Thursday, 15 September 2011

Wow It's been How Long???

Mid July was my last entry, eight weeks...

Why have I stopped blogging? simple really, I've not been on my bike. Why? Well it's all to do with these bones of mine and events. Bones that are weak due to osteoporosis and the event? well some of you may think I'm being silly but it was the death of my faithful companion Zach as I made mention of in my last entry.

I've been on edge when I've been on my bike since they told me I was made of glass and that made me really depressed to think that the cycling I loved so much could so easily put me back in hospital with just one little fall and then came the death of Zach and I think this was the straw that broke the camels back as they say. I'm not one to give up but it was all just too much and I did just that, I gave up and went on holiday. The next line should be I'M BACK but I'm not, my bikes are gathering dust, my Garmin has disappeared behind the sofa somewhere and I've put all my cycling gear away however I'm really hoping that next year I will get back into the swing of it and resume my cycling. Turbo over winter me thinks?

There is good news though, Zach has a passed the baton on to the shark known as 9 week old Ozzy  :-)

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Zach - 2000 to 2011

Quite a few posts back I made mention of my loyal Dobermanns that I've had the privilege of owning down through the years with Zach pictured below being our current Dobermann, well I'm sad to report that Zach passed away yesterday with what looks like heart failure. Over the last few months he's started to display signs of his old age, he was 10 years 7 months. His walks at times were getting slower and slower but his zeal for 'walkies' was undiminished and yesterday we went for our walk in the morning as usual but in the late afternoon he took a turn for the worse and passed away at home at 7pm.   

Already just one day on he is sadly missed, I went for our walk today on my own, you can imagine how wrong it felt, the house feels empty, I have lost my pal.

You may say that he's just a dog but you would be so wrong, he was a dog yes but he was also much more than that, he was a member of this family, he was like a child with his own likes and dislikes, he loved a rawhide bone and would happily chew on one all day he also loved his walks especially with 'Dad' - me. When one of us came into the house or first thing in the morning, he would bring you a gift usually the bone, sometimes this 'gift' was unwelcome as he after hunting it down, would often drop it onto your bare feet - that hurt. He loved everyone that came into my house and wanted to be fussed. He was also an excellent guard barking menacingly at anything he thought was a threat, he would even bark at someone trying to leave the house, he didn't want them to go. He didn't like rain... or cats...

Will we get Dobermann No5? You bet we will. Why? The pull of the Dobermann is his character, intelligence and above all his undivided loyalty to myself and family, every Dobermann we have had the privilege of owning have had these qualities and I can't imagine what it would be like to not have one in the house.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Hello World...

Yes hello world that's how I feel right now after being 6 months in the dumps so to speak, I feel fit and healthy and that feeling is the best feeling in the world, you really do miss it when something happens to rob you of your hard gained fitness but enough of that you must all be getting fed up of reading about me going on about these things...

Sooo, today or rather this weekend has been the most fruitful enjoyable weekends of the year for me and it all started on Friday as I headed to the gym to do a simple all over workout concentrating on my legs but getting in a few upper body exercises. I want to do some proper squats, I hate squats they make me want to puke but they are the king of all exercises as you get a full body workout however all the hard core body builders are hogging the stands grunting out 150+ kg and I would feel a right weed squatting with probably just 60kg so instead I head over to the leg press to force out a few reps, the squat will have to wait for quieter times...

A beautiful day in the mid 20's 'C so I set off on my bike to do my usual loop around Preston on the Hill, it's just 20 miles so just over an hours worth of bike and sun. The chippings that the Council in their cheepness had deposited all over the roads I like to ride on and has stopped me from riding this loop has mostly gone, ground into the tarmac or slung to the sides of the roads by a few weeks worth of cars but I'm still cautious travelling these roads however on Saturday it wasn't the chippings that got me it was farmer Giles as he trimmed his thorn bush hedges with yes you can guess it, a puncture. I stop in Preston on the Hill opposite fellow club member Martin Hickmans house but I cant get the thorn out of the tyre so knock on Martins door and with the aid of a pair of tweezers we eventually get the thorn out, so thanks Martin and Jackie for your help. Note to self, buy some tweezers...

Another fantastic day even warmer than Saturday and I love the sun, the warmer and sunnier the better for me, so at 11ish myself and Phil M set off on a 30 mile loop. We want an easy ride a steady 15 - 18 mph ride, but today Phil is a bit like my dog with a cat. My dog thinks he is a wise dog, he knows cats can hurt him with those nasty sharp claws but any cat that decides to leg it is fair game and my dog will chase until it's cornered then he will back off, quite normal I suppose. So here we are having a chat along Marsh Lane when another roadie comes past and the chase is on, Phils off after him down in the drops so I follow. We are racing along at 23 to 24 mph and I'm puffed, we catch him as we come to the junction at the end of Marsh lane, roadie turns left as is our route and I thought bloody ell here we go again but there's another roadie having a break on the junction and as we pass I hear a 'Hi Mark', I look and recognise Andy from the club so we pull over for a very welcome break and a chat. We ride on together heading through Comberbach and then cross the A559 into Great Budworth where there's a hill which Andy storms up as myself and Phil climb at our own modest pace, it's here that the 'sprint' we had a few miles comes back to bite us in the bum with tired drained legs as we crawled up this little ankle biter of a hill. Andys waiting for us outside a pub and it's so tempting just to nip in for a pint...

