Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Haytorz gonna hate ....

A day of climbing. And descending. What goes up, must go up some more in Devon and thus descend at speed. Today James and I took on the merits of Dartmoor and threw in Longdown, Doccombe, Mortenhampstead, Haytor and the lamentable hill that attaches Teignmouth to Dawlish. Overall it were a successful ride and in 55 miles I concluded 4,850 feet of ascent which is the most miles I have ridden upwards since August 2012. That in itself is crazy. Deep sections dispensed for box section climbing wheels for safety such was the wind. Again.

Of the hills climbed, Mortenhampstead is my favourite as it simply just works for me and the tarmac is excellent once crested, the fast descent into Bovey Tracy is worth the price of admission as you can give it some full gas before you put the bike in the small ring and ride up Haytor; 1200 feet of headwind hell before you crest and take in the incredible views of Dartmoor and South Devon. Stunning. I got up 32 on the back, 36 on the front inner and 52 outer gearing combo and no issues, I just rode within myself as best I could, seated. Spin to win Lance style.

The super fast descent into Liverton from Haytor and onto Newton Abbot has to be taken with care but you are looking at 5 miles of fast descending to test the triceps on the way down, hovering the brakes, corner by corner using the knee to hold a fast line. It really is the quick way down and a reminder of the locale given the passing of Devon cobs. The issue coming out of Newton once entered is the traffic between there and Teignmouth, The road currys favour to the rider who wants to go fast though the throughput of traffic is crazy, but it is the easiest route home along the coast and James and I opened the legs here and got the bikes shifting, which was nice. 

Overall, it was a solid ride. My power was good. It is very hard to maintain a zone in Devon, but I made sure I got make into zone 1 and 2 as quickly as possible which I think paid off on the way back home. A couple of days rest now and back on it. Overall my TSS slightly up so I need a rest and recharge starting with a hot bath right now. This is the beauty of power. I have concluded I need a new gilet ! This one rolls up at the shoulders and frankly gets battered by the wind and makes me look hunched over the bike. 

Weight wise I have dropped 12 pounds over 8 weeks which is 5.44kg in cycling terms and my long term weight loss target remains attainable. I just want to feel like I did in 2012 into 2013. I hate myself for getting big, but life happens and sometimes there is more to life than a push bike when you are an average cyclist ! 

Over and out. Love to all x

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Tail wind bunkum bunfight.

So, I was anti Strava for sometime which I admit, in hindsight was narrow minded and judgemental as I envisaged Strava as a place for ego's and virtual pats on the back. I simply did not get it and worried for my fellow cyclists chasing time, thus killing themselves in the process. 

However, since joining it back in Sept 2015 I have come to love looking at it, analysing data and using it for 'self improvement' within the realms of what I do. It also throws up the odd challenge and segment which you can use to compete with yourself and others, of which you likely wont know anyone. One such challenge is Kenn Lane, not far from here. Seems like the lane of which the total distance is just a smidgen under 3 miles is a highly competitive lane which is fast, flowing and decent for some of the local lanes of which one must take care in. Single file only most of the time. It is one of those magic roads as I call them; it just glides and flows away with leylines based on water flowing down from Dartmoor I think. 

I am currently fastest this year (2017) and the year is still young but I am a minute off the overall K.O.M / fastest time though it is a target. As below all time and this year summaries shown (click to make bigger) my average speed for 8.07 minutes is 22 mph and an average power of 195 watts with a reasonably low heart rate so it bodes well to snag the K.O.M weather pending. Get a tail wind and you can tie this one up for good I think. Ooohhh how exciting. Room for improvement. 
Kudos to Strava for making solo riding fun....

Monday, 13 March 2017

March ides ....

March ides update in so much another week has passed on the bicycle. My fitness, weight loss, power and verve increases with aplomb and I feel empowered by all of these variables though my week has been offset by the mysterious disappearance of our beautiful kitten Sky. She was with us on Wednesday watching Coronation Street and Paris - Nice road race on Eurosport, she happen-stanced out of the cat flap and like Glenn Miller, in a heartbeat she was gone - without trace. Police and insurers suspect theft as she was / is a high value cat, but man, this is heartbreak. I have been searching but to no avail and fear, given this is 6 days later she is well and truly gone. How can a beautiful, adored, family house kitten simply go ? Gutted.

In summary, 110 miles on the bike last week. Feel good. 10lbs in weight dropped since week one Feb and power, speed and threshold up. I am off the bike til Friday as working slightly different hours this week so commute miles and a long one on Friday will suffice. Bikes cleaned and prepped ready for the coming week.

That's it for now.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

March hairs....

So we are one week into March 2017 and my allotted target of 375 miles is looking very good despite the frankly horrendous weather we have been experiencing here in South Devon though I understand that the wind, or head wind as we call it is everywhere on the UK map. Have said it before, but the UK is bang in the gulf stream sweet spot for excessive winds chiming in from the Atlantic via Florida.

