The numbers lead a dance

Welcome to another ACG ride.  Aka The Fast Show.  For many reasons, including the obvious one.  Here’s some names to conjure with: Paul, Paul, Martyn, Guy, Jon, and Rob (collected en route).  All of whom make a pretty evenly matched peloton…until you get to me that is!

It was scorchio.  I seriously considered getting my coat and bailing on the way out, but after a chat with our esteemed ride leader, I was persuaded to stay, on the proviso that they would wait for me at the top of whatever hills there were.  I am not putting myself down, or even playing the self-deprecating card – I am being a realist and I know my limits.  So there :P

ACG at Langport

And it worked out.  It may not have been brilliant, but it was pretty good all things considered.  G did indeed stand for Group, I rode my bike in the sun, and I reckon with all the effort I put in keeping up, I properly earned the couple of pints I consumed later outside the pub with my folks and the mob :D

Cycling time: 2:55
Distance: 49.1 miles
Avg: 17.0* mph
ODO: 5977.7 miles

(*that’s the speed my Garmin said when I got home before I forgot to turn it off!)

 


Ride Like a Pro 2014

ride like a pro

Facebook is…well…many things, but it is also responsible for me doing today’s ride.  One of my FB “friends” said “here’s this ride – why not sign up”?  And after a little discussion behind the scenes, mostly to establish what the route and clientele were likely to be like, I figured “what the hell, why not?”.  Well I’m here this weekend (clearly) and I’m trying to get as many miles in as possible before I go on holiday and “taper” before Ride London so…yes, why not?

Team Sky car

Which is why at 9:30am this morning I was parking my massively outclassed Hyundai i10 at Hartwell Bristol Jaguar, and unloading my massively outclassed bike from it!  All the high end kit and clearly fit riders around made me properly nervous too, so it was really nice when a friendly face  - aka James S – turned up.  Apparently 50 of us had signed up beforehand, but only 29 turned up on the day which, given the nature of the route and the gorgeous sunshine, seems a shame  - for them, not me!  There wasn’t much faffing to be done.  I was already wearing as little kit as possible, so it was just a question of assembling the bike, putting gadgets on it, and stuffing my pockets with the usual stuff.  I could have had a coffee, but I didn’t want to be the one needing a comfort stop later, en route.  I was nervous enough to have to go to the (very plush) toilet twice as it was!

riders queuing

This isn’t really an event as such.  It’s more of an escorted club ride.  Escorted by a Team Sky Jaguar, bringing up the rear and loaded with such supplies as might be necessary, and led by a posse of whippets in Bath CC kit.  For the first time since the Mad March Hare garmin debacle, I’d actually downloaded the route, as there would be no signs, just a follow your leader principle, and looking at the principals involved, I figured I might be carrying the lanterne rouge home on my own and didn’t want to get lost.  Although most of this ride is on my patch, the bits going out of and into Bristol are unfamiliar territory to me.  Well, why would I choose to play with city traffic if I don’t have to?

After a short, we need to tell you this to cover our risk assessment arses, briefing, we headed off around 10:15, nominally in two groups.  James convinced me to go in the first group, on the basis that that way I could fall back to the second if necessary and, not having been brave enough to do likewise on the Tour of the South East, I was prepared to give it a go this time around.  Although I’d downloaded the route, I’d only really looked at it enough to see what the profile was.  Mostly flat with two main hills in the middle – Shipham and Cheddar Gorge.  Well, those hold no fear for me…other than the fear of being left behind of course!

It was fast.  It was hot.  I tried.  I got dropped a few times, but traffic lights, traffic, and obstacles of various nature combined to allow me to catch up.  Dropped was, of course, whenever the route went up at all.  I would drop like a stone on every incline, while the group surged relentlessly on, barely pausing to register that the gradient had changed!  How very TdF ;)  But that’s ok, and only to be expected, and a lot of the time I did get to ride in the group, suck wheel, enjoy the scenery and even have the odd chat, when breathing wasn’t too essential.  Out through Long Ashton, along the fun rolling road to Wraxall, through Nailsea, and then onto more familiar turf as I hit Dad’s patch, and the long flat road to Yatton.  I held my own, just, as we went through Congresbury and Langford…but I also knew what was coming.  After averaging 18.5mph up until then, the road was about to go up, and the game would be up, and my true colours duly revealed themselves as we climbed up from Churchill to Shipham.  I say we…very shortly it was just me…one of them did try to tow me for a bit but there’s no getting me up hills faster, I’m best left to it.  Besides, I was thinking it might be better to have the descent of Shipham Hill all to myself, all the better to enjoy it, as it were.

