Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Going to miss my mileage target this month

I set myself a target of riding 500 miles this month (August). I'm on about 376 so far and have work related travel the next 2 days. That means I have to ride 124 miles on Saturday or call it quits.

I know my limits, and I've done pretty well considering that I did not do any riding up until the 12th August after my leave, so I'm going to let this one pass.

I'm fairly comfortable with this, but I have to aim for something big next month to compensate. Therefore, I'm going to try and complete my biggest month to date. My current record is 705 miles for April. With the planned Stonehenge cycle challenge on the 13-15 September I should get a boost, so 800 miles sounds like a nice figure to aim for.

Said it now... Gotta be done.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Foggy this morning - need to put the lights back on

Checked the weather before bed last night... Grey start, brightening later.

Went out the door with sun glasses, trying to look cool... as usual... NOT!!

Climbed the hill that overlooks Greasborough and descended into a layer of Scotch mist.

Options were to turn back and get the lights fitted, but I didn't fancy riding back up the hill I'd descended... Well not this morning anyway. OR take my sun glasses off and soldier on.

The sun glasses, being highly inappropriate for the weather I had encountered, made a world of difference, especially since they were beginning to steam up. I could now see around, but the question was could everyone see me?

As it happens, by the time I had ascended up the other side of the valley and got on the main road into Sheffield the fog was gone, but that was about 2 1/2 miles of nervous riding, which I would not like to repeat.

It turns out that if I had turned back, it would have been futile anyway. The USB re-chargeable lights, have been unplugged for about a month now and even when they are switched off, they must lose their charge as they were completely dead when I checked them tonight.

I don't know why I stopped having the lights on. I used to be a stickler for that and had them on every day no-matter what the weather. I think with the really nice weather of late, I have just got myself out of the habit...

Anyway... that's going to change from today.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Grade A ride

Sorry, it was a 'Grey Day ride', but the cycling was not too bad despite the crap weather.

I think I have been spoiled of late, with the nice weather. I have tanned face, arms and legs; and these last few weeks it has felt distinctly Mediterranean whilst out cycling. What a difference 36 hours of rain makes!!

I was out of my pit at 5:45 this morning. I looked outside and the weather was spot on with what the forecast had predicted the night before. A grey start, but brightening up soon after. I wasn't sure when the brightening up bit would come exactly, but I dressed for it anyway.

I sat there eating my porridge looking out the window, hoping that the porridge would never end, it seemed to get greyer by the minute. But this wasn't going to put me off and I donned the rest of my gear (cycle helmet, snacks and shoes and headed out.

It was very fresh when I got out, and the wind was up too. My route would take me North towards Pontefract, but turning off just before for a little loop before I headed back home along the same route. It is my 50 mile baseline route, so I stepped on the pedals hoping that a little more effort would help to warm me up.

I didn't get much warmer, since despite it not raining the whole route, the rads were still wet from last nights rain which kicked up a lot of spray around me and kept me damp. The weather did not brighten up either and I thought quite a few times about bailing and heading home to a nice warm bed. But I stuck at it and completed my 50 miles.

Sometimes riding is such a pleasure, other times it is a real slog and tests you in more ways than one. Either way, by the time you get home there is a certain satisfaction that you completed the course and beat those inner demns that wanted you to turn back sooner.

I'm glad I had my ride this morning, it made the cooked breakfast when I got home seem really worth the effort.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Busy week back

It's been my first week back at work this week. I have felt pretty strong this week after the Saturday and Sunday break and managed to commute every day to work, which gives me about 100 miles in the bag. Five days back to back was better than I was expecting given my recent break, so I guess my fitness levels did not suffer too much from the holiday.

Today, Saturday, is the first day of the start of Le Vuelta. I am participating in a challenge on the 'my fitness pal' website which runs throughout the time of the competition. There are three teams of nine that are competing. Whilst we are competing against each other, there is also an objective to match the number of miles of each of the stages each day also. I'm not sue how many miles my team have contributed until the results are posted, but my contribution was 41.7km (26 miles), given that the first stage is only 27.4km, I think this one is in the bag. Tomorrow's stage is 177.4km, which might be a bit more tricky.

More riding planned for tomorrow. I want to complete a 100km ride. Just going to go back through my ride logs on Strava to see what will be a good route. Will post a further update tomorrow.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Mam tor - pt. Deux

In my previous post, I mentioned that I was planning on conquering Mam tor from the Castleton (eastern) side, in the peak district. A friend at work had told me that it was more difficult to approach the climb from the Western side, which I achieved the previous month. Anyway, I may have mis-heard my colleague, but I can definitely say that the Eastern approach is much harder. So much so, that I had to bail when I was approximately 2/3 up the climb.

Perhaps it was the lack of mental preparation leading up to the ride, the scale of the climb, the wind that was being funneled down the valley into my face; or the demons inside my head, saying 'you gunna bail'; or allt he above, but I did not succeed. BUT, I will return!!

