Monday, 26 December 2011

Briefly back on the bike for Christmas

Hi all.  Thank you for your continued support and encouragement.  I hope that you all had a super Christmas.

Amazingly, despite not getting one bike related pressie (for the first time since my "Rediscovery") and regardless of the bitterly cold winds I actually managed to get my backside back onto the saddle for our annual Christmas day ride. We didn't get too far and sadly didn't make it down to the beach as we usually do, but we did manage a leisurely 6.5 miles. It was hard (due to the cold air in my lungs) but I was still smiling at the end and definitely ready for my Christmas dinner.

It was too cold for me to take my hands out of my gloves for a pic, but here is a Christmassy bike related pic.


Hope that you are all having a wonderful festive season and that you got everything you wanted.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Another pathetic month

Well, what another rubbish month. As you know I lost my mojo in November, however, I found it again at the beginning of this month. Sadly it was short lived and I lost it again, re found it and then boom it's gone - yet again!

Unsurprisingly, it is mainly the weather that is defeating me, but I've also been having a rubbish time at work (practically working myself into the ground) and the remnants of the cold/flu still lingering hasn't helped matters. Not having a cycling buddy available to ride with in daylight hours hasn't helped my cause either, as when the sun drops the temperatures plummet so even going to meet Mikey is hard work. *Sigh* They are all just excuses, but they really have taken hold and zapped all my motivation.

After my last blog I did manage another two Turbo sessions, but they quickly became tedious and even the thought of getting back is now hard work.

Consequently, I haven't got back on the bike in nearly 2 weeks. Eeek! I can feel my fitness deteriorating and see the weight piling back on, but I really can't get myself motivated.

Anyway, I have decided not to let it get me down, I will just ride when I want to in these last few days of December and not try and force myself out of the door.

Then maybe, just maybe, I will get back on track in January.

Anyway, MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone. I hope you all have a fantastic time.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

My Asthmatic Lungs

Well, despite all my good intentions at the end of last week, the onset of a really nasty cold has left me again without any mileage so far.

I'm still not at 100% (maybe around 70% - as still absolutely full of catarrh) but today I really wanted to ride; because I want to at least try and meet that elusive weekly target.  I would have really loved to have gone out and ridden but despite the blue skies, the weather was miserably cold with an extremely bitter wind.  Grrr! There was just no way I could go out in that.   A lot of my Twitter friends urged me to go outside and ride instead, but seriously its not that simple.

That may sound dramatic but for those that don't know what its like to have asthma it's really hard to explain.  I guess most people have probably experienced coughing or a shortness of breath when they have done exercise in cold conditions.  This is because in normal conditions our bodies are able to effectively warm the air entering our lungs, but when exerting ourselves we take shorter gasping breaths, which means that in the colder weather, more cold air is entering our lungs; irritating them.  For an asthma sufferer these symptoms are really intensified, airways and lungs constrict which result in wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, coughing, chest pains and more significantly an inability to get adequate Oxygen.

On top of this, I am one of the many asthmatics that are susceptible to colds/flu turning into chest infections. So if my lungs became compromised it was likely that the germs I am still harbouring could migrate.  I jut didn't want to risk a chest infection!

Probably sounds lame I know, but it was for both of those reasons I chose not to put my body under any extra pressure as I want to get over this cold, without it developing into something more serious. However, I still wanted to at least try and meet my 25 mile weekly target, so out came the trainer!

Yes, I know it is dull and boring and I really felt the monotony today, as I didn't have Mikey at home, to encourage me to carry on when I got bored.  I only managed 5 miles before getting very bored, so I nipped onto Twitter looking for some inspiration.  Sadly all I got was a tirade of "Ride outside!" This frustrated me...  maybe they don't know I'm full of the lurgy, maybe they had forgotten I was asthmatic, maybe they just don't care!  It wasn't the motivation I had hoped for, but one thing it did do was make me slightly annoyed enough to get back on my bike and pedal for a further 5 miles.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Another blog

OK, at the risk of looking like a huge geek to those that don't know me very well, I'm going to admit that I have another passion; other than cycling, and I recently started a new blog about it.

Maybe some of you would enjoy reading it and joining me on my Lego Rediscovery


For those that don't wanna follow it, that's fine. I know it isn't every ones cup of tea... but for those that do. Great, see you there!

Don't worry though, I will still continue posting on here too. 

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

No longer a cyclist?

As I mentioned in my previous post I was desperate to get back on track with my cycling. After failing my target so many times, I have simply lost my motivation and I desperately want it back.

Anyway after Saturdays disastrous ride with my Mum, I knew I was a long way off target, so Sunday would be a challenge. I had 22.5 miles to do!

On Sunday we awoke to find very grim weather; it was wet and miserable with a hell of a wind. This would be tough.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Disaster

After having such an abysmal few months I decided I must get myself back on the bike.  I need cycling as an outlet for releasing my stresses/frustrations and after putting half a stone back on I knew I had to get back on the saddle.

So on Saturday I decided that I must ride. I'm not particularly a fan of riding alone so I invited my mother along, telling her we would ride slowly (as she has barely ridden her bike since May - she has been on sick leave on and off for the last 12mths).

Saturday, 3 December 2011

November - A Pathetic Month.

Well, what can I say.... despite my best intentions, my knees, my asthma, a number of family issues; including the death of Mikey's beloved Gran, and the miserable weather have left me unmotivated to ride. So yet again my monthly mileage has been far from average.... in fact Novembers statistics speak for themselves.... they are pathetic. Again, I have done less than 100 miles. Only a mere 86.6 miles! Not the greatest of months, but things can only get better, right? ;-)

Sunday, 27 November 2011

A new look for Ted.

A new look for Yeti Ted. by Kitty*Kins
A new look for Yeti Ted., a photo by Kitty*Kins on Flickr.
For my birthday I got a lovely white and turquoise Fizik saddle. (It is not a 100% colour match to the frame, but I think it's as close as I'll ever get.)

Anyway, after fitting the saddle Mikey told me that Ted now needed white bar tape, instead of the black tape he had. I wasn't convinced as it seemed wasteful putting new stuff on when the old stuff was fine but today when I awoke from a snooze on the sofa I found the bike pixie had visited and Ted had an all new look.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

A bicycle made for two

As a birthday treat for me, we decided to hire a tandem.   The day before my birthday my Mum dropped us off at the hire shop, leaving us to ride the tandem back. I was very excited but really REALLY anxious as I've never been on one before. I don't ever remember being so nervous about anything! I felt SICK!

There was no time for nerves though -

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Slacking

Well, after the super start to November things started to decline, including my knees but more significantly the weather. The wind has been torturous and icy cold, making cycling extremely uncomfortable. When the cold wind hits my lungs they shrink to the size of peas (Possibly an exaggeration. ;) ) which in turn leaves me short on oxygen to send to my legs.

More annoyingly though, the cold icy wind has resulted in me having a number of mild asthma attacks -

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Bikes and Geocaches

Last week saw Amy and Ali join us in Cornwall for a weeks holiday.  As I hadn't attempted too many rides in the run up to their visit, my knees were feeling a tad stronger. The first ride with them was an easy 12 mile pootle over to Penzance to meet Mikey at work whilst taking in a few geocaches. My knees felt a little shakey but there was nothing too strenuous and no bad after effects.

However, I was glad that the next day didn't involve any riding. Instead it involved lots of walking -

Monday, 31 October 2011

October round up - An epic fail

This month has been really poor mileage-wise.  My knee hasn't been behaving. After taking an initial 7 days off the bike at the start of the month; when my knees were at the worst, I started becoming really fed up.  The lack of exercise was leaving me very frustrated and tetchy. I needed to ride!

The first ride after that week off was interesting. I hadn't planned on riding that day as my knees still weren't 100% but at 16.30hrs I knew that the way my mood was going I would be ready to kill someone if I didn't ride soon!

I knew that I probably shouldn't be pushing my luck and riding too far, so a quick pootle on my shopper was the ideal option - just to test my knees. I've not ridden the shopper for a while now but it was nice. It was a great ride. An easy 5 miles without any pain or discomfort. Simple and easy! It took a while to get used to the flat pedals but I think the freedom of movement in my feet and ankles was probably the best option. On my return my knees felt ok, but the day after they felt stiff so a few more days off the bike. :-( Maybe I had pushed myself back into it too soon.

