Sunday, 29 August 2010

North Cheshire Clarion club run 29 Aug 2010

What a day, wet, wet, windy wet more wetness and wind. Twelve of us set off from Stretton on a supposedly 'flat' route dressed in our wet weather gear with a cafe stop 30 miles into the ride.

After yesterdays Velodrome effort my legs today were still a little tender so I looked forward to a nice 'feels like no effort' flat route however first came the rain which isn't a big deal it just made the day a wet one but then came the wind, a side wind mostly but also a head wind at times and that for me became a real killer later on into the ride. A nice stop at the Lavender Farms cafe for some coffee and carrot cake and a good natter and then on again into winds and more rain...

I was OK riding to the cafe stop and felt good enough to spent a few miles on the front on occasion even though I wasn't quite recovered but then with the constant winds during the last 10 miles those last few miles became really hard work and now I could feel yesterdays efforts in my legs. Finally the sun came out to warm us up but too late I was tired and wet and also a little leg sore and when those traffic lights that marked the end of today's wind/rain fest came into view I quietly rejoiced...

A good route on any other day but today but would any route ridden today be a good route?.

My Stats
42.3 miles, 2hrs 40min, Av Speed 15.9, 1023 ft climbing (Garmin)

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Velodrome session No2 Aug 28 2010

An open invite from the Bury Clarion to attend a track training session held at the Manchester Velodrome went out to other Clarion members and the North Cheshire Clarion with myself and Anthony rallied to the call. I set out a little early because of the media predictions of travel chaos over the bank holiday weekend so I and my son Adam arrived an hour early - the roads were clear after all. Arriving really early gave us the opportunity to watch the previous session as they raced around the 'drome. Don't ask me what was going on but but there was some serious speed flying around and although I didn't recognise any of the riders one bloke came off the track with the name of Chris Pritchard on his top tube, who's Chris Pritchard? apparently he's been selected to represent Scotland at the 2010 Commonwealth games in Delhi, did we witness some medal winners practising?

Our turn now and all 14 from Bury, Stockport and North Cheshire Clarions gather around our coach as she explains the exercises she wants us to perform. Myself and Ant are not accredited unlike the majority riding today but we want to be so ask coach if she can put us through our paces towards getting on the accreditation ladder.

She explains what she wants us to do and sends us on our way. After 15 minutes or so she's confident that we will fit in OK with the more experienced track riders and has us join them. During the rest of the session we are put through some gruelling exercises with little opportunity for any real rest between exercise. One of the exercises involved having two groups of seven riding at a constant pace half a lap apart and when coach blew her whistle the first two from each group had to sprint off the front to catch up with the other group and tag onto the back of it. The pace of this this exercise was just about manageable cruising the blue line for a few laps until it came time for my own effort at a sprint and that was hard really hard work to catch up to the group half a lap in front with my heart feeling that it was about to explode and it was a great relief to catch up with the group for a breather for a few laps before I found myself on the front again and had to do it all over again and again and again, this went on for maybe 30 minutes before the next exercise....

Here's a shot of yours truly on the front of this group riding the blue line during one of the exercises awaiting the coaches whistle...

And again sprinting off the front at the whistle dropping down to the black line.

All the various exercises were typically ridden at a fast pace (for me) throughout and towards the end, the last 15 minutes I was starting to tire. We stopped with 10 minutes left on the clock and I thought (hoped) she would now give us a chat and send us on our way but nooo she had one final exercise for us to do and that involved the whole group riding on the blue line at I think I heard her say 42 kph (approx 26mph) and upping the pace every lap. I lasted 5 minutes and called it a day as my legs were feeling like lead now after that last short break and couldn't keep up the speed so I eased off for a couple of laps before hanging up my bike for the session. With the fast pace we had all been riding at for nearly 2 hours my legs were now well and truly stuffed; at around the hour and a half mark the session had flipped from being challenging fun to a real battle of willpower over the fatigue developing quickly in my legs.

Here's a video filmed by my son of one of the exercises, one in which was run at 'recovery' pace but with the blow of a whistle whoever was on the front had to sprint off. I'm on the back in this so had already done mine.

On reflection the session was fun and interesting but combined with a real challenge both fitness wise and tactically. Coach came over to myself and Anthony for a chat at the end of the session and said we did really well and that she would be happy to ride alongside us on the track - high praise indeed, and we had achieved the first 'blue slip' level. She also pointed out that the whole session was ridden at a higher pace than normal and no wonder we were shattered, then we find out why the high pace when we discover that many riding today were training for the Clarion track Championships being held next week!!!

We had great fun as well as a great workout and we will be back for our next step towards accreditation but can it wait a few weeks so our legs can well and truly heal from the onslaught that was inflicted on us today?

