Saturday 31 July 2010

Title TK

A great training week. With the Tour de France finished there was little excuse to stay in and watch TV and not go out cycling. Happy days.
Took Scotty out for the first time in ages this week. Scotty is a truly awesome bike and it felt great to ride her again, even though she started to creak in places. The first trip with Scotty was my 'naughty' cross country trek across fileds in Astwood bank, looping back round to Studley passing Studley Castle. Just before the mighty up and down section, a deer jumped out of nowhere and I watched it jump away into the distance. The last time I did this trek my legs were itching like crazy from all the nettle stings and brambles - this time I had taken precautions and was wearing leggings which had the desired effect.

Scotty's second trip was with Ron. Have not cycled with Ron in a while either. We bombed around old routes, this time was much speedier due to the ground being rock hard and our improved levels of fitness. Scotty shook, rattled and rolled my bones! We passed Burial Lane and Dog Butt Lane which continues to make me grin and succesfully climbed this technical off road track up into Astwood Bank (have attempted this climb before but never completed it - Ron promised me a mars bar if I made it, am still waiting..).

Next week Ron and I are taking our mountain bikes to the Cotswolds and are competing in the Evans Ride It! Off Road (long distance) Sportive. This will be my first sportive ever. Am hoping Scotty will love it. Everyone loves a Scott!Cayo, my road bike, saw enough tarmac this week too. Took her out on variations of the Henley Loop and Ron's 1 Hour Loop at the beginning of the week and once again at the end. During the weekend, Ron and I cycled a good 'hunting for hills' trip. We conquered a number of hills including Cobley, Scarfield, Rose, Callow and Buntsford Hills. This was a nice tougher trek. Ron said 'it's always nice to finish a trek by spinning', I said 'a nice trek is best finished with a beer', so we did both!
Decided against a commuter bike in the end. Number of reasons why, including limited choice, menace stores, no funds, etc. With bikes as nice as Scotty, Cayo (and The Specialized), who needs another?

Weekly totals: Cycled a distance of 142 miles.

Saturday 24 July 2010

A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle

Very leisurely week this one. Didn't train too hard. Had paralysis of will at the beginning of the week.Thursday was the first day I managed to push myself and get out. Was a nice evening and I cycled the Henley loop. Weather was most favourable and a nice tail wind pushed me along.

Have fallen out with Halfords, again. We all know that Halfords are rip off merchants anyway, but I was hoping to purchase a hybrid bike from their Boardman range. Have had better thoughts and am staying clear of them. Halfords are more leisurely than my training and as reliable as a punctured tube. Looked at a few hybrid bikes from the Focus range but have decided to invest in a Kona phd. Nice.
Gary the Cobler (L2G friend) made contact with me this week and informed me that he has climbed the Col de la Faucille - twice. That is great going - he told me he was going to do it but I had my doubts. I hope he didn't find my lack of faith disturbing. Anyways, Gary the Cobler has asked me whether I am up for cycling the Etape next year with him. The Etape is the toughest stage of the toughest bike race in the world. A chap recently wrote in the Guardian 'that's the toughest amateur cycling event in the world... People spend years preparing... People die...'. Sounds great, watch this space!

As I promised myself last week, I went hunting for Callow hill. It was easy to find and proved no major menace at all. In fact, I was quite disappointed that it was neither too long or steep. I might hunt for a hill each week until I go to Beautiful Days festival, the week before my LEJOG trip. I need to push myself and start training hard.

Each time I blog before my LEJOG trip, I will end with the link to the JustGiving website in the hope that folk sponsor the 'Help4Happy's' project. To those that have sponsored already, many thanks.

Weekly totals: Cycled 40 miles.

Wednesday 21 July 2010

Please sponsor my next challenge

On Aug 28 till Sept 5, myself and 8 friends are planning on cycling nearly 1,000 miles in just 9 days, from Land's End to John O'Groats. This is a sponsored cycle for 'Help4Happy's', a group who raise money for a disabled children's school in South Africa.Many of the children in the school have been orphaned at a young age and at often times this is due to the culture in African countries where a physical disability is sometimes seen as a curse.

My friends and I aim to raise money to enable 'Help4Happy's' to purchase around 32 wheelchairs that are desperately needed for these children. Your help in sponsoring 'Help4Happy's' in any way possible would be awesome.

Sunday 18 July 2010

Hunting for hills

An easy week following last week's audax. Easy or lazy? Maybe both...

Did not cycle until mid-week and only cycled on 3 occasions. The first 2 treks were my familiar Henley loop. The last trek was a little more interesting. I started out on the TROAD route but decided I would miss out Cobley hill and go looking for Callow hill which I thought was in Alvechurch. Found Alvechurch and started to follow Callow Hill Road but this led to Coopers hill and not Callow hill. I continued to follow this road, which was a pretty country lane which undulated and passed through stones bridges. The road didn't lead to Callow hill, it led to a T-junction. I turned left and headed for Redditch, and by chance as I passed Morton Stanley Park on my return home I passed a sign which read 'Callow Hill'. I will hunt for this hill next week and conquer it!

Am commited to cycling LEJOG again this year. Purchased my train ticket to Penzance. My LEJOG trip will start 28 August 2010, all being well. Am cycling with a small group (8 of us in total) and we are all raising money for a project called 'happy's', who are in need of wheelchairs. Am not too sure about what Happy's project is but I believe it's in Africa and they help children with disability. I will blog more about Happy's and hopefully add links should they become available. Fell out with Halfords in Redditch, but hope to pick up a new commuter type bike from Stratford this week.

Weekly totals: Cycled 58 miles.