A few more days off the bike resulted in more frayed nerves - I really hadn't realised how much I use the bike now to release any frustrations, particularly work stresses. Another pootle on the shopper. Sore knees again... back off the bike... it was just a vicious cycle.

Unsurprisingly October has been a really bad month, mileage-wise! Less than 100!!

(The majority of the miles have been done in this past week; a new blog post to follow.)

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Housewife's knee

For a few years now, I've had weak knees.  There's always a niggling pain and a horrid graunchy noise when I'm climbing stairs. I blame it on my job! I spend most of my working hours kneeling on the floor. It's the quickest and easiest position for taking blood off a patient sitting in their armchair.

Anyway last Friday, after a busy week at work, I rode to pick Mikey up and we did a quick spin into Mousehole (I was down on my weekly mileage so we had decided to add little extra miles in). Halfway home and both my knees were suddenly in excruciating pain. Until then, I had never had any knee pain at all on the bike. I could barely keep pedalling; it was like someone had just driven a truck into them. The uphill through Marazion nearly killed me!  The pain was unbearable - tears rolled down my cheeks and I felt sick.  With a lot of assistance (pushing) from Mikey we somehow made it home. OUCH! I practically fell through the door and onto the sofa where I stayed all night.

Saturday morning, I could barely move. Sunday came and went. They were too sore to take advantage of one of the few Sundays without a cross race. Grrrr! As well as the unbearable pain I was also like a bear with a thorn in its paw, as I was so frustrated to know that I would fail my weekly target.

I wasn't sure I would be able to work on Monday, but thankfully I was scheduled for a study/office day so no patient contact. Yay at least my knees wouldn't get a battering. Tuesday I had patients to see, but not too many and those that I did, I ensured I found something suitable to sit on, rather than the floor.  Wednesday was the same but I was starting to climb the walls, I wanted to ride my bike! As the pain had started to ease I thought I'd test it with a ten minute tester on the turbo. There was very little pain on the pedal stroke but afterwards it was excruciating again. Grrrr... I would have to stay off the bike longer.

So now it has been over a week and I haven't ridden more than those few miles I did on the Turbo. I am way off target and extremely frustrated. All I want to do is ride my bike!

I guess I wont be doing tomorrows CX race at Bodmin.....

Sunday, 9 October 2011

CX - A missed opportunity but a great day.

Last year one of my goals was to enter a cyclocross race, however, back then I realised I probably wasn't fit enough to attempt it, and when the race that I was going to do, in Truro, was cancelled I didn't feel so guilty about not doing one. Anyway, I promised myself that this year would be the one, so I was really glad to see that a new Truro course had been added to the fixtures list. This would be my race! I was encouraged by the fact that the majority of the usual suspects were all Devon and Somerset based so it was likely that the field would be quite small - some people just dont seem as dedicated to drive the 100's of miles!

I've never done any type of race before, unless you count school sports day... so I was a little apprehensive as I am far from competitive - Stubborn yes! Competitive no! 

I did a little preperation for my debut. I made a few attempts at learning to do a moving mount and dismout so as not to embarrass myself at the Hup Hup boards, but sadly I never mastered them! Then last month, Mikey took me to a school playing field and we practised riding on grass and doing tight grassy corners. I don't think I've ever ridden on grass before - even on the MTB - but amzingly, I managed it OK, but my goodness it took it out of my legs! I wasn't sure I could do a full hour over grass; it felt like riding through treacle... I was going to be slow! Hmmm... then I started worrying about getting in the way of the fast lads... everyone told me it would be OK but I still had a few doubts. Ah well whats the worst that could happen? ;)

Despite all this (unsuccessful) preperation, my first CycloCross appearance at the Truro event last week, never materialised.  Oops... but there was a good reason for it... honest!

When asked by the organiser for volunteers for the race, I jumped at the opportunity -The way I saw it; we needed to make the Truro event as successful as we could in order to make it a regular on the fixtures board as it was lovely just having a 35 min drive to the event rather than a 2-3 hour drive! 

So that is what I did. I marshalled! My job was to keep people from walking on the track at a certain point (the closet point to the car park) and to redirect everyone to the appropriate places. It was a busy morning. There were a number of football events, one on the field, one on the astroturf, there was a kids party next to the astroturf and lots of people that wanted to know how to get to the start finish as I was blocking what looked like the most direct route. 
Mikey doing a stirling job as a marshall during the kids races.

I took my role very seriously. The luminous yellow tabbard held special powers, giving me confidence and an authoritive nature I didnt know I had.... Eek... I was now on a power trip, but as the geek I am I knew that with great power came great responisibility and I didnt want to see anyone get hurt.  Sadly though, I also appeared to make a name for myself, Hitler? Who me? I was just doing my job! Not sure, I will marshall again, unless I get a quieter spot out on the track, with just the competitiors to cheer on and direct, rather than angry soccer Mums!

Despite the humongous responisibity I had a wonderful time. It was great watching (and marshalling) the kids races with Mikey and then during the senior event, I had a bit of company with Johns "missus" joining me and Nick the postie taking over Mikey's marshalling duties. It was great having Nick there as as it gave me someone heckle with. Again it was one of the best events I have been to in the South West.

Anyway, as for my cyclocross debut there is one chance left for this season... next week at Bodmin.

... I wonder what excuse I will have next week. ;-)

Saturday, 1 October 2011

September Round-Up and a pretty BIG milestone

So, September has been and gone and as regular readers will know, my mojo has also been coming and going; leaving one of my weekly totals way off target. However despite that, I somehow managed to ride 197.4 miles! (Yes I know I should have got it up to 200... but I had much bigger fish to fry and this slipped my mind.)

Last Sunday when tallying up my totals, I realised that with a concerted effort I could get my overall (yearly) total to 2000 by the end of September. It would mean doing 45 miles in 5 days... but that was do-able! ... OK, it would be a little harder as I had just ridden everyday for the last 4 days to meet last weeks target and could really do with a day off - as my legs were feeling the strain, but I could do it. Couldn't I?

On Monday I managed to muster up 10 miles. But it was hard work - I was running late to get to our meeting point so raced into Penzance. As I was late I had little time to regain my composure before we were off. Mikey was with Turbo John, who although he slows his pace down considerably for me, he still takes me that little bit faster than I can comfortably go.  In fact it was insanely fast (for me), I think the average that day was 13.5.

My legs were burning by Tuesdays ride which I hoped would be a little slower, but yet again, stupid me got my timings all wrong - This time, I'd decided to do a 2 mile loop before heading into Penzance to get a little extra mileage in, but annoyingly I'd underestimated how long that loop would take and then I had to push really hard to get to our meeting point in time.

By Wednesday I was a little bit broken and despite it being Mikeys day off I just couldn't bear to get back on the bike! Stuff the 2000 milestone, my thighs and knees just couldn't take any more! Despite the still fatigued legs, I was back on the bike on Thursday, another ride done and much closer to the target. By Friday I only had 9.5 miles to meet the target! I could do this. Yeah!

At 5.25 on Friday evening I was rudely awoken by the telephone! It was a witheld/international call so I ignored it... hang on.... NO! Why was I asleep on the sofa when I should have been on the bike! There was no way I could make it to the meeting point in time. A quick text to Mikey and then I was back in the world of nod. My body wanted a break!

The lack of a commute meant I still needed to do some miles. I couldn't face setting up the trainer, or doing any more mundane laps of the village, so the idea of a MTB night ride - that I have been putting off for months - was the only option if I wanted to meet my goal.

With a fun-filled night ride done... (I wish I hadn't been a wimp and put it off for so long) I met my goal and hit the 2000 milestone! I am ever so happy - it feels like such an achievement particularly as last year it was the end of November when I hit the 2000 mile mark!

Friday, 30 September 2011

Nightrider

Today I took my very first MTB night ride! I wasn’t sure how I would cope with riding in the dark, but more significantly how I would manage riding off-road as it seems like such a long time since I have ridden any of the MTB trails. Before we set off I was pretty apprehensive, but at the same time excited!

On leaving the village we kept to the larger bridle paths so I could get myself used to riding in the dark before venturing onto the single-track. Immediately I was having fun!The limited visibility and dense (fallen) leaf cover meant that I didn’t have time to see any obstacles that normally would un-nerve me and I just rode over stuff that usually I would have panicked about.

