Johnny always does the last dance of the season, even when somebody tells him not to. I always do the first ride of the season, the Mad March Hare, even when life tries to tell me not to. Nobody puts Baby in a corner right?
Earlier this week, after some pre-event twitter banter, Mark (aka @velopixie), asked me if, in all seriousness, I was sure I was ok to be riding it. I replied that I was doing it. Which was apparently a little terse. But to be fair, it was a bit of a daft question since of course I was, whether I should be or not. I know, I know, people care, I should be more grateful. I am, honestly :D.
Thanks to what can euphemistically be referred to as my “struggles” of late, the Mad March Hare had become rather more important than it should have done. It is not an event that really warrants any great status per se, being not that long or hilly. But it is traditional that I start my season with it, and starting my season was part of trying to make a fresh start, move forward, put the past and the pain behind me. So the Hare had a lot of weight resting on his shoulders ;).
Now I’m not totally stupid, though many of you may choose to disagree with that statement. However now would be a good time to hold your peace… I’d checked that Sean was still doing it, and could and would review it for me if I didn’t make it. I took it a bit easier this week. Rested some. Ate. I was aware that I could bail. Not should, but could! If I’d been feeling worse, or the forecast had been worse, I might have done. But, thanks to the new world order, which finds me home alone every other weekend, I had nothing better to do. I figured that bailing meant another day rattling around here on my own. So a day riding slowly around the countryside with friends, even if it took me all day, well, why not? Nowt better to do, as I said.
The upside to having had an empty nest on Saturday was the freedom to have everything all laid out and prepared the day before, and for it all still to be where I left it when I got up the next morning. Often this early in the season I’m a bit rusty on the prep front, but not this year. I seem to still have the hang of sorting the layers, packing the bag, getting it all done in the minimum possible time to maximise the time spent sleeping instead. I didn’t even forget anything!
So here goes; the first 5:00am alarm call of the season, set on both the phone and the iPad just in case. I even got an early night beforehand, something else I’m not very good at, as I think by nature I’m actually nocturnal! Luckily I now have a form of sportive autopilot, and the day started. Get up. Turn coffee machine on. Get dressed. Eat porridge, drink coffee, finish packing, load final bits into car, program satnav, and leave. 45 minutes from asleep to en route. Yep, I still got this :).
HQ for the Mad March Hare is at Cult Racing Cycles, in Solihull. Parking however, is not. In fact due to weather and various organisational shenanigans, none of us knew where parking was until about a week beforehand. And it’s at The Phoenix Group, in Birmingham. Which is about three miles away, costs an extra £2, and is a nightmare to leave by bike as the marshals insist on you negotiating some bizarre footpath route to exit rather than the perfectly good road which is two-way and only being used by other arriving riders anyway! Yes, it’s a nice car park, in that it’s not a wet field, it’s tarmac, and there’s plenty of it. But that’s about all that it has going for it really. Today would have been a very bad day to have left something in the car, that’s for sure.
Still, let’s backtrack a little. After an uneventful drive, which left me feeling drowzy before I even started, I followed the satnav and a few little black on yellow arrow signs into the car park. I barely faffed, unlike all the other riders who seemed to have a great deal to debate and decide upon. It’s just possible I’ve got the hang of this by now ;). I headed off, toute seule, to find HQ. This was a route that had also changed over the last couple of days, thanks to road closures, and was marked by those same standard sportive signs. Not ones indicating that this was specifically the HQ<->car park route. And there only seemed to be the odd one, which on a cold windy morning, left me worrying I was lost already, and I wasn’t the only one! Luckily, as this is my 6th MMH, I soon found myself on somewhat familiar roads, and then me and the blind following the blind, behind me, were where we were supposed to be. Sorry, 6th? 6TH?! Blimey!!
Anyway… HQ is not a big site. Riders and bikes milled around. Registration was in the shop, ordered by first name not surname, which was novel. I signed my name, was given my timing chip (another first for the event this year) and reusable cable ties, and found a fence to lean the bike on. Free hot drinks were on offer, serve yourself, but I didn’t fancy it. My Garmin, all pre-loaded up with the course the night before, decided re-loading it now was one step beyond and promptly hung. Oh marvellous. There was no sign of the lanky fast one – aka Sean – and Mark was running late. So I loitered with intent, and went to the loo, because two of the five that were available (+ one urinal bit) were for ladies only. So I went twice ;). Mark finally arrived, faffed more than I had, and also failed to fix my Garmin ;). I consoled myself with the thought that at least I’d have a time for the ride as a whole though, and tried not to winge too much. He’ll probably tell you I failed dismally on that front ;).
