Can you beat the power of optimism?

So we’ve been planning our first official training session, and there’s a number of options. So far the best option seems to be going from Bangor to Chester.Directions

 

Now, the first thing that’s been pointed out is that this is somewhat further than we originally agreed. When I say “somewhat”, I mean 30 miles further, but there’s method behind the madness!

With a generally westerly wind and a pretty much flat profile it makes an ideal low-resistance run. Add to that the North Wales train line zipping handily back to Bangor, and you’ve got a low commitment option just in case things go bad.
Elevation profileOver the past few years the North Wales coastal route has seen some pretty great improvements. When I first rode it there was a pretty horrific single-file section near Conwy right next to the A55. Thanks to some fairly significant investment the route now has a well maintained windy path through the sand dunes and a series of bridges to keep you off the expressway.

The main question now is: how far can we go, and does having the railway so accessible make giving up easier? Being the first big ride we’re doing together it’s easy to start with optimism, but after a couple of hours the novelty wears off a little and you start thinking “there’s still quite a way to go yet”. For the bigger rides, it’s always nice to get the remaining miles down to 15-20, and suddenly its back to the original self confidence as I get back into the comfort zone. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy the ride (it is the reason I ride after all!), but I guess without that challenge it wouldn’t feel like such an accomplishment afterwards!

 

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How hard can it be?

 

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It’s easy to forget how difficult you found the simple things when you first started. Today I taught Megan how to change an inner tube on a road bike. From Megan’s expression you can see it’s not quite as straightforward as I made out, but we got there in the end.

 

image¬†One problem I’ve not had to contend with is geting the tyres up to pressure. 100psi is pretty hard work using a track stand, but when you’re as light (and dainty) as Meg, it can become an almost impossible task, requiring unbecoming levels of bounce and grunt.

There’s got to be an easier way, and Dad pointed it out, sorting his own flat tyre issue with an electric pump and a smug grin of self-satisfaction. When will we learn?

The whole experience was (hopefully) worthwhile, and next time Megan’s sat at the side of the road with a flat tyre it’ll be like a recreation of a Formula 1 pit stop.

One thing we both learnt was just how fragile the presta valve is. It’s far too easy to knock it, twist it, or just drop the pump and bend it, and that just ruins the feng-shui of the bike. Fortunately this afternoon the bend was minor enough that we could still tighten it up and carry on. Megan certainly looks pretty happy with the end result:

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Unfortunately I didn’t have my bike with me as the forecast was for heavy rain all Sunday. That’s definitely a lesson for me: take the bike wherever you go, there’s always the opportunity for a ride when you least expect it. Instead I’ll have to make do with a turbo-training session tomorrow after work.

Onwards!

First ride of the year

So there’s something a little unexpected: cycling in January and feeling warm. Today was almost like an end-of-spring day, and the perfect excuse to jump on the bike for a quick ride out to Conwy and back. The photo below is of Conwy castle from the Sychnant side.

Conwy Marina

Okay, that makes it sound a lot easier than it felt. The first ride after Christmas is always hard work, and this was no exception. Perhaps setting myself a 30 mile loop including the Sychnant Pass was a little cruel when there’s a 25mph headwind for the return leg, but what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right?

The run down to Abergwyngregyn was interesting because there’s still loads of damage from the floods and closed roads. There’s even a good amount of cycling through miniature lakes, and the highlight was climbing a short hill which had an inch and a half of water running down it. Hopefully we’ll be spared too much more rain.