Sunday, 30 May 2010

Planning, Shopping & Writing Lists

Still feeling crap! I think it's just a cold and a bit of a chest infection, but I'm still not fit for training and I can't stop coughing. It's alright in a way because it's cool and very windy today, so in effect, I have a note to excuse me from training!

The time off has given me a chance to get my list of equipment together that I'll be taking with me on the LEJOG. My last expedition, the Leeds & Liverpool canal ride taught me a lesson where I took far too much stuff that I didn't need. The biggest mistake was carrying it all on a back-pack. In hindsight, I was a tit! Not only does carrying extra weight on your back make your back hurt, but it also contributed towards my chronic saddle sores and made my balance on the bike more difficult.

So rule number one this time around is to fasten my load to a rear rack. Rule two is not to carry anything that I won't absolutely need. Rule three is to make sure there's always room for enough chocolate to last half a day (that's a lot more than you're imagining. No... even more than that!).
I won't bore you with the list of stuff yet. I'll save that for a day when I can't think of anything to write on here. I'll confess that the original list of stuff to take has gone from two full A4 sheets of paper to one, and I want that down to half a page before I go.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Poorly, Sick, Dying...!

I've got a few days off training, Woo Hoo! No, sorry, I mean D'oh! I started with a cold a couple of days ago and now I think I've got a mild chest infection. So just to be on the safe side I'm taking a few days off and drinking loads of chocolate milk to sooth my acky throat.
On the plus side, I've been checking out some of the other blogs from people who have done the LEJOG and have picked up some really helpful tips. Things like certain places to avoid or roads that seem to have stupidly high cyclist death rates (very interested in avoiding those!).
So it's off to my sick bed, poorly bell at my side and a few days to watch my stories and get better. (cough cough).

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Heatwave Part 2.

It's still hot hot hot! 32 degrees in our garden at 10am this morning! Phew! After yesterday's punisher I decided on a nice, easy going recovery ride on my mountain bike. A couple of hours taking easy around the tracks and trails of Hooton Pagnell, Brodsworth and Hickleton. (Brodsworth hall in the pic). These three villages and the surrounding countryside are my favorite areas for biking. The roads are really quiet, the woods and tracks are always deserted and I usually get them all to myself. No Snickers bar today. I didn't fancy licking the contents out of the wrapper! Instead I had chocoalte buttons... ha ha! No, just water.

Saturday, 22 May 2010


The hottest day of the year so far. 28 degrees, no wind and a blazing sun. Perfect weather to punish myself with a 50 mile training ride! I got my two bottles full of water, my double Snickers tucked away somewhere cool (Ha!) and my very skimpy favourite 'Fox' cycling jersey on. Today's training ride challenge was to cross into all four counties of Yorkshire. I started off where I live in West Yorkshire heading south towards Sheffield. That's South Yorkshire sorted... then across, heading east towards Doncaster before going north toward Selby and East Yorkshire.
I took a break at the 20 mile mark and licked the melted Snickers bar from the wrapper and downed 500ml of my water in about 3 gulps. Break over, time to go west and cross the border for a few minutes just outside Womersley into North Yorkshire. Phew! Pontefract was only 3 miles away before heading home through Ackworth.
50 Miles , just under 3000 calories and an average speed of 15.7mph. Perfect!

Friday, 21 May 2010

Meeting Mark Beaumont.

On Wednesday 28th April I was lucky enough to go and meet one of my hero's. Mark Beaumont cycled the world, over 18,000 miles in 194 days, 17 hours. Beating the existing record by a massive 81 days! Then, just a few months ago, he cycled over 13,000 miles from Alaska to Southern Argentina in 268 days. The entire length of the Americas, including climbing the two highest mountains on each continent (Mount McKinly & Mount Aconcagua).

I've been following Mark's adventures since he began in 2007 and although he doesn't agree, he really is a hero to me! Such an inspiring man and a legend in my eyes.

When I met Mark I was surprised how tall he was to start with. People always look taller on TV so I don't know how that happened! Anyway, he is a really nice guy and after handing me a signed copy of his book I got some fantastic advice on how to stay motivated. "Just keep the wheels turning. Keep the wheels turning and you'll soon be a little closer to your goal. The worst thing you can do in your darkest moments is to pause to gather your thoughts. real momentum is built during those moments when despite everything, and against all odds, you keep the wheels moving. Each turn of that wheel is taking you a step closer to your goal."