Phil M & Andy

We resist the urge and carry on and then it's Andys time for a turn on the front and when he does the pace goes up so once again I'm puffed but it's all ok as this sort of pace is whats needed to nudge those poor fitness levels up a notch or three.

  Arses of which Phils was very sore - new saddle...

Eventually we say our byes to Andy as Andy heads over to Tatton and we carry on heading north through to Appleton Thorn and then west where we were down to 15 mph into a bit of a headwind which leached energy like multi coloured fairies as we headed towards Stretton and finally home.

30 great warm sunny miles in the bag, great stuff and my leg didn't hurt at any point in the ride. Later came a stubby or two in the garden to top the day off and a fantastic way to finish the whole weekend off ...

My Stats
30.5 miles, 2 hrs, 15.2 mph average, Av HR 144bpm (75% max) 901 ft climbing (garmin)

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Six months...

January 2nd to July 2nd 2011
It's six months today since my spill in January which resulted in a broken hip, radius and ulna (elbow) bones and I think I've had a remarkable recovery. I'm not blowing my own trumpet in saying that, I put it down to modern surgery and recovery techniques. This last six months has had me go from lying on my back in a bed wondering if I will ever get back to walking normally never mind getting back onto a bike to now being limp and pain free and to top it all I'm getting back to some sort of normality when it comes to cycling. I'm not out with the club regularly like I used to be just yet, that's for the near future but I'm out on the road or on my turbo 3 to 5 times a week.

I said I'm pain free and limp free and that status has only been achieved over the last couple of weeks. Courtesy of the NHS I have been on a physio 'knee class' for the last seven weeks. For the first couple of weeks I definitely improved in my strength and gait but after those initial two weeks I felt I went downhill in that I suffered for the rest of the week after a Monday session, my limp was pronounced and I was in pain however I missed a week due to a hospital visit during week 6 and I feel that that week of rest from physio helped me to recover enough to gain more strength and to get rid of the pain, to heal, I needed that rest. I've finished with the class now I have been cast off with instructions to carry on at my own convenience at my local Fitness First gym, an instruction I need to keep.

Osteo what?
I may have already mentioned it in a past blog entry that the reason I broke so easily was that I have started with osteoporosis in my hips and a milder form of osteoporosis called osteopenia in my spine. How did I get to this unfortunate state? Apparently my other problem of renal failure and transplant combined with the immunosupressant drugs that stops my bionic kidney being rejected can cause these conditions, bummer eh! Now, exactly six months post breaks I can say that my legs have gotten back to that stage where I feel like I float when I walk, like I'm not walking but gliding and my limp has gone, just disappeared and that feels abfab.

I'm a Junkie
Initially from the accident on and every 4 hours or so and more recently mostly at night I been been taking strong pain meds with codeine, codeine is an opiate, a derivative of opium. Maybe as a result I have lost some kidney function as I was told last week so I decided to go cold turkey on the pain meds. I have recently only been taking them at night or when I've been in pain during the day but it's now day 4 off them and I've suffered, I've had some withdrawal symptoms. Can't sleep, can't sit still, stomach cramps, the trots but the worst is the jitters. Sitting here I would get this overwhelming feeling where I just want to get up and run, to scream, I would clench all my muscles really tight and shake, this feeling would last only a few seconds but I want it gone and today, Saturday, day 4 they have gone and I'm off the codeine. Codeine is a minor drug compared to the really hard stuff and what I went through to get off them was bad enough, can't imagine the torture some people must have to go through coming off the really hard stuff...

So where am I now...
I'm walking normally
I'm pain free
I'm regaining my strength in both my left leg and arm
I'm out cycling
I'm happy because of all the above

What do I aspire to...
To get back on the Sunday club runs and back to the Velodrome.
Regain my confidence on the bike

I would like to thank everyone that has given me support, from my many club mates from the North Cheshire Clarion who came visit me and provide me with mags and DVD's and the many words of sympathy and support through the clubs forums, texts and phone calls, from the unsolicited help via email from strangers, individuals who have been through similar and took the time to write out lengthy but very informative and encouraging emails namely Mike. My family, my wife Mel who has helped me through this, help you cannot put a price on...

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Sunday 26th June - a great day for a ride...

Sunday was the pick of the weekend as far as the weather forecasters were concerned and by Jove they certainly got it right (eventually). I had made arrangements to ride with old cycling buddy Phil M for a lazy jaunt in the flatlands of Cheshire. We met up at 11am and at that time it was overcast but very warm, we set out heading out towards Comberbach riding at a steady 16 mph and as time went on it got sunnier and hotter which is great imo, I love riding in the sun in the countryside having a chat. It wasn't all at a leisurely pace there was a few occasions where we blasted along until the lungs called for mercy.

There was also a couple of minor hills on this route, perhaps the steepest hills I've encountered since my accident and a great opportunity to test my recovering leg. These hills are not steep perhaps approx 7-10% at most but I gave it a bit of a kick on these hills and I'm glad to say that my legs were fine, no pains, no aches just my lungs giving me jip towards the top of the hills.

A great little ride which we both enjoyed, mostly flat and traffic free with a couple of small hills. Is there any more you can ask of a lazy Sunday jaunt in the countryside? I think not, well on second thoughts, perhaps cake?...