Photo's from today

Sunday, 22 August 2010

North Cheshire Clarion club run 22 Aug 2010

For a change the sun was out for today's North Cheshire Clarion's club run to the Tattenhall Ice Cream Farm. Twelve of us gathered at our usual start point in Stretton then we were off through Frodsham, Alvanley, kelsall, Beeston, Tarpolay, Weaverham and back to Stretton.

The route included a few hills, not really hard ones but hills nonetheless and I found them a little easier than normal. I think I was seeing the benefits of the riding of a few time trials over the last few weeks, official TT's along with my TT training runs at TT pace. Alvanley hill I use as a benchmark hill because it's the first hill to make me get off and walk way back when, was ridden fairly easily today. You know what it's like struggling up a hill, breathing is off the scale, legs feel like they are about to blow up, eyes bulging desperately searching for a top that looks so so far away and takes forever to arrive at, well today this did not happen, this hill was over and done with in what felt like seconds, yes it was hard work but no-where near as tough as in previous climbs on this particular hill. I think I will have to search for another 'benchmark' hill, and still on the topic of Alvanley Hill, this was the climb that had several riders gunning for the top, three of the lads shot off (safely) for the hill top and I think young martin freshly back from riding in the Alps took the hill and so he should, he's young, he's fast and he's up for a hilly challenge, in fact when I was talking to him during the ride he said riding in the Alps was easy!!! - you should give time trials a go Martin and give 'Nitrous Oxide' Dave a run for his money. Aside from a fast ascent of a couple of hills there was no racing or sprints however I couldn't resist sling-shotting around my favorite pond in the way I have described in a previous post.

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 I'm near, I finally 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 summerising today - It turned out to be a lovely warm sunny day with a nice cafe stop for tea n cake, two punctures and a couple of 'mechanicals' slowed the times down adding approx 30 minutes to the ride but that didn't really matter as the sun was out and everyone was enjoying it. A great ride today.

My Stats
50.26 miles, 3hrs 20 min, Av Speed 15.1, Av HR 143, 2142 ft climbing (Garmin)
Garmin Stats
Photos from today

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Kilton ‘10’

My last TT on this course was way back in May and I did fully intend to get into some sort of training regime and make my road bike as much ‘aero’ as I possibly could and I did make a start with the acquisition of a set of Deda bars; that however was it, something in ‘real life’ got in the way.

Moving on a few months we are at the last opportunity of the year for a ride in this TT so I wanted to get this ride in and get it in I did. Arriving really early (6.15) for the 7pm start the car park was already a third full and coming up to 7pm it was now completely full with cars overspilling onto the roads. I was No 31 so a 7.32pm start for me. After a brief downpour came a warm up, then a trundle down to the start line and with a countdown I was pushed off. Giles was 1 minute in front and behind me was Martin(a). I knew I’d never catch Giles and hoped to keep Martin at bay however Martins a good strong rider (even though this was his first TT) so knew I had a real challenge on my hands.

The last time I rode the Kilton I went off too fast and this time I also went off fast but not quite as fast so once I got my ragged breathing under some sort of control somewhere near the Kilton Inn I was able to settle into a rhythm down on the TT bars and rode as hard as I could without blowing up - my legs dipping in and out of the ‘burn’. My HR was within the range I knew it should be so all is going well. A few small rises and dips on the way down, then on the roundabout reduced to a crawl necessary to avoid the front grill of a HGV and then the 2nd half and reverse of the route back up to the start line. A hill up to the motorway bridge where I was down to 17mph, the sun was getting low and bright, so glad I had my SMART ½ Watt rear light blinking away hopefully blindingly; a long shadow starts to overtake me, Martin I think but nope it’s No 33 complete with TT bike and pointy hat and so I ride on sometimes in the drops but more so on the TT bars which I now find quite comfortable apart from being perched on the very tip of my saddle (TT frame on it’s way). Rolling road now coming up to the Kilton again, a photographer or two at the Kilton so a quick blow to get rid of the snot for my photo and then it’s a slight downhill where I pick up speed and again another long shadow but still not Martin. The end is now in sight so a little spurt of speed up that last slight rise towards the line and bloody nora, now Martin decides to take me the bugger, on the piggin line sheesh.

So, great rides today, I achieved a personal best by just a tad under 2 minutes as well as PB's for Martin and many of the NCC racing today.

I think it’s clear what I need to work on over the winter (winter already?) now the seasons almost over. Legs, my legs are my weakness, and in the words of the great Roy Batty to his maker, ‘I want more LIFE fu***r’, I’d say ‘I want more strength please’….

