Training & planning diary – 6 weeks to go.

Now we are on the final run up to the big day I thought I would start blogging my weekly training and preparation.  This is to show how difficult it can be to fit training in with life and to highlight ways it can be done, and ways it can fail spectacularly.

Monday 20th May
Back at work after the weekend and today I’m feeling particularly tired (nothing to do with having a big Eurovision party on Saturday night, honest!).  I leave work and turn left, away from my house, and cycle a loop which take me up a few long steep hills and back home 11 miles later.

Cycle to & from work: 14.88 Miles 

Tuesday 21st May
Tonight I have to drive up to Wales, in preparation for an interview in Manchester on Wednesday.  I intended to get up early to try and get something done but in reality, after getting my needed 7 hours sleep, I don’t have enough time to do anything other than breakfast and shower and pack for the next few days.  I managed to fit in some stretching in the morning as I’m trying to spend some time week working on my flexibility.  I also do some arm weight exercises (it’s hard work holding onto those handle bars!)

Cycle to & from work: 6.24 Miles
Stretching & weight exercises

Wednesday 22nd May
I had great plans to go on a run in Wales before setting off for my interview, or when I got back to Oxford, but in reality I was too nervous beforehand to do anything useful, and too tired after the drive home.  Let’s call this a complete rest day.

Thursday 23rd May
Today I work slightly later then usual, so I spend an hour in the morning doing stretching and weight exercises.  I should have done some cycling after work but I always find myself too hungry after getting home at 7 on a Thursday – must do better next week!

Cycle to & from work: 6.68 Miles
Stretching & weight exercises

Friday 24th May
I leave for work 5 minutes later then usual and make it to the end of the drive before I notice I have a flat tyre.  I’m not yet quick enough changing an inner tube in less than 5 minutes so I quickly grab my other bike and set off.

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Trustworthy Emma never lets me down…despite weighing more than a Audi

As this bike is made of lead (not true) and there was a horrendous gale force wind all day (also not true, but about 15 mph winds) I cycle to and from work standing up most of the way as it’s the only way to get any momentum, this feels like a real strenuous workout and I’m more than a little sweaty after powering up the hill back home.
Stretching & weight exercises
Cycle to & from work: 6.46 Miles

Saturday 25th May
I needed to make the most of my one day off this week so I planned a 70 miles route around South Oxfordshire and had set off by 8.30 Saturday morning.  Instead of doing a looped route I decided to come back the same route I went, which I don’t normally like doing but I’ve now realised does have some great advantages – those stretches of road I thought I was just being spectacularly slow on, turns out they were actually hills.  I went slightly off course as I missed a turning off a cycle path that wasn’t signposted and I realised almost immediately that I’d gone too far.  Instead of turning back on myself I thought it would be better to test my navigation by continuing on and still trying to find my way to where I was going.  It meant I got to stop for lunch in interesting places:

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The most epic park bench….for all your keeping dry needs

I did manage to find my way and I wasn’t too far off my original course.  After cycling a trouble free 35 miles down some lovely lanes and cycle paths and up one very steep hill, I turned around and started heading back.  Only 10 miles left to go I was already starting to think how I could maybe extend my day and add on a few extra miles, I knew Ryan and Megan were planning on 80 miles as well so maybe I could equal them.

Unfortunately my rear tyre had other ideas.  I think I probably hadn’t pumped it up hard enough on Friday night, and that combined with a very nasty pot hole meant I had another flat tyre.

Not a problem though, I could do this easily in less then 20 minutes.  I hoped off the bike, removed the tyre and reached for the spare inner tube I had grabbed from the cupboard that morning.  Disaster one, the inner tube was actually for my other bike, a totally different size!  Thankfully I had remembered at the last moment to put in the patches that Ryan had given me.  I managed to find the two holes and patched them up.  Pumping the tyre back up was another story, and another reason why I need to do more weight exercises.  I finally got it as hard as I could and set off….

