Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Nightmare November

Warning: Self Pity Content!

So glad it's December, hopefully things can get better! In my last post I mentioned my knee injury that was on the mend and that I was hoping to get my activity level back up to normal if the "cold I was nursing" went away. D'oh, spoke far too soon.

Whatever monster lurgy I developed had me effectively sofa bound and off work for a whole week (only cos choice of mindless telly was better than what I can watch in bed), then another week slowly becoming more human, working from home...In the end it was 12 complete days of doing absolutely nothing.

I managed to get my act together and get up to my folks in the middle of the month, mainly to visit my Nana. She was diagnosed with MND earlier this year and was deteriorating fairly steadily. I knew she had major problems moving, holding her head up and couldn't talk but she could still write, albeit slowly. So we had a conversation of sorts, the hardest thing to deal with for me was actually her complete lack of facial expression, there are so many nuances in a person's face normally.

She had refused the electronic voice thingy as she didn't want to sound like Stephen Hawking! Stubborn old bird. I left worrying what on earth was going to happen once she lost the ability to write, as mentally she was still as sharp as a tack, just stuck inside her own head with no other way to communicate.

8 days later she died in her sleep(as often happens with MND). It was quite a shock but also a relief at the same time. It was no sort of a life and I'm convinced she took the only control option left to her in the end by refusing to eat I said stubborn. As you can imagine I was pretty pleased I'd managed to get to see her.

On the way home after the funeral (Wednesday 23rd), I stopped off at Glentress for a bit of a ride. My fitness had long since gone over a cliff due to knee injury followed by lurgy and my original plan was to just pootle round the red, just pedalling, thinking things over, enjoying the endorphins.

I ended up doing the black climb (why, I have no idea, haven't done it for years and I really wasn't really well enough) up to the mast then the red descent. The climb was a complete grovel at times, particularly as I kept trying to attack it in too high a gear but I enjoyed the pain in that weird way, I think I needed the effort. I need to ride this climb more often when I end up at GT, its fantastic.

I picked up the red descent from Spooky Wood and had an absolute whale of a time all the way back to Hub. It was due to shut on the Sunday so I was quite pleased to be able to buy one last piece of carrot cake.

Since then I've been trying to claw my way back to fitness. It's not going entirely smoothly, not helped by the stupidly windy weather and my desire to keep things short at this time of year. I've gotten a few "easy" short runs in, quite a few swims and am starting to get back out on the bike. I even set my turbo up again....not actually ridden on it yet but now the threat is there I'm actually going to cycle to work tomorrow, 30 mph gusts or not (I'm sure I'll be swearing like a trooper once battling it).

Onwards and upwards!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Stupid Knee...

Been hiding a bit as feeling sorry for myself the last few weeks, due to ending up on the injury bench. My left knee has been causing problems, I spent almost a whole week where I could neither fully bend or straighten my left leg and back of the knee was swollen...the cause of this injury...sitting at my desk!

Ok, it was after a busy and very, very long day (0900 - 2350) in which I barely moved from my desk (very unusual for me) and I could barely walk to my car afterwards. As I'm quite paranoid about knees I rested for a week which helped a little but tried a two mile run and it all swelled up again so sorted out some physio. Cycling was a bit painful, as was swimming too - which seriously peed me off! Possibly the most annoying thing was I fancy having a go at another half marathon early next year to motivate me over winter, had drawn up a rough plan and didn't even get to do the first run.

Its likely its really just some inflammation around the knee, not helped by tight calves (stretching) and possibly tight hamstrings, though at the same time I have pretty good range of motion in them? No ligament damage or anything and am slowly building things back in, single leg squats are my future.

Have now managed up to four pain free during and after running miles. Commuting is fine as its flat though at first had to drop quite a few gears for pulling away with the panniers. Swimming is ok now too (pushing off the wall hurt) and I've done a couple of MTB rides. Riding the On One was still giving me a few problems, I ended up sitting right on the nose of the saddle (not particularly comfy).

I have moved it forward quite a bit now and the back of my knee no longer hurts. This is slightly "amusing" as I had a problem with the VMO muscle on my left knee a few years ago that resulted in me moving all my saddles back and buying layback posts for the MTB, ho hum.

This has resulted in geometry and layback comparisons on all my bikes. Most of my bikes are around 74 degree seat angle apart from the On One with is a super slack 71 and the Kinesis which is 73. I also wasn't aware that seatposts can have different laybacks, up to a whopping 25mm on my Bianco (which compares to 10mm on the commuter). No wonder I had problems when I tried to set the saddles into same position on the rails!

Next thing to try is some road hills, hopefully this weekend, if the annoying cold I now appear to be nursing disappears.

On a cheerier note, my new commuter is built (Jez did end up doing it but I stripped and cleaned the Ribble components, which took ages). I love riding it, love commuting with the panniers, it just feels so much more relaxing not having the weight on my back, it changes the whole feel of my commute. I love the mudguards and it seems more comfy on the rough roads than the Ribble it replaced. Not sure whether that is the frame or the 25mm tyres (find it hard to believe its the tyres).

Speed wise I think its about 1mph slower overall than the riding the Ribble with a rucksack, but I am slower at this time of year anyway. More importantly it is probably about 2mph faster than the Spesh...probably triple that in a serious headwind as I can get down on the drops. Stealth black to a bit of more visible colour (my Garmin now matches):

Let the bike stripping commence...


Physio tonight, hopefully will be more in the land of the active now!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Advanced Muppetry....

Its a good idea when taking a hot pan out of the oven to carefully use an oven glove on the exceptionally hot handle. Its also a good idea to move said pan by the handle away from the edge of the cooker to a safer position, though taking the oven glove off before doing this was most definitely not a good idea.

Cue burnt hand and a few hours of sitting with my hand in a jug of cold water whilst necking pain killers. D'oh, d'oh.

