Sunday, 2 December 2012

A new goal following a pathetic November

Thank you all for the positive thoughts at the start of he month. It is really was nice to have your support and encouragement.

Sadly though, my knees and the weather have continued hindering my mileage.  In fact, last month I actually had three weeks with no running and very little cycling.  For the first couple of weeks in November I only managed to muster up one short ride per week.  Nothing amazing - a 10 mile gentle pootle with Mother the first week and a 11 mile turbo session the following week, as the weather was just too plain miserable to go out. 

The next week I didn't manage a ride at all.  Life just got in the way, what with the VeloCake Cyclocross Race taking up my weekend.  Sadly, no, due to commitments of having to work that event I didn't enter it myself - and by the time I had finished my duties at the registration (giving race licences back etc) - the course had been dismantled and everyone was waiting to lock the gates.  Ah well, it really was a fab event - even if I didn't get to take Ted out for a play.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Another abysmal month

So, October has been and gone and so has most of my motivation.

Yet again the weather has put me off riding pretty much altogether and I can't muster up any incentive to get on the trainer.  So, last month I managed the grand total of 5 rides and covered a measly 64.4 miles.

In all honesty  I just am not feeling like riding any more ... the weather is beyond rubbish, the terrain round here is just too uppy downy and if I go too far a field I will have to contend with too many longer hills, so I just have to stick with the routes I know... but I know them too well so they are tiresome!

I did have a week off work last month and I planned to get out on my bike at least 3 times that week... I managed 2 rides.... but then sadly disaster struck.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

In a slump - not the greatest of months...

This month has been another poor month for cycling as I only managed to muster up 80.12 miles. The start of the month was good as I had a lovely ride to Newlyn with Ali and Amy followed by one inspired by my hero Alberto Contador when he won the Vuelta.  =D

Since then though, I have practically stayed off the bike - apart from an occasional short 2-3 mile ride behind Mikey whilst he was running and the very odd ten milers to meet him from work.

I have basically lost motivation to ride now completely.  When I do I am literally forcing myself to do it and usually when I get home I haven't enjoyed it at all. 

There's just nothing left to inspire me;  I hate that I have overused all the local routes so they are becoming very tiresome.  I hate the fact that, if and when, I do try to go further afield, that I then have to contend with longer draggier hills.  I hate the fact that bloody tourists and end-to-enders keep stealing my Queen of the Mountains on Strava - and when I say stealing  I mean blowing my personal bests out of the water. I also hate the weather and that soddin' never-ending headwind.

So as you can see... I am currently in a slump. I want to ride my bike. I love riding my bike. But nothing is motivating me to get out there. Today I even pushed out 6miles on the turbo just so I got half an hour done on the bike and so I don't loose the legs and put on too much weight. 

In fact, if it wasn't for the running.... I would now be the size of a house again.

Please someone inspire me to get back out there.... failing that, I may just have to sell a bike and buy a nice shiny new one to encourage me to ride.

Monday, 10 September 2012

(Couch to) 5k!

This weekend I hit another milestone in my running progress, when me and Mum ran non-stop for 40mins!

We didn't expect to do so well, as the weather was muggy and we'd both had busy days and weren't feeling the greatest... but we just kept plodding along and when we finished 40 mins later... we were even more  ecstatic to find we had managed to do 5k!

I'm so happy! Its odd to think that in under 6mths we have gone from never running - and unable to run for a minute - to running for 40mins.  I'd like to say it's getting comfortable.... but it really isn't.  It's as difficult as it used to be and I always hate the first 10-15 mins- it's like torture - but after 15 mins I find it easier to ignore the pain, esp if I have my iPod on for distraction.

Over the last few weeks, there's been a few breaks from the normal running routine, including a super run in Bruge with Mikey.  Before Bruge me and Mum had been running for 25mins slowly-but-non-stop and averaging a pace of 12.5.  However, with Mikey things were slightly different. He wasn't verbally telling me to run faster, but without Mum, I instinctively and unconsciously did.  It felt comfortable in the short term but I burnt out quicker and had to go back to intervals; just so I had chance to catch my breath. Unsurprisingly, our running pace was considerably quicker.... averaging around an 11minute mile.  Despite being tougher and having sore feet for days after, it was such good fun running around such a beautiful (and flat) city.  I even managed to get a course record on a Strava Segment. 

On our return, I went back to running with Mum and in mid August we completed the Couch to 5k programme! We weren't achieving the 5k - but we were running for 30 mins non-stop. Quite an achievement. =D

As the weather hotted up in late August it started playing havoc with our running.  More often or not it was too hot to run.  Also the humidity really affected my lungs, leaving me quite asthmatic and breathless, making running difficult as I struggled for oxygen.  Anyway we persevered. Often having to do interval runs instead of one big run.... but either way were were still running and feeling the benefits.

