Tuesday 27 December 2011


The first run this week knocked me for 6! Cody and I ran the Handlebar Route and during the run all felt fine. However, not long after the run, I got a taste of the dreaded man flu!
The dreaded man flu was not the usual deadly strain and only knocked me out for a few days. By Friday I was feeling okay and took Queeny out for her second run. Queeny had been re-tyred with her winter rubbers - a Michelin Country Mud rear and a Panaracer Trailraker up front. These tyres get a total thumbs up. I took Queeny across naughty fields up by Astwood Bank which were really wet and muddy. The tyres gripped fantastically and did not slip or slide about at all and provided perfect traction. Made my way to the Breadcrumb Trial. Again, the tyres performed superbly all the way around, good grip even on wet roots and rocks. Went home via the Dovecote and Coughton Ford (including the 2 off-road sections) and Queeny didn't puncture once!
Did not run or cycle any further that week. Something much more amazing and wonderful happened. No, not Xmas! My dear lovely, awesome and beautiful girlfriend agreed to marry me when I popped the question on the 23rd! And Xmas day was pretty awesome too!

Weekly totals: Ran 3.2 miles; Cycled 19 miles.

Sunday 18 December 2011

Bodily exercise profiteth little

No training took place this week. None at all. No running. No cycling. Something much greater and way more wonderful took place, and I was there to witness it! My dear girlfriend SJ got baptised.

'For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.' (1 Tim 4v8-9)

Monday 12 December 2011

Brief Blog

Argh, what a busy time last week was. Busy with work, shopping, travelling ... never enough time to cycle. Didn't really have the time to write this blog.

Only cycled once. The route Ron and I chose was the classic Deer Route. With all the Christmas decorations now up we were hoping the electrically lit up deer would make an appearance but sadly not. The Deer Route is so named because of said electric deer. Nice trek on a cold frosty night - my planet x / on one merino jersey kept me well toasty. Only mis-hap was Ron sliding off his bike over the Coughton Ford bridge. (There was talk of calling our group the 'Impassable Ford Cycling Club'.)

Ran twice with Cody and twice with SJ but only ran 3 times in the week. My first Run was with SJ and we ran an extended route of the Studley Triangle, zig-zag style up and down the streets at the one tip of said triangle. This was a good run stretching 5 miles. Cody joined me for my second run where we ran the Handlebar Route. Last run was with both SJ and Cody where we re-ran the Handlebar Route.

Weekly totals: Cycled 16 miles; Ran 11.4 miles.

Sunday 4 December 2011

Welcome Queeny! / End of a season

This week had an unusual start. SJ, Cody and I went to the beach! We figured we would do our long run on the sand. The day was initially nice - sun, sand, sea and us three! Not long into our run though we encountered much menace. For starters, the sand was wet and muddy in parts and we got wet shoes and paws. SJ's ankle was playing up big time (and had been hurting for a few days). And, Cody was being harassed by a Yorkie Terrier. When SJ intervened, she got bit. Not a great day for SJ! Our long run was cut to a shorter run/jog/walk ramble. Our day was brightened up by a fish and chips lunch (until SJ got deli belly...). When I downloaded the map using Google maps, it showed that I ran through the sea, hmm - interesting?!
My first bike adventure had equal menace too. My ride started off well, was using my new but old bike 'Queeny', so named because she is adorned in the Royal colours of red, white and blue. Queeny was old in that she used to belong to my brother David for a while, who has lived in Australia for the past couple of years. David didn't get Queeny brand new either, he bought her from ebay (or maybe I did on his behalf). Anyways, suffice to say, Queeny is quite old, well vintage really or retro if you prefer! Queeny was new in that she was new to me. In addition to that, I had Queeny kitted out in new disk brakes, cables, headset and transmission too! Anyways, back to the adventure...

Like I was saying, Queeny's debut didn't go too well. Started off fine cycling to Sambourne and then taking that off road trail to the Ridgeway. From the Ridgeway I cycled across the naughty fields until I came out on Coldcomfort Lane. Queeny seemed to be doing OK across these fields, until pssst - puncture menace! Dirty thorn. Puncture was soon fixed and off I went to follow the Breadcrumb Trail. This trail went fine, Queeny performed well and it felt much safer using DMR's instead of SPD's again. The wet trail, roots, dips and all were no real problem. Headed back home via the Dovecote, Kinwarton and Coughton. Just before the Ford, pssst - second puncture menace! This puncture was soon fixed too but was a little peeved that I didn't have any gas with me and the tyres look major unhealthy too - the rims are braking away and look a little perished. Was pleased to make it home with no further mishap, except an extremely dirty face.

