Month: July 2013

4 hours 38 minutes (part 1)

Posted on Updated on

I remember once after winning an Olympic Gold Medal Sir Steve Redgrave saying if you see me get in another boat again you can shoot me or something like that. For a moment on Sunday morning I was not ever getting back on a bike, after I’d relaxed a bit and had time to reflect. Now I can’t wait to get back on and complete another challenge.

The goal was to complete London to Brighton in sub four hours. Annoyingly I was 38 minutes off this target & already I’ve started to analyse how it could be improved next year, more to follow later.

It was a truly enjoyable experience. Much better than last year, mainly due to being 52 minutes faster, but generally just better. There were highlights which I will outline some:

I cycled about 10 miles to meet my friend (@GrabsNowBlog itsupforgrabsnowblog.com) for the ride at the station. This involved a course on Map My Ride I had set up as part of my commute to work. The training paid off and even with my full backpack of equipment I took 9 seconds off my best time. This really got me in the mood for a good nights cycling from London to Brighton. So the train came and we were on our way to the capital.

The first challenge was to cycle across London, so this was my first experience to test out the work done by Boris (Mayor if London) to promote cycling. The routes are clearly labeled and road a different colour in places which helps. My friend knew the way and I followed him. It was ok, but in rush hour I’m not ready yet!

All safe and arrived at Clapham Common about 8.30.

image

We got ourselves settled and had to take a photo of the start empty. I didn’t get the chance last year so had to this year. Whilst drinking a coffee we were interviewed for Magic Radio on why we were doing the ride. The love of cycling, the challenge and the fact its a great charity – The British Heart Foundation. When you arrive early you are able to settle, take stock and chat to people. We were asked to move the bikes to the racks to help with the start and got chatting about the ride. As an “experienced” night rider (twice now), first time riders ask you what to expect and how it is. I gave advice from my experience and threw in a caffeine gel as she was very helpful. Plus as my friend said “he has enough energy gels to cycle to France” He could well have been right!

So the night drew in and more people arrived. It didn’t look as busy as last year, which official figures showed, 3000 from 4700 in year one. Maybe this was due to the night ride being after the larger more famous day ride. Anyway it was time to get ourselves ready for the night ahead. 11pm came and the first riders were called to the start “red ride number to the start please”. My friend had a green number with a 11.30 start time and mine was gold with a midnight time. After a few discussions with organisers to try to start earlier, I was able to swap with a very kind gentleman who was cycling alone and wasn’t in a rush. It meant we could start together. Let the banter continue. At this point I would also like to point out we were a four as another cycling friend from MapMyRide had joined us with her cycling companion. We moved slowly to the front and then came the moment of being on the official start line as in the photo. The light went green and we were on our way, I managed to start the stop watch without crashing as well as get into my cleats, cool, calm and collected, some would say with panache. It came apparent we could cycle quite quickly and comfortably so we said goodbye to the ladies and got on with the job. Remember at this point the target was sub four hours.

Cycling through London is busy and in places dangerous. London busses are big. They have their own parts of the road which they share with cyclists! Traffic lights and the night busses meant thew first section of the ride (14 miles) took an hour which is slower than anticipated and not helpful, but safety is important. I’ rather 4h 38 mins, than dead or injured. The second stage went well We arrived at the second stop (29.5 miles) in 2 hours 2 minutes. We had made up some time here on the flat sections and I remember travelling at some high speeds on some well-lit sections. It was just before this stop we encountered our first major difficulty. My USB powered light was running low and my friend needed to change the battery. No problem, just see te cycle mechanics and buy a new light for me, change the battery for @GrabsNowBlog and all would be good. So after a bit of a haggle I buy a front light for £20 (actually it did a very god job) and we were ready to go. Except @GrabsNowBlog had somehow manged to put his new batteries into his lights in such away they broke. No problem just buy another front light. An expensive stop this was going to be, but things happen. “we don’t have front lights” my friend was told. “yes my mate has just bought one” “that was te last one” was the response. Surely as a bike supplier on a night ride you would have a large stock, I know I would, or they had already done a bumper trade in front lights just 2 hours into the ride, possible, I think not too! So this leaves us in a bit of a situation. Back on track with the time but with the hard hill still to come, but with limited lights. To top this off the light didn’t exactly fit well on my oversized handle bars so this was not ideal, however with one light between us the time was out of the window and it was get through this the best we could. So were off again the new light doing a great job, especially if I held it into position. This meant not being able to have full control of both brakes 100% of the time, but we couldn’t have a second light failure. It got to the stage were we had to stop and I used medical tape to secure the light to my frame. I just need to go to a DIY shop for a longer screw and the light will be fine, but that didn’t help at this point in time. So adjustments made and off again, one light shining the way for both of us. I didn’t hear @GrabsNowBlog when he shouted his chain came off and he did a great job of getting it back on in total darkness. Well done mate and sorry for not hearing you.