For 1/2 a mile, until it was flat again.  This is when I realised a few things, such as how I don’t really know anyone in Oxfordshire with a car who could come and rescue me, and how I was in a village that seemed to have no cash machine or shops (and all I had with me was my usual debit card).  I’ve now realised the importance of having some emergency cash and the number of a taxi company!

Taking the tyre off again I could find no other holes, but the patches I’d put on before looked a little loose around the edges, I think they must have been quite old and they were letting air through,  I had one patch left so I stuck it down as best I could over the edges and once again pumped up the tyre.

The ride home was nervewracking and quite exhausting as I was looking carefully at the path in front of me in case any debris caused me further problems.  I could almost see my house and knew I only had two miles to go, I was so happy I was going to be able to complete the full 70 miles….and then my tyre was flat again!

Having no patches left I walked dejectedly for a few moments before I thought…ah ha!  Maybe it’s just got a slow puncture!  If I pump it up maybe I’ll make it the final 2 miles!  I pumped the tyre back up to capacity (those arm muscles again!) and I set off…for about a minute until the tyre was once again flat.  I walked the rest of the way home, depressed at not having made the full 70 miles.

Miles Cycled: 68.13
Miles walked: 2.57
Preparation: Saturday evening I purchased a multipack of inner tubes and a pack of self-adhesive patches.  Also, the last few days have been great practice for puncture repair training!

Sunday 26th May
Because I wasn’t able to cool down and stretch properly after my ride, having to spend 45 minutes walking instead, I woke up on Sunday morning with a lot more aches and pains then I was expecting.  Also, from all the stooping over to fix punctures and pump up tyres, my back and arms were in a lot of pain.  I had planned to do another long cycle on the morning but my lack of inner tube thwarted me.  Instead I did an hour of stretching and gentle back and arm exercises, which certainly made me feel a lot better…then it was off to work for the Sunday shift.

Cycle to & from work: 6.73 Miles
1 hour of Stretching exercises

Thoughts on last week:

It’s difficult trying to fit in really long rides, especially when you have to work 6 days out of 7, so I’m happy I had good weather for Saturday’s ride.  I wish I’d managed the full 70 miles but my pace was pretty good so I know I could have managed more in a reasonable time.

For the next week of training and preparation my goals are:  covering more miles after work; at least one indoor “hill climbing” session; looking into purchasing a new helmet; more stretching and strengthening exercises for my back and arms.

At the end of the next training week I may be doing my furthest distances ever as the whole team gets together for the weekend, so I also need a rest day or two this week…oh, and plenty of pasta eating!

Rochdale and back : attempt number 2 SUCCESS

On Sunday Ryan and I woke up at 7am to set off to cycle to Rochdale and back , and get back home in time for our family roast dinner at 4pm . This was more than enough time for Ryan obviously , but factoring in my navigational skills, a few wrong turns and some initial screaming and nervous yelps on roundabouts it ended up taking us roughly 6 hours .

The route was pretty decent for the first 20 miles , heading along the cycle way, however once into Calderdale the standards of the cycle routes quickly deteriorate . Lots of potholes and cobbled pathways under bridges about a meter wide … Twice Ryan was convinced I was falling into the canal .
To which he said :
‘ I don’t know whether I’d rush you help you out or actually take a photo first ‘
I know what he would do .

Along the way we were met by lots of wonderfully considerate pedestrians , other cyclists, as it was a popular cycle route, and also some crazy dogs that threatened to dart across your path at any moment . A loose boxer dog at the edge of the canal is really quite intimidating .
What’s even more intimidating is cycling past a new mother goose and her ducklings … We had some very over protective, angry geese hissing at us as we went past .

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The rainy , muddy cycle ways were also a hindrance on our average speed and timings . Along the canal at one point we were getting off the bikes every 3 minutes to carry them over running water . ( Ryan has photos in sure he’ll blog them).
This , ofcourse, made me very muddy … As my wheels were kicking up a load of mud and water up my back and legs.

