Friday, May 20, 2011

20/5/11 - Round 3 - Cosford

Race time again!
After the stress of exams I really needed a good race for stress relief and it didn't disappoint.

Didn't make the mistake of bad eating on race day this time round, weetabix for breakfast and pasta for lunch. Turned up feeling a bit tired after revision causing lack of sleep but ready and raring to go.

The practice lap again suggested a tough race was ahead, it was a very technical course, lots of tight and rooty sections, with very little open spaces for over taking.

There was a huge turnout, and a bit of disorganisation meant I got off to a bit of a bad start (had to let the men through sa they were starting first, but somehow ended up at the back), but quickly made up some time before we got into the first piece of singletrack, once again kept up with my "arch nemesis" (who was very complimentary of my efforts last week!) for quite a good chunk of the first 2 laps, unfortunately a bit of a crash slowed me down. I kept going and after 3 laps was feeling pretty tired, but had someone on my tail (as far as I'm aware it was the lady I'd beaten in the sprint in round 1!) so had to keep pushing hard.

Some of the fast guys were coming through to lap me on lap 4 (I'd predicted at the beginning that with the length of the laps 3 laps would be the absolute maximum I'd do so must have been going pretty quick!), unfortunately one of the men wanted the same line as me and he pushed me wide, off the track, clearing the way for the lady behind me to come through.

I fought hard to catch her up, and succeeded, after the final descent I thought I might just do it, but I'd pushed it too hard, and stayed off the brakes too long, meaning I went very wide and nearly lost the back wheel. Still thought I had a chance so sprinted as hard as I could but didn't quite make it past (and then felt like I was about to faint when we crossed the line because I'd tried so hard!).

I will definitely beat her next time!

An now feeling very tired, and my small crash combined with getting a bit too close to bushes and trees means I'm looking somewhat battered but it was worth it. We have a week off next week, before a brand new venue the following week. Can't wait!


Its been a manic week, thanks to 2 exams and lots of revision. Thankfully it seems like my work paid off and I came out of the exams feeling pretty positive!

Have been a bit more worried about the next one (organic), especially as they've got rid of the multiple choice questions. A couple of late nights and a bit of private tutoring and I'm feeling much better about it but still a long way to go - have to learn all the classic mechanisms for heterocycle syntheses as well as all the other stuff. Hoping to be ready for it!

Been called in as cavalry tomorrow, thankfully just doing the afternoon so I have time to sleep and revise in the morning!

Will do a race blog to fill you all in on that, and will get back to proper bloggings once exams are over and I have some free time again!

Friday, May 13, 2011

13/5/11 - FNSS Round 2

Friday 13th - a bad omen? possibly!

I think I started the day badly, took the grandparents shopping and they treated me to a full cooked breakfast while we were out, probably not the best decision I've made!

Also had some car problems, MOT tomorrow and the back seats got stuck, as did the rear seatbelt so after much panicking my dad managed to get the seats out (so that I could get the bike in the car!)- hopefully we can fix it early tomorrow morning.

So, to the race.
I arrived nice and early so got in the queue to sign on. even with my hoody over my jumper I was freezing, and it was raining - should have brought a coat. Once I was signed on I went to get the bike, decided that with being told much of the course is on a motor cross track, and remembering some difficult bits last year I decided that the rain was going to make it difficult so put my flat pedals on before doing my practise lap.

I knew during this lap that it wasn't going to be the most enjoyable race, the course just wasn't suiting my style of riding - there were several really tough bits which I knew I'd have to try hard to not crash on during the race (several people crashed in front of me on the warm up lap!). Had about 20 minutes to kill before the start so just rode around near the start to keep warm (yes it really was freezing!)

And we were off, already feeling a bit below par thanks to a cold/ hayfever I didn't hit it as hard at the start as I could have done, this didn't matter because there was a bit of a bottleneck at the first obstacle so everyone was bunched up for the first lap anyway.

I spent the first 1 and a half laps jostling for position with someone that has consistently been a few places ahead of me, and between us we were gaining on someone further ahead. All good then, right? Already I could feel my nose streaming and I was struggling to get my breath as much as I would have liked, but I kept pushing hard, I used the last open stretch on this lap to get a drink - tricky until I get my camelbak sorted as I can't get a bottle in my frame, and bottle is pretty snug in jersey so difficult to get in and out. Faffing about here cost me time but I was sure I could make it up on the next open bit - I can keep up with some of the quick guys on my sprints down the straights!

