Sunday, 29 April 2012

Tour De Romandie 2012

Congrats Wiggo, now get yer fricking haircut

Sunday, 22 April 2012

1st Hundred of the year

I had intended to do the first 100 miler of the year last week, but that went pear shaped. So I made the decision to get up early and get off out.
However before I did the ton I'd completed the penultimate week of my turbo training plan, hard sessions on both Friday and Saturday. And I had decided to skip training on Monday's as training five days in a row was proving tough.
Before the ride I'd made several mental notes. One was to take it easy, this was with London-Paris-London in mind. The other was to weigh the bike and myself down with kit.
So I set off at 7.20am wearing a full rain jacket, not because it was raining but because it was so cold. I also rode most of the first hour with my fists clenched to stop my fingers freezing.
The route was my old 100km Redbourne loop, but with extra loops chucked in - forming a clover leaf route.
Out through Wing, Stewkley, Cublington and Wingrave the route was standard. But when in Cheddington instead of going straight on I took a right and took off for the Crong. This was the first extra loop taking in Cholesbury, Wiggington, Tring, and the Wilstead reservoirs before arriving back at my turn off point to get back on track. From there it was to Pitstone, but instead of heading for Toms Hill I went out again heading back up on another road to Wiggington. There I did a loop just touching Chesham before heading towards Northchurch on the A41 to pick up the road that would take me up and over Ivinghoe Beacon. From there near Deer Leap it's back on track, but instead of turning towards Bridens Camp I went straight on into Hemel and promptly got not lost just confused. I finally found my back to the A4146 which isn't a nice road to be on and was made all the worse by getting a puncture.
With the puncture sorted I climbed up to Bridens Camp and too the reverse route into Redbourne. Redbourne was a sort of turning point as I was heading back ready to do another leg of the ride.
I had dreadful headwind all the way back to Studham. And I couldn't take my planned route from there due to an accident and a closed road. I shot down past the golf course and into Dagnall to start the second climb of the Beacon. Once over the top I turned right to descend Toms Hill into Aldbury and back towards Tring. At Tring station I turned once again towards Pitstone and made my third ascent of the Beacon....well semi ascent! just missing the final section of the climb off.
From there I rode through Ivinghoe Aston and out to 'Train Robbers Bridge' and into Ledburn. Just pulling into Ledburn my rear tyre gave way again. That was both my spares gone, and I was about two miles from home. A quick look on the clock and I'd just gone over 100 miles.
I had been thinking of doing another fifty miles, but two punctures and being near home was too much of a temptation. So home it was.
I was pretty happy with my sub six hour time, seeing as I was solo and it had been very windy. I might try a bit further on the lighter bike and without mudguards next month?
The Crong looking very Holy
Thought of the day - how the hell did Tommy Godwin manage twice that a day every day for a year?

Sunday, 15 April 2012

New bike new shoes

I thought it was about time I ventured out with the new combo. The new combo being the TCR Advancd and Mavic shoes.
I had planned to ride the Evans 90 today, with the option of bailing and doing the 62 but I was talked into doing the club run. They miss my whinging if I'm not there.
Anyway the Giant was noticeably different from the off. Stiffer and lighter and made of top end Torray T800 carbon. Not surprising I guess compared to the heavier and flexi Airborne. So it was a shame about the wind!
During the ride I was happy to ride as much as possible off the front, really to test the set up, but I had forgotten to fit the computer so I had no idea how we were going.
Our ride took us out Buckingham way with the intention of riding into the headwind so we could get the payback when we turned around. Regardless of the wind the pace was good and we had time to go for village signs, well not me. Then after a long tough stint into the wind my clubmates went for another sign, this time taking the group with them. As I couldn't respond I fell back and sat with Andy who was tired from Saturdays effort and was only able to ride in the small ring. For some reason no one waited, I caught up and explained that we had a man off the back and fell back to ride with them, but still no one waited. Feeling a bit miffed by this and not doing my long one I had a massive flounce and went my own way.
Group communication needs working at if we are to sprint off at random points.
Anyway by then a small group of four was returning to Leighton and after a short while we had a nice little line going and slowly built the speed up, until we had it going full tilt in the drops.

