Tuesday, 25 March 2014

So I'm not in training...

There's no pictures and no route from Strava to post. I did have plans tonight. I had a 28 mile route around the Naseby battlefield site. I was going to tell you about the decisive battle in the English Civil War. I was going to show you Prince Rupert's and Fairfax's view, the monument, the churchyard in Marston Trussell where the atrocity happened and wonder about the weirdness of sleepy old Northants being the epicentre of a cultural change that shaped democracy across Europe. More importantly I was going to delight in the quiet roads and rolling landscape that make cycling here such a joy. But no! I'm sat on my arse drinking homebrew, filling my face with junk in the sulk to end all sulks. I feel like an OAP whose waited all day for countdown only to suffer a power cut just before it starts.

The source of my woe is the self inflicted gash in my right calf. I had thought it was healing well. They didn't tell me in A&E not to ride. I may how somehow forgotten to ask but they definitely truly 100% did not say stay off the bike until the stitches are out. I also did some research. I found a triathlon forum where an actual doctor said it was ok to swim in stitches so I assumed cycling was fine. I may have chosen to ignore the bit about cuts on muscles that move a lot during exercise (do we use calf muscles in cycling?) Anyway the practice nurse delivered the killer blow this afternoon. The wound is not fully closed, come back Friday and absolutely no cycling. Friday? I was going to do a big ride up and round Rutland on Friday, not massive only 80 miles(ish), although if I was going well I was going to push it to 100 to complete the 160km March Gran Fondo. This was met with disapproval. I don't think she understands. I also think it was exceptionally poor advice that I should:"take up being a couch potato!"

So now I'm in a bad mood. Cycling is addictive. Crack cocaine is probably easier to give up and possibly safer in my case (this is a joke kids, class A substances are not to be messed with.) How did it get to this though? Well this pleasant little hobby gets under your skin. You start out with a bike and a plan to get a bit healthier and before you know it you desire full carbon, bikes for every known two wheeled escapade, industrial quantities of Lycra and the latest scientifically proven nutritional products. You'll be signed up for every sportive going and wondering if you'd go ok in a time trial. Is this a problem? No! It's flipping fantastic. The only downside is every now and again you have to put your backside on a sofa instead of a saddle. Oh well I suppose I'll have to properly plan a few routes for when I'm fit.

Happy peddling people!

Monday, 24 March 2014

So I might be in training

My thoughts are turning to Sportives with my first of the year probably being the Squires and Spires on Star Wars day (May the 4th be with you.) Before that happens I want to be as prepared as I can which essentially means I'm now in training. You ask most cyclists what they want to improve and they'll say: climbing and average speed over a ride. We're obsessed with it and once again I firmly blame Strava.

Right now I feel I'm a bit of a slouch or as Ty Webb might tell me, I'm a tremendous slouch. For those of you not familiar with caddyshack, what on earth is wrong with you? For those who are please enjoy the full version of that quote:

Judge Smails: You know, you should play with Dr. Beeper and myself. I mean, he's been club champion for three years running and I'm no slouch myself.
Ty Webb: Don't sell yourself short Judge, you're a tremendous slouch.

Ok so that's the problem, I don't feel fully fit and I want to perform better in the sportives. I was pants in the 3 counties and everyone had to wait for me. It really was a case of: fail to prepare, prepare to fail. The quotes don't end there. This is the one I'm drawing inspiration from:

"Do today what others won't, so tomorrow you can do what others can't." - Jerry Rice San Francisco 49ers legendary wide receiver.

Right then let's get to the point of all this rambling. I decided to do hill intervals. I picked the hill from Rothwell to Orton because it's about half a mile, as steep as anything around here, leaves me out of breath and it's quiet. I did the hill ten times, riding to the top turning around and using the descent to recover. I thought doing this would be tough and it was but not nearly as hard as I thought. I either need a bigger hill (imagine doing this up Rocky,) or I took it too easy and need to ride as hard as I can on every climb. Either way I tried it, I can do it and I'm going to do it some more.

