A Wet Wednesday in September

Today the only thing that was miserable was the weather, which wasn’t expected or forecast but ended up being very misty and a little wet. At least some of the people out this evening spoke or nodded some kind of acknowledgment unlike the miserable people from last Sunday. Granted there were a lot less of us out there tonight, probably something to do with the weather, but even so you get a friendlier rider on an evening than you do on a Sunday morning, in my experience anyway.

One of the biggest problems I have when riding in the wet is that I wear glasses. They either get misty as I breath upwards on them (I struggle to breath through my nose so have to breath through my mouth) or they just get misty with all of the rain / spray. Wiping them gives the obvious smear so I can see less than I could when the rain drops where on them, maybe it’s time to consider contact lenses (I’m sure I’ve said that before…).

This was a quick blast around the windmills after work so I had to get off on time otherwise I may not have been done when the light went totally making it difficult to see. What I hadn’t foreseen was one of the internal servers going down at 5.10pm, which I am responsible for, with me wanting to leave at 5.40pm fully changed and ready to ride. It takes about 35-40 minutes to get home and I wanted to be riding by 6.30pm to ensure I was done no later than 7.30pm when I knew the light would be gone. Couple that with the weather I really needed to get off on time but alas sever issues and the MD asking how to delete and email on his phone as I was walking out, I didn’t leave until 5.50pm.

Even so with everything against me I still managed to get riding just after 6.30pm, lights on, one set so I can see and the other set flashing so I can be seen by others – remember see and be seen!

Visibility was poor to say the least, the photo below shows just how misty it was, the wall in the photo is no more than 20 feet away from where I had stopped to wipe my glasses.

I had already decided from my last blog post that I would try and improve my overall speed and time around the whole course rather than concentrate on individual Strava segments. I also decided that I would take it easy on the descents and corners as I had blown my tires up that afternoon, plus they are the equivalent of an F1 car intermediate tyre, not a full slick, but only a few groves to let the water disperse rather than the usual knobbly MTB tyres that the bike came with. With wet roads and small puddles forming I didn’t want to push too hard and end up falling off, I had a bit of a moment just after I set off turning in the road where I almost fell off because I wasn’t concentrating or pedaling – you get the split second to sort yourself out, pedal or unclip, not moving and just balancing the answer had to be pedal, if I tried to unclip I would have been on the deck.

As I rode carefully my top speed was well down on the usual 30mph, but I managed to increase my overall speed, averaging almost 13mph, helped by a good final uphill segment where I told myself it was the last hill (apart from the other one) on the way back so I could push hard as I was nearly at the finish.

A good workout which is what I am aiming for at the moment with the shorter rides around the windmills, my next goal for a weekend ride is to break the 20 mile barrier, something I haven’t achieved yet.

A wet Wednesday in September - the view

A wet Wednesday in September – the view

Ride Details

Distance: 9.0 miles

Time Taken: 41:42

Elevation Gain: 434ft

Average Speed: 12.9 mph

 

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And They Say it Changes When The Sun Goes Down, Around Here

I took a couple of pictures whilst out on Wednesday night which I wanted to share here. Nothing really remarkable happened on this ride out, just that I only just made it back round before the light went totally. I have lights but don’t really like riding when it is pitch black as there are no street lights where I go and it can be a bit dangerous in places, especially as the roads are in a shocking state.

The one thing I did notice this evening was the temperature difference where the road dipped so the sun hadn’t been able to warm the air. The air was still anyway, with no breeze, but the difference in temperature in a couple of places was very noticeable, which was very odd. What does change when the sun goes down is the temperature which is something I am going to need to remember if I manage to get out again after work this year.

Apart from that this was a simple case of getting some miles in the legs, going a slightly different way to add a bit of distance and then riding on past the car (yes I drove up the hill again to make sure I got back before the sun went down).

As the sun goes down

As the sun goes down

Cows in a fields

Cows in a fields

 

Ride Details

Distance: 9.8 miles

Time Taken: 46:20

Elevation Gain: 440ft

Average Speed: 12.7 mph

 

Triathlon Bike Course – Done

Well almost…

Like many people I have spent the last few weekends looking out of the window in the hope that the weather will break a bit and I can get out on the bike. An aborted attempt a couple of weeks ago left me very aware that the elements can change very quickly in the hills and I shouldn’t take anything for granted especially with the UK weather.

