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Nick Packard blog about his first TT


Having just completed my first time trial, Wrekin Sport 18 miler, I thought now would be a good time to tell people about my journey from an inactive, overweight smoker to someone who is embarking on their first TT season, and how the Nova Raiders has formed the lynch pin of my cycling development.I hope that anyone reading this will realise the excellent support being part of a proactive club can be, and how friendly cycling really can be.

18 months ago my bike was gathering dust in my shed and I had just given up smoking. After meeting members of the Nova Raiders I was finally encouraged to get back on the steed. Nervous about going out in a group I sat on my decrepit turbo trainer throughout the winter of 2012, using DVDs and YouTube to give me a training programme. All through the winter a certain Raider by the name of Ed Middleton did not get off my back about joining in a club ride. So in the spring of 2013 I journeyed out on my first Nova Raider club ride. I could not believe how friendly everyone was. Due to my work commitments I didn’t manage to get out every Sunday but popped a long for a few rides and went out on Tuesday and Thursdays when I could.  I have got to recommend the week day rides. They are at a slightly faster than a Sunday ride but are shorter and run under exactly the same ethos as any other ride, you go out together, you come back together and no one gets left alone.

Once I had settled into the weekday rides and no longer found the pace challenging it was time to push myself again. I was still training on the turbo when I couldn’t make club rides and upped the intensity of these sessions. The club has a wealth of knowledge about cycling and a few Raiders suggested different turbo sessions. I purchased a heart rate monitor and computer for the bike. The combination of these three gives you the ability to target training to certain areas.

During this time my weight was dropping and I could definitely feel an improvement in the way my cycling felt. Ed now suggested I joined him and Mark Harrison on “theChainGang.” I was apprehensive but again this session was run under the same Nova Raiders rules, and accordingly the guys had to wait for me half a dozen times when I couldn’t keep pace. They never made me feel inadequate and encouraged me to hold the back wheel all the way round the 40 mile course. I got home and the computer said we’d averaged 19.8mph on a windy day. I was chuffed to bits. But this gave me another goal, not to be holding the wheel but to be pulling from the front for my fair share.

Throughout the 2013 winter I continued the turbo sessions, the weekday sessions became harder to make because of work commitments. Then as the new year arrived Ed, Mark, Scott Harris and some work colleagues, started suggesting I should enter the up and coming time trial season. The idea of this to me was very daunting. I had never ridden in competitions and to be honest the idea of looking an idiot really put me off. However with some gentle persuasion and the fact that 7 other Raiders would also be giving it a go, I thought why not. What a great decision.

As I am writing this my legs are very sore and I am buzzing about the experience. From the moment I turned up I did not feel at all out of place. I had no flash time trial equipment, just my road bike with some clip on aero bars. A look around the place soon made me realise I was by no means on my own. Yes there were plenty of impressive set ups, but there were also plenty of riders with road bikes, normal helmets and standard cycling clothes. Another thing that put me at ease was the abundance of Raiders. It was great to know you had friendly faces all around and this took some of the nerves away from the occasion.

Before starting I undertook an unscientific warm up and then it was the off.

52 minutes later I crossed the finish line, I rode as hard as I could for as long as I could. The supporting Raiders knew exactly where to position themselves for ultimate support, and where the only supporters on the course. Speaks volumes for the club mentality I think. Post-match analysis has given me areas to improve on but the overall feeling I came away with was the sense of wanting to do it all again. Nova Raiders havewelcomed me in, supported me through my training, encouraged me to push myself, spurred me on when I was outside my comfort zone, and were there to lift me up when I was on the road on my own.

For anyone wishing to push their cycling past club rides I would say do it. There is so much Raiders’ support out there you only be encouraged every step of the way.




Posted: Tuesday 4th of March 2014 07:57:19 AM by Scott Harris



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Hi Raiders

Recently there's been a lot of talk on hydration and knowing how much to drink pre, during and post ride.

The link below is a good article giving plenty of advice and also considers your hydration in winter.


Best Regards

Ade stones



Posted: Tuesday 26th of November 2013 06:06:58 AM by Admin User



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Newport duathlon 2013 raiders inter club champions report


Newport Duathlon Race Report

It's been a long season so it might come as no surprise that the majority of the Raiders taking part were looking forward to the end of the season. However after being rallied by Ian "the whippet" Laverie, the tri-suit came out for one more outing.

With little course knowledge and a time-trial sitting heavy in my legs from the day before I arrived to sign on. I was greeted by friendly faces and a simple signing on process. After registration I met up with a few Raiders and racked my bike in transition. After a quick refresh on the flow of transition, we carried out a warm up and sorted out our game plan.

With the start of the race, came the end of our race plan. As we hurled ourselves into the first run leg. After a brief spell on the towpath we had a few miles of undulating roads before we finally arrived at T1.

