Tuesday, 30 June 2009

The final leg

So that's it. All my events done. That's eleven this year with the ultimate goal still to do. In 20 days I shall be on my bike somewhere along the route. Its all suddenly got very real.

The aims of the next three weeks are:
  • Stay healthy
  • Rest
  • Keep the legs turning over but not too many miles
  • Sleep lots
  • Keep weight stable or even lose weight
  • Finalise trip details

I have three weeks to keep active and stay focused without doing anything too much. Most studies say that you can't really improve your fitness in the last two or three weeks. Resting or reducing the level of exercise will actually allow your body to adapt to all the work its been put through. Keep the intensity, reduce the distance is the mantra.

After reading Karen's excellent blog, I'm glad its not just me who is starting to go a little nuts. The combination of excitement, nerves, nothing to focus on other than the main event and less than 20 days to go is starting to get to me. I never enjoyed tapering when doing marathons and I think this is going to be worse.

Still, I do have work to do to keep me on track and a lot of details to sort out for the journey down there. I'll be sad when its all over.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Chute, Auger, Beef-it or Biff

auger - to involuntarily take samples of the local geology, usually with one's face, during a crash.
beef it - to fall or crash.
biff - a crash "I biffed and then wiped away the blood."
chute - French for fall
wipeout - finish riding early

Yes, after 13 months on the bike, I finally lost my battle with gravity and came off at the Dartmoor Classic.

Back to Saturday and I left London around 9, picked up Ed and drove the 220 miles to Moretonehampstead in Devon where my Dad lives. I wanted to watch the rugby with him so it was straight off to the pub. Not a great result but it was nice watching it with my Dad. It was then off to register which didn't take long.

Early to bed and then up at 5:30 for breakfast and a drive to the start in Kingsteignton. Ed and I had discussed the possibility of getting a gold. It was sub 6:35 for the 104 miles to get a gold and we thought we could average the 15.9 mph even with the 3,300 meters of ascent. We started well averaging over 20 mph for the first 7 miles. We were in a largish group what were fast but very aggressive. Coming down a hill it was clear they were risk takers as they came on the outside of us on the wrong side of the road approaching a bend as they wanted to go faster.

Minutes later we went from a down hill to a small uphill. Everyone out the saddle to make it over the hill without loosing speed. Suddenly I saw a very slow rider right in front of me. I quickly looked to my right to move out but I was boxed in. I shouted but no one moved. The next thing I know I clip the slow rider and I'm down followed by another rider on top of me. It all happened so quickly. We all get up and check ourselves. I have a hole in my knee and elbow but nothing seems broken. The slow bloke on the bike is fine and the guy who fell on me is also fine. His front wheel is bent but usable and my left break lever is really bent. I count my chickens knowing it could have been worse.

I was very wobbly and slow for a while. My descending was also slow and nervy and once the adrenaline wore off, my knee and elbow really hurt. Ed was a star and stayed with me. We took it slow for a while but then I got a bit quicker. Gold was gone so silver would be great and bronze ok. No medal would be very annoying.

We were going ok until Ed had his event mechanical and punctured. It didn't take long and we were back doing 20 on the flat. I had a real low after about 60 miles as it was raining again (forecast was for sun, we had no sun all day) and I was sore. Also, last week's 150 miler was definitely in my legs and the climb out of Tavistick to Prince Town felt long.

A short stop in the feed stop and then I knew it wasn't too hilly before passing my Dad's house. As we were late, he'd been waiting outside his house for hours. I was very pleased to see him and enjoyed his flapjack. He had been very worried after seeing an air ambulance fly over.

Spirits lifted, it was up the final climb before a 3 mile down hill and a 10 mile blast on the flat. Ed was storming along at 27 on the flat and I was hanging onto his wheel for dear life. It was real fun flashing past people but the finish line was very welcome.

A huge thanks to the St. Johns ambulance who washed out my knee. I was there first business of the day. Thanks to the mechanics who tweaked the front changer as the lever was bent and not changing well. Thanks also to the organisers for a great ride, superb marshals and a lovely piece of granite as a memento. Oh and we got bronze. No crash would have meant silver. Gold was just too much after the Dave Lloyd. Next Year.

