Today’s Route!

Today's Route!

I drove to North Wales last night after a long week at work, to spend the weekend cycling with Ryan. Now for a great weekend ahead with 2 days of long distance routes and some good up-hill climbs around Snowdonia.

Today we’re doing a route that is roughly 40 miles each way to Abersoch and back, roughly 80 miles in total.

Nearly 5 weeks to go until the Switzerland trip!

77 miles to Nottingham – An iPhone battery life of 6 hours = 54 Miles to Kiveston Bridge train station and a very lost and disappointed Megan

Yesterday was my first ever solo long ride. The plan was to cycle the 78 miles from Dewsbury to Nottingham city centre via Barnsley, Rotherham, Chesterfield and a few more towns along the way. After setting off at 7.30am I was in high spirits, feeling really optimistic about the route ahead despite the persistent rain and grey sky. Image

 

I’d mapped my route using Google maps and had deliberately tried to stay on cycle routes  for the majority of the ride, with the logic that I’d build up more speed when there was no road traffic involved. Oh, how wrong I could be. The Trans Pennine Trail that ran down the side of Barnsley, The Dearne Valley, was far better suited to mountain biking. The majority of the trail followed the disused Barnsley canal, and the trail can’t have been more than a metre wide, and in some areas it was flanked by barbed wire on one side and a wooden fence on the other. This made my average speed drop drastically. After being so desperate to stick to cycle routes whilst planning my route, I was shocked when I wanted to join back onto the A roads again. 

Navigation wise, there were quite a few hiccups. I found it a lot easier on the roads, when I could remember street names and would recognise buildings and landmarks I’d seen on Google street view. However, my biggest mistake was the realisation that although I may be on the right road, granted, those roads go in 2 directions, and I may well be taking the wrong one. I learnt this on Rotherham road. Turns out I was cycling 2 miles in the wrong direction before I stopped and realised . Heading North instead of South it was a nice little 4 mile detour, I fancied the scenic route. 

Considering that the previous time I’d been out, with Ryan, I’d still found roundabouts a little daunting and cars entering made me quite on edge…this journey was quite positive. I found that my confidence on the roads was building and I felt very sure of myself when signalling and making sure I was safe. I just kept Ryan’s very good advice in my head the entire time : “Act like a car”. This worked on junctions and at traffic lights, and by keeping a more dominant position amongst the traffic I didn’t feel bullied into the curb. There were, however, a few morons overtaking me at high speed on blind corners on country lanes, but you know morons will be morons. 

The first “drama” of the day came in the form of a loose bottle on my first fast downhill descent. I hit 30mph and all of a sudden heard a loud crack. My first thought was that the back wheel had fallen off…but then I was still rolling on down so assumption number 2 was confirmed when I looked down and saw that I was one water bottle down. I pulled over and wandered back up the hill to find my new SIS water bottle laying empty on the side of the road.

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I still had 70 odd miles to do with about 100ml of water to guzzle. Only a small dilema obviously, as I would see many shops along the way, but it made me laugh all the same as ryan had told me a similar story that happened to him a while back. 

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The main drama of the day , which ultimately made me have to cut my route very short, was the draining of my iPhone battery. Mum had persuaded me to leave Google latitude on , so that she could track my progress throughout the day and not have kittens when I didn’t text to update her. This, unfortunately rinsed my battery, even though I turned it off after a couple of hours , realising that was the cause, it was already too late. I couldn’t navigate without the use of my google map app and felt really unsafe riding through woods and secluded roads without the use of phone in an emergency, so I started to worry about what to do . 

I was on the trans Pennine trail through Rother Valley national park when my phone died, and although feeling quite uncomfortable  I knew i’d find someone to ask for directions to a shop or cafe or something .

I came across the Rother Valley Activity centre, and after speaking to some very helpful people I ended up at the centre’s cafe asking for help. The Lovely staff in the office offered to charge my phone for a short while before they closed, which was a huge relief! So in true Jen style I got myself a cup of tea and some biscuits whilst I waited, and the sun began to shine..so It was a huge shame I wasn’t on my bike to enjoy it.Image

Rocking up in a high vis vest covered in mud I received a lot of interested questions asking where I’d come from , what my route was, questions about my road bike. One guy asked if I’d been doing bunny hops in swamps….I certainly looked as though I had been. 

Half an hour later my phone had 30% battery, enough to ring mum and whinge about my situation and ask what I should do. I really wanted to press on and reach Nottingham but time had gotten away from me and it was getting later and later, and my phone battery was never going to last, especially as the remainder of the route was going to be even more challenging and complex navigation wise.

This is the remainder of my route that I couldn’t do:

 

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So as disappointed and gutted as I was, I decided the wise thing to do was to cycle to a train station and get to Notts by train. 

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Cycling 54 miles in total, It’s the furthest I’ve gone alone and had to navigate by myself. I found navigating very challenging but at the same time I felt like I was getting the hang of navigating roads as the day progressed. Overall, I’m happy with how it went even though there were ups and downs , but I’m making the most of it and there’s definitelylessons to be learnt. 

One thing to note aswell, my stamina and “all day pace” as Ryan calls it were on top form, although I do need to learn when to eat and regain energy as I did flag a couple of times. Concentrating on navigating and reaching the next towns distracted me, so lesson to learn. 

