Thursday, 22 September 2016

The Protégé and ramblings

People come and go, in all walks of life. Friends, Family, colleagues. Especially Colleagues.

My Cycle club at work seems to have its groups ie. its Fast, medium and slow riders. We're not a 'club' so to speak, only a handful of us ride together but we all post our rides into a 'club' on Strava.

You've got your newbies that flirt with the idea of cycling when the sun shines never to be seen again as soon as there is a cloud in the sky. There tend to be quite a few of these as the office headcount changes fairly frequently. You offer advice, which is barely listened too and they end up back down the gym because its what they know and its dry. Possibly slightly less terrifying than cycling through Staines in rush hour traffic for the first time. Stick with what you know.

Actually, forget that, there isn't fast, medium and slow groups at all, there is 'the committed' and the 'not so committed'. Everyone has the potential to be fast, whether its on the flat or in the hills, its what you put into it and your build and maybe your diet (or lack there of ).

I seem to be decent at climbing, sometimes. I like it, no doubt and I appear to be faster than my group at it. Ok I'm light but I have no real finesse about me, no technique to speak of. For me, no one actually likes hills. It's just about how long you want the pain to last and I want the pain to last for as little an amount of time as possible. It's that simple. Ride hard, it's over sooner. Nothing more to it.

Only a couple of the riders to pass through have come close. So, a couple of the guys I ride with can smash me on the flat, to the point I am literally holding on (not dropped, I never said dropped). We had an age group British champion with us for a while, thankfully, I never had the chance to ride with him (cough) and he rarely posts his data to Strava for obvious reason (phew). I'm fairly confident he'd have kicked my ass up any chosen rise, so as this never happened, my pride is still in tack, partially.

I say partially because there is always someone just around the corner waiting to ride away from you at that very point when there is nothing left in the tank. That exact point where the usual suspects are no where to be seen and you allow yourself to back off. Which brings me on to the Protégé. Now this isn't a term I used, I heard it as a reference point for a buddy I work and cycle with. One of those guys that actually enjoys cycling, to the point where I can see him becoming stronger than me. (over my dead body). Someone who takes the advice and actually listens. Becoming all the better for it.

It's great to see someones progress over time, from an occasional cyclist, to the second strongest rider you know ;)

Also seeing others acknowledge it too, is pretty cool. Not that i'm taking any credit for it but it is nice to think that maybe just a little bit of what you do has rubbed off.

We ride a similar route, so it's good company and add's an element of competitiveness to the ride's. Now this chap started riding a couple of days here and there, so I thought i'd take him under my wing, riding the same direction from work, it seemed rude not too. No real mileage in the last couple of years, with the exception of a few summer sportives meant initially we'd just ride and chat to manage the pace. You add a little, you get a response, you add a little more. And this is where it all starts. 4-5 months later, I lead him out on flat segments (3 KOM's to date) and he'll lead me out on climbs (again, 3 KOM's to date).

So far, So good. Until a recent recce of a certain hill. I rode my best time up this hill about 2 years ago and haven't touched it since, can't really remember why, possibly because it was a b**ch. Now I have a lead out man, we can smash this right. hmmm. We attempt the lead out and I can't even hold his wheel! Ok so he has a great kick but I'm fairly sure I can outpace him on any climb, so we try it again, the same thing happens. Now, he is clearly faster than me on these given days on this particular climb but isn't close to my PB.

So it must be me, right? I've built this climb up now, so much so, I avoid it. Haha. need to grow a pair and get back up there. Or the order has changed, we shall see......

New Rides, New Routes

This has been my single lowest mileage year for 3 years, as Strava keeps telling me. I do like the graphic of the year on year comparison but it does bother me a little, all those lost miles. Not to mention the fact that it sporadically disappears from my page, as it has in this instance.

I had made a conscious decision at the start 2016 that I wouldn't be chasing mileage having done 10, 000 in 2014 and 9,000 in 2015. What with a new baby due in June (now with me and 14 weeks old) there didn't seem the need to chase distance.

I've only ridden over 800 miles in a month, on 2 occasions this year, ow the shame. Life does get in the way, priorities too. Going down to three days in the office per week has helped keep my legs fresh and my mileage total down.

At 38, perhaps its not a bad thing. That's clearly no age for a recreational cyclist mind but all this talk of 5 figure totals, meh, who cares anyway. I'm still enjoying the cycling and the lack of 5 day riding weeks has allowed me to cycle further when I do ride. My commute has become 25 miles each way so 150 miles a week with 3 days in the office. I have actually ridden 4 day weeks in the last 2 weeks for about a 420 mile total. It's reminded me that the 4th day was always the day my legs suffered.