Took Scotty round Ron's 1 Hour Loop mid-week. Some of the roads were closed off, but this didn't stop me! The roads that were closed had large pits here and there and heavy machinery doing goodness-knows-what. This ride was great because I saw 2 deer today, the second of which ran out in front of me and then ran alongside me for a short while. Awesome. I had not seen deer for a while (even on the Deer Route) and wondered if the doomed Woods of Doom had anything to do with it. The Woods of Doom, for those that don't know, was a favourite play area of mine for the mountain bike. The usual goons and I had many an adventure there (including the time my crank arm fell off and the time I landed on the barbs, etc). Anyways, the powers that be chopped down a whole forest worth of tree's and hence the Woods of Doom became doomed.

My last training session of the week was with Cody. We ran the Handlebar Route on a cold frosty morning. Glad that SJ fixed the zip on my running top!

The 2011 cycling season has finally finished. The 2012 cycling season started in November 2011 (confusing or what?!).  The 2011 season had been great for me and my best season for audax events. I managed to complete 3x100k, 11x200k, 2x300k, 1x400k,1x600k and 1x1200k events. That's a total of 19 rides, scoring 50 AUK points and 27 AAA points (compared to 9 rides the previous year, scoring 7 AUK points and 2.5 AAA points). My proudest achievement was completing the 2011 PBP.
Managed to add 3 awards to my Randonneur series during the 2011 season. These included the Super Randonneur (SR) - Audax UK's traditional award for the top 10% of hardened night-riders where I cycled a series of 200, 300, 400 & 600km events all in one season. The Randonneur Round the Year (RRtY) - In order to qualify for inclusion in the RRtY Roll of Honour, I had to complete a Randonneur (minimum 200km, either calendar event or Permanent) in each of the twelve consecutive calendar months. My 3rd award was the Randonneur 5,000 - Progressing past the SR, the Randonneur 5,000 is awarded to a person riding randonneur events totalling 5,000km in one season.
Also managed to add a further 3 awards to my Brevet series during the 2011 season too. These were the Brevet 1000, 2000, and 3000 respectively. The Brevet awards encourage the rider to keep riding over several years and the Brevet 4000 (for example) was for riders who can show they have ridden 20 x 200km over any length of time.

Weekly totals: Cycled 34 miles; Ran 6.9 miles.

Sunday 27 November 2011

No Limits

Perhaps I should start setting limits on how far or hard I train?! Really pushed myself at the start of the week by tackling a 10 mile run with SJ! This was the furthest SJ has ran to date. We followed the Lover's Loop and added the 'extra chunk' that I checked out on my bike last week. This mapped route looked like 2 hearts held together by a strand. This was far from a lovely route though - both SJ and I felt some discomfort before reaching the end. The route was hilly in parts too. The following day SJ reported aches and pains, and my right knee was shouting 'know your limits'.
The following night was spent cycling Ron's 1 Hour Loop with no less than Ron himself. We were both on mountain bikes, but it was only I who had slicks. There was a chill in the air and it was very misty round about. As we cycled this route, we saw what looked like a fire in the distance. As we neared this 'fire', we discovered it was in actual fact a gritting truck - the amber flashing lights looking like a fire with the mist screen. Ron said the grit truck driver was actually the Devil himself, just earning a few bob more by gritting the roads over the winter. Tough economic times. I actually felt like one of the Children of Israel once a grit truck had passed and we were following this pillar of fire.

Hooked up with Ron again before the week was out and we cycled the Stroud 5 Valleys 50 Permanent Audax event. The event organiser (Stephen Poulton) had described this event as 'a short ride with plenty of vertical-seeking interest'. This event was only about 50k long, but included 1,174 metres of climbing to award us with 1 AAA point!

We started this event in Stroud on a sunny day. Ron had followed suit and kitted his bike out in Shwalbe City Jet's too (though his were a thinner version than mine). Almost straight away we encountered our first hill which, like all the rest that followed, was pretty tough. The descent into the control at Haresfield was tougher than the climb - it had a 25% gradient and much dirt and debris covered the road. Ron nearly clipped a red postal van at this juncture with his braking and back sliding technique!

