It all went flat

Today was my first attempt at a 10 mile time trial, after having a go at a 25 a few weeks back. The day started ok, then weather was sunny and dry and i turned up on time.

After pinning on my numbers it was time for a warm up, i am still working out what works but I go it my heart rate up and i felt ok.

After returning to the car for a last minute drink it was off to start.

Sat inline chatting to the guy who was due off in front of me, i was nervous but was looking forward to the impending pain!

Then it was time, the countdown hit 5 then go, and off i went. Initially sprinting to get up to speed and then settling into what felt like a good rhythm.

Initially the course has a slight uphill drag and there felt like a slight headwind but i was still going at what seemed like a good pace.

After about 4km i could see my minute man, i appeared to be gaining on him and as i raced onwards i was certainly catching him.

I approached the first roundabout with him clearly in my sights, and i heard the sound of rushing air followed by a loss of speed and that dragging sound only made by a flat tyre. I had a rear wheel puncture.

So there i was at the side of the road 5km from the start with a flat and no way of repairing it. My options appeared to be two fold, ride back slowly hoping not to damage my Zipp wheel or walk.

However, the Marshall on the roundabout had another idea, as i was one of the last to start off, he said once the last rider had gone through he had a spare wheel in the back of his car i could borrow to ride back on.

Well, this was an offer i could not refuse, and shortly after I had replaced the punctured Zipp with a Mavic cosmic. I rode back to then HQ trying not to get too upset although i was gutted.

On my return, i swapped wheels with the heroic Marshall and asked for his favourite charity so i could make a donation to express my gratitude.

Needless to say i have made the donation and also written to the organiser to thank the marshall again.

It’s funny though to him it did not seem a big deal, but to me it was an act of extreme kindness and one i was so grateful for.

What next then? Well no more TT’s planned although i am off to Silverstone in a few weeks for some timed laps so that should be fun, after that i am considering getting a bike fit on the TT bike to sort out my position.

The first time

Today i did something i have never done before, a time trial, a proper organised time trial.

An advantage of having joined a cycling club is that they have access to give you entries into time trials, in this case the West London Combined organised by one of the affiliated clubs.

The course had the usual mystery designation, H25/4 which time trial OST’s seem to love, basically it was a route along the road from Missenden to send over then back to Amersham, so a lot of fast a roads. From what i can gather the course is relatively “sporting” as it has several long rises.

The signing on process was simple, you go into the hall, find yourself on the signing on sheet, sign it and from the table pick up your number, which comes ready pinned with pins.

The pinning of numbers is something not to be taken lightly, you don’t want it flapping around and you want it as flat as possible, pretty sure I didn’t’ have the perfect set up!

Once you have attached your number it’s time for a warm up. This did pose me a slight problem as I didn’t really know the best way to do it, i opted for riding a couple of laps starting slowly and building in some speed before dropping it down again. My heart rate went up and i felt warm, so that served a purpose.

Off to the start, and joining the line you can hear the countdown as the starter holds the next rider ready to start, then it was my turn. I rolled up, the starter held my bike i clipped in and the countdown began, and then it was go!

Setting off hard i soon settled into a pace, it was a balancing act between going hard but not too hard. The 25 miles seemed to come and go quite quickly although I’m sure at the time I wasn’t thinking that.

I flashed past the finish line, eventually, and recorded a time of 69 minutes 20 seconds with an average speed of 21.7mph (or 40km @ 35 km/h). I was pleased with this as it was the first one and I haven’t trained specifically for it.

I had an interesting conversation post race with an experience racer about what makes the most difference to going faster, obviously fitness, position on the bike, clothing, helmet etc etc.

A sport of real marginal gains!!

Will i do another one? Oh yes in fact i have entered a 10 miler already.

Overall time trialling is hard, but fun and when combined with my love of cycling tech and kit look to provide the opportunity for an going project.

Back To Racing

Last weekend i did my first duathlon for nearly a year, and the quick summary of the race was it was hot, in fact on what was the hottest day of the year deciding to race could have been seen as a ,intake.

However, the truth is that getting back to racing was not an easy decision to make, i seem to have recently lost the enthusiasm for it. This year i have done three trail races, all with Maverick, and all of increasing distances. These were all enjoyable and started to make me reconsider doing more.

