Saturday, 28 November 2009

Music makes the pedals go round.

I have currently hit a wall. I want to ride my bike but the weather is so unpleasant that I don’t want to go out. It would be down-right miserable and uncomfortable to ride in. I have started to lack motivation. Hmmm. Maybe, if I had a more extensive winter cycling wardrobe I would be able to tolerate the elements more. *Sigh* Maybe, if I don’t have to clean and dry my only pair of trainers after every ride I would be more motivated. *Even bigger sigh* Maybe, if I had a riding buddy I’d be more inspired... when every ride is just you and the wet/cold elements the fun is non existent. What’s the point of finding the biggest puddle or deepest mud if there’s no one to enjoy it with?

I’m mentally broke and loathed to go outside. So this week I have taken more steps towards the darker side of obsession by using the turbo trainer to achieve my mileage target. It isn’t the most desirable option but it’s definitely better than watching my fitness levels plummet from the level that I have recently worked so hard to achieve.

As I previously blogged, my introduction to the turbo trainer was interesting – wrong size bike, wrong size shoes, wrong everything! However, my 2nd session was marginally better - Mikey set my own bike up on the rollers so it was much easier and with Mikey offering encouragement I managed 9 miles towards my goal. Miserably, the 3rd session was mind-numbingly monotonous. It reminded me of all the reasons I had previously loathed Turbo-Trainers.

Damn! I needed to get out and ride somewhere exciting, but the weatherman was forecasting more heavy rain and strong coastal winds. Argh! I still had 10miles left to meet my weekly target. Could I really endure another tedious session on the Trainer?

I needed inspiration. I needed structure. Hmmm. I hatched a cunning plan! I chose 10 of my favourite songs that would motivate me and enhance my mood; songs that had different beats, styles and intensities; songs that had strong rhythms with power surges to accelerate my effort. I then devised a playlist; 10 songs = 10 stages. By stringing the songs together I made a structured workout. Track 1 to warm up. Track 2 to take the intensity up a level. Track 3 to accelerate my efforts into a climb. Track 4 - an easier recovery period. And so on…

(I won’t scare you by revealing my track-list, but for those that don’t know me I will tell you that I my taste in music is quite diverse. I love rock, grunge, punk and old-school hip hop. But I also have a very odd passion for cheesy pop. There’s nothing quite like New Kids on the Block to evoke great memories of my misspent musical youth.)

And I have to admit it worked wonders…. I got through my whole session without the need to stop. My legs were tired but at no point was I wishing that the whole ordeal was over. I sailed through my playlist. I was enjoying myself and was very surprised when I got to the last song. So surprised, that I restarted the playlist and did a couple of extra miles. I had obviously underestimated my abilities. Next time I will increase my overall speed, I had decided to not over do it as I didn’t want to fail first time, so for 8 of the 10 stages I never really exceeded 16mph. Oh yeah, and I will also find some longer songs - best dig out my old Queen records.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Cycling Addicts Anonymous

Today I suddenly realised I was addicted when I took my cycling to an all new level.

This week has been pretty miserable and although I have managed two short rides earlier on in the week my bereavement and then the trauma surrounding Mike’s dental surgery and the post-op complications left me unable to muster up any motivation to face the miserable weather to ride. So, unfortunately, yesterday I found I was still 7 miles short of my weekly target.

In a sudden brainless moment I had a ludicrous plan to get those miles…. the turbo trainer! Due to the torrential rain and stormy winds, Mullerton had put his bike on his trainer to keep up his momentum between cross races. Ironically, since he set it up it has just sat unused in the back room…. That is until today when I went over to the dark side of obsession.

The turbo trainer was the best & driest option to complete my mileage and it seemed like a good idea to just hop on Mikey’s bike rather than faffing to set my bike up on it. So that’s what I did - after all it was only 7 miles. It seemed like a good plan at the time! What’s the worst that could happen? ... This would be fun!

As I am quite a few inches shorter than Mullerton, I soon realised I hadn’t really thought things through when I hit Problem Number 1. The already too tall frame was impossible to straddle as it had gained a few more inches by being on the trainer. Using a dining chair as a booster step it still took some effort, but I finally got on to the saddle.

Opps… now I hit another little snag. Problem Number 2 - The bike was fitted with clip-less pedals and my slippers weren’t cutting the mustard. I would have to wear "his" cycling shoes. Hmm... Who’s silly idea was this? Mikey’s feet are considerably bigger than mine, so it was hard to tell where the cleat should be in relation to my foot in his HUGE shoe. Turns out I was using my toes to pedal! LOL! What a rubbish introduction to spuds!

Damn! I started to pedal and found a new problem! Problem Number 3. The length of Mikey’s bike! Just reaching the top of the drop handlebars meant overstretching. Thankfully, I didn’t need to use the brakes or gears as if I’d have needed to - my nose would have probably met with the stem with a bang.

