Monday 28 February 2011

The not-so-hard Yard route

After a long abscence from the exercise scene, I got back in the saddle and clocked a few miles. My bug lost the fight in the end, which was awesome, because it meant that I was on the mend. Training recommenced!

My first trip out was with Ron. Unexpectedly, we went out on our road bikes and starting cycling the '1 hour loop'. The lanes were wet and quite muddy in places so we took a short cut to avoid the ford in Coughton. I skirted around Studley village after I left Ron just to make sure that my first trip out clocked at least 15 miles. It was good to be back on the bike.

My second trip out was route 9, from the book 'Cycle Tours, 22 one-day routes Around Birmingham'. This route started from Yardley Wood train station, but I cycled to the official start from Studley via country lanes. This ride passed many ponds, lakes, canals and reservoirs. Initially the ride started well, following good roads and passing scenic places. The middle section was awfull and not suited for a road bike at all. The route took me down a 'No Through Road' (Hill Lane) which turned into a track at the bottom. This track was incredibly muddy and full of pot holes. This would have been great fun on a mountain bike. Following this muddy section it became a little hilly and between Gorcot Hill and Forhill the road surface was real bad - lots of clay and mud in places. It was funny that my route to the official start was re-ridden in many places after this middle section. From Kings Norton back to Yardley Wood train station the roads were all fine again. I repeated the route back to Beoley church before turning off and heading home again. I do not plan to do this route again on a road bike, but think it would make a good mountain bike trek. Plan to do this trek again using Scotty and starting in Weatheroak, just past Beoley Church. Will make this route my own and shall name it the 'Yard route'.
Like a good boy, I cleaned my road bike after she had been down all those dirty, muddy and wet country lanes. What a good job I did! Whilst cleaning her, I discovered that several of the spokes on the rear wheel were incredibly loose. Wheel was taken to Speeds Cycles and quickly fixed.

Had been using my Carradice zipped roll bag this week. I rate this bag. It only has a 2 litre capacity but is big enough to carry all I need and has room for more. It was made by some woman called Sue - so many thanks Sue! Have been using the bag as a handlebar bag but think I am going to attach it to the saddle instead.

No other exercise took place during the week. Well, I guess you could add my little jig at a Mogwai gig. Further to that, I did go to a galaxy far, far away ....

Weekly Totals: Cycled 70 miles.

Friday 18 February 2011

sNOw drop Express

This has been an awfull week on the cycling front. No exercise at all has taken place. Worse still, I will not be joining Andy, Si, Clive, Ron and Dave in the Snowdrop Express 123k audax in Hartlebury. I got hit by a bug and it's still fighting.

A mighty creature is the germ,
Though smaller than the pachyderm,
It's customary dwelling place,
Is deep within the human race ...

This will be the second audax I have dropped out of this year. Still, I have manged to cycle at least one 200k event this year (in fact for the past 4 months) and now have an actual goal planned! I plan to get a Randonneur Round the Year (RRtY) award. To qualify for this award I need to complete a Brevet de Randonneur (BR or BRM) in each of any 12 consecutive months, cycling a minimum 200k in a single event each consecutive month. On a brighter note, I have already qualified as a Randonneur 500 this season.

My next planned event is the Mr Pickwick's March Madness 209k audax (AAA 1.75) on 5 March 2011. I have a good couple of weeks to train for this event. In the mean while, well wishes to Andy, Dave, Clive, Ron and Si for the Snowdrop audax tomorrow!
Weekly totals: Nil

Saturday 12 February 2011

Cotswold Corker (106k audax)

Started the week with a cycle ride with John and Ron. We started cycling the Reed route (cutting across the corn fields at the start) but it wasn't long before Ron wanted to do something a little more technical - we were heading for the woods in Sambourne. I didn't want to go through these woods for a number of reasons that included the fact I was wearing spd's which continue to give me the fear, my legs were really tired from last weeks audax and because I have injured at least twice in these woods. These were the very same woods where my pedal and crank arm fell off, and the woods where I landed on that barbed wire fence and cut arms, belly and leg. I call these woods, the 'woods of doom'. With all this in mind, I changed plans and we turned off before said woods and climbed an off road track to Astwood Bank before going through naughty woods till we got to Alcester. There were deep ruts during this off road trek and poor John fell off at one point and bruised his ribs. It was a wise decision not to tackle the woods of doom! We picked up the reed route and followed familiar tracks back home.
I changed my pedals back to v8's before I went out on my bike again. My spd's are pedals that lock foot to pedal and help transfer energy directly to the pedals. I like to use these pedals in very wet and cold conditions when I am not cycling technical stuff off road. My shoes that I use for the spd pedals are quite narrow and allow me to wear comfy, warm and waterproof overshoes. With my preffered pedals (DMR V12's or V8's) I wear a kind of bulky skate shoe. These shoes are just comfy and don't give me the fear as they are not locked to the pedal at all. The pins in the DMR pedals are great at keeping a shoe in position (but tear a shin to shreds should a pedal slip). Only real down fall with this shoe and pedal combination is the fact they are not waterproof.
Ron and I went out and started to cycle the deer route for our second trip of the week. We soon turned off the deer route and climbed to the cart (which is no longer there?!) off road before joining the deer route again and took the first off road path to Coughton Ford. My fear had gone - go DMR's! We cycled home choosing an alley in Studley we had not cycled through before, just to be different.

