Sunday 28 March 2010

Try, try, tri

Fairly pleased with my training efforts this week. Managed to swim, cycle and run. Training is so much easier when one has a few days off from work.

Swam at Hewell Road swimming pool. It felt good to be back in the water after so many weeks away. I expected the swim to be much harder than it really was. Suprising myself, I swam continously for duration of session.

Managed 4 cycling training sessions this week. The first was a 'Deer variation' route with Ron and John. The second was with Ron and we followed my 'naughty woods - Coughton' route. Third run took me to Evans bike shop where Scotty had her first service. Cycled back home via the Rea Valley cycle route and Arrow Valley lake. The fourth session was quite sneaky and un-planned, Ron and I cycled the 'Deer variation' route in reverse.

Ran just one training session this week. The run was the 'extended Studley triangle'. Need to focus a little more on my running really.

In addition to the above training sessions, I also competed in my second duathlon - the Tri Live duathlon at the NEC. Was pleased on the whole, particularly with my cycling. Think I should continue to put effort into my training of all 3 disciplines (run, bike and swim) as I have my first triathlon event coming up in may. My next event is another 200k audax.

Weekly totals: Swam for 45 mins; Cycled 81 miles; Ran 1 hour and 26 mins.

Saturday 27 March 2010

Tri Live Duathlon

Today I competed in a new and unique event - the Tri Live Duathlon. This run-bike-run duathlon was considered to be a good forerunner for my first planned triathlon event later this year, as I experienced two thirds of the triathlon challenge but kept perfectly dry! The running parts of this duathlon looped around the lake and grounds of the NEC. The cycle part headed out of the NEC onto a quiet dual carriageway. Both courses were relatively flat and fast.

Before the race began, each competitor was given their race numbers. My number was 231. These race numbers had to be pinned to front and back of my jersey, and securely attached to bike and bike helmet. Once attached I was able to take my bike into the transition area. The transition area was awesome - it was indoors and relieved my fears of getting wet cycling shoes should the heavens open. Once bike was racked, I just had to wait for my start time. Each competitor started 20 seconds apart.

At 12:16:40 I was off for the first part of the duathlon - a 2.5k run. The weather was nice as I ran (mainly on a tarmac footpath). The stewards and marshals were all shouting words of encouragement which was nice. The only real menace was dodging random folk walking around the lake area and feeling slightly perplexed as 2 guys who started after me swiftly overtook me... Once this run was completed, I filtered through to the cycle transition area and collected my bike ready for the cycle section of the race.

In this transition area, I remembered to place my bike at the end of the rack so I would have no problem locating it. This was a good plan and I was able to change into my cycling gear (shoes and helmet, had ran with gloves and buff on already) relatively quickly. Took my bike to the cycle mount line and I was off for the cycle section of the race. My cycling is way better than my running - I caught up and passed a great number of cyclists during this 20k (in 6 laps) cycle section. Only 1 other cyclist passed me. The course wasn't very interesting really, no hills and no wonderfull scenery. On the contrary, it was just road, that had way too many right turns for my likeing and I had to count each of the 6 laps myself (which is quite daunting when one is going super zoomy). Strong head winds at times but this section seemed to complete quickly. (I wish this race had 2 bike sections and only 1 run). Back into the transition area and a quick change back into my running shoes. Gupled down a cup of Gatorade isotonic sports drink and I was off running again, this time a 5k run (2 laps of run I did earlier). This was hard going. The sun was shining bright, my legs didn't want to work but the shouts and cheers from the marshals pushed me on. 1 guy overtook me here, during the second lap and a marshal shouted 'overtake him 231', so I gave it my all and caught this guy, overtook him and sprinted to the finish. The finish took me through an inflatable finish gantry and back indoors to lots of cheering and shouting. Woohoo, job done!

I was pleased with my results overall. A total of 119 participants took part, 36 women and 83 men. The results were split into male and female categories. I came 39th out of 83, with a total time of 1 hour, 14 mins and 11 seconds.

Results: Run 1 (2.5k) 13:28; Bike (20k) 32:50; Run 2 (5k) 27:53. Total 1:14:11

Sunday 21 March 2010

Aches and cakes

This week focused solely on my cycling. Two training sessions on my mountain bike and another completed audax. My audax total is now up to three and I have medals for 100k, 150k and 200k distances respectively.Hope to get some swimming in next week and running must be a priority too. Saturday next will be my second duathlon event, the 'Tri Live duathlon' at the NEC. Right now, however, I ache and am in need of some cake.

