Working for the weekend

tired me with Cassie

After some considerable effort, I managed to get all yesterday’s kit washed and dried by this morning.  Prêt à porter, as it were.  Which means that, despite a Guy induced ice scare, by the time George arrived I was ready to go.  Which would be prêt à partir.  Ooh, I’m so witty ;)

Was it a great ride?  Not really.  George was, as ever, indefatigable.  Keeping up with her whilst keeping up with the conversation was hard work.  All under grey skies, on mucky roads, and even if it wasn’t freezing, t’weren’t far off.  I don’t think I ever really warmed up properly, it was just too cold.  It was another ride that turned out to be a slog, even though it was ameliorated by company and chat.  About two thirds of the way through our longer than planned ride, I lost it completely, supposing I had it in the first place.  And yes, before you nag me, I had had breakfast.  Two rides in two days too much too soon maybe?  I think tomorrow may have to be a rest day.  Still, one more in the bank, right? :)

Cycling time: 2:04
Distance: 30.7 miles
Avg: 14.8 mph
ODO: 7590.8 miles

I’ve been convinced it’s Friday all day.  Which it quite clearly isn’t.  Back to never getting the hang of Thursdays presumably.  But since I’ve been for a ride, I’ve been to work, I’m still cold, I’m tired (as you can see), and I have nothing to do this evening other than watch TV with a Cassie hot water bottle and paint my nails (if she’ll let me), I have decided that, despite all evidence to the contrary, it is in fact Friday.  And therefore…

early Friday




I keep having dreams

bridge over flooded waters

Roads that were wet, but not icy.  Air that was cold but not freezing.  Skies that were blue under veiled sunshine.  And wind that just wasn’t there.  So I went out.  Which was and is good.  Especially because I need to get more miles in.  And I did; I broke the two hour barrier, and I even went up the odd hill.  All good right?

Cycling time: 2:02
Distance: 30.1 miles
Avg: 14.7 mph
ODO: 7560.1 miles

But there’s a problem lurking in there.  I need to get more miles in.  I ought to ride my bike.  If I don’t, I feel guilty.  Would someone like to explain where the love is there?  Maybe it’s missing because it’s taking me a while to make my way back?  Maybe it’s the lack of a big foreign goal to motivate me?  Maybe it’s just winter, and it’s the same roads and the same views and it’s all a bit same old same old?

I just want to enjoy riding my bike.  Which I will probably do more as it gets easier and it won’t get easier unless I do more of it.  How very circular.  Just like my routes.  So it’s got to be done.  Well, it’s either that or stop doing it at all.  And there are things I do want to do.  My sportive calendar is filling up.  In six weeks I’m off on my Wheels in Wheels training camp.  And OK, so I haven’t found that big thing yet, but it could still happen…?  So I guess I’ll keep getting out there, putting the miles in, one ride at time.  Next week I’ll even start going up hills.  Hopefully I’ll get there :)

Levels ahead

Get up, get down, and get outside

Hello Sunday.  Hello sunny day.  Oh, and hello Steve :)

Axbridge in the sun

As ever, the best way of making sure I get out there is to arrange to do so in company.  Especially when that company is also recovering from the dreaded lurgy and therefore less likely to leave me for dust than sometimes.  In deference to our form, we decided it was more of a rehabilitation ride than a recovery ride ;)  And invalids are supposed to go to the seaside and take in the sea air, right?  So we did.  Which was a very good call.  Like Friday, the weather was still amazing, and my riding was still fair to middling, which I can live with.  It was cold, to be sure, but the air was crystal clear, with stunning views all the way over to Wales.  And it’s a nice route, which was done in good company, what more does a girl want?  It was a very good day to be out there.  To be fair, I reckon after the Tour of Pembrokeshire Prologue ride I was probably owed a couple of beautiful bike days :)

So why are you sat at home?
You’re not designed to be alone
You just got used to saying “no”
So get up and get down and get outside
Cos it’s a lovely sunny day

I’m very glad I said yes :)

Cycling time: 1:54
Distance: 27.9 miles
Avg: 14.6 mph
ODO: 7530 miles

Oh, baby, baby, it’s a wild world

cold out

Oh baby it was cold outside.  But not freezing cold.  And the forecast was for sun and little in the way of wind.  Which sounded good.  But…well…  I thought about it.  About how I was feeling, and whether or not I wanted to be feeling that way and riding on my own.  And I thought about staying in my warm and comfortable bed.  And then I thought about yet another day going past without me riding.  And…I vacillated.  Which is, incidentally, a great word.  And then I stopped being all pretentious about my vocabulary and took to Facebook to ping Alan and see if he was riding.  Which, unsurprisingly as he always is, he was.  Voilà – a ride partner, a reason not to bail, and a reason to get out of bed.  Result.