With no ceremony at all, and presuming Sean had gone haring off into the distance, we left. Just like that. Over the timing mat, past a traffic organising Paul (the organiser), and off out into the greyness at around 8:30am ish. Presumably, as it’s not like I could tell… Moan, moan, winge… ;).
We were riding out into a nasty headwind which, as all cyclists will tell you, is the way to have it if there has to be wind, and apparently there always has to be wind. It was a cold, strong and blustery wind today, and I was grateful of my layers and winter collar, and head buff. Once past the initial too warm patch early on, when the body breaks into a sweat at the thought of being made to exercise, I settled down into feeling relatively comfortable as these things go. Hey, it was cold, and it was windy, but at least it was dry. Well, it was then anyway…
So, what to tell you about the ride? The first half was into a dry cold wind. The second half was brought to us by a tail wind and plenty of rain. In the middle there was a big hill and a food stop. That’s the brief version. Since my op, I’ve only done a few short rides. Enough to assure me that the first half would be ok, if slow, but also to leave me worrying somewhat about how I’d cope with the second half. Luckily for me the route is overall fairly flat, just the odd lump here and there. There’s a general trend for down on the way out, and up on the way back though, which is NOT the right way round, in case you were wondering. You weren’t? Ah well…
I’m very glad Mark was with me. Every ride should have a Pixie :D. For starters, once he realised that without my Garmin I needed reminding, he made sure I ate. I wasn’t feeling that perky full stop, and although I sort of warmed up after about an hour, that was about as good as it got, I never really did get going. Company was good. Essential. As was a wheel to suck occasionally – I am beyond grateful! After the first couple of hours, thanks to a particularly nasty slog into the wind session past the little airfield, I really started to feel tired. You can tell; it’s when I shut up, stop talking, and get that bit sort of more internally focussed and concentrated. It’s a tell-tale sign that I’m not doing that well, or so I’m told. Only physically today really, as thanks to not being on my own my head stayed pretty much ok :).
I’d eaten bits of bars, there being a sad lack of flapjack related to absence of youngest this weekend, and also had a couple of gels. I knew the big hill was coming. Compared to the big hills of previous MMHs, it was a bit uneventful. Dare I even say disappointing? I sat, and I plodded, and it just sort of went by. Mark was using hills as training, and seeing how long he could avoid the bottom ring altogether ;). It was fine, as hills go, and once over the top I was more than ready for what we had agreed would be a leisurely food stop. Well it was not to be. One village hall, lots of cyclists, and a queue stretching a long way out of the building and into the waiting hordes. Even standing around briefly debating our options had me getting chilly, and I really couldn’t face more of that. There were a couple of portable toilets outside so I availed myself of one of them, and we were about to head off when we spotted Sean and his mate in the queue – apparently they’d actually been running late and had been behind us after all, just! We chatted briefly but nonetheless left them to it, to add some extra “when will they catch us” speculation to the rest of our ride. Shame, I’d have loved a coffee, and it would probably have perked me up too. On the upside, I managed to persuade the Garmin to wake up while standing there. Half stats is better than no stats at all?
It’s a good thing we left when we did though because the weather started to seriously deteriorate. Mind you I’ll trade headwind for rain any day – it’s amazing how much difference it made – so it could have been worse. Although I knew we were over halfway done now, which is always very good mentally, I also knew how I was feeling and that this kind of distance was a new thing this season. An unknown quantity as it were. As I was to discover, it was very variable. Life became a bit (hopefully post op) ouchy, so I did resort to paracetamol. Since I’m not on the tramadol anymore I didn’t want to take that and risk zonking out further. I got more and more tired, but sort of in waves. I’d fly along for a bit (fly is used as a relative to crawling term), and then have to pootle for a while to regroup. Mark has the patience of a saint!
Having said that, thanks to the weather and the earliness of the season, no-one seemed to be pushing it. Other than a couple of pelotons early on, it was mostly just small numbers of riders kinda slogging it around, so we were by no means unusual. Out of the 800 or so registered, it looks like 662 actually rode though, which is pretty impressive for this time of year. 69 of them were woman, which is about twice as many percentage wise than usual – also pretty impressive!