The additional miles on the daily ride has let me find new routes and with new route, comes new opportunity. That opportunity coming in the way of KOM's. Is it shallow to change a route to gain a KOM? This got me thinking, I gained a KOM recently on a segment in which I posted my fastest time over 2 years ago. So I'm either in form now or I couldn't be arsed back then. Could it even be outside influence?! More on that later.

I started the year with A Giant TCR Composite 1 and a Specialized Langster, both of which I no longer own. I now own a Specialized Allez and a Raleigh CX Comp. Fancied a cross bike and never really appreciated the Giant. So here we are, all change for 2016.

Friday, 23 October 2015

This all feels a little self indulgent....

I barely recognise this page anymore. I've not touched it for over a year. I don't even own the bikes in the photo's on the page any longer.

What a difference a year makes. I don't even really know what the point in this is. Making the assumption that anyone ever reads this, I guess the purpose was more like an online diary, my timeline of events. I do love the title though, that's great. Really need to make that into something with greater purpose.

Perhaps this is just me typing on a Friday afternoon to make it look like I'm working. haha. 

Do you ever wonder what happens to those people you see cycling, regularly, like you, that then just disapear? I do, frequently. Being a cycle commuter, maybe they just get bored, buy a car, have a family, get a new job or a list of excuses not to bother, especially as the winter draws closer.

I found it quite interesting looking through my old posts when I first created this blog and what I intended to use it for. I meant to use this as some kind of training diary for my London to Barcelona ride which I did back in June 2014. Then promplty didn't. That's done and now feels like a lifetime ago.

God that was exciting, prepping for an event, training specifically for it with a group of like minded people. Now I'm just getting ready for another winter of commuting on the bike, a new jacket, the majority of the same kit I was using 3 years ago, same lights, new bikes. Damn.

What is it about shoe covers, why do you need to go through about 6 pairs until you find some that actually work. Then walk a hole into them when you double puncture a mile from the office. Poxy things.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

It's been a while..... (a quick Update)


It's been so long since I wrote anything on this blog, feels like an age. I've been meaning to get back to it for a while, with accounts of my commuting and training for my epic bike ride to Barcelona.....I really do intend to get this back on track, especially now there is only 9 days to go until the Grand Depart.

I've added an image of the mileage I've ridden YTD in prep for the London to Barcelona ride, I think you'll agree its fairly epic.

I will add more detail prior to my depart with a link to my teams blogpage where the majority of our ride will be documented alongside personal notes.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

How many times?....

How many times do I have to fall?

I've been commuting by bike since I started this blog, actually before that about 3 years. I've never fallen, not once. I've ridden in all conditions, rain, wind, sleet, snow, ice never fallen, until now.

Now I've fallen twice in 2 month's. Twice! This could be a number of contributing factors i.e. my tyre choice, the age and condition of those tyres, my lean angle on the bike when the accident occured, the road surface, my mental state - was I paying attention or a number of these factors.

My bike has changed as have my tyre's but I'd also like to think my ability level may have risen in this time. Perhaps it's my belief in my abilty thats the problem.

To clarify, I've not been knocked off my bike, these falls have been all of my own doing. No one about, no cars close, just me, falling. Both crashes have hurt and lead me to spending time off the bike. My lastest crash required 1 week off the bike to recover, which was more of an annoyance than anything.

My first 'off' was a painful misjudgement of the road conditions. I'd ridden on this particular stretch of road numerous time's and never fallen, in most conditions. This time I feel on a wet road, only it didn't really look wet, the atmosphere was damp but the road seemed ok, so I just hit the roundabout with my normal pace, I may have clipped the roundabout.....this was one of those small white bump type of roundabouts, the ones cars generally drive over. I may have hit oil or simply slipped on the wet roundabout (which is more likely). Tarmac kisses on my right shoulder and right thigh, nothing too painful and only a day not riding.

Funny what a spil does for your confidence. My conering confidence in identical conditions has deteriorated greatly since, being that it's consistently cold/wet at the moment this isn't helping my overall pace. You could argue that pace doesn't really matter at this time of year but its a niggling thought all the same.

 My most recent fall was on ice, nothing else to blame, with the exception of the idiot riding in icy conditions. The impact of my fall seemed to focus exclusively on my ribs. I put my arm out but my arm slipped on the ice and I landed in a heap on my right side. I was heavily winded, I haven't been winded since a mate last punched me at school (those were the days), a few minutes at the side of the road to catch my breath and I was back on the bike.

I managed my commute to and from work that day but the pain got worse and I sat out 4 days of commuting (7 days off the bike in total). Nowt much they can do with ribs so Co-Codamol has been my best friend.

I'm riding with 25mm Gatorskins, which are a great winter tyre and only 6 months old, so plenty of life in them yet, only one puncture in that time (i'll get one tonight now i've written that) but my grip should be fine. It must be these odd wet/cold winters we're now having as myself and my colleague's seem to be racking up a record number of 'off's' for this time of year.