Distance: 105 miles (169 kms)
Ride Time: 6:38
Total Time: 7:29
Award: Bronze
Max Speed: 46.6 mph
Ascent: 10,158 feet (3,100 meters)
Average Cadence: 78
Nutrition: High5 4:1 (4 bottles), Torq (1 bottle), Nuun tablets (2), Gels (2), Ride Shots (2 packs), Viper Bar (1) and Flapjack (1).
Calories Used: 5,454 (MapMyRide estimate)

Monday, 22 June 2009

More Dave Lloyd thoughts

Thanks for all the nice comments on the DLMC. Its nice to know so many read my blog and are interested in my rides.

Bwlch y Groes
Thanks for the info Data. 11 chevrons in 2.2 kms. That is impressive. Good knowledge.

The most pleasing thing about the day was my new ride position. My knee and thigh pain was greatly reduce. So much so that I forgot about it for long periods. Also, my worries about the shoes were unfounded. They were very comfy.

Feed stops
I was surprised just how long I had been stopped. There were four feeds stops and I must have been at each for over 10 minutes as I stationary for 52 minutes in total. That is a little annoying as I had intended to be quicker than that.

Finish Position
I'm dead chuffed with 71st place. That's top 37% out of the 188 finishers and top 19% out of the 359 entrants.

Yep, I did get a silver standard. Very pleased with that.

I'm trying not to be over confident but as a couple of comments said, I think this ride was sort of harder than the Etape. We got to 92 miles on Sunday in around 6 hours 15 minutes which is the equivalent of the base of Ventoux. It was hillier than the Etape's first 92 miles and we were well inside the Etape cut-off. So I guess I'm now thinking more about how well I can do in France rather than if I can beat the broom wagon.

Having said all that, a mechanical or a couple of punctures and its all in the balance. There is also the possibility of 40 degree heat which I didn't have in Wales. That could change everything.

No, I don't think he's forgive me yet :-)

Dave Lloyd Mega Challenge

Ed arrived at my house on Saturday at 12 and something was different. He had a new Pinarello Price, MOst carbon integrated bars and Di2 electronic Dura Ace groupset. To say I went a dark shade of green would be putting it mildly. I don't care about the group set but the Pinarello fame is beautiful. It took me a couple of hours to stop being so jealous.

We set off to Wales at lunchtime and apart from a 2 hour traffic jam on the M40 (what fun), it was an ok journey. We found the Travelodge, checked in, dumped our bags and bikes and went to find SimonO in a local pub. We had lots of cycle chat, some ok food and compared notes on leg shaving techniques (yes, I have done mine).

We were up on Sunday morning at 4:30 and feeling rough. As it was so early and a Travelodge, we had to settle of cold food and no porridge. I had oat cakes, jam, malt loaf and weak coffee and Ed had malt loaf and cold rice pudding (see picture). It wasn't ideal. We got to the start at 5:30, registered and after Ed faffed around for a while, we met SimonO and set off at 6:30.

The first 20 miles were hell. I couldn't get in my stride and was continually fighting to stay with Ed and Simon. They always seemed to be 200 yards ahead. I told Ed to go on without me but he said no, it was fine. But I knew if I didn't get any better, it would be a very long day.

The road was up and down from the word go. Unlike the Fred, there weren't obvious hills like Newlands or Kirkstone but it was certainly going up. There was a great downhill at around 25km with a big horse-shoe decent around a valley where we must have been above 40mph for a long time. This did lift my spirits a bit. Then, a while later we ended up in a group of about 20 riders and formed a really quick train. I get such a buzz out of this and I did start to have a bit of fun.

The large group of riders came to a town and it appeared that a lot of them had done the ride last year. This made them question a turning in the town and they decided to follow last years route and ignore the sign. We blindly followed them but I had my doubts as we crossed a roundabout with no signs. A few of us decided to turn back and I thought Ed and Simon were with me. Ed was behind me but after a mile we realised Simon wasn't. We presumed he had gone on with the main group but it turned out later he had followed but couldn't bridge the gap to rejoin us. He was pissed that we didn't wait and rightly so but we just didn't think he was behind us. We did most of the 150 miles alone and is still not a happy bunny. Sorry Simon.

