March training

Little by little was the plan and in essence I have made part of that become reality as I think I’m managing a little bit too few miles and a little bit too many days off the bike. What has really surprised me is the amount of extra work an endeavour such as the sponsored cycle takes to get off the ground. I have no idea how I would be feeling if the level of support had been anything other than first class.

Anyway enough of the yacking, the scores on the doors for this month were;

Dreary gym visits X3, trainerroad sessions x1, road rides x2

Monthly mileage 386.5 miles which is just a tad under 900 miles for the year (892.9 to be specific)

What’s been most surprising for me as I commit to my first proper effort at structured training is the reality that the famous Greg Lemond quote doesn’t seem to apply to my  cycling tale;

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“It never gets easier, you just go faster” well Greg it seems it doesn’t get easier and in my case I don’t appear to go faster, however the support of generous sponsors and big hearted supporters does make the limited increase in pace more irrelevant than I expected it would be.

In the coming weeks I have a decision to make about target speeds for the trip, I had intended on using an average club riders pace of 15-16 mph though some chat in the local bike shop with some cycle tourists and the owner who has chalked up a couple of lejog/jogle trips seems to be step back a bit and get your head up from the stem in order to maximise the enjoyment of this amazing opportunity. We will see in the coming weeks.

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Fosterplus

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Keen to add their support to the Business partners who have came forward so far are Fosterplus, Foster care services who; recruit, assess, train and support Foster carers who look after young people unable to remain in the immediate care of their families of birth.
The Agency covers Scotland and England with local offices in Dundee, Edinburgh, Hamilton, Pailsey and Ayr. Established in 1996, Fosterplus has extensive experience of working with local authorities to provide a positive and stable family environment for children and young people who have had a difficult start in life.
Fosterplus works nationwide with a wide range of carers across England and Scotland, who are all committed to ensuring that looked after young people receive the very best support and care in a positive, safe environment where they can thrive.

Their mission is to: Provide positive & stable family based environments for the children and young people placed with our carers. We aim to ensure that with the support of our carers they can thrive emotionally and academically.
“Everything is focused on ensuring we can give children and young people the chance to live in a family setting where they’re valued, encouraged and given exactly the support they need to reach their full potential.

We bring together social workers, education, health and support professionals to provide holistic care for all of the children and young people we place. We work to create innovative types of foster care that lead the way in the sector.

To support its carers Fosterplus provide support 24/7. It’s our aim to be responsive to the needs of every child, and every carer in those families. It’s vital to us that every one of them has a voice. The high-quality training, support services and rewards we offer make sure everyone who fosters for us has the resources they need to rise to the challenge”

Head of Operations for Fosterplus Scotland Geoff Armstrong commented; I heard about this cycle through my own staff and we immediately saw an opportunity to acknowledge our respect for the debt we owe all to those who made such sacrifice on our behalf. In fact we have direct experience of supporting young people who have chosen to explore a career with the Armed Forces after leaving our care. With regards the sponsorship we know David is taking on a big challenge and we will be proud to see the Fosterplus name on his kit as he makes his way to Contalmaison. Good luck

Contact Fosterplus

 

Raith Rovers Fans Forum and The Neebers O’ Geordie Munro…

It is great to see that our own enthusiasm has been matched by the first people we have shared our plan with.

Having been contacted by Andy Mill I popped in to see him before the recent Hibs game and was delighted by the clubs donation.  The 200 club got us up and running as a fundraiser. This has also been a springboard for opening discussion with the Raith Rovers fans forum representatives and boy have they delivered in kind with each of the 5 groups getting behind me in terms of encouragement and financially placing their collective weight behind McCraes Battalion Trust cycle fundraiser.

The 5 groups are; The Raith Rovers Supporters club, Raith Rovers Down South, Raith Trust, Jim McMillan Club and the aforementioned Raith 200 club

imageThe 200 club is a Raith Rovers institution: Fundraising for the club, entertaining home and away fans, hosting events to entertain and generally welcoming anyone who expresses a respectful interest in our team.

If you are local on match day pop in, you will meet good people and you might even bump into the manager or some of the players if they are in for a pint.

Manager and fans share a pint

 

 

Raith Trust

imageRaith Supporters Trust was set up in 2001 to make sure that the voice of the Raith Rovers support is heard.

