Tuesday, 26 April 2011

It was quite windy today! And (to borrow a phrase someone else used this morning) the temperature was unexpectedly seasonally normal! :o)
So Long arms and windproof gilet were the order of the day - and I was SO glad of them!!
For the first 42 miles said wind wasn't at all helpful, but I was pleased with the way I was riding, averaging around 17mph, and not having to work hard for it.

About 30 miles from home I was informed by my lovely wife that she had arrived safely in Scotland. And from shortly after that I was treated to a few sections of tailwind.
Because of a plethora of jobs that I had had to do this morning, this ride was the one that best fitted in to the time available.

Suffered a slight 'chafing' at the seat/undercarriage interface. This is not something I've had before, so I'll keep a bit of an eye on it. A slight seat position adjustment feels like it is needed!

Hopefully having a short ride in company tomorrow - that would be excellent

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Sweet Spot

The wife booted me out of the door for a LONG ride this morning. I had loosely planned to do just over 100 miles, which is a route that I do with a little extra bit added in.
I had it in my mind where the turn off was, but when I got there, I realised that the last time I'd done this variation, it was in the opposite direction.... OOPS!

So I carried on on the 86 mile loop that I was on :o)
Besides, I've not seen the wife for a week - family stuff - and if I'm honest, I didn't want to be out for all of the main part of the day.

It's an undemanding ride (as long as there isn't any wind) for the most part, and today the conditions were great. Cooler than yesterday but there was a slight breeze that seemed to be in my face all day.

The thing that was most noticeable was the sheer numbers of flies that were about. The biggish ones that look to have a hook (like jets have when they land on aircraft carriers) hanging under their abdomens. They are clearly not very aerodynamic, because the fly slowly - but they still smart a bit when you hit them at 20+mph!! There were THOUSANDS of them out in the country lanes today. And the greenfly obviously thought I was a plant :-O

I've been noticing all sorts of things as I do more riding. I'm not an experienced cyclist, so many things are new to me.
I'm more comfortable riding on the drops than the hoods or the tops for the most part.
I find that maintaining a high cadence is also easier in that position.
There is a 'sweet spot' with cadence, where is all smooths out and feels 'light' for want of a better word. For me, that is around 95 rpm. Drop below 90 and the timing seems to go, and it feels a 'bogged down' - much higher than 105 and I also lose the smoothness.

And the odd phenomenon of legs fatiguing progressively, and inexplicably 'coming back' to me. This seems to happen at around 70 miles or 4 hours.  I'm fascinated by this and wonder if there is an explanation for it

There were loads of riders out today - wonder how many were avoiding their families or hyper-manic-chocolate-fuelled children..??

Saturday, 23 April 2011

I can't believe...

... this weather!
For goodness sake - It's April, it's Easter, and there are more Bank Holidays than there are Banks*

I'm sure that those who are genetically predisposed to moaning will find fault with it, but out on my ride today I saw a large number of faces held in a slightly unaccustomed smile.
Way too much milky white skin on show though ;o)

I had a window of opportunity for about a 60 mile ride between doing a whole load of important household and work things, and the imminent arrival home of my wife, who I haven't seen for what seems like an age!!

It was a brilliant day for a ride, and had time allowed I would have made it a much longer one.
I am being supported in the 10 Freds from a Fluids and Recovery perspective by Team Nutrition and today was a perfect opportunity to give the Durafuel Electrolyte Energy a go.
You haven't heard of them, right?
Well that's because they mostly provide products for professional athletes, and they haven't really broken into the market of 'ordinary' athletes like you and me.
I hope this changes at some point!
The thing that I really like about this particular product is that it has all the bits and pieces in that you need - and isn't sickly sweet like some can be.
Robin of Team Nutrition tells me that is because they don't cut costs by using certain (very cheap) ingredients. You know what - you can tell!!

Being, as it was, in the 20°C range of sunny temperature (and warmer than that in the sun) 3 and a half hours on the bike was going to need some fluid.
I took two bottles of 650mls - both with the electrolyte energy in them.
And by about 55miles they were both gone!
And they were very pleasant to use. no sticky aftertaste - didn't get bored of them. Actually I wish I'd had a little more. There are very few drinks on the market that I would say that about.

Fluid management and recovery are going to be KEY in the 10 Freds, and Robin and I have come up with a plan for optimising things. It'll be really interesting to see how it goes. In the meantime, I'm testing everything out on my training rides to make sure that they agree with me!

