Knees up to the cake stop

Map reference: Calpe, Spain… yes, really

Carbs and caffeine: tapas, of course, and hotel breakfasts, my absolute favourite thing in all the world.

I am just back from my first holiday in 15 years. Ok, this is a little unfair as we have had many enjoyable holidays as a family; bucket and spade, skiing, even cycling, some in hotels and some self-catering, but none ‘on my own’.

Obviously, if I had actually gone on holiday on my own that would be a bit sad. To be clear, on my own means ‘Without Husband and Children’. For four whole days my name was not Mum. No one asked me where their trousers were. No one asked me what was for lunch. I did not have to nip to the shops for more milk (we might as well get our own cow on current consumption rates), and I saw no popcorn, either in a bowl or stuck behind the sofa cushions.

Just me… and my bike. There were no lists rolling around in my head. I only had to remember how to put the bike together out of the bike box, and hope that my Lycra would stretch. To be clear, that’s not to picture a giant me squeezing into too small Lycra, but I realised too late I could really have done with another pair of bib shorts. I would just have to wash overnight. It’s not normally an issue as I don’t usually ride two consecutive days, and even if I do, you seldom get two days of similar weather on consecutive days in England, let’s face it.

The trip was a Bealesy special (bespoke-velo.co.uk). It been a while since I’ve blogged, so to remind you I’ve been riding with Chris Beales as a guide for a few years now. We ‘girls’ go out on a Thursday with him (with the odd guest husband) during his off-season months and I trained with him in Italy before my Etape two years ago. He’s great to ride with because he does all the thinking. We just think about the next coffee stop, and pick up tips on ‘roiding’ safely.

Why ‘roiding’? Well, he’s Australian. Many things come out a little oddly, and then the rush of wind in your ears can confuse things further. We turn ‘roit’, right? This still confuses Jen as she doesn’t know her left from her right, but she’s never let it slow her down.

Added to our normal list of aural confusion, this holiday we had ‘free cake at the top of the hill’, which sadly translated as ‘3K to the top of the hill’. And Jen, Rach and I were left looking at each other in confusion, when we had completely a lovely descent in good order we thought, but were told to ‘knees up’. Since we’d been working on having a straight outer leg on the turns this seemed to contradict our instructions. No, turns out it was ‘ease up’. Or in other words, wait for the others. Of course, it was ‘knees up’ thereafter, and ever shall be.

Much of our enjoyment falls into the ‘you had to be there’ category. There was much silliness and joy. The hotel was fabulous, right on the beach. I don’t know if everyone has the same sensation, but when I look at a beach and sea, blue sky and sunshine, I actually get a rushing ‘zing’ in my head. It’s quite overwhelming. Our evenings quickly fell into a pattern, of shower, meet in the bar for a fishbowl sized G&T, followed by buffet dinner. I know some people get funny about buffet dinners, but I love them, especially when you have been exercising. It’s not because I want to eat, ‘all you can eat’ style, but if I want a bit more cheese, or some fruit, some more Iberico ham just carved off the joint, I can. Freedom to browse, rather than pressure to chose the right thing off the menu.

You might assume we would be drinking into the evening, but no. We drank water at dinner (one bottle of wine between six on the last evening) and yet I’m sure we appeared utterly toasted as we giggled our way into the lifts at about 9.30pm to get to our rooms. Yes, what busy mothers/serious cyclists want at the end of the evening is… a room of their own, and how we enjoyed ours.

Note to Husband: thank you so much for facilitating my brief escape. I really appreciate it. x

 

 

 

Outside the box…

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Bike in a box: LaPierre awaits it’s grand unveiling

Map reference: Wimbledon, Cobham, Ashtead loop, 60k

Carbs and Caffeine: Quick stop at Cafe Bean, Ashtead

What a dilemma. Stay in and wait for my bike to arrive; or head out in the sunshine with Jacqui. What unbelievable luck that I could do both. The box arrived early, I would have lost money on that. I haven’t had a chance to open it, but it is enough to know that it is there, nesting in my garage.

With a little farewell tap on the box, Jacqui and I headed out for a nice loop, a bit trafficky, but no real bottlenecks. One silly fool old fool roared up behind me having jumped some lights at a small stretch of roadwork cones near Sandown Park. I moved into the middle of the lane, as I sensed he would try to squeeze past and knock me flying. I must have held him up or about 3.67 seconds. I do hope he managed to make that up during the rest of his busy day.

Aside from that, all was calm. My son is in to his senior school and Jacqui’s on a very hopeful waiting list with more results to come in. We both feel pretty chilled compared to a few weeks ago.

All in all, I feel lightly tired in the legs and much refreshed in spirit.

Note to self: that chain needs lube… no good remembering once you are out

Out, at last…

Map reference: Wimbledon to Bookham, retreat to Leatherhead and home, 60k

Carbs and caffeine: Homemade walnut and coffee cake, Bocketts farm, Leatherhead http://www.bockettsfarm.co.uk/

The weather finally went our way and Jen and I met up with Bealsey http://bespoke-velo.co.uk/ for our regular Really Helpful Club http://www.reallyhelpfulclub.com/ ladies ride. There were a few faces missing, including one whose husband had booked her into a skiing lesson with him (without asking). Post-Christmas admin took the rest, I think.

We did one of Bealsey’s wiggles through south-west London. Met the same angry couple and dodgy dog in the same underpass as before. Had the same row. Do they live there like trolls, ready to attacks any passing cyclists? (See my post Underpass Impasse, 12/07/2014).

