Sunday 29 January 2012

Killing me softly

A slow start to the week. Felt quite tired, lazy, de-motivated, lethargic - was basically suffering with negative symptoms suggestive of schizophrenia. Required a big push to get started.

When I did get started, I really went for it. On our first run of the week, SJ and I ran all the way to Redditch Town Centre. This route was not overly hilly but followed an ascent for most of the way, running up Node Hill, the Slough and that road that leads up past the buss station. We followed a nice descent once past Redditch College and then followed paths leading to Arrow Vale Lake. The lake always looks pretty, whether it be day or night, summer or winter and tonight was no exception. On we ran, passing Pauline's Hill (so named because my mother can cycle up this short steep ascent on her bicycle) and Ned's Rocks (that's another story too) until we reached the spot where poor SJ was once involved in a cycle accident. A few months back, some goon cycled straight into the back of SJ's bike. As we were reminiscing this event, some cyclist pressed his brakes so hard that they squealed and SJ and I both jumped out of our skins! We stopped and stretched a few times during this run and put in an extra bit of effort to speed back home. Both pleased with this run which was just under 10 miles.

Following this run, I relapsed. No further exercise took place. My wedding plans are coming on fine though!

Weekly totals: Ran 9.8 miles.

Monday 23 January 2012

Cotswold Corker (part 2)

This week had an unusual start. I re-visited the Cotswold's and completed sections of the Corker that I cycled last week. Like last week, I had a bike with me, only this time I had Queeny and not Scotty. I also had a car! After completing the Corker last week, I was unable to show proof of passage for 3 of the controls. I took photo's at these controls but lost my camera. So this week, I revisited the controls and sneakily took photo's to prove my proof of passage. I also found out where the route sheet was incorrect and should I cycle this audax again, now know that I have an extended down-hill section into Winchcombe (as opposed to being 8 miles out on undulating roads). Brevet card in post, let's hope the event organiser does not read this and let's hope I get awarded my well deserved 1.75 AAA points!

Started a run at the beginning of the week to. SJ, Cody and I ran the 678 Route again on a cold frosty evening in the dark. This run was more fun than last week, for a start we were better prepared. SJ was wearing her lovely orange hi-vis jacket with built in USB light. Cody was wearing her hi-vis collar with a flashing bike light attached. I was wearing extra layers including my jacket, full length skins and gloves which prevented my digits from freezing. How much better it is to run wearing the correct clothing. SJ and I both looked a little silly with the way we were wearing our buffs, but hey, we got out and ran! It was fun watching Cody run alongside us.

Tuesday was a great day on the exercise front too. In the morning, I took Queeny out for a blast around the Breadcrumb Trail. Went over the usual naughty fields by Astwood Bank first. It was really very cold and everywhere was frosty and in places frozen. Queeny rolled over the fields really well, the ground being rock hard. The road in Alcester leading to the Breadcrumb Trail was closed (again) to motorised traffic, so it was nice having the road to myself. As good as ever it was around the trail, tyres making a nice crunching sound on the frosty wooded floor. Returned home via the Dovecote and Coughton Ford. Saw a few deer and a bird of prey during this adventure, which was nice.

Tuesday evening and I braved the cold again. SJ and I ran the Extended Studley Triangle Zig-Zag Route. It was about freezing but we were seriously warmed up by the time we finished.

Ran again on Thursday. This time I ran the off-road Handlebar Route with Cody. Had been a while since I had ran with my off-road shoes - they got seriously heavy as the mud stuck to them. A nice 5k run on a wet, miserable day.

Weekly totals: Ran 14.9 miles; Cycled 18.5 miles.

My fiancee, 'SJ', ran about 24 miles this week as part of her training for the London Marathon. Well done SJ. Big thanks to all those who have sponsored SJ and are continuing to provide support.

Sunday 15 January 2012

The Cotswold Corker....

The start of this week was much like last week. I cycled the Deer Route again, only this time with the 'usual goons'. This time round, it was warm and dry. Oh why did I invest in Winter tyres?

This weeks major challenge was the Cotswold Corker, a 100k permanent audax event scoring 1.75 AAA points. This was my third time riding this event, though the first time I cycled the route it was a calendar event. This time, I used my mountain bike too. Each time has not been without incident.

