I should have been riding today but to be honest, it probably wouldn’t have been a good idea. Thanks to an office full of people with kids and colds and their inevitable very generous sharing of germs, I appear to be coming down with a cold. The doctor has also moved me up to the next dosage of morphine patches, the first of which I started today, and that meant life was liable to be a tad on in the interesting side. And on top of all that, I did a proper interval session on the wattbike last night, so even without all that, I was never going to have been able to keep up. The universe agreed, and came out in my favour to make sure I looked after myself by bringing down the rain, so my ride partner for the day, mr @velopixie, and I decided we’d both stick to our respective wattbikes and go out for lunch instead. Which we did, to the Rainbow Café in Glastonbury, and very nice it as too. I’ve been meaning to actually eat there rather than just have coffee on a ride for ages. Years even. And it was worth it. Good (gluten free vegetarian) food, and better company. Fantastic. Thanks Pixie!
So, no ride to blog. In that case you can have last week’s ride instead. On which I proved that riding after several wattbike grinding interval sessions does not leave a great deal in your legs for when it comes to keeping up with Mim who, as we all know, can kick my ass going up hill anytime, whilst still talking away happily! (That would be why I knew that it wouldn’t be a good idea today!). I did however manage to convince her into doing a fairly short flat loop, with a nice coffee stop at George’s, as she was stuck at home while the plumber fixed the shower. As rides go, it was not my finest hour. Or hour and a half for that matter On the upside, thanks to the helpful guys at Garmin support, my Garmin is once again waterproof, as they sent me this replacement rubber flap thingy – the bit that covers the USB socket and keeps the water out. Which is good because I definitely can’t afford to replace it!
Cycling time: 1:25 hrs.
Distance: 21.5 miles.
Avs: 15.0 mph.
ODO: 16950.5 miles
The ACG are due out on Saturday, probably out to Glastonbury and back again, and I’m hoping I’ll have adjusted to the new dosage and stopped falling asleep all the time by then! .
Today I went for a ride with an alien.
No, not that one (although it is kinda cool)…this one! Well he’s less of an alien, more of a grockle around here .
As an honorary Somerset cyclist for the day, it was therefore necessary to take him to the infamous Sweets Tea Rooms, which is practically a place of pilgrimage for those pedalling around here. Not to mention being a rather nice piece of alliteration .
We did my standard type of training loop, with the odd lump just to see if lumps were doable, and also with a whole heap of flat to balance out the hills of Exmoor that he usually rides up. Life’s all about balance. As is riding a bike . I think it’s safe to see that my current drug cocktail, though essential, is far from performance enhancing, and there were also two nights of grinding wattbike interval training in my legs, so I wasn’t going anywhere fast. Man my legs were heavy… Gaz kicked my ass! In fact I didn’t get going until after our stop and the usual large americano with extra shot. After that I went up Mudgeley hill a little better than sometimes and not in very bottom gear for a change. It may be a little early to tell if the training is working, but maybe that should give me a glimmer of hope? I wonder how I’d do if I was a little better rested?
It wasn’t what you’d call lovely out there, it was grey and chilly and still and sort of flat. Nonetheless it was better to be out, and having good company to ride with saved me from my urge to just roll over and go back to sleep this morning – I have a tendency towards zombie status at the moment! This is also only the third month this year where I’ve done more mileage than the equivalent month last year, and it was nice to claw a little more back. However I’m currently 893 miles behind and there’s no way I’m going to make that up between now and 2014!
Cycling time: 1:49 hrs.
Distance: 29.6 miles.
Avs: 16.2 mph.
ODO: 16929 miles
Time to show off a bit. Here’s my bike with its shiny new handbuilt wheels, before they got cruddy on the roads, and therefore the shiniest they will probably ever be. I’m no expert on wheels, but they went round and round like they were supposed to, so they seem alright to me! The bike also has two new bottle holders, one of which is Howie‘s. It was a freebie at the Mario Cippolini Gran Fondo and he didn’t need it so he gave it to me so that I’d have two matching ones. I kinda like that it’s on my bike now – I’m sentimental like that. Mind you, took long enough to get around to putting them there! I also touched up all the black scratched paintwork on my poor battered frame last night, so my steed was briefly looking quite smart .
