bikes and we haven't even started _ Mmm lovely IFs _ Sunday morning saw nicer weather _

_ The result of saturday night's carnage _ Conrad catching some Zs _ Start of lap two... _

_ Ch-check it out! Dry laps at the end. _ Muddy air _ Grrr! _

_ 'Ave it! _ Nick in the rain _ Nick in the dry _

_ Sunday lap for Nick _

Chilly’s weekend went from bad to worse back in Norfolk when he went out on his bike he ended up in A&E. Broken collarbone and four weeks trying to move as little as possible. Word is he’s on some wicked drugs though, hopefully he’ll be supplying Jed and I for SITS later in the year.

Not Millar Time
June 28th, 2004

No Tour de France for David Millar due to recent rulings by the Tour organisers. There’s currently no word from him via his website. Not good news from any one, Le Blanc’s decision sucks, especially when many investigations remain unresolved.

Damian’s back from Austria. Seems it went rather well for him, bet he’s gutted to miss out on the silver medal so close to the finish.

From: Damian
Subject: Re: Watcha

how did the weather hold off? and did you do alrite? i quite fancy entering one year. did you do it by yourself or in a team?

my mountain biking is a bit rusty at the moment as i found out in the race over the weekend. Swim went well with the fastest swim in my agegroup almost a minute ahead of second place, all went wrong within the first kilometer of the bike when i fell off the windy single track and went over the handle bars!

got back on only to get a puncture 500m further on! lost loads of time mending it, watching loads of people come past, but got back on and started making way thru the field again, and came off the bike in 2nd place.

The run was an extremely tough cross country run that saw me beaten into bronze place by just 4seconds! after nearly 2 and 3/4 hrs of racing. A long weekend away topped off nicely with a medal! Next weekend leads to the European Triathlon Championships in Lausanne in Switzerland where i hope to make top ten.

my racing team’s got a website you know, although only a temp one as one of the chaps works on a flash site. its at so take a butchers.

Since coming home from SSMM I’ve managed to misplace: one pair of Oakleys – found tumbled together with a load of other stuff and its case still in the side pocket of the car; the digital camera with all the pictures from the weekend on it – eventually found still in the car; the car keys – eventually found under the bed; and probably some other stuff too that I haven’t noticed yet..

Anyway this weekend’s racing is definitely the topic of conversation at the moment. There are forum threads here, here, here, here and thanks here. And more popping up about every five minutes.

SAAB Salomon Mountain Mayhem
June 27th, 2004

Well the SAAB Salomon Mountain Mayhem proved to be a bit of a test. It’s being called the UK’s toughest 24hr race ever. A new course (ten miles a lap with around 1600ft of climbing) with some fairly substantial hills in it, a bigger field than ever before and some damp weather thrown in for good measure.

Jed greeted Conrad and I with the news that he’d ridden the course and it was tough and that he’d already had some response to a notice looking for a fourth rider due to make up for Chilly’s absence. A big thanks goes out to Nick Wigston for taking up the honours of the fourth man and putting in some solid laps.

For me it was an opportunity to meet Joe Ingram from IF and some other owners as well as to catch up with some friends and meet some of the people behind IMBA UK too. Chris Leppard was there on his Tinbred complete with Rolhoff hub. I’d been interested to hear how he got on with it in the mud.

So before I knew it time had flown by and it was 2pm. I lead the team out in the le mans style run. Looking back I was probably about six rows back from the start line and although I though I’d had a fairly good run it was a bit intimidating to see a massive snake of riders running ahead and into the bottle neck of the bike pick-up and timing tent of the start/finish area.

Out of the arena, across the river crossing and up the first climb. Bikes riding like a dream, I manage to get a good line on the outside and start making up places. Out and back along the ridgetop of the hill the riders are dodging a flock of errant sheep. Points mean prizes and a few riders take out sheep and a few sheep take out riders, I make it through and it’s big ring time all the way to the first bit of singletrack. It’s becoming clear already who’s over cooked it on the run and is feeling it now.

There’s a big queue of riders some pushing already through the woodland climb but I manage to keep it going and it seems that before I know it I’m on the double track riding up and along the hill top, which eventually spits everyone out into the cornfield which later in the race is to become extremely slippery. At some point it starts raining, but this isn’t too important because along with a big group of riders I’ve just hit the Landrover test track climb and its deep wet mud going everywhere.

The rest of the lap flies by and I ride the lot including the Powerbar climb and it’s only the final grassy climb in the last mile that defeats me – it’s quicker to get off and run pushing the bike than grind up in the granny gear. Down the final descent, through the bombhole and over the two sets of doubles and back into the arena to start lap two.