Even if we had been going for gold today, the route was not conducive. The return leg was sort of gradually uphill with a few of the real thing, as previously mentioned. There was traffic. There were a lot of right turns across traffic. Straight over junctions, involving waiting to cross. Good thing there wasn’t even more traffic – later in the season I think this route would have serious problems, not least with people not stopping in time at those bottom of hill junctions and ending up playing with the traffic. A few of the junction signs weren’t that well sited and if it hadn’t been for other riders yelling, we’d have missed them and got lost. No way I was asking the currently functioning Garmin to try and load the route again, so we’d have been proper lost too! There weren’t really enough signs – one per junction and that seemed to be it. No repeaters or reminders that we saw. Other than mud and stuff, the roads themselves were actually in pretty good nick, and better than expected after the recent deluges, though I still wouldn’t have wanted to be one of the ones riding expensive deep rim carbon wheels over them! Each to their own…
Had it been a sunny day, I’m sure this ride/review would have been a different story, what with cute villages, pretty cottages, churches and country estates etc, but today even the big hill wasn’t all that exciting. I’m sure the MMH has used bigger more impressive and more scenic ways up there before? Today the whole ride just felt oddly unremarkable and generally a bit of a slog. Something even Mark agrees with, so it’s not just me being pathetic, honest Just as well the wind went the way it did, because riding back into it on top of all that would have probably totally wiped me out.
Neither of us were entirely sure how long the route was, and clearly my stats were no use. This sign seemed amusing, because by whenever we came across it, I was one cooked bird!! Crossing the motorway was a positive sign as it meant we were nearly there, and as it turns out we were back over the finish line about five miles earlier than we were sort of expecting. Not that we were complaining… Besides if it had been five miles longer, Sean and his mate might actually have caught us…as it was, while we were standing there figuring out what to do next, they arrived. I found beating them back, by however small a margin, and however long they stopped back there, oddly gratifying ;).
Man it was chilly by now though. Although the free bacon roll or soup being dished out appealed, standing in what was by now a predictably long queue to get to it really didn’t. The weather was getting worse, and I really didn’t want to get any colder, so Mark and I headed back to the car park. This was not fun. The return route was different. Were they sportive signs or car park signs? And where were they anyway? Where were we? We were once more fighting a headwind, into cold driving rain, and my sense of humour was rapidly failing as we negotiated the ‘burbs, nearly convinced we were lost… Luckily we weren’t, but I bet quite a few ended up giving up, turning back and returning to HQ to try again. It’s a good thing I’m stubborn (yes, I know, you knew that already), and carrying on was right, and then we finally found a sign and found the car park *grrrr*. I was very pleased to get back to my car, and start the reverse faffing that got me warm and dry, into my Skins, and with the bike wrapped up and away again.
Mark and I re-united for a bit at Hopwood services for coffee and food that didn’t involved queuing, before going our separate ways and heading for home. Unwisely I was so tired that even with that coffee I kept dropping off on the motorway, which was more than a little scary. Eventually I had to stop at Michaelwood services, probably about 30 miles later than I really should have done, for a nap to make sure I got home at all! I’m hoping becoming drug-free is going to fix my inability to do long drives, otherwise I may have a problem…
Right. Mad March Hare Sporitve done! Should I have done it? Probably not. Did I enjoy it? Well, that might be pushing it. Am I glad I did it? I most certainly am Truly. It was important. Psychologically. Or illogically Cycling is mental, and so am I? Maybe I was the tortoise to the hare. And even that’s probably only poetically truly, since looking at the stats, I actually didn’t do it much worse than I usually do. Out of those 69 women, I came 17th, which is none too shabby I reckon, even if I did not have the time of my life I did it. I did. ’Rah! Welcome back me :). And I truly can’t thank Mark enough for nursing me round – I owe you Monseigneur, and I won’t forget.
Cycling time: 4:53
Distance: 70 miles
Avg 13.7 mph
ODO: 17290.0 miles
I rode Sunday, and then accidentally had a rather late night. Rather than taking it easy and recovering, as would have been wise. You know how it is, good white wine, rubbish film, blah, blah, oops…
On Monday, even with a bit of a lie-in, I was tired, and due to various life stuff arriving on top of that with its usual immaculate sense of timing, I was not in the greatest of moods. So rather than have the rest day I should have been having, once I’d made it to the evening I resorted to wattbike therapy, with a workout thrown in on top. Which worked a treat in that it wiped me out far enough both mentally and physically that a decent night’s sleep was guaranteed.
