Friday, 26 July 2013

.......but something tells me I'm not alone........

Last night I was looking forward to riding today, I was going to try a new loop and take in some of the Audax route from April, less the layers, wind and people I can't keep up with ;) I wasn't feeling it this morning though, can't explain why and really felt like slumping on the sofa all day which is not good. I didn't though but half way up the first big climb of the day with my legs aching and a stitch like someone was trying to rip my insides out I seriously had second thoughts. I stopped at the top, had a drink, a gel and a stern word with myself and cracked on, I wasn't even an hour into the ride.

After the lumpy bit to Exford I tried a new way up and out today, as with all routes out of Exford the only way is up and this up wasn't as bad as I expected it to be and it was a quite a nice spin up and away from the village. Once up here I remembered why I was out, sun, quiet roads, views can't beat it really, shame I was alone perhaps that's why? Down to Withypool, great descent, shocking road surface, quite popular in the summer with families playing in the river, but still quiet this morning.

Up and out again, all villages on Exmoor with the exception of Wheddon Cross are all at the bottom of bloody great hills, I expect the shelter from the moors and the water sources probably have something to do with it. Another long steady climb, nice cooling breeze this time and not a howling gale, someone was out flying birds of prey, didn't hang about ;)

This must be the first time I've been up here and not had a demoralising headwind and I made good progress on my way to Dulverton. I could really pick out Dartmoor in the distance the views stretched for miles, a really great place to ride anytime but even better when you're not battling the elements.

After the great spin along the top it was down through the tall trees to Dulverton, great descent, slightly better surface. A quick stop for some refreshments then up the valley road back to Wheddon Cross and a race with a lad on a mountain bike. He clocked me in the distance behind him and I noticed his cadence increase and his hips started rocking. I didn't change pace, just kept spinning along and slowly reeled him in, he was never going to go that quick with those tyres on sticky tarmac, we said hello and I spun on.

Onwards and slightly upwards to Wheddon Cross, a can of something fizzy and then up and over Dunkery which felt like a bad idea at the time until the sugar cut in. The views from Dunkery were as great as ever and the heather has started blooming which gave a lovely touch of purple to the hillside.

As ever, so glad I rode, not quick but I don't think I ever will be, here's the Strava bit. The route was a bit like a figure 8 sort of....

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

....between the journey and the rest.....

I'm getting there, after really getting fed up of not getting anywhere. I was 85kg in April and after today's hot and sweaty ride I dipped below 80kg but I expect after re hydrating I'll be back up in the 80's, well I did like the eighties ;) I still don't look like Fabian and I doubt I ever will but losing the weight has certainly improved my cycling. I haven't done anything special or followed the latest diet craze, just ate less and exercised but not really more than I already was. Perhaps just pushing myself more on my rides and doing longer rides did the trick, who knows? I can't see it myself but hey that's me but the scales say the weight has gone.

I'm a lucky boy to live here, it's great mtb country and I planned a big ride to take in some great downs and the necessary ups to get to them. It only takes me about five minutes or so depending on direction and I'm out on the hills. One bonus of shift work is having weekdays off which means quiet trails, not many people about today, I quite like the solitude sometimes, headspace the wise old bird called it.

Top of North Hill....

Top of Ley Hill, North Hill and Wales in the distance

Looking over to Webbers Post

Singletrack heaven :)
A great ride I even managed a PB up the last hill of the day even though it didn't feel like it, perhaps my sitting up and spinning is getting quicker?

Here's the Strava bit.....

Here's some eighties goodness......

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

.........just a blade in the grass, spoke unto the wheel.......

To give Froomey a few pointers for today's hilly time trail on the Tour I had a go at a little one last night. The club are running a summer series of time trails, up hills, well it is Exmoor, I've missed the first two but was off for this one. The setting was Dunster Castle and the National Trust had kindly allowed us to race after hours on the closed road up to the castle.

A great turn out of all ages attached numbers and waited to set off at minute intervals up the what looked like gentle slopes of the hill. I was about fifth off, hammer down and then everything seemed to stop working about half way up, legs turned to jelly and the lungs started burning until the road levelled out and I managed a sprint to the finish. I did not feel good, my nose felt like I couldn't breathe out of it and my lungs hurt, I was a bit worried for a few moments but as I calmed down and tried to get my breath I started feeling a bit better. The official times haven't been published yet so I really don't know how I did but it was good to see nearly everyone else coughing and spluttering at the finish. I really need to speak to the lag who said this would be good for me. A gentle spin home to inhale some medication and have a cuppa.

