Sunday 25 March 2018

Winner Winner Kinver Dinner

'I am mighty' (anniversary card from SJ)
Felt a year older at the start of this week. And, indeed I was! Monday saw me celebrate my birthday. After taking my daughter to school, I ran back home over the snowy fields which was nice and scenic. I had wanted to cycle some distance following my run but because the roads were still icy, snowy and frozen, I settled for a quick indoor spin. The remainder of the day was spent eating and drinking and celebrating being a year older.

Tuesday was another duathlon styled day. Took Slinky out for a quick blast and it made a change to ride her outdoors and not on the turbo trainer. I think I've found the 'creak'. I heard a sound, so turned around and think I found the thing that made the sound. The Carradice bagman (bag rack) had become loose and was rattling like crazy. My thoughts suggested this was the creak I had heard whilst on the turbo trainer. Guess I will not know until I put Slinky back on the trainer?! As soon as my cycle finished, I swapped cycling gear for running gear. My shoes then ran to school to pick up my daughter (and her friend).

Wednesday saw me return to work. I was supposed to have been on a training day in London, however, much work issues meant I had to show my face at the usual place. This basically meant that I could fit in a cycle commute - bonus! Silver linings and all that...

Thursday was a rest day. Rest from exercising anyway. Work had been a menace of late and my head-space felt like it could have done with some rest.

Friday was a good day. I took Slinky out again and cycled Cobley Hill on route to Roger's. Once at Roger's, I swapped bikes and piloted his tandem for a 50k jolly. I have been cycling with Roger (my oldest and only blind buddy) since February 2015 and to date we have cycled 1,422k on his tandem. Once our jolly had finished, I cycled Slinky back home via Rose Hill and parts of the TROAD route. Once home, I treated Slinky to a wash - simply because my chain cleaner and 'Muc Off' spray had arrived in the post (this was what my birthday monies were spent on).
Jamie and Doo
Saturday was also awesome. Jamie rocked up early doors and we headed out on an adventure. Prior to the adventure, Lunar dobbed me in to the Mrs. She said 'I like that Lobster on your jacket daddy'. The lobster was a scorpion, however, SJ now spotted I was sporting a funky new rain jacket. Anyways, Jamie and I had decided we were going to ride one of John Hamilton's audax rides, one of his 'Wandering Wolves' jaunts, namely the 'Circuit of Clee'. This was a 100k (117k) ride that scored 1.75 AAA points (i.e. it was hilly). We could start the ride from anywhere on route and Jamie had decided it was going to be Kinver. It was my job to get us to Kinver. Easy done - I created a route using Ride with GPS. After about 40k of road, bridleway, pot holes, tow path and the likes we reached our start point. I thought I had punctured a couple of times but it appeared the hiss I heard was Jamie's mudguards clogged with much mood.

Below is a summary of my memories following the 'Circuit of Clee' event:

  • We stopped for breakfast in a cafe in Kinver and had a full English. They didn't have a toilet on the premises - is that lawful? They suggested that I paid 20p and used the toilets past the shops by the car park. I kept my 20p...
  • Jamie called 'left' out of Kinver, we should have gone 'right'. No matter, we had a less hilly ride. We still cycled 1,895m. Yup, we earned the AAA points.
  • Ludlow, Ray's Farm and Pattingham were our other control stops.
  • Passing through Kinver we saw the rock houses which made me think about my Mrs because we spent time here courting. (I thought about my wife all day, it was our 6th anniversary).
  • Jamie showed me where mistletoe grows - who knew?!
  • We crossed the River Severn twice and crossed over rail track too.
  • Much snow was seen.
  • On the side of a hill we saw what appeared to be a giant igloo, golf ball or modern mosque.
  • We saw sheep munching on sugar beat (no grass). We saw sheep that looked like pigs.
  • On Ray's Farm we saw dogs that were branded donkeys and much rare breeds and exotic creatures.
  • Jamie walked in a ford and got his feet wet.
  • At one time it went very cold but was otherwise ok.
  • Clee Hill was a big climb, there were others.
  • My disc rotor made a funny sound which became quite annoying.
After we had finished our circuit, we were back in Kinver. We started to cycle back together but parted for our separate abodes as we neared nearer home. I think we both cycled over 200k that day.
Doo and SJ (6 years ago!)
Once home, I celebrated my 6th year anniversary with my wonderful wife SJ. So here's to you SJ! Looking forward to the next so many years.

Ended this week feeling quite pleased with my training. Managed to cycle over 400k (hilly too) and ran on 2 occasions. Am hoping to cycle over 500k next week and all being well will experience a night of wild camping.

