Friday, 9 December 2011

A Lesson Learnt...

I tried a new route today, I headed east away from the moor and along the coast. It means riding on the main A39 for a couple of miles which is nice and flat and a good warm up just a bit busy. I turned off in Carhampton and headed up the hill to Blue Anchor, its short and sharp and gets the blood pumping. From there its a quick descent into the village over the railway line and onto the seafront. I was feeling good today, think I was starting to get used to the new bike set up and could feel the revolutions as I pedalled if you get my drift. Another up past the pub at the end, steep to start then it eases off and I got into a good rhythm and headed along the top towards the ancient port of Watchet, past the industrial sprawl of the paper mill down below me and down the hill towards the harbour.
A trip to Watchet apparently inspired Samuel Taylor Coleridge to write the poem "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" but I'm sure Iron Maiden wrote it first. A lovely statue to commemorate the story sits on the esplanade but there is no mention of the Maiden, more on headbanging later on. I headed through Watchet and then the back road at Doniford to Williton, there was a bit of a headwind but I didn't mind I was enjoying the ride in the late winter sunshine.

Instead of sticking to the main road I took a detour a through the pretty hamlet of Stream, I think the definition of a hamlet is a place with no church but cigars or something like that. It was a couple of ups and down into Monksilver and up the hill and over the crossroads and down past the cider farm at Torre. After a quick breather at Cleeve Abbey it was back onto the main road at Washford.
Its a busy road but luckily today relatively traffic free and most of all its pretty flat, so I could actually get on the big ring and push for home. I negotiated the tricky bits and was going along quite well until I made the decision to get off the road and onto the cycle path in Carhampton. I slowed down to get off the road and wallop, the bike wiped out from underneath and I hit the deck with a thump. My head and shoulder took most of the impact, and Lance got scratched too. A nice man in a white van stopped to scrape me off the floor and check on me and a lovely couple who must have been behind me insisted on taking me home. Its nice to see the good side of human nature and I'm eternally grateful for their concern and kindness. My helmet did its job, its knackered now but I'm not, anyone who cycles who reads this take note, WEAR A HELMET ! Don't make your kids wear one and then not wear one yourself either.

My darling wife took me to the lovely new community hospital where they checked me over and told me that I'd badly bruised my shoulder and prescribed pain relief and told me it would probably get worse before it gets better, I hate pain nearly as much as hills and wind ;) but luckily thanks to my helmet I can sit here and reflect on a lesson learnt.

No stats yet, my computer was still on when I got a lift, top speed 50mph I wish !

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

To the end and back...

I didn't go far today the wind wouldn't let me. The wind was blowing hard in these parts and the thought of riding the main roads with winds gusting up to 30mph didn't really appeal. I decided to ride the hill which forms part of the Minehead landscape, North Hill, about five miles long and exposed to the elements but low on traffic this time of year so basically I was doing a five mile hill climb, into the wind, I hate hills, and the wind ??

I wound my way up past the church and up the hill, the first initial climb of about five hundred yards is sheltered but I knew what was around the hairpin bend. The wind hit me like a brick wall, I always struggle at the start of a ride as my lungs need to warm up and this climb was only about five minutes in. I was struggling to catch my breath, the wind was strong, I started getting dark thoughts about turning around and heading back down. I had to stop, my lungs were screaming for air, I didn't feel good, they always go on about power to weight ratios in cycling, I'm all weight and no power, I was beginning to get angry with myself for being a useless fat prick. I carried on, the wind wasn't going to beat me, I'd done the steep bit and the hill was undulating to the end.
I hit the first little downhill section about halfway along the hill, pedalling down it I was just touching 8mph, downhill, even the Exmoor ponies who reside up here were running in the opposite direction using the tailwind ! I was glad I wasn't riding some exotic carbon steed with fancy lightweight wheels it would have been blown away. I carried on knowing I'd be using that tailwind on the way back. I got to the end and stopped to take a pic. I could hardly stand, the wind was so strong.
I didn't stop and admire the view, I had that tailwind to play with. As soon as I turned around it was pushing me back towards Minehead, the roar was replaced with peaceful calm. It was still a bit sketchy heading down, the road meanders its way along the hill and the cross winds were a bit scary in places, so glad this wasn't the main road. I did a quick spin along the seafront, with the wind at your back you get a really good feeling. spinning away, some would probably call it karma or nirvana, then you turn around and realise it was mother nature giving you a push, oh well.

