Its Been a While

Almost 3 years to be a bit more precise.  Stumbled across my blog whilst reading Jenny Nesbitt’s Jenny’s Blog

A friend convinced me to start this blog a number of years ago.  He’d mentioned that one of the best reasons was to be able to look back and relive past experiences.  He was right, I’ve enjoyed reading about myself and am disappointed I didn’t write on a more regular basis, almost feels like I’ve missed a few years of experiences!.

I’m going to try and commit to writing something every 2 weeks.  As a start I’ve updated my other pages (Current Fleet and No longer with us).  I’m a bit surprised that in less than 3 years I’ve replaced 4 bikes!

Until next time.

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MK Spring Classic

A couple of weeks ago whilst watching one of the Spring Classic’s I wondered if it was possible to create a local route along the same lines; combining road with some pave (mild off road suitable on a road bike).

The main hurdle was going to be identifying suitable off road sections. I know of the North Bucks way but only a small section is suitable as it changes from farm track to farmer’s field. The most obvious choice was the section of Route 51 between Bletchley and Winslow. Having never ridden it before I asked around and the general consensus was that it would be suitable on my weapon of choice (cx bike fitted with road tyres (Conti Gatorskins)) providing it was dry.

I had a look on the Sustrans website and noticed that there was potentially a further section running from Cranfield to Marston Moretaine that could could be incorporated into the route, getting from Cranfield across to Bletchley would provide the distance. I set about plotting the route and decided that I’d make the road sections as hilly as possible. Once plotted I downloaded to my Garmin and chose a date for the ride; Wednesday 3rd April.

Setting off around 8.30am on what was another chilly day, although the sun was shining which took the edge off of the 1 deg temperature. The first road section was around 7 miles and included the climb up to Cranfield, during which I was riding in to a tough headwind. A fast descent greeted me for the first off road section after which I tentatively made my way along the trail which included sections of loose stone. All too quickly I was back on the road for a quick loop around Marston Moretaine before retracing my steps along the off road section back to Cranfield. The descent from earlier made a nice climb out, about 9% and rising around 200ft.

Back on the road I made my way towards Aspley Guise. I’d plotted the route to include as many hills as possible so after nipping through Aspley I went past Woburn Golf Club, through Lt Brickhill, Gt Brickhill and Stoke Hammond. The final road section before re-joining Route 51 took me through Newton Longville and a small part of Bletchley. Now 30 miles in I was greeted by dry trails, just the odd section of sliming surface. With the wind behind me it was effortless chipping along at 20mph, dodging the holes in the trail adding to the enjoyment.

Section of Route 51 between Bletchley and Winslow

Section of Route 51 between Bletchley and Winslow

The off road sections were linked by a few quiet lanes and after around 5 miles I’d reached Winslow. A quick loop around Winslow and back off road towards Bletchley. I was once again riding into the wind, explaining the earlier fast pace along the same trail. Back in Bletchley I made my way through Fenny Straford, on to Simpson and home. 48 Miles in total, the inclusion of the off road sections certainly took their toll, I felt much more tired than I would have done on a 48 mile road ride.

This is definitely a route I’ll be tackling again. I wouldn’t fancy it in the wet and I’m sure the lack of wind would only add to the enjoyment.

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Our British Weather

Having spent 6+ hours over the weekend riding in the cold with continual rain/sleet, it seems bizarre to now be thinking that I’ve been lucky with the weather, which is what I’m doing after the few inches of snow that fell overnight Sunday. At the moment the weather during the week is fairly irrelevant to my plans. I’m either on the turbo doing recovery or other low intensity sessions to improve form or going for a run, which I find less weather dependent compared to cycling. The weekends are another matter and having to cancel a 4hr ride due to snow and replicate it with a similar workout is something I’m hoping not to have to do and as the days draw out that concern becomes less and less of a potential hurdle to cross.

I’m feeling really positive after the weekend; in the past the sound of rain would have more than likely seen me heading back to bed than out on the bike, but that’s exactly what I did on both Saturday on Sunday. Saturday looked like being the better of the days and I duly decided that would be my longer ride. This turned out to be a wise decision, with the only ‘dampener’ being that I left my wet shoes in the garage instead of taking them indoors to dry off and they were therefore still damp Sunday morning! After riding through the rain and blizzard on Saturday, damp shoes weren’t about to affect my new found hardened outlook to riding through the elements. I’d planned a route to give me just under 2 and half hours and once home I’d just about had enough. The Sunday ride took me to 99 miles over the weekend but I wasn’t about to ride around the block to bring it up to 100, I’ll leave that for another day.

The coming week see’s another increase in training time. An additional 1.5hrs which whilst on the face of it seems a small amount extra to fit in, scheduling in around other responsibilities will be a challenge in itself. Fingers crossed the weather is more favourable come the weekend.

The phrase “winter miles for summer smiles” has never been so relevant after the weekends riding.

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Back on Track

What a difference a week makes. Two weeks ago I barely managed 1.5 hrs of exercise whereas last week I fell just slightly short of a planned 12hrs. As well as an improvement in my back, the change in weather also helped somewhat. Whilst my back has not completely healed I have managed to get on the bike and go for a run without any discomfort.

