Monday, 18 June 2007

Sunday 18 June

Another good ride today. I set off on what is just over an 18 miles circuit wondering if I would attempt three circuits and break the mile barrier. All went pretty well, apart from a car pulling out of a driveway, turning right and looking all the time to his left so he didn’t see me. As I approached him I thought “he must look this way soon in case a car is coming”. But no, he just kept going. I was going too fast to stop so just yelled and went round the front of him. Luckily he did turn and the last minute and braked. I did think about yelling something appropriate but just waved a “thank you for not hitting me”.

The wind was a bit blowy, and from the direction which meant headwinds most of the way round. But no rain and sunshine for most of the time too.

I was half-way round the second circuit when I decided not to bother with the third circuit and quit at 38 miles. The legs were feeling a bit tired but other than that, no real reason to quit other than I just really didn’t feel like doing the third circuit. No problem with that as I hadn’t planned on attempting the 50 mile barrier until the end of June.

So that meant I could have a little fun along the seafront with the wind blowing from behind and the traffic doing an average 20 mph. Oh How I love overtaking cars like that!

Got home feeling pretty tired after all of that but my recovery time seemed to be better than last week’s sponsored ride over the same distance as my ride today. The average speed was down a bit on last week’s though which could be down to going it alone (or maybe the headwinds).

The stats:

Distance: 38.8 miles
Time: 2 hours 45 min
Average speed: 14.1 mph

Monday, 11 June 2007

Sunday 10 June - 40 Mile Charity Ride

It was up at 6.30 on Sunday and off for a 40 mile charity ride (decided to leave the 75 or 100 mile routes until next year). Weather forecast is good. Porridge and fruit for breakfast, few last minutes checks to make sure I have everything and then it’s off in the car to the starting point.

Oh dear, lost already as I left the directions to the starting point at home. Then I remember that there is an alternative car park by Billericay station so head off there and, hey presto, just around the corner is Lake Meadows, the starting point.

Unload the bike from the car and head-off to register and discover that a clicking noise from the rear wheel, which had appeared on Saturday, has got worse. As I get close to the registration tent, the clicking has turned into a rattle. Just I was beginning to wonder if the bike would make it, I suddenly realise the cause of the problem – the rear wheel reflector was loose. Soon it is the ex-rear wheel reflector! Then it’s registration and 10 minutes to the off.

One of the organisers announces that the portaloos have not arrived to which someone replies, “What’s the guys address, we’ll go visit him and leave our calling cards in his front garden!” With no toilets on route several people, including me, head back to the public toilets on the other side of the park.

Finally, we are called to the starting line, giving a final good luck message and it’s off we go!

There is the inevitable bunching to get out of the park and nice curb to drop down which could damage a few wheels if not noticed. And finally on to the road. Like all sponsored events, the ride gets off to a slow start due to bunching, but that’s ok as it gives the legs a chance to warm up. After a short while on a main road it’s off onto country lanes which is rather nice. Only problem was though that I have to keep braking as two people in front are riding side by side chatting away and seeming determined not to let anyone past! Finally get past them and into my stride and am going at about the same pace as five or six others. Until we get to a hill that is and then my normal style prevails – I am rubbish at going up hill but love opening it up downhill. So everyone passes me going up and I pass them going down. I don’t know why, but one of the things I remember about the very early part of the ride is being overtaken by someone going up hill, who was standing in the pedals, and her friend shouting from behind “gears Gillian”. I think that will be my uphill mantra from now on!

The route is extremely well marshalled with not only the usual pointing to turn right or left, but also a shout of “all clear” so we knew it was safe to turn without having to slow down. Also, lots of water along the way which, as the morning warmed up will be very welcome if I run out of my own drink.

Stop at the half way point for a 10 minute stretch and am very pleased to see I have covered something like 20 miles in just over an hour and a half. I don’t expect to do so well on the second half as the legs are starting to feel tired. But that was before the wonderful down hills. Going down one I reach 38mph which is a great buzz before I started wondering what will happen if I hit a pothole! Luckily it was a quite country road, long and straight, so I stay in the middle of the road as most potholes seem to avoid the centre-line.

About 10 miles to go and I am going up hill with a right turn at the top. I slow down and nearly topple off the bike – I didn’t realise my legs had got that tired! Luckily there was someone from the Essex Roads Cycling Club chatting to one of the marshals and he rides along with me chatting for about quite a bit of the remainder of the way which made things easier until my legs got their second wind.

We come to a railway crossing which was closed to let a train pass. And there seemed to be most of the others I have seen at some point along the way. Either they have had a long wait or I have caught them up.

Then it is off for the last few miles along country roads before hitting the main roads in Billericay and a hill which nearly finishes me off. I catch up with someone who I had been passing earlier in the ride and who had then passed me before I stopped for a break. We ride together and chat as we cover the final mile or so to the finish. But man, why did there have to be a hill right at the end of the course!

We finally ride back into Lake Meadows. I am pretty tired by now but full of the normal emotion that I feel when I finish events like these.

Just time for a sports recovery drink (warm milkshake type – yeuk!) and well earned bacon roll (yum) then it was off back home for the rest of Sunday.

I did have one final surprise though as when I checked by bike computer at the end it said:

Distance: 38.6 miles
Time: 2 hours 38 minutes
Average speed: 14.8 mph

Which was not only the furthest I had cycled since taking it up again earlier this year but also the fasted average speed. Could have been the downhills and almost certainly partly due to the company from the guy from Essex Roads. Also, as a result of the bunching early on and having to use the brakes a lot, I had changed my riding position and was resting my hands on the top of the brake levers more than usual, so was lower down. But no matter what, two new personal bests which I was very proud off!

Can’t wait for the London – Southend ride.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Another long one today

Although when I first got up I wasn’t sure what the weather was going to do – the BBC said hot and sunny, outside the window said grey. Well the grey and overcast won the day but it turned out to be perfect weather – well for me anyway. I included part of the end of the London – Southend cycle run which I had been planning to include in my training programme and, apart from a couple of hills, this seemed ok. I was struggling up one particular hill and the burning sensation in my thigh muscles was ubearable (good job no-one was in earshot) but I kept going and the pain started to fade. Not sure if this is supposed to happen or whether the nerves in my legs just gave up and died.

Some stupid woman made an attempt to knock me off my bike when she turned left at traffic lights – her wing mirror brushed my right arm; any closer and it would have been me knocked off. . Not one to hold a grudge I gave her a amile and a friendly wave before riding off

The last part of the ride included my usual run along Southend sea front and I was hoping to get pushed home but there was the inevitable headwind. About two miles from home I seriously began to doubt if I would make it.

Got home and a nice hour and a half nap!

As for the new saddle, in a word brilliant.

Things began to get a little painful after about 33 miles but then I think that is only to be expected at the moment and as I break it in (or it breaks me in) then there should be no problems.

Looking forward to next Sunday as I am taking part in a 40 miles charity ride which should be good training for the 60 mile London - Southend ride.

Ok, now for today’s stats:

Distance: 38.25 miles
Av speed: 13.6 mph

And the route: