Friday, 31 December 2010

Resolutions

As well as riding more, I intend to blog more - as I know I have been slacking these last few months.

In the mean time, I wish everyone a Happy New Year.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

December Summary

December has been an odd month. First there was the snow and ice. Ironically we probably had less than the rest of the country but unfortunately Cornwall council is completely unable to cope with even the smallest of flurries. The roads were  untreated and treacherous so a few rides had to be done indoors on the turbo-trainer.

Thankfully the snow and ice soon went and I was able to get back out on the bike.  Trouble was the wind was fierce and icy.  On a number of rides I actually started wheezing - which is something that I haven't done in ages. I'd almost forgotten I was asthmatic. Anyway, I am now back on my inhalers just to keep my lungs functioning fully during the cold weather.

Just before the Christmas it was looking like I may not quite meet my readjusted yearly target of 2200 miles as I was still quite a way off (88miles), but with 5 full days off with Mikey all was not lost. We just needed some tolerable weather.

Christmas day came and we took a morning bicycle ride. We didn't make it to the beach this year as the roads were somewhat icy and I didn't fancy attempting the steep icy descent to the sea, so instead we managed a wee pootle along some local roads. It was cold but there was little wind and the traffic was pretty much non-existent. What a lovely way to start a Christmas day. Obviously this was followed by a few drinks at the local and then crimbo dinner at me Ma's.

The next few rides were much harder. The wind was back with a vengeance - over 30mph. Again I got home somewhat battered and asthmatic but pleased - I was still on target... only 34miles left to do.

Bank holiday Tuesday was a little less windy and the sun was warm(ish) so we decided to take a longer ride out. We headed towards Penzance and onto Mousehole (pronounced Mou-zel.) On arriving in Mousehole we grabbed a cuppa and a piece of Millionaires shortbread and sat looking at the harbour and the famous(?) Xmas lights. On the way home I was surprised that my legs still felt OK. (it's been a while since doing anything much more than 10miles a ride). Sadly the moment we got back into our village my legs bonked and I was barely able to get myself up the hill. I made it home with 19miles on the clock.

My legs were exhausted and I doubted that I could get back on my bike today (my last day off work) but after encouragement from Mikey I got back on my bike to do the last 15 miles. Unsurprisingly, I was slower than usual.  I arrived home with 14.2miles on the clock. Grrrr. I was just shy of my target and had to force myself to do 0.8mile on the turbo.

So that's it. I reached my goal. I have done 2200miles in 2010. Which is a whole 1000 miles more than I set myself back in January. I am a happy yet tired little cyclist.

Hope that you all have a great New Years Eve and all the best for 2011.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Turn around Brightttttttttttt liiiiiights

With the recent weather I've been unable to ride as much as I'd have liked but as I got a lovely set of wee Exposure lights I thought it was about time to put them to good use. Since my "rediscovery" my experience of riding in the dark has been limited apart from two brief (5mile) night rides with Mikey so I wasn't overly confident about striding out alone on the local unlit roads.

However, as my mileage was starting to slump I realised that I just had to grit my teeth and get pedalling, so much to Mikeys surprise he got a text message to say that I would meet him after work. Eek! That was it. There was now no going back so donned in my entire winter wardrobe (it was a tad cold) I set out on my adventure.

I was surprised at how much I immediately enjoyed the sense of solitude you get from riding in the dark. It was invigorating yet weirdly tranquil. That was until I suddenly found myself less than a metre away from hitting a pedestrian. Unfortunately, although really bright and adequate, the front light doesn't allow me to see a long way ahead on completely unlit roads and some stupid youth in dark clothing was walking down the wrong side of the unlit road. Grrr. Did his mother never teach him how to walk down county roads where there are no pavements? If I hadn't seen a flash of white from his trainers at the last minute I would have probably hit him. Freakin' imbecile!

Other than that, it was a lovely experience.  My rear light was obviously doing the trick as overtaking cars were giving me a very wide berth. Additionally, the front lights were making me highly visible.  It was really quite odd as most of the cars coming out of side streets actually gave me time to pass instead of impatiently jumping in ahead of me. (They must have presumed that I was a motorbike/scooter). I was pleasantly shocked by the courtesy of most of the motorists.


The sense of solitude though was slightly problematic. It gave me the false sense of being all alone in the world so instead of the usual singing in my head I found myself singing out loud. Loudly! Wouldn't have been so bad if I was singing something cool, but NO; the only thing that kept going through my head and popping out of mouth was a little adaptation/mash up of Bonnie Tylers Total Eclipse of the heart and Petula Clark's Down Town. "Turn around Brightttttttttttt liiiiiights"

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Brrrrrr-illiant!

This week has been pretty miserable - weatherwise - and despite my new winter wardrobe there have been days that it has been just too cold to ride. Yes, I know that it's colder back home in Mcr, but even by Cornish standards its blinkin' freezin'. Just can't imagine what it would have been without my new winter wardrobe. Brrrr! 

On Wednesday it was so awful that we had to cut a ride short as the torrential sleet and hail was just too painful so I had to complete the ride indoors on Ted in the dining room. (Hehehe! He is now fixed to the trainer and will remain there during the winter months. Which is really just an excuse to keep him indoors and stop him from getting damp and rusty in the garage - shhhh... don't tell Mikey!)

My paste-y white knees and Ted staying warm & dry.
Anyway, despite the miserable weather I've somehow managed to ride just over 40miles this week. Which I'm pretty chuffed about as it has taken me over my 2000th mile this year. I'm so chuffed! This time last year I could only dream that I would have achieved so much in this time.

Not content with hitting 2000miles I have now set myself a challenge to make it to 2200miles before the years out - which would be a whole 1000miles over my original target.

(Keep your fingers crossed for me as last time I set myself an extra little challenge like this I was close to failing and it took its toll on my motivation.   I'll just have to keep reminding myself of how great it will feel to achieve it!  And please...  if I start to flag, just remind me that the VeloCake cyclogs team needs me. ROFL!)

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Bicycling Birthday Bonanza

After a sleepless night due to noisy neighbours, I was not really in the mood to celebrate my birthday today, but after a cuppa and a bowl of Cheerios I started to feel human again and things began to look brighter as I started to open my pressies.

Mikey has extremely spoilt me this year and presented me with an array of amazing gifts, including a super pair of winter cycling boots which I have been desperate for since the summer turned to autumn/winter.  In his generosity he bought me some Shimano GoreTex boots.  I've been after winter shoes for a while now, but there doesn't seem to be much of a market for them in Cornwall... there's some school of thought here that overshoes are much better.  Anyway, after wearing the new boots on a cycling jaunt for cake at the beach this afternoon I definitely disagree.  They are the future for Cornish riders. I was warm and toasty despite the cold sea breeze.




Not content with spoiling me once I was amazed to also receive a set of much needed bicycle lights.  Not just any old lights though, he treated me to a set of rechargeable Exposure Flash and Flare lights.  So, after an early(ish) evening meal at our fave local Indian we decided to wrap up in our thermals and take our 2nd ride for the day to take the new lights for a test ride. It was the perfect ending to a super day.  Despite the cold temp it was still and the moon was bright. Living in such a rural area there are few streetlights so it gave them a good road-test.  They may look small but looks are deceptive.... they give out a huge amount of light and made me highly visible from a long distance. I'd highly recommend them.

Other fantastic pressies included a new waterproof jacket from my Mum and some super toasty Merino arm warmers from my Auntie and also some other merino goodies and tonnes of chocolate.

I can't believe how lucky and spoilt I have been and what an ace birthday I've had. Everything has been perfect, possibly the best birthday EVER. (Apart from one awful moment when a small bird flew straight into my head as I raced down a narrow hill, managing to get itself stuck momentarily in my helmet. Thankfully it didn't come to any harm, I think we were both a little shell shocked)

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Another unispired week

Yet again I have lacked the motivation to get out on my bike much in the last few weeks.

I am hoping that I will get out of this slump soon... i'm just so uninspired by the miserable weather.

Cornwall is pretty wet at the moment.
Unfortunately, my cycling wardrobe is still quite limited. Some of the winter clothes that I had last year (ie, 3/4 shorts and full length tights) are too big now, so are pretty uncomfortable. (Hehehe, not that I am complaining abut loosing weight!) Also my shoes are summer shoes so within moments my feet are like very soggy icicles. I just hope that the birthday and Christmas fairy will hear my plea... and whilst they're at it, I need a new waterproof jacket too. ;-)

The darker evenings are also taking their toll on my mileage as I do not have any adequate lights so I can no longer ride into Penzance to meet Mikey from work - without which I loose 20miles from my goal.