This was the point of the race we needed to kick and claw back time on the runners. Thankfully the first part of the course took in a descent. This allowed me to settle into the ride and regret my decision to participate in a time trial the day before.

Forgetting about my heavy legs I managed to put in a half decent bike leg and arrived in T2 in some sort of order. With only a handful of bikes in transition (including the "whippets") I knew it was all to lose.

The second run leg was the same course as the first. This allows for two things a) understanding of the route and b) an understanding of the hills on the route. With this in mind and the knowledge of the runners hunting me down, I went as hard as I could. Which by now wasn't that hard. However as the inter club shield is won by the fastest five times from each club, I didn't need much motivation to drag myself to the finish. 

Greeted by a fresh looking "whippet" we waited excitedly to see where our fellow Raiders were. Within seconds Scotty crossed the line, then Mark Golding. With the fifth Raider still on the course anxiety levels were reaching a level which are rarely seen at a local event. 

Too pumped to wait at the finish line, I retraced the course to the final hill. I got there just in time to witness Mark Harrison tackle the final climb and power home, sporting a rather fetching scalp laceration.

Martin Hibbert was next to cross the line, followed by Mike Jackson, Rachel Storey, category winner Pauline Newton and the craziest man with a bus pass Paul "the ironman" Grubert.

Full race results can be found here, along with the race photos:

A great day was had by all. The success of the duathlon is a tribute to the sporting interests and teams we have in Newport. Not to mention Robin Guy and his band of helpers who mastermind and co-ordinate this fantastic event each year.    

Two lessons to take away from the event is a) The Nova Raiders aren't your normal cycling club and b) Mark Harrison is too tall to run under low lying branches.'

If anyone has an interest in taking part in a duathlon/ triathlon, or are looking to join a competitive club with a difference, get in touch.

Gracious in victory as we are in defeat, a final thanks goes out to Newport & District running club and Newport Cycling Club for making it a competitive and enjoyable race..
Same time next year?

Sent from my iPhone


Posted: Monday 7th of October 2013 09:35:33 PM by Ed Middleton



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Shrewsbury Triathlon 2013


Shrewsbury Triathlon 2013 Race Report

Shrewsbury triathlon club SYTRI ran this event at the showground in Shrewsbury. Scott Harris, Ed Middleton and Mark Harrison were representing the Nova Raiders.

The race starts with a 500mm swim in the river Severn and the competitors were set off in age group waves, water temp was around 15 degrees.

After the swim we had a quick run into transition 1 where we grabbed the bikes and after another quick run across the grass we got to the tarmac and the mount line. The bike route was a simple out and back course on undulating country roads which although not the fastest course was still good sighting the next person to pick off. The turnaround point was at Baschurch the course seemed way quicker on the return leg.

Into transition 2 to rack the bike and put on the run shoes onto the 5k run course which again was well supported and very well organised using a band system for every lap done. Great results again for the raiders all posting their own quickest run, bike, and swim splits and a fantastic event the raiders will do in force hopefully next season.


16th Scott Harris 109:25


31st Ed Middleton 112:02


44th Mark Harrison 114:31


Posted: Saturday 14th of September 2013 10:12:04 PM by Scott Harris



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The Outlaw Triathlon 2013


Outlaw Iron Distance Triathlon  2013                       

NOVA RAIDERS Scott Harris, Ed Middleton, Paul Grubert and Mark Harrison.

07 July 2013 at the Nottingham National Water sports Centre to complete a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and 26.2 mile run in an unexpected heat wave.

1300 people started only 910 finished proving how brutal the conditions were.

Scott splits 1.05 mins for swim 5.50 for the bike and a 4.40 marathon 11hrs 54

Ed 13 hours 22

Mark 14 hours 26 mins

Paul grubert completed the marathon in a great time as well


Scott Harris said “the heat was a major factor out there we knew it was going to be hot, but we have trained for over a year for this, hydration and nutrition played a major factor on the day, Great results again for the raiders”.

Mark Harrison said” it was never going to be easy running a marathon in 31 degree heat but with the raiders support around the course made it more bearable”.


6am start the swim takes place in the regatta lake, followed by the bike section on the roads around Nottingham which offered great surfaces for fast riding and finally the run course around the lake and on to the River Trent path to Trent Bridge and County Hall. The multi-lap course was lined with thousands of spectators and will be on channel 4 on August 25th at 7am.


