Thursday, May 17, 2012

Back on the bike.... least tentatively.  Sunday's short MTB ride was "uncomfortable" not helped by the stonking wind that meant a constant battle with the bike even on smooth, flat bits.  Bumpy descending was still teeth clenching.  I rode to work yesterday and that went pretty well, swimming is just about ok if terminally boring but have had to use the granny steps to get back out of the pool or risk a comedy face plant back into the water.

I've not run much or done anything else as its quite amazing how much the muscles around the ribs are used, they're not called core muscles for nothing!   Now that the pain in my ribs has pretty much subsided to a dull roar I realise that my right hip and groin muscles are still a bit sore  and bruised really so on a sensible note I won't be doing the Etape Du Dales this weekend its too hard a ride for me to contemplate unless at good fitness, especially as it looks like it may be another windy day on Sunday (but sunny, pah!).  I've not done anything in the way of tough road rides since the beginning of April.

Time to start building fitness up...whilst resisting my usual tendency to overdo it, aiming for mid June to do something but don't know what yet.   Anyway dust and sunshine and actually looking where I'm going:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Bl**dy Ribs

Think I've bashed up my intercostals good and proper, it's not quite sore enough to have cracked/broken the rib but just tried a gentle spin on the shopping bike and rolling off a centimetre high kerb stone (i.e the driveway) was not pleasant.  Bike back in garage, about to go get more ibuprofen.  Perhaps manhandling the sofa about this morning was not a good idea.

Another couple of days of complete nothingness ahead (swimming, running even walking are out).  Injuries often expensive for me....looking at new shiny frames, nothing better to do.

Monday, April 30, 2012


Coming back from sunny, dry 24C Spanish riding to this weekend's awful weather was a bit of a shock to the system that's for sure.  Had a great week with Joyriders out in Spain, dusty trails, challenging rocks, a few nice long climbs and the small matter of a great big, full on, over the bars Superman splat onto some pointy rocks which meant I abandoned the last days riding after about 10 minutes...oops a daisy.

I've never been in so much pain with an MTB crash and I don't think I've ever actually had to abandon a ride before and never had to be transported out (just the van, nothing more serious), I could barely stand never mind pedal and couldn't lift my right knee at all.  I've badly bruised my right "hip flexor area"  (so pleased I'm not a bloke that's for sure) and my ribs ache but I've not broken anything at least and can now sort of see the funny side.  Well, I can certainly see the funny side of the hokey cokey I was trying to perform to get in the van, I couldn't get a combination of arms and legs that worked without seeing stars pain, Jez had to shove me in.

I need to do some examination of why I go OTB on the Titus so often, not paying attention to riding the correct rubble free line over a drop is up there as is the fact that the forks are in their death throws but its more than that.  Once the trail gets steep I'm always verging on going over and I don't feel that way on the 456.

I'm hoping to be back on the bike by the end of the week, start working off the week's wine and beer consumption.  Will hopefully update with more on the holiday later though there was a bit of a fail on the photo taking front when riding as I was enjoying myself/being mildly terrified too much.  Took loads on our day off wandering round Cordoba but its not quite the same.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Howgill Hammer

A bit late as it was on the 1st April, oops.

I had signed up for the long route of this Sportive, the route looked like it took in some interesting stuff around the Howgills and as I'm trying to use road events this year to ride lots of new roads (Etape Du Dales excepted, though I want to actually see some views this time) I thought it would be an interesting route and at 90 miles with a fair chunk of climbing (my Garmin reckoned around 6800ft or so by the end) a pretty stiff challenge for my lazy legs.

I did wonder if I had bit off more than I could chew as I turned up in Milnthorpe on what was a stunning but frosty morning, I'd not ridden anything remotely similar since the Etape Du Dales the year before which was quite some time ago. A small entry of what I suspected would be fairly fast riders would possibly mean a quiet ride so I took my ipod along for company, I figured it would help on the last couple of hours in particular - which turned out to be the case. There were timing standards for the ride, for women under 7 hours would get a silver and decided to go for that as a good aim and to stop me dawdling too much in my usual fashion.