Hm.  I did.  Much fun.  But half way down I realised that something was up.  Something was rotten in the state of Denmark.  All was not well with the gearing world.  I had my granny gears, but top gear?  Nope.  In fact, not the top three, whatever ring I was in, however I tried to trick the cassette into them.  Not that this was currently a problem, with gravity on my side ‘n all, but it did mean I couldn’t shoot out of the bottom of the hill in my usual style.  Just as well, the junction was a bit busy, and I nearly overcooked it anyway!

Edelweiss

I rocked up at the Edelweiss cafe, where everyone else was already parked up, with a complete lack of fanfare, better late than never, but a little concerned.  One of the other riders offered to have a look at the bike for me, and after some fiddling, established that the right gear cable was frayed, under the hood.  And having fiddled, the gears would turn out to now be off a bit too.  Marvellous.  And spare cables are not in your standard repair kit, so that cupboard was empty.  Ah well.  I went and drank coffee and considered how ironically near home I was…!  Still, my car was in Bristol, and that’s where I needed to get to…so that’s what I would have to do.  Get back, gently nursing the gears, hoping the cable wouldn’t snap altogether…though I checked the Team Sky car would get me back if necessary!

gorge two

The second group, all fragmented, arrived in dribs and drabs as I was mulling this over.  Having drunk coffee and used the loo, I decided I would head off before everyone else so as to do Cheddar Gorge at my speed, without them having to wait too long for me at the top, supposing they would wait at all.  Which went well.  For them and me.  Hey, it was probably good for them to officially have a rabbit to chase, right?  Sure, some of them caught me, sooner or later, sooner in James’ case, as him and a whippet raced for the top, but I wasn’t the last up, and going up went ok, and that’ll do me :)

Right then.  Time for some fun, namely the descent of Harptree Hill and then the fast flat testosterone fuelled section past Chew Valley Lake to Chew Stoke.  However it all got a bit too much for me eventually (maybe I ran out of testosterone?), and I dropped back a bit.  James kindly joined me which, as we all got more and more spread out, was a good thing.  Some behind us, some in front, but all out of sight as we semi-guessed our way back, and the Garmin failed to beep “off course” at us, thus proving we were doing a pretty good job of the same.  There were a couple more hills…aren’t there always?  I plodded, dealt with whatever gear the cable decided I was allowed to be in at any given time, tried not to stress it or me too much, and James patiently waited while I did.  Nay problem :).

Bristol was getting closer and closer, but that meant areas of Bristol that I’m totally unfamiliar with.  And here the Garmin came into its own.  Sure, we missed a turning off the A37, but it shortly made us aware of the fact, and we took the next turning and fixed it.  After that we followed the trail it showed us.  Not a detailed map, for sure, it’s only a Garmin 500, not one of the bigger fancier models, but it was enough of a trail to get us back to where we needed to be.  However near the end, where the route sort of looped on the way out, I was just about to convince myself we were about to start all over again when James knew where he was and where we needed to be from there, and one right turn at the lights later, we were back at the start.  Sometimes gadgets are good.  As is company – thanks James! :)

Cycling time: 3:00
Distance: 48.8 miles
Avg: 16.2 mph
ODO: 5928.6 miles

Did we ride it like pros?  Hm…well…not precisely, but it was nice to know that the broom wagon was there to sweep me up if that cable had broken, which made the return leg far more relaxed than it would have been otherwise.  I did have fun though, and keeping up was probably very good training!  The whippets were still there when we arrived, just, but headed off, presumably back to Bath, pdq.  The friendly staff at Jaguar were unperturbed by this sweaty lycra invasion and dug out lots of cold orange juice cartons and large glasses of cold water for us, which was totally what I needed.  It was really hot out there again today – as the salt crystals all over my kit and helmet straps demonstrate!  Oh, and we weren’t the last in, by a long shot.  ’Rah!

PS: On the suggestion of one of the other riders, and after some interesting driving around Bristol, I took my bike into BW Cycling on the way back home, and a very lovely young man replaced my gear cable on the spot.  Also ‘rah! :)

 


She she she shine on

peacock sunrise

Yesterday’s ride was lovely.  An evening bimble in the setting sun.  I acquitted myself well enough, as we were taking it fairly easy, so there was enough in me to mean that I could really play silly b*ggers on the odd bits where I love to sprint.  And I do, when I can.  I am such a big kid *grin*.

