Sunday, 29 January 2012

Baby its cold outside....

After watching last nights forecast I was expecting the second ice age this morning but was pleasantly surprised to wake to a frost free dull day which more importantly meant dry roads and the wind was having a day off to, perfect day for cycling then. So with several layers applied me and No1 son set off early to enjoy the quiet roads of a Sunday morning. This was the first time No1 son and I had been out for ages, my shift pattern doesn't allow for too many weekends off so any opportunity for some Dad and lad bonding has to be jumped at. With the alleged threat of snow in the back of my mind and No1 suffers with the cold I thought we'd avoid the high hills, I didn't fancy a problem on the top of Exmoor if the weather did close in.

We headed off along the coast to Porlock Weir to gauge the conditions then make up the rest of the route from there. It was cold but we were wrapped up and after the initial perambulations of Bratton straight I did my best Big George impersonation and sheltered No1 from the cold air as we sped along the flat bits towards Porlock. We headed down to the Weir but once again I was struggling with an aversion to any incline, No1 would pop out from behind me and spin off and then I would catch him on the descent. After a quick break at the Weir we decided to head across to Wootton Courtenay and went around the houses a bit to add some miles to the ride. Theres lots of little ups and downs and No1 was attacking every hill with gusto dancing on the pedals like Armstrong, leaving me to puff and wheeze behind in my one man gruppetto.

After a quick breather in Wootton Courtenay watching a large group of mamils speed by we headed across to Timberscombe, even I tried to attack one hill, I nearly beat him, but youth beat me this time. Onto the main road and I was back in front again sheltering mini Lance as we headed towards Dunster. The elements where starting to take their toll now even with my overshoes my toes where heading towards numbness, I think No1 was ok though ! We took the backroad out of Dunster and one last hill, my legs were frozen by my domestique duties but No1 once again tore away from me and disappeared into the distance.

According to the training guide in my cycling mag this week I only should be riding for an hour at a high cadence on a flattish route but wheres the fun in that, a cycling fairy once said you have to ride for two hours anyway or its not worth it, I agree ;)

Distance - 22.4 miles
Time - 2.00(33secs)
Avg speed - 11.2mph
Elevation gain - 1924ft

We had a great ride today and what pleased me the most was watching the boy attack the climbs. If I asked him who Pantani was he'd probably think he was a footballer or a posh sandwich but he said something today that made my heart sing. After complementing him on his hill work his response was " I hate hills, the quicker you go up them the quicker they are over" Pantani said something along those lines too....

Io amo la montagna, ma nel momento della fatica ho dentro un grande odio, Cosi cerco di abbreviare la mia agonia.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Mr Blue Sky...

It was cold today, but the sun was shining the sky was blue and the wind was just a mere wisp. I wrapped up and headed out avoiding the big hills of Wednesday's ride with the aim of heading east along the coast. The cold air rasped my lungs as I headed out along Bratton straight, I definitely ride better in warm weather, perhaps I should pop to Mallorca with Team Sky for some warm weather training. Its pretty flat along to Porlock and the road is quiet this time of year, tourists are few and far between. I wasn't spinning as freely as I was on Wednesday and any gradient needed some effort, I could list a number of excuses but hey excuses are excuses, it was my third ride this week after a month off perhaps my legs were just a bit tired, no excuse though. I rode onto Porlock Weir usually bustling at other times but today it was peaceful.
A quick turnaround and back towards Porlock, I had intended to cut across country to Timberscombe but my legs felt leaden so I thought I'd take a flatter route home, but that idea went out the window when I decided to ride up to Selworthy and its pretty church and stunning views, it was a struggle but I made it, just.
Its a nice spot up here with one of those views you could just sit there and look at all day. It would be even nicer if you could sit here with a coffee or a cream tea but again everything was battened down for the winter.
I carried on along the back lanes from the church, a bit muddy this time of year but not too bad and back to Minehead. I did a quick loop of the town to add some bones to the ride, a spin up and down the seafront not a stag or hen party to dodge and no middle age women throwing up in bins it was quite a pleasant place to be. So that's sixty miles this week after a month off the bike, not too bad

Distance - 20.3 miles
Time - 1.49
Avg speed - 11.2mph
Elevation gain - 1635ft

I'd like to thank my big brother for his photographic tips and my mother for making sure the sun was shining down on me today, thanks Mam :)

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Piece of Sky....

After I recovered from the shock of the Mrs not wanting to go shopping in the big shops I only had one intention on this gloriously unwinter-like day. I thought I'd let the day warm up a bit so after a weather check and daily squirrel audit with the hound and a spot of shopping I took advantage of the weather and headed into the hills. I was determined to take it steady today and enjoy the ride, the road and the hills and not let my machismo make me push too big a gear, I was going to spin like Lance, but not as quick!

