Category Archives: General

It takes three to Tango

a sign of things to come

Hey, don’t blame me, the title was Guy‘s idea not mine.  But there it was, so here it is. Gift horse, mouth, etc.  Bear with me…all will become clear. 😉

Of course it works on many levels.  I am, of course, three rides behind.  Which, incidentally, since clearly we’re counting things, makes four rides this week in total, which is pretty cool in my book.  Well, not cool, it’s been quite warm really 🙂

I’ve ridden in the evening, with Chris, with ups and kick-ass downs.  I’ve ridden in the afternoon, with Alan, in heat, and humidity, yet still with wind.  And I’ve ridden in the morning, with Guy and George, with sun and wind and hills and a brand new coffee stop.  Where there were three of us and three of these.  See, it makes sense now, no? 😉  Three rides then; and I’ve really enjoyed all of them.  Riding in weather like this feels like being holiday, and reminds me of all the foreign holiday riding I’ve done, which is just lovely.  Result 😀

three to Tango

Cycling time: 5:17
Distance: 82.2 miles
ODO: 10113.6 miles

Clif Bar nutrition

Clif samples

A little while ago I was lucky enough to be sent some Clif nutrition goodies to try out.  Having met Mr Clif bar on my training camp, where he’d become familiar with my tedious nutritional requirements, he reckoned they’d do me nicely.  Clif Bar’s philosophy means that they use wholesome ingredients in all their products, and that all their food is free of hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup.  Since not eating enough on sportives is something I have been known to do, trying out new stuff that might work seemed like a good idea.  So I spent April and May doing my sportives powered, mostly, by Clif.  With the odd flapjack and banana thrown in of course 😉

So, let’s break this down into the four different products.  In, as it happens, my order of preference.

builders_ChocolatePeanutButter

Clif Builders
These come in three flavours – Chocolate, Chocolate Mint, Chocolate Peanut Butter.  Each bar has 20g of protein and is supposed to be eaten post-workout.  I had the Chocolate Peanut Butter ones, and I have to say I wasn’t mad keen on them – but then eating post ride is something I’m notoriously bad at, and after a sportive all I generally want to eat is something savoury – enough with the sweet already!  As a result I don’t have much to compare them to.  They’re a good size, quite dense, chewy, and fairly chocolately, if that helps?  Having said that, coming home from one long sportive driving down a long motorway, realising I was running on empty, one of these did get me back up and going and safely home again!

clifbar_whiteChocMaca

Clif Bars
I tried the White Chocolate Macadamia and Oatmeal Raisin Walnut flavours (also come in Chocolate Chip, Blueberry Crisp, Crunchy Peanut Butter and Chocolate Almond Fudge).  These bars are made with organic rolled oats, and are not unlike the flapjacks I usually eat on that basis – and are ok for me as I’m ok with oat gluten.  Unlike my flapjacks however they have a whole heap of other ingredients which elevate them above those.  Apparently this mix of whole grains, protein and fibre, means each bar contains B6 and B12 which contributes to the normal release of energy for use in the body.  That’s all a bit techy for me…  However they do taste good!  Not too sweet.  Not dry.  Easy to chew.  They’re a good size for my back pocket and also my top tube bag (some bars are too long and thin), plus they don’t crumble all over the place either!  I certainly didn’t “bonk” on the rides I used them, and I’d definitely buy more, and not just to try the other flavours 😉

Gel_Citrus

Clif Shot Gels
Thanks to the training camp and my samples, I think I’ve tried every flavour these come in – Double Espresso (100mg caffeine), Citrus (25mg caffeine), Razz, and Chocolate.  Unlike my usual gels these are shorter and squarer and they come with a special designed “Litter Leash™ Packaging” that means you can tear the top, drink/eat the gel, and the  top stays attached to the packet to be tucked back inside, before the whole thing goes into your back pocket to be disposed of later.  Very clever – and that bit less litter on the road is a good thing!  When it came to actually using them, they always come as a bit of a surprise.  There are I am expecting a sort of runny jam, and these are more like a thick custard.  I’d describe it better if I could – but I can’t!  Initially I found the Espresso flavour a bit bitter but I’m used to it now and I especially like the Citrus one.  Clearly I’m a bit of a sucker for caffeine in gels… 😉  The gels, whichever flavour, definitely do the trick.  Having left it a little too late on one particular ride, and with miles and hills to go, I took one and I could really feel it cut in as needed!

