Thursday, 29 March 2012

...but they're all caught up in the traffic listening to the weather......

Sunshine, no wind, day off, what's a boy to do whilst people queue in their tin cans waiting to get fuel, ride my bike, that's what. I did feel a bit lethargic as I set off, heavy legs and wheezy lungs, perhaps I should get my team to set up another bike on a turbo like the pros do to warm up but that would mean buying another bike, I can't do that and I haven't got a team unless I rope in the kids.

On the road to Porlock and I was soon warmed up, some nice flat bits to get the cranks turning and onto one of my favourite climbs, if you can have favourite climbs. Porlock toll, I've blogged about it before but now I have the stat menace of Strava I can compare myself against others and more importantly myself. I need a bit of boost mentally every now and again and if I can see an improvement or something to aim for it makes me feel better. I maybe a big ugly northerner but I'm a sensitive soul at heart ;)

It was lovely riding up through the trees today, just me and the squirrels and the odd tourist car, no other cyclists though, just me. After not stopping last time out I was determined to keep going this time too, and was spinning up at a good pace, as I approached the top and was feeling good I carried on and turned onto the main road and rode down to Whitstone post to stop for some flapjack and a drink. The next bit of up is not one of my favourites, its one of those short steepish annoying climbs on a crap surface that seems to make your tyres stick to it. Up that and onto the moor road towards Exford, they seemed to be a lot of traffic on this normally quiet road today and it soon came apparent why. The first thing I saw was the red jacket, it wasn't the entertainers from Butlins doing a random piece on the moors but the hunt and all its followers where out. Someone in a massive 4x4 kindly stopped in the middle of the road to admire the pretty doggies but I wasn't hanging around just in case they fancied a new quarry to chase.

Once I'd passed that I was alone again and made my way to Exford via the Wellshead road, nice and dry today briefly stopping to let an awfully nice lady pass with her horse who commented about it being easier going down the hill on a bike then up it, rather you than me Mrs. Onto Exford for a breather and to take on some fuel of the oat based variety. This is when I decided to change my planned route, I was going to ride over Dunkery again but as I'd enjoyed the ride to Winsford earlier this month I thought I'd give that a blast again. Up the hill out of Exford and onto some flattish roads for a change through Winsford, then back on to the A396, its Paris Roubaix next weekend so I thought I'd do my own little version of the cobbled classic on this main road. Its hard to describe the state of this road but I think it was best put by No1 when we rattled over it one time "its making me want to wee...."

Another stop at Wheddon Cross, it was hot, then down the descent to Timberscombe. Its a great descent on nice tarmac but as you near the bottom the nice tarmac stops and its cobbled classic time again for 500 yards, cycling fairies be warned !

As I rode through Dunster I was joined by another cyclist, it was nice to chat to someone as I rode towards home, he was riding his bike to save using his car, perhaps that's what more people need to do ?

Distance - 36.9 miles
Elevation - 3819ft
Time - 3.07
Avg speed - 11.8mph

According to Starva I posted my best time up the toll road but more importantly for me I rode up it and kept going.

Shorts ! it must be sunny.......not shaved though !

Thursday, 22 March 2012

........some days I need to bury the very depths of me.........

I always plan a ride but that plan never takes into account my mental state when I get up in the morning. I work shifts and although I enjoy three and a bit days off a week and throw in an extra day of overtime ( I need to pay for my rock and roll lifestyle somehow) sometimes it catches up with you and today I felt knackered and a bit wheezy,  mentally. I did the usual routine of walking the hound to check the conditions, it was hazy but sunny and there was a bit of a chilly breeze but I still felt tired. I searched for some twitter motivation but to no avail, I think everyone else was out riding or working so after a cuppa and a banana I got changed and changed again, thinner layers, there was a threat of this being the warmest day of the year, yeah right !

I stuck to the planned route, through Dunster and onto the road up to Wheddon Cross and I was going along quite nicely, the body was willing but the mind was fuggy. I took my wind top off at Timberscombe and hit the climb, a nice and steady spin interspersed with temporary traffic lights and impatient drivers who I vented my frustration at, this made me feel better no end and as my fuggyness lifted the sun came out. It was breezy at the top so wind top back on and a new road to explore. I headed out and down to Luckwell Bridge and onto Exford. I've ridden this way in the opposite direction going down so riding up it made it feel about twice as far but I spun up, the legs still feeling ok and as I approached Exford I turned off onto the road to Winsford. I've never ridden this way before but the road was straight and flattish and really quite nice, wooded hills both sides and nice farmhouses.
Road to Winsford

Through Winsford and back to the A396 which must be like riding on the pave in Belgium, rough as a badgers arse but I noticed signs for the road past Bridgetown was closed so hopefully resurfacing is on the way. Back up to Wheddon Cross for a quick breather, the legs were starting to ache, and onto Dunkery. Due to the direction of the wind today, in your face, the climb up and over Dunkery wasn't as nice as usual and the haziness didn't allow for any nice views towards the Mendips today but the descent was as good as ever even though I lost all feeling in my feet by the time I got to Luccombe. Onto home, headwind on the straight back to Minehead but nevermind, I'm glad I got out and rode, I'd only be more grumpy if I hadn't.

