Sunday 12 December 2010

Kings, Castles, Priests & Churches

'The one thing I just can't abide,
is spending a whole day inside,
the one thing I like,
is riding my bike,
so please let me outside to ride'.

The whole of last week was spent inside and I did not ride. This week proved different I'm glad to say. I spent most of my time indoors but was still able to ride and finished my week with another audax.
Completed 2 indoor training sessions this week on my rollers. My new shoes had arrived and setting up the cleats gave me new enthusiasm. I didn't use these new shoes indoors though - saved them for the audax event. Sorted cleats out on an almost redundant pair of old shoes, my dhb's, and am now using them as my indoor training shoes. I cycled these indoor rides in different heart rate zones, the first in zone 3 and the second at a lower intensity in zone 2. Am not sure how to train really, but I am able to cycle in both these zones, so it seemed like a good thing to do.

'Cycling is fine on a bike like mine'.

Am using the above quote as a kind of mantra. My cycling buddy Ron has just gotten himself a new S-works Specialized cycle with Dura Ace throughout. Hmmm, slight envy maybe.
Despite being equipped with a new super ace bike, Ron wasn't able to join me on my 11th audax. This audax was named 'Kings, Castles, Priests & Churches' and was my 2nd audax this season. The audax calender is weird, the 2010 season finished in October 2010 and the 2011 season began in November 2010. I blame the French. Mind you, 2011 bicycles are available to buy now too. Anyways, I'm a stubborn English man, so this was my 11th audax this year!

According to the organiser, Mark Rigby, the ride's name is derived from places and landmarks it passes through. The 'Kings' refers to Kington, which in turn is derived from the town's old name of  'Kingstown'. The priests in a similar way refers to Presteigne - or Prieststown as it was once known. We stopped right outside a castle in Ludlow, and there was countless churches passed during the day. Possibly the most striking being at Hoarwithy, an amazing site. Another church being the Abbey at Tewkesbury, which is an amazing building. It survived the ravages of King Henry the eighth's reformations - in 1539 the town's folk of Tewkesbury paid the king £453 to retain their "Parish Church". The £453 was the value of the lead on the roof and the bells in the tower. The abbey features the largest Norman tower in the land.
The route (as with most BlackSheep CC events) followed minor roads, lanes, B-roads and a few unavoidable A-road sections. And generally in that order of preference.

The ride headed west then north from Tewkesbury through Ledbury and on to Bromyard for breakfast. Starting so early meant that we had to set off with lights as it was very dark.  During this first stage, one poor cyclist slipped and fell from his bike - the lanes were very icy in places. The first control was the very same where Ron and I had a super hot curry on a previous audax. Being breakfast time, I opted for beans on toast.
After breakfast I chased this guy I named Mr Parrot (he was wearing a bright yellow jersey) to Ludlow via Tenbury Wells. Mr Parrot was the leading cyclist in this audax and I'm pleased to say that I managed to catch him and then cycled with him throughout. We took turns at navigating and I found a great place for my route sheet - I wore it on my arm, held in place by rubber bands acquired from the first control. At the control in Ludlow I ate some tasy shortbread cake and we took quite a break here before heading off with Fall guy (the guy who fell) and LEJOG dude (another cyclist who completed LEJOG this year). 

Presteigne was the next town passed through before stopping at Kington. This section was very hilly indeed. I think this was where the 1.75 AAA points must have been awarded. I overtook Mr Parrot and Fall guy and beat them to the top of the toughest climb (I had a double ring, whereas they had a triple) and LEJOG dude was dropped. We stopped in Kington and ate at a cafe I had been to earlier in the year with a friend. I had chips, sausage and egg - mmm, delicious.
From Kington we set off as a 3, that is myself, Mr Parrot and Fall guy. During this section I nearly ran over a OAP and a dog who both jumped out in front of me (on 2 seperate occasions). The afternoon stop was at the Londis shop at Wormelow Tump, where I treated myself to a sausage roll.

The final leg was a west - east bee line back to Tewkesbury crossing both the Wye Valley and then the Severn vale back to Tewkesbury. We were cycling in our group of three and were the leading cyclists in this audax. It was real dark again now and lighting had to be used. There was ice in patches and I slid at one time (though did not fall off). I struggled on this last section but kept with Mr Parrot and Fall guy all the way to the Arrivee. This was the first time I had ever completed an audax in the leading group, which felt pretty awesome, especially considering this was a '200k with attitude' (or 'altitude' if you prefer). Mark Rigby sang my praises and said I was really becoming a strong cyclist (which isn't true, I just identified a strong cyclist and followed his wheel).
Cycled 124.72 miles on this audax, at an average speed of 13.9 mph and a max speed of 38.7 mph. 1.75 AAA points were awarded too.

Weekly totals: Cycled 165 miles.

Saturday 4 December 2010

Big Freeze

This week I became a fair weather cyclist. The weather was not fair. I did not cycle.

In place of my weekly mountain bike ride with Ron, we went over the snowy fields of Studley with Cody. A nice walk in the freezing cold. I thought we'd be silly to take our bikes out in this.

Despite a major lack of cycling, a few cycling projects were in progress. My new road shoes had arrived - just need to sort out the cleats before cycling can commence. I have some spd pedals for my mountain bike - fairer weather required before I switch over from my flat pedals. And my latest project - a new blog. I have created a new new blog (with some major help from my friend Marianne) to replace this one, beginning in the new year. A new blog has been created so that anyone can post comments and the likes on the site (as this current blog requires a google account). The new blog does not officially start until the new year, but if you would like a sneak preview, please visit here:

My latest completed challenge was not related to cycling. It had a lot to do with the big freeze though. On friday night until saturday morning I slept rough in a dodgey car park in Handsworth with 5 of my work chums. My work chums were Martin, Pam, Roxy, Zalika and Kerry. We had all decided to sleep rough as a fund raising project, raising monies for a homeless charity, namely St Basil's. At time of writing this entry we had collectively raised just short of £1,000 and monies are still coming in. As I continue to thaw out, I will leave some photo's for you to peruse.

Weekly totals: Cycled 0 miles.

Happy New Year 2022

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