The Trust are a democratic organisation made up of ordinary fans of Raith Rovers FC. They work with the football club board and other fan groups to help make sure that Raith Rovers FC has a strong and stable future as a club at the heart of the community.

The Trust is the legal vehicle for the Raith Forum’s shareholding, which represents approximately 14% of the total shares in the companies which make up Raith Rovers. As a result the fans are now represented on the board of the football club with a ‘Supporters Director’ giving Raith fans a real say in the direction and running of the club.

Raith Rovers Supporters club

imageRaith Rovers Football Supporters Club was formed in 1926, the Supporters’ Club is a major shareholder in Raith Rovers F.C Holdings Ltd.
The aim of the club is to assist fans in their efforts to attend matches both home & away, and to encourage them to become involved in the club at times other than on match days.
Most people support “the team”, The Supporters’ Club also supports “the club”. Over the years we have received requests from The Rovers to assist in the purchase of equipment, and whenever possible we have been happy to oblige. During the Frank Connor years we helped with the purchase of suits for the players. We also stocked up the gym with up to date equipment for Jimmy Nicholl. The old shop at the rear of the main stand was converted into a laundry room with washing & drying equipment paid for by the Supporters’ Club. And during the much publicised “Save the Rovers” campaign, members of the Supporters’ Club spent many hours fundraising in shopping centres and supermarkets. In the last few years the Supporters’ Club have contributed over £100,000 to help in the running of Raith Rovers Football Club.

Rovers Down South
imageRaith Rovers fans who reside south of the border,  many years on from when the London Rovers took their first faltering steps back in 1993 – the group now have 100+ Contact and host a whole host of events guided by their mission to support the club in as creative a manner as they possibly can. what have they done since ’93…..
• Sponsoring the Under 15/16 team
• Supporting the Kids’ sponsored tickets scheme with Barnardos
• Jersey sponsorship for first team players
• Sponsoring the Stramash beer festival
• Sponsoring Rock the Rovers
• House of Lords reception
• Ball sponsorship, Match sponsorship
• Legends 5s – with former players in the wilds of Woolwich – original home to Kirkcaldy founded Arsenal

Jim McMillan Club

Situated in the body of the Turnbull Hutton Main Stand the club offer a safe haven for its members to chew the fat over a pie and a pint while they develop their plans to support Raith Rovers.

The Jim McMillan Club was formed back in 1992 and was originally called the ‘Rovers Return’ Club. It’s name was changed the following season in honour of founder member and Rovers stalwart Jim McMillan who has since sadly passed away. Jim was a lifelong Rovers man who had been secretary of the 200 Club for many years and long time fund raiser for RRFC. Our club has some 50 members and since inception has raised £117,000 for Raith Rovers to help with day to day costs and youth development

The Raith forum has a voice at board level by appointment of the Supporters-Director whose role it is represent the investment of the Raith Rovers supporters in the running of the various companies:- Raith Rovers Football Club Ltd; Raith Rovers FC Holdings Ltd; and New Raith Rovers Ltd. The first responsibility is to act in the best interests of the company, as with any company director. Beyond this it is expected that the role will allow Raith supporters, primarily through the Raith Forum but also in other ways, to exert an influence in the direction and running of the club.

Equally important are the wider groups of pals, friends and buddies who get together to travel the length and breadth of the country to back the team.  some groups evolve to the point where they regularly contribute to the season to season fabric of the clubs calendar.

One such group are “The Neeber’s O’ Geordie Munro” who are almost synonymous with the sponsoring of the last home game of each season (amongst others)

I was delighted by a message I received on the day the kit design was due to be sent of asking if they could join the wide list of kit sponsors.  Given we had the kit sponsored it was even better as we added our pals name to the kit and were able to pass all monies direct to the MBT.

2016-Match-sponsors [10829]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fallen Angels

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I know that along with the great pillars of conversational dynamite: football, religion and politics, tattoos divide public opinion in a quite dramatic fashion. This isn’t the place for debate nor discussion on the wider topic. This is about thanking good people for support.

So it’s  with thanks that I recognise what I believe to be one of the finest tattoo and body piercing studios in Europe. Fallen Angels, Kirkcaldy have extended their support and it will be great to have their logo on the jersey both on the trip to France and thereafter on my CX race kit.

The Fallen Angels crew consists of 5 guys; Raphael, The Kingpin and Owner who originally ran a studio in Poland before coming to Scotland to expand his base.

