Sunday, 12 July 2009
More than comfortable I would say. We don't get to see the medal timings until the start village.
Noticed the temperature in Tarbes today at the finish, 35 degrees !!
Thursday, 9 July 2009
Did 75m last Saturday with Anza at an average of 20.1mph.... bloody hell ! It was tough, loads of testosterone, one guy off after losing-out in a battle of wits with a motorbike, not injured just shaken. Got knocked-off the bike on Sunday last by a local, I'm OK, it was slow, but the back wheel needs repair, again !!
Been reading the other Etape training blog sites with interest. As an Etape novice in 2007 I was terrified of being swept-up. 2007 was the toughest Etape ever and remains so in my opinion, it was 199km and 5,100m of climbing over 5 Cat HC and Cat 1 climbs. The cut-off was 12h:30m, I finished in 10h:45m having burned nearly 10,000 calories. Only 4,600 finished out of 8,500, I was about 3,230th. It was over 30 degrees on the Col de Port de Balles where the asphalt was melting. This particular climb resembled a battle zone with unfit French riders throwing-up left right and centre.
2008 was a whole different story, the day before it rained, the day of the event it rained... all day. It was only 179km with 3,200m of climbing, 2 x HC cat climbs and 2 x cat 4 climbs (bumps). Such was the repute of the 2007 Etape, they were taking entries at the start village the day before and only 7,700 entered. The rain made the roads lethal, there were cyclists everywhere coming off it was very slippy. I recall hitting a 90 right in Lourdes and about 25 riders all slid across the road and hit the kerb. Col de Tourmalet was tough, longer than Ventoux, slightly slacker at 7.2%, but it was -2 degrees C at the summit. The descent was terrible, freezing cold, slippy, dangerous. Hautacam was no better. I'd lost the will to live by the time I finished at the summit queuing for the controlled descent. It was still tough, slightly further down the field than 2007 due to my marathon training for New York and London thorough 2007 and up to April 2008.
This year will be very interesting. Much more structured training than either of the 2 previous years, much more mileage. Save for the disruption of moving to Singapore, it should on paper be a walk in the park.
Very few Brits who have put in the training will be anywhere near the broom waggon. There was a guy from Ireland with us last year riding what was almost a hybrid. He was fit, but not endurance bike fit and he made it with minutes to spare at the bottom of Hautacam before they closed the ascent.
Reading the training blogs of Simon and Karen, I think they will both be in front of me. They will have nothing to worry about. Now it's time to enjoy it. I'll be in the gym every day for short bursts with a 45m sprint set for early Sunday morning in 30 degrees as my last ride pre-event.
Fly back to the UK on Wednesday night next week, can't wait to see the family again before departing to France.. they think I'm mad !
Take care those of you riding, the next one will be after the event......
Saturday, 20 June 2009
Thursday, 11 June 2009
Sunday, 31 May 2009
Tuesday, 12 May 2009
So it was up early, hotel breakfast and off by 08:30 weaving through the grid pattern street of Portland trying not to get my tyres stuck in the tram lines ! The first climb was up to the top of the Skyline along a road called Lovejoy. Quite a good climb, a couple of miles at 10 - 12%. Then out long and flat to a town called Hillsboro. Having to stop quite often to route check against the 24 A4 sheets I'd printed in the office. Turned south (I was doing the route anticlockwise - there was no wind to speak of so it didn't really matter), heading toward the hills. The maximum elevation I was to reach was 510m so quite similar to the forthcoming Wicklow I considered.
The hills soon came on, the climb up Bald Peak went on and on, good comparable gradients to France, just what I wanted. Reached the top of Bald Peak, stopped to photograph the snow covered peaks (as previous post) and off again. Reached a complicated junction and turned, still climbing then a descent. Got carried away and descended 400m to Scholls Ferry only to realise the error. I thought about it, the climbing was good training so back up I went ! Found the road I was supposed to take called 'Mountain Top Road' (rather imaginative !), to my horror it was unmetalled, yes gravel ! Good job the hire bike had Kevlar tyres. The gravel (or grovel!) lasted about 2 miles then sanity was restored, asphalt again....