An enjoyable but busy day at The Food & Drink Trade Show yesterday, spent mostly on my feet in surprisingly comfortable killer heels, totally wore me out. That, plus some rather lovely free single variety “Somerset Red Streak” Severn Cider, sent me to bed early by my standards. Even so I completely failed to wake up this morning, and by the time I finally made it out of bed I’d had pretty much 12 hours sleep! Blimey!
So I doubt the sensible thing to do today was what I did. That won’t surprise anyone, right? ;). But the sun was shining, and, well, carpe diem and all that. Instead of listening to my increasingly communicative body, I took it to the seaside on the bike. As you do. To be fair, both of us pretty much enjoyed it. I even went up the odd lump, just because I can’t avoid them forever and because I know I can get up them, so I might as well do the training. I do actually quite like climbing, though no-one ever believes me when I say that now. It would appear I cried wolf one too many times ;). However there’s something oddly therapeutic about slowly plodding up there, and besides how else do you get the views from the top that I love so much?
What can I tell you? The sun shone. I got to listen to waves crashing on the shore. The grockles have yet to take up residence in Weston so no-one was too busy looking at the sea to see me. I went up hills. The headwind became a tailwind on the way home, as planned. It was a good ride. And the good ones help get you through the bad ones :). Here’s hoping this Sunday’s Mad March Hare Sportive is one of the former. Wish me luck, I may well need it!
Cycling time: 1:56
Distance: 28.1 miles
Avg 14.4 mph
ODO: 17197.0 miles
Ride done, I came home, ate, and had a nap. I guess I’m still tired! *grin*.
I spent all day yesterday doing as little as possible to try and make sure I could ride with the ACG today. No wattbike, no walk, nothing but the usual household stuff, and a couple of trips to the tip. Even though the sun was shining and it looked lovely out there, I resisted temptation. I even made myself sit down and spend a couple of hours watching the sunny world go past the window while I read my Kindle instead of getting out there in it.
Just as well I did really. Because yes, I managed to ride with the ACG. Well, I went for a ride with the ACG. I just wasn’t always with them ;). I bet it would have been even worse without a rest day! Predictably the weather, having been lovely yesterday when I couldn’t ride, was wet and properly windy today. But not cold, which was the silver lining to the clouds above.
Guy had put together two routes – both heading out for coffee at The Strawberry Line Café in Yatton, and then diverging on the way back at Wrington to allow some people to do 70+ miles rather than the usual 30 or so. Well the first half went as billed. A posse of 9 or so of us (I never did count), including a newbie who rocked up looking quite clearly as if he knew what he was doing (hi Clive!), went out with an impressive tailwind to Winscombe, Sandford, and then Congresbury before a loop round the flat bits there to our coffee stop.
My ability to fall off the back of the pack was not aided by my chain doing its usual job of falling off going downhill, in Sandford, at which point I nearly lost them all completely and would have if Jon hadn’t waited for me, and we hadn’t just managed to espy the group heading off around the last visible corner once I did get going again… And then there were more things that seemed like hills to me but not to anyone else, and I fell back behind everyone and pootled, and did what I could. But I wasn’t downcast. Hey, I was still riding the bike, right? :).
We bumped into another group of cyclists while wiggling around the flat bits, which turned out to be Helen and her mates. It got quite confusing for a bit remembering who to keep up with and who was going where! Eventually we disentangled after a bit of a catch up, and went our separate ways in the drizzle. Coffee was definitely called for after slogging into what was by now a quite unpleasant headwind, and the café was as lovely as ever, though they probably won’t all that impressed with us totally steaming up one of their rooms! I was proper tempted by the gluten free lemon polenta cake but the way I was going there was no way I’d have worked off the calories – unlike the lads who quite justifiably decimated their stock of chocolate marshmallow brownies! Dad rocked up and joined us for a bit too, which was nice, especially as I’d forgotten to remind him beforehand ;). Mind you, it was very nearly the most expensive coffee stop ever…!