Its a bit sore this morning, a couple of blisters on my fingers and thumb and a nice imprint of the pan handle on my palm and its throbbing a tiny bit. MTBing is out tonight but road riding may be ok tomorrow as don't hold onto the bars the same way. Just debating whether going swimming is sensible (no weeping from the burn)...may just content myself with a run?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Back from Switzerland...

Had a great few days with day two being one of the toughest days of riding I've probably done. Journey back on Monday totally disrupted by flight cancellations in the UK, eventually got home after midnight sans bike and exhausted.

Currently sat at home waiting for said bike to be delivered after an anxious few days waiting for it to be traced and brought up to Manchester. The boys all got theirs on Tuesday but I managed to leave my baggage receipt on aircraft from Zurich in my hurry to get off. On future air travel I will not be so careless with baggage receipts, its not worth the worry and scanning the small print in house insurance policies whilst totting up the replacement costs!

Will post more, sort out pictures etc over the weekend.

Monday, September 5, 2011

August - meh

Not had the best August I have to say, I think its been the lowest activity month this year with a measly 158 miles ridden and one solitary, very short swim. I did somehow manage to run 40 miles which is the most in a month this year. Currently feeling a bit unfit and out of sorts.

The reason is a combination of things all ganging up on me at once. Niggly injuries, a bout of sinusitis which caused a headache so bad I was sofa bound for two days and wasn't fit to drive as my balance was shot to pieces.

This was closely followed by a parental visit, which to be fair did allow me to recover nicely but then I was straight into the first period of on call I've done in a very long time. This was over the bank holiday weekend which meant I couldn't stray too far out into the wilds. Though the weather wasn't that great anyway.

Jez and I did squeeze in a quick blast on the mountain bikes on the Sunday where I tried my hardest to stay right on his wheel. Pretty much managed it too particularly uphill, though on some of the fast open downhills he gapped me a bit even though I was pedalling hard but that's momentum for you.

I indulged in a bit of retail therapy to cheer myself up and the extra money from the on call means I could finally start building the commuter/winter road bike with full guards and a rack I meant to build at the beginning of the year (spent the money on Bianco then instead).

The plan is to move the bits from my old Ribble frame to this new Kinesis frame. I foolishly said I would build it...that may or may not go well. It will certainly take me a lot longer than Jez would. I think he had Bianco built in about an hour, including the gears and fork steerer sorted. Somehow think its going to take me a lot longer....if I don't get banned from it due to lack of mechanical sympathy.


September has at least got off to an ok start with a swim (which went better than it had any right to), a run and I managed to squeeze in a bit of an MTB blast on Friday morning before heading north for a weekend in Edinburgh with friends. Its good fun being a tourist in your "home" city, saw stuff I've been meaning to for years.

Got another steady run in today up around Darwen Tower with one temporary misplacement incident in Tockholes woods which was hilarious. Somehow I managed to dodge the rain only have to run about a mile and a half out of 7.2 miles actually directly into the stupidly strong wind.

Going indoor skydiving tomorrow which should be interesting! Then starting the packing process for our trip to Switzerland (similar trip to a couple of years ago). I can't wait but just wish I was feeling a bit fitter for the hour long climbs.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Cycling Gods Hate Me!

Been quiet lately, suffering from a few niggles and an accompanying case of the blahs. Not helped by the weather seemingly bypassing the rest of August and heading straight for October last week. Have a bit of a stiff left shoulder and my old feeble left knee/tight left hip problem is trying to make a reappearance (the latter is actually causing the former).

So not much swimming at all and to be honest St Annes pool is so incredibly busy at the moment that its pretty unsatisfactory anyway (unless you want to do very slow breast stroke). The downside of its location at the seaside and an large elderly population I suppose. Actually thinking of trying out Leyland pool for a bit until the kids go back to school and hoping lunchtime swims become feasible again.

I did sod all this weekend in spite of grand riding plans and eventually had to force myself out the door on Sunday evening for a bit of a run. A promise to myself to do only 3 miles turned into 7 pretty enjoyable miles (apart from the first 2 that is). its probably what I needed as this morning, despite massing black clouds of doom I got up to cycle to work with Jez.

One mile into the commute and I nearly fall off my bike just after pulling away from a junction, my foot had slipped off the left pedal. Try in vain to get it to clip in and pull over thinking my cleat must have fallen off. As soon as I put my foot on the floor I knew that wasn't the case. A quick look at the pedal (Crank Bros Candy) and the spring has jammed open, great. Leave Jez to get on with his commute and I ride back home to get the fast road bike.

Get it down, get air in tyres and change shoes to roadie clogs then head off again. I don't know why I let it enter my head but I hoped I wouldn't get a puncture going through the messy road works on Strand Road as I had fast rather than durable tyres on. Banished the thought. The rain starts in earnest, I was hoping it wouldn't be too long a shower as I have no guards on the fast bike.

Got through the road works ok...just heading to the cinema on the docks and rear tyre start squirming, bloody puncture! Pull over at a handy bus shelter so at least I'm out the rain. Change tube ok after a serious check of the tyre, could feel the air whistling out of the punctured tube but struggled to locate the hole, manage to actually get the tyres on and off the rims with just my thumbs.

Pump a little bit of air in the tube with my mini pump to check all is seated ok before unleashing the CO2, all well. Unscrew the mini pump and the entire valve core comes with it. FFS!!!!! Never had that happen before, now seriously, seriously peed off. Now no spare tube at all.

Get the other one in, go straight for the CO2 and I did think about just going for it but I the way things had gone today I'd just end up puncturing again half way which is 9 miles from home and 9 miles from work and a good few miles either way from civilisation.

I then ride in a fairly angry manner towards home. Thinking that I could just jog if I get another puncture as its only about 4 miles max...then remember I've got roadie clogs on now so start riding a lot more sedately scanning the ground constantly for pointy things. At least the sun had come out.

