Fly me to the moon

Map reference: over the Hog’s Back to Haslemere. 98km

Carbs and Caffeine: scrambled eggs on toast, Darnley’s Coffee Shop and Restaurant, 3 Causeway Side, High Street, Haslemere GU27 2JZ. Friendly, prompt service and good value. Big tick from me

Don’t worry I haven’t given up riding since the Etape, but, to be honest, it’s very hard during the school holidays. I did a Rapha 100 on my return, and squeezed in a Box Hill outing with Jen, but apart from that it’s been a few laps of Richmond Park and a few sessions on the spinning bike. Three weeks to go and I shall have my daytime window back.

But this week I am down to one child – the boys being on a residential trip – and my daughter is doing a sailing camp. I intend to cycle every day, to get myself back on track. I’ve signed up for the Etape London (180k, pretty flat), which should be fairly straightforward after the Dragon Ride and the Etape du Tour, but not if I don’t keep ticking off the miles. 

Keith volunteered to kick off my week. The great thing about riding with him is you never know where you are going. Let’s be clear, he knows where he is going, but I have never travelled the same route twice with him. One of the joys of riding is the freedom, and restricting your rides to local routes that are easily learned is great shame. On my list of ways to improve myself is to increase my own map knowledge.

After a brief conflab in Ripley, we decided to head down to Haslemere, through Hindhead. I have only been down this way in the car before, heading for the coast, and it sounded like a really long way to me. The route essentially took us from Old Woking down roads on the western side of the A3 and then crossed the A3 near Hindhead to swing south towards Haslemere and then east before looping back to Guildford. Most of the roads were very quiet, with just short sections on the busier roads. As we came into Hindhead we pedalled along a beautiful wooded section and I was surprised to find the heavy smell of pine took me so strongly back to my golfing days. It’s been a long time since I’ve swung a club; golf and cycling don’t really mix, with both taking such large chunks out of the day.

Our average speed was just under 28k, with me hanging on to Keith’s wheel. I slipped off a couple of times, but was generally pleased to be able to hang on. The elevation was 840m, with some small hills at the beginning (although one hit 17 per cent at one stage) and a pretty flat finish after lunch. I felt dehydrated but refreshed by the end, if that doesn’t sound like a contradiction. A grand day out, not to the moon like Wallace and Gromit, but certainly out of my usual orbit.

Apart from the Etape London, I’m not sure what my future plans are. I’ll definitely do the Dragon Ride again and I’m hoping to get a small band together for that (Jen that means you). And I shall certainly be watching to see which stage comes up for the Etape Du Tour. Bealesy (Bespoke-Velo.co.uk) has mentioned the Nove Colli in Italy – the kids would like us to do that so that they can revisit our summer holiday in Viserbella, Rimini. We’ll see.

I am also toying with setting up a cycle club affiliated to the boys’ school, in part so they can participate in the London Youth Games next year, but there are many things I need to research first before I stick my head above the parapet on that.

Note to self: British Cycling britishcycling.org.uk have coaching information, find a moment to check out what might fit with a kids’ club

 

The whiff of success…

Displaying photo.JPG Early start: a two-bottle run to the Surrey hills, doesn’t she look beautiful in the sunlight?

Map reference: 130k, ’10 hill’ loop to Leith Hill area

Carbs and caffeine: Peaslake Stores http://www.peaslakevillagestores.com/, just a mug of tea, but lots on offer. Remember coinage to donate to cleaner of new loo

I had a fantastic run on Sunday with Husband, doing a 90k Box Hill loop from home, but time caught up with me and I had no time to blog it. Suffice to say the bike and I are now the very bestest of friends. We averaged 24k, so finally Husband and I can cycle together without him getting a crick in the neck from turning around to look for me. I’ll never be his training partner, but at least we can ride together. It’s a big step forward.

With all this happiness in mind, I prepared to battle Barhatch again, having failed last week. This time Rob and I set off earlier so I wouldn’t have to bail after 5 and a half hills to get home for the school run. And I switched to my new bike. I can’t, if I’m honest, tell the difference between the two bikes on a flip around Richmond Park, but give it an hour or so and the difference really becomes apparent. So the lesson, well known to amateur cyclists, is … if at first your don’t succeed, bring a better bike.

Some credit should go to those winter months of training. A friend’s husband has been scoffing that I have been so focused since before Christmas but, with no testosterone to fall back on, it’s the only way I know how. Under Bealsey’s http://www.bespoke-velo.co.uk/ guidance I’ve been working on pushing a harder gear and that has certainly paid dividends. Hills Seven and Eight passed by in my big cog (they were more like a series of rises to be honest) and I found this left me in a better position to maximise speed on the false flats in between. Husband has been saying this for years, but I don’t think I was fit enough to pull it off then.

Apart from the hills, which tend to grab the attention, I think my descending has improved a little. Some weeks ago, Bealsey told me that my feet should be horizontal when descending on a straight, with my strong foot forward. I had found this position awkward and tend to ride with my left foot down, which feels more restful. But suddenly his advice seems to be making sense. I think it may be the angle of my feet, I am working on having my heels lower in my pedal stroke, and that seems to give me more balance. Anyway, even on the pretty bumpy descents of the Surrey Hills I am feeling more confident.

So all in all, the stars were aligned and it was a great day. I know they won’t all be like this, some days just aren’t so good, but I feel very, very positive.

And why the headline ‘The whiff of success’? Well, Peaslake Stores is an excellent deli, and they were giving out tastes of their cheeses. I fell on love with a Chillies Farm wild mushroom infused camembert, and rode the second half with it ripening in my back pocket.

Note to self: last week to collar Bealsey for more training tips, before he heads off for his summer holiday guiding tour

Riding circles…

Crop circle: The Wells estate, just outside Ashtead village

Map reference: slightly shorter than intended ride, to Ashtead and back, 50k

Carbs and caffeine: piece of cake from the musette

Husband took the afternoon off work so that we could go for a ride and we needed a trip to Ashtead anyway so that was the plan. In the morning, I dipped into some of Bealsey’s http://www.bespoke-velo.co.uk/ rides on the Garmin to make sure I was clear on the best way down. I toyed with the dodgy-dog underpass route, but in the end plumped for cutting about across Worcester Park, slipping through the Hook estate (using a route dedicated to only buses and cycle route) and slipping along the railway to the Wells estate. I don’t know who designed this area, but I’m assuming it was a sci-fi fan.

Unfortunately we were slightly late leaving so my plans to take Husband back through Fetcham and Cobham had to be canned and we did a rather dull commuter trail back through Kingston instead, largely on main roads, albeit with cycle lanes.

We were potentially going to be so late back for school runs that we didn’t even have time to stop for a coffee. Luckily I had packed a couple of pieces of cake. I didn’t actually pack them in the cotton bag that would be called a musette in riding circles, but they were in my stem bag http://www.evanscycles.com/products/topeak/tri-bag-stem-bag-all-weather-ec033777 and that’s close enough.

Note to self: remind Husband he need more clothes when he is riding with me. He was cold again…

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

Mrs Fixit

Displaying photo.JPG

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