The enemy

View from the top

The awesome power of the one23 extreme bright light

Saturday, 22 March 2014

C&DCYCLES Saturday Shopride

Once again the highlight of my cycling week was this 30ish mile loop with my good friends from the C&DCYCLES club. Of late Big Steve Major has led a lot and he's doing a great job. On the ride. Today we had a bit of an issue. One of our biking brothers, a newbie called Gary, was knocked off his bike by an inpatient van driver. For those of you who know it, there's a bridge over the Nene at Woodford Mill narrows to only allow one vehicle. People travelling towards Ringstead have right of way and that's what we were doing. Unfortunately red van man valued the next ten seconds of his life so highly that with disregard to us lycra clad loonies he decided to cross the bridge at the same time. Someone in front of Gary had to take evasive action. Gary slammed on the anchors, locked up and bounced off the vans wing mirror. Gary was battered bruised cut and his jacket was wrecked. The van nan did the right thing and took him home and I hope Gary is ok. This isn't a cyclist v motorists rant. I'm both and I've made plenty if mistakes on bikes and in cars. The thing is our sport can be dangerous. It doesn't have to be and this us one of those times where it was totally unnecessary. As someone once said to me: it's better to arrive late in this world than early in the next. The rest of us continued and the the ride concluded without further incident.

The ride itself was typical Northamptonshire rolling scenery. For those following you'll know about my relationship with certain hills. Another PR on the hill out of Thrapston suggests to me I might be starting to win some of the gravity resistant battles. 14 other PRs is a great return and whilst the shop ride isn't about personal goals I'm pleased with that. Roll on next week and hopefully incident free cycling.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Another Friday another trip to...

No not A&E just a return to the crash scene and a successful completion of the planned route. I have to say I remembered something tonight. I bloody love cycling. This is a good route. Nice bit of off road, interesting features and some interesting animals. It's also a good time for a blast around Pitsford because it's quiet. The reservoir bike track can get very busy and too right too. It's a fantastic local resource that we're lucky to have. The wooded sections were splendidly lit up by my trusty one23 which added a nice bit of atmosphere to the ride.

The main thing to report is I still have stitches in my calf but I was absolutely fine. So it's game on for  the C&DCYCLES shop ride tomorrow.

Tonight's bike was my classic Orange P7. This steel framed beast from the early noughties has served me so well. It's so dated with calliper brakes and rigid forks. It's also so brilliant. I can't explain why but off road it's just really agile. I'm told it's the geometry and also replacing the forks would ruin this. I've also ridden her on the Oxford - Cambridge charity ride for the BHF. I'd love to get the updated version 2011 Orange P7 or maybe the clockwork orange 29er. Great British bikes. Unfortunately you can get nearly as much bike for a lot less cash in other brands so this maybe the only Orange I ever own. The biggest laugh of this is my total cluelessness when I bought my Orange 2nd hand for £270 in 2006. I had no idea what a great bike it was and absolutely no idea that putting slicks on it to ride to work was a complete waste of this bike's talents. If I didn't know before, the bike shop manager at Cannock Chase virtually coming in his pants when he saw my P7, was the icing on the cake.

The dreaded ford and scene of last week's crash
Lovely bit of off road action
Llamas or are the alpaca?

Friday, 14 March 2014

another life lesson

Ok so tonight I learned another valuable lesson. If your riding through a ford for the first time take it easy! I'm writing this in A&E. I have a gash on my leg, probably caused by my chainring after a heavy fall! Mr tumble strikes again. In better news there is no apparent bike damage.  

So here's an update: I got five stitches and have to lay off the bike for at least a week. The place I fell is notorious and in fact my Dad has come off on the very same spot. I'll ride this route again in a few weeks and explain the pics etc, I won't be using the ford, I'll use the footbridge next to it.

The gate of many tools at Holly Lodge, a feature on this route

The folly on spectacle lane, about 200 yards from the ford of tumble!