If all that wasn't enough to zap my motivation, the lack of a cycling buddy is really getting me down. With the darker evenings (& lack of lights) meaning I can't ride with Mikey and the cross season in full swing which encroaches on the only day off we share, I am forced to make any ride I do alone. :-( I can't even drag my Mum out for a pootle as she is still unwell. Any one got any ideas of how I can find me a biking buddy?


Ah well, hopefully my birthday this weekend will see me in a brighter mood and hopefully make better prepared for the nasty weather/darker evenings and help me get out of this slump. Even better still we have both got the weekend off so we can spend some time on our bikes together.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

A very lazy week

For only the second time this year it looks like I've failed my weekly target and unfortunately this time it isn't due to illness but pure unadulterated lazy-itis

It's pretty shocking really as it is the first time since my bicycle rediscovery that I've been unable to muster up any motivation. Until now, I have been itching to ride most days and even on those days that I couldn't due to illness or family commitments etc, I soon started climbing the walls in desperation.

Can't really pinpoint what has subdued my enthusiasm, but its probably a culmination of stuff.  Firstly there was Cheshire rides. As my last post said, the 1st one was fun but the 2nd was rubbish and I had to force myself to continue even though I wasn't enjoying it.  It was such a shame really as I had been looking forward to them for so long and then was really disappointed.  Sadly the even rubbisher local ride on our return left me even more empty and uninspired.

So I treated myself to a few days off. I intended to get back on my bike within a few days but it never seemed to happen.  Basically I couldn't be bothered; I was tired and exhausted. Work has been rather stressful recently with the boss cutting my hours down to 3days a week, but leaving me to do the same work load.   (Thankfully at the beginning of the week I was informed that my hours could go back to 5days a week as they realised that I was too valuable! Phewph!)  Then there's the worry about my Mum, she tells me not to as she says she is OK, but its hard not to worry when we still don't know whats causing her to frequently collapse/faint. 

As if all that wasn't enough to unmotivate me, there's also the nasty weather and darker evenings playing their role in stopping me from riding - I can no longer ride into Penzance to meet Michael from work as I don't have any adequate lights yet.

As a result, I have done very little mileage this week, apart from when I forced myself to put Ted onto the Turbo and did 13 miles. We also planned to do a nice little off-road ride today, but now I'm unsure if that is going to happen as Mikey appears to have been kidnapped by one of the locals and is currently off building his new bike.

Watch this space to see if I failed to do my meager 25mile weekly target....

Saturday, 30 October 2010

The grass is always greener...

Not really had time to blog much; life has been busy busy. But I thought I'd take a moment to reflect upon the last few rides.

I was really looking forward to doing a few flat miles during our recent visit to Cheshire and the first ride didn't let me down. We met an old friend and spent an hour meandering along the Middlewood way bridle path. Last time I did this ride (possibly in 2005) I didn't really enjoy it - I found the flat miles and need for constant pedalling mundane and painful. But this time I enjoyed it. Actually, I wasn't that surprised as it made a nice change to all the uppy-downy-ness of the Cornish roads.  Anyway, I was really pleased when we got to the end of the ride and I discovered we had done 16.5miles very easily and quickly and my legs were still feeling strong.

I went to bed feeling positive and looking forward to another flat ride. Unfortunately the Northern weather had other plans. Torrential rain! Eek! My cycling wardrobe consists solely of one waterproof item (a coat). At least my top half would be dry. Sadly, within minutes my feet and legs were quickly saturated and very very cold. My toes felt like icicles. Ah, whats the worst that could happen? We continued. Ouch! Every few seconds I seemed to hit a pothole (disguised by deep puddles) I was no longer enjoying this, every bit of me was icy cold.  The only enjoyable bit was that there were lots of sheep to talk to (We don't get many sheep in Cornwall).  With a grimace on my face we continued. The flat miles that I have long dreamed of, were nothing but monotonous and uncomfortable. On each pedal stroke I yearned for a slight climb so that I could free-wheel back down. No such luck! Ah well, we'd soon be back to lumpy-bumpy Cornwall.

On our return to the West Country, after sitting in the car for far too long we went for a quick pootle around the local lanes. Unsurprisingly, in that 10 mile spin we did more climbing and descending than we had done in the 30+ Cheshire miles. ROFL.... despite the recent experience, it didn't take me long to start wishing that we lived somewhere flatter.... Hmmm... the grass is always greener.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Paddy's first 50 miles

So, its been a week since Paddy arrived and yesterday he hit the 50mile mark.

The very first ride was a short but sweet 2.5mile "shake-down" ride.  It felt a little odd taking the bike out for the first ride all alone, but I just couldn't wait until Mikey got home. So off I went. He rode like a dream, his skinnier tyres felt ace - and a lot less scary than I thought they'd be. We'd practically set him up perfectly as very few adjustments were needed.  The only minor issue was that the brand new SPDs were much tighter than I am used to - I've only ever used Mikeys well worn hand-me-downs. Consequently, there were a few comical moments at junctions, when I forgot I couldn't get my feet out as quickly.

The only other issue wasn't so much as a bike problem but a "Katie problem". Whilst fitting the mudguards, Mikey advised me to be careful when cornering so not to let my feet hit the mudguard. I laughed - telling him that I'm not that stupid.  However, no sooner as I got to the first corner his words of wisdom popped into my head and I instantly panicked. Argh! I instantly became paranoid! Noooo! I was all over the place. Cursing, I carried on, promptly pushing these concerns out of my head, navigating around numerous corners without batting an eyelid. Eeeek! That is until it re-popped into my head.... again, it psyched me out and I wobbled through the corner.

Despite these insecurities, that first short ride was generally successful, so I decided that I would follow it with a ride into Penzance to meet Mikey from work. For the first time in ages Marazion was quiet - where had all the tourists gone? It wasn't until I turned onto the sea front that I realised why there were no tourists, the wind was really strong and horrendous (Hahaha! In all my excitement thinking how great Paddy was to ride I hadn't realised that the wind had been in my favour. It wasn't just the skinny tires making me fast.) Eek! Hang on... where had the beach gone. I've never seen such a high tide. The waves were crashing over the coast path. I contemplated taking the by-pass, but as I've never done it, I didn't fancy making my debut during rush hour.

So the coast path it was! I was surprised how easily I managed over the loose terrain of the coast path with these skinnier tyres. Thankfully, the high tide had its advantages - there were very few tourists or dog walkers. I am a dog lover, but the majority of dog walkers along this stretch have no control over their hounds and on every ride there is the sound of me skidding to avoid a collision. The down side of the high tide was the fact that by the time I got there I was saturated - as the crashing waves breached the sea wall and I was showered in salt water. Ah well, good news was that without having any time to worry about it, I had also quickly learnt to navigate over slippy concrete.

The ride home was hard work - going straight into a head wind, but it was great fun. The excitement of the new bike was overwhelming.

Saturday was far too windy to ride so I saved myself for a ride on Sunday with Mikey. This ride was again super but ... Ouch! It wasn't until this 17mile ride that I realised just how uncomfortable Paddy's saddle was. It was like sitting on a plank of wood. (Hmmm, I guess this is what happens if you get a mid range bike... oh no, maybe not, the same saddle comes on some of Treks WSD Madones.)  I quickly ordered a 2nd hand Fi'zi:k saddle from e-bay.

On Monday I rode into Penzance again to meet Michael. I was very reluctant as I really couldn't face getting back on that saddle (and didn't have time to faff about and swap saddles over). So begrudgingly I set off. I soon wished that I hadn't bothered - before I'd even left our village there had been two close calls with ignorant drivers. In Marazion a postman - not once but twice - swung out (from being parked on double yellows) into the road, narrowly avoiding hitting me.  But worst of all, Paddy's gears were jumping - the cable had obviously stretched and despite two attempts at road side adjustments I failed, so had to ride all the way into Penzance in the smallest gear.  To add to my frustrations, the tourists and dog walkers were back in their masses!

Thankfully, Monday had just been a blip and on Wednesday I had a super ride with Michael and Paddy hit the 50mile mark.