In the dark everything seemed really different. Not in a bad way… just different! I had borrowed Mikeys Lupine Wilma so had a super bright light which gave me great front visibility, but on the narrow single-track I kept getting a little freaked out by the hedgerows. The complete darkness to the sides really left me struggling; everything in my peripheral vision felt it was leaping out at me and far too close for comfort. Admittedly sometimes it was too close and I returned home covered in nettle stings and bramble scratches. Some of the tracks were very eerie with tunnel of trees now having dangling long tendrils of bindwind falling out, which looked really pretty in the moonlight.

It was such a great experience, the world seemed so peaceful with just the rustle of leaves and hedges as we disturbed the wildlife. We didn’t see as many animals as I would have liked. I wanted to see a Badger and a hedgehog, but was happy enough seeing a few rabbits and a frog and a fleeting glimpse of a bat. The highlight was most definitely a huge rustle and wooshing noise above us in the trees as we obviously disturbed a monstrous pterodactyl. OK, so it was more likely it was a large owl or a buzzard but it sounded HUGE and made me jump.

Despite the lovely recent weather some of the singletrack was covered in very deep mud. Most of which I pedalled through without incident, but some of which I ended up having to dab into the deepest mud in the world. Nooo… my beautifully white shoes are no longer white! Next time I will remember to wear my winter boots, even if it's lovely and warm outside.

We returned home with just under 10 miles on the clock, which I was pretty happy with as it feels like its been a long time since I have riden off road and I coped with it all pretty easily.

Can’t wait for the next MTB night ride. ;)

Sunday, 25 September 2011

... Meh

After such a fantastic few days with Amy and Ali at the start of the month, things quickly returned to the mundane.

The weather also took a quick turn for the worse, leaving us with very VERY wet weather. It was awful, it was either dense fog or heavy rain, making every day grey and miserable!  Unsurprisingly, this meant I had very little motivation to get myself out on the bike and for the last few weeks I have been feeling very uninspired!

The arrival of the highly anticipated pink VeloCake jerseys, gave me a push in the right direction and to christen them we went for a very "quick" spin. (The jerseys didn't arrive until gone 5pm so there was very little daylight left and without any front lights - my front light has gone for repair - we were only able to do 7ish miles before dusk. The good news was that, as most of you know, the pink jerseys look super fly! ;-)

Unfortunately that enthusiasm vanished quickly; as work continued to wear me down and with no improvements in the weather. Plus the huge disappointment of the black VC order which had a number of screw ups.

Meh! I was feeling really stale.  I was mentally and phsyically exhausted.  I just didn't want to be on my bike anymore. Every ride was a struggle. I hated every moment and when I got home I was flatter (in mood) than when I'd left and more exhausted than ever. I decided I needed to go and see the Doc. Maybe I had a virus? Maybe I was becoming anaemic? Something wasn't quite right... Or maybe it was just a lack of exercise, leaving me really lethargic.

That week I epically failed my monthly target only managing a measly 26miles. Pfft!

The following week I knew I just had to pull my socks up and get out and ride, and just grin and bear it.  So I forced myself out of the door, despite the weather, if it wasn't raining it was dense fog, and as always the wind was cold and strong.  Most of the rides saw me armed with winter boots and jacket. Blergh! What happened to Summer? Somehow, I made my 50mile target.... It was miserable and all the rides were a tough slog...

... but I got there and I tell you something. I felt better for it. :-) I guess lethargy really does give you lazyitis!! :-)

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Good friends and Geocaches.

We had our friends, Amy (Trio25) and Ali visiting over the bank holiday weekend which was ace! It involved lots of cake (obviously) lots of riding and lots of fun!

They arrived Saturday lunchtime and after a large slice of my home-made chocolate cake, we went for a walk down to our local beach for a paddle, some kite-flying, some lunch, some more cake and a tickle off a 'ickle foal. 

The last bit of my home-made choc cake.
We then went for a quick bike ride down the coast path to meet Mikey for his commute home.  On this ride they introduced us to the exciting world of Geocaching.
"Geocaching is a real-world outdoor treasure hunting game. Players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using GPS-enabled devices."
Day Two involved more Geocaching. My goodness, its addictive! (Now I want a GPS!) This time it was on foot along the rocky coastal footpath. Four or five more caches found; we all found at least one each, which made it exciting. On our return more cake was consumed followed by a BBQ and Champagne. Another great day!

Team VeloCake on the hunt.
Day Three (Bank holiday Monday) and it was time to ride. The plan was to ride to Hayle for ice-cream and find a few caches.  The first Cache was only a few minutes from our village but despite finding the spot quickly it took quite some time to find the cache itself. Ali found it! It was in a film canister tucked into a crevice of an old stone wall. We thought that one was tricky, but the next one was even smaller.  The only way I can describe it is like a very old style dog tag, where you open it up to reveal a paper phone number. It was tiny wee! So small that Mikey eventually found it in a place that all three of us had checked already.

It wasn't until Cache three that I wished I'd given more consideration to what bike to ride. I'd opted for the road bike, as usually the ride into Hayle is on the road.  Unfortunately I hadn't taken into account the location of the Geocaches along the way. We were now off-road on little dirt tracks, full of rocks, roots and lotsa deep muddy puddles. On a mountain bike it would have been great, on a cross bike it would have been good, but being on Paddy's slick tyres and with his mudguards clogging constantly, I was finding it really tricky. I spent lotsa time walking - my shiney white shoes are now neither shiney or white. Anyway a great deal of fun was had finding the next few caches; finding little tracks that we would never have thought of going down before.

I was shocked to discover that the local Alpacas were also guarding a cache, so whilst everyone else found that, I stood chatting to them. Amazingly, Ali found that she had a special talent and could talk Alpaca'ese and they came trotting over. It took a while to gain their trust but then we had lotsa tickles. I've never stroked one before and their fur was gorgeous.

Ali's new friends
When we finally got to Hayle scrummy ice creams were consumed before heading homewards. We found a few more caches on our way and also introduced Ali and Amy to our friends Donkey and Cow. They were both out of stroking distance but we did find out Donkeys real name, he's called Whimpy, which made the trip well worthwhile. We were also shocked to discover he is well into his 20's. He's a wise old donkey!

A little further along and it was time to introduce them to the pair of young and little highland cows. "Och aye da moOOo!" Then it was time to take the long way home to squeeze in another Cache. Obsessed, us? Never! ;-)

Despite very tired legs, no sooner as we arrived home, we jumped back on our bikes (after finding some warmer clothes and more layers) and then set back down to the beach for tea at the cafe. Mmmmm... freshly made pizza's.  Then it was back up the hill and one more cache to get before heading home again. A splendid day!

It was back to work for me on Tuesday. I missed out on the ride to Lands End (not that I minded, my legs were shattered after the long walk on Sunday and even longer ride on Monday.) I also missed out on the early Wednesday frolics when Mikey, Ali and Amy went down to the beach for a swim in the sea. Sounds like a great time was had. When I finally re-joined them we had time for a quick bike ride down to Marazion for a pasty and their final cream tea of their holiday and one final cache (which incidentally we couldn't get to without drawing attention to it, as there were hoardes of people) before they set off on their long journey back up North.

Their visit went far too quickly! Normally when people stay I get a bit tetchy as I like my space, etc and in such a small cottage that is quite difficult, but their visit was different, I wanted them to stay! We'd had so much fun, I didn't want it to end. I really hope they'll come back soon.

It was my ideal holiday. Good food, good friends, lots of laughter, lots of cake and to top it off plenty of riding and plenty of nice animals to talk to along the way. PERFECT!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

August - A rollercoaster ride

This August had a number of highs and lows and has been extremely memorable for a variety of reasons.

Firstly, August saw my 2nd anniversary of my "bicycle rediscovery".  Yay! Two years ago I would never have thought I would still be riding a bike, but here I am today; fitter than I have been in years and considerably smaller than I was this time in 2009.

Secondly, there was the horrid coach incidence, where I ploughed into the side of a large coach which pulled out in front of me on a roundabout.

Then there was Mikeys birthday... hehehe, as always birthdays are super! Not much riding was done but it was great fun nonetheless.

