Tuesday 28 February 2012

5 rings

There was quite a crowd in the park this evening, enjoying the Spring-like weather and something moored in the Thames...

I went on to take two scalps in the silly commuting race on Lower Thames Street, one on a fixed and the other on a white Cannondale (who jumps red lights and gives cyclists a bad name).

Sunday 26 February 2012

Choices, choices, choices

I couldn't decide which bicycle to take for a spin, so flipped a coin and chose the Wilier. 

There was an option of doing the CC Luton reliability ride today but I decided to go out by myself on one of my training routes and compare my performance with last year. The route is 64 miles with 3,300 feet of climbing.

Today, I averaged an ok 17.5mph.  My heart rate averaged 134bpm with a maximum 158bpm.  Looking back at my Garmin stats when I completed the same route in early 2011 at about the same speed, my average heart rate was 137bpm with a maximum of about the same, so I think I'm a little fitter than this time last year. 

Stats for the week:
  • Weight loss - 3lbs
  • Commutes - 4
  • Scalps lost - 1, as my wife beat me on our family mountain bike ride on Saturday :-(
  • Total road miles - 85

Wednesday 22 February 2012


I unintentionally forgot to put my cycle helmet on this morning and it felt alien cycling along without it.  Clearly I won't give up wearing a helmet for Lent, but what?

Last year I went without bread and it probably helped me with the diet ahead of the TMMB sportive but this year I have decided to give up... spending money on cycle related upgrades until Easter.

Instead I'll do more riding up grades as the great Eddie Merckx allegedly recommended

Superb t-shirts available from Laek House.

One of my work colleagues pointed out that (for Catholics) Lent doesn't apply on Sundays or St.Paddy's day.  So if I get cold turkey then I have a get out clause.

Tuesday 21 February 2012

Commuting with a smile

No train problems, sunshine, London fashion week, my legs are feeling good, I'm back on my own Brompton and  I arrived in London a little later than normal - all adds up to a great commute today...

My commuting route navigates by the old Billingsgate market, currently the venue for many of the London fashion shows.  It was fun dodging around the young ladies wearing their short designer labels ;-)
The Beefeaters gave me a nod of appreciation for walking through the Tower. I shall try to get one of them to sit on my Brompton and pose for a photograph one morning.
Further along my route I spotted another Brompton owner in the King Edward VII memorial park. He was sat on one of the benches overlooking the Thames presumably planning his day whilst smoking a pipe. Quite a rare sight nowadays and it raised another smile.

In the same park an Oriental man was unloading his bicycle at the small pavilion. He'd already set up his CD player and a mat and was preparing to do some form of Tai-Chi using a long pole.

Then to complete a perfect morning commute I got any easy tow down the North Colonade in Canary Wharf from another cyclist; a fat man wearing a suit.  Big grins.

No scalps lost and five taken.

P.S. What should I give up for lent?

Sunday 19 February 2012

Must be serious - no coffee stop

My training has moved up a gear; 2 commutes, 1 lunchtime road ride and a Reliability ride completed during the week.  Total mileage 127.

The Beds road club reliability ride was as popular as ever and the sign-on queue was out of the door when I arrived.  I paid my £2 and started the ride feeling strong, passing a few riders on the road to Ireland until I caught a group of 8, mostly from CC Luton.  I stuck with this group for the ride sweeping up a few others and overcame the urge to stop at the cafes en route. 

With the 12 miles to the start and then back, I banked a good 88 miles today.  My legs felt better than I expected but my shoulders were aching by the time I got home.  I need to lose some weight off my head :-)

Training plan underway and if I can stick to a diet to lose 1lb a week then I'll feel more confident of completing l'Ardechoise.

Saturday 18 February 2012

Support for the underdog

I watched the highlights of the London track world cup and the GB women sprinters and pursuit riders were fabulous, but the star of the show was the Uganda kilo cyclist, Patrick Lawino.

Cycling Uganda have a great blog - http://cyclinguganda.blogspot.com/

Watching Patrick and reading about his goals brings back memories of Eddie the Eagle and the Jamaica bobsled team

I'm guilty of not participating in racing in the past because I felt I'd make a fool of myself, but Patrick is a great example of someone with a dream, wanting to participate regardless of coming last and he gets my support.

Wednesday 15 February 2012

More inches make a difference

Confirmation that the Brompton S2L was a handicap at the BWC. I was lent a P6R by my local Brompton dealership and the longer gear inches offered by the Sturmey Archer hub helped me achieve a new personal best time in the silly commute race today.

I'm in a dilema now. Aiming for a top 50 placing this August, should I modify my S2L or sell it to buy a new version?

