5 Ferries Spring


This weekend seem to go past quite quickly. Saturday morning I was up early to get the first train from Glasgow down to the ferry at Ardrossan.

 Getting tickets i was advised that I MAY NOT get on the ferry it was that full.  I hurried to join the queue going onto the ferry and I was greeted by possibly 60 to 70 other cyclists also enjoying the good weather we’ve been having and planning either a circuit of Arran or a loop of some sort.

As I strap my bike to the side of the hold I have a tap on the shoulder to turn round to see my friend stuart who is dragging some friends around on the charity ride –  he was also doing the five ferry challenge.


I did this ride last September at that time I was on my steel Mercian touring bike this time I had my Ti bride with me Lynskey Cooper – today was going to be quicker

First off I wasn’t sure if it would make the 2nd ferry which leaves from the Lochranza and goes across to the Argyll peninsula 11:50am so I bomb off head down I arrived with time to kill as ferry is only 12:05. Had a chance to see a campervan a large Winnebago type trying to exit the ferry and scraping half of the tail off on the ramp.

Stuart and the rest of his colleagues had caught up at this time so we all joined the 2nd ferry together. On the other side I noticed that one of his colleagues had his saddle about 3 inches too low – hideous leg angle and I was worried about the knee pain that he was sure to have a week later so I just had to adjust his saddle for him. We then proceeded to catch up the rest who were a stint up the road.

The weather was pretty incredible (for Scotland at least) 9-15C –  it seemed to be a type S europe enjoy for most of the year but for us it was rare I stayed with the group for all of the ferries and all the chat. Fore some uphills and sections I would occasionally shoot off ahead just to burn off some steam or to stay warm.

Sad it is over 

 By the time I got back to Glasgow it was evening but what a great day out on the bike.

Advertisements

my 3rd etape Caledonia


I feel like i have done this event now – my first year was 2014 and the weather was fine and last year was in the pouring rain and howling wind and yet I was finished in nearly the same time.

This year I trained more and went on more rides and with good weather forecast I was hoping to smash my time.

But it my girlfriends mums 60th and a big house was rented and fine food booze and food was consumed. To top this off I left late in the morning to drive up and was stuck in traffic going to event parking when i should have been at the start line getting ready to head off.

Screenshot 2016-05-10 20.03.11

the course is a good one with 130km of riding around a pretty loch and then a wee ascent (about 1200m in all over the course)

6:30am and the elite and VIP’s head off. I should have started in Wave A with the faster boys but by the time I made the start wave C was heading off so for the first 20mile I was completely solo hoping to find a small group that was going faster and I could work with.

NO SUCH LUCK

Until a man caught up – he had punctured at mile 2 and had lost everyone so we worked together for a good hour. At one stage 4/5 people were tagged on behind but only we two were taking turns at the front so he drifted back and I heard him yell ‘I don’t mind you guys taking the wheel but take a f***** turn a the front’ 

That caused all but one to drop off and that person definitely took his turn from then on in.

Just before the climb I recognised my friend Carla who had started on time (8min in front of me) and we said hello and then the climb up Schiehallion started. I took this easy as I had been working pretty hard up to this point (in fact my slowest ascent of the 3 times)

The downhill was as lovely as ever …. and then into the back of a big group around Fortingall on the narrow singletrack road. The wind was unseasonal and Easterly so the last leg was into the wind but i was quite sheltered in a large group of 30 – never really making it up through the bunch to make a turn at the front.

Screenshot 2016-05-10 21.46.13

The thing about groups like this is that my speed is so much higher than normal with the massive slipstream benefit and after all my solo rides this year the time (miles) passed quickly.

Screenshot 2016-05-10 19.56.37

Average speed 33.6kmh (imperial says nearly 21mph) average.

Screenshot 2016-05-10 21.52.12

so my best time but not the sub 3h50/3h45 i was hoping for.