Cycling time: 1:31
Distance: 24.5 miles
Avg: 16.1 mph
ODO: 5879.8 miles

In other news, despite considerable provocation, I didn’t crucify anyone today.  Who knew I was capable of such restraint?! ;)


Tea in the Sahara

I should probably have been riding up hills today.  Training ‘n all that.  But man, it was just too hot.  I couldn’t face it, not after how hard Burrington Combe was on Sunday.  So I stuck, mostly, to the flat, and actually it may be the one and only time I turn out to have been grateful for the wind.  Sure, slogging into it wasn’t much fun, but at least it cooled me down :)  I did throw in Winscombe Hill to round things off though, not sure why…maybe because I know it’s usually shady?  And I was as slow as ever, but I still got up it.  So there :P

life is indeed too short

As I cycled around Nyland there were some awesome scarecrow things going on, many of which were cycling-themed…and I could have captured them all, but I think this one sums it up.  It is, isn’t it?  Which kind of sums up why I stuck to doing what I wanted to do, s*d training plans and the like.   I sweated up a storm and drank a lot.  I spent two hours hurtling around in the sunshine, topping up my tan, and soothing my soul.  Flat quiet fast roads, blue skies…    I was zenned out for hours afterwards…as well as slightly zonked.  Cycling in the heat just takes it out of you in a way you’re not used to I think.  But in a good way :)

Cycling time: 1:57
Distance: 33.3 miles
Avg: 17.0 mph
ODO: 5846.5 miles

Just as well I didn’t have much to do this afternoon…  See that deckchair?  Now imagine me on it, with a cold lager (or two) to drink, Cyclist magazine to read, nowhere to be and nothing to be doing.  Followed by a restorative nap.   Yep, that’s how it went *grin*.  Good day, sunshine!  By the way, in case you hadn’t noticed, I still love riding my bike :)

deckchair time

 PS: – told you my camera was fixed! ;)

duct tape camera


Great Weston Ride 2014

cinelli

These days, since I’m doing less events, my tendency is to look to do events that I haven’t done before.  But always, there are exceptions to the rule, and the Great Weston Ride is always one of those.  It’s local, it’s one of the few times I actually use the bike in a “green” fashion, as my mode of transport to get to where I need to be to do what I’m going to do and then get home again, and it’s run by lovely friendly folk.  On that basis, it would be rude not to, right?  In fact this year’s ride made it five years in a row for both myself and GB.  Practically a tradition :)

So, 6:00am on Sunday morning, and I was the first at Shute Shelve for a change, to be joined shortly by GB and then Clayton.  The weather was already looking promising, and my decision to leave the waterproof at home seemed to have been wise.  Our esteemed leader GB, aka the one who knows the many and various ways in and out of Bristol thanks to his commuting, once more led us on our way to event HQ at Long Ashton Park and Ride.  Initially there was some mist/low cloud around but it blew away quickly, and my arm warmers and gilet were soon feeling a tad superfluous.  There wasn’t much chance to do much about that though, what with quiet roads, and a reasonable pace, and no excuses to stop.  It was just beautiful out though, talk about a great way to start the day :)  I could probably find a route in by myself now if I had to, but the turning for the cycle path that it usually involves still took me a bit by surprise.  Luckily we had to stop to let a runner take her course, so I was able to stash my layers away – result!  GB takes us in a slightly different way every year, variety being the spice of life ‘n all, but we still get to where we have to be.  Having said that, although the country lanes used today are great, when it came to being offered the option of going via Belmont Hill as well, I baulked, and Clayton and I left him to it, choosing instead to take the more direct main road route!  I don’t care if it has been re-surfaced and is really nice…!  Hills, moi? ;)

