Sunday, 31 May 2015

Sunday ride, tonnes of banter, chuck in a few hills? Why not?

I woke up this morning with knee pain, well to be more accurate pain in my hamstring ligament which attaches on the outside of the knee joint. The most common cause of this is poorly positioned cleats but as I've never had this pain before I'm doubting that. The culprit I think is not riding for a while and then Andy Brown taking us up the north face of the Eiger. My choices were rest and see if it went away or ride and see if it went away. I chose the latter and thankfully it wasn't an issue. It still feels a bit sore now though. However the state of my ageing limbs was nothing compared to the inebriated bewilderment of Big Steve. By all accounts the C&DCycles CC social night was a big success and in addition to Steve not really knowing where he was Jonesy was missing all together. The rest of the select group included Neil, Mark and Mick. Neil was also suffering so for once I was confident of keeping up. Well until Steve announced we'd be heading up the infamous Neville Holt hill.

It was a soggy start to the day and so I unfurled a very sorry looking droopy ass saver from my saddle where it sat limp. I recalled the advice of Mr McNab that hot air will reinstate a flaccid ass saver due to muscle memory. I keep a hair dryer in my man room just for this very reason and also because it loosens very tight beer keg lids. I'm sure there's another use for a hair dryer but as you all know I won't be needing it any time soon! Anyway pictorial evidence below is that hot air does indeed do the trick, so thanks for the tip Rich.

Ass Saver saw a lot of action

Heading out from Pipewell

Recovering at the top of Neville Holt

Soggy Day

Pretty though approaching Eyebrook Reservoir

More puddles

Heading home

The other problem with the weather was knowing what to wear. I went for shorts and a short sleeve jersey with my rain jacket. It wasn't cold though so I was soon too hot! I managed to take my jacket off on the move employing one hand and my mouth, Neil decided the manoeuvre was too risky and stopped to remove his whilst Mark showed us how to do it pro style riding no handed up a hill barely breaking his pedaling rhythm. Really I should have videoed his splendid technique.

As if to prove the point he's just not human Steve decided to go up Neville Holt in his big ring. The rest of us struggled up on the granny like normal people. From there we went to Eyebrook Reservoir via a splendid descent, well it is in the dry, in the wet it's a bit twitchy! Steve's historical fact of the day: Eyebrook was used for practise by the Dambusters. This was not revealed for decades afterwards as it's an official secret. So not just a source of energy for a small country he also knows stuff!

At the end of Eyebrook is another significant slope at Stoke Dry and then we headed for Gretton where we had the brilliant idea of going up Rocky Hill. That really was overkill for the day and as per usual my body screamed at me to get off and walk. Well hard luck body, listening is one of my faults and I managed the grind to the top. It really is a masochistic pleasure to beast ourselves up these unnecessary climbs and as Neil remarked: "if it doesn't hurt you're doing it wrong!"

So another good ride and another day closer to that massive ride on June 20th.

Happy Pedaling

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Back in the Saddle with a cracking Andy Brown Hill Fest

My last blog was 20 days ago! This is probably leading many of you to wonder what's happened? This is the big build up to Dawn to Dusk our epic 200 mile ride. It's time to live like a monk and train like a ninja! Well I have been out but possibly not as much as I expected. Since the last blog and before today I've done these rides:

This was the ride to recover from that massive weekend of 176 miles with 120 on the squires and spires and 67 on my 29r riding from Tigers to Saints.

The next day I did the same ride and was starting to feel good again. Then things got very busy at work and I didn't have time for anymore that week. On Saturday I woke up feeling rough which took me a day to get over so no ride with C&D Cycles CC. The same snuffle had Mrs Lindsley back on the nebuliser and being treated with steroids and antibiotics! Proof once again that cyclists are stronger than normal human beings. (more on that later)

I felt better on the Sunday but not really up to: smash myself silly on a Steve Sunday 'keep up if you can - but we will wait,' ride. So I decided to have some fun and do my favourite off road route. You've all seen it before. Some call it 'Clay Dick,' others Geddington Chase. What a great decision this was. It's fully dry and I finally felt I tested my 29r properly with a few PRs.

