Friday 29 June 2012

Cotswold Corker (June 2012)

Went out with Ron on Tuesday for my first cycle this week. We started to Cycle the TTT 20 route but took a detour by-passing Great Alne, headed towards Bealey before taking first right, then re-joining the route in Alcester. A beautiful night for cycling and we even saw some deer. Once home though and the major menace of hay fever kicked in!

This weeks mid-week menace was hay fever! Cycled the same route as yesterday (only without going to Ron's address and without Ron). I think I prefer my original TTT 20 route, as this variation misses out 'John's Hill' (can't remember why it's called that right know, but I know it has reference to John V). This route is a nice alternative though and follows the Bearley road and goes past the 'impassable ford'. This ford has a sign next to it stating 'impassable at all times - this is not true however. Last year, both Ron and I successfully passed this ford on our mountain bikes, others weren't as fortunate. Anyways, completed this particular route on a fine hot night. Returned home and the hay fever kicked in. Grr!

Friday saw me complete another Cotswold Corker audax! This is a 100k, hilly audax scoring 1.75 AAA points around the Cotswolds (as the name suggests). I have completed this event many times now, but this time was perhaps the most special.

Started the Corker in Winchcombe (as opposed to the suggested start in Bishops Cleeve). It had been raining before I reached the start but the sun came out for me. By starting in Winchcombe, Cleeve Hill is the first hill to be conquered. This hill is only slight menace really and is easy to conquer (have climbed this hill successfully on my single speed) and makes a good climb for warm up purposes. After this climb a lovely descent (Gambles Lane 25%) took me to Bishops Cleeve.
Left Bishops Cleeve and headed for the infamous Bushcombe Lane. This hill is the Cotswold Corker! Indeed, the book 'Another 100 greatest cycling climbs' awards this hill 10/10! The website stated 'Several steep, narrow lanes ascend Cleeve Hill ... these are some of the steepest in the Cotswolds. Bushcombe is the steepest... [The] lanes are signposted as 25% - Bushcombe is probably closer to 30% in places ... ascent is 1.95 km long. Over this distance, you climb 157 height meters'. How awesome! More awesome still, is the fact that I conquered this hill without stopping, without walking and without out putting a foot down on the ground. Woo hoo, I conquered this hill for the first time proper! Following this great climb, I was awarded with a super fast descent back into Winchcombe.
From Winchcombe another tough hill was climbed before reaching an info control in Guiting Power. Perhaps the most scenic part of the audax passed from Guiting to the Northleach control. Stopped in Northleach just briefly to purchase water and award myself with a Wispa Gold (using receipt as proof of passage).

Pretty passage took me from Nothleach to the information control in Daglingworth. Prior to reaching the control was nice to see a whole bunch of free range pigs on a farm. After the control was nice to see  a fox just casually strolling across the fields. Perhaps it was Fantastic Mr Fox himself?! These creatures sure beat the road killed deer and badgers I kept whizzing past. Just before I reached the control in Bisley, I thought 'my wife was right'. SJ told me to take my awesome orange rain jacket, I didn't - I took my naff fluorescent one. And it rained, and I got wet. My wife was right!  Dried off in the pub and feasted on a big fat rump steak!

From Bisley more hills took me to Andoversford. Again my wife was right. She predicted there would be floods in places and this section proved her words to be true.

The final section was great. A fast run took me back to the start in Winchcombe generally down hill for the most part. I completed this audax in good time and beat Bushcombe Lane! Oh, the joys of cycling!

Cycled a distance of 100.88k (63 miles) during this Cotswold Corker audax, at an average speed of 11 mph and a maximum speed of 39 mph! Total time spent on the saddle was 5 hours and 34 mins. 

Weekly totals: Cycled a distance of 108 miles.

Friday 22 June 2012

Ride your bike

Started the week with a sneaky lap of the TTT 20 route. Say 'sneaky' because this was un-planned, just happened to finish work a little early and took advantage. Great day for cycling with warm sun shine. On the down side, came home and sneezed lots - major hay fever menace!

Cycled the TTT 20 route again on Wednesday. Such a beautiful day and just happened to be the Summer Solstice - the longest day. Not only that, it was also my dear wife's birthday. Happy Birthday SJ!