Miles 50 to 80 did pass quite quickly. I switched my computer display away from distance so I wouldn't obsess about it which helped. I didn't find the scenery all that great but maybe that was the drizzle. In spite of all the forecasts of a dry day, it rained on and off with some heavy spells and soaked everyone. The highlight of this section was Ed and I being joined by two other riders. We did bit-and-bit for about 10 miles at a cracking pace. He did do it backwards with the most guilty person sprinting to the front to take their turn. I really loved being on the front doing 28 mph on the flat. Superb.

Miles 80 to 100 were uneventful and we were surprised we had climbed over 8,000 feet as we got to feed station 3. We were warned of a big hill around the corner so had a couple of sandwiches and some soup to warm us up.

It was a big hill. Bwlch y Groes is the highest pass in Wales at nearly 2,000 ft and it is a monster. Its about 12km long but I think that hard but is no more than half that. Its main problem is that you can see it all in front of you. It just seems to go on and on. Its mostly over 15% with a flatter section in the middle and then it ramps up to over 20% for a long time at the end. Ed went off as usual and I thought I saw him go over the top which was depressing as I was only half way up. However, as I got a bit further, there he was, having a rest. I couldn't help feeling a bit pleased that he is human after all. I stopped as well for a couple of minutes and then went again. I tried to get all the way up without stopping but it was so brutal. I stopped once more before making it over the top. Out of the 40 riders around us, only 2 made it all the way up in one go and they were supremely fit. I know SimonO doesn't agree but I think its harder than Hardknott because its so long.

One more big hill and then another feed stop at 130 miles. There was still 20 miles to go and I knew we had the Stingers still to do. These were lots of small climbs that really broke up your pace and were demoralising when you are so tired. I eventually saw the 5 miles to go sign and it was mostly down hill to Ruthin. I was so happy to be able to stop cycling and chuffed at 150 miles on the clock.

Distance: 150 miles (241 kms)
Ride Time: 9:45:02
Total Time: 10:37:17
Max Speed: 50.1 mph
Ascent: 16,594 feet (5,057 meters)
Average Cadence: 76
Average Heart Rate: 148
Max Heart Rate: 178
My placing: 71st
Signed up for race: 359
Finishers: 188
First place: 8:52:53
Last finisher: 14:27:19
Nutrition: High5 4:1 (5 bottles), Torq (1 bottle), Nuun tablets (2), Gels (2), Ride Shots (2 packs), Clif Blocks (1 pack), Clif Bar (1), Viper Bar (1), Ham Sandwich (1) and Tuna Sandwich (1).
Calories Used: 7,500 (MapMyRide estimate)

Friday, 19 June 2009

Pre Race Report

Later today, I shall be driving the 220 miles from my house to Ruthin in Wales for the Dave Lloyd Mega Challenge. It is 150 miles with over 5,000 metres of climbing around the beautiful hills of North Wales.

We are staying on Saturday night in a Travel Lodge and then its up early for the 6am start and 150 grueling miles. Then its back in the car for the long journey home. Red Bull and espressos needed.

I'm not looking forward to it that much. I'm not feeling great at the moment. The training has been going ok but the diet is again terrible. I just can't do it. And 150 miles seems such a long way.

I better get packing. The weather report is good at the moment but I better plan for all eventualities.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Cycles Dauphin

Today I went to Box Hill to visit Cycles Dauphin for my bike fitting appointment. I had previously had to cancel it because my daughter Yvette got chicken pox. They were very good about it and just arranged another date for me.

I'd didn't really know what to expect from the session. For £70 I would get a couple of hours with Stuart and receive the sum of his cycling wisdom. I could have paid more and gone to CycleFit or another company for a more HiTech version but I wanted more of a personal touch (and it was cheaper). The main thing I wanted was to get rid of my knee and quad pain. I have been stretching, using the foam roller and having sports massage for a couple of months now and the pain wasn't going away much so I needed to rule out the bike as a cause.