Giant TCR Advanced just built
Once home I swapped bikes and had a good stint on the turbos listening to Amy Winehouse. I tried to work out why we have trouble keeping our rides tight. I have some thoughts, but I'll save those for the next meeting.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

The Codebreaker

This Sunday I decided to ride Race Timings MK Sportive the 'Codebreaker'. I hadn't officially entered and paid the twenty five quid, but knew an old acquaintance was riding so I thought I'd join him. Actually Nathan was riding the 100 mile version known as the 'Colussus'. With him that day was a NBRC clubmate and fellow LBRCC rider Jase. Actually Jase was just along for the ride like myself.
So after sleeping off the previous days Hell of the North, I awoke to a wet and windy day. Car loaded and wet  gear packed I set off to meet my days fellow riders. Once at the start it was obvious that the rain had 'forced' most of the paid up entrants to stay at home. So imagine how pleased I was to see Laura and Russell from the club turn up to ride, making it an unofficial four club members riding.
So to the start, being an interloper I set off in the second group. We gingerly rode out of the estate surrounding the event HQ and once onto open roads we wound up the speed. My opinion of sportive riders went up a bit at that point, but it wasn't long before I was loudly tutting and shaking my head in true chairman style at some of the poor technique I witnessed. I was also concerned that the pace was too high for Nathans 100 mile ride, but no one was ever going to listen.
Then came the first hill, the Three Locks. As I suspected everyone shot past me, then they got slower and slower and started to weave with rear mechs crunching desperately trying to find the right gear too late.
Over the top and into 53 and head down. I'm not in this to do well so lets see who want's to sit on my wheel. I've just got three behind me. I tow them from Brickhill to Woburn, but keep the pace up and they drop off on the climb through the Deer Park.
I'm now totally on my own and wonder if I'm actually on the right route, but I see yellow markers confirming I am at every junction. I'm on my own for roughly fifteen more miles until I notice a rider bearing down. I see his fancy yellow Mavic shoes and recognize him from the start. He doesn't pass and we ride to the half way point together. Our computers at that point record a staggering 23mph average, but soon we are to find out why.
As we turn we head into a fierce headwind and driving rain. We ride together a little longer before his youth takes it's advantage and he eases away. Looking down at my computer it says 13 mph and I'm pushing hard!
I keep yellow Mavics in my sight for another twenty miles before I loose sight of him. These last miles are now purgatory I can't see a soul. I'm wondering how Laura and Russell are doing, I remember Lauras smile at the start and hope she is still wearing it.
Still no one, yet I'm on track as the yellow markers are still there. Then with about six miles to go two Putney Town Rowing Club riders go flying past in good formation. There's no chance of a wheel there, but it was nice to see another human.
Four miles left and I pass a rider I saw going hell for leather at the start. I tut tut at him, but offer my wheel though he can't hold it and seems to go backwards.
Then out of nowhere the finish appears. I'm deeply worried by the lack of bikes at the finish, have they all finished and gone home? Then I see a big bloke, not being very PC I wonder how he beat me but a quick chat gives me the answer. Somehow he has only ridden 52 miles compared to my 64.9 miles. I also shake hands with the two Putney riders and share hot chocolate and cadbury Creme eggs with them.
I did want to wait and see my clubmates back, but I'm soaked to the skin and getting cold so head off for home.
Back to today and I find out that Nathan did manage the full 100 miles. Jase couldn't resist going home at sixty miles after the ride went right past his front door. And the best news is that Laura and Russell also finished the full 100km route. Though Russell being a true gent beat Laura over the finishing line.
My unofficial place would have been 7th overall, and 1st placed 50+ rider as I think it was the chap who accidently took the short cut that got the only faster time.
Looking back it was one of those rides that was made by the weather, that said sunshine for 2013 would be nice.....please.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

