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! ;-)