Sunday, 31 October 2010

North Cheshire Clarion club run Halloween 31 Oct 2010

Another Sunday 50 miler the same as last week but that's where the similarity ends, last week it was 50 miles with a few hilly climbs today it was 50 miles but relatively flat. The weather turned out to be fairly mild with only a few spots of rain as we started out from Stretton. A new start point today took us away from the road edge by the pub to the Fir tree Close side road that leads to the Spires Hospital in south Warrington. Its a place we have been parking at from the clubs start and only a couple of hundred yards from the pub we used to meet at, it's much safer now that our runs are attracting 20+ riders on a regular basis now.

Today we had somewhere in the region of 23/24 riders playing out and again it was a split group with the 2nd group starting off 5 minutes later than the first. A nice easy pace for the whole duration of the ride and no hills to speak of. We had another 4 or 5 new riders with us, half in each group and often the pace was dictated by the new riders as they adjusted to riding in a group, they all did well and can only improve as confidence grows riding within the group.

We are getting close to the designated cafe stop at Spinney Motorcaravans now and in the distance we spot a group of cyclists, they are far enough away to make it hard to identify them properly but I could make out blue and yellow so I'm thinking we are catching the first group . I'm on the front with Sarah and I'm itching to catch them but I remember my responsibility to keep the pace steady so reluctantly scratched that itch - it wasn't them after all, when we arrived at the cafe that group was in the queue in front and our first group were already happily munching away.

Time to move on after nourishment and with a nice tailwind we set an easy 17 - 20 mph pace for many miles before turning into the wind slowing us down again and then finally after nearly 50 miles the ride comes to an end.

So today after my last few weeks of inactivity and the resulting loss of fitness, I finally feel I have turned the corner and am finally on the road (haha) back to fitness. Early days yet and a long way to go before I'm back to my old self but today there was nothing that taxed me. In saying that it wasn't a real test today as it was flat and only 50 miles with little wind in the face.

Tomorrow I'm starting a training regime based on the Joe Friel system as described in his 'Training Bible' and am due to do 12 weeks of base training that involves heart rates that will not be compatible with the hillier club runs, looks like I and a few others riding base miles will have to seek out an alternative flat route on those days...

Photos from today's ride

My Stats
49.22 miles, 3 hrs 16 min, Av speed 15.1 mph, Av/Max HR 138/173 (Act Max 191) 1469 ft climbing (Garmin)
79% of ride in zones 1 & 2

Garmin Connect data

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Well I did ask for it...

Today was a club run 50 miler out into the hilly region north of Bolton setting off from north Warrington with nearly 3000 ft climbing. A cool start had me wearing 2 base layers under my windtex jacket, £35's worth of Sealskinz winter gloves (thanks to the Mrs), shoe covers and hat - all kitted out for winter. But would I be too warm considering the climbing we had in store with all this gear on, time will tell...

Off we set riding out towards the east of Wigan and everything was ok, no problems so far and then we hit the mile long drag of Horwich where my 'war wound' started playing up as a stitch flared up slowing me to a crawl and when I mean crawl, I crawled, I wasn't happy...

After I recovered and after more miles of yet more ups and downs I glimpsed the climb up Winter Hill on Rivington Rd as it spun to the right with its twists and more worryingly it's ups and more ups, you can see them coming which was quite demoralising and I'm wondering if this is where I have to get off and walk but nope just 1.5 miles of steady plodding got me to the top to be rewarded with a 2.5 mile plunge down to the Chapel Tea rooms in Rivington. Coffee, cake and a piano player greeted us warmly at the tea rooms and then it was onwards once more.

Flat all too quickly swapped places with hills, up down up down, Jeckle & Hyde country this, one minute nicely descending then its climb climb climb, beauty and the beast - beastland. All this climbing and yes I'm warm but not roasting, perhaps I was a little too warm crawling up Horwich and Rivington but mostly I was just warm enough, those gloves were a little cool to start with but warmed up nicely as the ride progressed and as the day warmed up so I'm happy with them as winter gloves.

Close to home now and on the last small climb of the day and I get shooting cramps down both thighs, ouch that hurt, not had those since riding the LCL 'sportive' in sept 2009. So today tallying up although I rode all the climbs I suffered a stitch, twinges in my hamstrings and lower back and the already mentioned thigh cramps and it's not surprising really, I did ask for it attempting a hilly climb when I'm so obviously unfit due to this rotten cold/cough that took me 6 weeks to get rid of. Prior to this little spell of sickness this would have been a taxing but enjoyable ride fairly hard on the lungs/legs but easily manageable. I'm not complaining though, I'm glad I'm back on the road and back with the club, just telling it as it was...