Yay and today the postman bought a nice parcel.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Another new bike

Yesterday saw the arrival of my new winter bike.

As regular readers know, since my rediscovery I quickly outgrew my trusty hybrid bicycle and at the beginning of the year I upgraded by buying Ted - a Yeti CycloCross bike - who is my pride and joy.  

However, Ted has no mudguard eyelets so he isn't really the most practical option for the winter months, plus after seeing the increased wear and tear of riding in bad conditions I've realised I have to put Ted into semi-hibernation.

Thankfully I kept the hybrid, knowing that I still needed a bike with all the winter necessities – lights, mud-guards, etc - but after recently riding it again (and struggling) it was apparent I'd completely outgrown him. It just felt wrong riding in the sit up and beg position after riding for months on drop bars.  As for the weight difference... oh my... I just knew that if I had to go back to riding him through the winter my motivation would falter.

So yet again, I needed a new bike, this time a winter bike!

Remember my judgementalism for mass produced bikes. Back in January, I couldn't bring myself to get an adequate (but in my eyes soul-less) bike - I had ridiculous standards. Well thankfully this time all that was put aside for this bike purchase, as after all, I already have my dream bike.

So, after much contemplation and with advice from Mikey, I finally decided on a Trek Lexa S, which arrived yesterday.

So let me introduce Paddy.

Peppermint Paddy

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

The big two oh!

Usually my weekly mileage consists of 4 rides of 10-12 miles per ride. Sounds pathetic, when I think about what many of you ride, but for me this is quite an achievement as these are pretty hilly miles. From leaving our front door - there is no time to warm up the legs - there are climbs in every direction and once out of the village the climbing continues. (I guess this is the downside of living just a tad higher than sea level!)

So I ride 10-12 hilly miles pretty comfortably.  Every so often I venture further afield to try and increase my mileage to 15 but sadly this always involves more climbing which zaps every last bit of energy, often leaving me battling to ride home. Anyway after a lack of riding last week, I decided to push myself that little bit further on Sunday and after mixing things up a little and taking different roads, I pushed myself to do 20 hilly miles.

I know I did more than this when completing the Audax, but this time things were a little different as my average mileage remained at 12mph and didn't involve any stopping to catch my breath half way up hills. In fact there was only one main stop on the 19th mile to say Hi to my Mum and 2 momentary stops to say Hi to some horses.

I bet if we lived somewhere a little flatter my mileage would be much better.  I can't wait till our trip up North at the end of the month as I look forward to some flatter riding! ;-)

Thursday, 30 September 2010

September Stats

September hasn't been the best for mileage but I have to consider that this month has been much busier than others.  Firstly, there was the continuing car crisis, then plumbing problems, followed by decorating dilemmas and even a traumatic trip to hospital; after my Mum was rushed off in an ambulance. (Don't panic! She's home now.)

Consequently, my total monthly mileage has suffered and it is considerably worse than the last few monthly totals, but at 190.8miles I cant be too down-hearted as it is still well over double that of this time last year.

So, I won't despair too much as at least I am still getting out there and riding when time permits and most of my rides have been good, if not a little wet and windy.

Frustratingly, that pesky ocean wind has picked up, making even the easiest of rides feel like hard work.  On Tuesday, after cancelling Mondays ride due to torrential rain, I decided to venture into Penzance despite another downpour. It was shockingly hard work! The wind was hurtling straight off the ocean in what seemed like every direction - as well as struggling into a headwind I was also being tossed from side to side and it was tough trying to keep upright. It was a painful ride but no sooner as I had reached Penzance I was pedalling homewards - it was too wet to stop, plus I didn't have any lights and the miserable grey sky was getting darker. Despite the change in direction the wind continued to be fierce and there was no respite. How could I still not have a tailwind?

Like most of the recent rides, by the time I got home I was soaked, covered in mud (and sand) and exhausted. Plus Ted was feeling a little worse for wear with a new creak and a wonky wheel. Oh *sigh* if only I had a winter bike. Ted deserves better than this!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

The Darker side of CycloCross

Last night saw the first of of the South West's flood lit cyclocross races. I was excited about it. It sounded ace!  Elvis was gonna be there handing out goodies. There was even gonna be a live band. A super cross race!

It was quite exciting, as it was all in the same place as some MTB racing, there were food tents and loadsa sponsors stalls. The crowds were much bigger than usual - lotsa MTBers joining in the fun after their events earlier on in the day. 

After the long drive to Plymouth, I was ecstatic to find a row of immaculately  clean portaloo's. ooOoo This really was gonna be super!

Oops. Or not! We bumped into a friend of Michael's who I met in Newcastleton. Back then, on the number of occasions we saw her, despite me being stood/sat with Michael she didn't acknowledge me or my attempts to say hello. (Can you believe she even ignored me after she plonked herself down at our table one evening when we were eating a meal in a pub.) Back then, I thought it was rude but let it go.  But was far from amused when last night she hugged Mikey and despite me saying Hello, she didn't even look in my direction. Grrr...

Anyway, it was now time for Mikeys warm up lap. Wish I'd had a bike with me I coulda done with some warming up, the sun was starting to set and the air was bitterly cold. Brr... despite a merino base layer, micro fleece and windproof jacket I was cold. By the time Mikey had finished his practice/warm up laps I couldn't feel my toes or nose.

Come on race. I needed some excitement to take my mind off the cold. Lets get this thing started!

Unfortunately, by the time the race started the sun had gone in completely and it was impossible to see who was who in the large bunch of riders. All I could see was silhouettes behind dazzling bright white front lights. Trying to take photo's was tricky because the riders were so fast and the camera was taking too long trying to do light readings, etc, so by the time the shutter had clicked the rider had been and gone.

Race organisers had suggested spectators bring along cow bells, on the first lap as the bunch started I dingled the bell only to be glared at by some people stood near to me, who grumbled that it was upsetting their baby. Who brings a baby to a night race anyway?  I shuffled away. Ah well never mind, there was still "Hup Hup Hupping" and "Allez Allez Allezing" to be done. Or maybe not; every time I uttered any words of encouragement to the riders, nearby spectators would mutter to one another whilst giving me odd looks. I moved through the crowds. *Sigh* This was gonna be a long night. I was cold, lonely, unable to get any decent shots and unable to ring my bell. The only few seconds of excitement were when Mikey momentarily came into view.  Bless, he looked super pumped and like he was having a blast.  I tried to utter words of encouragement through chattering teeth and give him a beaming smile as he passed and thankfully he was oblivious to my suffering.

Such a shame I didn't enjoy the event, it had great potential. Maybe next time I will take more clothing and a friend for company.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Dreaming of a winter wonder-bike.

Once again, I've not posted much on here recently - again its because I've not got much of interest to say.  Like last month most of my rides have been fun but uneventful; mainly just a hard slog though gale force winds. Autumn is definitely here!

Last month I was under the impression that I was pretty much prepared for cycling through the cooler / wetter months.  However, after riding my hybrid for work, I came to a scary conclusion, that I need more than just waterproof shoes - I need a new bike!  I can hear the HUGE sigh coming from my Mum's house on the other side of the village as I type this, but I really need to invest in a winter bike.  I had intended to just dig out the hybrid for the winter months, but the work ride, highlighted just how much I have outgrown it. He has his obvious uses; such as mudguards and lights, but he is so heavy and the sit-up-and-beg position makes for a hard ride in windy conditions - as riding with a straight back isn't very streamlined.

More importantly, I don't wanna ruin Ted and give him a battering during the winter months. Aye, I know that he is a cyclo-cross bike and he loves to ride through mud, etc, but as he doesn't (and can't) have any (decent) mudguards and as I don't have an endless winter cycling wardrobe, I really need something to make the wet weather more tolerable.  I fear that if I have to keep struggling to ride my hybrid through the winter I will lose motivation and maybe stop riding; ruining all the progresson I have made. 

So now, I'm having to seriously think about getting a winter bike. Unfortunately, with the peanuts I earn I can't afford much, but as per usual my ridiculous bike standards come into play and I can't make myself consider getting a cheap and cheerful bike just to see me through the winter.  I've seen a Kona Jake that I really like, but even though its an old model, its still out of budget.  I've looked at alternative and cheaper options but then keep asking myself why not spend the extra money to get something I like. Argh! How can a simple girl, who has no interest in fashion or keeping up with trends have such a particular taste when it comes to bikes. Why cant I just go out and buy myself a cheap and cheerful bike? I guess, when I see something I like, I struggle get it out of my head.    Someone please talk some sense into me!!!