Perhaps I'm just noticing it more, with the impending ride to Barcalona less that 5 months away, we all seem to be in a mad rush to be fit enough, after all they do say 'Winter miles equal Summer smiles'....

Must stay upright

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Tuesday night chain gang....My first one.

Jesus wept....I don't think I've ever worked so hard over such a short distance.

Imagine a Team Time Trail, only with three individuals, flat out, full on and fierce. It was only the 'short' loop.

Now only a few guys turned up, I'd hoped for more but the grey skies and pitter patter of rain had culled the herd. The now familiar face of Dale, whom I imagine I'll be seeing more of in the near future, an American amateur racer that lives near me and a girl called Anastasia.

Being such a small group I didn't have much expectation, Dale is quite a large, lanky rider and Anastasia was slight, I was kinda in the middle of the two with no clue of the route or how to ride in a chain gang but although almost strangers, we were all happy to spend the next couple of hours riding together.

Nice to be able to ride with such great people, neither of these 2 know me from Adam, It's the second time I'd ridden with Dale but I'd never met Anastasia. As we rode out of Windsor Great Park, I upped the pace in an attempt to prove my speed, clearly looking back this wasn't required, neither was it expected when riding in this manner, just to illustrate how clueless I was as to the planned ride.

Oddly but thankfully I got a timely puncture, both the guys pulled back and waited as I fixed the flat, this allowed Dale to explain how to ride in a chain gang and advised me sit at the back and watch how it was done until I was called on.

 We rode a loop just outside of Windsor, which is well known to my club, it's fast, a little lumpy and hard work at pace. Thankfully its all left turns so no dodgy manouvers required. Being only 3 of us, we each spent quite a lot of time at the front and I have to be honest, I was spent by the end of the ride. I'm not entirely sure how long the ride was but it felt like too long.

Anastasia must have been 15 but wow, she has some power in those legs. Not at all put off by the strange men in lycra, she more than held her own, in fact when we finished the ride and she turned off, both Dale and I turned to one another and said "thank god shes turned off", a great, larger than life character but we were both simply happy to get our legs back. Pride intact, just about.

Monday, 19 August 2013

That was awesome!

Truly, it was.

My first ride out with the Hounslow and District Wheelers.

Now I've been out with a couple of clubs before, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Purely on the look out for like minded people to cycle with. I ride daily on my own, so an empty Sunday morning cries out for a club ride.

My previous two experiences weren't great, never a great turn out and not much interest in the new boy. It kinda put me off club riding. Cliquey twats,  I'd rather ride alone.

Nowadays my needs are different, I still ride alone 85% of the time but I need to up my mileage for my London to Barca challenge, which is 10 months away, so one last attempt then. A mate at work tells me I should try the Hounslow and District Wheelers as they ride out from Staines bridge, an area I know well. More importantly, they ride on beautiful roads, in a very scenic area just a stones throw from the big smoke.

Why not, its taken me a while mind, a good 3 months to turn up. Wow, I'm so glad I did.

A rendezvous on the Staines bridges, I didn't expect much, I sat waiting, starring at ducks on the Thames, then I saw a rotund dude, dressed head to toe in Rapha kit on a Bianchi, 'right, he must be involved' I thought, so I went and had a word....

That was Tony, a lovely bloke, enjoys his weekend bike rides. I assumed a handful of people would turn up. 30 plus group! Damn! Now we didn't ride in a group this large, we split into fast and medium, as you do. The fast group was 11 strong, including me. I honestly just hoped I'd picked the right team.

I must say, to this point, the welcome had been great, no clique's and constant conversation. All just like minded guys and girls, turning up to ride their bikes and share an experience.

The 2 groups set of to Marlow, very different routes at very different paces. The fast group rode in pairs, where able, and it was great. I rode with another newbie called Tom, who is a scientist, he explained to me how vague HR monitoring was as a performance indicator, among other things, one of these types that doesn't keep quiet, which was perfect as we both knew no one.

Not that it mattered, we rode 2nd in line to the front pair, after 20 miles we got thrown on the front, funny how you ride on the front and control nothing. We rode too fast, too keen and started to split the group, instantly got shouted at and called back, so we reigned it in a little, rode about 18.5 mph. Funny what differences there are riding alone as opposed to in a group.

Always thinking about those behind, "hole", "car down","stopping" and "doooooggggg" are a few phrases I seem to remember.

Now I'm not sure if this was just a better club, with better riders or whether I just wanted to be there more but I loved every minute of this club ride. All the guys rode at a decent level and I felt good and strong, I lead for a good portion of the return leg too. Good to confirm I was strong enough to do so.

Happy days.