The problems continued… Problem Number 4 - the saddle was at the wrong angle and it hurt when in an upright position and it cut me in half when I overstretched to reach the handlebars. Problem Number 5 – I had stupidly got on wearing my normal clothes (jeans & tee). Ouch! How I missed my padded shorts! Problem Number 6oh nevermind... just let me tell you the problems kept coming - yet somehow I kept pedalling.

I suddenly started to realise I was like a drug/alcohol addict; ignoring all the obstacles just to get my fix! The only way for me now would be mugging a little old lady for her Werthers Originals.

It also suddenly dawned on me, I had reached an all new low. I used to laugh at people for using turbo-trainers when they could go outside for a fun-filled adventure. Eek! I have taken my dedication to an all new level… obsession.

Argh! I need help!

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Postponed until next year - Annual Birthday ride to the beach.

A homemade birthday cake
Originally uploaded by kittykins!
... A Birthday ride to the beach was the plan for today... it was supposed to be the start of a new annual birthday event! Sadly Mullerton was too "weak" (some would say pathetic!) from his recent (dental) op and the resulting complications.

Anyway, I just didn't have the heart to leave him in his sick-bed and go without him, so the new tradition had to be postponed until next next year.

Until then, I am just as happy with all the nice goodies I recieved, including this yummy home-made birthday cake and loads of great pressies.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Sooooooo windy!

So, do you remember me waffling last month about attempting to ride across the local coastal path but being stopped dead in my tracks by the howling winds? Since that ride I have done the same route on a number of occasions, sometimes pretty effortlessly but this week that wind was back... with a vengeance. It wasn't just windy near the oceans edge - it was pretty much a headwind or crosswind all the way from our front door to our destination. The only thing that kept me going was the thought of the yummy chips on the harbour and knowing that it really couldn't be this hard riding home.

Normally, I am now able to make pretty short work of the draggy hill out of our village and then I usually enjoy the speedy descent into the next village. However, this time the wind was against me. The downhill that I normally whizz down without any effort, required constant hard pedalling just to keep moving forward.

Things still weren't looking good through the next village -my overall speed was slow. It was such hard work! I was battered! Pfft! That was before we had even reached the coast path - who knows what the wind would be like there; coming straight off the ocean.

Again, the weather had pretty much left the normally full coast path deserted - actually that's probably not the whole truth... I should really mention that a large section has been closed due to subsidence caused by the stormy weather. As the signs had blown away, we carried on none-the-wiser. Like last time, I had very little control of my bike if I stopped pedalling. Thankfully, this time I had Mullerton with me for moral support. Somehow, we managed to get to our destination, despite a moment of doubt on my behalf when we first got on to the coastal path. The memory of that first gale-force-encounter was just too great and it took me a while to shake it off.

The chips were worth the struggle and I enjoyed every mouthful before we set back on our adventure. Ahhhhhhh... the bliss of having the wind with you. The first leg back on the coast path was easy, averaging 18mph without any effort. Weeeeeeeeeeee! This was great! That is until we hit the village before ours. A big turn in the road meant we suddenly hit a wall of wind - face on! Oh my! My speed suddenly fell as I struggled against the wind and it took what seemed like hours to ride only a few hundred metres. Phewph.... the road turned and we had the wind behind us again. Next was a big hill that I have never managed to complete without stopping for a breather (or two - sometimes three). This time I made it up the first (and hardest stretch) without stopping. Whoopeee! Thank you wind! I then managed to complete the next draggy section without too much of a struggle.

I made it home, happy! If my lungs could survive those winds, they can survive anything. It just shows how much fitter I have become! A few months ago, my lungs would have shrunk to the size of peas the moment that cold ocean wind hit them. If my determination ever starts to falter at least I can remind myself of that!

Sunday, 15 November 2009

More muddy adventures.

The weather has been pretty abysmal here in Cornwall over the last few weeks but by Friday it culminated in torrential rain and storm-force winds. Yeah yeah, I know that the weather has been miserable everywhere, but I demand my money back. When we moved to Cornwall we were under the impression that we would have lovely weather all year long. Pfft! How wrong could one girl who is always right be? Living so close to the ocean we get the harshest winds and the wettest rain too - I kid you not - we have wet rain! ;-) Within minutes of a downpour you are soaked right through to your knickers! Anyway, that's enough of my weather woes, for more on the South West's weather see our local BBC weather reporter - creepy David.

As you can imagine the recent weather has left everywhere very soggy and there is plenty of mud and lots of localised flooding. Hehehe... Yay! All this makes for a good ride on the local singletrack. So, yesterday, I decided to don my wet weather gear and take myself off on my Cindercone and ride through as much mud as I could find. It was great fun but exhausting, so after just a few miles I opted for the easier option and took to the marginally dryer farm-tracks and country lanes. I had a jolly nice time and saw tonnes of wildlife including the ubiquitous bunnies, a cliche Robin on a spade handle and a spectacularly huge Buzzard, sat only 1ometres away from me on a low fence post. Irritatingly, I do not have any photos of it, as by the time I'd got my phone out it had decided enough was enough and had taken off over my head. I then found myself a temporary trail hound when a local dog decided to follow me for 200 metres. After a while I decided I best send it back, but as I motioned for it to go home it took great offence and started barking at me, like a scorned teenager .

