How fit am I ? Well now I know

Woke up at 3am on Sunday, for one of my all too frequant a trips to the loo these days. Whilst there I became aware of a strange noise outside. On returning to bed I stuck my head out the window to investigate. It was pissing down. Oh joy of joys I thought, all those weeks of nice weather and come my first bike event of the year and it rains. When I got up at 7am it wasnt as bad, still raining but I could put up with it. Got my gear together and loaded the bike onto the car. I left for Selby about 8.15am under leaden skys and a strong northerly wind. Checked in at registration and make several trips to the loo before the 10.00am start. This was the usual scramble with people riding all over the road, up and down pavements zig zagging their way to the front. This year the toll bridge at Selby is closed for repair, but we were allowed to walk across in single file. This was slow as the traffic lights are still in operation on the other side. Once crossed we were truely on our way. The wind was strong and in your face for the first few miles, which was an omen for the return journey as it was 11 miles in this direction. Worry about that later! After a while we turned rights and had the wind more on our backs for a while. At this point I was coasting along at 18 miles an hour.When suddenly this guy who had hooked on to my back wheel some time back comes along side and asks me if I have a speedo and how fast are we going. As we chat he tells me he is getting a pull off me as when we get to the windy section he will be down to 8mph. He is riding a mountain bike in sandals. We stay together for the next 5 miles or so and have a nice chat as we go along. By the time we reach Cawood bridge he,s dropped back along way, and is no longer in sight. He was a nice guy, I hope he got round ok. I spend the next 10 miles on my own, until I make the turn up a narrow lane at Naburn, when a guy comes along side  and says hellow. We ride together until we reach Whelbrake were he decides to stop for a drink and a bannana. Whilst we were together we chatted about what we were doing the ride for, and I mention I’m in training for London to Paris. He say “never whats the chance of that so am I”. Its a small world. I sad goodbye and wished him well, but I was at a point where I didn’t want to stop as I was close to 30 miles and equal to my longest ride yet. I pushed on into the teeth of a very strong wind, I was down to 13 / 14 mph. I went through 30 miles in 2hrs 3 minutes so was reasonably pleased. I spent the next few miles trying to catch a guy in front of me but never seemed to be able to close the gap. Suddenly as I rounded a bend I was right behind him, as I passed, I said hellow and ask how was. He just sighed. Just after the forty mile mark I heard a voice from behind say hellow. It was my London to Paris mate. He said he didn’t think he was going to catch me. He said the guy I had passed last was now really struggling, and said he wished he had done some training. Apparently he is planning doing the Great Yorkshire Bike Ride in 6 weeks. We stayed together until the finish and said our goodbyes. It was only when I got back to the car I thought I should have got some contact details. I didn’t even know his name. I checked the distance and time when I got to the car. It was 41 miles, my longest ride by 11 miles this year, and 2hrs 54minute. In spite of the slow start, walking over the bridge and the wind, only 4 minutes slower than when I did this ride 10 years ago when training for the Coast to Coast ride. I was please, I wont make the Olympic team but for me that was good.

This morning I feel reasonably fresh, and rode to work as usual. Bike needs a good clean, and my bum is a little tender. The seat on that new Scott is hard!

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Just how fit am I?

After riding my way back to fitness over the last few months, its time to find out just how fit I am. On Sunday I will be riding the Selby bike ride. Its only forty something miles, but I’m keen to see how I handle it. I’m not looking for anything flash, I’ll be happy to get round in 2 hours 40 minutes, and not feel like I am about to die. Its a nice flat course, but I suspect the wind and rain forcast for the weekend may have a say. We had a lovely week awy in the Lakes with the family over Easter. Got a few rides in with my son Ben. He’s always had a natural talent for going up hill, which we seemed to do too frequently for my liking. Everytime it went up he just got out of the saddle and was gone. Me I just did a lot of changing down through the gears. I’m please to say it may have been slow but I rode up all the hills.