BLOKS-STRAW-340x135-HOME

Clif Shot® Bloks™
Now these I absolutely totally love!  Think of a tube of 6 separate jelly cubes – a bit like the ones you used to eat as a kid.  Each energy chew is 33 calories, and they come in four flavours – Mountain Berry, Strawberry, Tropical Punch (25mg caffeine per serving), Black Cherry (50mg caffeine per serving).  On a ride, once I’ve got past the bars/flapjacks stage, these have turned out to be the perfect way to make sure I eat something every twenty minutes, which is so important.  They’re easy to eat, and rather than gels, which give you a hit when you need it, these gave me a more sustained energy level.  I like them so much I went out bought loads last month and I’ve been using them ever since!

clifbloks

Unsurprisingly what you eat on a ride is always going to be a matter of taste.  However I’d definitely recommend the range – especially the Bloks.  None of the products upset my insides, and I definitely felt fuelled throughout my rides – result!

‘S Wonderful

I appear to be behind.  Shock, horror, etcetera, etcetera.  Mind you, isn’t behind where I usually am? 😉

In fact I’m three rides behind again.  It does seem to go in threes like that.  Don’t they say good things come in threes though?  And also to those who wait?  Patience, grasshopper, I’m getting there 😉  So…with no further ado about nothing…here goes.

First off, a recovery coffee run with no coffee, as Alan and I both forgot that Sweets is closed on a Tuesday.  And a Monday, as it happens.  Oops…  Consider yourself forewarned and forearmed, so as not to make the same mistake in your turn 😉

Porlock Weir more gluten free cake

This was followed by a trip to Exmoor to see Gary which miraculously involved very few hills, actual sunshine, compensatory coffee AND cake.  Very nice gluten-free lemon curd cake, in case you’re interested, and ever happen to be passing by Kitnors Tea Room in Bossington, which you shouldn’t, because you should go in – it’s really nice there 🙂

Both rides were very lovely on the company and weather front, but not so on the PMA or form front.  In fact, here’s me 😉  Actually, given the escapee escapades of Gary’s tortoise that day, he was probably faster than me!  Post Dartmoor Classic and a lot of riding of late and…well…who knows whatever else…I guess I was just tired and somewhat under-motivated…?  For whatever reasons, it just wasn’t quite working last week.  The sun was shining, and there wasn’t much wind, so the spirit was more willing than it might have been, but the flesh just seemed to be running on empty 🙁

not a slow tortoise

A while back I reached the conclusion that I really needed a break.  So this weekend I went away.  For a weekend away which did not involve a sportive.  Or in fact the bike in any way.  I had a mini-holiday in Bude, Cornwall, with myself.  My bike and I were on a break 😉  And it was totally awesome 😀  Life’s always better at the beach, right?  In addition to whole heaps of wave watching, sunbathing, paddling, reading, relaxing and whatever, it did however involve a fair bit of coastal walking, which my legs are now protesting vigourously.  Well just because it’s a holiday doesn’t mean no exercise – that way madness lies!  Besides, I really enjoyed it 🙂  However, though I may not be able to walk properly right now, it would appear that I can still pedal.  Different muscles I guess.  Which brings us to today’s ride, a Fairyland coffee run with Alan to watch the festival stragglers drifting home, all of whom were looking remarkably clean as it happens.

And I was feeling better out there.  Again with the sunshine, and no wind helping 😉  Maybe the break helped too?  If so, maybe I’ll have to take more of them *grin*.  Sure, I may not have been breaking any records, but it did go better than I’d expected and I actually enjoyed riding the bike, which has to be good for the PMA, right?  Let’s see how the next few rides go…who knows?

Cycling time: 5:18
Distance: 79.1 miles
ODO: 10031.3 miles

(Blimey – the “new” bike has now done over 10,000 miles!!)

P1030139

 

 

 

If the hat fits…

Mayor Making 2015 groupI’ve been a tinsy bit busy this week…can’t imagine why…but I have managed to ride twice.  Not that either of these rides went entirely according to plan.

On Wednesday, to compensate for not getting any exercise in on Monday and Tuesday, I planned myself a 60 mile route.  Not the world’s most exciting route, to be sure, but with nowt better to do, and nowhere else to be, I figured I might as well.  Get out there, enjoy it, etc.  However thanks to the bl**dy wind (will it ever stop?), which eventually I really couldn’t face fighting anymore, I gave in, turned right, headed for home, and it turned out to be just 40.  Tant pis *gallic shrug*.