Cycling time: 1:15
Distance: 19.6 miles
Avg: 15.5 mph
ODO: 5746.8 miles

registration mechanical support

HQ didn’t feel as busy as some years, but since I gather more people did the event than ever before, maybe we were just earlier than everyone else?  On the upside, this meant precious little queuing for the toilets.  However the mechanics were still pretty busy.  I was hoping to get them to have a look at my gearing, as having had a spacer fitted to the new cassette on Friday the gears had been a bit clicky on the way in.  Even after I’d parked my bike with them, queued for registration and gone back again, they were still chocka though, so I decided I could live with it!  Registration itself was easy enough, if you’d paid attention to the signs which told you which surname-alphabetised queue you should be in – which I had.  Maybe they were too high up for people to see, or just behind them when they got to the queue bit?  Either way there was a bit of confusion, and also occasionally people reaching the front of a queue to be told that they should be in “their” queue instead and having to start over…  Not me.  I reached the front, and was given my number – 903 – two cable ties, an emergency contact card, and a free 9bar.  Job done.

briefing

There’s something about blue skies and sunshine and milling around multi-coloured lycra – it just looks nice.  Especially with all the flowers and landscaping around.  There were a few familiar faces around too, unsurprisingly what with it being so local.  We didn’t hang around to chat much though, instead the three of us headed off towards the start where, as it turns out, we were also in the third group.  Good things come in threes?  Talking of familiar faces, Andy Cook (of Andy Cook Cycling fame) was there, splitting the riders into groups, and ride organiser Darren was the one giving the rider briefings to each group away – and it was nice to have a brief chat to both of them – hi guys!

Following our briefing, with all the usual highlights, including warnings about the road surfaces (it’s Somerset – they’re all rubbish!) and the descent of Westbury Hill, we were on our way, heading back out the way we’d just come in – another reason GB had chosen his route in, he hates to repeat himself on a ride!  It was clear that GB was still well on form, and Clayton likewise, as they frequently drew away from me.  This wasn’t helped by occasional traffic, traffic lights, and the main road stretch up the A38 after Barrow Gurney where overtaking other riders was tricky and we got a bit separated.  This just left me having to kick ar*e to catch the pair of them on the downs or flats as best I could.  Which mostly I managed, what with the next bit being mostly my kind of road, essentially flat and fast!  So I did my usual job of annoying various proud male riders by hurtling past them and making them have to catch up to reassert their male superiority.  And then doing it again.  Not at all amusing.  Much ;)

The ACG are friendly chew valley lakes

After crossing Chew Valley Lake and waving at the family waiting there, presumably to wave at Dad and not us, the roads started to include up bits, which unsurprisingly split us up again.  The road along through Blagdon is a bit draggy, and I was no better at hills today than I ever am.  Possibly even worse!  Having said that, although they were ahead of me, after a while that gap seemed to settle down to a fairly constant length, probably because the ups came with nice downs.  It was getting hot now, and I was getting hot and bothered, and I was more than ready to stop and top up my bottles at the water stop at the bottom of Burrington Combe, where it always is.  However, other than a small sign further down saying that there was going to be a stop, there was no indication as to where it actually was – one of those big upstanding flag things would have been useful, and a lot of people missed it.  Including GB and Clayton, who I’d half been expecting to find waiting for me there.

burrington combe begins rock of ages

Ah well, just me then.  All rehydrated, it was time to climb the Combe again.  Man, it was hard work!  With the climbing, and the sunshine, and the muggy heat, and the complete lack of refreshing breeze…it’s fair to say I wasn’t beating any records, other than possibly for the amount of liquid sweated out – I was literally dripping!  Any and all shade was welcome.  Being overtaken by the Tor 2000 posse on the final steep bit, complete with a cheery “go on Jen” tossed over their shoulders, was less so…  *grrr*.  You don’t have to make it look so easy you know guys!

Still, I made it up, and was all set to be spending the rest of the ride on my own when lo, and behold, there at the usual spot, were Clayton and GB waiting for me.  Fab :)  And much appreciated.  There was also a decent cooling breeze.  OK, so that was about to turn into a headwind, but right then, it was bl**dy lovely! :)  Having slogged my way up, and suffered for my art, I was rewarded not only with company, but also the lovely on top of the world, under the skies, roads on the top of the Mendips that are the reason I usually go up there.   I also got to do one of my favourite stretches my favourite way, as I was allowed to lead the way as fast as I liked for a bit, until we joined the road to Priddy.  Now that was fun :D