So far so good!!

I had a really nice surprise today.
A couple of days ago I saw a tweet from @roadcc asking for people doing the Fred Whitton (it's on the 8th May) who had an android phone and might be interested in taking part in a tracking experiment to contact them.

Now I'm not doing the 8th which is the official sportive day - but I emailed them anyway to tell them what I AM doing, and if they wanted more data, I'd be happy to help.

I got a response which started:
"i'm sorry, i thought you just said 'ten freds in ten days' :-\

that's mental..."

And asking for a bit more info! They don't normally cover charity rides - but imagine how made up I was to see this on their site this morning :o)

Thanks for that guys. If we can let more people know about my little jaunt, then hopefully we can raise a little more for Macmillan Cancer Support.

If you are new to my blog, there is a justgiving widget thingy on the right hand side, if you are able to spare a few pennies :o)

Right - need to de-salinate before the wife gets in! :)

*this MAY be an exaggeration!

Friday, 22 April 2011

Decent days training

I have been doing physical stuff since 09:30
A long coaching session with a new person which went very well, but is pretty exhausting if I'm honest. And then I got the nod that I wouldn't be driving to Scotland tonight, so I took the opportunity for a decent ride.
I slightly misjudged the heat though, and didn't take enough fluids with me. So when I ran out at 35 miles - I decided to cut the ride short to a little over 50 miles rather than thrash myself too much.

It was a cracking ride 53.4 miles in 3:02 and despite it being a Bank Holiday, there was surprisingly little traffic, and very few Irate Idiots on the road. In fact the closest I got to any sort of 'interaction' with other road users was a Mr Very Fat Bloke On A Big Suzuki, who misjudged his width as he came around the outside of me on a Left Hand bend, and got way too close for comfort.

So only one Near Death Experience in 3 hours. Around here that's a quiet day :o)

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Busy Busy Busy

OK - when did 'Life' forget that I am training for something that I'm going to find very hard?
Can someone please inform it that I would appreciate the time to get out and ride my bike a bit ;o)
It's been a mad busy week with one thing and another. All really important stuff revolving around family, work, and the small mater of trying to sell our house. And I really don't know where some of the days have disappeared to.
So I have done less training that I would have liked - but have managed to pick it back up again in the last two days.
Shorter rides - 42 miles and 31 miles - which I have ridden a little harder, and have concentrated on maintaining a high cadence and keeping the pedal stroke really smooth.

Riding my bike regularly, which is pretty new to me, has proved to be an exponential learning curve. It seems I learn something new every time I go out, and I feel that I am riding a great deal better now than say, a couple of months ago. This is all good stuff! And considering that the start of my 10 Freds Challenge is only now 3 WEEKS away, that is a good thing.

Time to ramp up the miles and do some back-to-back long rides, and do finetuning of my climbing technique.

It's come around pretty quickly!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Real Life - and Training

I set out on todays ride with a plan to be out for no more than 3 hours. There is some pretty important and significant family stuff going on at the moment, and it is very much the priority.
A 3 hour ride would give me plenty of time to get home before my lovely wife came home for lunch, and I turned the volume up on my 'phone so that I could hear if it rang or 'pinged' to tell me I had a message!

It didn't ring - but it pinged 6 times. All emails - no texts :o)

I decided to do my 42 mile circuit and add in what I thought was a 10 mile extra loop. I realised too late that it was more like a 25 mile loop - and that definitely wasn't in the plan. So I worked out an alternative that I had looked at in the past but not ridden before which I reckoned would save me about 10 miles.
In the end it didn't - my total distance was 61.6 miles - but I was riding well, and it only took 3:30 riding time - 3:41 with stops to check the phone!

As rides go I was pleased with this one. Although it was further than I planned I wasn't out too long, and I was riding reasonably well!
And I got back in plenty of time to make Lorna some lunch which I put on the table as she walked in through the door.

The life stuff continues, and is really quite worrying. But it's not anything that we can do anything about. That said, supporting my wife is far more important than training is :o)

Monday, 11 April 2011

Lakeland Loop - The Longer version

The alarm went of at 03:25!

Yes - that is 0(O.M.G it's early)3:25!!

