March Roundup

Ade's Road Cycling BlogWell, we’re a quarter of the way through the year already!  As the weather in March has been better this year than last year, it’s led to a better road mileage.  The wind has been difficult at times, but that all adds to the training effect.  I’ve been doing TT’s and 200km audaxes, as well as commuting to work on a daily basis on my fixie.  March stats are (YTD in brackets) :

  • 739 miles (1,489) in 1d 21hrs 48m (3d 21hrs 3m)
  • 16.1mph average (16mph)
  • 40,384ft ascent (74,580ft)
  • 30,390 kcals energy (59,898 kcals)
  • 133bpm average HR (131bpm)
  • Turbo trainer time – 4hrs 57m

The picture below is a strava heatmap of where I’ve ridden so far this year

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Chirk 200 2014

Ade's Road Cycling Blog Ade's Road Cycling BlogThis time last year snow had delayed this ride, although a couple of hardy souls actually rode, and completed it.  Amongst them was Don Black, who very sadly passed away recently.  A true gentleman and extraordinary randonneur, Don was the absolute antithesis of the all-the-gear-no-idea riders one sees a lot of these days, looking like he was riding to the shops but capable of tremendous distances. He also organised many great rides, and he will be sadly missed.

Back to the ride.  The weather today was excellent.  There was a stiff breeze but blue skies and the sun made an appearance, as did my legs! I chatted to Steve from Saddleworth Clarion before the ride, soon to be an audax movie star, and  resplendent on his shiny new carbon audax bike!

Ade's Road Cycling BlogSome 70-odd riders started and the first two controls come at around 35 miles and 65 miles – and they are small cafes so the trick is to get there near the front.  So I set off quickly and picked my way to the front in the first 5 miles or so, and found myself riding with a chap on a Cervelo S2 with aero wheels – there were plenty of best bikes out but I was still on my winter hack.  Cervelo guy was rapid.  A wrong turn by me saw him open a few hundred metres on me and I struggled to get back on until he went wrong in Middlewich.  I led him into the first control where I enjoyed a bacon butty and cup of tea (for £2 – bargain!) but he checked in and then set off – I never saw him again for the rest of the day.

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It had been mostly downhill so far so I set off for the next section which was mostly uphill to Chirk – no real hills to speak of, but rolling countryside.  Again I put down a quick pace because if you are late to the cafe in Chirk you can be held up for over half an hour just waiting.  I caught most riders including a group at the front who I just rode through and off the front.  With about 10 miles to Chirk they caught me – one minute I was alone, the next I looked back and there was a group of Seamons and Glossop Kinder Velo riders there.  I went to the front and pushed hard.  If you ride a bike you will understand that every so often you get into a groove that is unexplainable.  Your mind and body simply gels and you almost effortlessly fly along.  It doesn’t happen very often but when it does it’s hard to explain, and you just go with it.  There was a burn within my legs but it felt good.  My mind was completely focused on pedalling, and the miles just ticked down quickly. I could see the shadow of the guy behind me so I assumed everyone was there.  As we approached Chirk he apologised for not taking a turn on the front because he was hanging on.  I looked round and it was only him there.

After beans and egg on toast in Chirk I set off again – a bit slower now.  The moment had passed and try as I might I couldn’t get the same rhythm back.  The guy from Seamons had set off before me but I passed him – meeting him again at the final control at the Ice Cream Farm, which was ridiculously busy.  He set off before me again and I eventually caught him and then we rode the last 15 miles through and off to the end at Poynton.

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Ride stats : 129miles in 7hrs 22mins at 17.6mph average.  4,848ft ascent, 5,157kcals energy used.  Average HR 137bpm

Strava ride here



Delightful Dales 200k Audax

Ade's Road Cycling Blog Ade's Road Cycling BlogAnother of Andy Corless’s forays into the Yorkshire Dales, I was looking forward to this one as I’d not ridden it before.  That was until the weather took a turn for the worse earlier in the week, and it was forecast to have some rain, possible snow and the obligatory stupid wind.  Indeed, on Saturday, Mail Online posted a photo of Middleham, the first control, in a sleet storm.