During Ali and Amy's holiday in Cornwall, they joined me and Mikey on a run.  Again the pace was a tad faster than I am used to, in fact I had to stop after only 4 minutes.  I thought it was due to the fact that we were chatting as we ran... but when uploading the run, I realised that it was because our running pace had been 10.5.  As the other three are the stronger runners, they kindly let me dictate the pace, etc, so after a short breather... 2mins we did another 4min run. This time at a more reasonable11.2 - which is still faster than my usual pace.  We finished with a 10 min jog at a similar pace.  It was really good fun being with other runners. I'd have liked to have done more running with them, but sadly it wasn't to be so.  I particularly enjoyed having more experienced runners to give me a few tips. =D 

Anyway, that's my running news.... who'da thunk I would still be doing this running malarkey? And who the hella woulda thunked I would ever be able to run 5k!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

August - A quick update

Its been a while since I blogged but that's because not much cycling has happened.  August was a rubbish month for my cycling!

I missed a couple of days whilst spending some time enjoying a trip to Bruge.... which was glorious and great fun.

A bike in Bruge
On our return, as usual the weather played its role in keeping me off the bike. It was either far too hot and muggy to ride, so I'd wait to go on an evening ride, but then get too engrossed in watching the Olympics. Then on every day off it would be absolutely bucketing it down with rain (and as I'd thrown my mudguards off in temper due to them rattling too much) so riding was postponed.

By the 19th of August I still hadn't ridden a bike..... Ooops!  On realising this I quickly grabbed my bike and did a 25miler.  Sadly, then the weather and a hideous week at work stopped me in my tracks again and only 2.5miles were ridden the following week, when we had a quick jaunt down to the beach when Ali and Amy arrived in Cornwall.

Thankfully their arrival injected some enthusiasm back and we did a fair bit of riding; a very WET ride to a cafe, a little jaunt out to christen Mikey's new Belgian jersey (his birthday pressie which finally made an appearance), and a ride to Mousehole, via Penzance where we had lunch in the park.

Anyway, by the end of the month I'd managed 6 rides.... and a grand total of 62.4miles.

Not the best of months for riding, but life and the weather really did get in the way. I can only hope that this month is better.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

(Not quite a) Fun Run

Back in mid April when me and my Mum started running. We set ourselves a little goal of doing the 2mile village Fun Run and today was the day!

First things first, it was off to the Village Green to sign on.  I was surprised to see that over 30 people had come out to take part.  Mainly families but some more serious looking athletes too. It was then time to walk up to the start. Yes up! The start was at the top of a steep hill.  Me and Mum stood near the back of the pack, as we knew we'd be among the slowest, as we are still only used to doing interval training - our longest run to date is only 9 minutes. 

After a quick briefing the Mayor blew his whistle and we were off.  Mikey had to weave through the kids and families but by the time he was at the bottom of the hill I could see he was in 2nd position (that was the last I saw of him till the end).  Me and Mum were still near the back with about 10 people behind us.  

Down into the village and the crowds and our neighbours were out in force. Heckling already. Then it was up through the village and down the next dip back out. Things so far were feeling OK but I realised I had forgot to start the Garmin. Oops!

The next bit was a very steep climb. It's not long but its steep so me and Mum had decided (pre race) that we would walk it.  Whilst walking we were overtaken by a man and his young lad.  At the top we started to run again but I soon started feeling slightly breathless and my legs were already empty.  I couldn't maintain the jog. I had to stop.  I told Mum to carry on and I walked behind her.  I glanced at my Garmin. It was stopped.  Noooooo! It was all going horribly wrong!

When I felt more composed I chased her back down, putting on a sprint to catch her.  Thankfully by the time I caught her she was ready for a breather.  We had now overtaken the chap and his son. We walked for a little while, being heckled by the marshalls - one of whom even tried to send us the wrong way! 

A glance at my Garmin.... again it had stopped! Grrrr! 

Another little jog and again we were spent. This was far from fun, my chest felt tight and I was really struggling. I really hadn't prepared myself for this. My lungs have never really been a problem so far in my running adventures, but I was gasping for breath. I guess we don't usually have people to chat to along the way so I wasn't getting adequate oxygen. (I had a chat to all the spectators, marshalls and any other people we passed.)

Right! Now we were back on our usual running patch. I could do this! A concerted effort was made to keep running. But this time my Mum was ready to stop. A brief stop and then it was all downhill to the last field. The marshalls were now doing a great job at encouraging.

The finish line was on the field of the Village Hall - but first we had to do a lap of the field. I have never run offroad before.... but apart from it being long grass with a slight climb, it wasn't too bad.  People were cheering.  Mikey was waiting and he ran alongside egging me on to sprint but I didn't have any sprint in me. My Mum was now about 30 secs behind me. (She had stopped but I had spurred her on telling her we had never run this far).

Just before the line everyone was cheering for me to sprint. I couldn't. My lungs were in serious pain. I could taste blood in the back of my throat. I could only just muster the energy to continue my plod.

I made it though!
Our Medals. (Mikeys shoulda been silver though!)
As my Garmin had been so temperamental and Mum's had failed due to her pressing the stop/start button, instead of lap we have absolutely no idea how we did. All I know is the official timing. 26mins! Double Mikeys time (Who incidentally came an amazing 2nd!) but I had done it. I didn't finish last. In fact there were 10 people behind me! OK, we were probably pretty much last of all the people that actually did any running, but still, we had finished.

