Sunday 24 February 2019

Snowdrop 2019

Snowdrop 2019 (L-R John, Ron, Jamie, K, Doo)
On 23 February 2019, I completed my 9th Snowdrop audax. This is a beautiful audax that starts and finishes in Hartlebury and passes through Upton and Evesham. It includes the infamous 'Pig Hill', aka 'Phil's Hill'.

This was the first audax event that I ever entered, way back in 2010. This was the first time that K had  ridden an audax event. Over the years have cycled this event with many different friends. This time around, I mostly cycled with John M, Ron, Jamie and K. The WT's (Wythal Team*) were here and included Andy Genders, Tony, Phil and a guy whose name I can never remember. My blind buddy Roger cycled this event too (on his tandem) and a number of his tandem partners were here also.

As with all adventures, there are many points of note. Here is a selected few:
  • It was a super warm (hot) day. How I wished I had a short sleeved top.
  • Not all my buddy's hung around for the obligatory start photo for the purpose of this blog.
  • Phil conquered Pig Hill. Guess we can no longer dub it 'Phil's Hill'.
  • Mark Rigby was the controller at Upton. Ron threw all the stuff off his table.
  • Roger got round in a super quick time which was just awesome, especially considering he was blind, over 70 years old and punctured!
  • Ron caused me to have indigestion - I had to speed eat my super expensive burger at Raphael's due to time constraints ;)
  • I plan to ride this event again next year.

Snowdrop 2010
Snowdrop 2012
Snowdrop 2013
Snowdrop 2014
Snowdrop 2015 (Turned up too late for group start photo)

Snowdrop 2016
Snowdrop 2017
Snowdrop 2018

Saturday 16 February 2019

Love, Valentine and Wham BAM (2/12)

February is the month of love. My lovely wife sent me some caring 'look after your back' information to prove her love to me and we enjoyed a pre-Valentines curry on the 13th. On Valentines day itself, I had a date with Roger. Roger is my blind buddy and tandem cycling partner.

I cycled a solo trip from my abode to Roger's domicile. We then both got aboard his tandem and set off on a jolly. It wasn't long before we randomly cycled past another of his tandem partners (Danny). We stopped to say 'hello' and then the 2 of us became 3, as Danny wished to abandon the group ride he had planned and joined us instead. 

Interesting talking to Danny, as he knew the Head of Health at my work place. The 3 of us chatted bike talk, work talk and usual nonsense for several kilometres. Our stop point was at Aunty Rita's cafe, in Flyford Flavel (I think). We were enjoying a breakfast here when the 3 of us became 4. Randomly again, a chap called John entered the cafe and joined us. He too, was a friend of Rogers. 

After a fill, we left the cafe as a group of 4 and cycled further through this beautiful day. 4 became 3 when John left us near Hanbury. 3 Became 2 when Danny left us in Redditch. 2 became 1 when I left Roger at his house and cycled to my own home, back on my own bike. What an awesome adventure.
BAM 2/12
Everybody knows I love my wife. I think most folk know that I love cycling too. And, just in case you didn't know, I quite love wild camping also. On the 15th Feb, I completed my 2nd month of the 'Bivvy-a-Month' (BAM) challenge!

Rob, Ron and I set off into the dark and headed for our destination - 'Round Hill'. The dark roads we cycled soon became quite light as we headed off the tarmac and onto muddy fields. The moon was not quite full but it shone real bright. We had no problems, save the pushing and hike-a-bike up the hills, reaching the summit of Round Hill.
What an awesome night. What an awesome spot. We were clearly high up as we could see for miles around. In fact we had a full 360 degree view of the landscape. This was the first time I had wild camped at (well, very near to) a trig point.
We guessed that there just must have been a fort or similar dwelling here in times past. It was just the best view point around. The moon was shining so bright and the stars were too.
(This pic was actually taken the following morning)
We actually camped in a little dip or hollow just to the side of the trig point. This awesome spot kept us completely hidden from view and sheltered us from the wind. All around we had awesome views of the shining stars and of course the big bright moon. Inside the dip, I felt like we were all items inside a frying pan.

