With a Little Help From My Friends

Cycling with friends is so much more fun than cycling alone and There are many wonderful people I cycle with regularly.

This post is a shout out and huge ‘thank you’ to the other lovely people who have joined me for the occasional cycle ride over the last couple of years.

To Alison, Michael and Robbie Plunkett who enthusiastically (Robbie does everything enthusiastically!) cycled around Cheltenham with me one sunny Sunday morning.

To John, Callum, Rory and Kieran Anderson along with Neeraj, Vilas and Seki Prasad. Wonderful to cycle with such old friends.

To Paul Jones for a fabulous day’s cycling around Kyoto. I wouldn’t have attempted it on my own and it was such an adventure.

To Marie & Sally, thank you for indulging me and embracing a cycle around Central Park, despite it not being in either of your ‘top ten things to do in New York’ list

to John, Callum, Rory and Kieran on a Family Holiday in Germany.. Thank you all for indulging me yet again!

To Alison Ferris – I loved your company. Just as well as we did 20 miles more and took two hours longer than planned. Must brush up on my map reading skills! But we did find a pub for lunch that provided sun hats though!

to My lovely little sister who nervously embraced the challenge of reacquainting herself with the joys of cycling and then came back and did it all over again the following year.

To Jim Pascoe Watson for bringing a sense of joy to everyone who has ever cycled with him. For joining us during LEJOG from Weston to Cheltenham with so much enthusiasm and fun despite the saddle sores!

To Claire Lehman for joining us in Devon and leading the team home on the last few hills at the end of a very long day. Chapeau!

To Jackie and CAroline for a birthday cycle and many an enjoyable Sunday cycle.

To Ali, Sally and Marie for embracing a sunny cycle in Seville

To Jane and chris who introduced us to our first real cycle challenge many years ago with the Coast 2 Coast. It took us nearly a decade to sign up to another one! Loved cycling with you again.

To Julie Baillie, my oldest friend who after five years without being on a bike, embraced a 45 mile ride with her usual smile, enthusiasm, sense of fun and energy.

TO THE SUNDAY CYCLING TEAM (AL, CAROLINE, JACKIE, NIGEL AND RIC) WHO WELCOMED US WITH OPEN ARMS, LOTS OF HUMOUR, FABULOUSLY PLANNED ROUTES AND THE BEST CAKE AND COFFEE STOPS IN THE SOUTH WEST!

To the Lanzarote training team for a great few days training for The Raid Alpine.

To everyone who joined us for parts of LEJOG, our Devon and Brecon Beacons cycling weekends, sportives and ad hoc training rides. Too many to name you all (and I’m afraid of missing someone out if I try) but you know who you are…….

Thank You All!

Mountains to Climb

Bad weather and curiosity got the better of me last weekend and so I subjected myself to an indoor training session on the turbo trainer.

Let’s be clear, I have absolutely no desire to train on a bike indoors. There is no company, no scenery, no breeze, the dog wants to join in and every minute seems like an hour. Let me out on the open roads any day!

Well, maybe not ‘any day’, 50mph winds rendered the weekend too dangerous to venture out, so I spent a hard hour taking the ‘Sufferfest 4DP Challenge’ in the hope that I might prove to be fitter and faster than the last time I tried it.

Despite giving it my all, my weighted average power increased only from 120w to 127w and I peaked at 36km/h rather than 35.3km/h. Figures that are hardly going to propel me up the Alps any noticeably quicker or easier!

Further analysis shows that I had more power on the short sharp bursts (anaerobic power), on my maximal aerobic power and on my functional threshold power. I can only imagine that this must be a good thing!

My neuromuscular power however has dropped a little. My immediate thought was this was perhaps not surprising, given that I’m training with a degenerative neurological condition. The power of the mind to create a story that is not based on anything factual! My detailed report suggests that I simply wasn’t paying enough attention and mis-timed my bursts of power!

I breathed a short sigh of relief before realising my report essentially said ‘needs to pay more attention and must try harder’.

Image Source: Cyclinglocations.com

No excuses, I know I have a proverbial mountain to climb as well as 24 actual mountains!

