Thursday, 25 May 2017

A hard week, cycle, work, cycle!

26th May 2017
Sunday 21st May 2017

Sunday the weather was bright and sunny, but windy. My plan today was to get a bit of climbing in and a few more miles.
The climb up Yarcombe Hill is alpine like, in that there is a nice horse bend, and a continuous climb on good road surface for a mile or so, even though it is the A30 the traffic on Sunday morning was light, I enjoyed the climb sitting comfortably for the distance, twiddling when required. Over the top to the ‘road to the sun’ the A303 before branching off towards the ridge road of Farway, a head wind along here meant that I would have a tail wind home! I dropped down to Beer and along the coast to Seaton ,stopping on the front, to look at the sparkling  sea under a blue sky, a lovely sunny morning.

I then met some of the local club lads who invited me to join them to cycle back home, good idea I thought [mmmm!] I sat on the back of the six riders as we left Seaton and headed up the long climb to Rousdon, a lovely climb, but! I was soon dropped unable to keep pace, it was only later I discovered that two of the riders had cycle up Mont Ventoux 3 times in a day the previous week!
They did wait at the top and I joined them on the downhill to Hunters lodge and the very busy A35. Where once again I regained the pack! My average speed had gone up considerably and was nearer 16 mph! including many feet of climbing. The road past Lamberts castle is a great descent very fast Garmin showing 40 mph on a good road surface, even here keeping up was hard, we soon hit another climb and here I decided I couldn’t match their pace anymore, so made my excuses of having a snack and drink and let them ride on, they reluctantly went on . I continued my ride home at a leisurely pace, pleased with my efforts this morning 48 miles 3373 feet climbed at 14.6 mph.

Monday, more miles, Athelney this time 50 miles covered on a lovely morning once again, a hard ride, I did find I needed more snacks this morning to avoid ‘the bonk’ . One minor niggle on my knee which is causing me a little concern as I have had it before, I hope it will not develop any further.

Tuesday, work, Bikeability for two days at a local school, the weather couldn’t have been more different from the previous week at the same school, a cloudy, dreary day but very warm. Eighteen enthusiastic 9 year olds on bikes!! Day two of the course was a hot, sunny day, we had a variety of bike problems, culminating in me repairing a punctured rear tyre over a mile from the school. Traffic seemed slower this week, and gave us a little more space, interesting compared with the fast speed of the previous wet week!!
This was to be my last Bikeability course as I have made the decision to resign my post at the end of June, to enjoy my retirement.

My final ride before my trip, Thursday was very hot and very sunny, the morning was spent on a trip to the dump and the local charity shop then after lunch I did a 33 mile ride over the levels, purposefully keeping my speed and efforts down, a really enjoyable ride in hot sunshine, the temperature said it was 26.9 degrees C.

131 miles completed this week and 553 miles this month

The evening was then spent cleaning my bike and preparing it for my Manche to Med  trip which I begin on Saturday catching the ferry from Portsmouth over the Caen. New tyres, chain and cassette, mudguards back on. The decision now is panniers or travel bag!! I seem to keep finding ‘bits I need to take’ I had to nip down to the bike shop and buy a cycling cap! In case cycling in the mountains I needed to cycle without my helmet.
I will try to add a list of what I take to the blog, when I have packed! We are fortunate as we have a following van to take luggage, which means we can travel light in the day [bit like a team car J

Friday, 19 May 2017

A campervan trip to St Ives and more cycling!

20th May 2017

I had booked a few days in Cornwall with the van from Wednesday through till Friday, the weather forecast was good for Wednesday and Thursday but wet on Friday!
I had booked into the Ayre holiday park in St Ives, 
This is great site in a spectacular position overlooking St Ives Portmeor  beach, great facilities very clean and newish. All pitches have good views as you can see from the photo.
The only thing was it was a north easterly wind which was chilly and the site is a little exposed.