Unfortunately, then there was another accident! I can't believe that after two years pretty much without any, I have two significant ones within a few weeks of each other. I fell off my bike.... my first fall EVER! So what happened? I'll give you two clues... new cleats and new pedals!
It was my first ride on Ted for a while. He had new pedals at Christmas and hasn't been ridden much since, so the pedals are still tight.  It wasn't so much of a problem with my old Spesh Tahoes as the cleats were well worn in. Unfortunately, the new cleats in my shiney new Shimano shoes made a lethal combination.

I hadn't really noticed any difference for the first 5miles as I rarely had to unclip. So when I had to come to an abrupt hault - which is a long story that involves a tractor, a car and a transit van on a tight country lane all coming from different directions and trying unsuccessfully to get past each other at the tiniest T Junction - I wasn't prepared for what happened.

I couldn't unclip! The road I was trying to stop on was a slight downhill and I needed to take a tight left turn onto a narrow uphill lane.  I was desperately trying to unclip, brake and turn, but instead I just started falling (leftwards). Eek! There were large rocks I needed to avoid landing on and more importantly rocks that I needed to stop Ted hitting!

As I hit the ground I was mortified. The driver and passenger in the car were looking. The tractor driver was watching. (They were all still at a standstill - a stalemate as no one was prepared to move.) I tried to force a smile to let them know I was OK, but found they were laughing. Mikey, who was in front had now turned to look at me (he'd heard my loud cursing and stopped to check I was OK). He was looking at me in amazement -obvioulsy impressed at how gracefully I'd fallen. He thought I had managed to save myself from injury but soon realised from my eyes that I was in pain.

My arm was in agony. My left wrist had taken all my weight on landing and had twisted in the process, leaving my whole arm in excruciating pain. I wanted to cry but instead I tried hopping back on the bike. Ouch! My left wrist hurt and couldn't take any weight on the bars. We were about 5 miles from home and there was no simple way back. I wasn't sure I could ride it, but on these tight narrow country lanes it wouldn't have been safe to walk either. I had to grin and bear it. I rode the last 5 miles home unclipped from my pedals (as I was too petrified to clip back in) and only able to steer with my right arm and unable to use my back brake. It was a tad scary but somehow I made it!

I guess that it was inevitable that one-day I would have a SPD related accident... I'm just grateful that its taken nearly a year before I had mine otherwise I may have been put off them. ;-)
Thankfully Augusts rollercoaster, finished on a high note, as we had fellow blogger Trio25 and Ali come to stay, which was brilliant and very fun-filled (post to follow).

AUGUST STATS:

Longest ride 27.2miles (On Paddy the road bike)
Shortest ride 3.3miles (To the Chippy on Basil my trusty shopper)

Bike Totals;
Cyclocross:           11.6miles
Road:                    225.6miles (of which 26.3miles, I wish I'd been on my Cross Bike)
Hybrid/Shopper:    3.3miles
Mountain Bike:       0miles :(

Total Mileage: 240.5miles.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Defeating the fear demon

This week has been a pretty good week.

Firstly, and most importantly, on Friday I took the bull by the horns and rode into Penzance via the nasty pasty roundabout that a few weeks ago saw me ploughing into the side of a coach.

I didn't plan on going that way, I had decided that I would take the first exit when I got to the roundabout; avoiding crossing it and taking the long way round to get to my destination. However, as I got nearer my inner geek had other ideas. (Back in the day, I was a huge Buffy fan and one of the episodes dialogue kept going through my head, "Don't taunt the fear demon!" ... "Why? Will it kill me?" ... "No. It's tacky." .... OK, I'm going to presume that you aren't all Buffy geeks and explain that despite all the huge and nasty fears that manifested themselves ... the fear demon himself was actually just a tiny wee little thing that was finally defeated by being stamped on.) So basically, I convinced myself that the fear of doing it was actually probably worse than doing it.


So, to cut a very long story short (and to prevent you all realising how geeky I really am) I did it! I was still really nervous but thankfully made it over the roundabout in one piece. I was so happy.  It was a big achievement; especially as I did it without anyone by my side for encouragement. I'm not usually that brave! The following day I did it again - I knew I just couldn't let the incident hinder all the work I've done so far - and this time it was just a little less nerve wracking.

In other happy news today I had one of the nicest ice cream cones I've ever had. Mmmm... it was devine. (See my latest VeloCake blog post for full details).

And finally to top off such a good week, my weekly total was 60miles - 10miles more than my target!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Off topic - Cream Tea Etiquette

Unless you are from the West Country you are probably blissfully unaware of the etiquette for cream teas.  However, here in the South West this is another one of those never-ending (and pretty pointless) arguments; just like who invented the pasty.... Cornwall or Devon? Who made the first clotted cream? Who makes the best fudge, etc?

Me? I don't really care so much as long as it tastes good, but as an "foreigner" living in Cornwall, I try to blend in by doing things the Cornish way. So here it is -  a simple lesson in cream tea etiquette (as told by many a Cornish elder on my travels).

The Cornish cream tea method is to put the jam on first, followed by the cream.

(The 'cream first, jam on top' method is the Devonian approach. Personally I prefer the Cornish way - and not because I'm biased but because cream is a trickier base for spreading jam!)
Artis enjoys a Cornish Cream Tea by Kitty*Kins
Artis enjoys a Cornish Cream Tea, a photo by Kitty*Kins on Flickr.
Not content with just having a jammy issue, hard stares will also be given to anyone putting butter on their scone. .... that's apparently a big no no too! (Eek! I never knew that... but I've since heard even the Cornish gulls would turn their beaks away! ;-)

So there you go, there's no excuse now.... all thats left is to enjoy the jam and cream goodness. ;-)

(Note: The information given here, follows months of research with my beloved Cornish pensioners, but there's a good chance that I have misheard them. Why? Have you ever heard the real West Country dialect? If not, think of PC Bob Walker from the film Hot Fuzz and you'll start to get the picture - he needed a dog to interpret for him. I do not have that luxury.)

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Back on the bike

Thank you all for your well wishes and comments re: the recent post/coach incident. I didn't take the matter any further or report the incident to the police as at the time I felt like I had done something wrong. It's funny how we the cyclists feel the guilt for getting in the way of the more important car users. Anyhow, I just wanted to give a quick update on things since then.

I knew that I had to get back on the bike ASAP to make sure that I didn't lose my confidence, so the following day, I went for a quick spin with Mikey.  It was OK but annoyingly I really feared crossing any roundabouts. Thankfully, with Mikey at my side, it was fine.  Life then generally got in the way of riding for the next few days and by the time I next got on my bike it was Sunday and I still had 25 miles to do to meet my weekly target.  So a long ride was on the cards and we went a little further afield than usual, making a detour to see the Llamas. There was a hellish wind that day - there was seriously no respite; no matter which way we turned it was against us! Goodness knows what way it was going, as we never had a tail wind! As for the rain - it was wet wet WET! Somehow though, we made it back with 25miles on the clock. Phewph!

So that was last week.  This week was kinda OK but I am really struggling to get out and ride alone. When I'm with Mikey I'm fine, but I have let the coach incident un-nerve me and am lacking the confidence to cross any major roundabouts by myself. Unfortunately, this has had an impact on my usual riding routine. Since my "rediscovery" I have predominantly done 2-3 rides a week into Penzance to meet Michael at work. The trouble is that there are only two ways into Penzance. One being the way I went on the day of the coach crash and I am far too anxious to go across that roundabout by myself and the only other way is through Marazion. (Which regular readers will know is hell on earth, even more so at this time of year; tourists walking out onto the narrow windy roads without looking and car drivers parking wherever they want along the double yellow lines.) So now, I am really struggling to motivate myself to ride into Penzance - only managing to muster up any motivation once this week.

I know I shouldn't let the incident get the better of me. I know that near misses with lunatic car-drivers are all part and parcel of cycling, but I just cant shake the ill feeling. I seriously feel sick at that roundabout, even when driving across it. All I can hope is that my confidence will return after a few uneventful crossings.

Due to the lack of rides into Penzance, I again came up short for mileage this week and we had to do yet another 25miler today. This time the weather was a bit more pleasant, the rain held off and I kept tucked in behind Mikey and let him contend with the evil winds. We got home with 27 miles on the clock so I was one happy girlie. Hehehe! I guess the only good thing I can take from the whole situation is that I am getting out and doing longer rides.