From Haresfield to Painswick we encountered a 1:6 climb. We reached the control in good time and considered having a breakfast. The breakfast sadly didn't arrive - the 'cook' was way too leisurely and we made haste.
Our hasty action didn't last too long. Not far from leaving Painswick we hit a 1:7 climb, followed by 2 further big climbs before we reached the control in Bisley. On route I stopped to ask an old lady directions - she screamed and jumped back about a foot before she directed me. Her scream made me jump back. I think we both aged a few years during that engagement! Bisley control was nice - we stopped and ate at The Bear pub. Ron opted for a curry and I had steak. As suggested by Stephen Poulton, I got a stamp from the Post Office to prove my proof of passage. It was a cool stamp, picturing a cyclist with the words 'keep it up'.
We did keep it up and cycled a further 2 ascents until we reached the control at Minchinhampton. Very pretty here but hard to get a receipt as there were few shops and the first shop I found was empty! Had better luck at the second shop.
The ride from Minchinhampton to Nympsfield was a bit of a drag. Not seriously hilly, but ascending all the same. We were facing a headwind here too and everything looked a bit bleak.

Relatively easy from Nympsfield back to the Arrivee at Stroud. It was mostly down-hill and super zoomy it was too - Ron was overtaking motorised traffic at one point! Our final ascent of 77 metres came just in time, as we finished our adventure just as it had started to rain. We cycled a total distance of 34 miles during this permanent. Woo hoo, job done.
Finished the week's training with a jog. Cody, SJ and I scrambled our way around the cross country Handlebar Route. The fields were quite slippy due to a recent downpour and mud stuck to the bottom of our shoes and paws. Wonder how the winter months might affect our training?

Weekly totals: Cycled 53 miles; Ran 13.5 miles.

Sunday 20 November 2011

Duathlon Doo

Started the week with a nice jog/run around the Studley Triangle with SJ. This was a nice run and we made it easier by running the reverse way around to usual. Our time's are similar which ever way round we run the triangle, but the power required differs greatly.
My mid-week bike ride was interesting this week. I cycled a solo affair and completed Ron's 1 Hour Loop (in about 1 hour and 13 mins) on my mountain bike. What made this ride interesting was the fact that I had fitted Scotty with Slicks (that is slick tyres) - Schwalbe City Jet's to be precise. Schwalbe City Jet are Puncture Protected slick tyres designed for the rigours of riding at speed in an urban environment and general purpose road use. Designed for a mountain bike. Scotty looked pretty slick indeed and was made for an awesome on-road ride!
This week has been duathlon style. Not that I've entered race's or anything, but the fact that I've been exercising in a run-bike-run style. Friday really was my duathlon day. Completed the first leg, a 5k run with Cody. We ran the Handle Bar route. This was a great run, especially because I was kitted out in my new Asics Gel-Trabuco shoes, courtesy of Lin. Thanks Lin, these really are awesome comfy shoes!
The second leg was the bike part. I started by cycling the Lovers Loop that SJ and I ran last week but added an extra chunk to it. This 'chunk' involved adding extra miles by navigating to, around and back from Arrow Vale Lake - the full circuit being a 10 mile loop. Plan to run this 10 mile loop with SJ one time soon. My cycling did not stop there, I also cycled Rons 1 Hour Loop reverse way around.
Completed the final leg by jogging/running a further 5k with SJ. We ran the Studley Triangle. SJ was lit up like a pumpkin - she was wearing the rather splendid Saucony top that I had recently gotten her. Awesome!
Weekly totals: Cycled 44 miles: Ran 9.8 miles.