Much the same riding until the top of the Landrover track this time, where trying to power out of a rut the back end loses traction and I crack my knee on the STIs. That hurt so it’s time to walk the knock off for a bit. Carry on riding, but cramp is beginning to set in, first calves then thighs, by the time the Powerbar climb comes up again it means I have to get off and push, it’s a chance to have a chat with Ben Haworth on the way up.

Rag it down the hardpacked double track on the backside of the hill and make up a load of places passing more cautious riders. Just after the grassy off camber descent and as I’m going into a tight right hander, a rider I’ve just passed finds his progress is brought to a catastrophic end as his rear mech puts itself into his rear wheel.

It’s still raining, but it’s still warm and I can’t help feel that Jed is overdressed for his lap as I come into the arena for the handover. The rapidly deteriorating course is going to see some long lap times for a long time to come. I head back to camp, but get collared by Joe from IF for a few snaps. I’m caked in mud and now there’s no hot water in the showers :(

Jed does his two. He’s had an off or two and cracked the same knee he’d managed to bang the weekend previously. Whilst Nick is off doing his two, Conrad’s getting ready and I’m cleaning the bike up for another stint. We’re fitting the Stadiums and before I know it Conrad’s off. I wake up from a snooze a bit early. I want to adjust the brakes and then find I have a softening rear tyre. Quick tube change. Get rest of the kit ready, eat some more and then back to bed. Alarm goes off at a quarter past one, Conrad’s due back about 2am

Just getting ready and Conrad’s back at the camp. He’s been suffering from inflammation of the Iris and is having difficulty seeing, his gears aren’t working and later we discover that his bikes fecked (a slightly bent hanger has meant that the rear mech has almost worn through the drive side spokes) and his lights are fading. I throw my kit on and head out, how hard can it be?

The answer is soon obvious. The course has degenerated to a mud fest. Great clumps of clay stop the wheels from turning in the frame and forks and in one lap I have to stop about a dozen times and pull great handfuls from the frame just to keep the wheels turning. Using the gears isn’t really an option. The svelte race bike has become a 50lb monster that’s difficult to pull and push through the quagmire.

The downhills are greasy and at times it’s like riding on ice. The uphills are hard to find traction on and the flat sections vary between being ridable or rutted trails difficult to make out even in the near daylight of Stadiums. I take the biggest spill of the race just entering the off camber section of the hill side. The bike launches me sideways and I roll down the hill before scrambling back to it. Get on ride to the turn. Funny noise coming from somewhere.

Stop to check it out with the head torch and find that the Stadium battery has ejected and I’ve just dragged it for about 500m. Eeek. Seems okay and the lights are still working so I stick it back in the bottle cage and ride to the finish. Not enough energy in either the lights or me for another lap so it’s back to camp. The bike is caked. Jed doesn’t want to go out, so the race is on hold until the morning.

I wake up about 8am and after some discussion Nick takes on the challenge and puts in another lap in the warming weather and on the drying course. Even the sun comes out. The team quota of laps has to be met so when Nick comes back to camp, I’m off out for another couple of laps. They’re great the course is really drying out and becomes noticeably improved with each lap. This is actually good fun.

Conrad is in the arena and hands me a welcome bottle of drink as I pass through the last lap is really good. I end up chatting to Rob towards the end of the lap as we push together up the last hill. He’s a friend of Nigel Harris’ who I know through and I learn that Nige’s race has been cut short by an eye injury. The final descent goes quickly, the Ti Deluxe inspires confidence as I rattle down the lumpy course and into the finish area to shake hands with Pat Adams.

The results can be seen on this page, with a breakdown of the team times here. Bizarrely it’s the first 24hr event where I’ve never had to wait in the paddock for an incoming rider and collect the baton and carry on racing. So most of the laps were in effect started from the camp, which was a fair distance from the start finish area. I’m just glad we finished it and all in one piece.

Driving back to Manchester, shortly after an obligatory Burger King stop to rest and refuel, we’re reminded of why getting enough sleep is necessary after these events, as we see a car that’s just been rolled on the northbound M5 embankment. It’s a chilling reminder of the dangers of driving when you’re not 100%.

Mayhem Begins
June 25th, 2004

Off to Mountain Mayhem in a few hours. Quite possibly we may be on the look out for another rider when we get there as Chilly has had some bad news.

If you haven’tt heard about the Millar controversy you’re missing out. He was arrested, released and has allegedly confessed. I’m not sure exactly what my opinion on it all is yet, it does seem that Millar is a victim of circumstance thanks to Gaumont’s accusations.

There’s some new shiny kit on show now the Tour is approaching including the svelte Giant TCR Advanced, very nice, but what is that seat tube all about?

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