Friday, 5 August 2011

It wasn't my time to die

Tuesday was pretty traumatic.  The day started very normally... an extremely busy and stressful shift at work. Got home to find some workmen blocking our driveway with a mini JCB (for the 7th time in 7 days).

I was in desperate need for a ride to de-stress. I set off on my merry adventure into town to meet Mikey from work. The weather was glorious and the wind was minimal (Prob 12mph, but that's nothing for this neck of the woods) I had my shiny new shoes on and suddenly the world seemed a much better place. With a song in my head I was instantly stress-free.  I rode down the by-pass, enjoying every minute. Reaching 25mph and averaging 15. I was on top of the world.

I became a little disgruntled nearing the end of the by-pass when being forced into the middle of the fast flowing lane of traffic whilst trying to overtake an illegally parked car...  Grrr... She had her hazards on so that meant she could park on double yellows whilst reading her A-Z. Sadly that wasn't the end of my woes. Within minutes I was at a major roundabout. I needed to take the 2nd exit. I saw my chance to go and a couple of cars followed me out into the roundabout. Unfortunately a European coach (with a left hand drive) decided to then pull out of the first exit and right across my path. I pulled on my brakes as hard as I could, somehow managing to unclip from my left pedal and using my foot to help me stop quicker. (I twisted my ankle in the process.) Despite my braking and foot on the floor there was no way I could avoid a collision and I hit the side of the coach! My back wheel flew off the floor and the saddle hit me square on the back whilst my stem hit me forcefully in the groin and my face narrowly avoided hitting the coaches bodywork (my nose ended up less than 2cms away).

The coach stopped. The air was blue with my language. The cars behind screeched to a halt - somehow managing to avoid hitting into me. The air continued to be blue as the obscenities continued to fall out of my mouth. I couldn't see the coach driver but I could see some scared looking passengers. A few moments went by. No coach driver appeared to see what damage he had done. The coach then pulled off, complete with my tyre print on his otherwise pristine paint job, and took the third exit. I momentarily thought about chasing him, but he was joining another by-pass and my exit was a safer A road and I could jump on the pavement and regain my composure.

No sooner as I stopped the adrenaline left me and I was suddenly very tearful. I was just so grateful to be alive! If I had been going any faster there would have been a cat in hells chance of stopping. If I hadn't been paying attention my reactions would have been slower and it doesn't bear thinking about the consequences.

I shakily made my way to the rendezvous point to meet a very concerned Mikey and John and we made our way back home. I was OK when I had the both of them with me, protecting me at the front and back but no sooner as John turned off I suddenly felt very vulnerable, especially at the little roundabout into our village where another idiot car driver decided to cut in front of us, far too close for comfort.

I spent Tuesday night being sick and with diarrhoea. Must have been the shock. (Or maybe the trauma to my guts.)  Anyway, I'm all better now. I've never had such a close call, but I guess it just wasn't my time to die and I have never been so happy to be alive. =D

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

New shoes and monthly round-up

... ooOoo I got new shoes and I’m ready for the weekend….. (Well I was, but due to the lack of internet access this post is being published a little later than I planned)

On Mikeys return from work on last Friday he pulled out a pair of white and baby blue shimano shoes. I laughed, telling him he couldn’t seriously be planning on wearing them - they were far too girlie. I hadn’t realised they weren’t for him, as they were a lovely and very unexpected gift for me. Usually his gifts are the edible/chocolate kind so I was extremely shocked.

Although they are technically a MTB shoe they are another step towards looking a little more pro-roadie as they are white with Velcro fastenings (which is super as I’ve had far too many near-misses with shoelaces getting caught up in my chainring!)

Last Sunday saw my first adventure with them when we went out for a few hours. The more rigid soles were perfect; recently I’d been struggling with the flexibility of my spesh Tahoes, getting hotspots and sore feet. So the new shoes made a welcome improvement. Amazingly, we managed to get the perfect cleat position and they didn’t need any tweaks half way round. Unfortunately, the next ride in them was miserable; it was raining and on my return my shoes were very wet and mucky from all the dirt on the roads. I’m a lucky girl though - Mikey quickly cleaned and dried them and they’re back to being like new.



As for this Julys ride mileage, it has been a good month. Every week I managed to do in excess of my 50mile target and my total July mileage was 250.5miles, bringing my yearly total to 1590.1miles.
Most of July's miles were on the road bike. With only one 10mile ride on the CX bike. This was an easy ride along the coast path however, I wont be doing that again for some time as it was hellish due to the influx of tourists. There was also one fun MTB ride. 12.7miles of off-road goodness. Most of the local singletrack was dry and dusty but more importantly at the end of the ride we met fellow VeloCaker, RocketDog and his other half for tea and cake. ;-)

This month has been pretty average for mileage but more significantly I am really pleased as my average speed is getting better. With the exception of the MTB ride, my average speed has always been in excess of 13mph. This time last month I was predominantly averaging 12-12.5.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Eventful Stage Racing.

It's always quieter on a Saturday prevening, so I was looking forward to a nice quiet ride, but todays commute was a little more eventful than usual.

As always the wind was brutal.  On the by-pass into Penzance, where I usually average well over 20mph, the headwind left me practically coming to a standstill - I even checked my tyres for punctures as the bike felt so reluctant to move forward.  Ah well, at least I could look forward to a helpful tailwind for the uphill ride home. ;-)

Then it appeared to be time for a repeat of last weeks team time trial as Mikey and John came round the corner - just as the heavens opened. The boys whizzed by and I had to quickly jump into action and get on their wheel (the rain was too heavy to stop) but within minutes my shoelace was caught up in my chainring.... Eek! Luckily, disaster was averted! Unfortunately, I then stupidly went straight into the path of a turning car. Arghhh! Thankfully, the driver had seen me and another disaster was avoided.

Soon after, John decided to turn off - he said he wanted to go up the main road to avoid getting too wet - I think he was just too scared to ride with me after I'd been such an idiot! The next bit was easier as the rain had stopped and the wind was now behind us, keeping our pace effortlessly high, but as it was now just me and Mikey there was no pressure to ride too fast - I know I shouldn't feel pressurised but when it is non-maliciously commented that "It's nice riding so slowly" when I'm killing myself to ride flat out, its a little disheartening.

Just as we set off up the climb through Marazion, I heard Mikey talking to someone. Who the heck? The pressure was now back on! I pushed on up the hill as fast as I could.  Breathing hard, all I could hear was the pair of them chatting easily behind me. I didn't recognise the voice so I just kept pushing myself up the hill - faster than usual - as I didn't want to look like a complete no-hoper in front of another cyclist. We even overtook a man on a bike halfway up. Thankfully by the time we had done the steepest bit and before I was too broken, the lads were alongside me and I was being introduced to bike shop customer; a 21year old whipper snapper, on a a carbon Spesh - he obviously meant business! I was glad I had done myself proud on that last bit.  Mikey then took the lead and somehow, I managed to hold their wheels (probably thanks to the nice wind). It was then the turn of the young buck - in his youthful excitement he accelerated a tad too fast and dropped us (I was still pushing myself hard and honestly hadn't slowed in the slightest). He must have realised his error when he turned back and saw us about 75metres behind, he turned round and cycled back to rejoin us before saying he was going off to do some hill reps and accelerating off again. oOo, the impetuous youth of today! ;-)

We were now very close to home and despite the pressure being off to ride fast I decided to keep pushing myself and fought my way up the hill into our village. I arrived home with a big smile on my face - despite a further near-miss, when Mikey decided to stop suddenly in front of me, to give way to a non-existent car at a roundabout, leaving me careering around him to avoid slamming into him at full-pelt.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

A team time trial.

A.K.A - A very fast commute.

As usual my Monday ride was to meet Michael from work. I was running late so we decided to meet in Long Rock. I did a loop around the village to warm up my legs and then set off down the by-pass. I usually enjoy going at speed on this road - as it's obviously a fast road, but it also has the advantage of being a slight downwards slope. Yesterday however, as I was running later than usual, I pedalled even harder and pushed myself well over 20mph along it. The wind was against me (of course) but it didn't deter me. I was late and on a mission!

When I got to Long Rock I was surprised to find I was there before Mikey - not that I minded waiting, as it gave me chance to catch my breath. Oops... no such luck, here he was, along with his colleague and co-VeloCake-founder, John.

