Sunday, 28 February 2010

Tired eyes ride

I can see any plans I make in advance are going to be scuppered and I'm going to have to adapt/compromise. I was out Saturday night at the Revolution then I was 'forced' to do the night shift, where baby doesn't sleep a wink, then I could be allowed out but not before mummy had enough sleep. Ideally I was going out at 6am and getting home before midday to spend the day with the family. Mummy didn't get up til 8am and I wasn't brave enough to wake her. Instead of a longer ride I would do a shorter, more intense one.

Route here. Set off 8.45am and I decided to meet the tri club at Rochdale baths for 10.30am. Forecast wasn't promising with rain having a 60% of appearing and the large grey clouds and excessive wind seem to be giving a big hint. I cycled around Middleton for a while then to Rochdale and onto Littleborough, up Blackstone edge then back down again to Rochdale Baths. Pedalling against the swirly wind is not fun but gets the muscles working double time.

Once at the baths I waited for the gang to get ready and we set off to Hebden Bridge for a quick cafe stop. On the way from Littleborough, after waiting for the others on the other side of the lights, a breakaway of 3 formed which I was part of with Phil and Graham. Saw the gang from Cycle chat forums at this point headed in the opposite direction. I thought I would be clever and do the whole lot standing up from the baths to Hebden as I thought they were going to pootle but these two were upping the pace, quicker and quicker, into a head/crosswind! I had to sit down eventually and rest the legs for a bit whilst Phil and Graham took it in turns to lead. On leaving Tod, Graham went on a mission and pummelled it, 25mph + on the flat in a head wind! Phil got dropped but wasn't too far back and I was hanging on to his wheel for dear life. There were a few steep short sections which were a godsend for me as I ease up them effortlessly and Graham stood up, grinding on his pannier laden, metal monster.

Was glad when we reached the cafe, lactate threshold not exceeded which could have been disaster for the Cragg Vale climb. I supped a pot of tea, the others gorged on crumpets with jam, cheese on toast or humongous BLT's. The cycling gear I was wearing was a little wet with sweat and I was getting cold very quickly so once back outside I was having to go some to keep warm.

Graham led again but at a much lower speed and once on Cragg could see he wasn't giving it his all as I pulled away. A very welcome tail wind greeted us for the first half of the climb but turned into a a nasty swirly one when exposed further up where I was doing 3 mph less that usual on the flatter sections. I waited at the top for a while and started to freeze. Phil joined me back to home whilst Graham went back to find the others. I went a longer way home than usual and went as hard as my ickle legs could take me to keep me warm. Bring on the Spring and Summer weather I say.

Jamis felt as good as ever, not going to touch the setup now. Hoping to get on the track this week and one big midweek ride, fingers crossed.

Distance 60 Miles
Av Speed 16.9mph
Ascent 3923ft - computer (mapmyride shows 2.4k, bike hike shows 3900ft)

Revolution 28

NO!!! That's not the cadence Pantani max's out at on the gentlest of gradients..... although it's not far off. It is the Uk's premier track cycling event. 8 teams battle it out, featuring international superstars and the up and coming domestic youngsters.

Held at Machesters Velodrome, tickets sold out weeks in advance but when we bought them no one was sure who would be riding this last session of the season. It turned out many big names appeared. Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny, Ross Edgar, Matt Crampton, Chris Newton, Dean Downing, Rob Hayles, Ed Clancy,Vicky Pendleton, Willy Kanis and Franco Marvulli with lots of riders from Germany and the Netherlands too.

Pete and I went and I'm sure I saw a couple from Middleton cycling club but unsure. Tried to tell missus she didn't miss much but she was having none of it and looked disappointed. Muahahaha. Look after that baby woman!! :P She'll get me back dont worry.

