Billy No-Mates!

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

The last North Cheshire Clarion club run I went on was on the 5th June.  Since then I’ve been filling my weekends cycling longer audaxes but with August being PBP month there aren’t many on, so I had a spare day today.  I decided I’d do/run the training run so I turned up ready for an 8-45am start.  Unfortunately everybody else was out for the social ride so I had a choice to join that or head off on my own.  I wanted to get some fast miles in after last week so I decided to do my own thing.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

918ft of climbing

The ride itself was pretty good.  As a group I was superbly disciplined, the peloton flashing along the road in all my glory.  A slight breeze didn’t slow me as I took turns on the front  to drive the pace.  Too fast in fact, as I arrived at the café some 30 minutes before it opened, as confirmed by a miserable so-and-so at the front of the garden centre.  Faced with such excellent customer service I reluctantly decided not to wait.

The rest of the ride was unremarkable and I got a pretty good workout overall.

Ride stats: 43.15 miles in 2hrs 15m at 19.1mph average.  918ft of climbing, average HR 159bpm and 2167kcals energy used

Evil Fairy Rainbow Stars*

For me, the weather this weekend has been perfect cycling weather.  Some people prefer it cooler but I love cycling when the sun is out and the breeze is flat-to-non-existent.

Ade's Road Cycling BlogSaturday is my usual rest day but the weather was so perfect that I couldn’t resist and decided to head out for a blast round my usual 32 mile training route.  I’ve been doing this route for 2 years and yesterday I did it in a personal best of 1hr 45m, which is nearly an hour quicker than I was 2 years ago.  I was feeling pretty strong so decided to attack the hills and get up them as fast as I could.  The result was an average spped of 18.1mph which I was pretty pleased with.

Today I drove to the picnic site at Barley in Lancashire to meet Martin and Graeme and do a route plotted by Graeme.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

4,569ft ascent


The route took us up Waddington Fell and out towards Bowland, stopping in Dunsop Bridge at Puddleduck’s for coffee and cake.  Then down to Longridge before swinging left towards Clitheroe and back to Barley.  I have to say that the weather was beautiful and on days like this there is nowhere better to be than in the English countryside.

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In the past week I’ve been up Waddington Fell twice and the Nick o’ Pendle from both sides.  So much for thinking I wasn’t doing enough hills a few weeks back!  It was a really enjoyable day, with a great route plotted by Graeme and great company.  Absolutely loved it.

Ride Stats

Saturday : 32 miles in 1hr 45m @ 18.1mph, 1,849ft of ascent.  142bpm average HR and 1,413kcals

Sunday : 49 miles in 3hrs 40m @ 13.4mph, 4,569ft of ascent.  120bpm average HR and 2,477kcals

*You may be wondering about the title of this post.  Apparently, at the end of last weeks audax, Martin was so tired near the finish that he started hallucinating.  He described seeing different coloured fairies who would wave their wands and shoot rainbow stars at him.  When the stars hit him they drained his energy.  All I can say is who needs drugs when you can get the same effect from doing an audax!  Maybe Martin should do some more and start designing computer games too…

A Tale of 2 Halves

995ft ascent

North Cheshire Clarion training ride this morning with Anthony and Graeme.  On the way over I noticed that the car was getting buffeted on the motorway and the trees were swaying quite viciously.  Great, the wind again!

Today’s route was pretty flat albeit with one climb out of Alderley Edge (near Swiss Hill), however the northerly wind made the first half pretty tough.  The climb itself was good fun and we went past another group of cyclists, one of whom was riding a beautiful titanium Sabbath that he told me was on its maiden ride, and came highly recommended.

The stop at the Wizard cafe was welcome after the climb and they had a log fire burning which helped dry some of our kit as we sat there steaming.  Fortified with fruit loaf and some of Anthony’s home made flapjack we were leaving as the social group arrived looking very muddy – somebody obviously didn’t have mudguards!

