Friday, 30 December 2011

2011's final blog

Oh well how exciting. Its the 30th of December and I'm pening this blog in my lunch hour, yes I ran out of holiday and am sat at work.....

I have covered 3830 miles since the 28th of March, thats 165 days of cycling too and from work. Fairly freaking awesome acheivement that if I do say so myself. I haven't worked out how much I've saved in petrol costs or the cost of keeping an ageing car on the road but I happy in the assumption that its a substantial figure.

3830 miles! Wow I hear you say....That could get me half way across Kazakhstan!

That ride was never actually an option, I'm just saying...

Summer was fun (that lasted long, not), autumn was pretty and winter has so far been a mixed bag of ferocity and additions. I can deal with the cold, its fierce but I have the gear. I can deal with the rain once you're wet, you're wet (mudguards are a god send) but fuck me the wind can be a pain in the ass. Headwinds are the only thing that stops me posting decent times, the ability to drop my speed from 23mph to 16mph and thats me pushing myself. I hate wind.

Initially I had doubts that I could actually do this, riding 25 miles a day is a fair amount when your used to sitting in a car for an hour each way. I have a real affection for cycling now and a real appreciation for good gear and gadgets. My cycling wardrobe has grown 2 fold since commuting simply out of necessity. Clothes for cold, clothes for wet, clothes for warm. I have a cycling outfit for every weather type the south of England cares to throw at me.

Real highlights and additions for me are my Lezyne power drive which is a simply incredible front light for the money. Altura Night Vision Evo winter jacket which is perfect for the job its intended, ultra visible at night. Altura Night vision winter gloves, which have kept my hands toasty through many a cold morning.

And this.... my Garmin Edge 200 which is something I never knew I needed. Check the right of my blog for ride details uploaded via Strava, not sure why Garmin don't offer the same level of ride detail but they are really missing a trick. I can now race people on climbs which has added a new dimension to my commute, not to mention the added motivation.

2011 has been a good year in cycling terms. I'm fitter, faster, I now have strong legs and with a good winter commuting I'm Aiming for some serious Pb's come spring. Hell I may even enter an event.

Britain Hold the green jersey and the stripes at the same time and the public have finally aknowledged Mark Cavendish's ability.

Here's to 2012.....Cheers.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Pre Christmas blog

162 days in the saddle since March, 324 rides to and from work. 3754 miles ridden.

Its the 24th of December, the house is full of food, presents and alcohol. There are gifts under the tree (not for the kids as Santa brings those, obviously) and life is good.

An initially shit week came good in the end, an emptied bank account (no not the wife, on this occasion), terrible customer service from said bank and an asthma attack for my 4 year old girl and all before Wednesday. My faith in humanity was at breaking point before my bank manager and the wonderful nurses at Frimley park childrens ward fixed all that was broken around me and delivered me to a better place by Friday. My beautiful girl is back to full health.

My commute suffered with an impromptu day off and a drive to work with the need to collect presents. Still a PB on Egham Hill on the Wednesday ended a sour commuting week on a good point.

I love my commute and I love cycling, watching BBC SPOTY and CAV clinching victory was a real plus point for the sport and the man, thoroughly deserved, a true living legend in our midst that one and the only reason my wife sits and watches the last 5 mins of every stage race sprint stage screaming.

The bike is in the shed, not to be touched until the 28th when I stumble back to work full of christmas joy and cheer. I plan on eating too much and drinking plenty, I reckon I've earnt the right to a break off the bike. My legs are in a constant state of ache and a few days recovey sounds like heaven.

Time to enjoy the family and enjoy the spirit of Christmas.

Merry Christmas one and all.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Another 1st

I started to panic a little last night when at 7pm the car was frosting up and the shed roof was white. I may have mentioned OCD in a previous post and my bike routine is no different. I check my bike nightly to ensure the chain is lubed sufficently, the tyres are pumped up and puncture free and to simply make sure the shed is secure, its my thing right, don't knock it. I'd rather double check than stroll out in the am and find a bike with a punctured tyre. I tried to unlock the shed and the padlock had frozen, that was a first. Brasic. Cupping the lock with my bare hands unfroze it, nice experience that.

Anyway, it was proper cold, there was even a frost on the grass. I strolled back to the house and slipped off the back step, it was literally that icy. I got it in my mind this was going to be a cold commute. I didn't want to contemplate a drive to work due to ice, mainly because of the amount of calories I've murdered this weekend, wine, beer, 2 meals out (three courses) and no Friday ride. Monday simply couldn't be missed.

I started reading magazine articles on winter riding, not sure why as it never helps. I know all I need to know and have the kit to do it. I read about deep winter riding and thought 'man up, you'll be fine' until I stubbled upon the 'riding in snow and ice' article. Thankfully its not snowing in my neck of the woods, it snowed on Sunday but was too wet to settle (I live in the south so we don't get too much). Ice is potentially a killer, I'd ride if only safe enough to do so, it is the week before Christmas after all. 

Thankfully the frost seemed to ease overnight, the shed roof was still white and the car was completly frosted but it was rideable. A lot of ice on pavements and patches on the road in Bracknell/Ascot made the commute slow and a little hairy, I rode as much as I could in the wheel tracks of cars, I'm a shared road user so have the right to claim the lane!