My Stats
28 miles, 1hr 52mins, Av Speed 14.9 mph, Av Hr 148 (77% max), 812 ft climbing (garmin)   

Saturday, 25 June 2011

NCC Club Road Riding Skill Session 18 June 2011

The North Cheshire Clarion has 3 recently qualified British Cycling Go-Ride level 2 coaches amongst its ranks Geoff, Paul and James and today all club members were given the opportunity to participate in some road riding skill sessions held on a near empty car park in Birchwood, Warrington.  A good turnout with 25 present all looking forward to who knows what. After the coaches had set up all those little cones and a few flags here and there on the car park we were split into three groups, one group for each coach. I was in Coach James' group and it wasn't soon before he was barking orders as he had us go through a few simple exercises aimed at getting us working better as a group around a square of cones firstly individually and then in pairs. Next a narrow chicane of cones which was navigated in pairs. All the exercises are designed to make us work better together, to get us communicating as we worked around 90' turns, to have us more observant as we attempted tight turns.

The last couple of exercises were really fun but hard work, firstly we were split into five groups IIRC, each group was paired off against another in a team pursuit as shown in the piccy below. I think it was a race of 5 laps but the group I was in was at a disadvantage as our very first race was against the winners of the first pairing, that first winning group had had a practice round, we didn't so it's no wonder we were well and truly beaten, that's my excuse as to why we were battered and I'm sticking to it....

The last exercise was was another team pursuit but this time 12 v 12 and I thought that this race wasn't going to last long as the long line of riders from each team stretched around half the track but this isn't how it all panned out. Initially after a few minutes we were gaining on the other group and was within a few bike lengths but one of the 'rules' is that there should be less than a bike length between each rider and after a while we were getting a little stretched so had to back off the pace slightly. This went on for a few minutes before we started again to gain on the tiring back riders of the opposing group and finally, finally, at last we caught them - not before time as I was seriously starting to tire and wondered if I was to be first to pull out, didn't happen I lasted the distance but was really puffed!!!

My thoughts on these last two pursuits was that whoever was on the front gave it some welly coming out of the bend onto the straight resulting in the line stretching and working hard to catch up before having to slam on the brakes as we entered the bend, repeat, repeat over and over for 10 minutes and you have seriously stretched and knackered riders, give everyone their credit though despite it being hard work, no one gave in and everyone lasted the distance...

 (YouTube video courtesy of North Cheshire Clarions News Blog link)

The last exercise of the day was a bit of fun with a bit of bike limbo, we all lined up and went under the bar one by one. At the end of each round the bar went down a few inches, the first couple of rounds caught the taller riders out and I lasted until round three when stuff I had in my back pockets caught the bar. It was fun though as the bar got lower and lower to see some riders hanging onto the sides of their bikes in order to get through. We are now down to two riders but the bar is now so low that the bikes cannot physically get through catching the bars or a shifter on the horizontal bar.

A fun day of the type of riding that inspires confidence of riding closely within a group and placing trust in your fellow riders, it was well worth the effort that went into the smooth running of todays training.

Photos from todays fun link

Lastly, you are probably wondering why this report is a week late, well I had other things on my mind as I was officially given the diagnosis of osteoporosis last week and even though I was expecting it because I did my research into the figures I received a couple of months ago from my DEXA scan, it was still depressing to to be told officially. Since that time I have been in a bit of a daze as to how to proceed with my cycling, do I give it up because of the risk of falling off and breaking more bones or do I stick two fingers up to the risk and do the que sera sera thing? as a result of this pondering I have done no cycling and for the moment have decided to enjoy cycling for fun in the sun (when its out). How this will all pan out I will just have to wait and see but I'm at a crossroads of sorts, of which road will I take, I have no idea.....

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Bloody Rain Has a Lot To Answer For...

Bugger it I was apprehensively looking forward to today's Sunday ride, a relatively flat 50 miler into the heartland of Cheshire. I got up nice and early as usual and it was all calm and sunny outside, ate my beans on toast,  pumped my tyres up, got all my gear on and looked at the weather forecast hmm...

Sun 12 Jun7:009:5911 °c9 °c30.0 mm86 %8 mph10 mph

10:0012:5911 °c6 °c22.1 mm91 %10 mph12 mph

13:0015:599 °c6 °c04.1 mm100 %12 mph14 mph

16:0018:5910 °c8 °c05.7 mm100 %11 mph13 mph

It's now nearly time to set off, I'm stood in the garden and I can smell rain in the air although at that time it wasn't to be seen but the wind was picking up and it had all gone gloomy, should I shouldn't I, I need to decide before it's too late!!! I don't know what to do, normally rain wouldn't put me off at all but my recent incident has made me think twice before riding in potentially slippery conditions, damn it what do I do..... Sod it I think it's not worth the risk and I've got a hospital appointment tomorrow to see the specialist about my 'thinning of the bones' and that appointment is one I want to keep, I strip off and get back into bed.

It's 11am now and would be mid ride, outside it's lashing down so I made the right choice although I'm not happy at missing out on a ride but at least there's always the turbo in the safety of the confines of my garage....

Wish me luck, I might slip on the way out :-/

Saturday, 4 June 2011

North Cheshire Clarion club run 4th June 2011

Wow I've not been able to write those words above for quite a while and it feels great to be able to do so now just 2 days after the 5 month 'anniversary' from my crash. Today for me was another Saturday ride from North Warrington on a beauteously sunny and warm day - the warmer and sunnier the better for me.

