Thursday 30 November 2017

Back to Back and the Bad (Bum) Badger perm

Wowser, what a great start to this week. Training started 'early doors' on Monday morning. And what a start it was!

Jamie cycled all the way from his domicile in Brum to join me on a perm that I had created. The Bad (Bum) Badger' perm. We were late in setting off but it was still early in the morning.
The Bad Ass Badger Perm, 223k
Cycling to the first control in Broadway was pleasant enough. It was like my regular commute to work, only I was on a different bike. 'Eleven' was my machine on this adventure and she felt different kitted out in skinny (28mm) tyres. We never actually reached my work place, we cycled past it and then stopped in beautiful Broadway. Breakfast in Broadway was a challenge - beans on toast £50 (well, £5.80)! Wow, do people really stop for breakfast here?! We spotted a deli and had a snack as the prices were so high. I opted for a samosa (£1.95) and Jamie had a black pudding scotch egg. 
We left beautiful Broadway and cycled into wonderful Winchcombe. The first of our major hills came next. Cleeve Hill wasn't super challenging but it was a hill none the less. Jamie reached the very near top in his large chain ring. Super hero or showing off?! Over the top and wee, what a super descent! Our wheels took us into Cheltenham where we stopped and snacked some more. A further savoury dish for me - sausage roll. Pretty gross but food none the less.
Big hill number 2 was soon climbed. I think this was Lilly Hill. Just a tad tougher than the first big one. A strange but rather cool looking buss shelter tops the top of this climb. Shame I didn't take a pic. Long descent, long roads and a tad off off-roading (slippy muddy stuff) took us into Cricklade for our official breakfast stop. We found an awesome cafe (and once inside saw a CTC cyclists welcome sign). Jamie had a big breakfast here and I had a mega one!
I love these greasy spoon type gaffs. Lots of food, tasty and relatively cheap. I loved the way Stacey (the girl behind the counter) would squeeze our t-bags in her bare dirty fingers and lob said bag into a bin some distance away. Did I eat all my breakfast? - you bet I did!
Leaving Cricklade we cycled a short stretch of motorway. Not really, but a busy road (slip road) had to be cycled until we reached quieter roads again. On route to Witney we cycled some relatively quiet roads that were littered with traffic lights for no apparent reason. We passed many an airfield too and spotted strange drone like things that transformed into regular aeroplanes. Jamie had a puncture menace once the day light vanished (this may have been after the next control). Some random off road cycle paths were navigated too (again, this may have been after the next control). Whatever, and wherever we cycled, we reached Witney and stopped at Greggs. Hot drinks and gingerbread man helped warm our cockles before we set sail for Banbury. Talking of warm, Jamie had given me some Aldi special merino socks and they were just aces! Thermo regulated warm feet! Cheers dude.
Long stretch to Banbury. Headspace a bit all over the place but good cycling. Am sure we chatted about TAW and other cycling related non-sense. Am sure random randomness was discussed to. And the next thing you know - wow, there was a cock horse on Banbury Hill! Well, there was a horse (and frog) and a cross.
We had reached Banbury and Jamie decided to have another puncture! Puncture fixed and faces stuffed. We found a great kebab house and lamb kebab in naan was exactly what I devoured. Yummers!
The last stage took us home, well back to 'Doo Little' anyway. We cycled past Stratford which looked pretty awesome with all the Christmas lights. The main roads we cycled on this last stage were relatively quiet (due to time of day) which was a blessing. On reaching my abode my body felt broken, but my head felt groovy. Another awesome audax cycled and a great adventure with Jamie. How we're gonna cope with 12 days of tougher madness next year is a bit daunting at this stage. Jamie then left my yard and cycled back to his in Brum. Yeah, he is made of the same stuff as super hero's!

Following day, Tuesday, I cycled to work and back. Ouch, groan and moan! Who said back to back cycling was a good idea?! Felt so whacked. Once home again, I put my eldest daughter to bed. She asked I cuddle her for a moment to help warm her bed. Next thing you know - my wife searched and discovered me. She was wondering where I had gone until my snoring gave me away. I had fallen asleep in Lunar's bed!

Wednesday was another cycle commute. Thankfully, I felt better than the day before. Strangely, still felt hungry though (having eaten and eaten last couple of days). Still felt sleepy too. This recovery thing is difficult!

I thought about running on Thursday. The thought ran away without me. Cold and frozen, decided I'd had enough exercise for one week!

