Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Pedal Paddling

Pedal  paddling
29th March 2016
After a week that saw me more relaxed about either running or cycling as no ‘hard’ events in the pipeline other than the 100km ‘Coastelet Audax’ down at Wareham on the 3rd April, I did a 9 mile run, which I found hard and it was though I had never run before rather than 2 weeks since I ran 20miles and only 4 days since another 9!! So not sure what this fitness lark is all about? Fortunately I also did a couple of 30 mile rides on my Titanium bike which felt good after a winter on my Ribble.
The settled weather came to an end with heavy rain and winds as the Easter weekend approached. We had a day with the grandchildren on Thursday, the twins doing well and the granddaughter still as lively as ever!
Saturday saw us enduring storm ‘Katie’ with high winds and torrential rain overnight into Sunday, but given Sundays forecast was much better I decided to take advantage and get a few miles in ready for next weekend.
It was an ominous start as I descended down the lane away from the house, when after a mile or so, the ford which is usually very shallow was a raging torrent about 2 feet deep!! I walked across the very ‘slim’ footbridge at the side before remounting to ride up the hill against more fast flowing water, at least it was shallow. I was heading out onto the levels, probably not the best place after the storm of the night before, as I was to discover later to my cost!!!
As I approached Martock from South Petherton I came across my first ‘road closed due to flooding signs’  so was diverted around the pretty village of East Lambrook and headed down some every wet, and dirty lanes, covered heavily in gravel with the run out from the gutters.
I went through Muchelney and was pleased to see the very expensive road was still open, some water in the fields but the water in the River Parrett was up to the roof of the bridge and was about to burst its banks, the measure at the side showed it at least 9 metres deep!!
On I went and turned on the Langport to Hambridge road, two cyclists drawing my attention by shouting something, but I didn’t hear what they said, discovering at the entry to Hambridge the road was well flooded, cars were ploughing through, appearing to cope with the water, even though it looked a little deep to me, when it was clear I decided to give it a go and ‘half peddled’ my way through to keep my feet dry, the water only coming about a quarter way up my wheel. Although it was fast flowing over the road and I did feel my front wheel being pushed over, this is the first time I had ever seen it like this clearly the River Isle well in full flow with all surrounding fields well flooded. Fortunately its uphill to the village of Hambridge before turning off towards Isle Brewers!!! [clue in the name!]I expected it to be flooded as we have cycled here before and found it flooded near the old mill just outside the village, the water was ok once again, not too bad, half way up my wheel, but clear of the hubs and bottom bracket, it was only when I got through that and into the next stretch towards Fivehead,  I met my match!!! I entered the flood, ok, going well and then noticed the fast flow of water from the flooded fields, from the overflowing River Isle [ I went over earlier] the water got deeper, too late!!!! I could feel the water pulling my front wheel and it was difficult to hold the bike, the water was also getting considerably deeper, I couldn’t go back as I couldn’t turn round without the force of the water knocking me off!!! The water was now up to my knees well over my Bottom Bracket, I was now ‘pedal paddling’ and peddled on, then also realised it went on for the next 50 yards or so, what a situation to find myself in, there were no warnings, no roads closed signs, yet no cars either. I pushed on the water very cold as it washed around inside my over boots, my thoughts were for my bottom bracket and hubs as well as my cassette. I finally exited the water with great relief, I stopped and shook my bike, tipped to one side to allow water to run  out etc.
What an experience, I ensured I stayed on high ground for the rest of the way home, noting that I had to cross the ford near home once more, fortunately the water had sub sided to its normal level so was just a puddle once again. I was glad to get home, my feet were very cold and the head wind home was most uncomfortable, I was just hoping I hadn’t done too much damage to my best bike!!!

40.2 miles covered over a very wet and windy ride, one I hope won’t cost me for new hubs, bottom bracket and cassette!!
Tuesday – the bike seems alright, bearings sound and feel ok, I hope the ‘sealed’ bearings actually meant that especially after, a metre of water over them!!

