Sunday 29 January 2017

ANTs, dinosaurs, deers and things...

Monday was a mash up day. Had managed to get away from work a bit early and had plans of doing a sneaky run. My plans went to pot, my dear wife SJ had also managed to leave work early. No running took place. Instead, I went with the Mrs to pick up our kids and then onto the chip shop for a big fat kebab. Eating is also a hobby of mine so I guess all was not lost.

Left the house early on Tuesday morning to ensure I got a run in. It was very foggy/misty and very cold. Decided on a cross-country run as the ground would be frozen solid and figured this was would probably provide best footing. The fields were beautiful with all the spiders webs and plant life covered in white frost. As I ran, the sweat/water around my eyes would freeze and my buff got frozen solid too. Must have ran just short of 10k in all.
Whilst surfing the internet, I stumbled across a poster for Sufferlandria. This instantly caught my eye as it reminded me of PBP when I had cycled so far with so little sleep, that I started to hallucinate and see dinosaurs. This poster was basically advertising a 'virtual tour' of cycle suffering on a turbo trainer. Without further ado, I figured I would check Sufferfest out. I had a bicycle, turbo trainer and speed/cadence sensors and heart rate monitor after all. It turned out I needed an ANT stick too - no problem I had one. There was a problem however, my ANT stick would not fit into my iPad. This ANT stick did fit into SJ's old and out-dated PC though. I spent ages faffing and cycled very little. The Sufferfest app appeared ok but SJ's computer just ran too slow for this to really work. Wonder if I will get this sorted out before the Tour of Sufferlandria begins.

Wednesday was back at work. As ever, work got in the way of training. Work always gets in the way of fun.
Ran Thursday evening. Just a quick jog around the Studley Triangle. Probably safer than the Bermuda Triangle.
Doo and port, in short.
Friday was a far out kind of day. My checks had been cleared ready for my new job, so, I handed in my notice. Work was real busy and I couldn't wait for the working day to end. Once it had ended, I joined Rob and Ron on an adventure to the Woods of Doom. Jonny Mitchum was invited but felt this was a bit hardcore or something. We cycled less than 5k before hike-a-bike across muddy fields and into the woods. We soon found a place to camp and promptly set about fixing Ron's tarp up. And what a tarp - it was massive and covered the 3 of us easily and protected from the pouring rain. It was quite warm this night so no need to build a fire. After much talk and drinky poo's I fell asleep and was briefly awoken at 4 a.m. to the sound of a deer screaming it's bark. At about 6 a.m. we were all awake.
The 2 Ronnies, no, ones a Rob...
We knew we had to wake early because SJ had given me strict instructions to be home by 9 a.m. because she was pampering herself for the day and I had kiddy responsibilities. Getting up was nice - I brought us all round with a cup of green jasmine tea and Ron prepared breakfast. And what a breakfast it was - bacon bap followed by sausage bap. After being fed and watered, we packed up camp and headed back to Doo Little for more tea courtesy of SJ and a bike clean. Great mini adventure and I'm sure Rob will learn to wrap his sleeping back in a bin bag or similar if it rains again! Shame 'Jane Mitchum' couldn't have joined us. ;)
Doo, Ron and Rob returning to Doo Little
Ended the week by running a 10k (just short) cross country run over the Studley fields. Frozen in most parts but a beautiful run. Had wanted to run Parkrun yesterday (but unable due to kids) and Hanbury 10k today but it wasn't on. Hanbury 10k is the 4th Sunday of each month not the last Sunday! My cross country affair made up for it. I also took out the skipping rope and skipped a whole 4 minutes!

Sunday 22 January 2017

The Willy Warmer 2017

Week started with an 8k run up to the Slough and back. My run started in daylight and finished in darkness. Was listening to Pink Floyd's 'a saucerful of secrets', which I have to say was quite trippy when running in the dark.
Grabbed my skipping rope Tuesday morning but was whacked after a couple of minutes - maybe I'll re-visit this at a later date. Decided it was probably best to cycle instead - and with that in mind, I used the turbo trainer. Spent 30 mins cycling at a high cadence and boy did that get my heart going!
Another 8k run up to the Slough and back started Wednesday morning. In the afternoon I walked around Arrow Valley Lake with SJ whilst Lunar cycled (her first outdoor trip) and Melody ran. How cool was that - it seems we have a potential runner and potential cyclist in the family! Once home, Lunar inspired me to cycle an easy indoor spin.
Thursday was a rest day and Friday saw me run the Studley Triangle. After running, I packed my bike into my car and headed to Windsor to check out Chris's new pad. We were both cycling the Willy Warmer 200k event the following day, so it made sense to crash at Chris's.
When we awoke Saturday morning it was real cold. We packed our bikes into a frozen car and headed to the start, about 10 miles away. The car dash informed it was -3.5C!
This was the third time Chris and I had cycled the Willy Warmer event. This was Chris's first audax back in the day. The last time we cycled this (3 years ago?) I used a single-speed machine. This time around, I used my 'Winter' bike and how appropriate I thought considering it was super wintery. As we left Chalfont St Peter, we could see the local river was frozen over.

