Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Bloody Met Office

240 miles completed this week over 5 days cycling. I wasn't up to it last Friday due to my cold and tomorrow the bike goes in for it's pre-trip checkover. I made a monumental error on Saturday when I misjudged the direction of the wind and my 75 mile journey was directly into a very strong breeze for 45 miles. Note to self, ignore the Met Office and throw some grass in the air!!
The following day, the forecast in Northumberland was sunny so I drove to Beadnell, took advantage of some free parking, (thanks John) and set off to cycle to Coldstream via Fenwick. The heavens opened and It poured and poured. Note to self, remember the previous note to self.
On Monday I did the Cyclone B route again and it definitely felt easier with the new chain ring. Conditions were similar to last time and my average speed of 9.6 mph was identical to the previous attempt but I did manage to cycle up the two inclines I walked up last time.
This morning I did an easy 35 miler and felt remarkably strong. Of course, just when confidence is on the increase, something comes up to cause demoralisation. I was heading up the sea front at Whitley Bay doing what I thought was a decent rate of knots when a touring cyclist with 2 big loaded panniers went sailing past me. Cheers mate. In his defence, he did look like a professional and he and his panniers were probably lighter than me. My average speed today was 12.6mph so I was quite pleased with that. I have a days training at Harrogate on Friday and an antiques fair to attend on Saturday and Sunday so there will be some rest for the wicked this weekend.

Friday, 14 May 2010

My New Ring

What a difference a new ring makes. No, I haven't had haemorrhoids treated, I am referring to my new 42 tooth chainring. I tested it along (or should I say up), a regular route, climbing up to Westerhope then Ponteland, Ogle, Whalton, Morpeth, Ulgham and back round by Blyth and Seaton Delaval. What a remarkable difference it made. I reckon it has given me maybe 4 lower gears and I have found pedalling so much easier, indeed, my speed up hill seems to have increased as I have been able to just keep pedalling without putting much strain on myself. I didn't notice much difference in the higher gears which surprised me a little. Anyway, it is a vast improvement. I now have a stinking cold and chesty cough but the forecast is good tomorrow so I plan to test myself in Cyclone territory again and see if I can pedal up the inclines that I was unable to before.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Head For The Hills

Just 163 miles this week but that is because the bike is currently in dry dock having a new chain fitted because I made an arse of it and I hurt my left knee, so I have ended up having 3 days off when I had just planned 1. The best day was Monday when I decided to have a crack at Northern Rock's Cyclone 'B' route. This is 65 miles and almost 4000' of climbing so I wasn't sure if I could manage it. I drove to Ponteland to avoid the boring flat bit and set out to Ogle, Whalton and up to Netherwitton and Forestburn Gate. There was a very strong NorthEasterly which slowed me down and caused the temperature to be a bit low as well. I was surprised to get to Forestburn Gate and find I had actually averaged over 8mph (it was that windy, not to say hilly). I had to get off at one particularly steep bit which I reckon was a good 20% gradient. I had the wind at my back for a bit and successfully made it up a 12% gradient, albeit at 3mph. The hills continued and every nice downhiller had a long climb back up again. As I turned for Ryal I knew there were 2 stinkers of hills to negotiate. I had to get off for 50 yards up the first but managed the second which I was pleased with. The sheep in the fields gave me some very odd looks as I was shouting encouragement at myself not to give up. Fortunately, it was mostly downhill and flat after that and I was overjoyed to find a coffee shop in Matfen for a well deserved cuppa. My overall average was 9.6 mph in the end and I was actually pretty pleased with that. I checked my rider kit for the trip and there are only 7 days out of 45 where the climbing is greater than I did on that day. The pushing up the hills slowly caused the pulled muscle in my left thigh so I have replaced the front 48 tooth chainring with a 42 which should make pedalling uphill a bit easier and help me maintain some sort of rythym. I get the bike back tomorrow so am looking forward to getting back in the saddle. I am doing a few days work from Sunday to Thursday and will probably be working late so it will be mainly gym work. Boring!!!