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Overall , it was a successful ride , considering the 55 miles ended with a steep uphill climb for 2.5 miles . Ryan said that I climbed it at a consistently faster pace compared to last time and I now feel my confidence building back up after last weeks badger of a ride.

In preparation for Wednesday’s 77 miles ride down to Nottingham I have purchased a Topeak handlebar IPhone dry bag . So this is the view my iPhone has on long journeys :

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Hopefully this’ll make navigation easier and time effective .

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Car collision fun

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So, a disappointing end to the May Team Pedal training weekend. I was in charge of route planning and navigation, and was really excited about the route I’d planned down towards Stocksbridge and then all around Huddersfield, overall racking up 78 miles in good time.

We set off, sans Jen as she was under the weather, in high spirits and I was optimistic that I could finally navigate a whole route successfully.

The first 7 miles were pretty easy as we followed the cycle route towards Dewsbury, and then we quickly got on our way following a few A roads, hitting a couple of hills, getting to a certain point then turning back to take the correct exit. It was an interesting morning and the route was proving to be quite enjoyable.

Me and Ryan were just heading down an A road that connected the two villages we were cycling through, and came to a roundabout. I’m pretty confident with roundabouts, I enter them at speed , I’m comfortable with my signalling and this time was no different. Ryan was about 20ft ahead of me, already at the exit, and I was just rounding the roundabout signalling to exit and a car pulled out onto the roundabout without seeing me. From what I can remember I tried to veer back to hug the centre of the roundabout to get out of the cars way, but not fast enough, the car hit me and knocked me off my bike. Luckily, I was no worse off than a throbbing right side and a sore head, no broken bones or blood (aside from a slight cut to the ankle), but my bike , however, is in the wars.

My rear wheel was pinned under the car causing it to bend, damaging the rear derailleur and the structure of the wheel. Yesterday was spent attempting to truer the wheel, but alas it has to be replaced, along with a new derailleur.

A few more minor damages include my wind jacket and clippy shoes, they were ripped and damaged on the road, and over all my helmet… which has some pretty hefty cracks and dents in the structure. Jen made a very good point on the IMPORTANCE OF HELMETS when she pointed at the crack that now runs all up the right hand side and said: “see, imagine if that was your skull”. The thwack that my head made when it hit the ground (and this was only a very minor accident) was enough to freak me out and give me some rotten headaches for the next day, so thinking about the consequences of not having a helmet on for a fall like that is pretty scary. I’ll definitely be investing in another Giro Monza helmet again, thats for sure.

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Double puncture fun

I should really have known better than to write a blog post about the perfect conditions and great cycling. If I were superstitious I’d be ranting about karma coming to get me, or something like that.

In fairness I’ve been exceptionally lucky with the weather recently. My last post centred around the Welsh micro-summer, and although it was significantly cooler this time round with a chill breeze the sun was still shining and I didn’t feel frostnip setting in! It’s a good job I haven’t been desparate for two days of riding, because (aptly-named) Sundays have been miserable, wet, windy affairs, quickly pushing out all memories of the sun.

Anglesey's picturesque coastline

Anglesey’s picturesque coastline, though it looks a lot warmer than it felt in the wind

During the last ride I made a maintenance to-do list of little niggles:

* The upper limit on the front deraillieur needs adjusting because it sheds the chain when changing to the largest front ring.
* The brake pads need replacing on the front.
* The headset needs to be replace to stop the excessive play.

Of course I got back and got sidetracked, and didn’t touch the bike for the week. The first item is pretty straightforward and isn’t too bad to work around. The other two caused a more substantial issue. When braking, the pads would pulse, binding and releasing a few times a second. This combined with the play in the headset to create a really unnerving situation where the front wheel moved foward and backward a couple of inches as the whole bike shook. Not optimal!

The route around Anglesey

A nice semi-coastal circuit… at least to start with.