Against the Wind

The plan:

  • Early start
  • Lots of kilometres (90)
  • Lots of hills (1,000m+)
  • A brief coffee stop
  • Fast(ish)!
  • Back by 2pm

The Weather Forecast:

  • 7-10 degrees (‘Toastie”)!
  • A ‘fresh breeze’

The Reality:

  1. Early start
  2. Lots of kilometres (76) – many of them slow due to head on wind
  3. Lots of hills – 1,166m of them with segments of up to 20%
  4. For ‘fresh breeze’ – read ‘overpowering gusts’, head on slowing us down, side on knocking us over, unpleasant at best, dangerous at worst
  5. Fast(ish) – No chance, thwarted by the wind
  6. Home by 2pm, another training ride completed

Another Solo Cycle

I couldn’t meet the Sunday cyclists as I wanted to play taxi service for my son, so I set off alone around midday, when others had done their cycle, had their coffee and were on the way home to relax.

Doing the same route that I had done alone last week, I tried to go that little bit faster…..or so I thought. I was actually 10 minutes slower, only 1km/hr slower but soul destroying. At last though, at 50 years old, I’m developing a competitive streak. I’m already planning when to do the route again but faster!

Over the Hill

Cleeve hill boasts to be the highest point in Gloucestershire, indeed the highest of the Cotswold Hills. I was disappointed to learn after making the claim on several occasions, that from the highest point by road, there are a few hundred additional metres to climb to reach the actual highest point! Not manageable by road bike but not to be deterred, a wild and windy walk with a friend and our dogs, got me to the highest point in Gloucestershire this week!

Cleeve Hill has become my training ground for solo cycles. For the first time today, I cycled up over down the other side to Winchcome and turned round and did the reverse. My stats will provide the basis for assessing improvements in speed training both uphill and downhill – sincerely hoping that there are some in the next few months!

Not the Highest Point in Gloucestershire!

Source: Goggle Maps

The Highest Point in Gloucestershire!

Source: Trigpointing.uk

Sleepless Night!

Pleased with yesterday’s cycle, I started to think about how long it might take to to cycle the first day of The Raid Alpine challenge……..

Source: Marmot Tours

My Latest Stats

Distance: 55km

Ascent: 1,100m

Moving Time: 3 hours 30 mins moving @ average speed 15.4kmh

Duration: 4 hours 30 mins

Day 1 The Raid Alpine

Distance: 137km

Ascent: 3,700m

Est Moving Time: 10 hours 30 mins

Est Duration: 15 hours

Start: 7am, finish 10pm. I need to recover, refresh, eat, blog, sleep, prepare, repeat…..six days in a row

There are not enough hours in the day!!!!

And then I read that there are only 23.934 hours in a day!

Image Source: spaceplane.nasa.gov

And then I remember how exhausted I was after my most recent cycle!

Before panic sets in, I remind myself that the hills yesterday were extremely steep in parts, the roads wet, slippy, with potholes, debris and few passing places. This made even the downhill slow!

Fast forward 175 days and I’m hoping all of the following will make a difference:

  • A lighter bike
  • A lighter me
  • Better road surfaces
  • 175 days more training
  • Improved nutrition
  • Optimising timings of meds during long cycles
  • Beautiful scenery
  • A new experience
  • Plenty of pace setters
  • A positive mental attitude
  • Group support

There is no time to waste, I must get faster and fitter…………but first, some sleep!

Image Source: Clipart

First Ride of 2020

With no offers of company for today’s cycle, I set off alone and tackle Cleeve Hill for my first ride of 2020. It is unusual for me to cycle so far alone, there is usually someone willing to cycle. It’s a very different experience, cycling alone but I enjoyed the challenge. No personal bests today on the hill but I am consistently faster than six months ago at both the uphill and the downhill. I also managed to get to Winchcombe from the top of Cleeve Hill without braking which is quite an achievement for me!

Having been overtaken by three cyclists near Staverton, I used them as pacesetters and gave chase for three miles – achieving three ‘personal bests’, according to Strava, during that burst of activity! Overall I am happy with my distance and pace this morning.

I find it much less fun cycling alone. There is no pressure but equally, there is no pacesetter and I could quite happy cycle along at a comfortable pace improving neither my stamina nor speed! I enjoyed the cycle. No coffee stop today and no conversation but beautiful scenery, quiet roads, mild temperatures, dry and so I could think of nothing better than being in the great outdoors!