down Westbury

One final little kick out of Priddy, and it was time to go down.  Westbury wasn’t actually as bad as Darren had made it sound, and it was the kind of downhill fun that you only get when you’re a bit familiar with the road so you know what’s coming and can take your line accordingly.  It’s always a shame to have to stop for the A371, but stop you must as it’s a busy road!  It, like other similar junctions, was marshalled, and although they’re not there to stop traffic (though the odd one did ;)), they do have a line of sight you don’t.  Duly and safely shepherded across, it was time for a little more down, at which point my camera somehow vibrated its way out of my top tube bag, and had to be retrieved, somewhat the worse for wear but as it would turn out, still functional. OK, so the flap that holds everything in (battery, memory card) has now been replaced by duct tape, but it still works, and hey, that’s why I take photos with my camera and not with my phone!  Trashing a camera is one thing, trashing my entire life is quite another! ;)

hm, cake

Onto very familiar roads now, across to Wedmore and out to the second food stop at Hugh Sexey’s School.  GB led the way like a machine.  I’d have taken a turn, honest, but it was hard enough hanging onto his rear wheel!  The food stop was lovely as ever.  Lots and lots of homemade cakes, and also bacon rolls, for those that fancied splashing a little cash, and free squash and water for those that needed to splash themselves and fill up their bottles!  It was also quite quiet, as the majority of today’s riders were still behind us, a rarity on a sportive for me! :)

beach left GWR goes to the seaside

There were less than 20 miles to go now.  Off down the long long straight road from Mark to Highbridge, into that growing headwind, taking turns more now.  Then into Burnham-on-Sea to see the sea, and to play with all the traffic also keen on being at the sunny seaside.  Once that was, blessedly, behind us, the last 12 miles or so were much quieter, as well as being flat, and that wind was even occasionally behind us, which made for some very pleasant riding.  Then it was unavoidably, but briefly, onto the A370 before trying out the lovely new road surface in Uphill and then into Weston Super Mare onto the final straight along the seafront.  We were kind of sprinting down it, and we so nearly made it, only to be thwarted within 10 metres of the finish by a set of traffic lights!  Typical *grin*.  We stood and waited.  The welcoming committee stood and watched us waiting.  And then finally the lights were green, and we were, somewhat ruefully, over that finish line and collecting our medals to the sound of applause and cow bells :)

reception line medals

Cycling time: 3:25
Distance: 56.0 miles
Avg: 16.3 mph
ODO: 5802.8 miles

probably the best lager massage tent

When it comes to rounding off a ride, luckily Clayton and I be of one blood, and so he headed for the bar to buy us both a well-earned pint of probably the best cold lager in the world ever, while the more sensible GB stuck to something of the soft fizzy variety.  We all had a token for free food, and I don’t usually indulge, but that which was on offer from Field & Flower was a big cut above the usual.  Clayton took the burger route, I had a chicken wrap with salsa & natural yoghurt, and it was proper good!  Not good for my IBS, but hey, what the h*ll ;)  We sat in the sun, ate and drank, and watched other riders come and go, including Gary who arrived after us and took photos of us, before eventually making a trip to the portable toilets in order to be able to ride home again!

Gary H

The ride home was slower, and in order to not repeat anything, included going over Bleadon Hill  in a totally gratuitous fashion.  Ah well, it’s good for me right?  GB got so far ahead at one point that I started to worry that actually he’d been knocked into a hedge by one of the cars going the other way and I’d missed him altogether!  But no, there he was, patiently waiting again, polishing his halo ;)  Clayton peeled off at the relevant point, leaving us to potter home past the Webbington as usual.  Great Weston Ride done – again :D

three side

Cycling time: 0:42
Distance: 10.4 miles
Avg: 14.6 mph
ODO: 5813.2 miles

Not the fastest GWR ever; I think it was just a bit too hot for me.  By the way, when I grow up, I want to be GB…but I don’t think I’ll ever be on that kind of form!   Still, maybe we weren’t really pushing it, which may be why it didn’t feel as much like hard work as in some previous years.  I think we did pretty well all things considered.  More importantly it was just as enjoyable as ever and just as well run.  Here’s to another day spent riding the bike in the sun in good company – hard to beat :D


Enjoy yourself, while you’re still in the pink

evening sunOnce more unto the breach dear friends…once more onto the bike and onto the roads.  Having done hills on Tuesday, yesterday Chris took pity on me and we stuck to the flat.  Which doesn’t mean it wasn’t hard work, it was, it’s just that that effort goes into going fast rather than going up!  It was still lovely out, I just wasn’t feeling the love quite as much as I’d have liked; a bit tireder than the day before, because of the day before, and also suffering a little on the pain front.  You can only ride away from it for so long…  Still, since all this pushing myself seems to be paying off, I think I’ll keep doing it.  Getting results feels good :)