We had a Plan A and a Plan B.  And, once we’d reached Wedmore, and it turned out I was feeling better than I thought I would, we turned not right but left, and Sweets metarmophised into Heaphy’s.  AKA Plan B.  Where I discovered the chocolate espresso, which could possibly count as an energy drink right?  Sugar, caffeine, what more do you want? ;)

chocolate espresso Heaphy's

Not wanting to push it, and being a little time poor, we went back pretty much the way we come, in even more pleasant sunshine.  More pleasant because it was no longer in your face and everything was all sparkly and fresh and reflective and very lovely.  The best weather there’s been around here for quite some time.  And it’s just as well we didn’t do more as although I may be getting better, the tank runs dry pretty quickly, and I was fading fast as we got back to Cheddar, partially because I was on the front and not sucking Alan’s wheel for a change.  Not that I was doing any great speed you understand, but it’s always harder out in front.  I did my best though :)

There were signs of improvement however.  My PMA may have stirred somewhere down in the depths.  And being out there made me smile.  OK, so my training needs the miles more than it does the smiles, but I think both are probably required :)

Cycling time: 1:48
Distance: 28.8 miles
Avg: 15.8 mph
ODO: 7502.1 miles


I wish today could be tomorrow


I should be riding.  I’m not.  Again.  George came round this morning, and that was the plan…but I still feel rubbish and the forecast was lousy, and I just can’t risk getting cold, wet, and worse.  And in addition to that, at the moment keeping up with anyone feels like hard work and it’s depressing.  No good for my currently AWOL PMA.  So we had coffee and a long chat instead.  Yes, even I can be sensible sometimes.  However bl**dy frustrating it is to be in here and not out there.  Again.

Wells Cathedral

To be honest what I probably need to do is ride on my own, at my own pace, and get some confidence back.  I just feel a bit like I’ve forgotten how to ride a bike.  But since I still can’t hear properly, or for that matter stand up without wanting to fall over, and my head is still spaced, I’m a tad concerned that riding on my own wouldn’t be wise either.  Rock vs hard place.

Puncture repair kit

I did ride on Sunday though.  A recovery loop around Fairyland, complete with pinch puncture and patriarchal company to fix it pdq for me.  And it went pretty well really.  Better than might have been expected anyway.  I guess I shouldn’t be complaining really, after all I have been back on the bike, and I have managed a couple of workouts this week, and that’s all training even if it isn’t riding, right?  I’m just frustrated at still being ill, and not being able to get on with this year’s training.  Hopefully normal service will be resumed shortly…please?

Cycling time: 1:42
Distance: 23.6 miles
Avg: 13.8 mph
ODO: 7473.3 miles


Tour of Pembrokeshire Prologue 2015

ready to go again

Early, oh so early, on Friday morning, as the sun was slowly rising in the east, I was following the slowly waning moon west.  Anyone would think it was sportive season which, it being January, it so isn’t.  But it was time for this year’s Tour of Pembrokeshire Prologue ride, which meant being in Newport (no not that Newport) by 10:00am.  Hence the unpleasant 5:30am alarm call, to get me out on the road in time to head towards the equally unpleasant weather that was forecast.   There’s a reason sportives are generally later in the year…but having said that, last year’s Tour of Pembrokeshire was in April and boy, was the weather hideous.  And hey, it was only a forecast, right?  Besides, it’s not just about the ride, the Prologue has a hefty social element to it, with lunch all together afterwards, and it’s run by those who are now friends of mine so even if cycling around a wet and windy Pembrokeshire didn’t exactly appeal, in for a penny in for a pound, right?

Llys Meddyg Mavic

So welcome to Prologue HQ, at Llys Meddyg in Newport.  Parking was at somewhat of a premium as riders were already gathering, but I was assisted in squeezing my little red car into a little space in the hotel car park.  Since I was staying there that night, I guess I was entitled ;)  I stuck my head inside, made my presence known, and headed back to the car to get ready.  So far the weather wasn’t too bad, and it was pretty mild, which made the inevitable faffing a lot easier.  I had considered washing the bike beforehand but, all things considered, I figured it would have been a waste of time.  Oh and let’s face it, I’m lazy ;)  So out it came, complete with mud, and on went the necessary layers.  I think there were forty other riders, or thereabouts, all milling around doing similar; registering, drinking coffee and the like.