                                   View from our pitch at Ayr - Porthmeor beach St Ives


                                                                           St Ives Harbour
                            View across St Ives from the Coast guard lookout

We left home on Wednesday morning and found the A30 near Bodmin a nightmare with roadworks, we got through OK as its still spring but I would hate to venture down there this summer, there will be monumental tailbacks!!!
We were there by lunchtime, checked in and parked up, kettle on all within 10 minutes, much easier than camping!!! It was too chilly to sit outside but we had spectacular views over St Ives from the van as we had lunch. It was a beautifully sunny day, the sea was very blue, almost Mediterranean!!

After lunch we walked down the coast path to the town, a lovely path, we were surprised how busy it was, the cafes etc. were spilling out into the streets in the sunshine, the tide was just coming in, and we saw several gulls relieve people of their ice creams!!! People don’t take enough care, when eating food down there. We spent a lot of time sitting in the sunshine, enjoying the scenery that St Ives has to offer.
Five bean chilli in Weatherspoons was dinner that evening, quite a scruffy Weatherspoons, but the chilli was nice.

We walked back up the coast path as the sun was going down, lovely views with the sun shining on the white sandy beaches etc. We had a good night in the van, and as always we were up earlyish and surprised that the showers etc. were deserted. Breakfast was cereal and panne au chocolat heated in our ‘Seren’ side entry toaster enabling us to heat pasties etc. and well within the wattage of the campsites.

We walked along the cliff path enjoying the coastal scenery and weather, even though it was a little chilly, and returned for a sandwich lunch back at the van.
The couple of days away went all too quickly, and Friday dawned a little damp and seemed to be getting worse, as we packed up and drove off the rain started to get heavy. We called in Penzance, had coffee and the last of the panne au chocolat before a wander round the town, we were disappointed that it seemed very run down, these days, or perhaps the weather didn’t help. We were heading back up the A30 by lunchtime intending to stop on the way for a sandwich lunch. We stopped before the road works, good job we did as we were soon in a long que into the works, single file 40 mph traffic!!!
However we were still home by tea time, a great few days away and made a change from cycling each day at the moment.

The rest of Friday was very wet and windy, but Saturday dawned a little better, but windy, so I was soon out on my bike again, over the levels once more 45 miles covered , a nasty headwind on the way home making it hard work. Giving me 184 miles for the week!
Sunday I met up with the wheelers early as they were cycling to Watchet 40 miles away to cycle back to West Bay on the charity ride for the Air Ambulance, coast to coast, they would have clocked up over 100miles by the time they got home again!! I wasn’t entered for the event and decided I would peel off just after Wellington to cycle back on my own. They set a good pace and by the time we reached Wellington we were averaging 16 mph!!! I waved good bye at Nynehead and made my way back through the lanes to Bishops Hull near Taunton then went round Taunton to return home via Creech St Michael, and over the Blackdowns. 53 miles covered !!  most of the way home was into a strong headwind once again. The C2C riders must have had the same, as I did cover much of their route home.
Monday has dawned very wet and windy!! I hope to get out but!!! And as I have 3 days of Bikeability my mileage will drop, especially as I am trying to do back to back rides. The rain continued through the day, my enthusiasm disappeared!

Tuesday and Wednesday were also set to be wet and windy days. I had 2 days of Bikeability at a local school, it wasn’t looking promising. We managed to get day 1 completed with only a slight shower with the rain heavy by the end of the day.

Wednesday was very poor, we started off with heavy rain so a DVD on road safety, before heading out onto very wet roads to complete the course. Cars seemed very reluctant to slow down today, causing me some anxious moments with the children. We were able to cover all the outcomes by lunchtime and there were 18 soggy children handed back to the school, I have to say they were very good coping well with the weather and their behaviour helped us get through the course and I am pleased to say they all got their level 2.

Thursday was helping out a colleague on another Bikeability course in a local village, just day one, interesting the contrast between the school of the previous days, and between year 5 and 6 children, year 5 children still seem very immature for the level 2 course. Fortunately the weather was okay for most of the day, only one short sharp shower.
Friday, was forecast to be sunny to start with heavy rain following by lunchtime. I was up very early, and was out cycling by 6:30 am!!! It was chilly, my Garmin said 7 degrees! Full tights, thermal vest and windproof top with gloves! I did a quick ride 27 miles covered and back home by 8:30 for a second breakfast!