Has to negotiate Highway 99, the one that runs all the way to Vancouver BC, Canada and on to Whistler, then the climb up Parret Mountain. This was steep, as in Lake district steep, took it easy then after many switchbacks, it turned to bloody gravel again, on a 12% incline. I tried and tried to keep the traction by keeping seated but I only had a 25 sprocket on the rear and I had to stand and when standing the rear wheel spun. So I had to walk about 100m - bugger !
The descent on the gravel was tricky, little control over direction but made it to asphalt again. I was 65m into the ride now and aside from going back over the Skyline, most of the climbing was done.
I got back into downtown Portland 16:00 ish and headed straight for the pizza shop for a pizza and a couple of beers. See http://connect.garmin.com/activity/5242504
The day totalled 84 miles (or thereabouts) and 2,400m of ascent, a similar rate to the forthcoming Etape so I was pleased, especially with over a 100 miles in the legs from the previous 2 days. A total of 190m in 2.5 days. Looking forward to the next weekend and what Mount Hood can offer.
Saturday, 9 May 2009
A work colleague of Kay's (let's call her Ms. X)reported this on the Monday morning. Separated from her previous partner who had buried their dog in the garden some 4 months previous. A neighbour gets a new dog, seemingly with a keen sense of smell, well keener than usual I would say. You can see where this is going..... The new dog decides to dig-up the dead dog, which ex partner had buried seemingly in a shallow grave (about 9 inches). Well new dog, pleased with its achievement and unaffected by the putrid stench couldn't have began to imagine what followed. Ms X tried to move the dead dog with a view to re-burying but the stench was too much (you can imagine, vomiting etc.....well maybe not !) Then in a flash of inspiration 'why don't we burn it' ( I think Ms X had a helper). So off to the local convenience store / garage for a couple of tins of lighter fluid, no questions from the counter staff. The lighter fluid was applied, ignited, a bit of smoke and out. Someone suggested the carcass was still frozen from the winter !! hey this is Wigan not Yellowknife British Columbia - permafrost. Did I forget to say this all took place in Wigan ? maybe it was still frozen in some kind of freak geological ice age recurrence. We cycled through Wigan during winter training and come to think of it, it was colder than anywhere else ?
Anyway, back to the garage / store for a couple of gallons of unleaded. These were applied, singed eyebrows, lots of smoke and stench and out it went. Apparently the fire brigade were in contact at this point, someone having reported the smoke plume. Fire brigade's concerns addressed, Ms X was now faced with a part decomposed, part burned carcass of a dead dog. The neighbour inquired as to the colour of the dog having noticed a brown paw poking out from the funeral pyre ! The situation was put on hold with an upside-down dustbin placed over the carcass pending development of a further action plan. The following Thursday we were treated to an update, some kind people offered to assist Ms X in digging a 18" deep grave for the dead brown dog. That's what friends are for. Thank you Kay for this pleasant story !
Back to my world.... Departure day eventually came, arrived Portland, OR on 5th May 2009 for 2.5 weeks of induction and introduction to my new employer. I had pre-arranged a bike hire from Sellwood Cycle Repair (http://www.sellwoodcycle.com/). The owner Erik Tonkin dropped the bike at my hotel at 07:00am on Thursday, a brand new Kona alloy frame with carbon front and rear forks. Brand new, great ride, very comfortable, no back or neck pain so it's sized just right. Fantastic service from these guys if you are ever in Portland, OR, well you never know !
Portland is a fantastic city, really picturesque, set on a river with many old and new bridges, nice pace of life, so much space and really cycle friendly. The first ride I did was Friday after work, about 38m on the NW Skyline route. Fantastic views of Mount Hood (above) and Mount St Helens. See http://connect.garmin.com/activity/5054085 for details if you are at all interested !
Saturday, I went down the Sellwood Cycles to pay my bill and get some ride suggestions from them. I wanted to do about 50m but ended-up doing 72m, I had little else to do so no problem. This ride was actually quite remote, I got a feeling of being in the middle of nowhere, just the odd ranch / house / farmstead. I'd ride for an hour without seeing a car. It was warm too and I underestimated how dry it was. The terrain was similarly dry, I think this is typical, they get dry and wet areas. Fortunately, the terrain was forested, so about 50% of the time under some shelter from the hot sun. I don't know the temperature but in the early 20's I would say. See the route on http://connect.garmin.com/activity/5135188. There is some issue here with the elevation profile on the Garmin, seemingly I spent some of the time 154 feet below sea level ! Maybe NASA's satellites needs calibrating ?
So Sunday it's the Bald Peak Challenge, 75m with nearly 6,000 ft of ascent, I guess 1,800m. The biggest problem is getting out of the city, it can be complicated. This should see 185m in the bag this week which all things considered I'm quite pleased with. On a final note, still no taker for my Etape du Dales entry, shame this is a fantastic event, c'mon you cyclistes.....
Thursday, 23 April 2009
Monday, 30 March 2009
So it was up at 05:45 and straight into the tin of rice pudding. Well it went down.... eventually aided by a cup of coffee and Thomo and Gaz turned up and we were off. We got to Knutsford in good time, sun still shining, signed-on, fitted the number, the timing chip, kitted up and joined the start queue.
Pete Starkey had been ill all week previous but was still intending to do the 60m route option, we met him at the start but didn't see him again.
At 08:15 the fog dropped and we were all freezing, troubled by those nagging doubts, had we too many layers or too few ? Anyway, it was about 08:45 when our wave started heading out to the west for 50 miles of flat, fast-paced riding. It remained freezing for the first hour, fingers numb and painful but soon after the fog burned-off it warmed-up and sensation returned. Met Karen (http://giantonabike.blogspot.com/) just after the start suffering from the same problems, but lost touch after the first feed station. This first section was relatively fast at about 19mph and I'd lost touch with Thomo and Gaz by the first feed station (28 miles) having stopped to use the bushes I was unsure if they had continued on. So another 25 miles to the next feed station, all very pleasant, the terrain starting to undulate a little by now. The first 50 was in the bag at 5 minutes under 3 hours.
Pulled out of the second checkpoint, got chatting to a bloke about cycling in Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore (he was from London Dynamo) and then suddenly the road kicked-up, yes it was the Mow Cop killer mile. The first pitch was steep but then it allowed you to re-gather yourself before the ridiculous 25% pitch at the top. I got up with my triple crank alongside a chap on a compact 36 / 27, I seriously doubt I'd have made it on a 34 / 27 but maybe I'm doing myself an injustice. Lots of support on the hill, it was good to get to the top ! Here's a couple of pics on the steep bit..... http://www.robcrayton.fotopic.net/p57194281.html and http://www.robcrayton.fotopic.net/p57194501.html
Last time I did this event was the first time it had been ran, in 2007. I recall 100 miles of flat riding with one killer climb. I knew this year's was going to be tougher but I hadn't paid too much attention to just how much ! If I'd paid attention I'd have noticed the total ascent at nearly 2,000m, in 2007 it was half of this !
We descended off Mow Cop and soon kicked back up onto Biddulph Moor, then Barlow Hill before the 3rd checkpoint. A quick check of the route profile with a fellow rider and this confirmed we still had Macclesfield Forest and Lamaload Reservoir to encounter. All the time wondering how close to 6h I could complete the event. The average speed had dropped to 17 mph with the advent of the hills. A sobering thought.... it is at this stage with about the same ascent in your legs that the Ventoux climb starts in July... oh dear !!
Macclesfield Forest was tough, the road was congested with Sunday cars paying no attention to the hundreds of cyclists toiling up the 17% gradient. If you got stopped on the up slope there was nowhere to restart... other than the top ! I was lucky I got through, again the triple came in useful. It was longer and tougher than Mow Cop without a doubt, reminiscent of 8 very similar climbs on the Etape du Dales. After the summit there were 2 further tops which were taking their toll at this stage and the average speed had dropped to 16.1 mph, but it was almost all downhill from here to coin the phrase.
Got into a reasonably sized group on the pull through from Adlington to Alderley Edge and then Swiss Hill. Nearly everyone I was with gave it a miss but I fancied a shot at the cobbles. The first pitch was OK, slipping a bit, the surface was very rough, it levelled-off some then half way up the second pitch I felt like I was going to fall off so I stopped and walked about 80m. Disappointing, but at least I completed the full route. The final haul into Knutsford was fast again, passing many of the riders on the shorter 60m route.
The GPS reached the published distance of 102m at the same time as passing a road sign saying Knutsford 3m ! It was just short of 106m on the Garmin 705 by the time I crossed the line at 6h 49m elapsed time, with a ride time average speed of 16.1 mph. See the detail of the ride at http://connect.garmin.com/activity/2836352
I didn't 'bonk', drank too little during the event, probably only 2.5 litres, survived on 2 bananas, 1 jam doughnut, 1 small swiss roll, but I was looking forward to a good feed, putting some of the 7,000+ calories back in the system !!
I handed-in the chip etc, looked around for Thomo and Gaz but they weren't back. Thomo came in 20 min later at 7h 09m with a ride time average of 15 mph and Gaz about 30 minutes later cursing the hills. Excellent performances all round considering various colds and flu bugs that we've each been suffering with.
All things considered it was a good benchmark ride early in the season, much tougher than my previous Cheshire Cat memories, this one had a real sting in the tail ! A big field, excellent weather and the right hip held up, in fact I think the left leg suffered in compensation and that's something I need to look at.
Well done to the Kilotogo organisers, they've certainly come a long way since 2007, just sort the brew making kit out for the end and you've cracked it !
So back to everyday matters, routine training, better weather, more soon....... although the spin class booked for Monday night is looking doubtful, maybe a day off is on the cards ?
Sunday, 15 March 2009
Wednesday, 25 February 2009
Back home, restarting the training has been OK, a spin class on Tuesday and a 53m ride today, Thursday with Thomo, my goodness the legs are sore ! Planning some miles over the weekend and yes the new bike has arrived, just need to pick it up, oh and pay for it !!
Sunday, 1 February 2009
Just got the Garmin 705 in the week after breaking my Polar CS200 when I threw the bike in the car after the chain snapping escapade. Its obviously a very capable tool but I have to say the instructions are pretty basic.... it's on the web for help from the community.
It was up at 05:00 stuffing cold rice pudding into the system... nice ! load up the gear, the bike and then off to pick up Gaz and Pete, we were on our way at 06:20. Arrived at the start at 07:30 for registration. After the shock of the car park fee £6 we settled down to getting ready. The weather was cold but clear once it came light.
The route took us out of Grassmere straight up Red Bank at 25%, bit of a shock when we hit the ice on the up slope, so it was off the bike, restarting on the slope was interesting ! The descent was not too icy. Thereafter, every time we crossed any run-off from adjacent fields they were frozen so great care was required. The route took us to Consiton, down the east side of the lake along the route of the Coniston 14 running race and then on to Haverthwaite, across the A590 to Cark then past Bigland Estate to Flookborough into a fierce headwind. We stayed together mainly but I have to confess to getting on the back of a 3 man breakaway group for the 6 mile run into Flookborough, it was fast.
The food stop was excellent, clearly the organisers had catered for about 300 riders but less than half has shown, this probably due to the deferral process deadline of 19th December 2008. Didn't really need to stop but what the hell, it was a social ride. Stopped for about 30 minutes
The stop was at the low point of the elevation profile above. Straight out of the food stop we were faced with a 25% 'wall' that nobody had mentioned ! Then it was the climb over Bigland, across the A590 and north through Grizedale Forest, Salterthwaite, Outgate, outskirts of Ambleside, Rydal Water and home.
We came in 88th / 89th and 90th out of a field of 140with an elapsed time of 4h 35m and a ride time of 3h 58m.... maybe we shouldn't have stopped !! We did well to avoid the snow which came in later that afternoon.
This is Gaz just coming into the finish, still smiling ! The christmas pudding and custard went down very well. So the stats..... The Garmin advised 56.5 miles but further investigation reveals that the Garmin reads about 4% low on a bike this is due to the 'fix' rate, about every 100m so the curves don't get measured. In a very rural setting this can be quite a loss. The ride is quoted at 58.5 miles consistent with this shortfall. Calories burned 4041, average speed 14.4 (slowed due to the ice - my excuse and I'm sticking to it), total ascent 4,350ft or 1,326m, reasonable for the time of year.
Till next time.....
Wednesday, 21 January 2009
The sustained frozen roads over the Christmas break put paid to many miles between the 28th December and 1st Jan 09, but back out on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Jan 09 for 33, 29 and 51 miles respectively. With various gym visits in between, spin classes, X-trainers, pool running and various other weights and resistance work, it all seems to be going reasonably well.
The 6th Jan 09 saw the entries for the Etape du Dales... amazing !! Entries opened at 12:00 and it was sold out, 777 places by 14:30 ish. I got in, as did Thomo, Duncan and Pete so pleased about that, as I've said previously, what a fantastic route, May 17th will come quick enough.
The weekend of the weekend of the 10th and 11th Jan 09 saw rides of 33 and 67 miles, the latter fighting a 20 mph headwind for 2/3rds of the route along the Lancashire coast towards Liverpool, but it was good once we turned for home.
Work is very quiet, in fact almost non-existent at the moment so went out on Wednesday with Gaz for a leisurely 40m. About 14m in my chain broke, it must have only done 600m. I got my chain splicing tool out, pleased with myself having carried it for literally thousands of miles over many years to find the pin that pushes the chain pins is missing... not impressed, it's heavy and useless. Fortunately Gaz had one by Crank Brothers, very good. So we spliced the chain, bortered in oil, one we went. 10m later it snapped again in a different place. So we spliced it again and decided to turn for home. The 3rd time it snapped, it got hurled into a field !! and my wife came to the rescue. The shop put me on a new £40 chain with no questions FOC, complete with a lecture on how to maintain a chain.
Friday 16th Jan came down with a sore throat, this turned into a head cold and then moved to the breathing apparatus, just coming out the other end, a little fed-up to say the least but should be OK for the coming weekend.
Just signed-up to Lance's Twitter account, it's quite interesting, for example, this from a couple of days ago.....
Tidbit - we got up to 102 kms/hr today on a fast downhill. That's 63 mph. You don't want to hit the pavement @ that speed! 2:06 AM yesterday from TwitterBerry
Sign-up to Lance's twitter on: https://twitter.com/lancearmstrong?page=1
Just signed-up to the Dragon Ride, South Wales 14th June 2009, 185km / 3,000m, did this in 2007, good ride, it'll be the last big one before the Etape.
So, till next time.....
Friday, 26 December 2008
Saturday, 6 December 2008
It's been a difficult couple of weeks following the hip op. My wife's mother, Mary (80), passed away quite unexpectedly leaving a large void in my wife's day to day, we all expected her to be around for many years to come. She is missed by all of us, the long process of adjustment to life without someone now begins.......
Did my first post-op turbo trainer session at 11 days, only 15 minutes light resistance. Then did a 35 minute session during a spin class, keeping the resistance low. Had a private physio session to try to correct the pelvic alignment issue caused by the injury. The NHS came through with their 'URGENT' physio appointment nearly 3 weeks post op !
Done 2 consecutive 30 minute turbo sessions now and am going to try to up this towards 45 minutes over the next weeks. All seems well on the hip so far.