Dawn was approaching and visibility was becoming easier. It was also at this stage of the ride last year I became cold. Remembering this we layered up before leaving the second stop and we remained at a comfortable temperature for the second half of the ride. So after a very scary section of riding we arrived at the third stop. 17.5 miles to go from here including Devils Dyke – that hill! Despite “light gate” as we have called our whole incident with the lights, we had still made good time reaching the third stop in 3 hours 20 mins. We decided to rearrange the bags again, which actually we, or I had done at virtually every opportunity but forgot to mention until now, got ourselves ready for the final 17.5 miles and the climb of Devils Dyke. We could see now and I wanted to see just how I could cope with the famous climb. On went the GPS app and I recorded my progress. @GrabsNowblog was content to continue at a steady pace and said it was ok for me to give it a go, so I tried my best and build a steady speed to “attack” the hill.

I will say at this point that last year I did not get off ans walk up the hill and @GrabsNowblog didn’t either. However I did but actually if I didn’t I would have fallen off my bike and slid down the hill. probably still clipped into my pedals. I marched up the final 20-30 metres of the hill actually overtaking people who were still riding there bikes! The hill might not be the longest but after no sleep and 50 miles it’s a bit of a challenge. At the top I ignored the opportunity for a photo and started to descend the hill. Thinking about his I was suffering from lack of sleep and just wanted to get to the finish. I covered the last section on 1 hour 4 minutes (including the hill) not bad for 17.5 miles and descended with quite some pace. I managed to overtake people and the power of a rad bike came to my advantage again on the run into Brighton. Again traffic lights held up our progress a bit, but we were thankful of the break, even if they were annoying. At one set I remember saying to a rider “bloody traffic lights” lack of sleep has strange effects on you. I managed to catch some decent riders and became involved in bunch sprints to the next set, I wasn’t as quick but keeping an average speed and not having to stop at every set helped me overtake most of the riders along the sea front and cross the line on my own. it was lime winning a stage of the tour, I crossed the line, alone,shattered but still able to raise both arms above my head, as though I had actually won a tour stage. Collected my medal and water and started to reflect by a blue weely bin. After stopping the app and replying to a few messages I realised the stop watch was still running. I quickly stopped this and due to the app I was able to adjust the time accordingly to end up with 4h 38m. Shortly after @GrabsNowblog came in to a big cheer from the crowd and PA system and we were spent. Our bodies had been through a gret ordeal and it was time just to sit or lean against the barrier and do nothing. After about 15 mins we got the bikes on the beach and had our celebration beer which had travelled down in @GrabsNowBlog’s bag another great effort here mate.

We then had the pleasure of watching other cross the line and took pride when we saw red numbers who had started before us as we knew we had overtaken people. The PA announcer was good fun to a point but after three hours of listening to him saying well done you have cycled 60 long miles I turned to my friend and said no we cycled 60 miles, not long ones, or short ones just 60 miles. The lack of sleep was really evedent how.  A few hours later the girls crossed the line after some mechanical issues with twisted chains but all safe. It was then time to arrange breakfast, but before that I had to cool off in the sea which had the effect of an ice bath the water was so cold. Well it is at 8am in the morning. Breakfast was eaten the girls went off to their family BBQ and @GrabsNowBlog and I went for a well-earned ice cream, a chill out on Brighton beach and a nice cold beer. Same again next year, most defiantly.

end of l2b

The journey home was another very interesting experience which I will blog about soon. See you all next year for the third London to Brighton night ride.

Advertisements

London to Brighton (night ride 2)

Posted on

Come midnight on Saturday/Sunday morning if we start late I will be on the start line of the second British Heart Foundation London to Brighton night Ride (#l2b).

The purpose of this blog is to ensure I have everything on Saturday night. Here goes:

Bike, Shoes, Helmet, Mits, Jersey, Bib Shorts, Glasses (clear and dark lens), Lights, Ride Number, Route map (although lets be honest follow everyone else), 3pm Coach & Lorry Ticket (for bike and me), Return train ticket to London, Rain jacket (although might not need this), Pump/CO2 cannister, 2 bottles with cages, water and zero hydration tabs (could be a hot & sticky night), energy gels x3, isogel x3, energy bar x3, haribo x3 small packets, suncream, flipflots, mobile phone, wallet, cash, bike lock and key.