(BTW for those of you wondering, my road bike dream has been put aside - at least until winter has passed which gives me time to save.)

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

A vampire on a bike.

Some of you know, some of you don't, but I am a vampire by trade. That is, I spend my day collecting blood samples from housebound patients. Unfortunately, this weekend our car broke down which had catastrophic implications for work.  Living in such a rural and large community,  I cover many miles a day, driving between patients.

After a few phone calls to my manager and colleagues, I suggested that I do my rounds by bike.   My manager wasn't keen on the idea of me riding around with all those sharps on my back... Health and safety regulations! So it was agreed, that I would just use my bike to get to the nearest surgery and then go by foot. Obviously, this meant I couldn't see everyone on my caseload so half of my patients had to be reallocated and I just kept a few.

Basil was prepped and my work equipment was stripped down to the bare essentials; squeezing everything into a pannier and rucksack

I set off this morning a little apprehensive but in high spirits, this was gonna be an interesting day.  My first port of call was the surgery, just over a mile away, to pick up my work.  I decided to start at my furthest away patient and realised that it would take me a good hour or so by foot, so I hopped back on the bike; it would be quicker and I'd organised my bag well; putting all the sharps in secure boxes in the pannier, not on my back.  So off I pottered.  Much slower than usual due to the weight of the bike and my bags. It was so odd riding with such a heavy load.  Plus, I was struggling with the flat pedals, it was a nightmare - my feet were all over the place.  Irritatingly, I was also struggling with my trouser legs, which kept getting caught up -  improvised trouser clips were made.

Up and down a number of hills and bumpy farm tracks to see my first victim. On my arrival, they were shocked to see me, as they had an appointment at the surgery for the blood test this afternoon. Grrr! What a waste of all that effort (over 20mins riding to get here). Ah, well ... the journey was very pretty.  The patient allowed me to take the blood as I was there anyway!  Back to the surgery to drop off the sample, arriving a whole hour after I left. I was shocked it had taken so long, imagine if I'd have been on foot!

A small selection of what I had to carry with me on my bike.
Then I was on to my next victim, thankfully this was a much shorter journey.  Back to the surgery to drop off the sample (I was worried about carrying the samples for longer than necessary, just in case the worst were to happen). Then to my next patient. This involved going through a very busy town centre (What should have been a 5 minute ride, was about 15.) Blood obtained and then a tough ride back to the surgery - up a steep narrow hill plagued by tourists that were having too much fun to consider the green cross code.

On my return to the surgery I realised that I had finished! 3 patients in 3 hours and 12.5 miles on the clock! (Oops, normally I can do 3patients in an hour) Thankfully, my colleagues had done all the other bloods between them, so now I could either do the 15mile round trip to the office or take some time owing back. I opted for taking some time back so after speaking to my manager, I finished a few hours earlier.

Although, I had quite the little adventure, loved riding my bike, and despite it's environmental advantages, I don't think I want to do that again anytime soon. It was too much like hard work!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Still riding.

There has been a lack of posts on here recently; mainly due to just getting on and riding at every opportunity.  Most of the rides have been uneventful and a hard slog though heavy rain and gale force winds. I guess there goes the summer! :-( Gonna have to think about investing in some waterproof cycling shoes earlier than expected.

Thankfully, despite a busier than usual schedule, I have still been doing a fair mileage and apart from Teds tyres starting to wear down, he still rides like a dream.  Gary (my CinderCone) has also taken me on a number of adventures down the local singletrack. I was horrified to discover though (after a friend pointed it out) he lacked a VeloCake sticker.

In other news, after hinting at Mikey for weeks, I finally own a pair of polka dot socks, so now Super Ted and Spotty are together again. ;-)

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

A belated blog about Mullertons Birthday Rides

The start of the month was Mikey's birthday which obviously involved a number bike rides.  The evening before his birthday involved a short but sweet ride to the beach (a mere mile and a half each way) for a pre-birthday game of boules and Frisbee. With a couple of bottles of beer in the pannier we then picked up a Chinese on the way and munched it whilst sitting on the surprisingly quiet sand. It was Ted's (the Cross Bike) first trip to the beach, so whilst there I decided to have a go at a moving dismount (in preparation for my CX debut).  I failed miserably and after a few unsuccessful attempts and hard bashes to my legs, I bottled it.  Was a great night though. Loved the boules (I won). On our way home, we stopped at a pub for a quick drink.



Talking of pubs, at some point at the around that time, there was also a short ride one evening to another local pub.  It was a wet evening though so out came Basil (my Hybrid) with his useful dynamo lights and mudguards and out came the Hi-Vis jacket. The journey was, again, only about a mile away, but on those cold wet unlit country lanes we didn't want to take any chances. It was real odd riding the hybrid again - he is a real sit up and beg bike and the position felt so peculiar.  I woulda been right at home in the Netherlands. =D

The birthday ride itself was also nice. A 15miler road ride along the local lanes, taking a carrot for my fave donkey.  Then a pit stop at a beach cafe for an ice cream.

Saturday, 31 July 2010

My first cycling Anniversary

On August 2nd it will have been a full year since I rediscovered cycling and in that year a lot has happened.  Back then, my goal was to ride 25miles a week and more often than not, I would struggle to reach that in 4 rides. Now, it usually takes just two rides to achieve that mileage (and if I try, and really wanted to, I can do that in one).

So what else has changed in the last 12 months?

Obviously my fitness levels have changed dramatically. This time last year I was incredibly unfit which consequently affected my asthma. The slightest exertion would leave me breathless and wheezy.  I would have to stop and catch my breath every mile or so.  The slightest cold would rapidly turn into a raging chest infection as my lungs were to weak to fight it off.  Things have changed considerably since then and I (stupidly) don’t even take my daily preventative inhaler anymore. (Yes, I know I should, as precaution is better than cure, but I honestly just forget, as I rarely *touchwood* have any symptoms.) Anyway, much to my delight I can now happily ride a fair few miles without the need for stopping to catch my breath.

Another major change is that of my body shape. My general tendency to be really lazy and my insatiable sweet tooth left me overweight, but since then, without changing my diet or giving up the sweet stuff, I have lost at least a stone and visibly shed a few inches of my thighs and tum. I'm looking forward to buying a pair of jeans the next size down - when I can be bothered as I hate clothes shopping.

So now I am a happy lassie indeed.  Colleagues keep telling me that I must be really fit now, but I am the first to admit that No, I am just MUCH fitter and healthier than I was, as I was very unfit. There are still plenty of improvements to be made and I look forward to continuing to develop.

So whats next for my cycling rediscovery? My aim is to continue increasing my mileage with longer rides. Unfortunately, as we live in a very hilly part of the world, upping the ride length will inevitably increase the amount of hills in my ride. Currently I can do about 12 hilly miles comfortably. 

Finally, as you all know, at the start of the year, I treated myself to a sparkly new bike after outgrowing my lovely hybrid and since Ted’s birth he has greatly improved my riding technique and I even made a smooth transition to clipless pedals. Trouble is, now I've seen the impact of having a lighter bike, I want to take things even further and get an even lighter and speedier road bike and watching the Tour de France just exasperated this desire.  Anyone wanna buy me a nice new carbon road bike? Pretty please?

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

My first cycling event

On Sunday I took part in my first cycling event ever.  A 54km Audax!

Who knows what possessed me to do it. When Mikey originally asked me if I wanted to do an audax that his mate Don (a customer from work) was organising I just laughed.  I didn't think much more about it, until Friday evening after a strong ride to and from Penzance.  I started to ask a few questions? Where was it? What roads would it involve?  The start of the route sounded OK - In fact it encompassed a lot of my usual routes. Mikey seemed confident that I would be able to do it! Hmm, whats the worst that could happen?

By Saturday, I was nervous. Mikey was in charge of prepping my bike and getting me organised.  I even got to wear one of his VeloCake shirts for the occasion.

We set off under a grey sky but at least the rain was holding off after yesterdays deluge.  We had just over 3 miles to ride down to the start. When we got there dozens of riders were just setting off for the 100km ride.  There was a VeloCake shirt in the midst of them all.  "Go get 'em Andrew!"  When the last 100km rider had gone, it suddenly became deserted, it looked like there may only be a handful of entrants for the smaller event.

