Progress

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I started cycling again last May.  Started off with the occasional ride to work (9 miles round trip) and the odd fun ride of 6-10 miles.  These rides got more and more frequent until the beginning of October 2012 when I upgraded from the old hack bike to a shiny new road bike.

I looked up Strava today and my first ride to work was recorded on 23/05/12 http://app.strava.com/activities/9147357

I remember reaching work with jelly legs and was seeing spots behind my eyes.  All this with an average speed on 10.1mph / top speed of 19.4mph and an elevation of 73ft – hardly pro-cycling stats 😉

I don’t go out and properly train, not to any real standard anyway, I push myself from time to time, you know the sort of thing?  Perhaps I’ll keep the power down a little longer than is comfortable or on a hill I’ll hammer it for as long as I can before my lungs burst.  Nothing structured and nothing that will get me a ride in a peleton.  I did do a bit of turbo training in Dec / Jan as the weather here in Scotland was just shocking.  I do though cycle to work just about every day.  When I manage to get to bed early I often get up at 5am so I can take a longer route into work, typically 10 to 23 miles.

I have though felt some really great progress doing this.  I recently completed a challenge on Strava to ride for 30 hours in 16 days.  Sounds easy?  It wasn’t.  Trying to fit the hours was a strain but I really enjoyed it.  In the last couple of days I put in some serious miles and time and had some great rides.  I did feel tired at the end of it but from feeling wobbly after 4 odd miles to completing 70 odd miles on a mountain bike over some real challenging hills shows that progress.

It was todays ride into work that made me think of that http://app.strava.com/activities/70918879

This ride was done on the 29er and I managed an average speed of 16.1 mph and a top speed of 25.7mph.  Yes I had a good bit of breathing going but nothing too drastic.  Got to work, had a shower and started work feeling refreshed and alive.  A stark contrast to that first ride into work.

Guess all I’m trying to say is enjoy it and you’ll get better, which in turn helps you enjoy it more – it’s a win win

Ride Safe

 

 

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Numpties

I’m quite lucky in that I don’t have to cycle about in a big city, that just looks crazy.  There are though so many cars on the roads and people are just in a hurry to get where they are going.  I have noticed a real drop in peoples patience levels on a Friday afternoon.

I was knocked of a bike when I was 16 years old.  A guy ran a red light and took me out.  Someone who witnessed it said that I kind of climbed the frame of the bike and jumped! Thank goodness I did because my bike was bent in half and written off.  It was an Elswick Hopper and I loved it.

Thankfully I haven’t been involved in another collision but every week there are close passes, drivers barging their way through coz “it’s only a bike”.  What’s wrong with these people?  I really would like to see more awareness campaigns to teach people how to co-exist on the roads.  Now I’m not purely pointing at car drivers, there are some bad cyclists out there as well.  For me it’s simple, just respect the other road users no matter what they are, cyclists, cars, trucks, pedestrians, the roads are a space we all use and they are filled with danger and the unexpected.

I have started using a Contour Roam 2 video camera and I have far more good footage than footage involving anything nasty.  Hopefully I am never in the situation I need to use it for evidence but it’s there just in case.  I’m not a confrontational person so I’m more likely to avoid a situation but there are some real nutters out there, road rage is a real bad thing!

I have though edited a couple of videos together that show a couple of numpties who seem oblivious that I’m there.  I find it hard to believe as I’m usually dressed pretty brightly.

I’m guessing the truck driver just mis-judged my speed but I’m not sure what that pedestrian was doing, I was sure she had looked right at me and then crossed the road anyway.

Thankfully nobody was hurt but keep your eyes peeled people, please

Evans Ride It – Muckle Toon Adventure Festival

Back in December I decided to enter my first Sportive.  I opted for a 60 mile course organised by Evans http://www.evanscycles.com/ride-it which was part of the Muckle Toon Adventure Festival http://www.muckletoonadventurefestival.co.uk/.  My ride would take place on the Sunday 19th May but there was stuff happening throughout the weekend 17th – 19th.  So as a family we thought why not make a weekend of it?

We arrived on the Friday in lovely sunshine and sussed out our B&B.  It had a great view (see below) and was just a mile or so away from the event venue.

langholm bandb

 

On the Friday night we went along to support the riders taking part in the Hill Climb competition which was great fun.  The hill that they were climbing would be one of the final descents on the sportive course I would be riding on the Sunday and part of an easy couple of  miles back to base after some good climbing which peaked at 21% at one point.

On the Saturday the heavens opened up, just in time for the Mountain Bike ride.  Again we walked down to the event venue and shouted some support at the brave souls who were covered head to toe in mud.  The event venue itself was good (Rugby Club) with good representation from people like High 5 etc.  It’s just a shame it was so wet.  Despite the weather everyone involved in running the event, from Evans themselves to the Muckle makers were all helpful, cheery and genuinely welcoming, well done guys!

Sunday eventually came and the weather improved slightly, still a bit damp but not too bad.  I made my way to registration where I signed in and collected a hired Garmin 800 which I had booked for free.  After dropping the included High 5 Race pack back at the car I made a start.  I set off on my own at a steady pace and was cheered by a crowd of locals who had gathered at the bridge.  Think I was grinning like a kid at this point, real nice touch so many people showing their support.