No stats today, too embarrassing :(

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Wet and Windy

It was a day to hit the rough stuff, the weather was a bit iffy but you have to get out and ride. Bonus put off his hibernation and No1 came along for the ride. I wrapped up for the conditions wearing my new softshell from Mountain Warehouse, I always like their stuff, its cheap and functional and doesn't fall to bits. No1 wasn't impressed by my decision to wear my Ron Hill leggings "I thought we were going mountain biking" think he thought I was dressed too roadie ! He was wearing baggy shorts, proper mountain biker ;)

We set off from the house of Bonus and wound our way through the back roads of Minehead and onto the track that would take us up the slopes of North Hill. Its a regular route and a nice steady climb, a few years ago I'd be huffing and puffing and stopping every five minutes to catch my breath, I can now ride at a much better pace and don't even use my granny ring on this climb. Bonus seemed to be struggling a bit early on but I think he had been partying the night before, it was nice to have someone to chat to though as we made our way up the leafy track.
Its sheltered this side of the hill and as we approached the top we could feel the wind whipping around the headland. After a quick breather we headed along the top into the head wind, it was a bit overcast but not too bad. As we made our way towards Selworthy Beacon the skies darkened, we stopped to add layers and made the decision to make a detour, then as we set off the heavens opened. I don't know if it was hailing or it was just the rain bouncing off the road because I couldn't see but we stopped and dived under a gorse bush to shelter and discuss route options.
We decided to head back, No1 was looking a bit cold, he would wear shorts ! We still hit some good tracks on the way back and the sun came out as we crashed and splashed through the puddles. We made our way towards what is known locally as the "Tank Tracks" a relic of a world war 2 tank training area. Its more a case of dodging dog eggs rather than rocks on this part of the hill as its the dog toilet of Minehead.
No1 was really feeling the effects of the elements now, he does tend to suffer with the cold but as all parents know, you can't tell them. After a quick downhill and blast around Jim's path we decided to take the road home and get No1 back into the warmth. It was wet, windy and cold but still good fun, you can't beat cycling around these parts.
That'll need some Muc off !

Friday, 2 December 2011

If the bike fits....

Lance and I haven't been getting on. It's partly my fault, it was a bit of an impulse buy, I shouldn't be allowed in large bicycle shops there's too much to tempt and I end up a drooling wreck. If and when I buy another bike I won't wear jeans and trainers and I'll ask for a fit. I tinker too much, adjusting the seat height, the seat position until I get to a point where I don't know where I started and I'm uncomfortable on the bike. On Monday's ride my back was aching so I lowered the seat, that helped but that lead to my knees aching after the ride, Lance and I needed counselling.

So after contacting Bicycle Chain in Taunton where I bought the bike and explaining my problems they kindly offered a free basic fit for Lance and I. Alex the Trek trained bike fitter chatted about my riding, I think he was a bit surprised at the distances I was doing and my time on the bike, must have been my athletic frame impressing him. After demonstrating  my complete lack of flexibility Lance was set up on a turbo and Alex watched me spin. He then proceeded to check leg angles with a big angle checker thing, cleat position and hung plumb lines from the knees. I don't know if I've got one leg longer than the other or one is less tight than the other. I put this down to driving fork trucks for twelve hours a day and twisting to one side, perhaps I need a truck fit ?