Graham who is the Manager and Laser Removal Specialist is very down to earth and says it how it is.

Dean, the Body Piercer- All forms of modification interests him, he has a strong reputation for ethical practice and high standards.

Daniel, Resident Tattooist – Young, talented and gaining a formidable reputation for creative artistic expression which is evidenced by his portfolio.

Tom, Resident Tattooist – my mate and a man of true talent, he does the impossible with ease even forcing the most committed tattoo cynic to compliment the composition and execution of his work.

Together they make a good strong team with a passion for art and self expression.

They claim to all have very friendly faces (that’s open for debate!) However anyone who pops in for a chat will get a warm welcome. If you think a few hours in the company of a man with a mission and a tattoo gun sounds like fun then you won’t get better than Fallen Angels.

Fallen Angels contact details

 

Training January and February

The new year has brought a sense of realism that there are a hundred tasks which need attention if a simple bike ride is to be a success.

Hence a lot of time has been lost to administrative tasks which as I sit typing in March seem to be in hand to enable a more focused level of physical preparation.

January and February saw the road bike retired to turbo trainer duty with a total of zero on the road rides.

The  haul for the Month was:

Jefit gym sessions 9, cx rides 1 and TraineRroad sessions 11

There is a great deal of debate among cyclists about whether trainer miles actually count as part of your annual total but for this log they do. So…January total 220 miles

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February was another mixed month as the loss of the first draft of this website lost me a week of evenings. The great thing about a sponsorship though is the fact you simply can’t hide, so a number of evenings when I would have been calling it quits were interrupted by some training.

Jefit gym sessions 10, cx rides 3 and TraineRroad sessions 6. Mileage total for February 200. Lower than I would have wished but factor in a through the night sportive and my first cx race and the month had its positives.

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Good Luck

If you wish to offer any encouragement please feel free to email me a few words or a wee picture at; coaltownvelocity@gmail.com

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As a football fan and someone motivated to represent the club well it’s great to say that I have had nothing but positive encouragement from Starks Park. Ray’s comment means a lot and I am grateful for his kind words.

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No point starting with a whimper so a message from a Double Olympic Gold medal winner is decent. We recently met fine cyclist and cracking person Laura Trott who was happy to chat and pass on her best.

 

 

Do you know where hell is? Apparently it’s just off Hallbeath Road

imageSorry if the title offends just a play on the old Rovers song which is dragged out when Derby day duty calls. The sentiment of hellish suffering seemed to fit with many of the descriptions of cyclocross printed online.

On to the cycling, I am never shy of identifying myself as a mediocre cyclist, average in ability and in essence lacking in the drive to chase any significant change in my cycling profile. Given I don’t aspire to take on the human powered land speed record that’s kind of OK.

However, a winter’s morning trip to the Beverage Park Kirkcaldy to watch some cyclocross provided a moment of clarity and instead of my usual self-deprecation the reality struck home that what I have been doing by belittling my time on a bike is limiting the nonsense I can get involved in.

The event comprised of an A race and a B race each for up 50+ adult riders of every ability under the sun. I watched the B race before the biting wind and rain took away my companions will to remain outdoors and I left with a mission. If these folk can flog themselves round the track with everyone admiring their tenacity and no one caring a jot about their prowess then why can’t I. Why is my fear of coming in last in a race that I am allowed to be rubbish in stopping me from having a go!!

Cyclocross is….a sport where riders generally attack a course for 40 minutes to an hour using road style bikes modified for off road use. Throw in some hurdles, obstacles, hills and a mix of surfaces: tarmac, sand, gravel, grass, mud, mud then there’s mud and you have the basis of cyclocross.

I like the description of the sport as being akin to “a time trial with torturous intervals thrown in for good measure” It’s not for the faint hearted, it’s not easy and every definition I have found seems to reference the word brutal as if it’s a legal necessity.

So up until last week I thought it wasn’t for me…..

However my first act when I got home was something I never thought I would do: flip open the iPad, type in Cyclocross races Fife and immediately sign up for an event 7 days away in the neighbouring town of Dunfermline.
British Cycling- Valentines masCXacre
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So Saturday night and my bags packed: bottles, multi-tool, track pump, tubes, Garmin, heart rate strap, food, socks, gloves, arm warmers, helmet, glasses and CX shoes.

