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:

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.

Happy New Year 2022

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