Of course I didn’t realise any of this until after I’d set off. My original plan was to do a full circuit of Anglesey, which would come in at around 110 miles. My first impression of the route is that it’s a lot hillier than I expected, with the road winding towards the coast and then back inland, each time losing and re-gaining height. Not that any of that is a bad thing. The views were generally great, the roads quiet and the going good. There was a pretty consistant headwind which made things feel harder, but my average was still around 15mph.

That’s when disaster struck! I picked up a puncture on my front wheel near Cemaes Bay (near the top of Anglesey) so pulled over and started the timer. The innertube swap was seamless and I was feeling pretty good as I put the last 15 PSI in when the valve on the tube snapped in half, right through the thread. I’ve never seen that before.

The offending valve, shortly after it messed with "The Fury"

The offending valve, shortly after it messed with “The Fury”

I rarely pick up punctures (the last one I had was probably a year ago) so I only carry a single spare inner tube, along with some Park Tool self-adhesive patches in case I get a second puncture. This left my in a bit of a poor state when I couldn’t find the source of the leak in the first tube but had little choice but to put it back in and pump it up.

Needless to say I beat a direct route back down the A5 towards home, stopping every five to ten minutes to put some more air in. It was surprising the effect stopping regularly had on me, and the return leg felt many times harder because of it.

The trip taught me a little about how I handle adversity, but the big lesson is that there’s more to cycling than just spinning legs. Knowing how to handle breakdowns and improvise is just as important, otherwise you can be stuck miles from home having to give up an call for help!

Another thing I noticed was that things felt generally harder because I’d not carbo-loaded the night before. It’s easy to fix that for the next training ride, but it provides some insight into how we’ll be a few days into the trip. Once we’re into the cycle (excuse the pun) of replenishing energy in the evening how easy will it be to take on the extra carbs to be fully stocked for the next day.

The Menai Bridge

The Menai Bridge

So now I’m back I’ve stripped down the bike and removed the headset to try to find a replacement, though it’s not as simple as I’d expected. It appears my bike has an obscure set of dimensions which don’t match any standards so after an evening of measuring, Googling, measuring again and scratching my head, I’ve given up and got in touch with Wiggle, who I’m hoping will prove their worth again and get me back on the road. No pressure Wiggle, but it’s the team training weekend coming up, so it needs to be back up and running by Friday evening!

In the absence of being able to work on the bike, I’ve been thinking about potential routes for the weekend. The plan is (roughly) to go to Leeds for Saturday and then to return to Wales for Sunday to get around some logistical problems caused by Jen’s car needing some TLC. The day in Snowdonia is easy (and one of my favourite local loops): a 32 mile loop from Bethesda to Llanberis, Capel and home. Saturday is a little trickier as I’ve not lived there for years. Yet again Google Street View will come in handy!

Now that we’re into the final countdown (not the kazoo version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2Btg7lFlig) it’s really pushing me to get my ducks in a row ready for the weekends so I can guarantee a big ride. It’s time to step it up a bit though, so once the bike’s better I need to start evening rides. These are much easier when it’s an extended trip home, so it’s time to get the drybag and rear rack out and start commuting. 15 miles extra a day will definitely help out, and if I managed 350 miles outside in April what will May bring?

We have all the time in the world

Except unlike the Louis Armstrong song, we don’t. In less then two months we will be starting to slow down the training in the last week before the long cycle to Switzerland begins.

As my general fitness was quite low when we started this journey its unfortunate for me that just going out for a few cycle rides a week is not enough training to be ready for two weeks of cycling (even if it is “mostly flat”). The problem is, along with my cycle training I have a couple of other commitments: a full time job; studying distance learning for a masters degree; looking for new jobs and applying for them as my one year trainee position comes to an end in August.

The upshot of this is that I have zero time to do anything else, and time spent eating biscuits and drinking tea is being drastically cut into!

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Sometimes you have to make sacrifices to fit everything in.

