Some Things From This Week

Slightly different post this wee, I thought I would highlight 5 things I have learnt, rediscovered or just forgotten about.

1 – Press-ups. As many people will have seen there is a 22 day challenge to do 22 press ups each day and post a video of yourself doing this to raise awareness of combat vets. There are apparently 22 vets a day committing suicide and this challenge is to raise public awareness. If I am honest I was hoping to avoid this challenge s I hate press-ups, but I got tagged and rather than ignore it, I have taken on the challenge. So far, so good I have managed 4 days and am actually enjoying it, working some muscles everyday is never a bad thing. If you are tagged, don’t ignore it, give it a go. I have 18 or so days left and that is plenty of time to tag people. so watch out!

2 – Interval training. I have said it many times that interval training is the work of the devil, however you dress it up it hurts regardless of the length of the interval. This week I have had a set on the bike of 1 minutes intervals every 4 minutes for an hour. What surprised me most was just how quickly the 1 minute intervals came round, it seemed no sooner had one finished the next was starting. I was glad when the hour was done and I could just ride home!

3 – Trail running is brilliant. There is no shock to this, I love trail running and I particularly like it in the evenings when after being in the office all day you can get out in the fresh air and the countryside. Being able to head out across fields and woodlands for a run is one of things in life that never gets boring, yes the running is harder but that really doesn’t matter as it is offset by the views and environment.

A short post but I have been not writing much lately and so need to get back on it and hopefully this will be the catalyst.

2 Wheels Are Best

I have spent the last week indulging myself by riding a variety of bikes in different locations but all with one thing in common, it was fun!

Starting last weekend I took part in the Brompton World Championship (BWC) race in London, a crit race around St Jame’s park after the Ride London Women’s pro race. The BWC has some rules, one of which id the dress code, a shirt, tie and jacket must be worn and no lycra. This makes for some wonderful sights with people really going to town to dress up.

For me, I went for a pink jacket to add some colour to the occasion.

Bwc_1

To take part in the race you don’t actually have to race, you are more than welcome to just enjoy the ride around the course. However, a race is a race and the opportunity to have a thrash around is too much to resist for me. In terms of competition there were ex-pros Dave Millar and Dr Michael Hutchinson plus various ex winners so there were some fast people. For me I covered the 17km at an average speed of over 36km/h to finish 68th overall, a result I was more than happy with.

Next up I went for a tour round the Chilterns with the aim of having a mid-ride coffee at some gardens, the route I got from a local cycling club and was around 80km in length. I found I was enjoying the ride on my road bike and so when the Garmin said to go straight across a junction I decided I would add some more distance and went left to add around another 20 odd km. The extra loop allowed me to ride through the countryside and do a couple of hills I haven’t done before. On arrival at the gardens I treated myself to a coffee and large slice of ginger cake, I know I am trying to reduce my sugar in take, but I just couldn’t resist.

cake_coffee_1

The ride home after this felt easy and I reckon I was probably grinning as I was going, even the hills to home seemed enjoyable.

Back to the Brompton of army next ride, and this was a couple of hours riding round Silverstone in an event organised by Muscle Help

I did get a few funny looks from some riders when I rolled up to the start on the Brompton, but once we were let loose on the track I think I changed their opinions mainly by riding past them or dropping them out of chain gangs! Some of the more season better riders were complimentary and seemed to enjoy watching me pass people who might have had a nice bike and good gear but no legs!  Riding round Silverstone was interesting as I had never really realised how windy sections of the track could be, and how in real life some of the run off areas are not that big and so stopping an F1 car from ploughing into a face might be tricky. No such issues on the Brompton though!

Brompton_Silverstone

After the fun of racing round a flat motor racing circuit it only seemed right to go and do some hills, so I headed down to Surrey to have a look at some of the famous climbs down there, and also it gave me a chance to recce Boxhill prior to the Ballbuster later in the year.

