Sunday 30 March 2014

Cheltenham Severn Bridge High Loop and other short adventures

The days go slow but the weeks years go fast. Monday marked a whole 2 years as a married man! Within those 2 years I was also blessed with a lovely daughter and landed a new job. 2 Years ago, who would have thought?
A card from my sister Jane
Started this week off with a run around the Studley triangle. Initially felt like the right thing to do after not running at all last week. My run was pretty pants though. The weather was wet and drizzly, I forgot to set my Garmin and I didn't seem to be running so good. Even though it's not a major disaster, I can't express how annoying it is when one's Garmin isn't recording as it should! I think that was why my run was more menace than fun - once I realised my Garmin wasn't recording I had that 'paralysis of will' feeling.

Tuesday night was spent with Aid and Ron. We cycled a mostly urban style type of ride on our different MTB's. Aid had a hard-tailed 29er, Ron a full-susser and I used my single-speed (hard-tail). It just went to show, pretty much any bike could be used to have some fun!

No further adventure until Saturday. Saturday's adventure was awesome and worth the wait. I cycled the Cheltenham Severn Bridge High Loop 200k audax for the first time. This was an event organised by Steve Poulton.

As the name suggested, the Cheltenham Severn Bridge High Loop 200 started in Cheltenham. My start was real early, not much after 7 a.m.! The day looked promising from the start, however, it was a wee bit chilly first thing. Soon warmed up though as there was a bit of a climb leaving Cheltenham heading for Dowdeswell. First stop came at the 13k mark for info control purposes. I had to name the Church in Withington.
Such a beautiful church in Withingtom
Remember the name for info purposes!
Leaving Withington, nice roads (a roman Road) took me all the way to Cirencester. I passed a lovely building that I remembered cyclist past on the Poor Student perm. So nice in fact, have included a photo from said perm (as I was too lazy to take a pic on this occasion).
Wonder when I'll pass these arches again?!
Wonder if those arches were from the Roman era? I had followed a Roman Road and signs for an amphitheatre were passed after all! My journey continued in ever increasing temperatures and took me to my next stop in Minety. 
So hot here in Minety
 At this stop it was just so hot that I peeled off a number of my layers. Searched my pockets for food and ate a very tasty cereal bar. Oh, and answered another info control question - stated the postfix number.
Postbox number for possible future reference
Am sure this day was probably the hottest thus far this year. No complaints from me, made my cycling a more pleasurable experience. This particular route was nice too as it took me to places I had never cycled before. The next stop was a real pretty village called Castle Combe, would love to visit here again and take my wife and daughter.
Castle Combe
From Castle Combe, I made my way to Chepstow. A lot of my headspace was filled with my 'Bristol days' as signs for Thornbury were followed for stretches. (Thornbury was near to where I stayed when I lodged in Bristol, studying a degree in Biomedical sciences). The best part of this section was the fact that I crossed the Severn Bridge which I just love. I didn't take a photo (again) but took a picture to prove I had reached Wales.
Had reached the 'big' country
Chepstow was my lunch stop. I had the audax staple diet of beans and egg on toast. Bacon and sausage were naughty additions. Suitably fuelled, I headed off to Monmouth. The route to Monmouth included some wonderful descents. In all, the route contained about 2,000 metres of climbing (no AAA points though) so it was nice to speed down some lengthy descents. The hilliness profile of route is presented below.
Hilliness profile of Cheltenham Severn Bridge High Loop 200
Had a free cup of tea at Monmouth Waitrose. Never expected that. SJ had given me a Waitrose card but little did I expect it to get me 'free tea' with no purchase of anything else. Bonus! Maybe we should give homeless guys Waitrose cards?!

A little off-roading took me to Symonds Yat as I followed the Peregrine cycle path from Monmouth. Being such a nice day, this path was chock-a-block with walkers, dogs, kids and other cyclists. Such menace! Real road then took me to Ross where I was glad to stop for another cup of tea.
Selfie, all the rage apparently
Another short stretch of just 14k took me to Newent. As nice as this route was, I felt it had a few too many controls (11 in all). The next control was Staunton but nothing was open (then I realised that it could be used as an info control). The info question wanted to know how far away Pendock was. Pendock was 3 miles away, but Cheltenham, the arrivee was still a trek away. The final stretch to Cheltenham was a bit of a push as I was battling against a head-wind. Once I reached Cheltenham, it took me a little while to find my car. Ha! A great adventure was had and 221k's were cycled. My 2 AUK points for March's RRtY purposes bagged! The GPX track of my route is presented below.
Cheltenham Severn Bridge High Loop 200
Final adventure of the week was a lap of the BG SR 1 route. On this occasion, I took Lin with me. Ha, I renamed the route 'Killing Lin Softly'.