Last Wednesday I went riding with this bird here…
We did this. The sun shone, the wind chilled, and we spent more time talking at Sweets than we actually did on the bike! But then that was kind of the point. I was taking it easy as I wasn’t feeling great and, as it turns out, it was the beginning of my worst pain attack so far. Sadly I’m fairly sure riding made it worse, and the painkillers wore off on the way home. Chatting to a friend for a while definitely made me feel better though .
Cycling time: 1:26 hrs.
Distance: 23.1 miles.
Avs: 16.1 mph.
ODO: 16899.4 miles
I was supposed to be riding this weekend but, and you know how rare this is, I decided that resting was a better idea. Which goes a long way to demonstrating how bad I’ve been feeling. To be fair, it wasn’t entirely optional as I’m not sure I could have ridden anyway. However hopefully we’ll be getting me sorted soon. My next op is on January 15th, and in the meantime I’m on morphine patches with tramadol for top-up cover so, as of today, things seem to be under control. Which (understatement alert) is a very good thing! *grin*.
In other news… Plans for my test bike are well in hand. Andrew fitted new winter wheels to my winter bike today, which I shall be trying out and showing off out there tomorrow, *fingers crossed*. And when I can’t ride, I’m doing grinding intervals on the wattbike and (so I’m told) working on my torque ability. All gobbledygook to me, I’m just doing what I’m told. And yes, I can do that .
I must be mad. But then we all knew that . Still, this wasn’t even a sportive, and I was still up at 4:45am and heading out into the darkness by 5:30am. The only thing that got a decent night’s sleep was my bike, all tucked up in the back of the car! But since the Tour of Pembrokeshire is run by my friend Peter, and he had asked me to come down to do the Prologue ride, who was I to say no? Plus he’d arranged for me to do it on a Bianchi Infinito test bike, and it would be rude to say no to that too, now wouldn’t it? .
Actually, odd though it may sound, that was the part of the day that was worrying me most! I’ve done the Tour of Pembrokeshire twice, in 2012 and 2013, albeit extremely slowly. I know how hilly it is. But I know that, on my bike, I can do it. But on an unfamiliar bike, with a different set up, different gearing (Campag not Shimano), and probably less of those gears too? *gulp*. I have to admit that I was half hoping that it wouldn’t fit me at all and that I’d end up riding my bike instead, which at least I’m more than familiar with. But faint heart never won fair sportive, so I was prepared to MTFU and at least give it a go.
It was an uneventful drive, although with a surprising amount of other road traffic for that time of morning. HQ for the Prologue was in Newport. No, not that Newport, the one much further away that you’ve never heard of. Let’s just say it involves a bridge and around three hours driving. It’s just as well the satnav did the last section cross country as zooming down a dark and featureless motorway was sending me back to sleep and the wiggly country lanes woke me up a bit. Once there I found Llys Meddyg almost by accident, and no, I can’t pronounce it either. It’s a very nice restaurant with rooms which was not just HQ for the ride but also home for the night – six hours driving in one day not having appealed all that much.
I was, as ever, a little early. However one of the few people I came across was Dan, from Bianchi, who was just starting to unload and set up bikes. Chances are that one of them was due to be mine, right? So we had a chat, and I left him with my woefully outclassed Cube, to transfer my well worn saddle and pedals across to my shiny new 50cm toy and set it up so I could test it out a bit first. And btw, that’s pretty much all the spec details I can give you at the mo, though Dan is going to email me more at some point. What can I say, I leave bike geeking to the boys . As far as I was concerned it was light and pwerty *grin*.
(Dan has informed me that apparently it was a 2014 Bianchi Infinito CV with Campagnolo Chorus 11 Speed. The standard bike is supplied with Fulcrum Racing Quattro wheels and the RRP would be £4200. However, my bike had been upgraded with Fulcrum Racing Speed XLR Tubulars which would bump the RRP up to £7100. Blimey!)
Slowly men in lycra gathered. And even one other woman – hi Suze! We drank coffee. And faffed. Well, at least I did. Not too much of the coffee mind, it being a bib tights day! I couldn’t decide what else to wear though. It wasn’t as cold as I has expected, but I also knew it wouldn’t be fast and flat, it would be hilly and hot and then chilly and down. Luckily I hadn’t brought too many options with me so it really boiled down to winter hat vs birthday Buff, winter gloves vs mitts & overgloves. Should you care, I went with the latter choice in both instances.
