Sunday, 25 April 2010

North Cheshire Clarion club run 25 April 2010

Today's highlight was a cobbled lane somewhere near Alderley Edge called Bradford Lane. Thirteen of us set off from Stretton at 9 am heading out to the Wizard Tea Rooms via this Bradford Lane. Heading out we set off at a good easy pace of 16-19 mph on a mild dull day with the promise of some rain later on in the morning. With this in mind I left the Scott plastic bike at home and brought out my heavier aluminium Focus.

Today could provide a fine opportunity to settle a question I have in my mind
, after the experience of the last few weeks I have to finally acknowledge that my climbing has improved somewhat and today could give me some sort of indicator as to whether it's due to the change of bike from an aluminium to a much lighter carbon bike or it's improved fitness or perhaps it's both that accounts for my alleged increased form. More about that later...

So back to the ride. Eventually we hit the cobbles of Bradford Lane, it's not a steep hill just a gradual rise but the lane is rutted and worn with a fair few uneven very prominent cobbles to contend with, needless to say you have to pick your line with care with the central higher line being the wiser choice for much of the mile long lane. Until today I could only imagine what it must be like to pound the cobbles of the Paris Roubaix; you see them on the TV bouncing around everything shaking and that was us today but on a slower speed scale. At one point I tried to see what speed we were riding at but everything was a big blur making it impossible to read my bike computer readout, I guess we were travelling at a modest 8 mph at the most. It's all going ok, we're picking our line bouncing our way up the lane but approx three quarters of the way up, cobbles gave way to a sandy dirt track much more suited to mountain bikes with big fat tyres and not the skinny ones we were riding so eventually we had to get off and walk to the top.

After the cobbles came The Wizard Tea Rooms and the trip home, the sky had looked threatening for a long time and I was hoping we would make it home before it rained however with just a few miles from home the heavens finally opened and we got wet, very wet...

So to summarise, today was a good flatish ride with only a couple of hills, a cobbled lane (which I don't think we will ever ride again on road bikes), slightly stale cake at the Wizard and to finish off we got a drenching.

Getting back to my climbing. As I said I was on my heavier aluminium bike so today could reveal whether it's me or the bike and I'm pleased to say that Lance was right, it's not about the bike it's all about me (well he didn't actually say it's about me but you know what I mean). Granted today there were no long or steep hills however we have ridden some of this route previously including the few short hills we came across and I managed them at a greater pace and finished fresher than the last time I rode them so something good is starting to click with me, but what could it be, what can account for my improvements? Well for one thing my training has been reduced since I stopped doing the Chris Carmichael thing, what I now do is a club run on the Sunday then a 2 x 20 minute workout on Wednesday and a commute or another workout on Friday so only three times on the bike during the week; not a lot compared to the 6 to 8 hours and a minimum of 4 times on the bike that I was putting in doing the Chris Carmichael Time Crunched Cyclist plan. So with that thought in mind, could it be the extra rest I'm getting between workouts particularly the two days after the Sunday club run that's allowing me to recover better between workouts therefore making me stronger or is it the fact I'm now training with a 2 x 20 minute workout once or twice a week rather than the intricate Carmichael workouts? Or perhaps both? whatever it may be I think for now at least I will stick to the training I'm currently doing, you know what they say - if it ain't broke don't try and fix it...

My Stats
50.02 miles, 3hrs 19min, Av Speed 15.1 mph, 1416ft climbing (Bikehike)

Sunday, 18 April 2010

North Cheshire Clarion club run 18th April 2010

What a lovely day Saturday was and I was really hoping for a repeat Sunday - wasn't really disappointed with the cool(er) Sat start as the sun did come out to play not long into our ride. Today I had to ride into Stretton as my car was in the garage because of a naughty fuel pump; why do cars always seem to break down when out shopping and then when called for Mr AA man spends ages wandering from car park to car park before finally stumbling upon you even though you are stood there like a pompom girl jumping up and down waving your arms madly in the air??

Anyway the ride, Stretton to the Tattenhall Ice Cream Cream farm via Hatchmere, Delamere and Kelsall. A nice pace was set all the way, not too fast or slow, a speed of around 16-19 mph. No real hills to talk about but of course there were some along the way however I found them all relatively easy, relative to my own previous personal experience on these hills that is. I put it down to the bike, a nice light bike with some excellent Dura-ace wheels and perhaps there is still some of that training still in my legs, the Chris Carmichael Time Crunched cyclist training. Someone remarked on how well I was climbing today, I replied saying it's the bike, he laughed at this and I started to think that he may actually have a point and this put a grin on my face.