About 160 cyclists were riding this event today. Maybe it was super-subscribed because it was an LEL year? Almost as soon as we started, we stopped. This was to take a pic of a beautiful house that had mosaic tiling on it (see pic below). Pretty, don't you think?! We stopped to either take pics, wee or tuck into rocky bars - oh, and we stopped at official controls too.
The first leg took us to Pangbourne where we stopped at a cafe and had a nice fry up. In previous years this control was great - proper greasy spoon. Now it had gone upper class and despite the food being ok, it wasn't the same. Whilst tucking into my food, my mate Gary (from Geneva) sent me a text informing he had gotten a place in LEL - how awesome!
After our feed we cycled on and through Lambourn and Hungerford. We zoomed down the Valley of the Race horse and thought back to our last adventure where we cycled roads close to these. No matter where we were, signs for Newbury seemed a constant sighting which reminded me of my dear sister Jane. Our second stop was at the Tutti Pole cafe in Hungerford where we had a spider (ice cream and Coca-Cola float) and cheese toastie.
After this feed we swung down to the under belly of the Newbury Downs. We spotted a hot air balloon as we tucked into further Rocky bars. Next stop was the Java Cafe. Milkshake (and some coffee thing for Chris) was our reward for getting this far.
Last leg was in the dark. Throughout our adventure, my feet and hands would take turns at being cold. Occasionally the wind would blow bitterly cold and ice would cover the roads. Thankfully no accidents or mechanicals (save a broken spoke which I found out once at home). As lovely as cycling adventures are, it's always nice to reach the arrivee and have a cuppa tea...
Only this cuppa tea was filth! 200+k in 12 hours and 36 mins and we get a lousy cup of tea! Well at least we completed our first audax event of 2017 and got a signed brevet card. I think this was my 114th completed audax to date.
Driving back to Chris's abode, we could now see it was -5.5C. The Willy Warmer - perhaps I should take one next year! Ha!

Sunday 15 January 2017

Not The Tempest

This week started with a 8k run up the Slough and back. Am liking my new Aftershokz Bluez 2 headphones but really need to work on the playlist settings on my TomTom watch. I was repeating tracks on this run and on my last run was having to suffer nursery rhymes. Am sure I'll get it sorted real soon.

Midweek saw me complete 2 activities in the same day - woo hoo, that was a first for this year! My first activity was a run. I completed the same run as Monday, only this time had my playlist sorted, was running in daylight and boy was it windy!
My second activity was cycling. I had set up my turbo trainer at last in my 'bike room' and got aboard Slinky (road bike) for the first time this year. Man, this session was tough. Could not believe how unfit I was - I had plans to power along at a high heart rate but just pedalling was tough enough. 35 minutes later and I was whacked! My kids were watching and asked SJ 'where's Daddy going?' Trust me, I didn't get anywhere very fast!
Friday came and I awoke to a layer of snow covering the roads. This snow excited my girls but put a stop to my plans of cycling the Wiggle Tempest. The snow didn't prevent me from going out full stop though, I cycled an on/off-road route to HMP Long Lartin and back. Boy, it was cold and windy!
Once home, I cycled a little more. Cycling indoors of course. Just a quick 30 minutes on the turbo trainer in an easy manner. Was tempted to run, but lazyitis got the better of me.

Sunday saw me complete my training for the week. Just a quick 30 min cycle on the turbo trainer keeping a cadence of 100+ rpm. No reason for cycling at this cadence, just saw a dude do the same on Strava so thought I'd copy since I have no plans of my own.

My friends are all planning adventure's and goals this year and some are considering LEL. I am not planning anything but would like to train towards something. I looked back on my LEL, PBP, TNR and IronMan adventures and feel like I should be doing something. Am feeling fat and unfit at present time and my total training time this week was only just over 5 hours. Argh man, I miss my commute.