Spin class tonight and then an 10 k off road run tomorrow   round Neroche with my running partner up the lane. Perhaps a ride on Friday before the Audax on Sunday. I hope the weather and roads will be kinder! And I also hope my bike will be ok, I will give it a good clean before Sunday and check out the bearings once again. I think I have learned my lesson, don’t go over the levels after very heavy rain, or at least think about my route a little more.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

A short trip to France

Sunday 20th March 2016

After the excitement of finishing the Grizzly it was a hectic evening with loading the car, making sure we had passports etc for our short trip to France. The plan was to drive to Wimborne on the Sunday evening and stay at our sons and then drive to Portsmouth for the early 8:30 ferry to Caen.

It was a good greeting from Bramble the dog as we arrived at my sons, a beautiful drive over in the evening sunshine. We were away early for the drive to Portsmouth the M27 etc very busy for 6 am in the morning!! We arrived at the Terminal in good time and joined the queue of other vehicles. We were loaded quickly as there weren’t too many other vehicles. We set sail on time, and it was a bitterly cold morning as we sailed out of the port, passing the warships in dock, the hovercraft and other ferries zig zagging across the  estuary, as we passed the end of the harbour we went down to find seats and hopefully a breakfast.

Five + hours later we disembarked at Caen, still brilliant sunshine, I had to focus to ensure I stayed on the correct side of the road, we crossed Pegasus Bridge and headed to Deauville our final destination, to stay at the Hotel Intercontinental, we stayed there last year, a small pleasant 3 star Hotel in the centre of Deauville.
The famous boardwalk in Deauville each beach hut has a name associated with the movie industry

After checking in it was a stroll through the town to the ‘boardwalk front’ it was pleasant in the evening sunshine as we gained an hour in time crossing the Channel.
The next couple of days were spent, wandering around Deauville and Trouville, sitting in the sunshine over looking the expanses of the fabulous beaches of the area. A trip to Honflur coincided with a cloudy sky and a bitter Northerly wind, making our visit uncomfortable, despite the lovely old buildings, and pretty harbour, lunch once again was takeaway pizza.
Traffic island in Deauville

The lovely vast expanse of beach at Deauville

The visit passed all to quickly and we were soon heading back along the coast after our break, to spend our final day in Caen. A very busy town with lots of traffic tested my foreign driving skills trying to find somewhere to park. A visit to Caen Castle the residence of William the Conquerer in 1066 with Matilda as he ruled England for several years. A fine town, lots to see and we only scratched the surface, another visit should be planned for the future to explore more.

The weather continued to be bright and sunny as we drove to the coast for a picnic Lunch.
We overlooked Juno beach one of the landing beaches in the war, now deserted with the tide coming rolling in over the vast sands, difficult to imagine 1944 the landing craft etc spilling their cargo of troops over the beaches.
Les Hirondelles in 1944 at the D day landing
Les Hirondelles March 2016 the house shown in the Dday landings

The drive back to the ferry was a little fraught as we  had left it a little late, not allowing for slow French drivers and the winding lanes, arriving just in time as they closed one of the gates. An uneventful sail home, calm seas etc. the food on the ship was poor, particularly if you are vegetarian. Arriving at Portsmouth we were delayed disembarking due to extra checks on vehicles leaving the port. It was a long trip home ferry at 4:30 finally arriving home at midnight.

It was a lovely trip, with superb weather very much as last year almost ‘groundhog day’ like.

Friday I managed to get out for a 9 mile road run, feeling good, and enjoying the run, despite the bitterly cold wind on a very grey day, the sunshine having deserted us.

Saturday saw me finally getting out on my Vintage bike, my Gazelle Trim Trophy, I had changed the chain rings to give me lower gears. It was a lovely 26 mile ride, I found the bike responsive and comfortable, I need to make adjustments to the toe clips to make my shoes fit better. I was also getting used to the brake lever positions, changing gear on the downtube, by the end of the ride feeling quite comfortable. A nice ride on a nice bike I can look forward to the Eroica Brittanica in June.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

‘Grin and Bear it’ and a trip to France

‘Grin and Bear it’ and a trip to France
Saturday March 19th

A very busy week where the weather has been fantastic, very cold but very clear skies and sunshine, but today is cold and grey with lots of cloud.
The Grizzly!
Sunday the 13th dawned with a clear blue sky but quite chilly. Breakfast was sorted, jam sandwich to eat before the start made, bag packed with a variety of clothes for every weather scenario down at Seaton, decisions!! I prepared a couple of energy  bars[Zip vit] chopping into small pieces to make it easier to eat, putting them in small plastic bags, I made up a ‘Raspberry Buzz’ Tailwind drink.