I think there may have been 15 altogether.  When we set off 2 chaps accelerated off the front at quite a fast pace, but me and Mikey sat on the tails of the next riders (3 Tri-athletes - 2 girls and a lad.) They seemed to be setting a very easy pace (8-10mph). I started to feel confident, as although these tri-athletes were very fit, my cycling skills were much smoother.  I was enjoying myself and within a few miles we had caught up with the 2 breakaway riders (without trying).  So far we had encountered a few hills; all of which I knew very well and knew just how much to push myself to get up them.  All was good.

After about 7miles, we reached a nasty hill I have not ridden before. It started off gradual, then became very steep for 100m and then turned back to a long gradual climb.  At the first steep bit I was struggling behind the 2 female tri-athletes, who were attacking the hill really slowly.  I struggled at their slow pace. It was burning. I stopped to give my legs a break and to allow myself space to ride at my own pace. 

As it eased off at the top of the hill we were joined by Andy, who works part time with Mikey and his friend, Martina.  I introduced myself and we had a gossip as we continued to ride.  A little further ahead and another of their friends, Nigel, was waiting for them. Now we were five! (BTW, there was now no sign of the tri-athletes now - they had obviously accelerated off when they realised they had dropped us. Those competitive types, eh?) ;-)

I pretty much managed to stay with our new friends pace until I had the misfortune of riding straight through a stinking decomposing fox carcass. After stopping to rid myself of the Foxes remains I was surprised to find our pals waiting for us.  Unfortunately, I was then dropped on an extremely steep hill. This has to be the steepest hill I have ever seen. There was no way I could do this! We had just climbed to get to this point and there was no way my legs could get me up there too.  I got off my bike! To hell with my usual view of not pushing a bike. This was gonna be tough walking up - never mind cycling! Seriously, I struggled up on foot.  When the hill eased slightly I got back on the saddle and rode, but even still it was one heck of a hill.   Surprisingly again, on arriving at the top our three new pals were waiting for us. What nice folks.

We soon arrived at the midway control point.  A cafe on the top of some cliffs in the stunning surroundings of Gwithian.  Yay only 26km left! I had the nicest piece of cake ever - a large piece of divine chocobanana cake.  Sorry, I was too tired and hungry to think about taking its picture.  I was glad to hear that we hadn't arrived last, there was still a few more to come in and some had possibly already dropped out. Trouble was, I was already well out of my comfort zone. (Apart from the day we rode round Kielder lake, my usual mileage is about 10-15miles/16-24km) and I wasn't actually sure I had anything else left in my legs.

On leaving Gwithian we had a great descent where I reached 36mph but unfortunately a long climb followed and I had to let our pals past me as I struggled up.  On making it to the top we found them waiting for us and we all made our way through Hayle market town and towards St Ives. My legs felt OK on these flatter roads, but it didn't last long as we were soon on the hilly roads of St Ives. Almost immediately, I was dropped. They waited. I caught up and then got dropped on the next hill. And again ... they waited. I caught up and then got dropped again. I was now seriously broken. It was torture!

I couldn't give up. I told Mikey to go ahead and insist that his friends continued without us as the pressure of everything was getting too much, but when I slowly pedalled myself to the top of the hill, they were all there waiting. Don't get me wrong, they were all completely wonderful and supportive, the issue was that I was putting myself under unnecessary pressure to try not to keep them waiting. Thankfully we were now just minutes away from the 3rd checkpoint and after some supportive words and encouragement I felt a little better. They still continued to wait for me when they dropped me on the longer climbs, but now I was calmer as it was their decision to wait.

Thankfully, reaching the 3rd checkpoint had motivated me, now we were on the homeward stretch. Unsurprisingly, the roads continued to be long and draggy climbs and as I dug deep to find any energy, I kept telling myself that under normal circumstances - during a normal ride - I coulda flown up most of them. They were only defeating me as I was tired!

We finally got back to the Control point for tea and more well deserved treats. I was pleased with what I'd done. 54km, is more than double my usual ride mileage!

After more tea and cake and a natter with new friends and old, it was time to get my weary backside back on the saddle and ride the 3.3miles home.  Unfortunately, home was uphill! Somehow, I mustered up every last ounce of energy left in my body (I think a cheeky custard doughnut helped) and I fought my way home.

With a distance of 40.1miles on Ted's computer and an average speed of  11.5 I was a happy - yet very weary - bunny.

I expected to be sore the next day, but shockingly, muscle fatigue wasn't the problem - I was severely sun burnt! Despite the grey skies we set off under and the previous two wet days and a miserable weather forecast; Sunday turned out to be glorious.  Unfortunately, my poor delicate milky skin, which is usually well hidden under jeans and a tee, was burnt to a crisp.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Silly Cat

Since my last post there have been many rides. Some great, some uneventful, some very painful (see next post) and even a couple that have had to be cancelled due to our neighbours cat who keeps insisting on sunbathing in the middle of the road.  This is understandably causing all sorts of chaos on the road and as her family are always "out" the only option is to bring her into our house (despite my allergies) to prevent any major accidents. I shudder to think of what could happen to her.  Our road is the main thouraghfare through the village and is really busy.  It is used by 100's of cars, tractors, lorries, horse riders and cyclists (as we are on the preferred route of Lands End to John O Groats).



Trouble is, now we have done it a few times she keeps inviting herself in. Does she not understand that it is her that is making me sneeze and have itchy eyes. And why does she insist on rubbing herself past my legs.... has she not noticed the huge blotches and hives that appear as she does it?

Silly cat!

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Back on the bike.

After hurting my back at the start of the month, I took five days off the bike. However, despite being kept highly entertained by the Tour de France, it left me frustrated; as I too wanted to ride my bicycle.  By the following Saturday I was climbing the walls! I needed to get out and let off steam after a stressful (and painful) week at work. 

On the Saturday, my Mum wanted to ride, so we decided on a gentle pootle around the local lanes.  Unfortunately, after 7 miles; I decided to call it a day -  I don't know if it was the pain or the monotony of riding the "same old" route.  (We were doing laps around the lanes that I frequently rode when starting my rediscovery and that helped me keep my mileage up through the winter, so now I just find them really tedious.)  I was disappointed, but at least it was the start of the mountain stages in Le Tour that afternoon and there was always Sunday to ride. ;-)

Sunday came around and despite watching the grumpy Aussie inherit the yellow jersey I felt inspired; as Alberto Contador and Daniel Navarro had done a fine job.  So, me and Mikey took a little jaunt out on the bicycles; going further afield and putting another 13 miles under my belt.  My back was still a little sore but I was now happier.  Yeah OK , so I hadn't met my weekly target, but I'd managed over 20 so it wasn't a complete wash out. =D

By Monday my back was feeling much better (the occasional twinge, but not too bad) and I was eager to start the week well and be on track to meet this weeks target. So despite the grey, miserable sky and ghastly wind I headed into Penzance to meet Mikey.  I was soggy by the time I got there (I'm not sure if it was actually raining or if it was all just ocean spray as the tide was in and the waves were crashing next to the coast path). Nonetheless, I was in good spirits as the strong tailwind had got me their faster than usual - Just wish I had looked at my average speed, as half way back over the coast path; now heading into a fierce headwind and barely achieving more than 9mph, my average speed was still over 13mph!  My day got even better, when Evans spectacularly lost the yellow Jersey and when Armstrong had one of the most disastrous rides ever.  Poor chap, I hate to admit it but I really felt sorry for him and I gotta say the fact that he didn't throw his toys out of the pram, gave me some respect for the man.

My next ride was Tuesday afternoon. Mikey had the day off and we went out for a wee ride after watching the exciting TDF stage which saw Schleck and Contador sneek up on the unsuspecting stage leaders! Those boys are good!!  Inspired and in a moment of madness, when seeing a fellow cyclist up in the distance I sprinted after him. Admittedly, on catching him, I felt a bit silly when I realised he was about 30years older than me, but it had been fun challenging myself like that.  LOL!  This racing lark is contagious, I see the pro's do it and think I can do it too.  ;-) ROFL! I've even discussed with Mikey what "road bike" I would like.