A question, do you have a favorite road or hill you love to ride or climb? I do. On this route there is a particular stretch of road just off the A51 heading south called Crooked lane, aptly named because it's a very crooked country lane that leads onto Hoofield Lane. On Hoofield Lane there is a village pond that the lane wraps itself around to make a 90' bend, exiting the pond bend there is a 300 yard hill. As you are approaching the pond you are able to see well ahead and around the bend and up the hill. I love this bend I really do, the fact it's 'safe' and you can put some real welly into it. So it goes like this, I'm approaching the pond, I know we are near, I see the pond, I see that the bend and hill out of the bend is clear, I drop down a gear and give it some, I'm into the bend, it's like a slingshot and I'm powering out the other side and giving it everything, up up and up the hill, I look down, I'm doing 27mph up a hill!! I'm ecstatic, I'm tiring, my legs are complaining but I'm near the top now only 50 yards to go, I look behind to see the chasing pack is 100 yards back and that's it I'm at the top and drained but by the time everyone else catches up I'm good to go... I call times like this my 'Cav' moments, the moment you lose all self control and you are that 10 year old kid again with wide eyes pumping legs and screaming lungs, you know it's going to cost you but you don't care...

So after this bit of excitement it's back to the ride as we continue to make great progress and was soon at the Ice Cream Farm. The bike racks were empty bar one or two bikes and for the first time because it was warm we were able to sit outside soaking up the sun, lovely, cakes, tea, coffee - this is what cycling is all about.

Eventually reluctantly we moved on and by now the bike racks are full, lots of bling on display, whats this place going to be like in the summer? it's going to be chocker full of bikers all after cake! So we set of skirting the base of Beeston castle and head north east all the way home. As we approached the last couple of miles the usual happened, the pace upped and continued to up the closer we got to the roundabout that essentially marked the end of the ride, we were jockeying for position we were one long snake travelling at a speed just below race speed, conserving our energy until the very last moment waiting for someone to jump, waiting for someone to flick the switch - didn't happen, no-one jumped, no-one flicked the switch, we sort of just rolled up at a face pace to the roundabout and that was that boo hoo...

Right one last thing, I made mention of my weight a few postings back, the fact I was losing weight and down to 11 stone and hoping it wasn't my kidney packing in. Well 2 weeks later I have regained my weight so don't feel so weak and feeble any more and today (Monday) was my regular 3 monthly hospital visit and everything looks good. Will know for sure if I don't get any phone calls during the next few days. An interesting thing I found out today is one of the reasons I have a low haemoglobin count of 11.2 is because it's one of the side affects of one of the immunosuppressant tablets I take, should be somewhere between 13.5 to 17.5, bit of a bummer but a small price to pay for freedom from dialysis.

My Stats
64.2 miles, 4hrs 3min, Av Speed 15.9mph, 2366 ft climbing (Bikehike)

Sunday, 11 April 2010

North Cheshire Clarion club run 11 April 2010

Saturday, what a gloriously warm & sunny day it was for April and I was hoping that Sunday would be just as glorious, I wasn't disappointed - eventually. A cool as in a fairly cold 9 am start had only six of us out from Stretton for a flattish 40 odd mile run, I was out in my new dhb bib knickers for only the third time but today would be the first time I was to use them for over an hour and I am pleased to say they are a bargain. Cheapish to buy but for the price the quality is really good and the pad for my backside was just right; not too plush and not too thin either in fact unlike some pads I have sat on the dhb pad did not make it's presence felt which is a good thing I think.

Anyway out from Stretton in an anti-clockwise loop took us through a lot of flat Cheshire lanes and it took me a while to warm up even though we were maintaining 18 to 20 mph for long stretches at a time; I came dressed for a warmish day but the temperature took it's time warming up. I'm a bit stuck now as I'm trying to think of things to say for this blog but I can't really think of much; a nice bit of cake at Dunham Massey, lots of people out in the lanes, cyclists, lot's of cyclists, joggers, horse riders - it's amazing what a bit of warm weather will bring out.

Ah yes there was one thing - the sprint. We are nearing the end of our ride just another 1/2 mile to go and Giles gets antsy, he decides to take off vrooom he's gone so after him goes Pablow, myself and Antney (as I call him) Gile's gives up the challenge as Pablow quickly reeled him in but it's too late now it's race lust as the three of us take off heading for the traffic lights just around the corner. However they were not just around the corner they were around a couple of corners and just a bit too far for me so I ease up a little and let the race continue between Antney and Pablow; who got to the lights first I don't know but as I caught them up the light's changed to green and I the cheeky sod overtook them to get over the lights first so technically I won :)

I thought I would include a photo I took on the bike of Pablow, makes me dizzy just looking at it but I like it in some strange way.

So to summarise. A nice ride into the heartland of north Cheshire, a cool start but warmed up later, lots of long stretches of speeds of 18+ mph, nice cake, a club photoshoot by Giles at Dunham Massey and I won the sprint - sort of :)

My Stats
43 miles, 2hrs 37min, Avg Speed 16.5mph, 1365 ft climbing (Bikehike)

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

New Toy Part 5

Now it's time to put all the bits together.

Firstly the bars and shifters set up in an approximate position. No reason to be first on the list other than I wanted to see what they looked like mounted on the bars. Unlike the previous version of Ultegra, the bolt to tighten the shifter onto the bar is located in a completely different place that requires the rubber pulling up as far as it will go to reveal the head of the bolt, you can just see it adjacent to my thumb in this shot. In the previous version the Ultegra SL, all you had to do was slide an allen key down the inside of the rubber hood and feel for the bolt, far easier...