0 degree's, my garmin only works down to -4 (according to the instructions) so I think thats how I'll gauge my rides going forward. Was actually very thankful for my new front tyre as I always felt the Gatorskin to be a little sketchy in rain let alone ice. Took it easy but made it to work without any scares. A good way to tell if its cold is if you're work shower room floors are too cold too walk on bare foot (without noticable discomfort). That day was today.

Remember kids ,if he's not in action, he's in traction......

Monday, 12 December 2011

Ain't life a bitch

Well damn, 7 punctures in 3 days, a new tyre a new tube a Garmin and a pair of glasses.  Not exactly what I envisaged for December but you never know whats round the corner.

Up until the weekend I'd been running Gatorskins with slime tubes as I freaking HATE punctures, what with Gators being the 'best selling winter tyre' in the UK (their claim not mine) and slime to double up my protection I assumed miles and miles of undisturbed riding. Invincible I felt, untouchable. Don't get me wrong, I have been running the Gators for at least 1000 miles without any issues but this past week has put their invincibility or my opinion of, in to check. 2 punctures on the front on Thursdays ride to work and I just kept rolling, obviously I lost tyre pressure as I continued to ride to seal the hole but all in all I made it to work on a soft tyre having not once needed to get off my bike, win. I added air to the tyre for the ride home and I had no problems. Pumped the tyre up again that night to around 115psi all set for the following day feeling quite proud having dodged the puncture 'bullet'.

Riding to work on Friday morning and on no less than 4 occasions I had air pissing from the front tyre, again. 4 freaking times! this was getting silly.

'Right, fuck it, that tube is coming out' I just assumed having amassed 6 seperate holes in 2 days the slime was probably mostly over my jacket and mudguard and beyond the point of helpful. So Friday lunch time I took out the offending tube and checked the tyre thoroughly and felt as though nothing was imbedded in the tyre. Externally the tyre looked like Beruit BUT I felt nothing pierced the carcus.

New tube in, ride home done, sweet. I'm good, on the road again. Forgot about it over the weekend and got drunk. Riding to work on the Monday and again all was sweet.

Now I have ocd so, like I do everyday I checked my tyres at lunch. Fuck it. Another puncture. Now this was taking the piss. Oddly this was the first day I commuted with no multi tool, no tyre levers and a tube too big for the tyre (twat). Off to my LBS in the wonderful Staines. Nice shop, nice gear, nice service,  'proper road bikers we are mate, none of that Evans sell you down the river shit, we care cause we do'. Fair enough. Tube out, tyre off the guy finds the hole and its on the outside of the tube, no fault with the rim then (my get out clause). He proceeds to check the tread of the tyre, there, there, there, there, there... this goes on for about 5 mins 'jesus mate this tyre is toast'. It soon became clear that picking road debris out was getting us no where.

New tyre, new tube. Not had one of these before, felt dialled on the ride home mind and I only paid the online price. pphheww. The Bonti has more tread than the Gator and the reviews are good for puncture resistance, lets see how long this one lasts......Ironically my rear Gator remains strong and true.

Jesus I go on. Online diary right, you don't have to read it! The Garmin is amazing, although I do feel it will be my downfall. Check out the Strava dashboard, yeah I posted slow times but no point peaking too soon. Nice new glasses too, no more freezing eyes.

Off to make hot chocolate. Enjoy

Friday, 2 December 2011

It felt like cheating.....

OMG....My first day driving to work since I moved to Bracknell on the 23rd of March or in other words my first working day out of the saddle (since that date)....

The 1st of December bought me my 150th consecutive ride to work thats 3453 miles in the saddle since March. This morning it was 2 degrees, the shed roof was white and the car had ice on the windscreen. Ironically I have grown to love these crisp mornings if just because its not blowing a gale or pissing with rain.

I can always post a good time when its cold and still. Not today, the need to see a doctor and my company's Christmas party (black tie affair, couldn't carry a suit in my rucksack) means I needed to give up the bike and take the wife's car. Ok so I did get an extra hour in bed which was very nice but driving where I usually ride felt bad.

It almost felt like I was cheating on my bike, taking the same route, looking at the same views but not working for it, simply sitting there in the warm, driving. I felt like I hadn't earnt it. When I ride, I earn every part of the route, every overtake, every scalp, the freedom, the challenge of the hills and the reward of the descent....None of that today, I just bloody sat there in my warm car driving at twice the speed getting impatient with other drivers that can't seem to deal with roundabouts. Why would you stop if you can see the approach and nothing is coming AAARRRRGGGGHHHH.

I missed the space of the bike, the freedom to be the only reason I may be late. Ascot high street in a car is a mare, waiting for people turning left, waiting for people turning right, waiting for IDIOTS to park....On my bike I just go round them, think nothing of it and keep moving.

Give me the bike anyday of the week, any weather, always my preference and always my choice. Maybe its just me getting old and impatient. With only me to blame for my speed I can't be upset if I'm late, I just have to get faster..simple. When someone else holds me up I turn into the worlds greatest critic.

Sod it, back to the bike monday and where I want to be.