Now, I do not know the Surrey area at all, and this became apparent when I went came to Dorking and the Garmin seemed to be trying to send me down a way I couldn’t go and I couldn’t see how to get to the road I needed so I ended up following a sign that said Leith Hill, and this turned out to be a great decision as it took me up Coldharbour Lane which was a good climb, although the road was really greasy due to overnight rain and so if you got out of the saddle the rear wheel started to spin, or it could just be I was laying down tremendous amount of power! The countryside was great with some lovely views and I have to say drivers who all seemed happy to give me space so perhaps the stories of all drivers in Surrey hating cyclists isn’t true?

The final part of the ride was the climb back up Boxhill, having only seen this for the first time when I drove to the car park at the top in the morning I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, it didn’t look too steep but did it have some hidden traps? The early part of the climb was easy to get into a rhythm and I had the added advantage of being able to see another cyclist further up the climb who I was able to aim at. The other cyclist I thought initially was going quite quick but i soon gained and passed him leaving me on my own. The hairpins actually enable you to pick up some speed and so it wasn’t long before the climb was done. It seemed fairly easy to keep a steady easy pace and I have to admit to being a little disappointed really I was expecting something a little more, never mind though the views at the top were brilliant and well worth the trip.

Finally it was time to break out the CX bike and do a little off-road riding back in the Chilterns. I have to say I didn’t really push very hard and so the route was easy with a good mix of tarmac and dirt. Possibly the best part was riding along an ancient cart track past a model aircraft club field and seeing them flying some really big planes, impressive things. The rest of this ride was good fun enjoying some climbing and looking forward to that post ride coffee!

The other cycling aspect to the week was visiting both Look Mum No Hands and the Rapha Cafe in London on a trip there, both server excellent coffee and food and are places I will return to when the situation allows.

All in all I feel that I have had a great fun week where I was left to my own devices and so basically just played on bikes. It never ceases to amaze me just how much fun you can have on bikes, regardless of what type, model etc Any bike can go fast it all comes down to your legs, are you able to pedal it. Yes I am lucky in owning several bikes but I enjoy them all and ride them where possible

In conclusion I spent most of the week riding bikes and I loved it!

Simply Fun

What is better on a sunny Sunday morning than a bike ride, possibly nothing.

This Sunday morning was sunny and offered the perfect excuse to head on the cross bike and ride through the Chilterns using the Ridgeway as the central point.

Now I have to admit I haven’t ridden a huge amount of the Ridgeway I don’t know why, in fact I have probably run more of it than I have ridden, so today was the perfect excuse to use a portion of it.

The Ridgeway is an ancient track that has a variety of different surfaces, gravel, grass, chalk and a bit of mud, all of which make for good fun on a cross bike.

So today I headed along the ridgeway, it has some short sharp climbs, and headed off towards Aston Hill. This route was great, and on reaching the hill I headed up the rode to the top as I knew there was another bridleway at the top. Going up the road I passed one guy, but equally was passed by a pair although they didn’t really distance me!

The bridleway at the top turned out to be steep and stony steep downhills on a cross bike are a little tricky, particularly when the route is very rutted and has a good covering of slimy slippery mud. No need to say I went down it like Bambi on ice, I could have gone faster but I wasn’t feeling brave or stupid!

Once down it was out onto a wide track which I flew along, and headed back in the general direction home. However, I had one more section of Ridgeway to do, and actually dropped of it early to take in an extra road hill to keep stretching the legs!

After the “joy” of a steep climb back towards home it was a case of crossing a field, which I mashed, and back home for a coffee.

Cycling in the sun is a simple pleasure, and I enjoy it even more when I only have a general idea of my route, like today, the idea of a bit of exploring is great.

There you have it a simple pleasure, the weather is improving so go out and ride bikes, and do some running as well for variety!

Shrug, smile sweetly and move on

I wonder if I have upset the sporting gods this week, it seems I was allowed one good session and3 not so good ones.

It started on Monday evening, a run session that was planned to be hard but not impossible, the weather was cold and I even remember to put a waterproof jacket on (more on this later). I headed out along a flat disused railway line which has been converted to a trail and for the first 5 minutes all was well, and then changed.

