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Just realised I never formally rounded out the month of June with a post.

 

  • I spent 292 miles in the saddle
  • 22 hours and 37 minutes
  • Just over 11,000 feet of climbing

 

Best month to date and it’s going to take some beating! So far it’s 16th July and I’ve cycled 96 miles, which isn’t bad considering I spent the first week of the month in Japan on business, so my first ride of the month wasn’t until 6th.

 

On 14th July I went for a ride with my cousin, we covered just 15 miles or so, but reminisced the whole way round. Stopping at our grandfather’s house, and our shared childhood memories, then calling in on his great-uncle.  Jim is a war historian who served in the merchant navy during World War II, and also remembers the start of the war and the Blitz from his early teenage years before he signed up.

 

Dog fights overhead and stories of the V1 and V2 bombs dropping on my home town are fascinating to me, and so much of this shaped the area today, new and old buildings juxtaposed, alongside the stories of his friends killed as they slept or attended weddings.  He is now retiring from his speaking engagements at he approaches his 90’s, and we could have sat and listened a lot longer.

 

After the tea and chat we headed off, taking time to visit a memorial plaque (no pics I’m afraid) in memory of a Hurricane fighter pilot who lost his life in the Battle of Britain, only for the plane to have lain undiscovered for many years, just feet from a main road and popular recreation area!

The strava ride

 

A great morning with some very poignant moments.

 

 

Not strictly cycling, but a fine review of a BBQ we hosted this weekend when we got lucky with the weather – no wheels turned though.

Food Eat Love

Hosting a barbecue in the UK can be a bit of a gamble. The weather is less than reliable and rain never seems to be far off! This weekend we were off to Kent for a nice summer barbecue at Oli and Amanda’s and everyone was asking the question “do you think it will rain?” Well, this weekend it didn’t, the day started with a bit of a grey haze but once that lifted it was a beautiful and sunny day! It is a bit like winning the lottery and I was very pleased to be wearing shorts!

The garden had something that I have to admit I immediately wanted, a pizza oven and this was such a simple but clever, and good looking solution!

29June_PizzaOven

The garden was full of beautiful flowers and I could not resist taking a few pictures.

29June_Flowers

The invite promised a lots of food, lots of…

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I’ve achieved almost everything I set out to do a year ago, recommendations for new goals welcome.

It’s a year ago tomorrow since I picked up my first new bike in two decades. It’s also six months today since my last post, so time for an update!

Things have gone well, weight loss picked up when I started the 5:2 diet in January and stabilised when I got back on the bike in earnest in April.

My mileage for the last 12 months comes in at 1050 miles, 91 hours in the saddle and over 13km of climbing.  681 of those miles are from 2013, of which the vast majority in the last 10 weeks since the beginning of April.  The bug has finally bitten me, hard!

  • In January I cycled 81 miles
  • In February I cycled 11 miles
  • In March I cycled 30 miles
  • In April I cycled 151 miles
  • In May I cycled 204 miles
  • In June (to date) I have cycled 217 miles

In that time I’ve had two custom wheels built, Mavic CXP33’s with 36h for the rear and 34h for the front (my problem with spokes and truing didn’t go away), both on Shimano 105 hubs.  These have been running on the GT like a dream for over 600 miles now and were a sound investment.

My longest single ride is 63 miles, which was the 100km Nightrider challenge around London. I started at 11pm and finished around 6am after five-and-a-half hours of riding, 45 minutes of break stops and 45 minutes at traffic lights!

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My largest climb is almost 1200 feet after I took my bike to the Alps at the end of May.

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I am now commuting over 30 miles a day from my parents house in Orpington to Battersea (there’s still no way I could do the 60 mile round trip from my little country house and the daily 6,000 feet of climbing that would entail) which is a big target knocked off the list for me.