So, how to get home? Well Guy’s long route was never going to be for me – just not quite there yet. But the short route would have been a bit boring, and I hadn’t done a hill and I sort of wanted to just to test the water, not just ride through it, as it were! There was debate and discussion and the weather conditions and…well, we all ended up heading back the same way. Back through increasingly damp lanes to Wrington, though I had as usual forgotten to restart the Garmin, so it wasn’t quite as direct a route as it looks! I did however realise my error before the hill we’d opted for – Burrington Combe. Well, I was kinda curious to see precisely how badly I would do it. Actually I quite enjoyed it, even in the drizzle, and on my own. Apart from the odd twinge, it went just fine. Slowly as predicted, but then why push? I did my “in the now” thing and just sort of enjoyed the fact that it was all working. Even with the wind pushing me sideways from time to time nearer the top. I was so pleased once I’d made it to the top – look at me, I did a hill! :D. And I wasn’t the slowest either, there were even a couple or riders behind me. Not gloating, honest, more astounded! *grin*. I’m still putting faith in the twinges being post op, I’d rather not start considering the alternative just yet…
From there we slogged our way across from Charterhouse to Tyning’s Farm, benefitting from some unexpected shelter from the trees and hedges there. The very top last exposed bit at the end was…interesting…but then there was the fun of going down Longbottom and then Shipham Hill. That I can still do, and I did, and it was fabulous :D.
Due to my technical ineptitude my stats are a little off, but these will do:
Cycling time: 2:05
Distance: 35.0 miles
ODO: 17168.9 miles
I used to be able to keep up. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to do so again :).
There’s a contingent of folk out there who think I’ll never learn. And they’re quite probably right. But when the sun is shining, the air is clear, and there’s company to cycle with…well, the fact that it’s the third time in a week that included two less than successful wattbike sessions, and only 5 weeks since surgery, seems to fly out of the window. Cyclists; mental right? ;).
So Mim and I did a couple of easy hours around the Levels. My muscles are fine, but the power behind them, not so much so. Let’s just take it easy and spin round, said the lady due to be racing tomorrow. As if I had a choice! But even so, how could it not be nice to be out there? I mean, just look at it! OK, so we could both have lived without the rather chilly and rather irritating wind, but I don’t think anything could have slowed me down any further, and besides, it was nice when it was behind us on the way back :D.
We played with an escapee bullock, tried to inform its intellectually challenged owner, speculated over the fish out of water (see above), and put the world to rights whilst scheduling a previously unplanned coffee stop at Sweets. Without which I’m not sure I’d have made it home. It wasn’t the nicest coffee in the world, but it was up there amongst the most essential I’ve ever imbibed!
It wasn’t all that warm in there, even with all the gassing we were doing, so we didn’t hang around too long being as capable of chatting on the bikes as on chairs. Straight home over Mudgeley Hill, which seemed to have assumed Galibier-like proportions… But I still wasn’t complaining, just letting the wheels go ’round while the sun just kept on shining :).
Cycling time: 2:03
Distance: 29.0 miles
ODO: 17133.9 miles
I parted company with Mim in Cheddar and made my way even more slowly home up the Cheddar Road, sadly once more noting the demise of my favourite manhole cover near the petrol station. I’m sure that replacing the hexagonal one made perfect sense, but I shall still mourn its passing…
By the time I got home I was totally wasted. In fact I was so knackered that even after a shower, a cup of tea, and some food, I was an hour late for work because I couldn’t get off the sofa. Oops :/. Since I hope to ride with the ACG on Sunday, I am declaring tomorrow a rest day. I am still flying the flag though…just
Well, knock me down with a feather, I appear to have been out riding the bike again! It’s my day off, it’s half term, the mob were variously and happily occupied, and the forecast wasn’t too bad. As is often the case, the weather which was predicted did not match that which actually materialised, but everything else remained true, and I wasn’t going to let a little drizzle put me off. Besides, there are plans afoot for an ACG ride on Sunday and I wanted to see which roads were flooded, or not, in best girl scout “be prepared” fashion, so as to plan a route accordingly.
So I did my usual kind of loop, with the odd extra bit thrown in. It’s been so long since I’ve had the wonderful head space that I only get on the bike, that while I was busy clearing out the mental mothballs I missed the odd turning. So it didn’t quite go to plan, but it didn’t really matter. I still got to where I needed to be, and the roads weren’t flooded, apart from one short patch on Max Mill Lane which wasn’t a problem. They were however covered in crap, and also washed away in places, so had to be negotiated with care. Since I wasn’t in any great rush, and just wanted to be out there, I was happy to ride as circumstances dictated. Hey, always good to have something to blame the average speed on, right? ;).