I was pretty sure that the roads would be clear in the early morning and also that it was a 3 hour trip to Little Langdale. I was right on both counts, and I arrived at New Dungeon Ghyll just before 7am while the guys from epicevents were still setting up. But it meant that I got my pick of the parking spaces ;o)

I got chatting to the folks parked around me - what a friendly lot these cyclists are :o)
I faffed more than I have in a very long time, and although the sun was waking up, it was still pretty chilly. But I went with shorts, Short-sleeved jersey and windproof gilet
They were setting groups of 15 off at 5 minute intervals, and I got underway at about 8:15. It was predictably chilly until the first climb at Red Bank and the descent in to Grasmere - but once we'd headed over Dunmail raise and round the back of Thirlmere, it was warming up nicely. I had been with a group of about 8 until the back of Thirlmere, but they were going a wee bit quick for me, so I let them go and had a short section where I was on my own - being overtaken at ridiculous speed by some proper racing snakes!!
The descent in to Keswick was great fun, but when I got into the town I felt like I was riding through treacle. A quick check of the bike idenfified a sticking back brake. Very odd. Although in hindsight I had noticed that my left brake/gear lever was slightly loose! Didn't put 2 and 2 together then though!!
I adjusted it and suddenly riding was nice again!! :o)

I caught up a group of 6 on the flat section to Braithwite, and was astonished at just how many riders were almost stationary on the Whinlatter climb. It's really not that steep!

I love the descent from Whinlatter to Lorton. Fabulous.

When I got to the Lorton Food Stop I had also caught Becky, one of the folk who I'd been chatting with at the start, but who'd dropped me at Thirlmere. We headed out from there together and along the flat section to Loweswater we rode togther. By now the sun was shining brightly and the Lakes look amazing. Loweswater was reflecting the fells in its surface. It's somewhere I'd never been before and it was stunning. There are SO many stunning places in the Lakes :o)

As we headed back up again, Becky was having trouble with her gearing and dropped back to a group of 5. I headed on and clawed back a group of 8 on Cold Fell and stayed with them until the second food stop at Santon. Interesting to see that some of the guys running compacts had lower ratios than me on my triple! I only wanted a quick toilet break and to refill my water, so I didn't hang around. Besides, it was only 5 miles to Hardknott which I was REALLY looking forward to.

Nearing the top of Wrynose Pass
I rode this section with a bloke from Edinburgh who was REALLY not looking forward to the upcoming climbs. The 33% section on Hardknott fully deserves its reputation. It was a bit hard. But I rode the whole climb which was very pleasing. There were quite a few riders who didn't!
My brake lever had moved again when I reached the top, and in hindsight I should have stopped and tightened it up. Descending the 25% that followed with a 'mostly working' rear brake and a properly working front brake was probably a bit silly with cars coming at you in the other direction. And in a way the descent is harder work - it certainly needs more concentration!

Wrynose is LOADS easier! I even managed a smile for the photographer!!
THAT descent is a beast though! 25% and bumpy, very poor road surface and lots of sharp bends!
I had plenty of energy left for the final little drag up to Blea Tarn and the 25% descent back into Little Langdale was empty, so most enjoyable to speed down :o)

As a day it was brilliant. Really well organised and I only encountered friendly cyclists. There was surprisingly little traffic given just how gorgeous the weather was. And I was really pleased to finish under 5 hours. 4:56:07 according to the website!! I didn't really have a time goal, as this was mostly a fact-finding mission for the second part of the Fred Witton course, but I had estimated between 5½ and 6 hours.

I then had time to go and visit friends in Bowness before a meeting with someone who is supporting my 10 Freds (there will be a separate blog about this) in a very practical way.

This was a proper grin-enducing day

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Lakeland Loop

The short version
So, my first ever organised cycle event!
I honestly couldn't have picked a better one!

69 miles of Lakeland with 1910m of ascent, and the kind of day that really did show the Lakes at their best. Sunny with little wind to speak of, and there even wasn't too much traffic on Hardknott and Wrynose passes.

Hardknott deserves its reputation. It's a bit of a brute, but cycling it was successfully completed :o)

I got to ride and chat with some really pleasant people, and I REALLY enjoyed the climbs.
When I'm at the PC, I'll blog more completely

Thursday, 7 April 2011

10 Freds suddenly became MORE of a focus

Running isn't that important in the greater scheme of things.

Well?? It isn't. We no longer need to run to catch food or survive, or escape our tribes dreaded enemies (who would have been as far away as, perhaps, Slade Road in days of auld)

So it's a hobby.

