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.

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