Monday 25 April 2011

Killer Chris and the PT session(s)

Training this week began with a MTB ride. Ron and I took our bikes around trails and fields in Astwood Bank. We hadn't been here for so, so long and it proved fun cycling tracks we had cycled in the past. Dog Butt Lane always brings a smile to my face. We didn't cycle long or far (I punctured) but it was nice to get the legs spinning all the same.

On Wednesday, SJ and I rocked up to meet Chris - the PT guy, at Morton Stanley Park. Within minutes, this dude nearly killed us both! Chris had us doing 'shuttles' after we had loosened up by jogging around a football pitch and stretching muscles I never knew existed. These shuttles involved running and sprinting back and forth with bonus exercises to do at certain points. These exercises included lifting weights (not heavy, but heavy enough), lunges, sit ups, squats etc. After these shuttles we had to do more and for longer. SJ and I were both seriously drained and sweating some! Later in our session we were to concentrate on core muscles and had more sit-ups and this thing called a plank to do. SJ beat me on both counts - she could hold a plank way longer than me and scored 19 sit-ups in her exhaustion test compared to my 14. To finish we ran around the football pitch again and loosened up again by doing more stretches. This was a good session but hard, hard work. We both liked Chris and look forward to seeing him again next week. In the meantime, we have sit-up exercises to do as homework. Groan!

Thursday was spent indoors on the rollers. This was also the last I cycled this week - think I had started to lose focus a wee bit. Or maybe it was the fact the the PT session had caused discomfort to my legs!

For the remainder of the week, I did little in the way of exercise. Shame on me, I didn't run even once and cycling was seriously limited. Chris sent me a photo of last weeks MTB adventure and someone (I think Chris Rimmel) had posted me some cycling books - were they trying to covertly motivate me? I require motivation as I have that whopping 400k audax coming up (next weekend). My only real saving grace was the fact that I adhered to my sit-ups schedule. This sit-ups schedule involved doing repetitions of these menace exercises and 'maxing out' on the last set. My max out results were 24, 22 and 16 respectively. SJ maxed out on 31, 51 and 40 clearly kicking my butt and was, can you believe it, disappointed at her results! She might have a 6 pack, but I have a fuel tank!
Weekly totals: Cycled 34 miles.

Sunday 17 April 2011

New Forest Spring MTB Ride

No long distance event at the end of this week. No chance of getting a new bike. And no girlfriend (SJ has gone 'sunning it' in Sri Lanka). However, the week ended with an epic off road mtb adventure.

Training began on Tuesday. I decided to use my off day for cycling some hills. I stuck to local hills and followed the 'Hunting for Hills' ride which Ron created last year. Less than 10 miles into my cycle I stopped to answer my phone - it was SJ calling from abroad, which was nice. A few miles on and I had to stop again because I had punctured - this wasn't so nice. My puncture occurred at the bottom of Cobley hill. After fixing puncture I cycled to the top of hill, then realised I had left my glasses at the foot, so back I turned and climbed that dreaded hill twice! I completed this trek in good time and so decided to add a few more miles towards the end. The additional miles took me from the Green Dragon pub to 'that undulating road' between Alcester and Astwood Bank, which I cycled in both directions (ie to Alcester and back to Astwood Bank). This was a nice trek and I covered just over 50 miles. Later in the day, I teamed up with Ron and Mick (a guy Ron bumped into a couple of weeks back) and we took our mountain bikes out. The basic plan was for Ron and I to show Mick local trails we often cycle. Ron was having trouble with his crank set, indeed his pedal arm fell off on 2 occasions. Luckily, Ron is mechanically minded and ingeniously fixed problem with a scrap of metal he found. We cycled new paths new to me too, which took me through a ford near Alcester and then round the back of Oversley Wood. A great days cycling all round.

Wednesday was spent indoors on my rollers. As part of the plan, I have decided to cycle 1 indoor session each week. Rollers are boring but I figure they help with balance (and I have fallen off my bike so many times). Rollers require a continuous pedal and I try and keep my heart rate above 132 bpm the whole session (Zone 3).

Thursday was a rest day and Friday was a little strange. I had 'won' a free personal trainer session (PT) (courtesy of 'for goodness shakes') and decided to give the chap a ring. I spoke to a guy called Chris and told him I wasn't overly keen on the idea of having PT sessions as cost, motivation and time would be an issue. Chris came over and gave me a consultation and we essentially agreed to 1 PT session per week, lasting for aprox. one and a half hours (girlfriend can come along too if she wishes), all for the cost of £15. I can quit whenever I like, and should I have 10 sessions, then the next 2 will be free. Seemed reasonable to me and decided to give it a go. The PT sessions will concentrate mainly on my core strength (as this is particularly weak) and look at my running too. I was been given a 6 week plan of sit-ups to do (homework) and I was able to perform 51 in my initial test. The plan has developed and now looks like this: 1 x PT session, 1 x run, 1 x rollers session and 1 x night cycle with Ron, Jon, etc each week. Plus as many audax and off road events I can muster within each month. There is no maximum amount of cycling I can do. Following the consultation (the 6 week plan will commence next week), I went out for a run. I ran the Studley stinky route. This run felt strange as neither SJ or Cody were with me.

