Sunday, 30 May 2010

North Cheshire Clarion club run 30 may 2010

Arriving at the start point for today's club run I sat in my car and I felt like I just wanted to go home, I really wasn't in the mood for a bike ride this morning and I don't know why but I suspect it had something to do with the blustery winds and a lack of sun. It wasn't really blowing a gale but it was certainly windy nonetheless, winds of 15mph gusting to 18 mph and I wasn't looking forward to it. Anyway I eventually managed to persuade my lazy arse out of the car and meet up with the rest of the guys, 10 of us or was that 11 awaiting at Stretton. So off we set but it didn't long for a bit of drama to unfold as young Andrew only managed to ride a few inches before executing an impressive dive, ouch that musta hurt...

So rather than write a long story about today's ride I'm going to cut this story short. The ride wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, yes the wind was sapping at times but not overly so and before anyone accuses me of doing nothing on the front and into the wind where I would feel the affect of the wind, yes I certainly did ride on the front and on numerous occasions, so there...

The cafe stop was at Allostock nurseries in erm Allostock, a coffee and a rather nice moist very tasty carrot cake was my choice of nutrition, and off we rode for the final leg. Nothing much happened on the way back except for a numpty in a Volvo estate deciding to overtake us honking his horn as we all signalled and manoeuvred ourselves for a right hand turn, what an idiot and I'm being polite in saying that...

The Sprints
30 signs and hill crests are now the sprint targets of choice and today there were multiple opportunity's for a sprint or two and I'm pleased to say I actually managed to win one on a slight incline by half a wheel. I think I won fair n square but perhaps they let me win, perhaps they took pity on me and threw the sprint so I could win... hmm.

So summing up I'm glad I dragged myself out for today's ride, yes it wasn't hilly in fact I can't think of any significant hills at all and yes it was windy but not overly so but I enjoyed the ride and the company nonetheless. Sitting here typing this my legs are nicely sore probably from the few sprints I took part in and I do like that sore feeling, it makes me feel like I have achieved something today.

My Stats
40.87 miles, 2hrs 39min, Avg Speed 15.4 mph, 1050 ft climbing (Bikehike)

Sunday, 23 May 2010

North Cheshire Clarion club run 23 May 2010

A great start to the weekend with temperatures hovering around 24-25 'C on Saturday and Sunday's forecast was for much of the same - really good stuff so dressed in just short sleeve shirts and bib-tights, proper summer stuff (at last) 11 NCC members and a guest set off from Stretton in an anti-clockwise loop through Frodsham, Kelsall, Willington, Delamere and Acton Bridge.

It was a slow 15 mph group start as opposed to the normal fast start and I was pretty thankful for that. With Frodsham and it's inclines coming so early into the ride I usually travelling at the speed we normally ride at get a stitch either riding up Fluin lane or the slight hill coming out the other side of Frodsham, but today with the slow speed start I escaped the stitch however I talk (type) too soon, I may have escaped that stitch but I was soon to be stitched up by a stitch of my own making.

Travelling up what we have named Alvanley hill which is a no name hill in the Alvanley area (obviously duh) I was talking to Andy as we climbed and at the same time trying to adjust my inline barrel adjuster to my rear derailleur - trying to adjust the noise out of my gear train when it looks like I adjusted it too far resulting in the chain coming off between my spokes and cassette calling for a hasty unclip before I fell sideways. A minute later after I had managed to unwedge my chain and clean my hands on a handy Doc leaf or two, I was back in action storming up the rest of the hill to rejoin the waiting group - it's suprising what a quick rest can do for your legs. Now normally I find this hill fairly taxing but today perhaps because I was talking with Andy, I didn't really notice it that much but I was disappointed that my breakdown on the steeper part fifty yards from the top robbed me of an occasion to assess any improved climbing ability on this particular hill, the first hill to make me walk a long time ago. I did however feel that I had certainly improved on my previous climbs up this hill - up to the point of my mechanical that is...

The next hill was a short sharp 13% hill a few miles on from Alvanley and as we approached I stormed from the back of the group shouting 'HILL, HILL, THERES A HILL COMING UP!!!' must have sounded a right nutter but anyway there was a hill coming up and I was going for it and doing quite well until half way up when I was passed by 'Nitrous Oxide' Dave and a young lad whose name escapes me atm, it was fun and you've got to have a go haven't you...

Next target is the Elvis transport cafe on the A54 and what a dicey experience that was trying to turn right out of a side road across a busy 'A' road and then a few hundred yards further on on the A54 turn right across cars bombing along at 60 mph in each direction to get to the cafe...