Weekly totals: Cycled a distance of 140 miles; punctured once.

Saturday 20 March 2010

Over the Malverns 159k Randonee

Over the Malverns 159k Randonee AKA 'the Malvern menace'! This was probably the toughest audax that I had completed to date.

Early start to the day with my dad picking me up at 6 a.m (swear I told him 7 ..). Got to the start at the Castle pub in Droitwich and the heavens opened. Maybe the weather put a few folk off, as only about 20 cyclists gathered at the start. One such cyclist was 'Eddy Merckx', an old boy that Ron and I chatted with on my first audax. Was a bit un-organised for this event, had forgotten my buff, my tyre levers and a pen. Got equipped with my brevet card, took a pen from the organisers wife and at 8.30 a.m we were off.

The first menace of the day happened almost straight away - the directions we had led us to a closed road (and closed foot path). We formed a big pack, and all cycled as a group following the organiser for the first 3k or so until we could follow our own printed directions. After passing signs for Elmbridge and Cutnall green I reached the first info control. These info controls were a first for me. One would have to stop, refer to Brevet card, and answer (ie write, using pen I had acquired) said question on card as proof of passage. Such questions were like 'what is the speed limit here? or, what is the distance to the next junction? etc). The roads were awfull - many pot holes, lots of mud and the rain it did pour! Cycled past Doverdale, Dunhampton, Holtfleet and into Martley where the next info control was. Stopped here to eat banana and prepare for a big climb ahead.

This climb was tough. This climb took us up and over 'Ankerdine Hill', which has a 17% gradient (ok, so I went the easier way around, but even so...). Caught breath and cycled through Suckley following signs to Great Malvern. Fast descent into Evesbatch and, oh no, sss - pop! I puncured. My super ulta-gator, 'tough as boots', 'puncture resistant' tyre had blown it's tube. It took me ages to get this bloomin' tyre off and just as long to get it back on. I had forgotten tyre levers too, but after a good 20 mins at least one (well, 2 in fact) 'good samaritan' cyclist stopped and helped me out. I had now gone from being towards the front, to being at the back.

Zipped past next info control and was starting to feel good again as I was passing lots of cyclists that had zoomed past me earlier. The hills were in my favour and once past a 14% descent I had pretty much gained my original place before the puncture. Cycled through Mathon and the rain was pouring real hard. Completely soaked through to the skin, but was ok because at least I was warm. Once in Great Malvern town centre, further menace happened. A car started reversing at a junction nearly squishing me and then a buss tried to do the same. The next control was awesome, it was a coffee shop called 'Rebecca's Lodge'. Treated myself to a full english here and washed it down with a couple of cups of tea.

Left coffee shop and cycled into the rain and wind again passing Welland and cycling through Castle Morton Common. This common was tough, as the wind was blowing at us from one direction, the rain beating down from another and random cattle crossing the road ahead of us when they pleased. Visibility was poor but the big hills of Malvern we were passing could be seen. Continued into Newent and stopped at next control and ate much needed chocolate bar.

The next leg was pretty straight forward and took us to 2 further info controls near Upton. A fellow cyclist was 'out here' as he had hit a pot hole which had tore his tyre and buckled his rim. Made an unofficial stop here too, at a bakery, to eat a apple doughnut and hot cross bun.

From Upton continued past Earls Croome (where another cyclist was nearly victim to mad dog) and into Wadborough. I noticed the guy in front make a wrong turn (the same guy who helped me with my puncture) so retuned favours and put him back on track. Like cattle earlier, chickens were now crossing the road as they pleased. Passed through White Ladies Aston and stopped at last info control.

Bike was beginning to play up here. Well, to be fair, had played up all day. The tyre punctured after 30 miles, the cycle computer stopped after 40 miles and now the front gear shifter wasn't shifting. Not to worry, not far to go. Short climb to a rail crossing where we had to dismount bikes and get through a small gate and avoid any on coming high speed trains. Then followed signs to Droitwich and finished at control, the Castle pub. Woohoo, job done! Felt tired and achey, particularly sore knees. Did not hallucinate like last time though. Handed in my brevet card and eagery await my 150k medal. Treated myself here with a big double burger and chips and chatted with fellow cyclists about the days adventure.