Yeah it hurts!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Misty miles

In several minds is the only way I can explain this evenings route choice. I must have changed my mind 10 times before and during tonight's ride. After the morning fog cleared I sulkily looked out of the window at work, wishing the clock to 5 and hoping to get out for a few miles. That's the problem I think. I'd had too long to think about it and I know too many routes. To be fair they're all good and the roads I used provided enough variety for a very enjoyable ride.

One thing I can tell you from my ride is that there will be fog in the morning. As the sun set mist was forming In the valleys making the light a bit eerie. So it's a good job I got out tonight because it won't be much fun in the morning. Once again the trusty one23 extreme bright light gave me confidence in the dark. 

Some features of tonight's ride are East Carlton Country Park which is a lovely place to take kids or walk dogs. The ride goes through the beautiful villages of Pipewell, Ashley and Stoke Albany all of which would be lovely places to live with Ashley being my favourite on account of there being a pub.  The hill from Ashley to Stoke Albany is a tester and I'm pleased to get a PR there this evening. 

Rides give me a chance to ponder life, the universe and everything. This evening I pondered the heckling of cyclists. Why is it some people feel the need to shout at us. Sometimes it's the short sighted or insane who yell at me. Well I presume that's it due to the following: "hey sexy," "nice bum," or " nice legs." I once got an insult and a compliment by consecutive cars. Sometimes I get "go on Bradley." Then lots of little kids just whoop. The most bizarre ever happened on Tuesday when a teenage boy screamed "I smell nice!" This was no doubt due to industrial quantities of lynx so kudos to the fragrant youth!

Once again this lucky man was supported by his wife who today left me a roast chicken dinner in the microwave having fed the kids earlier. Thanks again Mrs Lindsley, another perfect post ride meal. I think I've earned a beer to wash it down with.

And finally, two rides no punctures. Gatorskins. Nuff said!

The setting sun

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Sunset spin

So I got home from work, looked at the beautiful weather and said: "mind if I go for a spin darling?" No not at all she said and even better my tea would be in the microwave to warm up on my return. A proper post ride meal of toad in the hole, mash, carrots, peas, sweet corn and gravy! Life is good!

The weather wasn't my only motivation. The night before I'd swapped my front tyre. Clive came supplied with Kenda Kriterium tyres and I've had more punctures than I've had rear derailleurs (for those of you not following I got this bike in August and I'm already on my third shimano 105 rear mech, they're not crap I keep crashing on ice.) I was going to buy a 23 mm gatorskin, my tyre of choice but already having a 25mm on my triple I just put that on instead. I'd already replaced the rear kenda which also punctured frequently with a 23mm gator so you can all mock me for the mismatch but I doubt it's the cycling equivalent of mixing crossplys with radials (if you're not a child of the 70s ask your Dad.)

Now gatorskins split opinion and you either love them or hate them. It's not quite campagnola v Shimano for an Italian but it still gets heated on roadie forums. For me they stick on bends even in the wet, rarely puncture and don't break the bank. I would like to upgrade at some stage to GP 4 seasons, another continental tyre, but that's for another day.

So how did the gator perform on Clive? I'd read that 25mm might be the better choice for the heavier rider and it certainly felt like that to me. I'm no expert but I felt the gator rolled better and given that tyre was on my triple for two years without a single flat I felt more confident. Job done I'd say.

Another bonus is it's getting warm. I went out in shorts, with no leg warmers, no overshoes and cycling mitts instead of full fingered gloves. It felt wonderful.

This was a race against the setting sun that I had no intention of winning so I fitted Clive with my trusty one23 extreme bright light. What a piece of kit it is. I had it on flashing mode and the effect on any reflective surface was brilliant, road signs lit up like Christmas trees. If you couldn't see me coming a trip to specsavers is in order.

A lovely ride was crowned on my return by flocks of birds doing that impressive swirling cloud display thing. No idea what it's called, it just looks great. I didn't get a picture but you can see what I mean here Ooh it's called murmuration

A lovely ride and cheers Mrs Lindsley, dinner was very nice!

Sun getting low

Now its gone

Look its the moon

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Grafham water with super Sam and ninja Niamh

Ok so today's ride went outside Northamptonshire as we went to Grafham water, another Anglian water site. Link:  Grafham water

I'd been told that this place is similar to Pitsford and I really can see that comparison. The circuit around Grafham is a little longer, has a few more hills and has a bit more variety in terms of surfaces. As such it's a bit more challenging which is good for Sam. However it's also 30 minutes from our house as opposed to ten for Pitsford.

Grafham today was absolutely heaving. We were lucky to get a parking space, it took 15 minutes to get a parking ticket and there was no way I was wasting my life in the cafe queue. Today's hot chocolate was made by me at home. Another limitation was the play areas. Where Pitsford has everything, Grafham has swings and a slide.

Like Pitsford there is a big bike shop, with hire if that's what you need. Unlike Pitsford the circuit  includes sections on public roads.

I think we'll definitely go back to Grafham at times but it does come second to Pitsford for me and a definite third when you compare it to Fineshade Woods. That might sound spoilt and that's the truth. Round here we are spoilt for great places to ride!

Lovely view

Quick rest stop

Like I said lovely day

Action shot

The track had variable surfaces

Back in the very full carpark

Hot choc at home, rated very highly!

Saturday, 8 March 2014

C&DCYCLES 1st anniversary ride

What an awesome morning with my very good friends the brothers and sisters of the C&DCYCLES cycling club. There was a massive turnout for our first anniversary ride meaning we split into two groups. The rabbits set off whilst I had some last minute adjustments to Clive, who, by the way is back to full health due to the kindness of Nathan and the attention of the lads in the shop. That meant I was in the chasing group! Yikes on a bike. To be honest it did me some good to go a bit quicker and the stack of PRs proves that. I also think the two groups is a good idea because it does get risky when we get groups approaching 20. We caught the other group and spent time with them too so it remained a sociable spin. Anyway route below, the standard Oundle loop.

On our return to the shop we had a bit of a celebration. My splendid wife, Lee, is a cake maker extraordinaire and made us a cake to truly be proud of. It looked good and tasted good, so well done Mrs Lindsley.

I feel proud to be part of this highly inclusive club. It's a real credit to Andy for starting this and to Chris for supporting our activities at the shop. Many of us have led rides and it is this collective responsibility that makes us strong. I've made some great new friends and my cycling has benefitted greatly. Long may it continue.

A last word to the magnificent Mr Major. Big Steve tried so hard to modify his workmanlike vocabulary. He tried but of course he failed. We love you for that Stevie. In future though Lee's cakes are to be referred to as the canine's cadooberries.

The brothers C&DCYCLES in that posh old Oundle

Love these action shots!

Other half of the gang at Wadenhoe...near the infamous Barratt's corner!

My wife made the most awesome cake

First health and safety concern

Andy cuts the cake

You truly deserve to look that happy mate!

No shortage of assessors for cake quality control

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

rule #9 clarified, if its frost or snow stick to turbo!

So the plan was this...start riding in the morning before work again. I get an hour from 7-8, it's Devine. The most peaceful, mindful, enjoyable hour of my day. The world at that time of day is quiet, sort of still. I've often startled deer that you don't see later in the day, I've rounded a corner to a red kite in the middle of the road, I see foxes and a badger has darted across the road in front of me. At this time of year you also get to see the sunrise. You can't beat it.

As I was leaving my wife said:"be careful there's frost on the cars." "Don't worry the roads will be fine," I over confidently replied. They were fine not a wobble or a slip for more than 10 miles. Then coming up the hill into Draughton I hit ice and inevitably smack! I was off. No harm done to me other than dented pride and initially the bike felt ok. On the very next hill I changed down and the derailleur crashed into the back wheel. Rear hanger very bent. I did a quick Heath Robinson fix and limped home sheepishly.

The less than 6 months old Forme Longcliffe 2.0, known affectionately as Clive, is now back at C&DCYCLES in Andy's capable hands. It's likely to need a new derailleur and definitely a new hanger. I've never needed a new derailleur on any previous bike, Clive is about to get his third after an identical incident at Christmas. I'm not learning am I?