At the end a medal and a text with my finish time according to the tag on the bike ….FcertA4.tmpl-347-YRNJ

Etape Royale next – 100miles ….

 

Stepping up the miles


I have been doing more miles on the bike this year than i normally do

Screenshot 2016-04-26 13.01.07.png

I am nearly 1000km up on where i was at this time last year. I also have been a bit more focused on riding rather than my other loves of kitesurfing, swimming and running.

The end result is that I am doing between 1 and 2  100km rides a week and they are beginning to feel easy.

Screenshot 2016-04-26 15.01.01.png

This morning I headed west into a 15mph wind on a gravel towpath and then around an exposed headland with nary a thought about the wind. Sure I felt it but i just thought ‘more resistance then’ which I think is a positive.

Screenshot 2016-04-26 20.15.26.png

It wasnt the hilliest route but even after 80km I was tootling along then came home to discover i had knocked off an impressive 56 Strava trophies – most of them PR’s for sections as well as a mysterious top 10 placing and all this with an average Heart Rate of 121bpm (in my fat burn / low cardio zone)

Screenshot 2016-04-26 12.57.25.png
So then i thought i really should be cycling either quicker or longer or BOTH. So my next challenge …….

There comes a time for most road riders and this includes me, where you focus on the 100-mile (160.93km) target. This can be in the shape of a sportive, club ride or a personal challenge, alone or with a group.

For some, 100 miles is no big deal, just something they do every Sunday. For others it can be the single biggest physical challenge they will ever undertake on a bike. For me it is something I have never done but feel that i am nearly ready to do it. The precursor to this is the eTape Caledonia in a fortnight,  an 82 mile ride sportive done at a much higher pace with no stopping.

From Cycling Weekly – Many cyclists, however, fall somewhere between the two and may already be comfortable with 50-60 mile rides but are eyeing the triple-figured milestone for their next achievement.

Just how big is the jump from 60 to 100 miles? How will you know if it’ll be a cakewalk or a frustrating grovel ending in a miserable train journey back home?

Let’s take a look at the factors that come into play with the extended mileage and see how best to prepare for 100 miles so you can undertake that distance with a realistic chance of it being an enjoyable and achievable target.

We’ve split it up into five sections, which we think need to be nailed in order to smash the 100-mile barrier. So let’s start with the biggie: training.

Pondering the big one? Start training today!

1 – Train!

The physical aspect of training is usually the most common focus for people with a new goal or challenge, and many folks will think that riding as much as possible in the two weeks leading up to the big ride is sufficient. This isn’t the best approach though, and what we need to do is ‘train smarter’.

This doesn’t mean we are striving for marginal gains like the GB squad; it means that we should be looking to maximise our training so that we are doing the right things at the right times.

Cycling Weekly Box Hill sportive 2014

 

If you are regularly riding 50-60 miles then that is already a great start; you could probably get through a century ride without too much bother, although you could be far better prepared if you have gradually increased your riding time and distance on your training rides.

Remember, to do the 100, you don’t need to be training by doing 100 miles all the time — 75-80 per cent is ample preparation without adding excessive volume.

  • Your physical training should take into account the following points:
    Specificity: Is your 100-mile ride going to be hilly? Then ride hills on your 60-milers! Some riders really struggle on the climbs. If you are one of them then make sure you are addressing them in your training. In many cases, 100 flat miles can seem very easy and very different when compared to a hilly 60 or 70.
  • Saddle time: Try and focus more on the time in the saddle without stopping, rather than miles covered on your training rides. Try riding at a lower intensity and see if you can stick it out for longer. If your average speed over three hours is 15mph, do you think you can hold it for over six hours? If you can comfortably ride your bike for 4-4.5 hours, then you are in a good place to think about the century.
  • Rest: This is so important. Include active recovery in your training weeks and make sure you are resting properly. Keep the legs turning in the week leading up to the big ride, but don’t do anything that will make you excessively tired.