At least there is room for improvement next year. ;-)

Sunday, 1 July 2012

June Round-Up

June has been another rubbish month for riding mileage. I appear to have let life and miserable weather get in the way.

The wind has been shocking - just too strong to make riding comfortable, with wind speeds averaging over 20mph for the majority of the rides. (There was only one ride that had very little wind.) The wind has also been hideous whichever way we turned. On one 20 mile ride we only 4 miles with a tail wind, the rest of it involved battling against it. Unsuprisingly this has left me very unmotivated to ride.  The last two rides had to be done on the turbo - just so I could get some pedalling in. 

My mileage has also been down due to attending weekend bike events with Mikey. Why was my mileage down when at a bike event?  Well as odd as it sounds, I didn't have my bike at either.  I was just there to keep him company and do the driving on the ridiculously long journeys.   First up was Bristol Bike Fest and then there was Mountain Mayhem.  

Team VeloCake show off their Bristol BikeFest medal - won by junior rider Benji

Mikey  battles with the Mud at Mayhem.

Anyway, overall things have been ticking over slowly.... here's my June stats.

Ride Count: 8.  Distance: 101.18 miles. Avg Speed: 12.0 mph

I have continued running with my Mum and am still rather enjoying it. We are now up to Week 4 of the Programme; starting with a brisk walk - then 3mins running 1½mins walking - 5mins running - 2½mins walking - 3mins runningmins walking  - 5mins running.  The programme then stops but more often than not as we always do a longer warm up walk than suggested so we can then squeeze in a further 3 or 5mins run before getting home.

The weekends away have sadly also impacted on the running schedule and I missed one run.  We have had to run in some really vile weather, but oddly -  probably as it is all over in 30 mins or so - it is easier to tolerate and the weather hasn't hindered us at all.

Anyway this month we have done 12 runs and covered 33.93 miles (including walking mileage).  For a couple of runs I have worn a heart rate monitor and found that my heart rate isn't too bad either. Averaging around 122bpm and a maximum of 187. Not too bad for a 30 something overweight asthmatic. ;-)

In other news. I don't think I mentioned last time that Mikey purchased a Garmin Forerunner for me to use whilst running. It has made a huge difference.... The autopause on the Edge had been driving me scatty as whatever setting it was on.... whether it was set to "off" or custom set to the lowest setting of 0.1mph, I would find it had often autopaused during a run! My new forerunner is excellent indeed and has made things much simpler, there's nothing extra to carry and doing splits/laps are much easier to quickly press. Highly recommended!

Anyway, lets hope the weather improves and that the wind drops so that I can squeeze in a few more rides this month. With the start of "le Tour" I am sure I will get lots of inspiration to get me out there. =D

Sunday, 3 June 2012

May Round - up.

May hasn't been the greatest month for my bicycle mileage as my running has really taken its toll on my legs as they are in pretty much a permanent state of fatigue.  Also, as the running programme calls for three runs a week there isn't as much time to ride. (I tried running and riding on the same day but it was just a bit too much on my legs at this stage.) So long gone are the weeks where I ride 4-5 days a week.... 

But before you all scream for me to stop running I should add that running does have its advantages. I definitely have more strength and stamina (on the bike too) and there has been quite a noticeable effect on my body shape - as my thighs are hips are becoming less flabby. Yay!

Anyway, here are my ride stats for the month.  With only 7 rides under my belt for May I achieved 118.08 miles and an average speed of 11.6 mph. I am pretty happy with that as I did take over a week off the bike and this months wind has been pretty hellish.

As for the running count.... in May we did 13 runs. The majority of these were with my Mum but three were with Mikey who made me run a little faster (my Mum was away). We are still at the early stages of the Couch to 5k programme, but we have moved successfully onto the 3rd stage, which involves 90secs and 3mins intervals.  Our running so far has covered 34.32 miles, but I guess only a third of this would probably be actual running miles. Hopefully as we progress through the programme the walking will get less and less.

In other news May saw the wonderful arrival of a new pair of pink lenses for my Radars which are pretty awesome and a few days ago Mikey purchased a Garmin Forerunner, which I can use for my Running - which seems much more accurate than the Edge. :-)

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Pedalling with Polarcherry

Its been a while since I posted but I'm happy to report that things have been going OK. I have been cycling, but not as much as I'd like, but that's mainly due to the fact that I am still enjoying running so there are less days to get a ride in but mainly my legs are well and truly feeling fatigued.

At the start of the month, I only managed a couple of short rides and they were pretty painful on the old thighs. My thighs have never really been much of a problem on the bike - except for on the steepest hills - so I know that it was just probably because I was working new muscles - muscles which have never been used before.

The following week was a great week. Starting with a meet of my old blogger friend Adele who was visiting Cornwall with her husband Rik. We met them at a local village to ours (about 3 miles away), but unfortunately the meeting point was at the top of a steep hill. It is only 0.3miles long but has on average grade of 7.7%.  I was slow up it as I didn't want to be completely dead when we met at the top, but it was still soddin' hard. (Amazingly after getting home I found that I had actually achieved a Strava Queen of The Mountains).