The odd thing is that what made up my mind to do the duathlon was going and doing a park run, for probably the same reason I haven’t done any park runs for ages mainly i lost interest in doing events with others, it was a bit like losing the confidence to do it and just thinking everyone else would be better. A mindset that didn’t really make sense but once in it it was was hard to escape.

The duathlon itself was part of the Banana Man event at Dorney Lake, and it was hot. The first run was 5km, and was obviously slower than normal, the bike around 22km this was reasonable fun although the headwind on the back half of the course made things a little tough. The final run of 2.5km seemed to go on for ages, well in terms of time it did but i eventually finished.

The time was not important as the heat made it no where near possible to produce a good time but i enjoyed the experience of racing again, it boosts your confidence to no you can still pass a few people.

In conclusion it is safe to say that looking back on the race it was good to do it and get back on the horse and it has made me now want to find some more races and get back into it again.

The Maverick Silva Dark Series Oxfordshire Trail Run

This was the first time I have either entered this event or done an event hosted by Maverick, and so on Saturday I was going to achieve two firsts.

A trail run in the dark was always going to be fun, and when it is hosted on a.private estate with plenty of hills then you know it should be good.

The race hq was set in a field in the shadow of some Woodland Hills, which as the darkness fell gave a lovely vista.

Registration was well organised and quick to get your race number and glow stick wrist band, what a combination glow sticks and head torches.

Once start time arrived it was on with the head torch and off. The first hill seemed to arrive almost at once, and this pretty much set the tone for the rest of the race.

It is always difficult to give a detailed course review when you are involved in the race asI find it hard to remember the exact details. This course had a heady mix of uphill, uphill and more uphill, frankly as discussed with another runner it seemed that almost the entire course was uphill! Now as we all know it can’t all be uphill and whilst some of the hills were steep, to the point where walking was quicker than running,, The downhills were often muddy slippery and immense fun as you fought to keep control, rest and pick up some time, A combination which is tricky at the best of time. Running through woodland in the dark with you way lit by a head torch is great fun and something that everyone should do at some point, it heightens your senses and makes you concentrate, it seems the more you concentrate the more fun it becomes.

The finish came and I thought the fun would be over, but I was wrong, on crossing the line I was asked the best question I can remember being asked on crossing a line. “Would you like a beer?” What a question, “Yes please” came my instant response, “Would you like me to open it for you?” Came the reply “yes please” again I replied. The beer tasted really good. They also gave me an iced coffee and a Tribe bar, both of which were also tasty.

In terms of the time it took me 66 minutes 28 seconds and I finished 43rd. To put into context only 23 people went sub 60 minutes, which when you have nearly 300 metres of elevation it is not surprising.

By completing this event it means I have now done as many this year as I did in the entire of last year, and the best part was I really enjoyed this and it has given me the confidence to do more, mentally I feel I have taken a step forward, at no point did I find myself looking for excuses not to turn up or to even pull out of the race at any point.. For me that was the most important thing, rediscovering the fun element.

I am booked in for a couple more Maverick events this year and based on my experience with this one I am looking forward to them.

It is good to feel like I am back in the game again!

Isn’t it ironic

Sang Alanis Morissette some time ago, although for her I doubt she was referring to the likely hood of being injured by a piece of equipment twice that you don’t really like!

The equipment in question is the treadmill we have at home, when we first got it I sliced my big toe open on it and then this week I caught a toe on it and it seemed to break it or at least fracture it based on the colour, swelling and pain.

The irony is that I prefer running outdoors and the treadmill is very much the domain of the wife, maybe it is her way of inflicting pain in me for something I have done?

So, the outcome of this was that I lost a few days training as luckily by Thursday I was able to try running again. Guess where I tried the run, yep that is correct the treadmill. The circle is complete.

I was either very lucky or my pain threshold is super high as I was able to run reasonably comfortably on the treadmill. I started off steady and gradually wound it up until I was doing a couple of Km’s at a good pace.

I then went climbing, if anyone has ever been climbing then you know that climbing shoes are not the most comfy things ever invented and that climbing involves putting a lot of weight on your toes. The weight on the toes was a little tricky I was not fully comfy doing it, but I still knocked out ten or so routes and didn’t seem to suffer.