We popped up in Fetcham. Unfortunately torrential rain popped up at the same time and we battled our way to Bookham before stopping at a bus shelter to add rain layers and give up on the glasses. A quick look at the sky told us that if we kept heading in the same direction we were just heading into more watery stuff, so we double backed on ourselves and made our way to Bocketts children’s farm. Thankfully there were no children, and the coffee and cakes were good. The cake is packed in little plastic boxes, which is a shame, it just seems so wasteful. Give me a slice off the whole cake anytime, but perhaps they are mobbed sometimes by greedy little monsters. Then I can see the efficiency in pre-cutting.

We stayed quite a long time, drying off and discussing Jen’s nutribullet http://www.nutribullet.com. Bealsey, like most cyclists, has lots of opinions on food and nutrition. Jen impressed us with the fact that she is hiding kale in her son’s smoothy. The nutribullet may go on my wishlist, as I have a fussy eater at home too.

We made our way home through Leatherhead, towards Epsom and the Hook Road Arena, and the sun joined us. Jen regained feeling in her hands somewhere around Ewell.

More tips from Bealsey today about my riding. All this winter spinning has taken it’s toll and I am riding at far too high a cadence and getting out of breath. Following Jen up the long hill near the Yehudi Menuhin school, I could feel myself dropping off. It’s obviously a combination of heart-lung capacity and leg power… and a bit of how you feel on the day.

Note to self: Don’t be disheartened, early days…

Out … And in again

Map reference: Richmond Park
Carbs and caffeine: Roehampton Gate Cafe
I’m three days late with this post, so pre-tests are finally taking their toll. That and the whole back-to-school malarkey. One down two to go on that front.
Anyway, back to Saturday. Bealsey had organised an all-comers post-festive 90k circuit to Box Hill. Unfortunately someone forgot to order the weather. I had invited my brother and was unable to stall him as his mobile phone is on the blink. So he and I had some coffee and narrowed our horizons to Richmond Park. I had invited Jacqui too, and so she headed that way too. We made no arrangement to meet her, but with us going clockwise and she going anti-clockwise we met and joined up for a final lap. Clever, eh?
By this stage my brother was freezing in his running shoes. He has a nice Cube bike but has been slow off the mark on cleats. Never again. I was feeling the frost in my winter booties, he was way beyond uncomfortable.
Jacqui headed home and Angus and I stopped at Roehampton cafe. Coffee for me and a few stolen bites of the cake I had packed for our longer run. I made Angus eat most of it as he needed fuel to reheat himself.
Strangely he then submitted himself to another lap, and I pedalled with him to Putney Bridge to see him safely on his way home.
Note to self: must persuade brother to buy into cleats… And normal cycling clothes. Baggy shorts slowing him down

An airing

Managed to get a couple of flips round Richmond Park, against all odds. I’m juggling guests and 11+ revision at the moment, as well as wasting a lot of time trying to find somewhere to stay (with kids + childcare) for the Etape. Anyway, a window appeared after lunch, when my husband accidentally found himself taking four children out to try Middle Son’s birthday remote control car. He had intended to just take MS, but our other kids and a French cousin popped themselves in the car expectantly and he didn’t have the heart to unpack them. So that was his challenge.
Mine was to stay motivated for a short run. I did 30k in an hour and 15mins, which is pretty ordinary, although there was quite a stiff wind against. Next challenge, dinner for eight! The pub calls…

More puddles…

More puddles of sweat on the floor as Bealsey http://bespoke-velo.co.uk/ turbo-ed us through our paces in Lucy’s sitting room. It was five minutes sets, four minutes of pedalling on the large cog at 95 rpm and then one minute rest on the small cog at a slower pace. The only light relief were the Christmas songs going round in a loop on the stereo. And then the songs became part of the problem as Bealsey pointed out that I was stomping the pedals to the beat of the tunes to try to keep myself going. I tried to concentrate on sitting still and circling with my ankles but it’s really hard, and four minutes is a long time. Rachel felt a bit nauseous on about the eighth round. She’s training for a half iron man and marathon, so I think she spreads herself pretty thin. Lucy had to keep jumping off her bike to monitor her son who was climbing all over the fence trying to get something down from a tree. There was some speculation that this was an avoidance tactic; I’m sure that wasn’t fair.

We briefly planned our future meets around the holiday season and then all rushed off to our domestic challenges. In my case six children. I dropped two on the way to Kingston and then set three boys loose on the food market, while daughter and I treated ourselves to a Subway… the new McDonald’s it seems. Actually it is better than McD, but the coffee is foul.

Note to self: cards not written and half of presents still not wrapped… food?

Cold comfort

Map reference: Box Hill loops from Epsom Downs

Carbs and Caffeine: none. What, how did I allow that to happen?

Husband and I decided to take Big One, aged 12, out for ride, as the others were out this morning. I warned both it would be colder ”out there”, but my warnings fell on deaf ears. Wife/mother voice doesn’t register, particularly at the weekend. Thankfully Big One was wearing a new very warm jacket (which was supposed to be for Christmas). Husband didn’t fare so well, being in short bibs with ‘legs’ and lots of gaps in between. He also had to hand over his shoe covers to his son at the top of Box Hill as the boy was blue. So I would say it was 50/50 his fault that he never warmed up during the hour and a half ride. He says it’s my fault for riding so slowly. Happy families…

Note to self: try speaking in a lower voice and see if that gets more attention