I've not ridden since Tuesday afternoon, but there's always tomorrow and the weekend. Anyway, I've got "The Tour" to watch. =D

Monday, 5 July 2010

Shoulda stayed indoors

Yesterday was obviously a bad day for cycling, what with the "Tour" riders having to deal with a loose dog on the course and then the chaos in the last 3km.

As for my ride, it was just as disastrous. After reading an old copy of "What MTB?" I felt inspired to do some of our local singletrack. The weather was grey and miserable and Mikey wasn't overly enthusiastic about riding anywhere, but my eagerness spurred him on to join me.

So off we set. The weather was seriously horrid. It was really wet - but too hot and humid to wear waterproofs. My happy mood quickly changed as I got wetter and wetter. Oddly though, Mikey had now cheered up and he was now the eager one as I dragged my feet.

The dirt tracks that I had been so excited about were trickier than ever. The recent warm weather had dried them out but with this down pour (and the recent winds) the dust had been washed off and there was nothing apart from slippy greasy rocks. After a fair few dodgy moments where I nearly went face first into the ground my confidence had vanished and progress was slow.

I kept telling myself that I was having fun, but just as I managed to convince myself, the first disaster happened. Whilst chattering to Mikey, a huge fly decided to fly right into my mouth hitting me quite forcefully at the back of my throat.  An involuntary gag reflex unfortunately took it further down, which made matters worse and induced vomiting. Yuck! I wasn't best pleased. Ah well, it was only a fly; isn't swallowing flies all part of the joys of cycling? See, I was still convincing myself I was having fun.

Onwards! Grrrrr.... now I had a puncture - a tiny wee hole in the tube caused by one of the many overgrown brambles.  After a slow and mud infused tube change, we were off again.  But not for long. Just 5 minutes later I had another flat on the same wheel. I couldn't believe my luck, I now had an inch long thorn and a very large hole in my tyre. This time, we had to do a quick tube repair.

In another case of misfortune, I then lost Mikey.  He was leading the way and one moment he was infront of me, the next he wasn't.  I just presumed that he had accelerated off down the dirt track and I'd find him at the bottom, but when I got there there was no sign of him.  A few moments later he trundled up behind me. Turns out he had taken a turning off, expecting me to follow, but as I was so focussed on not falling off I had somehow not seen him. Silly me, that'll teach me! ;-)

By now, I was seriously naffed off and soggy wet. I wanted to go home. But on the way back, I had 2nd thoughts - Things weren't too bad, it was only a fly and a couple of punctures - which are all part and parcel of cycling. So what, if the weather was miserable? Doesn't mean I had to be. We decided against going home and took a detour to do a loop of some old fave local haunts. I started to have fun again. Weeeeeeeeeee! This was more like it. I had my Mojo back! Amazingly, at the next junction that could have taken us home, I decided to continue. Wooooppppeeee. I was having fun now. I liked riding my MTB!

Unfortunately, the joy didn't last long before the big disaster of the day. After stopping for a moment to choose a route, we went to set off again. I put one foot on my pedal, then the other, then "snap"... OUCH! My lower back had just gone. The pain was immense (it still is). Not sure what happened, why it happened or what I've done to it. All I know is that it hurts. Worst thing was we were 2 miles from home and I could barely walk. Sitting on the bike was not an option.
 
Who's silly idea was it to ride Mountain Bikes today? (Oh, ;-) that would be me!)  This cycling malarkey is bad for my health; there may be a dramatic improvement in my overall fitness and lungs, but I keep getting silly injuries that I wouldn't of got if I'd stayed indoors watching TV! :-P

Saturday, 3 July 2010

What would Bertie do?

I've had a quiet(ish) week this week, with only two rides so far.

Wednesday afternoons ride was hard (possibly not helped by the very hot sun)! We went on a new route - a ride I've so far avoided due to some long steep climbs.  It didn't surprise me that the biggest hill beat me (I blame the heat though - it was unbearable). But I am happy to say that it didn't completely beat me, there was no need to get off and push; I just needed to stop half way to catch my breath and have a drink.

Thursday's downpour put a stop to any thoughts of riding, so another rest day, leaving me fresh for Friday's ride to meet Mikey from work.  I'd planned on doing an extra few miles before making my way into Penzance, but on the way out of the village I bumped into a neighbour and a quick hello turned into 15 mins of gossip, so I lost my extra 15 mins and had to ride like the wind to get to Penzance on time. Unfortunately riding like the wind was tricky as I was heading straight into a strong headwind. Progress was slow and I was unable to get much faster than 9mph along the coast path.  Usually, I'm early so have time to sit and watch the boats bobbing in the harbour, but as I arrived I could see Mikey heading towards me. No chance for a breather today. 

Homeward bound and the wind was with us. Weeeee! This was more like it, the wind meant we were riding faster than usual. This was fun!  Just over a quarter of the way home and there was a tinkle of a bell from behind us. VeloCaker John, was on our tail.  (As always I suddenly felt like the odd one out as the pair of them were in their VC kit - hurry up Endura, I want my jersey!).

Even when we'd changed direction and the wind was no longer with us, the pace continued to be fast. Eek! Ah well, John normally turns off before we get to the Hill out of Marazion so I'd be able to catch my breath before we set up it.  Oh! Today he was coming up the hill with us.  Could I do it? Could I really get myself all the way up through Marazion without stopping? Its a heck of a hill; the climb starts gradually and then suddenly gets quite steep, then back to a gradual climb, another steep bit and then a real draggy slow climb.  There's practically nowhere for an unfit cyclist like myself to catch their breath without having to stop for a minute.  But I couldn't stop (and embarrass myself) in front of John.  We started up the first steep bit, still riding faster than I normally would.  My legs started to burn. No! I can't stop! I asked myself "What would Alberto Contador do?" We got to the top of the first steep bit and somehow I was managing to hold on to Johns wheel. I'd made it through the worst! But my legs wanted a break. No! I wont stop - that would just be plain embarrassing. 


Surprisingly, half way up John decided to turn off (he was on his MTB and planned to do some off-road miles).  When he had left us, I was SO tempted to stop, I looked ahead of me, there was still a long gradual climb. I stopped pedalling  momentarily before screaming (in my head), WHAT WOULD BERTIE DO? I carried on, at a slower 10mph. My legs were burning, I just wanted to stop my legs spinning for a moment. No! I could do this, the hardest bit was over. This climb paled in comparison.  We were now only 200metres from the top and then I could freewheel down into the village. My legs were very grateful for the recovery time, but my head knew that it was short lived and there was still the final hill in the village up to our house. 

It suddenly dawned on me that I hadn't stopped at all on this journey, apart from the one minute stop in Penzance, I couldn't stop now. I pushed on. We were now near our house, there was just the short off-road climb up our lane to the garage to do. I could do this. DAMN! There were two kids stood in the middle of the narrow lane, blocking my way. I slammed on my brakes and tried to swerve around, but at the same time they changed their position to move out of our way and inadvertently blocked my way for the 2nd time. Cursing under my breath I gave in, my legs were empty, there was no shame in walking the last few yards to the garage door.

Anyway, I'd done it, so thanks Alberto. You helped me beat the hill. Now it's your turn. Win!

Monday, 28 June 2010

1000

Two weeks ago I set myself a little challenge when I realised that I was only 113.5 miles short of  my1000th mile (since January 1st). With 2 full weeks left till the end of the month, could I make it to 1000?  It was only 56.75miles a week; which isn't that much over my recent weekly mileage, but would I be able to do it as achieving 50 is a push.  Hmmm... but now I'd thought about it, I just had to do it - I'd be too disappointed if I didn't at least give it a try. How good would I feel if I achieved 1000miles in 6mths?

So the pressure was on.  Trouble was I was still recovering from the eye infection and riding into strong winds on dusty roads with 100's of kamikazee flies was just aggravating it even more. I needed some sunglasses. It sounds stupid I know, but I don't own a pair of sunglasses. They just don't suit me.  I've tried various styles but they have all looked odd. It's not even a vanity thing - everyone agrees - they look wrong! Anyway, there was no getting away from it, I needed something so I got myself a cheap and cheerful pair of Endura sunglasses.

Week one was eventful.  There were rides a plenty; a number of easy 10milers to meet Mikey from work, some windy 10milers to meet Mikey. There were some hazardous moments including pedestrians not looking before they stepped onto the road.  There were some fantastic successes; making it up hills that have previously defeated me and clearing some technical stuff that has psychologically beaten me in the past. There's been some interesting sights; a sweet donkey, lots of horses and 100's of end-to-enders. By that Sunday I'd achieved 57.2 miles and was chuffed to bits. 

