Just noticed that the blog has had over 15,000 hits since I started it about 18 months ago. That’s not many per day, and it’s certainly a small drop in the Internet ocean, but I’m pretty pleased with that. Hopefully those of you reading it have found something of interest too. Boots!
A mixture of weather in June – from monsoon-like conditions to bright, hot and sunny days that make cycling a joy. I’m only two weeks away from my ride from London to Brussels and got a decent amount of training in.
- Total miles in June – 524 miles
- Average speed in June – 16.5mph
- Total climbing in June – 28,872ft
- Total mileage 2011 – 3,673 miles
I forgot to mention that with the tremendous hills yesterday came some brilliant descents. These were real point-the-bike-and-hold-on-for-dear-life drops, and I broke the 40mph barrier on 12 (yes twelve!) different occasions, maxing out at 51.8mph!
Also, when the total ascent went over 9999ft I discovered a bug on the Garmin 800. It justs displays “—-” even though it correctly records the ascent. Bizarrely, total descent displays fine over 9999ft. So if this happens to you it’s “normal” – I have reported the bug to Garmin so we’ll see whther that gets ironed out in the next firmware update.
Setting off from a car park in Padiham, near Burnley, at 8 am, a small group of audaxers headed North out of Lancashire and into the Yorkshire Dales. In the group was Martin, Anthony and I from North Cheshire Clarion, riding the Tan Hill 200 audax which is a 200km audax with 4 AAA altitude points! That effectively meant 4000m of climbing – uncharted territory for all of us, especially over such a distance!
By 8-30am we had already conquered the Nick o’ Pendle and the hills were coming thick and fast. We moved North through Clitheroe and Slaidburn, skirting the Bowland Forest and then heading North East into the Yorkshire Dales. A cafe stop in Hawes at a cafe with a fierce East European waitress helped fortify us as we headed for the big climbs up to the heighest points on the ride.
The first was Buttertubs – thankfully up the “easier” southside and the views from 1700ft in the sun were fantastic. Next up was Tan Hill, which has a steep kick at the start, a long grind, and then a sharp sting in the tail. A quick stop at the Tan Hill pub and we were off again. The third climb in this area was the worst – I don’t know what it is called but it was horrible. A couple of miles long, rising 900ft, it was straight into a headwind which made it feel much, much worse.
Gradually the hills were sapping our strength and the headwind, although slight, was not helping. We stopped at Bolton Castle tearoom for coffee and some cake and then a final sting in the tail at 90 miles nearly finished the guys off. From that point onwards we were hanging in until the end.
Overall the route was absolutely fantastic – well done to Andy Corless the organiser for a great day. For the princely sum of £3 we got a great ride, great weather and a goodie-bag at the end that was easily worth way more than the entry fee. Well done for Martin and Anthony for hanging in too – a very tough day but enjoyable nonetheless.
Ride stats : 129 miles in 9hrs 29m @ 13.6mph average. 12,071ft climbing, 6,863kcals used
I’ve now done a number of rides using the Garmin 800 and have some further observations.
- The first of these is the automatic timer start feature. There isn’t a Garmin 705 owner out there who hasn’t stopped the timer (by pressing the stop button – not auto-pause) at a cafe or mid-ride stop and then ridden off forgetting to start it again. Losing 10 miles of data in the middle of a long-ride is one of the rites of passage of owning a 705, but the 800 adds a setting that detects movement and asks if you want to start the timer. Simple, but very, very useful.
- What were called saved rides on the 705 are now called courses on the 800. There is a search facility such that if you have a lot of stored rides you can quickly find the one you want.
- When calculating a saved route it is much quicker than the 705. The UI is improved too. Again – helpful if doing it on the move.
- The training partner feature helped me knock 30s off my personal best in the Kilton time-trial. I simply set training partner to an average speed that would beat my PB and then attempted to beat my training partner. The display shows time and distance you are ahead/behind him, which is really useful – it makes pacing yourself easy with a graphical UI.
- The 800 allows you select a background picture. These are 160×240 jpg’s and are stored in a folder and therefore you can add your own. Here’s one of my ugly mug – see picture
- You can also add startup text and duration it is displayed. There is a .txt file in the root directory and if you open that there are instructions in the comments. Mine now says “Garmin 800 – Ade Hughes, North Cheshire Clarion” Possibly useful if you lose it and an honest person finds it?
- There is a screenshot function allowing you to capture a screenshot by pressing the power key briefly – see picture
- The beep warning you of an upcoming turn is not as loud as the 705 – which means it is difficult to hear especially if moving fast or on windy days. But the increased screen size makes the display clearer to see and tricky junctions easier to navigate.
- On wet days, wiping away the drops on the screen can cause you to switch screens inadvertently, although you can lock the screen.
- The covers for the USB and microSD slot don’t especially fill me with confidence – although the unit is claimed to be element-proof. We shall see.
Tonight I rode just up the road from me to Ramsbottom to take part in Bury Clarion’s “Try it” hill climb. There were riders from Bury Clarion, Bolton Clarion and of course, fellow North Cheshire Clarion riders – Dave, Adam, Steve and Paul cheering us on.
The course is probably just shy of a kilometre up Lumb Carr Road, and conditions were favourable – no rain and a tailwind.
Having never done a hill climb I had no idea what to expect, or what to do frankly. Adam was riding single-speed and whilst that struck me as nuts, in a way it took away the uncertainty of what gear to start off in!
Anyway when I started I realised I was in the wrong gear and crunched through a couple accelerating rapidly. Too rapidly. I went off far too quickly and after about 400m or so I realised I was in trouble as I blew up big time! Gasping for air, heart-rate at maximum and legs not really working I slowed alarmingly. Not quite getting a second wind as I approached the finish line, I limped over, in part
a victim of my own over-exuberance and inexperience.
Adam did a great time of 2m 54s, I managed 2m 59s and Steve put in a good time with 3m 31s. Dave (RoboDave!) put 40 seconds into me clocking 2m 19s. To put that into context we’ve both clocked similar times on the Kilton TT this year. In the space of less than a kilometre he caught two other riders and finished 3rd overall – a superb ride!
I did enjoy it though, especially the free chocolate at the end. Well done and thanks to Bury for organising it.
The mind is both a wonderful thing and a terrible thing. During last weeks Bowland Forest audax my mind had convinced me that I was struggling more on the hills, that I was not as fast and that I was more tired. One of the advantages of being a data geek like me is that you can actually take a subjective view like that and use some data to analyse it. So I did. Up until the end of May last year I did 2,428 miles and 94,659ft of climbing. Using a not-really-very-scientific-formula, that works out at around 39ft of climb per mile ridden. The equivalent period this year sees me having done 3,146 miles and 101,729ft of climbing – or around 32ft per mile. That would tally with me focusing more on quicker rides than hilly rides. But there’s not much in it – certainly not enough to worry about.
But me being me I decided to do a few hills this weekend. I warmed up on Saturday with a quick 32 miler including The Rake – which you can find on page 126 of the excellent 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs book by Simon Warren.
The weather was grey and overcast with wet roads but little or no rain. The surface of The Rake is broken and difficult at the best of times but it was glistening with the wet, rainbow spectrum of spilt petrol/diesel/oil. Picking a line was difficult, with my bike wheel spinning on occasion and I reached the top with a higher heart-rate than I expected and feeling it in my legs. I must have been right, I thought, I’ve not done enough hills. But on analysis of the data I found that the probable reason was that I had gone up the hill about 1mph faster than my previous two rides on this loop. That doesn’t sound much but over a mile of climbing including 20%+ gradients it’s enough! And overall I knocked 5 minutes off my previous best time for the ride.
Today I decided to go north again but heading over to Hebden Bridge – which if you like flat riding would be your version of cycling hell.
There was a stiff wind this morning and the route took in a mixture of short, sharp climbs, like Widdop, and long gradual climbs, like Cragg Vale. Something for everyone!
Anyway, my legs felt very heavy today. My time and average speed wasn’t particularly good. I’ve noticed some riders who struggle to maintain a pace in a group but post some fantastic averages when out on their own. I’m the complete opposite. I need company to motivate me to go faster – on my own I just settle for “comfortable”.
Overall though I’m pleased with the rides, and I think it shows the value of recording data so you can test your subjective thinking and get to the real story.
Saturday : 32 miles in 1hr 54m at 16.7mph average. 2,000ft of climbing, 1,591kcals and average HR of 146bpm
Sunday : 76 miles in 5hrs 24m at 14.1mph average. 6,339ft of climbing, 4,167kcals and average HR of 139bpm
I’ve finally bitten the bullet (what on earth does that mean really?) and bought a Garmin Edge 800. I’ll probably post more about it over the months but here are my first impressions
- It looks a whole lot more modern that the 705. It’s smaller and more compact, yet has a larger screen. An extra tenner seemed worth it to buy the silicon sleeve and a touchscreen screen-protector.
- In the box are the usual things – 2 bike mounts, heart monitor strap, map card, cadence sensor, charger, usb cable and NO MANUAL. This is contained either on the Garmin website or on the device itself in a documents sub-directory.
- Plugging into my Mac, first impressions were not good. The Mac did not recognise the device and therefore didn’t mount it. Great start. A quick google and it seems this was a “feature” with v2.1 software. Turning the 800 off, holding down the reset button and plugging it into the USB port forced the Mac to mount the device. Garmin updater then updated it to v2.2, which does allow the device to be recognised.
- It features a new sub-directory structure. GPX files are dropped into a “New” directory and automatically converted by the Garmin. Hopefully this should make transferring plotted rides easier but that remains to be seen.
- The touchscreen is good and allows space for more data than the 705 on the training screens – up to 10 data items. However, on the map screen it only allows up to 2 data items as opposed to the 4 I had on the 705 map screen. Don’t understand this as the screen estate was smaller on the 705 and was still usable. A welcome addition to the data items available is the air temperature.
- The 800 features a new twisting bike mount that feels a whole lot more secure than the 705 cable tie mount.
- Out on the bike it performed as expected. The screen was visible in differing light and the additional size of made the map easier to follow; the route guidance working well.
This time in a month I will be on my way from London to Brussels. So far I’ve done 2,174 miles of training for this ride. I’ve tried to increase my power and speed over longer distances, as well as test my mental endurance. It’s been tough but enjoyable, and it’s not quite finished yet. My sponsorship, on behalf of The British Heart Foundation, currently stands at £1,296 and it would be fantastic to get it up over £1,500 before I go. If you have sponsored me, supported me on my training rides (Anthony, Martin, Martina, Phil, Graeme and the other North Cheshire Clarion guys), helped out with sponsorship (Debbie, Maginus, Giles) or baked cakes (Kate and Emma) I’d like to say a big thank you. If you haven’t sponsored me then that’s easily solved 😉