Ran twice in the week with SJ. Our first run was the Studley triangle and we improved our time again. The second run was concocted by SJ and was a loop in Worcester. The Worcester run was shorter but was on an uphill gradient from almost start to finish - maybe we'll run it in reverse another time?!
Completed my 14th audax on Saturday. This was the Cotswold Corker. The event started in Bishops Cleeve and a whole bunch of cyclists participated in this event. Unlike previous recent events, I was here on time and was able to cycle out with the whole group. The first hill was encountered almost straight away and was a real menace at a 25% gradient. This hill started at Bushcombe Lane and climbed and climbed. Folk said I would never make this hill without a triple chainset, and ... they were right. With disappointment, this hill beat me and most other cyclists too. There was a long line of cyclists pushing bikes. This event was not called a 'corker' for nothing! The next corker of a hill was in Winchcombe - I made this one (and all subsequent hills) which made me feel much better. I hadn't done a lot of hill climbing for a while and almost forget how power draining it is, not to mention the fact that your lungs feel like they are going to split open. Passing Turkdean, I reached the first control at the Westwoods Centre. This was a nice control - they were dishing out free food. This free food was all cake based. I left a donation and took a jaffa cake, a jam doughnut and a slice of cake and washed it down with a cup of tea.

The second stage was not as gruelling as the first and the scenery was stunning. Hills were still encountered but these were more rolling than major climbs. I chased this goblin on a bike for a while which provided much amusement (this was a cyclist in tight green leggings and a bobble type hat). Passed Daglingworth and climbed a hill that I had climbed before on a previous AAA audax event. Reached the control at Sapprton Village Hall feeling good. The food at this control was awfull. I had pasta which had been cooked (allegedly) by some young army cadets. This pasta was cold and after eating half a plate (too much), I decided to bin the rest. I topped up my energy by eating a snickers bar that was in my pocket.

The next stage was awesome. The sun was shining and I was feeling on form. A lot of this stage was spent chatting to other cyclists and it was good to hear and share stories. A big hill was encountered here, it was called 'Hilcot' which kinda gave it away. Some of the roads were real bad - major menace pot holes and lots of mud. At one point, my rear wheel skidded some but fortunately I was able to keep control. At least 2 cyclists came off during this stage. In previous years this event has had much ice and conditions far worse. Reached the last control feeling great - I knew there was only 10k left to cycle. Took a longer rest stop here at the Andoversford Village Hall and ate 3 cakes with a cup of tea before heading off again. Apparently the cadets had made these cakes. Cadets make a great cake but a naff pasta!

Cycled the last stage with 2 cyclists I was chatting with from the stage before which was nice. We passed Belas Knapp (a pre-historic burial chamber), which I had visited many times before. The hill down from Belas Knap was great - I had ridden up it many times before on my mountain bike. The last hill was Cleeve Hill and to be fair was an easy climb. Once climbed, a quick descent followed to the Arrivee at Woomancote Village Hall. This audax was great and oh, so much better than the previous weeks!

Cycled a distance of 65.2 miles during audax, at an average speed of 12.9 mph and a max speed of 40.1 mph. I spent 5 hours, 2 mins and 36 seconds in the saddle and was awarded 2 AAA points.

Weekly totals: Ran for 1 hour; Cycled 101 miles.

Sunday 6 February 2011

Mr Pickwick Takes Flight (206k audax)

Mr Pickwick takes flight ... and if I had a choice, I would have took off too! This was a tough, gruelling audax. Note to self - I hate cycling 50 plus miles into a head wind!
Menaces were at work prior to the event. The day before the audax, whilst readying my bike, I found that the rear brake was not working. My mechanical skills were poor and I couldn't fix said problem. A trip to Cult Cycles saved the day. They replaced the brake cables and cleaned the brake mechanism.