Saturday 12 November 2011

Breadcrumb trail

The first ride of this week was fairy tale like. I navigated the usual goons safely past the Woods of Doom and hit an off-road trail that took us to Alcester, through some abandoned roads and to the outskirts of Overley Wood. Ron took over at this point and followed a trail that he and John V previously mapped out. Ron alleged that he dropped breadcrumbs along the route to aid his navigation this time around. What Ron actually dropped were white pebbles which shone in the moonlight and illuminated our path. We rode around the perimeter of these woods following nice trails on the whole but having to deal with the odd dip here and technical piece of track there. A nice 'Breadcrumb trail'. Following the wood trail we felt pulled towards the Dovecote where I found the Orb. The Orb aka 'the poo ball' makes one mighty and causes others to flee away. The strange power of the Orb makes the owner want to attack fellow companions (usually resulting in throwing the Orb at them) and causes much jealousy to those who don't possess the orb. So great is this jealousy that those who don't possess the orb call the possessor 'poo person of the week'. Such a strange phenomenon. On hitting Spernal, a white owl guided us safely home.
SJ accompanied me for our first jog/run of the week . Kitted out with our new running shoes we completed the famous Studley triangle. SJ fared better than me and ran well - for the first time in an age I was running with slight stitch.
Mid-week, Ron and I once again followed the Breadcrumb Trail. It was a little more menace than the last time. This was possibly due to the fact that I was navigating and the pebbles weren't shining so bright (although a full moon was out). It was also a wee bit more wet than when we were out last. A great track all the same.

Completed the Breadcrumb Trail a third time before the week was out. This occasion was a solo affair. Found a few new trails on route but nothing to shout about. I figured the Breadcrumb trail would be easier to navigate in day light, but I still made a few errors. Was again quite wet and I went home covered in mud. Treated Scotty (the bike) to a wash which she hadn't had in a long time.
Made my way over to Worcester later in the week and continued with the Sarah Jane adventures. Our first adventure involved jogging/running a rendition of the 678 route. It was dark when we ran this time so we didn't bother forming a figure of 8, preferring to run a straight loop instead. At the half way point - the newly built bridge in Worcester - we started to feel extra-terrestial. The bridge was lit up like a space ship - all silvery with green lights. The bridge deck looked like a big tongue coming out of the ship and I swear we could feel some magnetic force sapping the energy out of us. True enough, the return route was more demanding than the route out.
Our final adventure of the week saw us complete a lovers loop. We jogged/ran a course, that when mapped out formed the shape of a heart. This was a tough route and started out up-hill following Node Hill to the Slough. From the Slough we by-passed Park Farm Industrial Estate and headed back to Studley. This route was slightly longer than what we ran the day before, but was definitely more hilly and we ran it in exactly the same time - 1 hour and 3 minutes. Really does seem some alien activity was at work.

Weekly totals: Ran 14.7 miles; Cycled 57 miles (and have now cycled over 5,000 miles this year).

Monday 7 November 2011

Hippy Halloween/No shave November/My Morning Jacket/Bonfire night

This week started on Halloween. Joining the Phantom and little Goblin, I rode a bone shaker off-road route on my mountain bike. We started out on the Deer Route, but things got a little devilish about half-way. We took our rides through corn like fields and attempted to cross a rotting bridge where a troll pulled one of us off our bikes.  Later, a water elemental tried to sink my wheels in front of me with limited success. Am pleased to report we all made it safely back home before we turned into pumpkins!
Like 'good little saints' (aww, bless our socks), SJ and I stuck to our training program and jogged/ran a hard route on All Saints Day. We ran just under 10k in a figure of 8 type style. Our route incorporated much of the Studley triangle and went past Redditch Hospital and included running up St Judes Avenue twice! The mapped route formed the shape of a fat lady!
Mid-week, and I remembered it was no-shave November. Despite the fact I had forgotten this, the front man from My Morning Jacket had not. The My Morning Jacket gig that SJ and I went to see this week was awesome. They blew our socks off! Talking of socks, my socks stayed dry on my mid-week cycle - not sure about Ron's - it was he who fell off this time!

SJ and I managed to squeeze in another run before the week was out. We ran across Studley Fields following no particular route. We ran for about 6.5 miles before calling it quits and walked the rest of the way home.

Friday was bonfire night. SJ and I had gone to celebrate this in London and attended the Royal College of Surgeon's museum. The museum had put on a lecture all about Guy Fawkes. In the museum we saw examples of extreme curvature of the spine (kyphoscoliosis), amongst other things. Kyphoscoliosis is severely disabling and SJ is running in the London 2012 Marathon in support of BackCare to help treat and prevent such disabilities. Sadly my scanner has packed up and I am not able to post a picture here of the spine we saw. Trust me it was shocking, please sponsor SJ by following this link: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=sarahbigrun.

I should have joined SJ for one further run in the week. My paralysis of will let her down. Please help me to lessen her disappointment by sponsoring her big time.

Weekly totals: Cycled 31 miles; Ran 12 miles.