After quick introductions we set off on our adventure. The first few roads were OK as they are my local roads and I know them well, but then we headed over towards St Ives. I also know these roads. The last (and only other) time I'd ridden them  was 2 years ago when I did the Audax.  Back then I suffered badly so as I was riding all I could think off was about how last time I had struggled.  I kinda out-psyched myself at times, but as we were with two new friends it offered a nice distraction.  That is until we got on the up-and-down-and-relentless Coast road.  Now I was shattered and the brutal head winds weren't helping. Thankfully despite me having to stop on a number of occasions we finally got to a pub for a drink and some chips. Mmm!

It was then time to get back on the bikes. With a change of direction, the wind was now with us and with Rik heading up the chain gang we all enjoyed a fast ride back in his slipstream.

The ride back was great fun, apart from a sudden cramp in my right quad. Ouch! I've never had such a bad cramp whilst riding. I actually had to get off and walk for a while. Which comically, when I got home I found again, despite my walking I had got a Queen of the Mountain.  Being one of the only few female riders in Cornwall can be quite useful. ;)

When we were back to their car, Adele offered us a lift home and despite the lingering cramp pains and complete fatigue I declined. I think everyone was quite surprised by this refusal but I just wanted to make this the longest ride of the year... with just three more miles I would make it to 30miles. It was stupid I know, but my stubbornness kicked in. I had to do it!

That week I actually managed to reach that long neglected 50mile weekly total but I started to pay for it as my legs are feeling the strain. So much so, that this week I have given myself a week off the bike. I am still running though. We are on Run 15 now. There is a definite improvement in my running ability and stamina and even the shape of my legs but I just needed a little respite. So the bikes have been having a little rest. Not for too long though!

Monday, 30 April 2012

April Round-Up

This month has been quite a different one, with the introduction of running to my regime.

My cycling has suffered a little but as much as having sore legs from running the weather has also been a major player in hindering my bicycle mileage.

Despite this I managed 11 rides and covered just shy of 148miles.

The longest rides were during the Easter weekend with a 22.1miler on Good Friday and 20.09 miles on Easter Monday. There has also been a tough 15 mile session on the Turbo (as it was too wet and windy outside) as well as the shortest of road rides. (The shortest in a very long time.) It was windy! Far too windy! I was on my way to meet Mikey from work but ended up turning back as in the first few miles I'd been nearly blown off three times. I got back home frustrated and with only 4.64 miles on the clock. 

April also saw my introduction to Strava and Garmin-Connect, which has helped re-motivate me and encourage me to get out there and do something.

So, as well as the rides, I have been running.  So far, me and my Mum have managed to do 8 runs! I use the term "run" very loosely as it is quite a slow jog.  As part of the Couch to 5k plan we did 4 runs at Level 1 which is alternate 60 seconds of running and 90 seconds of walking - eight times (for 20 minutes).  The first few attempts were easy-ish but sadly then we met a wall as my Mums dizziness reared its ugly head and she needed to stop and sit on the floor - before she fainted!

Despite not completely conquering the first stage we decided to move up to stage 2 which involves alternate 90 seconds of running with 2 minutes of walking - a total of 6 interval runs.  Despite the longer runs, it would give us more recovery time.  Surprisingly I found this stage much easier than I expected.  Even more shockingly the last two runs have involved some extra running. Today because our final run was interrupted when passing Mums colleague who wanted to chat - so then to make sure we had run enough, we ran for an extra 90 seconds.  Then a few days ago we squeezed in an extra 60 second run - when nature called and I wanted to get home quick sticks. ;-)

Overall during our running training 19.8 miles have been covered - obviously not all of this has been running but a large majority of it has and it will soon be time to kick it up to the next level.  This however, will not be done until my Mum feels confident to do so - as after all, I am running for her. I only started running to help motivate her.   Without her wanting to do it I wouldn't be running at all. So we run at her speed and we will go to the next stage when she is ready - or maybe when I feel like I need to push her to the next step. ;-)

Saturday, 14 April 2012


Right, that's my 2nd run complete and I'm happy to report that it felt a lot more comfortable. The first few "one minute runs" were over quicker than I expected and apart from a few twinges in my thighs I felt overall OK.  Of course I still felt like a flat footed buffoon.... but I hope that will come with time and practise and as my ankles get stronger, etc.

The only downside to the run was my Garmins inconsistency!  Practically every time I looked at it, it had auto-paused - which wasn't the case as we were continuously on the move; either walking or running. Then when we got back home and uploaded the run to GarminConnect it said that our moving time was nearly 10 minutes less than the overall time.  Pfft! I know that it didn't take me 10 minutes to do my shoe lace up - and other than that momentary stop -  we didn't stop moving at all! 

Is it possible that my lovely bicycle specific Garmin is absolutely useless for running? Can they not cope with the slower walking and running pace?  Yes, they are impractical as you have to hold them in your hand or pop it in a pocket, instead of having it neatly around your wrist but surely as it works using the same satellites it should give the same reading as a Garmin Forerunner. 

