Sunday 28 November 2010

Head, shoulders, knees and toes

'Forgive your enemies ... it messes with their head'.
Great start to the cycling week. Got the rollers out and cycled 20 miles - my furthest distance on rollers yet. And, to top that, cycled with a AHR of 140 - all in Zone 3!
Trouble with great starts is that they are hard to keep up. My second cycling venture was with Ron. We cycled familiar routes around Great Alne, Coughton and the likes all at a leisurely pace (< HRZ 1). It was a cold night, near freezing but we were layered up well. I punctured which was menace. A dirty little thorn had gotten stuck in my tyre. After goofing about for a while, said problem was fixed (changed the tube, removed thorn) and we continued home. At home, I found that I had put the tyre on the wrong way around, and this new tube had punctured too! Grr!
Midweek, I got good news. Wiggle emailed me to say that they had gotten my shoes I had returned and they were sorry they were faulty, were happy to replace them, and have credited me the money it cost to send my shoes back to them. These Lake carbon shoes had been faulty for ages. The carbon sole had cracked on one of the shoes. These shoes originally cost me £77, the very same shoes are now selling at £97! I would not have sent these shoes back if Wiggle had replaced my bike frame. Happy feet!

'After years of struggle, I no longer have to fight with my inner demons. I'm on their side now.'

No sooner than receiving good news from Wiggle, they email me with bad news. Wiggle informed me that they were unable to supply my new shoes as their supplier had ran out without telling them. To be fair, Wiggle were quite good - they re-imbursed my monies (I paid £77 for shoes, they put £87 back into my account) and gave me a voucher for £7.80. I have already used the voucher and ordered a buff. I have a pending shopping trip now for new shoes. My feet remain quite happy - they walked 5.88 miles yesterday with Eddy and Adrian from work. A few folk from work have started walking on a regular basis and this is the 2nd occasion that I have tagged along. We walked five laps around Handswoth Park. Following this walk, I over indulged on much curry, naan bread and the likes (well it was Dr Nina's and Dr Bal's leaving do).
Had vague plans to go out cycling on the weekend. However, we had much snow. The snow meant 'no'! I think the snow prevented a number of folk from going out and cycling. The picture above was stolen from Clive's site and shows just how severely snow can dampen one's cycling. I could have used rollers I hear you mutter, but, remember I have no cycling shoes for my road bike. On that note, I used today as a shopping day and have ordered new shoes, as shown in the pic below.
Also got my hand on some new gloves, but my hands have not been 'in' new gloves as yet. The gloves were Specialized BG deflect gloves and supposedly 'BG padding distributes pressure and minimizes hand numbness'. Once I've tried them out, I'll post what I think on this blog.

This weeks blog ends with a funny tale. My mate Ron has just purchased a new crank set. When he removed his old crankset he realized that for the past 10 years or so he has been cycling with crank arms of 2 different lengths!

Weekly totals: Cycled 38 miles.

Sunday 21 November 2010

Mr Pickwick's Cyrch Cyrmu

A good week on the cycling front. Had no work to get in the way of fun. Plenty of cycling using both my bikes.
Took Scotty out on my now familiar run into Webheath Woods, by-passing Morton Stanley Park, Arrow Vale and using parts of the no.5 cycle path. I should give this route a name, hmmm, 'the Webheath Wonder'. Had started to play around with my heart rate monitor (at least record heart rate - HR). Was quite disappointed to find that during this trek my AHR (average heart rate) was only in zone 2 (zone 3 is my ideal training zone).

On Scotty's second trip, I followed 'Ron's 1 hour loop', but added a slight variation. On the road leading to Coughton Ford, I took the first off road track up hill and then came down the off road cycle path just before the ford. Continued the usual route but took the bridleway in Middletown and cycled through Studley village. This proved to be an awesome route and very muddy. Was pleased with this training effort. Before setting off, I attached my HR monitor to the handlebars. This was a good trick, whenever I saw my HR drop below 132 bpm, I would exert more effort. My AHR for this trip was 144, ie zone 3!
This week also saw the return of Cayo. She didn't have a new frame as I had hoped. Wiggle stated 'our Focus technician has been able to repair the loose derailleur hanger successfully by rebonding and riveting of the hanger'. I guess this gives me the excuse to purchase a new frame sometime in the future?!