What kit to wear simple choice look in the cupboard and find the blackest gear I have- I did throw in the line from Spinal Tap about me having “none more black” kit but I just received a blank stare.

Bike had been tested out a couple of days before so was cleaned and lubed..titter..lubed!! So along with a spare set of wheels these were thrown in to the car and we were good to go.

It was a blast seeing the kids charge round their course as we arrived. In my real world job I have to face people who too often trot out the myth that kids are only interested in computer games. Sure these are a big draw but what about a word for these kids who were giving it laldy?

We have been to quite a few pro races and seen the big names sign in so it was a hoot for my kid to see her Dads name listed as I signed in. Even more hilarity ensued as I bagged my race licence for the day.

I had asked a steward what tthe protocol was when I arrived and aside from telling me where the start, pits and toilets were he just said “enjoy it” which seemed pertinent advice.

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I had a couple of practice laps in my legs and decided the tail end of the pack was the best starting point. Let’s not mess around with a corner by corner disection of the next 60 minutes. The truth is I had no idea what was about to hit me. Mud soup had replaced the grass from my arrival, off camber turns, switchbacks, single track wooded section, barriers of various sizes, sharp descents and a couple of stiff inclines where climb or carry the bike was the decision.

I was passed by way more people than I picked off (not bad when you start at the back!) but Ifinished in the mix with a few of the riders I had stated with. It was quite something to see the “talent” hurl past, I had been worried of causing a Headline grabbing incident by dealing a front placed rider but that was avoided by good verbals from all concerned.

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What did I learn? Dismount and remount are key, I had done no learning and it showed as I was dropped in a moment by those who had this skill, fighting back to see this happen time and time again was noted. Ride the mud, this stuff does not compare to anything I’ve ridden before, my front wheel rim was not visible for many of the sections of the course. I had no experience of this from towpath rides or local parks. Ride slow fall over, it’s counter intuitive but if you feel like your going over then you best speed up. Train cross to ride cross would seem to be the theme from the people who shared wisdom. Steady winter pace road riding doesn’t help with what’s needed for a guts out hour.

Finally I learned that the comments relating to “Just enjoy it” were actually true. I have joined football teams, social clubs, cycle rides and even workplace activities where people believe they are inclusive and welcoming. This in my opinion hasn’t always been the case. Maybe I was too nieve to see the cliques today but I don’t think that was the case.

It was a riot and I am certain that when the next season starts towards the end of the year then I will be up for some more action; better prepared, more aware and maybe even in possession of some proper bike skills.

A great day out, a step into the unknown and a chance to show the kids that sometimes even old guys get rewards if they are willing to step out of their comfort zones.

Dunfermline Cycling Club, Bravo

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Claude Anelka and the third force…

“Gizza job, c’mon Gizza job…I can do that” In a case of life imitating art there is more of a parallel from this scene from Alan  Bleasdales “Boys from the Blackstuff” than we in Kirkcaldy would wish to acknowledge.

The British film institute described the TV programme as a “seminal drama series….a warm, humerous but ultimately tragic look at the way economics affect ordinary people..” the only part of that description which isn’t relevant to Claude’s tenure in Kirkcaldy would be the use of the word funny!

Its the stuff of urban legend, sporting myth and bonkers fiasco that a man can contact a professional football club  and set in motion a course of events which lead to a job….

Well not just any job within the club. THE JOB!

Call the post Technical Director, Director of Football, Manager, Coach or omnipotent overlord. It doesn’t matter to a great degree in this story as the point is that a man (Claude Anelka) was able to use his; influence, connections, social standing and the currency of his family name to embark upon a sporting odyssey which belies belief. Claude was to be quickly portrayed as a man who would be defined by his grandiose statements (who can forget that we were to be the third force of Scottish football!!)

If Claude will ultimately be remembered as a character akin to Aardman animations Wallace then the people of Kirkcaldy had to take on the role of the characters sceptical canine grommet as we strapped ourselves into the sidecar for a ride which the AA route finder would simply describe as “destination unknown”

It did indeed end in tears and tantrums, but hey it’s Raith Rovers we don’t mind marching to a very different beat to the path treaded by others. The stats tell the story in fairly graphic terms and I would point the interested or mystified to Shaughan McGuigans article on his blog “Tell him he’s Pelé” for a neat synopsis of the full gory details including the view of Turnbull Hutton who held the Chairmanship at that point in time.