Cycling time: 2:33
Distance: 39.9 miles
Avg: 15.6 mph
ODO: 9482.5 miles

On Friday Gary H and I did the usual kind of Sweets coffee loop.  The man who “hasn’t done any training” hasn’t gotten any slower as a result even if that is true though, and keeping up was hard work.  I wish I could do no training and still be that fast! *sob*.  Ah well, we’re all built different, right?

Cycling time: 1:43
Distance: 28.0 miles
Avg: 16.2 mph
ODO: 9510.5 miles

However after both these rides, I was WAY WAY tireder afterwards than I should have been.   Even after resting in between rides.  Proper bone deep stuck on the sofa weary.  Too many sportives?  Too much else on my plate?  Not enough food (distinctly possible and probably not helping either)?

So, however gorgeous it may be out there, and typically it really is, I am not riding the bike today.  I’d like to but…  I may not tomorrow or Monday either.  Just as well I don’t have a sportive this weekend right?  I get the feeling I may need a break.  Sometimes you have to listen to your body I guess.  We’ll see…  Maybe I’ll go walking instead?  And maybe I’ll ride anyway.  I wouldn’t put it past me 😉  Still today, if you want me, I’ll be sat in the sun somewhere being busy doing nothing.

In the meantime, as the photo above reveals, on Monday I was duly installed as the Mayor of Axbridge again.  It went well, mostly, the usual hiccup, but nothing that doesn’t happen every year, and my two were awesome.  Kudos to my mob 🙂  So here I be, with a new hat and everything.  The Cycling Mayor once more, in more than name alone 😉

BTW I’d like to thank Paul from The Lamb Inn, in Axbridge, and Butcombe Brewery for donating the beer for my Mayor Making.  Credit where credit is due.  Nice beer too 🙂

new hat new Mayor old Mayor from one Mayor to another

PS: for those of you currently enjoying the unusually lovely weather on The Tour of Wessex, I think you’ll find that’s because I’m not there, and I shall be invoicing you all for my non-attendance shortly 😉

The rain in Spain

But I’m not going to be on the plain, I’m going to be climbing things that make the Mendips look like molehills, and that may even qualify as mountains.  So it’s not going to rain, y’hear?

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 17.28.33

I thought I’d be more nervous than I am, but actually I’m looking forward to it.  Even the hills.  And it will be mostly hills.  Apparently I like them more than I think I do as, bizarrely, when Alan and I broke with tradition on Wednesday and cycled around the Levels instead of climbing the Mendips, I actually missed them.  Who’d a thought it? 😉

Cycling time: 2:37
Distance: 42.6 miles
Avg: 16.3 mph
ODO: 8056.6 miles

It looks like I’m pretty much ready to go, though I’ve got the rest of this evening for inevitable faffing and last minute panicking about what I’ve forgotten.  Or I could just skip that and paint my nails instead *grin*.  Spain here I come.  I’ll think of you all while I’m out there riding my bike in the sunshine.  Honest 😉

ready to go

So sue me if I go too fast

I should be packing and faffing and cleaning the bike, and generally panicking.  Well, I’m off to my training camp in Andalucia with Wheels in Wheels on Saturday, which seems to have come around awful fast, and I’m so not ready!  However I am instead procrastinating wildly whilst at the same time seeing how much stuff I can do without actually getting properly out of bed.  Like writing this blog for example 😉

However I have done some preparation.  Kinda.  Well, there’s all those hills I’ve been riding up.  That counts, right?  Training for a training camp 😉  And when I went riding yesterday, I tested out my new helmet and sunglasses, to make sure they were all ready for the trip.  See?  Ain’t they perty?

new helmet & glasses

Yes, I went riding yesterday.  In the sun.  And almost warmth.  I even had to change my layering strategy accordingly, which was novel.  As is the concept of wearing short sleeves and shorts next week…how cool is that?!  But I digress as usual.  It’s about the riding, not the kit, right? 😉  Yes, Chris and I went riding.  I left the route up to him and, since I had been bizarrely miffed to have not completed Blagdon Hill (aka Two Trees) last week, he took us on a loop around to do that.  Very cool 🙂