Another large gathering of 20+ riders had us split into 3 groups of 6 to 8. Off we set on an advertised 35 mile ride with a cafe stop in the middle and this distance is ideal for me as I up my miles over the weeks. Prior to today my biggest ride since my 'comeback' had been 30 miles and I didn't do too well so a few weeks on and quite a few miles later 35 miles 'should' be very achievable.

The group I was in was the 2nd group made up of 7 individuals and as we rode on through a residential area somewhere in Warrington (I don't really know the roads of Warrington) we had our first of two punctures and within a few minutes the 3rd group that set off 5 minutes after us trundled past with a friendly wave and no doubt lots of smiling faces with thoughts running through their heads of 'nerner we are going to get all the cake'...

A few minutes later we set off again to be stopped a few miles further on yet again by another puncture to the same tyre of the same same bike of the same person - Phil J your record was in the balance today but alas you still hold it, boohoo I hear you say? Tyre sorted so once again we restart our ride and I think we missed a turning near to the cafe stop and bump into Sarahs group going the opposite way. They had had their cake and were now on the way back. As they flew past I'm sure I saw Sarah wipe at a few cake crumbs from her mouth smiling as she did so ;-) - I do hope they left some for us the swinehounds...

Arriving at Lavender Barn tea rooms we dived in to the cafe relieved at the site of copious amounts of cake just waiting to be eaten, I chose Carrot cake and a coffee and it was gorgeous, well worth a photo..

We didn't stay long as we were seriously behind schedule and set of for home. Some corners were cut, some loops were missed and we set a good pace in order to make up some of the time. Yet again just like the last Saturday club ride the only hills today were either hump-backed bridges or motorway bridges with the odd smattering of an incline here and there so nothing to test the legs - that will be for another time. I did however on occasion get out of the saddle and give it some on those 'bumps' and I'm glad to report there was no sudden pains, aches or complaints from my left leg or hip so another box ticked, just need to try that on a steep hill now...

As you can tell I took some photo's as we rode, nothing fancy just over the shoulder shots as I'm getting my confidence back and not so scared of the road as I was but what I didn't do is what I'd do prior to my fall, I didn't shoot up and down the 'peleton' taking lots of pics, just these few you see here...

The rest of the gang...

The last few miles were at times a little rough into a moderate headwind and towards the end my legs did start to tire a little but I was able to keep up the pace with no problems so I'm defo improving. With a few loops cut out of the route the mileage came down from 35 to 30 so not the miles that I wanted but I'm sure that 35 would not have been a problem. My next goal is a flattish Sunday 50 miler in a couple of weeks...

My Stats
30.25miles, 1hr 56 min, Av Speed 15.6 mph, Av Hr 146 bpm (76% max), 800 ft climbing (garmin)

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Windy today init!!

I'm really looking forward to Saturdays North Cheshire Clarions club run after last weeks successful jaunt but I'm being plagued by knee pain from Mondays physio and whilst I didn't think it would have a major impact there is a bit of a blustery wind knocking about and that combined with my dodgy knee plants a seed of doubt in my mind. Saturday morning comes along and I look out of my bedroom window to see my tree windometer indicating very windy - I dive back into bed.

A couple of hours later I'm up and itching to get out. My backup plan was simply to play out on my lonesome where I wouldn't hold anyone up and if anything plays up I can about turn and head for home without inconveniencing anyone. I also want to test myself on hills and whilst my meander hasn't any steep hills I figured that using my single speed will be a challenge in itself into those 24 mph headwinds and especially on the moderate inclines on my vague route. So off I go with just an idea for a route in my mind, all I wanted was 90 minutes worth of road, but as soon as I turn the first corner and onto that first small hill just around the corner from my house the wind hits me head on and I'm down to a crawl cursing myself thinking that I made a big mistake coming out on my single speed in these conditions. I'm heading into Weston Village now, up towards Runcorn hill and down to a grinding crawl of 7 mph but turn the corner out of the wind and it's up into the 20's on the flat, great fun. The best thing is that my hip isn't complaining too much and as the ride goes on I start to enjoy that tailwind often spinning out at times.

I head out towards Aston but stop short of doing my little loop around Preston on the hill because of that resurfaced road and even though it was resurfaced weeks ago with loose chippings and probably ok now I'm still a wimp scared of falling off and instead head back into Runcorn aimlessly wandering around to get the time in. And what about that wind!!! some descents normally good for coasting down at 25 mph had me coasting down at 15 mph into that flippin wind, going up hill and into the wind often had me out of the seat grinding away. My stats for the day, my average speed in particular of 14mph is a reflection of the windy condition's and I'm also glad to say that today being a hard days grind, yes, I could feel the effort in my hip but it was more of a niggling ache than an ouche ouche ouche mustn't do that again so I'm happy with my progress so far, today was a very telling day, moderate hills and hard efforts are now achievable.

In 5 days I will be 5 months post breaks and I never envisioned doing what I did today so soon...

My Langster

Gratuitous photo's of my Langster with Frodsham Hill as a back drop

The Specialized Langster Steel has no bottle bosses and that's ok if you use this bike on the track or for short journeys but where do I put a bottle when I need to go for a longer ride? I had a browse and found what looks like the solution, a Tacx behind the seat bottle holder and after extensive testing today I can say it works quite well but in solving one problem of where to stick a bottle I've created another - where to put my spare innertube, levers, 15mm spanner and pump? Atm they are in my back pockets but I'm thinking of adding another bottle cage as the Tacx bottle holder is drilled out for two cages and buying a wide necked bottle to put my tools in, that should sort it...

