Thursday, 2 October 2008
Monday, 29 September 2008
HOWEVER ON SATURDAY I COMPLETED THE BHF RIDE – AND WITH YOUR DONATIONS I HAVE RAISED £350.
So a MASSIVE thank you to all who donated. The role of honour can be found at:
The good news is that AVIVA will fund match this pound for pound up to £500 – so this is looking like £700 (with a few more stragglers to go). The whole team has raised close to £3,800 - and like me there are a few more pledges to come so with luck this total will go over the £4K mark.
The ride itself took almost exactly 9 hours – with an hour for lunch – and all seven of us started and finished in a group.
We left the start at Roehampton University just before 9am in the fog after a slightly chaotic sign in process, at which we were given new route cards with a long diversion included in the route.
At a first glance the diversion looked challenging – skirting Guildford - and then forcing a route up over the North Downs at Newlands Corner. This was a good thing as the original route was very flat – and this diversion would add a bit more to the ride and make it more of an event. After a photo in the car park (and a slug of Scotch for luck) we set off.
The first bit was a nice spin in the fog over Richmond Park then onto the Thames path and Hampton Court, then Walton and onto Weybridge, where the first check point was located. This was a good place to stop for a moment, as a lot of the testosterone powered male group riders on a mission to finish in a quick time sped past.
We then got into the diversion.
After a wrong turn - which sent about thirty of us the wrong way in some woods near the A3 at Wisely (double back required) we hit the North Downs and a series of short technical climbs. Loose rocks and roots and some single track – and this began the sorting process for those of the 400 entrants who had done some training and those that thought they would wing it.
Cracking on we had a good couple of down hill sections – where again regular riders were easy to spot (they rode down the obstacles - roots and drops) whilst a fair few people walked down – and I think we as a group over took quite a few people at this point.
At Cranleigh (and our planned lunch stop at about 35 miles) the technical stuff was over. In Cranleigh Sue and Jude – our support team were in place and we filled up on various goodies from the local bakeries. Calorie dense ‘sports nutrition’ of Cornish Pasty and Jam doughnut, washed down with some form of isotonic lucozade made up lunch.
I think it was a good idea to stop for lunch. The sun was out and it was great to re-fuel in the sun and take stock of the morning. I think a fair few riders passed us at this point – opting for lunch on the go – or a very short stop. This gave us the advantage of much less congested tracks in the afternoon – and no pressure at any bottle necks.
We then rode on the South Downs link – which is essentially a disused railway line that heads to the South Downs. Easy gradient and a fast pace saw the miles disappear as my high performance lunch kicked in.
As we neared the south coast we finally got to see the South Downs.
Joy - it was clear that the last five miles would be easy and downhill. What a way to finish rolling into Brighton.
Joy ending realisation - the five miles before the downhill were going to be up hill. Gravity was the master at this point, as we were now all feeling the distance, and the hills from the diversion early in the ride.
Thus the last check point was a spot to fortify oneself for the final push. Hayden and Tom had some form of power gel (Yuk) - I ate a biscuit and took two Nurofen.
We then headed up a really steep and rocky byway - which was a killer. Tom’s heart rate monitor was at 165 plus all the way up. I have no idea where my heart rate was at, as all I could do was peddle squares in the smallest gear.
At the top a false flat took us along to a Youth Hostel and then we had a view of the sea. We plunged down to Shoreham as the sun was beginning to set and made the last three miles through the docks and along the front.
By this point Hayden’s right knee had given up on him - and he rode the last mile or so only with only his left leg on the peddle. In the sunset this looked quite impressive – and I wondered how many people thought he had done the whole ride like that!
Bang on sun set we crossed the line together.
We certainly were not the last in. But that was not the point. Money raised and great day out were the objectives and I think we more than met these.
I got a medal. I got a t-shirt. I had fish and chips by the sea. I slept well.
So thanks again to those that donated – and if you fancy doing it next year check out the pictures of us at the finish!
Monday, 25 August 2008
Tuesday, 19 August 2008
Ergo this weeks efforts are:
Saturday – Nothing
Sunday – 35 Miles
Monday – 15 Miles
Tuesday- 22 Miles
Wednesday – Nothing
Thursday – 3.5 Miles (run) and 2 miles walk.
The run was nice. The scenery was a mixture of run down industrial, scrubbed up industrial and the spanking new. The sun was out (after a heavy rain) and it felt quite good to be running through the city in relative peace and quite. There were a few other runners about - but it was not at all busy.