The next test was a trail run to see how it reacted outside, and surprisingly two things happened, firstly the toe felt good and secondly I ran at a good pace in the mud. Nothing like getting a pleasant surprise.

All in all a week that started so badly but finished quite strong, I’m now looking forward to a more normal week with some good training.

Dry January – Slight Variation

With the new year now upon us, and many people embarking on their resolutions I have decided to follow the example of my good friend Gary and do dry January.

Dry January is normally where you decide not to drink anything alcoholic for the month, for Gary that will be a a challenge (sorry G!). For me however, not drinking wouldn’t really make much difference as I don’t don’t drink much so instead my dry will be no cake, chocolate or biscuits.

To be clear here, I love cake, I have a very sweet tooth and given the choice I would eat cake all day long. If anyone has ever seen my Instagram posts whenever I go climbing I post a photo of my pre-climb slice of home made cake from which ever climbing gym I am at, as they always have magnificent cakes. When it comes to chocolate bars, I am more than happy to tuck into a couple a day and as for biscuits, well a drink is simply too wet without one (or three).

Will giving up cake make any difference to my life, well honestly I don’t know but it can’t do any harm and if nothing else should shed a few pounds plus making up the calories with proper food should be healthier even if not as enjoyable.

So if you are giving up something for January or longer then good luck but in the end just remember the choice of whether to have it is yours and yours alone and should you crack it doesn’t really matter but let’s try an stick it out!

So Was That 2018?

It is the time of the year when we sit down and reflect on what has gone before and usually y make some wild resolutions for the coming year.

2018 didn’t start that well, I broke a toe messing around and this put me behind with training, however, at this point I didn’t see it as a problem.

The main aim for 2018 was the London Duathlon, this was going to be backed up via the usual Winter Duathlon Series at Dorney Lake. As a plan it was good, the reality was to be somewhat different.

I could sit and go through all the events that led to the missing of the various events, but it turned out to be all linked to the bout of depression I went through. To read more about this go here, and you can read my account of it.

The London Duathlon itself was a cramp get but a reasonably enjoyable event set in a great venue.

When I look back at the year and think I only raced once, didn’t really achieve much athletically but on the other hand I probably learnt more about myself that at any time. I am sure many people have heard the phrase, “it helps to talk about it” but trust me it is so true, if you tell someone something isn’t right then you can start to try and make it right. I am lucky I had a good support network and came through, but if you see someone who isn’t their normal selves, ask them if they are ok, tell them it is ok not to be ok and if nothing else just listen to them, that might just be enough.

Am I going to make some wild resolutions for 2019, no, do I have some idea what I might do yes, am I going to tell you now, no! (if I did then what would I write about next?)

What I will say is I am looking forward to trying to achieve some things.

No review is complete without the list of thank you’s to those people who help me make it happen, firstly to the wife, her support and understanding basically gets me through everything, “Iron” Mike still catches me and sets sessions that are not only challenging at times but enjoyable plus he puts up with me often having no idea what I want to do which can make his job tricky! After these two I just thank anyone I have been cycling, running with as even if we only spoke briefly it would have made me smile!

Enjoy the rest of 2018 and I hope 2019 is good, and now I’m off for a glass of wine and a mince pie.

 

It’s better outside

This is the time of year when it can be a real struggle to motivate yourself to go outside and train, you know you should be the combination of dark, cold and probably rain make it a pretty tough ask.

I am in the very fortunate position of owning both a smart trainer and a decent treadmill so I have the option of training indoors and being able to do my sessions, and I have to say that recently I have noticed that I am tending to do more indoors, where as previously I went outside, especially for runs,.

This weekend I decided that both my sessions would be done outside, it didn’t matter what the weather was doing I was going to go outside.

Saturday morning arrived, I looked out of the window and it was throwing it down with rain and it was windy and it was misty, almost the holy trinity! I started to think if it would really matter if I didn’t go outside, after all I hadn’t actually told anyone what I was planning.

In the end after some consideration, I put on a waterproof jacket, an Endure cycling jacket as I don’t own a running specific one (if any running gear company reads this and would like to let me have one to review please contact me!!) and headed for the trails.

