Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A day in the half life

More work to be done, more training to be done, more life to experience, more to do. Always. I've made what is for me a rather large change in giving up caffeine in the evenings. To help me to sleep better, ostensibly. Feeling less dehydrated is useful as well.

Last week was far too sedentary though. A little bimble on the mountain bike, a wee bit of walking, a toddle around on the roadie. Nothing much, nothing fast, nothing hard. Enough - a session most days - but not enough to feel like I'd done anything. Oh well. Live and learn. Sort it out and move on.

The weekend was a fun one, Timmy's stag do, up in my old stomping ground of the Dales. A nice wee ramble up Ingleborough on Saturday morning, a couple of hours up and down, including some dithering at the top in the mist. A phenomenal day of falconry and archery, including hunting with a hawk, and a nice ride around Gisburn on Sunday. No crashes this time, though, though the technical bits at Whelpstone Crag did get the better of me. I had a quick run up to the top of the Crag as well, since there's a trig pillar there.

And now we're back into the swing of things. Harewood run on Monday (map below), a beautiful summer's evening jog around a beautiful estate. Being followed by a Red Kite was a highlight, I see them most mornings on my drive to work, but to be within 30 yards of one was phenomenal. After the info we'd had on hawks and falcons hunting on Saturday I was a bit nervous, but apparently they're carrion eaters, and I wasn't quite that dead-looking. Meanwood bike loop tonight, a great ride in the sun, spinning the legs loose and riding however I felt like it.

Days like that are the type of thing that make it worthwhile. The sunset evenings, the steady sun and cool breezes, the stunning nature and little moments of niceness. They offset the bad days, the rain, the pain, the misery. Let's hope they continue!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

First ride nerves

First 'proper' ride out on the road bike today - I'm still awaiting the new rear mech for my mountain bike after Porage the other week, so there's been a few days of tweaking and a decision to get some road miles in.

I went out for a short spin on Sunday to see whether a bunch of my hopes and fears about owning a roady were right* - some were, some weren't. I can, contrary to my own belief, climb on a big double chainring. It's not necessarily the sat-down spinning I'm used to, but I can do it. I still can't, for some reason, get my head round riding on the drops (the lower bit of curly road bikes bars, for any non-riders out there). The posture just feels weird, the upper half of my body feels weighted but unsupported, and it's just not quite right. I therefore spend most of my time resting on the brake hoods - not particularly aero, but easier for me. And I still feel as if I'm perched on top of the bike, not sat in it. That might sound odd, but it's the difference between my road bike and my MTB.

So, since Sunday I've tweaked the bike around, altered seat position, bar position, tuned the gears (might still change cassette if I'm worried about climbing gearing), new saddle, new stem... a whole bunch of bits. And after all that fettling, I couldn't just sit the bike up against the wall and admire it, could I?!

The plan I've been bandying about was to save myself some cash on petrol and to half-and-half my commute. At 35 miles it's just a leeetle too long to ride the lot, but leaving my car in Wetherby gives me an undulating 30km route to the office. Fairly simple: a good ride distance, decently surfaced roads, and no horrendous climbs (but a few long gradual ones). Problem is as a non-roady, I've no idea of how long 30km will take me!

I left the warm safe comfort of bed this morning at 6:45am (a serious sacrifice for me, believe me) and drove up to Wetherby. Finding a place to park at 7:30 isn't too much of an issue, so a wee bit of faff, gear up, make sure I've remembered the essentials (netbook, deodorant, trousers etc...) and set off. I'd planned to spin the first bit and take it nice and easy to the Bridge Hotel. I reckoned an average 20kph would give me an hour-and-a-half's ride, 30kph would put me on an hour. I'd no idea which of these was more realistic and I've not got a bike computer on the roady so it was just ride and see what time I got in. A brief stop at the Bridge to tweak the saddle level - too much nose down, slipping forward on it more than is comfortable for a gentleman - and onwards.

I never ride with a computer or a watch, so speed and distance on rides are odd concepts for me to consider, things I find out after I've finished the ride. I'd worked out the distances between set landmarks on the route - the A59 junction, Boroughbridge roundabout, etc - but as I'd forgotten to print them out, my actual time taken was meaningless until I got to the office. I rode at what I felt was fast but steady, still able to speak a sentence or sing a line of a song, and rested occasionally on the slight downs. Eventually, the rise to Dishforth roundabout turned up and I knew I was about 3.5km from the office. Time to switch back to 'spin' mode and warm down a touch. Arrive at the office, slug back a bottle of nuun, couple of cereal bars, have a wash, get changed and ready for the day. Back into routine...

It turns out I did it in about 1:10-ish. So make that pace about 25-26kph. I've no idea if that's good, bad, respectable or damn slow, but it'll do as a benchmark. The ride back will be slower, I'm just going to take it steady. Maybe...

*Oh, and there was, of course, a trig pillar on route. Scott Hall Road in Leeds. Trig sits on the island between dual carriageways. At least that one's easy to find!