The hill at Bushcombe Lane had beaten me on previous attempts. This hill is a 25% climb and stretches for about 3k. To make things worse, this hill is encountered within the first few k of the start. This time round, I decided to save this hill to last and start my event from the second control in Winchcombe.

Starting out from Winchcombe seemed like a better idea all round. Finding somewhere to park was much easier (and only cost £1 all day). Although familiar with the route, I missed the first turn at the start and added an additional 2k. I missed the turn because the actual road was closed off for repairs. I cycled along the closed road all the same. A hilly affair (this hill being second to Bushconmbe Lane) took me to the control at Guiting Power.

Perhaps the nicest lanes took me from Guiting Power to Northleach. Northleach is a very pretty market town and makes for an ideal control. An old chap stopped to admire my bike and asked if he could pick it up. He said he was impressed with the weight and then we got into story telling about the hills in the area. He alleged he cycled Bushcombe Lane Hill on a 3 speed steel bike back in his day. That was my cue to leave...

Very pretty lanes were cycled again all the way to Daglingworth. This ride being very undulating in nature.    A ring twitching descent to said control.

Much menace to next control at Bisley. Horses were the first problem, they were taking up much of the road and passing them was difficult. Then, the road I needed to cycle was closed. Like before, I cycled the road anyway. This was fun, I had to zig-zag from left to right to avoid freshly laid tarmac and had to dodge heavy machinery and work men. At times, a little off-roading had to be incorporated. Reached the control at Bisley and got an actual cycling stamp for my brevet card. I also stopped at a pub just round the corner and had scampi and cheeps for my lunch. Delicious!

If I remember correctly, it was during the Bisley - Andoversford section that I saw a snake the last time I cycled this audax. No snake was seen today, however, I saw a deer and a bird of prey close up. Bumpy, lumpy and undulating all the way to the control. Stopped at control to catch my breath, stretch my legs and ring my girl friend fiancee.

The route sheet informed that the next control would be Winchcombe. I remember getting lost here last time I cycled the event, so extra care was taken following the instructions (destructions?). I was supposed to descend by Belas Knap, but just like last time, this didn't happen. (I even asked folk on route the whereabouts of Belas Knap but nothing materialised). The last instruction before alleged control stated 'TR @ B4632 $ WINCHCOMBE - 1km'. I followed this command, but Winchcombe was 8 miles away not 1k! Grr! I headed towards Winchcombe all the same and viewed further instructions on the route sheet.

After Winchcombe control, the route sheet stated 'Retrace on B4632 - to climb Cleeve Hill to then descend to Rising Sun Inn where TR desc Gambles Lane (care 25%)'. Well, I was climbing said Cleeve Hill and Gambles Lane was on my left! I decided not to cycle on to Winchcombe (temporarily missing control) but followed Gambles lane to reach control in Bishops Cleeve. I took a photo of bike next to Bishops Cleeve sign post as proof of passage.

The final leg was a real slog and much menace. I found a 25% hill and started to climb, but it wasn't Bushcombe Hill! Locals directed me to the next right turn, where I found the dreaded Bushcombe Hill. This hill was so tough. I started to climb, moving through my gears, then horrors! My chain had slipped off the largest rear cog and was caught between cassette and spokes. The chain did not want to sit on largest cog, so cycling resumed with me in 2nd gear, not my desired first. I cycled a short way and then sadly stopped. Bushcombe Hill had beaten me a 3rd time. Grr. Pushed bike to top of Hill (and that was an effort in itself) and was about to descend but noticed my front tyre was flat! How long had this tyre been flat? Was that excuse for not climbing hill?! With only 7k or so to go (plus fact it was now dark), I did not fix puncture but just used gas to inflate tube with hope it would see me to the end. A great descent took me all the way to Winchcombe. I stopped at the Winchcombe sign post to take photo for proof of passage (for the 'missed' control). Hmm, hope the photo comes out, it was rather dark. Continued to car park, the arrivee, where I stopped to get a bag of chips, using the receipt for my last proof of passage! Woo too, job done! Buschcombe

During Cotswold Corker, cycled a total of 105.4k (65 miles), in approximately 8 hours.