After Elvis and it's limited supply of foodstuff was another run up the A54 but for some reason the traffic was thankfully not as heavy as we did another right hand turn across the traffic. We are now off the busy A road as we head down through Kelsall and Willington and then came a left up a lane that took us up past Summertrees - a proper cafe with proper cake unlike Elvis's - and then onto The Yeld. During this part of the ride we rode a few hilly drags, nothing too steep and I found them not hard at all, just as long as I didn't ride them too fast, just riding at my normal steady plodding pace.

The Sprint

What sprint !?! I missed it. After some discussion on the clubs forum we decided that hill crests and 30 mph signs are what we should be sprinting for but that's only good if you are good at sprinting up hills which I'm not and know where the 30 signs are located. Approaching the end of the ride I was on the front (had to get that bit in) when Dave zooms past followed by Andy, Pablo and the young person whose name I cannot recall - I missed it, they were sprinting for a 30 sign around a bend and it all happened so quick that there was no time for any sort of reply from me - bah humbug!!!

I will win a sprint one of these days but I have a hunch that there is a cunning behind the scenes conspiracy to stop me from winning any of the sprints or perhaps it's simply because I'm just so slow - they will be calling me Captain Slow soon.... So come on guys, just one, just one for me plz pretty plz..........

My Stats
44.5 miles, 3 hrs 2min, Avg Speed 14.2 mph, 2326 ft climbing (Bikehike)

Sunday, 16 May 2010

North Cheshire Clarion club run 16 May 2010

Not a bad turnout today 10 regulars and 2 guests assembled for a as requested flat ride around north Cheshire. The weather was cool to start and the only thing that warmed us during the ride was hard work with very little sun and a good amount of wind to cool us down. At times the pace was fairly high and one of those instances of speeding was down to me, sorry guys but you can blame &#'% for that, you see I was on the front and &#'% was on my wheel, I kept looking back to see him glued to me so I thought I wasn't going fast enough and upped the pace to 20+ mph and with no calls of pace or tail I thought everyone was happy - that's my excuse anyway and &#'% you know who you are ;-) After the mandatory cake stop at Lavender Farms it was a quick last few miles with nothing much happening except for young Andrew upping the pace for a few miles resulting in 3 of us unknowingly splitting off from the main group and only realising when we came to a turn and there was no-one there; it was a good split it took at least a minute for the rest to catch us up. ;-)

The Sprint

We finished this ride on the same road as last week so I had a better idea of the location and distance of the traffic lights that marked the end of the ride so hopefully today's sprint would be nothing like last week when we went too early. Today I thought I would use all the techno wizardry at my disposal to determine when to make the jump if no one else does it first. Garmins have the ability to give you a distance to the end (just as long as you have the route in the Garmin) so I kept an eye on the countdown and positioned myself in 5th position moving up to 4th, the pace was steady at 15-18 mph, that will do me, no wasted energy on the run up; I hid in the pack watching and waiting for someone to jump, no one jumped, Phil who was in front of me let a gap open up in front of him, I saw the opportunity and jumped into the gap. In front of me now was just John and Johnathon (better know as Trevor to some); the end was getting closer now just 1/2 mile, I was right behind them hiding, waiting, hopefully unobserved and getting ready to pounce, only a few hundred yards now, time to let the dogs fly so it's GO GO GO!!!, I immediately sprint past John but as I fly so does Johnathon, the bugger must have eyes in the back of his head, I'm on his wheel and giving it everything but to no avail as Johnathon hits the lights first.... lol the bugger ;-}

Great sprint and well timed. One of these days I WILL win a sprint...

My Stats 42.7 miles, 2hrs 36min, Av Speed 16.4mph, 1300ft climbing (Bikehike)

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Kilton 10 TT

The Kilton 10 is not actually a full 10 miles but at 8.75 it's close enough for me. Today I was a bit apprehensive as this was my very first 'proper' time trial. I had to think things through before setting off for the event deciding what to take with me - do I take a water bottle? how about my seat saddle full of spare inner tubes levers and a heavyish multi-tool? nah leave that in the car, but what if I get a puncture? it could be a long 4-5 mile walk back to the car, ok compromise and take 1 inner tube and levers and stick em in my back pocket. Water bottle also stays in the car.

