Monday, 18 February 2013

Don't look out the window, and don't look up

If you can wake up on a Sunday morning, eat your breakfast, get your kit on, fill your bottles and throw a leg over your bike without peering through the curtains or looking up at the skies. Then you are a rider who loves his work. You are a Sunday morning 'Flahute'
Winter and the God awful weather it brings is special to me.A grin develops when I hit the road and the spray and chill cuts though my clothing. It reminds me of how much I love to ride. This is as good as high summer, just different that's all. Everything I do in this weather will pay dividends. From controlling your bike on the ice, to battering your way through the hardest of headwinds. Even being weighed down with layers of clothing and pockets full of spare tubes, pump, levers and tools to put right the damage you WILL sustain will go on to help you later in the year.
Good job to!
Since the snow earlier this month things haven't got much better, but that hasn't stopped me getting out. And last week marked the first week of speed specific training that should deliver me ready to race in March.
Saturday before last I had a troubled 72 mile ride that started in heavy snow. The snow and cold were not an issue, good winter kit was keeping me ;thermal'. The trouble came as I went over the Crong. As I tried to shift down nothing happened, and there was no way I was attempting road side repairs in the heavy snow. So I committed myself to completing the ride with just two gears; 39/23 and 53/23, it wasn't fun and I was passed twice.
The next day the heavy snow was surpassed by heavy rainfall. Outside the clubhouse at 8.30 only Tim from G1/Team Solgar rolled in to keep up appearances. Though G2/G3 put up a good show, all beaming faces and colorful rain jackets. Today was never going to be a long one, in this forty was enough. We had a steady roll out to Flitwick with the intention of having a coffee, but we were soaked though by the time we arrived at the turnaround point, and the thought of freezing our nuts off in some café no longer appealed, so we headed back in quick time.
Midweek was a mixture of Carmicheals  'Time Crunched Cyclist' on the turbos and the hardest of the hard mountain bike night ride.
Roll on to Saturday just gone and it was all change. A small group rolled in for a 9am start. For a change it wasn't snowing, it wasn't raining and it wasn't windy. Winter gloves gone, no overshoes and a short sleeve jersey under the jacket. Fraser lead us out on an up and over ride. The day was one to enjoy after all the harsh winter weather, and the brief forty miles were done in a flash.
So to Sunday and the proposed 67 miler. There was  a good turn out, probably due to the sun, but it was still freezing and the winter kit was back on. At 8.35 we left the club hose and set off for the Beacon. It soon became evident that ice might be a problem, the puddles were still frozen and my rear wheel tried to overtake the front soon into the ride. Going up the Beacon was fine, going down the other side was a bit different with patches of snow and slush. Once through it became drier and we settled into a relaxed pace. Which was fine until we hit Studham; quite literally hit Studham. The whole road was sheet ice and four riders went down with the other four sliding out of control but upright to a stop. The road was impassable even on foot. So we turned around and headed for the safety of the busier roads? and villages. That took us out through Woburn safari park and back into Leighton. Even though the mojo had gone, a few were hurt and Jacks bike was a bit broken, but we managed to salvage a short but good ride out of it,. Nicely topped off by Wayne acting as engine for the last few miles.
Heaven knows what to expect this weekend?.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Hemel Reliability Trial - Le Coq Up.

Quite simple really, on paper just ride the 100kms to get you out and back again.
Stuart was going to collect me at 7.45 for the drive over, so I set the alarm for 6.00am, unfortunately I didn't set it for Sunday. So waking at 7.36am I had less than ten minutes to get ready. I had to forgo any food or drink and the essential pre ride poo. 100kms on empty never killed anyone.
We arrived at Nash Mills with time to spare, readied the bikes and went to sign on. This is when the second problem of the day popped up. The route wasn't waymarked, instead we were given route maps in true reliability trial style. Thing is I need reading glasses so the piece of paper was just pointless added weight. I had a token go at trying to work it out, until it was politely pointed out to me that I had the map upside down!
However we were in the fast group, so if we got lost we'd get swept up by a slower group, that was the cunning plan we had hatched.
We set off in the first wave of fifteen riders. Then with less than a mile done we had problem number three. An impatient motorist wouldn't give an inch on the narrow lane sending the riders off piste. Stuart took the brunt of it all and ended up with a broken rear mech and bent hanger; game over.
We removed the chain and rolled back passing the jeering riders coming the other way.
At the HQ Stuart packed up and I rode off for home.
My mental sat nav worked out a route of about fifty miles. Initially  it was good going, but it wasn't long before the wind got up and was hitting me from all directions. Still the wind is your friend, it makes you strong as Arnie would say.
The wind was ferocious in places and I vowed never ever to by any wheels ever again that had aero spokes, I was bricking it in places. This is working class riding, something that saves a pro three seconds on Ventoux is pointless over here mid winter.
The rest of the ride went well, but the full bottle on my frame was an indicator of how bloody windy it was; hands on the bars boys.
Just before I got home I was faced with a road closed sign, which as any cyclist knows, never applies to them so ahead I went. Then I came across the reason, a flood, Craig popped into my head just then, but like him I pressed on. The wind was so strong there were fecking white horses on it, but ha ha ha it was under my bottom bracket, that is until I got to the middle when it suddenly went right up to my ankles.
My feet were soaked and freezing, I told myself to man up, what if it snows during your first race next month you big wuss, deal with it.
I  pressed on hoping to find the G1, 2 or 3 riders at the club house, aware that as chairman there are members I've not yet met, but it was empty so I shot off home.
I'm now warm and dry and wearing trackies and hoody and I don't intend to move a muscle.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

His Royal Sven'ness

Rainbow jersey please

Snow Pt2; Mleh!

Definitely a week of two half's. The superb wintery riding conditions we had at the beginning of the week had gone leaving behind slush, ice, mud and broken roads.
I left off Wednesday night, topping off a great snowy ride with a crash on the icy tarmac. So Thursday was a case of two hours on the turbos trying to iron out the lumps and bruises. That session turned out to be a good one, and I got carried away tapping out a tempo to Jools Hollands friends album. Feeling suitably un lumpy and soreness free? I decided to set the alarm for a Friday morning road ride.
I did the usual 'no looking out of the window' routine, scoffed my porridge and jumped onto my prepared the night before bike. The weather was looking friendly and the roads seemed okay, but as soon as I hit the lanes it became very obvious that they weren't okay. The usual side roads were glazed and treacherous. I carried on for a bit, but soon got fed up trying to work out a route that would be safe, so I turned for home and called it a day.
Saturday did look better so I set off to meet the guys for Saturday morning team training. Only four of the sixteen man team showed up. So Ian. Stuart K, Andy and myself  set off at tempo for a 45/50 mile loop. Sadly Saturdays conditions were proving to be no better than the day before. Turning  off the main B roads just after Swanbourne it became apparent that the ice was still prevalent when your back wheel started to slide round and stare at you in the face! We gingerly turned about and set off for the café using the busier roads and took advantage of the better conditions to get a chaingang going. The café was full of a few local racers enjoying the last months of steady time.
Coffee done we set off for home, well myself and Andy did. Ian and Stu followed us back but then took off for an extra hours riding.
Sunday was an epic fail, after waking up on the alarm I felt full of cold. So rather than risk weeks of missed riding from aggravating a simple cold I bailed out and went back to bed. That turned out to be a wise move as I was back training and feeling fine by Wednesday.
All in all a fairly good week, if a bit short on actual riding.