Sunday, 28 July 2013

Need to get some motivation - feel as big as a house

In summary:-

Friday - went to a wedding and got very drunk

Saturday - recover from Friday and repeat the drinking process on Saturday night

Sunday - sat here feeling sorry for myself.

The detail:-

Friday - drank copious amounts of Cider, and grabbed some food from the table every time I passed for a fresh drink, which was often. My favourite at the table was a roasted ham joint, which combined with the sun and alcohol added to my thirst. When I got home, my stomach was fit to burst, I went to bed and opened all the windows to keep cool. I wasn't that drunk that I couldn't drink a pint of water, but the damage had already been done. My stomach was still expanding at 2.00am and my pulse was racing, when it clicked that it was the ham joint and beer combined with obesity that set me off on the road to being fitter and healthier after Christmas 18 months ago.

I've come to the realisation this weekend, that the obesity may be gone, but the underlying vulnerability to abusing my body is still very close.

Saturday - I was surprisingly fresh when I awoke next morning, perhaps the 2 hours I sat up drinking water and watching an old war movie '633 Squadron' from 2.00am did the trick. Sam (my wife), went to Uni to plan for a conference she is presenting at next week and I took the kids to football. I fixed the kids bikes for the Cornwall holiday, after prizing myself off the settee, before I realised it was 7.00pm. An hour later I was back at the pub, with my Brother-in-law. Four pints was all I could manage and the rain walking home was quite refreshing. The chinese takeaway waiting for me when I got in was just the tonic, but hardly complimentary to my salt intolerance.

Sunday - slight headache upon waking. Nice breakfast. Sam has gone to her Mum's for an hour. I know it is a waste but my body needs a break at the moment, so I'm going to concentrate on getting myself in a good position for a ride on Monday.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Rest day today

Congratulations to Wendy and Jim for tying the knot after 33 years together.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Objective complete

As an auditor I do a lot of work around objectives. I think I have a pretty good angle on objective setting and know the dangers of setting yourself objectives that are not too stretching, but to set yourself an objective and then achieve it the very next day, either makes me a better cyclist than I first thought I was, or I need to dust off the old text books around objective setting.

So, OK, last Thursday, I wanted to ride to work and back and achieve a sub-40 minute time for each ride. On the ride into work I absolutely smashed it 36min 45 sec, to be precise. On the return trip it was 39min 27sec. I honestly could not believe it. I don't want to keep setting myself objectives based upon the same ride, but might aim to move myself up the ranking on a few segments throughout the ride, with a view to hitting sub 40 minute times more frequently without exhausting myself.

I also went out on Saturday for about 30miles, which I achieved just under 2 hours. Very pleased again. I wanted to go out Sunday, but my bezzy mate 'Mick' mentioned the word 'Pub'... you can guess the result!...

Well... I earned it.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

A new objective

I took a well earned day off the bike on Monday following my first century. My legs were really stiff, but I felt good from the ride. I had a bit of banter with the rest of the cycle challengers in a couple of email exchanges after telling them about my 100 miler. I changed the saddle when I got home that evening. I have a collection of saddles from the various bikes I've owned over time. I decided to work my way through them methodically for a couple of weeks as I consider that you only get to know a saddle unless you sit on it for a good few miles.

I started off with the cheapest saddle of the lot. It came off a mountain bike my Dad lent me about ten years ago now. I was not into cycling that much back then and did not know as much about maintaining it. The bike came as a pair from JJB sports where you get 2 for £200. I guess you get what you pay for, but that, my fat ass; and the fact that the sand from from the cycle paths along the canal into Sheffield worked like an 'Angle Grinder' on the gears, meant the bike was knackered after three months.

I was also curious about whether this seat was more or less comfortable as it was much narrower than the others I have. Anyway, Tuesday felt surprisingly good. Wednesday was a double 'school run' day (drop off and pick up), so more convenient to commute in the car, and today was less surprising, but comfortable.