I felt a spot of rain, and thought well at least I have a waterproof on, and then as if someone turned a tap on, the drop become a deluge of freezing cold rain. In about 5 minutes I was soaked and cold, very cold. I tried to carry on and tough it out, but my leg muscles were so cold I gave in, and let the pace drop down to where I just jogged it in, yes I did the time but no where near the pace.

As for the waterproof jacket, well I have known for some time that it wasn’t really that waterproof but it used to keep a fair amount of the rain out but now it was basically useless, probably down to its age rather than anything else so time to research and buy a new one.

The next session that wasn’t perhaps as planned was the turbo session, this was an interval based assault really. In each interval for about the first of the three minutes I could hold the power and then it was a case of just holding on. It hurt and isn’t one I would be keen to repeat. Whilst I got through this, again the time was right but I never held the average power targets.

The next run I did however, was great, an evening trail run just pushing along not flat out. The sun was out the trails were drying out and it was a pleasure to be running across fields and through the woods. I even enjoyed the hills at the end!

Finally we come to todays bike ride, as my road bike is currently in bits awaiting some replacement parts I decided to head out on the cross bike and ride off road. It started off ok, came to the first interval and the legs went, “you must be joking” there didn’t seem to be much there. I plodded on up the hill and hoped they might return. After the next muddy section, I noticed the rear tyre was flat, not a major disaster, just pop in a new tube and away we go. Out came the rear wheel I put my hand in my bag and no tubes, what a plank I had forgotten to pack them. I never go out without spare tubes, well apparently I do now. Plan B, I had some patches, found the big thorn in the tyre, removed it, patched the tube and pumped it up. I could hear air escaping, found the second hole, patched that, pumped it up and all seemed well. Put the tyre back on and pumped it up again. Once more I could hear air escaping, tyre off again, found the third hole, patched it, tyre back on pumped it up and this time all was ok. However, I now had used all my patched, had no spare tubes and had really lost the enthusiasm so rode home.

I know that in context these are not the tales of real life disasters and there is plenty in the world which is worse, and I accept that but, these types of weeks make me wonder sometimes why I bother.

Next weekend is another race weekend, another duathlon and a chance to have some fun, race hard and remember that I do this for fun and that training weeks that don’t go so well really don’t matter!

One Of Those Weeks

This week has been one of those weeks that happen and you think what did I do to deserve that?

It started on Monday when on an easy paced trail run I basically bonked, had the jelly legs and the odd feeling. Not sure what caused it but it certainly put pay to any chance of a decent run. The only way I got through about 45 minutes was because I stopped for a few minutes and luckily started to feel better. One day in and one dodgy session

Tuesday was a good day, the weights session went well, always good to get a positive in the writing

Wednesday an interval session on the turbo trainer, really tough going got through it in a sweaty mess but the numbers were nothing to write home about. 3 days in and we are back at 2-1 for not great.

Thursday, a run for 75 minutes, simple enough on paper. I went to an old dissed railway that has bene converted into a path, it rained, and it rained hard but no matter I had a waterproof. The running went ok, the factor I forgot was that it gets dark still and so the last 10 minutes were in total darkness, luckily there was no body else on the path but add another one to the not great sessions, 3-1 now.

Friday, a rest day, even I couldn’t mess that up this week! 3-2

Saturday, and my first attempt at a Park Run, now I have been signed up to Park Run for ages but have just never got round to doing one. So, 5k as fast as possible.

Well, I ran 5K but have to say the end result was a disappointment , yes the grass was soft and muddy and there a set of steps on the back of the course but even so to record a time of 24:15 was disappointing. 4-2 to the downside and only one day to go.

Finally on Sunday a bike session that went to plan and was fun to do, it might have been helped by the sunshine or something else but it went to plan and so pulled one back.

After adding up the scores it was 4-3 to the downsides and frankly it was a fair reflection especially when one of the positive days was a rest day!

