Year to date in brackets
- Distance : 719 miles (2,293m)
- Time : 2 days 0 hours 33 minutes (6d 7hrs 29m)
- Climb : 43,398 ft (124,640ft)
- Energy : 58,897 kcals (134,448kcals)
Year to date in brackets
I got a text from Anthony last night. It said that there was a yellow rain warning and severe gales expected today, and asked if we were in fact going to attempt this ride. After a literate and rousing motivational reply, Anthony turned up this morning and we headed over to the start at Halifax. It was windy but dry. A spot of toast and suddenly we were the only ones left – the others had gone. Within the first mile we went the wrong way and after a bit of messing about we retraced and got back on route. Anthony rode with old friend Peter Bond for a while before we got lost a second time after a closed road took us off the route. By now we were wet and it was clear my motivational text had worn off. The rain got worse and the wind kicked up, sweeping me several yards across the road at one point before I even knew what had happened. It sounded like a jet engine in the trees!
At the first café stop 40 miles in I got a text from Liz asking me to stop and come home because the weather was frightening. At that point we were soaked through, freezing cold and wary of the wind. We decided to bail.
After wringing my socks out in the toilets, and eating soup and eggs on toast, we calculated the quickest route back and set off. I have the say that the last 10 miles were possibly the worst I’ve experienced on a bike. Absolutely drenched from head to foot, I couldn’t feel either my feet or my fingers. Braking and changing gear was proving more and more challenging. Riding down the valley from Burnley to Todmorden to Halifax into a headwind was hard enough, but with alarming frequency the wind would swirl sideways blowing me either into the kerb or into the centre of the road. Helpfully, motorists were giving us a wider berth (#sarcasm) so it wasn’t at all scary (#moresarcasm).
At the end we’d done 71 miles and there were still a dozen audaxers aiming to finish – I am in awe of their fortitude.
Ride stats : 71.45 miles in 5hrs 14m @ 13.6mph. 4983ft climbing, average HR 122bpm, 3152kcals used
I’ve now been riding my Canyon bike with full Shimano Dura-ace groupset for enough time to form some opinions on it, versus the SRAM products on my Boardman.
It isn’t really a fair comparison as SRAM Rival is probably pitched more against 105 but as they’re all I’ve got to compare that’ll have to do – unless SRAM want to send me a Red group set
Here’s my summary :
Gear changing – the Dura-ace is silky smooth, especially when moving from the small ring at the front to the big ring. It works beautifully. Rival also changes well but is quite clunky. There’s pretty much always a noise, and moving from the small ring to the big ring requires some force.
Gear shifting – Shimano shifting uses two levers. To change down the cogs you click the small lever, and to change up you move the whole brake lever. It works well but frankly the SRAM double-tap system is much better. It uses just one level and by means of a clever cam arrangement it means that a single click will move you down the cogs, whereas a “bigger” push of the lever will take you up. Both systems allow you to shift two cogs at a time.
Brakes – I didn’t realise the SRAM brakes (actually Tektro) on the Boardman weren’t that good, until I pulled the Dura-ace ones with the same level of force and nearly went over the handlebars. They are immensely powerful.
Levers and Ergonomics – The SRAM suits my hands and the way I position them on the hoods. It wins “hands down” for me (sorry) being much more comfortable, with the hoods, the brake levers and the gear levers simply being better styled for comfort. That’s not to say the Dura-ace ones are bad – they just don’t suit me as much.
Chainset – The Dura-ace feels a fair bit more robust but only time will tell I think.
Anyway, I’ll add any further thoughts as I ride the Shimano group set more
I found a new button to click on my blog dashboard – one which gives me a summary of where my blog has been accessed from. In the last 2 months here is where people are reading my blog
Or as a list of countries
I think that’s pretty cool – and if you’re reading this from outside the UK (or indeed inside the UK) then please drop me a comment and say hello.
After getting soaking wet last weekend on the 400k audax, and soaking wet and hailed on last Wednesday I was hopeful that the weather this weekend would be a bit more “springlike.”
Yesterday’s National Clarion 10 mile TT at Garstang was overcast, cold and windy. It was only my second full “10″ so I still feel somewhat out of place in amongst the pointy hat and skin suit brigade, with their TT bikes and deep section or full disc wheels. There’s me in my normal kit on my Boardman, the only hint I’m doing a TT are the aero bars that I’ve put on the handlebars.
Anyway, the course started on a slight incline into a headwind. It took me maybe 3 miles to get into a rhythm, constantly taking my hands off the aero bars to change gear and then wobbling about a bit in the wind. Then it was just about hanging in there. This is the kind of thing I need to do more of as apparently I’m not well suited to it, and therefore this will help increase my threshold.