Firstly, I talked myself into a new pair of shoes. I didn't really need them but my dhb shoes were a year old and looking like they were older. I started with a budget of £100 which moved to £150 and then to a pair of white 2009 Sidi road shoes. They were lovely. Then I was shown a pair of last years Ergo 2s. They were basically the same as this years Ergo 2 which are the top of the range at £250 but these were cheaper. Gulp. I have no will power and said yes but they do look good.

Next it was the fitting. My bike was put on the turbo trainer and we spent the next 90 minutes looking at my position, measuring, changing things and seeing how it felt. My seat was about the right height but it was too far forward. It was put back and more power was then being sent down through the pedals. I got to use my natural advantage - big thighs.

Then the cleat position was sorted. Stuart noted that my heels do come up when I pedal but its a common problem. I'll try to concentrate on keeping them down. He then said that my reach to the bars was too far, especially given my inflexible back, my seat being further back and my long dipping bars. We exchange the bars for flatter, shorter ones which really helped. He did suggest a shorter stem but said that it shouldn't be changed yet. Given the 150 miles I have to ride on Sunday, too much change might result in a painful 11 hours as I get used to the new position.

So with new tape added to the new bars, I was all set. After paying (so much for my savings) I cycled the 20 miles home and the new position felt odd but good. Its hard to say as my knee pain comes and goes but it felt really good. Sunday will be the true test. My shoes felt good but the right one was pinching. I'm prepared to put it down to them being new or that I had them too tight.

Apart from a flat on the way home, it was a good day. I have to say what a superb shop Cycles Dauphin is. Stuart could not have been nicer and would have spent all day sorting my bike out had he needed too. He also seemed to really know his stuff without being pompous. He never once made me feel like I was an idiot for riding on my current setup for 12 months. The shop is also well stocked with some beautiful bikes and all the gear you could need. If you live anywhere near the shop, please use it. You won't find a more helpful bunch anywhere.

Monday, 15 June 2009


OK, so I'm finally on-board with Twitter. I resisted for a while as I didn't want more things to read and write but I gave it a go last night and now I have caught up with the modern world.

I am: RideandRunSimon

If you do follow, don't expect much. I don't really know what to do with it and what its for but I'll try it for a few weeks.

Centre Parks

I had a really great time at Centre Parks in Longleat this weekend. It was helped by great weather and going with our good friends. We ate well, cycled, swam, played badminton and crown green bowling, had a BBQ, climbed trees, played on the beach and fed the ducks.

I was sceptical about the place before I went but came away with nothing but good things to say about it. It was full yet you never felt surrounded by people. In the chalets it was quite and peaceful. We were lucky that we got a last minute deal so it wasn't too expensive as I hear it is normally quite dear.

As for exercise, we cycled everywhere around the complex. I pulled Yvette in a "pod" trailer which is great fun but hard work. I got to the gym on Saturday to do 20 miles on the bike, loads of stretching, some upper body weights and a go on the rowing machine.

On Sunday I was destroyed by my mate Alex during a game of badminton. 21-11, 21-10 and 21-8 but it was still really enjoyable. I got in some more stretching and also went on a 90 minute ride on my own around the complex. Not the most fun route but it was great weather and I had some podcasts to catch up on.

Now its a tricky week leading up to the 150 miles of the Dave Lloyd Mega Challenge on Sunday. Lots of rest, early nights and stretching.

Thursday, 11 June 2009


This weekend I'm off to Centre Parks with the family and some friends and their children so no long rides on Saturday and Sunday. I am hiring a mountain bike and intend to get a ride in on my own both mornings as well as a ride with the family but I had to get some other miles in.

On Thursday I did a 9 mile warm up to Richmond Park, then 7 laps of the 6.7 mile circuit before a slow 6 miles home. Most of my laps were around 17.5 mph which I was pleased with. Going anti-clockwise it was one longish hill and one short one. Nothing too bad but enough to reduce your average. I did try one fast lap where I went for it and got round with a 18.9mph average.