The mistake I did make is that obviously a canal is going somewhere (i.e. not in a loop) -and it took me a bit of time to think that through - i.e. I am running towards Wolverhampton and I need to turn around at some stage. Idiot.
After I had showered, I went out for a walk in Birmingham City centre. I love the architecture – not the rubbish concrete bits – but the bits that hint to the power Birmingham once had in the global economy, through the industrial revolution and beyond. Like my extended time in Liverpool last year there is a lot to look at if you look upwards and beyond new shop and office fronts. I find city centres fascinating. When the people go home after work you have them to yourself and can walk about and nose at things that take your interest. In Birmingham’s case the past worth and value is showcased in the grandeur and opulence of the period architecture. The foyer of the Provincial Bank building is like the high and ornate ceiling of a mosque or Byzantine church. Stunning.
The new Birmingham (that is replacing the concrete hell of the sixties and seventies) is quite spectacular – and all in all I think I walked a couple of miles before weakness took hold of me and I went for a curry.
Off to Devon this weekend – and if the weather is good, I can see a trip up to Dunkery Beacon from Exford on Exmoor, and then another ride from Clapper Bridge up and around a chunk of Dartmoor. Nice.
Friday, 15 August 2008
The punishment, which I deserved, and to which I elude, is a beating on the bike to make up for the lack of miles achieved last week. The lesson has been administered through time and miles on the X-bike.
Having a Cyclo-Cross bike up your sleeve is a great trick. Obviously it is a bike – but it has an evil personality. Stiff aluminium, high bottom bracket, V-brakes and built like a road bike that has bulked up and wants a ruck. It is not forgiving in any way. I think X-bikes make great commuter bikes as they are bullet proof and you can whack them around town without fear of curbs, potholes or manhole covers.
I therefore added to Sunday’s ride (more of that below) with a fast 15 on Monday after work (up to and around Richmond Park) and nasty 22 on Tuesday (the same as Monday but with an extra lap).
On both days it was really windy and that made it hard work to tap out any real rhythm around the circuit. I felt suitably flogged after both rides and only working away from home and a late meeting over dinner have prevented me from putting in the same effort Wednesday and tonight (where I am in Birmingham and might go out for a run).
There are lots of roadies in Richmond park. They make you feel a bit inadequate as they really do put the gas on. Some club riders draft in chain gangs - and when one of these gangs comes past, you get sucked along for 20 meters and it all feels very easy until you are dropped and you steadily loose speed back to the slow grind you were tapping out on your own. Miserable.
Mind you – the looks you get from the roadies as you bimble about on the Cross are quite something. Either disproving – or there is a look that is cast your way that questions the logic of this rough looking ‘road bike’. I have been staring back with my own special look (I am pulling a face now which you can’t see), which radiates a sense of despair and sorrow for those that use lycra as a lifestyle statement and bold primal colours as a personality differentiator.
Sunday was interesting.
I got the commencal out of the shed and sticking out of the rear tyre sidewall like a shiny black blister was the inner tube. I must have gashed the tyre last week, and over the course of time the pressure in the tyre had forced through the sidewall. The same thing has happened to the Maxxis High Rollers that Hayden had on the Hoss, so great tyre, poor longevity.
So as the singlespeed was out of action I had to delay the start – and get a new tyre. The LBS came good – selling me for £20 a massive Nokian 2.3. Finnish madness in rubber. This new rubber is like a tractor tyre and is really heavy weight – so this problem should be a one off.
I fitted the tyre – promptly got a flat, and then noticed that the non drive side crank arm was loose. Hayden agreed to wait for me in Guildford whilst I went to the shed to fix everything.
This faff was clearly karma payback for last week’s slack efforts – and with luck the X-bike activity has appeased what ever is responsible for mechanical failure.
Miles this week –
Saturday – Nothing
Sunday – 35 Miles
Monday – 15 Miles
Tuesday- 22 Miles
Wednesday – Nothing
Tuesday, 12 August 2008
You will notice there was no blog entry - and no mileage updates.
Quite simply I did five or so miles on the Saturday (3rd August) as I sorted out a few things and ran some errands and then did a reasonable 35 miles with Hayden and Kelly from Guildford to Leith Hill and back.
I felt on top form for the Guildford ride - and could have easily packed another 15 miles in if there was time.