Then to top it off... I really don't understand the statistics.  After uploading the Garmin, it stated my best pace was 7;24min/mi.  It took a lot of twitter peeps (and some controversy) to explain that it meant at that pace - if I could sustain it - I could run a mile in 7mins 24 seconds.  My average moving pace was 11:54min/mi - but how could I trust the accuracy of that when it only had my moving time as 24mins instead of the 31mins we were out for.

Please don't tell me that if I continue running I'll need a different Garmin to run with? 

Thursday, 12 April 2012


As well as my continuing momentum for cycling, today saw me start a new venture.

Last weekend my Mum and a few of her friends decided they would kick-start a new healthy lifestyle by starting to run by following the NHS Couch to 5k Plan.  Trouble was my Mums friends don't live near here. Ones in Cambridge, the other somewhere equally far away.  They had each other for motivation but not when it was most needed most - when they were running.  After Mums first run I could tell she was despondent.  After some encouraging words I could see she was still disheartened and in a moment of madness I told her I'd join her for her next run - for motivation and to help her feel less self conscientious.  Her face lit up like a child in a sweet shop!

Unfortunately I'd failed to consider the fact that I have never run (apart from during high school.... but even then I used to just walk around the sports field) so I don't have any idea of how to.  Oh yeah... then I remembered my old ankle injury - since then, whenever I have needed to try to run (such as for a bus etc) it has been excruciating and I have ended up limping. Eeek! This could see my old injury flare up again.

Ooops... then there was the tiny wee issue of shoes.  Despite being a hoarder of trainers in my youth, I now actually don't own a pair of decent trainers.  I have my very old and very battered Adidas Shell Toes (which even when they were new aren't practical for running in) or my Converse All-Stars - again far from ideal!  Thankfully this was the easiest problem to overcome and after a quick trip to Penzance I was the proud owner of a pair of snazzy new Pumas.

The pink socks don't quite match!

Now I had the shoes, but not the skills, strength or stamina.... Hehehe... this could be quite entertaining. I could end up injured or just plain exhausted/broken.

Anyway today was the day. After work Mum came round and we set off. We had planned to walk up out of the village first before starting the programme. The last thing either of us wanted was to start out running up a pretty steep hill.  So after a 10 min brisk walk we started with a 1 min jog followed by a 90second  walk... which we repeated 7 more times before a 5 min walk home.

I was very surprised with how I coped as I didn't expect to manage at all.  However the first jog was OK.  I was very flat footed and ungraceful but it was over much sooner than I expected.  I am just glad I had Mum with me or I would have probably tried to sprint for a minute and then died very quickly.  We easily got to the half way point but after that the minute jogs were starting to feel longer.  I was glad to finish them and by the last one I didn't actually think I would manage to sustain it, but I did.

We got home and the Garmin said we had done exactly 2 miles which had taken us 30 mins (of which only 8 mins were jogging). We wont win any gold medals for that pace but for my very first attempt at a run I am pretty pleased.  I know it's still early days and it wont always be easy but today I am feeling confident that I may stick with this and help my Mum achieve her goals whilst also enjoying a new sport.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

March Round Up & other news.

Ooops I appear to have been neglecting to blog recently....

So much so that I haven't even done a March Round up yet... so here it is.... drumroll please....

The first couple of weeks of March were a tad non-eventful just managing around 25miles per week but then as the weather brightened so did my mood and on the last couple of weeks I hit my long neglected 50 mile per week target, bringing my target up to a respectable distance as I managed to muster up a not to shabby 146.5 miles.  

As well as the good weather there has also been a new incentive.  Just before the end of March, sweet Mikey came home with a very special and surprise gift for me - a Garmin Edge 200.  His new obsession with Strava obviously gave him the idea to get me a little more motivated.

It did the trick and the very first ride that I did with it (March 28th)... was so much more fun and I even pushed myself to ride 20 local miles - something that I haven't really done for a while now.

The next ride (the last in March) wasn't as great as the weather was awful - as usual the wind was the issue...

... but I wasn't deterred too much and the momentum continued in April with a 16miler on the 1st, a 22miler on Good Friday and today another 20 miles.

I am now also on Strava and it is great fun.... keeping track of your progress and comparing yourself to other riders.  I am nowhere near the other two females that use Strava in this area.... but it is great fun pushing myself up hills in the hope that the other girls haven't been up there yet.

All my effort payed off and today after I practically killed myself to get up a nasty little hill (only 1/2 a mile but 15% at its steepest and a 6.2% average) to become Queen of the Mountain! Yay! ... I may have been 9minutes behind the overall male leader - who happens to be Mikey - and I "may" have had to stop for a mo and I may have only managed about 2mph at some points but by jove I did it - and there's no bloody taking that away from me. ;-) The only other time I have attempted it I had to stop about 4-5 times.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Singing on the by-pass.

Yesterday I was riding over to meet Mikey from work.  It was a lovely sunny day but as ever the ocean wind was brutal. Ah well, I'd have a tail wind all the way there.  I decided to take the longer route there - along the by-pass - as with the tail wind it would be fun and super fast.