Sunday 30 October 2011

BRRR (Bike, run, run, run)

After a whole week of neglecting my bikes, I finally managed a ride on my mountain bike. Ron and I started out on the good old Deer Route, but within seconds the heavens opened. Menace weather hasn't been a particular issue for us in the past but Ron was under-prepared this day. Whereas I was kitted out in my old, torn but trusty waterproof jacket and over-shoes, Ron was only wearing his Aldi best and no shoe covers. We decided not to call it 'complete quits' and instead rode a fast 11 miles cutting out a large chunk of the intended route. A shorter route, but at least I had been on my bike and it was fun all the same.
Completed more running this week and was happy with all runs. SJ got to try out her other new pair of shoes - her Asics road shoes, courtesy of Lin. Our first jog/run was, obviously, a road route and we ran the extended Studley Triangle. Still not entirely sure of the distance - SJ and I both had GPS units on our iphones, but they gave different results. According to Jog Log we ran 3.95 miles, but according to Runkeeper we ran 3.59 miles. Have since researched running apps and Runmeter gets the highest rating, so I will download that app and use it for future running efforts. Maybe Santa will get me a forerunner (hint).

SJ and I took Cody Menace with us on our second run. We jogged/ran a lovely cross country route all over and around fields in Studley and Coughton. This was our long run of the week and it measured 8.23 miles (Runmeter) but 8.53 on Jog Log. I am going to stick with the Runmeter results. An awesome run on a very foggy/misty day. We all returned home with wet feet and paws but were well pleased with our efforts. Beautiful colours emerged as the mist and fog moved away, such a fantastic creation. When we mapped out the route, it looked like a jelly fish.
Our final gentle jog/run of the week was in Worcester. This time I got to try out my new shoes - a pair of Brooks Ghosts (I think). SJ created this route and it was lovely. We ran alongside the river for a way, crossing over bridges including the 'new one' before heading back. The mapped route looked like a tulip and was in actual fact a figure of 8 loop. We finally decided to call this route the '678' because it followed the river Severn, for 6 miles, in a figure of 8!

Weekly Totals: Cycled 11 miles; Ran 17.9 miles.

Saturday 22 October 2011

The Major menace (aka mud and sweat but no gears)

This really was a week of mud and sweat but no gears. Trained relatively hard this week but didn't use my bicycle once. Concentrated all my efforts on running.
Was great to go out for a jog with SJ and Cody at the start of the week. SJ had a lovely new pair of Mizuno kicks to try out (thanks Lin). Lin had also kindly bought me a new pair of Asics kicks too, but they have been returned due to wrong size issues (and will be swapped when correct size comes in). Anyways, this was a great run across the Studley fields, all off-road. We have nic-named this route the 'Handlebar' route because if you were to map the route out it looks like a pair of BMX bars. This route starts at the Studley fields and runs straight down to the river and across it. After the river crossing, the route leads to Studley Castle and returns back to the graveyard. Taking a left at the graveyard, several fields are ran through, a couple bridges crossed over until you follow the river back to the bridge by the Church, then head back to start. A lovely, perfect 5k off-road run.

So great was the Handlebar route that Cody, SJ and I repeated it again the following day. We ran the route this time at a higher intensity and hence quicker speed. SJ is very pleased with her new trainers, she says they have great grip and she loves them.

Cody and I repeated the Handlebar route for a third time in a row. I think this will become a regular route of ours as we train for SJ's marathon. For those that don't know, SJ is running the London 2012 marathon. Please sponsor her here: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=sarahbigrun

All this Handlebar route training was considered good preparation for the event SJ and I completed on Saturday - the Major! The Major is a 10-12k race series, and this is what their website has to say 'The Major is all about character. It's not just a run. It's a major challenge. Smoke. Water. Mud. Obstacles. You mustn't let any of them stand in your way.'
SJ and I met up with 3 of her friends (Karen, Lindsay and Carolyn) at Weston Park in Shropshire, ready to take part in the Major's Midlands challenge. It was initially a cold day, but after a 15 minute warm up, we really were warmed up! Following the warm up, we were off. Over 200 folk competed in this event. SJ, friends and I started off at the back and we treated this event as a challenge and not a race. Within minutes we were wet as we had water crossings to conquer. Then we were muddy as we had to pass through bogs and marshes. Then we were out of puff as we had to run up big hills. Then we were exhausted as obstacles, like fallen tree's and giant hay bales had to be clambered over and under along with muddy netted areas to pass through. The whole challenge followed this patten. One bog was seriously boggy, as soon as it was entered we would drop as far down as our arm pits. A rope was provided to stop us drowning, but even so, SJ and I tasted enough of the stuff. (I found the temptation of pushing SJ a bit further in too difficult to bear). Just before the finish, the last obstacle was like a giant pond. I dived in here and swam across. Then SJ and I ran to the finish, hand in hand and completed the event in 1 hour and 22 minutes. Woo hoo! Karen, Lindsay and Carolyn were right behind and we had great fun completing this event as a team. Though we started out last, by no means did we finish last!
Weekly totals: Ran 15.8 miles.