Cycling time: 1:36
Distance: 27.4 miles
Avg: 17.1 mph
ODO: 5698.1 miles

About twelve hours later, I was back on my bike.  Possibly not ideal, since I’ve heard that rest is a good thing, but as this wasn’t really a training ride, more of a sociable coffee run, that’s ok, right?  Actually, it’s not like it’s easy to ride and have a decent conversation, it’s just a different kind of effort, so maybe it is still kinda training ;)  With the pain properly on its way back now, riding when I can, while I still can, has become even more important than ever, so this morning George and I gassed all the way to Glastonbury for coffee, and back again, and I really enjoyed it.  Which was the point, the whole point, and nothing but the point.  My friends rock – I’m a lucky girl :D

And look, the barista at Heaphy’s even made a flower in George’s latte.  Does that count as gilding the lily? ;)

Cycling time: 1:47
Distance: 29.1 miles
Avg: 16.3 mph
ODO: 5727.2 miles

latte art


I can feel my soul ascending

Another day winds down.  The roads clear, the skies are likewise.  It’s like summer has stolen time and wrapped it up with a bow and given it to you.  You have as long as the light lasts, but already the nights are drawing in, and as ever time is fleeting, and before long all this will be just a distant memory.  This evening was such a gift, so I went out and l made sure I enjoyed it.  Even the bits that hurt, which they did.  And especially the bits that didn’t.

castle

I followed two rabbits down the Gorge.  I didn’t want to catch them because I know I do the final wiggly bit slowly and then I’d look like a prat when they caught me again.  Besides there was a car between me and them.  So I didn’t.  But I did pretty much nail it – I think I’m getting the hang of how the wheels handle.  The car that had appeared behind me backed off and let me get on with it, and as I rounded the final corner, came out of the shade, and sprinted off, out of the saddle, past all the shops, there they were, one on either side of the road, having a drink and chatting.  I flew down the road betwixt the pair of ‘em, like they were Rodin’s gate, into the setting sun, like a bat out of hell.  It was just one of those moments…  To use a word that is probably de trop already, it was epic *grin*.

Cycling time: 1:33
Distance: 23.7 miles
Avg: 15.2 mph
ODO: 5670.7 miles

Whatever you think of Strava, for me, apart from the occasional instance of insanity, it’s not about competing with y’all, it’s all about seeing how well I’m doing for me.  And it would appear that my form may not be that of previous years, but I am getting better, and I am the best I have been so far this year.  This is good.  And you never know, maybe I’ll get better still? :)


Where tomorrow shines

Forgive me someone for I have sinned, it has been three rides since my last blog.  Oops.  Sorry.  Mea culpa.  Etc.  Still, the third time’s the charm, and here we are, three rides later.  Which, in case you were wondering, makes four rides in a row…

Where to start?  Why at the beginning of course.  After a very sociable morning in Andrew‘s garage, Christmas finally came to the Cinelli and it got its long awaited summer makeover.  New wheels, tubes, tyres, pedals and cassette.  Ooh so perty.  And shiny :)  After all that time spent watching him work hard, and with a busy schedule, I didn’t have time to actually try it out until Thursday night.  I spent the rest of the day mentally on the road, physically having to be in various other places, with time ticking by at a snail’s pace, just waiting ’til I could go out to play.
new wheels
By the time Chris and I did get out, it was 8.00pm.  Well, I wasn’t going to go out on my own.  For starters, if something did not work properly, the chances of me knowing what to do about it were inversely proportional to him knowing what to do.  Besides which what’s the point of having new toys if you can’t show ‘em off to someone? ;)  I’m pleased to report however that mechanical skills were not required.  We did a relatively hilly hour’s loop around the usual evening ride territory.  The new pedals pushed the new wheels round, the new gears changed, and the new tyres nicely matched the new wheels in admirable sartorial style.  Was I faster?  Ooh, wait and see, it’s a little soon for conclusions, I have two more rides to go! ;)
evening sign