John's a powerhouse of a rider; he's fast with a big diesel engine. He commutes 30miles every day and spends his days off doing ridiculously long rides - 600k audaxs for fun!

No pressure then. ;-) Thankfully the wind was now with me so I could at least pretend I wasn't useless. I led them out of Long Rock at about 17mph. Now it was Michael's turn on the front.... up the hill through Marazion. This hill used to kill me - it starts slow but then rears up in a wall of a climb before going into a long steady climb with no respite - I used to have to stop at least once, but recently it hasn't caused me any problems. Trouble is, Mikey was still doing a fast pace up the steepest bit (much faster than my usual) and before I got halfway up I was broke. I couldn't stop though, not with John on my tail, but I was now struggling and slowing significantly.

John then took the lead when suddenly my elastic snapped.... I was left floundering as a huge gap in between me and them appeared.  Ouch! I hadn't felt this much pain in my legs for a long time. My chest was burning. I felt sick! Mikey dropped back and gave me a few cheeky pushes to keep me going up the hill as I gave it my all to try and catch John back up. With John practically coming to a standstill we finally caught him as we entered our village. I'm not sure how the heck I mustered up any energy to do the final climb back up to our house... the only thing that kept going through my head was "What would [my hero] Bertie do?" I tell ya, that little Spaniard (no matter what your opinion is of him) has done great wonders for my cycling as I embrace my inner Contador as I try to dance on my pedals and climb climb climb!

I got home shattered but ecstatic - I guess it was the adrenaline - I haven't pushed myself that hard for a long time. My usual overall average speed is somewhere between 11-12mph for that ride, but amazingly it was 13.5mph on my return home.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

June round up - a bad month

June was a bit of a rubbish month. I was feeling pretty stale.  I was just riding to reach my weekly mileage but not really enjoying the rides. The weather was pretty inspirational - far too much wind.  The disappearance of cyclogs also left me un-motivated - it went down at the end of May and I hadn't been keeping my paper chart up to date so I lost all my May stats.  As well as the lack of mojo, life also seemed to get in the way of cycling; meaning I took a week off the bike.

After the week off, I got back on track, but soon started feeling stale again. Without cyclogs to log my progress and check my average speed or set myself targets to meet - witting myself against unsuspecting other users. ;-)  etc I was still unmotivated.

Anyway by the end of the month, I had managed to complete 173.7 miles. I guess really it was an OK month as, with the exception of my week off, I always achieved 50+ miles but when I compare the stats to June 2010, I was well off par. Grrr... what can I do to get my motivation back? A new bike? Or a move to somewhere inland with less wind? Or shall I just get over it and go ride more? Hehehe as much as I'd like to go with option one, I guess I will settle for Option 3.

BTW All miles were done on Paddy the road bike - there were no off-road miles, no cyclocross miles. The longest ride was 31.3miles, the shortest was 6.  

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Back on track

Yay, after writing my last post, I gained some much needed motivation to get my lazy butt back onto the saddle. No sooner as I published it, I ran upstairs, got into my cycling kit and rode to meet Mikey from work. The weather was pretty dull but the suprise pressie that arrived that afternoon also gave me an extra incentive to ride; a smashing new longsleeved Craft base layer. Thanks Mikey! It is just what I needed - It's far too warm and muggy to wear a coat but just too windy to go out with bare arms. As always the wind was evil - a headwind all the way to Penzance, but thankfully that meant I would get a little help on the way back home (Which is predominantly uphill).  That first ride was quite enjoyable and gave me 12.1 miles on the clock -  a nice start to my target.

Wish the same could have been said about the next ride.  Fridays weather was miserable. It was cold and very wet and need I tell you how windy it was? It was painful - the wind felt more brutal than ever with the icy rain feeling like hail hitting you in the face.  I couldn't believe it was the first day of summer. There was a low sea mist everywhere and limited visibility, making it feel like the middle of winter. Awww well, I somehow made it; soaked to the bone and cold to my core, but happy to add 11 miles on to my total.

Saturdays ride was much more bearable.  The only problem was my only pair of three quater length tights were still wet.  The weather wasn't quite as miserable as the previous few days but I needed some knee coverage as that Cornish wind was still cold and strong.  Hehehe... with Mikey at work, I borrowed his knee warmers and then set off to meet him. 11.5 miles added.

As for todays ride, with the temperature soaring to 28degrees out came the flesh; shortsleeves and shorts.  I dont think I've exposed so much flesh since back in France. Phewph! It was hot hot hotOf course the wind was strong, but with the heat it was much appreciated. It was a really enjoable ride and I even pushed myself to do a hill I had always avoided before.  Since my rediscovery I have pretty much said NO every time Michael suggested it, but today I shocked him by suggesting I try it. I knew I wouldn't be able to do it in one go, but there's no harm in stopping half way up for a breath or two.  Unfortunaly, I was about a third of the way up when a car spooked me (The road is a tight country lane so there was little room for it to pass)  and with its engine revving nehind me - as it was struggling up the now 12% hill - I basically threw myself into the hedgerow.  After a quick drink I set back off. Mikey was practically near the top (obviously he isn't intimidated by cars

With about 100metres to go, the road reared up even more - to 17%. I tried to keep pushing but I was getting so slow - I was going to fall off or start rolling backwards. Damn! I had to put my foot down. I was gutted. This was the first hill to defeat me in a long time - Mainly due to my avoidance of anything to this scale.  I really wish I could have continued as trying to start agin was torture - I kept trying to mount my bike, but the climb was too steep and I just couldnt get any momentum going. I was zigzagging across the road just trying to get back onto the saddle and my feet on the pedals.  After a few failed attempts I finally managed to gain some momentum and get going again. Eek! In less than 0.5km we had climbed 50m. I was broken at the top but this was where the fun started...... weeeeeeeeee....  I was back at the bottom, in a fraction of the time it had taken to climb!  A few more climbs and we got home with 15.4 miles on the clock.

So, for those of you that didn't do the maths, despite my lack of interest during the first half of the week I met my weekly target and now I have refound my mojo.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

A week off the bike!

I started a new job 3 weeks ago. I am still at my old job, but another team was struggling to cover maternity leave so I offered to help them out - one day a week. Unfortunately, it means squeezing my usual 5 days work at the old place into the 4 remaining days. Which doesn't seem so bad until you realise that I am already stretched to my limit; as I work a full time job in part time hours.

The first week of doing two jobs left me pretty exhausted and I was just too tired to ride so sadly by that Saturday I was a whole 40 miles off my target.  With a concerted effort I somehow managed to do it, but it practically killed off my already wilting body.

So last week I decided to give myself a week off riding. My body needed some rest. Trouble was, the in-laws decided to drop down for the week and entertaining them most evenings left me still feeling drained.  Then there was Mountain Mayhem. OK, I didn't ride but I had very little sleep that weekend - we set off at 05.00am Saturday morning and then I got approx 2hrs sleep Saturday night before the long (5hr) drive back to Cornwall Sunday afternoon.

So as you can probably imagine, this Monday I was still just as shattered and consequently unmotivated to get out and ride.  I knew I shouldn't have given myself time off the bike. Now all the guilt that I used to feel if I didn't ride has vanished and I just can't be bothered getting back on. 

Yesterday the sun was out, but I made every excuse not to ride. Arggh! Please don't let me become a lazy-bum again. I've done too much to fail now. I like not having pathetic lungs and things are much easier now I have shed some weight.

... Today, I shall ride. I must!

Watch this space....

Friday, 17 June 2011

Sucker

Here's another post that has been waiting for publishing - the PC is running so slowly, taking about 10 mins just to start up and constantly freezing, so I don't really bother finishing anything.

Anyway, in the grand scheme of things, not much has changed, I'm still riding 50miles a week. Since France though, it has taken a while to start enjoying riding in Cornwall again. The first ride after arriving back was torture; why, oh why, are the British such aggressive car drivers, whizzing by far too close and much too fast?  And why do we have to put up with so many potholes? On the bright side though, the rubbish riding conditions here will make any future riding holidays much MUCH more fun.