I decided to wear my three quarter tights with a Paramo long sleeved top and my short sleeve Asics running top as it has great pockets, the weather forecast was excellent, cold but warm in the shelter from the wind.
I picked up my running partner for the day Rachel at the top of the lane, both of us quite nervous about the day, Rachel particularly so having a rasping cough and not a lot of distance training over the last few weeks, me, I was just nervous anyway, even though I felt I have put the work in over the winter.

We were really lucky on entry to Seaton, given a parking slot on the front, only a few hundred yards from the start. There was a real feel to the air in Seaton today, bustling with people in running kit and their supporters, as we walked down the front for the inevitable toilet break, the start was being prepared, we both bumped into people we knew and said our hellos, clearly nerves showing on both sides.

We lined up at 10:15 pushing our way to halfway down the field with the other 2000 runners. The sun was warm as we were surrounded by  hundreds of brightly coloured runners, a variety of dress code, shorts and sleeveless vests alongside long tights and windproof tops. The Town crier did his bit, the crowd responding to his chants, the atmosphere was brilliant.

!0:30 and we were off, watch go button pressed, the first 50 yards we had to walk because of the number of runners, we finally started to run as we crossed the line to cheers from the massive crowd, we turned left to hit the beach for the first mile, the sound of the shingle of 2000 runners on it a real ‘Grizzly’ sound. It was hard work as usual, trying to avoid the slow runners, others pushing past you, trying to find the best line, we were soon at the Axe Yacht club where we were back on the road and a circuit back through the massive crowds past the start line 1 mile covered already, only 19 to go!!

It was then up the first hill and on the road over to Beer, past a rock band playing outside someone’s house, and Elvis singing his heart out further along, the steep hill from Seaton Hole had everyone walking, partly the narrow road with so many people, but also very steep, bearing in mind there was a long way still to go. Down through Beer again massive crowds cheering us on a spectacular river of runners descending through the town. The next steep up hill out of Beer, we did manage to run the lower slopes before succumbing to the steep hill and again the crowd of runners. Over the car park and the first water station in the caravan park,  our plan was to take in water at these points as it was going to be a hot day, we also helped ourselves to our first of many jelly babies of the day. 

Up again and we were finally off road as we climbed to the summit of Beer Head, under foot was good, quite springy and nice to run on, the sea sparkling in the sun, a very slight Northerly breeze, we still felt good, looking forward and back at the trail of runners, we had no idea where we were in the field. Down through the familiar to us ‘Great Seaside’ , fortunately, the mud of last year replaced with firm ground, down we went to the split with the Cub run, we both agreed we were up for the full distance so turning right we were confronted with our first river crossing of the day, crowds again lined the banks as were plunged into the icy cold estuary, for a 20 yard wade with water at our knees at times, my feet were freezing as we exited the water back on to the shingle of Branscombe. Here there was a line of drummers, banging out an inspiring beat, astonishing that they kept this up all day!! On we ran up through the village along familiar tracks until we reached the National Trust forge, turning right we met another steep up hill on the road before an even steeper off road right turn up through a farm gate, we were still very lucky as underfoot was still good. The views over the valley as we ran around the hills of Branscombe were spectacular, the day was wonderful, the woods were all showing the shoots of wild garllic which gave out its wonderful fragrance as we ran through, this was a common theme as we continued through woodland sections of the run, it was very warm and after much up and down around the 10 mile mark we were on a section where we met the front runners coming the other way as we did a very steep circuit before plunging down to the second river crossing of the day to be followed by the dreaded ‘bog’ the water was icy cold once again, but! This time on exit we then plunged into knee deep thick slurry, which as it happened was quite warm! You soon learned to shuffle rather than lift your feet out of the gloop, to avoid too much splatter, yet another plunge into icy water followed and another gloop section, very slow at this point, taking turns through the deep bits to make sure you stayed on your feet. The final section of the bog was very thick, deep mud where it was hard to pull your feet out without leaving your shoes behind, a runner to our left fell and we struggled to lift her upright again, Rachel and I  developed a strategy of hanging on to each other to keep upright. Once out of the thick mud it was another plunge, strangely some runners were stopping to wash off the mud!!!
We squelched our way over more fields and came up against a very steep grassy bank, with a man dressed as, I assume Richard the third, complete with chainmail  chanting out a verse to encourage us. More ups and downs before hitting a trail that took in a food stop, flap jack, crispy cake, sweets, drinks etc. we topped up our energy levels with flapjack etc as we ascended once again.