Set off at a reasonable pace for me but before long people came hooning past in groups, I tried to hang on but I thought 24 mph was a bit excessive that early on! Saw a couple of fast women batter past too. However, I tried not to settle into too easy a spin, I wanted to push myself a bit on this ride to see what would happen.

It wasn't long before things started trending upwards and not too much longer before I caught some of those that had steamed past earlier, the usual happened, I catch up and overtake on climbs and they get me back on the descents and flats. I banned myself from using my granny ring (triple here) until the evil 20% and over climb out of Dent. 39 x 27 is obviously quite a low gear but it did make me not twiddle, not always convinced it is faster though, however it did get me out of the saddle quite a bit.

I tried to push on on the descents but had a serious eep moment on some gravel so reigned it back in a bit again. The route was stunning I have to say, it kind of followed the M6 crossing and recrossing and I achieved an ambition I've held for a few years now. Where the north and southbound carriageways of the M6 split at Shap there is a road that goes under and between the two carriageways, I've wanted to ride that bit of road for years so was really pleased with myself when I did.

After that, the whole bit of the ride over to the first feed at Soulby (35 miles) was absolutely awesome, stunning riding, great views and a fairly large tailwind. At the first feed I was pleased with myself again as I had drunk one whole bottle of energy drink, had a slice of malt loaf and a couple of bits of flapjack, things were going well.

Didn't bother topping up the bottle as next feed was in 20 odd miles in Dent, set off, noticed a bit of a head wind getting up. Climb up onto the moor top and its a proper headwind, have to pedal all the way down the long fast hill into Sedbergh which must have been about 10 miles. Hard work but obviously would have been worse if it wasn't downhill. Arrived at second feed with almost two full bottles and had eaten nothing else, too busy fighting the wind. Got off the bike for a serious stretch here and ate some malt loaf.

Grovelled up the hideous climb out of Gawthrop, granny gear deployed and it still hurt. Back into the wind, then my left leg started complaining. Back of knee a bit tight and leg felt like it was flailing a bit in a weird way. Had a stunning descent, pedalling hard the whole way against the wind, down Barbondale. Wasn't too fussed about the wind here as it meant I actually got to see some of it rather than whipping past in a blur.

From there it was pretty rolling across to Arnside, as I was on my own it was purgatory against the strong wind. I did remember to eat a bit and drink thinking I was overplaying the strength of the wind in my head as I do when I'm tired. Around the edge of coast near Arnside and at one point I nearly lost the will to live, headwind from hell, disintegrating road surface shaking me to bits and the most traffic I'd seen all day with the crappest drivers. I necked a gel, which helped, as did changing direction for the last couple of miles to Milnthorpe. I went from 14mph to 22 mph without any increase in effort.

Finally made it back, the last climb was cruel I have to say. 6 hours 13 overall, 6 hours and 4 minutes actual riding time, average speed 15mph so I easily got my Silver. I was pretty pleased with that, be interesting how quick it would have been without such a wind or if I'd managed to get into a group. All anyone in the car park was talking about was the strength of the wind and having to work just as hard downhill as up so it wasn't just me.

it was a great route though, already on my list of "roads I must ride again".

The downside is my left knee has not been happy since so I've been taking it easy the last couple of weeks, making good use of my decision to rejoin the gym for the pool and have been able to do some spinning and treadmill running but nothing too serious. We're flying off to Spain for a week's MTBing on Saturday which is another reason to be sensible.

On the plus side, I bought some new shiny Speedplay pedals to replace the SPD-SLs, hopefully they will help my knee. At the very least I can get my cleats far enough back now so fingers crossed.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Jodrell Bank Sportive...almost

Had signed up for the 80 mile route on this sportive (actually 78 according to the route map), I wasn't sure the promised very flat Cheshire roads would be my thing as I am crap on the flat but the last third or so had a few lumps in it and I wanted to get some miles in.