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The long long way home report

As I said yesterday I took the long way home last night. It was 30 miles door to door and was a very enjoyable ride. I was really pleased with how good I felt riding, it was such a nice evening. The countryside is looking lovely and the views from Whemby towards the Howardian hills is so beautifull. If I was ever able to build my own house thats the view I would want, its my favourite. On the climb up towards Sherriff Hutton a fox strolled out from the trees to cross the road. I don’t know who was more supprised him or me. It seemed an age before he spotted me and turned back from where he came, but in that time I got a good look at him. He was in fine shape and looked to be doing well after such a hard winter, but he needs to watch out for that road or the next time I see him he’ll look like a carpet. Nice to see though. I,m going to the Lakes on Friday for a week and taking the bike with me. Arranged to borrow a bike carrier from my daughter Lucy’s father in law.(don’t know what relationship he is to me!) I haven’t got sorted out with bike transportation since I changed the car. I don’t often carry it, I ride it. Looking forward to riding in a different area.

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The very long way home

My commute home tonight will be approximatly 30 miles with a few big hills thrown in just for the fun of it. Now that may not seem odd to you but as I only live 3.5 miles from the office that,s a significant detour. Jill is out with some of her work friends this evening, so I am taking the opportunity to get a longish ride in tonight, to see how the training is going. I used to be able to do this route in about 2 hours. However its been a couple of years since I was last round this way. I’m quite looking forward to it. Its a nice rural route and as I’m not under any pressure to be back for a given time I can just enjoy it. I’ll let you know how it goes tomorrow.

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Slightly disapointing ride

Over the last few years I’ve excepted that it takes me longer to get going each spring. I ride all year round, but in the winter months I only ride comuter miles, due to the dark and poor weather. So come spring time its hard work for a few weeks, and then I’m into it. Only thing is its taking longer each year to get to that point. I,m about a month into this years step up in milage and everything was going great last week I felt I was making some progress. On Thursday I even threw in a few big hills to test my fitness. Although they were hard, I was quite please with how I handled them, a little slow but I got there. On Saturday we picked up the boys from Durham and went to Wallington Hall for the day. We had a nice day and it was lovely to have the grandkids for the day. I got up early on Sunday for my regular spring / summer ride. I was out of the house by 7.20am , the first thing I noticed was how under dressed I was. It was cooler than it looked, anyway I was sure it would walm up quickly. When I got into Stensall I checked my time and I was a minute down on my normal ride times. At the second check point I was now two minutes down. At Stillington I normally expect to be there in approximatly forty minutes, it had taken me forty seven. And so the ride went on, by Sherriff Hutton I was now ten minutes behind schedule and struggling to get any consistancy in my pace it just seemed hard. The run back wasnt too bad, and I managed to ensure I didn’t loose anymore time. I pulled into the drive at home in a time of 1hour 50 minutes for a 24 mile ride. My average time for this ride is 1 hour 40 minutes. I was really disapointed, cold and had a stiff back. I don’t know if it was too much time in the car on Saturday, or the hills on Thursday, but I felt like the tank was empty for the entire ride. Right its a fresh week, lets have a new start and hope for a better ride round the circuit next Sunday. They say “some days you eat the bear, some days the bear eats you”!

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Assassins on four wheels

For the last few days I have been thinking about doing a post on who to lookout for whilst riding on the road. Clive Chapman has a very interesting post with video of two recent incidents which have happened to him. Most of us who commute on a daily basis have experience of the idiots who take risks around cyclist. I had thought of compiling a list of who these idiots are and what vehicles they drive so we can all watch out for them. Its my experience that they are of a mind set, and choose the same cars in which they go about their daily activity of terrorising other road users. Please feel free to add your own so we can all lookout for them.

1. BMW drivers.

2. Drivers of four wheel drive vehicles.

3. Drivers in vehicles with bike carriers on. Even though they clearly ride bikes themselves, it doesn’t make them anymore curtious around cyclists.

4. People towing horse boxes. It usually say motorist look out for horses. But don’t think they need to consider anyone else when they are driving.

5. White van man.

6. People who pull out in front of you at junctions, when you have right of way, and give you a knowing grin, or a two finger salute. They wouldn’t do it if they thought they would be hurt.

7. People who still insist on using a mobile phone whilst driving. I was once almost knocked of my bike by a guy driving a Range Rover, towing a twin axle caravan, negotiating a mini roundabout, whilst on the phone. (Dickhead).