Posted: Saturday 14th of September 2013 10:11:02 PM by Scott Harris



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Wrekinsport Cycling Club - Open 25 Mile Time Trial


Nova raiders were respectfully represented with two category podiums in Saturdays open 25 mile TT. 
With the heat wave taking a break and being replaced with a "true british summer" Mark Golding and Ed Middleton knew today's fight was always going to be against the weather.
With the out and back course starting at Tern Hill and turning at the Shawbirch roundabout the first 12 miles were going into a strong headwind. Ed stated  its always hard letting the average speed go when fighting the wind, in hope of picking it up on the return leg. Thankfully the return leg made some way of making up for the fighting start.
Mark came in with a (current) PB of 1:06:37, making him 2nd in category D. Ed followed up with 1:02:01, making him 3rd in category C, within only 27 seconds of winning his category. The prize money is in the post!
On the day Joshua Williams (Paramount) won with the impressive time of 55:50.
Next weekend Rich Nickless is back in action with Ed Middleton when they take on the North Shropshire Wheelers open 25 mile TT. Lets hope for better weather!


Posted: Saturday 17th of August 2013 09:54:21 PM by Ed Middleton



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Prudential Ride London 2013


Prudential Ride London – Surrey 2013


Being asked with ‘no pressure’ to write a review of the Prudential Ride London weekend brings with it a lot of pressure! How does one do such an amazing weekendjustice?!



Ride London-Surrey: What’s it all that about?


2013 saw the very first of this 2-day Festival of Cycling that is hoped to become a long-lasting legacy of the 2012 LondonOlympic and Paralympic Games.


One of the key aims of this event is to encourage more people to cycle safely, more often.  


There were two main amateur cycle events, and many of those participating in these events were doing so to raise money for their chosen charity.


Saturday began with the ‘Freecycle’ event: a fun and inclusiveride for all the family on an 8-mile closed road circuit in Central London. It was estimated that a whopping 50,000 people took to the circuit this year.


Some of us declined the opportunity of the Saturday ride in order to rest our legs and register for the challenge the following day.


Sunday saw 20,000 amateur cyclists take to the roads to cyclethe 100-mile closed-road sportive from Central London and out through the beautiful countryside of Surrey.



Ride London – Surrey 100-mile Sportive:


Given the huge number of participants set to ride this event, I was dreading the chaos which I expected to find whenregistering on the Saturday at the ExCel International Convention Centre.


As it turned out, registration was a breeze! We didn’t arrive asearly as planned on the Saturday, but there wasn’t a queue in sight when we got there. It took us seconds to register, and this gave us plenty of time to enjoy a range of ‘bike porn’ at the Cycle Show.


We had the pleasure of watching a number of performances from the very talented Martyn Ashton and his crew of cycle nuts, throwing themselves and their bikes backwards, forwards, and almost inside out from a great height! Onanother stage there were very interesting interviews with the likes of Jody Cundy and Dean Downing. There was more stalking of cycling personalities to be had with Dani King and Joanna Rowsell in the Wiggle store, and the very lovely David Millar on hand for a photo and a chat in the Garmin store.  


Later the same day we swung by Central London to watch the inaugural Ride London Grand Prix Races, with the hand cyclists, the up-and-coming juniors, and last but not least theladies of Wiggle Honda kicking some butt on the1.3 mile closed circuit race around St James’ Park . Some of this we watched on Big Screen whilst stretched out in the sunshine in Green Park and the rest we watched roadside. It was all inspiring for the ride we had ahead the following day.


The races continued into the evening, and following this we went off to do some serious carb-loading (that was my excuse for a pig-out anyway)!


The Start:

The Ride London – Surrey 100-mile Sportive on the Sundaystarted at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic ParkWe cycled there from our hotel 3 miles away.


The start was equally well organised. A constant flow oflycra-clad bodies and bikes crossed the park from the two different entry points without any apparent hic-up.  We were all given arrival times, load times, and start times, thenallocated to one of several different ‘waves’ which were set off at regular intervals.


Not that I spotted them amongst all the other lycra, but we had the pleasure of knowing that Dani King and a few other elite cyclist were amongst us in our wave. No pressure then!!


We felt briefly and mildly cheated to be told it was a 2-mile ride from the Olympic Park start to the ‘actual’ start point of the 100-mile ride. I had already cycled 3 miles from the hotel, and it would be a 10-mile cycle back again for me from the finish point.


The ride:


It was surreal experience to set off and ride on the closed roads of the city centre, racing through red lights, going the wrong way down dual carriage ways and through the city’s tunnels which are usually closed to cyclists and pedestrians. I soon forgave them for the extra 2-miles they made us do to get to the start!


The route was an adaptation of the 2012 Olympic road race route. It was well signed and marshalled, and with such a massive sea of cyclist, support staff and spectators you could pretty much guarantee you would never find yourself alone.


Those who wished to give the ride a go but weren’t confident about riding 100 miles in the 9-hour cut-off time were relieved to be informed that there were strategically placed short-cuts at several points throughout the course. These were optional to a point and then became mandatory after certain cut-off times.


With the exception of a couple of bottle-necks at the mainfeed-stations (hubs) and whilst clambering up Leith hill, the sea of cyclists appeared to flow very freely throughout the ride.