So I kept pushing and pushing, unfortunately, shortly after starting lap 3 I started to feel really sick (assuming this was a combination of poor race day nutrition, and perhaps making my drink a bit strong today) I tried to push through it but had to ease off a little bit otherwise it might have got messy. My hopes of beating the person who I'd been competing with had gone, I
saw her leaving one of the singletrack sections before I'd even got there.

Nearly got knocked off by one of the fast boys coming through - he got a bit carried away and had over estimated the gap between me and the fence, thankfully we both kept our balance, and he apologised before zooming off.

So for the final lap and a half I was determined to carry on (I've finished every race I've done so far!), a new contender this week had also caught me up. I couldn't lose another place so carried on pushing as much as I could, having not had a bell or call as I started the 4th lap I was unsure if it would be the last lap, but was hoping it was, and thankfully yes, a final sprint at the end to ensure I wasn't caught and i finished.

So potential to do really well, didn't quite achieve expectations but not too bad, definitely beat a couple of people and points are points! results out tomorrow so we'll seee.

Also, lots of professional looking photographers - a couple definitely got me so should be nice to see some pictures!

Next race is next Friday (although may not pre-enter this one as car issues may alter my schedule with coming home from uni), all being well I'll be there and will perform well - if the course is similar to last years it'll be good - some nice singletrack complete with a big grassy climb to kill everyone!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

11/5/11 - I should be revising...

OK, so after finishing my note writing up at the weekend I promised I'd be getting grips with it all and doing lots of questions and past papers. I'm not going to lie...I've been really unproductive!

I've made 3 revision sheet things for some key points in the inorganic module (exam a week tomorrow) and gone over the 2 sets of workshops for the analytical exam (monday), plus a brief look over exam papers from the last couple of years...

The calculations I can just about do (just need a bit more practise and to make sure I know what all the terms in the given equations are), hadn't realised just how many discussion questions there are though - nearly all on stuff I remember being taught but don't actually know! You'd think this would spur me on to get revising...well it didn't!

I've spent much of the last few days browsing the web, catching up with programs like House or just sleeping! Also done some dog walking- Dobby is a little bit odd and doesn't like going for walks without our other dog, especially if my dad isn't their either but a bit of bribery yesterday and we had a nice walk to the park and back. Today he took a bit less bribing and we ended up being out for an hour! Not going to help me with my F12PAC exam but still productive (thats what I keep telling myself anyway...) did some skills training with him in the field (recalling, staying etc.) and of course we played fetch. Also saw a Chinook (or similar helicopter type thing) fly over which was pretty cool!

So now I'm back home - time to knuckle down, right? must be almost time for lunch, so no point starting now, and if I'm going to eat I ought to watch some TV...start work at about 5 then?

Good thing I started revising early otherwise these exams would be a diaster! "The Fear" is yet to set in, so still confident that I can learn everything in time and do just as well in these exams as I did last year, when everything was so much easier!

If you're a student and you've read this far through, firstly thanks, but secondly - stop reading and get back to work!

Monday, May 9, 2011


After a bit of a damp weekend (let's be honest, I think we needed some rain!) we now have a nice sunny Monday morning!

I should probably be back in Nottingham, however I have decided that with the high cost of fuel (and another race on Friday which I'd have to come back for), its not worth the 100 mile round trip just for the sake of a couple of seminars which probably won't be useful anyway. It'll be just my luck that I'll miss something important but hopefully my friends who are apparently more conscientious than me will fill me in!

Yesterday marked the end of the 6 week period in which I have been writing up my notes from the year, it took somewhat longer than planned and leaves me with just a week to get to grips with it all before exams start! I'm reasonably optimistic as much of my first exam is based on calculations for which we will either be given the equation for or are based on calculations of logic with ratios and things.

I'm going to spend the next week re-writing up notes for the important bits, and I expect many of these sheets will be stuck up around my bedroom to maximise my chances of learning them - a few keys points like the main reactions in organometallic chemistry, the principles of electrochemistry and some important organic mechanisms. I'm also going to have a look at past papers and redo tutorials to ensure that I can actually answer questions. Up to now I've struggled with that - the revision seminars I attended last week, questions were asked, I didn't know the answers but as soon as I was told the beginning of the answer it all came flooding back, so it is in there somewhere!