The start was at 8am in Poynton which meant getting up at 5:45 am to make sure I got there before registration closed. In the end it was a clear drive, though I was feeling far too sleepy to contemplate riding which was worrying me, particularly as I had just come off a pretty easy week, I expected to be raring to go even given the early start.

Picked up number by about 7:20 then had a bit of a wait til the start. I didn't see the point of getting Bianco ready much before 8 so sat in the car with my coffee to try to wake up and watched the usual shenanigans that always seem to go on around these events (see last post).

Managed to skip most of the queue to start without realising (oops) and set off on the first few miles quite fast (for me) to warm up my fingers a bit and just to get away from the potential carnage at the start. I also got a bit carried away by being on Bianco again I think, its the first proper ride on it this year. As usual on these things I caught up with some big groups of riders doing silly things which I tried to pass as soon as possible, thankfully being so early traffic was non-existent.

There was very little wind which I was pleased about as to me big flats mean headwinds. I decided early on I was going to ride on my own, I like the confidence of knowing I can do long rides off my own effort, seems like cheating to sit on a wheel (wrong attitude on the road I know, Jez is forever giving me grief about it). I was also not feeling particularly sociable or indeed "on it" to be riding with others. Once the route split I realised that it may be a very lonely ride at times as not all the field would be doing the 80 miler so latched onto three guys who came past.

I sucked wheels for ages but did a few turns on the front, mainly when they seemed to be going too slow and allowing gaps to form (ooh get me!).

To be honest most of the ride is a bit of a blur, we rode around the telescope which was nice...which is about as interesting as it got actually. I could tell my head really wasn't in it as I was actually a little bored. I arrived at the feed station having averaged 18mph, which bothered me for some reason as it is quite a bit faster than I had been riding lately, even though it was clear from the average HR that I wasn't thrashing myself. After the feed station (before or after the telescope I can't remember but about 35 miles) my legs really seemed to wake up.

So I did some more catching and passing but no more wheel sucking, then it started to get a bit more lumpy and interesting and actually enjoyable as I passed even more people on the climbs. Bianco was great up the hills, who'd have guessed a bike without guards, rack or pannier would be easier to get up a hill.

I often find I pass a lot of people on climbs on events like this, particularly if there has been a lot of flat, its not because I am a great climber, more that I use my gears appropriately or don't get carried away pushing some gear I can't handle. Though it is satisfying to pass some strong looking bloke, who's probably just battered past me on the flat, me spinning away in a girly gear whilst he tries to grovel up in some monster flat riding ratio.

The big climb of the day was Pott Shrigley (I think, I called it Wiggly, Jiggly, Shoogly and all sorts in my head on the way round) there was a cut off just before it if you were late getting there - no danger of that for me. I could see the hill was getting close, straight into Bollington (I think) on a fast descent, follow the signs....and all of a sudden I missed the hill????

I basically ended up on the 50 mile route, by the time I got my bearings I was only 2 miles from Poynton and CBA going back, which isn't like me but there it is. I missed the route split sign somewhere, somehow. I had the route in my Garmin but all ride it kept blanking then redrawing the map a few minutes later and it decided to do it just around the route split. Signage had been great til then so I just followed the first sign I found. D'oh. I had a page map but it wasn't detailed enough for me to get back on track.

So back to the car, 61.5 miles on the Garmin instead of 78, 3:30 ish on the time and an overall average of 17 mph which means I didn't lose that much on my own or on the climbs. I think I would have got round the full 78 in under 5 hours which was my "good day" target.

So, lessons learned: I'm lazy, I can ride harder than I think and keep it going. Need some better map back up! Flat rides are not my thing when training for a hilly event but I think doing this course with a well matched group would see a fast time and probably be really enjoyable (the hard bit is getting a few more matched riders). Flat roads make eating easy, my nutrition was actually pretty good for a change. Cheshire has some very good traffic free lanes, just a little flat.

I appear to be fighting a bit of a cold at the moment so that probably explains the meh attitude on Sunday.