Forget the rain

Frozen Llyn OgwenSo I could write a bit of a post rehashing the events of last weekend and adding to Jen’s disaster list that I *almost* destroyed my iPhone by putting it in my jacket pocket while it was 1/2 full of water (cheers Isle of Wight Freelander driver who aimed for that puddle!), but this evening’s sunshine has pushed all thoughts of winter, wind and rain from my mind.

It’s hard to believe that only two weeks ago Llyn Ogwen was frozen and half of Snowdonia was snowbound when I spent this evening on the driveway fitting a new chain and giving the bike a good bit of TLC. The weather looks good for tomorrow, a little cloudy but with almost no wind. Perfect conditions for a long ride down the coast.
A great evening for bike maintenance

The first thing to deal with was fitting the new chain. The Shimano chain which came with the bike has seen over 3000 miles and is starting to look a bit worn. By taking a tape measure and measuring 12″ of chain it’s possible to see roughly how worn the chain is. Measuring from the center of the first pin, as the chain wears the nearest pin to 12″ moves slightly further away. It seems to be generally advised that if it’s over 1/16th of an inch further to the center of the pin it’s time to replace the cassette and the chain. Mine was just under 1/16th, so a new chain should do (phew, those Ultegra cassettes aren’t cheap!).

Measuring the chain

Starting from the 1″ marker means the play from the end of the tape measure doesn’t affect your measurement

The downside to winter riding is that it takes a toll on your kit. Inspecting the bike after the chain was fitted I noticed that the headset and bottom bracket both need replacing. Definitely a job for another day!

Now that summer’s here* I’m feeling much more excited about getting out on the road. Everything’s much more pleasant when you can stop for ice cream every hour!

* Summer in North Wales is traditionally 2 weeks in March, then back to rain until winter…

Summer's here (almost) in the Nantlle valley

Summer’s here (almost) in the Nantlle valley

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.