Celebrating Cayo's return, I took her for an indoor spin on my rollers. I wrote the HR limits for zone 2 on my hand (by mistake, I thought I had written zone 3 limits) and cycled away. I cycled for about 40 mins and then realized my error. Am not sure if I could cycle in zone 3 on my rollers, as I find it quite an effort just cycling in zone 2. Hmm, time will tell.

Was pleased to have Cayo back this week. If Cayo had not retuned I would not have been able to participate in the Cyrch Cyrmu audax. This was to be my 10th audax!
This Cyrch Cyrmu audax was a brand new event for the 2010/11 audax calendar, and was fully booked (40 participants)! Mark Rigby (the organiser) was asked "What does the ride's title mean or suggest?" His answer, is as follows - The route is a simple route designed to make the best use of late autumn/early winter conditions, and is an out-and-back trip or "raid" into Wales. I was advised that the term "raid" in Welsh is "Cyrch", and this maybe the case - however, the term can also be used as :- crych 1. wrinkle, ripple, ruffled water, eddy, rippling adj. In this sense, The title is probably just as applicable, as you will spend a considerable amount of the ride along side (amongst others), The Rivers:- Gwy (Wye), Wysg (Usk), & amp; Trophy.

The route started on a cold, dark, foggy morning and (as with most Black Sheep CC events) followed minor roads, lanes, B-roads and a few unavoidable A-road sections. And generally in that order of preference. After about 20 miles we passed a pub called the Penny Farthing, I thought this would have made a great first control . We had left Tewkesbury way behind and were heading West through the Severn Vale towards Ross-on-Wye. We then followed the Wye Valley to Monmouth. There was a section of river-side track - this was probably better suited for cyclo-cross bikes. This track was so bumpy that my route holder became loose and broke. Not too far after this bumpy track, the first control was reached. The first control was at Millbrook Garden Centre in their cafe. I had beans on toast and a cup of tea, which after 36.4 miles was well deserved. Was pleased I was able to use their radiator to dry my gloves and buff too. Eager to set off again after breakfast, I accidentally left one of my water bottles behind.
The darkness had gone as I cycled stage 2, but the mist and rain had not. Water was creeping into everything and my hands were cold and numb. My feet were be kept warm by the over-shoes I was wearing (Ron's old hand me downs). The route was a virtual bee-line west following the old A40 to Abergavenny. The route then followed the Usk valley (along the south side of the River Usk) all the way to Talybont-on-Usk. Many a bridge was crossed, but no trolls were to be seen (and hence no troll charges). Perhaps the mist kept me hidden from said trolls, or perhaps they were evading the rain by staying under?! I think the second control was called the White Hart and was a nice pub with an open fire. I used the fire to help dry my clothes again, whilst I swiftly devoured scampi and chips.

The return route retraced back to Crickhowell, then used the A40 to Abergavenny. For the most part I cycled this section with 2 random guys - it was easier to follow someone than to navigate myself, in view of the broken route holder. After a while, I left these 2 and cycled with a guy (who I named 'PBP man') who I had met earlier. PBP man, had done the PBP 3 times and proved to be interesting to chat to. PBP man punctured twice, but like a good samaritan I stayed with him while he fixed the punctures (and even donated a tube). The route passed back over the off-road section by the river (had mountain biked there in times past) and led to the Saracens Head, our next control. This control was excellent and served me up a most delicious pork and leek sausage baguette. It also had a nice fire, which I used to warm my fingerless gloves and buff. My fingers were suffering more than anything else on this ride, they got wet and remained cold until I lost feeling in them. I removed the full fingered pair (was wearing fingerless gloves on top) and surprisingly this benefited a little. Note to self - full finger winter gloves are recommended for winter riding!

Stage 4, the last leg back to the arrivee, was fast paced. I was part of a trio, that consisted of myself, PBP man and this other guy with a goatie beard (Goatie guy). Goatie Guy was an interesting character - he was a smoker. I would see this guy at the controls puffing on a cigarette. Smoking may have affected his performance - I did see him pushing his bike up some inclines. However, for this last section, we were all going at a fast pace, taking turns to pull the group. This stage took us from Symonds Yat East back into Tewkesbury. This was a kind of a new experience for me - we were road cycling in the dark. I had worn my mountain bike helmet (deliberately) as it had those awesome Ay-Up lights attached. Folk would comment on how awesome my lights were. As cold as my hands were, I enjoyed this audax and felt great once I reached the arrivee.