Til next weekend and a long ride in Wales with Ryan!

7 weeks to go until the big trip  🙂

 

 

 

Bikes, brakes and bruises

I’m currently en route to the Isle of Wight for our mid-month Team Pedal training weekend. When we first discussed this weekend a few months ago I excitedly envisioned cycling the route around the island in lovely, glorious sunshine and experiencing for the first time cycling in some form of warmth. This time 2 years ago I was sat on the island reading a book and getting sunburnt ! Today, however, the weather doesn’t look too promising .

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So , update from last weekend. We cycled from Bethesda in North Wales following a route around the Snowdonia region. Climbing a total of 6,283ft, some of the climbs were just mean.

This route in particular was a big learning curve for me, realising that adrenaline alone won't get me up the alpine passes. I need to place more focus on building my overall leg strength , and how to set a good pace that will allow me to reach the top of those climbs.
Whilst climbing, I found that when my breathing became staggered and harder to control I would get up out of my seat and push that little bit harder , on reflection I need to learn how to control my breathing and pace myself more effectively in order to maintain my energy and increase my stamina.

I've had a set back in my training this week due to a slight injury to my left leg. After last weekend I was excited for the weeks training ahead of me , a high-intensity spin class on Wednesday, a 74 mile ride to Nottingham on Thursday and then the weekend training on the Isle of Wight.
Wednesday went to plan, during the spin class , The PT had us cycling one footed on full resistance. Powering a bike theoretically up hill by one leg is hard graft , and doing 4 reps on each other for 4 minute durations really built up a sweat. After some up-hill, high resistance sprints and some crouching reps ( using your core to balance as you cycle very slowly out of your seat without straightening your legs and having your hands off of the bars) I'd felt like I'd really worked hard and targeted my weakness which is uphill strength and stamina .

That evening I aimed to try out my new Mavic MTB shoes and Shimano clip-less pedals. Now …. I was thrilled to find that I could actually use them without getting stroppy and giving up. In fact I actually liked them!
My major downfall though.. That caused my to lose balance and fall off my bike with my feet still clipped in, at the side of a main road .. And receiving a lot of concerned stares from passing drivers ? Pure cockiness.
After a mere ten / fifteen minutes using these pedals I felt really confident on them and appreciated that they would be better on longer rides than my average running trainers and normal pedals.
Cycling back up the road afterwards with dad using his hand-cycle, he said 'its uphill so ill be quite slow, go around the block or meet me at home' to which I replied 'nah it'll be great leg training to go slowly on a high gear uphill'
Turns out I can't go slow, without pedaling. It results in lost balance and a very very black and blue bruise on the left knee and thigh! So I bailed on the Notts route because I wasn't sure how badly injured my knee was 😦 which I was really disappointed about . However , I've merely postponed it , I will be doing it at the next opportunity !!

The swelling has reduced a fair amount and I'm just left with bruises now so hopefully my leg will be totally fine for tomorrow's ride around the island !
And hopefully I will get on beautifully with my new pedals ! Fingers crossed.

Relative excellence

Auntie Ann and uncle Ernie have been super relatives and sent some awesome thermal socks in the post in aid of team pedal’s training weekends! 2 pairs of nicey warm socks … So next time we don’t have to worry about losing our fingers and toes to frostbite !
So thank you very very much to Ann and Ernie !!!! X

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“Like riding on ice”

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Upon first reading the instructions for my new ELITE Parabolic Roller turbo trainer, they liken the experience to “cycling on ice”. Promising start. I then optimistically jump on, realising that the bike is in no way supported and I have to juggle balance, speed and direction all in one go and when you pedal , you wiggle … A LOT.

Reaction number 1 to my new “Roller” turbo trainer:

This is ridiculous, this is crazy, what…I dont get it, eh how do I stay upright?, that’s mental, who in their right mind would do this
Then I tried it…and after eagerly awaiting its arrival in the post I felt like crying in frustration in true 8year old Megan “I CAAAAAAN’T” style familiar to all Brooks family members.
That’s stupid, how ridiculous is that, NO WAY, It IS like skating on ice! , Thats impossible!

Safe to say it went straight back into its box and was going to be refunded the hell out of.

Then Dad says, well it isn’t impossible because people have mastered it, it just takes practice. It’s the best one out there.

Then I rang Ryan and he told me to persevere because it’s the most beneficial way to turbo train as it builds your core strength and muscles and also improves your balance.

Reaction number 2 to my new turbo trainer:

Whether it was sheer arrogance or determination, after it defeated me so quickly, I got it back out and gave it another shot. As my dad was holding onto my saddle loosely and “spotting” me whilst i built up my speed, I was screaming “DAD DO NOT LET GO, DON’T YOU DARE LET GO, I WILL FALL”
Ten minutes or so later I actually started pedalling in a (relatively) straight line and Dad was no longer holding my saddle like I was a 4 year old riding my first stabiliser bike!

I will persevere with this nutjob contraption, simply because it opened my eyes to actual cycling skill. I mean .. I thought I WAS cycling in a “straight” line when on roads, but this turbo trainer just actually shows you how hard it is to keep a bike going precisely straight. So , theoretically if i get better at this, then I’ll be riding in a straighter, safer line out on the roads. Less chance of bike-van collision. Win, win situation.