Monday 17 October 2011

Run, run, run and don't forget the bike! (Part 2)

On Friday 14 October 2011, 2 brave adventurers decided to leave the mainland. With just a couple of metal horses laden with swag bags they headed for the coast in search of adventure. Adventure was soon found in a little pub in Broughton - the home of the famous buffalo Broughton burger! However, before even reaching the coast they encountered troubles of the road rage variety. Indeed, some butch road hog wound down his window and slapped a butt cheek!
With minor retaliation, our wearied and some-what wounded adventurers continued on. After slogging some 40 miles or so, they spotted a ship and jumped aboard. This ship took them to the mysterious Isle they were in search of. So tired they were after sailing these storm seas, that they found refuge for the night as stow-aways in a floating boat.
So crazy was the Island. Our adventurers found themselves drinking old port in Newport. They found Cowes that could not be milked. The adventure took them post T. Taylors shop, but it didn't belong to him. And, they found an old town in Newtown. How bizarre?!

The Island experience just got weirder and weirder. Freshwater that couldn't be drank was found. Needles that could not be sewn were stumbled upon. And sew on and sew forth.
I would have loved to report that the adventurers had a great time and inform they made it back to the mainland safe, but they didn't. Oh no, not at all. The poor pair were eaten by a T-Rex that lived happily ever after.

The adventurers cycled a total distance of 179 miles during their adventure.

Weekly totals: Ran 6 miles; Cycled 199 miles.

Thursday 13 October 2011

Run, run, run and don't forget the bike! (Part 1)

This blog entry begins with a big shout out and big-up to Sarah Jane (SJ) because she will be running in the 2012 London Marathon! She will be running in memory of her Mum, who passed away in 2010, after a four year battle with cancer. SJ's mother also suffered with ankylosing spondylitis, which is a chronic, inflammatory, arthritic and autoimmune disease often resulting in severe back pain. At age 25, SJ was diagnosed with fused vertebrae in the middle of her back and has found that exercise helps with her pain relief (not to mention her mood and temper!). For these reasons, she has chosen to support the BackCare charity. BackCare play a key role in involving patients in research and dissemination of research findings to make sure that the research really improves the lives of people with back pain. Please help SJ support the BackCare charity by digging deep into your pockets and sponsoring her. SJ will be training very, very hard for this marathon (especially since I have made myself her personal trainer, coach and manager) and all donations will greatly help with her motivation! Thank you! You can sponsor SJ by visiting this link: www.virginmoneygiving.com/sarahbigrun.

As part of SJ's rigorous training schedule, we have signed up for a few races. The first race is quite extreme and is called 'The Major - Midlands' which is to be held on the 22 October 2011. The website states 'Weston Park, home to The Major's Midlands challenge, is a venue he is excited about showing you. From steep hills to muddy off-road tracks and obstacles, this venue will leave all you from the Midlands wet, muddy and exhausted, but with smiles on your faces! This course will be tough, but the Major assures you that it will be an experience to remember'. Following that, we will be taking part in the Threshold 10k Winter Road Race 3 in Stratford, just after Christmas. Have also spotted a 5 or 10k race in November which we may sign up for if our busy schedules allow.

I ran on a few occasions this week. On my first run, Cody and I ran the off road 'Stinky Route'. We covered 2.8 miles in 30 minutes. Cody had her birthday prior to our second run, she is now 4 years old, bless her! Our second run was really a jog. Cody and I jogged over the fields of Studley covering 3.2 miles in 40 minutes.