After a fitful nights sleep I awoke feeling like someone had given me a dig in the ribs, which is quite possible because I allegedly snore if I'm a bit bunged up. ;) I took some more meds and the lungs felt okay so I set off on my planned ride to take in Exmoor on this glorious day. My plan was to ride some of the Exmoor Cycle route which is well worth doing if your out this way but I went off route to add some miles to my route. Once I was spinning up the Toll Road I started feeling better and the lungs started ejecting lumps which is always a good sign ;)

There was quite a nice breeze as I made my way along to Lynmouth, in the sunshine, on Exmoor, see it does happen ;) Shame I was alone but I'm sure there will be other days when some friends might join me, I think the hills are frightening them off but once they do the descent to Lynmouth they'll want to come back.

Doone Valley

Cliffs at Lynmouth
The gentle climb up through Watersmeet was nice and shaded but once I was out onto the moor the sun was beating down on me. It was nice spinning along in the sun though and you could see for miles over to Dartmoor through the haze.

I decided to head over to Winsford rather than ride down to Exford for a change of scenery which meant the steady spin over Winsford Hill but it's worth it for the view. I could see the road surface blistering in the heat as I went along with the odd pop which was quite distracting at times. A great descent down to Winsford where I planned to pop into the shop to get something fizzy to perk me up but it was shut, at lunchtime ? oh well.

View from Winsford Hill
I was feeling it a bit as I headed up to Wheddon Cross but it's nice and shaded on the valley road and the shop was open when I got there. Fully refreshed with full fat fizzy I headed off down the hill which is always a blast. A rather lovely ride with dodgy tan lines to prove it, happy days :)

Here's the Strava bit.......

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

....and curse at the wind.....

As the crow flies its only twenty nine miles to Axbridge but sadly I'm not a crow or can fly which is a shame because it would help save on petrol. I was visiting Axbridge to go for a spin with Jennifer who had a plan, mapped it out and everything, to go looking for Gromits'. The route planned was a bit lumpy and Jennifer wasn't feeling the need for hills today and has blogged about all the detail. Jennifer is suffering with what she has described as subtle Endometriosis, it doesn't sound very subtle, if she was in pain today she hid it very well and was her usual cheery, smiling self ;)

It was nice to ride the straight Mendip roads in the sunshine, views and everything and visited Wells, took some pics. Apparently I ordered the wrong coffee, I must have missed that rule ?

Still can't work out how we did a loop and had a headwind all the way around, must of been creating turbulence with our speed ;)

Here's the Strava bit........

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

....these words are not my own they only come when I'm alone.....

I'm constantly dismayed with certain commentary on the Tour De France when people are described as "Former Mountain Biker" and it appears to be a big shock that they're a good rider on a road bike. Surely  it's down to the ability of the individual and the type of bike is irrelevant ? I'm not a roadie, I'm not a mountain biker I'm just a cyclist who rides different bikes, a skinny plastic one and a big green chunky one. People may disagree but I think both disciplines compliment each other. A couple of years ago I went on an organised mtb ride with the local bike shop and to cut a long story short and to quote me at the time they beasted the fat lad. That put me on my long steady road to get fitter and convinced me that I should consider getting a skinny bike. I can't explain it but the road bike makes me try harder, the harder gearing compared to the mtb which then gives you a bit of power when riding rough bumpy climbs on the mtb. Both disciplines give you the same highs though, getting up the climbs and nailing that downhill.

A ride out on the big green chunky bike today with my good friend Bonus who hasn't been out for a spin for a while. Bonus has never been up to Dunkery Beacon so I suggested we'd head up that way and hope the forecast rain held off. I've already ridden this way a couple of times this year and blogged about it so I won't bore you with the detail. It involved going up a lot which I seem to quite like doing and a two mile rocky downhill which Bonus likes doing.

Cows lying down, does that mean something?
Bonus 'enjoying' the climb 

It was a bit breezy up at the beacon and we could see the rain heading our way us so we headed down the rocky descent which seems to get rockier every time I ride down it. A thoroughly enjoyable ride out and I particularly enjoyed the climbs which is slightly worrying !

Here's the Strava bit.....