Rock bottom…

On my hit list: Specialized Lithia Comp gel, similar to my usual saddle

Map reference: Velosport, Putney

Carbs and caffeine: declined a cup of tea as I’ve wasted enough of Nick’s time

A couple of laps around Richmond Park yesterday left me in no doubt that the Adamo and I were not friends after all. In fact we are now intimately classified as enemies. So I took myself back to Velosport, where Nick tried me on another saddle and generally shuffled me about. Apparently I sit too far back on the Adamo to get the benefit of it’s design. Eventually I trotted home to collect the Giant I have been riding for four years and we swapped the saddles over, not before Nick took careful note of the angle I had been riding the saddle at. Apparently 6% down is pretty extreme and not recommended. Oh, ignorance is bliss.

So finally comfortable on the LaPierre, I suggested that we hunt the shop for a similar saddle. To his credit, Nick instead pulled up the Specialized website, and suggest I buy a racier version of the saddle I was comfortable on. He says his reading around fitting for women has taught him that women are particularly difficult in the saddle area, whereas he has never found a saddle he couldn’t sit on. There you go, men are from Mars…

I said I was going home to spin. Nick told me not to be such a fool with my still aching back and charged me with stretching instead. So I have done four YouTube workouts. In the end, Sugarpop http://www.popsugar.com/fitness seemed the best, but there are thousands to go for. The thumbnail pictures are interesting for some, suggesting they are not necessarily aimed at middle-aged Domestiques.

Yes, Nick you are right, my ITB http://www.active.com/cycling/articles/tight-it-band-3-simple-exercises-to-fix-it-now is very tight (hence the odd left leg stroke), and my hip flexors too.

Note to self: see if the Specialized Concept store will let you try before buying

Domestique bliss

Map reference: Wimbledon, Epsom Downs, Bookham, hilly loop, 73k

Carbs and Caffeine: Domestique Cycle Cafe, 8 Grove Corner, Great Bookham http://www.domestiquecyclecafe.co.uk/

Bealsey http://www.bespoke-velo.co.uk/ was down to his two stalwarts, Jen and me again today. I guess the other ‘ladies’ are still regrouping after the half term break. He asked if we wanted hills or flat and, after a certain pause, we plumped for hills. We both like hills it’s just hard to actually choose the leg-achy route. Decision made, it was our usual flip though the suburbs and then up through Epsom high street to the racecourse, then down a different road and, you guessed it, back up to the grandstand again. Apparently you can do that, cartwheel fashion round the race course ad nauseam, but luckily we pushed off before sickness actually kicked in.

I have to say my lungs are still far from A1 after our family virus. I also felt uncomfortably low on juice going up the 20% hill towards Bookham, near Polesden Lacey. Luckily, a new carb stop awaited me. It’s name clearly points it at cyclists, and it has secure bike parking, although we didn’t feel the need to use it.

The welcome was warm, and if the walnut cake was a little thickly spread with butter icing, that was easily fixed. Some people would probably relish the extra icing, but I could see Bealsey looking a bit askance as he nibbled on his biscuit. I removed the offensive addition and tucked into the very nice homemade cake underneath.

In case you don’t understand the reference in the cafe’s name, domestiques are the members of a cycle team charged with delivering water and food to the main competitors http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domestique. They are quite heroic in their efforts to help the team, carrying the extra weight and killing themselves to get up to their team mates at the front of the pack, then drifting back down the peloton exhausted. Maybe, next time I am asked what I do for a living I shall say Domestique, it certainly sounds better than housewife, which I cannot say without stuttering…

Note to self: more hills needed, now spring is springing

Fit for purpose

Hole lot better: a popular choice at the moment for men and women alike

Map reference: Velosport, Putney http://www.velosport.co.uk/

Carbs and caffeine: some French biscuits (from ski holiday… no biking but plenty of fresh air)

The ‘fit’ doesn’t refer to me this time, the fit was for the bike. I had um-ed and ah-ed about where to go to get the new LaPierre fitted, but in the end it was a no-brainer to go to Husband’s ‘pet’ shop. They’ve built a bike for him in the past and repaired and prep-ed his bikes for his various challenges. It’s good to develop a relationship with a local shop. For a start they know as we walk in that we are not about to buy one of their top end bikes and that saves a lot of time.

We were late for our appointment with Nick as Husband had to fit some pedals onto the bike and lower the seat so I could sit in the knife edge saddle. It was a very uncomfortable ride to the shop; the brakes seemed out of reach and my rear end was certainly getting a bum deal.

Nick was sympathetic to my complaints (no need for biological vocab, just pointing and pulling a face was enough) and started by fitting an Adamo saddle. They are the ones that look a bit like a tuning fork, with two prongs at the front and a large gap in the middle. Enough said, I think we know what that geometry is all about. Then it was down to measuring and tweaking and sticking fuzzy dots on me… and then videoing the result. I don’t like me on camera and this was no exception, but the ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures were a revelation. I looked much more comfortable, and less hunched up… although with my shoulders I shall always look more like a rower than a pro cyclist.

I can’t wait to have a proper go on some familiar hills so I can feel the difference. Well, actually, I will have to wait for the weather to clear … again

Out of zip

Map reference: at home with sick child

Carbs and caffeine: usual trawl through kitchen cupboard

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday blithely congratulating myself on feeling great; today I can barely turn my legs. Yesterday’s ride and a lost night’s sleep have completely taken the zip out of my zing. I have tried, I really have. I sat on the bike for 45 minutes willing my legs to go round as I watched Netflix rubbish, but it was simply awful.