32.3 miles
Max Speed30.6mph
Avg Speed11.1mph

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Its been a hard days night.........

The day did not start well, got Lance out of the shed and didn't notice the flat tyre until I was about set off. So quick tube change and I finally set off. New route today, bit of a recce ride for the Exmoor Beauty I'm doing in April, they've just published a reworked route so forearmed is forewarned or something like that. This meant negotiating the busy A39 for a couple of miles, not fun, then up the hill out of Carhampton. I thought the roadworks was finished but alas no, the official diversion was sending traffic through Dunster but everyone knows better and they all went the same way as me, what joy. Through Blue Anchor and up the hill towards Watchet normally nice and quiet but not today, some people really need to learn to give cyclists more room.
Claggy at sea level.......
Down the hill into Watchet and gridlock, this is why the diversion went through Dunster people, I did my best cycle courier impersonation and dodged through all the cars that had passed me which made me chuckle. Out of Watchet, through Williton and then off the beaten track and a bit peace at last as I wound my way through Stream and onto Monksilver. The grey day wasn't helping my mood, every revolution seemed to be hard work but at least the ride through Monksilver and past Combe Sydenham house and onto Elworthy was pastures new and pretty in a woodsy kind of way.
Combe Sydenham House
At Elworthy cross I turned up the hill, and what a very long hill it is. It beat me, it just never seemed to stop, is 17% steep ? I really struggled and became annoyed with myself, I didn't walk just did sections at a time and the claggyness had got claggier which didn't improve my mood. I finally got to the top and headed towards Raleighs Cross finally able to push some bigger gears. I turned off at Beulah chapel and headed along the top of the Brendon hills towards Wheddon Cross. The sun was hiding somewhere, the light was very odd, like riding in a bright full moon but still claggy,
Claggy at 1250ft...
I've never ridden in this direction to Wheddon Cross before and it was quite nice, pushing a bigger gear I started making some progress and the quick descent down to Wheddon Cross was a good blast even the nice man in a Landy stayed behind me. A quick drink and warm up at Wheddon Cross then the cracking descent down to Timberscombe. Most of this descent has lovely new tarmac and sweeping bends and is always a joy to ride, even going up! Along the nice flat bit to Dunster and onto home, I was just pootling along now, the ride had been a bit longer than I thought and the big hill was a bit of killer, it was a bit of a glass half empty ride, legs felt heavy, the weather didn't help and I even thought about ringing the Mrs to pick me up. Just one of days, my new favourite stat geek website Strava  said I was in the top ten on a section of the big climb, that might had been out of ten though :)

Working like a dog.......

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

....So much to do, so much to see So what's wrong with taking The Backstreet?

Well it was sunny and warm at home, but a couple of miles down the road the sunshine was hiding and I was a bit worried my choice of attire was insufficient for the ride, should listen to the cycling fairy more and apply more layers. After a near miss with an old dear in Porlock, the green cross code man really needs to pay them a visit or is it a little hedgehog now ? Anyway I soon warmed up again once I started the ascent of the Toll road. I was feeling a bit sorry for myself and lacking a bit of motivation, I really need to find a ride buddy who rides midweek but I worry about my lack of speed. My dark mood wasn't helped by my lower back giving me a bit of jip but as I reached the halfway point where I more than often stop for a breather I gave myself a mental kick up the arse and kept going, amazingly my back stopped aching, a quick stop for a pic and I spun on, riding at a steady pace I cleared the treeline and as my mood lifted so did the cloud.

A quick stop at the top to apply my windtop, I did pack one layer, and onto Whitstone Post and back up onto the road that takes you across the moor. This road seems to be made of a strange material, its like riding on treacle, well it is for me, it must be an extra hard gravel mix to beat the elements its not the smoothest rolling surface at all. I made a detour to my usual route today and headed off to explore Wellshead road a road I'd never been down before. When I used to do this on my mountain bike when out with No1 he would always ask why do we get lost all the time, we were never lost just exploring new routes.

There was actual tarmac on this road and it was flattish and straight and I made good progress, the only downside was that I had not worn my overshoes and my feet where numbing up quickly as I made a rapid descent down towards the road that would take me to Exford. It got a bit dodgy down the bottom, think I know why its called Wellshead as water seemed to be gushing out onto the road from all sides.

It was quite pleasant when I got to Exford out of the wind, a breather at the bus stop and the spin up the hill out of the village. I dug in and spun up dismissing any thoughts of bailing out then hit the fast descent to Luckwell Bridge another climb out then decision time. Do I ride to Wheddon Cross and take the easy way home or do I ride up and over Dunkery. I'd planned to ride over Dunkery and stuck with the plan, the legs were aching a bit but its one of my favourite spots to ride. The sun came out and I spun up in the warmth it afforded, I do like riding up this way, the views are fantastic, you could see for miles today. Another cracking descent down to Luccombe and onto home.

Distance:31.53 mi
Avg Speed:10.1 mph
Elevation Gain:3,729 ft
Look at that elevation gain, think I'll call this the hilly ride, slow but most of it was spent going upwards :)