Get home, try to touch as little as possible in case it breaks, drive very carefully to work. Unfair!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Big Sky Riding

Saturday just past and I was back in the Dales, only about two months after EDD but a completely different weather experience. This is what I love about Dales mountain biking:

Big Sky Riding

Bone dry trails and fantastic views. In fact, I think that was probably the first time I had actually ridden some of those trails in the dry, for some reason we seem always to tackle these grassy, limestone infested trails in the winter wet, complete slogfest then.

I managed to clean the evil climb out of Littondale up to the road skirting PenYGhent for the first time ever, pretty pleased with that, normally I just either don;t have the legs or spin out on some greasy bit of limestone. The lovely cheese and pickle sandwiches I'd just troughed at the pub were the deciding factor I'm sure.

The visibility was just awesome, this was the kind of view I knew I was missing in all the clag of the EDD:

Pen-Y-Ghent..actually visible for a change

A great ride and just occasionally on the descents I thought my descending mojo was really coming back, ear to ear grins at the bottom of every single one...hopefully I'll get it fully back before our trip to Switzerland in September.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Wot MTB Tyre Pressure? (For the girls really)

Can't believe I'm actually asking this question but it was suggested to me last night that perhaps the reason I'm pinging around so much on the hardtail and losing traction really easily on the slightest hint of gravel on a climb is that my rear tyre is perhaps a little too hard at did feel rock hard to squeeze tbh.

So...who runs what psi on the rear of their MTB? For info I use tubed Kenda Nevegal/Blue Groove combo on both geared MTBs all year round/in all conditions and usually have 30psi at the front and 40psi in the rear. Minimum pressure is allegedly 40 psi for both tyres (oops) but I've run the front at 30 for a good few years now with nary a problem (touches all the wood I can find).

I just have this irrational fear that lowering the rear to 35psi or below will result in a sensation of riding through treacle with a squidgy tyre, making everything harder, particularly climbing. Though I have at least realised these days that much more than 100psi in my skinny road tyres only feels faster as I'm pinging off everything on the road as opposed to actually travelling faster.

No point asking Jez as he runs closer to 50psi in his and thinks my front tyre in particular is too soft. No I don't generally let him inflate my tyres unsupervised and yes he has pumped mine up to 50psi before..just before setting off on a ride with lots of wet limestone, hilarious it was not.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Morning Swimming

After last weeks total swimming fail due to not being able to park anywhere near the beach because of the weather I have gotten up twice this week (Tuesday and today) and got an hour in the pool before work....and it wasn't that bad actually. A whole week out of the pool can really set me back.

I did have a couple of wtf am I doing here at this time of the morning but I am managing to get some good swimming in (that is a relative term!). I figured I should try to make it a bit of a routine before the school holidays start as lunchtime swims will be almost impossible.

I did head down at lunchtime yesterday for a short technique style session and it was a faff even then as some of the older kids have obviously finished and were in the pool. To be fair they were actually swimming but I get annoyed with (usually blokes) that thrash up the pool to beat me at crawl then slow breast stroke back because they are knackered and I catch them up.....

Lazyish June

Feels like I've not done that much since the EDD, though looking at the stats its not quite true. It was no surprise (at least to me or Jez) that riding that far in that weather and taking in the best part of b*gger all calories did leave me somewhat lethargic for at least a week. What was a surprise was the fact that it took over a week for any sort of appetite to come back but hey ho. Enough time has passed that I have at least cycled in a headwind again..and a bit of rain.

June saw my motivation take an upturn when the weather did, though for some reason I have been hit quite badly a couple of times with hayfever. Not continually but has left me with a bunged up nose, streaming eyes a slight wheeze which made any sort of activity difficult.

It didn't occur to me that swimming would be affected but it was as I try to breathe out through my nose continually when my face is in the water. The chlorine actually irritated things even more and my nose unblocked just enough to allow a constant stream of snot out.

I decided that swimming through chlorinated snot wasn't a great idea (though at least it was my own I suppose), grim. Swimming was further kiboshed later in the month due to the world heading to the beach on the scorching days..I couldn't get parked within a mile of the pool in any direction those days.

I did manage a little bit of running, but hayfever and the heat meant I CBAd with it a lot. The totals don't look too bad though for the month:

24.5 miles/3:44 hours of running
5.41 miles/5:00 hours of swimming
325 miles/22:33 hours of cycling

31:18 hours overall which isn't too bad. I've had a rough goal since the beginning of the year to try to average out at an hour a day of exercise to help shed the lard jacket and I've managed it every month so far.

I should update on how that all went really, I think I've just about come to terms with my starting weight on the 1st of January this year...or maybe not but I've taken my eye off the ball slightly since the EDD and I don't want to head back to being that lardy again.

So scores on the door:

Weigh in 1st Jan.....66.7 kg (FFS, I'm only 5ft 4)
Weigh in 14th May....60.4 kg much more like it, glad I didn't have to haul those 6 kilos round the EDD.

I'm not flying up hills on the bike at all but they definitely require less effort than they did, I've got a good bit of free speed in running (what I noticed the most actually) and all clothes fit really well again.

On the slight downside, headwinds got a lot harder on the bike as I lost some power, I don't roll as fast downhill and I get pinged around a lot more on offroad descents than I did, especially on the hardtail but I'm sure I'll get used to it. I started being sensible again last week and as usual I felt really sluggish once I cut out the extra crap (I'll get used to it again) and was starving for my whole 50 mile road ride on Saturday and ended up with:

One of those rides...

In my defence I didn't put all that cream on and I had to scrape most of it off to eat the scone (then ate the cream, oops). Incidentally I still seem to be struggling to get out of the training for EDD mindset as every road ride still has me seeking out as many chevrons as possible. This didn't amuse Jez on our recent ride around Pendle Hill, that and I'd forgotten how lumpy it actually was.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Etape Du Dales

It's now almost two weeks (how did that happen) since I did the Etape Du Dales, 110 miles of hilly fun in the Yorkshire Dales...the last 65 of which were probably the most, wet, windy, cold and miserable I have ever been on a bike, well a road bike certainly.