My Stats 
21 miles, 1hr 30 mins, Av/Max speed  14/23, Av Hr 148 (77 % max), 890 ft climbing (Garmin)

Thursday, 26 May 2011

No Pain, No Gain...

It's Thursday today and I'm stiff in my left leg. On Monday I had my physio 'knee' class that I've already written about a few blog posts back. I made mention of how one particular exercise, the one legged knee over toe thing had my left leg shaking like I had been thrown naked into a freezer resulting in my hip continually hurting for a couple of days after. Well on Monday I'm sat on the warm up bike and the chart on the wall tells me that prolonged pains after exercise is not desirable so when it came time to perform this one legged knee over toe balancing thing I point this out to my physio thinking she'd just tell me to skip it but noo. She tells me that to have this pain indicates a weakness (no s*it Sherlock) and I need to continue with it which does make sense but she relents a little telling me to do alternate legs every 10 seconds.

As a result my gammy leg still gets the shakes however there is less pain compared to last week so I'm happy. Then I'm on the leg press and am moved up to the next level of torture, up from the two legged press to the one legged (the gammy leg) press. I don't think anything of it and proceed to perform the exercise but it feels weird, as I'm pressing probably because my stabiliser muscles must be weak, my body bends slightly in the middle and I can feel the effort in my left arse cheek and quad. I've succeeded in isolating those particular muscles which can only be good, however extracting myself from that machine was not graceful at all as all strength was zapped from that leg resulting in me having to pull myself out like a chimp on monkey bars and then lurching across the room to the next machine.

The last exercise is done with and my left leg is a quivering wreck, I get changed and hobble to my car which was easier said than done I can tell you. I walked into that class and an hour and ten exercises later lurched out of it like Quasimodo with Esmerelder on his back...

As I said today is Thursday, three days later and I'm still suffering, my leg particularly my knee and left bum cheek are really stiff and sore and I've got to do it again next Monday but ha it's a bank holiday and no class however despite the pain I know it's doing me a world of good so I'm going to make use of my Fitness First membership card and head to the gym to deliberately put myself through it all over again...

Oh the fun of it...

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

North Cheshire Clarion - The Early Days Photographed...

I have hundreds of photo's that I've taken over the first eighteen months of the clubs history so I thought I'd share. Here are some taken from the clubs inaugural ride on the 4th October 2009 up to December 2009 and the Christmas run, all pre club kit days. (click on pics to enlarge)

4th Oct 2009 - Inaugural run & 1st p*nc*** Dr Tim, Antnee, Giles, Sarah, young indecipherable scot's lad, Phil J & Phil M

8th Nov 2009 - Group shot Summertrees - Gaz, Sarah, helmet of Andy M, Antnee, Andy W, Dave W, Giles, Pablo, Matt, Phil M, Jonathan W

18 Oct 2009 - Delamere - 'Nitrous oxide press the button' Dave & Gaz

18th Oct 2009 - Cotebrook - Phil M, Dave, Andy W & Mr ugly

25th Oct 2009 - Elvis Transport cafe - Antnee doing what he does best and loving it..

25th Oct 2009 - Atop Alvanley Hill - Giles with an Antnee on his shoulder, Sarah, Dave

8th Nov 2009 - Delamere - Andy M giving Antnee a blow whilst Gaz looks on...

15th Nov 2009 - Lavender farm - Phil J, sarah, Giles, Jonathan W, Phil M, Antnee
6 Dec 2009 - Some mucky road in Cheshire somewhere, Phil M & yours truly

13 Dec 2009 - Allostock - Phil J, Sarah, Jonathan W, Andy W, Matt, Me, Gaz

27 Dec 2009 Xmas Bimble - Mrs & Mr Andy W, Jim, Phil J, Me, Martin H

Saturday, 21 May 2011

139 Days...

January 2nd to 21st May 2011 = 139 days or 4 months 2 weeks and 6 days, this is the period of time that has elapsed since I broke a few bones on black ice during the first club run of 2011 to the day of my North Cheshire Clarion club run return. I have been awaiting a club run that was billed as flat or nearly flat and up to 30 miles for a few weeks and today was one such ride. Sunday rides are out for now as they are too long or hilly so the Saturday club ride is ideal. These rides are designed for the new rider or perhaps the experienced rider joining a club for the first time in order to obtain the experience of safely and efficiently riding in a group before they progress to the longer hillier Sunday rides. Saturday rides also have another unadvertised function - they are ideal for the rider returning from long term illness or injury.

So Saturday morning comes along and I'm up early looking out of the window for anything that may put me off such as rain clouds accumulating on the horizon just waiting for me to step out the door or perhaps frost or ice or snow and there's nothing, so I get all my stuff together and set off for Winwick. Arriving, there are 22 riders so we are set off in small groups and I join up with John Rigby, Steve Ellis amongst others and nervously start the ride, initially I'm slightly pre-occupied looking for anything that may cause me to trip up, anything that will make me hit the deck again. Corners are bad, I take them wide, the sight of a single piece of gravel had me tensing up waiting waiting, on mini roundabouts I'm looking for diesel but two good things are going through my mind firstly something I read in the signature of a club forum member, words from Lance "If you're worried about falling off the bike, you'd never get on it" which I am but I can't live my life wondering if I'm going to fall off so I just need to get out and ride. The other thought is a simple fact, the fact that I've only fallen off three times in the last three years and two of those falls have been on black ice - I have never fallen due to debris on the road, today there was gravel on some corners but no black ice, I will be fine just fine.