As for the wind... it is BRUTAL - with wind speeds of 25mph being the norm it has been a struggle. Talking of which, one day last week I was bravely fighting my way through a savage headwind down the Marazion by-pass.  Half way along I noticed I had been joined by a fellow cyclist. I battled on, thinking that this athletic looking guy would probably just sit behind me until he could pass and then I'd attempt to sit on his tail for as long as I could.  Minutes rolled by and he still didn't pass. I was pushing hard; I didn't want to look weak so I kept the pace high. He was bound to pass me soon. He was an fit looking fella and probably didn't want to let an overweight female beat him. Hmmm... weird, he didn't seem to want to pass. He just stuck to my back wheel like glue. Surely he would pass soon? At a major roundabout we had to stop, I turned to say Hi, he grunted back, looking a little tired.  Miserable sod.

Ah well, I hoped he wouldn't be taking the same exit, as I was now shattered after pushing myself so hard. Damn! He followed me. I tried to keep up the pace but I was drained, my speed started to slowly drop but he still didn't pass. The headwind was vicious, my speed was plummeting to 15mph but he continued to sit on my back wheel. 13mph and no signs of him overtaking. WTF? I was pushing as hard as I could but the wind and my previous efforts had started to take its toll. I was broke. I turned - he was still there, safely sheltered behind me. I started to say "This wind is hell" but I hadn't even finished the sentence when he accelerated past and dropped me like a sack of spuds.

GIT!  I'd practically taken him the last three miles and protected him from the hellish headwind. He knew I was broke, yet he let me do all the work, whilst he recovered enough to accelerate off at probably over 20mph. Someone needs to teach him some cycling etiquette. Whatever happened to helping out fellow riders?

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Rose tinted glasses

Ooops. I gotta stop starting posts and then not finishing them or publishing them. This one was started back in May.

Remember the sunglasses ebay fiasco? (BTW a very belated thanks to those that emailed or commented with suggestions). Well anyway, as you probably remember, I was pretty disappointed when the fakes turned up, but I gotta say that the seller was pretty good and returned the money as soon as he got the glasses back and then Mikey pulled out all the stops to get me some Oakley radars before we went off to France.

Sadly the trouble, didn't end at ebay though, We ordered another similar pair, from a reputable online seller. I had looked at them before but the price had previously put me off, but by that time I was desperate, so we decided to order them anyway. Wooohooo! They would be dispatched the following day. The next day I was excited - until I found an email apologising that they didn't have any in stock. 

Things were starting to look bad, but then Mikey took it upon himself to order another similar pair. He started to ring around and finally found a dealer who actually had them in stock. They would send them out on next day delivery. (That would mean they would arrive a day before we were due to cross to France) Woooooppeee! An order was placed. They arrived. They were ace!


With a pinky black iridium lens the world now looked great. I wore them every day in France and for every ride since. In fact I don't know how I ever coped without sunglasses. They are definitely the bee's knees.

I don't know if it was just due to the excitement of finally getting some sunglasses after all the trouble we had getting them, but I was now looking at the world with rose tinted glasses and my goodness it looks super!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Bicycle Diaries from France

I knew I was going to enjoy cycling during our holiday in France but I really wasn’t prepared for what we got. As most of you know, I often grumble about the Cornish landscape. It is up and down, up and down and basically one draggy hill after another. And as for the ocean winds…. Well what can I say… 20mph is a non-windy day! So with all this in mind, all I really hoped for was less hills and less wind. I wasn’t disappointed.

RIDE ONE
On Sunday I got my first taste of riding on the French roads. WOW! They were awesome. Even the smallest of roads were beautifully smooth. Weeee! This was ace! There were actually some strong winds on that first ride… but it didn’t phase me as the sun was out (+30'c) and the winds weren’t icy ocean winds so they had very little affect on my lungs. The roads were undulating but there was very little “real” climbing - most of the climbs followed a smooth descent so by the time you had to start pedalling you were practically up the top of the next hill. I was truly in my element! At the top of one of the bigger climbs a couple were chatting in their garden, on seeing my Mum they called out “Allez”. Wow! Even the locals were friendly. I already loved riding in France.
RIDE TOTAL: 20.1miles. (8.4 with Mum) 1hour 45 Max 33.8mph.

(BTW every ride involved three separate stages. The 1st saw all three of us riding; my Mum, Michael and myself. For the 2nd stage we dropped my Mum off at the gite and continued without her. For the final stage, Michael carried on alone.)

RIDE TWO
On Monday there was less wind making our meander through the scenic countryside much more amazing. I seriously just couldn’t get over the condition of the roads. They were perfect! It took quite some time getting used to riding on the right-hand-side though, particularly when oncoming traffic passed - it just felt wrong! Thankfully, French roads appear to be much quieter than their British counterparts. It was astounding; despite riding on main roads, there was very little traffic around. Talking of traffic though, I was flabbergasted to find that when any cars did pass they would pretty much give us enough room for a car to fit through. … Wow! In France cyclists aren’t 2nd class citizens who are pushed into hedgerows and given no space at all. I felt so safe that I was even brave enough to venture onto a major bypass – which is something I will usually avoid, but even when cars whizzed by at 110kph, they gave us plenty of space. I was astounded.
RIDE TOTAL: 22.1miles (6.6 with Mum) 1hr 45 Max 34mph.

RIDE THREE
By Tuesday morning the wind had pretty much vanished as we took a leisurely pootle into the patisserie in St Aubin to buy our Pain au chocolate and croissants. Ahhhh, this was the life. After breakfast followed by a leisurely walk around a lake, Michael and I took another fantastic pootle on our bikes.
RIDE TOTAL: 21.3miles (6.3 with Mum) 1hr 45. Max 34.5mph.

RIDE FOUR
Wednesday saw another scorcher of a day and another great ride. We rode through lots of open country side and through some woods. We even took a few detours onto unmade roads but even these dirt tracks seemed easier than British ones as there were no potholes - even Michael didn’t seem phased or worried about his Cervelo. On one of these smaller tracks we came across a local farmer. I was slightly anxious as he headed towards us and his mouth opened - it was obvious that he was about to shout at us...  oh crikey had we somehow ended up on private lane – “Chapeau!” His face turned into a board smile. I laughed, relieved and also very amused. These French folk do seem to love bicycles and cyclists!
RIDE TOTAL: 20.2miles (8.8 with Mum) 1hr 45. Max 28.6mph.

RIDE FIVE
On Thursday we planned a longer ride that Mum could join us on - a 20 kilometre cycle path from Chateaubriant to Rouge. The route was nearly 10miles from the gite so we loaded the car and set off. After a failed attempt at finding somewhere to park at the start we joined the bike path half a mile from the beginning.

The path was a recent transformation from old train/tram lines so as you can imagine it was pan-flat. Those that know me though, know I don’t particularly enjoy flat rides, I used to think it was because I liked free-wheeling so much but now my legs are stronger and don’t mind spinning too much, I have realised it’s because I don’t find them challenging enough. My grumpy and stubborn personality likes to “whinge and whine” about the hard stuff, so without any hills to frustrate me, I get bored. ;-) It was a very scenic route though and there was lots of wildlife to keep me entertained. In fact we met a couple of friendly free-roaming goats on the path as well as a variety of free-range poultry. When we got to Rouge we found a bit of additional bridleway to continue down before returning back.

After a lovely, but very easy 19.2mile jaunt, (Blinkin’ eck, in Britain, when have I ever found doing 20miles easy? - Particularly, after four consecutive 20milers?) I decided I’d like to ride back to the gite. I checked that my Mum was happy driving back (Michael had done all the driving in France and like me, Mum has never driven abroad). She was happy so we loaded her up before setting off home.

Before we got to France I had set myself a little target of doing a 30miler, so after 20 easy miles this was a great opportunity. Unfortunately, as we got nearer I worked out that by the time we got back we’d only have 29miles on the clock. I needed an extra mile! We were practically back and I was tired now but knew I’d have been frustrated if I didn’t make my target after getting so close. So we took a slight detour. Eek! Bad move! By the time we hit 30miles we were on a road I didn’t recognise and it felt like we still had a few miles left. Mikey kept saying we would be home in less than a mile. He’s usually right about these things so I trusted him. Hmm… 31miles rolled past – again he said just another mile. 32… “Just one more!” … Every corner we turned and every time I was told “not far now”, I was yet to be disappointed. I was now broke. By 33miles I was fed up. Temper kept my legs spinning. Finally! At 34½ miles I recognised the road we’d just joined and I knew that we were only half a mile from our gite. Thankfully, the fact that I had done exactly 35 miles (One of my highest mileages to date) eliminated any frustrations and I arrived home a tired but happy bunny and thankful to Mikey, had pushed me just that bit out of my comfort zone.
RIDE TOTALS: 35miles (19.2 with Mum) 3hrs (approx) Max 35mph.