Then came the lull. Work was again very busy and I wanted to get finished up so I could enjoy my leave without any stress. No matter I had all next week...On the Saturday I took the boys to the Saints for the semi-final and with an early kick off the club ride was out. No matter I had all next week...On Sunday I was sulking due to my magnificent Saints losing the opportunity to be back to back champions. No matter I had all next week...On Monday we had a big family dog walk and the day was gone, my sister who is over from Australia stayed the night and we spent the evening drinking way too much wine so on Tuesday I had a bit of a hangover! Tuesday night my good friend Malcolm stayed over with his kids and once again a lot of good food and drink was consumed. You getting the idea? Live like a monk train like a ninja had become live like a King recover like a whinger. However on Wednesday I went for a ride!

Yes that's right SuperSam and I had a little offroad adventure and found another local geocache.

Stylish young man

Action shot

The geocache is the snake skin!

Proper off road fun

OK so we can't really count the SuperSam ride which means I went 13 days without a decent workout and 17 days without going on my road bike! Yikes!!! How could I have gone from feeling great about myself to feeling a bit underdone? Well it's life isn't it? Life doesn't care about our training schedules it just chucks spanners at us and laughs.

So have I wrecked my chances of competing Dawn to Dusk? I doubt it! There is so much we choose to believe about health and fitness it takes something like this to realise you've believed contradictory facts for about twenty years. The first is a fitness instructor I worked with told me it takes ten weeks to get fit and two weeks to get unfit. Oh dear that sounds bad! Then at the same time a physio I worked with told me the physiological changes caused by exercise take at least four weeks. By that theory I should feel the benefit from Squires and Spires next week! Why do we just believe stuff people say?

If we look at what the pros do well they cycle everyday and then if the documentary about Wiggins is to be believed they don't even tie their own shoe laces in between Walking to the nearest cafe rather than rolling there on a little commuter bike is also considered detrimental to recovery. However they will do an 80 mile ride on rest days so we can't be compared! Interestingly nutrition is the key and they have all food prepared and provided linked to personal diet plans. As mere mortals we see a ride as evidence we can have pie and chips for tea, never mind we had pie and chips the night before because we needed to carb load and  pie and chips in the week because well, we're cyclists and we burn 6000 kcals a day (mostly by talking about cycling at work.) My pie and chips energy conversion and storage facility is approaching peak capacity this week!

I woke this morning feeling good about the world and really looking forward to a ride. Many facebook friends were sharing the following story: Mid-life crisis reduced to purchase of cycling equipment this light hearted poke at us lycra loonies forgets that we live longer, are more attractive and are so rock hard we go out dressed like twerps without fear of ridicule. Mid life crisis my arse says Richard Lindsley aged 44.

Poor neglected Clive

It won't surprise you to know that I apologised to Clive my faithful road bike for neglecting him and promised it wouldn't be as long next time. Then off I set up Bunker hill and into Kettering to meet the wonderful people of C&DCycles CC. On arrival something lovely happened. Ian who rode with me on the Squires and Spires handed me some brand new tyre levers, I did the exact same thing back to him! Having realised mine were useless and then breaking one of Ian's we had both gone to the shops and bought two sets of tyre levers. I bought the ones Andy recommended (there's your mention oh dark one,) but Ian bought something that looks a lot better! Again proof that cyclists are just much nicer people!

Levers I bought

Levers Ian bought

Lots of deliberately casual outside the shop

 Michael has a sweet new ride

Lovely day for a bike ride

Yes this man is riding in sandals!

Stop at Sibbertoft

Our leaders for the day

Today's ride was an absolute beauty. We went down my favourite descent and up East Farndon Hill although as Rich McNab pointed out we cheated and missed the first 20 metres! We also went up a hill I'd never seen before and oh my goodness, Neville Holt, Rocky Hill move over, this is the hardest hill round here. It was like trying to ride up a wall! It has segment names such as: "bust a lung hill," and "Mill Hill murder!" I'm definitely going to see what that's like going down!!! Another great route and lead from the club's resident mountain goat. It was a good ride for me personally as even though I wasn't expecting it there were loads of PRs.

Elsewhere in he world of cycling things are getting exciting. Here in Rothwell we are preparing for the Women's tour and local businesses are getting behind the lady cyclists with themed pink bikes.


Help the Aged


The Tile Shop

Elsewhere the Giro d'Italia is failing to disappoint with Contador looking good for the first grand tour of the year. Next Saturday Sir Bradley Wiggins goes for the hour record currently held by Alex Dowsett, he's also trying to nick the Movistar rider's 10 mile TT record. Kurt Searvogel and Steve Abraham's continue their herculean efforts to break the year record. Their daily strava uploads make out 200 mile challenge seem piddly (it's not, it's epic!) Finally a specil mention to C&DCCC rider Heather Perry who completed her first time trial this week in club colours. Great ride Heather!

I'm going to give a big mention to my wife Mrs Lee Lindsley, the queen of cakes. Lee has struggled with her health massively over the last few years and as noted above is only just recovering from yet another chest infection. This week she has walked the dogs with me every day as part of a 'get fit,' challenge I've set her. Then this morning whilst Sam was sailing Lee walked round Pitsford. I'm massively proud of her.

Right so I'm back in the saddle which means just one thing. A Steve Super Sunday. I better have more pie and chips.

Happy Pedaling

PS for the benefit of my good friend Neil, there has been a lack of references to rugby in this blog. I did this purposely with him in mind and it has nothing to do with the Saints losing.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Squires and Spires Sportive - Gran Fondo

Today was about challenging myself. Part of yesterdays epic MTB ride was about fatiguing my legs for today. This for me was about seeing if tired legs could do 120 miles. Sound mad? Well yes, but there was method to my madness. I wanted to see how ready I am for the 200 mile D2D which is in just 6 weeks. Joining me today was Steve, Nat, Frank and Ian. I'm blessed to have some great cycling mates and these four were splendid company. We met on the market square in Rothwell and cycled over to start in Naseby which turned the 100 mile sportive into a 120 round trip.

Steve's impressive get up

Squires and Spires is organised by Just Racing. I feel they do a very good job. Registration and starting was swift. Signage was very good especially as they have a clever way of preventing tampering. The feed stations were supported by USN who do some good products including the blue electrolyte drink which Paul Kelf named smurf juice last year. Smurf Juice is a firm favourite and I'm going to ask Andy in the shop  if he can order some in. Andy if you're reading this we'd like some smurf juice, please don't not try to sell us an alternative, we want smurf juice...right!

Gathering pre start at Naseby: From right to left: Ian, Nat, Steve, Frank, Janet and Janet's brother!

Steve had ambitiously claimed before started that we would be sticking together today. Now that worked for 50 miles but I was glad that Steve,Nat and Frank stopped waiting for Ian and I after that. We couldn't keep up and trying to was actually making the ride harder for us. At the start I caught up with another cycling friend and former boss Janet who was riding with her brother. Janet was bravely riding on her spare bike having had a tumble and breaking her pride and joy. The nasty bruise on her calf would have put many others off too! I'm still waiting to hear how Janet's day went, I hope she's OK.

Cheeky selfie at the Althorp House 50 mile feed station

That 50 mile mark is quite a place to talk about the ride. Up to that point there had been some good hills but I have to say the first 50 is much easier than the second 50. From Althorp House the sequence of hills through Brington, East Haddon, Ravensthorpe, Coton, Guilsborough and Hollowell are brutal. To top it off just after that it's hill of the day at Haselbech. Every bone in my body wanted to get off and walk, but I didn't! To add insult to injury just after Haselbech I punctured. Ian was very supportive at this point even when I snapped his tyre lever trying to gorilla off those tricky gatorskin tyres. It takes ages to change a tube when you've been riding. It's a combination of tiredness and wanting to get going quickly. More haste less speed as my Nan would say. The hills kept coming and coming. We reached the next feed station and the trio of power had already gone. Don't blame them we were at least 20 minutes behind. After that feed station Ian and I found our legs for a while and rode well. Then we headed into the brutal final few miles. Firstly we climbed back up to Cold Ashby, through there I went to go the wrong way as I tried to take a far more sensible way back to Naseby. Unfortunately the organisers had different ideas and they sent us back up the quick hill downhill we started on. Up as you'll all know is different to down but I laughed in the face of that hill. So many climbs it was like we just got used to it. As we got back to the start/finish,Steve, Nat and Frank were waiting for us. For that I'm very grateful. We rode back together and as I got home I clocked 120 miles, my biggest ever ride.

Recovery Shepherds Pie

Recovery Ale - It won't clear but tastes great

Developing those sharp cycling tan lines

So right now I'm feeling pretty proud of myself. I also now know I'm going to be OK when we go for the 200 miler on June 20th. So that's the blog done, now time for my serious hobby, yep it's time to iron.

Happy Pedaling

Saints With Heart - All Roads Lead to Franklin's Gardens

Saints with Heart is an annual sponsored walk started 13 years ago by...ME! Since it's inception Saints with Heart has raised way over £150 000 for the British Heart Foundation. Traditionally it's been a variety of walks finishing at Franklin's Gardens, home of the current English Champions, Northampton Saints. The main walk is from Wolverton along the Grand Union canal to FG, which is about 16 miles. This year there was a twist where we were invited to get to FG by any means possible. So Thornton, aka Leicester Saint on the Saints Fan Forum 'Saints and Sinners,' decided he wanted to ride from Welford Road, home of our bitter rival Leicester Tigers to the Saints. As the organisers knew I was a keen cyclist they asked if I'd help Thornton with this. Also joining us on the day was my great friend Mark who I have mostly walked with every year.

From left to right: Mark, me, Thornton

Mark and Thornton met me at Welford Road to start their ride. I'd ridden there 26 miles from home. As you can see this was an MTB ride as we were going to use the Brampton Valley Way from Market Harborough. My ride to the Tigers was pretty tough. For starters my 29r as good as it is feels like a ten tonne brick compared to my road bike. Then the route was very hilly. The best of those hills was into Gumley. The predominant wind direction on a very breezy day was in my face all the way to Leicester!

The top of the hill at Gumley

The ride out of Leicester was highly eventful as we nearly got took out by a flying carpet! Not quite as it sounds. The wind had whipped a roll of carpet off a local shop front and it was merrily skipping down the road in out direction. After that though it was plain sailing with wind behind. Those hills are great and we need to go back that way on a club run. It was simple dimples once we got on the BVW and we arrived at FG later than planned but in plenty of time for kick off.

Much improved surroundings

I rewarded myself with a pint, steak pie and chips after 65 miles on my 29r. I'm not sure if there's an equation to work it out but those felt like much harder miles than road bike miles! At half time we had our medals presented to us on the pitch by injured Saints and England Full Back, Ben Foden. Ben was very lovely for a bloke that doesn't have to do this stuff and kindly obliged the fat sweaty bald bloke with a selfie.

A good looking man and Ben Foden

The match itself was never in doubt and a 46 nil win secured the top of the league for the 2014/15 for Saints. That's great because it means a home match in the play offs but unlike other sports there are no prizes for coming first in the regular season.

I need to thank everyone who sponsored me for Saints with Heart. If you want to know more about our annual fundraiser and why we started it click here.

Happy pedaling

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Should I shouldn't I?

Recovering after the hill into Brixworth

Last night I was so cold and shivery that I lit the log burner. This morning I woke up with a sore throat, snotty nose and headache. Under those conditions it's usually a poor decision to ride. But I hadn't been out for a week, I had my new chainset to test and I really need to keep the training up in preparation for our Dawn til Dusk 200 mile circular of Northamptonshire. So I decided just to give it a go. Luckily for me the route came through Rothwell so I had a bit longer to get in some performance enhancing lemsip and a good rub down with Vicks.