8. Anyone displaying a sign asking people to give them consideration, because, baby on board, new driver and so on. It usually means “Lookout for me” “sod the rest of you”.

9. Cyclist who ride on the pavement, the wrong down one way streets, jump the lights on red, ride without lights when its dark,(you know who they are) giving the rest of us a bad name.

If its any consolation these people don’t limit their actions to cyclists, they do it to everyone.

Thats todays rant, I feel much better now.

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The cycling weather gods

I for one prefered March the weather was much better. Its supposed to be March winds and April showers. Not both together in April. Come on you weather gods, sort your selves out. Here in York they have been running a cycle challenge against Cambridge. To encourage more people to cycle to work. Last I heard York were ahead, and our company was leading in the organisations over 500 category. The results will be anounced on Friday. There are always more people who cycle in the summer, but its the diehards when the weather turns to S__t.

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Wimps 1, motivation 0

For some reason my inner wimp won the day this weekend. I had great plans for the weekend on Friday, and in no time it just disapeared. On my ride home from work Friday lunch time, I was planning my afternoon rides route. All was going well when I made the turn towards home, and was hit by a strong headwind. It nearly stopped me dead, and the rest of the ride was a real struggle. Decorating took the place of a ride on Friday, as I found it easy to convince myself it was too windy to cycle. On Saturday my wife Jill dragged me off to town for a new suit, for my son Ben’s wedding. On my return I settled down to watch the Leeds Forest game on TV. Still no ride. By 3pm the wind was up and it was raining. As we were going out on Saturday evening to Leeds, and had to leave at 6.20pm again I persuaded myself it was too late, and too unpleasant to go out for a ride. I had failed the 30 days in April challenge on day two! On Sunday I was playing drums with the band at church, and then going to our daughter Lucy’s for lunch as it was mothers day. I had promised myself when they moved to Wistow two years ago I would ride out there one day. They move to America in five weeks and I still hadn’t done it yet. So I put the bike in the car and rode back at 5pm. It turned out to be a very pleasant ride of 22 miles, taking about 1 1/4  hours. Lets hope I’ve got it out of my system now. Its the problem with ride too much on my own. I need to get my mate Steve out, I need the motivation of having someone rely on you meeting them.

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Get set, reset and get set again

After three rides I think I have got the set up on my new bike about right. I rode twice over the weekend, 24 miles on Saturday and 17 miles on Sunday. I am quite pleased that my spinning classes over the winter have paid off, as I am climbing much better than last year. However my overall speed is pants, but it will come. Its all about miles in the legs, and time on the bike at the moment. I’ll worry about the time later. I’ve decided on a set of rules as to what constitutes comuting and liesure cycling. Two nights a week instead of going home I do a longer ride to improve my fitness. Technically its comuting as I will end up at home from work, but its not my usual route. So I have decided if I have my rucksack on its comuting, otherwise its liesure.

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Click in click out

I ride with SPD pedals on all my bikes. Never managed to get on with road pedals. I always thought it was like trying to ride a bike in ice skates. I guess its what you get used to. However most recently I have had some difficulty clicking out. Which is always of some concern when you get to a junction and cant get your foot out of the pedal. After a closer inpsection I realised my cleats had worn down so much my shoe was catching on the pedal. Things were so worn that I had to drill out the screws on the old cleat to fit new ones. On Saturday it was such a nice day I went out on the new Scott. The ride was really nice, but punctuated with a few stops to make adjustments along the way. My main concern is that I seem to have lost a little confidence in the click in click out fuction. I start to panic as a junction approaches, incase I can’t click out. Its silly really but I’m not sure of it anymore.

Anyway onto the ride itself I went round my normal Sunday morning ride, the roads are quiet with a few hills to get the heart rate up a little. I actually rode the hills reasonably well, but I lacked any real pace on the flat sections. Some of that is lack of fitness and a little is finding a comfortable gear I can spin at a decent pace. It will come. The only other concern is that the ride seems to have shrunk over the winter. On my old bike it was just under 24 miles. On the new one its 23! I need to check the set up of the new computer.

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