Last week comprised of 2 runs (4 and 4.7 miles), 5 turbo sessions varying between 40 & 70 mins and 2 longer rides over the weekend (47 and 38 miles). It was the longer rides I was most satisfied with as if anything was going to set me back it was going to be these rides. I made a point of stopping regularly and getting off the bike for a few moments as not remaining in the same position for any length of time has definitely helped over the past few weeks.

I’d still like to be able to ride the Luton CC Reliability event on February 24 but it means a round trip of just over 90 miles and this may be a jump to far from where I’m currently at. The plan is to make this weekend’s long ride at least 60 miles and take it from there. That and my continued close relationship with a turbo trainer should see me (hopefully) fit in around 14 hrs this week.

I’ve also started to think about the trip to the Alps in July and what changes I’ll need to make to my bike. It’ll come as no surprise that I’ve decided to fit a compact chainset and bigger cassette – I currently have a standard chainset and 12-25 cassette on my summer bike. As a result I’ve purchased an 11-28 cassette and new chain this week and will remain on the lookout for any offers on chainsets in the coming months. In the meantime I’ll work on the other vital ingredient for the trip – my fitness.

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Back to the start

Following a promising start to training, a back injury has set me ‘back’ somewhat. Three weeks ago I tweaked my back which resulted in slight discomfort when reaching up of bending to tie my laces. I’m not entirely sure how I did it but it was slightly after a weights session where I’d been lifting heavier than usual weights (heavier weights/shorter reps) so this was more than likely the culprit. I was still able to train as usual until I’d been for a 3.5hr ride on the Saturday (12th Jan). Around 2hrs into the ride I noticed the pain getting worse, but stupidly carried on as didn’t want to cut short the ride. Once home just bending to put the key in the garage door was a drama in itself and what followed was 11 days of no exercise. The only consolation is the recent weather and I haven’t had to concern myself with venturing out in the snow.

Over the next weekend the pain did start to slightly improve but I impressively cancelled out this progress by pulling my daughter to school on a sledge and then clearing the snow on the path to my front door! I’ve been taking pain killers and got some cream from the Pharmacist which has helped and I did a 45 min turbo session and a 30 min run in the snow with no ill effect. The sitting around seems to make things worse, after being at my desk or at home on the sofa the first few steps are when the pain is really prominent. I’ve read that exercise and activity (providing no pain is experienced) actually helps and I’m therefore taking that approach and easing myself back in gently.

So, as of this week its back to the start of the Base 1 period, here’s hoping I get further than I did last time.

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Here we go Again


The new training year began on 10th December for me, a date derived from when I would like to be at my fittest next year which happens to be beginning of July for a planned trip to ride in the French Alps. So far I’ve been doing 8-10 hrs a week of low intensity training, of which around half has been cross training (weights and running). Duration will begin to increase next week as I enter the first of 3 Base training periods. I’m hoping to stick to a plan this year and so far so good – I did miss 3 days over xmas due to illness which reduced the amount of training that week to 6 hrs but these things can’t be helped.

So far the weather has been mild and therefore the ‘long’ rides have been ok, the biggest challenge will be when the ice/snow makes an appearance and how I replicate a 4 hour road ride. I also plan to take my daughter to a few more road races which generally means travelling 50+ miles and takes up half a day and I therefore need to ensure this doesn’t affect my plan.

Recent we road ride

Recent we road ride

The Year Ahead

As previously mentioned my main ‘event’ for 2013 will be a 5 day trip to ride in the Alps with friends, taking in some of the climbs used over the years in the TDF. Whilst the tour won’t be anywhere near us whilst we are in France I’m sure we’ll experience some of the atmosphere by watching the race in a French bar.

I’m also hoping to take part in at least 1 event a month, although I can’t find a suitable event in January and therefore January’s event will probably be a cross country run on 3rd February.

After that I’ll be doing the Luton CC Reliability ride on Sunday 24 February. As last year I’ll aim to ride to and from the event but unlike last year I’ll eat more so that I don’t hit the wall 5 miles from home! When I first started a blog a friend said that the best benefit was being able to look back at what you’d written and recall the experience, something I’ve done by reading what I wrote about last years event They were right, had I not written about it I would never have recalled the experience.

In the coming weeks I’ll plan other events for at least the first half of the year.

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Central CX Round 5

Since writing about the first few rounds of the Central League CX I’ve had a good training week followed by 2 not so good weeks.  The week following round 5 at Brackley I put in some good turbo sessions and a longish weekend ride. I was confident that these sessions together with a couple of 40+ minute runs would move me in the right direction.

Unfortunately this was then followed by what can only be described as a lazy 2 weeks.  I did more in the aforementioned week than I did in these 2 weeks.  I seem to recall that I also lost my motivation at a similar time last year.  Undeterred I continued with plans for the next CX round in Luton on 18th November.

The day of the race was a cold but lovely sunny day and the course was relatively muddy following the recent rain.  From the start I got away well, initially making up several places.  The course then narrowed as the 1st bend approached and being on the outside I found my self squeezed out and being passed by more people than I’d overtaken.  The field then settled down but by the end of the 1st lap I realised the lazy 2 weeks would result in a tough afternoon.  A couple of riders whom I would normally be in front of were in front and as hard as I try I could not chase them down.  The results would eventually show that I’d finished 61st out of just over 100 starters.

With 4 rounds of the series remaining I’ve decided not to bother entering any further races, although will still take my daughter to race at the 2 that are relatively local.  I’m now planning to spend the next few weeks chilling out and exercising for fun – before it all starts again.

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