In brief aside, I’m having a “now” phase. As in being happy in the now. No point crying over the milk spilt yesterday, or inviting tomorrow’s troubles to arrive early. I’m not very good at yoga, or meditation, or any such philosophies really. But if I was going to, it might possibly be the whole mindfulness thing. By focusing on the now, being grateful for what that now is, I seem to be spending more time at the happy and positive end of my spectrum – and that has to be a good thing :).
So in my now I was on my bike, on quiet roads, feeling pretty good, riding fairly well, and damp but not cold. I was outside in a world full of flying things – swans, herons, a kingfisher, and even a wokka-wokka (aka a Chinook) flying low over the Levels, presumably bringing more of the army to submerged Somerset.
And I still wasn’t in pain. It’s hard to explain how an absence of something feels. Even when it wasn’t hurting, I knew where it was. Now it’s not hurting, and it’s not there. Or at least I’m fairly sure it’s not. *fingers crossed*. I can’t explain how I feel better, but I do, and it’s not just the absence thing, it’s more systemic than that. Being ill and in ever-increasing pain and on stronger and stronger meds for so long must have taken a lot out of me. And now I get to get me back? It’s a whole new, strange, world… Ok, ok, sorry, got sidetracked again, enough already, back to the cycling :D.
Cycling time: 1:47
Distance: 28.4 miles
ODO: 17104.9 miles
As routes go, it wasn’t long, or hilly, or fast, but it went pretty well really. My times up the hills I did do were not, somewhat amazingly, my slowest ever. My average speed was also up on Sunday, which is encouraging. But in that even after a rest day, yesterday’s wattbike session had to be aborted after 45 minutes when I ran out of energy, it seemed like a good idea to opt for some restorative calorie intake after I’d showered and changed. So there was a happy me because I’d ridden well and a happy three because we had fabulous hot chocolates with the works. Result *grin*.
See this? I think it’s safe to agree that wheels are not supposed to look like this. And discovering this the day before you’re supposed to be actually riding your bike? I was starting to wonder what I’d done to the cycling gods lately, it having already been about five weeks since I’d ridden the real thing, and only ten days or so since the wattbike had once more become an option and, let’s face it, <engage understatement mode> the weather has not been conducive of late…</end>.
Luckily, Chris (aka Figgy) appears to be over-equipped with bikes and the like, like pretty much every other MAMIL I know, and was also willing to not only lend me a spare wheel, but also swop the cassette etc over. Thank goodness for that. Not riding is one thing. Not being able to ride when you actually can, and when the forecast is verging on pleasant? That would not have been a good thing. I might have had to throw all my toys out of the cot
So when it came to Sunday, and the sun was indeed shining, and the wind was not blowing, Chris had righted what was wrong, and I had a bike to ride, so I did! I know, no-one is more surprised about this than me!
We did a coffee loop, on the basis that given a goal of that nature, I might actually make it round. Which I did. OK, so I wasn’t on form, and I wasn’t breaking any records, but I was riding, and it was good, at least partly because it wasn’t as bad as it probably deserved to have been. We didn’t really do hills, since that would be the equivalent of running before I can walk, and besides we managed to find enough flat roads that weren’t flooded to mean we didn’t have to, which is somewhat of a challenge around here at the moment.
Coffee was at the usual Glastonbury haunt – Heaphy’s. Which has been revamped yet again, which is odd considering that it isn’t that long since the last time they did. It would appear to have been to the detriment of service since just the two male owners were serving, and the, according to Chris, usually rather attractive female staff were nowhere to be seen, and man, were these two guys struggling! Slow….. Once finally served, we sat outside in the sun and the denizens of Fairyland walked by, totally up to standard. Always good to have your expectations lived up to, right? ;). And yes, I did say sat outside in the sun. How cool is that?! :D.
