KidsCan Peak 100

This year I’ve been looking at riding audaxes more than sportives because, frankly, you get just as good an experience for a fraction of the price.  For example whilst many of my clubmates had spent a small fortune to ride the Cheshire Cat, I’d spent a fiver to ride a 200k audax on many of the same roads.  I do, however, make exceptions.  Last year I rode the Macc Monster sportive which was brilliant.  The Peak 100 is by the same guys so I was looking forward to this one.  And what’s better is the money goes to charity – specifically KidsCan, a charity for children with cancer.  So I’m happy to part with £25 on that basis alone.  However, when I signed in I received a High 5 bottle will a couple of gels and a couple of powders in it.  The main feed station had malt loaf, bananas, cereal bars, chocolate biscuits, powerade and water.  About 15 miles from the end two nice ladies in KidsCan t-shirts were flagging down cyclists with more gels, powders, choccy biscuits and water.  To cap it all, at the end there was a voucher for a steak sandwich/bacon butty/chips and a drink.  Absolutely brilliant value I think you’ll agree.

The route left the HQ in Macclesfield and was essentially two big loops – going through Langley, the Macclesfield Forest, Cleulow Cross, Bosley, Key Green, Timbersbrook, Gillow Heath, Mow Cop, Knypersley, Lask Edge, Rudyard, Rushton Spencer, Bosley Minn, Allgreave, Flash, Longnor, Crowdecote, Glutton Bridge, Axe Edge, Cat n’ Fiddle and back.  The scenery was absolutely fantastic – great climbs rewarded by fast and exhilarating descents – maximum speed today just under 41mph.  Yet another great route and superbly signed throughout – although the provided GPX was turn-perfect too.  The only (masochistic) disappointment about the day was the advertised climb of Mow Cop.  Well, it went near Mow Cop but it wasn’t the Mow Cop that everyone knows.

The weather was absolutely beautiful.  Shorts and shirt-sleeves for the first time this year and I was still overheating on the bigger hills!

5978ft of climbing

The ride is advertised at 7000ft of climbing although the Garmin suggested it was only (!) 5978ft.  The Garmin also developed a new trick today – at 30mph it suddenly decided I was doing 0mph and auto-paused.  Only a reboot brought it back to life!

Lots of spiky hills!

There was some serious climbing on this ride.  As we left HQ in a big group I knew that the hills would start to thin it out fairly quickly and so they did with 6 miles of climbing from the off.  I managed to keep in touch with the leading riders, generally finding that they pulled away from me on the flat but I got back on up the hills.  I felt pretty strong most of the way round.  On one particularly long climb I got into a fantastic rhythm which saw me just spinning along at 80rpm and reeling in rider after rider as they all started flagging.  Feeling pretty good about myself one of the guys in a Peak Cycles jersey went past me like a train, followed closely by his mate; a timely reminder there are always bigger fish in the sea!

The finish joined the Cat n’ Fiddle just before the pub and then followed the road down into Macclesfield.  That was a great blast and I managed to ride a couple off my wheel into a headwind so a great end to a great ride.

Organisation again was great – parking no problem, no queues for toilets or sign-on, no queues for any food, quality signage and a great route.  I’ll be back for the Macc Monster and I recommend  it to everyone.

Ride Stats : 64 miles in 4 hrs 24m @ 14.5mph.  5978ft climbing, 3840kcals energy used at average HR of 150bpm

 

A Nice Surprise

Got sent the January 2011 edition of The Christie Supporters Magazine which is called Successes, and there on page 36 is a short article and pictures of Ian, Pete and myself on last years Lejog.

Also in the magazine is an article about the new £35m patient treatment centre and it’s nice to know that in some small way every single person who sponsored us contributed to that.

Of course this year I’m asking for sponsorship again, although this time for a different, yet equally worthy cause.  It would be great if you could find it in your hearts (and pockets!) to help again.

Many Thanks.

 

Tour of Britain Stoke Stage

I recall watching the Tour of Britain pro riders on TV going round stage 2 in Stoke and thinking “that looks quite hilly” even though TV pictures naturally flatten out hills!  And, after completing the stage on Sunday, I can categorically say that I was right!

The Tour of Britain Prostate Cancer sportive took place around Stoke – not really known for its hills – except it did take us into the Peak District.

The ride itself seemed quite expensive at £40, but I have to say I haven’t seen a better organised, more well-prepared, better value event than this one.  Everything worked smoothly, from setting off under the cameras with a motorcycle escort, to the beautifully marked route, to the free food and gels at the numerous stops, to the finish with a high quality medal, goodie bag including t-shirt and recovery shake, and free pasta meal.  Just to illustrate the level of detail and thought – the gpx route download had Points of Interest (POI) programmed in which stated on the map where the drinks stops were.  If anyone could tell me how to get a Garmin to do that and I’d be grateful!  To the organisers – thank you and you have set a high bar for any other Sportive organisers out there as far as I’m concerned.