Weeeeeee!  I was having a blast.  I had a song repeating over and over in my head. I didn't know many of the words so it was just the same two lines over and OVER.  Trouble was it wasn't just in my head - I was singing at the top of my lungs.  Ah well, at least the people in the cars wouldn't hear me over their engines and the wind.

About 3 miles in and at the first roundabout (the first place that I needed to take a proper look over my shoulder) I realised I had a cyclist on my tail. Jeez! How long had he been there? I had been singing/wailing for the last few miles and there's no way he couldn't have heard me.

I said a quick hello, trying not to look too embarrassed, before heading across the roundabout and taking my exit. Weeeee! The wind was still with me but I realised I was very early so I slowed down.  I hardly needed to pedal.  This was fun. Without thinking, I started singing again.  The same song, The same two lines. The same tone-deaf wailing.

Ooops, another quick turn to negotiate around a parked car and I was mortified to see I still had company. Eek.. I hadn't realised the cyclist had followed me.  Had I not learnt anything?  If he hadn't heard me the first time, he would definitely have heard this time.  Sheeesh! Ah well. It was too late now.  The next roundabout and he was still sat behind me - not sure why he was still behind me, as like I said my speed had dropped dramatically due to being too early for my rendezvous.  Maybe he was enjoying my beautiful catawailing. Yeah right. ;-)

I meet Mikey just near a an industrial estate but to get to the meeting place I have to turn back on myself to go and wait in a lay-by.  At this final roundabout the chap was still there.  He looked a little bemused when I signalled and manoeuvred to go all the way round but surely by now he realised I was a complete oddball.

Ah well, just maybe my cheeryness made him smile on an otherwise boring daily commute.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

(Yet) Another Close Call....

Today we were a fraction of a centimetre away from a nasty road collision.

It involved two speeding motorcycles; who were on the wrong side of a very narrow road coming round a blind bend.   They were obviously racing each other.  To make matters worse I was also at speed as I was just at the bottom of a decent.  The first "Biker" was close - I could have touched his face but he swerved and braked - braking so hard he skidded and nearly came off himself.  The second, despite seeing what happened actually swerved more into my path more.  I had NOWHERE to go.  I could see he was laughing.  I was petrified. I thought I was going to die. (Since the event I have decided he was actually playing "chicken" with me).  His front wheel was practically about to touch mine before he swerved - as he was going so fast and was so close to his friend on such a tight spot he too started to loose control.  Somehow I made it, but now my thoughts turned to Mikey who was just behind me. From the corner of my eye I saw the 2nd Bike veer back in again after he had passed me - towards Mikey!  I was now even more petrified. Would he now hit him? Somehow and thankfully he missed Mikey too - I really dont know how he kept that machine in control at such a speed. I don't know if it was all premeditated - playing chicken with us - or if the swerving was him losing control at such speed.  However I am convinced it was all malicious as they roared off into the distance - accelerating excessively as if they were still trying to intimidate us.

Since our return I have been pondering this event and how every time we go out on our bikes we risk our lives - putting them into the hands of the other (often inconsiderate) road users.  We all know people that have been hurt and some of us tragically know people who have lost their lives in bicycle collisions, yet we still go out and ride. We do everything we can to make ourselves safer; lights clothing and assertive cycling but we all seem to know that its not us that are idiots its those fricking imbeciles and their motor vehicles.

We shrug off that idiot that overtook us and then swung back into our path, narrowly avoiding hitting us as it happens on such a regular basis. We shrug off that prat who opened their car door without looking as it is such a common occurrence.  We shrug off that half-wit that just pulled out of a side road right in front of us, forcing us to make an emergency stop.  We shrug off that pillock who pushes through the traffic calming even though we are on the side with priority.  It just all seems part and parcel of the bicycle ride. We get home and feel lucky if we only have one near miss with a car on a half hour ride.  Why do we accept it as the norm? We are the vulnerable ones out there. We don't have a lovely soft airbag to protect us.

It just makes me so angry.  I drive a car for most of my working day and manage to make time and space for bicycle riders (and horse riders too of course), why cant other people just give us a little bit of space?

I often ponder what is the answer. It should be simple.  I'd like to think that as more of us cycle, more people will know a cyclist - making them more conscientious and courteous - but even this sadly doesn't seem to be the case.  I have family who believe that cyclists have no right to be on the road.  Mikey has family that drive with half their car in the bike lane.  If we can't change the opinions of those that love us how how the hell do we expect to change the nation.

Sorry, rant over!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

I like hills.... who knew?

Yesterday we went on a little adventure.  Since my Rediscovery and as I live in Cornwall people have often asked me if I have done the Camel Trail.  I hadn't as it always seemed a tad far away (a 90 mile round trip).   Anyway as we have had a few days holiday this week we decided we would finally give it a go.

For those that don't know it, it's a traffic free trail that follows an old disused railway along an estuary.  It covers about 18 miles each way, taking you through the the pretty towns of Padstow and Wadebridge.  The plan was to complete it all.  I know it was ambitious as it would be just shy of 40miles - something I have never done, but what could go wrong? It was virtually flat all the way.

So we packed up the car.  As we knew the trail was likely to be gravelly we decided that the road bikes wouldn't be the best choice but MTB's would be over-kill so out came trusty Ted. I was excited to be riding him as it has been a while since he has taken me on any adventures.

