Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Days since last puncture.....0

Well not howabout that, on what felt like the wettest day of the year I suffer my first puncture of the year....

Ironically I was lying in bed this morning listening to the rain and wind and it dawned upon me that I's not suffered a puncture in a while. Typical.

I like to think I have a fairly good puncture protection set up with one of these up front and one of these on the rear, I have an air tube up front and a slime tube in the rear, double protection yay! It was pissing down this morning, absolutly pissing, I could have stolen the wife's car but that would mean she'd have to walk our children too and from school and that wouldn't be fair in this weather. Bike it was.

I never know quite what to wear when dressing for rain as you're gonna get wet regardless of what you have on, if it ain't rain it'll be sweat from the waterproof/windproof jacket keeping all the moisture inside. I went standard set up and set about my ride as per usual.

less than 5 minutes in, yes I should have turned round, and boom I get a punture. I look down and its the rear. My initial response of 'shit' was met with optimism as I have a slime tube in the rear which will re-seale itself If I just keep riding, so on I plod. 2 minutes later and its fairly obvious the tube isn't sealing and the tyre is flat. I pull over to pump up the tyre hoping the slime tube will forfil its actual purpose of 'staying the fuck inflated'. It's not looking good but off I ride again looking for a bus stop, it's still pissing down at this point so I'm very aware of my daugther's birth certificate sat in my slowly soaking rucksack (didn't want it to get wet you see).

I find the closest bus stop, up a slight gradient (wicked with a pucnture, cheers) and turn my (at this point bastard) bike upside down to change the tube. Initially I can't remove the valve nut as it's stuck and my wet hands aren't offering much in the way of traction. 2 mins later that's removed and I attempt to get the tyre off, this proves particularly difficult with a single tyre leaver and a tyre that is intent on not leaving the rim.

5 son of a b***h c**t minutes pass where I'm simply shouting obscenities whilst trying to remove the damn tube. Anyway, I get the tube out FINALLY and launch it in a rage over a fence in to an over priced housing complex overlooking Ascot race course, sorry bout that but fuck me if it had worked I wouldn't have had to. So it's their fault not mine.

I didn't have the time or energy to look for whatever may have been stuck in my tyre before putting my new tube in, with the state of my hands I'd prolly have only added more grit than I'd have removed. New tube in and pumped up with my hand pump, which is actually shit at putting air in innertubes but it's handy enough in this situation.

Back on the road and I cycle off just shouting 'fuck you' over and over until I'm happy enough people may have heard. Of all the poxy days to get a puncture why did it have to be today (it's still pissing down by the way), couldn't of happend on a dry ride could it, ow no that would be far too easy.

I'm still pissed off about it now, it's ruined my day, fucking inconvience. AND 3 fucking cyclists past me saying nothing and offering nothing in assistance, ow no wait one said 'morning', son of a bitch.

I hope next time it's those fuckers in the pissing rain changing a tube, where's my Camaraderie ????

Friday, 20 April 2012

Mindset for Performance

I was riding home on Friday night, it was a rainy day but I'd managed to avoid the rain on both commutes (love it when that happens) but I was riding like a chump, super slow with no energy to stomp on the pedals and no want to even try. It's only been a 4 day week as yet another day off awaited me on friday (am NOT complaining), so in theory my legs should be more energetic than they appeared.

My lack of form and complete and utter abandonment of speed got me thinking, I was literally riding at 13mph where I'd usually ride at 17mph, this shit was dire. I'm very much a confidence rider, if that makes sense, yes I clearly need the energy to push a big gear but for me my mental state really affects my ride. If I've had a great day, or something good has happened I can start my commute absolutly flying and nothing can touch me. Sadly my mental state can be the difference between a pb and pulling over at the road side and weeping.

I can tell within the first 5 minutes of a ride whether or not I'll be pushing for a pb or whether I'll be wishing I was somewhere else, sometimes even sooner. Some of this is down to physical me, not eating enough during the day, not sleeping well or simply being knackered from faster rides on previous days.

Sometimes it's all in my head. A shit day at work can make me ride like a chump. Fucking something up, failing a process or simply having a disagrement with a colleague. This shit really plays on my mind. I think about it constantly over and over in my head, playing out the role of myself until I handle it in the correct manner, happy that were this issue to occur again I'd handle it as it played out in my mind. Chances are, when or if that situation were to actually occur again, I'd have forgotted all about this role play in my mind and the process would start again.

You'd think that if I'd had a bad day, I'd take my frustrations out on the road on the way home, smashing my way to a pb in the process. If only that was the case, I'd love to have that mindset, be able to shut off and just forget but I don't, it plays on my mind sometimes until I sleep.

When I get in this mindset there is nothing I can do to shift it and my physical performance suffers, all I want to do is stop riding. Fridays ride was just such a ride, a situation occured that week that I couldn't shift from my mind, and I played it over in my head again and again. Windsor Great Park is not a great place to be when you're riding badly, it's very open with no protection from the wind and I really suffered. It was the slowest ride I'd ever posted on that route, at the time I just couldn't care less, I wanted off the bike and now, the only thing keeping me going was the fact that if I stopped I'd never start again.

I'd love to be able to break this mental block and learn to keep my mind clear when riding. Until that point, its slow and miserable when an issue plays on my mind.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Well isn't this lovely

God damn it, poxy weather....

So it's gonna be like this all week then, wonderful. Theres nothing better than cycling to work and getting drenched, ow unless your lucky enough to experience a nice headwind. A combination of the two is my favourite.