There must have been about 35 events ranging from Kierin Sprints, 200m sprints, 16 lap sratch races, a terrific 15km points race and 1km Madison Time trial plus a few others. Highlights were the points race where every 10laps its a sprint to the finish to get points and if you lap the group you get 10 extra. Marvulli looks a strong rider for Rapha giving his all in all the events he competed in, Newton seemed to take it easy tonight and he didn't respond to the crowds encouragement and Downing was always looking to get the elderly crowd fired up.
Pendleton won very easily, enough said.
There were some epic battles between Hoy,Edgar and Kenny with the latter 2 trying their best to use tactics to get the better of Hoy. Hoy beat Edgar, just by 5 cm, with a photo needing to separte the two. Hoy pulled out of the Kierin to concentrate on the 200m. The best of the lot was Hoy vs Kenny in the final, after a couple of laps poncing about doing the cat and mouse stuff, Hoy sneaked in on the inside only for Kenny to retake it 'illegally?' and a lot of barging later Hoy took it on the outside with a cheeky wave and smile at the photo finish camera, showing he won, just in 10,3 secs. In qualifying he did a 9.9secs individual flying lap.
The young guns were entertaining to watch too. Pete said that he was surprised, considering the age and lack of maturity of the younger riders, that there were no crashes at all and we were right at the end of the night. Cue the carnage! 5 seconds after he said that, a group of 6 tail enders in a boys scratch race tumbled in spectacular style to the bottom and the race had to be halted for emergency repairs which seemed to take forever. We used this opportunity to get to the car park before the mad scramble home.

It was a fantastic experience, one I hadn't had before and was enhanced by having great seats, being close to the bogs and food places and getting free magazines. Also the food places did not charge extortionate prices which is a breath of fresh air. £1 for hot drinks, 50p for choccy bars, £2 for big hot dogs, £2.50 for hot roast beef and gravy buttie.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Pantani Punctures...Pothole :(

Route here.

After our mini epic ride last week, Pantani wanted to try and reenact that feat and ride to Southport. I agreed but figured that setting off at 11am would leave us a bit short for time as I had to pick up my car from the garage at 5pm. I was riding 'Scott' today. Only been on her twice but tried to get the same position as I had on 'Jamis' which is perfecto. Met at the usual roundabout of doom and set off. We were keeping up with a roadie on a BMC bike when Pete shouted 'we have got to go to Southport you know' or words to that effect. He obviously didn't like the pace we had set and the next minute he screamed for me to stop. FFS I thought, what excuse has he got now? A flat tire was quite a good one. The tit had hit a pothole full on and nearly buckled his new wheels.

Southport was out of the question so a trip to Parbold was 2nd best. A nice gentle tail wind was with us to our destination and Pete was still showing his lack of fitness. He couldn't use the gearing as his excuse this time! Luckily there wasn't as much climbing. A6 was nice and quiet and generally uneventful. A quick toilet stop in some woods saw my shiney new Sidis obliterated by mud and leaves. Back and backside were starting to ache as the position on the bike wasn;t great, the saddle is rock solid too. I was using very little effort on the way to Parbold but very unhappy with the double chainset gearing and 11-28 cassette. There are too many gaps in the gearing. I tend to find I dont have the gear I want, cadence too high or too low. I also find I dont use the large chainring so whats the point in it? Even downhills I dont go that fast .Just as long as I have the right gears for hills. The ride is close to unbearable too. The frame sends all the vibrations up and down my spine. Im going to try the 25mm tyres and saddle from jamis on Scott to see what difference it makes. It only took 8months to get Jamis right I hope Scottie doesn't take this long. On the way we had another roadie join us for a couple of miles but he thought we were going too fast so took another route, not with Pete we weren't :)
Once at Parbold we scoffed hot cross buns in preparation for Parbold hill on the return. I didn't wait as long as I thought I would do but we were both going to suffer on the way back as the wind was really blustery and right in our faces. Back on the A6 I reckon I had to stand up to pedal more than 50% of the way home to batter my way through. It was a real test which destroys the spirits of lesser beings. What else was annoying is that the roads had been recently gritted and all the salt was being blown into our eyes by lorries and even worse into the drive chain causing crunching noises on each pedal stroke. The trip home wasn't pleasant at all! I left Pete as it was getting late and he was getting stuck at all the lights and I seemed to hit them all on green. In fact if I hadn't I would have missed the deadline to pick my car up as I got to the garage at 4.50pm. The last few big hills I sprinted up.