King of the Queen

Tom Boonen wins the 2012 Paris - Roubaix

Innertube Olympics

Sunday 8th April was the date for the 3rd running of Raphas Hell of the North. Previous years had seen the event blessed with sunshine and dry conditions, but the inevitable happened so not really third time lucky!
So with the rain falling nine of us set out to cover the route of road and track, or Gravé as coined by Rapha.
Heading out of Chipping Barnet towards the first 'sector' the pace was steady and the banter at level five. The first sector went by with no problems. Keeping high up on the left riding the thin strip of tarmac and avoiding the trench to the right was key. Then the tarmac strip disappears completely leaving you to ride a pot holed stony track. So that's the first sector done and no punctures.
But I speak too soon, just after riding 'Bread and Cheese lane' I puncture. This see's the banter level hit 10+ and strictly adults only. It also see's my pump bite the dust. Luckily Aarons gas pump does the job and after emptying bladders all round we set off - for two miles before we get a second puncture. Karma didn't reward Aaron and it was his turn to get a flat. Slightly better practiced in the art of swapping inner tubes we were soon on our way again. Then as we hit another sector Aarons tyre went again. We were now averaging one puncture every two miles!
Now convinced that we'd had our share of punctures we set off carefully not mentioning the 'P' word. Promising to go to Church every Sunday seemed to be working, as we cleared road and sectors with no problems. The exception was Tony getting it wrong on a piece of wood acting as a temporary bridge, still mud and blood is an heroic look.
Then came the stream crossing. A point where the photographers wait hoping to catch a fool on his/hers back in the water, but you won't catch out experienced mountain bikers that easily.
Stream crossed and back onto tarmac. Then it was my turn to equalize with Aaron and get a second puncture, the groups fourth. So straight into the familiar routine of swapping tubes, pumping and topping up with gas. Then we're on our way again.
With not many tubes now spare some of us 'mince' the sectors to avoid yet another puncture, but it's not long before the tarmac claims it's fifth victim, me again, this time the rear tyre. I don't have to repeat what followed.
By now we are constantly yo-yo'ing with other groups on the road. Bunches of cyclists fixing tyres is now a regular feature at every junction. It's so bad that we're giving each other knowing smiles as we pass.
Raphas food stop is next. here we blag free bottles, mussettes, energy drinks and bananas. Thanks Rapha and Bikefoods.
The next sector I know is a long one, but we all get through unscathed. Perhaps our lucks changed? Even the tarmac is kind to us. But as we hit the steepest climb of the day and one that's also a sector I notice my rear tyre is going down. Puncture number six. However myself and Julian administer road side first aid to keep me going, we aren't about to swap yet another tube and go for the regular top up routine.
Though once out on the road again Tony has his first puncture, that's number seven then. We all sit waiting thanking the Lord it's not raining and discuss tyres for next year. Then Tony raises his hand to let us know we can set off again. Then not fifty yards along the road puncture number eight hits, this time the victim is Marcus. So wheel off, swap tube, pump, gas replace wheel and off we go, but you know the story.
From here it's straight to the pub finish in Barnet. Rather surprisingly we get there without another puncture!
At the finish the good guys from Rapha store our bikes away and point us towards a free beer and frités. Walking through the pub I can see that all the TV screens are showing the real Hell of the North, the Queen of the Classics, the one and only Paris-Roubaix. I've not said, but the ride we've just done is a homage to the PR. I can't also help but notice that Tom Boonen is winning, and winning in the true style of a King of the classics. This is probably of great delight to all the riders present.
Beers done, frités eaten we ride off to the cars to head home. To look around you'd think by the grins on our faces that we were a bunch of twelve year olds and not grown men, but that's what the Hell of the North is all about - riding and banter.
But hang on. KABOOM marcus's tyre explodes and we're not even riding anymore. Puncture number nine is the parting shot.
We'll be back next year for the 4th running, but with the toughest tyres money can buy.
Post ride beers and frités

Club pump RIP

It is with a sad and indeed heavy heart that I announce the passing of  'the club pump'.
Club pump passed away today whilst carrying out  duties on the 3rd Rapha 'Hell of the North'. It was the first puncture of the day which occurred on the famous 'Bread and Cheese Lane'. It is believed that the pump reached 60 PSI before suffering complete internal failure.

Club pump started it's valiant service in 2007. Then assisting mountainbikers in both competition and general riding. Later it was to see service during road training rides where it's true values were really felt, and there after became the only source of inflation on all my rides. In 2009 it became the pit pump at local cyclocross races. Though it will probably be forever remembered for assisting the limp of wrist on the LBRCC club runs.
Club Pump 2007-2012

Monday, 2 April 2012


Tom Boonen. Tour of Flanders 2012

One month and counting

To the first race of 2012, and training is going pretty well. Well at least I think it is. I don't feel on top form, but I hope that's because it's due to arrive later?
Anyway I've just started week three of Chris Carmichael's  'Time Crunched Cyclist', you know about the time it starts to hurt and the benefits don't seem that obvious. I've just done SEPI sessions - sustained effort power intervals, probably the most 'fun' part of the plan.
Other than that the rest of the week went to plan. Sunday had the club out in numbers training well together. Monday it was intervals on the turbos and Tuesday was spent mountainbiking with N-N-B. That session was a tad faster than I wanted, and later that night I experienced lactic for the first time in years.
Thursday it was back on the turbos for another interval session, mleh. And Friday it was time for rest, yay!
Saturday went pear shaped as I got called in to work, but that's life.
So then it was back round to Sunday and the regular session. I felt a bit odd on this ride, couldn't tell if I was tired, weak or just working hard. That said I put in a good show for an old boy. sadly one of my LOOKs broke and I had to hobble home without finishing the ride.
Back home I settled down to watch the Ronde van Vlaanderen, and got to see Tom Boonen take the win. Absolute classic classic!
Then Time for bike chores (before a few celebratory Belgian beers) first rotate the tyres in readiness for next weeks Hell of the North, check pads and chain, raise saddle and make sure everything is torqued. then mount bike on the turbos.
Just found another beer lurking at the back of the fridge btw.
So Mondays session is done and dusted, off roading tomorrow, turbos (again) Wednesday, club social Thursday, steady one Friday, Saturday?  Then the big one Sunday, Raphas Hell of the North London. Really looking forward to this, so I'll keep quiet now until Sunday night.