Training for the triathlon has been slow. Actually it has been pretty much non-existent over the past month since I went in for an op in mid January. It’s now mid February and up until this post I had ridden a total of 5 miles (2.5 of those downhill with a following wind), thought about going swimming, to the point where I have the timetables of the local swimming pools stuck up on the wall with the lane swimming times highlighted. Running just hasn’t crossed my mind. So to say it isn’t going well is a bit of an understatement.

Triathlon number one is on the 8th June 2014 and is a ‘sprint’ event. I won’t be sprinting, just competing and completing will be enough for me. I’d like to not come last but if my last ride is anything to go by I will defiantly end up somewhere near the back. I need to get some training in and a break in the weather on Sunday provided the perfect opportunity to start.

With the weather better than it had been I decided to try the triathlon course out. I never had any doubt that I could ride the distance – 16km as I have easily done that over the past few months, the only question was the route. I know the area well as it’s not too far from where I live, the route however, uses roads that I rarely drive on as it’s not on my way anywhere.

Although close to where I live, the start point of the bike course is 6 miles away, after the usual 1 mile ride uphill to get anywhere the rest of the ride to the start is downhill or on the flat – not many roads around here that are flat!

I didn’t stop to admire the starting point, choosing to keep up my momentum and ride out on the flat for around 3km before turning and facing the long climb up towards Emley Moor mast. This is a bit of a killer climb with little flat and only one very small downhill section to catch your breath on. It’s 3 miles long, a category 4 climb with an average grade of 3% and an elevation gain of 524ft. None of this is particularly hard, especially for the numerous cyclists who past me on the way up (all of them on road bikes not mountain bikes like me).

The one thing I have noticed whilst out and about is how much of a community cycling is. Everyone is so polite, with a morning here, a hello there and the odd thanks thrown in when someone passes you. OK some don’t speak, some people just nod or pretend not to have seen you – difficult when I wear a bright yellow jacket and red Camelbak. The runners often say hello too, all fitness freaks together.

At the summit of the climb stands the mast itself. Here was a ride of two halves. In front of me dark rain clouds and menacing skies, behind me sunshine and blue skies – pity I was heading home towards the rain! I needed to have a quick rest as my knee was feeling pretty sore and I needed to stop. Not for long, just long enough to take some pictures and stand up for a couple of minutes.

Over the past couple of rides I’d noticed some discomfort in my left knee when I applied pressure on the pedal. This got much worse whilst trying to ride up the hill towards Emley (the mast isn’t actually in Emley, a small village a mile or so further down the hill) and continued to get worse the longer I went on. With the rest-bite of riding down the hill towards home the pain subsided although as the wind had picked up on the decent I found myself having to pedal just to keep moving which didn’t help. The time it took to complete this ride indicate that I was hampered by my knee, hopefully getting some strength training done and building up the muscle above the knee should help.

At the bottom of the decent there are two options, left takes you back towards the triathlon course start, right takes you back towards home. As there was no point in going towards the start and being 6 miles away from home, I decided to head towards home, down a great short decent, then back up towards home.

By this point I was in agony with the knee, but I had kind of planned the route before hand so wanted to complete what I set out to do. I’ve been on these roads before so knew I was struggling as I was going extremely slowly in a very low gear. But I had to do it. Not because I wanted extra distance, although always nice, but because I wanted to get back to one of my favuorite decents, down the road I cycle up on my way out. It’s not a long road, just about a mile, it’s not that steep, but you can get good speed up and I know I’m nearly home.

So I did the majority of the course, I went much further than the course itself, so at least I know that I can complete that part of the triathlon. All I need to do is start with a swim and end it with the dreaded run!

Ride Details

Distance: 17 miles

Time Taken: 1:54:18

Elevation Gain: 1,332ft

The base of the mast with the sun peeping through

The base of the mast with the sun peeping through

Looking across the Wakefield with the mast behind.

Looking across the Wakefield with the mast behind.

All Hail the 200 Club

It’s taken quite a while but I have finally managed to reach the magic 200 mile mark for the year. Now some of you may do that in a couple of days, but it’s taken me just short of 4 months to ride my second 100 miles.

