Saturday, 12 May 2012

May 2012 - Road Bikes and Time trials

The first week of the month, despite only riding it for 20 miles, I entered the Witham Wheelers 10 mile Time Trial on the new road bike!

The conditions were pretty rough, with swirling wind, fog , wet and poor visibility it was a baptism of fire to this new sport!  I wasn't sure how much quicker the road bike would be than the mountain bike but was pleasantly surprised to end with a time of 30 minutes 34 secs.  This placed me 19th from a field of 28 riders which I was well pleased with overall.

The Time Trial Format is often called the race of truth..... its physically and mentally hard!   But I really enjoyed it!  I can see myself doing much more of this!

March / April 2012 Injury and a new bike!

March started with me going snowboarding to Chamonix where I managed to clock up just a touch under 40mph before a fall ended up with me being injured!  I was in severe pain breaking ribs!

The broken ribs were painful riding, but I still managed to keep up a reasonable amount of riding with over 250 miles recorded in March - my biggest month yet!

There were a couple of longer rides this month with a 33 mile and a 40 mile ride - my longest yet!  the end of the month saw my 10 mile best drop by a massive 3 minutes to 39 mins 33 secs - sub 40 minutes was quite an achievement on a mountain bike!

April saw more of the same, starting off with a 52 mile ride keeping up a 12 mph average! I was keeping up good mileage helped by the lighter evenings encouraging me out.  Towards the end of the month I was out riding and went up to the Witham Wheelers cycle route where I thought I would complete the 10 mile route just out of interest to see what time I would get......  with the 10 mile route being straight I managed to set another new best 10 mile time!  Now down to 35 mins 59 secs!   When i compared my times against the following weeks Time trial riders ( on road bikes) amazingly I wouldn't have been last!

This little taste of time trial type riding sparked an interest in a road bike and a few days later there I was in Pedal Pushers cycle shop...... and coming out a few hundred pounds lighter with a Felt Road bike!

The new Road Bike

Riding the road bike was totally different to the mountain bike!  Not having ever ridden one before they are very light and very twitchy in the handling! 

I ended April with a few miles on the road bike, bringing the months total to 235 recorded miles!

February 2012 Final MTB race of Winter Series

February was my first month with over 200 miles recorded on Endomondo.

Once again I was building up to the end of the month and the final round of the Whyte Winter Series at Thetford.  Early in the month I had dropped my 10 miles best down by another minute to 43 min 6 secs.

The Final race was held in really bright sun and it was almost like summer!   Short sleeve jerseys and shorts were the order of the day!

I made a schoolboy error in my warm up as I did about 2 miles round the course, before intending a short cut back to the main arena..... unfortunately it all looks the same in the depth of the forest and somehow I took a wrong turn, compounded it with another and was soon totally disorientated and after asking someone with a map I realised I was on the other side of the forest !  I tried to memorise his map and set off hotfooting it back about 3 miles (!) arriving back with literally 2 minutes to spare having completed 9 miles!

I didn't have time to get a drink and must admit I started off a bit tired having effectively already completed more than a lap!

This course was faster and sweeping and I really enjoyed several swoopy sections where I found I could make up time well. The bombholes were a bit daunting being clipped in, but I managed to stay on ... just!

This time I was 13th of 30 competitors with two 34 minute laps.  i was very tired at the end, but was dead pleased to have kept to a consistent time for both laps at a similar pace

Once the Overall points for the seasons races were published I was really pleased to end the winter in 6th place overall from 54 competitors.  really pleased to have achieved that in my first taste of competitive cycling

Monday, 7 May 2012

January 2012 - New 10 mile PB's

The first week in January I did the Forever Aloe Vera Clean9 Detox program.  This involves a diet of Aloe Vera gel and bee pollen (!) and for the last 6 days just a single small meal of 600 calories.....  thats right.... just one small meal of 'proper food' per day... and NO other food for the first 2 days!

The Clean9 program left me considerably thinner ( 40mm off each thigh - 35mm off chest ) and 9 lbs lighter.  You would be forgiven for thinking that lack of food would leave you weak, but once past the 4-5 day mark its quite the opposite.  You get lots of nutrients and proteins from the aloe products - all you need!  You actually feel powerful.... not energetic or hyper in a Red Bull kind of way.... but powerful.  On days 5 and 6 both myself and Lee my business partner ( who was also doing the program at the same time)  set new personal bests out riding1

I was doing a few 10 mile rides.... not flat out as such but just trying to gradually increase pace.  My 10 mile time fell to 46 minutes and in the middle of the month I did a full loop of Rutland Water ( 22 miles ) in 1 hour 53 mins which as around 25 minutes quicker than the first time I did it at the end of summer 2010.  On the 19th I dropped my 10 miles time again to 44 minutes dead.

I was gearing my training towards the last weekend of the month and Round 3 of the Thetford Winter Series. The weather for this one was flipping cold!  We started off in temperatures of minus 3 degrees but once underway it soon warmed up!  This being my third race I was starting to feel a little more at home.  we were starting and finishing at the same place as Round 1 - albeit with a different route in between!  The last few hundred yards are a bit of a drag up a long hill after doing part of an uphill section called rather fittingly the 'plum buster' !

This was my first race clipped into the pedals.... which resulted in two crashes in the second lap.  One was when I caught a tree stump which flicked me up, and the second was when the guy in front of me ran out of steam on an uphill section and I had no chance to unclip so fell on top of him still attached to the bike!

Being clipped into the pedals definitely helps overall with pedalling power and efficiency, but does mean that you can't just dab a foot down or even jump off if you're in trouble!

Theres a great video made by one of the teams competing which gives a good idea of what its all about.