Read more at http://www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/fitness/training/five-invaluable-tips-to-help-you-step-up-from-riding-60-to-100-miles-170890#h3Z75lQPY2WLY6f9.99

2 – Effort levels

Whether you are riding an individual pursuit over 4km or a whole Grand Tour, pacing your effort will be of maximum importance.

For 100 miles, you will want to make sure you don’t use up all your energy too early and struggle badly in the last third of the ride. You can use a simple speedometer to gauge an average speed which you know you are comfortable with, or a heart rate monitor to keep around a particular BPM, or even old-fashioned perceived exertion — simply going by feel.

>>> Build your strength and big gear efforts

However you pace yourself, it’s a good idea to also have a psychological pacing strategy, such as waypoints you think you should be at during particular times. For example: “I should be at the sharp climb at 40 miles in 150 minutes.” You can adjust your effort to ensure that you avoid blowing up too early, but that you also aren’t dawdling unnecessarily and missing out on a faster time.

Fitness

3 – Getting in the zone

We all know how powerful the mind can be, and how it can affect performance both positively and negatively. If you are riding 100 miles alone, the mind can be a helpful ally, or a destructive pest. We want to enjoy our ride, so learning during training how to disassociate ourselves from feelings of discomfort is a useful skill.

Try to focus on other things, like the scenery, your pedalling technique, or holding an aerodynamic position. The small ‘process goals’ of each waypoint within your pacing strategy will also help to break down the ride in your head into more manageable sections.

Remember, no matter how demoralising the weather, the hills or the headwinds might be, think about how amazing you will feel at the end of the ride, and always look ahead, up the road to where things will be changing.

Nutrition

4 – Fuelling

How you approach your nutrition both before and during the ride can be the difference between a great performance and a trip to A&E.

How you refuel afterwards can also be a factor, which will have a huge influence on your general health and your future riding plans.

Nutrition tips
Before: The day before your 100-miler needs to be seriously considered — this is where the ride actually starts. You may have heard of ‘carb loading’ but the simplest advice here is to make sure you take on a healthy, balanced meal with fresh vegetables and low glycaemic index carbs. It’s also worth considering a bowl of cereal two hours before bed as a booster.

Leave off the alcohol or fizzy pop, and drink plenty of water. In the morning, go for the cereal and fruit, and drink at least 500ml of water before you set out.

During: Avoid taking on a whole bunch of energy gels; these are mostly designed to help riders through the last few demanding kilometres of a road race.

You might want to take along something with caffeine and sugar just in case, but don’t be tempted to break into this unless you are getting really fatigued and have already covered a good distance. All you really need is adequate carbohydrate to fuel from. An average sized cereal bar of about 30 grams for every 45-60 minutes of riding is ideal. Take along some bananas too.

Don’t forget to keep eating! A critical stumbling point for many riders is the inability to fuel while riding, so make sure you are able to take a drink from a bottle whenever you need to.

When drinking, tilt the bottle up and to the side to avoid tilting your head (so you can still look where you’re going) and keep your food to hand in jersey pockets. You will need around 500ml of water per hour (more if it’s very hot and you are losing it through sweat). And to help replenish the lost minerals, your second bottle should contain a small amount of an additive which contains electrolytes. Go for the powders that are aimed at hydration rather than energy. Don’t try anything you haven’t already used and are happy with — the big ride isn’t the one for experimenting with nutrition and hydration.

>>> Six steps for healthier eating

After: Your muscles need glycogen now, so this is the time for fruit juice or a purpose made recovery shake. Get those sugars in within 20 minutes —even ‘bad’ sugars like fizzy drinks and sweets (in moderation) can help at this point. Remember to keep hydrating and sit down to a decent meal containing some good protein within about an hour.

Bike fit

5 – Bike fit

When you are on the bike for several hours, little imperfections in position or fit can evolve into very major issues. If you have any niggles or particular localised discomfort during your normal rides, then it pays to get these seen to before the century ride.