So I set off early to get to the Kilton Inn on the A50 for 6:45 pm ready for a 7:15 pm start; found it quite easily and arrived approx 6:30. No man in the car park to take our money - he arrived 15 minutes later. Stood in the queue and got my number, number 24, so that made it a 7:39 start for me, 3 minutes after Giles, 1 minute after Sarah, and 1 minute in front of Dave. The warm up comprised of blasting up and down side roads for 15 minutes before meandering down to the lay-by that marked the start 1/2 mile down the road as we approached our starting times.

The Time Trial
Off goes Giles as you can see in the above photo, a minute later another rider, then a further minute it's Sarah's turn and then it's me and here comes another new experience, clipping in with both feet whilst trusting a man to hold the bike upright. A weird feeling as he holds the bike at a slight angle towards himself and now comes the countdown; 30 seconds, 15 seconds, both feet are now clipped in, 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 - GO and with a bit of a shove I'm off...

A steady strong start not an all out effort sees me at around 20 mph a few hundred feet down the road, a slight rise coming alongside the Kilton Inn and I'm still maintaining speed then comes a rolling section where I lose some speed. I can see Sarah ahead, She's approx a minute in front, I'm thinking I can close the distance on the approaching downhill, then a while later I hear a cheery voice say something that I didn't quite grasp as Dave comes along side and overtakes me - I was expecting that but I thought he would take me earlier than he did, so I can't be doing that bad I'm thinking.

Here comes the down hill and Sarah's gone, she hit the hill and flew and so do I - it's not a steep downhill I'd say it's around 3 to 4% at the most but it's enough to give you a boost and it's here I hit my fastest of 29 mph - I'm feeling good; on the opposite side going back up is Giles. The road levels out now on the approach to the roundabout that marks the half way point, I pass Sarah going the other way and I'm soon at the roundabout but have to slow down for a HGV, I lose my speed and my momentum into the roundabout so have to work it again coming back up the other side up the hill, I'm finding it really tough now going up this hill trying to build some speed, my throat is dry and parched and I'm gasping for air as I manage to reach a miserly 13-14 mph up this drag of a hill. I'm tiring quickly now and longing for a downhill but on the return leg it's mostly rolling or slight inclines and to make matters worse I get a cramp in my right calf so have to ease off the gas slightly. I'm still on the hill riding up and over the M56 fly-over and thankfully the road levels off as does my cramp, it's bearable now and gingerly I up my speed, the cramp is still there but no-where near as bad as it was on the hill. I can see Sarah's red light now in the distance, I hear a rumble getting quickly louder behind me as rider No 28 comes alongside and overtakes; those deep carbon wheels sound really nice, must get myself some of these one day :)

Past high Legh garden centre and here comes the Kilton Inn and I'm up to 20 - 23 mph on a slight incline, I'm gasping for air, my throat and lungs are scorched, my legs are burning, my bum is killing me being in the drops for much of the ride but it's nearly over, just half a mile to go, I try and up my speed for the finish line but fail to do so trundling in over the line at around 20 mph shouting my number to the man with the clipboard as I pass. I'm shattered, my legs are complaining as is my ar$e and my throat!! It's now time to turn around, give my race number back and then head up to the Kilton Inn.

So how did I do?

35 Giles Perkins N Cheshire Clarion 00:26:12 20.04
36 Sally Cowan Seamons CC 00:26:20 19.94 Lady
37 Judith Wall Manchester Tri Club 00:26:30 19.81 Lady
38 Tom Dyer Seamons CC 00:26:45 19.63 Junior
39 Carolyn Waywell DB Max Tri 00:26:51 19.55 Lady
40 Sarah Smith N Cheshire Clarion 00:27:02 19.42 Lady
41 Mark Rowe N Cheshire Clarion 00:27:16 19.25
42 Hannah White Seamons CC 00:28:06 18.68 Lady
43 Sandie Leach Seamons CC 00:28:16 18.57 Lady
44 Jim McGill N Cheshire Clarion 00:29:25 17.85

(Giles was below par today - severe cramp)

I had 2 goals I wanted to achieve.
  1. A sub 30 minute time.
  2. A 20 mph average
One out of two..... I didn't set my targets high seeing as this was my first 'proper' TT. Previously I have however completed one personal 10mile TT with a time of 39 minutes but that was within a month of me taking up cycling just over 2 years ago so if I hadn't have significantly bettered that time I should be stripped of all my cycling gear and be forced to take up a new hobby of a permanent couch potato soap opera watching idiot... what you say? do it anyway!!!

What now?
I will be back in two weeks time but in the meantime I'm going to invest in some tri-bars to get a more aero position; have a play with my positioning on the bike; perhaps buy another seat post with no set back to bring my hips more over the cranks (I've been reading the TT forums) and mount a spare saddle on it so I can swap it out with my normal seat come TT day. Train, train, train...