As the time to depart drew near, we were sorted into ability-based groups, with me firmly in the softie group.  I still had/have a stinking cold and inability to hear, haven’t done much exercise in a couple of weeks, and riding at all was possibly less than advisable, let alone doing it and trying to keep up with others.  Besides, it looked like we were going to be a fairly sociable group, to be led by mein host Peter & his son Tom on their tandem, and there was even another girl for company – Nikki – which made a nice change.

Riders gathering Peter briefing

And that’s pretty much how it worked out.  Fairly sociable, stopping and starting to regroup, and just about slow enough for me.  Yes, the downhills were fun, but there isn’t much flat, and why is it I always forget how hilly Pembrokeshire is?  It is.  Very.  Hence the slow.  Even doing the softie route, which meant cutting out the last big climbs, our 34 mile route included over 3000 feet of climbing!  Man there was a lot of up – a real taster of what the real Tour is like.  Sadly there was absolutely nothing in my legs, and going uphill literally hurt.  I had lead for legs, but that’s unsurprising really I guess.

looking for a sign softie group

The first half of the ride was fairly pleasant, that not withstanding.  It was still mild, only occasionally damp, with the odd hint of blue sky, and of course the scenery was as lovely as ever.  It is beautiful around there, especially around the coast.  For a little while it looked like we might make it around our loop before the weather came in.  We did not.  Oh no.  Definitely not.  In came the rain and serious amounts of wind.  The sort that knocks you sideways, pushes you backwards, and generally just makes everything harder whilst completely failing to be behind you at any useful point in time, if at all.  Hence the lack of photos.  It would appear that this is the kind of weather I bring to Pembrokeshire, and as I coated yet more roads with snot, and coughed my way up yet another hill, I did wonder what on earth I thought I was doing, and why on earth I was doing it…

The last half of the ride was definitely a slog.  I’ve done much longer rides that didn’t feel as hard work as this one did, and it was a great relief to get back to Newport and stuff the (even muddier) bike back in the car.  I was geknackert.  It is just possible that, considering my current being ill state, cycling 34 miles of wet windy Welsh hills was not the best idea ever…  Still no-one ever said I was the sharpest knife in the drawer ;)

route map

Cycling time: 2:54
Distance: 33.4 miles
Avg: 11.5 mph
ODO: 7449.7 miles

Once I’d checked into what turned out to be a very large & lovely room and I’d had a long hot shower, I felt restored to as close to human as I was going to get, and it was time to rejoin everyone for pheasant casserole & post ride debriefing downstairs.  It sounds like those that had braved the full route had had some hairy times in the wind up on the mountains, making the route we took seem like a very wise choice.  Not that I feel we needed that vindicating, as I’m just happy we didn’t have to do any more climbing!  I know, girly wuss ;)  The après ride more than made up for my dismal performance on the ride, and what’s more, I felt like I’d earned it!

The Tour of Pembrokeshire 2015 takes place on 25th April and over 1100 have already signed up.  It’s a great event, that I’ve done several times, and it promises to be just as good and just as challenging as ever.  Due to other commitments, this year I’m not doing the Tour proper, but that probably means they’ll have their best weather ever!   It’s one of my favourite events, and if you haven’t signed up already, why not do so now and make the most of the inevitable sunshine? ;) *grin*.

Like to get to know you well

Ok, I declare my 2015 cycling season (finally) open!  Thanks to the worst cold I’ve ever had, which is on-going and has led to two ear-aches and two perforated ear drums, I was starting to wonder if I’d ever get back on the bike at all.  It was with some trepidation that I set off this morning to meet Alan for a coffee run, even though he’d promised to take it easy for

Which he did, which is just as well.  Not just because I’m unsurprisingly off form, but because lack of hearing and weird head makes riding a little interesting…  It’s harder to hear cars coming up behind you for starters.  My balance is a little off.  And with gaps in my ears where there shouldn’t be, it’s like you can feel all the road noise vibrating inside your hollow head somehow.  It’s virtually impossible to describe, but it sure is weird.  All that whilst feeling one step removed from reality, because since you can’t quite hear it properly and you’re still ill, you can’t quite connect with it either.  Surreal.

It's not always about the coffee....

It’s not always about the coffee….