9% of ride in Zone 5

My Stats
49.7 miles, 3 hrs 21 min, Av speed 14.5, Av/max Hr 149/176 (191 act max) 2990 ft climbing (Garmin)

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Sunday 17th October - Solo run

Yes I'm under the weather again. I'd been improving all week so was all excited for the Sunday club run however Friday morning I woke up coughing with a really rough throat also shivers that lasted throughout the day so as soon as I came home from work it was straight to bed. Felt a little better later on but I just knew that once again I would not be going out on Sunday. Saturday comes and it's a miracle it must be a 24hr thing as I'm feeling quite good so have hopes once again but (too many buts) 11.30 is my appointment for the annual Flu jab so once again the ride is in the balance depending on how this affects me and it does affect me as the flu jab gives you mild flu like symptoms....

Sunday morning now and I did intend to get out, all my gear is set out, my bike is ready and I'm woken up by my alarm, I don't feel bad at all, quite good in fact. I come downstairs, look out of the window to see a mild frost so I sit there on the pouffe umming n arring, should I shouldn't I, will I won't I be ok? Will the cold make my cough worse? I decide that it wasn't worth the risk of a relapse so reluctantly dive back into bed.

Mid day now, it's warmed slightly outside and the sun is shining on a crisp autumn day and I'm itching to get out so out I get. My plan was flat miles on a voyage of discovery around the south Appleton area trying to keep my heart down in zone 2 - Joe Friels Aerobic zone. What a beautiful day, a bit of a nip in the air but it's great just cruising at around 15 - 19 mph with my HR in the aerobic zone.

I'm in the south Appleton area now (after taking a wrong turn near Stretton making me double back on myself) and just riding around these traffic free lanes is an utterly fantastic experience its a great opportunity to have a good old think about life the universe what's for tea etc. A few times I did get a little lost as I meandered around the lanes and not being a native of this area had to rely on signposts to get me out of there, here's a photo of one such occasion at some place called Arley Hall, wherever that is...

After 30 minutes of this I'm getting a little worried, such thoughts as will I find my way out before it goes dark? will I have to ring air sea rescue to help me out of this maze? riding this area is just so nice I don't want it to end but time is pressing so I consult my Garmin for a route out and back into civilization

Some little Mansion out yonder in the middle of nowhere...

Eventually after seemingly going around in circles I stumble across the A49 and then I know where I am so it's onwards homewards.

What a great route that was, 30 miles of flatness - ideal for the winter 'off season' zone 2 endurance rides that start in December (according to 'the plan', the Joe Friel plan)

My Stats
30 miles, 1hr 53min, Av/Max speed 16/24 mph Av/Max HR 146/172 (Act max 191), 804 ft climbing (Garmin)

Monday, 11 October 2010

North Cheshire Clarion club run 10 Oct 2010

I'm was really looking forward to this ride as the weather forecast was for 17'C and little wind, I'm feeling quite good, good enough for a flat bimble in the beautiful back lanes of Cheshire but recently how I'm feeling prior to a ride isn't necessarily a good indicator as to how I will hold up for the duration of the ride.

So bike in car, kit on ready for the coolish start and off to Stretton, bike out of car and ride the 300 yards to the Cat & Lion and what a sight, 21 of us ready to ride, no scratch that here comes Antnee and another so that makes 23. It's decided that we should split into 2 groups and I'm in the 1st group. We set off 5 minutes apart and set a good pace heading for the cafe stop aprox 20 miles in. I'm on the front with Andy W for the first 15 minutes or so and then remember that it's my first ride back so should really be taking it easy and taking advantage of the shelter within the group so drop back and played the 'tail end Charlie'. We had 6 new guys with us today so 3 in each group was the plan. One puncture on the way to the cafe and we still managed to arrive before the 2nd group by a good 15 minutes, they also had a puncture however our puncture was sorted super quick. A 10 minute wait in the sun for the cafe to open at 10:30 but it was worth it for the walnut and coffee cake.