Time to see if the Infinito fitted, and worked, and if I was up to riding it. Dan handed it over, without looking unduly worried that I was going to trash it which was impressive considering how out of my league it clearly was! I carefully negotiated the riders milling around the car park to get to the road, having no wish to risk making an idiot of myself in front of an audience. I went down the main road and back and it seemed to work. The Campag changing was different, though not impossible, but the saddle felt a bit low, so Dan rectified this and I did the same again. Better. It appeared that I could ride the thing on the flat at least, and I wasn’t going to head out far enough off to find a hill just to find out how that would work. That could wait. Hey, I can always walk up hills, right?
All set then. Peter organised the 25 or so riders into groups. Fast or first, medium ish, and then us – being the slow group. Well, Jim and the fast lot all looked kinda serious and I know better than to mess with that kind of testosterone! After a little longer getting all the riders ready – which is a bit like juggling jelly, or possibly more appropriately herding cats – 15 or so of us headed finally off around 9:30am. The Prologue route was set to be around 45 miles, taking in some of the climbs from the main event, as well as some more unfamiliar bits, to give us a taste of the real thing. 45 miles and 4,900 feet of climbing!
As we set off I was not feeling great, but had to remind myself that it was a cold day, on a new bike,, and that we were going up hill almost straight away – so it was taking me a while to warm up. So I hung in there, chatted away, discussed my very expensive steed, with wheels that cost more than my entire bike, with various other riders including some other lucky test riders, and waited for things to get better. Which they did. Our group spread out quite a lot, and regrouped a lot, giving me time to catch my breath from time to time. Eventually we stopped being quite so Group and ended up as two groups which, somewhat pleasingly, put me in fast/slow rather than slow/slow. Gratifying, in a very shallow way . There was one really long climb that didn’t bother me too much, but the first really big hill, that I recall from the main route where it comes around 42 miles in and killed me last year, was Moylegrove. It’s wiggly, goes on for quite some time, and is also quite steep. I ran out of gears fairly early on, unsurprisingly, but I just sat down and pushed up in my usual way, and although it was bl**dy hard work, I did make it up. Which was what my PMA needed. If that was once of the worse hills, which I knew it was, me and the Infinito were going to get by .
Which pretty much set the scene for the rest of the ride, with Tom leading the way (he’s the skinny fast looking one in blue). Country lanes, ups, and downs. Group riding for a while, spread out on the hills, drop me off the back. Regroup at the top. Then repeat. This works quite well if you’re me – as I get to pootle away at my own speed, admire the scenery, reach the top, and then get company again when I’m suffering less!
I had the odd problem changing gear under load, maybe because I didn’t always get the switching right. User error? The chain came off twice, I had to climb one, luckily short, steep hill totally out of the saddle in the lowest top ring gear, and one I had to stop altogether and spin the pedals manually to get it to change down. But hey, teething problems? See – gear, cogs, teeth…? . Nonetheless I made it up the hills, even the last killer one. I wish there had been some more flat though. Not for the usual reasons though. I wanted to play with the toy more! On the few occasions when we got the chance, the odd stupid hurtling sprint was WAY fun. I don’t know if it was the wheels, or the bike, but man, it was responsive. Kick off, and it kicked off! I’m thinking that given some decent flat or a sprint finish, that bike and I could kick some serious arse! And downhill? Also very, very good. 45.4mph good . I was a bit more cautious than I would be on my bike though, just because I wasn’t sure how it would handle, or corner, or brake, and I didn’t want to find anything out the hard way! Apparently braking on carbon rims is different? It certainly seemed to stop more than ok though (which I’m very keen on!), but with a bit of a whine on slowing, and the occasional squeal when really called into play. I was warned it would be a problem in the wet, but it wasn’t, so it wasn’t. The inside gear levers were tricky for my little hands to change when down on the drops, and having them there under the thumbs when riding normally felt a bit weird, but I guess you get used to that. On top of that I did get quite a lot of road noise through the bars sometimes, but I think that’s probably more a wheel thing?
Yes, yes, I know, this is the least technical review of a bike that you’ve ever read. But man, if there was any way I could get my hands on one permanently, albeit with normal wheels that don’t get blown sideways in the wind, then I so would! Anyone want to buy my soul so that I can afford one? .