I am on 125 miles logged which pleases me due to the weather. It is still cold in cycling terms and I am soooo looking forward to getting the overshoes off, the leggings off and getting the old pins on show to cultivate a bike rider tan. The wind has brought the odd sketchy moment on the bike with gusts and side winds usually preceded or followed by an HGV going past or away from me. Think back-draft to quote a fireman and that is what happens when a 300 tonne lorry passes you. You can escape this by getting across into Dartmoor and away from the HGV mayhem that navigates the bigger roads here, but to be honest only a mad dog would attempt Dartmoor in 20mph + winds. What goes up must come down and in that wind. No thanks. Bonkers.

My progress from semi retirement continues apace and actually, the usual cycling idioms about it not getting easier you just go faster apply. I can recall riding around at 14 mph, then 16 and today felt like long spells were in 19-22mph though when you break it down and analyse your data its a 15/ 16mph average which is fine by me giving what I am lugging about; and its Devon for gods sake. Lanes at best and often muddy as shit. On that note I have shaved 7lbs aka 4 kilos since week 2 Feb 2017 and my target of 1 stone, then onto 2 stone is perfectly achievable. Props to my partner for her ongoing support in that battle.  I've been carrying timber since I was a nipper so that is the never ending war, but there have been quite a few battles between then and now. Just in from a 45 mile zone 2 HR ride with James William Ward, which apparently burns more timber. Nice.  I looked back over the last few years and established that I rode just a staggering 11 (yes, that's eleven) miles a month from October 2013 til March 2015 which is why the bottom fell out of my cycling and my bottom got big in my jeans. And a few of those were enforced miles due to car trouble. Mad to think I was average 400 / 500 miles a month for years. But, from small acorns grow big oaks and my tree trunk time trial legs are coming along nicely.

Anyway, that's it. I am about to re-watch yesterdays Paris - Nice race on Eurosport HD where Phil Gilbert gets caught. Stage 3 live in 20 minutes. Time to dream about riding a bike like they way that mob they call the pro peloton do.   I've got a nice bike :-) That said, I wore Michael Jordan trainers when I was at school in North Bristol circa 83-88 and I was frankly, still shit at basketball.

See you directly as they say. Til' next time.

Monday, 27 February 2017

February update ....

So Feb 2017 has been and gone and I have on the whole put some good miles in the bank and hit a target of 355 recorded miles which breaks down as 25 recorded rides and 25 hours of training.  The magic number is 10 hours a week to see progress so I am not far away, but in reality that's another 15 hours in a month which is a big ask factoring in work, rest, play and commitments. Roast dinners do not cook themselves. Actually, this is the furthest I have ridden in a February since 2009 and overall a good number considering this is the coldest Feb I have experienced since I went all Canada Geese and migrated south. It feels good to hit that sort of mileage early in the year as I am riding by feel and my inner FTP (functional threshold) over power as I cannot really justify the outlay on a power meter on my main bike though prices are dropping weekly. The cost is not the issue, more so understanding the data without paying for a coach.

The bulk of riding has been single speed 10 miles each way on average commutes coupled with a 'longer' ride on a Tuesday, average distance 50 miles. Not a long way, not too bad, but far removed from my days of 100-120 miles in sub 6 hours back in the day. Life is different now though and it is about effective riding within a time frame, thus binning junk miles. A few years ago, due to the hellish nature of winter on a bike I decided to stop plodding about for 6 hours in the cold, but started riding a daily commute where possible of 20-25 miles which has a bigger effect than ploddy miles laden down with loads of kit and not really staying warm. It works for me. Today's Tuesday ride not long completed - but absolutely hellish out there ! I went over to East Devon and coming back along the cliff tops from Budleigh Salterton to Exmouth was an exercise in abject head and side wind, which was so strong, I simply had to slow the bike down on the descents to keep control. It is not often as bad as this, and I normally avoid riding in these winds, but it seemed to catch me out and come out of nowhere though I do recall the blue-screen soothsayer (aka weatherperson) on the televisual box next to the goldfish bowl suggesting it were looming. The issue became an omni-wind however. Evidently, living and riding in an Estuary creates a wind vortex with hot land and the cold sea air mixing it up. Still, I survived and aside from nipping into Exmouth cycles to buy some Belgian booties, thus saving my toes - such was the cold nip on the wind, I did not really have to stop over the 2000 feet climbed.

Going back to my inner FTP, I do a longer single speed (One gear track bike) commute on a Sunday hitting 12.5 miles with a hill climb thrown in and a rolling road which we have nicknamed 'Roubaix Lane' such is its homage to the brutal Roubiax cobbles. Devon lanes are not far removed from Belgium at times.  Steep, messy and rutted with holes. But, what I do use the lane for is a test as I turn into it and ride fullish gas up and down to test the oxygen getting to the legs and more or less conclude where my fitness is at FTP wise. I do not use heart rate here, too many variables.  Overall, I feel good and it is coming along nicely. I lit my best bike up last week hitting 30mph + on the flat no problem and I have already picked up a couple of Strava segments as 'fastest this year', highlighting sustained power and speed. It allows you to think that the leg fitness is coming back nicely. One can see the data when one sits down and examines Strava. Example segment "Darts Farm to Four Firs crossroads" a long tap it out 4 mile climb has had 4.15 minutes shaved off it in the last 12 months. Nice ! That is the simple beauty of Strava. You can compete with yourself to push on if you want to. I am only racing myself, life and the clock. The jump from 193rd to 1st not huge and it will be a goal this year. Read all about it !!! "Bristol steam train gazumps Devon whippets". 