Planned to cycle the TTT 20 route again on Thursday, but bad weather put pay to that. As stated before, Florence is a fair weather bike (or at least she will be until I can afford to buy some mud-guards for her). Thursday turned out to be the longest day - the Summer Solstice, not yesterday! An error in my Micky Mouse diary - but being Micky Mouse, what do you expect? Anyways, I still cycled. I took Scotty out instead. After donning myself in rain gear and equipping Scotty with slicks, I set about completing the Deer route. It had been a while since I last rode this route and despite the rain it was a good lap. I rode the version where I cycled past the Mother Huff Cap and then headed directly for Coughton Ford.
Squeezed in another sneaky ride on Friday. This was a well timed ride too - had been raining heavy all day, but for the short time I was out the rain held off. Should have taken Florence out! I didn't though - I took out Scotty for a lap of the Reed route, i.e. yesterdays route in reverse.

Weekly totals: Cycled 72 miles.

Saturday 16 June 2012

Back in the UK

Found it quite hard to push myself and start exercising again after my honeymoon in China. Bad weather, poor motivation, jet lag and paralysis of will were amongst my chief excuses. However, Tuesday saw me complete a lap of the TTT 20 route on Florence, my single speed bike. This is by far my most cycled route now and even though I've completed it many times, it can still hurt. My lungs felt the pain most this time, followed by my stomach muscles which usually don't experience anything too heavy. On the good side, the bad weather held off, I completed the route and have now cycled 300 miles on Florence! (My wife says a mile per £ spent on buying her, she actually cost me £350).

Midweek turned out to be a hot sunny day, despite weather men informing otherwise. I think the sun had help lift my mood and spirits and I though I would resume running after such a long pause. I took Cody, my rather reluctant running buddy dog, out with me on this occasion. We ran the Handlebar route. Both of us were quite whacked after this short run, but I certainly felt better for completing it. Later that day, I hooked up with Ron and we went out for a swift cycle. We cycled my TTT 20 route - Ron used his Specialized Roubaix and I used Florence my single speed. This was the first time I have ridden Florence in the company of another. It was a nice evening and was good to pedal with Ron as he had a good pace. We completed the route 1 minute slower than yesterday, but we added an additional mile as we started and finished at Ron's address as opposed to mine!

Thursday was another 'duathlon day'. I started the day with a jog around the Handlebar route with Cody. Cody was a bit menace today and showed more interest in other dogs than running the route. After lunch, I completed another lap of the TTT 20 route. This time I took out Scotty, my mountain bike. I rode the route the reverse way around and added a good 13 minutes onto yesterdays time. Scotty is a Scale 20 model (2010) and I mention this because my cousin (Adrian) has just gotten himself a Scott Scale 29er Expert!

Did no further exercise for remainder of week. Felt good that I had started exercising again though, and pleased that I had both ran and cycled. Also, I received my Bear Bones shirt in the post which helped increase the excitement about my planned Bear Bones 200 adventure in October.
Weekly totals: Cycled 62 miles; Ran 6.2 miles.

Saturday 9 June 2012

Nine million bicycles

Hi! Sorry for my short absence and lack of blogs for the past couple of weeks. The wife and I were away for part 2 of our honeymoon. The picture above might have led you to guess that we were away in China and Hong Kong!

On route to London, my wife SJ said I mustn't think bike whilst on honeymoon. Other motorists were telling me different....
To be fair, SJ was areal sport and we had a few opportunities to cycle whilst away. Our first cycle adventure was in Beijing. We didn't actually cycle ourselves on our first trip. We took a Hutong Rickshaw tour along Beijing's old quarter 'Hutongs' as passive cyclists (i.e. passengers).

Our next adventure was truly awesome and took place in Xi'an. We cycled tandem style along the Ancient City Walls. This was the first time either of us had been on a tandem and it was great fun. Cycling a tandem was initially quite difficult ... until SJ started to pedal! We both cycled the complete City Wall square - a distance of 9 miles! I think SJ would have liked to have run around it 3 times - complete marathon distance.

We had a further cycling trip in Yangshuo, Guilin. This time we were both on mountain bikes and took a trek along flat back roads passing through farmland. We saw barefoot farmers with their water buffalo and bamboo rafts on the river. Amazing.
Spent a little time in Shanghai. SJ let me go off with a couple of my buddies and we practiced bike balancing tricks on the skyscrapers there. I'm the guy in the middle on the picture below...
SJ and I both had a great time in China. The little exercise we did was all good fun (cycled about 15 miles in past 2 weeks). Now we are back in the UK, we both hope to start training soon. We will need to do something as we have both increased in size and have a 1/2 marathon to run next month.

Happy New Year 2022

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