Saturday 19 December 2020

Covid calamity continues into Dec 2020

Covid concerns continue. Much menace. Tier 3 restrictions currently in place where I live.

Hmm. Figured we could all do with a bit of cheering up and what better way than a reflection on past events. Yes, the past contains many adventures and I'd like to quickly share 3 past events. These are Zwift FTP, a Tour of the Black Country and a Wild Camp in December.

Ok, first off, FTP - Functional Threshold Power. I blogged about Zwift previously and reported that following a certain test I had a FTP score of 245 which I understood to be pretty average. I was pleased that it had increased from 220 though. Better yet, I recently entered a race on Zwift and my FTP had increased to 260. Not quite so pleased after realising I was disqualified from the race for cycling in the wrong category (had entered as category D and power suggests I should be C and had finished third until DQ).

The Tour of the Black Country is a great ride and to date have cycled this 3 times. My latest adventure was with Chris and Ron. This particular version was 20k longer than the previous times I had cycled. The things I remember most about this ride were the lovely chips we ate in or near Wolverhampton - they were orange and probably cooked in a different type of fat - most delicious they were (cheers Ron). The tough hill didn't prove to be as tough as I remembered, however, there were certainly more hills than I remembered. We cycled past a bridge which Ron's company had built. We all managed to cycle a lap of the Velodrome which was pretty cool too. Great day with great friends.

The last thing I'd like to bring back into mind is a lovely Wild Camp that happened one December. All my camps have been really rather wonderful and this one was no exception. On this occasion, Ron, Chris, Jamie, Rob and my good self all cycled to a new secret location (chosen by Ron). We quickly set about setting up camp. Ron, Jamie and I had hooped bivvy's, Chris a hammock and Rob just a regular bivvy.

As well as having different sleep set up's, we all had different bikes too. Ron and Rob were on mountain bikes, Jamie and I were on cross bikes and Chris was on a Brompton! Our collection of food was also varied too - we had sausages, eggs, bacon and burgers.

Apparently, it was only Ron who had award winning sausages! Ha! All the food tasted delicious to me. I think food always tastes better when someone else cooks it! 

The camp spot was home to many creatures and we heard the hoots of owls. We awoke to the scream of deers. The morning light allowed us to watch squirrels hopping from the tree branches above us. All rather magical.

On leaving the the camp spot, we only bumped into Tony. Y'know the 'window cleaner' and guy who helped teach Rob to drive all them years ago! It's a small world.

Hoping Covid does one and real soon. If not, just guess I'll have to reflect on past events some more...

Sunday 29 November 2020

Winnings, spinnings and trimmings...

Despite the major menace of Covid in recent times, life has been pretty good. It's always good to win, it's always good to spin and it's always good to have doses of adventure. I'm a happy boy.

SIKA have been very good to me. They sent me a lovely bottle of champers for being the Lantern Rouge in the SIKA virtual race 2020. Furthermore, they sent me a lovely gym towel just for taking part. Winner!

Have cycled quite a bit of late, mostly indoors and it's all been fun. Cycled to the top of Mt Ventoux only yesterday (virtually, on Zwift). Unlikely to cycle 10,000k by the end of the year which was my initial target. It's the end of November at time of writing and I've cycled 8,643k thus far. I would have to cycle 41k each and every day until end of year to reach my target. Tempted to complete the Rapha 500 again this year (500k in 8 days over the festive period), however, feel this event has lost much of the 'novelty' factor. Rapha have stopped awarding folk a woven patch for completion of the event and this year will accept virtual rides (which makes this challenge less challenging). Have started training for my TransAlba race next year and I just hope the event happens. Have also signed up for the Cotswold Cross 2021 event - a cyclocross event, just because I've never entered such an event before and want to tick it off my bucket list.

A much sooner event I've entered is a 60's Retro Run for the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. This is a half-marathon affair scheduled to take place on the Winter Solstice. To be fair, it was the yellow submarine advertising that sucked me right in. Should you want to sponsor me and donate to a great cause, you can - just follow this link: DooRunGood. I best start running again, this event is in like 3 weeks time and I haven't ran at all the last couple of weeks.

Have been out for a walk or two with Ernie pupster though. He's been a lot of fun and now an established member of our household. Being so young, he can't walk for much over 1/2 hour at a time. His time will come and I'm sure adventure awaits!

Tuesday 10 November 2020

Winner, winner, chicken dinner

Last month was pretty great and lots adventure was had that included running, camping and cycling. I had lost weight and was feeling generally uplifted despite all the Covid chaos. A particular high-light was the SIKA race that I had entered.

This month has started pretty great too. I have won 2 prizes for cycling related events - how cool is that? The first prize won was a pretty naff water bottle courtesy of Cycling Heroes. I started using this cycling app a while back as it helped with motivation. I think I had to cycle 50k, or an hour, or something like that to be entered into the draw.

The second prize was better yet, as it was completely unexpected. I've won a prize for being the Lantern Rouge in the afore-mentioned SIKA race. Y'know, the race where my mates dropped me on the climb of Alpe Du Zwift! Ha! Never have I been so proud and pleased as punch to finish last. Zero the hero! (Have no idea exactly what I have won, will reveal all when I know).

Took nearly 3 hours to climb this beast

I've been really quite pleased with my new smart turbo trainer. I've not had it long and already it's told me I have a FTP (Functional Threshold Power) of 245. An FTP of 245 is only kinda average but, hey, it enabled me to take a virtual place on the SIKA podium and we all know it takes a special kind of person to be a winner!

Sunday 25 October 2020

Wild Camp Oct 2020, Sika Race and Man's Best Friend

October's Wild Camp was an interesting adventure during the last week of British Summer Time. The Phantom, Rob Dog and I set off to a camp spot we had previously camped out on, but, do you think we could find it?! The trail was much overgrown and navigating proved difficult. Phantom did his best to locate this spot, however, we had to use Rob Dog's phone (using 'what3words') to find the specific spot. Fair play to Phantom, we were only 20m away.

As per usual, Rob Dog set about cooking before he had even set his sleeping quarters up. My bivvy looked particularly camouflaged I thought. Phantom chose to sleep under the pre-constructed shelter. Almost as soon as we were 'camped out', sausage, burger and buns were ready for the eating, Delicious.
Once it hard turned real dark, we started to feel fracked out for a stretch of time. We could see lights, like search lights, in the woods below us. The fear set in and we all thought we were part of a major man hunt or something. We were relatively well hidden, Phantom had constructed a shield to hide us further but the fire we had burning might just give us away. Only one thing for it - out came our hip flasks and the fear dissolved. I wonder what the lights were? Poachers maybe? We had seen deer eyes in the dark.
Had a good night and slept relatively well. I was using my winter arrangement - that is, 2 sleeping bags, one inside another. I felt snug and comfortable.
Was great having another cooked breakfast in the morning. After our delicious food, we packed and left camp and it looked like we had never been there - except for the ashes left in the fire, Phantom had made. Another cool camp!

Following the camp, Phantom and I took part in a Zwift race. This was the 3R Sika Cycle 2020 race. We were joined by Jonny M and Steve plus a whole bunch of others. Am really liking this Smart virtual world of cycling. This was the first time I had cycled Alpe Duez and to think I did that from the (relative) comfort of my own home. I think this was the longest time I had ever spent on a turbo trainer in one sitting. I cycled a distance of 46.7k in a time of 3 hours and 10 minutes and climbed some 1,710m! Phantom, Jonny M and Steve said 'lets all ride together', which we did for a spell but then they dropped me on the Alpe climb. I think the notion of 'race' got the better of them!

The best thing to happen this week was Ernie rocking up. Yes indeed, we now have a new addition to the family! Meet Ernie, our new little pupster! I'm sure he will feature in many adventures to come.

Sunday 18 October 2020

Montgomery Madness Audax (200k) and much madness in October 2020.

What a mad year 2020 has turned out to be. My own madness demonstrated that when I became focused I could train hard and lose weight. Indeed, last month, I lost 3kg by training hard and looking after my diet. Because I did so well last month, I kinda lost my focus a little at the start of this month. Yeah, I paid no attention to eating, didn't fast and just trained a little. Then I did something mad, well a couple of mad thing really...

First off, I got myself a smart turbo trainer. Oh man, this was fab. I could kinda do the outdoors indoors. Jonny M and Ronnie had convinced me this was a good idea and yup, I agree, it certainly turned out to be. I'm a fan of Zwift now which my 'regular' turbo trainer never seemed to get on with. Will be interesting to see how many virtual km's I can clock up. This years SIKA event is a virtual ride and yup, you got it, it's on Zwift. This ride includes a famous big hill/mountain and I hope to cycle it next week (will blog more if indeed I do).

The other mad thing I did was complete the Montgomery Madness Audax. This event is awesome and I had cycled it before as a permanent event with The Phantom, back in 2011. This time around I cycled the calendar version during Covid times. Covid meant that groups of 6 started off together at staggered times (this wasn't absolute) and we had to be careful in Wales as their 'rules' differed to that of England. So, mad Covid issues and absolutely mad amount of hills on this ride - unrelenting and awarding the cyclist 3.5 AAA points. Montgomery itself was located in Mid-Wales. Mad, huh?!

The ride started from the car park at the Severn Valley Railway which was rather nice. Almost as soon as out of the carpark, the road swept uphill. It felt, and probably was, hilly all the way to Bromyard.

I bounced the first control. I could have bounced them all to be fair because, AUK has 'left the stone age and have decided that GPS track files... can be accepted as proof of passage'. It's always good to stop but controls really can suck time out of a ride. More hills and patches of very muddy road finally took me to the control in Ludlow. It was nice to devour a bacon and egg roll here and wash it down with a cup of tea.

More hills, a real big climb and then a dash took me to Knighton. I actually saw the 'welcome to Wales' sign that I failed to see last time I cycled this event. Incredibly pretty sights - God's creation is just awesome.

Nest stage was all about climbing the Clun hills. Had a super nice descent down The Cwm and finally made it into Montgomery. Madness!

Lots of climbing leaving Montgomery with ascents of 17%. Passed a place called the Bog and felt obliged to take a comfort break. After some time had a fantastic climb up and over Long Mynd (which The Phantom told me meant 'long mountain') and then a zoomy descent down the Burway. Last time, I punctured down the speedy Burway descent. This time, I was better blessed and saw wild horses atop the Long Mynd.

The last leg was homeward bound. Day turned into night and it was dark by the time I reached Morville. A few more ups and downs finally led me to the arrivee. No one to meet and greet on this audax. Mad times indeed. A crazy audax but thoroughly enjoyed. May madness abound!

Happy New Year 2022

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