Distance 70miles
Av Speed 15.9mph
Ascent 4000ft

Sunday, 21 February 2010

NorthWest Passage.. another 100 miler

Route West Penine Road Club hosted their Northwest Passage Audax/reliability ride on Saturday with two courses available. A 210km one that went from Rochdale to Kirkby Lonsdale and a 120km route that cut across at Gisburn into the Forest of Bowland. Ideally I would have liked to have done the longer ride but it was freezing! so 95% of people opted for the short course.

With Pantani, who wanted to try out his new Pro lite wheels with 12-21 7 speed gearing!!, we set off to HQ which was The Spring Inn. It is right next to the running track I go to. Met alot of the gang from Rochdale Tri club but since they were messing about, Pete and I set off on our own with no map and just a vague idea where to go. Route is above and I wont go into detail. Pete was seriously lacking fitness and after 25 miles was struggling up any kind of incline but he soldiered on, constantly looking for a cafe stop. The stubborn T\/\/@t wouldn't draft me either as his excuse was that he was on his tribars ( not that it helped him) and didn't was to keep braking behind me. Whatever!!! Anway after 40 miles around Blackho he was getting very desperate and started to look for cafes behind bushes and fields. I gave him some jelly babies but they didn't help him at all. As we climbed then descended to Bolton by Bowland there was a low lying freezing mist which numbed the extremities and cast a frost on anything that got in its way. Must have been around -4 Anytime I closed my eyes for a second longer than needed, I had to force them open as my eye lashes froze together.
Plan B came to fruition as we took a shortcut to Clitheroe but before getting there we managed to find a secluded lorry stop cafe that did full breakfasts for 'pennies'. I had a coffee, beans on toast and black pud, Pete stuffed his face with a full breakkie. We hanged our gear on the radiator to dry and planted our feet on it to get some feeling back in the toes. We backtracked a couple of miles or so to make sure we completed the route and met Rochdale Triclub just leaving their cafe stop and not long later we saw them again, after another diversion, but they had to stop as one of them had a puncture. We latched on to a group of 3 oldies as Pete wasn't sure of the way to Blackburn via the 'official route' Once he thought he knew his location we went ahead only to find them at a cross roads ( coming from different directions) in Blackburn, not long after, telling us we were going the wrong way. It was really funny, one of those moments you had to be there.
We once again followed this group of oldies to Haslingdon ( Pete felt right at home) and he just about managed to keep up only dropping back a few hundred yards on each climb :P . I have to hand it to him, he didn't give up and gave it his all right to the end and 'beyond'.
The nice long climb up Edenfield road loomed and I powered ahead, overtaking loads, but waited for Pete at the top only to see myself being retaken and Rochdale Tri club passed again. After freezing my arse off for the umpteenth time, waiting for Pete, he managed to find the energy for a little sprint on the descent. He knew his way back at this point and I went chasing the tri club. I overtook the lot by Rochdale town centre and met Pete back at HQ completing 85miles.
Whilst the rest of the guys had their pie and peas, we just drank a coke each and set off again searching for the last 15miles to take us past the century. At Victoria Av, I told Pete we had done it. He was chuffed to bits and shook my hand which I thought was a great gesture. He was also impressed with the average speed considering he was never ever near 100% from the start.
If I hadn't powered up Edenfield Rd, sprinted to catch the tri club up and hit the last hill up Wood street hard I could probably have done another 50+ miles but at the end I used up what I had left and my thighs were burning a while after.

The scenery was something else, only spoiled by the cold and frost bite. The winter base miles are clocking up nicely but still not able to get out as much as I would like. At least I can definitely feel an improvement week after week.