The weather was awful, a permanent headwind (I knew this was a possibility in the Dales so it wan't too much of a surprise), there wasn't even a view to compensate for grovelling up the hills. I survived though and still think the Dales is a fab place to ride and will be back there on a bike soon (road or MTB) - though if you'd saw and heard me on the long slog to Tan Hill on Sunday 15th May you wouldn't believe me.

An early get up of 5:30 am and set off by some time after 6 am saw me being chauffered over to the Dales by Jez who had sorted my bike out the day before, checked the yres, gears, brakes etc made me eat and drink lots, generally had to put up with me being a major stress bunny as I was about to do the longest and hardest road ride I had ever attempted.

He dropped me off at the event HQ, helped me unpack stuff, attach number to bike, make sure I had my supplies, watched me set off at about 7:30 then headed off to Harrogate to amuse himself all day whilst I rode. I was expecting about 9 hours ish going by my speed on previous rides but would text him updates as I went round.

It was pretty much straight into the strong wind from the off, though at least the sun was out at this point. I had the course in the Garmin so set it to the course screen which gives distance to go and time remaining (based on current average speed). I didn't want to get hung up on actual moving speed numbers that early on, particularly into the wind, it was all about getting round. I sucked wheels where I could to keep effort level down.

It didn't seem long before Fleet Moss was looming, I was pleased as wanted the first climb out of the way. After the first ramp I decided my saddle was in fact too low, I've done some test rides since putting the roadie pedals on but nothing with serious climbs and the pedal/cleat combo feels very different. Put saddle up a smidge and things improve.

Over the top and back into the wind I have a slightly terrifying descent into Hawes as the bike squirmed around all over the place, horrible, the front of the bike was just a complete handful. Trying to stay away from the edge of the road but at the same time leaving enough space for the maniac descenders concentrated the mind somewhat.

Once the gradient eased off a bit I realised I had been desending MTB style hovering above the saddle, allowing the bike to move around. As there is nothing to disrupt the wobble on tarmac it just gets worse, there is no need to have the bike moving around. Park backside on saddle and things improve and knuckles get a bit less white....

...for about two minutes til approaching some sheep. Mummy sheep and one lamb on one side of the road, other lamb on the other who decides to spring across the road just as I was about to pass. I'd scrubbed quite a bit of speed off approaching them as I was rightly wary but the back wheel still fishtailed all over the place and I was glad it was still dry at that point.

Into Hawes and the first checkpoint. Get some Soreen banana loaf out to get some food in then realise whilst its tasty it is almost the same consistency as malt loaf and turns into a horrible sticky paste that takes me ages to eat. Only just choke it down before the next hill.

Onto Buttertubs, enjoy this climb too but still have a sneaking suspicion saddle is too low as the tops of my calves are starting to ache but decide to leave it in case its just the newness of the pedals, don't want to put the saddle too high as that brings its own problems. The clag was starting to move in a bit and I'm sure there were a few spots of rain but nothing much. Really enjoyed the descent off Buttertubs, probably because its not quite so straight as Fleet Moss and the wind wasn't quite so swirly. Hit 42 mph on the last section as I was feeling much happier with my descending.

There was some fairly easy riding for a bit that wasn't directly into the wind for a change, choked some more food down then left lower back started to stiffen up. Saddle too low then (my left knee splays out if its too low), saddle up a bit more and it stops aching instantly. I don't have any more saddle problems though calves were still aching ominously.

Soon heading off up towards Gunnerside...amuse myself thinking that one of the most miserable and wet rides I have ever had on an MTB was around here, quite a prophetic thought really. It was still great road riding, my favourite kind, quiet and exposed moorland roads. Through the ford, not sure what was dangerous about it, then up towards the long slog to Tan Hill.

It started off ok, very hard due to the wind but it wasn't raining yet. After waht seemed like ages the road swung round to a more westerly direction then it all got horrible. Think the rain came in, the wind got stronger, the view such as it was disappeared, it was just hell. I plugged away, as did everyone else. The odd group came past but they were going too fast for me to try and get some shelter on a wheel. Anyone I caught up with was going slower than I wanted so nothing for it but to grimace and grumble all the long, long, long, seemingly never ending slog to Tan Hill.

Still want to ride up there on a good day, like I say, empty exposed moorland road riding is my favourite, the downside its not great on a minging day.

Finally get to Tan Hill, lots of people in cars meeting riders. If Jez had come to meet me there I would have jacked it and got in a nice warm and dry car, no question I was so miserable. My legs ached, I was freezing, wet and I wasn't even half way FFS.

I refilled a bottle with energy drink, I had only drunk one in 50 odd miles, oops had one of the gels on offer and a couple of bits of flapjack which were easy to eat then got back on the bike and got down the hill to try to warm up a bit. Descent was a bit sketchy but I wanted to get down.

I really don't remember much of the next section all the way to Nateby, it had the potential to be good but I had lost the will to live by that point and it seemed I was barely turning the pedals. It seemed very up and down, more relentless wind and showery rain, I suppose at least it stopped occasionally and my legs hurt! I did manage to drink quite a bit though.

I was seriously thinking I couldn't go on, then I remember passing a sign saying "Welcome To Cumbria"! Reality dawned, Jez was in Harrogate having given up his whole day to let me ride my bike as well as checking over said bike and making it run perfectly and putting up with my stressing. The only way I could justify aksing him to drive all the way from Harrogate to Cumbria was a major mechanical (unlikely) or a stack (no thanks). The course changed direction at Nateby, the headwind remained, grr. I realised then that LittonDale was probably going to be the only place for a bit of tailwind..I know LittonDale from past MTB rides.

Somwhere after Outhgill, I came out of the other side, clicked the bike up a few gears and started riding again, getting some motivation from somewhere. I think I realised that my calves weren't getting any worse and my quads still felt pretty strong.

