Wednesday, 29 October 2008

The Colours of Clumber

For the first time on 18th October, I managed to convince my wife that she could do a 100km Audax. Of course, I neglected to tell her that it was over distance by 10km, and a further 3km was added by avoiding road closures. Her eventual discovery of this, some 10km from the end was somewhat unwelcome.

Neither of us had the best of preparation, both recovering from head colds and probably about 30 miles between us in the 3 weeks before the event. Nevertheless, with the weather forecast suggesting no rain, we had little excuse but to go and start.

The start of the ride, through Clumber Park is largely downhill, and the English Autumn was doing its best to make the ride as pleasant as possible. The promised colours were much in evidence, and a gentle tailwind made life even more pleasant.

With little experience of longer cycle rides, Linda is not really used to the requirement to refuel en-route, and began to suffer about 5km short of the cafe stop. Bonk rations were brought into play, and disaster averted. The cafe was reached without major mishap.

Of course, what goes down must come up, and the return route to Clowne seemed uphill forever, and the tailwind was now, of course, a headwind. By 70 km I think we were both wanting proceedings to be over (though of course I didn't admit that at the time). A normally quiet B road was turned into a facsimile of Monza on a race weekend by a diversion round an accident, and the last 30km was, frankly, unpleasant.

In the end, we finished with 10 minutes of the time allocation to spare, and with Linda suffering knee problems (which thankfully subsided rapidly). She had 'nearly got off her bike' on a number of occasions towards the end (though strangely she has never actually got off it once yet.....) but put in a fantastic effort to cover 114km on this ride. As a first ride, she should be proud of her achievement, it was not as easy as the route at first suggested.

Having recovered, I've at last started putting in a few miles (not many by past standards) and will be getting serious very soon.

Next stop Cheadle on 9th November for 211km of rural Cheshire. Nice.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Come in number 268

Your time is up!

Thats official now, then, my number is issued and I'm signed up. No going back now.

The bad news is that the Etape rumours I had thought inevitable have now begun to surface. Only the Ventoux or Alpe d'Huez could possibly have tempted me to do another Etape, and it looks like I will miss out on theVentoux next Summer. Rumour has it that next years Etape will be from Montelimar to Mont Ventoux. I'll continue to watch those rumours, but I won't be going. There aren't enough brownie points on God's Green Earth for me to swing that one!

I guess that I'll have to pencil in the Beaumes de Venise - Mont Ventoux Sportive for another year.

Monday, 6 October 2008


Well, the vagaries of the English weather caught up with me again on Sunday as the first hour of Rourkies Cat & Fiddle Challenge did its best to resemble the first leg of a triathlon. Swimming may well have been the order of the day had the rain continued for any longer.

By Macclesfield, my elapsed time was the same as last year, which was a little concerning. I was on the same bike as last year (the Halfords Carrera, now mongrelised with odd bits from other bikes) but last year I'd had to spend 5 minutes on the road repairing a chain defect by this point.

What followed was worse. Despite feeling good and strong up the climb, my ascent of the Cat & Fiddle took 51 minutes, a full 8 minutes longer than ever before. I am beginning to wonder what has happened to me since the Tour of the Black Mountains. On the up side, the total elapsed time by the top was 12 minutes faster than last year, having not visited the Tea Rooms on this occasion.

Axe Edge wasn't too bad with a following wind, but I didn't have the bottle to stay off the brakes on the descent from Morridge Top, still managing to achieve 48 mph despite laying rubber on rims most of the way down.

The final four climbs in the last 10 miles were as bad as I remember, and I finally crossed the line with 4:02 elapsed, 13 minutes faster than last year.

In retrospect, I should be pleased. Last year's event was run in calm, benign conditions and glorious sunshine. My two companions on that occasion encouraged a fast start and waited to ensure I had a tow at the right time. Yesterday, I was on my own for much of the ride, and had a headwind all the way up the Cat.

One thing is for certain, only a lot more training is going to get me anywhere near next years target of completing LEL in under 100 hours.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Rourkie's Cat & Fiddle Challenge

Lord help me this coming Sunday, for I am fat & lazy and certainly going to suffer up the Cat.

Target for this Sunday is firstly to break last years elapsed 4:15 which should really be achievable solely by cutting out some of the stops. I'll settle for 3:45, but we'll see how it goes on the day.

Par time for fat blokes on the C&F climb itself is about 43 minutes, I've been up there 3 times, and its been about 43 minutes, with the exception of the Polka Dot last year which was when I was approaching better fitness and had a following wind. I don't fancy arriving at the top dragging both lungs behind me on Sunday, so I think I may settle for 42 minutes & change.

Looking forward to it, and to booking in a few more Audax rides in the coming weeks to try and re-kindle some of the enthusiasm lost after the Etape.