Cycling time: 1:05
Distance: 17.0 miles
Avg: 15.5 mph
ODO: 5593.3 miles

I wasn’t feeling great on Friday morning, and it was very tempting to roll over, go back to sleep, and make my way to coffee at George’s in the car later.  But…then I remembered that I was due at the pub for drinks after work, so an evening workout was not going to work out.  And doing no workout, be it ride or gym, is wrong.  Besides which the sun was shining, and my slowly waking brain remembered that I had new toys to play with.  We have been so lucky with the weather lately.  It’s so easy to go and ride.  Put kit on, put gadgets on, leave house.  Why wouldn’t you?  So I did an hour’s loop to George’s.  It was all very pleasant but my legs were feeling it after the night before, so I wasn’t pushing it.  I’d said I’d be 45 minutes, which, presumably explains why when I turned left outside Mark after nearly an hour, heading towards whichever Allerton it is she lives in, there was a white rabbit in the middle of the road!  Escaped pet?  Pet gone wild?  Diluted gene pool gone wild?  Who knows?  It hopped off wherever it was going, and I hopped off likewise.  Luckily it wasn’t a time critical coffee stop, although it was caffeine critical.  We spent an hour or so putting the world to rights in the sunshine, and George duly admired my bike, whilst pointing out that the rear cassette was a little loose, before I headed for home worrying about it.  Most impressively, well I was impressed, thanks to YouTube and my multi-tool used in conjunction with one of my lovely socket set bits, I managed to tighten something that was loose, and I think it’s all ok now :)

new cassette

Cycling time: 1:08
Distance: 19.6 miles
Avg: 15.3 mph
ODO: 5612.9 miles

Martyn Jon

Which brings us to today.  An ACG ride.  Only five of us this time, but that’s a lot easier to count and keep track of than seventeen!  Jon, Martyn, James, Chris G, and me.  Having done a seaside loop on Wednesday I’d decided to do much the same with them, with the addition of a hill just to prove that my routes aren’t completely flat.  So, a seaside loop with Shipham Hill it was then :).  My legs were definitely feeling it as we set off, and going straight up that hill didn’t improve things any!  Four days riding in a row…definitely elements of ow!  But once the climbing was done, I was doing alright on the flat, and as it was mostly going to be flat, I figured I’d be ok.  On that basis it took us a little over an hour to get to our coffee stop at the once again open New Castle in Kewstoke.  Quite fast, or maybe too fast according to Chris, but he wasn’t really complaining, just working hard to keep up ;)

James Chris G

We sat outside, drank a lot of coffee, ate a lot of cake, and I revealed my dastardly plan.  Here’s why we were really doing the seaside loop again.  For the first time ever, I went out with the deliberate intention of trying for a Strava QOM.  Well, after discovering that I’d done the long fast Accommodation road segment better than ever on Wednesday, and was only 3 seconds off the top?  And with an ACG lead out train?  Had to be worth a go right?  Especially when that train included those three – Chris having decided to leave us to playing silly b*ggers and catch up with us at the end – it’s only 1.1 miles after all.  However with tired legs, I had my doubts as to whether my ambition would come to fruition.  Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained, and the guys were more than up for giving it a go for me.  Imagine that ;)  So after playing with the traffic in Weston, and spending a very long time trying to turn right onto the A370 after Uphill, it was time.  Right turn, past the bleedin’ car boot sale traffic, over the railway bridge and…it was on.  I did my very best.  I hammered along behind Martyn, and then when he pulled over, behind James (once I’d caught him!) with Jon next to me.  It was hard work, I was pushing, I seriously doubt it was a pretty sight to behold, and yes, it hurt.  But in an oddly good way?  It certainly felt fast.  And when I looked down it was fast.  But was it fast enough?…   Well I could make you wait until later, as I had to, but…I shall put you out of whatever limited misery you are in now…

…Woohoo!  We did it!   Not only did I beat my PB by 11 seconds, I also took 8 seconds off the previous QOM’s time.  Thanks guys!  It was a lot of fun and I’m very chuffed :)  There’s a lot to be said for setting yourself a challenge and achieving it.  Remind me I don’t need to go and get it back when it goes to someone else though…that way madness lies!

bike and flowers

After that, it was time to go home.  Still fairly fast, but we reined it in a bit, stuck together, and the climb back over past the Webbington put me firmly back in my place.  I enjoyed the down the other side as much as ever though :)  Another quick hop, that last final drag up from Cross, and we were back in the Square, and I was done.  Properly done *grin*.