Anyway, I managed to get in a fair few miles without breaking a sweat but headed home before the night drew in. Also my gears started to play silly beggars by ghost shifting, which was quite annoying.

This morning, after a quick fettle and a new gear cable I was ready for the off, as I'd promised to ride off-road with Mikey. Unfortunately I'd forgotten to tell my legs that they too needed to be ready. They were empty and despite trying to ignore them by frolicking through loads of puddles and mud I struggled. Despite the pain I was enjoying myself but then the first climb broke me completely and I hit a mental block. I was angry with my lungs! I was angry with my legs! I was angry with the nasty head wind that was taunting me. All I wanted to do was go home... but there were more evil hills between me and my sofa. Argh! We slowed the pace and somehow I mustered up the energy to get through the last bit of singletrack and up the chattery rock-strewn hills. Phewph! I made it. Mmm... and how I celebrated with a nice piece of cake and a hot cuppa.

Don't get me wrong, overall I did enjoy the ride; there's nothing I love more than splashing through puddles and sloshing through mud... but today I was spent! I just wish I'd had the legs for it as it coulda been great!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Mud, mud, glorious VeloCake!

Recently, I have been predominantly riding my hybrid, in the hope that the mudguards keep me slightly cleaner and drier, but at the beginning of the month I ventured out on my MTB with Mikey. We had decided sloshing through puddles would be marginally easier than facing the strong winds blowing off the ocean, as we could tuck in behind trees and shrubs on the local singletrack. It was great! I don’t think I have ever seen such deep mud – it was quite something (knee deep in places). I wouldn’t have been surprised if we had stumbled across a hippo wallowing in it. We returned home filthy and it took quite some time to clean and dry out my beloved white Adidas shelltoes!

(I really need to invest in some cycling shoes, but I am in quandary, as I don't know if I should finally throw caution to the wind and get some clipless ones. I know all the benefits of clipless pedals, but I keep pondering if a leisure rider like myself really needs them? I have only just regained my cycling ability… and I’m guessing these would set my confidence back again. Saying that it would be great not to have my shins covered in bruises from evil heavy pedals. Hmm… yet another decision that I need to make.)

Talking of mud, there was plenty of it, during the last Team VeloCake race outing (see for a full race review). Thankfully Mikey insisted I took my wellies. I may have looked and felt like an inbred yokel but I remained mud-free and had dry feet – unlike fellow VC supporter, Alan, who killed a perfectly nice pair of white adidas (it really isn’t a good month to be a white pair of Adidas).

The VeloCakeFest proved to be a great weekend of frivolity despite the irratic weather. It was really ace showing Simon some of the local sights. He even got to see the choas that is Mikey's work and take part in our Saturday tradition of "pizza night". More importantly, we took him to our local beach and VeloCaker's fave beach café and sample their cakey delights. He seemed to enjoy the beach/café trip despite the picnic-table parasol violently collapsing on top of our heads, under the weight of the wind & rain! I just hope that the awful weather doesn't put him off another visit!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Another new month... Another new hope...

Woop woop! My cycling momentum is continuing and I am already well on my way to meeting this months target. The last few weeks have been great and have involved lots of cycling. Last week I took a ride into Penzance to meet Mikey at work for his lunch. It involved riding down the notoriously windy coast path – but thankfully, despite a strong headwind the weather didn’t compare to the last time I attempted it and I managed to get to my destination without any problems. When I got there Michael treated us to a tray of chips to share and we sat on the harbour watching the little boats bobbing along before I cycled home. It was lovely!

As Mikey now doesn’t get home until past dark I am doing more lone rides during my days off. It has actually suprised me as I am really enjoying them and loving the freedom and sense of adventure you get when riding alone - It's great not always having to worry about holding anyone up or wondering what route they would prefer.

This month, I have also been on my first night-time ride since my "rediscovery". It wasn't a planned nightride - just a badly timed ride! I had gone out by myself for a quick spin at about 4pm and lost track of time. Thankfully, I had gone out on my hybrid so I had some lights, but unfortunately, I found that my lovely front dynamo light – which makes me highly visible to traffic gives little road illumination. Consequently, I had to make a number of comical emergency stops/skids to avoid dogs, walkers and wildlife. It all added to the fun, but when I have some extra money I will definately invest in a brighter and better front light. Mmmm, I’d love a Busch and Muller Cyo... hey, a girl can dream can’t she? 'Suppose I could always ask Father Christmas for one but until then I will just limit my riding to daytime or dusk.