Saturday was the day of the New Forest Spring MTB Ride - a cycle event organised by Wiggle. The day was beautiful weather wise and the event was well organised. I was a little disappointed with the ride itself, as (compared to more recent events) the hills were few, the miles not many, no single track, no super fast descents and little in the way of technical stuff. I felt I could have got round this course on my old Grifter. However, meeting up with friends was great. 3 of the Lejog 2010 boys were here, - Guy, Chris and Ben Adams plus Ben's brother Matt, who I had not met before.

The event was not dull. Lots of wild creatures were spotted en route. These creatures included wild horses and wild cows! The were seriously 100's of horses strolling around as if they owned Hampshire and would walk across the roads and pavements care free style. As I passed one horse, I couldn't help but slap it's behind - not sure who was more startled, the horse or Guy (following behind me) who was lucky to miss a buckaroo! The cows were care free too, there was just less of them. Cow tipping was not considered an option as these cows had major long horns!
It was nice to meet Matt, he was much like his brother Ben. Awesome hooking up with Ben - had wanted to go out MTBing with him since Lejog 2010 and finally got the chance. Ben was clearly the master at bike tricks, trail hopping and the likes. Had not seen Guy since an audax event in Bristol last year (the last time he had been out on a bike). Guy was still fit and all the gym work he does seems to have paid off nicely. A swim challenge is Guys next major pursuit. Chris was riding his Scott bike today (not his Orange), so we became the Scott boys for the day and kinda rode as a double act. Chris's Scott differed to mine in a major way - his was a cyclo cross bike and was only 1 of 8 such bikes to ride this course. Chris, like myself, was not impressed with this course and feels he needs to do another cyclo cross event that is more challenging before he can say he has really completed such an event. We both got our heart rates going as we had several sprints/races along the way which was fun. Chris and I were pretty much evenly matched. At the end, I sprinted to the finish to cross the line first. I thought Chris was far behind, but he truly sprinted to the finish and got every one's heart rate going as he was nearly squished by 2 cars coming at him in opposing directions! Chris felt he had beat me on the line, I thought not. The official results were ... we both had the exact same time!
All 5 of us successfully completed the event. We were awarded with goody bags upon finishing along with a medal. I think all our times were quite naff and we were awarded with 'bronze' status. A good day was had by all and we all finished with a smile!
During MTB event, I cycled a distance of 37.86 miles, at an average speed of 10.3 mph and a max speed of 27.8 mph.

Weekly totals: Cycled 134 miles; Ran for 30 mins.

Sunday 10 April 2011

The Plan

No major event this week, however training continued. The next big goal of mine is a 400k event at the end of the month. I have never cycled such a distance and just hope I can complete this goal. That is my plan!

Ran a couple of times this week. My first run was with SJ and Cody and we ran around Oversley Wood. This was a nice run and we completed 2 laps (aprox 5 miles) in under 45 mins. We were all pleased we had managed 2 laps. Doing this distance was a first for SJ. My next run didn't include Cody, but SJ came along. We ran a hilly off road track in Henley. This was a good run too, it was very sunny and an awesome day. Poor SJ was suffering with a cold though.

Was a good week on the weather front all round really. So good was the weather that Ron and I went out in shorts (as opposed to longs) on my first bike venture of the week. We started cycling the 'Ron's 1 hour loop' route but extended it at the end. The end was 'that undulating road' to Astwood Bank that I cycled during last weeks audax, the one with the short sharp climb at the end. After this climb it was an easy pedal back to Studley with a quick race up St Judes Avenue (hard to judge who reached the summit first). My second cycle was indoors on the rollers. I think I must be getting a little fitter as I am having to push harder gears to reach the desired heart range (Zone 3).
No long distance cycles this week. However, Audax UK reminded me of long distance events that I have done and posted me out several medals and cloth badges to add to my collection. Such awards included the Brevet 500 (for cycling 5 x 100k events last season), the Brevet 1,000 (for cycling 5 x 200k events this season), the Randonneur 500 (for riding Populaire events of 50k, 100k and 150k then going on to a 200k at Randonneur speed, all in one season) and the Randonneur 1,000 (for riding Populaire events of 100k, 200k and 300k all at Randonneur speed, topped up by more events totalling another 400k, this season).  I would like to add a Super Randonneur and Randonneur Road The Year award to this list by the end of the season - that is my plan.