Not a great week for miles only 80 miles covered, the bad weather has really set in, with only a week before I depart on my Manche to Med fifteen day 1200 km cycle down through France, I have to work another two days this week, so only three days to get a few more miles in, I also need to spend time preparing my bike and sorting out other stuff, maps, kit etc. Tomorrows [Sunday] weather is looking good so maybe I can get a good few miles in and Monday is also looking good, this is probably my last chance for back to back rides. We will see!!! No running again this week !!

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Exmoor Spring Audax and more cycling miles

5th May 2017
Tuesday a 48 mile ride over Athelney in a cold northerly wind, trying to build the miles for my French trip, riding day after day approximately 50 miles a day for 15 days will be a challenge so I need to try to do back to back rides.

Wednesday was Wobble day, 8 of us again headed over the hills to Beer in East Devon. We started the day with a climb and big descent  followed by a huge climb past Stockland to the A30, fortunately it was a short section before turning off, the temperatures were now rising, especially after the climbing, a fast ridge ride before many ups and downs through Southleigh, beautiful views across the valley, and hedgerows full of bluebells and garlic. Some very narrow steep downhills had us on our brakes and all times. There was a final climb up to Hangmans  Stone, according to the map it was 15% before a long descent down to sea level, ‘Duckys café’ on the beach at Beer, below the cliffs sheltered from the northerly wind we were able to sit outside for our coffee and cake or in some cases egg and bacon baps! It was a steep climb out of Beer, we were starting at sea level! Over the back lanes to Colyton and then on past Shute house the National Trust property and through some lovely lanes again to Kilmington, saying cheerio to two members of the group, it was a hard route back with a fierce cold headwind over Membury and Bewley Down, 42 miles covered and nearly 400ft climbed with a head wind for the return journey, a hard ride.

Thursday was a rest day, so a bit of gardening and a trip to Exeter to pick up a couple of items for my trip, Chamois cream!!! For my behind!! I expect it to be sore. A lovely lunch out made a very relaxing day.

Friday a 32 mile round North Curry, again a chilly grey day but it was a good week with 142 miles covered?

Saturday, a trip to Gloucester to spend the day with the grandchildren, Gdaughter was dancing in Gloucester so we took the twins down to see her performance, it was lovely to see her and felt proud to be her Grandparents! We had a great day before heading back down the M5, very quiet for a Saturday evening. I spent the rest of the evening preparing for the Audax on the Sunday.

The weather forecast on Sunday was for a cloudy day with a northerly breeze, but as I was packing the car the sun was shining, and it was getting warm! Even at 7:30. What to wear? Long or short? Top and bottoms? I took both deciding to sort when I got to Minehead.
I packed my usual fruited tea cakes with jam! And several Fruisli bars and a trusted bottle of tailwind energy drink. The drive over to Minehead was lovely in the morning sunshine.
I was early as usual, parking easily, a cup of tea went down well before collecting my Brevit card for the day ahead. It was still looking good for the day, weatherwise, so I went for shorts, short sleeved jersey with arm warmers and a gilet, knowing I could take off layers if and when it got warm.
9:30 came as we rolled away from the centre, the sun was shining, a little chilly in the wind but this would change as we climbed the toll road up out of Porlock, this road was stunning, a good angle, as it climbed switch backing with horseshoe bends, the surface was excellent, no traffic and very quiet except for heavy breathing cyclists and birdsong! The views across the bay were stunning. I found the climb easy even though it went on for several miles, but compared to the main A road it was easy!!!

                       View from half way up Porlock hill Toll road, across Porlock Bay  A lovely climb

I eventually topped out with fabulous views across the moor and out across the sea, I heard my first cuckoo of the year as I sipped a drink before the next section across to Exford, which is a switch back road that has a sting in the tail with a sharp dip with a 15% exit. The descent to Exford was long and fast to the first check point and a welcome snack. It was sunny, but still chilly in the wind. It was back uphill over to Simonsbath, I was overtaken by several inconsiderate riders who cut me up as they passed!!! I was riding steadily enjoying the sunshine and the Exmoor countryside. Simonsbath meant another long climb out up to Kinsford Gate, I remember the hill as being long and steep, as I cycled up the Hill I was caught by a rider on a nice handmade Mercian, it was Dan from Tiverton and as we climbed we chatted about frames, cycles etc. making the climb go quickly, we were now over the top the views were really vast over the open moor, very little traffic and we seemed to be on our own with the other cyclists either ahead or behind us.