After an hour or so we had it sorted. Lance was fitted with a shorter stem to reduce my reach and the saddle height was raised far higher than what I would have done and moved back a bit to what it was, I might need some stabilisers ? Alex also advised on some exercises to help my lower back. I was itching to get on the bike, so as soon as I got back I went for quick spin on my Wootton Courtenay lap. The bike definitely felt easier to spin if you know what I mean ? It might take some getting used to in the next couple of weeks, I'm probably using some different muscles now and stretching the hamstrings a bit more. My time ? 13 seconds quicker, it all counts ;)

Monday, 28 November 2011

No Moor Heroes

After a quick weather recce with the dog, things down at sea level were looking quite pleasant. As I was riding up to the moors today I layered up and stuffed my Gilet in my back pocket just in case, I even wore my free buff from Cycling Plus, I was prepared like a proper boy scout today or so I thought. So I got Lance out of the shed (my Trek) headed off towards Porlock along the undulations of Bratton straight then down the Tivington hilly bit passing what seemed to be most of my extended family going in the other direction, don't know if any of them recognised the lycra clad grockel, I was going too quick to wave. I was heading for Porlock Hill but was taking the relative easy way up via the Toll Road. There are two toll roads the New road and the Worthy, avoid the latter it wouldn't be out of place in Beirut, the pot holes are more like craters, it's a bit scary going down it.
Its about four miles up the toll road, starting at about 100ft above sea level rising to about 1300ft at the top. Its a long steady peaceful climb, just pick a comfy gear and tap out a steady rhythm with just the sound of me wheezing and what must be hundreds of squirrels going mad in the undergrowth looking for their nuts. I was determined to enjoy my ride today and not get too hung up on speed and stats and all that nonsense. A huge Buzzard swooped low in front of me and landed in a tree, I tried to get a pic but the sound of me clipping out scared him off, he did look like he was sizing me up for breakfast though, he'll probably wait for me at the top when I'm knackered :)
I think the hill sheltered me as I made my way, I was enjoying myself spinning up the hill, you don't get many cars this time of year its mainly a tourist route and you have to pay. So I got to the top and made a slight off road detour. If  you stick to the road you have to double back on yourself and have to climb back up for a mile or so. I tried a track my nephew told me about well its probably rideable in the summer and some attempt has been made to surface it but its not summer, after a quick negotiation of several water filled craters I got back to the road. Note to self, stick to the road, ride the hills you wimp.

It was bleak up here and the wind found me. It was now an up and down toil into a headwind for four miles along the top of the moor. It was a good job I packed that Gilet. The elements started to take their toll, I started to lose feeling in my toes but I gritted my teeth and carried on I even managed to cycle out of the dip at Dunkery Hill, its short but bloody steep and the other times I've ridden this route I've always bailed out.
It was then the downhill into Exford, its a fast descent with a couple of bends thrown in for enjoyment, but I was bloody freezing, now I know why those squirrels were so mad ;) I had to stop in Exford to try and regain some feeling in my toes and take on some fuel. It was then another climb out of Exford, I've ridden up this hill before and always got up it but today I bailed out, I don't know why I was only about five yards from the top. Maybe it was the cold taking its toll and last time I had No1 to act as the hare. I need some more ride buddies, Lance doesn't say much. It was then along to Luckwell Bridge another fast descent with a little climb back out and onto Wheddon Cross. Things were brightening up mentally now I as knew it was basically all downhill for the ten miles back to home. Its a cracking run down from Wheddon Cross, I've ridden up this way enough times lately it was time to enjoy going down it.
Going Down

It was time spin the big ring home, no more hills, I know I wasn't going prattle on about stats but I managed the last ten miles in about thirty five minutes, but hitting 30mph for about two miles down from Wheddon Cross probably helped a bit.
Distance - 29.6 miles
Time - 2.50
Avg speed - 10.5mph
Elevation gain -3133ft

Dear Santa please can I have some cosy overshoes for crimbo :)
Lazy bloody dog, its me who's been out

Sunday, 20 November 2011

All Things Bright and Beautiful

The plan today was to hit the rough stuff with Bonus, No1 son and possibly the baguette boys but an hour before we were due to go out I got an apologetic text from Bonus who was feeling a bit rough so it was me and No1 who headed off towards Park Lane, no not that one.