Something that we do outside of our everyday lives, for the vast majority of us. In a way it is an unnecessary and frivolous escape activity. And there are PLENTY of those we could choose to do

We could waste our lives 'liking' things on Facebook or spend all day Twittering to anyone that will listen.
There are loads of things to do to fill the time until we die!

Now I've never been one of those people who HAD to run or else I become suicidal or impossible to live with. I LIKE it, and I DO think it's important to keep our bodies in decent condition. 

Use it or lose it, I say. And I fully intend to be active until I draw my last breath.

So I have my Slightly Perturbed face on today - because one of the things that I like doing looks like it is going to have to be changed a little.
To be fair, I have got completely out of the habit of running since my knee went pop 16 months ago. And yet I'm fitter and stronger than I have been for a long time.
I have discovered that I'm still a pretty decent climber, and although I'm a real beginner of a cyclist, I'm getting better at that too.
And I DO like what it's doing to my leg shape!!

I had my 6 week appointment with the surgeon who tidied up my knee today. And what he said had the effect of making me think - so what else can I do regularly and consistently to keep active?
He told me that Justine my physio had already been in to see him to report on my progress (and, so she told me, to prompt him to tell me that I really should do more stretching - thanks Justine :-p ) and we had a good chat about what he'd found and what I could realistically continue doing.

Torn cartilage was tidied up and not a problem - and recovery was good
50% tear to ACL was "at least" 10 years old so the best option was to keep my legs strong and fit to give the knee stability - and skiing would be fine as long as I was strong etc
Climbing is fine - it's not a dynamic activity.
Cycling - he didn't bat an eyelid at the reports of 80 and 90 mile rides this week - in fact he said that was probably the best thing that I could do for my knee, and to do more of it!

As for running - there is a long crack in the articular surface of the tibia, and dynamic impact is only going to worsen it. He said that playing squash was a bad idea - the face I made told him that *that* wouldn't be a problem
He also said that most runners would not take kindly to being told that running could accelerate the onset of an arthritic knee.

I 'hmmm'd' a bit.

He knew what kind of volumes of running I had previously been doing, and the fact that running marathon distance and more was relatively 'normal' for me - so these things are all relative. And at the moment I'm focused on getting fit enough to survive 10 Fred Whittons
(please sponsor me - this is going to be REALLY tough - much tougher than 10 marathons was :o/)

So I'm not even thinking about running at the moment. I'll see how I feel about it, and if any useful advice comes my way in the interim, once I have done the 10 Freds. Because there is no point in running before that anyway. And I have some coaching sessions coming up that will show me how well my knee responds to doing 'a bit' of running.

And it may be that I just need to change my running focus away from the longer stuff!

So a few things to think about over the next few months!

But more immediately, there is the small matter of the Lakeland Loop Sportive on Sunday!
REALLY loking forward to that :o)

Today has been a slightly impromptu 'rest' day. I had planned to get out for a 40 mile leg turner, but I had way too much stuff to get done in the house. And tomorrow is going to be busy too - So it'll have to be an early one while the dawn chorus is still chirping!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Early start! And a slight oops!

Because of the way that this week is panning out, I wanted to get out for another longer ride today. And with LOTS of other things to do, I dragged my carcass out of bed reasonably early, and was on the road and out of town before the 4x4 School Run brigade were out - always a good move that!!

This was a new route - it has bits I've done before, but not connected up the way I did them today, and I reckoned that it was about 95 miles - although it is easily extendable to around 105 miles when the roadworks that forced me to reroute today have been finished.

It started off a little overcast and the forecast wind was as strong as they said it would be, and from the direction they said it would come. This meant that the first half only had a short section where I was heading in to the wind, and it was a reasonably hilly section with plenty of trees and woods to provide a bit of shelter, so that worked out rather well. Better than I could have hoped for in a way!
Part way through this bit I got a call from someone that I needed to call back, so an impromptu stop in a gateway was needed. While I was making that call I noticed that the early morning cloud was clearing and the sun was starting to come out. It being nice and warm, I was only wearing a cycling top and shorts...... and I hadn't done the sun cream thing. That was to become the Oops!!

Now I've started to notice a pattern on these longer rides. By about 55-60 miles my legs have become progressively more tired, and yet by around 70 miles they seem to come back to me and they actually feel much stronger.
Anyone have any idea what that is all about? Or is it just similar to the 'Bad Patch' that many runners experience on longer runs and Ultras?