One of the key decisions I took recently was to get better at hills, something I believe can only be accomplished by riding up more of them.  There are a few killer hills (All at least a Cat 4) within a few miles of my house, Ide Hill, Toys Hill, Crockham Hill, Titsey Hill and Westerham Hill and I’ve deliberately gone at them.  Crystal Palace now also forms part of my commute and it’s a beast.  I’m not a climber yet, but it’s been a while since I put a foot down on a climb and my speed uphill has doubled (still in single digits for the most part though!)

Most importantly I’m enjoying it, enjoying the ride and the achievements. Especially as time at home has grown more precious with ever longer and further duration work travel to the USA and Japan becoming depressingly regular.

As the cycle to work scheme is an annual contract I have also been lucky enough to get a new bike, a Felt z85 2013, which is forged from pure sex and awesome. I’ve had it for 4 days now and covered 60 miles, which will be 90 after tomorrow’s commute.  I intend to commute on the GT more, but couldn’t resist trying to beat some Strava PRs on it on my commute whilst the weather seems good.  Critically, this bike is also supplied with a decent set of wheels, Mavic CXP 22’s, as standard.

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Importantly this means that my boy can now accompany me on some rides, he even managed to stay awake this time.

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I still weigh over 130 kg, but my fitness is through the roof and it’s a matter of time until more weight comes off.

I’ve been a bit quiet on here of late, largely because I didn’t look at the bike for two months. No excuses, I’m just a bit shit.  Then towards the end of November, the day after my son’s first birthday, I was rereading some early posts from other weight loss riders and developed some resolve, jumped on the bike on what was a relatively sunny day and did an 8 mile ride around my local area. Then I went out the next day, and the next, until I’d ridden for 7 days in a row.

Some of these days were pouring with rain, some of them were -4 celsius, most of them were down pitch black country lanes at 8pm; but I enjoyed all of each and every ride. Well, ok, almost all of every ride. What I enjoyed most was the sense of achievement that came from getting home, tired, sweaty and usually soaked having got 5 miles in for the day. I also did some turbo time on the evenings I couldn’t get out, when I was in sole charge of the boy child.

I decided to try and do 30 days of cycling in a row, and I was doing so well, so well until day 16 when I snapped a spoke. It snapped about 6 miles into my most ambitious ride to date. At the time I heard a ping but couldn’t see anything obviously wrong, so I did another 10 miles, up the two category 4 climbs over the North Downs and touching 35mph on the way down them on a wonky wheel. 

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Click on the image above, hopefully it’ll show you the route etc.

This spoke snap came about 14 miles of riding (the next morning) after I had had the rear wheel trued by my LBS.

Never mind, I was at a friendly location and summoned my SAG crew to pick me up in the Landy.

I managed to get a new spoke fitted a day later, so, managed to keep up my ride-a-day momentum.

Then, last Friday I was struck with Norovirus – ’tis the season to vomit yourself inside out after all. Another two days lost there on the Friday and Sunday (on Saturday i rather foolishly pushed myself into a 8 mile quick ride, having not eaten for 36 hours and not realising how ill I still was) and subsequently spent Sunday curled up on the sofa.

Undetered, I thought “no worries, I’ll just aim for 30 rides in 30 days”. I went out on my usual dark 5 mile loop last night and 22 minutes later, 300 meters from arriving back home, as I put the power down, properly hard, *ping*. Another arseing spoke snapped.

As a result I’ll loose out on a ride tonight, and I think that’ll put a stop to being able to complete 30 rides in 30 days, catching up will be tricky.  

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I still plan to ride everyday between between now and Christmas once this is fixed, hoping this is just sheer bad luck – and I’m going to investigate a hand-made rear wheel.  It does seem strange that after 400km of faultless riding I get two spokes go in such quick succession, and can’t help but wonder if it wasn’t something to do with the truing of the wheel that the bike shop (to remain nameless) undertook a couple of weeks ago.

Anyway, here’s my stats since I hit the pedals with a vengeance again on 24th November.