This latest Cotswold Corker turned out to be a real menace. Not only did I not beat Bushcombe Lane Hill and suffer ridicule from Ron, I also had a puncture to fix. Worse still, I lost my camera with a few proofs of passage contained therein. Grr!
Only ran once this week. The effects of Christmas are becoming apparent - I have put on much weight, gotten fatter and am developing man boobs ('moobs'). Was out of puff for the whole route. I ran with SJ, who seems to keep getting fitter as I keep getting fatter. We ran our 678 Route. It was very cold, -1C in fact, and I felt uncomfortable the whole way. The river and weir looked spooky with a cold mist hanging just above. Was pleased to finish that run and awarded myself with a pack of McVities digestives (perhaps this is where I'm going wrong?)!

You might have noticed Brian (the skeleton) and his bike on a few pictures throughout this latest blog. Brian is SJ's mascot and he has made an appearance to remind all that SJ and I are trying very hard to raise monies for the BackCare charity. Indeed, that's why SJ and I are training so hard and poor SJ has to run the London 2012 Marathon... Please help us to help others, by donating whatever you can here: Many Thanks.

Weekly totals: Cycled 81.5 miles; Ran 5.8 miles.

Monday 9 January 2012

Hippy New Year

Hippy New Year to all those who have followed my blog. Welcome to any who are reading this for the first time. Peace out to all my friends and family.

This blog was created some years back and was intended to record any adventure achievements I wished to blog about. Over the years, it largely turned into an exercise blog with it's primary focus on cycling. It has at times recorded running activity and various moments of madness and nuggets of nonsense the author saw fit to post. This year the author plans to do the same but wants to point out from the out-set that the frequency and intensity of all exercise phenomena will be greatly reduced. There are valid reasons for this, but first the author would like to reflect on the past year.

Was very pleased cycle-wise. Cycled a total of 5,207 miles - which roughly equates to 100 miles per week! Cycled more the previous year (5,287 miles) but much further than my 2009 effort (3,160 miles). Last year saw me complete the Paris-Brest-Paris audax, probably my proudest cycling achievement to date.

Started running in the later part of last year. This was mostly because my fiancee has plans to run the London 2012 Marathon and is in desperate need of sponsors! Started to record my running totals in hours and minutes, then changed that to distance (with the advancement of gps and mobile phone technology). Have not got a yearly total of my running distance but hope to record that this year.

Speaking of plans this year - what are my plans? And what are yours? Doing anything interesting or worthwhile and this blog may well record it!

This year I do not plan to complete any (major) long distance audax or cycling events. That is not to say I have given up on cycling, I am just taking a kind of siesta for a year whilst I chase other plans, dreams and goals. I am signed up to do the Snowdrop audax event in February and plan to cycle along the flat backroads through farmland meeting barefoot farmers in Yangshuo, China during my honeymoon in May! Yes, that's right, I plan to get married this year, in March in fact! I am organising (ha!) the most part of the wedding myself and thus far have sorted out best man (my buddy Chris Hodge), the 'guy who is going to marry us' (Neil Bennet), the venues for service and reception, the rings and have designed the invitations too. SJ, can you believe, has just walked in with her wedding dress hidden in a bag! Exciting times! After we are wed, SJ has to run her marathon! So, running will be a high priority the beginning part of this year.

The first run of this year was quite a big one! SJ and I ran to Redditch Christadelphian Hall and back. This is the venue where we plan to get married. We were both quite whacked after completing this 9 mile circuit.

My first pedal of the year was nice too. It was like old times. Ron, John V and I cycled the classic Deer Route. It was a cold and wet affair, but hey, we didn't care!

Weekly totals: Ran 9 miles; Cycled 16 miles.

Monday 2 January 2012

End of a year!

The last week of the year and I didn't cycle a single mile! I did run though, and boy, what a run it was! SJ and I entered a race that I had organised. This race was a 10k affair. My organisational skills were a little off as per usual... I thought I had entered us into a flat race around an airfield. Big mistake! I had entered us into an incredibly hilly race in Ilmington! We both ran well and completed the course in just a few seconds over an hour. I came in 101st position and SJ came 102nd out of a total of 140 competitors.
We couldn't walk following the race, but we could eat! And, what a better way to end the year! Thanks to all who have followed my blog and look forward to sharing more stories with you in 2012.

Weekly totals: Ran 6.2 miles.

Yearly totals: Did not record my running totals; Cycled 5,207 miles (80 miles short of my 2010 total).

Happy New Year 2022

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