To be honest with myself, I was already struggling to turn the crank in second gear just as the climb was getting interesting at a cattle grid at the foot of the main climb, I really needed to be in third or fourth with the remaining gears in reserve at this stage. A guy just passed me after the cattle grid, which was some motivation to carry on as long as I did, but he carried on climbing after I bailed and disappeared around a corner promptly after.

The guy who passed me, got me thinking about the geometry on my bike. His was a proper roadie with 26" wheels, where as mine is a cross with slightly larger 700cc wheels. I'm not sure how much bigger mine are compared to his, but I would imagine that having a smaller wheel on climbs would be an advantage..., but how much? I'm going to Google it and find out.

To climb the rest of the hill, I had to take my shoes off and climb the remainder of the hill in my socks whilst pushing the bike. I was too slow, uncomfortable and slippery in my cleats. Once at the top the rest of the climb to the top of Mam tor was straight forward. It really was a pleasure to see the whole Edale valley open up in front of me as I came through the pass and started my descent into Edale. I stopped for coffee at the bottom and continued the rest of the journey home through Haversage, Sheffield and my usually cycle commute route home. I got a flat just before I reached the top of a hill outside Greasborough, a guy passed me on his mountain bike, who I had just overtaken, which was slightly embarrassing, but the change was quick with the CO2 canister and I was on my way within ten minutes.

On the final hill, before I get home (about 3 miles after the flat) I spotted the guy who passed me in the distance and decided to go all out to overtake him. I felt good, despite having nearly 100k in my legs (and arse). I didn't quite reach him on the hill, but I accelerated over the crest and shot by him about 200 yards after the summit, I really did pass him at a pace, which made it all worth it for me. I felt good, and the recovery has felt better when compared with the beginning of the week.

Catch you all soon. Sam is working the next 2 days, so I will not have any opportunity for any further rides this weekend.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

A busy week so far...

Monday, 18 miles... din't spare the horses, wind was up, but felt good.

Tuesday, 50 miles... been planning this route for a while as a baseline ride to measure progress over time. Did it in 3 1/2 hours. Felt good during first part of the ride, but energy soon went as I had forgot to take a snack with me to re-fuel. Recovering after that ride felt like I'd gone right back to my first ride at the beginning of last year. I truly felt crap.

Wednesday, 30 miles... I remembered snacks this time. Some mini (bite sized) stroop-waffles from Lidl (don't tell TBY). Ride felt much better after focusing upon recovery the night before. I left the ride while late in the afternoon also to aid recovery also. I could have bailed on Wednesday, but since Sam is working Thursday, getting out on the bike was going to be difficult. Main aim for the ride was to find some hills and earn the right to bomb down them.

Thursday, stripped the drive chain off the bike, gave it a thorough wash/de-grease and re-assembled.

I'm planning a big one for tomorrow. Probably 100k. Sam wants me back for 12noon, so I need to be out of the house before 8.00am to achieve that. Can't decide whether to head for the hills in the peak district again, or whether to go out into the flat areas around Doncaster and North Yorkshire. The hills have the edge at the moment as I want to conquer Mam Tor from the Eastern approach, but I'll see how it goes in the morning.

Final note is that I have now raised the sponsorship money necessary for my ride from the Preseli Mountains to Stonehenge in September. I would like to pay a big thank you to everyone who has sponsored me.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Back from my hols

Firstly, let me apologise for the spelling in my last blog. I did the update on my phone in the tent after a fairly rough first night in the tent. For me the first night is the worst, after that I can usually sleep on a washing line given half the chance.

Anyway, those who follow me on MFP and Strava will notice a lack of activity on the cycling front this last week. I did get out on the bike, on the first day to test ride it after putting the pedals back on, but  with the bike exposed to the elements, especially the rain on the first night meant the chain rusted up quick pronto.

I have to say though, that the week was not a complete wash-out fitness-wise. I spent every day on the beach and have been involved in activities such as body boarding, surfing, paddle boarding and finally sea kayaking, all of which were extremely enjoyable and demanding, despite me being the surfing equivalent of the embarrassing dancing Dad at a wedding.

My measure for getting exercise is that gradually throughout the week I have woken up to a fresh ache somewhere from the previous day's activity, the worst being my head from having having the kayak unceremoniously dumped upon my head after being thrown off by a wave (several times); and the initial climb out of bed has become more and more difficult each morning.

I am back from my holiday now. Feel really invigorated from the break and now have clear line of sight through to my cycling challenge in September.

Monday, 5 August 2013

On holiday

Finished work on Friday and after packing the car and giving the wife a kiss goodbye headed down to the sister in laws house with the kids. Adele's house is about half way to where we are now staying in Croyde, North Devon. We arrived just after 11.00am and the weather was glorious fot putting the tent up and then we spent time on the beach later. I got burnt from the sun and had my first bash at body boarding. Have to admit I'm not very good at it. Might be technique or perhaps my weight, but very likely to be a combination of both. I'm not complaining though, I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon and it was t-shirt weather right through to bedtime. I didn't go to town on the booze limiting it to just a couple beers. The kids have spent more time on the bikes this afternoon than in the entire previous year!!

Going easy on the bers hws paid off for the first day. As here I am laying in my tent on the start of day 2 and it is pissing it down outside.