The Levellers sang about walking in ancient places, I like to cycle in them but you can't really get away from them living around here. It was a couple of miles of road and possibly West Somerset's only cycle path, past Dunster Castle and onto Park lane a tarmac lane that turns into a muddy rocky mile long climb up towards Aller Hill.
Park Lane

I tend to use Park lane as a measure of my improving fitness, a couple of years ago I'd be pushing from virtually the bottom and have steadily improved and get most of the way along it to a another steep up towards the top that No1 always seem to fly up. I gave it a go today but managed to lose traction and balance half way up and pushed to the crest. This area is normally shrouded in darkness by the tree canopy so it was a bit of a surprise to see the the sun breaking through the mist as I rode along the top. The forestry people had been busy since we last came this way and transformed the landscape completely.

That's where the trees went

After a quick breather at the top we headed off over Bats castle the site of an ancient iron age settlement, you can see why the people settled here, there's some cracking views and great downhills in every direction
View from Bats Castle
After the downhill from Bats Castle it was a quick ride down to the crunchy track, another favourite down. No1 was flying today, he'll fly down rough tracks and drops but hates going down on his road bike, I think the disc brakes and six inches of suspension have something to do with it. After a quick bit of road we where at the foot of Grabbist Hill. Its said that Grabbist was the inspiration for the purple headed mountain in the hymn All things Bright and Beautiful as it was once treeless and covered in heather before it was planted up.
This is when No1 decided he didn't fancy any more up and I did. For someone who grinds to a halt at any incline there must be some dark pleasure I must gain from going up. No1 headed home and I went up, after a steep initial push its a nice steady climb to the top followed by another push up a steep incline to the top of Grabbist. Instead of heading down into Alcombe combe I continued the uphill theme and rode along the ridge line of Knowle hill towards Hopcott, this meant I would be nearer to home when I dropped off the hill. It was certainly bright and beautiful up here.
View of Bats castle from Knowle Hill
I then hit the descent towards home, its not as technical as some but its a quick one, once back under the tree line I was riding on a carpet of leaves, Autumn was still strong in this neck of the woods. It was just a case of aim in the right direction as the track had disappeared. An old boy was most impressed as I rang my bell as I approached him and his dogs. I know its not cool to have a bell on your bike but I find walkers more welcoming if they hear the bell. 
Leafy Descent
It was then a rapid ride down the Hopcott road and home, shame I had to finish the ride alone but it was well worth it for cycling on such a glorious day.

Distance  - 10.2 miles
Time 1.29
Avg Speed - 7mph
Elevation gain - 1529ft
Top speed - 31mph

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Another Quick One

Couldn't get out until after two today as I spent the morning ferrying the daughter to her footy match at Wells, well at Wookey because that's their home pitch, disappointed I didn't see Chewbacca though. After the joys of driving there and back it was in, kit on, straight out, no stopping to collect two hundred pounds, stuffed some malt loaf down and set off. I didn't think I needed to eat, it was only going to be a short one and I've got enough fat in storage to fuel me. I decided to have a quick ride to Porlock and back, there is some relative flat bits to get some speed and rhythm going. I still don't feel that comfortable on the Trek, I might have to check my angle of dangle and other technical stuff again.

I think my inner roadie is now out fully out, why is it some car drivers think they have to squeeze past you as your going up hill and as for that big red van who slowed down as he passed me and then missed a gear, concentrate on your driving, another motorist probably checking me out in lycra.

So it was there and back and I managed to hit 32mph going down Bratton straight, I said it could be done.

Distance - 11.33miles
Time - 50.32mins
Avg speed - 13.4mph
Elevation gain - 788ft

I was going to title all my blog entries with song names and then I realised the Cycling Mayor was already doing this, she's my inspiration I don't want to nick too many ideas off her ;)

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

A Quick One

Thought I'd get a quick lap in, it was cold but it was dry but I felt the need to get out. Its my morning off before night shifts but it had to be done. I did my lap around to Wootton Courtenay and back. Its not far only just over eleven miles but its got a bit of everything for a short route. I did my usual skirt around Dunster and onto the road to Timberscombe, it was lovely this side of the hill, sun on your face and sheltered from the wind. Dunkery was shrouded in mist as I went past the church and around the bend to point me back towards Minehead. It was a tad chilly this side though as the wind whipped around the hill. It was unsually busy, a couple of delivery vans slowed me down around a couple of the bends where I normally push it a bit wide to get some momentum. Onto Bratton straight where I had the pleasure of battling into a headwind, pushing the big ring I was struggling to get over twenty you can normally hit the mid thirties comfortably down here though but not today.