As you can see I rode most of the ride around my threshold level, and I managed a time of 26m 14s, which is quite a bit better than my first attempt – blogged here. This put me 9th in a field of 18 riders in the Clarion. Call me Mr Average!
So today we did the Spring into the Dales audax starting from Hebden Bridge.
This was my first ever audax back in 2010 and I was blown away by the friendliness, the value for money, and the route. So myself, Anthony, Martin, Graeme and Andrew from North Cheshire Clarion started today. The sky was blue and clear, but it was absolutely freezing. The ride starts with a long climb out of Hebden Bridge which thins out the field of several hundred riders.
The warmth built up riding up the hill was soon dissipated on the descent – absolutely freezing ice-cream headache type cold!
A few more ups and downs and some hitching a tow on the back of a fast-moving group soon brought us to the first stop at the Dalesman café in Cargrave.
From the Dalesman the ride continued up and down to Bolton Abbey, over some more big hills and then eventually onto the worst bit of the route – into and out of Keighley.
The finish was a climb back up from Oxenhope and then long descent into Hebden Bridge – get warm then get cold again! As usual at the finish was some lovely catering – the best rocky road in the world amongst it.
Good ride even though it was freezing, and good to bump into friends such as Peter for a chat on the way.
Ride stats : 69miles in 4hrs 52m at 14.2mph. 7076ft of ascent, average HR 131bpm, 3321kcals
I get asked a few questions about how to plot routes and transfer them to Garmins, so I wrote a couple of blogs on the subject
However, the problem I’ve noticed most with routing is caused by the same “feature” that people inadvertently have enabled. If you think about a car satnav you tend to put in a destination and then follow the route the device calculates for you. If you take a wrong turning you rely on the device to recalculate the route and still take you to your destination. The default behaviour for Garmin bike satnavs is to do that too. However, if you plot a circular route where you start and finish from the same spot, that doesn’t really work, because as soon as you go off-route your Garmin will calculate the quickest route back to the start.
So if your main use for your Garmin is based on circular routes you plot yourself then make sure you set this option (found in the routing or navigation options menu) to either off or prompted. If you set to prompted you will be given a dialogue box if you go off-course. If you do not select NO then it will timeout and default to recalculating.
Hope this helps
The Monyash Peak 105km grimpeur was the first audax I’ve done on a weekday and I expected it to be relatively sparse in terms of rider numbers. However, between this ride and its flatter sister ride, there must have been 30 riders at the start.
The ride headed south from Marple and then east into the Peak National Park. As you can see from the profile it was quite a hilly ride, having 2.5AAA points associated with it. Climbs included Brickworks and Combs Lane, which was particularly challenging as it was very steep and very wet, making traction a real problem.
The weather was bizarre during the day. I saw sunshine and blue skies, showers, a strong wind blowing from west to east, heavy rain and worst of all, hailstones. The problem with hailstone is that on a hilly ride you get a lot of descents, and on the return from Monyash the headwind blew the hailstones right into my face, which at 25-30mph downhill is incredibly painful. In fact the return leg into a headwind was very tough and very wet and at the end all my waterproof clothing had failed and I was soaked.
I stopped halfway at the Old Smithy café in Monyash for scrambled eggs on toast and a chat with fellow audaxers but other than that it was a fair old slog round. I’d set off with the intention of riding at a high intensity and it certainly felt like it at the end.
Ride stats : 65miles in 4hrs 36m @ 14.1mph. 6580ft of climbing, average HR 148bpm and 3826kcals used
Last week I went for a test with The Endurance Coach in St Helens. Despite some carpark-based shenanigans afterwards, it was a really rewarding and interesting session.
For those interested it involves wearing a gas analysis mask whilst doing a cycling ramp test where the power is gradually increased and you maintain your effort.
Here are my summary statistics – it turns out I’m relatively good at burning fat (50/50 fat vs carb at low power/intensity) and that lends itself to longer, endurance rides. I do need to do some quicker rides as gradually, over time, I will get slower if I don’t.
I’ve been given a training plan and I hope to return in 16 weeks to see what, if anything, has improved!
Anthony and I have been considering doing a 400km audax for a while now, and we picked Mike Wigleys Llanfairblahblahblah 400 permanent (which is actually listed as 412km). We decided to start on Good Friday as it would give a long weekend to recover – and we’ve been tracking the weather in the days up to the ride. On thursday night the weather suggested it would be dry with showers so we decided to go on Friday morning.
