Selling Out?

When I set up this blog I only ever had the intention of cycling and blogging about cycling.

Since then I have covered a few miles, bought a new bike and enjoy riding through the countryside where I live.

So I feel like I am selling out a bit as I have started to think about taking up running! I’ve never really liked running, I’m not really built for distance and I don’t enjoy it that much, it’s just something I have started to want to do. So much so that I have been out and bought some running shorts (so I really do have all the gear…). The last time I ran any distance (apart from the Sport Relief Mile in 2012) was at school. I used to run the 1500 meters, the first 1300 meters would be jogged, trying not to stop, then the last 200 meters I could sprint as that’s what I could do, sprint.

I want to do this for two reasons – and no I won’t be stopping riding, just supplementing my rides with a spot of jogging, which brings me onto reason one. It’s dark out there, very dark. Much as I like being outside, not being able to see very well makes riding in an evening or first thing in the morning quite difficult – weekends are OK but the rest of the week I will struggle, especially when it comes to motivation.

The second reason is perhaps the more important, I want to compete in a Triathlon. Me, an overweight, fairly unfit, fortysomething wants to combine three sports into one and complete them one after another – for fun.

I only want to do it once mind, I’m not wanting to take it up as a sport, but ever since I realised that the London Marathon is about 25 miles to far for me I have wanted to do something just once before I’m too old to want to try.

There is a fairly easy (by triathlon standards) event run once a year a few miles away from where I live. It consists of a 400m swim in a pool, 16km bike ride and 4.5km run. The swim and the bike I know I can handle, separately at least. It’s the run that I’ve got no chance with and what needs the work. I’m not kidding myself though, I am aware that it’s going to be tough to do all of these three disciplines one after the other, let alone one at a time.

So I am going to use this blog to not only chart progress with my rides and the views I see when I’m out, but also to talk about my quest to get myself from total non-runner to doing at least 5km on a regular basis.

Wish me luck!

Wear a Helmet

I’m not usually one to preach, or to care much about what others do themselves, but this topic is one that I couldn’t let go.

I grew up in the 1970’s and 80’s, riding a Grifter in the woods next to where I lived – did I ever wear a helmet? I don’t even recall them being commercially available at the time so no, we didn’t.

But then I grew up in an age where there were fewer cars, the pace of things was a little slower and we rode around with a little less fear of being knocked off our bikes by crazy bus drivers or people who just don’t like cyclists.

Now riding a BMX in the woods is one thing, but riding on a main route out of a city in rush hour, packed with cars and buses is another. I actually saw one person riding a couple of feet behind a bus at 30 mph (I was clocking the speed) obviously getting some drag benefit from being so close. What struck me was that the person on the bike wasn’t wearing a helmet. Of course had the bus stopped quickly I doubt a helmet would have saved them from slamming into the back of it, but it might just have saved them from having a sever head injury. It wasn’t as if they where on their way home from work, in jeans and a t-shirt. They were wearing full cycling gear – minus the helmet.

Since this I have noticed just how many people ride around on the roads in major cities without protecting themselves with a £15 helmet.

It just seems daft. The protection is there, why not use it? Don’t want to ruffle your hair? Think you look a bit of a dick. Well I can tell you now you might look a dick (I know / think I do) and yes I get the lines of the helmet in my hair when I take it off, but I wouldn’t dream of riding on the road without it.

It may not happen to you, but I saw this article – I only read the headline as it says it all – Father’s agony as cyclist son who refused to wear a helmet in case he messed up his hair is left in a coma after collision with van.

All I’m saying is wear a helmet – you never know what might happen. I’m no Bradley Wiggins but I do agree with him when he said helmets should be compulsory when on the road and iPods banned. You have to wear a helmet on a motorbike, even ones that are restricted to 30mph, a speed that most of us have probably reached on our bikes at one time or another.

No Second Wind

I looked out of the window this morning to be greeted by bright blue skies, today will be a good day for a ride I thought.

After a bit of should I shouldn’t I , will I won’t I, I decided to get myself sorted and go out for a ride – a big one as this will be my last for a couple of weeks with a trip to the hospital looming large next week.

What I hadn’t taken into account was how breezy it was out there. Not really windy, not dangerous to ride in, just breezy enough to make it hard to cycle in, because no matter which direction I was going in, the wind always seemed to be in my face!

The route I have been taking recently starts uphill for about a mile then after a quick flat stretch comes the short but hard climb up top. I kind of knew after about 300 metres that I didn’t have it this morning, nothing in my legs and struggling with breathing.

I usually get to the top of the first hill, have a breather whilst on the flat, then once I’ve had a moment at the top of the hard climb I get a second wind, ready to do the windmills course or at least ride around a shorter course with some great sprints. Today, nothing. Nothing in my legs, no air in my lungs and with the wind in my face no motivation to push on. I tried a short sprint that I wanted to beat me previous time on, but with the wind I was going nowhere fast, so I did the unthinkable, I turned round and rode home.

I didn’t just come straight home, I did manage to climb Up Top (from behind so it’s hardly a climb) then it’s all downhill until I get home. The downhill is great, I try to hit top gear and peddle as much as I dare, hitting nearly 30 mph which for me is fast enough when you are weaving past parked cars and hoping no-one pulls out of their driveway.

Ride Details

Distance: 5.4 miles

Time Taken: 37.31

Elevation Gain: 441ft

I think I may have put myself off by stopping to take this picture half way up the first hill! The best of the pictures I take I run through Instagram to enhance some of the features (including the one below). They can been seen on my Instagram page here.

Looking towards Up Top

Looking towards Up Top

Even now, a few hours after going out, I feel like I have done at least 20k, still nothing in my legs and just feel stiff. Time for a break now to get some bits sorted in the hospital next week so hopefully back to full fitness and back out on the road soon.

Fading Light

The nights are drawing in, now that we have reached September, so this is the first time I have used lights on my bike for a number of years!

As the sun went down over the Pennines I decided to ride towards the Windmills, but take a shorter route that I have ridden before which loops back to where I started – once I got up top . I am basically riding up hill for a couple of miles or so before I reach kind of a plateau (but believe me it’s not flat!) which I can either take the shorter loop that I did this time, or the longer loop in the other direction which takes me around the windmills course.

I love riding in this area, much more than the church 10k as it allows time to recover from the climb up, gives me the length of ride that is similar to the church 10k but isn’t quite as hard. You might think that I should take the harder option, but I think I would prefer to enjoy the ride, especially when I am finding it tough going (like I did on this ride), than killing myself around a course that I just don’t get on with.

It’s a shame because there are some great views on the church 10k but only after you have slogged round most of the trip so I’m usually too tired to either care or enjoy them!

So on to the details of this ride.

Ride Details

Distance: 7.1 miles

Time Taken: 45:34

Elevation Gain: 600ft

Part of the reason I like to go out – and one of the things that keeps me going when I really don’t want to continue, are the views. I will try to take pictures of different parts of each ride, maybe from different angles, but with fading light it isn’t always possible. Here are a couple of shots from today’s ride.