Mr Pickwick's Cyrch Cyrmu audax was 130.97 miles long and I cycled it at an average speed of 14.6 mph and a max speed of 35.9 mph.

As I type these concluding remarks, it is the day after the audax. I have awoken with 2 sore knees and a 'pins and needles' feeling is still in my fingers. My fingers have never felt like this before, and I'm sure a decent pair of gloves would help. I learnt the glove lesson well. In addition I have learnt that it is best to tuck in garments (like base layer and jersey), as if they get wet, this wetness gets trapped under your waterproof layers. My core was warm but damp. Route holders need to be of good quality, mine was not and has broken beyond repair. The audax itself was a relatively easy ride - simple to navigate, no major hills and some stunning scenery (when the fog could be seen through). This ride would perhaps have been better on a dry summers day. I have now cycled over 5,000 miles this year :)

Weekly totals: Cycled a distance of 184 miles.

Sunday 14 November 2010

A week of being sick ...

'Nothing will work unless you do...'

Started the week with an indoor cycle. First time I had been on my bike in exactly a week. This was also to be, perhaps, my last cycle with Cayo in her present state. Poor Cayo is being returned to Wiggle because her front mech hanger is loose and is moving inside the carbon frame. Hopefully the frame will be swapped for a brand spanking new one - let's hope, we'll see.
Monday also proved to be an interesting day in that Ron and I were featured in a magazine. Would this prove to be our 15 minutes of fame?! We are pictured cycling the 'Mr Pickwick goes to Hay in a day' 200k audax, in the 'Arrivee' magazine (no.110, Autumn 2010, p37).
My friend Polly popped over at the beginning of the week too, and gave me some arnica to help with the healing of my operation. I am not overly familiar with arnica, but it reminded me of Dave and Ian Cross, 2 of the LEJOG 2010 group (I keep getting them both mixed up). One of these Cross brothers used arnica on the LEJOG 2010 trip stating that it helped with bruising. I wonder how Mr Cross is now, following his bike accident a few weeks back? Thinking about you buddy, and wondering if you are using arnica now?!

'I tried being normal once. Worst 5 minutes of my life...'

Poor Cayo was collected by a big van on Tuesday and carted away. At present time I have no idea as to what Wiggle plan to do. Am just waiting and hoping. One of my friends, Louisa Blankson, informed me that she now cycles to work ... I'd like to see a picture and post it on this blog.

Wednesday proved to be a bizarre day. I revisited the magic faraway tree (the Great Oak), that I first encountered during the Mr Pickwick goes to Hay in a day audax. This time I was without my mate Ron and without my bike (remember, I am off sick this week?!) and was with my friend Marianne. Now the weird thing was, that during a random audax with Ron, we saw a pig - the victim of road kill, which Ron swears was a wild boar. Now, here at this magic faraway tree, I spot a living wild boar munching on acorns! Marianne says wild boar don't exist in the UK, but I present the evidence below:
Thursday proved to be a day of rest. I am not really a fair weather cyclist, but the weather seriously was awfull and put pay to any plans. Friday too was a day of rest, but on this particular day I took my self and Scotty to stay with my sister Jane and her family ready for the Evans Cycle Ride it! event on saturday.

Saturday was great. After leaving Jane's house at around 7.30 a.m I made my way to the start of the Evans Ride It! off road event in Cliddesden, Hampshire. Here I met up with my cycling buddy, Chris Hodge. We were in for a fun filled day.

After setting up our bikes, attaching a chip to our ankles and genereal faffing about, Chris and I made our way to the start line. We decided we were hard core cyclists and opted to do the long route option - a 33 mile course. After a short briefing we were off.

We were just the other side of the M3 from Basingstoke and in some lovely countryside following By-ways, bridleways and other bikers. The most hilly part of the ride seemed to be here, right at the start. Maybe the start seemed a little difficult because we didn't stretch or warm up.