Talk about a great way to spend a morning. Four hours of riding a fabulous bike around lovely scenery in good company? Definitely worth the three hour drive and the early start. The only downside was having to give back my new toy afterwards! *sob*. So I spent the rest of the afternoon/evening debriefing with other lycra fetishists and drowning my sorrow in white wine. Which also wasn’t entirely unpleasant *grin*. However, whatever you’re going to be riding it on, if you’re after a lovely sportive to do next year – well organised, challenging, with stunning scenery, and more…put this one in your diary now and sign up before it sells out!
Cycling time: 3:18 hrs.
Distance: 43.7 miles.
Avs: 13.2 mph.
Another day, another ride. According to GB, I did hills on the wrong day. I should have done flat yesterday when it was calm, and hills today when it was windy. Apparently everybody knows that… Well clearly I did hills yesterday so that wasn’t going to happen again. The solution? Do flat and sit on Martyn’s wheel! It was still hard work though. Reflecting upon that, I think my current problem is a one of strategy and time scale. In the long run, the wattbike is going to be a very good thing for my form. In the short term, I’m overdoing it on that and paying for it when out on the road. In the long run, not eating a lot will be a good thing, because a lighter me will be a faster me. In the short term however, it means I’m under fuelled and there’s not enough in the tank. Both of which means the last couple of rides have been harder than they maybe needed to be. Add to that the fact that once my body is busy my brain tends to spin off elsewhere, forgets to pay total attention to what the legs are doing, they slow down and…well, that’s not conducive to keeping up. I’d like to say I shall learn from all of this but…well…it seems unlikely *grin*.
I’d show you pretty photos of autumnal Somerset, but you got those yesterday. Instead, you can see my new Defeet Woolie Boolie socks, the latest weapon in my cold war arsenal. Last year’s pair had pretty much had it, plus these are longer. Toes crossed that they help! . I also have some new neoprene overshoes on their way, when the sportpursuit sale ends. I hate cold feet. I like to be able to feel my feet…even if it’s not essential for pedalling. Mind you, the socks are so thick inside my close fitting shoes that I think I may be squashing the blood flow out of my toes rather than freezing them and the end result is the same – no toes!
I also have a new camera. Which is the same as my old camera, but which hasn’t been dropped, stuffed in sweaty jersey pockets, used in the wind, heat, rain, and snow, etc, etc. According to MaxiMe it is however better because it’s blue. According to me it is even better than that because it is blue, and therefore matches my bikes .
Cycling time: 1:59 hrs.
Distance: 31.5 miles.
Avs: 15.8 mph.
ODO: 16876.3 miles
I don’t suppose I’ll get to do so much riding outdoors henceforth, so I’ll be sitting on that lovely wattbike, sweating up a storm, without needing to worry about the impact of that on real riding. I now have a new routine to try, explained to me in words of one syllable so that I can actually understand what I’m supposed to be doing, and which will hopefully make me better at going up hills. Gotta be worth a go, right?
On days like these… Gorgeous weather. No wind. Nothing that layers can’t deal with on the temperature front. Nowhere to be at nowhen. You’d think such a day would be an excuse to just pootle around the Levels in the sun in self-indulgent fashion. But, oddly, no. I really wanted to be out there, and the only way to feel really out there is to be on the top of out there and that really means going up to get there. As you know, I’m crap up hills, but I’m better going up hills all by myself. You probably know that by now too! So, being billy no mates, it was becoming clear that today was going to be an uphill struggle .
Of course I’d probably have been better off if I hadn’t left my legs on the Wattbike over the last couple of days. Whilst I’m sure it’s really good on the training front in the long run, and I’ve been enjoying the whole hot sweaty constructive mess that those sessions are, in the short term I swear I thought it was going to take me all day to get up Burrington Combe, with Cheddar Gorge already in my legs. But I just kinda got on with it, and as I emerged from hibernating in the shady sheltered Combe into the bright sunlight on top the Mendips again, it kinda came together. It made sense on some level anyway .
No zone today, it was more about letting the legs go round, zoning the body out, and letting the head spin its wheels for a while. And when my head wasn’t doing that, it was about remembering to enjoy it, as such days will be few and far between for a while. I took in the views, admired the beautiful autumn leaves, enjoyed a little rather fresh air, and smiled in the sunshine. There are some motorists out there wondering who the grinning eejot on the bike was…especially coming down Shipham Hill *grin*.
Cycling time: 2:05 hrs.
Distance: 27.6 miles.
Avs: 13.1 mph.