The day now has well and truly warmed up so now we set of to observe the start of the Johnny Helms memorial TT with many blasts from the past & the present, people like Graeme Obree, Yvonne McGregor, Colin Lewis, Les West, 'Super' Sid Barras, Phil Thomas, Vicky Thomas, Glen Longland amongst many others . After witnessing the start of this cyclist and spectator cluttered event we head off again for home again separating the group by 5 minutes however a 2nd puncture had the 2nd group roll past us not long after this restart and by the time we got started again we didn't get to see the 2nd group until we rolled up to the finish as Sarah and Paul waved as they drove off bikes already stowed away in cars.

So Sundays ride for me was a relief, a relief that nothing untoward happened regarding my fitness although in saying that it was more or less flat but there was one small hill that I gave it the bifters on and I managed that ok with no repercussions. Next weeks ride is the complete opposite of today with a hilly ride out through Frodsham, Delamere and Willington including such climbs as the start of Manley Rd which is a double climb just out of Frodsham where the road ramps up quickly eases of slightly then ramps up again, it's here that I've hit my HR max on two occasions and where I've nearly puked but don't let that put you off - that time was my first ride after an illness so was a silly thing for me to do however do be prepared for it it's not easy (for someone of my poor climbing abilities that is) - EDIT, just noticed this climb isn't actually included in Sundays ride so ignore me - Other notable climbs that we have done as a club and will be familiar with are the climbs around Delamere, The Yeld and that winding serpentine lane of a climb called Chapel lane in Willington, normally I'd be really looking forward to this but there are still doubts in my mind as to whether I will manage OK, just have to wait and see...

Today's Photos

My Stats
45.7 miles, 2hrs 49 min, Av Speed 16.2, Av/Max HR 144/174 1064 ft climbing (Garmin)

Friday, 8 October 2010

Catch up time....

Well it's long time no post from me and my excuse is that I have nothing much worthwhile to write about. I still haven't recovered properly from this cold/cough that has plagued me for nearly a month now and that has seriously impacted upon my fitness as I found out at the Manchester Velodrome last week. In the preceding week before the 'drome I put in a few turbo sessions, nothing fancy just a few sessions to get the legs turning once more. As I might have mentioned in my last post I had hopes of being fit enough to ride the Seasons of Mists Audax on Oct 3rd but with the minimal workouts I was doing it was slim hopes.

Anyway Friday 1st October comes along and with it the NCC's contribution towards breaking the world record for the amount of watts produced over 24 hours from bicycles held at the Manchester Velodrome. The event hosted by the malt loaf people Soreen kicked off at 5pm and with the traffic at that time of day on a Friday I just managed to get there on time, fill out the questionnaire, get changed, hop on the Watt bike and we are off. I feel like I'm doing ok for the first 10 minutes or so but then the lack of cooling starts to make it's presence known and I feel like I'm about to blow a gasket, the saddle, o that slab of plastic starts to annoy and no position on that torturous thing was comfortable but despite that I'm doing ok averaging 180 watts for the first 30 minutes and then it felt like I bonked as most of my strength deserted me and it took all I had to maintain 150 watts for the last 30 minutes. It wasn't a pleasurable experience but like everyone there who undoubtedly felt the heat I plodded on determined to see it through to the end and I'm glad to say I did although the hour couldn't come soon enough for me. It was all for a good cause though with The Christie being the beneficiaries.

From left to right, Martin, Gaz, Olympian 400m runner Iwan Thomas, Andy and me.

More photos here and here

I headed home with a feeling of doom for the Sunday Audax and it's 8000+ ft of climbing so I decided to sleep on the decision to call it off or not, Saturday rolls around now and yup I'm still under the weather so give Martin who I was cadging a lift with a text that I'd decided not to risk it. Imagine what would happen if I'd took a bad turn in the middle of no-where with no support except for the lads, I'm sure they would have helped me limp home but then it's ride spoilt for everyone. So instead I pin my hopes on the normal Sunday club run, Sunday comes I look through the window see the heavy rain and promptly dived back into bed so no ride for me and what a correct decision that was, go read Ades blog who rode the Audax or Phil's blog who rode the club run...

I'm writing this five days on from that weekend and only today Friday have I dared swing a leg over a bike by commuting into work on my single speed and that went ok I'm feeling stronger although I know I'm still not 100% but I'm getting there and low and behold the suns out and it's warm so Sunday hopefully I will be back on the bike with the NCC on a flat 40+ miles club ride - fingers well and truly crossed.