Unfortunately with 500 riders competing I wasn't caught on camera!  But its been really well put together and filmed.  I really enjoyed the race and actually felt pretty strong at the end and in the last 500 yards gritted my teeth and passed 3 riders , one from my own class and the other two from the 2 hour race.

I was 12th in my class from 39 starters, so was quite pleased with that!

The total logged mileage for the month was 163, so with un tracked miles the monthly total would again have been probably just under 200 miles

Monday, 30 April 2012

December 2011 - Another Race! - and longer rides!

First week in December saw me retiring to Thetford Forest for the second race.....

Again heres what I wrote in my other blog;

I carried on regular training and entered again for Round 2 which was he;d at a different part of the forest.  This time I did at least know roughly what to expect!  The course for the second round included a bit more swooping single track and a few jumps and bombholes here and there which were a bit scary!  I felt stronger for the second round as I was 4 weeks fitter!  This time there were 29 entries and I managed to finish 12th.

This race was again a new experience for me.  lee was ill and unable to make it so i was at Thetford on my own.....  which of course is always going to be a little daunting having no friends around!  i arrived stupidly early, so had plenty of time to get nervous!

The rest of December saw me doing a similar amount of riding overall, although a chunk of it was over the Christmas break!  I was now getting used to the Giant XTC3, and as i was getting more and more into it I had decided to give clipped in pedals a try so a set arrived over Christmas from Ebay, and i got myself some shoes!

it took me a whole 6 miles before I did the common schoolboy error of forgetting I was clipped into the pedals and falling distinctly unglamouressly as I stopped after blasting downhill and having to stop at a gate!  being clipped in certainly helps give a benefit and efficiency to the pedalling action......  i could see in part why about 90% of the racers at Thetford are clipped in...... but the downside of course is that off road you can't just dab your foot down on a tricky bit!

December saw several longer rides of over 10 miles and on the 31st set myself 2 new personal bests for the time!  I covered 12 miles in an hour for the first time, which included 10 miles at a personal best of 46 minutes.

Tracked mileage for the month was 153 miles so up a little on Novembers... and again maybe 20 miles or so untracked here and there!

The 3rd MTB race of the Thetford Winter Series was not until the end of January, so I had a few weeks to continue preparation!

November 2011 - A Race!

November saw me enter my first MTB race!

Heres what i wrote on my scooter racing blog-;

The Thetford Whyte Winter Series is a set of 4 Races held between November and February and attracts a full capacity of 500 riders to each race.  Classes are split by age group with distance options from 2 laps to 4 hours (!)  So somehow on the first weekend of November I found myself deep in the Thetford Forest lining up with 500 other loons to race bicycles around a cross country course about 6.5 miles long.

It was very much a baptism of fire and not even having been to a mountain bike race before!  I had only been training a few weeks really at this point and had no idea what to expect really!......   My engine tuner Chalky White is a keen and regular cyclist and I had his advice ringing in my ears......  " Don't go off too fast and burn yourself out " .....

I found that on the downhill singletrack swoops I could make up a lot of time.... but then immediately lose it when we hit the open fire track roads and uphill stretches.  I just didnt have the strength in my legs to keep up the same pace on those bits.  I ended the 2 lap race in 19th place out of 34 starters so overall I wasn't unhappy!

This gave me a good start to the month and I really enjoyed the challenge of starting a completely new sport aged 48!

My tracked cycle miles was a bit less than the previous month - winter and dark nights were kicking in, but at the end of the month I went back up to Sherwood Pines and actually did 2 laps around the Red Route ( separated by a rest stop ) with a few members of Witham Wheelers cycle club.  It was difficult to compare my time with previous as the down side of riding in a group is that they keep stopping and playing catch up!  So although the recorded time was a couple of minutes over an hour... there was a bit of stopping and starting involved!  i was pretty shot after a second lap though...... probably the hardest day I had done so far at that point!

I still wasn't really doing many rides over 10 miles but was still continuing to feel stronger and fitter, and continued to notice improvements in recovery time, and a bit more weight lost!

October 2011 - Talked into racing!

October 2011 was when I guess I started to actually say that I was a Cyclist !  i tracked myself covering 171 miles In October..... so with a few additional untracked journeys here and there, I would think the true mileage was probably just under 200 miles in the month.

I rode my bike to work quite a few days ( 5 miles round trip ) and was aiming to build up to 15 mile or so rides on the weekends.  i was riding out quite a bit along the Grantham Canal.  This is a nice place to ride, and with the main part of it being flat along the canal, it was giving me a good measure of improving fitness as the route is consistent!

The month also saw my first regular rides of over 10 miles (!) and a trip to Sherwood Pines where theres a red route around 8.5 miles long.  I did a lap around it in a bit over an hour.  My business Partner Lee talked me into actually entering a mountain bike race at Thetford Forest in November so i was starting to build up some mileage in preparation for that race!

This was the first month that I started to see a difference in myself in terms of fitness.  I started to notice that I was noticeably less tired riding, and recovery time afterwards was much quicker... so that had to be a good thing.  I was pleased that I'd let Lee talk me into entering a race as it was part of a 4 race series over the winter, so I hoped that this would give me an incentive to carry on riding despite the darker nights.

At the end of the month I also decided to buy a new mountain bike after trying Lee's at Sherwood Pines . my Specialized hard rock was a good bike, but was now 8 years old and bikes keep progressing technically, and Lee's new GT handled and performed so much better!

In October I also had a trip to Rutland Water and had a look at the Giant bike shop there, where I tried a Giant XTC3 ....  which I really liked.  Its an XC race designed bike, it has a nice fast, cruising stele.  Its not designed for throwing around as such, but I liked the feel of it.... so a search began on Ebay to look for one... in time for my race first weekend in November