I've done this ride before, what it lacks in distance it makes up for in elevation, near 1500ft at its highest point, it might not be the Dolomite's but it will do for me. The roads were a bit damp on the way up to Wheddon Cross and the little devil on my left shoulder was nagging at me, we all have them don't we ? The sun doesn't really get to these roads so I was hoping the sun would have dried out the exposed descent from Dunkery, its a great descent, steep with a couple of bends thrown in, its what the magazines call technical. It was a bit gloomy at Wheddon Cross, it always is, must be me but as I headed up the slopes of Dunkery the sun came out. I hit that sweet spot only cyclists know riding up the hill, I had the wind behind me and the sun on my back, spinning away just me and the bike, glorious :)

Down the valley towards Dunster and the coast
I headed down the hill happy to see the road was pretty dry, on the wrong side so I went all continental and rode on the wrong side for a bit. I took it steady and stopped to take some more pics to break up the descent.
Looking back up to the Beacon
Cloutsham Ball, Porlock Hill in the distance
I was feeling good so decided to extend the ride a bit, I headed through Horner and onto Porlock and down through the village of Bossington. I came across my first flock of ramblers, (or is it a gaggle) of the year. I usually come across this species out in the hills but today they were aimlessly walking down the middle of the road holding up traffic, well when I say traffic, me and a car coming the other way the driver looking decidedly annoyed, at least they don't make a mess like cows.

Onto home and some macho big ring pushing down Bratton straight, I was flying, I was enjoying life on a bike.

Distance - 22.5 miles
Time - 2.10
Avg speed - 10.3mph
Elevation gain - 2239ft

I know I'm not the quickest but I had the sudden realisation today that I must have some fitness. I've done sod all for four weeks and had the indulgence of christmas to boot but I felt great and still do. I'm comfy on the bike now which helps and my new kit is great. My Giro Monza lid is light and comfortable and fits well like all Giro helmets. My Specialized Deflect gloves are great, I got them for a great price from and my Planet X overshoes are excellent, I may wear them all the time ;)

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Searching for mojo....

So, with determination, pain killers and a bit of trepidation I set off alone to search for my lost mojo after my brush with tarmac back in December. No1 son was due to come but the previous nights bravado of lets ride up to Dunkery Beacon was replaced with teenage tiredness and the lure of xbox, he had been up early to do his paper round so I cut him some slack.

I decided to ride the same route I was doing the last time I rode to help me banish my inner demons. As soon as I clipped in everything suddenly felt right with the world, I was back on my bike. I set off at quite a pace along the A39 and was soon suffering as I hit the first climb out of the back of Carhampton. I had that dizzy, sicky feeling coupled with being too hot by wearing too much. A quick stop to stuff the buff on my head into my back pocket and onwards along the seafront at Blue Anchor up the next hill past the pub but my Planet X overshoes were not coming off, toasty. I took it easy and spun up the hill, looking over towards where Dunkery should be all I could see was thick mist, good choice going this way. A quick spin through Watchet and onto Williton stopping to take a quick pic for JT along the way.

3 little pigs
It was then back onto the A39 and home, not my favourite road but its pretty flat with just a headwind for ten miles the odd idiot in a 4x4 and avoiding cycle paths. I was knackered and blowing a bit and as I approached Minehead I could see what the wind was blowing in, good timing.

Distance - 19.5 miles
Time - 1.32
Avg speed - 12.7 mph
Elevation gain - 1154ft

The shoulder is a bit stiff but no pain no gain right ? I was huffing and puffing a bit and taking it steady on the downhills and at times it felt like I was cycling through treacle, but I was on my bike, mojo found ;)

Monday, 2 January 2012

It's getting better....

I haven't blogged for a while because I haven't ridden since my mishap back in December. The whack on my shoulder was a bit more serious than the nice people at A&E had advised. I knew things weren't ok, you know that feeling when somethings not right and my shoulder really hurt and it felt like something was poking through my shoulder. Kindly the company I work for sent me to see a physio, a nice man called Neil to get me fit for work. He didn't seem too impressed with the lack of treatment, comparing it to sending someone home with a fracture and not putting a cast on it. Apparently I had slightly separated my Acromioclavicular joint, a common injury among cyclists, and rugby players he advised me. Neil treated the joint with something resembling an ultrasound machine (it probably was.)
He then proceeded to strap me up with the fancy tape you see all the athletes on the telly sporting. He then prescribed two weeks of light duties at work and booked me in for a couple of more appointments to reapply the tape and treat the joint with his machine.

I'm itching to get back on the bike but I don't want to rush into things. I landed on my left hand side and as I'm a left handed genius and my livelihood involves driving a vehicle that biased towards the left I want to be 100 per cent. I've had dark thoughts about getting back on the bike, I think the fear of falling off again plays on your mind and you begin to doubt yourself but you can't think like that or you'd lock yourself in and never leave home.

So, the new year is here and I intend to ride more and a bit more for good measure. I plan to take part in the Exmoor Beauty, I know its on local roads but you can't beat taking part in events with like minded individuals and to set yourself a target. Then in June its the British Heart Foundation Somerset Levels ride, I've done the 27 mile route a couple of years ago but this time I'm going for the 50 and theres the chance I might spot a Rapha clad cycling mayor whizzing around her manor. In August its the Exmoor Explorer off road ride. No1 and I have done this together for the last couple of years, its a great event run by great people. Onto September and its the Cheddar Cyclosportive, another nice event, I lost my sportive cherry to last year. That's the plan anyway, I might even do some more you never know but what I do know is that I will be out on my bike, starting tomorrow, hopefully ;)