In this shot you can see the shifters mounted but there was some adjustment needed as I wanted a smooth flat transition from bar to shifter. Here you can see that they are just a little bit to far down the bars so no nice flat transition. No worries, something to sort out later in the build

The next job was the assembly of the crankset, no pic's of the bottom bracket going in but it's an easy job, it's just like screwing on two large nuts but in this case one went on clockwise the other ant-clockwise, I forget which went which way, but it's easy enough to find out as each bracket has the side and direction marked on. Once the brackets were on and tightened up to the required torque it's time for the crankset to go on. Push the crank in as far as it will go then with a few hard smacks with the palm of my hand the cranks were nearly in the correct position. Next the opposite pedal arm was slid onto the exposed splined shaft and with the special tool (not supplied with the groupset) all that had to done was to screw it all up hand tight (as shown) which pulled the crank and the opposite arm together and then tighten up the two bolts in the crank arm to the required torque to secure the arm in position.

On with the front and rear derailleur, here the rear derailleur is bolted onto the hanger, so simple a job a monkey could did it, all that's needed is to pay attention that the 'B' screw doesn't get damaged as you tighten the bolt to the required torque, the 'B' screw here is the topmost screw of the three you can see in this shot. It is really easy to set the high and low limits by mounting the rear wheel with cassette and naturally the derailleur will be in it's most outboard position. Looking from the rear adjust the limit screw so that the derailleur is in line with the 11 or 12 teeth cog, your smallest cog. Next push the derailleur inboard and do so the same again this time with your biggest cog, set the limit screw. Easy...

In this shot I have put the chain on and am now lowering the front mech to the right position. The pen is there to keep the mech in the 'out' position. You see that red tag? on that tag is two lines, an upper and lower limit that you set the teeth of the biggest ring between. After this the front and rear brakes went on, the handlebars complete with shifters went on and all tightened up to the right torque.

All that's required now is the cabling, again easy enough if you have another bike to refer to and all I did was more or less measure size for size from my Ultegra SL equipped Focus and cut the cable housings to length. Cabled it all up and then the next to last job was wrapping the bars.

There is plenty of info on the net detailing how to do it so no need to explain it here, in fact there is enough info on the net to enable anyone with the smallest amount of technical ability to put a bike together, the skill comes in using google to find the info needed and that's not hard. Ignore the plastic pedals you can see in this shot they were just handy for the build, my spd sl's were still in the post...

In these next two shots every things assembled bar the correct pedals and with a temporary saddle mounted. All that's required now is to check all the bolts, re-torquing them, re-check the cables, re-check/adjusting the indexing and just generally making sure all the measurements are right for the saddle height, reach etc.

All that's needed now is to actually take it out on it's maiden trip to check everything is right, make sure the gearing is indexing right under load, make sure I'm happy with everything before I start to use it in anger so to speak and this I have already done as discussed in a previous blog entry of mine a few weeks back...

So that's it the end of the build of my new toy. It's been fun and enjoyable to build my own bike to my own spec with the componants of my my own choosing. I don't think there is much to putting a bike together it's just like a jigsaw puzzle, just put the right bits in the right places. Not much to go wrong just as long as you do your research and take your time. Would I do it again? most definately, and if I can do it anyone can do it....

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Nothing, a positive and a worry...

Yup nothing, that's more or less what I've done since the Cheshire Cat. Granted it's only been a week since the cat but seeing as I've been training 3 or 4 times a week for 2 months prior to the cat it seems extremely strange and demotivating doing nothing. Well when I say nothing I did actually go out for a quick 25 mile ride on good Friday but I felt weak and feeble for much of the ride and didn't enjoy it.

Thinking back now I had been feeling lethargic on occasion during last week, I've been feeling sleepy mid day which is not like me at all, eventually I came down with a sore throat and a head cold that made itself felt on Friday night through to Monday. Hopefully that accounts for my lacklustre Friday ride. Today Tuesday It's more or less gone and I'm hoping for a ride or turbo session tomorrow, I need to get back to some sort of training....

One positive came from Fridays ride, I chose to ride a hill I haven't ridden for a while that go's through Alvanley village in Cheshire. First time I rode it just over a year ago I walked half of it, the second time I also walked it, when I finally climbed it I did it by zigg zagging my way up the steepest bit and I've only ridden it twice since. This last time last Friday, no zig zagging, no cheating just straight ahead, granted it was slow work but now that hill means nothing to me now, nothing, just a slightly hard hill, now that's a mark of progress :)

Now the worry. I've been losing weight these last few weeks I'm down to 11 stone and 1/2 pound which is light for me. I'm looking skinny, my face has lost it's fat and it makes me look older than I am. I do hope it's down to the riding I've been putting in these last two months and it's not my transplanted kidney packing in.... I will find out in two weeks time... fingers crossed...