A professional bike-fit can improve comfort and performance, while reducing fatigue and the risk of injury. It’s not just how the bike fits you though — how you fit yourself to the bike also matters.

What we are talking about here is your ability to hold your position, your pedalling efficiency and flexibility.

>>> Cleats explained: how to set them up correctly

Check out the pros with their slightly bent elbows and stable upper body, their flat backs and aerodynamic positions. OK, you might not be able to emulate them immediately, but you will probably be able to improve your current position with a few tweaks and off-bike exercises and stretches.

Get advice from a physio if needed, and make sure that you don’t attempt the big ride without properly testing new positions or bike parts beforehand.
Read more at http://www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/fitness/training/five-invaluable-tips-to-help-you-step-up-from-riding-60-to-100-miles-170890#h3Z75lQPY2WLY6f9.99

La weekend


Friday decided not to work and packed the pouring bike for a ride – a jolly ramble with camera, lunch, spare clothes etc.

Screenshot 2016-03-21 09.32.53

not the nicest day – and weather was close cold and misty BUT I was on the bike and had a good ride. Does pass up from aberfoyle and at the other side decided not to carry on to Callandar and instead returned along my route ….

2016-03-18 11.59.26

One of my longer rides as i rarely go more that 100km and also on the bike which i weighed on my return at 25kg … ouch. Will need to take this into account when planning my touring. Epsom salt bath on my return.

Sunday – my friend Jim called to suggest an early ride Sunday am. He has limited time now after his wife passed away 6months ago and with the two girls watching Sun morning telly he had a gap of 2 hours … so my him at his place 8:30am on what can only be described as a peach of a day. Over the Crow north I thought my fork had too much play – think the shop didn’t quite tighten it enough … so quick change and back to the top heading South

2016-03-20 09.54.26

my legs felt good so gave it some welly both sides of the crow but still 2 min down on my best times …. 2016-03-20 09.58.39

Jim was just happy at being out. Coming down the other side we are pelting along 50kmh+ when i hear jim shout ‘SHEEEEEEEPPPPP’ … brake hard … these most intelligent animals wait until you are 20ft away before dashing across the road. Past the corner speeding up and I see yet more Wooly Jumpers on suicide missions (actually more kamikaze as we would be killed) so descent is much more sedate than normal.

Screenshot 2016-03-21 09.47.50

 

Screenshot 2016-03-21 09.32.24

Fork that was close


So I have been running Conti GP4000s tyres in 25mm size on my road bike and i am completely sold on the idea of this size tyre over my old 23mm. BUT and like my ex-wife it’s a big but …. the tyre picked up grit and stones and i could hear it grinding away at the fork. So finally pulled the plug on a larger fork (clearance) which had good reviews.

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 11.56.58.png

and took to the bike shop to cut to size. I picked up and was going to donate my old fork to another rider in need but the bike shop mechanic showed me the old fork – really worn in the crown and the carbon on the stereo starting to delaminate ….eeek not a thought to have doing 75kmh down hills with.

2016-03-08 14.50.41.jpg

but fork in place and weight still the same 8kg ….

2016-03-08 14.49.17.jpg

Fred Whitton Training Ride


FW-banner-home-page.jpg

Now the Fred Whitton Challenge is CRAZY ….

110 miles with over 3200m of climbing …. The Fred Whitton Challenge is a gruelling 112 mile sportive challenge ride for charity around the Lake District, run in memory of Fred Whitton. From 2014 it starts & finishes in Grasmere, and the route includes the climbs of Kirkstone, Honister, Newlands, Whinlatter, Hardknott & Wrynose passes. MORE HERE

So someone from the meetup group is doing the ride and wanted to do a ride where she could practise some hills ….. so Sunday morning is cold and sunny and COLD …. did I mention cold.