Sadly the weather wasn't the best.  There was a dense fog from the onset of our car journey - getting denser as we got nearer.  At some points we could barely see the car in front.  I had my fingers crossed that it would clear up the nearer we got - I wasn't convinced though considering we were heading towards the Moors of Bodmin.  

We parked in Bodmin and set off.  The fog had half lifted.  We could see where we were going but could see very little of the landscape/scenery.

For the first few miles I could think of nothing other than finding somewhere to pee.  I was busting after the long drive, but the Trail was pretty populated with many a cyclist and dog walker.  About a mile in - we found a cafe. No! It looked very shut!  Thankfully the very nice owner saw us lurking and asked if we needed assistance.  I explained and she kindly let us use the cafe facilities.  Phew. Now I could enjoy the rest of the ride.

On returning back to the trails, we met with a lady on a touring bike.  Despite our cheery hellos she just muttered before accelerating off. Pah! How rude. We stuck 10-30 metres behind her for the next few miles. She kept accelerating off and then looking back in the hope that she dropped us.  After about 5 miles I was starting to tire of following her.  It was boring and I was missing out on the scenery being so determined not to let her go.

Once in Wadebridge there was a little bit of road to negotiate but I was pleased to see that it seemed to be a very cycle orientated place with clear bike lanes and lots of bikes around.

The next section was quite pretty and included going through a slate quarry and then over a industrial looking girder bridge.  I just wish we could have had clearer skies to appreciate all the varying  scenes more.

Padstow was even more bike orientated with hundreds of bicycle racks and even a secure bike park to leave your bikes at the end of the trail. However, not ones for walking we continued by bike into the town centre.  I wish we had left them somewhere, it was hell negotiating all the one-way streets and avoiding oblivious slow moving pedestrians.  My average speed dropped over 2mph from our short time in the centre. It was hell.  I dread to think how awful it is on sunnier days!

Although we didn't go to Rick Stiens cafe as he fries his fish in beef dripping (Yuk!) we did find another chippy and have the obligatory Fish and Chips whilst sat on the sea front.

Then we set off back home.  Ooops.  Now we seemed to have a bitterly cold headwind.  It wasn't a strong wind but there was just no shelter/respite.  I then also started to notice my legs were hurting.  Ouch... as was my saddle.  I then realised that as we had been riding on the flat we had been pedaling constantly. There was no opportunity to free-wheel as there were no down hills and there was no need to climb anywhere and get out of the saddle. Ooooww!  The wind and the discomfort started to get to me - I was struggling now. Grrr! I was no longer enjoying this.  I was just glad that we were parked where we were - we hadn't parked at the very end of the trail so we didn't actually have all of the trail to do.  The plan had been to do it all, but there was no way I could.

With two miles left before getting to the car I was at breaking point.  My thigh muscles felt like they were shearing away from my legs.  My intimate area was excruciating.  With only a mile left to get to the car I was almost crying.

We got back to the car. I wasn't prepared to carry on any further. Sod the rest of the ride - with only 24.5 miles on the clock I felt more spent than I ever had before!

I know I always moan and grumble about the hills around here but now I have experienced the pain of constant pedaling on the flat I have a new found appreciation of hills for the getting out of the saddle more and the joy of free-wheeling.

Who knew how much I would learn to love hills. ;-)

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Abstinence .... 2012

Yay! Just like last year I have successfully managed another month without ANY chocolate!

This year I decided I would go one better and cut out other sweet treats, cake and biscuits etc, but sadly this lasted only a few days.  So then I told myself I could just have treats at weekend..... still no chocolate of any shape or form but just a little treat or two, plain cakes or biscuits.  Again this didn't work! Work was just too stressful and my will power was non-existent!  Flapjacks and biscuits were consumed more than I would have liked.  There was plenty of times I nearly caved but instead I substituted my sweet cravings for anything other than chocolate.

Despite proving to myself that this chocoholic doesn't need chocolate it was a pretty pointless exercise as I didn't shed any significant weight or lose anything off my hips or waist.  On a positive note it does show how determined/stubborn I can be. =)

February Round-Up

After a couple of really shameful months I have finally managed to achieve a half decent mileage.

With the weather improving in mid Feb and that first [for a while] enjoyable ride on the 19th, things started to improve.  The subsequent ride was again an enjoyable one. The one after that was OK - not great, but not too painful either.  The following one was thankfully another enjoyable one; it was pretty tough with some mighty winds but non-the-less I quite enjoyed it.

Then yesterday I pulled another good ride out of the bag with a pretty decent mileage; taking a jaunt over to the seaside town of Mousehole. The weather was lovely, in fact it was so fine that the 3/4 length tights came out instead of the winter tights.  We sat on the sandy beach in Mousehole in the sunshine, sharing a veg pasty before riding home. It was so warm that shockingly I had to remove some layers on the way back as I started overheating. Yay! Hopefully this means Spring is here and that I can get back out on my bike more.

Anyway, here's the important bit. My monthly total was a respectable 112.5 miles. All of which were done on my winter bike outside - with no turbo sessions needed.