Having entered the Cumbrian Christmas Cracker and then passed my entry to Gaz because of the hip op, texts and e-mails came through on Saturday 6th Dec to advise it has been cancelled due to ice and snow on the route. Shame, the 5 or 6 people from the club who had entered were looking forward to it. But as Thomo found out last Wednesday having just returned from Tenerife, cycling on icy roads is not a good idea. I think he was in Tenerife training with Lance but he's not admitting to it !
Picked up the new winter bike last weekend and wend out Saturday and Sunday 13th / 14th December 2008 on the flat mostly 25 on Sat and 30 on Sun, about 1300 Kcal burned, just about kept the weight static thruogh the operation period. Might add a hill or 2 this next weekend. I have to say it was cold on Sunday, lost all feeling in the feet for an hour after getting back but the bike was excellent.
Just getting the etape forms ready for submission with the various Doctor's signatures. There's a major inconsistency here, some Doctors are seeking to profit to the tune of £100 or so for the taxing task of signing a form to say someone can take part in competitive cycling. Others, like mine are glad that we do keep very fit and consequently don't spend our time in their surgery whingeing (apart from the odd hip injury !). Sportstours advise the sooner the forms are returned the higher up the start order we will be, hence the quick turn-around.
Oh, the Cumbrian Christmas Cracker people have decided to reschedule the event to 1st February 2009 and carry-over the start list. So, we'll be there !
Well, the excitement for this week is the Etape recon DVD is due to arrive, can't wait. Till next time, seasons greetings to anyone reading this post.....
Saturday, 22 November 2008
Saturday, 15 November 2008
So aside from the weekend rides, been doing the 45 min spin classes at the Next Generation Gym each Monday, these are good and shouldn't be entertained when you have a bug because all that happens is the bug spreads but that's probably where it came from despite copious quantities of Vit C to boost the immune system.
Regarding the Etape, was doing some research for next years sportives and went on the Etape Du Dales website and was knocked sideways to learn that the organiser of many previous years Stuart Holdsworth had been killed in the Yorkshire Dales in an accident with a car / caravan. Only knew him in the context of the event but was one great guy. I can see from the press releases he has left a wife and children and I would extend to them my sympathy.
The Etape du Dales is a must-do preparation event to be held next year on 17th May, opens for entries on 6th Jan 2009 06:00 and will fill up within 5 hours for 800 riders see http://www.etapedudales.co.uk/
It was following a trail from the Etape du Dales website that led me to discover that the French authorities have decided that a BCF Racing Licence is no longer acceptable and that overseas riders must have a Doctor sign-off the entry form. This is a bit of a blow because some doctors can be a bit uppity about signing such forms, mine is a star, he signs each year, no questions but others in the group are going to struggle. All this is aside from the fact that Peter Starkey has already paid £60 for his BCF Silver Licence !!! Seems I owe him one ! See http://www.cyclosport.org/article.aspx?id=953 for much more information.
So that's it for Sat 15th November 2008, off to a Cancer Research Charity Dinner Dance tonight. Cheers !
The Cumbrian Christmas Cracker was mentioned in a previous post but I note is now full, that's probably partly because Chorley Harriers have about 12 riders entered. From my point of view it loks like I can't do the event, this last week, after about 12 weeks of waiting, I received a phone call from the NHS offering me a cancellation for a hip operation, the operation date is now 20th November 2008 and I'm so relieved, I was worried this would extend into next year.
The operation is called a hip arthroscopy, quite a leading edge procedure, the consultant enters the hip joint with a camera and very small tools and tidies up various issues including a torn labrum (the gristly bit around the socket), some bit of bone referred to as a bone 'cam' etc etc. This will put me out of action for a number of weeks, I'm told it'll be 2 weeks before I can get on a turbo trainer then build up from there, probably 6 weeks before I can resume running.
So, aside from being elated at the news, this is going to be a somewhat sedentary period. Just been to the Red Rose XC meeting in Bolton, my son ran and I took photos (can't swell the joint before surgery). We are due out in the morning for 3 hours on the bikes, not sure what the weather will be doing, sometimes the surprise is better than the bad news !