One highlight of the day as we came over the brow of the hill to see the ‘Fountain Inn’ and hear another rock band playing, we ran through the Beer garden which was brilliant, very large crowds cheering us on through a narrow tunnel of people, real exciting and inspiring atmosphere, we needed it as we had completed approximately 13 miles of steep hills up and steep hills down as well as several river crossings, and several deep muddy bogs.

Round the corner from the Inn another up, out of site of the crowds once again we all started walking again as another uphill, took us to the cliffs above Branscombe, we were now on familiar ground and knew we were on our way home, roughly 6 miles to go. We dropped down to Branscombe once more, a handful of jelly babies and cups of water before crossing the icy water of the estuary for the last time, once again, my feet were freezing and as we hit the shingle of the beach once again, they felt very heavy. We were very lucky this time along the beach as the sea had washed away the shingle at a good level to reveal a sandy beach, which was much easier to run on than the shingle, this was the first time in many runs along here that it had been like this, I think the low tide also helped. Tiredness was creeping in here, so a gel was consumed as a precaution before the stiff climbs up the ‘Stairway to Heaven’ to come and the final last 4 miles or so.

As usual a ‘crocodile’ of runners walked up the hill, Rachel giving me [ and others] a run down of her beef hot pot she had in the oven for her return home later, its amazing how the thoughts of food takeover, perhaps it takes the mind off the pain you are undertaking. Over the top of the S to H, and over through the caravan park, more water, more jelly babies!! The descent into Beer was once again a delight, crowds encouraging us once again, before the steps up out of Beer had us walking once again, I always find this section very hard as we had completed probably about 16 miles so far. We were now back on to tarmac which I find difficult on my now tired calf muscles, particularly my right one. On we went along the road back into Seaton, seemingly a long way on the road, we could see the finish down on the sea front and as we entered the park before the final descent to the finish a number of runners we overtook earlier [standing at the trail side looking completely done!!] came past us, clearly pushing to the finish, I think we must have lost about 10 to 15 places along here, but we didn’t care, we had made it, both excited at finishing the run, we finally entered the finish straight to the cheers of the very large crowd, and the final entry to the finish was welcome, we had done it!!! We both felt very elated, but both very tired, my calf muscle now very sore and Rachel finding her toes very painful. 19.36 miles recorded on my watch and 4 hrs 6mins 41 secs had passed since the start!!
A well earned bottle of water and a couple of bananas as we crossed the line and of course pick up our ‘Grin and Bear it’ tee in a very lime green colour this year [ not a nice colour!] another to wear on my spin classes. A fantastic run, course and support, I really enjoyed it even though quite tired and my calf was pulling a little.

On return to my car and before I took my shoes off I had a text from my son who informed me of my time and my finishing position, apparently he had been tracking me as we all had chips in our numbers, so he knew where I had come and how long before I did. Amazing technology.

Our finishing positions according to the website were:

Rachel 827th out of 1402 finishers with a time of 4h 6m 39 secs the 185th lady and 39th out of 108 for her age category [ F45 sorry Rachel for giving your age away!!]

Me 828th out of 1402 finishers with a time of 4h 6 m 41 secs the 643rd male and 8th out of 22 for the M65 category.

The winner did 2h 17 m !!!!

I was pleased with the results and thought we did well; many times we had to walk because of hold ups, etc.  So another Grizzly completed will I be back next year? I probably will apply as it’s a good incentive through the winter and it is a lovely event, made even better with the fantastic weather on the day and the brilliant organisation, everyone was friendly and the Marshals were excellent, great atmosphere all round. It was particularly nice to have a running partner.The question is will my partner up the lane enter again???

To be continued………… my trip to France

Friday, 11 March 2016

Final countdown !

