Monsoon Riding.

It may have not escaped your notice that spring seems to be hiding at the moment. Still, as the car needed the MOT doing, I got on the bike and cycled into work. Not a bad ride in (although it was a bit cold). Then come lunchtime the “isolated shower” that was forecast came over. Well the so called “isolated shower” was still chucking it down by 6pm. All I can say is the ride home was awful, every pot-hole was full and the road was like a river. When I eventually got home the bike went straight in the garage and I went straight in the shower to warm up. This better not be the normal weather pattern again this year. Time is ticking to get some miles in.

My ride home looked a lot like the Tour of Britain last year.

Cycling or Boating ?

Cycling or Boating ?

Meanwhile, while we are all waiting for spring, please take a look at what Mind are all about and consider sponsoring me.

Bees and Bikes don’t mix.

Not much training this week, it has been too cold and wet again. I have the usual commutes to work and on the new bike as well. We have had a few breaks in the cloud so my attention has turned to the bees and making sure they are all in good stead during the cold. Regular trips to the apiary at the moment to keep them topped up with sugar (the energy they need to keep themselves going throughout the winter months) Usually this just involves checking the weight of the hive and if it is getting light, add a few blocks of bakers fondant (that white stuff on iced buns) under the roof of the hive. So I decided to combine the cycling with the beekeeping tasks and cycle down to the Apiary to feed them. It was a nice bright evening although a bit cold so the bees should all be asleep. I cut up some fondant ready for the ladies and then realise that I am dressed in Lycra. YELLOW AND BLACK LYCRA !! I must look like some very large bee to them. This is not really going to provide me much protection against a hive of bees.

The Apiary

So the 1st three hives are nice and quiet, just a few cold looking bees who are very welcome for a bit of sugar. The fourth hive, is obviously doing very well as when I pull the lid off, there is an explosion of bees. Obviously pulling the roof off someones house is not going to put them in the best mood. I throw the fondant under the lid and shove the roof back on quickly as I can, but it is too late.

The next scene is of me, making a rapid retreat across the field followed by angry bees. I got a total of 4 stings, which obviously went straight through my cycle clothes. After 100 meters the bees give up and leave me to nurse my wounds. One very painful ride home later and I break out the anti-histamine cream.

Wiltshire Wildcat Sportive.

The wildcat Sportive

The wildcat Sportive

1st big ride of the year, on a freezing cold morning I drag myself out of bed, put the new bike in the back of the car and head down to Salisbury race course for the start of the Wiltshire Wildcat sportive. On a nice warm day this 62 mile ride through the lovely countryside of Wiltshire would be a fantastic idea. As I get out the car, I am starting to think this is not going to be fun. I go to registration and get my rider number, free bag of goodies etc etc. There is a freezing cold easterly wind (obviously Sian Lloyd’s weather machine is malfunctioning again as it is blowing freezing cold exhaust across the countryside – someone needs to have a word.) I set the bike up, and ponce around for 10 mins looking like I am warming up like some professional, and then think, SOD this wind !! and I go get a big warm cup of tea and a doughnut. I finish up my tea and sort of think about getting actually getting ready to start, looking for some evidence the wind is going to die down. I pull up to the start line and who is sitting right in front of me getting ready go? – Olympic Gold medalist, World champion, Tour de France stage winner etc etc Chris Boardman !!. It seems my run of luck with riding with the cycling elite is continuing very nicely thankyou. I follow him out of the start gate and we end up having a really good chat about all sorts of stuff. Chris Boardman is a really great guy, he chats to all the fans and is really passionate about promoting cycling. He must have had his photo taken a 100 times and he signed a ton of T shirts. I saw 2 young kids about 10 years old and they were just over the moon when he signed their cycle jerseys. (The next Bradley Wiggins / Mark Cavendish maybe ?)

Chris Boardman, riding out at the start of the Wiltshire Wildcat. (Note the freezing idiot in black)

Chris Boardman, riding out at the start of the Wiltshire Wildcat. (Note the freezing idiot in black)

Here is the footage of the start of the Wildcat Sportive with Chris Boardman

I got round the 62 miles in 4 and a half hours with a couple of 10 min food stops, so I was happy about that. The going got really tough later on as the course turns back east, right into Sian Lloyds weather machine’s exhaust. A freezing cold wind in your face is not nice on a bike as its like pedaling uphill all the time (I did make it a bit easier on myself by finding a rather portly gentleman and sitting on his wheel for 15 miles. If you are interested in the route / cycling stats they are here.

Still it was a great day out, and a good training ride for the 1st one of the year. Next one is a few weeks time.

Both of these people have medals. One is Olympic Gold the other is a "Cycling Weekly Sportive completion medal" Can you work out who ?

Both of these people have medals. One is Olympic Gold the other is a “Cycling Weekly Sportive completion medal” Can you work out who ?

