A blog about cycling...especially the long distance stuff

Sunday, 29 April 2012

York - London: Should have taken a pedalo

I've got 5 weeks left till the big challenge starts. So whats the sensible thing to do? Why get a train to York of course and then cycle all the way back! So on Saturday I got up at Oh-My-God O'clock and pedaled up to St Pancras in torrential rain...a theme that was to permeate the weekend. The trip north was really pleasant, zooming out of town on a high speed train...at least  until it dawned on my every couple of minutes of "zoom" was going to be a slog back on the bike home. Anyway this was the plan:

York is a beautiful railway station to arrive at...which is saying something. Blossomed tree line lanes and castle walls tucked in to the middle of the city. Had no time to look around but took the tourist shot thats no doubt been done a few times before:

And then got a move on. I'd done a rough calculation before going away on the excellent route planning website http://www.viamichelin.co.uk/ and knew that to make it to my target for the day, Peterborough, I'd have to ride a PB for distance - but that was the whole point of heading so far away. The weather was not great either, cold, and the odd heavy shower - but the riding was brilliant - fast, flat and with a wind mostly on my back quarter with the odd headwind section.

I made great time south, having a lunch break after 100km at possibly the worst pub in Lincolnshire, for a rather unpleasant, but very filling Lasagne...which I regretted later (don't ask). Then moved on to Lincoln itself, very briefly passing though the city center for a peak at the Cathedral:

After Lincoln the miles were really stacking up and the constant buffeting in the wind was taking it out of me. I squeezed down a gel and tried to find some more energy...finally Peterborough signs started appearing and I negotiated busy arterial roads to the south side of the city where I'd booked a room.

Wow...this turned out to be a cyclist dream. When the staff asked why the heck I'd ridden from York and I said it was training for a charity ride, they went well out of their way: bike locked safely in a meeting room, my room upgraded, beautiful meal, smiling faces. Shame I'd passed out asleep by 9pm and couldn't enjoy the place more but thanks guys at the The Premier Inn - exceptional service!

The weather worsened overnight and I was out the door as early as possible...still a long way from London. Not much to say about this...except I was soaked, cold, and still very sore from an epic day one. This was a pure mental battle to keep going, and small things like navigating were more difficult than normal. I couldn't stop & knew if I did I'd never start again. I was too wet and cold to stop moving...so did the final 130km pedal in 1 long single hit - riding a lot slower than normal. So wet in fact it might have been faster in this:

Finally back home and an ice pack on a sore ankle, a bit of achilles tendonitis is back...got to get that sorted before next weekend when I'm riding aboard...

Total tally for the weekend:

Day 1: York to Peterborough
230 km / 142 Miles: 7001 Calories

Day 2: Peterbrough to London
140 km / 87 Miles: 4464 Calories

Paying for it now!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Ride, Eat, Sleep: Repeat

Training is the name of the game. Oh yes. Training, training and more training. And this is best illustrated by the following useful flowchart:

Despite getting a little tired of this ruling my life right now (can you tell?), this is all actually going quite well. For April I’d set myself the target of 1300kms / 807 Miles and it’s looking possible I might just make that if I can pull off 390km in this last week of the month… possible if I can do 200 miles this coming weekend. As for the weekend passed, well I  had commitments near home but managed 2 good, long rides both days by getting up at 6am – in doing so missing the worst of the weather too, as the mornings were actually quite sunny…just not very warm!

Fundraising has dried up a little unfortunately. Most of my close friends - bless you all have given generously and its massively appreciated…but I haven’t figured out smart ways to extend that. Originally I was going to do a pub quiz but a fellow fundraiser suggested a brilliant idea of doing a BBQ quiz instead, and that way be able to do it in the backyard so more of the money will go to my charity’s – good call Viv! 

So my wife and I are setting that up for a week before I head away on the challenge.  And I have a date in mind to start!  June 6th I plan to roll out from Land’s end…that gives me about 5 more weekends to get ready, so now its time to get the route planned in detail.

Anyone wanting to join me for a section is welcome too, I’ll start posting route plans soon. Each day to be split up into 4x 40km sections.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

The New Forest & 371km this week

The long weekend meant more time training of course. I headed out of London riding south west, supported by a light tailwind which helped me make great time down to Alton for the lunch stop about 80km down the line. The riding was on mostly busy roads and plenty of dual carraigeway unfortunately, but it was at least very fast.

After an hour break and a big lunch I pushed on to Winchester, always a lovely place to call in at, but didn't really have anytime time look around...as I was taking this photo:

A very inebriated gentleman went out of his way to inform me me that the boat race was off! Some idiot had gone for a swim.