RIDE SIX
Due to Thursday’s longer ride, we decided to do a nice easy ride, just to keep my legs spinning. Mum wanted to do 10miles and I would have been happy doing 20 – just to keep up my momentum of doing over 20 everyday. So we went on a nice pootle with my Mum before going off to do a little more. Michael was desperate for me to ride on the “silkiest bit of road he had ever ridden” so we went to do that. He was right, it was very smooth and lovely, but after a week riding on such great roads, I didn’t think it was much smoother than every other road we had ridden. ;-) As we headed home, I again looked at my computer; my weekly ODO was at 140miles. In another moment of madness I suggested that we make it to 150. Another detour - more getting lost. I got home tired but ecstatically happy with 150.3miles on my weekly ODO. (Yay! That’s only 50miles less than my month’s target.)
RIDE TOTAL 31.5 (10 with Mum) 2hrs 35. 31mph Max.


So that was my bicycle diary. I truly loved every minute. On every ride I just couldn’t believe how truly magnificent the landscape was. Maybe I was looking through everything with holiday-shaped-rose-tinted spectacles, but it was just all so spectacular.

The wildlife we saw was superb; Lizards, Herons, Buzzards, a red squirrel. The fields were full of livestock; mainly cows, but also lots of sheep, goats, horses and donkeys. Oh, that reminds me of a very funny moment. Michael and me were heading back from a ride down a fast swoopy descent that led into quite a steep and long climb. On the descent I saw some cows in a field to the right. As usual I started chatting to them. (I just can’t pass an animal without saying Hello.) One of the cows turned to look at us. I jokingly told it to stop staring. We were now at the bottom of the valley and starting to climb. Oops… the cow was still staring and now so was half of its friends. Eeek! Had I offended them? I knew my French was rubbish but could I really have gone so wrong with “Bonjour”? The climb was getting slower as all momentum from the descent had been spent. Oh, no! Now all the cows were looking at us and had started moving in our direction. They started to trot. Nooo. They were getting faster as I was getting slower. It was all getting a bit freaky. Would there be a stampede? Phewph, as the cows reached the tiny hedge separating us and them, they turned direction and galloped alongside us up the hill. ROFL! They were following us. Even the French cows liked cyclists!

The scenery was inspirational but I have to say how amazing it was to be in a place that likes and respects cycling so much. It truly is the national sport. Francais de jeux!

So much so, that even the bicycle shops are extraordinary. One day we made a trip to “InterSport”- a huge hypermarch√© - to look at the Bike department. WOW! I was shocked. As it was within a chain-store type of place I kind of imagined it to be like Halfords - with little space and thought for the bikes – like an afterthought. Oh how wrong was I? The bike department was bigger than the football area, bigger than the trainer department. It was HUGE, well organised and very well stocked. In fact it was better than most bike shops I have ever been in. (I very nearly bought myself a SaxoBank bidon as a momento of our trip to France but I decided against it, because it’s not particularly the team I like, just the top man there and his domestiques!)

Monday, 23 May 2011

Tarte Magnifique

Our recent trip to France was full of trips to the patisserie. Here are some of the tasty delights....

Tarte fraises

Oeuf et vanille tarte

Du pain

Tarte de fruits

Tarte du pomme

Tarte du poire

Petit déjeuner
Mmmm... Twas just a good job I got lots of riding in or I would have been the size of a house.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

En vacances en France

Last Saturday after an overnight ferry crossing from Plymouth we arrived in Roscoff for our long anticipated French holiday.

The sun was out over Bretangne as we made our long drive to the Loire. Not that I noticed as I was asleep in the back after a sleepless night on the ferry, leaving my Mum navigating as Mikey drove. Sadly, Mum's navigation skills went slightly awry and what should have taken 4ish hours took us on a more scenic 7.

Shortly after lunch we arrived at our gite. It had looked pretty on the website, but the pics really didn't show just how pretty it was. The cottage itself was rustic whilst being extremely comfortable and traditional. With the addition of having a full size table tennis table and some boules in the garden, the gite couldn't have got much more French or perfect. (There was also a large swimming pool - but sadly it was in need of repair so out of use.)

Le maison

The surroundings were spectacular - situated in a rural hamlet of maybe 5 farm houses and surrounded by farmland! Despite living in a pretty rural area ourselves, I wasn't quite prepared for the wonderful French wildlife. Our garden was teaming with Lizards, brightly coloured bugs and enormous hornets. A couple of snakes were spotted, as well as a red squirrel and a giant Hare. 


One of the Visitors on the windowsill
The sky was alive too. In the evening the air was full of bats and by day it had all the usual fantastic suspects as well as swallows and buzzards. Cuckoos could be heard everywhere and we saw many herons and stalks in the fields keeping the local cows company.  Talking of which, the surrounding fields were full of all sorts of breeds of cows and other livestock - some sheep, goats, donkeys, ducks and geese. It was magnifique! As an animal and wildlife lover I was in my element.

The nearest shops were in the quaint village of Saint Aubin des Chateaux which was just over a 3 mile ride away, with an ace patisserie for our daily fresh bread and continental breakfast treats.


An early morning trip to get deux pain et croissants.
Just down the road in the other direction was the picturesque village of La Hunadaire which overlooked a beautiful undisturbed lake. Many a ride passed through this area and its undeniable tranquility lured us to sit and watch the world go by everytime, the dragonflies dancing and the kingfishers were mesmerising.


To add to the equation the weather was glorious - predominantly in its high 20's and low 30's. Oh it was all so perfect.... *sigh*... if only we hadn't have to come home so soon.

As for the cycling.... it was perfect, but that deserves its own post. ;-)

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Becoming a roadie. Pt II.

Last weekend saw a couple of exciting first times for me, making my transformation into roadie a little more closer.

To start with we finally fitted some proper road tyres (skinny 23's) on "The Padster". Eek! I've not ridden on road tyres since my sparkly pink racer in 1988. I was nervous! Unfortunately, the first ride with them was on a very wet May Day Bank Holiday. Argh! It was a tad scary. I've never been overly confident on tight corners but on the skinnys and in heavy rain I was petrified. Somehow and very cautiously, I made it round every corner safely and by the end of the ride (which despite being a bank holiday, was only a mere 12.5miles due to the now torrential rain and gale force winds) I was more confident and happy.... Blimey, if I could ride on skinny tyres in those conditions anything else would be a doddle. ;-) The next few rides were much easier. =D

I also made another debut by riding without my shorts. Oo-er-missus! Baggy shorts that is. ;-) After reading all your comments on the last post I decided I should finally ditch my "baggies" and bravely go without and subject the world to my lycra'd behind. ;-) Amazingly, it didn't take long to get over my self-consciousness and I soon forgot. The only real downside was the lack of pockets for my essentials, ie, inhaler and mobile. (My saddle pack is full of tools and a spare tube and some of my jerseys only have one pocket) Ah well, I am sure I will find a way around it.

On a non-roadie-related note, I also had another first, when I bravely bought my first expensive e-bay purchase! A spangley new pair of Oakleys! Some Radars. What could possibly go wrong? The seller had good feedback, there were loads of photo's of the sunglasses, they looked authentic. I won the auction for just under £100. Yippee. I've been desperate for some decent sunglasses for ages. They arrived 2 days later. I quickly unpacked the box. Dammit! They were counterfeit! Someone had gone to a lot of effort to make them look authentic and the seller was adament they weren't fake. Anyway, now I have to send them back before they will give me a refund, so I don't have the time or money to get a replacement pair before our holiday. Grr... That will be the first and last BIG purchase I make from e-bay!

Anyway, it's not long until our French holiday and I'm getting excited. I've got my fingers crossed for good weather.... but to be honest as long as the wind isn't as bad as here, I will be happy. I'm also hoping for flatter terrain... but surely anything is going to be flatter than the undulating roads of the Cornish Coast.