Saturday, 21 July 2007

A Break in the Rain

Well it stopped raining today and out popped the sun which seemed a good enough excuse to get out for a ride before it started raining again.

I didn't have any route planned, just a rough idea in which direction to head. I really enjoyed myself, even though there were 17 mph headwinds. Funny, I had aches and pains from the London to Southend ride, but I was still really stiff when I started out. Good thing was though everything loosed up pretty quickly.

The best part was coming back along the long, straight, stretch along the sea front and having a car pull out in front of me – well no, that wasn't the best part. The best part was then drafting him at 30 mph and making eye contact in his rear view mirror when he checked it. I must have stayed there behind him for around two miles until he pulled in to park.

Distance: 28.6 miles
Time: 2 hours 4 mins
Average speed: 14 mph

Friday, 20 July 2007

Southend Bikathon again

Here we go again! I have signed up for the Southend bikeathon (26 miles) this was my big ride last year and so it's encouraging to see how far I have progressed since then (even though I didn't cycle for about 6 months after the bikathon!). The big question now is, do I do the ride on road bike to see how quickly I can cover the route, or do I ride one lap (13 miles) on the mountain bike with Seri in the trailer?

Thursday, 19 July 2007

The Big Day

It was up with the larks at 5.00 to catch the train to London. I didn't need to be at the station until 6.20 but had to catch a train from home to Southend to catch the train to London - if that makes sense!

Got to the Southend station at 6.00 only to find it hadn't opened yet and there among the cyclist were an assortment of revellers of Southend's night clubs waiting to catch the first train home.

We were told that our train didn't leave until 7.00 but could catch an earlier regular service if we wanted to. So of course we all piled on the first train to leave which was a pity for others wanting to catch the train as there were bikes everywhere making access to the doors impossible.

On route to London we passed through a tropical thunderstorm, complete with forked lightning and torrential rain - everyone starts praying that that doesn't become the order of the day. Luckily by the time we get to London, the rain had cleared and it was beginning to look like a good day weather wise was in store.

After riding a meandering route through the back streets of east London, we finally arrive at the start in Victoria Park. The start was very well organised, as was the rest of the ride, with no queues for registering as we rode through what was described as a drive through tent to hand in the registration form. Then it was on to the starting line a couple of thundered yards further forward. A five minute wait and the group I was in were off!

It didn't take long to reach the outskirts of London, although that was when the fun began with a long, steep uphill climb. Quite a few people were already walking and, without being cruel, I did wonder how many of them would make it - there was still a further 50 odd miles to go and some already looked exhausted.

From then, it was a fantastic ride, going through country lanes. Mind you, whoever said Essex was flat should try cycling this route some time. And the headwinds we rode into all of the way, made it just that bit more challenging.

Total climb: 1788ft Total descent: 1784ft

There seemed to be a lot of riders getting suffering punctures along the way but no real mechanical breakdowns that I could see. And there were a wide ride variety of bikes - from carbon frame road bikes, to mountain bikes and yes, even a Brompton.

One particularly memorial moment was when I was with a group cycling down a slight hill, only to round a corner and be faced with a ford right in front of us. The person I was drafting managed to shoot across the road and brake in time, but for me it was hang on and pray. Luckily, in spite of the rain we have had lately, the ford had barely any water in it and so I got through ok. Although I did hear someone talking after the ride about how they had seen someone ad come off there.

With only 20 miles to go, I was still feeling pretty much ok but decide to stop at the next refreshment point for a break. Feeling rather peckish and tired of cereal bars, could I resist that big, fresh cheeseburger being cooked on the pub BBQ? You guessed it, no! And what a mistake that turned out to be. I got back on the bike and metabolism had slowed to a snail's pace while my stomach got to work on the burger. The next 10 miles were a slow, hard ride. Never again!

I finally reached Southend and caught up with a group of riders as were crossed the finish line. That was fantastic as the crowd there waiting for friends and family clapped and cheered everyone home.


And so it was that I met up with the family and we headed off to a local spaghetti house for recovery food - a large plate of pasta washed down with a pint. Oh well, at least I had burnt off the calories already!

Timewise, I completed the 60 miles in around 4 and a half hours, averaging 14 mph which I was very pleased with - but if only I hadn't had that cheeseburger.

Would I do it again? Most definitely and am seriously considering the London to Paris ride next year.

Saturday, 14 July 2007

The Big Day Tomorrow

Well, so at last I am nearly at the big day. I'm feeling pretty confident about the ride, especially after last weekend's 20 miles on Saturday and 52 on Sunday. All I have to do and is clean and lubricate the bike this afternoon and then get a good night's sleep.

The weather is a little worrying though. The Met Office have a issued a severe weather warning warning with lots of rain forecast but I am hoping that this will be changed for later today as it looks as though things will be ok up until about 3 o'clock. In fact the BBC are now forecasting:

which is brilliant news! But I really must stop obsessing about it

Well, I tried to stop obsessing and failed miserably. Here's the latest:

Monday, 9 July 2007

First half a ton – Done!

Well the weather held out this weekend so it was back to catching up on missed training rides for the London to Southend ride next weekend. I was quite a bit behind where I had hoped to be right now and was beginning to get slightly worried. On Saturday, I did a fast 20 mile ride which was fun but Sunday was the big day when I had planned to break to the 50 mile barrier.

I set off around mid-day (no time to watch the Tour de France, but doing is better than watching!). I was determined to take things slowly and more measured and had a route planned which was ‘there and back again’. So as long as I made it there, short of getting on a train, I had to ride back. And what a great ride it was. Well all apart from when some asshole in a 4x4 decided there was no way he was even going to slow down as he speed towards me along a single track county lane. It was slam on my breaks, haul the bike virtually off the road and wonder just how stupid some people are. But there was no way he was going to spoil my ride as I was about 5 miles away from the magic 50 at that point. I kept checking the bike comp as I got close to the 50 mile barrier and let out a cheer when it read 50.01 miles!

Mind you, I have to say by that time I was riding in automaton mode – my legs moving by willpower more than anything else.

So the total distance ended up at 52 miles with an average speed of 14.5 mph – which may not be much be Le Tour standards but is something which, if I do say so myself, I am very proud of. The legs are a little sore from lactic acid today but who cares!!!

Now the 60 mile London to Southend ride doesn’t sound quite as daunting as 50 miles really was a psychological barrier for me.

It’s amazed me at just how quickly it is to make progress if you stick at it. I can remember a few months back when my longest distance was 12 miles. So any beginners out there, just keep at it!

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Riding in the rain, just riding in the rain

I was having a conversation with someone at work the other day which went something like this:

“How’s the training for the L-S ride going?”
“It’s not because of the never ending rain”
“What will you do if it’s raining on the day?”
“Still do it”
“Well shouldn’t you train in the rain then?”

So I girded up my loins and decided I would get out on the bike today, come rain or shine. Well, as it happens, the forecast looked ok, so I set out and hoped for the best.

Man was the wind strong, gusting at 26 mph. Still it gave me a good work out. I was about four miles from home the heavens opened and it absolutely bucketed down. So that made my mind as to whether I was going to do a final 13 mile loop. Home I arrived wet through and freezing cold. Still that was an experience, cycling in a 26 mph wind in a monsoon! It really had better not be like that on the day or I might just change my mind and get the train home!

Today’s stats:

Distance: 35.85 miles
Time: 2 hours 28 mins
Average speed: 14.5 mph