As an aside I have dropped 4.5 lbs in weight and remain on target for a decent shift of weight by the end of March.  We have also ordered our Devon Rouleurs club kit so exciting times ahead it seems. My readers in South America are once again enjoying the blog so a shout out to Barry from Bolivia, Arnold from Argentina, Paul from Peru and Dave from Venezuela.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

1,2,3 - and he is back in the room.

It has been a long clock since I last posted a blog on here. I think perhaps 2012. I deleted 99% of the stuff on here from 2010 on-wards due to a privacy need / period of self doubt. I cannot recall if I wrote anything in 2013 given the transitional nature of my life in 2013. Jobs ending and thus relationships as well as jobs starting. This of course led to bikes coming and bikes going and to be fair to me, I have been in a state of bike flux since then. Until now. Heck, at one point I even announced my retirement to myself but I cannot fight the need / desire to ride my bike, however it comes. So, I am back, riding hard and thus posting and I will endeavour to update this post as and when I ride and then write about the complexities of being an average bike rider, albeit 5 years older and 100 miles further south than when we last spoke on the information superhighway that is the internet. There are times I find blogging self indulgent and other times, a great outlet for my thoughts. A virtual diary. I kept a diary when I was a kid, but my brother violated it and read it - bloody brothers. Still, it had some visceral thoughts about a girl in my class and I was never considered a 'bender' after that. You gotta love the vernacular of teenage boys growing up in the 1980's....

Post to follow- cycling related I promise.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Up we go ....

A day of climbing today. 4600 foot of it in fact which locally is good upward miles but after watching the Tour day in day out, I have to say is rather irrelevant and well, not much considering what the peloton are climbing. Mountains, not hills. But, I suppose it is all relative and given I am not a pro, this 80 mile bimble around the Mendips for is good enough for anyone, talented or not.

Todays route took these climbs in this order;

1. Belmont Hill.

2. Brockley Coombe.

3. Burrington Coombe.

4. Cheddar.

as well as rolling around Chew Valley Lake on that god awful road that cir-cum navigates it.

Belmont and Brockley were straight forward mainly high cadence climbing sat down. A nice ride to Clevedon and across Kenn Moor split the two climbs. When I hit Burrington after riding 'down' the rather poor and fear inducing A38, I decided after looking up the hill to keep it in the big ring and rode all the way up on the outer ring. When the road took another gradient up I applied my 10 in the saddle 10 out the saddle routine and no problems at all. Le Tour has given me new perspective on my climbing and if a slow tempered rhythm is good enough  for Wiggins than it will do just fine for me.

Just before the brow of the last bend two younger riders dropped me, both spinning up, riding a good tempo. Jokingly I told them both to man up and get in the big ring to which we all laughed though due to them being skinny whippets they dropped me good and proper. But, not for long. Cresting over the top I noted that they were looking back, working two up, so I fucking went for it and dropped the hammer down. I felt like Vino from Astana, hauling in them in, my big legs pumping full gas, closing meter by meter inch by inch. I stormed past the first lad at 30 mph on the flat and commended him on his efforts but he was shaking his head and was blown. I then locked onto his co-rider and stormed past him too and again relentlessly kept the hammer down on the small gradient along the top of Cheddar before peeling off right for the stunning descent into Cheddar.  Fit at 40. Nice.

Down into Cheddar where I had a solitary cake stop and a coffee before setting off again for another big climb. I felt empty on Cheddar despite knocking back two coffees and was three minutes slower than in the week though again it threw up no issues, I just rode slower. So much traffic today too....

At the top I went across to Chew, turned right headed for Bath via the fast Timsbury road and went into Keynsham up Bath road and home after stopping at my brother Jeffs place for tea which was nice.

Whilst my blog is academic, moot, mostly pointless, I think and feel that 4600 feet of climbing is not a massive amount, nor is it hard to some, but given my sprinters frame, some hills are tougher than others and today, whislt I enjoyed it was all about getting the hills ticked off as Le Pip is getting ever closer and that is twice the height in climbs over the cusp of the Black Mountains in Welsh Wales. In a word it is hellish, but I am looking forward to it as that is why we ride bikes.

You have to feel the pain to be a bike rider and days like today make it all worthwhile. I was hurting at the end.

Oh and one last thing. Todays head-wind was relentless. I felt like the nail today. The wind was the hammer. Thanks Gulf Stream, thanks.