One sacrifice I’ve made is using up my annual leave from work in order to study.  I’ve booked two days off to give me a long four day weekend, which I would love to spend cycling everyday, adding as many miles to my training schedule as I can fit in. Unfortunately I have two assignments due in the next few weeks which need to be attended to pretty quickly.

It’s hard to know what the best thing is to do.  Part of me wants to spend four days studying solidly and get everything done, but I know I can’t take that many days off without cycling.  Yesterday I spent all day studying and it made me very grouchy, towards the end of the day my productivity started to slip as well.  So today I’ve made sure to incorporate training into my day:

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Today’s uninspiring view

I think the important thing for me at the moment is to try and have a balance between all the things I need to do.  An hour on the turbo trainer has left me completely sweaty but now I’ve cooled down and am ready for a shower then some lunch, I feel more energised and ready for my afternoon of studying.

I still haven’t decided if I should have another two days of studying to see if I can finish everything, with a few hours of turbo trainer sessions to keep up the training.  Or, if I should call it quits tomorrow and spend the whole day out on the bike.

I may have to make a sacrifice on long-distance cycling this week to get these assignments finished, but I know I can’t relax for a moment on the training.  I need to keep going and put cycling into every day.  I already cycle to work so I can push myself a bit harder on those days and sprint home, plus I’m trying to get out running as well to improve my overall general fitness levels.  Cycling indoors is not good enough preparation for spending all day every day for two weeks on a bike but it may have to make do for the next few days.

What I do know is that as soon as I’ve handed these assignments in I have the whole summer off until studying starts again in September. That means I can concentrate on cycling longer distances, cycling more days, cycling quicker, cycling more hills, getting fitter, getting stronger, improving my nutrition and energy…oh, and working full time and finding a new job.  But those last two are easy in comparison.

At the time of writing this blog post this is how much time we have left:

Will we be ready in time?

Will we be ready in time?

I have no doubt we’ll make it to Switzerland (I’m stubborn enough to never give up!) but I’m under no illusions of how hard it will be.  The next 67 days are going to be busy, so lets get on with it…now, pass me the biscuits, I have an assignment to write!

 

The shortest summer on record

On Saturday I completed my first substantial solo ride of the year: ~90 miles from Bangor to Llanrwst, Denbigh, St Asaph and home. For the first 65 miles I was pondering this blog post and thinking about how I could word a careful apology. After all, we’re going on about training, hardship and challenge. The problem was that nothing really felt like “training”, not for the first two thirds at least.

Genevieve, my trusty steed!

Genevieve, my trusty steed! Cable-tying my jacket above the bottle cage worked pretty well.

Sure, I was pushing myself and trying to maintain a reasonable pace. And true, I wasn’t hanging around taking pictures or jumping in icy rivers to cool down, but when you’re cruising along quiet B-roads in the countryside with a perfect blue sky and no wind it doesn’t get much better. It certainly doesn’t feel like training and feels a lot more like a great thing to do on a perfect day.

This was my first time riding east of Llanrwst with the exception of the coastal route to Chester, and every hill I crested led to an even more amazing view. The rolling hills strike a marked contrast to the Ogwen valley’s aggressiveness, and I had to make a conscious effort to keep looking at the road and not the countryside.

Above Llanrwst towards Llanddoged

Above Llanrwst towards Llanddoged. It became much hillier after this point.

Spring (at least when we get the sunny portions) has got to be my favourite time to ride. There’s so much going on around you as you pass through different areas, and at the moment there’s plenty of young lambs running around, fields being bashed, rolled, ploughed and prepared, building work, and so on to keep you thinking.

I planned the route the night before, and came up with a few options, mostly staying within the confines of Snowdonia. This route piqued my interest though because it was predominantly in areas I didn’t know, and calm, sunny days are the best to go exploring. Google Street View is now in my list of indispensable tools for cycling and probably helped me save half an hour over the course of the day by looking at each major turn I needed to make in advance. I didn’t try to commit each one to memory like I did the town names I was passing through, but each time I’d be riding along and think “this looks familiar” before seeing the turn and taking it. No faff, far less map-checking and generally improved enjoyment that comes with the confidence that you’re on the right track.