On the day of the event, I turned up a few minutes late and missed the mad exodus at the start. It took me a good 16 miles before I caught anybody up. This first stage was pretty fine and passed through Bidford (a familiar place to me) before reaching the control at Stratford-Upon-Avon Gliding Club Cafe. The voices in my head were calling the guy who ran this cafe an idiot, amongst other obsceneties. He was expecting 30 plus cyclists (being for-warned by the event organiser) but only had 1 can of baked beans. With no beans on offer, I ordered a sausage sandwich and a cup of tea. Payment had to be made for each item seperately - which worked out fine, because after waiting over 30 mins, my sausage never arrived and the voices told me to take flight. Maybe the guy was stressed because it was very windy and none of the gliders could take off.
After leaving the first control, I found a general stores and purchased 2 sausage rolls - which is really a sausage sandwich in a different form. This second stage took me to Turweston Aerodrome (another gliding club). The route was nice, it passed through Hampton Lucy and Wellesbourne - both places I knew quite well. It was during this stage though, that my bike computer died. This was a real menace because I couldn't count the miles travelled and had no idea how fast (slow) I was going. Oh well, not to worry - I reached the control within good time. This control was a lot better than the first. Nice folk in this cafe - who were able to provide me with the beans on toast I so wanted!

Stage 3 was horrible. Not much fun at all! All the way from the control at Turweston to the next control in Chipping Norton was battling a very strong headwind. This wind was so strong that my bike was hardly moving forward at all. Some hills were encountered too and the voices in my head were telling me to pack. At one stage, about 20 deer ran across the road in front of me. These deer were awesome, they were all different sizes, some had antlers, and beat this - one was white! These deer provided a neat distraction for a while. Reached the control, the Old Mill Cafe, in quite a state - I was exhausted and was hallucinating again (I saw a tree, I thought was a standing stone). I had a hot drink here and 2 slices of short bread before gritting my teeth and heading off again.

The final stage was horrible too. It was still windy (admittedly not so much) and now it was dark too. Peter, a fellow cyclist, lent me a rear light so I cycled with him to the finish. The hills here were frequent and required much energy but the super fast descents were a delight. Passed through Winchcombe before finally reaching the Arrivee. Yay, job done! Would I repeat this particular audax - I don't think so!

Cycled 128 miles during this audax. Have no idea what my average or max speed was but completed the event in 11 and a half hours.

Weekly Totals: Cycled 160 miles; Ran for 63 mins.

Friday 4 February 2011

Sorry Emma

An earlier blog entry this week, as I have a few things to shout about.

Training wise has been ok on the running front and not so good on the cycling front. Started the training week with a run over the fields of Studley with Cody. Cody's performance was quite poor - alas the vet continues to monitor her weight and says she is still over. Later in the week, I ran the Studley triangle with SJ. SJ's performance was quite ace - alas, not only was this her first run of the triangle, she needed the loo too! Maybe this explains why we ran the triangle so fast!

Missed out on cycling with both Ron and John in the week as I opted to go to the cinema instead. Watched 'The King's Speech', which was good but not necessarily a film I would shout about. Anyways, did manage a lap of the Deer route with Ron later in the week. I repeated this route in reverse the following day and now call this route the Reed route (can you see what I've done there?!).

I hope this limited amount of training is enough to make the planned 'Mr Pickwick Takes Flight' 200k audax tomorrow a nice enjoyable, not-too-painfull experience. Time will tell. Will blog about this said audax soon enough.

Received my Audax Uk Handbook (2011) this week. Was pleased to see that my name had been entered twice in the 'Audax UK Brevet and Randonneur Awards' section. I am officially a 2010 Randonneur 1,000 (1 of 169 AUK members). My second award was the 2010 Brevet 500 (1 of 315 AUK members). In addition to this, my name was also printed in the 'Arrivee' magazine (no.110, Winter 2011) as a New Randonneur. I was 1 of 249 members to be welcomed to the rank of AUK Randonneur - this was for cycling 200 km or over for the first time in the 2008/2009 season.
Talking of Randonnees, this brings me to my next sponsored challenge. I have signed up for the British Heart Foundation (BHF) 100 mile South Downs Way Randonnee on the 30th July 2011. This will be a tough event as it's all off road and hence I'll be using my mountain bike. All sponsor monies raised will be to support the BHF. Please sponsor me here:
Many thanks to those who sponsored my last challenge - 'Help for Happy's'. Lots of money was raised and we were able to buy a number of wheel chairs for poor disabled orphaned kids in South Africa at Happy's School. I have just booked tickets to South Africa and will be visiting the project at Happy's this year, God willing.

Happy New Year 2022

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