Despite all of these things next week is the last duathlon race I have booked in and hopefully it will be decent, but based on this week who knows!

The Pain Cave

The pain cave is a place, for those not familiar with it, which is not unlike the bat cave in many ways, although ultimately they do serve different purposes.

The bat cave is a place where Batman keeps all his favourite vehicles, the pain cave houses all the bikes, Batman dresses up to go to the bat cave, I put on a costume of sorts to visit the pain cave and finally Batman has some good tech in the bat cave, so does the pain cave.

For anyone, who still has no idea what I am on about, the pain cave is where cyclists go to suffer on a turbo trainer. In many ways the turbo trainer should be outlawed as it is an instrument of torture.

There are many, many different work outs you can do on a turbo, anything from a steady ride to intervals to riding up a mountain.

For me the turbo provides a great way of training on a bike throughout the winter, when the weather is horrible, it allows you to maintain a good level of fitness throughout the winter. My favourite sessions are those that involve a steady period, the hard interval sprints are not much fun as they hurt.

Now, there is one type of session that I love, and that is using the virtual videos on the turbo. There are loads of videos available, but my favourite is the Alps, here you can ride up classic climbs you have seen on the Tour De France. Believe me when I say, that these are hard, you will get a good sweat on and the video provides a great view of the road you are climbing. The resistance of the trainer is adjusted to replicate the steepness of the climb and so it provides a good session.

So, the pain cave a place to go and suffer, but above all enjoy the suffering.

A Struggle On A Sunday

The sun was shining, there was no rain and the wind had disappeared, all these factors pointed to a good sunday morning bike ride.

The reality was somehow different, from the very start I never seemed to have very good legs, my brain said go faster, my legs basically said “p*ss off it’s sunday and we are resting”. Now for any cycling fans they will be familiar with Jens Voight and his famous sticker on his bike “shut up legs” well let me tell you I might have tried thinking that but it just wasn’t happening!

So this is how the ride went, I enjoyed the sunshine, i went along at a comfortable pace the roads were dryish and the sun continued to shine.

The route I wanted to do, however, had an issue as I was going out side a village the road was shut, so I had to take a left turn up a road I didn’t know where it went. As is the way with these things it went up a reasonably steep hill which actually came out at the top of the hill I had planned to ride up. I had to make a decision then, do I carry on and miss out the hill I had planned to ride or did I go down it and turn round at the bottom and then ride back up it. Well, I chose go down and ride back up.

This was an inspired decision, as my legs seemed to return once I got on this climb, an hour later than planned, but never the less they returned. From there on the last hour and a quarter or so was a real pleasure, yes I had to go up a few more hills but even those didn’t seem too bad, a victory for sticking at it!

All in all the ride was good fun, yes I wasn’t on it as much as I would have liked, but it was sunny, a little cold but that is what winter riding is all about and on top of that I found a new hill to go play on!

Tales From The Riverbank

This week my training seems to have involved water in all but one session. The only exception being my turbo session (luckily) as that was in the safety of my garage.

My other sessions, run, swim and bike all certainly had water elements in them. Lets start with the most obvious, the swim, both my swim sessions this week were not as good as I would have liked, I can’t put my finger on the reason but for whatever reason I was slightly off. However, on my Friday night swim when things were not going so well rather than stopping and getting out of the pool I dug in a bit and do some more lengths, they were not much better but it was more the mental side of pushing on even when it wasn’t all roses.

My run involved water in a slightly odd way, I was running up a hill and had just got over the top when a car came towards me, there was nowhere for me to go other than the grass verge, seemed like a good idea. Here is the but, as I put my foot on the grass it sunk and when I tried to pull it out my shoe came off, luckily it wasn’t stuck in the mud but it pinged out in front of me, and of course I put my foot, minus the shoe, down straight down in a puddle, the result being one very wet soggy sock, lovely!

You can probably guess the water involvement in my bike ride, there was so much surface water on the roads it was hard to believe that it would ever all dry up. One road in particular was flooded right across it, and it was nearly up to the depth of the bottom of my forks, luckily I didn’t have to stop else I fear I might have had to swim for it.