Distance - 11.2
Time - 55.18
Avg speed - 12.2 mph
Elevation gain - 1132ft

I've done this route six minutes quicker than this. That's two routes in as many days I've done six minutes quicker. I don't if it was the chill on my lungs or the headwind or the different gearing on the Trek or I'm getting to hung up on stats. At least I'm out and pedalling. interesting point though, the same route according to garmin as suddenly gained about 170ft in height since I last rode it, bloody technology.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Any Old iron

Finally I had a chance to go for a ride with No1 son. Its been a couple of weeks due to shifts and dentistry so I decided to take him on my loop up to the two crosses and back to Minehead.  I managed to drag him off his xbox , saving the world from eastern European despots will have to wait, cycling comes first. That could be the cure to world disorder everywhere, just go for a bike ride, sweat out your grievances, have a blast and finish it off with a nice cuppa, easy.

It was another unseasonably warm day but as we where heading up to Wheddon Cross I layered up just in case and wore my fancy Campagnolo 3/4's which had only seen the light of day at the Cheddar sportive, its been too warm for them ever since. Did the usual skirt around the back of Alcombe and Dunster and hit the road up to Wheddon Cross. We where pleasantly surprised to find a large stretch of road just after Timberscombe had been resurfaced with lovely new tarmac a few days before, it was nice spinning along, this is what all roads should be like. About half way up the boy got a bit fed up of sitting behind me and did his best Andy Schleck impression and shot off up the road leaving me to puff my way up. After a quick breather, for me anyway, at Wheddon Cross we went up the hill towards Raleigh's Cross. I was getting a bit disheartened as the first twelve or so miles of this route are basically up but this road takes you up onto the Brendon Hills, once on top there's some good straight and flat sections where we picked up the pace.

Its a nice quiet road to blast along, going past the old mine workings of days gone by. Its hard to imagine that this area was once littered with mines digging up iron ore for the welsh foundry's just across the channel. A railway was built to Watchet to take the ore to the docks and a lot of a work has gone on in recent years to preserve what remains of the Mineral Line and preserve a bit of local industrial heritage.

It was then past the Beulah chapel, past the pub at Raleighs Cross and down the great descent of what's known as Sticklepath. This was get my own back time as I descend like a brick, the boy gets caught up in the wind as he's about eight stone wet through. It was my turn to wait for him, revenge is sweet. We carried on down the hill took a detour via Torre and past the cider farm, (we'll have to stop another time to visit that) and onto Washford.

We then had to negotiate the A39 which is the main route through to Minehead, No1 decided to tuck in behind so I put my head down and headed for home. This roads always busy but we just went for it doing the last six miles in just over twenty minutes.

Distance - 28.9 miles
Time - 2.22
Avg. Speed - 12.1mph
Elevation gain - 2272ft

I did this ride back in the summer on my own and did it eight minutes quicker, I don't know how ;)

Friday, 11 November 2011

Follow The Bear

Bonus and I thought we'd get out early today as the forecast wasn't too brill after lunch, Bonus doesn't like the rain, probably makes his back to black run :). We hit the road climb up to the Hopcott woods, I sat on his wheel as he's about four stone lighter than me and usually leaves me behind. I managed to keep with him today though so either he's getting slower or I'm getting quicker. After a quick breather at the top of the road we hit the rough stuff and carried on up to the top of the hill. It was then along the top with Minehead down below us on one side and Timberscombe on the other. We then hit the cracking descent down the right side of Grabbist Hill. You could take the left hand route and go down the face of Grabbist but that's bloody steep, I don't do steep, I fall off. It was a leaf strewn descent down the hill so you had to keep your wits about you, this didn't slow Bonus though as he blasted down full tilt. The good thing about riding on weekdays around here is there's less chance running into ramblers or lost tourists, when I say lost, you have to ask yourself why are men and young ladies out in the woods with a flash camera wearing unsuitable clothing, must be birdwatchers.