New travels fast in Winchester...I was impressed. (And peddled away FAST).

So crossing the town, I finally got on some B roads and did plenty of hill climbing as the road snaked its way towards Southampton. There were a few pretty hairy roundabouts with very fast moving traffic to negotiate - I hate doing these on a bike as the traffic is often moving too fast for you to get in the right lane and cars never let you in. But finally exiting town, I got to the far more pleasant New Forrest:

Passing through the ancient woodlands and emerging at Christchurch (the other one):

On the outskirts of Bournemouth. I felt great on this ride, and pulled up at my accommodation with 176km on the odometer...pulling up to a beautiful beach view despite the murky weather.

I did that in about 7hrs of ride time, with a 1 hour break. Far, far to fast, still need to slow down damnit - this challenge is not about speed its about sustaining long rides 10 days in a row. I think I got nervous by the millage still to go when I saw a sign at Winchester, and hit the gas. But it will be easier in June with longer daylight hours and thats not a factor.

But, I had the pleasure of my Wife's company for the rest of this trip

She'd got the train down from London with her bike. So on Sunday I rode back into the Forest and met her at the train station at Brokenhurst. I love this area, it makes me think this is how most of Britain would have looked, before the onset of agriculture and the rest. The villages in the area are very pretty as well, and you often see animals wandering around freely. We saw this huge Bull in Brokenhurst:

And there are ponies abound, which graze on the common land

We cycled across to the far northern edge of the park, enjoying fantastic riding conditions on narrow sealed country lanes weaving there way through forest and heathland. Our lunch stop was at the very cute Red Shoot Inn both eating a massive ploughmans to fuel up:

We then rode back down to Brokenhurst, mostly downhill and with a tailwind to boot so it took half the time that it had on the way up. My wife headed back to Bournmouth on the train while I stayed on the bike. So in the end the days tally was 110 km, making this a fantastic training week all told: 372 km / 231 miles. This month I need to hit 1300km so no celebrations yet. But am feeling tip top, though you cant tell in my mug shot:

In the meantime the folks at Rethink put me in touch with a few other keen souls cycling for the Charity this summer. John is cycling 700 miles from Calais to the Mediterranean sea..the Med?! Why didn't I think of that? Here I will be ending in the northwest corner of Scotland when John will have motivation of the beach at the end to pull him through...well done mate. Also another LEJOG'er Paul who is setting off at the end of the month and Stephen doing the coast to coast in a single day. Always good to hear what others are up to share ideas...good luck all!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Mixing for charity

As you all probably know I;m partial to a bit of a cheeky mix everynow and then...and last week wrangled a deal with a mate for his very own personal mix, in exchange for a donation....

The deal was done. I spend some time putting together a personalised 70 minute mix and Martin very kindly made a donation - thank you sir!

Anyone else wanting a personal mix of their choice can drop me a line...you name the genre! Classic trance? Latino techno? Name it! All I ask is a donation in return....

Monday, 2 April 2012

Wiltshire on a bike

A very cool weekend riding in Wiltshire! Fantastic to be off the main roads and covered some good country miles. I started in Basingstoke, and headed west towards Stonehenge. Up on the hilly backroads behind the ancient site, I was a little surprised to come across this:

It turns out Stonehenge is also the home of the Royal Artillery...perhaps practicing on the ley lines improves accuracy?

Anyway with wonderful roads like this:

I made great time over to Devizes which was the lunch stop. That section was 95km - sadly I didn't have enough battery to keep tracking the rest of the ride, but here's what I could capture:

I've got to try and figure out a way of extending the battery life on my phone, as it only seems to last 4-5hrs of map tracking. It will have to be a spare or a portable charger I guess.

Anyway, after Devizes I rode over to the beautiful village of Avebury. Go if you haven't been! Way better than Stonehenge, you can walk in amongst the stones, and the village itself is quite pretty too. A few photos:

I'll bet it wasn't easy moving this 4000 odd years ago

After that I headed north into Swindon ending the ride on about 130km. For day 2, ater a huge breakfast on Sunday morning it took me ages to get out the door, and I ended up practically racing to Reading thinking I'd be late for a lunch meet up with some friends doing the Reading half marathon. At one point I passed a guy on a ultralight racing bike and he didn't look too pleased about it! My pannier laden tourer being a bit of a bus in comparison. Anyway it wasn't the smartest thing to do in terms of training and I paid for it today with very stiff legs. It was fantastic to see everyone at lunch and they all did really well on the run, some damned good times actually.

Easter next weekend! So that means 2 extra days training...*whimper* ah well, bring it on....and thank you again for every word of encouragement, and kind donation.