The weather completely deteriorated at this point but that just seemed to make me more determined. The section to Ribble Head was the worst of the whole day, strong head wind, horizontal stinging rain, standing water on the road filling my roadie shoes but I gritted my teeth and got on with it, thankful of my best decision of the day to leave the peak on my helmet. It really helped.

Third checkpoint arrived, I had one full bottle and one almost empty, hmm not drinking enough (or eating for that matter). Get another couple of flapjack fingers down my neck and one of my caffeinated gels for a boost and decide not to take two full bottles over the Coal Road but make sure I drink all of this one.

To the Coal Road, steep but not as hideous as I was expecting. I found sitting easier on the steepest sections to be honest, I'm not fast enough standing on that kind of gradient to justify the extra effort of standing. I was actually climbing a bit faster than most anyway. I nearly had to put a foot down as the back wheel spun badly at one point, I looked down and I had just ridden over a banana skin...there is a metaphor in there somewhere I'm sure.

Over the top and the clag was thickening, no view at all, was very disappointed by that. I was trying to smile for the Sport Sunday photog, it must have been minging stood up there but I only had slightly less of a grimace:

Etape 1_507

It actually got so foggy up there I couldn't see the guy riding 10 metres in front, it was very disorienting as all of a sudden the descent started and the road just dropped away. I had to take my glasses off completely here as they wer so badly rain splattered. Having the helmet peak on meant the rain missed my eyes. Once out of the fog the descent was fine, if a little steep.

Soon I was at the last checkpoint, still with one full bottle, oops no drinking at all then. No point filling up, had a quick gel then onto the last 20 odd miles and the last biggish climb. I was grateful for the chance to warm up, I was absolutely soaking wet and had gotten pretty cold on the way to the check point. It was a good climb, o view but I saw a small section of limestone pavemet which I was right by the side of the road.

I have my Garmin set to lap at 10 miles on road rides, its normally a good reminder to eat/drink. I realised near the top of the climb that the next time it lapped that would be my first official 100 miler..the Trossachs Ton was 98.6. That cheered me up, over the top and onto the descent which was great fun even if I couldn't see anything.

Down into LittonDale and finally a tail wind, stick it in the big ring and get moving. See the 10 miles to go sign, yay. I reach the 100 mile mark around the pub, let out a bit of a woop and get some funny looks but don't care, keep pushing, head down and taking advantage of the wind. Notice Garmin seems to be stuck at 8 miles to go, bloody thing froze completely so no idea how long to go in either time or distance and can feel the beginnings of the bonk creeping on me and sit up a bit debating whether to fish some food out.

See the five miles to go sign and decide just to get a move on, I can make five miles even if starving. Bloody headwind makes a reappearance again and starts with the old horizontal rain but soon its one, seemingly very long, mile to go. Yay,
then its over, off bike, dib, get off, wobble over to rail and hang bike up.

Try to get a response out of Garmin, nada, locked, didn't think to reset it though, d'oh. Have no idea what time it is or how long its taken me, feels like about 10 hours though. Phone Jez to let him know I've finished, he's about 20 mins away so head into the HQ to try to get warm, get my time, find something to eat as I'm starving and more than a little light headed.

Hand my chip over and they print off my time 8 Hours 38 minutes, I had to ask her to repeat it as I thought there was a mistake. I was so pleased as I was hoping for 9 hours on a good day. I then got a cup of coffee and what was possibly the best tasting bacon butty in the world, hoovered it.

Even in the warm HQ I was beginning to shake uncontrollably as I was so wet, thankfully Jez arrived at that point and as quick as I could I got outside, bloody freezing out there then wheeled my bike over to the car. I think I lost about half my coffee as my hand was shaking so much it ended up all over my hand, I didn't mind as it was warm.

I quickly got changed into dry clothes and into the warm car, then home. I have a real sense of achievement over this ride.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Forgetting to take my wallet to work yesterday...

Means not being able to buy my usual toast for breakfast (usually then covered in penanut butter and a banana) and think a banana will suffice. Think I'll be fine as I've remembered sarnies and rest of food so don't bother borrowing money from colleagues to buy more.

Wonder how hungry I'll be after swimming though...then realise I don't have my swimming pass..or money to park (it's refunded but I need to pay it). So no swim, think I'll definitely be ok. Eat all food..getting peckish at 2:30 (canteen closed now), very hungry by 3:00 pm then full on starvation/light headed mode by 4pm. Leave work early, drive home in a daze, stomach rumbling all the way.

Get home, race (ish) into the house, nearly skid on some cat vomit (thanks Kat) then get some bread in the toaster. Head upstairs very shakily and inhale jam and peanut butter covered toast forgetting all about the cat sick. Stop shaking as the sugar gets in my system, remember cat sick but by this time Jez is back and cleans it up instead (win!). Decide I am in fact fine, get cycling kit on and head out with Jez for a 20 mile blast on the road bikes.

Set off at warp speed, dropping Jez for the first time in my life in a vain attempt to convince myself I have plenty of energy. Heart rate rockets up to seeing stars territory and refuses to come down, Jez resumes his normal position of being miles in front. Slowly but surely the roads turn to treacle and I deny I am heading for the bonk though start keeping an eye out for nice patches of verge to lie down in.

Nearly kill myself several times trying to clip into my new road pedals, had absolutely no problems on the last two rides, my inner Kevin the Teenager starts to appear...SO UNFAIR!!!!!!! Stupid shoes:

Disco Slippers

Jez makes decision to alter route to avoid the black cloud of doom heading towards Abbey Village and tells me I need to get back and get some food as I appear to have lost the power of decision making and have a totally glaikit expression on my face (and probably some drool). Head home the fastest way, though the roads seem especially treacly then get my front wheel lifted in the air by the wind.. SO UNFAIR, too stroppy to get scared.