Needing to check the map

Needing to check the map. This junction beat me and I had to resort to the map.

The one big mistake I did make, and am still paying for, was forgetting sun cream. As I pootled down towards Aber I remembered and thought “aah, I’m not going back now, I faffed too much before I set off”. Bad Idea. My arms and legs are still bright red two days on, with razor sharp lines where my jersey, shorts, gloves and socks end. It did make me think about how ridiculous we’re going to look when we arrive in Locarno. Fingerless gloves are going to leave an interesting semi-permanent tan.

So the questions is: what happened after 66 miles which made it feel like training? The answer is two-fold: Conwy council and a lack of food. The latter wasn’t too serious, but I took half a sandwich too few so spent the last hour feeling like it was harder work than it should have been. Lesson learned. The former was much less pleasant.

Whenever I’ve cycled the national cycle route from Bangor to Chester I’ve always headed up through Old Colwyn towards Llysfaen, skipping out the Colywn Bay seafront. This was generally not on purpose. On the way home I thought I’d follow the front, but was quickly disappointed as the cyclepath deteriorated from high-quality smooth tarmac to a broken, rough, uneven path which weaved around lampposts making it clear the cycle lane was an unimportant afterthought. In fairness some sections had good intentions, with one including a cycle lane separated from the road and the pedestrian area with low concrete bollards, but the thin layer of red tarmac that was applied to make the cycle lane obvious has rapidly fallen into disrepair, and was so juddery I came out the other side with bruised palms and a sore back.

Perfect cycle path at Llanddulas

Perfect cycle path at Llanddulas. If only Colwyn Bay was like this!

Overall a great day out, and once I’d eaten and recovered definitely felt like another day would be feasible. Of course the “Welsh summer” had something to say about it and Sunday morning was a windy rainfest of epic proportions. Fingers’ crossed for another few days like that before we set off!

All By Myself

As Team Pedal all live in different parts of the country, it’s not that often that we get to cycle together.  Today was one of those lonely days, when I only had myself for motivation to get up and go out on a bike ride this morning.

Packing

Most of my lone cycle rides this far have either been: less than 15 miles (so I could fit any necessary snacks in my tiny saddle bag); more than 15 miles in bad weather (more snacks needed for the duration, but needing to wear a jacket due to freezing wind/rain/snow meant I had pockets to put food in).  Today is gloriously sunny (no coat necessary) and my plan for a 50 mile route meant the dilemma I had this morning was what to do with the much needed food.  Not yet having a cycle jersey (that come with pockets on the back) and having the smallest saddle bag in the world (which needs to hold anything necessary to fix a puncture or a chain breakage) meant I had to improvise somewhat:

Jam sandwiches and bananas safely attached

Jam sandwiches and bananas safely attached

I took the bag that normally hold my inflatable camping pillow and secured it around the middle with elastic bands.  I was impressed with how well this worked….until I started to eat the food, and found my bananas very squished!

Navigation

Last night I spent over two hours planning the route.  As most of you should now be aware, my navigation skills leave a lot to be desired.  I first used the website Runkeeper to plot a route.  This is useful because you can place markers and map out exactly where you want to go.  Once this route is saved you can then use it to your advantage when your navigation fails whilst out on the bike.  Runkeeper has an app you can use on your phone which will record the route you’re on, if you add the saved route as another layer on this map you can see both the route you’re supposed to take and the route you’re actually taking:

Oops, shouldn't have turned right there

Oops, shouldn’t have turned right there

This has in the past come in useful, today I only noticed I’d gone the wrong route a long time after I’d done it, as it was all heading in the right direction.