Cycling time: 2:07
Distance: 34.1 miles
Avg: 16.1 mph
ODO: 5647 miles

So, shall we have that conclusion now?  Oh go on then, I do believe the time has come…  Are my new wheels faster?  It’s possibly a little hard to tell.  At the moment I think I’m getting faster myself.  And there’s bound to be a bit of placebo effect – if I believe they’re faster, maybe I am faster?  But…nah…I’m pretty sure they’re actually faster.  This doesn’t make much difference up long hills (sadly!) but on the flat?  Yes.  You know how you look down and know roughly what speed your Garmin is probably showing?  Well with these wheels, you look down and your speed is that speed plus about 2mph.  They initially seemed a little skittish on wiggly descents but now that I’ve ridden them a bit and the brakes have settled in and the tyres have worn in a little, that seems to be less of a problem.  They’re very responsive and love to sprint.  They quite like out of the saddle climbing, up those silly bits that aren’t really hills, just to get to the top and head off again.  And I’ve just anthropomorphised my wheels.  But after three rides, I think I’m definitely fasterer :D  Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do and fly *grin*.

Cat in the hat boxPS: this is The Cat in the Hat (Box)! Apparently my Giro helmet pod fits her perfectly!

 


Push it real good

Some days it’s about riding the bike.  Riding it hard.  Riding your mood and worrying mind away.  Concentrating on the riding; too focused to think too much.  Riding until you’re too tired to be thinking anyway.  Riding to see how fast you can go; because like it or not, you’d like to get up that hill faster, or you know there’s a segment to beat, and also because easing back feels like slacking.  It’s all working together, it’s hard to rage against the machine when it’s working so well…and it’s all working out.  It feels good.  Good to be out there, out of in here, better out than in.  Better.  Definitely better.

And then life puts things even further into perspective.  Narrow country lane, head down in head space, pushing onwards, and around a corner and then you’re there and so is a large white lorry coming the other way, and you brake and skid and he brakes and skids and there you are face to face just feet away from each other, counting your lucky stars.  No harm no foul, no fault no blame, all’s well that ends well.  We exchanged rueful relieved grins, agreed that that was one hell of a way to be woken up, and went on our separate ways, a little shaken but not stirred ;)

Unsurprisingly on days like these, you don’t stop to take photos.  And inevitably where you do have to stop; junctions, traffic lights etc, is less than photogenic.  So you’ll have to take my word for it when I tell you I went for a ride in the semi-sunshine to the seaside and back.  And if you don’t believe me, there’s always Strava, right? ;)  When it comes down to it, today I kicked ar*e and didn’t get killed by a lorry.  I’m fairly sure that qualifies as a good ride *grin*.

Cycling time: 1:53
Distance: 32.3 miles
Avg: 17.1 mph
ODO: 5576.3 miles

Tomorrow is the big day.  One more sleep until Christmas comes for the Cinelli.  My shiny new wheels arrived from Cycle Division on Tuesday, a day late, but better late than never.  I am still, predictably, mad excited about it all.  Not much longer now though…just a little more patience.  And then wait and see what I do to those Strava segments ;)

IMG_20140708_095856

 


Let go of the little distractions

Yesterday evening I rounded off a very nice weekend away in the best way; by riding the bike.  The low evening sun stitched my shadow back on, though it still resolutely refused to give me a tow up the hills.  And there were hills.  I wasn’t complaining though, other than as a token, best to do what is expected of you, gesture.  I am nothing if not predictable…  Having said that, it’s distinctly possible that the lady doth protest too much, (I know, who you callin’ a lady?!), and you’ve all seen through me.  Hills are hills, I get up them, and then I get to go down them.  It’s a trade-off I can live with :D

P1010761

Cycling time: 2:01
Distance: 29.9 miles
Avg: 14.8 mph
ODO: 5544 miles

Today my new wheels were supposed to turn up…and they didn’t, and I had to call them, and now they’re due tomorrow.  Not that I’m excited or anything.  Much.  I’m the one bouncing around like it’s Christmas Eve – I am such a big kid! *grin*.  Of course now I’m fretting that they won’t turn up again and I’ll have to chase them again.  It would appear I’m not just good at complaining about hills, I’ve also got worrying down to a fine art ;)  I really should learn to let things go – life’s too short, right?  In the meantime the postman did bring me two new Topeak AlienLux rear lights to replace the two that mysteriously disappeared one after the other, and a few more tubes of Nuun, so at least I had something to unwrap.  Roll on tomorrow… :D