Tuesday, 21 July 2009

I have a cunning plan.....................

a plan so cunning, you could pin a tail on it, and call it a Weasel. If only....

So, there has to be a planned timetable to get me back to London inside 116 hours, so here it is (slightly tweaked for errors).

The idea will be to lengthen (or more probably shorten) the sleep periods to keep with the timetable.

Well, that at least is the plan, but as (I think it was) Napoleon once said, "No plan survives first contact with the enemy". We shall see.

Time to stop posting, and start getting ready. I'll leave the rest to Twitter

(T) Wittering

So, the resident technophobe has learned how to twitter. So I'll be twittering from on the road during L-E-L, if only to ensure that I have a reminder of what was happening when I get back.

On my only other long ride (500km+) so far, my mind retreated to a place of safety and refused to come back out for the best part of a week.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

7 days to go....

...and I suppose I'd better whip up some urgency to get ready for LEL.

Presently, I'm very 'relaxed' about it, but then the faffing and associated worrying hasn't started yet. At least I now have my kit-list done, and will be ticking things off this week.

On a 'positive' note, the result of the Cambrian 600 is now up on t'internet, and so far lists only 15 finishers. This would be another indication that ride was a pig! I counted 35 or so starters in the car park on Saturday morning. I make that an attrition rate of about 60%. Lets hope LEL has a 100% completion rate, at least I'll be certain to finish then.

Friday, 17 July 2009

New Toys

You can't do a big ride like LEL without new toys, can you?

Certainly not!

Firstly, after the Cambrian Ride, the realisation that foul weather gear is needed. Everyone was raving about Rainlegs, thus I have a pair. Despite looking more than faintly ridiculous, they perform brilliantly, keeping the rain off the bits that get most struck by water, whilst allowing the fresh air to circulate round the back of the legs to avoid the perspiration. Clive rating 9/10. (Apparently, the Dragons Den lot weren't as impressed, but when do you reckon any of them were last on a bike?)

Secondly, bibshorts. I went into the Local Bike Shop last week to buy 'cheapish' Altura Shorts, and came out with many pounds worth of Specialised BG Pro RBX Bib Shorts (all those acronyms, they MUST be good). I wore them for the 205km Two Battles Permanent Ride last weekend, and assumed that I must have been standing on the pedals all the way round. Not a single twinge from the human-bicycle interface. Clive's backside rates them 10/10. The only problem will be justifying the expenditure (for the second pair).

Finally, there's no point in being relatively dry, and relatively comfortable, if you're going to get lost and cycle further than you need to. Third toy - a new Garmin eTrex Legend GPS unit. Amazon were selling this for about £65 under the RRP, so it was time to buy.

The basemap included in the unit is (as widely reported) utter rubbish, but I have quickly got to grips with the excellent OpenStreetMap (www.openstreetmap.org) which is an open source code alternative. On the downside, the UK map is not quite complete. On the upside, the UK map is not complete, and anyone with a GPS can upload, store and update GPS tracks, then add them to the map (which is a damn good excuse for getting out there, I've already added over 30km of local lanes). Clive rating 8/10 (mostly marked down for the poor basemap)

Toys at the ready! It's not long 'til LEL, but I've done sufficient miles already this month (300+) that a successful LEL will give me a 1200 mile month.

Les Tours de Mercredi

A few weeks ago Chris, a work colleague and cycling friend, ran a charity ride from Stratford-on-Avon which a number of others from the office also rode.

Everyone arrived at the finish with smiles as wide as the (believe it or not) sunny Warwickshire sky, proclaiming they had forgotten cycling was so much fun.

Suggestions were made that repeats were required, and "Le Tour de Mercredi" was born. These depart the office early on Wednesday evenings for between 20-35 miles of local roads, with a (less than) optional 'refreshment' stop en route (surely we can't be blamed that the cafes are all shut by then, and only the pubs are open?)

So far, 8 people have shown up in total, in groups varying between 4 and 6 each week. My enthusiasm is re-kindled by the fun of tackling local climbs, hurling and receiving of well-mannered banter, and dropping the hammer on those who's attention strays from the task at hand.

I'm beginning to remember why I enjoy cycling again.

Back on the road again

As far as LEL is concerned, the training plan would have you believe that it is good to do more than one 600km event before LEL. Obviously, this is not happening.

However, Audax rules are such that, to obtain credit for a ride, you must finish it. Therefore, in terms of the RTTY, where I must do a 200km event in every calendar month, doing 1300km of LEL and stopping would not count, and I would end the year RTTY-less. Now, please understand, I have no intention of failing on LEL, but it's best to plan ahead for all eventualities.

So, with this in mind, I set off last Saturday on the Two Battles permanent 200km, for the first 'serious' event since the Cambrian.

Guess what? It rained! At least the morning rain was drizzly in the most part, and for the most part warm, so we didn't get too miserable. I had my new toys with me, both rainlegs and Garmin (and more of those in a later post) but didn't really need either.

Service at the first control was not swift, so we were sat in the control losing over 45 minutes, and the second section was lumpy to Upper Stowe near Daventry, but not too slow.

I am noticing that after enforced rest and the exertions of the Cambrian 600 that 'normal' roads and hills seem neither as steep, or as long. I hope that this is in my legs, and not just in my head.

After lunch at Upper Stowe, it was noted that it was already 14:15 following a 08:30 start, and we were not progressing quickly. Couple that with a worsening forecast, and it was time to get the hammer well-and-truly down.

The afternoon sunshine was very warm, but unfortunately brought out clouds of crawly little thunderbugs, which were not a pleasure to cycle through. Legs kept turning as conversation virtually stopped, but control 3 came and went very quickly.

In the end, we got back to Tamworth at 18:36 for a time of 10:06 for 205km. More impressive (at least by my standards) was completing the last 104km in 4:26, including a stop at the last control.

Overall time 10:06
Cycling time 8:15
Average cycling speed 24.85kmh / 15.44mph!!!!! for 127 miles

I hope I haven't peaked too early.

3/4 RTTY and counting

Fame at last!!

Following calls and e-mails from many people who take more notice of these things than I do, I have been out and got my "Tour de France Preview" version of that great cyclist's comic, Cycling Weekly.

Sure enough, it contains details and photographs of all the greats of world cycling, Contador, Armstrong, Boonen, Cavendish.................and me!

Somehow, and for some reason, the picture of me hitting the top of Penhallt Cliff on the North Cornwall Tor in the company of Mike Fedarb (hope you go well in the Etape mate) was deemed to be representative of why people do Sportives....."for pride, for health, for fun".

I think they got that about right, but they forgot:
1. for pity's sake, will this hill never end, and
2. for the last time, if I ever enter this event again, will somebody shoot me?

Apart from that, I am pleased to report that I was 71% successful at obeying doctors orders about my feet (I only rode twice a week) and am now back in preparation for LEL, which is now a scant 9 days off.