Average speed 15.1mph
Distance 104.2miles
Ascent 6600ft

Monday, 15 February 2010

Cat and Fiddle

Route here.

Not much training the past week but I went swimming on Thursday as missus was in hospital and visiting time was over so had an hour or so to spare. Whilst there I asked if anyone was going out for a ride on Sunday. A few wanted to go out on their own but Jack asked if I wanted to join the gang that I joined in one ride last year with Chris Newton and struggled to keep up. So after beggin' wifey if I can go and promising I would only be a few hours, I prepped the bike.

We met at Mossley train station and there were about 10 of us all together. A few from Wheel Guru club inc Adam Bonser, ex rapha, Rochdale tri and some veteran ex pros. I heard a few had just come back from a 2 week training camp in Majorca. I was hoping all the work I had put in would stand me in good stead. Pace was relatively easy until any hills turned up and you could see the explosive power these guys had. There were 2 very long climbs of around 3 miles + each and on the first they kept going faster and faster and I managed to keep up, some of the others were getting dropped or taking it easy, not sure but I hit the top in the leading group. The 2nd long climb to the Cat and Fiddle was a similar story but with 500 yds to go one of the vets and 2 ex pros started to pull away. I dropped back, recovered, then got the rythm going again and caught the vet up. The legs had suffered on that one but wasn't really out of breath.
We had a cafe stop at the peak view, near the Cat and Fiddle pub and I had choccy fudge cake and a coffee. We met another famous name at the cafe, Brian Rourke who organises the annual Cat and Fiddle challenge ride. The others seem to know him and chatted away whilst I savoured the cakey.
Set off again at a furious pace and I was really sprinting to keep up. A mistake I seemed to make was to drop slightly off someones wheel and then had to work 10 times harder to get back on. The guys settled down again and we headed for home. There was a really steep hill where I got cramp badly and dropped back a little but the hill was short and managed to keep up. The cramp lingered but the pain wasn't too bad. Nice and flattish/downhill on the way back, the others went towads Mossley and I turned off to Ashton. My legs were getting fresher and fresher and I kept the pace above 20mph on flat for the last 10-15miles.
I have tilted the saddle slightly down which means I can raise the saddle height. This puts me in a more comfortable position and able to pull the pedal more effortlessly. Going to try and raise it a little more. A 'downside' is that I have to push on the levers/bars to put me on the saddle but when I do I seem to get 'free power' and can feel a big difference in speed.

The route detailed above is very very rough. Most of the roads we took were on little roads and I had never been on the route before ( past Marple Bridge) Also we climbed 5500ft according to my computer which is quite accurate, there is definitely another big climb and descent that I seem to have missed out. I dont think I hit the 100miles either as the computer showed 95miles with an average of 16.7mph.

Fantastic ride, hoping that I can join them quite regularly and improve quickly. I need to work on my 'jumps' / quick short hard efforts.

Our new baby...

Well I was going to post a picture of my new track bike but cant find the camera at 2 in the morning. So Ill have to post one of little Sophie Louise who was born.... ummm Wed 10th Feb I think at 7.30pm. She weighed 7lbs 9oz and mummy and baby are doing great. After 2 days of doing the night shift, sleep deprivation is kicking in. She is cute as anything at the moment but I dont think that will last long!

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Awards dinner + Recovery Ride

Middleton Cycling Club were hosting their 69th annual club awards presentation and dinner at the Bower hotel in Hollinwood today at 12.30pm. This didn't give me much time to get some riding in before the big day on Monday where my wife is getting induced and out should pop a crying, cute? baby.

On Sundays I would normally swim with the Tri club 9-10am and go for a cycle to Tod so as I needed to be back home for about 11 ish that was out of the question. I text Pantani to see if he wanted to come but I guess he was all asleep. I made my drink, determined not to forget it this time and ended up leaving without a drink again or food!!!