My Stats
8.75 miles, 25min 19 seconds, Av/Max Spd 20.6/29.5 mph, Av/Max HR 167/176
Garmin stats

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Seamons 25 mile TT & North Cheshire Clarion club run 14/15 August 2010

Potentially a busy weekend, firstly a Saturday 25 mile TT to ride then maybe a Sunday club run.

So firstly the Time Trial. As I said in my last post I was quietly excited by this 25 mile TT but I don’t know why I should be seeing as my one and only other TT was the Kilton 10 (8.75 miles) and it nearly killed me. Thinking back to the Kilton effort I think I went off too fast and was suffering far too early into the TT so by the half way point where the real work began on the uphill part I was already too far gone. This time I planned to ride this 25 mile effort differently, I had a plan and that plan was to steadily ramp up my effort into my correct HR zone.

So to the start in a little village called Goostry near to the Jodrell Bank Observatory. I bumped into some of the guys from my club the North Cheshire Clarion; we chatted for a while then finally got on our bikes for a warm up in the last half hour before our start times by riding up and down some of the country lanes near the start point. My start time was 3.24 pm and getting into line at the start point early I noticed I had no minute man. No number 83 (So that makes me No 84) he didn’t turn up. Not that I was expecting to catch my minute man but it would have been nice to have a target within sight and the opportunity to do so.

So time to await the count-down. Behind me down the line in 90th position dressed ominously in the black of Rapha Condor Sharp was a professional cyclist called Matt Cronshaw, I was the donkey and he was the thoroughbred and I fully expected to be passed very quickly by this guy.

The Time Trial.

At the start point in the queue awaiting my turn, a guy 3 minutes in front of me was on his countdown when a pheasant came out of the hedgerow and limped across the road a few yards in front of him. (eerily similar to that scene from the film ‘Galaxy Quest’ where the cute little creature with the injured foot limped out into the open and everyone’s going awwww). He gets the shove off all the time pointing his finger at the poor creature threatening to eat it if it got in his way; it didn’t, it was startled and quickly limped off into the opposing hedgerow, the episode was slightly funny though.

So a few minutes later it’s my turn to be shoved off. I’m on my countdown, 15 seconds, 10, 5 - 4 - 3- 2 -1 – GO! And with a shove I was off, I wanted a slow ramp up to my desired HR range however I got into that zone within a minute of the start, I planned for it to take a little longer but you know what it’s like, it’s a race and the adrenaline is pumping and you feel that you need to get up to speed a.s.a.p., besides; I didn’t want to make it too easy for those behind me to catch me.

Soon though they did start to catch me, my minute man came passed me within 10 minutes and then on 22 minutes Matt Cronshaw came trundling passed like I was standing still and that became the pattern for the duration of the next hour as rider after rider overtook me, I must have had at least 6 riders do so if not more - I lost count…

The ride itself for me was tough in places and fantastic in others. Sometimes I was down on my clip-ons cruising along seemingly effortless at 25 mph and then turn a corner into a headwind and down to 17 mph. There were only a couple of hills, not major ones but enough to slow me down to 16 mph (ish). At one time on my first lap I was cruising along only to see a herd of cows crossing the road in front of me forcing me to slow down and nearly stop before Mr Farmer saw me, ran out into the road blocking his cows and allowing me through - thank you Mr farmer. I lost seconds there as I did in other places notably roundabouts and corners where I displayed caution navigating around the traffic and through corners also being polite thanking the stewards as I passed whereas others just barrelled through with little to no caution whatsoever.

The time passed slowly for the first 18 miles but then the realisation that there was only 7 more miles to go spurred me on and renewed my determination for the rest of the race but it’s at this point that I heard a knocking noise from my bottom bracket area and looking down I could see that my pump had slid down it’s holder (again argh) and was now catching the pedal on every revolution, very annoying but I didn’t stop and if it wore a hole in the pump so be it. Ahead of me I see a rider, I’m catching him and I’m chuffed as this will be my first overtake. I’m coming alongside ready to say ‘DIG IN” when I notice no race numbers on him - bummer it’s just a cyclist out on his own ride. I overtake him with a good afternoon and he then speeds up and tucks in behind me, sheesh some people, I’m the one supposedly racing here and he’s not so what do I do? Do I speed up to show him not to mess with the big boys or just carry on? I decided to just carry on at my own pace and he hung in there for 5 minutes until we hit a hill and I left him forever - yay go me, I dropped him on the hill…

I’m coming to 25 miles now and I forgot this TT lark is a low key thing with no grandiose finish line with a chequered flag and clapping entourage. So I’m looking at my Garmin and it’s reading 25.1 miles, wondering if I had missed the finish when I spy a car in a lay-by with an older gentleman and younger lady peering at me and there it is, a white line just visible in the road. Done, all over, finished. I lap my Garmin and very slowly ride back to the club house a mile and half away back into Goostry.