Overall, this week I have been feeling better, I am eating more which is helping and my cold is finally going so it could be onwards and upwards.

Some running, cycling and a little swimming

This past week has been a little trying for me, I have been wondering about certain things and whether or not they are really worth the effort, and yes swimming was one of those but not the main one!

I had a couple of different and new running sessions this week, both of which were great fun to do and showed the advantage of having your program set for you as I would not have designed either of those sessions myself. The first one involved running a set time at a low heart rate and then at the end of the time running back to the start using a slightly higher heart rate. It was amazing how much difference it felt to be able to use the extra 20bpm I was allowed. The second session involved 1km hill reps and having a set time to get up and down the hill. Good fun especially as I did it off road running through the woods in dark with a head torch on.

The cycling part of the week was good fun, another different turbo session which made me work and the Sunday morning ride was an easy paced affair.

Now, the swimming, well on Tuesday in my lesson I made some good progress and improved an aspect of my stroke that made life a lot easier. I was actually looking forward to my other swim session to put it into practice. So imagine my disappointment when whilst the part from Tuesday went well, another part fell apart. IN fact I was that fed up at one point I threw my goggles out of the pool and went to the changing room. I did go back to the pool and swim a bit more, but this illustrates how hard I find the water element. I always feel I am almost there with swimming, only for something else to impact it, I will crack it eventually, and If I don’t then I will never be able to do a triathlon.

Now that December is here, I am sure the nights out are going to affect training but my aim is to still do as many sessions as possible as I don’t want to ruin the progress made so far.

I also hope to write some more positive and entertaining entries soon, so please stick with me it will get better I promise.

Seat post Sunday – A Week In Review

I haven’t doen a review of a week for a while, and to be honest I haven’t been writing as much as I would like to, no excuses there just need to get on an d do it.

Back to this week, and unusually Monday was a rest day so that was good, gave me a chance to watch Watford being robbed at Brighton by a referee would couldn’t spot a ball in the goal.

Tuesday was swimming lesson night, now these lessons are group lessons, where you can do what you want and the coach just gives you advice on the areas you ask about. For me this is good as each week I can work on a specific area of the stroke and that is really helping.

Wednesday is turbo session night, and I think each week Mike tries to work out new ways of inflicting suffering, this week was intervals and you can guess it, yep, I was dripping with sweat by the end.

Thursday is supposed to be a run night, but this week I did Thursdays run and Fridays swim on the same night, the sessions separated by about an hour. The run was an easy 45 minutes, the biggest problem was dodging the trick or treaters who think that walking around in the dark somehow makes them visible. With the weather still being mild these evening runs are still reasonably pleasant.

The swim session ;ager on was good fun, I decided to take my fins with me and to use them to allow me to practice my technique. This idea worked really well, I was able to do 750m quite easily. But, the biggest plus was that my breathing was good on each length, always breathing both sides and this I think led to me finishing the session without having a blocked nose which normally happens when I swim, a major plus!

Friday night I went climbing, not something on the plan, but a sport I still enjoy and better than going to the gym to lift weights.

Saturday, the plan was to run off-road for an hour without taking a watch or heart rate monitor, and to see how far over or under the hour I was. Well, it turned out I went 8 minutes over, but to be honest it didn’t really matter as the run was good fun. I also took my GoPro with me, but as I only decided to take it at the last minute I found out the battery was nearly flat, it managed to record about 20 minutes.

Sunday, bloody Sunday (thanks Bono), this will be etched on my memory for the amount of issues I had with my seat post, it just kept dropping despite having been recently done up to the correct torque setting. After the third stop to fix it, I gave up and rode home. It was a shame as even though it was windy the sun was shining and I was having a good time out riding, I did manage to do an hour and a half, but was supposed to do at least 2.

There you have it, a whistle stop tour of my week, I am still enjoying the training and the only thing causing me any issues is that I can’t swim as well as I like, but, I am sure it will come.