I decided on a very short off-the-bike rest at 65 miles. It was gorgeously sunny and warm, and it was a food and drink opportunity with a nice bench to sit on and a bin to get rid of my accumulated rubbish :o)
There was another 'new' section a short while after this, and it was a cracker - I'll use that again. It cut short by a couple of miles a slightly contrived section that I normally ride when I'm in these parts, and it was much nicer tbh!!

Although the last 20 miles were still mostly into the wind, with my legs coming back to me, it was really enjoyable.
Funny moment at 92 miles where I passed and older bloke on an older bike only for him to (obviously) go "Harrumph" and stand up and bat past me
I contemplated some testosterone hurling, but instead just sat on his wheel while he struggled up the hill. Well..... I saw him come out of his house, and I had done 90 miles, and if he wants to regale heroic stories of how he dusted this bloke on his fancy-pants bike (it's not!) wearing tight lycra - then he can. But he was looking very grey when I peeled off at a traffic light junction ;o)

So a decent ride!

96.8 mile in 6:21

More decent endurance work :o)

But, if I am going to be out for that length of time, I MUST remember the suncream. Comedy tan lines (well to call it 'tan' is stretching the truth a little) abound.


Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Some decent miles

First -  a quick and MASSIVE thank you to the folk who have donated to Macmillan Cancer Support through my Justgiving site.  EVERY penny helps and people have been fantastically generous.  Thank you all :o) 

I had a few jobs to get done today and a decent window of opportunity to get out for a longer ride.

A quick squizz at the weather report showed a 6-7 hour window of windy but not wet weather - so I set about planning 'something' to do within that.
Because of where we live there was no option to head out into the wind so as to benefit from it on the way back. So I chose the circular route that is about 86 miles - but in the opposite direction to that which I normally ride it.

This would give me a reasonable stretch of side/back wind in the first half, and after that it would be side/front and headwind to get back. It was going to be a pretty hard ride, I thought.
I was right!!

I DO like this particular ride though. It diddles around lots of country lanes, it has a few half decent inclines to wake my legs up, and it's a decent distance without any long draggy boring bits.

I tweaked the drink and food strategy a little bit too - first food at 20 miles and then every 15 miles thereafter. This seemed to work quite well!
I also decided on a five minute off the bike and stretch out stop at the 50 mile food window.I'd had a text from the wife a little while after that, and I knew there was a cafe at the Cannock Chase Forest Centre which was at 66 miles, so I had an impromptu coffee and cake stop there as well so that I could call her to get updated on the goings on. Serious stuff - but not relevant to this blog :o)
By this point I'd been riding into a stiff headwind (weather report reckoned 30-35kmh) for 25 miles, and it had been quite hard work. And I knew that the next 20 or so was much of the same - but with a bit more 'side' in it.

Odd thing happened at about 75 miles - legs seemed to suddenly wake up again, and they felt loads stronger. Food and rest? Or something else? I don't know. It was nice to be riding both stronger and faster though.

So it was 87 miles and a few pennies in 5:49 riding time. Total time including stops was 6:24
Pretty pleased with that as a training ride. It IS tough when you are on your own in the wind and can't share the work with anyone, isn't it!

OK - Justine my physio has ordered me to get to work on stretching out various bits of my legs - so I'm going to do some of that now.
For those who know me well - I know, I know :-p

Not sure how the rest of the week and the weekend is going to pan out - possibly another long ride tomorrow - a shorter one on Thursday as I have hospital and physio appointments to fit in.
Maybe another longer one on Friday. Not sure about the weekend yet, although I'm supposed to be doing the Lakeland Loop Sportive on Sunday followed by a trip to see Robin from Team Nutrition, who has pledged his support for the 10 Freds!! Top bloke :o). I'll see what happens in Other News before I plan out the weekend!!

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Sunny Scotland

It's a gorgeous day up in Ayrshire today. The roads were still a little damp from some overnight drizzle, but it was clearing up nicely.
I didn't get away quite as early as I should have and the windiness was from a direction that made it was mostly from the side on the way out, and I was mostly riding into it on the way back.

The view from just after Knockenden Reservoir across the Firth of Clyde was spectacular.

I did the same route as I did last weekend so I knew what was coming throughout it.
Unfortunately the conditions delayed me by over 10 minutes, and so I arrived back almost too late for an important family visit, causing stress that really wasn't needed.

A case of getting priorities wrong that! :o(

Not sure what I'll do tomorrow, because that's put me in a bit of a tail spin