We hit the road up to Nutcombe Bottom and onto the tracks through the tall trees that take us back towards Dunster. It was up past the bear and onto the crunchy track. We call it the crunchy because of all the little pine cones on the track crunching beneath you, if you hit them too quick it's slide out time. The crunchy track has had a bit of a makeover since our last visit. It used to be shrouded in rhododendron's so if you fall off (me again) you had something to catch you. Not anymore, they're gone, which leaves a lovely view of the hills but a great drop if you lose your balance. It was then back down the road and onto Dunster, we nipped around the back of Dunster and down the farm track to the old Minehead road, we where going quite quick when I noticed the students from the college farm unit sat on a gate by the side of the track watching us blast past, all I could think of was don't fall off now.
Bear in the woods
Dunkery in the distance
It was then the road home, happy to get out and have a blast, and back to mine for a well deserved cuppa.

Distance - 8.8 miles
Time - 1.19
Avg speed - 6.7
Elevation gain - 1274ft

Friday, 4 November 2011

Short but Sweet

The plan for today was to hit the muddy stuff with Bonus. We were due to set off about one ish but then the skies darkened and it started raining about 12. I still fancied a blast and suggested we could do a route that kept us under the treeline. Five minutes before meet up I get a text from Bonus making his apologies but he didn't like the look of the forecast.

Well, I was all dressed up with nowhere to go so I thought I'd do a quick lap that would give me a lung bursting climb followed by a great descent. I set off up to Hopcott woods, its still warm and had to stop five minutes in to take off my waterproof, I was under the trees now and the rain was easing. The first part of this ride is along the road up through the combe. It would be hard enough on the road bike with 23mm of rubber but on a 40lb mountain bike with 2" inches of rubber it certainly gets your blood pumping. It's about a mile from my house up to the end of the road but the last bit ramps up gaining 200ft in about a quarter of a mile. I made it though which gave me a boost and after a quick search for my lungs I made my way onto the rough stuff and through the trees up to the top of the hill.

Autumn Colours
Its nice riding through the woods, peace and quiet and the odd spooky rustle, probably squirrels but you never know. Its great being this close to the trails, if I turned around now I could be back home in about two minutes. I made my way to the crossroads, put my waterproof on and headed for the top of Grabbist Hill and then onto Alcombe combe. It was wet down to the top of Grabbist and after a quick wipe of the glasses it was onto the combe. This is a great downhill when its dry but a little bit more challenging in the wet. There's lots of wet roots, leaves and rocks on the tricky bits so I took it steady. After making it down in one piece I hit our little track through the trees and through the stream at the end to finish the off road bit and hit the road home.

I'm not that muddy dear...Honest !
Short but sweet, but happy I got a ride in because it's been lashing down ever since I got in.
Racing Stripes
Time - 44.13
Distance - 5.14 miles
Avg speed - 7.0 mph
Elevation gain - 741ft

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Where is the Love

After a stroll down the beach with the wife and the hound to warm my legs up I thought I'd nip out for a quick blast before the forecast rain hit. For November its bloody warm, so it was shorts and a base layer and my new Trek Livestrong cycling top. I've got the Trek bike so you have to have the top. No1 son wants a Sky kit for crimbo, when he mentioned this to one of his mates they said he can't wear it he's not a pro cyclist, well,  I see lots of of very large people in Man Utd and Chelsea kits and such like, I don't think they actually play any sports ;)

I thought I'd do a loop through Luccombe and Wootton Courtenay and back home. I set off and made my way to Bratton straight, its what you'd call undulating. I don't know if its my inner roadie coming out but why is it some 4x4 drivers feel they don't have to give you any room, Bratton straight is a very wide road, there's no need to be that close, that or they're checking out my arse.... or bike.