New Bike has arrived.

Not much bike time this week, weather has been awful again. BUT the new bike has arrived, so looking forward to getting some use on that. Tomorrow is the 1st Sportive of the season – The Wiltshire Wildcat. So look out for some pictures and details soon.

On the another note, team sky posted some pictures from Ben Swifts ride on their website. (Am not in shot but thought it fun to highlight my position).

Riding in the peloton with Team Sky on the front.

Riding in the peloton with Team Sky on the front.

A ride in the Hills.

We had a rare day of sunshine this week, (thanks to Sian Lloyd and her weather machine) so I took the opportunity of getting out and exploring the Surrey Hills section of the Prudential Ride London 100 route that I am riding for the charity Mind.(please sponsor me).

I pick up the Ride London course at West Byfleet. (this would be about 40 miles into the actual ride) Here we start to get off the main roads and into the smaller lanes. Riders may need to be a bit careful along here, if there are a lot of riders together. Newark lane and the Ripley road had some tight pinch points. There were a few incidents in the Olympic Road race along this section.

Newark Lane has some Pinch Points

Newark Lane has some Pinch Points

Eventually we come along to Ripley where there is a tight spot (sharp left then right) going through the high street and on towards the Surrey Hills.

Tight Junction at Ripley

Tight Junction at Ripley

So eventually you pop out of the small lanes and join the dual carriage way (this is going to be great if they close both lanes, 1000s of cyclists all over the “Motorway”) and after a small section on the A246 we turn left and you are looking for this sign.

This is where things start to get a big tough

This is where things start to get a bit tough

This is where you might start to cry. The road takes a steep turn over the 1st category 4 climb. The evil thing here is you see the long road climbing ahead all the way up, I find not looking tends to make it “seem” easier. Keep going until you get this view.

Top of the Newlands Corner Climb

Top of the Newlands Corner Climb

The decent on the far side is swift and winds down to the A25 where we continue to Abinger Hammer. A quick right and we are off down to the base of Leith Hill. The nasty bit here is the fact that Leith Hill can be seen off to your left hand side all the time you are skirting down the side of it (A view of what is in store for your legs). Again, the best practice is NOT to look – I think. Eventually you will reach this junction, and this is where there is potential to break down and get off the bike.

This is where the pain really starts

This is where the pain really starts

Up and over Leith Hill gets you onto a long winding descent. It gets pretty narrow in places, and there are some sections with high walls either side of the road, so this could be very dangerous if there is a large group. (Be careful people)

I headed back over to the A246 and onto home… (round trip about 55 miles) details are here.

Training ride out in the Surrey Hills

Training ride out in the Surrey Hills

Tired Legs

A gentle 2 hour ride yesterday. It was cold again with a freezing wind. I did have legs like lead (probably to do with yesterdays ride – see blog entry below- and the fact its hard to get warmed up with the weather so cold) I found some nice quiet roads at the back of Tadley / Reading and just turned the legs over for an hour and a half. The smell of an open fire at a country pub was too much of a temptation and I stopped for a full on cheeseburger with chunky chips. They had one of those huge fires going and I sat in front of it for an hour to warm up. (I have to confess the pint of Tanglefoot ale did wonders to remove any aches from my thigh muscles). Now here comes the disclaimer: getting back on the bike after a sit down like that is always doubly painful. Your legs really don’t want to work (they would rather be sitting by the fire, full of burger and chips – and you can’t blame them for that) I continued on for another hour and a half and with the temperature dropping a few more degrees as the sun started to drop, I headed back to the car.

Swifty Be Swift !

Well I took a chance on a tweet this week and went out to see if I could hook up with Ben Swift who was out on a training ride in Esher apparently. It was pretty cold this morning and I was in two minds about dragging my sorry ass out of bed and on the bike. BUT.. its the chances to do stuff like that makes you get up. Stuck the bike on the back of the car, and drove over to Esher. It was a bit of a nightmare because there was a Triathlon expo at the race course as as well as an Evans Sportive event so the place was crawling with cyclists, bikes and runners (funny did not see anyone in speedos – maybe because it was 2 degrees) I took a punt on the fact that if I was doing a ride, I would be heading out towards the Surrey Cycle Way. I kept the pace slow to give Team Sky a chance to catch up (sarcastic tone of voice there). Well was not long before a group of about 30 pick me up with Ben Swift at the front on his Pinarello. I nodded as they came alongside and tucked into the group about halfway back. Was great to ride along with them for about an hour before a I peeled off and headed back to the car. I definitely got a work out, not so much the distance traveled but more the constant pace. I tend to take it a bit easy up the inclines so I don’t kill myself over the distance but these guys don’t even see the hills. Well a nice little ride out and due to my helmet cam being on hand I got this footage. Good Luck to Ben and Team Sky for the 2013 season.

Ben Swift of Team Sky

Ben Swift of Team Sky