 

I think that is is. If the weather is going to be like this I might swap the rain jacket for a towel and then get into the sea for a relaxing swim after the ride, or not bother with the towel and dry off on the sunshine on the beach.

London to Brighton 2 weeks to go!

Posted on Updated on

The 14th July is just under two weeks away (at the time of writing) and its the time I will attempt to cycle from London to Brighton (#l2b) in sub four hours raising money for The British Heart Foundation. There is still time to get in a few more training rides this week, a big one at the weekend and then taper it off next week before the big day (or night). There is still time to show your support by visiting my fundraising page and push me over my target. I know you’ve been busy, but go on do it now! Every little helps.

 

As well as the training for the event I have had to look again at my equipment, train with it on so we know how it feels and how it and I perform with it all in place. Earlier posts refer to the bike, shoes, mits, pedals and jacket which will be the main part of my equipment for this challenge. Within the last two weeks my ride pack has arrived containing my number, map and other useful information. I also need to have alternative footwear for the time in Brighton before the travel service back to London, and therefore a small back pack to wear on the ride. Lessons from last year are this needs to be small as last year my rucksack was too big and didn’t help. I had thought of not having a bag and just use the pockets on jackets and saddle bag, but no space for footwear.

Image

A solution has been found. I have managed to pick up this bright, reflective and very light backpack which is big enough to contain my jacket, flip flops (very stylish I know), wallet, keys and the mobile. This will leave the pockets in the jersey for the gels and food. The bag is also waterproof, especially as it has now been sprayed with some very good waterproofing spray from Millets before they disappeared from our high streets.

 

 

Image

 

I have ordered my nutrition for the event from Wiggle who had a good deal to get the water bottle free. £3.19 for 5 energy bars is i thought a good deal so ordered two. This means ill have two bottles as well so ideal for the ride.

 

Also on order are some arm warmers as I will be wearing a short sleeved shirt and these will be easy to roll down when the weather gets warmer as we reach Brighton. I have checked the long range forecast and the Sunday afternoon could have sunny weather and 25 degrees C! Image If that is the case there will be a need for me to use the other lenses which will arrive with my new cycling glasses. The clear lenses will be ideal for the dark, or I could use the lo light ones, before changing them again for the sunny weather we could get come Sunday afternoon. Again these were available on Wiggle with an offer. The fact these have been recommended by Cycling Plus and you get the interchangeable lenses included, what a bargain (£32).

 

Image

It would get cold without the jersey. It was a present from my last workplace and I now have an opportunity to wear it other than on a normal ride. It is tight, but then again cycling clothing is supposed to be, but this is the most snug I have ever felt in a cycle jersey. It isn’t too small (at L) and i have some idea of what the pro riders feel like when their wear their skin suits on time trials. I say some idea as this jersey is certainly not a second skin, but very close to it.

 

I think I am ready. Well I know i am ready. Just a few emails to chase by return coach and truck ticket, but I am sure this is in hand, and with a few more rides then it show time. Watch out people no. 2091 will be on his way in an attempt to complete 60 miles in sub four hours, in the process raising more then £250 for The British Heart Foundation. Please if you have read this and not get sponsored me please visit my fundraising page and help me make a different to people we don’t even know. Heart failure can affect anyone of us at any time, and I sure want a cure, so in the future, I am diagnosed with heart failure I might have a chance of living a different life to those present sufferers from the disease.

 

Thank you for supporting this great charity and fantastic cause. Also thank you to all the people who have wished me luck with my own personal challenge.

Image

A request (yesterdays stage of La Tour)

Posted on Updated on

I have never been asked to write an entry on a blog before, to meet a specific purpose, but last night I was requested to do so. A friend of mine was not able to catch the highlights of stage 3 of the Tour De France and I hope this entry goes some way to summarising the stage from the highlights I watched.

Stage 3 145.5-kilometer –  Ajaccio to Corsica

This was the last stage on the island of Corsica which has been a very picturesque place with many lovely views and route along the coast. It is a great place for deep sea diving Carlton Kirby described, yesterday and its not too bad for cycling either.

The stage came down to a photo finish with Australian Simon Gerrans getting the wheel of his bike over the line just before that of green jersey chasing Peter Sagan, It was close, butImage it was the first stage win for Orica GreenEDGE in only their second season at pro tour level and the first for Gerrans since 2008. It also give the team something positive to think about after it was their bus which got stuck on the line on the first stage, which lead to a complete mess as the organisers moved the finish to the 3km mark and then back again.

