Sunday, 23 August 2015

My First 50 Miler

When I set myself a challenge I do like to do it in style.

I needed my 100 again this week and the only way that was going to happen was if I tackled my first 50 miler.

I already had a 50 mile route that I created nested in my Garmin GPS device. It was just a case of selecting the route, hitting start and follow the pointer. If only it was that simple.

For the route I created, which consciously took in Holmfirth, I didn't appreciate the significance of waypoints as they were showed on the device. One waypoint was 32 miles long. Following the between these 2 points turned out to be quite depressing - especially because of the significant hills, on the uphill stretches my estimated time to the end point was over 4 hours!

Luckily for me I could change the display and have the normal view of distance, speed, average speed and travel time. That made for a more interesting read whilst tramming along the straight roads. Once I hit "civilisation" (and that is a relative term when you see some of the areas I had to travel through) it was back to the turn by turn view.

I didn't truly appreciate the hills around Holmfirth and just how steep they are. Going in to the town I was travelling down a nice 9% decline (not so nice for those coming up). I reckon I could have hit 50 MPH; unfortunately I didn't know the road or the layout so I held back on tucking down behind the handlebars. That decision paid dividends (and probably save my life). Some doddering old dear pulled out from the left to go back up the hill. She pulled right out in front of me, totally oblivious to my presence (both during her manoeuvre and at my protestations whilst passing the rear of her). Good job I didn't know the area and also anticipated her move!

I have come to a realisation on this quest of mine that when there is a good downhill somewhere, there is a doubly-menacing uphill not far away. And Holmfirth nestled in its valley in just that way. All roads in are great, but there is no easy way out. 

My ascent peaked at 1,127 feet. Other than for a quick selfie, not once did I stop and not once did I drop to the inner ring. It was the big ring all the way baby. I did however have to drop in to my reserve gear (first) very briefly on at least 2 occasions. 

The only disappointment to the ride was the wind. It was extremely breezy and I seemed to be constantly battling in to a headwind but that and the tropical storm on the last 5 minutes of the ride didn't dampen my spirits. 

Just over 3 hours and 20 minutes later that was it, all done. My first 50 Miler in the back. I had done it! If you want to check out my Strava data, the click here.

And to think I was aiming for a target time of 3 hours 30 minutes for the Wakefield Hospice Sportive. I may need to rethink that one!

On a side note, my gears worked almost perfectly. A couple of slippages in 5th towards the end of the ride. But all in all the mini-service of the gears at my local LBS worked a treat (and I put some more oil on the chain beforehand). 

Another point of note was that the crown jewels started getting uncomfortable around the 47 mile mark. Maybe that was just too much information? 

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Enforced Rest Days Make For a Restless Cyclist

This weekend, after amassing just over 70 miles in 2 days of training rides, I found myself not only having to return to work this week but also having 3 days "rest" from cycling.

The rest days were through choice. Alright Monday could well have been, but Tuesday and Wednesday certainly were not! The weather played it's part to perfection; sunny or dry whilst at work followed by rain as soon as I pulled up on the drive. Perfect - not!

On the plus side I stripped The Trusty Stead down and gave her chain and gears a good cleaning. On the minus side I was climbing the walls yesterday because I hadn't been out on her for 3 full days. That was the longest period of inactivity since her first full week with the family.

I managed to get out tonight. I didn't care if the sky opened tonight. I was going out, come what may. I had a window of one hour cycle time and I used it to perfection. I went on my usual 15 Miler with the objective of getting a new personal best. We got down and dirty to it with me riding like a bat out of hell and I smashed my PB by a further 2 minutes. The only downside is that I some issues with the higher gears in that the chain was finding it very difficult to latch on to the smaller sprockets. Will need to tinker with the indexing before the next ride.

I'm not sure if I'll achieve a 100 miles ride distance this week but I will certainly give it a try. Who said that rest days are good for you?

Sunday, 16 August 2015

"I Will Bike 500 Miles....

...and I will bike five hundred more..."

Today was a milestone of personal achievement. As some of you may know I have only been back in the saddle for 5 weeks as I am training myself to tackle the Wakefield Hospice 2015 Dark Peak Sportive Challenge. Here is some background as to why I have taken up cycling.

I am raising money for the Wakefield Hospice as I hope to complete the 50 mile course in under 3 hours and 30 minutes. I have been pushing myself harder with each passing week since I bought the bike. My training consists of either beating previous route times or going a further distance. There are 6 weeks to go before the big event and I do feel in good shape and the sponsorship is also going well. I hope to have had my first training ride around the actual route in about 2 weeks time!

If you would like to sponsor me and help this good cause, then please take a look at my Just Giving page.

So what is this personal milestone that I am so thrilled about? Well I've only gone and averaged 500 miles of riding in 5 weeks! This week's goal was to do 120 miles (I actually did 130 miles). I knew I was nearing the 500 mark - but I didn't realise that I would achieve it today!

So in an almost true Proclaimer's sense of the word, I may not necessarily be walking, but here is to the next 500 miles - you never know I may get those done in less than another 5 weeks?