As well as the delights of revision I want to make this week a good one, happy with my result on Friday, and keen to improve I finally have the motivation to stick to my training plan - thankfully today is a rest day as my legs (along with the rest of me) is feeling pretty achey today, although will perhaps finally get back on Wii fit and do some yoga to loosen up a bit! With all 3 bikes clean and shiny all that I have to do bike related today is perhaps a tad of maintenance - the new race bike is starting to suffer from cable stretch (hopefully that is within my capabilities to fix!), hopefully curing that might add even more to my speed so that I can get an even better result in round 2!

I also have my new camera to play with, I'm just starting to get the hang of it - although all my dabblings in the world of manual settings have taught me so far is that the camera knows best, I have managed to get a few good shots though, and will hopefully have a few trips out into the local countryside, probably with at least 1 dog in tow to see what I can do; already feeling the need for a lens with a bigger zoom capability though as I'm used to my bridge camera with its 12x optical zoom! You can see some of the pictures I have taken in my Flickr stream at the bottom (if I'm not in it I took it!), there would have been more than that...I "took" some pictures which I thought were going to look really home to realise I'd forgotten to put the memory card back in - oops!

Other non-chemistry things I feel I need to indulge more in are reading, writing and drawing, over the last few days I've felt particularly inspired but have had to shrug it off in favour on revision, hopefully will fit some in this week - perhaps get back to work on my "novel"...

Anyway, lots to be doing today so bye for now!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

7/5/11 - FNSS Round 1

My first race of the season, and debut appearance for Inverse / CyClaim RT was at the first round of the Friday Night Summer Series.

By Thursday I was buzzing with excitement as it had been not far from a year since my last race, as the race approached I was starting to get a bit nervous - I must be faster than this time last year? but what if everyone else is? Also had some pedal worries - been trying clipless on the mtb but wasn't overly confident with them so I brought the flat pedals and spare shoes with me just in case!

We arrived nice and early so I got my number sorted and signed on before doing a practise lap. Did a lot of the technical bits with one foot unclipped but decided I needed the spds for the bumpy lap of the field, as well as the final climb. Had some water bottle issues as my frame is too small for a proper bottle cage, and my side entry cage didn't stand up to the bumpiness, after a bit of a panic I was reminded that it could just go in my back pocket - phew - panic over!

So, to the start - to ensure we were reasonably spread out before we entered the woods we did an extra lap of the meadow, I was very conscious of not wanting to start too high up the field (so i didn't get in the way of the really fast people), and didn't want to overdo it on the first lap either!

I found some people I recognised from last year, and was going to stick with them for a while, but after no more than 30 seconds decided they were too slow and quickly passed them, and some of the men. I then stayed in the same position for the next 2 laps, didn't see a single woman (I was well ahead of the slow people, but couldn't see the fast ones!) so was just riding with some of the men, tending to overtake them on the open bits, but letting them pass me again as they caught up on the tighter stuff. The course was getting more and more dusty (apart from the random bog!), nearly had an off going round a particularly tight off camber corner which had developed a thick layer of sandy dust, but I kept it together! I finished my second lap, resigned to finishing where I was and was relieved to hear the bell as the heat was making it really hard work! Didn't give up though, and knowing it was my final lap I really went for it on the open bits, perhaps could have carried more speed through the woods on the final lap but my legs were dying, and I was conscious of the slippy dust (didn't want a big crash just before my exams start!) I turned the corner for the final climb and there was someone just ahead of me, I assumed it was a man (hair was tied back, and was sporting the kit from a local team which is nearly all men), but decided to go for it, as I got closer I realised it was actually a woman (oops!) so I carried on with my sprint, surprising everyone watching, as well as myself, with the power I had left to take 7th place from someone who had beat me every time we competed last year!

So I finished 7th, much further ahead than the people I was competing with last year, and only a few minutes behind the next bunch of people (comparing last years results at the same course to yesterday shows just how much I've improved -yay!). I'm really happy with that and and raring to go next week to see if I can improve even more!

Full results can be seen here:

A few pictures taken by my dad can be seen below in my flickr stream, hopefully get some of the official photos up once they are published too!