The second half of the ride was somewhat wind assisted which meant we were able to blast round the lanes which were relatively traffic free, and we were pretty lucky in that it didn’t really rain at all.  An interesting statistic that illustrates the effect of the wind – the first 20 miles we averaged 15.2mph, the 26 miles on the second half of the ride we averaged 17.9mph.

Ride stats : 46.2miles in 2hrs 46m @ 16.6mph average.  995ft of climbing, 2269kcals of energy used and average HR of 144bpm

Blowing a Hoolie…

I have to say I have no idea what that means – I’ve just heard Adam and Eleanor use it to describe a windy day.  And windy it was today.

1361ft of ascent

It was the first North Cheshire Clarion social ride I’ve been on since Mark’s accident.  Cutting to the chase, since then I’ve avoided riding in larger groups, sticking to rides with smaller numbers.  I’ll not go into the reasons why but there were 12 out this morning and I was a touch uneasy, especially with the wind as strong as it was.

Anyway, there was a significant headwind for the first 20 miles or so and I got a good workout pulling a couple of big shifts on the front.  The rain, however, didn’t make an appearance and it was pretty warm so not too bad really.

The cafe we were meant to go to was closed so after threatening to throw Graeme in the canal for choosing the route, we made our way on and found an even better place called The Galley at Aquaduct Marina.  Great food and great service – I’m sure we’ll be back, probably in summer!

On the way back something happened that I’ve never encountered before.  We had to stop and allow a herd (flock?) of ducks and geese waddle across the lane to the pond on the other side!

The last part of the ride was wind assisted in a good way so wasn’t a big effort.  Most importantly we got everyone round safely.

For me this has been a good weekends riding – a total of 124 miles!

Ride stats : 72 miles in 4hrs 52m @ 14.8mph. 1361ft of ascent, 3407kcals energy used, average HR 131bpm

A Bit of Sun

1,956ft of ascent

A very cold morning saw just myself Anthony and Phil set off slightly late on the North Cheshire Clarion training run.  The normal social Sunday rides follow the North Cheshire mantra of never leaving a rider behind, which means there are regular stops to regroup , especially at the top of hills.  The training rides are not especially meant to be faster, just a higher intensity.  There’s no stopping to wait, and we try to keep the pace up.  That said it was a very cold morning with ice still on the roads so we tried to keep it steady rather than fast.  Anthony had picked the route because it involved a trip to the Elvis cafe.  I don’t think any of us had realised that this, by North Cheshire standards, was one of the hillier rides.  So all in all we weren’t setting any speed records but we still managed to get to the cafe before it opened!  A quick extra loop of a couple of miles and when we returned it was open.

As we were leaving the social ride arrived and reported problems with both Garmins.  Since the latest upgrade my 705 simply switches itself off when you select navigate at the start of a ride.  However, if you start on the route and select navigate whilst moving it seems to work.  For a piece of kit that costs over £300 the software and reliability is abysmal.

The only problem with the cafe is that it comes at mile 17 of a 44 mile route, meaning the second half of the ride is a bit more than a half, and it includes a fair bit of up!  It also involves a lot of back country roads which at this time of year were full of icy bits in the verge, massive potholes and all sorts of gravel, dirt and mud debris.  However, for the first time this year the sun came out!  Even though it’s pretty weak, and it remained freezing, it’s amazing what a difference it makes psychologically.  It was really nice to see it!

At the end we hadn’t turned in a particularly quick average but the intensity was there, especially up the hills, and we all enjoyed the ride.

Footnote – as that’s my last ride in January I notice I’ve done 508.6 miles – which is well on track for my target of 5,200 miles at the end of the year.