I was slightly late starting but the first 10 miles or so was up the A59 and I gradually reeled in most of the riders before we peeled off onto the country lanes.  I realised I was on roads that were very familiar, albeit usually riding in the opposite direction, as I passed through Gargrave and Cracoe and could see in the distance the tops of the hills covered in a smattering of snow. I made good time to Kettlewell and then immediately hit the cliff-face that is Park Rash.  The retro road sign “1 in 4″ wasn’t exaggerating, and I huffed and puffed my way up the 2 miles or so of hard climb.  My Garmin is set to auto-pause/start at 3.2mph and it was pausing and starting with irritating frequency.  Even though my heavy Raleigh has a 30 on the back it was still a grind to get up, and my legs were complaining all the way.  It’s safe to say I’m not the climber I was last year!

After a nice fast descent it was up again – Whipperdale Bank and Grinton into the wind before dropping into Middleham and the first control.  The weather had been kind up to now, with the signs of spring everywhere.  Daffodils, birdsong, lambs, blue skies – it was really nice.  Apart from teh bloody wind.  Leaving Middleham the route turned directly into the headwind and a steady and relentless climb for around 20 miles up the B6259.  It was horrible, demoralising and painful.  At one point I stopped to put a rain jacket on as it started to hail.  By the time I’d got it on it stopped, and that was the last of the rain/hail for the rest of the day.  I was running out of energy as I crested the peak at 1700ft – the wind dulling the speed of my descent towards the next control and food in Nateby.

More importantly, after I’d eaten, the route turned and the wind was behind me, making life a lot easier.  There was one remaining big climb, up the Coal Road, where again the steepness, weight of the bike and my lack of climbing prowess meant it was a real struggle.  It was a relief that the majority of the last 20 odd miles was downhill with a tailwind, with the sun shining, and I arrived back having only seen a couple of other riders all day – it’s getting tiring and boring riding 200km solo continually.

Finally, I have to say the weather was great and it showed the Yorkshire Dales in all their glory.  They are going to look fantastic at the Tour de France.

Ride stats : 128 miles in 8hrs 39mins at 14.8mph average.  10,186ft climbing, 6,179kcals used.  Average HR 138bpm.

Strava ride here


Scouting Mam Tor Audax

Ade's Road Cycling Blog Ade's Road Cycling BlogAnother audax I’d not done before so I was looking forward to this one.  After a week of fairly still weather, with some sun, the weekend turned up blowing a gale and overcast.  After fighting the wind time-trialling on Saturday, Sunday had a very stiff WNW wind gusting powerfully.

The start was very similar to a few audaxes I’ve been on recently – a large and fast peloton forming driven along at pace by the usual suspects from Calder Clarion (amongst others).  With the wind behind we made good time for twenty or so miles, even though heading upwards.  After Macclesfield we hit the first real hills of the Peak District and riders began to fall away.  I found myself at the front with a Calder guy as we reached the first peak, but we were caught on the descents by a smaller group.  The next climb would take us 7 miles or so to the top of Mam Tor, and a guy from Derby Mercury set a fast pace, gradually dropping people one by one, until at the end there was just him and me.  As I crested Mam Tor I got a brief taste of the power of the wind at that height before descending into Edale and the first cafe stop.

The route turned south and dropped down to Hartington – at this point the cafe stop had split everyone so I was on my own, and would remain so for the majority of the remainder of the ride.  At Hartington we turned into the wind and started a long, slow, painful climb on exposed moors.  After 7 miles of being battered backwards, and climbing to nearly 1600ft, I was mentally and physically exhausted.  The wind was so strong that when head-on I was down to 5mph.  When the road turned and it was side-on I was struggling to stay up.  I’ve never been so happy to reach the peak of a hill at the Mermaid Pub and start to descend, but even then I needed to pedal and take care as the wind whipped around.  The next stop at Tittesworth reservoir I ate an energy bar but I should have eaten more, as I would find out later.

The next 40 miles into the wind were just a case of struggling through, although as we got lower and into the valleys the wind wasn’t as bad.  At Old Ma’s in Tattenhall I was struggling with the tell-tale signs of not having taken on enough food.  I ate something there and then headed off for the final 15 mile stretch, riding with a guy from Liverpool.  After about 5 miles the food must have kicked in because I felt better and the final few miles were quite enjoyable.  All in all, one of the toughest rides I’ve done.

Ride Stats : 129 miles in 8hrs 27m at 15.2mph average.  8536ft of ascent, 5804kcals energy used.  Average HR 136bpm.