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I joined British Cycling over the summer, partly to take advantage of the member offers (remember that Halfords bike, roof bars and cycle carrier earlier in the blog? 10% off everything!) and partly to be inspired.

Recently I’ve been exploring their site a bit more and found their 12 week sportive training plans.  Now I’m not going to try and do a sportive in 12 weeks, but I’d like a structured plan, made by experts.  As such I’ve gone for the beginners plan, which I have printed and bound, and is currently forming my bedtime reading.  I plan to start this regime in the new year.

Here’s a cheeky excerpt:

training plan

 

It plans in rest days, “other” training, such as gym work, and at least three rides a week.  As the plan progresses you get entire rest weeks, as well as threshold tests; it really is a nice complete package.

You’ll notice that it mentions Cadence in the training schedule, and this is a key theme throughout the 12 weeks; so, armed with a trust credit card I bought myself a Garmin Cadence sensor to go with my Edge 500.  Another benefit of British Cycling is the minimum 12% discount available on Wiggle, but in this case it was 25% cheaper than Wiggle’s discounted rate on Amazon, so I paid about £27 delivered.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Garmin-Speed-Cadence-Sensor-Forerunner/dp/B000BFNOT8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1355824852&sr=8-1

Garmin Cadence sensor

Dead easy to put on the bike, pedals and wheel, about 5 mins max, all very self explanatory, quick check of the instructions to make sure I hadn’t ballsed it up and we were up and running.

Over the next couple of days I then did my usual 5 mile evening route and rode once as I would normally, and once focusing on keeping a cadence above 90.  A revelation. Keeping the pedals spinning about 90rpm meant changing down the gears earlier, and spinning at an easier force, and the speed was staying relatively high. In fact I registered one of my best times for the 5 mile segment, with a better heart rate zone performance, more calories burnt, AND I could still bend my legs afterwards – quite something.

I’m also going to look at my local gym, and see what classes they run of an evening, though I’ll have to battle my own preconceptions about it just being middle-aged women who go to gym classes out in the countryside…

I’ve been riding to and from the office to the car quite a lot recently, but I think it needs to stop for one very simple reason: money.

There’s no way I could complete the 27 mile ride twice a day, there are three category 4 hills in that mix and I would spend 6 hours a day commuting, so as you may recall, I have been driving to our old house in South East London and driving from there.  This entails a 44 mile round trip in the car each day, a thirsty old Land Rover. This car will do less than 15mpg in commuting traffic and with Diesel costing £1.45 per litre at the moment (£6 per Gallon/nearly $10 USD if you live there) then this is proving to be quite an expensive way of getting about at around £18 per day just in fuel.

By way of contrast the train, which is expensive, is £17 per day, and the motorcycle is about £8 per day, and faster. And Cooler.

gixxer

Guess I’ll be back on the motorcycle until that lottery win comes in.

11km. That’s all I need to do tonight to break the 200km in August mark. One of the benefits of Britain is how we can effortlessly straddle the miles/km divide. Miles, with their 2000 years of history in the UK (since the Romans trampled all over our quaint measurement systems) are dear to all of our hearts; however, due to our proximity to Europe we’re accustomed to KM. Our car speedos show MPH and KPH, and frankly, right now, it suits me to be able to rattle on about KM to you.

I use Garmin connect and Strava. The garmin software is set to Miles, whilst Strava reports KM to me, and on Strava I am sitting at 189km for August, and I’d really like to break 200km tonight. My commute is only 9km though, and it is almost all uphill. Tacking an extra 2000 meters, or 1.24 miles onto that isn’t a proposition I’m relishing, especially with the knees throbbing again this morning.

That said, I need to do it tonight, I’m back on the motorcycle tomorrow, and I can’t let it hang at 198km when I get home…

Sometimes they’re just in the wrong place, not matter how you ‘pack’ or sit.

I just spent an hour writing a post and I disappeared. Not even in the drafts folder. Grrrr.