However it went a lot better than I expected.  Alan nurse-maided me all the way to Sweets setting an easy steady pace, while I coated the roads of Somerset with snot.  Apart from an impressive coughing fit when we arrived, it went well enough that, following my restorative cup of hot chocolate and Alan consuming the largest slice of chocolate cake known to man, we came back by a longer route than planned.  It was a slightly tough call.  Do you do the longer ride because you feel up to it, or do you keep it shorter so as to not overdo it and thus lengthen the road to recovery?  Longer of course!  But judging by the involuntary and rather longer than usual nap I ended up taking this afternoon, I think it wore me out a bit.  Still I’m relieved and glad to have finally gotten back out there – thanks for taking it easy for me Alan!  Hello beautiful bike, I’ve missed you :)

Cycling time: 1:41
Distance: 25.3 miles
Avg: 14.9 mph
ODO: 7416.3miles

So it’s the New Year.  A new year.  I could bore you by comparing 2014’s stats to those of 2013.  I’m not going to.  I could bore you with my cycling goals, hopes and dreams for this year.  But I’m not going to.  Let’s face it, they’re none of your business and you’re probably not that interested anyway.  I’ll tell you what I would like though.  I’d like to do it better :)

There’s more than just existence

blue skies above us

Since my legs are a little sore after yesterday’s jaunt on Shank’s pony, riding with Guy & Martyn today was always going to be an interesting exercise.  But it would be exercise and that is always what is called for.  Yes it is, don’t argue.  Besides the sun was shining, the skies were blue, they’d done a fair few miles before picking me up at a most civilised 10:00am, and would therefore hopefully go easy on me.  Which they did.  Most appreciated chaps :)  It was a short loop that, due to the vagaries of the festive season, did not include its planned coffee stop since Banwell Garden Centre was closed.  Which was in some ways just as well, as I’d got my layering just about right and didn’t really fancy getting cold and then having to warm up again just to get home.  So it all worked.  I worked.  Probably harder than I would have done left to my own devices, but not too hard.  And I got to ride my bike in the sun again.  A few more miles in the legs, all ready to fight another day.  Good times :)  Though my legs proper hurt now!

Cycling time: 1:19
Distance: 19.1 miles
Avg: 14.3 mph
ODO: 7391 miles

I’m walking in the air

new view

What is it?  That makes you go out in the rain?  That makes you ride those extra thirty miles rather than do the shorter route?  What is about not bailing?  What is it that makes us do it?

One of my plans this week was to go for a walk today.  Map found.  Route planned.  Advice taken.  Etc.  But given the weather today, and the fact that no-one really gives a monkeys whether I do what I say I’m going to do or not, I could just have sat on the sofa with a good book and some very good coffee.  But I didn’t.  Because I’d made a plan.  I’d said I was going to do something.  So what if I didn’t do it?  Was the sky going to cave in?  It seems unlikely.  But I still had to do it.  It’s just the way it is, even if I don’t understand it :)

sheep craggy

And let’s face it, just as with cycling, when it comes to going walking I now have the right kit.  Well, some anyway.  I have layers (surprise, surprise).  Some of which are also waterproof.  Which is quite important when the weather is producing that insidious drizzle that isn’t quite rain but is still quite wet enough and somehow gets everywhere.  And underfoot the rocks are all shiny and the mud is copious and claggy and/or slippery.  But it doesn’t matter because you’re warm and dry (ish – thanks to the inside-out sweat factor) and, thanks to that precipitation, you pretty much get the place to yourself; a silver lining to the clouds above :)  Which is good when you’re either grinning like a maniac, occasionally singing along to your tunes, and possibly even dancing your way along, from time to time *grin*.  What can I say, I enjoyed it :)

you can see for miles and miles and miles  west side story

This champagne shore washing over me

top of the world

Gonna put the world away for a minute,
Pretend I don’t live in it,
Sunshine gonna wash my blues away

And that’s what riding in the sunshine with friends is for :)


Since Strava and/or my Garmin was off on one, I have no idea whether or not I did what I set out to do…*grrr*…which means I can officially call it my fastest time down the Gorge ever and no-one can argue, right? ;)  It’s not important.  I rode my bike on Christmas day, in the sun, with a friend.  Now that is, and that rocks! :)

Cycling time: 1:30 ish
Distance: 19 miles ish
Avg: 13.0 mph
ODO: 7371.9 miles

Btw, it SO wasn’t – bl**dy traffic! *grin*

signsTime for more fizz… :)