Strava ride here



Charlie Westlake Memorial Ride – Bury Clarion & Bury CTC

Ade's Road Cycling Blog Ade's Road Cycling BlogThe Charlie Westlake memorial ride, and shorter Walter Pilkington memorial ride, organised by Bury Clarion and Bury CTC, are rides that have run for many years commemorating Bury Clarion riders Charlie and Walter.  As the start from Bury is not too far from me, I decided to ride up and join the longer 100km ride.  As I arrived I saw many familiar faces – Mike and Terry from many audaxes, the Saddleworth Clarion guys including Nephi, Tim and Steve, Jenny from Rochdale Tri, some guys from North Cheshire I’ve never met before and I think I saw the Cooksons guys too.

As we set off in groups of 10, the roads and air were damp but it wasn’t raining.  A brisk southerly wind propelled us northwards through Ainsworth, Egerton and past Belmont.  I was making good time, climbing pretty well and leaving most in my wake.  Of course there is always someone to bring you back to earth with a bump, and so this time it was a lad from East Lancs RC who flew past me and left me trailing, unable to keep pace as the road headed up and then down into Tockholes and Darwen.  I thought we were heading towards Ewood Park but we turned right at Uncle Jack’s rather than left, which then gave a steepish climb up to the roundabout at Guide, followed by a rapid descent with a vicious hairpin at the bottom.

Through Whalley the rain started to fall and the wind blew a little more.  We turned into it at Clitheroe as we headed up the long drag out of Chatham and into “Lancashire’s Prettiest Village” of Downham.  Not sure who votes for these sort of things but it is very nice, even with the wind and rain driving into my face.

I stopped briefly at Barley, but the queue at the cafe was too long (no bacon butty for me – energy bar instead) so I carried on to Barley Green and the Clarion Clubhouse.  Built by the Independent Labour Party in the early 20th century, you can read about it here.

A mug of tea was the princely sum of 45p.  And a large pint mug not much dearer!  I had a chat with some visiting chaps from London Clarion and the National Clarion 1895 club – I’ll be back to visit in the summer I think.

Back on the road we were immediately faced with a steep climb before descending to Fence, through Burnley and past the Dingle Dome and then the long, draggy climb up towards Bacup – pretty difficult in the face of the wind and rain.  Turning right before the summit, we descended into Waterfoot, although the headwind made progress slower than it should have been.  A couple of Jaffa cakes at Terry’s control and it was down to Rawtenstall, up and over Edenfioeld and then an achingly slow and painful last climb into the wind up to finish at Owd Betts – with me rapidly running out of fuel and energy.

I rode home very slowly after checking in, absolutely starving and running on empty, and then ate my own bodyweight in cake.

Ride stats : 80 miles in 5hrs 11mins at 15.4mph average.  6,140ft of climbing, 3,434kcals energy used. Average HR 133bpm.

Strava ride here


25M 2-Up Time Trial

Ade's Road Cycling Blog Ade's Road Cycling BlogAfter last week’s shortened 10M TT in a howling gale, I was very nervous about this one.  The thought of riding at 25mph inches from the rider in front with my hands off the brakes (on the aero bars) in windy conditions had me worried.  The course, J8/13, is also an interesting course.  It’s pretty sporting, and involves some very winding and technical country lanes – and the A road sections are quite narrow.  All in all, it was hardly ideal for our first 2-Up!

As it was the weather couldn’t have been better so Phil and I set about warming up on the rollers.  We made it to the start with literally seconds to spare – no time to worry or to have a chat with Graeme who’d come to watch – and we were off.  I went at the front first and very quickly, in complete contrast to last week, I was into my rhythm and concentrating on my breathing and pedal stroke.  It was strange having to keep looking behind to check Phil was still there, and after a while I pulled out and let Phil go through and I slotted in behind him.  Fairly quickly my HR dropped by between 10 and 20 bpm – it’s amazing how much less effort is needed.  And so we continued, with the odd shout from Graeme for added encouragement!  We passed quite a lot of pairs – a bit dicey on the narrow roads – and it seemed to be over pretty quickly!

At the end I felt good – much better than last week – although my new position is absolutely wrecking my shoulders and neck.  Hopefully they will get used to it!  Our time was 01:02:07 which I was pleased with – and it seems we came 11th out of at least 50 pairs of riders.  I’ll take that – big thanks to Phil for partnering me.


February Stats

With the weather leading to two weekends where I did not venture out onto the road, in a short month like February it’s not surprising that my mileage was down significantly.

  • 327 miles in 20hrs 10m at 16.2mph average speed
  • 13,805ft ascent
  • 12,362 kcals energy used at average HR of 128bpm

On the plus side I did manage 9hrs and 38m of additional turbo training at an average HR of 152bpm, burning a further 8,000 kcals of energy.

Onwards and upwards!