ODO: 16844.8 miles
Tomorrow I’m riding again, with Martyn, something easy and flat I hope. My kit is already washed and drying on the radiators. And on Friday it’s the Tour of Pembrokeshire Prologue ride which involves mad travelling just to get there, and then apparently, once there, a test Bianchi Infinito to ride it on. That’s supposing we can get the pedals and saddle off my bike of course. So that’s 45 properly hilly miles on a bike I’m not used to, that may not fit properly, with gears that are probably nowhere near low enough for me. I think I’d better order some replacement cleats now…! :/.
Lovely weather today. Gorgeous in fact. See for yourself. Apparently if there are photos it actually happened… Well of course it did, because I wasn’t on my bike, was I? It would appear I am still in possession of my weather influencing powers. If you’d like a nice day for something, let me know, I can be paid to stay away and my rates are very reasonable. But it’s ok. Having promised myself that I would spend this morning sleeping off a hangover rather than getting up early to ride the bike like yesterday, that’s precisely what I did, so I shouldn’t complain too much. Especially as there was no hangover to speak of, just a lie in! I really do love sleep, and it’s not something I’ve been getting enough of of late. So I slept, and woke, the sun shone, Clevedon Pier was beautiful, and we perambulated along it, and took the sea air, and in a focus on the now vibe, it was a very nice moment to be in. PMA .
Yesterday on the other hand was cold, and wet, though not windy. Two out of three ain’t bad? And, as it turns out, it was not as wet as it was supposed to be. Which was something I and the rest of the assembled ACG quite appreciated, as you would. Having gotten so cold on Friday that I didn’t warm up until mid afternoon, I wasn’t going to make that mistake again, so it was winter layers, waterproof, full gloves, hat – the works. Something John is probably still wishing he had done – wearing shorts turns out to have been a serious bad call! Due to the weather, we stuck to a coffee run loop, played variations on the usual theme, and predictably ended up at Sweets. There was a little light hearted testosterone silliness from time to time but it really wasn’t the day for hurtling anywhere, and G stands for Group. Thanks to the winter gloves, you don’t get “out there” photos, just the “in here” ones. The ACG immortalised as ever. With the exception of me – because I have the power!
If you sat at Sweets for long enough, sooner or later every cyclist in Somerset would pass by. George and Simon, having been passed briefly by us out on the road, came and joined us for a while. As we were getting ready to leave, the Tor 2000 lot arrived, complete with my mechanic extraordinaire Andrew, who is in the process of sorting me some winter longs and, far more importantly, some new wheels for the winter bike which is, if you’re me, quite exciting. Tragic I know… We’d have hung around longer, watching John try to get some feeling back into his feet, designing solutions for getting too cold on the bike, and drinking better than usual coffee, but we were all getting cold too, and it was about to start raining again and we couldn’t miss that, now could we?
Cycling time: 1:55 hrs.
Distance: 30.7 miles.
Avs: 16.0 mph.
ODO: 16817.2 miles
I felt proper on form on the way back, which is probably more something to do with the Americano with extra shot followed by gratuitous espresso that I had ingested, rather than any actual improvement but hey, it still felt good. After some of that rain and a nice case of ice-cream head, things warmed up and settled down, and it was practically pleasant out there. There were even hints of zone. OK, so I paid for pushing it later, but t’was ever the case these days. But now is not the time to be getting some form back is it? My timing is always off… Just as well they’re going to cut me open to have a look around again in a month or so then, right? That should duly knock me off program for a few weeks *grin*. Roll on 2014 – I am SO going to do it better!
Ah, it’s that time of year…
- When you really should have worn the waterproof and hang the boil in the bag consequences and it’s too late now…
- When it’s less riding and more swimming…
- When bits of your body hurt on the bike because they’re considering frostbite as an option not because you’ve been overdoing it….
- When you can’t get back in the house because you can’t feel your fingers to take your gloves off, let alone find the house key in a sodden pocket…
- When your discarded clothes weigh thrice as much as when you put them on and go straight in the washing machine to save puddling on the floor…
- When you step in the shower and even though it’s the same temperature as ever, it’s too hot and it hurts…
- When you don’t want to get out of the shower since you’ve marginally warmed up and you know that out there is going to be cold again…
- When even once you’re dressed and ready to face the world you still can’t get deep down warm…
- When there’s no point washing the bike because it’s going to be just the same again tomorrow…
I blame that George woman. I was going to bail but she wouldn’t! Apparently it was worth it because at least we went up a hill? The woman is insane…! At least she decided we should cut things short and come home down the Gorge rather than over the top and down Shipham…
Cycling time: 1:20 hrs.