Fantastic! To find out more about Mark Beaumont, click this link

Possible Dates For LEJOG.

I've given my knee three months of serious hammer in order to make sure it will be OK for my Land's End to John O' Groats ride. At last! I'm happy with my knee, with the bike and I've more or less got the route figured out. This evening I've pencilled in a few possible dates for the ride, all are subject to weather forecasts and some important events already booked that I can't miss.
Shaun and I are going to see the Pet Shop Boys twice in July so I am limited for days to start the ride. At the moment the dates I have in mind are the period of 10th till 20th June, 1st till 12th July, 24th July till end of August. Vague I know, but I wanted to record these early dates on here so that I want to see how it ends up!

Hot Hot HOT!!!

Don't let the picture fool you. I chose this one on purpose. The Cusworth Cycle Trail takes in some breathtaking scenery of South Yorkshire, including the Dearne Valley. It winds its way through many fields, woods and quiet villages and makes for a perfect bike ride. I use various parts of the 15 mile route as part of my training. Cycling at speed through on narrow tracks through the woods is great for building co-ordination and balance. There are some great hills as you follow the valley up and down, great for hill training with the heavy mountain bike! The woods are the best place for training in the current mini-heatwave we're experiencing. Nice and cool, out of the sun but full of insects. I must have eaten literally hundreds of flies and other flying thingys!!! Oh well, it's protein I suppose. I'm getting my new cycle shoes in the morning so hopefully I can push myself and get a hard days cycling in the heat out on the busy roads.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Breaking In The New Bike

I've been waiting for the weather to warm up just a bit so that I can take the new bike for it's maiden trip. It was great to get my old gear back on and despite the threatening shower clouds I set out to break the bike in gently. A steady 30 mile round trip later and I'm really impressed with it. The picture is of a village called Barnburgh, near Doncaster. Very hilly and a chance to get just over 40mph out of the bike. It's always a bit nervy getting the bike up to such speeds when it's new. What if one of the wheels isn't fastened on tight enough? What if the frame is faulty and the bike breaks up at 40mph? Anyway, it's all fine. I need to make some adjustments to saddle and handlebar height and I need to replace my pedals but apart from that it's fab! After the adjustments I'll start proper outdoor training with some 100 mile runs.

Time Trail

I do various types of training five times a week to keep my cycling fitness up to scratch. Once a week I do a time trial. This is where I cycle over a ten mile route and time myself. This week I've managed my fastest so far at just 24 minutes 15 seconds, an average of just under 25mph over the ten mile course.
During other days I do hill training, interval training and other weights and cardio exercises to strengthen my core and keep my cycle-essential muscles at their peak. With only a few weeks to go before the LEJOG event I need to increase the amount of training and change my priorities slightly. More of my training time is now spent on the bike I'll be using. Getting used to the saddle and riding position especially! I'll be making some tweaks to the bike and changing a few things to make sure I get the most out of it.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

New Bike For The Next Challenge!

So after a few weeks of research, lots of shopping around and reading countless reviews, and I mean thousands! I've decided on my bike to cycle from Land's End to John O' Groats. My budget is quite limited but I've ordered a Hybrid bike, a Specialized Sirrus 2010 Sport.

I've chosen this particular bike for a few reasons. First of all, I wanted a Hybrid rather than a Road bike. I find Hybrids a lot more comfortable, especially on my wrists and back, due to the slightly different seating position. Secondly, the ride quality is really nice. Very smooth and the gears feel a lot more expensive than they are! The wheels are standard Road bike size and the bike only weighs in at just over 10kg, so speed should be just as good as my Road bike.
Finally, the reviews for this model really outshined all the other Hybrids. I couldn't find a genuine bad review (apart from the odd guy who hates Specialized).

So, I pick up the bike next week and after a final check between whether I take a Medium or Large size, I'll be out on the roads wearing it in and getting used to it. It'll get at least three months wearing in before the event. Plenty of time to strip it down and rebuild for experience, change the tyres and tubes for puncture resistant ones and maybe change the saddle.

Now I can start looking for new accessories!