The stage was billed as a stage hunters stage where anyone who could get over the small amount of lumps and bumps on the course of Cat 2, Cat 3, Cat 2 ans then a Cat 4 climb. At one point there was another Australian Steve Clarke (Orica GreenEDGE) who had made a bold attempt to take the polka dot jersey from Pierrie Rolland (Europcar) and was on course to achieve this. Unfortunately Rolland was able to chase him down with the help of Chavenal (OPQS) and retain the spots, and Clarke finished in the bunch. At one stage Chavenal was looking good for the stage victory but with 7km to go the escapees couldn’t hold on. On a personal note this would have been good for my fantasy cycling team but it was not to be. Maybe I don’t actually know anything about cycling with just 4 points from the first three stages. Once the escapees had been chased down it was only a matter of time before the sprinters fancied their changes of the stage win. Saying that the climbs had knocked out people like Cavendish (OPQS) and Griepal (Lotto) so it was a battle for the likes of Gerrans and Sagan with Gerrans taking the honours by the width of a tyre or so. The yellow jersey is still in the position of Jan Bakelants (Radioshack Leopard Trek)who holds a 1 second lead after his win on stage 2. Today could be his last day in yellow as there are more specialised team time trial squads out there.

The stage, as previously mentioned, was the last on the island and the first time the tour has come here in 100 years. Who knows if it will return, but it was certainly a good way to start the tour. On a personal note I feel the 2014 grand depart will mean alot more to us Brits as we start in Yorkshire and have three stages on UK soil. I can’t wait!

So last night the teams got onto their plans to fly into Nice for the 25km Team Time Trial later today. Lets hope Gerrant Thomas is slowly getting better after the fall on the first stage which has meant he has spend most of the time at the back of the peloton, nursing a small fracture in his pelvis. Gerrant you have certainly proved you are as hard as nails, but please don’t kill yourself.

Lets hope Team Sky have a good team time trial today and don’t lose any time over their rivals. Enjoy the highlights later or if you’re lucky enough the live action.

What a (cycling) weekend, in la Tour and elsewhere

Posted on

Well on Saturday the 100th Tour de France go under way in Corsica. And the first stage was eventful if nothing else. This was a stage which was targeted by the sprinters as their chance to wear yellow for a day, but chaos marred the stage.

 

As the image shows the team bus of Orica GreenEDGE was stuck under the finish line Imagewhich caused the finish to be moved to the 3km to go stage, but then the bus was successfully removed and the finish was able to be used. However there was still a bit of panic in the peloton and a crash ended the hopes of many of the sprinters of taking the stage including Cavendish who was caught up in the delay rather than the crash. As a result the times were neturalised and the yellow jersey was on position. This meant that David Miller was in fourth on the second stage and his team were working hard to try and put him in yellow for stage three today.

 

A potential nightmare nearly played out in the final stages of stage two with a Scottish Imageterrier lose on the road and it just moved out of the way as the fast approaching peloton came around a corner. Thankfully the riders didn’t crash and as far as I am aware the dog is fine to. However if you take a dog near a sporting event keep it on a lead please, as Carlton Kirby mentioned in commentary.

 

However before the do incident on the final climb Chris Froome send a message to his rivals and it could be a big one. Up the final climb he injected pace which took him out of the wheel of team mate Richie Porte and made an attempt to catch the lone Europcar rider and bridge the gap. The peloton didn’t, chose not to or couldn’t respond. After the stage Froome said it was good to keep people on their toes and he went to make the decent safer as he was alone. This may have been the case but it is a clear message that Sky have the option of the explosion which wasn’t seen in last years tour. We knew Froome was in the form of his life, but this really sent a message.

 

So with the third stage today and the final one on Corsica before the Team Time Trial in Nice tomorrow it will be another interesting stage and who knows what will happen today. It might just be a “boring” day of breakaways and cycling skill, rather than stuck buses and wandering dogs. Lets hope so.

 

Away from the tour on a personal note I was out again on another training ride and with just one more weekend before the London to Brighton Nigh Ride, which will be a long one, I am feeling ready to go. This week I’ll cycle to work, put about  in my legs this week, before tapering off the training in the final week to limit injury and ensure I am in the right place to achieve sub 4 hours. Until then its tour highlights just to keep the cycling juices following.

My fundraising page is still active and I am so close to my target, just £20 required before event day. You can show your support here. Thank you it means a lot to me but even more to The British Heart Foundation.

Images from http://www.metro.co.uk and http://www.telegraph.co.uk