Distance: 18.4 miles.
Avs: 13.7 mph.
ODO: 16786.5 miles
I had to replace my saddle bag again today – as the seatpost strap was no longer attached to the bag and I’ve already fixed it once. I had bought, as ever, another Topeak Large Aero Wedge Bag. You may mock my saddle bag, in fact many of you do. Feel free. I prefer to have less stuff for GB to tuck back into my pockets for me. But have you ever wondered what’s in there? Well now you know… And that’s before I’ve stuffed superfluous layers and more into it .
This was my last sportive of the season. However knowing this did not make the usual sleepless night plus 5:00am alarm call any more welcome. And as I ate my cereal, from out of nowhere, my insides kicked off big stylee. From nothing to epic in very little time at all. I have no idea why, but you have to kind of admire their immaculate timing! The two hour drive there, courtesy of my chauffeur and guide rider for the day Chris, was not a bundle of laughs, as there’s something about sitting in that position which just makes it worse. I kind of drifted in and out of sleep all the way there, although I’m not sure if it was falling asleep or losing a grip on consciousness, probably somewhere in between. Let’s put it this way, it’s a bl**dy good thing I wasn’t driving! The drive probably wasn’t very pleasant for Chris either, as it was dark, windy, and p*ssing it down – predictably. My PMA was seriously considering going walkabout…
Still by the time we reached the new HQ at Godalming College, after a little orienteering to get there, it had both dried and brightened up. We parked up in the car park near registration, and headed over to register. At this point I was having difficulty walking, let alone riding the bike! At least the queue for registration was non-existent, and there was somewhere to sit and have a cup of coffee quietly whilst I attempted to get a grip.
Usually I’m all about the get up and get going, but this was just a take it as it comes thing. Coffee slowly drunk, facilities used, and it was time to shuffle back to the car to get ready. I was so busy being zoned out and mentally elsewhere that I nearly walked straight past Herbie, resplendent in Dragon ride kit on his bike just outside the entrance. We had a brief chat before him and his mate, ready already, headed off to the start line. Back at the car the main faffing element was that of layer choice. It may have been sunny but it was also feckin’ freezing, with rain forecast! Luckily I’d packed some options and I ended up wearing most of them. Well if I was going to feel rubbish, I didn’t need to be adding cold and miserable to that mix. It took a little while longer to faff than usual because I couldn’t think straight and kept forgetting stuff – like to put food in my pockets for example. But we got there, and rode over to the short queue for the start at around 8:30ish. My number was duly noted, and batch by batch the waiting riders were briefed by Martin (hello again Martin!) and let out in the big wide world, as the rain started…
Luckily, at least this time, the big horrible predicted rain that had been ooming over us failed to materialise much. Well I really didn’t want to stop straight away just to put my waterproof on! It stopped as we headed off into the countryside, and started as we were to continue, as it’s a fairly consistently pretty end of the world without being outstandingly attractive.
There are pretty cottages, villages, churches, with a smattering of grand dwellings. Mostly quiet country lanes, with the odd marshalled crossing of more major roads. Hills that seemed to be troubling most more than me, and most of them I didn’t really consider to be hills. Just ups and downs. Which is saying something coming from me. One of the hills even had hairpins, though I’m not entirely sure why, as if it was in the Mendips I reckon the road would just have gone straight up it! Having said that, this was just as well, because my lovely little pills were still playing catchup and pushing up hills was pushing on the pain. Not to mention the fact that when it’s like that, my legs get all shaky and wobbly, which is not ideal when trying to maintain your balance on two wheels… I had to stop at the top of that hairpin hill just to try and get settled down, and also take some more pills. Ever seen someone breathing through labour? Well it’s a lot like that. Now try and cycle at the same time as doing that. Fun no? Come to think of it, gas and air would have gone down a treat! Poor Chris, having to nursemaid me around…
It was so annoying though. A pleasant, fairly sunny, Sunday ride, through autumnal scenery, could have been really enjoyable. It had warmed up considerably and it wasn’t doing the forecast raining thing. My legs were feeling good, so was the engine – in fact I’ve have been really alright if it wasn’t for the fact that I wasn’t alright! I felt like the wattbike work has been helping, out of the saddle felt better, and we weren’t really hanging around, other than when I had to pootle and regroup from time to time.