As time went on I relaxed somewhat and started to enjoy the ride, it was windy on occasion but dry and warm which was nice. So here we all are tootling along and I'm talking to John, we come to a slight hill, we put some power down, I've moved slightly ahead of John, I hear a metallic snapping noise and out of the corner of my eye I see Johns front wheel at an odd angle and then a sickening thud as John hits the tarmac, I stop and turn expecting the worst but John's already in a sitting position and examining the bottom of his shoe - made out of stern stuff that fella. His cleat still has a pedal attached to it, his pedal has snapped at the axle but John's thankfully OK, a big mark on his right shoulder and probably a banged up elbow and bruises but hopefully nothing more.

After a little thought about how John is to get home we carry on with John one legged pedalling to the next junction where we leave him to the assistance of a fellow club member and we carry on with the rest of the ride which was thankfully uneventful.

So Johns fall aside it was a good ride, there was still a few idiot car drivers around to remind you that you need to have your eyes everywhere. I managed 25 miles without any problems, my legs were good as were my lungs with no real pains, just an ache at times in my hip and my SportTracks training load plugin awarded me a further 3 CTL (chronic training load) points from today's modest efforts and showed on a nice big chart that I'm approaching 'medium' fitness...

My Stats
25 Miles, 1hr 33min, Av Speed 16.1, Av Hr 144 (75% of Max) 630 ft climbing (Garmin)

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Things are starting to look up!

Yes they are at last starting to look up. Last week I started a 6 week one day a week 'knee class' generously provided by the NHS, this class is basic but is helping me to get strength back in my leg(s). As I said It's basic in that it's simply circuit training through 10 different exercises and it all starts with a quick warm up on a stationary bike then it's 2 minutes on each exercise and the only rest is the time it takes to move to your next bit of equipment.

Some of the exercises are harder than others such as the leg press, leg extensions, leg curls, standing calf raises, lunges and the easer exercises; the 'bridge', rowing machine, balance board and the sit to stand exercise however the one that I find the mother of all badass exercises is standing on one leg, my affected leg with leg slightly bent at the knee for two minutes. This exercise kills me it really does - trying to balance on my bad leg isn't too bad but bending at my knee so that my knee is over my big toe has my leg shaking within 20 seconds with my quad and hip muscles screaming in agony but the result of this session was sore muscles over the next couple of days and I've not had that nice 'soreness' for absolute yonks, it's great to know I'm hitting all those muscles that have been taking it easy for the last few months.

This week was my 2nd session and I found it just as hard but I discovered very quickly that these sessions are greatly benefiting me and well worthwhile; I'm walking better and my legs don't have that 'heavy' feeling any more and I'm only 2 weeks in! The sessions have also benefited me in that I've learnt that just 2 minutes each of the right exercises done correctly can reap rewards very quickly and free-standing exercises like the lunge, calf raises and balancing on one leg knees bent can be done anywhere but better in privacy as I would imagine you'd get funny looks performing them at the station...

My arm is also improving, although I'm not receiving any physio for my arm I have used my brains and started on my own set of exercises - behind the neck triceps extensions with light weights, my version of bent over rowing, upright overhead press and 100 press ups, not the full blown on the floor press ups but a rather easier version using a table so my body is at a 45' angle. In time I will progress to the normal version and perhaps step up a level to the bench press - gotta make use of my Fitness First card at some time!

Lastly I've been on my turbo 4 or 5 times a week and have seen improvements in my average speed and heart rate per session. With my arm getting stronger, today was a real turning point - for the first time since my fall I could use my good arm to drink from my water bottle using my bad arm to hold my weight through the bars, before this time my bad arm would not hold my weight for more than a couple of seconds so with everything finally heading in the right direction I'm a happy chappie and really looking forward to getting out on the road when the sun's out...

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Hello fellow sufferee..

In my previous blog entry I received a comment and a couple of questions from Gordon who in answering him is worthy of the main page and not a line or two in that little reply box so here goes.

Gordon's comment: 

Hi Mark
Just found your blog today. I broke my hip 8 weeks ago today on my bike and our stories are similiar although I am 49.
Back wheel went out on some diesel? at 25 mph and I came down hard on right hip. No other damage thankfully.
DHS and no weight bearing for first 6 weeks. So now allowed back on turbo and 25% weight bearing building up to full weight by 10 weeks post op.
Your story is heartening and it sounds like you are making a good recovery. I am getting a lot of aches and pains in leg now I am using it again - did you go through that? Knee seems a little unhappy about working again too. No one mentioned anything to me about prospect of ball of femur 'dying' from lack of blood flow - how do you tell?
All the best

Hi Gordon, firstly so sorry you've joined the broken hip gang, it's an exclusive club with few members but more than you'd think! You say you are 49, well I'm only a year younger and the only reason I mention age is that in my case age combined with the side affect of the immunosuppressant drugs I take for my kidney transplant (along with the fall of course) are responsible for my weakened bones. Since my fall I've read a lot and have come to understand that cyclists are prone to 'thinning of the bones' as my doc puts it and once we get past forty it can become a real concern. Calcium & vitamin D supplementation is recommended as a precaution but in our cases that recommendation comes too late - I'm mostly mentioning this for the older riders that may be reading this...