Cycled 297k this week (and ran 5.1k)
Cycled a total of 1,893k this year (and ran 85.2k)

Sunday 23 March 2014

Even dirty rats leave sinking ships

A birthday card from the Hodges
Spent Monday morning catching up on what my friends, family and fellow enthusiasts had done / had planned of late. Most notably, Jane was spinning in a gym after some time away from the bike and considering whether she should ditch her cleats. Lin had been preparing for the London Prudential 100 mile road. However, Chris topped the chart! Chris had been given £50 for chatting about bike related nonsense and had gotten entry into both the Eroica Britannia and the L'eroica in Italy. These Eroica events are classy retro race type things. I wish I could support Chris in Italy (like he supported me in France) but with this event being in October and having a 'little one', it looks most unlikely. Chris's adventures can be followed here: Chris's aka Mr O's biking bulletin
A birthday card from the Mrs
Monday evening was spent with Ron and our MTB's. We started cycling the Deer route but diverted once we spotted a suitable off-road track. Surprisingly the ground was hard. Was real fun to be off-road after so long. We rejoined the Deer route further along and was able to cycle back by continuing with the 'dirty' i.e. off-load version. All in all, a super x-country single-speed MTB spin.
A birthday card from Jane, she's sure she spotted me in there...
Didn't Cycle again until Thursday. Tuesday and Wednesday were spent panicking - I had to prepare for an interview. I was actually interviewed on the Wednesday, my day of my birth.
A year older, birthday shirt courtesy of the Mrs
Thursday was a great day all round. I was pleased to have landed a new job as a British Transport Police - Senior Liaison Nurse. Woo hoo! Will from MadeGood emailed me about their LEL documentary and stated ''[We] are planning an event in the mid-summer some time, which we will invite everyone that took part [in documentary] to attend. We’ll also have a copy of the film you can take away, and I’m thinking about putting together an unedited timeline of all the footage we have of you as a memento you can keep…  I’ll be in touch again when we’ve got some idea about a date for the summer screening''. To top that, I had a great cycle too! I cycled a x-country single-speed MTB jolly covering about 50k. Only slight downer to the day was the fact that I fell off my bike twice!

Final adventure of the week was another x-country SS MTB adventure. This time around I took Aid for a blast on some of the roads and trails I skirted along earlier in the week. Was great to be out getting so muddy. Only menace was that both Aids tyres punctured despite his slime-filled tubes.
Lunar agrees, Life is Good!
No running this week. Cycled 123k. Aged a year. Landed a new job. Received news from MadeGood. Life is good.

Sunday 16 March 2014

Badger, badger, badger, badger,badger, badger, badger,badger, badger, mushroom, mushroom!

Had a week of annual leave. A time to play hard and forget about work. Or so I thought...

Things started well. First adventure of the week was a blast around the LemonAid route. This was a nice nights cycling with Ron and could-you-believe it, Aid. Aid said he had been reading my blog and my taunts of 'Southern Fairy' had given him the motivation he required. Will use this blog for many more taunts and jibes I think. Ron and Aid were out using their 29er's. I was the odd one out (nothing unusual about that) and was using 'Queenie' my single-speed MTB. On route, we thought we were being followed by a helicopter. It turned out the helicopter was searching for (and found) a mental health patient who had escaped incarceration and subsequently electrocuted himself after climbing a pole. What an electrifying adventure!

Second adventure was a blast around the 'Stroud 5 Valleys' audax. This was a permanent event that I have ridden so many times now. Quite a hilly affair too.
Stroud 5 Valleys 50 GPX track log
Quite a hilly affair, scoring a single AAA point
Am not going to write loads about this event as I have blogged each of the several times ridden before. Today's ride was ridden on a nice Spring day and I used 'Scotty' my MTB for this adventure. Am real pleased I was not on the bicycle pictured below.
Random bicycle at the Painswick control
Most bizarre thing about my trip was cycling past a badger on a bicycle. Yup, you heard me right. Mr Badger on his bicycle!
Badger on a bicycle
My week had started so well, but by midweek, things had taken a turn for the worst. Work related issues put pay to my play. I had hoped to cycle each of my four bikes in daily succession but this was looking likely not to be. Instead, I was glued to a computer screen researching preventative suicide strategies.