 The descent to Dulverton was really steep, and my Garmin showed 60kph + with some sharp bends, I was glad to see the bottom and cycled to the next checkpoint at the pub on the bridge. It was time for some lunch! And a short rest. Over half way now and one final long [ 10k + ] climb ahead .
I was now able to ditch my arm warmers, and gilet as the weather was now warm, even after the fast descents. I worked my way along the valley to Exbridge, still in the company of Dan chatting as we went.
We approached the A396 road and started the climb up to Wheddon Cross, the road was undulating, but continued to climb for 10k plus, never at a difficult angle but ensuring you had to work. This was not helped with the traffic, and the very large groups of motorcyclists over taking in both directions, clearly we were on one of their favourite rides!! Thirty or forty passed us at one point making it very unpleasant. I was very pleased when we finally reached the summit at Wheddon Cross. All that was left was the descent and fast 10k on a good road surface and thankfully no motor bikes, 4hrs 35 mins after leaving Minehead I arrived back at the HQ and a welcome cup of tea and a cream tea! Jam on cream!!!
A great day out in good company, weather was really good, sunshine most of the day – 5300ft climbed, 63 miles covered and I still felt OK!!!

Monday I was out again round the levels this time, 51 miles round Henlade, North Curry, Athelney, Langport, Muchelney and back through Hatch Beauchamp, I was feeling quite tired after this ride as there was a strong northerly wind. I had a new food trial today peanut M&Ms, seemed to work at keeping the energy up as well as hunger at bay!

                                              View over the levels West Sedgemoor, Below Curry Rivel

Tuesday was a ‘retrobike’ ride to meet up with Yeovil cycling club at Kingsbury Episcopi Community café. I didn’t realise it was so cold, as I set off down the cycle track, my Garmin said it was 6.4 degrees!!! The Gazelle felt comfortable except for the ‘cramped’ brake leaver! I thought the gears would be too big but they felt good and no problem, by the time I reached the café after 12 miles I was feeling very cold so the tea and crumpet was most welcome. A good natter before we discussed the ‘retro bikes ‘outside  - a Stan Pike, Mercier, Gazelle and a Velo??? All classic bikes going back to 1979 it was good to see them out again. The sun had come out now so the temperature had gone up by 10 degrees!! So a pleasant ride home and 25 miles in the bag!!! 139 miles in three days, good training!

                                                        Red Stan Pike at the front 1979ish
                                                 Silver Velo???

                                               Pink Mercier and Blue Gazelle

No running this week as I need to get the miles in, only 2 weeks to my Manche to Med trip! Still collecting bits and pieces, thinking about clothes to take etc.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Cycling miles

1st May 2017
Tuesday was a rest day, but we managed to get out for a pleasant morning down at Sidmouth, a chilly wind from the north kept the temperature down, even though sat behind the sea wall was lovely in the sun, drinking our coffee, eating shortbread fingers. A walk around the town, fairly quiet before a visit to the white horse café for egg, chips and peas, slice of bread and butter with a mug of tea.

                       Coffee in the sun, out of the cold northerly wind on a deserted beach at Sidmouth 

Wednesday morning was wobbly day, a sharp drop in temperature had 8 of us turning out, most of us dressed for winter as it was very cold when we set off! Although several hardy souls still had shorts!! We headed over towards Langport , Drayton and Muchelney to stop after 24 miles at the community café at Kinsbury Episcopi, good food at good prices, good to support the community run café. It was clear blue skies but the cold northerly wind meant we sat inside. Back through Shepton Beauchamp and Kingston to finish back along the cycle track, where I sadly managed to puncture my rear tyre, a pinch I think? As I could find nothing in the tyre. A great ride at a nice pace, lovely group of people, lots of chat as we cycled. 40 miles covered

Thursday, I decided I needed to keep up my running, so a 6.14 miles road run around the town, The last couple of runs I have been working to keep my heart rate low, below 145 BPM quite difficult, but I did manage it and I must admit, I felt better when I finished and my times are not as bad as I thought they would be, usually 1h and 5 mins for the 10 k run!