Despite the fact that I'm supposed to train SJ, she has kept making me participate in her sit-up and press-up routines, remarking that they too are challenges. She wasn't wrong. Early in the week, SJ performed 100 sit-ups with a big grin, whilst I performed 36 and pulled a muscle in my back. I don't think this blog will be recording any more sit-up and press-up challenges....
On to the cycling side of things... Finally got awarded with my AUK points for the Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) randonneur I completed in August and scored a whopping 12! No AAA points were awarded for PBP, though the AUK website acknowledged that 11,000 metres of the event were climbs - that's some 2,700 metres of climbing more than the feared Bryan Chapman!

The first cycle of the week was with Ron and Sarah M. We took out mountain bikes over routes that Ron and I cycled last year. However, we added a new found stretch of bridleway not far from the Portway. Was a nice cycle and we covered about 20 miles.

This blog has been published early because the author has gone on an adventure around the Isle of Wight, with his buddy Chris Hodge, and their awesome bikes!

Saturday 8 October 2011

The Poor Student, Gold Rush and other short stories

Started this week's training with an audax event. This event was The Poor Student 200, a 200k permanent event run under Audax UK regulations. These regulations basically meant that I had to complete this distance, on a bicycle, in under 14 hours. I attempted this ride prior to PBP but had to abandon or 'pack' after my rear wheel collapsed. This event would determine if my American Classics wheel set was a good investment...
Started the event at the Peartree park and ride in Oxford. Only recently have they started to charge for parking. Not to worry, this receipt could be used as my first control proof (the fare was £1.50). This first leg (of 3) to the control at Malmesbury was 80k. The route was mostly flat, quiet and lanesy. Was hard to judge if this was a fast section though, as my bike computer had packed up. I felt I was going quite slow and battled a head wind all the way to control. It rained at times too, but when the rain cleared, blue skies formed. In the distance I had a great view of Uffington white horse. The control was a cafe I had used on a previous audax with Ron (the one where I swear he winked at the waitress and got extra sized cake). I had a breakfast of bacon, scrambled egg, beans and toast and washed said down with a cup of tea.
Leaving Malmesbury was initially a breeze on nice fast roads. After reaching Cirencestor though, the route became distinctly hilly. No major hills, there were no AAA points on these route, but hilly none-the-less. At about the 100k mark, I stopped to take a picture of what I can best describe as arches. Pretty, eh?!
After leaving the arches and all those hills behind, a fast descent took me into Chipping Campden, the next control. Like the a-fore mentioned arches, more arches were found here too. Pretty, huh?! The bike that appears at the top of the blog was found here too. Most unlike myself, I didn't indulge in tea or cake at any tea room. Instead I admired the town and just devoured an apple and banana with a bottle of water before starting the final leg.
Leaving Chipping Campden it started to rain again but the rain was not heavy and it never lasted too long. Autumnal colours were seen everywhere which was very pretty. The route from here was undulating but downhill mostly. Once I had reached Shipton, it was clear that it was no longer summer - the night was drawing in and I had to use my lights. All route was fairly pleased with the route sheet and now it had taken me safely back to the control in Oxford.

Cycled a total distance of 206k during audax, in approximately 10 hours.

A trip to Tintern took place the day after the audax. SJ and I put on our walking boots and took Cody past Tintern Abbey to a sign that read '365 steps'. We followed these steps (I don't think there really was 365 of them) up a steep slippery climb, through woodland, mystical trees and rock faces until we got high into the sky. Once at the top we were rewarded with a great view and it felt like we were in an eagles nest. The weather was awful and we abandoned plans of walking any further.
Midweek, my cousin's wife 'Jas' tempted SJ and myself with Gold. This gold was in the form of gold bond places for the London Marathon 2012. These little nuggets of gold allow folk to run in the marathon providing they make a pledge to donate a certain amount of money to charity. Several charities have a number of these gold nuggets and one has to make an application. SJ and I thought it sounded like a good, golden if you like, idea. In the gold rush SJ tried to stake gold by offering to support a cancer charity - her application got turned down. SJ made another application for the BackCare charity and woo hoo, she struck gold. SJ has a confirmed place to run in the London 2012 marathon! I made a stake at running for the charity formerly known as the RNIB who are at time of this entry considering my application. I won't be running in this marathon though, as fundraising is an issue. I have gone for bronze and will be running in the Bath Beat marathon the week before (which is actually a walking event...). I plan to support SJ, become her coach and help her fund raise for her chosen charity. SJ has to raise about £1,500. As for Jas, I think she struck gold too.
Without further a-do SJ, Cody and I went for a training run. We ran an off road track from near Karen's house (my ex running partner) to Coughton Ford and Back via the Blue-bell woods. This was a good run and we all broke out into a sweat. This run was just under 3.5 miles. I plan to record all SJ's training efforts now and help her prepare for her marathon.
Researched some training plans that I plan to implement for SJ's big run. This research helped me to distinguish between a jog and a run. Basically a jog is where one's heart rate is beating between 60-70% of maximum heart rate (MHR) and a run is where the heart is beating at 70-80% MHR. Therefore, a run is a more intensive workout than a jog. With this new knowledge, I went out for a 30 minute jog with Cody. We jogged over the fields of Studley and covered about 2.5 miles.
A lovely website has been created so that folk can support SJ on her big run and sponsor her efforts. When SJ permits, I will put a link to her website on this blog. SJ is supporting BackCare the charity for healthier backs that helps people manage and prevent back pain by providing information and promoting self help through their website, helpline and publications. 
Maybe I should get SJ back on her bike too ...

