Monday, 26 April 2010

Severn across audax

I was looking forward to this ride this year as it had been moved forward a week on the calendar. The last few years I've been wanting to do it but as it's been on the 1st weekend of May I've not been able to get to it.

The ride was entered well before Christmas and I booked the Friday off of work so I could get some sleep before the start.
I toyed with the idea of cycling the 75km down to the Uxbridge travelodge but decided to get the train to Watford and ride from there instead.
Instead of the roads through the outskirts of London I thought I'd follow the Sustrans route along the old railway and canal.
It started off so well on a smooth tarmac track, after the first couple of corners this changed to the usual stony path, great for wide tyred MTB's but not as good on 700-28 tyres.
I stuck with it for quite a while and the ride along the canal was nice but slow. I had plenty of time and it was a nice day so I didn't worry about it.
The evening was spent watching crap tv and eating junk from Tesco.

Alarm went off at 04.15 and I was out of the door heading to Chalfont by 04.45.
There were plenty of people there when I got there, and after another breakfast we were off heading over the Chilterns and the first Control at Woodstock. This section went really well and the service at the tea rooms was fast. 75km down food eaten and away again before 09.00.

It was then over the Cotswolds towards Tewkesbury, the hills were slowing me down a bit but the sun was coming through now and the views from the hill tops was amazing. Must get myself a small camera that I can take with me, both of mine are too big for carrying on a bike.
The next section over towards the forest of dean seemed to get hard, I wasn't feeling too good as my stomach didn't seem to be working properly. The food I'd eaten at Tewkesbury seemed to be sitting on top and not digesting. Not sure if it was the hot weather, too much drink/food or a mixture of both.
I stopped at a pub "The penny farthing" at Aston Crews to top up my bottle, have a pint (oj and lemonade) to see if this helped. It didn't.
The climbs through the forest were hard work and the 45 minute rest at the Chepstow Tesco control didn't make me feel any better either.

I knew I had to keep going so it was onwards over the Severn bridge and upwards to the Somerset monument, the second walk of the day. The new frame climbs well but at a certain point the gears aren't low enough and I find myself with burning legs and having to stop to put my lungs back in.
A stop at a garage for coffee and crisps still didn't help and an extended stop was had at Membury services, I was there for 1.5hrs and watched a few groups come and go.
I tagged on with a group of 9 others and we chose to go via Newbury along the A4 to Slough.
This was a great route for a night section, wide roads, hardly any potholes and rather flat compared to the lanes and hills going the other way.
A route error took us right through the centre of Reading and past the night clubs, it wasn't bad and I think people were more to surprised to see 9 blokes in lycra light up like christmas trees to give us any trouble.
Every light through Slough seemed to be on red and slowed us down but the chain snapping on my bike slowed me down more. I had all the kit I needed to fix it in my bag so I said the others were welcome to go on without me.
Tiredness, oil and chain tension meant it took another 10-15 minutes to actually get the link to join back together.
It was then up the last couple of hills back to the start for 04.00, more food and some sleep.

I felt a bit better when waking up although I only had 3hrs sleep, more food and coffee consumed while I watched it rain outside and the last riders coming in a bit damp. Then it was time to get back on the bike and ride the 60km home. My knees didn't like the first hill but after warming up a bit I wasn't going too slow and plodded back through Aylesbury and the last hills through the villages home. A good weekends cycling totalling 475km taking this months riding past 1500km.

Apart from the dodgy stomach I really did enjoyed this ride and would definitely ride it again, I'll have to try eating less if I'm using energy drink and see if that was the cause of the problem.
I may even have a go at using just drinks and see how that works.

Below is the altitude chart and gps track of the ride.

Monday, 19 April 2010

More ramblings

After last weekends 311km ride around Northampton, over the Fens to Red Lodge cafe and with the commute to work. I've managed to put over 1000km on the new bike in the 2 weeks I've had it.
The bike is performing as well as I'd hoped with the new wheels and it seems to climb a lot better than the old frame did, there is no front wheel lift any more and all that's slowing me down now is my weight!!
I'll be in a better position to know how it climbs next weekend after the Severn Across 400km, which goes from just outside London over the Cotswolds to the Forest of Dean, into Wales and back again along the M4 corridor.
Total climb for the ride is listed at 3500m which is not a great amount but there are a few short climbs along the way. I hope to get around in a reasonable time, I'll just have to not chat so much to others at the controls.
There is an option on it to route around the hills/lanes at the end by following the A4 which I may take, I'll see how I feel at the control at Membury services.