The course was pretty awesome. Just what I had expected. Mud and lots of it. Why did I forget to bring my glasses and why did I forget to bring my camera. No problem, Chris had both. Why didn't I fit super knobbly tyres to prevent my back end overtaking the front? I think this was to provide light entertainment for Chris. We were both able to laugh at each other to be honest - we were both absolutely plastered with mud and at times cycling through this gloop was real tough.
Our route roughly followed a figure of 8 patten. This was great because it meant that we passed the water stop twice. The water wasn't anything special, but the cake was awesome! Mmmm, delicious!
The more we cycled, the more we got covered in mud. We didn't cycle any particularly big hills, but plenty of little valleys, wooded sections and open farmland kept our interest up. We were feeling really proud of our efforts when we spotted the finish/start just ahead - but it was then that we realised we had missed a split and only completed the medium route. So much for being hard core! We shrugged of our mistake and figured that gave us more time to spend in the pub!
During this off road event, I cycled a total of 25.95 miles, at an average speed of 8.2mph and a max speed of 29.7mph. I have recently been using a heart rate monitor and my average heart rate (AHR) was 133 and my maximum heart rate (MHR) was 176. With these readings, I was pleased to find out that I had been cycling in my 'aerobic zone' which 'gives you the biggest fitness benefits in the least time'. Riding in this zone 'builds cardiovascular efficiency... The exercise high ... results in mood improvement, reduced anxiety, and improved appetite control'. Or so they say, I ate a large portion of fries and a big steak following this activity!

Sunday was no day of rest! On this last day of the week, I went horse riding! Marianne kindly let me take Neon B out for a short walk and trot. Neon B is a large white Spanish horse who has enetered various competitions in his time. Neon was quite awesome and even jumped with me sat on his back. Don't think I'm going to trade my bikes for a horse just yet though ...

Weekly totals: Cycled a distance of 42 miles.

Sunday 7 November 2010

As vampires feed, I bleed

For a cycling blog, this weeks record of achievement is awfull. I only cycled once and clocked less than 20 miles. As ever, the week has proved eventfull though.
Monday began with the only cycle ride of the week. Ron and I cycled a now familiar route in reverse. We trekked across Arrow Vale, followed the no.5 cycle path, cut into Webheath woods, through Morton Stanley Park and finished with a mini race up St Judes Avenue. My bike behaved well, but looks kinda silly. Let me explain. Last week, I had a squeak coming from my bike (sounded like a mouse) which was really annoying. I identified the problem as being one of the pedals. So, I changed said pedal and the problem was fixed. However, this new pedal is a bright blue, whereas the other one is black. I have a lovely red, white and black cycle with a strikingly blue new pedal. Hmmm.

Tuesday was an awful day. I had on call duties but still considered a morning spin. 2 factors prevented this. The first was my paralysis of will. The second, I initially thought was saddle sore. On closer inspection something had bitten me right on the bum!

The next major set back was on Thursday. Following my major bike accident of last year, I was at the dentist this particular day having an operation. This operation was a bone graft and the inserting of 2 implants. (Teeth implants, not breasts!) This was a really weird experience. I sat in the chair and asked dentist 'are you gonna put me to sleep now', he replied 'of course not, that's what they do to dogs'. I had this injection in my arm of some sort of aneasthetic, which took me to a very strange place, though I remained conscious and awake throughout. My mother (bless her) was the first to see me post operation and commented 'his eyes really did roll round in his sockets' and, would you believe it 'whatever they gave Tim to knock him out - I want some'. Shocking. My mother alledges that I said 'the aneasthetic was as good as a trip anyday', but what would I know?! I certainly went to sleep not long after, and upon awakening looked very much nosferatu - blood pouring down both sides of my mouth. A few days on now, and I look like a chipmunk. Pain-killers are doing their job, but trust me, co-codamol at high strength makes one a little wonkey.

Late saturday night, I got some very disturbing news. My friend Louise Salter had died only the day before. Louise had taken to mountain biking earlier in the year and would frequently post me comments about her latest cycle venture. Louise was a good friend in times past and we shared some great fun times, including our Larmer Tree festival experience amongst others. Louise was a beautiful girl and lovely memories will remain. R.I.P Louise 11.10.1968 - 4.11.2010 x

Weekly totals: Cycled 18 miles.

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