Saturday March 12th

Tomorrow is a big day the 20 mile multi terrain Grizzly run down at Seaton in Devon, over 3000ft of ascent, two sections of shingle beach, several river crossings and the dreaded bog! Over 2000 runners on the day. I have previously done the Cub run which is half the distance. I think I have prepared over the last couple of months, my 'retired' state I am sure helping focus and provide opportunities to get out, the proof will be tomorrow. My friend up the lane hasn't had quite so much luck with work, family and a nasty cold to contend with, I am sure she will get round.
This week has been easier after my long Monday run over the Quantocks two spin sessions where I took it easy, keeping my heart rate down below 75% and keeping a good cadence throughout. Two days Bikeability with lovely weather riding my bike a few miles with the children and finally I met up with my running partner on Friday evening for a short 3.5 mile run.

So that's it, I am looking forward to it, great atmosphere, I have no idea of time, was hoping for 4hrs but I think the bogs , steep ascents and queuing at bottleneck points on the course will increase my time. The weather forecast is good, with light winds, probably very chilly to start so clothes will have to be given some thought, I think my longs as the river crossings in cold water might affect my calf muscle, a short sleeve 'helly' vest, my Ascics short sleeve, which has pockets and my cycling arm warmers. Food wise a 'tailwind' drink a couple of gels and 2 energy bars chopped into small bite size pieces in plastic bags and try to top up regularly along with anything along the way, water and jelly babies!
Today a chill out day, complete my paperwork for Bikeability, sort out kit, etc.
Watch this space😀😀

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

A week nearer Grizzly run, last preparation.

Wednesday 9th March

Since my day out on my bike last  week in the wind and rain, I have managed to get another 12 mile coastal run, a 6 mile road run,30 mile cycle and a final 17 mile run across the Quantocks as well as a couple of spin sessions. Do I feel ready for the 20 miles of the tough Grizzly run with the hills, bogs and river crossings? Not sure!! It will still be a struggle despite all my training. My last run across the Quantocks was a bitterly cold day and my pace was 12.04 min miles, my best time yet, my right calf really felt it and I was thinking it would get worse before I finished, I did wear an elastic bandage for support, which is what I will do on Sunday. All I can do is my best, I have already dismissed the thoughts of the Ex to Ax this year and will focus on cycling, there is an Audax on that day down round the Purbecks and Weymouth which I will probably do with my son.

On another note I finally picked up my retro bike, my Gazelle Trim Trophy, 1984. it fits well with adjustment to the stem and the seat moved back a little, rides very well very nippy, the gearing feels high with the 42/52 chain rings and 13 -26 freewheel, so will look if I can replace the chain rings to reduce the size of the gears. More on this later.

I also went to Street and Clarkes village shopping centre, the Asics shop for some new road running shoes as my existing ones have a hole in the uppers where my toe has worn away the material, my 3 wonderful children took pity gave me the money for my birthday. I have gone for the same model the Nimbus 16, but  half a size bigger, as they seemed OK last year after 600 miles! They were reduced from £130 to £71 so felt I had a reasonable bargain. Tried them on a 6 mile road run and they felt really good, its amazing what new shoes feel like, extremely comfortable.

 Ones on the left 500 miles and 1 year old,  ones on the right 6 miles and 2 days old
 There is a hole in my shoe right shoe !!!

So a spin session Thursday night and a short 4 -5 mile run on Friday to finish off my training. Weather is looking OK ,unlike the northerly gales and heavy rain today. my plan is to take a 'tailwind drink' top up with water at the drink stations and take 2 energy bars chopped into small pieces and a gel just in case!! 

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Birthday and storm jake

Wednesday 2nd March 2016

Having run 132 miles and cycled 200+ miles in February I don’t understand why I found my 17 mile run across the Quantocks on Monday so hard, it was a beautiful morning, clear blue skies, frost on the ground and no wind, I parked at Lydeard Hill and by the time I had reached Will Neck, complete with new bright white appearance, the highest point on the Quantocks I knew I had overdressed, even though the ground was hard with frost.It was a lovely run along the ridge, underfoot was quite dry, despite all the wet winter, I summited Beacon Hill at the other end of the Quantocks after 8 miles and met the only person I had seen since I set off an hour and a half before, we had a good chat whilst I downed a harvest cereal bar. The air was completely still, and we listened to the silence!! Not even the A39 could be heard, only an occasional hum of an aircraft overhead.