Anyway, all in 40 miles and no weekday running. Poor. Very.
No real excuses, there was a bit of mid week rain - and I lost my way a bit after work (train delays / late running meetings / pub on Friday etc) - all conspiring to make me drink tea when I got home and to head straight for the couch.
On the plus side the fund raising is going well - and I must convert this good will and faith into effort.
I have been weak.
Punishment now beckons to compensate for this lapse in discipline and to help me get to the ton mileage from the end of next week. Ergo I will flog myself around Richmond park on the road bike.
Last week's efforts for the record:
Saturday - 5 Miles
Sunday - 35 Miles
Monday - Nada
Tuesday - More tea vicar?
Wednesday - I say jaffa cakes!
Thursday - Oh - Test match highlights.
Friday - Bond with Team GB via the medium of a Chinese take away. That's the olympic spirit.
Friday, 1 August 2008
I will change hate running to I dread running. You know it has to be done - but doing it takes all your effort and you never quite know how you are going to feel (although generally bad afterwards is my default).
Anyway, I did not run with the Guypod on last night - see previous post. I never used to run to music before I had an ipod. So I decided to go retro - and just run.
Actually I don't often run to music - I tend to listen to Pod Casts. Intresting things like digital planet / from our own correspondant. I like the idea that even though I hate running (which is aledgedly good for you) - I can improve my brain at the same time as my lung function.
But I do also listen to Russell Brand on occassion. This does not improve my brain - but is funny.
Having no sound last night did give me some extra brain space to think about this week's efforts:
Sat - 22 Miles (singlespeed)
Sun - 2 miles (run)
Monday - 11.5 Miles (singlespeed)
Tuesday - Drinking Tea and watching TV
Wednesday - 14 miles (Cycle home from work)
Thurdsday - 2 miles (run)
Today - It's my Mum's Birthday meal (anticipating eating well).
Total for the week:
47.5 miles cycling
4 miles running
Something similar next week looks possible (not to many meetings away from London) - and the ankle has held up with the increased effort this week. So the 100 mile weekly goal is looking good.
I shall be mailing H to see where he fancies a cycle this weekend - and I will make him pay for last Sunday's blow out with en-route cake (I am thinking National Trust home made cake on top of Box Hill).
Thursday, 31 July 2008
Tuesday, 29 July 2008
This would be easy if I just commuted into work(14 miles each way). However, recovery form the ankle injury means I need to build the mileage back up steadily and sensibly.
Luckily I managed a flyer from work last night - so got out on the singlespeed for an hour when I got home.
I did the Richmond Park circuit - which is 11.5 miles door to door - and at about 75 - 80% effort got around and back in 63 mins. Which is quite good.
I keep forgetting that I am running 32/17 - which is nice on the rolling / hilly North Downs, but totally impractical for flat South West London, as I keep spinning out. I might change up to an 18 when I replace the chain (which by the way was very slack last night - and as there was no more space to move the wheel back any further I can see shed time on the weekend).
The 17 also explains why I was so tired after Saturday's sprint.
More Numbers -
I measured Saturdays ride - and it was more than I thought - 22 Miles (dead) so the scores on the doors this week are:
Sat - 22 Miles (singlespeed)
Sun - 2 miles (Run)
Monday - 11.5 Miles (singlespeed)
It is likely that I am away over this weekend - so that will keep the total down this week - but another couple of after work cheeky 10s by Friday will set me up for more of a concerted effort next week.
Monday, 28 July 2008
Got out on the singlespeed on Saturday morning with a 10 mile sprint along the river to Putney with Hayden – followed (after a pit stop to watch the rugby) by a tootle around Richmond Park on my way home.
A not too challenging 20 or so miles – except for when I managed to throw the chain – and it wedged between the spokes and the free wheel, temporarily turning the bike fixed wheel, until I managed to come to a stop. A quick bodge later and all was (un) fixed - but I have stretched another chain.
I am now questioning my adherence to thrift – i.e. fitting a cheap BMX chains – and I have thought about splashing out for a track chain (guaranteed not to stretch). This is all faff and I really could do without spending more time in the shed getting things to work.
Brining me nicely to the repair job on Kelly’s Specialized.
The Local Bike shop has come good again.
They ordered the correct brake lever in a week from Avid. Evan’s would not do this favouring to sell us new brakes. So that’s a winner – proving again that service at Evan’s is patchy at best.