Ride stats : 47.3 miles in 3hrs 2mins @ 15.5mph.  1,956ft climbing and 2455kcals energy used.   Average heartrate 143bpm

High Intensity Weekend

I guess it’s all relative.  To many faster, fitter, younger riders it probably won’t seem like much, but this weekend has been pretty high intensity for me.  And that’s on top of a week where I’ve probably overcooked things.  Last Saturday I tackled the Hopey New Year audax which was very tough in itself.  I took Sunday off and then played football on Monday – on a side with a man down.  Tuesday I took off and then did my normal commute (12.5 miles each way) on Wednesday.  Thursday it was football (again a man down) and Friday my commute.  Geordie Graeme from North Cheshire Clarion had mentioned a Saturday afternoon ride so myself and Paul turned up.  I thought it would be a good warm up for Sunday’s new format “training” club run, which I’d volunteered to lead.  As it was Paul and Graeme drove a pretty fast pace into the wind, and as we didn’t stop, I got my nutrition horribly wrong and was bonking badly with 4 or 5 miles to go, slowing the guys considerably.

Saturday route - NO CAFE STOP!!

707ft ascent

Saturday evening was all about trying to recover.  My “warmup” had really hit my legs so I was into an ice-bath when I got home and then on with the compression tights, much to the amusement of the family.

There has been some discussion about the NCC Sunday club runs recently.  They are billed as social and open to anyone, fitting nicely with the ethos of the club itself.  The trouble is, fitness-wise, I’ve felt myself going backwards as they don’t stretch me at all.  Last summer and autumn it was okay because there was always an audax or a sportive that helped keep the levels up.  But after November, and coupled with the white-off that was December, I’ve gone backwards at a rate of knots.  So we now have sister rides to the social rides – currently known as training rides.  Today was the first and I was leading.  We set off 15 minutes ahead of the social ride, on the same route, such that anybody struggling can be swept up by the social ride.

Sunday route - cake at Lavender Farm

616ft ascent

Including me there were 6 riders up for the inaugural ride, and off we went.  If anything the weather was worse and the wind slightly stronger, blowing West to East – so into our faces from the off.

The ride went very well indeed, with people taking turns on the front and keeping up a decent pace.  As we arrived at the cafe stop after 30 miles we were averaging 17.6mph.  Some coffee & walnut cake helped refill the tank and we set off back.  By now we were turning back into the wind and the heavens opened with cold, driving rain directly into our faces.  As opposed to Saturday where I bonked, today I got within a couple of miles of the end and my legs had decided enough was enough, and I gradually slipped off the back .  Anthony sportingly dropped back and pulled me back on but my legs were shot at the end.

Saturday HR profile - average 156bpm

Sunday HR profile - 162bpm average

HR Legend

The two HR profiles show the level of intensity I was working at on both days.  To put it all into context, in the 603 rides where I’ve collected data, these were 3rd and 8th highest average heart-rate, which I think is either a measure of how my fitness has tailed off, or it shows that whilst I’m pretty good at long distance and endurance, I’m not so good at high intensity.  Put it this way, I feel a long way off the 18.6mph average that Anthony and I did on the Manchester 100.  It’s probably a mixture of both if I think about it.  I’m just not used to these higher intensity rides and therefore struggle when we get towards the end of them.

And that is what the training rides are all about.  Hopefully these will develop my fitness and help increase my ability to work at a higher intensity for longer.  That said, I also think I need to realise that I’m not as young as I used to be, and not get frustrated when I can’t do everything I want to do, at the intensity that I want to do it.

My legs are aching now, and my right knee is very, very sore.  I think I’ll listen to my body now and have a couple of days off.  Hopefully everyone else enjoyed the training ride and it will be the first of many.

Ride Stats : Saturday 43.6 miles in 2hrs 38m @ 16.5mph, 2512kcals used

Ride Stats : Sunday 42.8 miles in 2hrs 30m @ 17mph, 2517kcals used


Last Ride of 2010

Just back from a brilliant last ride of 2010 with some of the guys from North Cheshire Clarion. 8 of us started off, with 3 peeling off after 10 or so miles.  The rest of us headed north to Fettlers Wharf at Rufford Marina for a well earned coffee

Training Nutrition

There were a few hills here and there and I was pleased that I was getting up them feeling relatively good.