Chris boxes

And I made it up – properly this time.  Unfinished business – finished 🙂  As slowly as ever, of course, and Chris swears that having not ridden for a while, his pace was actually my pace, and he wasn’t just trackstanding his way up behind me, but I’m not sure I’m convinced 😉  Having said that, I was feeling pretty good, so I may just have been doing ok out there.   Legs, lungs, head; all pretty much in the right place at the right time.  Aren’t shiny pills great?  I may even have left him behind once or twice which, like, never happens so maybe he was telling the truth.  I’m pretty sure it’ll never happen again though! *grin*.  Sadly our well-earnt descent of Cheddar Gorge was blighted by grockles, cars, and the killer wind, which meant pedalling downhill, and which also pushed my wheels sideways a few times , leaving me very pleased not to be on my deeper-rimmed summer wheels!  Ah well, I can try for the QOM next time 😉

It was sunny, it was beautiful, it may even have been Spring, and it went well.  For no obvious reason.  It just turned out to be a really good ride and now my PMA is feeling all perky and happy.  Maybe I’ll make it up all those Spanish mountains after all? 🙂

Cycling time: 2:06
Distance: 29.3 miles
Avg: 12.8 mph
ODO: 8014 miles

I didn’t have much time to bask in the warm after-ride glow though.  It was down to earth with a (not literal) bump as duty called, and the mob and I had the Civic Service to get to.  How’s this for a transformation?  There’s still plenty of lycra involved though 😉

frocked up

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 me.open

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 🙂

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

I have a Gumbie cat in mind

DSCF1533

It’s been a bit of a non-standard week.  After walking, up Snowdon on Saturday, it took three days before my legs were even close to working properly again.  Yes, I said walking.  It’s not always about the bike, remember?  😉  However apparently walking up mountains does not use the same muscles as riding up them, though it takes me nearly as long!  As a result I spent three days hobbling around like I’d been thrown off Snowdon, Hephaestus stylee, and that was just on the flat.  Watching me going up and down our stairs using the bannister was apparently very amusing, but I choose to believe that’s just because the mob have, unsurprisingly, a juvenile sense of humour 😉

Saff

And then, just when I was thinking I could possibly try and get back to my usual exercise routine, we sadly and unexpectedly had to have one of our cats put to sleep, and, well, life went a little pear-shaped.  Very sad times 🙁

Eventually, once the dust had settled, two workouts later, and with the incentive of company to ride with and good weather to do so in, I finally made it out on the bike again today, with Alan, one of the newer members of the ACG.  Even though he’d originally had hills in mind, he was more than amenable to doing a Glastonbury coffee run instead.  Easily led astray, as it were 😉  So that’s what we did.  In unseasonable warmth, with arms and (in his case) legs out!  It felt more like late Spring than early winter, and it was very lovely.  A bit windy, to be fair, but given warmth and sunshine, it seems churlish to complain.  It turns out I’d missed my bike, and I feel a whole heap better for having been out on it 😀

coffee shadow

Cycling time: 1:59
Distance: 32.1 miles
Avg: 16.1 mph
ODO: 7031.1 miles

 

 

 

 

I’m relatively twisted

I think it’s fair to say that food and I don’t really get on.  Which is probably why I don’t have much of an appetite these days.  Well, since what I do eat rarely remains where it ought to for long, I can’t usually be bothered with the consequences!  I’ve also been on a bit of a health kick/diet lately, which means I’ve been eating even less than usual.  Which seems like a good idea until you then go out and ride the bike for a couple of hours, having omitted breakfast as well, and wipe yourself out for the rest of the day.  Oops…

burnham with george

It was only a couple of hours out with George, running her errands, and chatting…but it got harder and harder to keep up and keep talking and by the time I got in, I was totally spaced, had as much energy and co-ordination as a newborn kitten, and I didn’t get it together again until mid-afternoon.  But hey, at least I got to go to the beach, right? 🙂  Still, it would appear that if I want to survive this Sunday’s Exmoor Beast, I had better spend the next couple of days eating healthy carby stuff in reasonable quantities!

Cycling time: 2:23
Distance: 34.6 miles
Avg: 14.5 mph
ODO: 6900.1 miles

In the meantime, my plans for 2015 advance slowly, and I am mad excited, because next March I’m going on a Wheels in Wheels training camp for a week in Andalusia.  How cool is that?!  Hope springs eternal…*fingers crossed*.