Get to our favourite chippy...closed...all the way into town to get some chips, Jez repeats his order to me five times and I still forget some of it. Home, shakes, food, bloody hell.

Etape Du Dales in on Sunday, stressed, unfit, schoolgirl pacing errors. Bah!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Over Resting..

On Wednesday's evening ride I realised that somehow it had been a whole week since I had been on a bike, I'm not sure how I allowed that to happen (watching the Tour of Flanders on Sunday afternoon instead or riding might have something to do with it). I've got a couple of really enjoyable offroad runs in however and the rest has done my legs the world of good, now to spend the next couple of weeks beating the crap out of them again. (Swimming is still limping along).

Had a lovely ride on Wednesday evening, a social paced ride even though I was on the singlespeed, first time I've felt that way about a singlespeed ride, last weeks sneaky practice did help though as well as pretty fresh legs. It was a beautiful evening, shorts and short sleeves even for me who is always cold and the trails were almost dry, just some bog. There was a stunning, ride off the track inducing sunset to watch to and no lights required (just squeaked this though it meant a short ride).



Thursday, April 7, 2011

March (and February) in numbers

Just been comparing the last two months, I can kind of see why I really needed my rest week at the end of March

Biking: Feb 287 miles/ 19:40 hours
Mar 422 miles/ 31:33 hours

Running: Feb 39 miles/ 5:52 hours
Mar 23 miles/ 3:19 hours

Swimming Feb 7.1 miles/ 7:36
Mar 11.5 miles/ 11:23

Other Feb 1:30 climbing
Mar 5:48 hill walking

Total Feb 34 hours
Mar 52 hours

I do need to remember it all adds up and takes its toll!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Rest Week

I'm taking an easy week this week, it is actually planned for once which was good as it was obvious on Sunday's road ride I was clearly in need of one. I faffed all morning before getting out on the bike even though it was a nice sunny day, that in itself should have been a clue as I couldn't wait to get out the week before.

Plan was to up the difficulty of the climbing a bit and head over to do a circuit of Pendle Hill. My legs were fine but for some reason my head just didn't want to ride. I ignored myself because some of my best rides have started out with that kind of mental approach and come good.

Lots of ups and downs to warm my legs up on the way over to Whalley, taking things nice and easy. Sunny day, bit of cold breeze but very hazy. Pendle Hill was pretty obscured, though for a change it wasn't heavy clag:


Soon I was riding through Pendleton, ready to climb up to the Nick O Pendle. Took it really steady, bracing myself for the stupidly steep bit, which didn't really materialise. It was really hard but not as stupidly hard as I was expecting, which was probably just as well as this seems to be a road where drivers like to try and brush your elbow as they pass, really felt like every car refused to give room.

A fast drop down the other side and up the climb to Padiham Heights...which kicked my arse, that's more like it! I made it up the evil climb, legs were still fine, still CBA to be riding though even though the roads were great. Eventually dropped into Barley and stopped at the heaving cafe for some food, they didn't have much left so settled on some chocolate sponge and custard and a cappucino.

I had a bit of a wait...realised the time 3pm, on a Sunday afternoon means most things will be closing. Only 27 miles ridden, 3500ft of climbing, just over two hours of riding (was that all). A lot of time to look at the map and realise there really was only one way out of Barley..up. An enormous plate of sponge and custard and a huge cappucino was plonked in front of me. Top marks for value for money but I was stuffed when I was finished...just before heading up a big hill.

I hadn't quite fully given in by this point so climbed out of Barley (no sponge after effects) and headed to Downham as I'd heard it was really pretty. It was but here the last of my motivation deserted me and I decided to go home. So a map check and I decided to head through Chatburn, Waddington then out to Ribchester then home, rolling terrain. Within about a mile of making that decision almost everything started to hurt, it's amazing how admitting defeat just changes everything.

It wasn't the most fund ride home I have to say, a bit of a headwind and the sponge started making its presence felt about Waddington. The grind out of Ribchester was particularly nauseous. A fastish blat down the A59 then home, shattered. With hindsight, starting the rest week on Sunday with an easy spin was probably a better idea.

Monday's swim was a bit rubbish for swimming but was a great stretching session for my shoulders, hip flexors and lower back. I do like floating about in the water even if my swimming isn't up to much.

Tuesday I canned my commute as I felt really tired and groggy in the morning when I woke up, which did worry me a bit so I opted for another half an hour of sleep instead. Within about five minutes of being up and about I felt fine, I'm always a bit groggy on the dark mornings d'oh. A three mile run after work was all I managed to fit in.

Wednesday the boys were off to Gisburn with some work colleagues, I couldn't get out of work early enough so decided it was time to break out the singlespeed and head to Abbey Village when I did get out of work. Get the first ride on it in a while without the sight of the boys disappearing off up the hill. Riding on my own means I can set a sensible pace on the initial climb through the woods and take the time to get my breath back coo over the lambs:


(I blinked first!)

Legs were ok for riding but the biggest surprise was my arms, normally my arms give out first on the SS but they were fine, which is the swimming I presume. The only annoyance was a bit of a mechanical where the jockey wheel fell out of the chain doofer, causing the chain to fall off. Luckily I was rolling along downhill when it happened and not stood up grinding out a climb. A lot of faff with taking the wheel out, screwing the jockey wheel back in, watching it unscrew itself before my eyes as I pedalled along as I'd not done it right then going through the whole palaver again.

I was still up near the tower when this all happened and its a bit of a sobering realisation that whilst its a mainly downhill 3 or 4 miles and not much time at all back to Abbey Village with a working bike its an entirely different situation if the bike couldn't be fixed and a walk was on the cards, I got quite cold very quickly too. When it first happened I also seemed to be the only person up on the moor, fortunately I did bump into a very friendly MTBer who checked I was ok when putting the bike back together the second time.


My repair held but I avoided doing any steep climbs on the way back to the car just in case the chain decided to fall off again. Was still a great ride though.