The LBS has agreed to fit the lever and trim the brake hoses for £30. The lever cost £20. All in £50 – which is still £20 cheaper than buying a new brake set. The fixing cost seemed a little steep – but there is not going to be any margin on a £20 lever – and I was sure to bungle bleeding the brakes and trimming the hoses.
Considering the comparative damage to both the metal and Kelly’s face from THAT fall in Scotland – I will be very glad to get the bike fixed and safe to ride again. Brakes are important, and me not fixing them on the cheap is the best move. Peace of mind is required.
Hayden blew out on Sunday's ride on the North Downs (drinking related rain check) – so I went for a run instead. The ankle is still sore and very stiff – and running was a bit of struggle. James thinks that I will be able to run a bit more freely in a week or so if I keep up the exercises. This is good, as all this relative inactivity has seen my 'svelte' (ahem) profile develop front row chunkiness over the last month.
Indeed Lee took a photo of me in the pool last week – and I looked like I was going to displace a lot of water.
Archimedes I am not – but I clearly need to take a leaf out of his book and run about a bit more.
Monday, 21 July 2008
It was a bit of faff signing up on Friday - we all had to sign up separately. Anyhow the 'team' by the time I left work was Tom (racing snake), Hayden (I think I have broken it), Kelly (heart rate now at 210) and myself.
I will check with Hayden to see if Ruth and Pickup got their entries in. If so, that is quite a number and will make for a great time.
So that's part one completed.
Now for the next bit - which is fund raising. I have set a target for myself of £150, and I have set up a just giving page at http://www.justgiving.com/guyspence to facilitate getting the readies in.
I think Hayden, Tom and I need to agree how we tap up the office - and how we get work to match the sums we raise (as per the CSR policy).
I have also made the bold step of offering this blog as window on my training effort for the big day.
So my first training update is that I have not done any today. This evening Kelly and I have been tidying up in advance of a some more punters coming round tomorrow night to look at the flat. However, tomorrow..........[Guy is going fishing]
Tom has already been on a kit offensive (sterling work), and has a provisional 'yes' from marketing for the supply of some kit with the company logo on. From a sketch I have seen the shirts look smart - and will help promote the business a bit (all good on the pound matching vs PR front).
Actually, all cyclists like kit - and Tom's road bike DNA predisposes him to require a shirt with a logo on it. I think it makes him ride faster (joke - I know he is just faster and fitter than all of us).
Just checked my just giving page. No cash in the bank yet. Time to give the virtual tin a rattle.
Friday, 18 July 2008
I forgot that Kelly and I are booked in to attend a christening on Saturday. Some place in the New Forest. Which will be okay – except that this means forgoing some cycling this weekend.
The ankle is feeling much better (80%) - so I had quite fancied the idea of a few hilly miles in the North Downs – especially as it has not rained this week and it will have dried out into a whippy and fast set of trails on and around Leith Hill.
I’m sure Hayden will eat my share of pastry products in the Peaslake bus shelter – and give Barry Knows Best a beating.
The plus side is that after the Christening we will go to Bath and see my brother (a rare event) and Lee is in town - and by coincidence he will also be decamping to Bath for the weekend. Kelly and I also want to catch up with Jo and Paul – and have a coo over the baby, who looks very cute in the photos Paul has sent on email. I think the last time we saw Jo and Paul was before Christmas –which included bump starting their car outside the wine factory.
On the Lee front, the BMW finally left our care yesterday. A contractor I know agreed to take it away and deliver it to the dealership I agreed the sale with, which is based in Chichester.
Even to the end that car proved to be trouble.
The battery was flat again and the contractor’s booster pack would not jump it from the points in the front. So we un-hinged the tray in the boot and tried to jump direct to the battery (little known fact - BMW batteries are under the back seat and you can’t get to them – so there is a jump point in the boot).
It was at this point that I noticed the spare wheel and the BMW tool kit had been removed.
Lee assures me these items were with the vehicle. Ergo when we replaced the tyres last year and / or had the MOT they were pinched. We never thought to look when we got the car back – so that’s another lesson learnt.
It has been really hard to get that car sold. The average private sale price for a 323 CI has plunged in these credit-crunching times to £2,600 – so the price I managed to get for Lee was a result. As was finding two Baby Bell cheeses in the ashtray and a t-shirt in the glove box.