Sunday 8 January 2017

Happy New Year 2017

Happy New Year! I do hope you have a great one.  A fat, far out, fantastic, fun filled time is what I'm hoping is in store! And, who knows, maybe more?!
My new year started well. Sarah Jane reminded me I'm not an IronMan any more (aren't IronMen for life?!) but brought me a lovely reminder for the year I was an IronMan! Didn't bother with resolutions and the like for this year. After letting the new year in with my family, I went out with Chris and our bikes! Indeed, we cycled our rendition of the White Roads classic - a 100k (slightly over) on/off road route around Oxfordshire. What a great adventure.
Our White Roads adventure began in a car park in Goring. It was a very cold day, about 0 - -3C throughout the day. I had taken precautions and wore 2 merino base layers, buff, hat, neck collar, gloves etc and sandals. Yep, sandals. Sandals with 2 pairs of woolly socks and waterproof overshoes. My (Lin's) Garmin was equipped with maps now, so I felt proper ready to go. So, go we did! Almost from the off, we cycled with beautiful scenery all around and this continued all the way to the finish.
Our adventure took us to here, who would have thought!
It wasn't long after we set off that we had to stop so Chris could put extra gloves on to keep his pinkies warm! It really was a cold day. We stopped again a bit further ahead when we spotted signs for 'Ginge'. This made us chuckle, and reminded us of our dear red-headed friends, Chris's bike and Fanta pants.
This really was a great ride, filled with awesome scenery and our usual banter. We stopped at frequent times, not to eat as is the norm, but more often than not for comfort break purposes. Each time we stopped, it was great to just look around and think 'wow, this is ace'.
We cycled through the 'Valley of the Racehorse', a place so named because it has over 1,500 horses stabled in and around this area (Lambourn) with lots of gallops. Also, Lambourn has 2 fully licensed equine swimming pools and an equine hospital. Our steel (well mine was aluminium) horses felt at home in this valley. I have cycled in this valley before and each time I do, the Mudhoney song 'Beneath the Valley of the Underdog' rings inside my head.

The climb to Uffington White Horse
Horses became a theme during this adventure. I could see signs pointing to Uffington White Horse and then set about telling Chris all about it. Little did I know our route was going to take us right by the horse itself. Whoa - how excited was I?! We started climbing (?Uffington) hill and we could see folk looking down onto the horse itself. This road was real slippy as it was frozen in parts. The climb was nice though, we saw gliders doing loop the loop (and had seen a plane doing the same earlier in the day) and again the scenery breath taking. The gliders turned out to be toy gliders, which was only apparent one we reached the summit. At the summit, I asked a couple of walker if left took us to the horse itself (off road), they replied 'yes, but you'll never get there on a bike'. Pah, of course we got there by bike!
(Not the best pic) Uffington White Horse
Wow, Uffington White Horse lay beneath our feet. Amazing. The horse is a highly stylised prehistoric hill figure some 360' long, formed from deep trenches filled with chalk. It is believed to date back to the Iron Age or late Bronze age. Some say it's not a horse at all but a dragon, the one that St George slew.
See, we really did get there by bike!
A pair of goons
From above the Uffington White horse, we could see Dragon Hill. This hill was a small hillock, a natural chalk hill with an artificial flat top. Legend has it that St George slew the dragon here. The bare patch of chalk upon which no grass grows is purported to be where the dragon's blood spilled.
Dragon Hill
After the delights of Uffington White Horse and Dragon Hill, we cycled more off-road tracks. Was hard to make out if these were chalk roads because everywhere was so wet and muddy. As we ventured, we saw signs to Waylands Smithy. Super excited again, I ensured we detoured to visit this wonderful site.
Wayland's Smithy is a Neolithic long barrow and chambered tomb. I re-told the folklore accounts to Chris. The 'real' version is as follows (thanks to Wikipedia): In 1738, Francis Wise recorded a belief held about the site in local folklore.[9] Like several other early commentators, Wise referred to the site not as "Wayland's Smithy", but only as "Wayland Smith".[10] Wise related that: All the account which the country people are able to give of it is 'At this place lived formerly an invisible Smith, and if a traveller's Horse had lost a Shoe upon the road, he had no more to do than to bring the Horse to this place with a piece of money, and leaving both there for some little time, he might come again and find the money gone, but the Horse new shod.[11]The deposition of coins at the site has taken place since at least the 1960s, with visitors lodging the coins into cracks in the site's stones.[12] As of 2015, the local wardens from The National Trust are tasked with removing said deposits, and circa2010 English Heritage removed information about the coin deposition custom from the site's information panel.[12] The coins removed by the wardens are then donated to local charities.[13] As the folklorist Ceri Houlbrook noted, all of this deposited material "contributes to the ritual narrative of a site", being "integral to the contextualisation of a site".[14]

I informed Chris that if we bivvy'd here one night, we might wake up to find our bikes shod with golden tyres. We just might do this one time and find out. Good plan, eh?!
Such a beautiful place. Despite being here before, I don't remember the holes in the stones being filled with coins. They certainly were on this occasion.
So much fun and barely half way through the ride. We found a pub a little further on but it was closed so no chance to warm our cockles. We cycled a little further and decided to stop for lunch. Lunch consisted of a jam sarnie, pack of crisps and a chocolate biscuit. Man, I was prepared this time around!
Lunch spot
After lunch, our ride continued in the same fashion of cycling a mix of road and off road sections. Pretty undulating throughout. We found another pub and this one was open. This pub was great as it allowed us to warm our feet, dry our socks and sip much tea. Pork scratchings made a nice treat.