Weekly Totals: Ran for 1 hour and 14 mins; Cycled 42 miles.

Sunday 3 April 2011

Droitwich - Towcester (218k audax) a flat, up and down menace!

This weeks activities on the training front included walking, running and cycling. As usual, a whole bunch of creature spotting occured. And, a dose of menace was encountered too!

I don't normally record my walking activities. This is because, unlike my sister Jane, I don't really regard walking as exercise. Cody and I are walking all the while and we'd have enermous amounts of space to fill up. I am recording the fact that I walked around Ladywood reservoir on 2 occasions with folk from work this week, during work time. If I'm getting paid to walk - it's a different story! Over and above that, the folk from work who regularly walk the reservoir (namely Zalika, Max, Eddy, Adrian and Cecelia) are using this as a means of exercise (or maybe that's their excuse).

Only ran once this week. This running took place at Oversley Wood and I had SJ and Cody with me for company. We ran further than our usual norm (1 lap) and added an extra half lap which we will start to increase until we can comfortably run 2 laps. On our return to the start I took us up and over the mound and we spotted about 4 deer which was nice.

Cycled twice during the week. The first excursion was with Ron and we took out our mountain bikes. We cycled to the 'Woods of Doom' and got lost. The regualr trail was blocked with tree's and the likes (some felling etc taking place in the woods). Getting lost was great, we cycled 'free style' following new paths and trails and went up and down some sweet ascents and descents. In the woods I kept spotting deer but Ron always seemed to miss them. However, once we reached a clearing, Ron spotted a whole bunch of deer (about 7 or 8) running together. How awesome. Once we found this clearing, we also found the descent trek from our usual woods visit and followed it. We then essentially followed the 'Reed route' back home. I don't know about Ron, but my legs were still tired from the 300k event the week before.
Saturday saw me complete another audax event. This was the Droitwich - Towcester 218k audax. With this event completed, I think I am halfway in getting my RRtY award ( a 200k+ event each month for a year).

Only 12 cyclists (including myself and the event organiser) met at Droitwich for the start of this event. Just prior to meeting up, I had a touch of deli belly and the heavens were open. However, just as we set sail, the rain had stopped. I thought I'd be sensible and stick with the group at the start and maybe benefit from a tow. I stuck with the group for about a mile and then left them as they were cycling way too slow. I sped off alone on flat fast lanes and reached the first control in Shipston-on-Stour ahead of everybody else. I got to the control 2 mins before it had opened - that was a first for me. Even though this control was a bakery, I wasn't tempted to purchase any food (I had a banana and bowl of porridge before I set out this morning) and just opted for a cup of tea (which I ate with 2 cup cakes I bought from home, made by ex-student nurse Becky).

Left the first control and cycled with 2 others. The one chap remembered me from the 300k event I did last year and the other chap has done a few audax's with me before. Like the last stage, this section was fast too and maybe just a little hillier (nothing major). Reached the control at Towcester (pronounced 'Toaster') in good time. This control was 'Jacks Hill Transport Cafe' and the staff here were most interesting. I swear I was served beans and egg on toast by that fat, tattood, ugly woman from the 'Goonies'.
Left Towcester and sped along as a group of 3 (2 different cyclists to last formed group). This group contained the organiser Gavin. As before, this was a relatively flat and fast stage. We reached Wellesbourne and that's when menace struck. I had lost my wallet and it's contents (debit card, driving licence etc). This should teach me to put items in zipped pockets. Grr! At least Gavin was able to see I was at the control - I couldn't get a receipt as I had no money with which to purchase food. Cancelled my debit card and sped off again for the last stage.

The last stage was like all the others - fast and relatively flat, except there was one short steep climb to navigate (a hill leading up to Astwood Bank that I have climbed several times before). I cycled this section as a group of 4, which became 3 after so many miles. I raced to the end, not only to be the first to finish but because I knew SJ was waiting for me at the finish. Sure enough, I was proud to finish first (a first for me) and SJ did me proud too, she looked absolutely stunning and took my mind off any lost wallet menace!

This was a great audax event that I would be happy to ride again. All the roads were well surfaced, quiet and it was possible to cycle at a decent speed. This event was considered to contain a 'moderate amount of climbing' but there were no major hills or climbs really (none when compared to 'The Dean' 300k audax). Oh, my wallet was found by a cyclist futher back and returned to the Gavin. All is well that ends well! SJ plans to save the day and re-claim my wallet!

During audax cycled 132.28 miles, at an average speed of 15.3 mph and a max speed of 37.7 mph.

Weekly totals: Cycled 147 miles; Ran for 31 mins.

Happy New Year 2022

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