We head off and temp on the Garmin already says -3.4C ouch – my face is feeling battered from the cold. The plan is to do the tak-ma-doon and Crow road loop

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 13.12.43.png

but as we get to the Tak we encounter the climb and a lot of Black Ice on the road. Downhill could be deadly … so we climb to the top grab a breather then decide to descend to the golf course where the black ice patches thin out … and ascend again. At the top of the tak we could look down for miles at the clearing mist and freezing fog.

IMG_8864.JPGIMG_8866.JPG

then on for a slow descent to the north side a river ford where one person took a tumble on ice at the edge, stood up and fell over again …

Down the long bumpy carron valley road to the Crow – again a puncture halted proceedings ….

IMG_8868.JPG

i got to admire the road (still bumpy)

IMG_8870.JPG

and also find the puncture that Andy couldn’t and look at my nice clean tights … IMG_8872.JPG

Bike filthy man filthy ….

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 12.58.26.png

then the weather is so cold that the Edge 510 dies closer to home …. legs tired ….good spring ride.

 

A good week despite the weather


Last week the work commitments cleared even if the weather didn’t. Chose to run when the weather was at its worst but then parts of the late week looked peachy if cold.

THURSDAY

Went out for a ride on the beautiful Mercian steel tourer. I have been reading articles about whether it was better to load some of the weight rando style into the front panniers which lowers the CoG (centre of Gravity) opposed to rear. Now the forks on the Mercian have a decent rake and it responds well to the front being loaded.

2016-02-11 11.11.29

For longer tours I would load all 4 but this was a test shake out with medium load for short tours.

 

mercian lomond-5
frost steel and cold hands

 

So off I went on cold 2C morning with frosty canal paths. The bike handled well and I relaxed into the ride – most of the time on the Lynskey road bike I have half my eye on the stats on the GPS and find myself getting uptight when the average speed drops below 27kph. Stopped at loch lomond for a pic of Ben lomond over the water covered in snow …This was far more sedate winding my way up to loch lomond then looping out to Helensburgh.

mercian lomond-6

This was far more sedate winding my way up to loch lomond then looping out to Helensburgh.

Screenshot 2016-02-18 11.29.17

Friday was a short 7.5km run but Saturday was mixed with a break in the weather forecast.

SATURDAY

Munro Bagging and Ben Ledi was in my sights but even on the drive up to Callander it looked like I got the weather a bit wrong.

failed ben ledi-1

A bit too much snow on the hill for no crampons – and visibility was a bit short at the top – and there are too many cases of walkers going missing for me to be a knob about having to do it …. This weekend alone 2 of 3 elderly walkers caught out have died in hospital and a young couple on a valentines trip are feared dead and possibly buried by an avalanche in the Ben Nevis range. So a sedate 12km walk around the woods near the base was good enough for us – still got to blame my better half for the weather as every time she comes with me to climb the weather sets in …

SUNDAY

Back to Glasgow and out for a ride on my other road bike (one neglected could get jealous)

Over the crow road my normal trip / training ride. Again pretty cold but the Rapha Pro Team jacket I bought has been absolutely fantastic this past winter. In fact, when the temp is above 8C, I think it may be too hot to wear.

Rapha-Pro-Team-Jacket-AW14

They are expensive but so far it has been worth every penny. The only missing chink so far are my gloves – have a very wintry Sealskins MTB pair and then the next are more summer long fingered so getting cold hands if I don’t opt for Sealskins…..

Back to the ride – it was one of those rare perfect wintry days.

 

2016-02-14 11.20.47
snow on the Campsies

 

And the Crow road actually had snow and slush all over it once you cleared the car park on the bend. But still I mad a new friend at the top even if they weren’t very chatty.

2016-02-14 12.12.26

Was very peaceful at the top …

2016-02-14 12.13.11

So another ride in and gradually building up the miles – this work business definitely getting in the way of play.

 

Screenshot 2016-02-18 10.58.39
The crow ride as told in pretty colours