I rode with fellow North Cheshire Clarion clarionista’s Phil Jones, Sarah Smith, Martin Hickman and Matt Ellis.  The weather was extremely cold making choice of clothing quite difficult.  I chose a windtex jacket which meant I was cooking up hills but still cold when stopped.  The ride itself is now a bit of a blur.  It was a really hard slog all the way round, what with the hills, the cold and the breeze.  Here are my highlights in no particular order

  • Matt pushing through the pain and getting round – great effort and he should be proud of the achievement
  • Phil’s bike (The Unicorn) getting him recognised by a Twitter follower (you can find Phil’s blog in the links on this page).  The SRAM wheels he had on were simply amazing – Phil was climbing like I’d never seen him and going downhill he was simply uncatchable – until the crosswinds blew!
  • Feeding the ducks by hand at the lunch stop
  • The King of the Mountains signs at the bottom and top of Gun Hill (although not necessarily the hardest hill)
  • Hitting 51mph on a descent
  • Crossing the line as a team
  • The quality medal – sorry KilotoGo but much, much nicer than your Mow Cop medal

 

6440ft ascent - two Cat 1 climbs

 

 

Some very steep spikes!

 

Overall stats were 101.4 miles including the ride back to the car park, in 7hrs and 19mins at an average speed of 13.8mph.  Total energy used was 5631kcals, although I ate my own body weight in Mule bars, get shots and flapjacks!

This was my 11th century of the year and by far the hardest.  Very pleased to have done this and look forward to next year!

#Lejog Sponsorship Update #Kickcancer

Can we get £3000 before the off?

So with 2 days to go my sponsorship total stands at £2,861.  I’m absolutely staggered at the generosity of people.  It’s nothing short of brilliant and I’m targetting £3,000 before I start.

But there’s more.  If I add up the sponsorship for each of us riding – me, Ian, Pete and Rob – then the total as at today is £8,649!  Most of that is for The Christie, with the final part for the equally deserving Macmillan charity.

Excellent!

94 Very Windy Miles

Sunday club run with 10 other riders from North Cheshire Clarion.  I was up at 6-20am, porridge and out by 7am on what was a very blustery and chilly early morning.  Rode the 25 miles to Stretton down the East Lancs road into a fierce headwind.  Met up with the club, and after Andy’s clipless moment (ouch!) we were off.

A couple of the guys from the club write cycling blogs which are interesting and informative reads.  Phil’s can be found here, and Mark’s can be found here.  To complete the set, the club blog can be found here!

The loop took us into the headwind and then down through Weaverham and round to our stop at Allostock, with the wind now behind us.

2010ft of climbing

North Cheshire Clarion Tea Stop - picture by Phil Jones

Carrot cake - helps you see in the dark

Suitably refreshed we set off north past Knutsford and through Tabley which then saw us turn back into the headwind and back up to Appleton and Stretton.  Mark won one of the sprints so honourable mention to him!

Setting off back home there were a few of us going through Warrington.  We met a guy called Dave Smith cycling on day 3 of his Land’s End to John o’ Groats ride, so we rode with him through Warrington.  This guy was an absolute inspiration.  He told me that his daughter had been treated for cancer and as a thank you he wanted to do something for the hospital in Somerset that had treated her.  So he’d raised £2,500 in sponsorship and set off on his LEJOG solo – his friend he should have been riding with had been taken ill.  Dave is 72 years old!  Best of luck to Dave.

As I turned onto the East Lancs I thought I’d do a bit of extra training so I hit the lap button on the Garmin and went for it.  Now I know I had a tailwind, but at that point I’d already done 77 miles and I had to stop and start at 3 sets of traffic lights and 2 roundabouts.  Anyway, I did 10.19 miles in 28m 35s at an average speed of 21.4mph – so very pleased with that.

Overall 94 miles in 5hrs 45mins.  Average speed 16.2mph and 4295kcals used.

Bad news – but I’m more determined than ever

Today a close family member was diagnosed with cancer.  It’s the second close family member in the last couple of years to be diagnosed with cancer but experience does not make it any easier to take in.  Nor does the fact that we’ve been waiting for the results of the biopsy for a couple of weeks mean that we were any more prepared for it.

Fortunately the prognosis is good.  The detection is early and it seems that there will be treatment options.  So we are optimistic.  For this particular cancer more than 75% survive the disease for more than 5 years (in the 1970’s this was less than a third).  And it seems that there are more than 293,000 new cases of cancer diagnosed in the UK each year at a rate of once every 2 minutes.  More than 1 in 3 people will develop some form of it in their lifetime.  Thankfully the average ten-year cancer survival rate has more than doubled over the last 30 years, thanks to advances in medical technology, early detection and ongoing research.

It certainly puts things into perspective – and makes me more determined than ever to give this my best shot and try raise as much money as possible to help combat this disease.  It’s the least I can do.