Friday was fast cycle day!!! I met up with the wheelers after lunch, usually the ride is very fast due to the youngsters in the group, fortunately they were absent today, so I was hopeful I would be able to keep the pace a little more today. 8 of us headed out on the usual Friday afternoon run, Langport, via Muchelney and back through Martock for tea and cake before climbing back over the hills and back along the cycle track. The pace was good, by the tea stop, the average was 17.5+mph and I easily kept to the group, it was reasonably warm, with very little wind. A good ride once again. 38 miles covered.

Saturday I wanted to get miles in to keep up the miles for my coming Manche to Med trip. I headed for the hills on a chilly and windy morning, over the Blackdown hills to Dunkeswell and back, it seemed hard work and I always seemed to be in a head wind! And it was cold despite the tights, thermal vest and Gore Windstopper jacket. Still another 44 miles covered and many feet climbed. The views were very good on the top of the hills, the blue bells and garlic once again beautiful,  but there were no skydivers today, too windy!!! I found it very hard, my legs ached on each hill and I had to work really hard to get up them, I never really warmed up again! I was glad to get home.
A great mileage week with 222 miles cycled this week, and my legs felt it! Only 6.14miles run though, still I need cycling miles.

Sunday I fitted my new cassette and chain, but found my chain is a little tight as I didn’t realise I ordered an 114 links when it should have been 116 links, so may change that again, I swapped my tyres round putting the rear on the front and the front on the rear as it had less wear, I want to hang on putting my new tyres on till I go to France, the front tyre now does look a little worn!

I also received an email with all the information for my French trip today, it’s now all looking very daunting! Looking at the mileage, over a 1100 km with an average of nearly 100 km a day  for the 15 days, a couple of short days , a rest day but a couple of back to back days of 110 -120 km, into the Cevennes region, which is hills, I hope by then I will have the miles in my legs to cope.
I have now started to think about clothing etc. even though it’s going in a van behind us, I ned to take enough but not too much to cope with 4 seasons of weather as we head south, as well other things, sore bums! snacks, money etc. .  I am also thinking I may take a travel bag instead of panniers as I am unsure I will get it all in. As I am hiring a car to drive back I only need to get from the ferry to the car hire place, which I think is at the end of the docks?  I have also been trying to download some of the maps to my Garmin to save taking maps, much of the time I will be riding with the group, but a route would be handy!!!

I am hoping to cycle at least every other day leading up to the ride, approx. 40-50 miles a day, this should build up my stamina and fitness for the ride. Running will have to take a back seat for a while as I don’t really see a lot of benefit from running in my cycling.

April was an excellent month I cycled 576 miles and ran 42 miles, so pleased with that compared to 400 cycled and 29 run last year. I have also signed up for the 1000 mile run challenge through ‘Trail running’ magazine , as I have already run nearly 350 this year. I should just be able to do it!
Monday [bank holiday] after a rest yesterday, the weather was very wet! I needed to get out and do a few miles on my bike, sadly it was raining before lunch but! There was a weather window just after. The sun was shining and it was much warmer, but I still had three-quarter tights on and a thicker winter jersey. I went for hills again and seemed to go well, the day off has done me good. I went over the hills to Chardstock on the Blackdowns, a couple of long steep ups and a couple of long steep downs before I got to the village, hedgerows now covered in Bluebells! I continued on to Tytherleigh and Holditch, more climbing and descending and finally back through South Chard and Perry street, well over 2000 feet climbed today in 20 miles.

I have entered the Exmoor Spring Audax, which is 110 km over Exmoor taking in the Porlock Toll road , which is a little less steep than the main A39 which has so many arrows on it, its like the wild west!!!! It will be a good test for me in my build up, I am hoping to get out at least another three times this week and do about 40 to 50 miles so again hoping to hit the 200 mile mark.
The weather has broken after a very long spell of very dry, but cold weather, I just hope it settles down again.