I decided to have a rest day on Monday. My legs needed it.  Unfortunately that evening I received a surprising phone call from my Dad (who I haven't seen in years).  He wanted to visit at the weekend. Eek... That meant I only had 4 days to achieve my goal.  I rode Tues, Weds, Thursday and Friday, but it was horrible. I shouldn't have put this pressure on myself. I couldn't do 56 miles in 4 rides! I was no longer in the mood to ride as I had already been defeated.  I was just forcing myself out and thinking only about the miles not smiles.  By the end of Friday I was still 13miles from my target.

I guess it wasn't as bad as it could have been though, as after after all Sunday wasn't the last day of June (Its just my mile log works from Monday to Sunday so I'd wanted to do by then).  I guess all was not lost! Plus, there was the possibility I could fit in a ride after my dad left on Sunday evening.

To my suprise, Dad left just after lunch, so that gave me a 2nd chance. Trouble was I was exhasusted and found myself asleep on the sofa for an hour or two whilst Mikey watched the Nat Championships on Eurosport.  At 6pm I forced myself to get ready for a ride. I could do it!! I was tired and my legs ached before I had even completed a mile.  My legs were like lead. I started to doubt that I would get the elusive 1000th mile but we continued until Oooops! I had a puncture!

It was OK though, we had a spare tube. Oops, well, it would have been OK, if the spare hadn't had a puncture too.  Opps no... after patching the spare, we found that it had a second hole. Grrrrr this spare was useless..... so it was back to the original tube to patch it.  We were then back on the road. We didn't get much further when I found myself hurtling into a hedge as the repaired tyre deflated. EEK! I wasn't best pleased. The patch hadn't held as it was too close to the valve join. Someone was trying to tell me something - this 1000mile target was trying its best to elude me. I started to push my bike. I'd had enough but Mikey insisted on another repair, so it was back to the holey spare tube.  Thankfully, both patches held and somewhat deflated (in spirit) I finally made it to my 1000th mile.

I'd done it! I was happy, but I couldn't manage a smile. It had been hard work getting here, made even harder by my stupid plan of reaching a silly target that was slightly out of my reach. 

Ahhh, but without that silly plan I wouldn't be able to make the claim that I have riden 1000miles in 6mths. Thats 400miles more than I had planned to do back in January and 1000miles more than I had done this time last year. I am a happy bunny!

Friday, 18 June 2010

Stupid eye!

Grrrr.... if it's not one thing it's another.

My ankle is on the mend and hasn't prevented any more rides since I last blogged but unfortunately, at 5.30am this morning I awoke with a pain in my eye.  Still half asleep I made my way to the bathroom and found that my left eye-lid was swollen. And I mean SWOLLEN! It was huge! If I hadn't have known better I would have thought I'd unsuccessfully attempted a round with Tyson! And before you ask it wasn't Mikey beating me either!  There had been no eye trauma... as far as I was concerned I went to bed as usual; no pain, no problems.

Hmm... Maybe if I went back to sleep, the swelling may have gone by the time the alarm went off.  ooOOoo... maybe it was just a dream! At 7.30 I stirred and tried to open my eyes.  Phewph, I could still see and the pain was minimal compared to earlier.  Ooops NO! In my sleepy state I failed to realise that I had only opened my right eye. I tried to open my left ... OUCH!  My eye had further increased in size. I attempted to open it again. It wouldn't even open half way and the pain was immense when I tried to open it.  I had to keep it shut!

Very unattractive pic showing my swollen eye. 
Only having sight with one eye is quite odd, everything you take for granted like dressing, eating brekkie etc, is quite difficult in monocular vision.  Pouring boiling water for a cuppa was pretty damn scary!

I phoned my Ma, a nurse, who usually tells me I'll be all right. She'd tell me to pull my socks up even if there was blood pumping out of me.  As a child, I stood on a long rusty nail which went straight through my foot (coming out the other side) but she was confident that I would be OK as my Tetanus shots were up to date, so despite the blood and through and through hole, there was no trip to Casualty for me. In my early teens I was hit by a car, which then stopped with its wheel on my foot!  My foot had tyre tracks embedded into the skin, but no Xray department for me.  Both times she was right and I was OK, no lasting damage! 

But this morning I was surprised when she came round to assess my eye and told me to see a Doctor! She rarely tells me to see a Doctor!

I have an appointment for later this morning.  I hope they can perform miracles as I was planning a 15 mile ride today as I have set myself a target which, until today was achievable if I pushed myself a little bit more than usual.

... Damn stupid eye!

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Stupid ankle!

Last weekend, whilst playing P├ętanque (Boules) in the garden, I slightly twisted my ankle. Unfortunately it was the same ankle that was injured over 13 years ago on a "non christian Christian" walk over Dartmoor.  Thankfully, the pain was short lived! That was until yesterday, when I stupidly hurt it again whilst hanging out the washing.  Obviously, the boules incident last week had weakened it and by yesterday evening I was in agony, unable to walk or weight-bear.

So, some of you may be wondering whats all this about a "non christian Christian walk over Dartmoor".  Well that's a long story.  But lucky you, as I currently have nothing better to do - as I'm unable to leave the house and Mikey is at work - I can bore you with it. 

It was September 1997; my first week at University.  I had just moved into University halls.  My nearest neighbours were Christians and they told me about a walk across Dartmoor, organised by the university's chaplaincy as part of Freshers week.  This sounded good - I'd yet to find any cycling groups, so I would go on this walk and enjoy some fresh air whilst keeping my eye out for any MTBers playing on Dartmoor.


The scenery on Dartmoor was spectacular. We hadn't gone very far when in my excitement I forgot to look where I was going and stumbled into into a large hole (probably an entrance to a badgers set). I crumpled to the ground as my ankle caved in.  The pain was horrendous and instantly my ankle had doubled in size.  I couldn't continue! I wasn't even sure I would make it back to the bus. 

To my amazement, despite all the concerned faces, no one was willing to assist me back to the bus. Hang on though...  wasn't I out with a bunch of Christians.... shouldn't they be helping thy neighbour?  They said they wanted to finish their walk, but I know they were just intimidated by me - I think I must have been the first "punk" most of them had seen.  NOTE: I wasn't a punk, but that is what they called me - as I had a half shaved head, with the remaining hair being green and I was wearing a pair of para-boots and had a Cypress Hill skull tee on.

Not one amongst them helped me back to the bus and I had to struggle back alone.  Nor did they drop me off at the hospital on the way back to campus (despite practically passing the hospital on the way). By the time we were back on campus I just wanted to go to bed,  I was in pain, exhausted and fed up! The next day I had to make my own way to the hospital.  I couldn't drive as I couldn't depress the clutch, no-one offered to take me and frustratingly taxi's rarely showed up because campus was so far out of town.  I couldn't even get the bus - as the hospital was only a 15 min walk away and the first bus stop that I came to was actually at the hospital. 

By the time I got there, my ankle was triple the size it should have been. The accident and emergency department was farcical, and after a few hours wait they begrudgingly x-rayed my ankle and finally diagnosed that it probably wasn't broken (they couldn't tell as it was too swollen). Weeks and months went by and the pain became more bearable, but it regularly flared up at the slightest jar/twist.   By now, it was just something I lived with, I compensated by using my other foot more - negotiating every awkward step to make sure I always landed on my other foot first.  After a year, when I was whinging to a GP he stated that I had probably fractured it when on Dartmoor, but now it was too late to do anything.

So there you go, that's it... the tale of how a trip to Dartmoor with a bunch of non-christian Christians has left me with an injury that is currently keeping me from riding my bike! It's a tad frustrating though, as it hasn't caused me any bother in nearly a year, but today it feels as bad as it did back in September 1997.

Friday, 4 June 2010

A month of polar opposites

Despite my earlier concerns that May was going to be a bad month for mileage, it was surprisingly not too bad.

In the 2nd week of May I had my first failure of the year, as my weekly mileage was a measly 10.5.... a long way from my minimum target of 25miles.  I couldn't be too hard on myself though as I was pretty poorly.  The trouble was though, that the following week (when I finally recovered) I couldn't even play catch up as Mikeys family were visiting and understandably they monopolised most of our evenings and weekends.  So, yet again, I fell short of my minimum weekly target - only managing to do two rides totalling 23.5miles.

