Sunday, 22 February 2009

40 miles and no punctures plus the phantom cyclist

It looks as though the new tyres have made a difference as I have just ridden 40 miles without a puncture. That’s not to say that this isn’t now my latest obsession while riding. What with wondering what this or that click is, I now have to worry about whether the tyre is going down because the road happens to be a bit bumpier.

I am pretty pleased with the progress I am making in getting back to my pre-accident level of fitness. I rode 40 miles last Thursday and 40 today, that’s 80 miles in four days. Mind you today’s average speed was down quite a bit (14 mph compared to 14.9 mph last Thursday). Still I was riding into an 11 mph wind which would have slowed me down a bit anyway. And I have to say the last five miles of today’s ride were something of a struggle with my thigh muscles threatening to give out any minute and my sit bones screaming at me to get out of the saddle.

I have just noticed that my gps went a little crazy today claiming I started at 88 feet below sea level and ended up 18 feet above. The 18 feet above is probably about right but as this was a circular ride, the starting altitude should have been the same and definately not 88 feet below.

Now to the phantom rider.

I have heard of other people speak of this phenomena. What happens is you hear a rider behind you. At first this is fine and I don’t mind someone slipstreaming me. But after a while it starts to get a bit irritating and I wonder why the person won’t pass. So I’ll speed up a bit. No difference, he is still there. So I’ll slow down, no difference and he still will not pass. Finally having had enough I glance back over my shoulder to see that there is no-one there. The sound of the phantom rider is, in fact, the sound of my own bike echoing back off of hedges or a wall – it only seems to happen very rarely so the air quality, wind, or something else must also have an effect. Either that, or it really is the spirit of some disembodied rider.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

The Flintstones

Punctures seems to be a way of life for me at the moment. Probably something to do with the lightweight tyres that I am using. Although I popped down to my local bike shop on Friday and the guy there was saying that there is a lot of rubbish on the roads at the moment, including flint. Flint?! How the heck does that get there? I thought this was 2009, not 10,000 BC. Or maybe the flint has something to do with the recent road gritting that's been going on due to freezing temperatures. I doubt it somehow although it would never surprise me if the Local Authority turned round one day said they had gritted the roads with a nice sharp stone that can easily cut through tyres.

It is now a case of new tyres for old, and I have replaced them with Bontrager Race Lites. Now for the geeky bit:

The Race Lite Hardcase offers armor-clad flat protection without sacrificing high-end road feel.

Dramatically reduce the risk of flatting with the triple flat protection of Race Lite Hardcase tires: the bead-to-bead woven construction reduces sidewall cuts; anti-pinch ribs eliminate pinch flats; and a Kevlar belt provides outstanding puncture resistance.

And the Hardcase's high-speed tread compound provides optimal traction and low rolling resistance no matter what the weather, so this tyre is equally at home training and racing.
Dramatically reduce the risk of flatting with the triple puncture protection of Bontrager’s Hardcase technology

So now if I get mugged all I need to do is simply shout "Stab the tyres, stab the tyres" and can then laugh and ride off into the sunset as they have a Kevlar belt. But will they stop the flint and punctures? I guess I'll find out tomorrow.

And yes, saddest of all, here's a picture of them!

Friday, 20 February 2009

Throw the Zimmer Away

I came across an article in Cycling Weekly about a man called John Woodburn who is still racing at the age of 72. Apparently he regularly breaks the hour for a 25 mile time trial, sometimes by several minutes. His times are impressive for a cyclist of any age. But, to get his times at the age of 72 is doubly impressive. He also still rides 200 miles a week in training.

I hope that I can ride that well when I get to 72.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

40 Miles of Joy – Almost

The weather this morning was pretty bad – grey, grey and drizzle. Still the forecast looked hopeful with sun due later in the day (I’m starting to get worried about just how obsessed I am becoming with checking weather forecasts). So being ever hopeful, I sat back and waited it out. Well, I didn’t exactly sit back but never mind.

And I was rewarded. Early afternoon as I get ready to go out for a ride, the sun comes out and the grey disappears – for a while at least.

Then it’s off for a ride with the aim of getting in 40 miles which was my training distance before my crash. And I achieved it feeling remarkably ok. I was pretty pleased with my time too averaging 14.9 mph. But not without yet another puncture. So tomorrow it is off to the bike shop to get a new set of road tyres.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Ahh the Irony

First it’s a broken elbow, then it’s snow. Today it’s…. read on

The day started well with the weather reasonably good, I was really feeling up for a long ride. I have also finally made a decision and have signed up for the 75 mile Essex Sportive – I’ll save the 100 miles for next year. So I now really have a couple of targets to aim for by way of sponsored rides:
Today seemed like a good day to kick up the distance and aim for 3 training laps (39 miles in total). It was a bit chilly to start with, what with starting the ride into a headwind, but I soon warmed up and was thoroughly enjoying myself. My elbow didn’t play up much and when it did start to twinge, a quick stretch sorted it out.

Today I aimed to increase my distance to start building up to my first target of 60 miles. This was quite a bit different from recent rides where I had been trying to improve my time racing aging the virtual partner on my bike computer. At times though, I still felt myself pushing my speed and had to reign back.

Talking of reigning, I freaked out a horse today. Well, when I say I freaked it out, I think it was more the case its inexperienced rider freaking it out. There were four horses in a row and I shouted a merry “Good morning” as I passed the first one – ok, well more of an exhausted “Good Morning”. As I passed the third in line, its rider start waving a bit too frantically to be a friendly “Hello” and more like a frantic “Stop!” I pulled on the brakes, slowed down to a crawl and the horse started to skitter a bit. I still think if I had kept riding, the horse wouldn’t have been bothered in the slightest – none ever have before and I am riding a silent bike, not a roaring motorcycle!

Now, back to the title of this blog. Why the irony? Simply that I was feeling really good, coming to the end of the second loop (26 miles) when my rear tyre started to slowly deflate. Yep, puncture. I always care a spare tube but the pump I have just isn’t strong enough to inflate the tyre anymore than just about hard enough to ride home. I have a proper track pump at home which makes light work of inflating a tyre to 120 psi but not my bike pump. As luck would have it though, a friend of mine drove passed and stopped – how much of a coincidence was that? And to top it off, he was on his way home from his cycle club ride and had a decent bike pump with him. So with a fully filled tyre it was back on the road again.

The problem was though, that by this time, I had cooled right off. And with the weather being quite cold I just couldn’t get back into my stride. So after 26 miles I decided to call it quits.

After a hot shower and having cleaned my bike, one of the first things I did was to order a decent bike pump! This one to be precise - exiciting isn't it (NOT) (it’s supposed to get to 100 psi in less than 250 pumps)

Topeak Master Blaster Mini DX Pump with Gauge

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Snow Go

I am sad to say (that's a little bit worse than 'sorry to say') that there will be no cycling from me this weekend. No I am not a fair weather cyclist but 35 mph winds yesterday and now this today:
which is also bit too much to battle through. So I will get the turbo trainer out and do an hour's cycling going nowhere. Boring!

This is a turbo trainer.
You hook your bike between it so your bike becomes a cycling machine

I have though signed up for my first
sponsored ride this year which is the delightfully named Essex Countryside ride taking place on the 17 May. I'll be opting for the 60 mile ride. The good thing about this year's ride is that it is a lot earlier in the season - last year it was the week before the London to Southend which meant two 60 mile rides, one a week before the other. The downside of course is that there is less time to train for it. Still I do have 3 and a half months to prepare which should be ok, even with my enforced break in training.