Cycled a distance of 159k (about 100 miles) in 8 hours and 40 mins (including stops).

Thursday 18 March 2010

Audax addict

Cycled 2 training sessions this week. Both cycles were on Scotty, which felt good because she had not been ridden at all last week. Now that spring is in bloom, the ground had hardened and allowed for some good old off road action. The first ride was with Ron and I took him on my 'naughty woods' ride into Alcester and back via the off road section to Coughton Ford. Poor Ron punctured again! The second ride was a solo effort that loosely followed the 'Ron's 1 hour loop' ride but added a wooded section near Sambourne and finished with a sting!
No other training had taken place, but I guess it matters little because it would appear that I have a new addiction. An audax addiction. I have signed up for the 'Over the Malverns 159 k Randonee' which is set to take place on saturday next. This event goes '... over the Malvern Hills to Great Malvern via some hilly Worcestershire lanes ... the route returns via the Severn Plain and Upton-on-Severn before the final stretch through some interesting Worcestershire lanes'. This is going to be my first solo effort audax but I have just over 12 hours to complete the ride.

Sunday 14 March 2010

John Wayne

A good week in the end. Not much in the way of training sessions, but another amazing audax under my belt. This cycling thing is becoming addictive. Plans of LEJOG 2010 are coming together with provisional start date set for 28th August. Am also toying with the idea of a 400km audax in 2011 (the Peak Audax Llanfair 400) where the ride begins in Poynton and we'd have 26 hours and 40 mins to cycle to Holyhead and back. I wonder if I could convince the likes of Ron, John, Stu, and our associated friends and the LEJOG 2009 boys to take part ...

Weekly totals: Did not swim; Cycled 152 miles; Ran for 1 hour and 15 mins; Did not skip.

Saturday 13 March 2010

Cheltenham Flyer

Today was the day of the much anticipated 203 km audax in Bishop's Cleeve - the Cheltenham Flyer! A long, mass participation cycling event. The event had to be cycled within a speed range of 15 - 30 kph and had a total climb of 2,000 metres.

Early start (around 6.30 a.m) to the day. Ron kindly picked me up and we made our way to the 'Zurich' building carpark in Cheltenham. Once here we prepared our steads, got equipped with our brevet cards and joined 83 other cyclists ready for the start. Once the clock struck 8 a.m we were off.

Disaster struck almost straight away. Ron and I started off towards the back of the main group, but over the course of the first 3 miles we had slowly edged our way towards the front. Was nice to pass all the other cyclists and do a bit of cycle spotting. There were 4 females, one guy had the same bike as me (go Team Focus!), a couple were riding a tandem and there was the usual mix of ages. But once towars the front - pop! - sss - Ron punctured. This was soon fixed (Ron carried spare tubes and I carried gas pump) but sure enough we were both at the back again. Place names kept me amused, we passed Bishop's Cleeve, Gretton, Greet and Didbrook and made our way to the first checkpoint. The checkpoint consisted of 2 old men who would sign and stamp our brevet cards and congratulate us.

The next leg involved quite a steep hill as we headed towars Bourton-on-the-Water and we started passing cyclists again. Felt great to get to the top and we were awarded with a fast descent. Lightning struck twice - pop! - sss - Ron had punctured again. This was a real menace, but soon fixed again and off we went passing Clapton and Sherborne and making it to the next checkpoint.

Next part of trip was playing catch up, which we did succesfully. We caught a couple of cyclists up around Bibury and cycled together to the next control - Greasy Joe's cafe. Greasy Joe's cafe was awesome. I treated myself to a cyclists breakfast and consumed 2 sausages, 1 egg, 3 rashers of bacon, 2 toast and a plate of chips and beans, all washed down with a mug of tea. Delicious!
From the cafe we cycled as part of a bigger group. This was great because I had a break from navigating for a while. We cycled past places named Ewen, Poole Keynes and Minety. Ron and I were doing well and feeling on form so we left this group behind and relied on my navigational skills to get us to the next control. This was a bad idea. I took us staright past the control at Bushton village hall and made us climb a really steep (1 in 6) and very long hill. After reaching the summit of this hill, the error was noticed and we retraced the route back to said control. This easily added a good 20 mins to our time. Things were put right at the control as we were treated to tea, cake and a banana.

More humourous place names were spotted as we continued the route, passing Compton Bassett, Heddington and Lacock. During one descent I reached speeds of over 40 mph and Ron was faster still, competing with motorised traffic! Continued past Notton, Biddeton, West Yatton, Yatton Keynall, Upper Castle Coombe, The Gibb, Littleton Drew, Acton Turville and finally reached the control at Badminton village hall.

This control was a very welcome stop. Had completed about 75% of route now and once off my bike I could feel I was whacked. I started to hallucinate a little and see stars. My senses returned after consuming more cake, 2 bowls of peaches in syrup, a banana and 2 cups of tea.

The final part of the journey was spent alongside various other cyclists that Ron and I would use to light our way to the end. The sun set shortly after 6 pm and we were not equipped with decent lighting. We passed Luckington, Tetbury, Cherrington, Winstone and Elkstone. A dark and quite fearsome descent took us down Bubb's hill through Prestbury to Southam and then Woodmancote and finally to the finish at a village hall. Woohoo, job done! After spending 9 hours and 20 mins on bike saddle I treated myself to futher flan and tea. Got brevet card signed for final time and now I eagerly await my 200 km audax medal to arrive in the post.

Cycled a distance of 130.42 miles at an average speed of 13.9 mph and a max speed of 40.5 mph.

A further 2 miles had to be cycled to get back to the car at the Zurich building. To refuel, Ron and I paid a quick visit to the Lark in Studley. Much needed alcoholol, chicken nuggets, onion rings and curly fries were consumed as we reflected on the days achievements.

Friday 12 March 2010

Never enough

'It's never enough, never enough, however much I do'.

Another week without a swim. No skipping. Only one run. And only one cycle ride.

Completed a new running route. Named this tough route the 'High Street 8' route. It roughly follows a figure of 8 type pattern covering much of Studley, skirting past the Alex hospital in Redditch and crossing over in the High Street of Studley. Considered to be quite a lengthy route (for me) and has a mostly uphill gradient. Took 75 mins continous running to complete this course and was achey for a couple of days afterward. Is this excuse enough that no other running took place?!
The cycle was just a trek into work. Followed a familiar route and just added a short steep climb at the end. Am not particularly concerned about my poor performance this week, as tomorrow I have the 'Cheltenham Flyer' 203k audax to look forward too. I wonder if Ron is as apprehensive as I?

Sunday 7 March 2010

In bloom

'Weather changes moods. Spring is here again'.

Three weeks running and I have not swam. Beginning to wonder if I'm hydrophobic. Must swim soon!

Cycling went well this week. Was able to use all 3 of my lovely bikes. My road bike started the 'Barton beast' route but got lost around Bidford. Did not mind too much as Spring was in bloom and everywhere looked nice with the glowing sun. Scotty went for the 'deer' route with Ron and John for company. We took an off road short cut just before the Mother Huffcap pub. It was nice to cycle as a small group again, I don't think we've all cycled together since Ron's last spill. On this route Ron nicknamed me 'Tim the badger', as we looked back on the wildlife we encountered last year and considered my lack of navigation. (Badgers tended to run long stretches and appear to be clueless in terms of which turn to take). The Specialized took me on a trip from work to home. This trip was menace as I had forgotten appropriate shoes for my spd pedals. Cycling without cleats is a real chore. Worse still, I punctured, but luckily was only 1/2 a mile from home. That was the second puncture this week (Scotty punctured for no reason when I left her in the kitchen). According to Chappers, a 'rule of three' applies - I refuse to check my road bike for punctures! Met a guy called 'Guy' at a rugby match. Watched the rugby with a group to celebrate 'Chris's' AKA 'bro-in-law's' 40th birthday. The score was Newbury 90 : Manchester 5. Anyhows, Guy has plans of cycling LEJOG in septemeber, and there is a good chance I may join him on this. Guy is attempting to recruit around 10 cyclists. My second audax is planned for saturday next too.

Ran twice this week. Both runs were road runs and the shortest run was 50 mins. The first run was the extended Studley triangle. My second run, was a first for me, and I have named it the 'extended Alex hospital' route as it follows the extended Studley triangle route but adds a trip to the hospital about 1/2 way.

More attention needs to paid to my skipping. Only skipped one session. Still unable to skip for a continous 2 mins.

'Don't find yourself. Create yourself.'

Weekly totals: Did not swim; Cycled 76 miles; Ran for 1 hour and 50 mins; Skipped for 5 mins; Punctured twice!

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