The other thing to remember is that if you don’t drive a car very often, and it has a car alarm, there is a very good chance the alarm will drain your battery. This is a total arse.
Anyway the only BMW I have responsibility for now is Babylon by Bus.
Monday, 14 July 2008
Sunday was an excellent day for cycling.
Cool, clear and not a drop of rain. Encouraged by my nurofen powered trial on Saturday (to the shops and back on the singlespeed) I took the plunge and arranged a quick one in Swinley with Hayden.
Southwest Trains usual habit of making straightforward journeys less so meant Kelly and I had to go via Wimbledon - which is not a cycle friendly station. Met Hayden and Jude on the train and away we went to Martin's Heron via Virginia water twice (mad signal issue and reversing the train to change direction).
Anyway - got into Swinley and we basically rode the best bits of single track we could string together in a two hour loop after a quick warm up.
The place had drained well - and there were not too many other people out and about.
Except for The Stig.
At the top of the Jump spot was a guy dressed in full body armour, full face helmet and ski goggles astride some monster DH bike. He just stood there. Motionless. Visualising his run. He looked a bit ridiculous. After all this is Swinley. Berkshire. Not a well regarded alpine freeride venue involving ski lifts.
Anyway he did not give it a go when we were there - so we moved on.
I am all for people giving it a go - and saftey is a must - but I did wonder on my way home if that guy was enjoying himself. He was tooled up for more than Swinley could throw at him. I had the thought that with a reasonable travel bike, and bit less armour he could have moved freely around the woods and riden loads of drops, switchbacks, jumps and general woodland nuttyness. Roots and steepness prevail in the forest - and although that's not everyone's thing - it's the thing Swinley is best at producing a grin on.
When we went to the Quashqui challenge there were lads (all be it pro) going nuts over the jumps in jeans and a helmet. Serious injury possibility - 30 foot drop in and huge gaps. So having seen this, I did take the Stig's cautionary approach to personal protection as a little bit over the top.
I Know it's not really my business to have a go at The Stig - but it did make me focus on being proud of Kelly giving some of the rooty drops and more technical stuff ago yesterday. As Kelly pointed out it's only a few weeks since she busted her cheek at Dalbeattie. And that's a place one could make a case for getting your Stig out.
As predicted my ankle is sore - and the bikes are not covered in mud. So all in all a great day in the woods.
Thursday, 10 July 2008
Actually I have done no cycling for the best part of three weeks - as I have twisted my ankle and I have been unable to put any pressure on it. Massive annoyance in that I am not getting the best of the summer nights.
Some consolation has been the rain.
Cycling in the rain in the winter is okay, as well it's the winter. Summer cycling in the rain just sucks. It's the summer. You are suposed to be able to knock the dust off your bike after a ride - a bit of lube - then chuck everything in the shed until next time. Not so in the rain. And it has been raining hard. So it has been no great hardship watching the Tour De France in the dry of the living room.
With that in mind I am going to aim to get out on Sunday (irrespective of the weather forecast). Swinley is the best bet as it drains well, so there is a good chance of not coming back with a sore ankle and caked in mud. Just likely a sore ankle.
Who am I kidding - I am itching to get out on the bike - rain or no rain. I've got to get out of town and into the trees. I'll freewheel if I have to - or only peddle with my right foot.......
I got an update email from the BHF off road LDN to B'ton ride, informing me that registration will open on Friday the 18th July - but that the ride is limited to 400 places. I am sure we will get in - and I am looking forward to the challenge - but I'll be annoyed if we don't get in.
Friday, 20 June 2008
The best bit is that I think it is going to start in Richmond Park.
So I am guessing the first bit will be towpath to Walton / Weybridge, then the Wey Navigation Canal to Guildford. Pancake flat and quite fast – so I am entertaining the thought of doing it on the single speed.
I can feel the miles, smell the fish and chips on the front, and taste the beer on the train back to London already.
I will also do some form of fundraising – as I think more than a £30 contribution is required for this good cause.
Thursday, 19 June 2008
Not seeing the latter as a hindrance – I can reveal to myself (as I expect there is nobody else looking at this) that I intend to use this as a tool to record and share my cycling trips with my friends and family - and to otherwise entertain myself when I am travelling for work - sitting in departure lounges, or on trains that go at their pace not mine.
This is therefore both a form of Tetris and a lazy way to show people what I am up to.