Second I use Google Street View, which I find invaluable when route planning.  You can have a look at Street View for any junctions on your route and see landmarks and roadsigns.  I find this a lot easier to remember then just to look at a map and remember what towns I need to go to.  Although I do seem to be getting better at remembering town names as a few times today I took wrong turnings following signs for villages I know I had to go to (as the map above shows).  It took me off the planned route, but I ended up in the right place after all.

Mmmm bop?

Mmmm bop?

 

After the half-way point I realised my route took me back onto the National Cycle route into Oxford, so I didn’t bother using street view or planning this much, assuming it would be easier to follow signs.  I will soon write another blog post about how much I generally dislike following National Cycle Route signs, and today has really added fuel to my dislike.  Today saw 20 minutes spent wandering around a busy town, lost and unable to find any route signs; following a path that took me through a busy park (with lots of children and dogs running around so I thought it was safer to get off the bike and walk for 10 minutes; at least an hour on paths so bumpy and unstable that I was worried I might be damaging the bike.  I think this added a lot of extra time to the journey that wasn’t really necessary – though I now know some beautiful routes to go for a walk or a non-road bike cycle.

 

 

Hello Spring!

The weather today in Oxfordshire is beautiful, but setting off at 7am meant it was a bit cold and frosty at first.  I stubbornly refused to go back for my gloves, despite my hands frosting to the handlebars for the first half an hour, because I knew I wouldn’t need them later.  I’m glad I persevered because it turned into a beautiful sunny day.

Today was possibly one of the nicest cycle rides I’ve been on.  I wasn’t familiar with the route so I spent a lot of time winding down the country lanes beside open fields muttering “wow….this is so beautiful”.  Don’t tell Ryan, but I saw a few nice houses for sale in these villages, enough rooms for the whole family to live together, but perhaps a bit out of our price range!

For my second snack stop I found a nice bench, shaded under a tree, and sat down to eat my jam sandwiches and have a chat with a lovely lady who’d just come from the church fete next door…I think she thought I was crazy when I told her how far I’d cycled (40 miles by that point).

I don’t think the lovely weather and the great views helped me go any quicker, but I was home for lunch and I had a great morning out.  Oh, and the detours meant I covered nearly 57 miles..not too bad for a saturday morning.

Happy to be outside at 7am for a bike ride...must be mad!

Happy to be outside at 7am for a bike ride…must be mad!

The Best Laid Plans…

The Team headed to the Isle of Wight this weekend on a plan to cycle around the island in a day, at just over 60 miles this seemed more than achievable and we were all looking forward to the fun day out cycling in the sunshine…..

Meeting Megan on the island on Saturday morning, Ryan and myself were half an hour late arriving due to a delayed ferry – there’s not a lot you can do when you reply on public transport!  Setting off on the ride at 11.30am shouldn’t have been too much of a problem, we were still determined to make it most of, if not all, the way around.

Disaster #1 is otherwise known as Jen’s navigation skills.  The Isle of Wight has a ’round the island’ route which is handily marked out with road signs.  I say ‘handily’, but actually I lie.  There are two routes, one clockwise and one anticlockwise, that both have very similar signs to direct you.

Which way?

Which way?

As you can see from this picture, the signs are not at all confusing (“was it white on a blue background or blue on a white background we’re supposed to be following?”). Not so easy to navigate when you’re in an unfamiliar place and you’re swimming around the cycle route (more on that later).

The navigation woes started as soon as we set off and I immediately headed in the wrong direction   Ryan realised this but wanted me to learn to be more confident in my navigating…by not telling me I was navigating for the first 20 minutes.  Team Pedal then meandered around the Isle of Wight for a good 30 minutes, getting lost and heading around the same roundabouts several times before finding our way….mostly.

Disaster #2 was the snapping of Ryan’s chain.  Just after I’d got us lost for the fourth time we set off to cycle over a particularly busy roundabout only to have Ryan’s chain snap just as he was moving out into traffic.  I found it a lot scarier then he did, and we grabbed the bike and broken bits and huddled down in an underpass to fix it.  Whilst Ryan nipped off to a nearby shop to use their facilities Megan and I started on the chain fixing – a real team effort!