''...Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest'. '' (Psalm 55:6)

Sunday 26 November 2017

A series of quotes / Back 2 Back

Oh my, excitement for the pending TAW (TransAtlantic Way race) continues. With 28 weeks remaining, I decided to read a few blogs from this years race. Not so sure if that was a great idea. Below is a series of quotes taken from what I read:

If I take the first four days of my two Transcontinental (TCR) attempts and compare it with this TAW attempt, I can conclude that in my opinion, the Ireland race is tougher! Predominantly because of the weather… we are not talking a freak week of weather, oh no, it’s just the general West Coast of Ireland summer weather! We were only a few hours into day one when the torrential rain started, raining so hard it was causing flash flooding. The rain bounced so hard off the road it made seeing anything in front of you incredibly tough, so we all just peddled on with our heads down into the unknown, waiting for a break in the intensity of the rain. Soaked to the skin, wearing everything I had, I couldn’t keep my hands and feet warm, so it was into a shop to buy a pair of Marigold washing up gloves for my hands and some bin bags for the feet. (Katie Jane)

Well what an event that was! I consider it a great personal success even though I ended up scratching/abandoning the race close to the finish due to a condition known as Shermer’s neck. (Where one’s neck muscles become so fatigued that they can’t adequately hold your head up and makes riding unacceptably dangerous). (WhizzyFlyWheel) 

The 2017 TransAtlantic Way riders experienced no lack of surprises this year, including some late night collisions with sheep and deer...

I asked Jamie to read the above and asked if his glass was had full or half empty. He replied, 'optimism shines through'. Perhaps he'd been drinking badgers again?! My buddy Chris messaged this week and said 'still don't get why you want to do that ride', to which I retorted 'still wish you were cycling it'. Who wouldn't want to cycle this?!

Took advice from last weeks lecture at the Gorilla cafe. My training saw me complete 2 (slightly longer) back to back cycles. These cycles weren't super long distances but about 80k on 2 successive days. A good start to the week and then only completed one further commute cycle.

Noted other quotes this week too. TAW blog posts weren't all that I was reading. Indeed, searching through the scriptures, I read  '...bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things...'. Now, there's a thought (an exhortation).

Sunday 19 November 2017

Badgers, Gorilla's and Garmin

Oh you handsome badger...
Started the week with a cycle commute. On the way to work I saw the sun rise. On the return from work I saw the sun set. Lovely.

Tuesday was a nice day too. In the evening, a pedal with Ron (the Phantom) took place. Hadn't cycled in the evening with Ron for so long. It was great to catch up. We cycled a reverse 'Deer Route'.

Wednesday was another commute cycle affair. That feeling of annoyance when you leave work, only to return, because one has forgotten their keys. Grr!
Only one further cycle took place, and that was Friday night. After work, I cycled to the Gorilla cafe in Kings Heath to meet a couple of monkeys. Jamie and Trev were already there as I rocked up. The plan was simple - listen to a cycle coach / Dr give a lecture on training whilst drinking beer. The beer was toxic - 'Badger', I believe. Nice tasting stuff, ginger aroma, 5.2%. My head didn't thank me the following day. From the lecture, I learn't that I should focus on my weaknesses (climbing, sprinting, endurance, recovery). The best advice really, was that I need to complete back to back rides if TAW is going to be my goal (which it is). I know I'd also benefit from a better core, eating healthier and weight training but I'm a Doo and Doo's don't do what they should do. The lecture ended, 3 Badgers later, and an interesting cycle home was had. It was dark and a few comfort breaks were required...
Doo, Mac, Trev
Over the weekend, I played around with plan's for TAW. Sadly, my Garmin had issues with large files and kept going wonky. The Garmin would cease to work and hard re-sets had to follow. Most annoying. RidewithGPS was proving menace too. Then I purchased a months subscription and all was fine and dandy again. I now have a daily schedule prepared for Jamie and I.
Day, distance, climb, hmmm
The Master Plan
Completed schedule with GPX files (all safely downloaded onto Garmin). Better yet, I have maps and now daily distances and hilliness profile including the climbing figures too. Also plotted and booked is accommodation (nearly alternate days) in hostels along the way (the other days will be wild camps). As can be seen by my prep notes above, we plan to cycle over 200k most days and one day has over 2,800m of ascent.

TAW, argh, only 30 weeks away. I think Jamie may have had too many badgers - he sent me a text stating 'coach said start training 6 weeks before, 24 weeks of partying!!'. Hmmm.

