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.

 

Advertisements

Basking in the evening sunshine

It is not often I get an opportunity to organise an evening ride but as it is currently half term in the south of the country, I decided to get out on the bike.  We had a few members of Back On Track Cycling, the rest were on shift, plus Dunmow Velo attended and some new faces from the local area.  In total 10 fellow cyclists started to pedal the back lanes of Dunmow.

The plan was for a social ride, curbing the speed that Back On Track have a habit of, you know the one, ‘let’s take it easy’, someone says then taking off like a wippet out of the gate.  It was a cracking ride and there were a few opportuities for hill sprints, well as much as Essex can do a hill.  It was great to see so many people out and something I will aim to do again

 

Mr Forgetful

Tech is a major player within the cycle industry and new stuff, good or bad, arrives on the market nearly every day. The tech we could carry when riding is close to weighing more than the bike.
Does tech over run our cycling enjoyment? “If it is not on Strava it does not count.” You can hear the words being echo’d.

All this aside, I love a gadget, I use Strava, Garmin, Zwift, Beeline to name but a few. Plus I am partial to all things Apple. Yes I am one of those people. 

Lainey worries about me when I am at work and when I am riding my bike. Imagine how high her heart rate must be when I combine the two and ride to work. I try to put her mind at ease, I have set up Live Tracking (Garmin) and Beacon (Strava). Most may have used these notification services, for those who do not, it allows you to enter your chosen email addresses and once you start riding it sends a message, via your phones Bluetooth, advising a loved one that you have started riding and your location. Between us we utilise Find Friends on the iPhone, just in case the others do not work and now makes us sound look like we stalk each other.
So imagine the day I rode 35 miles into the centre of London for a night shift and to return home the following morning with no phone, no ID and no money. I had packed all the mentioned items in my pOcpac dry pouch and duly left them on the worktop at home. This I did not realise until I arrived at work. I opened my work emails to send Lainey a message, let her know I had arrived safe and sound and apologising for my forgetfulness. She had beaten me to it, informing me of my stupidity and the words that followed even turned the Fire Station blue.
Swearing and profanities aside, justifiable of course, the lack of contact did start to make me feel a little uncomfortable and vulnerable. The requirement to ride home out of London and onto the quiet roads of Essex started to concern me. I had left my OneLifeID band at work so I had identification and the means for my rescuers to contact Lainey. At which point she would have killed me if I was injured.  
Reading this back seems to suggest I forget a lot!!!!
With the tech I have, or did not the day in question, there was no way of contacting Lainey if I needed help, no way to pay for cab home or call for one, or if the worst had happened for someone not to know my location. We sometimes moan about tech but it is engrained in our lives. It does play an important part. I do not need it but like it to be there just in case I do. Anyway, imagine the stat of my cleats and the bottom of my shoes if I had to walk home. Priorities people!!!!

Please note; I have been asked to add a disclaimer. I have not asked Lainey to proof read this entry, as stated in a previous blog. If there are any spelling mistakes or errors then it is purely my fault. 

A Blue Egg Recovery

The weather was not as nice as yesterday but 3 decided to head out on the weekly Back On Track Cycling Road Ride.  Nothing too heavy after Hell of the Ashdown at the weekend, I think my legs would appreciate a gentle spin.

A windy and wet ride but all helped with CAKE and COFFEE

Salted Caramel Slice and a Black Americano

Hell of the Ashdown

I am not a natural climber, Essex does not have the hills. I have become acclimatised to the flat, rolling bumps of my surroundings. So I have to go hill hunting.

It was an early start for the Catford CC ride, my alarm sounded at 0540, all had been sorted the night before so breakfast, wash and a final check and all ready to go. The drive to Biggin Hill didn’t take long, just over an hour and the car park at the Charles Darwin School, our host for the day, had not even started to fill so I was guided to a half empty parking area.