1547ft of ascent

The ride back from the cafe was a fair bit quicker than the one out.  We’d averaged about 14.4mph out and 16.4mph coming back and it felt really good to be travelling at a decent rate again.  Giles led the ride from the front superbly keeping up a cracking pace.  The only hitch on the way back was when Martin’s front brake caliper flew off, so after strapping it up we made him ride on his own behind us just in case (only kidding!).

My bike was making some funny grating noises which I hope was own to the dirt and muck everywhere – cleaned it when I got home just to be on the safe side.

That’s me done for 2010 and it was a really good ride to wind up the year with.  Thanks to all who were out.

Ride stats : 48 miles in 3hrs 7 mins @ 15.4mph.  1547ft of climbing, average HR 138bpm and 2343kcals energy used

NCC Sunday Club Run – a Tale of 2 Halves

Cutting to the chase – today’s club run round Cheshire saw us start the ride in driving rain, which then proceeded to drive even harder, and end the ride in clear blue skies and sunshine.  I’m guessing that’s the type of weather differential you can only get in this country.

I started the ride in Endura waterproof overshoes, Sealskinz waterproof socks, Madison waterproof gloves and my Club EnduraPro Windtex (waterproof) jacket.  The rain was driving down, which coupled with the spray from the dozen or so riders around me meant that precisely NOTHING remained dry!  We looped round Comberbach, Great Budworth, Pickmere and Knutsford before heading north through Mobberley and Dunham before the inevitable sprint to the Lavender Cafe for a well earned coffee and slice of cake.  At that point we looked like a bunch of drowned rats, with water dripping off us as we trudged in.

Pulling damp and soggy clothes back on we ventured back out to find that the rain had stopped only to be replaced with a vicious wind – at times in our face, at times across us.  This called for tightly bunched-up group riding which we did quite well, though I say so myself.  The Sun came out and the with the aid of the wind was drying us quite nicely as we reached the end of the route.

Had to wash my bike for the second time in two days when I got home due to the rain.  Is this the end of summer already?

Ride stats: 43 miles in 2hr 44m at 15.7mph average, 740ft of climbing and 1581kcals used

#Lejog Training – Done!

The weather didn’t want to make its mind up this morning as I set off on my final training ride prior to the start next week.  There were 16 riders out which I guess counts as a peloton?  A 40 mile loop with relatively little climbing was the order of the day.

790ft of climbing

I was running my bike on my new Shimano RS-80’s and Scwalbe Durano Plus tyres.  It’s hard to tell whether they are having an effect as I’m told it’s most noticeable going up steep hills.  So I guess I should find out next week!  What I would say is that the tyres absorb some of the road chatter better than my Bontrager Hard Cases  – or Boneshaker Hard Cases as they shall now be known.

Cafe stop at the Lavender cafe came at about the 30 mile point.

North Cheshire Clarion in town...

Lavender Cafe

Raspberry cake!

Mark and Phil - NCC's resident bloggers...

You can read Mark’s blog here and Phil’s blog here – both well worth a read!

A relatively unremarkable ride back from the cafe (apart from one of the guys getting a puncture a mile away from the end after a particularly nasty pothole!).

And that’s it.  20 weeks of training completed.  I’ll post later or tomorrow with a summary of my training but for now the stats from today’s ride – 43 miles, 2 hrs 36m @ 16.5mph average.  Total energy – 1557kcals.

Penultimate Training Ride – Saturday Club Run

A very gentle club run today in very sunny weather with the North Cheshire Clarion – including 4 new guest riders.

355ft of climbing

I didn’t ride to the ride – as I am tapering my effort down ready for the big start next week.  There was virtually no climbing and we averaged a very sedate pace at 15mph.  This was ideal for tapering as evidenced by my heart rates zones

Average heart-rate 106bpm

Overall we did 25 miles in 1hr 41m @ 15mph using 875 kcals