Down Tivington and through the lovely village of Luccombe. I don't know if its a bit of fatigue after just finishing my night shifts but I wasn't feeling the love today. My legs seemed to be struggling to turn the pedals on the flat. I forgot to take my inhaler for my asthma before I set off, so I don't help myself sometimes. My asthma doesn't really bother me but I do struggle for the first thirty minutes of a ride until my lungs warm up. Theres a little sharp hill out of Luccombe but then you reach my current nemesis, Holt ball, I don't know why but it gets me everytime. It's one of those short but steep climbs and because it goes around a bend, in my minds eye I think its steeper than it actually is. Stitch, you bugger, why do we get them, and why halfway up a hill ?

Its then through Huntscott another pretty hamlet along to Wootton Courtenay. There's another little up just before Wootton Courtenay, it's probably just as steep as Holt Ball but the road is wider and straighter, gritted my teeth and powered up it. I took the back road to Timberscombe another nice and quiet road, I went this way so I could take the road from Timberscombe to Dunster, nice and straight and virtually flat. Finally I could get into the big ring and get some speed up. Its nice spinning along, headwinds don't seem to bother me that much, it must be my athletic frame cutting through the wind, that's probably why people seem to sit behind me when its windy, you know who you are. Onto Dunster, past the school and up the hill to the road back to Minehead. I was feeling better so manned up, rode up the Hopcott road and then home.

 Distance - 13.36miles
Time - 1.08
Avg Speed - 11.6mph
Elevation gain - 1202ft

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

What a Beautiful Day

October, your having a laugh, well today anyway. Well the plan was for me and No1 son to go for a spin into hills of Somerset on this glorious day but sadly he decided to rearrange his brace with a combination of too many chewy sweets and his toothbrush, so it was a trip to the orthodontist with his mum for him which left little old me hitting the hills.

I set off about 11, stayed up too late watching nonsense on the TV and its half term so why not enjoy a lay in. I did the the usual long cut around the back of Ellicombe and down the old Minehead road to avoid the traffic and headed for Dunster. I took my usual route around Dunster avoiding the tourists and the traffic lights and hit the road to Wheddon Cross.

Its a nice long steady climb up to Wheddon Cross, nice and sheltered in the trees, its the first time I've ventured out on the Trek on this route, the Trek has got a triple compared to the compact on my old bike, but it didn't feel any different as I huffed and puffed up the hill. To be honest I felt crap, its been a couple of weeks since my last road ride that and I think I went out too quick after brekkie. I saw my old workmate Gaz  busy at work in Alcombe, he asked if cycling was my new fitness fad but told him it was my mid life crisis, he said he was going to get a Porsche for his, he could have a point ;)

After a quick breather at Wheddon Cross I headed towards Dunkery Beacon which loomed in the distance. The wind seemed to pick up but being this high up its probably like this all the time. Riding up over Dunkery in this direction is another nice steady climb. After Dunkery gate the hill sheltered me as I headed up the hill, the sun on my back and I think I had a tail wind as I seemed to be going along at quite a nice pace. For some reason there were loads of big hairy caterpillars crossing the road today, there's a gag there somewhere, I'll have to contact Autumnwatch to get the answer. The views were superb today, views in all directions as far as the eye could see, this is why I ride. I could really feel the chill going down to Webbers Post, I took it steady down through the trees as I headed down to Chapel Cross.

Views towards the Quantocks

Looking back down to Wheddon Cross

Thats Wales over there !

A quick blast through Luccombe and then the main road back home, up the Tivington hilly bit and down Bratton straight. The first ten miles where rough but once I warmed up and the views from Dunkery lifted my mood. Its days like today that make me realise how lucky I am.