You are already on the turbo and soon to be fully weight bearing, that's really good going and slightly better than my own progress but all the same very similar. I like you also had pains but in places you wouldn't associate with a broken hip, my pains initially were in my thigh, hip, knee and strangely my feet - both feet. As soon as I was allowed to partially bear weight I was out on my crutch 'walking' my dog and walking as much as possible in the house. Every day I upped the distance until the time came when I was allowed to fully weight bear and then I would walk up to 2 miles, yes there was pain but I was determined that I would get back to my old self so 'walked' through the pain trying to walk as normal as I possibly could.

My pains have diminished or completely gone now at 4 months. My knee pain has gone but does occasionally flare up, pain killers takes care of that if I'm off out somewhere. Both of my feet hurt from the time I was partially weight bearing and for a few weeks after fully weight bearing with the good legs foot stopping aching first then a couple of weeks later the bad leg stopped. I also had hip pain at first particularly when walking up a slope and especially when riding my bike up any sort of incline but this rarely troubles me now although I can't say I've pushed myself on the bike as I've deliberately avoided any of the hillier hills around my locale but normal walking doesn't hurt my hip any more.I still get pains in my thigh during and more so after exercise or physio. I also suffered some muscle wastage particularly in my calf and in my lower quad just above the knee - some of it is back now but I still have a lot of work to do to get those muscles back...

This death of the head thing is called avascular necrosis, I was told it can be caused by a lack of blood to the head of the femur at the time of the accident or thereafter. If the break is on the neck or higher nearer the socket there is a greater risk of this happening than if it's lower like mine was. I have a follow up in 6 months time to see if I'm suffering from this but my consultant isn't concerned about it so I'm not.

As I said I'm 4 months post break, I'm back on my turbo and the road and my fitness is getting close to where I was before the break, I'm getting better every week. My limp is slight when I'm having an occasional bad day but nearly undetectable otherwise. I do get tired easily when out walking, my legs feel heavy most times but I hope that over time I will get back to where I was when walking was like 'floating on air'.

I hope the above is of some encouragement to you and that things will get better for you as I'm sure they will, just takes time and patience. There is a thread over on BikeRadar forums that may be of interest to you link why not grab a cuppa and have a read, lots of riders in our boat on

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Week ending 8th May...

Sunday, today, was a good day for me on the bike, It's been a couple of weeks since I've dared venture out onto the roads and today was a good day for me to do just that. Yes it's windy but at least it's warm so I pumped the tyres up on my Scott, stuck my water bottle in it's holder, switched on my Garmin and set on my usual training loop around Aston and Preston on the hill. The last time I rode this route was a month ago and I suffered, I was knackered after just 10 miles and was in pain. This time I rode a similar route and was able to maintain a 15.3 mph average and no stops except for junctions. None of this is phenomenal but for me to manage the distance without problems is good going and fills me with hope that I am just a few weeks away from the club runs and getting back to cycling normality.

During the week prior to my Sunday solo effort I have stepped up my turbo workouts, I have managed to maintain a workout ratio of two consecutive days to one day of rest and have seen my fitness increase by a small measure. A few more weeks of the turbo combined with a few road rides to rebuild my confidence on the road and I'm sure I will be fit enough to keep up with the boys - fingers crossed...

I still have a few hangups I need to get past, I came across quite a few areas on the cycle path I use where cherry blossoms had inconsiderately shed their blossom right across the path to make a pretty looking white thick blanket of the stuff and this put the hebegebes up me I can tell you. Gravel or twigs on a bend also has the same affect and I don't know why it should as in the 4 years and all the miles I have ridden I have only fallen off three times, none of them on twigs or blossom or gravel but once when I was pushed over when I was used as a cushion by a fellow club member (who will remain nameless) when he unclipped the wrong foot coming to a junction only to fall the wrong way and onto me and the other two times on black ice, once before last Christmas and the next and last was the big one in January where I momentarily became Samuel L. Jackson in 'Unbreakable' - he fell down the stairs breaking bones as if made of glass but in my case black ice causing me to break my glass like bones on the rock hard asphalt of a Cheshire country lane...

Thursday, 5 May 2011

SportTracks Plugin :Training Load

I've had this plugin installed in my copy of SportTracks for quite a while now but have only recently realised it's worth. This plugin uses data from your Garmin to give you a record of not only your workout but also how hard you've worked over the short term (ATL), long term (CTL) and how these workout affects your fitness.

Heres a chart of my recent cycling activities to illustrate;

Ok now to explain to the best of my knowledge.

TRIMP (Training Impulse), this is the vertical bars on the chart and correspond to your individual workouts which give a 'score' for your workouts based on time in various heart rate zones. As you get fitter two exact same workouts will have different scores. In the chart above the last two vertical bars are exact same workout based on speed over 1 hour but in my 2nd workout my heart rate had adapted from the previous workout and therefore slightly lower resulting in a lower score indicating an increase in fitness.

Red line is my ATL (Acute Training load). This is a measure of your fatigue and load over a period of the previous 10 days.

The blue area is my CTL (Chronic Training Load). This is an indicator of your fitness and takes into account all of your workouts over the last 45 days or so.