I have been avoiding one of the main roads into Sheffield as it suffered in the poor weather earlier this year and was very dangerous with pot holes and loose gravel at the edges scope from the pot holes also. The road was re-surfaced last week and is now super smooth, so I have a fresh route into work. It is also the shortest route into work, so this week I have recorded the two shortest times commuting the 10 miles home. On Tuesday it was 40min 1sec and today it was 40min 35sec. So here is the new target...

to commute to work and home in under 40 minutes. This is not as straight forward as it may first appear. The traffic lights, the traffic and the wind needs to be on your side to make it happen, but I will be disappointed if I do not achieve this before I break up for leave on the 2nd August.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

My first century

For those that know me, I have been harping on about completing a 100 mile single ride since I first started riding and losing some serious weight. Last year was impossible, I was still losing weight and only had one bike (my mountain bike). Whilst possible to complete on a mountain bike, you get much greater efficiency from a road bike or a hybrid.

My hybrid did not get fixed until March. Until today I had my biggest ride on this was 88.5 miles in early April out into Lincolnshire.

Anyway, I set off about 5:30 this morning, I had decided on doing at least 100k (of which I have done a few now), but did not have any preference as to where I went or anything. The road took me out on my habitual route round Mexborough, along Manvers and then out toward Grimesthorpe, Brierley and eventually Pontefract.

I developed some aches and pains early on in the ride in my feet and arse. I was ready for this and prepared to stop a few times in order to get in right. I moved the cleats on my road shoes further towards the centre of my foot away from the big toe where I was experiencing the pain and decided to lift the nose of the saddle up slightly so that I sat more on the widest part towards the near.

The ride felt much better afterwards, so I decided to plod on. I reached Eggborough power station at about 8:30am which I did not consider too bad after the stop. It was at this point on the road towards Snaith that I had to make the decision to turn South for Thorne and then Doncaster or push on for Goole. The Goole roads are unfamiliar to me but the route down towards Thorne and Bawtry looked striaght forward to allow me to pick up the final miles of the ride on familiar roads.

I reached Goole without incident, but it was at this stage that the sun was starting to get stronger and the saddle felt like a chesse grater. I resisted any further adjustments and headed for Crowle, and then onto Hatfield near Thorne, which would then take me towards Bawtry. Reaching Crowle seemed like forever, the roads were pan flat and I could see for miles, which started playing tricks on my motivation. I was very tired by the time I reached Crowle and I found myself stopping for rest at a park bench at just about every major village I passed through.

Upon reaching Bawtry, I was back on familiar roads, I was still dog tired, but now I could easily gauge my progress and adjust my route to hit the 100 mile target. I ran out of water in Tickhill. I had a few climbs before I reached home, so stopped off at Tesco in Maltby for more water, and an energy drink. I was stopping every 5 miles or so now, mainly to hydrate, but also to keep tabs on my mileage. I completed 100.66 miles, and have to admit that this was one of the most tiring experiences of my life, but I am glad I did it. I think the saddle made the ride much more onerous, so I am considering swapping saddles over the next week or so with my stock in the garage, to see if I can manage a better ride.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Confession time

It has been over a week since my last blog. After conquering my favourite hill (again) on regular commute home last Friday, I pledged to get out on Saturday for a big ride.

I did do the big ride on Saturday, but my cousin got married that day and I spent the evening at the party. Sunday was very busy with kids football and I have not had the time since last weekend to sit down and write a blog.

So here we go...

The ride on Saturday totalled 94.5km. I started the route off as described in my previous blog at got all way up the road past Penistone to the outskirts of Huddersfield. I took a left up the hill heading towards a personal target of Emley Moor.

For those of you not local to me, Emley Moor has a TV transmitter located at the top of it. On a clear day, you can see it from miles away, there is not a high spot in the entire Yorkshire region where you cannot see this point. Most of my rides get views of the Emley Moor transmitter from the South and East of it, so it was a personal achievement to ride right up it. Next target is loop around it and possibly go North of the M62 towards Bradford and Leeds before swinging back South for home.

My route took me then towards the M1 via the Yorkshire sculpture park, up towards Barnsley and back home via the quiet back roads.

I could have gone further, but my backside was really starting to suffer after Emley Moor. I had the new seat on the bike, and I am starting to wonder whether it really is for me.

I treated Sunday as a rest day, well from the bike anyway. I managed to commute to work Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Wednesday and Friday was spent on the Hybrid as I wanted to bring and take my laptop from/to work as I had a visit to London on Thursday and needed the pannier to carry the extra weight. The old seat on the Hybrid was a welcome break from the regular bike. I'm going to head out today for another biggy and will make a decision regarding the new saddle afterwards.

Promise not to leave it so long before my next blog.