Sunday 18 March 2018

Not The Dean

Grr! Arrgh! Frustrated with this weeks training. Had planned to complete my first 300k audax of the season. No such joy however, the crazy weather put an end to that. Yes indeed, heavy snow showers were forecast, breezy wind and freezing temperatures evident. The Dean was a DNS.

Only managed to squeeze in a couple of work and back cycle commutes. To be fair could have completed more but the heavy rain put me off. Plus, I was hoping to 'save my legs' for The Dean over the weekend.
Took to the turbo once in the week. The creaking sound persisted and I was still not sure what it was exactly but it both annoyed and concerned me in equal measure. 30 minutes on the turbo and I really did feel whacked. So cool that Melody decided to have a quick spin too!

The weather actually didn't turn out to be that bad on Saturday, however, it was very windy. It was really annoying that I had prepared for The Dean and packed car with bike and all my stuff. Not wanting to be a complete grump, I cycled a 40k local route instead. One moment it was sunny, the next it was dark and snowing and throughout it was windy. At least I had cycled and added a few more k to my training week.

A few more k still were added to my training week on Saturday afternoon. I decided to take a run around the village. Was pleased I had ran despite it being bitterly cold.
My street on Sunday morning
Sunday morning came and I decided I would run a few k more. Opened the curtains and wowser, the snow had fallen and was covering everything. No bother, I donned my waterproof socks and trail shoes and ran cross country. I love the fields of Studley in the snow. I love running in the snow especially when my foot prints are the only ones visible in the virgin snow.

Wanted to end this blog with a memory from yester-year. So, below, is one of those real funny historic moments. This memory was the occasion of me losing my shoe whilst out cycling with my buddy Chris. The good thing was, I found it again! And if the shoe fits...
Finding my shoe, 2011

Sunday 11 March 2018

The Golem

The Golem
This week started relatively awesome. On the very first day of this week, I cycled more miles than I did in the whole of the previous week. Better yet, my bike was kitted out in some rather funky mud-guards (thanks for fitting them Chris).
Funky guards
Monday saw me complete a 205k DIY perm that I named 'The Golem'. Gollum was a creature Chris and I met at the end of an audax event some years back. He appeared to be choking on fur balls. However, Gollum was one mean cyclist and would cycle epic distances day after day. This ride was so-named in Gollum's honour.
My ride started early doors and left Studley heading towards Stratford. Country lanes led to tow-path. Along the stretch of tow-path I passed a pitched tent and parked cycle. This tent has been here ages, I remember passing it on a previous perm event (reverse direction). Decided to take a pic so that all can see. That tent must have been pitched during the heavy recent snow flurry. Wowsers. From Stratford my route took me to the Cotswolds. It was clear when I had reached the Cotswolds, a 16% gradient marked entry into the territory. After catching my breath once more, a few more k took me to the first control in Banbury.
Banbury was not how I remembered it. Perhaps this was because I did not venture into the Town Centre. No cock horse was seen today. From Banbury to Milton Keynes the route was largely un-interesting following a lot of main road. A number of tanks were passed at one point which was pretty neat. Just like the previous control, I missed out the Town Centre. Hope my MK receipt is proof of passage enough?!
Can you spot my bike?
Many slushy, snowy roads were cycled as my route headed towards Napton. Thankfully no ice was encountered. Temperatures were much improved compared to recent days too.
Stopped at a garage in Napton for POP purposes and purchased a pork pie. I stopped in Napton on the Hill first but it did not appear to have any shops or ATM's. It did have a school though with some interesting Bible quotes printed on it's walls.
Next leg was more interesting and both gravel roads and tow-path featured. I encountered a miserable bald-headed brute on the tow-path who felt it necessary to hurl some verbal abuse. I replied 'there's nothing quite like being polite' which angered him further. I had images in my head of me pushing him into the canal. Kenilworth was the next control and wow, the castle was just stunning.
Kenilworth Castle
Final leg was a wee bit menace. The weather forecast predicted rain at 4 p.m. and for once it was accurate. It rained big time all the way home. This last leg was only 25k so at least that wasn't so bad. The roads were really quite flooded too, due to the melted snow. Pleased to have reached home in daylight and so pleased I had completed a long distance event after a bit of a lull.

Following day, I felt rough as boots. I never tend to recover too well nowadays. Struggled to complete a work and back cycle commute. Struggled, but hey, completed. How's that for some 'back to back' magic?!

Mid-week and I swapped the bike for shoes. Just ran a short 5k trek around my village. Felt great.

Back on the bike on Thursday. Completed another work and back commute. Felt less whacked compared to my previous commute.

Friday was a rest day. Had planned to do 'something' but ran out of puff. Kebab became a feature of my training plan.
On the weekend, SJ came back from Aldi with a rather wonderful bottle of wine. It's label read 'Pardon my French. Want-To. Ventoux'. How cool! Better yet, SJ informed me that her (old) boss has a tandem we can have.