Thursday was supposed to be a bit of a run but it was stupidly windy at work, would just be silly at the beach, one of my "rules" for rest weeks is to have fun with "training" as much as possible and running against that wind is usually not that much fun. Had a great swimming lesson in the evening, back stroke.

I postponed the run to today, it was still windy but nowhere near as bad as yesterday however it was still really crazy at the prom. Running with my eyes closed as the sand was being whipped into my face but it didn't last long before it was behind me. Quite pleased I didn't venture down yesterday, even the seagulls were sheltering behind cars.

Plan for the weekend is a 3 hour max road ride and I may break my trail shoes out and go for an offroad run. Wednesday's ride reminded me how much I like being up on the moors.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Road Riding.....Weeeee!

On the flip side to the swimming rant, road riding is coming along nicely. I'm starting to feel the benefits of a few long rides in the legs and I've got my climbing mojo back. That's not to say I'm flying up the climbs, I'll never do that but I'm seeing them as a good challenge again which I like.

The ride length has been building up...60 miles, 67 and then 83 miles in the glorious sunshine on Saturday taking in Waddington Fell, The Trough and a loop out to Quernmore to take in the grind up to Jubilee Tower before the long boring flat ride back south of Preston. I even managed not to need lights on that one as I got out riding before lunchtime. Having to cross the river to get home is a bit of a pest as there are only a few places that it's possible, either in Preston or out at Ribchester.

Not sure I'll up the distance much but will probably up the brutality of the climbing a little bit. I may even think about taking the car to somewhere like Garstang and ride from there as I have real hankering to ride over Lamb and Tatham Fells and its a bit of an epic from home with the the trog back to Preston. The new bike is fab, the gamble on the saddle has hopefully paid off (ordered another for the commuting roadie), the carbon frame stopped me from feeling shaken to bits at the end of the ride and the RS80 wheels are as fab as they ever were. Here it is (I've already changed the seat post to one that can actually have the saddle level):



After almost three months of thrashing around the pool attempting to do front crawl I am now officially 10 seconds a length (a whole 40 seconds per 25 metres, didn't think it was possible to be that slow) slower than those first few times in January FFS. Nearly threw my pull bouy in disgust at the silver haired, head above water breastroking old dear that overtook me twice today.

It was a frustrating swim today in many respects but I have gone back to basics with my stroke after a friend pointed out I was overreaching above the water then slapping in which is not good and creates loads of drag (and requires lots of oxygen to continue. I'm concentrating on hand entry and I have realised over the last few weeks that my pea brain can only really cope with thinking about one thing at a time whilst swimming (maybe two if they are simple) or else I forget important breathing.

At least things were slow enough today that I was never in danger of running out of air and that I have a whole weird timing thing going on when breathing to the right (my bad side) that seems to involve me separating each movement out before quietly sinking and inhaling water. It would be funny if it wasn't so frustrating. I can't even fall back to breastroke as that is even worse.

Back in the pool tomorrow then...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Big Sigh of Relief

My dad was one of those British oil workers stuck deep in the Libyan desert...he's now at Gatwick, thank god for that. He saw no real trouble, though being totally miles from anywhere would have helped and actually had no problems getting a flight out (though not from Tripoli airport) but things definitely escalated earlier this week and talk of SAS on standby did nothing to calm me down that's for sure.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

##!@%&*$ Muppet

Perfect conditions for a good hours lunchtime run, forgot to pack sports bra, might as well have forgotten shoes. So bloody annoyed at myself. Friday run it is, grrrr.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

More shinyness

For some reason I really liked this white frame when I saw it hanging in Ribble's showroom. It's not going to be built up properly until my birthday at the earliest but that's probably not a bad thing given the state of the roads and the weather. Gives me time to make sure I have everything...need pedals but I'm sure there is something else I will have forgotten.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Washout Weekend

Didn't get out on a bike at all this weekend. Saturday was awful, heavy rain and gales and I was actually feeling a little tired so wasn't too fussed about heading out. Thursday's swimming lesson was a bit of a fitness session rather than out and out teaching and I think it nearly killed me (certainly felt like I was going to inhale the pool at some points).

I have not built up any swimming endurance yet, not surprisingly only being at it a few weeks and the session started with 24 lengths as a warmup, the first 12 front crawl, 8 back stroke then 4 breast stroke. Up until that point I hadn't done 12 solid lengths of crawl. It then progressed onto sets with attempts at sprint swimming which finished me off totally. Fortunately we were mixing strokes as I got to the point I just couldn't get another length of crawl out of my arms. The swim down at the end consisted of head above water breast stroke..I wasn't the only one knackered. 52 lengths and dead arms, it took quite a bit out of me.

Sunday was supposed to be less windy but that turned out not to be the case. Spent a productive morning on bike maintenance. I gave my Ribble a good clean and we did a bit of wheel swapping, my old wheels are now back on the Ribble the RS80's are to be put on the new bike, they are too good to be banging into potholes and grinding the rims away with winter crap. The Ribble is as winterised as I can make it at the minute.

The long term plan is to move the bits from the current Ribble onto a winter frame (once I find one) that will take proper mudguards and a rack to make a proper winter bike. The Specialized is just too slow for commuting duties, especially as the back brake often binds and its crap in any more than a slight breeze, not good heading out to the coast where there is almost always a breeze. Its a great bike for fubbing about on though so will be staying.

As the rain came in in the afternoon I eventually ended up on the turbo. Then got off again after twenty minutes as the tyre kept slipping. The tyre was a littel soft so got the track pump on it and tried to pump it up. Our pump has been playing up a bit and decided to suck all the air out instead. Then spent an hour with Jez taking it to bits to find out what was wrong with it. Sorted in the end but I'd given it up as a bad job buy then.