Sunday 12 November 2017

Spinal Tap

This past week started great after a cycling lull spanning about 2 weeks. Indeed, Monday saw me cycle 3 different trips using 2 different bikes. One of these bikes was 'Eleven', the new addition to my stable.
Eleven's first ride was a trip from mine to my buddy Rogers domicile. Eleven performed just fine on her 25k debut. Since Eleven was so shiny and new, decided to keep her that way and cycled only on road (as opposed to off-road options).

Once at Roger's, I swapped Eleven for the front seat of his tandem 'The Beast'. We cycled a familiar route to Whitlenge Tea Rooms and back. Whitlenge Tea Rooms provided the most awesome breakfast at about the half way point. This was a good route and formed a 'half-pipe' looking hilliness profile (see pic below). The heavier climbing on the outward bound route. In the cafe, Rogers nose was bleeding quite bad - gushing with bright red blood. Roger couldn't see his blood as he has been blind for as nearly as many years as I have been alive. However, Roger was not born blind and has seen colour. Better yet, Roger remembers colours quite vividly and red is his favourite colour. Red, like the blood from his nose and like the colour of 'The Beast'. Roger is a legend.
Once back at Roger's, I quickly changed bikes again. Decided to cycle Eleven home by climbing up and whizzing down the hill by the Lickey's. Eleven climbed just fine. Her brakes weren't bedded in yet and I hope they prove better than the BB5's I had on my previous Cannondale! Felt kinda different riding a biking with 37mm tyres. Hmm, now not sure whether to cycle an audax (200k) using same fat tyres or swap to something like 28mm. I wonder how much difference it would make?

In the week, I completed 3 to work and back commutes. My journeys appear to take me at least 10 minutes longer each way now that I have changed my tyres (to Winter tyres). Is dark when I leave and dark when I return. Has also been quite cold but not freezing just yet.

Caught up with both my brothers over the weekend. Never saw Big Dave in person, however, he sent me photo's of his new 'bionic back' aka 'spinal tap'. Ouch!
Saw Rob in person. He didn't have a spinal tap. Rob and I ended the week with a nice cycle around the good old 'Deer Route' which I hadn't cycled in ages, so that was nice. In fact, had a lovely weekend with SJ and the kids plus Robin, Kim and Ma and Pa. The firework display we saw was rather spectacular and it was great to wish my Pops a happy birthday.

Saturday 4 November 2017

7 - Eleven

Not an awful lot of training took place again this week. No real bother, I still ran and cycled a little. Made some major changes within the bike stable too. Indeed, poor 'Pinky' was sold. Also sold 'Winter Channel no.7' which made place for 'Eleven'.
Bye Bye Pinky :(
Bye Bye 7
Pinky was a good idea that just didn't materialise. She was a single-speed road bike that had on-going issue with the chain set / tensioner thing. I just didn't get her 'right' and she was just abandoned really. 7 served me well. She was a regular road bike which I initially purchased for use as a winter bike. However, 7 quickly became my off-road bike. Despite not being an ideal off-road bike, (could only fit a maximum size of 28mm tyres), 7 took me on many off-road adventures including the Torino-Nice Rally, Tour of the Black Country and a South Downs Expedition too. I really wanted a bike that I could use on the roads in the winter, tackle gravel in the summer and take off-road when I chose. So, pleased when Eleven arrived at the stable, as she appears to tick all boxes. We'll soon find out...
The delivery. Can you spot Eleven
Anyways, before Eleven arrived, my running and cycling activities took place. Only 2 short runs and 2 cycle to work and back commutes. Better than nowt though, I guess.
My first run was on Halloween. I ran in the day and saw no sign of gremlin, ghoul or geek. My run the following day saw no creatures of the night either, however, smashed up pumpkins were everywhere!
Hmm, next time the Mrs wants to see 'Rockabye Baby!'
Now, post Halloween and I saw a wonderful pumpkin. This pumpkin was in the sky. Aces! I see some truly wonderful stuff when out cycling on my bike.
Pumpkin in the sky
My last cycle was a real race. Well, the outward bound part of the commute anyway. I raced home as I knew Eleven was being delivered. My legs raced round and round and I got home in a real quick time, but not quick enough. The delivery folk had been and gone. Grr. All is well that ends well, and eventually Eleven was delivered to the stable on Friday.
Clean Bandit
Eleven is yet to be ridden. The weekend was spent away with the Mrs see. We went and saw Clean Bandit and rocked out to 'Rockabye Baby'. This really was a different sort of challenge... To be fair it was a lot of fun. Maybe, just maybe, the Pumpkins next time.

Happy New Year 2022

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