Just looking at the calendar and it's only 4 weeks now until the Bryan Chapman 600km ride in Wales, I'll know then how I'm doing and if I'm on schedule for the trip over to the Netherlands for the Lowlands 1200km or if I need more training in the next 12 weeks to get ready for it.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

FSoTM ride to Stockgrove

This months first Sunday ride just happened to fall the day after a 24hr 400km audax and I knew it would be a slow one due to it being one of the hillier rides on the calendar.
The ride started at the bandstand on Queensway at the usual time of 10.00.
There was a bit of a chat about the tyres on Emma's bike. She'd got it from Evans and the person in the shop said it would be ok to put narrow tyres on the wheels that were on there.
It came fitted with large tyres which had been replaced with 28mm ones. These were too narrow and had dropped into the rim making a flat spot, I'd have loved to see the Evans employee try to fit his suggested 19mm ones on there!! Emma decided to come along and see how it went.
After about 3 miles though the tyre was flat so Stuart (her other 1/2) went back to help and told us to carry on.
The hills soon came and I definitely felt it in my legs, it was just a constant up and down. The weather was good for a bank holiday weekend and I soon had to stop and take my jacket off.
After a few more hills the cafe came into site and an egg and bacon roll was calling me in.
Stuart was there waiting for us coming in from the other way but Emma had gone home.

We left again to go up the last hill of the ride towards Great Brickhill with the fast drop on the other side back down to Bletchley.

My legs weren't too bad after the heavy weekend but I definitely felt it on a few of the hills.
I put the GPS track into the programme on here and was surprised with the total climbing of 403m in 30km of riding. Below is the chart and map of the ride.

The next one is on another bank holiday weekend and over a slightly longer distance of 30 miles, see you there :-D

Monday, 5 April 2010

A long ride to York

I'd been planning to do an Easter Arrow up to York for a couple of years now but have never managed to get past the planning stage.
This year I booked the Thursday off work and 3 months ago I got cheap train tickets back in preparation. All I had to do was find a team to ride with.
I had a diy audax ride planned if a team couldn't be found but 400km on your own at the start of April is hard work.
Fast forward to last week, I managed to get on a team from Norwich as a couple of riders couldn't make it.

Thursday morning I was out in the shed still adjusting the bike after only 2 rides on it. I eventually got away before noon for the ride over to Cambridge to catch a train the rest of the way to Norwich.
The S/Westerly did help me some of the way but it wasn't a fast ride over. I got there at 15.00 but didn't have to wait long for the train at 15.15
The rush hour traffic wasn't too bad in Norwich as I left the station, but I wasn't in it for long and took the lanes to Rogers house just south of there.
An evening spent of pasta and red wine is a good preparation for a 24hr ride.

The alarm went off at 06.30 and after breakfast and quick team photo (Thanks Ian) we were off back to Norwich for a receipt at the Tesco atm for the start at 08.15.
It was a headwind for the 1st leg down to Bungay and across to Mildenhall for lunch, despite this we were still pushing a good avg speed of 24kph. Baked spud with beans and cheese was consumed and we were off again.
This time into the flat open areas of the fens, this meant no hiding from the wind when we had to go into it but a really good tailwind when going the other way.
By 18.00 we were at the 200km mark and the average had crept up to 25.5kph. We found a pizza/pasta place that opened up their restaurant area at the back of the shop for us and another longish stop for lasagne and chips was had.
Some of the team put on dry and warmer clothes for the night section of the ride. I decided to keep mine for York, if it rained over night I wanted dry stuff to wear on the train back.

The flat lands of the fens slowly started to disappear as we got the other side of Boston and at 23.00 we found a pub to sit down at for nearly an hr to get warm.
Back out into the cold night but it didn't take too long to warm up again for the section through Market Rasen and keeping to the left hand side of the wolds to keep away from the worst hills. You still have to climb over part of them though and the hill before the Humber bridge crossing was quite a shock after 300+km of flatlands. I led the way through Barton towards the cycle path as it is not easy to find and I'd done it a few times before. The next section up to Beverley on the dual carriageway was starting to get hard as I was starting to get tired. A quick stop at another garage helped but the hill out of Beverly up to the highest point of the ride didn't.
I was starting to weave about on the road a few times and was finding it hard to stay awake and balance the bike. A quick stop to jump up and down got me going again just as Ian had come to find out where I was.

Next stop was another garage in Howden. This being the 22hr mark/stop we had to wait for 30 minutes before getting a receipt and had to do at least 26km in the last 2hrs for the ride to be completed.
Away again for the last section up the B road to York. This was actually about 36km but we got there with 15 mins to spare.
It was then down to the pub for coffee, fried food and a couple of pints at 09.00
A good way to finish a ride.

The rest of the day was spent mainly in the station waiting for the 15.57 train. I'd booked a late one as I wasn't sure what time I'd be getting there, as a team member or on a diy ride.
There were 6 other bikes on the train, 5 of which being AUK members. 2 managed to get off at Peterborough amongst the hoards of football supporters leaving me, Judith and Ritchie to fight the rest of them at KingsX.
I pushed the bike from there to Euston station as I couldn't be asked to ride(it's close anyway)
and just missed the first train back. The next was only 15 minutes later so not a problem.
I finally got home just before 21.00 on Saturday evening totally knackered and wanting a drink :-)
A quick walk around the garage soon sorted that though and it was a fairly early night as I had to get up for my local 20 mile ride on the Sunday morning.

Total distance for the ride was 80km on Thursday over to Cambridge.
423km. 24hrs in total with 18.13 cycling time and a 23.2kph avg
I really enjoyed the ride and meeting people in the pub afterwards.
I'm looking forward to the 4th weekend in April next year already and hope to get on another team. If any will have me!!