After the amount of rain the trails had gone from the dust of the summer to the soft wet mud of winter, and I have to say It was good to run on these wet paths. The weather decided it hadn’t rained enough and gave me a proper soaking, the wind blew and crossing a field on top of a hill the mist rolled in, yet despite these factors the chilterns still looked beautiful, sometimes you need days like these to remind you how lucky you are to live in the countryside.

What about today I hear you ask, well you might if you are still reading, today I headed out on the mountain bike. Obviously there was plenty of mud and this soon covered both me and the bike in it. One of the advantages of a singlespeed bike is that you don’t have to worry about mud clogging up the gears and making it hard to shift, the other side is that for 98% of the time you are in the wrong gear! However, the simplicity of it combined with the enjoyment of being outside again meant that the whole ride was enjoyable, even the uphill parts.

So then, have I learnt anything from this weekend? Well not really I have always known I prefer training outside and especially when running, Zwift makes turbo sessions much more enjoyable, but it has shown me that I still have the motivation to go out when the weather is shocking and enjoy myself. This I think I may have slightly forgotten over recent times.

So if in doubt go outside, once you are wet you are wet, once you are muddy you are muddy but when you finish and you see the state of yourself it does remind you of being a kid and playing gin the mud except now I don’t have anyone telling me off for doing it!!!

Late Season Sunshine

What a weekend, the sun has been shining the sky has been really blue and the temperature has been at that just properly cold level where you can easily layer up your clothing to feel comfortable.

For me, Saturday was trail running day, despite some recent rain the trails are still surprisingly dry and the only moisture comes from all the leaves that have fallen from the trees. Running at this time of year is great as you get see the trees changing together with the under foot conditions going from dry to wet. These changes also mean you need to go back to the techniques of winter running, and that means light feet to ensure that if you run over hidden wet roots or holes you don’t twist an ankle or worse, of course early on this is a challenge as you are used to the dry, dusty summer conditions.

The run itself was a very steady paced affair, and I was really using it to try an dale army head after a couple of challenging weeks, normally running does the really well but of some reason there were a few things it just couldn’t shift so that means you don’t get a really relaxed run and so you spend the entire run feeling a bit uptight. Having said that it is always good to get out into the countryside, and as usual I came back with a few paw prints on my jacket even though I don’t own a dog, something I have come to enjoy over the years is being met by friendly dogs whilst running as they are usually accompanied by friendly owners!

Sunday was a spin on the road bike, again layers up against the cold the only “mistake” was not having a dark lens in my sunglasses as the sun was real bright and I ended up squinting when heading towards the sun. A slightly odd experience this late in the year!

Getting out and riding is  one of those simple pleasures that you sort of take for granted and so as I haven’t done it for a while it was a real pleasure to get out again, I had sort of forgotten what it felt like.

Not getting out is something that has become much easier due to smart trainers and Zwift, I know I can’t blame Zwift but it make indoor sessions so much more fun that if the weather is a bit dodgy or I just don’t fancy going out jumping on the trainer is just too easy.

Plenty of other cyclists out today, most seemed friendly, always a few that don’t acknowledge you but hay not everyone can be as cheerful as me!

I didn’t really tackle any big climbs today, just a few medium sized ones, and they felt ok.

The bike on the other hand didn’t seem to want to play ball, as the shifting back from the inner ring to the outer was a real tricky affair, I have had the impression the left shifter has been on the way out for sometime and I think it really is as the inner wire is pretty new and the adjustment is ok, oh well something to explore.

Overall a fun ride in the sun, and it capped off a couple of decent days of steady paced exercise in the outside sunshine which was probably well needed.

Let us hope that the weather holds and it enables some more outside fun, and once the mud returns it will be time for single speeding on the mtb.

Poor Poor Pitiful Me

I was going to write a post bemoaning the fact that I am on my second cold in about 3 weeks, that the Central Cycle Cross league is in round 7 and I haven’t raced once due to my colds, and how my colds are keeping me from training.

Then I stopped, and thought, what does it really matter? So I can’t do a few races, can’t go training it doesn’t really matter.

So instead of me moaning on, here is the late great Warren Zevon, singing Poor poor pitiful me, a much better use of your new few minutes, sit back and enjoy Warren and I will also be back with something more positive and interesting soon.