Lin came over Thursday which was nice. Especially as SJ and I now had a baby-sitter and a chance to run together. We both ran the Studley triangle route which was great.

Friday was given over to work related nonsense. Argh, why does work always get in the way of fun. Grrr, the sun was out too.

SJ went for an early morning run on Saturday around the Studley triangle again. Once she got home, I felt inspired to do the same. I ran my fastest this year, running the Studley triangle at an average pace of  5:03/km. Strangely, I didn't push myself like I had done the previous week but still had a quicker time and faster pace. Perhaps my Garmin Forerunner had gone wonky?! Ha! Saturday turned out to be a 'duathlon' day for me as I took my road bike 'Slinky' out too. Earlswood lakes was where I cycled to and back. The main purpose of this trip was to test my new Exposure Revo MK1 dynamo light out. The light worked a treat and has the added bonus of being able to charge my Garmin. Shame I tested light in the daylight though. D'oh!
This picture was on the wall at my Sunday Service
Sunday arrived and woo hoo! - I managed a quick cheeky spin in the evening. This final spin was using 'Kay O' my single-speed (conversion) road bike. Was so chuffed I used each of my 4 machines this week, what a feat! My last ride was a quick trek up to the Jimney Ring and back via an alternate route. Am thinking of 'stealing' more Strava user routes if the weather stays fine.

Managed to cycle a total distance of 144k this week. My total cycling distance this year now stands at 1,473k. Am pleased I have kept my running going too. Have ran 80k this year. Wow!

Sunday 9 March 2014

Sunshine haze and happy duathlon daze

This week started well. On Monday, SJ and I ran the Studley triangle together. As nice as this run was, it was also kinda sad. We figured this would probably be the last time we run together for a while because my folks are visiting my siblings overseas and won't be able to babysit Lunar at short notice.

Mid-week was my first duathlon day. For the first time in goodness-knows-when, I managed to both cycle and run (and in that order too) on the self same day. I was getting withdrawal symptoms from not riding my bike but all felt good again as I sped along my TTT 20 route. Once home, I changed into my running gear and ran the Studley triangle. I pushed myself on this run just because SJ made comments about us both being competitive with one another. About half way round the route, I saw SJ (and baby Lunar) in the car which provided further encouragement. I completed the run in good time, with an average pace of 5:11/km which is my fastest pace this year. A little later SJ sent me the picture below, I wonder what she was trying to tell me?!
My next duathlon day was on Friday. Friday was such a beautiful day - the sun was shining, birds were singing and it truly felt like Spring had arrived. SJ suggested I take Cody out for a run with me and I thought 'why not?". So, Cody and I started to run over the fields in Studley on what I call the 'Handlebar Run'. Only problem was, Cody - my four legged friend, kept stopping for a sniff here and a sniff there. Despite the weather being glorious, the fields were not - they were still very wet. In places Cody just refused to run because stretches of our route were submerged in water. This was a wet, muddy and painfully slow 5k run. I won't be taking Cody out for a re-run in a hurry! The cycle was much better. In fact, for the first time this year I was not wearing my winter shoes! Nice, warm sunny weather took me to Evesham, where I picked up the 'Snowdrop' route and cycled as far as the Jimney Ring before heading home again. Such a lovely route with one tough hill for my single-speed to battle. I think I will repeat this route and have named it the 'No snow mojo' because it wasn't quite the Snowdrop and certainly helped me get my mojo back!

Last adventure of the week was a lap around my stolen BG SR 1 route. This is probably my favourite stolen route. Again the weather was superb, a lovely Spring like day. For the first time this year I was wearing shorts without leggings and no jacket! May this lovely weather continue!

Managed to cycle 134k this week which brought my yearly distance up to 1,327k. My cycling is way down on last years figures but at least I was still able to get out and spin my legs. Pleased with my running figures - managed to cover 16.3k with my two feet. Have now ran 69.9k this year. Happy daze!

Sunday 2 March 2014

My shoes were made for running?

This has been a relatively un-eventful week. I only cycled on one occasion. However, am pleased I managed to run 3 times though.

My cycle ride was with Ron. We cycled round and about our village. Cycled less than 30k this week and this was all in 1 trip.

My 3 runs were all with SJ and were all the same route. This route was the reverse Studley triangle. At least my shoes have seen some road.

Happy New Year 2022

Happy New Year folks. I wonder what's in store for 2022,  - something crazy, something new? It's a shame Covid is still here and I&#...