I set off about 8 ish and was going to take it very easy, an average of 14-15mph was showing this but I was getting bored to hell and stood up on all the climbs for variation. I have decided against this recently as it zaps a lot of energy but uses different muscles to sitting down. Route today was towards Oldham, Lees road, Oldham Rd, past Greenfield and back via Mossley and Ashton. Would love to have gone up Holmfirth rd but was unsure how much time it would take. Took a good 30mins to warm the sore muscles up and after an hour I upped the pace. Lots of spells I would get on the drops and sprint standing up but I never gave it my all just in case I got so bad I couldn't cycle back.

THe saddle felt very hard today but wasn't bothering wonder I put on bib longs without any padding. Arrived home wishing I could have gone out for further and longer. I also long for a good chain gang or just anyone to ride with instead of on my own all the time. Not many people like getting up so early (ahem Pete) and the lack of cyclists on the roads today prove this.

Distance 35 miles
time 2hrs 11mins
Avg Spd 16mph
Ascent 2200ft

The awards dinner was good fun, way better than expected, lots of people turned up but I hadn't seen 75% of them before. Guest speaker was Phil West, who was a top track rider and has ridden with some big names like Newton and Wiggins. He is now a talent scout/coach. He was a very good speaker and had 2 vip revolution tickets to give away which was won by playing a game of 'heads or tails' . I picked up my trophies for track champion and the shared hill climb championship. Also picked up 2 plaques engraved with my name as a keepsake.

Food was reasonable at best, veggie soup followed by either very dry turkey, dry salmon or nice looking but very dry beef with minimal veg and 4 small roasts. Pepper corn sauce was the saving grace. Dessert was xmas pub with a miniscule amount of brandy sauce, apple pie with an even smaller amount of cream or an orange tort which was actually the prefered choice. Coffee ( extremely weak) and teas finished off. Good job I had 2 sausage butties before I arrived. The money was spent on silver service ran by kids and a chef of similar ilk. Nutters , on Edenfield Rd would have charged £2 a head extra for an absolute belting meal and the drinks would have been cheaper! At least the venue was only 10 mins away from my house. Terrible ( my word of the week) value for money.

Entertainment aspect on the other hand though was high with funny banter and chat and the time just flew by which is always a good sign.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Upping the mileage

Today I thought I would try and see how I would cope with a longer rider with a few surprises thrown in. The surprises being 1) no breakfast 2) no water 3) no food. Not the best preparation, infact if I didn't have my puncture recovery kit it would be the worst preparation possible. I did have my lights, which I did need in the middle of the day! Need to get the miles in before my freedom is forever lost.