I’ve ridden through the wind and the rain, seen glorious sunsets and stunning views and today I even rode through hail stones (some of which I got in my mouth). So its been fun for the most part, some days have been a hard slog, some I’ve nearly been sick, but I’ve made it.

The first 100 miles was done a little quicker, time wise at least, but in more rides. I guess the cold weather and the shorter days has made it more difficult to get out, that coupled with a small operation in September which left me unable to ride.

I hope that Santa will bring me some more gear this year, I could do with some long cycling shorts (tights I believe they are known as) for riding in the colder weather, not that it could be too much colder than today! I am also hopeful of getting a Camelbak for those longer rides in the mud and a running top for that fateful day that I start to jog.

I did the first 100 miles in 20 rides, the second I have done in 13 which shows that I am going further when I go out, I am just going out less. I have also done some of the miles quicker as it has taken about an hour less to do the second 100 than it did the first. As I have mentioned in previous posts its not just about the time it takes and how fast I go, after all I ride a mountain bike, its about enjoying the time I get to go out and have a ride.

The main stats are as follows, these are year to date

Distance: 212 miles

Rides: 33

Elevation Gain: 14,915 ft

Time taken: 24 hours 25 mins

There are still a few days left of this year so I may get out again and increase my total for the year, it will all depend on the weather and more precisely the wind. There is nothing fun about cycling to a standstill in wind that would blow me over if it hit me side on.

Onwards and upwards towards 2014, I want to at least double my distance next year, maybe I will set myself a goal of 500 miles for next year! I also want to get off road more so that will reduce both times and distance as it’s much harder. Its all about the enjoyment, not breaking records (which are always nice) or how far I go. The fact that I am still going out, sticking with something is the best thing.

Wet ‘n’ Wild

Today’s ride contained a couple of firsts for me. This is the first time I have been out when it has been really wet and windy, thanks mostly to our glorious summer this year I have managed to ride in relative calm, without getting wet.

The second is that I had to stop because I thought I was going to be sick. Not a nice one, but it’s the first time I’ve really pushed myself past my comfort zone and felt really bad for doing it. This came about because I put too much into a climb I have never attempted before and regretted it when I got to the top! Today is also the first day I have worn my newly purchased luminous yellow waterproof jacket, which was a god send with the weather.

I usually know where I am going to ride before I set off, at least the general direction I am heading in and how I might get myself back home without just turning round and going back the way I came. I also like to do a bit of a circuit so there are only a couple of routes in and out of where I live. In essence you either go up first or down first, I prefer to go up first so when you are a bit tired at the end it’s all down hill to home!

Today was a little different, with the weather not looking great I didn’t want to go too high up, the windmills would have just been a bit too wild for me today so I decided to just ride from home and see where the mood took me. At one point it was just going to be a lap of the village but I talked myself round and headed up towards “up top”, then changed direction to head down towards a nice off road track which is great but very narrow so if you meet anything coming the other way it can get a bit hairy, especially if it’s a horse!

I felt good as I approached the track which basically heads home, so I decided to carry on down the hill past the track and see where it took me. I then swung right along a road I’ve never been down, not even in the car, which led to a very steep but quite short up hill climb. And that’s what took it out of me, thinking it was easier than it was and putting far too much effort into getting to the top as fast as I could. It just took all of my energy and I was spent.

All I wanted to do was get home so I turned round, lungs burning feeling quite dizzy and a little sick. It helped that the first bit was a steep downhill section, then I had to ride back up the hill I had just ridden down to get back to the track. That’s where I had to get off the bike, take my helmet off and pray that I wasn’t going to be sick at the side of the road. It was close but I managed to keep everything down!

The rest of the ride was just a case of get home, no need for heroics or speed to beat PB’s on Strava for the track section, just get home in one piece to get dry and warm.

This wasn’t a long ride, it wasn’t really that tough, but with the weather and me wearing myself out somewhere I had never been before I made it more difficult than it should have been. In fact it took me as long to do this 6.7 mile ride as it did to do the 8.4 miles around the windmills last week.

Ride Details

Distance: 6.7 miles

Time Taken: 46:28

Elevation Gain: 441ft

Today’s photo’s show just how grim it was out there today, the weather actually turned worse once I got home so you could no longer see Emley Moor Mast at all.

Looking down towards home

Looking down towards home

Emley Moor Mast in the clouds

Emley Moor Mast in the clouds