Disaster #3 has to be the weather.  After seeing the weekend weather forecast we were under no illusions that the day would be a wet cycle.  For Megan this was the first time she had cycled in the rain.  I’m used to cycling in the rain now, doing it quite frequently on my commute to work.  However, I don’t think any of us were strong enough to cycle past the warm dry cake selling cafe after cycling for 16 miles in torrential rain.

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Home comforts at 16 miles

We have to thank The Dairy Deli for welcoming three very drenched cyclists and comforting us with tea, coffee, hot chocolate and home made cakes.  It was a very welcome break from the downpour and we were all a little reluctant to get back on the bikes.

At this point we had spent a lot of the day lost in navigation hell, fixing broken chains, and being drenched by cars deliberately driving through deep puddles to soak us…we faced the reality that we would not have the time to make it around the whole island.  Instead, we decided to start heading back to base and cut it short to 30 miles, with an option of an extended loop should we be up for it once we’d continued a bit further.

Back out in the rain we jumped on the bikes…and Megan instantly fell off again.  I was concerned briefly that she may have hurt herself until I realised she was lying on the floor laughing.

Back on the road we made it up to 27 miles before I pulled over to the side of the road to make sure we were definitely heading in the right direction again.  Ryan spotted a bus shelter where we could huddle away from the rain to check the map and I attempted to push my bike over the centimetre high kerb to go towards the shelter.  I say attempted, because I promptly fell sideways landed heavily on my knee. (Disaster number…what are we up to now?)

Hobblingly along I decided I didn’t really want to do that extra loop and was quite happy with 30 miles thank you very much.

Setting off again Ryan and Megan soon sailed in to the distance as I made another emergency stop to deal with my chain jammed for the third time that day (Disaster number 4824732462).  I caught them up for the last few miles and we returned to base looking rather like we’d spent the day underwater cycling, which is frankly what it felt like.

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The Wet Look

 

Overall it was a weekend of mixed fortunes.  We all got some good experience in cycling in torrential rain.  Megan got some great experience in on road cycling in the rain.  Megan and I got some great experience in falling off (again).  Most importantly we got to do a lot of route planning, eating good food, spending time with wonderful family and planning ways to make cycling to Switzerland more enjoyable for everyone….

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Team Pedal and Support

 

Bike-mas

Got home today to find that cyclist santa had delivered my Chain Reaction order, so my new road shoes, clippy pedals , over shoes and inner tubes are here ! Yay!

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Now to fit the new pedals to my bike and attempt to get used to them.!
Hopefully I can get the hang of them in time for my ride to Nottingham on Thursday. Fingers crossed I don’t face plant some gravel and cry!

Semi blue skies!

Semi blue skies!

The weird March-time snow has nearly all gone , pavements are clear and there is even a small amount of blue sky peeping through! So today Ryan’s on his way over to Leeds from Wales for an impromptu bike ride.
Which is great news because my training has taken a bit of a side seat over the past couple of weeks due to the snow and having to work early and sacrificing some of my morning gym training sessions.
So it’s time to get back in the saddle (wheyy) …and refocus on the goal..which is only 3 short months away!!
Easter chocolate and excuses no more…it’s all go from here!!
I suppose there was always going to be a lull in my focus at some point, I’m just thankful it was now, when I still have 3 months to recover lost time.

Today : we haven’t specified, but I imagine a 60 (ish) ride around Leeds.

This weekend: Bangor Team Pedal training weekend with Ryan and Jen.

Next Weekend: Isle of Wight Team Pedal training weekend!! (Hopefully in glorious broad sunshine too !! Fingers crossed!)

Motivation, check. New cycle computer, check. slice of sunshine, check. Ryan…. 15 minutes yet.