I bid him a good day and dropped down towards the Staple hill car park, still feeling pretty good. I worked my way back over Thorncombe Beacon another Trig point that’s had a coat of paint, before turning left and heading back through Dead Womans ditch, by the time I got to Crowcombe Park Gate after about 13 miles my legs were feeling it, I downed an SIS gel, I am not sure what effect this had, and by the time I was on the ascent of Wills Neck once again I was really struggling, yet another gel!!!
I descended down through the woods to be met by the local hunt! Horses, very large ones and even larger riders were across the track I could hear the dogs but couldn’t see them, just hoping they weren’t coming my way!!!

The final mile round Lydeard Hill was a struggle, the ground now softened by the sun melting the frost. The car park was full when I got back, hunt supporters I assume.

It was a hard run, 1645 ft climbed over the 16.8 miles at a pace of 12.12 min miles, which surprised me as I seemed to walk a lot. As I said I don’t understand the human body, how do these Ultra runners do 40 miles + I thought I was doing a fair few miles along with my spin and Kettlebells classes. I did expect to be tired, but expected my legs to be better than they were, Grizzly 20 miles is now less than 2 weeks away, Sunday the 13th March!!!

On the cycling front met my mate Mike for a 36 mile ride across the levels on Sunday and got my, and my sons entry in for the 55 mile Eroica Brittanica event for pre 1987 bikes  in June, campsite is also booked, deciding not to camp on site this year as it was expensive and facilities were not good. I look forward to using my new Gazelle bike, which I havnt seen yet as my son has had a bad attack of flu! Putting his M –in – Law in hospital with pneumonia !! but things are improving so hoping to pick up this weekend.

The other great happening this week is my 65th birthday! So from the 1st I am officially old, an OAP!!! So lunch out, sadly my Golf engine management light came on half way there, so we had to limp home and take the car to the menders!! I am still awaiting the outcome, so we changed cars and went to ‘Joshuas’ at Ottery St Mary and a lovely ‘dragon pie’. I even went to spinning in the evening, but decided to keep it steady, I did manage to keep my heart Rate down to 70% and under, always twiddling rather than pushing the bigger pressure when the Instructor told us to increase!! I didn’t!! at the end I felt better, the spin session loosening my running legs from the previous day, so an excellent day.

This morning I was meeting up with my friend Dave, to hear about his India CTC trip, so a ride with a café was organised. As he lives 17 miles away we arranged to meet elsewhere. What we didn’t account for was storm ‘Jake’ which was set to arrive as we were cycling.
I set off in sunshine with a stiff breeze, this rapidly detiorated after about 6 miles into a full blown hail storm, lashing rain and extreme winds, I went down one road and a tree had just come down, you could tell by the state of it, it was across the road between two banks, I managed to scramble under it very quickly, one eye above my head not sure whether it would drop further, risky business this cycling in the countryside. I cycled on and then it started to rain, heavy! With Hail and very big gusts of wind. I had put my over trousers in my bag and a waterproof, I never cycle in waterproof trousers, but, they were needed now. The roads were streaming, the sky was black, all very scary, after 10 minutes which seemed much longer it stopped, the sky cleared, fleeting clouds, but still a strong wind. I met up with Dave and we cycled on to Yandles at Martock, but!! We were flagged down to be told a tree had come down across a bridge so the road was impassable, so a detour through the pretty village of East Lambrook, adding 4 miles to the route. The café was a welcome site, even though it stopped raining, a café tier of Kenyan coffee with hot milk and a hot cheese and onion pasty hit the right spot, normally cake, but not today!! I heard all about cycling in India and we talked about bikes and years gone by. When we left the café, the road that had been closed was now open, so we went in different directions, Dave with a nice tailwind home, whilst mine was 12 miles into the wind!! But, luck was on my side ‘the wobblers’ from Chard were also out so I was able to join on the back of their group, as they were going the same way as me, so chatting, some shelter from the others in the group made the journey home much more pleasurable, the sun was now shining, no rain, but the wind was very strong. I had left my over trousers on to keep my legs clean as the roads were very muddy and wet, the downside was they were very hot! But I didn’t want to stop and take them off as riding with the ‘Wobblers ‘ was more important.

30 miles covered on a very challenging day weather wise, but as usual very enjoyable when you get homeJ and a good catch up with a cycling mate.