Distance - 19.03 miles
Time - 1.51
Avg Speed - 10.3
Elevation Gain - 2013ft

Compared to the last time I did this route I did it 15 seconds slower, consistent, slow but consistent.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Windy Days and Wally's

Thought I'd dust off the Mongoose mountain bike and go for a quick blast with my mate Bonus. Not ridden offroad for months so got it out of the shed yesterday to give it the once over. Back in the summer I made the decision the go tubeless and faffed around with the white gunky stuff and finally got the tyres to seal. Anyway, yesterday the pressure was a bit low so I thought I'd pop a bit of air in, took the dust caps off and 'BOLLOCKS' the valves came out of the valve stems and whoosh all the air pissed out of both, yes I managed to do it twice, dickhead or what ! I pumped them up again and all seemed fine, then this morning the buggers were flat again. I didn't have time to chuck tubes in so I jumped on the wife's Marin (which was my old bike) I made my way to the house of Bonus.

Funny how when you really get into cycling you have to get the uniform, baggy shorts and peaked helmet for mtb and ill fitting Lycra for the road bike. I fall into this trap, stupid really, you should wear what you want but peer pressure, fitting in, not looking a prick(too late for me) all have a influence, but I haven't shaved my legs...yet!

Bonus and I decided to have a blast up North Hill, a nice gentle ride about two miles uphill and then we'd see what it was like up top, it was windy down the bottom so it could be really windy up top and make a decision which way to go. It was nice off roading again even on a bike I hadn't ridden for two years. I think the road riding has made a difference and we hit the hill at a good pace for a couple of old boys. After a quick scoot up the hill we stopped at the top of the Burgundy Chapel path and had a breather and talked about life, work, money and stuff, like you do on mtb rides. We thought about going up to Selworthy Beacon but decided to go a short way on the coastal path then turn off and make our way towards the old tank tracks and hit the downhill back to Minehead.

It was then we heard the hounds and looked back and saw them streaking across a far field followed by wallys on horses chasing something innocent towards Selworthy Beacon, so glad we decided to take the route we did. Not something I agree with and it seems a bit unfair when you've got people on quad bikes joining the chase, surely that's cheating.

Bonus and I cracked on and hit the track back to Minehead, passing the Exmoor ponies. I didn't want to do anything too technical as the Marin didn't have the brakes or suspension of the Mongoose so I rattled down the hill finishing at the bottom with numb hands but with a big smile. Stopped at the house of Bonus for a cuppa and made my way home, quite pleased with keeping my mtb hand in and the pace of our ride and avoiding the wallys in the wind.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Mid Life Crisis

You know how it is, you reach that age, see that birthday photo and you suddenly realise you are a fat bastard. I exercise( a bit),not had a drink for months and don't eat that much to be honest but guess what, I'm still what you'd call chunky. In an attempt to shift the lard I signed up to my cycle to work scheme back in May and got myself a road bike. I've always ridden mountain bikes but its more of a social sport. You ride up to the top of a hill, have a breather, take the piss, chew the fat then blast down the next hill. You do about 10 miles and then I'm knackered. Road riding is different it makes me want to try and push that bit harder, give myself more of a workout. I've already put in a few 30 mile loops around the hills of Exmoor. Where I live there's no flat, its up and down so I've got all the ingredients to assist me in shifting the fat. I found out the other day that I'm a MAMIL, that's middle aged man in lycra, apparantley its all the rage. I love my bib shorts they work like those spanx that women buy to tuck the wobbly bits in.

I did my first sportive back in September, the Cheddar Cyclosportive. 64 miles in 5 hours 21 minutes, not bad for first time I thought. I don't know my average speed etc because I forgot to charge up my garmin, just finished two night shifts and got up after 2 hours sleep to watch the Tour of Britain so my thought processes where a bit addled. Anyway great event, friendly organisers, loads of nice things at the feed stations but shame about the bloody weather. I rode on my own for 64 wet, windy miles and had dark thoughts at about the 50 mile mark but then the sun came out and lifted my mood.

I've invested in a Trek 1.2 and given my CTW bike to No1 son, I need a ride buddy, it gets a bit boring on your own I need someone to help with that push. he loves riding, and leaves me on the uphills(skinny little shit)

I'm blogging to help me record my thoughts, stats ups and downs on my mid life crisis to lose some weight, its cheaper than a sports car!

Weight 85kg