Still, I was proper pleased to see the first food stop around half way. Well, halfway now, as even though I’d loved to have done the 71 mile epic route, as planned, this was clearly not a day when that was going to be an option, so we were looking at doing the standard 50 mile route. I grabbed half a banana and a most welcome cup of coffee and sat on a step to breathe some more. Which also gave us an opportunity to admire the sheer quantity of expensive gear, both bikes and kit, being ridden by riders with no idea. There was a lot of that all day. Not being ridden badly as in rudely, or arrogantly, more as in the unfit or clueless. It was heartbreaking to see seriously beautiful bikes being wasted on people struggling up the kind of hills that barely warranted the name. Then there was the lack of etiquette – the sort that makes a sportive easier. Warnings about obstacles, cars, etc . Singling up when traffic wants to get past. That kind of thing. It’s a good thing it was mostly on quiet country lanes where there wasn’t enough traffic for that to be an issue.
Food stop done, and off we went again, with me a little restored. Coffee good . Well… So there we were. Going along another muddy leaf covered country lane. Having also had a gel at the stop, in a keep the blood sugar level up fashion, I figured I should be drinking. So I was…and then a group of riders came past on the outside a little unexpectedly, so I moved over a bit, on muddy tarmac that suddenly became just mud, and my wheel fell off the edge of the road and…oh b*gger… Before you know it both the bike and I are lying in the middle of the road. Marvellous. Luckily there were no other dominoes near enough to fall over, just a degree of stopping in time to check to see that I was ok, while Chris joined the small and select group of riders who have had to pick me off the road at one time or another. Honestly, some days I wonder why I ever got out of bed in the first place! We went and sat down for a bit to check out the damage which, luckily, didn’t seem to be anything serious. Thanks to the fact that I was drinking when I went down, I hadn’t put my arm out., so my collarbone was intact. My weight went down on my right thigh/hip which, let’s face it, is a fairly solid part of me. It wasn’t at massive speed either, so my kit was essentially intact. Clearly there was some bruising going on, and some grazes under there too, but I was just pleased it wasn’t worse! In fact, considering how well the day was going, it was actually pretty amusing. Sometimes you just have to laugh… Did I mention Chris deserves sympathy for having to put up with me?
He’s also pretty good with bikes too – and was able to check mine over and ascertain that it was actually less damaged than I was. We had to stop a couple of minutes after getting going again as it turned out that the front brake needed readjusting and the saddle needed straightening but after that, it was all pretty good. Well, apart from a tendency on my behalf to panic internally a little when riding over anything wet or muddy, of which there was quite a lot. Autumn leaves are much prettier on the trees than under my wheels. You’ll be pleased to hear that I managed to stay on for the rest of the ride though! And having had that second dose of pills and made something else hurt to distract, my insides settled down to a dull roar. More country lanes, more rolling up and down. Less photos due to my urge to remain in contact with my handlebars at all times . The scenery opened up a bit around the Devil’s Punch Bowl, and after the route split, the previously potentially annoying wind was behind us. I say potentially because there was quite a lot of it but, thanks to the sheltered lanes, it had turned out to be much less of a problem than it could have been. This is not to say that it wasn’t better behind us of course!
There was another food stop about 15 miles from the end, providing another chance to take a break and use the facilities. Another time we might not have stopped, but as it was clearly one of those days, why not? No rush right? Another gel, and about an hour’s ride to go. Easy. Which it was quite. The “worst” climb of the day was near the end, being steeper, narrow, wet, with leaf filled gullies down the side. I have to admit to having not moved out of the way of the car coming down towards me, which had to wait, but there was no way I was putting my wheels in there, and I did thank him nicely when I finally went past. There was also a sudden and torrential downpour about ten minutes from the end. Chris stopped to put his waterproof on. I didn’t, because I figured there wasn’t much point at that stage. He caught me up soon enough, having presumably been able to ride at his natural pace for a while, ooh, the novelty value. It would probably have taken me longer to get my waterproof out of the saddle bag and on to me that it would to have finished the ride as, in no time at all, we were back. Over the timing mat, collecting a medal on the way, and it was time for a slow spacey walk back to the car, relieved to have survived!