It wasn’t long into the ride that I was passed by a fellow Nova Raider, in the disguise of Prudential Ride London jersey.After a few supportive words he was on his way.


It was around Richmond Park when the wind became gusty and the first of any noticeable incline appeared. At this point, my heart began racing and my muscles realised they had someserious work to do that dayI began to wonder if I would make it to the end.


I was quickly interrupted from this moment of self-doubt by a number of unusual ‘spectators’. Peering through a clump of hedges, right at me, was a herd of Deer not the type of spectators I’d expected to see. At first I wondered if I’d take on too much caffeine, but a fellow cyclist confirmed I was not hallucinating.





There were 3 sizeable climbs ahead; Box Hill being the one we all know and dread!

Box Hill, as it turns out, was a pleasure to ride. The climb was a long but at a manageable gradient through winding roads and switch backs. The view was certainly enough to distract from any aches and pains that might had set in by this stage.


It was Leith Hill (now AKA “Lethal”) which was the most challenging of the climbs. The gradients were much steeper, and each time you thought it was over, you turned a corner to be faced with another wall of cyclists climbing, wobbling,grunting and in some cases walking. Whatever the pace, andmethod of ascent though, Leith Hill was still achievable by all.


I had never cycled 100-miles in one go before this event, and hills have always been my nemesis, but something on the dayjust gives you that extra strength to achieve more than you imagine you ever might. The adrenaline pumping through your body in part, but more importantly, the amazing support coming from the spectators clustered around the route. They were noisy, they were encouraging and some were just darn right comical. Fortunately, there were no mankinis to report upon, but from the person dancing around in a chicken suit to the small child with the sign saying “Pedal Faster (lazy)!” They all brought smiles to our faces at the moments when weneeded them most.


I recall one moment in particular – although I was reaching the summit of the ‘Lethal’ climb, I was refusing to believe that the brow I could see before me marked the end of this challenging climb – I had fallen for that trick too many times alreadyexhaling a sigh of relief only to turn the next corner and be greeted by another sea of wobbling cyclists and asharp incline.

Sothere I was back near the brow of the hill with my head down and my teeth grinding. I was wondering again whether I would make it to the end of this 100-mile route and willing myself to keep pedalling.. secretly I was ready to abandon …just at this moment comes that ‘life-saving’ yell from a complete stranger on the banks of Leith Hill: “Come on Raider, you’re nearly there!” … suddenly, I felt alive again and gained the strength to make that final push to the topwhere I continued with the rest of the challenge!


At the top of the hill I am greeted by a dancing lion. By this time, I am drained of energy and think the lion looks good enough to eat! I push another energy gel down my neck in hope this will stop me eating any small children or slow-moving deer that I might pass on the remainder of the journey.


As if the 100 miles were not enough, there were other Raiderswho faced even bigger challenges than me. Most notably a ‘blow-out’ and shredded tyre on a tricky downhill section. This particular Raider ran someand then walked some until she eventually reached another hub where she could purchase a new tyre and be on her way. Pauline had had her foot operated on only a week or so earlier and faced her additional challenges with utter class!


The finish


We enjoyed an awesome sprint along the final stretch back into the centre of London. The ‘home-straight’ somehow gave us energy we thought we never had. My co-rider Matt told me to not make any sudden movements but to look behind us. We had been latched onto by a group of about 10 – 15 riders as we made chase back to the Mall. I don’t know about anyone else in the peloton, but I was ready for a beer!






The route finished spectacularly on The Mall in Central London.


We crossed the finish- line greeted by commentary, and crowds of cheering spectators. I admit that for a moment thereeven I could have fooled myself that I was a professional!


The support was utterly awesome, as was the relief and the absolute sense of achievement felt as the shiny medal was placed over my head and a generous goodie bag thrust into my hand!


I had done it.. and like everyone else, I had good reason to feel very proud!


So many people had achieved so much that weekend, be it on the Free-cycle event or the Ride London 100-mile sportive, and many of them had done it absolutely from their hearts to support some amazing charities. Hats off to every single one of them!


The professional race:


As if the amateur event wasn’t enough excitement foreverybody on Sunday, the finish line was later crossed by the professional cyclists who’d been chasing our tails all afternoon on their inaugural 140-mile Ride London-Surrey Classic.



… and so that was the end of an absolutely fantastic weekend and an early night for me after my 10-mile cycle along the canal path back to the hotel. 


A definite tick in the box as one of my most enjoyable moments, and a note in the diary to register for a place on thenext Ride London – Surrey 100 Sportive in 2014 when the ballot opens on the 12th of August 2013.


Get yourself in there. Go on, get on your bike!!


Posted: Tuesday 13th of August 2013 08:00:44 AM by Scott Harris



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