I have also been trying to think of a simple name for your riding partner after a chap yesterday ended up referring to Neil as my colleague (see yesterday’s blog), but the brain is also on strike. I thought I had had some ideas in the night, but this morning over breakfast I realised they were too poor to share. I will get there.

Note to self: Vitamin C… got to be worth a go

Rattle and roll

Map reference: Wimbledon, Cobham, Leatherhead, Ashtead loop, just under 60k

Carbs and caffeine: Cafe Bean, Ashtead, usual great welcome, new cake… prune and apricot slice

At last, out with Neil on a real bike. No pretend puffing up hill (ok, when spinning it’s real puffing, but pretend hills), and the feel of the wind on my face instead of the odd blast from the rotating fan.

It was a little grey (only clear glasses required) but mild. Neil had achy legs from throwing himself back into other training, but more worrying was his squeaky bike. In fact there is something majorly wrong with his front wheel which makes a non-stop crackling, slapping noise. I had severe doubts that the bike would make it. It did, but I cut out a hill… there was no way I was going to get stranded up Headley Road with a one wheeled bike. Closer inspection at the coffee stop showed the rims are completely knackered too. It’s a real workhorse of a bike, but I think it’s time the old nag was retired. An investment is needed. At least some new wheels.

Aside from that, I felt really strong after my week off the road, and managed to stay far enough ahead of Neil that I didn’t have to hear the squeak. Poor guy, I can’t imagine it’s a comfortable ride at the moment.

In the coffee shop a man became rather flustered when he found himself referring to Neil as my partne… er … colleague. What is a riding companion to be called? I shall give it some thought.

Note to self: Got to get out there one more time before half term. Call Jen, quick

Mrs Fixit

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Sweat shop: don’t think anyone will be knocking on my door for interior design tips

Map reference: home

Carbs and caffeine: quick cuppa and last of the lemon drizzle

I know a picture of Jacqui and me peddalling might be more interesting, but there are two reasons that won’t be happening. Firstly we looked pretty crazy storming our way though another Beastly Beasley turbo session in the corner of my sitting room. Secondly, despite my best efforts since motherhood, I have failed to perfect the art of being in two places at once, although I have often come close. I took the picture; you may sense the atmosphere of serene calm after furious activity in the air.

I am getting over a really horrible cold so have been off the bike over the weekend. I did an hour and a half gentle spinning yesterday to test the legs, and was able to give it full welly today. It was a shame to miss a perfectly good outdoor day, but I have a list of things to do, so it was the right decision.

Off the bike, I have been in electronic fixing mode. I breathed life into a disabled itouch (using YouTube; bless you young man, even if I do suspect the itouch you were demonstrating on was nicked), and after trotting to three different mobile shops, I finally have a phone working for middle son. I also discovered that I am stuck in a timewarp. A man next to me said he was born in 1990 (as part of his discussion with the shop attendant), and I was convinced that meant he was 14. How can you be born in 1990 and be in your twenties. Did I miss something?

Note to self: you need to brush up on your number bonds

Triple turbo tremble

Map reference: home and hereabouts

Carbs and caffeine: lemon drizzle cake a la maison, and reheated suppers

Three days of freezing weather with flurries of snow have kept me inside. To shake it up a bit I have hosted a couple of spin sessions with friends and laboured through one session by myself. Beastly Beasleys turbo printouts are beginning to look a bit ragged.

On Tuesday, Jacqui and I set ourselves up here, with Radio 6 to distract us. We elected to do some classic intervals, 4 minutes on, one minute off. It was tough, with Jacqui gasping the time in ever smaller degrees. Sometimes 5 seconds can seems a long time.

On Wednesday I pedalled away by myself, so when it became obvious we weren’t going to get out today for our normal ride, I invited myself round to Jen’s. We were going to just pedal like mad, but I have got used to timing myself and setting challenges, so I ended up bossily instructing three minute sessions of various things with one minute active recovery. It was a sort of hybrid session of climbing and cadence. The dog was very excited by two lots of spinning legs at first, but fell asleep after a while. We were passing out in a different way… but there you go, job done.

Note to Husband: take it easy coming home, red wine and Osso Bucco tonight.

Home front

Map reference: home

Carbs and caffeine: the fridge

I may not have posted since Thursday but I have not been idle. You can pretty much assume that I do one of Beastly Beasley’s turbos if nothing else is mentioned. I have three to choose from. They are all painful, but I am very bloody minded and once I get on the bike I push myself quite hard. I’m glad the neighbours can’t see me; solo effort looks quite comical, like you’re having a battle with yourself.

On Saturday, Husband and I also did a Functional Fitness class, with Jay, a curiously quiet and serious bodybuilder. I don’t know for sure he’s a bodybuilder, but that’s what his physique tells me. I know he competes in something, but he won’t say what. And although he dresses soberly for our class, I have seen him wearing extraordinary outfits to the junior boxing class. Is that a bodybuilding thing, or am I stuck in the Seventies?

The exception to the ‘every day rule’ was yesterday, when I stood and shivered at a rugby tournament for four hours. I wonder if shivering works the twitch muscle I keep hearing about http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/anatomyandphysiology/a/MuscleFiberType.htm. Either way it was a test of endurance and drained me of any energy (and time) to get on the bike. Mind you, I wasn’t as drained as our team of Under 11s who had to face very strong opposition, with some of the players about a foot taller and much, much broader. Our team looked positively undernourished, but battled on regardless. No they did not win – no Hollywood ending then – but, boy, we were proud.

Note to self: you need a warmer coat