Once registered, I was handed my rider number and wrist band. It was back to the van to prep the bike, fit the number, get changed and then time for the off.

The start line

I had been lucky to receive the first time slot available so I sat at the start gate. I was the only one and concerned that I may have to set the pace for the whole race. The organisation from Catford CC is fantastic and will only allow a small number of riders to leave at any one time; approximately 10 riders left at 08:00. There was no time to get comfortable or warm up, within the 1st mile we descended around 150ft then began to climb 250ft at 12.7%. Nothing like giving you a baptism of fire but then the name does not say ‘fluffy bunny bike ride.’

My aim was to pass the 1st feed stop at 32 miles and head straight to the one at 55 miles. The start of the ride had been harder than the previous attempt, mainly due to the change of start location. I need to work on my endurance levels and with further hills looming, I decided not to push it. The people offering their time at the feed stops deserve a special mention and a big thank you. A ride like this and you get a warm welcome, hot tea and coffee, malt loaf, bananas, flapjacks but no full English breakfast that I did request.

32 mile stop

The stop was a short one as I wanted to stay warm for the descent and the climb up Kidds Hill, aptly known as The Wall, just under a mile at 8.5%. This was just a teaser for things to come. The next 20 miles consisting of going downhill, very fast then of course, what goes down must come up and it did so. Very steeply! I hit a wobbly top speed of 41.6 mph and ended up braking as the bike started to feel a bit twitchy. Lycra clad and typical English winter affected roads do not make for a happy ending and Lainey would have killed me if I ended up in hospital.

My miss timed eating schedule had played havoc with my guts. So some adjustment is required. I had split the hour into 3 x 20 minute alarms. 2 would consist of a bite of an energy bar and on the hour, a gel. With the continuous hydration, I felt as if it was all swilling around and I craved savory instead of the sweetness. With a short 7% climb to the 55 mile stop I hunted for what I craved. Sitting there on the table, with angels singing harmoniously in the background, was a plate of cheesy bites, I nearly ate the lot. The last time we arrived at this stop we only had 8 miles to go so my spirits were up beat.

As I left the feed stop I spoke with the marshalls, I asked for some clarification on distance and they responded with 13. I’m thinking 13km is close to 8 miles, happy days. My legs were feeling it but I felt OK. A marshall tried to hand me an energy gel and with a devilish twinkle in his eye said, “you’ll need this for Star Hill.” I did not take it as I had enough churning around. Turned right I began to climb again for a further 2 miles. I should have clarified whether the distance was in kilometers or miles, it was in fact 13 miles and some of the steepest climbs were ready to chew me up and spit me out.

It was time to dig in. Getting back on a level road, I could easily return to a steady 17/18mph. As soon as a hill appeared the speed rapidly dropped off. What didn’t help either was passing the finishing spot from the previous year plus having someone pass our small group as if we were standing still. I did not even attempt to get on his wheel.
After descending a segment called Suicide Drop it was time to climb, who wants to finish a ride on a sprint. Hogtrough Hill started at 9% for 0.7 miles and then to add a final kick ramped up to 13% for the last 0.2 miles, no one wants it easy. Returning to familiar ground, as we had followed the same route earlier in the day but from the other direction. I stupidly thought that morning, this would be nice to climb so on the return leg we did, the final half a mile at 9% with a steep switchback.

I was glad to see the finish but nothing left in my legs for a final push but happy with the 4hrs41 to complete the 67.5 but highlighted deficiencies in my riding.

I’m done

There needs to be more preparation before The Fred Whitton Challenge in May;

I need to do more hills, Essex has an abundance of these!!!!!

I need to get my eating plan right and with the right food. Mudguards weighed me down, creating unnecessary drag, that’s my excuse.

I need to improve endurance and spend more quality time in the saddle.

The Hell of the Ashdown is a ride I’d recommend to all. Decent hills allow you to get into a steady rhythm and will test you. Especially if you normally ride in flat areas.