After pub, we cycled into the darkening night. My Garmin played up for a couple of mins (no back light) but started working again. We saw the blue sky turn black. We saw Jack Frost spread across the roads and paths travelled. We saw much deer. We ate some Moroccan sweets. We felt our feet go from cold to frozen. We had a fantastic time.

As the end neared, the hills appeared to get hillier. Chris (cheeky) asked if he had got fitter or if I had got fatter (who needs a 6 pack when you got a full barrel?). I think both questions were correct. The final off road down hill section was fun and I got air as I hit a few of those bumps.

Our adventure was definitely the way to start a new year in style. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Now to wash the bike and soothe those aching legs...

Tuesday saw me complete my first run of the year. I ran a 5k jaunt around my village. Nothing special, just pleased I ran.

Ran again on Wednesday. Another 5k jaunt. This time I ran the lovely Studley Triangle and ran past 3 people I knew (Gayle, Hannah and Jennie), well, I live in a village y'know.
Aftershokz. Mashable but not mash up!
Thursday saw the return of my pink frame. Took said frame and associated bits back to Gozzard bikes. Waited there whilst the bike builder tested to see if the BB fitted. It did! Yay, hopefully Pinky (my new steed) will be built up prior to the Willy Warmer cycling event later this month.
A further run on Friday. Another Studley Triangle run. This time I was wearing a set of Aftershokz Bluez 2 headphones. Absolutely fantastic! Have been trying to get a decent set of headphones for donkeys. These are super cool because they are comfortable, lightweight and don't fit into or onto your ears at all - so you can still hear what's going on around. These pass music through your cheek bones via some bone conduction magic. Weird yes but awesome!
Wow, I got air! (Dude in the 'cow T')
Saturday was a Parkrun day. Ran the Arrow Valley event. This was my 12th Parkrun to date. Had a great time without having a great time if you know what I mean?! Ha! (Was 10 seconds slower than last week).

Not a bad start to the year eh?!

Sunday 1 January 2017

Goodbye 2016

Did very little in this last week of the year. In previous years I had completed the Rapha Festive 500 which was my main event for the December month - not this year though. No indeed, no cycling took place at all in this final week. On a brighter note, I got news from Planet X regarding Pinky, they emailed stating 'the BB threads have been slightly cross threaded, however, this was not bad and no damage done... now tapped the threads on the BB and confirmed it's ready.' So, 2017 should see a new bike - yay!

Managed to squeeze in a couple of runs. I wanted to do more but lazyitis got the better of me. My first run was a dash (plod) around the Studley Triangle and my second a Parkrun at Arrow Valley. On my Parkrun I bumped into Phil, John, Russel et al from tri-club which was nice but I found it difficult chatting whilst on the run (and was going to blame them for distracting me and slowing me down). This run felt hard and I didn't think I had ran well at all. Surprisingly, I had taken 10 seconds off last weeks run. Wow, who would have thought. Bumped into Phil (different Phil) at the end and was nice to catch up.

So how was 2016 overall, (I hear you ask)? Well, pretty great really. 2016 was the year that I swam the furthest in my life and ran the furthest too. I did not cycle as far as I had during previous years (and my buddy Chris H is super chuffed he beat my cycling score). However, I completed an IronMan event which I am so very pleased about and have the medal, T shirt, etc.
It was also awesome running in the MK Marathon with the Grumptoids.
And taking part in the first Turin-Nice rally with my best buddy Chris was super ace too.
My running and cycling distances are presented below for all the years including 2016 since my recording began:

2009 - 5,086 (3,160)
2010 - 8,509 (5,287)
2011 - 8,378 (5,207)   km (miles)
2012 - 6,935 (4,309)
2013 - 12,498 (7,766)
2014 - 9,253 (5,750)
2015 - 5,531 (3,436) and Run 1,170 (727)

2016 - 6,515 (4,048) and Run 1,204 (748)

So, this relatively boring posts ends 2016. Let's hope 2017 is a great year all round and lets hope the first post is better than this last. Peace out my friends!

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