Tell him he’s Pelé

What came next? well, financial meltdown leant heavily on the shoulders of Raith Rovers as the club sought to reinvent and regenerate itself. It was my own involvement in the “Reclaim the Rovers” campaign of 2005 which followed which forced me to take a decision as to how I would interact with the club into the future if indeed Raith Rovers actually had a future.

Note the campaign had the remit of succeed or see Starks Park sold for housing development…crisis nobody does it quite as good as us!!

The campaign forced upon me a simple question- Remain on the outside shouting inwards, fuelled by a sense of entitlement or roll up my sleeves give my time and whatever skill base I had of value to assist the club. I chose the latter.

It was through that process that important friendships were formed and the section on the Treatment Table radio show gives some note of the level of creativity which was prevalent at that time. So when an email address belonging to Claude Anelka came my way I had a simple thought: why not contact Claude and give him the chance to share his thoughts first hand.

The email was quickly responded to and within a day calls from the Langtoun to Florida established a window of opportunity where Claude would be in the UK and if we wished he would sit down and chat, on mic for us to use on the Rovers radio show.

I floated the idea and to his credit Tom Phillips stepped up to the plate. My side kick when presenting the radio show Tom made a simple comment which can be paraphrased along the lines of “life is just a barrel and you can either fill it with interesting experiences or just sit back and watch” Hence we set about organising a trip to London and more specifically the Hilton Hotel Paddington where we recorded the following interview.

I’m not too sure how well it stands the test of time but it is an interesting curio which is worth a listen. It’s something I’m glad we done, I also think it’s something Claude needed. The preamble to the interview shares where our heads were at in that moment and I stand by most of what is said.

The men who stood beside me in the war

This song by Scottish musician Michael Cassidy has seeped into my head over the last couple of months and seems destined to be the one which is to lead on our sponsorship soundtrack.

In researching the project we read about this particular song and indeed songwriter on the MBT website. I can barely imagine the level of emotion that would have been accompanied the rendition in Contalmaison.

Craig Herbertson singing Hearts of Glory

 

 

Keilder Cross Cycle Challenge

First chance to put some of the proposed logistics into action with a weekend riding cyclocross in the Keilder water and forest park, Northumberland.

The Kielder Cross is an off road cycling challenge based in the remote expanse of Kielder Forest Park. Held over two days, this sportive style event consists of a 40km night ride around the full circuit of the Lakeside Way on the Saturday evening. This is then followed by a more challenging 60km circuit on the Sunday incorporating a wider variety of terrain.

Keilder Cycle Challenge

Like the sponsored ride in June/July we will travel in a hired Mazda Bongo.

Adventure Campers-Dairsie Autopoint

What if the event, well….it was hard, very hard. Such a relatively small distance was complicated by the harsh winds which came into play midway through the ride. It’s not often that I really give in to fear on a bike but the section of travel across the dam at Keilder was awful.

A first night time event for me and this is something I have no desire to repeat. I made use of a 2 torch approach with a Leyzene macro drive due on a helmet mount and an Exposure Diablo on the bars. I let myself down by depending on a run time for the front light which wasn’t realistic and as such the last 15 KM was done relying solely on the helmet torch and my reserve Exposure flash which I had as a spare.

Factor in some schoolboy clothing choices which saw me complete the whole ride with a Gabba gilet, buff, waterproof cap, lobsters shell gloves and a race cape tucked down the front and back of my bibs while I sweated it out in an Aplpha jacket and on unfamiliar territory the time was respectable:

41       David Hancock     VT 40       Coaltown of Balgonie      02:35:38

A finish in the middle of the start list from the 90 riders who took to the forest on the night. The post ride facilities were excellent with hot and cold drinks and food well received.

I was shocked by the damage the short ride had inflicted on my cohort of finishers as time was taken to replenish energy levels.

I had a short ride back to base and a night in the camper to negotiate and as the rain fell and wind blew what I really didn’t need was a snapped rear mech hangar. What that did was take me out of the Sunday ride which was something I could cope with.

The main reason for the trip was to test the logistics for the Contalmaison ride and we learned a lot. Mainly the Bingo is too small and a far slicker operation needs to kick in with regards: what kit is taken, how the support vehicle is packed and despite being a fun ride we require a vehicle with a more modern engine capacity.