Saturday was spent out-doors with the kids on their bikes. My cycling was indoors though. Spun for 30 minutes on my turbo trainer. Cadence sensor had started working again (changed battery) but something still creaks like crazy. A certain Mr Edmonds suggested it might be my knees.
Played around with Eleven, looking at how my bike may need to be set up for TAW. Pleased that I could attach front harness even with mud-guards fitted. I had to screw and un-screw certain bolts but all appeared ok. Will have to mount Garmin somewhere else and lights will need moving about too. Hopefully a dynamo wheel will be added soon and my Garmin extension arm is sure to come in handy.

Ended the week by running another 5k on the Sunday. All in all, a rather good 7 days. Next week, I hope to complete a 300k event. Oh, and happy Mothers Day mother and mothers!

Sunday 4 March 2018

No Bikes Go!

Alcester Road, A435
Blooming awful week this one. Awful on the training front anyway. So much snow, it meant no bikes go.

To be fair Monday wasn't too bad and I managed a commute cycle to work and back. It was very cold but still rideable weather. The days that followed were awful.
From Tuesday the snow started. Snow - no bikes go. I took to the indoor cycling trainer and managed 2 sessions over 2 days. These sessions were naff. The bike (or trainer) creaked like crazy which was really annoying and I could not find the creak. Was my bike damaged? Was the trainer bust? I don't know. Worse still, my cadence sensor was not working (maybe the battery was dead but no spare battery to check). I really don't like using my road bike on this trainer and wish I had a 'spare', 'trainer only bike', or 'heap of junk' to use on it. Anyone have a large road bike they would like to donate for this cause? Please.

The snow got worse as the week moved on. My mood dipped too. Fed up and frustrated that I could not cycle, could not run, could not even go for a swim. Man, I couldn't even drive as the roads were blocked. Could not get into work and little to do. Arghhh!
On the bright side, the snow was beautiful. It was awesome seeing the main road (A435) at a stand still with deep drifts of snow many feet high. No cars go!
By the time the weekend arrived, I was proper moody. I needed some of those endorphin things. Usually when it snows, I am quite chill (ha). I think the fact that my training kept being hampered by illness, then weather just annoyed me so much. Only one thing for it...
Deep snow, up to my knees in places!
Deep snow or not, I donned my trail shoes, put waterproof socks on my feet and ran! Wow, this was ace. Beautiful. Mood improved and I completed some exercise. The fields of Studley were awesome and it felt so great to tread in and hear the crunch of virgin snow.
Studley fields
Once home, SJ cooked some pancakes which was a real winner too. Pancakes with sugar, honey, banana and ice cream is sure to improve anyone's mood. Yum!
Having been over the fields once was not enough. I just had to take the wife and kids. This awful snow turned out to be just brilliant. Oh the fun we had!
The snow had drifted and in places it was really deep. So deep in fact, that Lunar was able to reside in her igloo. How cool was that?!
The poor sheep had to face the snow flurry's too. Such a shame it was lambing season. News reports suggested many new born sheep had died by being frozen to death. (As an aside, my mother reminded me of an incident some years back when I 'found' a mallard duck hiding by a snowman in the middle of these fields. I took said duck home, contacted a duck shelter etc - sadly he died 2 weeks later. Check the full story here!).
The high-light of the weekend must have been the sledging though. It really was great fun. SJ managed to sledge with both kids on board at the same time. Lunar was really brave and after a few runs sledged solo and loved it. I loved both watching and sledging. So pleased I kept hold of my sledge!

Sunday was a pretty cool day. Had a few family members come over. Aid was one such family member who managed to fix my alarm (bonus). I thought I had fixed the creak on my turbo/bike setup too - I could see the skewer was wonky.

Finished the week by jumping onto the turbo trainer and going for a quick spin. The creak was still there which was annoying. Hmm, maybe the skewer wasn't tight enough. As soon as my spin was over, I took a short run just to finish the week in style. Not much style really - had only cycled 109k and ran 8k this week. Next week is looking better, the snow is almost gone. Go bikes go!
To end this blog post in style, let me provide an update on Mr Timster Wide-Eye. He has now started eating carrot! This is huge - since I've owned him he has only ever eaten cucumber and his food pellets. He has always turned his nose up at lettuce, broccoli, grapes and carrot previously. However, now he has come out of his shell and eaten carrot! Today was also the first day I have ever witnessed him having a drink. If all that wasn't wonderful enough, I even saw a video of a panda eating carrots today too (up until now I was led to believe they only eat bamboo. Oh the things we learn!

Happy New Year 2022

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