Next goal?
Achieve a 20 mph average...

My Stats
8.75 miles, 27 min 16 seconds, Av Speed 19.2 mph, Av/Max HR 169/171.
Weather, very cold, slight breeze.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

North Cheshire Clarion club run 9 May 2010

What a difference a week makes, last week was just cold, this week a cool start that soon warmed up to a gloriously nice day. I had a good feeling for this weeks ride seeing 14 of us assemble at our traditional meeting point, I enjoy company and the more the merrier so today got off to a great start, a quick start as always, 18+mph for long stretches which is great for the flats but eventually we warmed up as the temperature improved and the pace dropped to a more sociably sedate 15+mph for the latter parts of the ride.

As we rode on the weather just got better and better throughout the morning and I think the route suited the day perfectly; flat, Cheshire flat that is with just the occasional bump oh and a wooden canal bridge or two, an off road section and a couple of cobbled lanes to bounce along. Andy (A.K.A. the map) certainly knows how to pick em. I think today was a great success for everyone as there was something for nearly everyone, a moderate distance and lots of flat along with a moderate pace is very conducive to chatter (of which there was lots), a nice midpoint cafe stop and a sprint at the end for the boys who like to pretend they are Cavendish or Thor Hushovd (or for the older amongst us, Super Mario) weeeeee... the only thing missing was a significant hill to climb but that was no real loss seeing as everything else was just right - leave the hills for another day...

The sprint.

Just a few hundred yards to go around a couple of bends to the end of the ride, some riders tasting the end are moving closer to the front, the pace is upping, some are down in the drops, the sound of gears being changed into a more suitable sprinting gear can be heard, we are pretty tightly packed, there goes the breakaway, I'm on it, I'm in it, I'm down in the drops, Antnee is in front of me, I shout to him jokingly telling him he's my lead out man, the pace really ups now, he laughs then finds a path through to the front, I'm on his wheel, he's sprinting out on the front, I'm still on his wheel, we are away, there is a gap between ourselves and the chasing pack, we go around a bend and then another, where's the flippin traffic lights that marks the end???, we've gone too early (again), we are knackered, we sit up, Andy who does not seem to be out of breath comes alongside saying 'who started this sprint then?', I think he was behind all the time just playing with us letting us think we were away, we continue at a much lesser pace but still ahead of the oncoming pack, Antnee hit's the lights first so that makes him today's winner of the sprint. :)

That was fun, I could get into this racing lark (just as long as it's no longer than a few hundred yards)...

My Stats
43 miles 2hrs 43 min, Av Speed 15.8mph, 1693 ft climbing (Bikehike)

Monday, 3 May 2010

North Cheshire Clarion club run 2 May 2010

That was flippin hard work....

A cold day in May saw just 4 of the Clarion faithful assemble at the usual place and time. As soon as I saw who had turned up I knew I was in for a hard time and I wasn't to be disillusioned. As soon as we set off we set a pace of 19+ mph and for the duration of the next 70 miles that speed was maintained on the flats of Cheshire and there was many many miles of flat...

Needles to say by the time we reached our cafe stop, the Venetian Marina Cafe in Cholmondeston Nantwich, my legs were a just a little fatigued probably due to the fact that we had a 15mph wind that helped us for the first quarter of the ride and then became a side and head wind for the rest of the ride combined with the relentless speed we rode. Also there was very few opportunity's for rest as we only stopped on one occasion on the way to the cafe and that was because Andy wanted to check out what looked like a fake stone war memorial made out of sheet metal dumped on the edge of a field somewhere out yonder. Other than that stop and the occasional traffic light or junction it was a constant 19+ mph or a fast balls out climb on the hills and inclines we came across - balls out to me that is...

After the cafe stop the same fast pattern was resumed but I tired quickly and found it hard at times to maintain the pace. I was concious of the fact that since the cafe stop I had done nothing on the front so when I managed to work my way to the front my stay there didn't last long due to the fact we hit a hill and I was overtaken by the climbing goats.... I did try, honestly I did :).

So to sum up it was a fast 70 mile run - I (we) worked very hard for long stretches at a time with no letup - we only stopped twice for more than a minute (plus the cafe stop) and my legs were quite shot come the end of the ride but there was a few plus points, OK there was one, the dark clouds that dominated the horizon did stay on the horizon, did feel a few spots of rain but that was all...

My Stats
70.89 miles, 4hrs 10min, Avg speed 17mph, 1621 ft climbing (Bikehike)