Cycling time: 2:09
Distance: 28.8 miles
ODO: 17076.5 miles
As rides go, it was a pretty fabulous one. I was actually riding the bike, and I was doing so in the sunshine. Chris did a good job of not making me feel like a complete waste of space by mostly sitting behind me and turning his pedals just slowly enough to stop his noisy free wheel from giving him away ;). I’m still ok at barrelling along at a reasonable speed when it’s flat, though I’ve clearly got to build up some stamina again. Hills are going to be a problem to start with, and I did get the odd twinge on the bits of up that we did, but I think that was more to do with post-op then pre-op problems, which could mean cycling is going to be a much less painful experience. Hard to imagine. I’m still on the morphine patches at the moment, as weaning off them is a job in itself, but I’m medication free otherwise, which means I don’t have to concern myself with whether or not they’re going to ban tramadol or not
I rode my bike, and I was holding my own. Just. A bit like the Long Drove between Glastonbury and Wells… Here’s hoping it’s a sign. And if it isn’t, this is…
Well, I’m back, albeit briefly, more of which later. I think it’s safe to say that life has gotten in the way of me keeping this up to date? Sorry, I promise to do better in the future. Well, I’ll try to…promises may be a little premature. But there’s been precious little time for riding, let alone writing about it too!
So I have been riding, just not a lot. There were three “rides” between the last blog and today. The ACG had a coffee run to Glastonbury, Guy and I had a coffee run to Banwell Garden Centre, and George and I had a coffee run to Lye Cross Farm. So, not a whole lot of training, and a whole lot of coffee drinking. This isn’t to say I haven’t been on the wattbike – I have – but I just haven’t been out on the real thing much. I blame many things. Weather, work, divorce, holidays, Christmas, health, and non-performance enhancing drugs – that should pretty much cover it.
Which brings us to today, when the ACG went riding, on a route made by Guy, so it was never going to be a flat one. I was, to be honest, dreading it. I am so off form it’s embarrassing, and I haven’t done a decent ride in ages, so the concept of doing 38 miles with the ACG who never get slower, and kicking it all off by going up Cheddar Gorge? Daunting…
But even though it was grey and dismal and cold and unlikely to improve, I didn’t bail. Neither did 7 others, the usual suspects for the most part. And it could have been worse. I was very gallantly helped along as and when necessary, and I didn’t beat myself up about it because, like it or not, it really hurt. Not the kind of you’re unfit, it’s been a while, Christmas has been unkind, back in the saddle hurt, though there was no doubt some of that. Nope, the real bashing my insides with every pedal stroke kind of pain, because I’m in the middle of having a attack of that anyway, and although the morphine patches and tramadol have been holding it at bay, they can’t be expected to cope with Cat 3 climbs or trying to keep up with the Jones’ as well! So I needed any help I could get, and many thanks to those of you who provided it. I made it, whimpering quietly, up the Gorge, and when I couldn’t keep up the rest of the time, the group waited for me. We had coffee at the Rock Cake café before the flying, freezing but fun, decent into Wells, and the flat but fast trek back home across the very scenically flooded Levels to home.
So was it a good ride? Yes, because I was riding, in good company, I didn’t bail, I did a decent chunk of miles, and properly re-instated the 2 hour rule. No, because it hurt, but hey, after more pills a long bath and a siesta, I felt human again eventually. Well, in so far as I ever pass for such ;).
Cycling time: 2:34
Distance: 37.9 miles
ODO: 17047.7 miles
Last year I rode 4295 miles, 824 less than in 2012. I would let that get me down, but quite frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. It’s amazing I managed to do that many really, so actually I’m quite happy with it :D. I’d like to do better this year, but…well, life has changed hasn’t it? I’m not going to be able to do so much riding, so I’m going to try and do that which I do do, better. Quality over quantity, or something. Lots of proper wattbike training and constructive road miles ahead.
But not yet. Your New Year probably began on the 1st January, right? Well mine won’t be starting for a while yet. My next operation is on Wednesday so I have to get through that and however many weeks of recovery whatever they do necessitates. Hey, if I’m lucky, they’ll fix me, and when I’m finally back on the bike, I’ll be all set to get on with 2014 like I’d like to. OK, so I don’t hold out a great deal of hope, but hey, I’m working on the PMA right? It’s not the only thing I have to get sorted, but one way or the other, by Spring, I should know where I stand going forwards. So that I can go forwards. With the rubber side down, and the wind at my back. *fingers crossed*.
Times are tough, but thanks to my fabulous family and my fantastic friends, I’m making it from one day to the next, and slowly we’re getting there. You’re all awesome – thank you :). I’ll be back shortly…wish me luck!
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 :P.