Weekly totals: Cycled 127 miles; Ran 6 miles.

Monday 3 October 2011

Cotswold Porker

Health and fitness is a funny thing. Prior to PBP I tried to reduce my weight (which is ok) but this did not really work despite my efforts. There was also little change in my blood pressure and resting pulse (again, they are ok). I had bloods taken about 1 year ago and my cholesterol level was sky high - it was over 11 mmol/l. A cholesterol level over 5 mmol/l is considered bad news. Further bloods were taken a week ago and I'm pleased to say that my cholesterol level had dropped to 6.4 mmol/l! Cholesterol level could be considered too high, but alongside my triglycerides and HDL-cholesterol results were not considered too bad. My triglyceride level was 1.9 mmol/l (less than 2.3 considered good) and my HDL-cholesterol level was 1.9 mmol/l (more than 1 considered good). So, my question is, does this justify eating a big mac and fries?!
Started my training this week by cycling 'Ron's 1 hour loop' in reverse on my mountain bike. As expected, it took me over an hour. Was good to be out on my bike but I felt a little spooked cycling these dark lanes at night by myself (with only half my Ay-Up light set). My knee's had felt dodgy all week, but strangely enough, after this ride felt fine.
My next venture was with Ron and Sarah M. We trekked a pretty awesome route on our mountain bikes. We started by heading for Burial Lane and continued over the Bridge of Rightness, up Mars Hill, through the Woods of Doom and down Dog Butt lane. We finished our evening by star gazing.
My last cycling adventure of the week saw me complete the 100k Cotswold Corker audax. I have completed this audax before, but not as a permanent. This time round was much harder - this was one of the hottest days England has seen in a while and I forgot just how tough a 1.75 AAA event really is!

The audax started in Bishops Cleeve, which always makes me grin each time I say it. My grin soon became a grimace as I started to climb the first hill. This hill comes at you almost straightaway and is a horror, it has a 25% gradient. This hill has now beat me twice - only managed to climb about a 1/3 of the way up. Grr! Maybe a triple chain set or a mountain bike is the way forward?!
Ride continued in a hilly fashion past the control in Winchcombe and up to Guiting Power. So hot and much sweat. Incredible views along nice roads. Northleach control was situated in a pretty market town and just passed this control I found a nice place name.
Sweet roads continued to take me Daglingworth. I found no suitable control here, so took a picture of my bike against sign instead. Stopped at the Bisley control to eat my first proper meal - bacon and egg sarnie with chips!
Started to hallucinate on route to Andoversford. Was so convinced that I saw a wild pig that I turned my bike around and back tracked a little way. The little pig turned out to be a jack deer. Further on route, I was convinced that I saw another creature and back tracked again. What I thought was a snake actually turned out to be a snake! Horrors!
After Andoversford I was feeling quite whacked. It was real hot and I had just climbed some 288 metres. This climb was now rewarded as I took a super fast descent by Belas Knap and whizzed along. Sadly, at the end of this descent, I was lost. I should have been in Winchcombe, but was about 10 miles away. The finish point was nearer so I headed there instead. I had cycled over 100k and climbed big hills so felt justified that I skipped a control but 'magically' had proof of passage...

Cycled a total of 105.8k during audax.

Weekly totals: Cycled 98 miles.

Yearly total (thus far): Cycled 4,616 miles.

Happy New Year 2022

Happy New Year folks. I wonder what's in store for 2022,  - something crazy, something new? It's a shame Covid is still here and I&#...