Friday, 5 July 2013

3,000miles... in the bag

Just checked my profile on Strava... I have now hit my 3,000mile milestone for this year. Big question is, can I reach 6,000miles for the full year???

Commute home tonight was good. I could have done more, but am saving myself for a big ride tomorrow, but I did take a small detour to ride up my favourite hill. I discovered this hill which is not far off my usual route last year when my son started his winter football training at the Concord leisure center's astro-turf pitch. It was later announced that the hill would be one of the last obstacles before the finish line at the end of stage 2 of the Tour De France.

Anyway, I got a personal record on this hill, which is a real boost, you can find a link to the hill on this link

Tomorrow, I'm thinking of heading into Rotherham, through Chapeltown and pick up the main road toward Huddersfield. Depending upon my performance I will turn off towards either Barnsley or Wakefield before swinging back South for home. Not sure on the mileage and don't really care, just want to clock up as many miles as possible.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Rant alert

Did you know it was national no indicator day today? Truly, I had to have my whits about me this morning because everyone was coming from all sorts of angles at me. It actually started in the car during the school run, a roundabout close to where I live is very quick and there must have been half a dozen cars dash up the road I had driven down (a left turn) without indicating. This meant that I could have gone several times, but there is no way your going to risk it in case one of them goes into the side of you because they are genuinely going straight on.

So it was on the bike after the school run and I waited to turn right out of a junction, and a guy turned left (without indicating) which would have permitted me to go. On the road down to Murderhell (a big shopping center near Sheffield) and the bus lane going towards the Wicker arches, two drivers decided they weren't making the progress they desired and cut into my lane (the left) again without indicating.

I had to congratulate myself when I got into work for being very calm and collected about it... I didn't loose my rag once, but it was blustery this morning with a mild head wind, so cycling in a straight predictable line was probably taking up a lot of my concentration.

I understand there is going to be wall to wall sunshine for the next couple of weeks, dare I even say a heat wave, so here's looking forward to getting some of the tan lines sharpened up ahead of my cycle challenge in September.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Itching to get back on the bike tomorrow

I've had a rest day today as I had the school run today because my wife had a job interview at Sheffield hospital. Today has been a nice day and it is always a shame to forsake a ride on a good day. I've been reflecting on the weekend ride and decided to dig deep, £3.99 for some Chamois Cream. Probably too much detail for those of you who know what it is. If you don't know what it is, then feel free to look it up.

Hoping it will arrive in time for my big ride on Saturday, when I will be putting the new saddle through a more thorough test.

A new sofa

I had my well earned rest on Sunday, and used the time to go and buy a new saddle for my bike. I went to JE James cycles and as usual I left them thinking why the hell I had bothered at all. Me and that shop have a love-hate relationship, there is one older guy, whom I believe has 2 sons on team Sky, who is fantastic... He wasn't there that day, so I ended up with one of the elitist snobs that tries to avoid you, and when he cant avoid you looks down his nose at you and tries to confuse you with jargon. So I took what advice I could glean from him and went to Edinburgh bikes in Sheffield instead.

They measured my sit bones, which involves sitting for a minute or two on a small board with a memory foam pad that has a gauge behind the pad to measure the gap between the dimples that are left. Whilst sat, you have to 'assume the riding position' by bending forward and bringing your heels up so you are on the balls of your feet. I felt I should ask for a copy of the Sunday Sport, but resisted the urge. I'm not sure this process has any scientific basis, but it is probably a good laugh for the guys in the shop. Anyway, I settled for a Specialized Body Geometry Phenom saddle at £60.

I took it on its first outing on Monday as I dragged my aching corpse from the weekend riding into work. The saddle felt odd, which you would expect with it being new, but it did not affect my performance as I grabbed my first 'King of the mountain' award on the Strava app that I use to log my miles using my smartphone. Because of the early time I had to set off, the traffic was light on one of the first hills that I descend down into Rotherham. If the traffic lights are on your side, you can get down to the bottom pretty quickly. Of the 59 people that have logged rides going down that segment, none of them have done it quicker than me. I'm not particularly proud of this achievement, bombing down a hill at just under 40 miles an hour is a bit daft as coming off at that speed is guaranteed a visit to the hospital, but I find it hard to explain the feeling of exhilaration this gives me. It's like instant stress relief.

Probably said too much now.