The target for my age was 1:10:04 whereas my actual official time was 1:15:36, I was over 5 minutes down but I am still pleased with myself, this was my first 25 mile TT, I didn’t bonk, I rode within my limits, I rode roughly to my plan, I managed to finish and I earned myself a club bronze award, what’s not to be happy about!

Now I’m writing this account 2 days on from the event and in hindsight I think I could have ridden harder, I fully expected to be absolutely knackered that night and over the next day but I wasn’t, my legs were fine so I feel I could have put more effort into it but at the very least I have learnt lots and know the next time that I need to ride harder - all room for improvement...

My Time
1hr 15min 36seconds, Av speed 19.84 mph, 588 ft climbing, Av/Max hr 166/171 (max 191)

The rest of the clan all did well but ignore Anthony M's time he managed to get lost, the poor lad...

Dave M 1:07:09 22.34
Andy W 1:08:44 21.82
Giles P 1:08:55 21.77
Matt E 1:11:20 21.03
Gary C 1:12:02 20.82
Mark R 1:15:36 19.84
Gary W 1:16:08 19.70
Anthony M 1:22:01 18.29

Sundays Club Ride

I wasn’t expecting to go out as I had a daughter to pick up from the Airport in the early afternoon and I thought Mrs Mark would take umbridge at me going out for both days of our weekend, however when she said for me to make sure I was home in time for the pick up I said yes dear and the ride was now a goer. As I have already said my legs felt fine after the previous days TT so meeting up with 9 others at Stretton we set off in a clockwise flat loop of 40 miles. For the first few miles I was on the front with Antnee but with our talking about the previous days events we didn’t realise we were riding at around 20 mph – so glad it was flat. We did slow down a little but everyone seemed happy with the speed including a new face who took it all in his stride and so we continued at a reasonably high pace for the rest of the ride. As I said it was flat there was little wind and the sun was out, a very nice day.

A stop off at a garden centre we’ve been to a few times and then onwards homewards through the lanes of Cheshire including walking the bikes over a narrow walkway over a stream and through a park of some sort near Warrington before arriving back at Stretton. A good slightly brisk ride on a warm sunny day, very nice indeed.

Photo's from the weekend rides here

My Stats
40.64 miles, 2 hrs 25 min, Av speed 16.8 993 ft climbing Av/max hr 138/165 bpm (max 191)

Sunday, 8 August 2010

North Cheshire Clarion club run 8th Aug 2010

I've not been around for the last few weekends, the hot beaches of Greece have had my full attention so today was my first time back in the saddle for a club run in 3 weeks. Today's route intentionally included 75% of next weeks Seamons CC open 25 mile time trial so that allowed us to examine corners, potholes, junctions etc and gave us a good idea of what to expect for next week. The pace on this ride was fairly slow as the average speed and my average heart rate alludes to and that meant plenty of time for chat with the other 14 guys n gals out today.

Our rides have changed over the last few weeks away from a higher pace and the occasional sprint to a much more sociable slower pace which is great for chat but that means you need to get your training in during the week and not rely on the Sunday ride. That's not to say that we didn't have our little moments, a certain small hill jumped out at one point that meant a little race to the top and the final roundabout called for a bit of speed that had my legs nicely pumped up just before the end of the ride.

Next week for the me and quite a few other NCC'ers is the above mentioned 25 mile TT. I just don't know why I decided to put my name down for it as my only other previous time trial was a 10 mile effort that nearly killed me so why???? Anyway I'm now quietly excited by the prospect of busting a lung and have been tinkering my clip-ons for a more comfortable ride, I've moved the cups wider and back towards the rider so hopefully a less twitchy and more comfortable ride will be the result, I will find out during the week.

84 Mark Rowe North Cheshire Clarion 1:10:04 V48 15.24

The above figures are all to do with the TT and I had no idea what it all meant, I had to have it all explained by Andy. So apparently my starting time is 3.24 pm in 84th position and my expected time is 1hr 10 minutes and 4 seconds lol I have a feeling my time will be around 1 hr 20 min, we will see oh the V48 means I'm a veteran, sound good eh, a VET! what it means in reality is that I'm decrepit old git and should be put down by a vet ha. I also have Matthew Cronshaw from Rapha Condor Sharp starting in 90th position and I reckon it will take him all of 15 minutes to catch and overtake me oh the fun I have to look forward to...

Todays photo's

My Stats
45.6 miles, 2hrs 55min, Av speed 15.6mph, 989 ft climbing, Av Hr 116 (Max 191)