Dijon bike takes the mustard

On tour: Team FDJ.fr have been riding Lapierre bikes, which are built in Dijon, for 13 years

Map reference: home, -3 out, no amount of layers will counteract that and it’s a turbo day on my programme anyway. 32.5k in 62 minutes

Carbs and caffeine: caffeine fix before hopping on bike. Sneaky buttery ginger biscuit once off

If my 62 minute turbo session seems strange, this is because Barclaycard called to check an odd payment to Wiggle.co.uk. Yes, Husband, after weeks of research has chosen a bike for me. It’s a 2014 Lapierre Xelius EFI 100 Compact. I am, of course, beside myself with excitement and have been researching its history.

Wikipedia tells me that Team FDJ.fr’s Thibaut Pinaut rode his Lapierre Aircode to third place and best young rider on the Tour de France last year. The Aircode is the new bike the team started riding last year. Before that they were riding the Xelius EFI, hang on, that’s my bike. Chapeau, indeed.

I am practising my French, to welcome my new partner. I do hope we get on

Note to self: It’s not about the bike?… Bah, today it is

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…

Banking the hours

Map reference: Bank of England Sports Club

Carbs and caffeine: smoothy and half a piece of homemade bread with peanut butter

Another chilly day, so another spin class, this time with a different instructor, very slim and curiously self contained. She has a different taste in music to the usual pop beat. It more rave/house – that really is a guess as I am way too old for the club scene. The tracks are quite mesmerising …and long. One of them committed us to seven minutes of climbing. That’s longer than Box Hill (5-6 minutes for me, I think) but rather shorter than the first hill of the Etape, The Madeleine, which is likely to take me more than two hours.

Anyway, the coach tells the class to try to lose ourselves by focusing on the beat; and watching her with her eyes closed, hair swishing around her shoulders and the sunshine strobing off the mirror behind her, I got a weirdly clubby vibe. This was heightened by the fact that she was necking Redbull. It transpires she was out until 2.30am and then up at 5.30am for her first class. Funnily, her fatigue made her a lot smilier than normal. It would have the reverse effect on me.

I watched the stats on my bike a bit today and my watts were over 300 most of the time, touching 480 on one particular sprint. Hopefully that counts as banking my biking base for the day.

Our leader’s ab sessions are renowned for being brilliantly awful. Half the class don’t stay for it. Ouch.

Note to self: don’t forget to dial up sunshine for tomorrow’s ride, it’s time to get out there and remind myself why I am doing all this…

People watching as my world spins by

Map reference: Bank of England sports Club

Carbs and caffeine: made myself a nice smoothy when I got home

Tuesday is my Jacqui day but unfortunately her boiler has blown and she had to wait for the gas man. Shame really, as there was briefly a lot of blue sky. Anyway, I settled for a spin session with Mark http://www.markreynoldsfitness.com/. The class was packed, I’ve no idea why. There was a couple I haven’t seen before, who seemed to be having a row. Her arms were crossed and she was clearly fuming and not really joining in. He was glancing sideways at her and then moved to another bike, ostensibly to let someone else have his front row seat… but I wondered. About half way through the woman suddenly perked up, took off her sweatshirt and started pedalling like mad. Maybe the endorphins kicked in.

I forgot to look at the stats on my bike, which is unlike me, but the class was the usual mix of climbing, racing; sitting and standing, followed by the dreaded abs. I was my standard beetroot colour, so perhaps that’s as good a measure as any.

The second half of my kid-free window was spent ironing, as the ironing lady was marooned by the bus strike. I drew a line at Husband’s work shirts as I can’t do them properly. I can only just manage fitted sheets and that’s because the difficult bit is tucked out of sight. I counted his shirts and I think he can get through to next Tuesday.

I also did some research on the Etape Du Tour. Last year 275 women finished, 41 in my 45-49 age group. In fact, only 81 finished in my age group or above, including one remarkable woman in the 65-69 age group. This is making me nervous. I would love to know how many started. I read somewhere that it was around 600 which, if true, means half didn’t make it. Oh dear. I suppose a challenge isn’t a challenge unless… well… it’s a challenge.

Note to self: Maybe stay away from the science bit and just keep pedalling

Top spin

Map reference: Bank of England Sports Club
Carbs and Caffeine: none, a mouthful of nuts on my return home
Back into my sans-children groove, I want to my normal Friday spin class with Mark Reynolds (info@markreynoldsfitness.co.uk). It’s another sweat dripping off the ponytail vibe, followed by abs (how I hate abs, I bet there’s a hateabs hashtag out there).
Mark’s speciality (I’ve spun, or should that be spinned – as in hung and hanged – with many trainers. They all have their special ways) is an upper body work out where you sort of do pressups over the bars, while still pedalling and keeping your hips up. Although quite painful, this has actually transferred to proper cycling as I am now much more comfortable on the drops.
Husband disapproved at first, thinking I should stay upright in order to keep the chest open, but he’s now found it’s quite a good position for himself too. On a long ride, I figure the ability to change positions has got to be a good thing.
So thanks, Mark, another minor victory over my resident expert.
Note to self: you know you work harder in class, less spinning at home while watching the iPad, I think.

Birthday blog

My birthday cake, baked by Cathy

My birthday cake, baked by Cathy

Map reference: Lucy’s house

Carbs and Caffeine: Lucy’s super healthy banana cake

I so wanted to get out on the bike today. Ignoring all the weather warnings, I dressed for a bike outing and did my school car park duty top to toe in Lycra. When I could finally look at my phone – headmistress was under an umbrella next to me, I  didn’t dare sneak a peak until my duty was over – my fears were confirmed, we had been driven indoors by monsoon weather again.

This gave me time to go home, get a caffeine fix, shock the cleaning woman (very young) with the truth about my age, and be on the bike in Lucy’s kitchen by 10. Bealsey http://www.bespoke-velo.co.uk/blog/ was in charge as usual. The only other attendee was Jen, super fit… and super drunk when I last saw her on New Year’s Eve at midnight on a Wimbledon hill watching the fireworks. Actually, in fairness, she was just a bit giggly and wobbly (on New Years Eve, not today, no giggling today) but I couldn’t resist the literary play on super (too much English revision).

To get back today, it was the usual painful hour. Sweat was sweated, even Bealsey sweated which makes me think he also let his hair down over the festive season. And I felt much better by the end, even if the only fresh air was washed in by rain through the French doors in Lucy’s kitchen.

A good day. And a friend baked me a cake too. Picture of the cake will be posted when she has passed on the picture to me. My phone storage is full.

Note to self: sort out the storage… maybe kill some of the kids’ gaming apps, and my 3000 emails.

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

Does it count?

Map reference: Richmond Park
Carb and caffeine: not out long enough to indulge
Just a short spin round Richmond Park today, with Big One picking up a school friend. Big One has managed to suddenly outgrow his bike and now has possession of Husband Bike #2. Husband is gutted.
I feel for him, as I feel quite miffed when Big One wears my socks… And I get them back. This is a bike. It’s a one way trip. The seat has been lowered and the pedals swapped to match his cleats. And he certainly looks good on it. Yup that’s it, no return.

Note to self: one week to Middle Son’s pre-tests. Am I spending too much time on the bike?

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?