I'm really glad I rode. I didn't feel that great at times but also didn't ride that bad either. A few PR's were achieved so that's good. The ride featured two really great hills. One going into Naseby past 'Fairfax's view,' and the monument on the site of the windmill that was there at the time of the battle. The other was the hill into Brixworth coming from Spratton.

That's the view Fairfax had and here's his wikipedia page Fairfax - New Model Army leader at the battle of Naseby

I always find it bewildering to consider that we frequently ride around the site of the decisive battle of the English Civil War. I wonder about all the people who died that day and the influence that victory has had on our history. It's particularly poignant this week as we approach a general election because our political landscape today was shaped in the Northants landscape we enjoy on our bikes. It's a very important place and for us cyclists a nice hill.

The upside of the climb into Naseby is the descent out of it. The point of hills for me is to whizz down them at break neck speed. It's the biggest reason I ride and it makes me feel ten years old again. We had another reason to celebrate Naseby as it's where we met up with Phil 'the beast'!

It would be unfair this week not to give Andy the C&DCycles shop manager an even bigger than usual mention. He has worked wonders on my road bike, Clive. I no longer have to endure the FSA 'made of cheese,' bottom brackets as the whole chainset is now Shimano. It's Tiagra because 105 are now 11 speed systems but as Phil eloquently put, it's a 200g difference and you can shed that from your ride by having a good dump before you leave the house! Wise words indeed. Andy also gave the bike a very needed service as lots of things were worn and in need of attention. He also gave the bike a wipe down. Proud of his efforts he announced to facebook that he'd cleaned my bike with 'chocolate scented dick smart.' possibly the most glorious autocorrect in history. Now I'm all in favour of a clean and tidy gentleman's area but in this case I know full well he meant Duck Smart. Autocorrect is the scourge of many a misinterpreted message and as Rich was regularly corrected to shag on one of my phones I full well understand the need for vigilance! Duck Smart has the unique selling point of being a water free cleaning system. It would undoubtedly be of great use in a drought situation but in the soggy Kettering area I don't see the point. My bike did however smell nice. Maybe it has other applications though and who knows a quick squirt down your pants would potentially increase desirability! All joking aside my bike is running very smoothly and with a quick turn around at a very reasonable price I am very grateful to my favourite bike shop manager.

Back at the shop my favourite wife had done us proud on the cake front. Cake is important to cyclists. Along with beer it is in fact the foundation of a good recovery and of course as we've burned off the calories so we can get it down us guilt free!

C&DCycles owner Chris demonstrates the correct technique for cake enjoyment

So...Should I have ridden? Well I feel better for riding. It's a fact that cyclists have better immune systems than non cyclists so it must have done me good. However I don't think I need to push it tomorrow by trying to keep up with Steve!

The last word of the day goes to Alex Dowsett. The English Movistar professional has laid down the gauntlet to Sir Bradley Wiggins by setting a new world record for the hour at Manchester velodrome. I'm really hoping he can upload it to Strava so we can all send kudos!

I'm not sure what I'm doing tomorrow but feel I ought to get out on the 29r. This time next week I will be riding to Franklin's Gardens, home of the English champions, Northampton Saints from Welford Road, home of the former champions Leicester Tigers. It's off road because the person I'm riding with doesn't have a road bike, so we'll be using the Brampton Valley Way. It's going to be around 60 miles by the time I get home. The ride is in aid of the Saints with Heart 'all roads lead to Franklin's Gardens,' event for the BHF. I created this event in 2002. Since then there's been 12 sponsored walks raising in well excess of £150k. As you can imagine I'm very proud of that. The day after I'm riding in the Squires and Spires sportive. A 100 miles on tired legs will be a good test and preparation for Dawn til Dusk. The only downside will be no rides with the club because the last few weeks have been great.

Happy Pedaling