Things were starting to look bad for my monthly goal...

However, in a quick decision we decided we would HAVE to take our bikes to Scotland (The original plan was not to take them as we had little space in our small car and we didn't want to drive the 1000mile round trip with them on the roof.)

And oh, how I am so glad that we did, as the Scottish rides did wonders to my monthly total adding over 70 miles to my tally.

So, amazingly, in the space of one month, I went from achieving my lowest weekly total (10.5miles), to achieving my highest weekly total (71.8miles) since starting my cycling re-discovery. 

The months final tally was 181.1... which isn't quite as good as last months, but it is still the 2nd highest total of the year so I am a happy bunny!

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Pimping my ride!

Can't remember if I blogged about the last time I rode my Mountain Bike - it was about a month ago and was just a ride along the bike path to meet Mikey in Penzance.  I'm not sure why I decided to ride him (Gary) rather than Ted - there was a reason at the time, but can't remember why now. Anyway it was an awful ride. Gary felt heavy and sluggish, plus I felt very uncomfortable; the position felt wrong, despite lots of en-route adjustments.  It kinda felt like I was on a sit-up-and-beg bike.   For the first time in ages I didn't enjoy the ride.  As I struggled into a strong headwind towards Penzance, it even crossed my mind that I possibly preferred road riding now. It made me feel sick just thinking that, as I have always enjoyed riding off-road and loved mountain biking.

Thankfully watching the MTBers at the 24hr race and then my Scottish cycling experiences (where i'd cried out for suspension and knobbly tires) rekindled my love for mountain bikes and I was desperate to get home and dust Gary off and ride the local single track. 

So on our return to Cornwall a plan was hatched.  First of all I needed to adjust my riding position, so I borrowed a flatter and longer stem off Mikey. But just as importantly I needed to make Gary lighter - so off came his bell and bottle cage.  Predictably, this didn't make much difference and he was still a tad heavy - after all, despite the years of having him, he was still practically how he looked when he came out of the factory with lots of entry level heavy parts.

Coincidentally, after seeing Deb's bike (during our very brief pitstop in Mcr) "Cindy" (which is the same Kona frame as Gazza but with lots of shiny parts), Mikey also had a plan. One of his bikes was currently out of action - something to do with leaky brakes, so I could borrow the forks and wheels off it.  Mmm... now that lightened the load considerably. 

After shedding possibly 6lbs, Mikey also offered to lend me his carbon bars. This was super! By the end of the morning Gary was a whole new bike. He even got some new pedals as I changed them to SPDs. He looked awesome and was such a dream to ride.



And ride we did.  We stayed local for the first ride.  There were clouds of dust from back wheels as we zipped across the bone dry trails. Loose rocks and ruts posed no problem to the new suspension and Gary and I floated over stuff like never before. Tracks that I have often struggled on were effortless and I had no time to over-think obstacles, we just breezed over them. Mikey seemed genuinely impressed with my achievements and pointed out that it was my first "proper" off-road ride with SPDs and that I hadn't batted an eyelid.   I was having a blast, it was super!

Still hyped up the following morning, we decided that as were going to the LBS in Portreath (to get me some new baggies), we may as well do the Coast to Coast ride again, so we packed the car. Just before setting off we got a call from my Mum, who we invited to join us.  After helping her get her hybrid into the car, we set off.  The weather was slightly duller than the previous day but the track was still dry and dusty. Another super ride was had and 19more miles added to my weekly total.

(I can't mention my Mum and this ride without mentioning her spectacular fall - Sorry Mum, it has to be said - It was pure comedy gold as she attempted to ride over a 15ft high and steep mound that the kids use for "sessioning".  She was practically at the top when she started to fall. Crumpling into a heap with the bike on top of her she landed on the floor. After confirming she was OK, hysterical laughter ensued as she stood up covered from head to toe in a thick layer of dust!)

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Newcastleton - Post Exposure

After leaving the 24hrs of Exposure Camp last Sunday afternoon, we took the mile and a half drive to the bed and breakfast that we had booked into for the next 2 nights. We had purposefully booked a room, which had an en-suite; as the last thing I would want to do after the squalor of camping facilities (which I hasten to add were even worse than I expected) is share a bathroom with any other guests.  The other advantage of booking the en-suite room is that it had a king size bed - which sounded great after 2 nights of uncomfortable camping.  It seemed perfect, as it would provide some of lifes little luxuries that we often take for granted; like a comfy bed and a private bath.

On arrival at the Sorbietrees B&B we were surprised at what awaited us.  Externally it was gorgeous, a large stone farmhouse set in a stunning countryside.  The only noises were an array of bird calls and the odd whinney of a horse, the baa of a sheep or a cow moo'ing.  It was glorious!


We were then shown to our room.  We were both slightly taken aback by it. It was HUGE and very luxurious! I kid you not, we could fit the whole of our downstairs into it!  The bed was beyond KingSize... it was SuperKingSize and there was a comfy sofa too.  As for the en-suite.... well what can I say.... wow! Again it was huge and luxurious. It had a double-ended deep bath as well as a separate huge shower cubicle.  You could get lost in that bathroom.



After a quick freshen up, we went for a quick spin around the local area.  Our B&B landlady is a horse rider and very knowledgeable about bridleways in the area and advised us of a lovely 10mile route, following an old railway line.  It was a great ride which took us directly through fields of sheep. I was in my element chattering to the bemused looking sheep and lambs!   That night we went into the village of Newcastleton to "The Grapes" public house for our tea, which was nice.  There were quite a few stragglers from the race whom we chatted to, before we headed back for an early night in the luxurious B&B to catch up on some sleep (Camping was great fun, but sleep deprivation was starting to kick in).



Breakfast was at 9 and when we walked into the dining room we were shocked by what we saw. A huge dining table laden with breakfast goodies. All kinds of cereal, a huge bowl of fresh fruit salad, yogurts, a selection of fruit juices, all kinds of jams and marmalade's and a never-ending pot of tea. It was amazing! We were the only guests, so this was all for us.  After some cereal and fruit salad, it was time for a (veggie) cooked breakfast and toast.    This breakfast was fit for royalty - we definitely wouldn't be needing much, if any, lunch!

Monday saw my marathon adventure in Keilder (see previous post) and after a hard days ride I enjoyed a long soak in the tub before we went back into town for another evening meal.  This time we went to the "Liddesdale".  The food was simple yet super. Mmm! Again, it was time for another early night. I was exhausted and that bed was just too comfy to ignore.

After another heavenly sleep and huge scrumptious breakfast it was time to pack, but we knew we couldn't leave Newcastleton without sampling some of the fantastic mountain bike trails through the forest.  After all, we hadn't even done a lap of the 24hr race track, so we really must do some of it.  The trouble was my shoulders were still in excruciating pain, so we decided on a short leisurely route that took along 8km of forest road, which was apparently suitable for all levels of cyclists and hybrid bikes. 

We took the first climb up and things seemed OK, the terrain was very loose and sketchy but i'm sure it wasn't anything I couldn't manage. Hmmm! I spoke too soon. I guess in normal conditions it would have been OK, but I was broken from the previous ride.  As we started to descend, every feather of the brakes resulted in a sharp pain in my shoulders. It was so painful that I was unable to pull my brakes enough to stop my bike - so I had to use grassy knolls to slow me down.

It was torture but we had only just done a mile. Mikey suggested we walk back and just forget about riding today. But as the stubborn fool I am, I knew I couldn't - I would hate myself if I didn't finish such a short route. After all, it was a really simple route, that is, IF you had knobbly wide tires, suspension and more responsive brakes. Ouch! I gritted my teeth and continued. Every movement bought pain into my shoulders and hands.

As you've probably guessed, I didn't enjoy any of that ride,  Yes, the scenery was stunning and in ordinary circumstances it would have been fun, but today I was in too much pain!  The only satisfaction I had was that I completed it and didn't let it completely beat me. The only highlight of the ride was passing over the Scotland-England border. 


And one good thing that came of it, was that during those few days in Scotland I rode 50miles - which is what I usually average a week.

Ah well, next year I will hopefully be fitter and if we go, I will know to take my MTB, not my CX bike!