Set off straight from work leaving my eskimo gloves in the rear pocket of my wind jacket and headed past the Velodrome and upto Ashton. If it was a Sunday I would have done Woodhead pass and gone up Holme Moss but I wasn't risking it. Wind was all over the show as usual and its a long slog up to Greenfield. I usually come back from Greenfield past Mossley and Stalybridge so tried to find the same road going up to them. I followed signs to Mossley and ended up on a long climb in the middle of nowhere. There was a pub called Hartshead Inn or something like that on the way and it was getting foggy, any higher and visibility would have been bad. I have never been on this road before, although not completely lost, its a little scary not know exactly where you are. I was going at a fair pace and found a great rhythm. At the end of this road I started to recognise where I was, just before Greenfield train station on Oldham rd which leads to Lees road.
I don't like Oldham too much as I find it difficult to navigate through due to dual carriage ways(no cyclists) and endless one way streets and no entry signs. I followed traffic and tried to follow signs for Oldham royal hospital but ended up on the wrong side of the dual carriage way again so had to do a long detour past OldhamWerneth train station and back up again to finally find the road with the hospital on. Went past Shaw and Newhey and saw some one kitted up in fancy pro gear and looked like they were up for a race, coming from the opposite direction, and headed up Huddersfield Rd. I thought I'd turn round and chase this person and see if I could have a little competition on the hills. I had originally planned to go to Hollingworth lake and Walsden. So I managed to catch up after 5 or so minutes and they turned off to a flat road in stead of going ahead to the nice steep bits :( I said hello and it turned out to be a cyclist from the fairer sex, bah just a poser. I turned around and went past Milnrow and Kiln Lane. I had debated with myself whether to hit Blackstone Edge or not. I chose not and went up Tod road and then up Bacup Rd. This hill seems to be getting harder and harder everytime I do it. Half way up I had to turn the lights on as visibility was virtually 3metres and saw cars miss sheep by inches. They could have swerved right into me if I didn't have the lights on!
Pain and lots of it, just glad I had my compact chainset on. By now I was feeling weary and dehydrated a little, just wondered how long I could continue. A steep descent to Bacup followed and I froze my backside off as the body cooled down due to lack of effort I could go a quick way home via Whitworth or carry on past Rawtestall. I chose the latter and enjoyed the couple of miles gentle descent until I got to the Firestation and it was all uphill to the top of Edenfield Rd. Seemed to take ages and every pedal stroke was a chore. After setting up my seatpost and saddle perfectly ( on Jamis) for the last ride I had to alter it again didn't I and I was experiencing lower back and neck pain. The torch on my helmet was weighing my head down and felt like a breeze block. My cadence dropped from an average of about 85 to 75 as I struggled but tried to squeeze the last ounces of energy out of my legs to maintain my reasonable average speed. I made it home and quickly headed to the fridge to drink as much as I could and for something salty or the body's cells cant take up the water and it just swills in the stomach. The day, in part, was glorious and in others damp and dark. A strange one. I saw a few roadies out and about and overtook a lot of mtb'ers. A few hours after the legs are ok so should be good for a ride Sunday morning too if I can sneak out.

Final stats

Average speed 17mph dead
Average Cadence 78 :(
Distance just over 68 miles
Time just over 4hrs
Total Ascent 4700ft+

Friday, 5 February 2010

Just a quickie

Monday 1st Feb : Gym for just over an hour at Rochdale, bike and my now obligatory row. 5000m in 19.29mins. I seem to be having a problem with the row machines as the resistance / drag factor isn't high enough due to the vents being blocked with dust so seems to be getting harder and harder. Ill try out Middleton's later on in the week.
Tri Club Spinning session, 1hr and lots of hill climbing and intervals as some one mentioned doing the Alpe d'Huez Triathlon.

Tuesday 2nd Feb: At hospital with missus again! Just a spin session and 1hr 20 in gym 5000m row 19.30mins.

Wednesday 3rd Feb: Just cycled to work and managed to get home before the blizzards arrived.

Thursday 4th Feb: 2hrs + hard in the gym. 50 mins on gym bike averaging just over 2:20/mile. 10,000m on row machine 39mins 30 seconds which is about 1:58.6 mins/500m average and beats my previous best by about 5 mins!!!!! My back was killing after this as the drag factor at Middleton gym was miles better than the Rochdale ones (DF 200+) . The resistance is harder but it is easier for me to keep a good speed. 30min easy on cross trainer.

Also swam with Rochdale Tri club and after a 20 mins warm up I found out it was Time Trial night again. I thought I would get cramp again like I did last time and not complete more than 2 lengths but during the warmup I felt fine. First up was 400m (16 lengths) with 3 in each lane setting off 10 secs apart. Took the first 100m fairly hard then rested for 200m and hit the last 100m sprinting. On the middle 200m I tried to overtake one of the guys but I ended up being cut up and had to stop for a while so lost a bit of momentum. I ended up with a time of 5mins 30 which is ok but I was aiming for under 5 mins which I should do easily if I hadn't been to gym before had. It was then 50m sprint ( 2 lengths) which I did in 30.5 secs thats without a dive and starting from the wall. Again a very good time but wanted under 30 seconds. Hard nights work.

Took possession of my new car which is a mazda 6 estate so that I can ferry my bikes to events all over the country :) I really mean its got 4 doors so its easy to get the baby in and out of the car seat.

Friday 5th Feb: Cycle to work and eat lots of crap day.

I've just bought a track bike :( When will this cycling obsession stop costing me money):