For 25 miles lots of riders passed me but I also passed lots of others, just didn’t find a group to settle in with.  All this way there was one rider behind me who always stayed at the same distance.  Stopping at the first feed station another rider with the same bike as mine started talking to me and it turns out that this was the guy who had been behind me for the 25 miles.   After a drink and a banana we set off together.

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Having a bit of company made  the rest of the ride far more enjoyable.  Ability wise we were pretty much on a par, he was a better descender than me but I could climb a bit better.  The rest of the ride was great fun but we did have a bit of apprehension as we approached the final 9 miles which included some good climbing.  During the 60 miles we would manage over 4600 feet of climbing.

Here is a link to the course on Strava http://app.strava.com/activities/55063228

We managed the climbs and the last few miles were a welcome sight when we passed a sign that said “no more pedalling”.  5 hours 29 minutes after setting off we were back at base camp.  As this was my first sportive I felt a real sense of achievement, particularly as my longest ride before that had been 45 miles.

LS_0437 MTAF Sportive

 

 

Obviously we set no records in terms of speed, we just rode for fun and to enjoy it.  We had a really good moment when just starting on a little climb and a bunch of riders went past us like an express train, we both just burst out laughing.  Luckily enough the guy I rode with, Mike had a GoPro attached and captured the moment.  Video below

All in all it was a great weekend, well organised, excellent value and the people of Langholm really embraced the event and made everyone feel very welcome.  I for one will be back next year, question is should I do the MTB course as well?

Giant Defy 2

Giant Defy 2

 

My employer recently joined the Cycle to Work scheme and it looked like a good way to get my hands on a shiny new machine to replace the old Massi MTB.  After a fair bit of research I decided on a Giant Defy 2 from my local bike shop http://www.pedalpower.org.uk/.  Pedal Power in West Calder is an excellent bike shop, it’s on 3 floors and stocks everything you could need.  The guys in the store are knowledgeable and friendly and willing to spend time with you and help you make the right choice.

The reviews for this bike have been excellent both in magazines and from anyone who has owned one.  I have probably done 1000 miles on mine now and would agree with the reviews, it’s a great bike.  I have upgraded the wheels to Mavic Aksiums and I have changed the saddle to a Charge Spoon, again after reading so many positive reviews on that saddle.  I opted for Shimano PD-R540 SPD SL Sport Pedals and Shimano R087 Road Shoes.  Whether or not there has been a placebo effect I don’t know but the new wheels feel faster 🙂  The cassette is now a 12-28 instead of a 12-30 so I’ll need a bit more effort on really steep hills.

So, I’m very happy with the Defy, it does everything I want it to, it’s a good entry level bike that has a relaxed geometry and is comfortable over long rides.  Here are the original specs

Bike Specs

COMPONENTS

Handlebar Giant Sport 31.8
Stem Giant Sport
Seatpost Giant Sport
Saddle Giant Performance Road, Men’s
Pedals Caged w/ Clips

DRIVETRAIN

Shifters Shimano Tiagra, 20 speed
Front Derailleur Shimano Tiagra
Rear Derailleur Shimano Tiagra
Brakes Tektro TK-R340 Giant Specific, Dual Pivot
Brake Levers Shimano Tiagra
Cassette Shimano Tiagra 12×30
Chain Shimano Tiagra
Crankset FSA Omega, 34/50
Bottom Bracket FSA MegaExo

WHEELS

Rims Giant S-R2
Hubs Giant 32h
Spokes Black Stainless Steel
Tires Giant S-R4, Front and Rear specific, 700x23mm

Massi Trax

massi

The above bike is what got me back into cycling.  I had a crap Apollo full suspension bike that I had picked up cheap after working in Halfords for 5 weeks.  The Apollo just wasn’t doing it for me, probably as it was a little smaller than I should be riding so I took it to my local bike shop (which is no longer there any more) and asked him to swap for a second hand hardtail MTB.  The guy in the shop although really nice took about 8 months to come up with a bike for me.  Perhaps that explains why he gave up the shop?

Anyway, the Mass Trax which I got did the trick for a little while.  I was riding to work on it (9 mile round trip) and doing little pleasure rides both on and off road.  Massi is a Spanish company and you don’t see many of their bikes kicking about in this country.  It’s been a good little bike and I still have it kicking about in the back garden.  The plan is to strip it, re-spray it, fit disc brakes and perhaps thinner wheels / tyres so it’s more of a hybrid.  We’ll see when I get around to that.

The Massi has since been replaced by 2 new bikes, n+1 and all that,  for those of you not familiar with cycling language, n+1 is the correct amount of bikes that a cyclist should own, the “n” being the current amount of bikes owned, check out rule #12 at http://www.velominati.com/the-rules/.

Getting the new bikes has seen my enthusiasm for cycling sky rocket and I get out there at every chance no matter the weather.  By my reckoning I still need a hybrid, a single speed, a cx bike and a full carbon bike, just so I have the right bike for the right kind of ride 🙂

Posts on my other 2 steeds will follow soon.

Ride Safe