I start March feeling positive again, so watch this space.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

A quick update

I've been neglecting this blog somewhat, as I have been too ashamed.  I was too mortified at my lame totals to doing a monthly roundup as January was a really measly month.  I let the weather get to me.  I let my sore knees and general unfitness kill my motivation.  And finally I let the huge amount of weight I have put get me down as it made riding that much more harder.

So after an abysmal January,  I decided to do something about it.  I needed to do something and the weather, or should I say the vile winds just weren't letting up, so something else had to give.  Due to a few weeks of DIY in the dining room, there was nowhere to set up the trainer, so that was out of the question.  The only thing I could control and do something about was my diet.

So, just like last year, I decided to set myself another "No Chocolate for a Month" challenge.  Things started well and I was adamant I would refrain from any other sweet treats too - just on weekdays (weekends I would allow myself a sweet-non-chocolaty-treat).  However a horrific few weeks at work put a spanner in the works and I found myself eating rubbish again. No chocolate, but lots of plain biscuits and even some cakey treats.  Like last year, I'm just substituting the chocolate for something equally as bad for me.

So yet again, things haven't changed much. For the most part of this month I have done 2 small rides a week.  However they have all been quite painful and the wind has made things hellishly hard work. I haven't enjoyed them at all - I have just forced myself out, knowing that getting myself back to fitness will be hard work; but even harder if I don't do something about it soon.

Thankfully today bought the first enjoyable ride for a long time.  My knees were in excruciating pain and the wind was brutal but I actually enjoyed it.  I pushed myself just that little bit further - managing to a respectable 17.5 miles.  I also managed to ride that little bit harder - on the last few laps, knowing I was nearly done, I kept giving myself a little push.  Without warning Mikey I just suddenly jumped hard on the pedals and sprinted off.  I know I should have told him, as racing someone who doesn't know they are being raced is a pathetic, but it gave me more of a incentive if I thought I was winning.  Most of the times he could, obviously, catch me easily but after the third or fourth explosion I think he gave up chasing me as when I turned he was at least 30metres back. He said he wasn't trying.... LOL.... I think I was just too quick.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Slowly slowly

Well, so far this year I have managed the grand total of three rides. The first was with Mikey and it was really grim weather and pretty uneventful.  Just over 10 miles were done before I called it a day.

The next ride was a lone pootle last Saturday.  I was really determined to get my weekly target last week so I set off on a little adventure. It was mild out but the wind was strong and even on the downhills I could barely manage much more than 10mph due to horrendous headwinds.  I took it really easy, knowing that I wanted to ride the following day with Mikey.  Another 10 miles completed with a shockingly low average speed of 10mph - 2mph under what I was doing a few months back - Ah well, its not like I'd tried too hard. Phewph!

The following day I was mortified to discover my legs were actually empty!  Despite taking it easy the day before, every pedal stroke was taking a huge effort today.  Grrr... how quickly I have become unfit again?  I had hoped to do a 15+ mile ride today but my broken legs and the nasty weather had other ideas.  No matter which was we turned we were hitting the wind at full force. It was awful, it must have been over 30mph. I kept trying to tuck in behind Mikey but it was impossible to stay there safely as he was sucking me along much faster than he was going.  On top of that on each hill we had to climb I was noticeably slower than usual. I just hope it was more due to the violent headwinds, more than my unfitness! Only 10 miles added to my total, meaning I was still short on my weekly total, but at least I was heading in the right direction.

I had planned to ride again sometime this week, but I just haven't found the motivation to do so which means yet again I will fall short on my target.  I am feeling really disheartened by my shock discovery of being back to square one.  I just hope that the weather starts to dramatically improve (or at least that the winds drop considerably) so I can get back on track before I find myself back where I was 2 years ago - overweight and very unfit!

Eeek! I am really hoping that it wont take too long to get me back to my previous fitness levels and beyond, I just need to find some motivation somewhere. Anyone got any to spare?

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Happy New Year

Hi all.  Just wanted to wish everyone a happy New Year and all the best for 2012.

I guess it's also that time to do a monthly roundup, but I'm too scared - I've done practically nothing this month; life and ill health have just got in the way.

Eek! Do I have to? *sighs and wanders of to look at ride log*

Oh no, I knew it was bad.... but its worse than I expected.... Decembers grand total comes... drumroll please....

51.5miles. *Hangs head in shame*

Looking on the bright side things can only get better right? This damn infection that started at the beginning of the month surely will go soon.  Not content with making me have a week off the bike when I had the initial full blown cold, it then manifested itself into a nasty sore throat and cough, which has made breathing difficult to say the least. For the first time in a long time I am finding myself breathless at the top of the stairs. :-(

Anyway, today is the start of a New Year. If this year had been more successful I would have increased my target again but as things stand (and still not up to full health) I will make the sensible choice of leaving things as they are.

One thing all this ill health does show is just how much the cycling was keeping my asthma at bay. No sooner as I slowed down my body started to struggle with its fight against all those pesky germs I meet on a daily basis.

Ah well, with the New Year comes new hope (and at least I managed a more than I did last year - just) ;-)