Sunday 11 July 2010

Mr Pickwick's Tour of the Cotswolds (300k audax)

Had to get up at silly o'clock (4.30 a.m) to get ready for 'Mr Pickwick's Tour of the Cotswolds'. This tour was my first ever 300k audax. The start was at 6 a.m and I made it just in time.

I left my house in the morning, not fully awake. Just before I reached the start, I remembered I had forgotten to bring my water bottles. Oh no, this was a major mistake as today was going to be very hot, and I woiulb be cycling more than 190 miles. The voices in my head told me not to panic. A local garage sold bottled water, and this would have to suffice. At the start were about 24 more cyclists. The event organiser handed out a bottle of lucozade to each participant, which was nice. After a brief briefing we were off.

Stage 1 took us from the start in Tewkesbury to Warwick services. Within the first mile, my bottle of lucozade ejected itself from the bottle holder and I was down to 1 bottle of fluid. This first stage was quite fast paced and we cycled as a big group (like a Tour de France peleton) and passed through places already familiar to me including Pershore, Pinvin, Inkberrow and Sambourne. Just after Pinvin we had to cross a ford - a cyclist in front of me attempted this and came clean off his bike and got suitably soaked. The rest of us decided to take the foot bridge option. Suprisingly and super for me, the route passed through Studley village, my 'home town'. I took a quick detour, went home and collected my forgotten water bottles. Yay! Happy days. I then raced to catch the group again, doing so near Hampton Lucy. We passed through Wellesbourne and finally reached the Warwick services. This control was at the 50 mile mark, quite a trek I thought, on shorter distance audax's the first control is around the 30 mile mark. This first control did not open till 9 a.m and we got here at that time - super zoomy. I treated myself to 2 Burger King breakfast baps here.

Stage 2 was pretty fast paced again, but the group was heavily broken up now. I teamed up with 2 other guys and we chuckled as we passed certain place names like Wormleighton and Fenny Compton. The scenery here was awesome and some of the roads reminded me of France as they were long and mostly traffic free. A suitably long hill had to be climbed during this stage before reaching Radway and passing on through Tysoe, Sibford Gower and finally reaching the control in Chipping Norton. I ate beans on toast here and it felt good that 100 miles had been eaten up already.

More hills to negotiate in stage 3. Although there was hills, there were super descents too. For the most part this was a solo stage for me and I passed through Foscot alone, only meeting others just before the control in Cirencester. At this control I fuelled up on pork pies.

Stage 4 was interesting. I experienced highs and lows here. We cycled as a team of 4, taking turns at pulling the group and then slipstreaming. I was at the back taking advantage of this as I started to feel real pooped, before I found some energy to help out. There were times when I was overtaken with extreme tiredness and kept yawning, wanting to stop. The voices were telling me to continue, and continue we did. It was during this section that I reached another milestone - I had cycled over 135 miles, this is the furthest I have ever cycled in any 1 day before. We struggled past Great Somerford, Upper Seagry and finally reached the control at Leigh de la Mere. I ate a sausage bap here and took a bit of time to rest. I think others may of noticed me struggle a wee bit as a certain cyclist came over and gave me an energy bar and gel and another gave me a bottle of water.

Stage 5 was awesome. I don't know whether it was the rest, the food, or the energy bar/gel but I had new legs here and felt great again. There was big climbs as we passed through Norton, Easton Grey, Tetbury and Cherington but these proved no major problem. There was also one awesome super zoomy lenghty descent which brought us down to Staverton - so zoomy in fact, I nearly reached 45 mph. It was great to reach the finish in Tewkesbury. The event organiser said I had a really good time (I finished at 8.50 p.m), especially considering this was my first 300k, which was nice.

I cycled a distance of 191.12 miles, with an average speed of 15 mph and a max speed of 44.5 mph.

Weekly totals: Cycled 239 miles.

Saturday 10 July 2010

Rule of 3

Hot sunny days. Plenty of time away from work (but still not enough). Two awesome bikes. All added up to a good weeks cycling.
Cycled 3 training sessions in the week, preparing for my 300k audax on the weekend. The first and last of these sessions was my Henley loop - an easy, fast paced loop, good to just get the legs spinning. The second session was more like a day out. Kirsty menace and I took our mountain bikes around Arrow Vale lake and on to Bordesley Abbey and finally to Redditch crematorium (we paid our respects to my nan, who passed away 7 years ago). We then turned around and cycled a pretty similar route back home.

Saturday 3 July 2010

''Must not talk to myself. Must not... dammit''

A kind of funny week. No mass participation cycling. No foreign speaking folk encountered. No long quiet traffic free roads. And, not a mountain in sight. Yeah, back in the UK with post challenge blues.

Have not been on my road bike since Geneva - indeed poor Cayo still needs putting back together. However, have taken Scotty out on 2 trips this week. Went out with Ron on the first trip and we did a lot of off road cycling through 'naughty' woods and paths. This was a pretty awesome trek and we found a super off road down hill section not too far from Studley Castle. My second run was a solo trek and was similar to the fast, only I added a whole bunch more miles around fields in Astwood Bank. Crops are growing high right about now and as I passed a certain crop field a deer jumped out in front of me, about 3 feet ahead! My legs have suffered following these 2 rides, not with muscle ache but with seriously lots of nettle stings.

Took a run this week too. My first run in a long time. Ran the familiar extended Studley Triangle. I forgot how tiring running was.

Tour de France started yesterday which is awesome. I hope this proves to be inspirational and motivational for me. I have a huge challenge planned for next week - my first 300k audax! Plans are coming along nicely for my planned LEJOG 2010 trip too. There is a chance I will invest in a commuter type bike this week which would hopefully help me clock up miles by cycling to work (the Specialized needs to retire).
Weekly totals: Cycled a distance of 37 miles; Ran for 40 mins.

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