OK, now where did I put it?

So my aim this year is to ride 5000 miles, an increase of around 1500 miles on last year. To date I am about 200 miles behind my year to date target. 

You read correctly, I log my rides in miles. Getting ahead of the game come Brexit time and you ‘Km’ cyclists get deported.

I have recently lost my cycling mojo, fallen out with pedalling the miles on the new badly dressed roads of Essex. Imagine your very own personal Strade Bianche. The idea of cycling to a cafe stop for coffee and cake has lost its appeal. That’s right, I said it. No real reason for it and unable to pin point an event which has led to this. As a shrink would say ‘all decision can be attributed to a traumatic point in one’s life’ but there maybe one.
Usually kept for the winter or those summer months when it rains, I have been on Zwift. Using the platform to keep my fitness up and remain on the bike. Plus a post dripping work out coffee is on hand and I can have two!!!  
Last week I managed to ride around 85 miles, well I say 85. I run rollers for Zwift, which offer little resistance so climbing a hill, taking into account wattage, the algorithms of the program adjust my displayed speed accordingly. For me to climb and maintain a descent speed, I pedal harder. So after completing Rapha Rising 30 mile Challenge and climbing the 3 mountains of Watopia it felt more like 50 miles on the rollers. I actually hurt the following day.  
I think the ease of jumping onto Zwift and riding within a few minutes became very appealing recently and not having been online since the London extension, it has kept things fresh but I did not see my wife in the crowd cheering me on.

I did mention earlier there was no traumatic event that lead to my recent hermit approach to cycling, I had completely forgotten one moment. I did not have matching wheels on the summer bike, the embarrassment to be out would have been life changing. We cyclists have some real issues.
A few weeks ago I felt the back of the bike dragging when climbing, I went through the process of elimination.  Cleaned the BB30, chain cleaned, brake calliper alignment but no improvement. So I removed the back wheel and investigated further, after a discussion with Hunt Wheels, they arranged for the wheel to be returned for investigation. So I needed to replace it for my rear winter wheel, you now see why I stayed inside.
The service from Hunt was fantastic, they arranged collection on Tuesday, repaired on Wednesday, phoned to update me and my precious wheel arrived Friday morning. That is impressive. It would appear there was an issue with the freehub and pressure on the bearings from the axle, Hunt replaced it all.
So has my mojo returned with matching wheels? A little but feel Zwift still has a hold. Anyway I have ordered new tyres, new cassette and chain for the summer bike so it may have to wait a little while longer for a true test.
I understand that coffee growing countries are waiting on tenterhooks for my return but do not worry about the little dip in the market.

 

Please be gentle Fred

In a few days I will be heading to Grasmere, Cumbria and register my place for the Fred Whitton Challenge then I’ll be heading off for a tranquil night in a B&B over looking Lake Windermere. There will not be a chance to soak up too much scenery as it is an early start on Sunday for a challenging ride.

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Am I ready for Fred?

Having completed it before I am aware what the countryside will offer. I think I am fitter than I was in 2015 certainly putting in the miles. Eating plan sorted. New wheels from Hunt. Plus a compact chainset with 11 gears on the rear offering 11-32. There are a limited number of steep hills in Essex and even though it was part of my training program, my main job and Back On Track taking up time it soon took a back seat.
For 2017 I will be riding with Ian Appleby, a very good friend met through Twitter. I have not seen him since 2015, when we rode Fred for the first time and I will be entering his territory once again. Ian can climb, in the drops with a water bottle in his mouth. Personally I think he was just showing off but I would do the same if I had that ability.

The ride strategy has been organised but the Thorpe jury is still undecided, pass the 1st feed station at 50 miles and head for the 2nd at 88 miles. This will be the longest ride without a stop and I have not completed many rides of this distance over this type of terrain. If everything falls into place with eating, the speed and the wind behind me then anything is possible.

After the second stop the miles will count down towards Hardknott and Wrynose Pass, the climb you see in the distance, it plays with your mind as you can see the flicker of all the cyclist’s red lights dancing up the mountain. Last time I climbed this I was beaten, 18% average with 30% switch backs on Hardknott, pedals turning that slowly that there was not enough speed to unclip. Not sure how I will cope with it this year, I am aiming to complete the two climbs but I am a realist. I am not accepting defeat before I even begin but respectful of the surroundings.

The weather forecast is better than the wet soaked ride of 2015 and I am hoping it stays dry but with the amount of height gained, who knows what the weather may have in store for us.

The crowds that line the route are a credit to themselves and motivating to us riders. Turning out in all weathers, cheering, shouting and encouraging riders up the hills. To those there on the day and those who have been there in the past, chapeau.

I have a couple of rides under my belt for this week, a 63 miler, 100km for the Strava achievement, a non-stop affair with a climb up North Hill, all went well. Today was a ride with the rest of Back On Track Cycling, an easy ride to the Blue Egg for cake. An easy 16 mph average on the way out and a couple of sprints on the way home for good measure.

If you are riding, good luck and ride safe

Pressures of Blogging

I am not a writer, and I do not write a lot.  My brain works quicker than my fingers do and words are missed or the predictive text takes over.  I have never been versed with copious amounts of words that complete the English language.  Well I know a lot of words, whether I can use them correctly, spell them or even know what they mean is a different matter.

My intension with the Back On Track Cycling blog was to take fellow cyclist or those with an interest in my meandering text on a journey and hopefully an insight into something I am passionate about.

When I have written a blog I pass it onto my wife, Lainey.  She has been fantastic with her support.  She has proof read all my blogs before publication and this has been needed.  The day will arrive, at some point in the distant future, when it will be perfect, no over use of comma,s, flowing sentences, painting a beautiful picture with words and more importantly making sense.

Following the latest blog, she mentioned they had lost some focus, not as well written as those from the beginning and reading as if I have written with my main occupation’s hat on.  Those that know are aware of my other job, for those that don’t, I work for one of the emergency services.  I am in charge of a shift so report writing comes with the territory.  This type of report writing is regimented, clinical and needs to be matter of fact.  It is not often that I am required to flower things up so feel I have dropped into my default.

This did make me think so I went back to read my first and then my last blog. Don’t tell her this, but she was right!  I am new to blogging, I really enjoy it but finding the balance between meaningful pieces and dumping half hearted drivel into the internet is not always easy.  Rather than feel the pressure of publishing a blog every few days, just take your time.  Wait till there is something worth writing about, re-introduce the passion that I started with and apply that formula to all.

That is not to say every piece will deserve an award for literacy but to remember why the blog was started in the first place.  When I write about cycling and if my wife (who is not too keen on cycling, watching cycling, hearing about cycling, seeing a husband head to toe in figure hugging lycra or seeing a new piece of cycling equipment arrive daily) finds it a little interesting, then I am onto a winner!

Quite a woman really.