Ok so this blog is about the routes. This is a typical one hour ride for me. I've got 3 regular morning routes. I like to do about 15 miles at my standard plod with a bit of hills and a lot of countryside. I think I'll wait a month before introducing you to the others. I'm going to get back into the habit of cycling at that time but I'm sticking to the turbo until April.

This was the beautiful sunrise looking from Maidwell to Draughton. The keener eyed of you will notice there are some clues on the road to my impending peril!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

The wind is back!

So today I've been up some lumpy bits. One of which, Rushton Hill, I just can't get better on. I set my PR on my steel framed triple really soon into discovering Strava and I've never beaten it. Hills are weird. Some beat the hell out of me and some which look similar I get really stuck into. The best example of this is Warkton Hill which I hate and it's sister on the return to Kettering, Warkton to Stamford Road. As they sit either side of the Ise I guess they form the Ise valley and for that reason should be pretty similar. I fly up the latter and I think the reason why is in my head as it's usually the last significant slope on a shop ride. The thing is our bodies are set to protect us from ourselves. Most people can push themselves harder than they think but as soon as our heart rates elevate our body sets about sending signals that we're in distress and whatever we're doing it would quite like us to pack it up! Through training we overcome this but some people can really really really push themselves. In cycling we call this suffering. We have a suffer score on a Strava. There are sufferfest training videos and so on. It was famously remarked of Steven Roche, cycling legend, that he couldn't suffer. I remember watching the channel 4 highlights with my Dad in '87 when he proved everyone wrong about that! I'm not saying we can all be a GC contender if we push harder but every now and then we my heart is screaming, my lungs are burning and my legs feel ready to cramp I think of Roche in '87 and I think: "I wish I could do that!"

Now when you think about it doesn't suffer sound like an over the top word? I'm sure people unable to get back into flooded homes are suffering, people in Ukraine are really suffering etc. so when us lycra clad loonies engage voluntarily in our hobby and in the process exhaust ourselves in a self inflicted sado masochistic manner, well, that's not suffering it's a form of self harm. It's impossible to explain to the uninitiated but for me there is a great deal of pleasure in that pain. Like I said suffer is the wrong word.

Now ruining yourself uphill maybe many peoples idea of a great time and I do like it. However what really floats my boat are the downhills. I joke that I'm a downhill specialist and I certainly have a momentum inducing physique. On this ride was one of my favourite downhill segments, the Desborough Road Drop. I'm currently 2nd out of 220 and today I wanted a crack at the KOM, unfortunately or perhaps fortunately for my health and safety a headwind spoiled any chance of that.

Whether you're a fan of ups or downs. In it for the KOMs or just to survive. I hope you had a good weekend on the bike. I did!

A gratuitous selfie

Desborough road drop

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Another Saturday yet another superb C&DCYCLES shop ride

It was a frosty start but with bright sunshine and light winds this appeared to be the perfect day for a group ride. This well ridden route is a regular for C&DCYCLES but we changed it a little to avoid busy roads in the part of the ride with thick fog. I was certainly glad to have my one23 extreme bright light attached for the worst bits.

There was some argument as to whether this was the Pitsford Classic or the Pitsford reverse. I feel it's the reverse but hey does it matter...actually yes, yes it does, we did the Pitsford reverse! Some nice features to this ride include Sywell Airport where Guy Martin attempted his human powered flight record as part of his excellent channel four mini series. It's a nice place to spend a few hours, kids always enjoy seeing the light aircraft taking off and landing and ironically the very pleasant bar does a cracking pint of spitfire!

Here's a link to the speed loving mad man who loves to say everything twice!

Some newbies on the ride to day and very welcome they were too. That's the strength of C&DCYCLES club, we're a very inclusive bunch.

Today's ride was once again led by the king of fruity language Steve Major, another job well done! I can't wait for next week's ride!

On my return I was checking my Strava outside the house with my front wheel in a puddle. The tell tale gurgle told me I'd got another puncture, at least it hadn't spoiled the ride and I got the chance to change it before the next ride. Andy...I'll need another inner tube mate!

Bit foggy in parts

Then totally fine in others