I think I'm going to embark on a journey of modifying it.

Monday 13 February 2012

Bicycles are the new sports motorbikes/cars

I have owned both and (whilst I'm not sure I have got them out of my system entirely) bicycles are more appealing to me.  Today the BMC MC01 29er town bike caught my eye, but coffee came out of my nose when I saw the price. £4,499.99!!  This is clearly being marketed at the Swiss high net worth individual - who's sold his or her Ducati/Porsche.

Sunday 12 February 2012

Mountain biking

With only 22 mile commuting miles and one turbo trainer session this week, I needed to get out on a bike.  The mercury didn't get above -1 yesterday and reports of -10 overnight worried me about the condition of the roads so mountain biking was the obvious option.

I pumped the tyres up on my Marin Wolf Ridge (bought new in 2002) and took to the local bridleways accompanied by my 10 year old son riding his Trek Liquid 10.

Despite some of the local woods being developed for the forthcoming Center Parc there are still lots of excellent trails near my home. We did a short circular route choosing to return home earlier than planned when I lost the feeling in my fingers - retrospectively the Assos early winter gloves were an unwise choice for the temperature.

Mountain biking was my passion for many years, mostly cross country (and a taster of downhill in Courcheval in 2005) but in 2007 my interest in road biking was rekindled when I rode the 187km London to Canterbury stage of the Tour de France.

As well as the Marin, I have also got a 2002 Airborne Lucky Strike  titanium-frame hardtail which has undergone a few upgrades and with a few further planned.  If this cold weather continues then I think both of my mountain bikes are likely to see more use.

Thursday 9 February 2012

Snow stops play

Countdown to l'Ardechoise:
  • 18 weeks
  • Weight to lose - lots!
  • Longest ride completed year to date - not nearly enough
  • Average speed - optimistically improving
  • Training plan - still not established
  • Registered for any organised sportives - no
  • Group rides - none
On the positive side: the Brompton commutes are getting faster (but only two this week), I still haven't lost a scalp in the Silly Commute Racing, my legs are beginning to feel stronger and head rush is getting more frequent.

Sunday 5 February 2012

Going nowhere

Only 33 miles on the Brompton this week and zero miles on a road bike. My mileage has been going down each week and the dieting isn't going too well either.  I need a training plan.

I bought a turbo trainer in 2008 to help me train for the Etape du Tour and I blew the cobwebs off it today.  There is nothing more boring than training in the garage, but with several inches of snow on the ground and freezing temperatures it was either that or mountain biking and the CycleOps was easier to get to in my cluttered garage.

My training routine is pretty basic; I warm up at a high cadence in an easy gear, go through a series of intervals, cool down with a fast spin on an easy gear and then finish with some stretching. I use my Garmin with the chest strap to monitor my heartrate and cadence. 

I realise there are some great looking screen-based training programmes and videos like the Sufferfest available but they are useless for me as I am short sighted and my glasses get steamed up and covered in sweat so I generally take them off. I'd need a 40" plasma screen in the garage just to see what I was supposed to be following.  Instead, I resort to listening to my iPod to help make the time pass.

I used my Wilier Izoard on the turbo today after swapping to an old (Schwalbe Ultremo) tyre on the rear wheel.  Whilst re-fitting the wheel I noticed that the bike's cable outers are beginning to crack.  They are Shimano Dura-Ace and I guess about 3 years old.  I will probably replace them with the Jagwire Racer cables but I can't decide on what colour outers to go for.  Changing the brake cables will also require fitting new handlebar tape and maybe I'll use it as an opportunity to try something other than Fizik.

Friday 3 February 2012

Where to stay?

I watched Ridley Scott's film 'A Good Year' this week and it brought back great memories of 2010 and cycling along beautifully smooth roads lined by plane trees near Uzes in the Languedoc region of France.  My base for a week was a rented villa (sadly not like Russell Crowe's chateau) in the small market town of St. Quentin la Poterie.

Last year, whilst in France to race the Time Megeve Mont Blanc sportive, I stayed at the luxurious Chalet Apassion owned by my friends Rob and Vicky.  Whilst there I also 'ticked off' the Col de Joux-Plane and found a great circular route over the climb to Morzine and back to the chalet across the valley.  Normally I wouldn't consider re-riding a climb as there are so many others I'd like to achieve, but the mountains, the smooth roads and especially the chalet are so good I definitely intend to return, perhaps to watch the Dauphine Libere again.

Finding good accommodation can sometimes be a challenge especially when thousands of other cyclists are also trying to do the logistics for the same sportive.  The Ardechoise sportive is expecting 13,000 cyclists to participate!

Has anyone got any recommendations for accommodation in the Valence area?