Setting off from Poynton in good spirits we soon discovered that there was a strong wind blowing directly in our faces as we headed West. The first 40 or so miles were through our traditional club run routes before we turned on a cycle path heading through Chester. I have to say I’m not a big fan of cycle paths – they are generally poorly surfaced and progression tends to be slower than roads. They’re also quite boring – at least this one was – very straight and uninteresting scenery. They are, however, much safer and we reached the first café at Shotton. The less said about Shotton the better – not exactly salubrious surroundings at all. In fact much of the next 20 miles was pretty horrible urban cycling, punctuated with Citreon Saxo bellends buzzing us.
We then joined another cycle path – cycle path 5 - which criss-crosses the A55 and means we didn’t have to worry about traffic too much. It’s better in some parts than others, and can be confusing to follow on GPS but it does keep you off the dual carriageway. We went up and over an enormous mountain – not what the legs ordered after battling a headwind for 50-odd miles and then a precarious descent in the wind and the rain through to Abergele. We stopped for an evening meal at Tides café and bistro on a caravan park, by which time it was starting to rain. By the time we set off again it was a fairly persistent drizzle and we carried on through Conway, which I haven’t visited since I was a child, and then over another sharp hump and we passed the Menai bridge. By now we had the lights on and we headed to Pont Britannia and crossed into Anglesey.
The headwind was getting stronger and sapping our strength, and the night closed in and we were riding in pitch blackness whilst getting soaked. We stopped at a petrol station in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerybhwyrchwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch and had a coffee and a snack before pushing onto to Holyhead.
We arrived at KFC in Holyhead just as it was closing at 10pm, but the kind lady let us in and served us, and allowed us to sit until 11pm when the drive-through closed. Despite a couple of wobbles about continuing, and the fact that we were knackered, we set off on the home journey.
The wind had subsided but was behind us so we made quicker progress in the pitch black. My chinese army searchlight was fantastic, as opposed to Anthony’s keyring torch, which saw him blind if he dropped off my wheel at all (“I’m blind Dec, I’m blind!”)
This time we crossed the Menai bridge and made a few stops at 24hr garages between Conway and Abergele. Riding through the night is a great experience, with just the local hoodies in their Saxo’s to worry about, and the occasional drunk, but generally the roads are empty and progress can be brisk. At about 1-30am we passed a nightclubby in the middle of nowhere and soon after I heard the telltale hissing of my front tyre as it started to deflate. Maybe it was some glass from the club but by the time it was flat we were in the middle of a pitch black road and I was worried about being able to change the tyre in the dark. However, in the distance there was a single house with a single streetlight outside it, so I changed the tyre under that. I’d like to say I did it quickly and efficiently but after so long riding my brain wasn’t functioning properly, and my fingers were freezing as my waterproof gloves were now very damp.
I was also offering badly from the saddle on my Canyon – it’s now clear that it doesn’t suit me so I guess I’ll be replacing that soon as it was agony at times and I couldn’t get comfortable, meaning any kind of rhythm was difficult.
We passed through Conway again and Rhuddlan, took a break on a bench and popped some ProPlus, and eventually made it back into England. As the day dawned we now found ourselves on dual carriageways (albeit empty) and the heavens opened again, and by the time we pulled into McDonald’s at Cheshire Oaks we were drenched and tired beyond belief. After breakfast we heaved ourselves back onto the bikes, tired, wet and cold and yes, miserable. As we passed through Frodsham the drags there were absolutely leg and morale sapping and eventually we made it into Cheshire and as we were passing Martin’s house he popped out of the door and invited us in. It was lovely to get a hot brew and warm our feet – cheers Martin, much appreciated – before the final stretch via Lymm, Wilmslow and back to Poynton, where we could be found sat on benches outside the co-op, mere husks of the men who had set off 26 hours earlier.
Thank you to Anthony.
My backside is killing me, my legs are aching, my back, shoulders and arms are aching. Never again.
Ride stats : 258 miles in 17hrs 59m @ 14.3mph. 10,113ft of ascent, average HR 127bpm and 11,473kcalories used
A lovely ride starting in Settle and passing through Ingleton, Dent and Hawes, over Fleet Moss from the hard side, through Kettlewell, Grassington and then back to Settle via Cracoe and a fearsome headwind. The weather was freezing cold at first but sunny later (though still cold). Great company as usual from Audax regulars Anthony and Martin. Ride an audax – you’ll love it.
Today was the first serious ride on my Canyon. I love it – it flies up hills, soaks up the bumps and I felt fresher than usual at the end.
Ride Stats : 74 miles in 5hrs 29m @ 13.5mph. 6887ft climb, average HR 134bpm, 3840kcals used
Strava ride here