After a little faffing, I left Chris to put the bikes back in the car, and headed into HQ which, blissfully, had proper changing facilities so I was actually able to have a shower, put clean clothes on, and restore a degree of humanity. The shower revealed some grazes, and a nicely developing bruise or two, but nothing too drastic, though my right leg was stiffening up rapidly now it was off the bike. I limped off and found Chris eating tomato and basil pasta in the hall, and drank yet another cup of coffee. I wasn’t really feeling like food, and to be fair, if Chris hadn’t reminded me to eat today I’d probably have forgotten all together. See, I told you, my guide rider! ;) *grin*.
Cycling time: 3:29 hrs.
Distance: 52.2 miles.
Avs: 14.9 mph.
ODO: 16768.1 miles.
So, how was it? Well oddly, even with all of that, I enjoyed it. I could feel my form lurking, in reassuring fashion, under there somewhere. It was a perfectly pleasant end of season ride, and well organised as all Wiggle UK Cycling Events sportives are. It wasn’t particularly noteworthy – Chris reckons it was a bit like a joke without a punch (bowl) line… *groan*. I know, terrible. I wish I’d been able to do the longer ride, but it would probably just have made me feel worse in the long run. As it was I slept on and off the entire way back again, again mostly despite myself, as the whole thing had pretty much taken it out of me. It may be time for a little recuperative resting .
And today? I’m a bit bruised/grazed/battered, with some interestingly sore muscles that presumably got twisted or pulled on the way down. But I’m pretty much in one piece, and thankful for that .
Thanks to the weather, a serious pain patch, a weekend away, the joys of half term, and life generally not going according to plan, it has been a week since I’ve ridden the bike and even then I forgot to get around to writing about it. Ooh, the shame.
Cycling time: 0:58 hrs.
Distance: 13.9 miles.
Avs: 14.4 mph.
ODO: 16686.8 miles.
I have been regularly kicking ar*e on the Wattbike though, thanks to various advice received. I’m enjoying it in sado-masochistic fashion, and I think I may even be making some progress. However, it’s not the same. OK, it’s warm, and dry. It’s bl**dy hard work, which is good training. But catching up on my boxset viewing is not the same as the headspace you get on the real thing. No headspace, no vitamin D, no big outside world to put things in perspective. I’ve been missing my bike, can you tell…?
I wasn’t supposed to be riding today as I had an appointment. As could probably have been predicted, based on current trends, that got unexpectedly postponed for a week. As one door closes, another one opens…and suddenly there was a window in my diary. Even the weather I could see through it looked half decent. Although I’m finding it hard to motivate myself to go riding on my own, I really didn’t have any good excuses left and with my last sportive of the season coming up on Sunday I thought that it might be wise to at least check the bike still worked before then! Which left me with both opportunity and motive. But no candlestick or library ;). I was a bit short on the spirit of adventure though, so it having been a while, I just did one of my usual training loops to see how I got on.
Which, it transpires, was quite well. It was lovely to be back on the bike. The legs and lungs felt pretty good, but I had to curse my way up a couple of what passed for hills though – I do wish my pain cave wasn’t quite so literal. Still, I think there may have been signs of improvement lurking in my performance overall. Or maybe there was just a whole heap of wishful thinking going on. But it was clear and bright and mild, with patches of sunshine. The Levels are not busy on a Wednesday lunchtime, meaning that the only thing disturbing the wildlife was me. Herons, magpies, birds of prey and a beautiful kingfisher that flew along the rhyne parallel to me and then parked up to watch me go past watching him. Stunning. There was a rather annoying headwind for the first half of the loop but, blissfully, that meant that on the way back it was, every now and then, behind me. The noise drops, the head goes down, the speed goes up, and the smile goes on… .
Cycling time: 1:44 hrs.
Distance: 29.1 miles.
Avs: 16.7 mph.
ODO: 16715.9 miles.
My body is a temple. Honest. It just happens to be one that has received liberal libations of late. With the waving around of rather a lot of incense. So I should be pleased it went as well as it did, and encouraged by the fact that it can only get better from here .
In the meantime, I’m currently testing out a new pOcpac – more of which another time. And in very, very, very exciting other news, it looks like I’ll be getting a demo bike for a while to test out and review the Campag Athena EPS groupset, hopefully in a month or so. Depending on what fits me, this will be either a Bianchi Infinito or a Pinarello Dogma. Which is bit like giving a Fiat driver a Ferrari! How cool is that?! :D.