Normally I swim on a Monday but Jez has my car so I was planning a lunchtime run, however the wind is beyond stupid here at the minute, think heading to the beach would just entail being blown off my feet and having my face sand blasted so I'm thinking of running to Warton this evening to meet Jez, six miles with a whopping tail wind, could be fun!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mmm shiny

Shiny Things

January in numbers

January was not too bad a month really, was a bit meh at the start due to the cold. I seem to be struggling with riding in the very cold, last Saturday Jez and I went out for a ride in the beautiful sunshine but I wheezed my way round and we had to cut it short.


307 miles /23 hours of riding only 45 turbo miles but need to pick this up more

35 miles / 5:15 hours of running

5 miles / 9 hours of swimming (ratio of actual swimming to faffing/drowing/blowing water out of nose in the middle of the pool improving lots now though)

2:30 hours of dangling on the climbing wall

2 kilos of lard lost (yay, a good few more to go, boo)

0 units of alcohol drunk, continuing this to my birthday on 5th March.

So roll on February...lost more actual swimming hopefully, more hilly rides though won;t be doing much longer than 3 or 4 hours at the minute and keep running ticking over. Oh and some more lard blasted would be nice.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Not waving but drowning

2011 is well underway and I've set myself two (or is it three) challenges for the first half of the year. The main one is the Etape Du Dales in May, I was supposed to be entering this with Jez and another friend but the event is now full and their names are conspicuous by their absence from the entry list..buggers. So that means lots of grovelling up hills for the next few months, I kind of figure it doesn't matter whether I'm on road or off I just need to get lots of hills in my legs.

Challenge two is to acquire some swimming ability. I signed up for lessons at the beginning of January. I have no real background in swimming, I did all the school stuff, jumping into the water wearing pyjamas and all that gubbins but I was never one for swimming club or such like. I used to love playing in the pool so I'm not scared of the water as such but I am aware I am a poor swimmer. I learned to dive into the deep part of the pool before I could really swim out of it. However, I do have an achievement badge for a 2000m swim somewhere so god knows how I managed that.

The swimming should be complementary to the cycling, especially when the mileage ramps up. I can do it without hammering my legs, unlike running. The lessons started on the 6th January, which was the first time I had set foot in a pool for about six years, prior to that I used to do a few lengths of breastroke before heading into the steam room when I was a gym member.

So far...I have a slow breastroke, arms are actually ok but kick is awful. Front crawl I had never done but am now relaxing and able to string together without stopping four very, very slow lengths together as long as I don't kick too hard (too much oxgen required for that!). A lot of chlorinated water has rinsed my nose and mouth to get to this stage. I've been purposely doing bilateral breathing from the start so that should help things and it now seems almost automatic so I can start thinking about something else instead of counting to three all the time.

However, at last nights lesson I discovered I have a mean backstroke. It was ace, moving through the water at speeds I didn't think I was capable of. Shame it would need quite an empty pool to do outside the lesson, I'd probably hit some poor old dear at ramming speed otherwise. My main focus is the crawl but I am actually quite enjoying doing the other strokes, give me something else to think about when progress on crawl if frustrating, which it will be I have no doubt.

The other driver for the swimming is that St Annes pool reopened last summer, it's only two miles from work and has a good long public/lane swimming session every lunchtime so it's easy to get some practice in. It's also on £83 a year for unlimited off peak swimming which is quite frankly a bargain. I'm currently aiming for two 30/40 min sessions in there and the hour lesson a week. I've been advised to keep sessions on my own short and stop before I get too tired to make sure I don't reinforce sloppy stroke technique.

The third challenge is to shed some of my lard jacket I have been carrying around. Jez bought some scales late last year, I stood on them, it wasn't a nice number (bit of self delusion going on) but it is on the way down thankfully. The EDD is going to be hard enough without too much excess lard. I'm making a big effort now and next month, mixing up training with runs/swims/SSing offroad/turbo/Shorter road rides/climbing wall, once the long rides start I'll need to keep fuelling up so it will get harder.

So..just need to sort out some build up events. Currently thinking Cheshire Cat, 100 mile this year perhaps(Jez not at all keen!) Lakeland Loop and the Brian Robinson Challenge as Jez's sister lives near Huddersfield so we can tie in a visit. Lots of hills in those to be going on with.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


How can we be at the 12th January 2011 already! 2010 had some good stuff in it for me. A fantastic five days in the Cairngorms in March in superb snow and mainly blue skies and low winds (fingers crossed I haven't used up my good Scottish weather quota). Riding the Etape Caledonia on closed roads, riding my first 100 miles on the Trossachs Ton. Riding coast to coast across Scotland was superb, I think I've finally forgotten about the headwind.

The ice and snow at the end of the year put a bit of a dampener on road riding but I got quite a few offroad rides in. On the first ride with ice on the ground (on the 12th of December, marked the date) I even rode over a three or four metre long sheet of ice that boys rode around. The look on their faces was priceless.

I actually did this not through bravery but because my back brake was not working very well so I was faffing with the lever as I was riding and not paying attention and looked up just in time to see the now unavoidable ice but even the big feardy that I am knew that the best bet was just to keep things as straight as possible and ride it out.

It did help things though and I was quite happy to head out in the snow though the first ride in the fluffy stuff saw us take about two hours to cover five miles, was beautiful though:



Some slightly less successful snow rides followed this as I couldn't get my front wheel to behave on anything less than well packed snow. It would just wash out continually. A suggestion from Jez, which I actually paid attention to for once, was to put a lot more weight over the front wheel and shockingly it did help a lot, who knew.

Fingers crossed I stop being quite so pathetically panicky around ice now.

I set some mileage goals for 2010. They were 700 running miles and 2250 bike miles. The scores on the doors are....

Running 342! So less than half, total fail on that one then.

This was partly due to finding running not very relaxing cross training for cycling then being plagued by a persistent calf niggle from the end of June onwards.

Cycling: 3149! That's a bit more like it. Road riding really does boost the mileage totals somewhat.