Ok, so I'm lucky enough to have a shower at work so it doesn't really matter if I get wet or not, but I'd really rather not. The way the weather has been, I may as well ride to work with a bar of soap to save time....and this is England during a fucking drought! a DROUGHT

The commute is no longer enjoyable, its just nessecary. I had driving hail last Thursday through Windsor Great Park. This week I've gotten soaked every day either on route to or from work.

Tip of the Day: scrumple paper into your shoes to draw out the moisture. There are enough free papers milling about, you're bound to have a colleague somewhere that has one. Rob it, it really works.

Theres even a site to track the rain fall, oooww:

Monday, 2 April 2012

My Meon Valley Riser

Been looking forward to this event for months.....88 miles, breakfast, lunch, Torq stocked feed stations, the Meon Valley all for £23, what more could you possibly want?...well nothing as it turns out, except perhaps a little more power.....

I've never ridden this distance before and not even close for the last few years. The furthest I have ridden is 60 miles, which I'd done previously in around 4hrs 30mins, nothing spectacular but I never used to ride regularly back then.

I was riding with my buddy from work 'Coops' who'd recently got back from a training holiday in Majorca. I had a plan in my head of how the ride would pan out and I planned to stick to it as well as I could. My plan was to stick with Coops all the way to 60 miles before his superior stamina and ability showed and off he'd go to claim a good time as I'd struggle to complete the last 20.

As plans rarely go to erm plan, this was no exception to that rule....

On the morning of the 01/04 it was freezing, well -01 in places on the drive down. It was fairly apparent at registration, the hardest part of the morning would be deciding on how many layers to wear. Over the complimentary coffee and porridge and having watched those around me I'd decided to wear everything I'd bought with me, down to the skull cap and the winter boots, it really was that cold. This could have posed a problem later on but it didn't look to be getting warmer any time soon.

There wasn't a huge amount of entrants on the Riser, at a guess I'd assume 300 at best. Looking around at the bikes/riders at registration, the theme of the day was carbon and lycra, this was bound to be a fast ride. I wondered how I'd fare in such company......

Start time was a fairly laid back affair, we were due to be set off in groups of 30 but we seemed to be let go in dribs and drabs, simply roll to the start line and off you go, happy days.

Much to my annoyance it became apparent within the first 5 miles that I wasn't the fittest I could have been and more importantly Coops was riding well and well beyond my capability, I couldn't hold his pace on the flat let alone the ascents. There were a few small climbs in the first 10 miles and I was really suffering, my plan of hanging on for 60 miles was looking particularly bleak. To Coops credit he did offer to lower the pace for my struggling ass. I asked him to keep the pace as was as I realised he wanted a good time and my pride wasn't willing to drop off the pace quite so soon, selfish I know.

The first food stop came as scheduled at the 21 mile point, I murdered a banana, filled my bottle with Torq powered and water and had an energy shot, 'sorted'. Off we went having been stationary for about 5 mins. I was suffering with the pace and a few fast groups had passed us, I could sense Coops wanting to jump on the back to tow a ride but I literally couldn't hold the pace let alone push it. Before the 44 mile point a the route split in two, the shorter 44 mile option and the longer 83, I signed up for the 83 and I would finish it, anything else would be failure....

Thankfully a fast group came past us and we jumped on the back (that energy gel had kicked in at this point), this was all good and well on the flat until the lay of the land pointed skyward.....the bunch split and Coops was gone with the fast guys. Right this was damage limitation mode now, I couldn't hold Coops pace and it was unfair asking him to hold mine, time to ride alone and get in some good miles at my own pace. Thankfully this was a welcome relief as I was really struggling.

Riders came and went, I was faster than some and slower than others, I rode a large part of the course alone at a good steady pace. I was feeling uneasy knowing I'd never ridden the distance and not knowing what pace I could push and for how long. I felt if I could get to 60 miles then I could manage the distance, I split the ride into smaller mileage segments as looking at the Garmin reading 44, 45, 46 miles was killing me.

The course was brilliant and beautiful and riding at my own pace allowed me to enjoy the surroundings and take in the this point finishing was my only goal. I didn't think I be seeing Coops again until the finish. I managed to hook onto the back of 2 riders pushing a decent pace but more importantly a pace I could hold, I followed these guys from around the 50 mile point to the last feed station at 63 miles. To my astonishment Coops was at the feed station, he'd been there 10 mins having hit a wall at the last hill. This made my day, not the fact that he was struggling but more because my solo pace clearly wasn't too bad, seems the commuting fitness had paid off after all. Coops disappeared to chase a time and I sat stuffing flapjacks and gummy bears into my face, heaven.

'Right, I can do this', as I sat there I saw so many fit riders with bikes 3 times the cost of mine, knowing that they'd be struggling and that I was in front on the road made me feel good and gave me a real boost for the ride to the finish. The event organisers mentioned a 'sting in the tail' at 79 miles and this was constantly in the back of my mind, unknown territory for me this mileage, I started counting down from 20 the miles from 63 to 83. As I said before the course was brilliant and beautiful and the marking clear and concise. I rode the last 20 at my own pace and hoped I may just be able to hang on to a 'silver medal time'.

The sting in the tail came, I had to stop at the foot of the hill as both my legs had seized due to cramp, bike in the bushes and 2 minutes of stretching followed and off I went. Parts of the gradient reached 18% which oddly was barely noticable, once at the top the ride to the finish was stunning and fast with views of the ocean from the top of the valley.

My finishing time was 5hr's 33min and Silver (just), I finished 7 minutes behind Coops. Proper chuffed with that. What an event and what a route. I'd recommend this ride to anyone considering doing a larger mileage sportive without the fear of the century ride or in preperation for it.

All that was left now was to grab a coffee from Claud the Butler and sit in the sunshine and reflect on the day.

Event website

Photography website