We set up camp. Rob cooked some sausages. Only right we had a little drink to wash the food down.
Dancing ensued not long after. Ron was DJ and we all rocked out to Metallica, Motorhead, Pink Floyd, The Breeders and other tracks on his iPhone.
'He made the stars also'
We like the moon.
I'm not totally sure what Ron was drinking, but I'm sure he drank too much. He was convinced there were 2 moons. Ron also saw a hare and a bat which Rob and I were sure was just a figment of his imagination.
Egyptian shin dig or dancing the funky pigeon?!
Following a dance and a drink, we all soon settled down to star and moon gazing. I remember 1 a.m. coming and going and then I remembered no more until morning came. I must have been first to doze off as I didn't hear the snores of Ron or Rob.
A lovely morning followed an awesome night. Clear skies and super warm considering this was only February. I slept pretty fine considering this was a wild camp. My air mat had deflated somewhat as it so often does.
Not sure what had happened to Ron but he was covered in feathers and licking his lips. Initial thoughts were that he was munching on an early breakfast of pigeon. He tried to convince us that his down sleeping bag had ripped.
With everybody up, we had an amazing breakfast. We cooked not only sausage and bacon, we had eggs too! Delicious. We drank all this down with copious amounts of green jasmine tea.

Camp didn't take too long to pack up. We all felt that this was one of (if not,) the best wild camps we had ever had. Stoked to have completed my 2nd month of my BAM challenge (just 10 to go). Just as we left the off-road tracks we bumped into the farmer who just greeted us with a 'hi, these aren't bike tracks you know'. Ha!

As stated at start of blog post, my wife proved her love to me - she sent me a fact sheet about looking after my back whilst cycling. An interesting read. And because I love you lot, I figured I should share what I read. A lot of the following text has been copied straight from that back fact-sheet:

... estimates suggest that anywhere between 30-70% of us will get back pain when cycling. This pain can be caused by a variety of reasons but the good news is there are simple things you can do to ensure that you do not develop back pain or you manage your back pain and prevent it from becoming long term and debilitating... Cycling helps to keep us fit which is the best way to try to prevent or manage back pain. Here are some simple exercises you can try to help keep you on your bike. If you have an existing back condition, you may want to skip exercises that exacerbate your pain.

Before riding
Arms, shoulder and back stretch
Place your hands on your bike’s saddle and handle bar
Step back a few stepsBend your back until it is at a right
angle to the groundHold the stretch for 15 seconds.
When taking a break
Side stretch
Stand with your feet slightly apartGrab your left elbow with your right
hand and your right elbow with your
left hand above your headSlowly pull your left elbow to the
right with your right hand until you
feel a stretch. Hold for five secondsReturn to upright position and do the same on the leftRepeat four times (each side).
After a ride
Lower back stretch
Place your palms on your lower back fingers facing downwards
Slowly arch your back and stick out your chest while slightly leaning backwards. Hold for 15 seconds then return to original position
Repeat three times.
At home
Diagonal stretch
Point the toes of your left foot as you extend your right arm
Stretch as far as is comfortableHold for five seconds, and then relaxStretch the right leg and left arm the same wayRepeat four times (on each side).
Upper back and shoulder stretch
Clasp your hands together behind your back
Slowly raise your arms behind you until you feel a stretch
Hold for 10 seconds then lower armsRepeat four times.
Toe touch
Bend forward at your lower back to touch your toes
Try to keep you knees straight but if this is difficult you may bend themHold for 20 seconds then return to
original position.
Upper back stretch
Clasp your hands together, palms facing forward Extend your arms in front of your body and hold this position for 10 seconds then relax
Repeat three times.
Seated back and hip stretch
Sit with your left hand behind you and your left leg bent and crossed over resting outside your right knee
Place right elbow outside your left thigh
Slowly turn to look over your left shoulder while rotating your upper body as far as you can for the stretch
Hold for 10 seconds. Release, and then do the same for the other side
Repeat four times (each side).

Sunday 10 February 2019

Feet in February

My first adventure in February was a ParkRun. This was my 20th ParkRun to date. I thought my days of improved running were long gone as my last few ParkRuns all took over 24 minutes to complete (my fastest ever being 21:39). I was willing and pushing myself to run a sub 24 minute ParkRun on this occasion and goodness gracious I did! In fact, I ran a sub 23! My official time was 22:59. Sure, it was a long way off my PB but I was super pleased with that. I finished in 58th place out of a field of 346.
The following week I ran another ParkRun and was again super pleased, especially as I had ran my fastest time this year. I took a whole 3 seconds of my run the previous week and ran a time of 22:56. I came 49th out of a field of 482 (5th in my age category).
That'll probably be the last of my ParkRuns for this month. I still plan to keep running but greater plans of cycling and wild camping will fill the next few weekends. Maybe I'll aim to complete a ParkRun at least monthly, just like I'm attempting to bivvy a month (BAM).

Happy New Year 2022

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