What that means

From the above chart you can see the effects my training had on my fitness starting 7th November when I started the first 3 week Base period of training ending 21st November. The chart shows that my CTL (blue, fitness) moved up 6 points, my ATL (red line) moved up towards 'epic' and then came week 3, a weeks rest where I recovered from the previous 2 weeks and my fitness in the remaining base periods from thereon remained fairly level (a slight dip over Christmas week). However just as I was about to take my training to the next level, I fell over and bust a few bones, This can be seen in the huge dip in my CTL (fitness, blue area) which corresponds with my hip fracture and lack of exercise in the weeks thereafter. Some more little raises as I attempt to get some fitness back, some gaps where I did nothing due to either despondency or after aggravating my hip. You can also see my ATL (red line) increasing as my workouts have increased in firstly length and lately intensity after my fractures. My very recent  ATL (red line) tells me that my workouts are increasing in intensity (but not nearly as much as pre fractures workouts) and as result my fitness (CTL, blue) is also increasing in small steps. If I was to stop training this plugin also predicts how quickly fitness will be lost and can be seen in the pale blue area to the right of my last workout.

There's tons more stuff to learn from this plugin, I've just covered the basics. I can see this being of great use not only in viewing how my workouts affect my overall fitness but also I can see if my very recent workouts (ATL, red line) is leading me towards over training or getting close to it so I can back off to avoid illness. Everyone is different in how their bodies tolerate training loads but as most of us do at some point we over train without realising it until it's too late. If that should happen it would be easy to look at your ATL (red line) to see what load we have put on our bodies and take steps to ensure that we do not replicate that training load to avoid over training and possible illness.

I've not gone into the depths of what this plugin is capable of demonstrating, there's tons more but I have explained the basics as I understand it (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) and how we can tailor our workouts to avoid over training.

A more detailed and dare I say a better blog on this plugin here

Monday, 25 April 2011

North Cheshire Clarion Audax...

My club have put together what looks like an entertaining Audax that runs on Sunday 25th September 2011. There has been a lot of thought put into the route, a route that starts and finishes in Lower Whitley South of Warrington and takes in Tatton Park, the climb up the Wizard, Prestbury (cobbles!), Bollington and Llamaload Reservoir to name a few. It's an Audax so it's not a race and with a distance of 110km (69 miles) it's a great entry into the more laid back world of the Audax.

The entry fee is a very modest £6 and you can find more information here as well as on-line entry, be quick only 100 places available, some of them already taken....

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Roweclan club run...

Todays weather was gorgeous, the sun's out and it's warm, really warm. The club (North Cheshire Clarion) are off on a hilly jaunt out towards Winter Hill and Rivington, a nice ride but hilly and that drag out of Horwich brings back horrible memories from the last time I rode it. With my recent form I was under absolutely no illusions that this ride was for me in fact I wasn't bothered whether I touched my bike at all today which is completely not like me, I normally feel guilt ridden if I pass up on a glorious ride but not today...

But... dinnertime comes and we - moi, wifee and little daughter decided however that we would at a very leisurely pace take in the local cycle paths, I chose my weapon of choice, my Specialized single speed, my wife on a GT hybrid and daughter the poor thing on the only bike whose seat would go low enough - an old 80's vintage Claude Butler mountain bike.  

We set off like a little club run but at a less than 10mph speed (the Mrs doesn't like speed) on the paths just enjoying the sun and avoiding the dog walkers, other bikers, kids, but then came....

Buzzed by Mormons

Yes you read that right, buzzed by Mormons. We live 500 yards from a huge Mormon church so regularly encounter them on their proselytising endeavours and at this point of the ride I'm on the back of our little peloton when I hear yank voices thrown my way "hi we are Mormons from the local church, would you like to live forever?" I look around to see two familiar Mormon persons who I've encountered before talking to me and chasing us on their bikes, bloody noorah this is going to spoil my day, I'm usually pretty short but polite with them but I'm with my family and don't want to talk to them whatsoever so don't respond, they make a move to come alongside on this narrow path but a quick short sprint from me to block their path stops them in their tracks and this tactic works, they are chattering on from behind unable to come alongside and are getting nothing from me. We pass an old dear tending her hedge and hear the yank voice fade to nothing as we ride on "hi we are Mormons from the local church would you like to........" the old lady with the shears had been Mormonised, we were freeeeeee....

99'er stop

The local boating park was our half way point and the reward for our little ride, 3 x 99ers. Cones with fresh soft ice cream with a stick of chocolate flake in (for those that don't know what a 99 is) and unbelievably in these expensive days the bill was £3.00. We sat in the sun soaking it all up until it was time to move on..

A nice uneventful ride home then a stubbie in the sun to round the afternoon off, a gloriously nice way to finish a fantastic day off....

Friday, 22 April 2011

A picture can say a thousand words....

One of my photo's from this weeks Kilton '10' TT. Two blokes riding the TT, one with all the gear, one without. Its clear to see who is much more aero and why.

Here's an interesting no-nonsense article on how those positional changes and more aerodynamic gear shave precious seconds off your time...

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Kilton 8.75 mile TT 2011

It's that time of the year again when the testers are out in force, competing against the clock, against themselves, against each other. I'm in no fit state to participate but with camera in hand I head over to see if I can catch a few shots from the first Kilton TT of 2011. The day had been hot hot hot, it's only April but it may well have been the depths of summer, it's going to be hard out there and I'm so glad I'm not riding.

Here's a sampling of the better (sharper) photos from today (click on photo to enlarge)

There are many more shots from today on my Smugmug gallery. Grab a cuppa and have a browse. If you like them please make a comment, if you download all I ask is that you make a comment saying you have...