Now although I have been sneaking in a lot more roadie miles than the past few years and almost all of last year was dedicated to distance running (no time for decent bike rides) I have never ridden a cross bike off-road in anger. Yes, I've got a crosser, but it see's duty as a winter training bike, decked out in mudguards and roadie gears (53/39 - 12-23) so plainly I have some work to do here.....
First, sort out the bike; the headset, wheels, brakes, sitting and holding bits are ok, but the drivetrain needs serious thought. After a lot of research on Dave Haygarths excellent 3 Peaks blog site I figured some lower than normal cross gears are required, but how to achieve this - without the budget of Nick Craig's XX gruppo. Well, I thought I could bodge it with all the mtb cast offs in the garage, but trying to integrate old STI's and new mtb bits was never going to happen, so I gave in, researched new stuff and plumped for SRAM (would have liked Campag, but there you go)
Secondly, start getting more cross specific with the training and this for me means learning to "gracefully" dismount and mount (cue comedy crashes), run up hills carrying a bike and actually ride off-road with skinny tryes, canti's and drop-bars. Actually I am really enjoying the challenge of off-roading on a cross bike, makes jumping back on the mtb seem like wrapping yourself up in cotton wool.
Training with all the usual family and work pressures is never easy, but luckily all the endurance stuff is largely done and I can now concentrate on shorter, harder rides and runs.
I don't know why, but I really enjoy long hill intervals - weird?
As intermediate training goals, I've entered a roadie race (Scottish vets champs - oooh that'll be aggressive!) and an mtb race - the local sxc @ Laggan, all good stuff.
Works getting busier with the consultancy stuff tailing off into actual builds soon, so time management's going to get tricky, especially with us all needing a summer family holiday, hmmm, take bike.
So the pic of my old fell running shoes, they've been seeing action again and truth be told I still quite enjoy running in the hills (minus bike on shoulder!) the hamstrings don't, but they'll come round eventually.