Looking at the profile from my Garmin, it does show how accurate it is. Each lap is spot on.

Distance: 62.29 miles
Time: 3:37:21
Average: 17.2 mph
Ascent: 3100 feet
Max Speed: 38.7 mph
Nutrition: 2 bottles of water and 1 Clif Bar.

Friday was a quick ride out. 29 miles in a couple of hours. A slow start through Chelsea and Parsons Green and then on to Prolouge bike shop. I went in for some new cleats and came out with new gloves and no cleats. The padding in my old gloves had worn down and I was getting a bit of Ulna pain on longer rides. The new Pearl Izumi red gloves have loads of padding.

Then into Richmond Park for more laps and 6 reps of Bloomfield Hill. I sat down on all the reps and tried to go at a high cadence in a gear 3 or 4 from the top. Short sharp hard work.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Stroppy cyclist

Normally while cycling around London its car drivers, bus drivers and motorcyclists that I have cause to complain about but today, it was a cyclist. As I cycled across Battersea Bridge on the way to Chelsea hospital (nothing serious, just getting my varicose veins looked at) I came to a bus that was just to close to the kerb to pass. I made the judgement that it was to narrow to squeeze through so I waited.

If I had been in a hurry I might have tried to overtake the bus but I had plenty of time to spare so I just waited. Then, I hear a girl shouting at me. I turn around and see a women aged round 30 on a bike behind me and she tells me to get a move on. I say the gap is too small but she tells me to get out of the way so she can go through.

Given her abrasive nature, I decided I wasn't going anywhere so told her to wait nicely in the queue. She muttered under her breathe at me and went around me and the bus. I shouted after her to be careful and not get herself killed.

I don't know what was making her so moody. I was past the bus safely in another minute and she had only got slightly ahead of me. This shows that a lot of cyclists are very impatient and feel that waiting is somehow not what they do. Cars should wait, buses should wait but cyclists can do what they want in order to keep moving.

I also remember reading that a very high proportion of cycling accidents are caused by riders going on the inside of large vehicles like buses and then getting squashed against railings or as the vehicle turns left. So I now only undertake if there is plenty of room or the vehicle is completely static.
So lets all be careful out there.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Wet , long and hilly

In spite of my nerves, I completed a good long ride today. It didn't go exactly to plan as the first half of the ride took longer than expected and I realised I couldn't safely complete the full route and get home for 5pm. So I had to say goodbye to Ed at just over half way as he manfully did the full course and got the train home where as I went off and did a different route and rode home. I did 107 instead of 130 miles and about 11,000 feet ascent instead of the 14,000 or 15,000 for the full course and I made it home for 4:30pm.

I was annoyed I didn't finish the full route but its still a good ride and all good training. I'll find a way to do that extra 23 miles and 3,000 feet this week.

Another century completed. My fifth century of the year
Over 11,000 feet of climb
Rode well up the hills
Felt good until about 70 miles
Had two GO gels and thought they were ok
Got to cycle with Clive for the first time
Rain jacket is waterproof

Didn't finish the 130 mile route
Missed out on 4 or 5 big hills
Knee hurt more as the ride went on
Was very tired as I rode the last few miles
It was miserable and wet for most of the ride

Friday, 5 June 2009

Pre Match Nerves

I have a 130 mile ride scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday) and I'm really nervous. I'm not sure why. You would have thought the Fred Whitton success would have given me the confidence to conquer anything but I feel like I've lost my bottle. It feels like such a mammoth challenge.

I suppose I better get all the sleep I can. Up at 6:30, train from Clapham Junction to Clandon and then straight up the first of many many hills. At least the weather looks like it has improved. It was meant to rain.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Monthly Stats - May 2009

Another month gone and less that 50 days until the Etape. I can't quite believe it. A good month. I made my main target which was the 600 miles.

Its the 6th month in a row where I've done more miles than the previous one. Its a pleasing trend and I hope it continues next month.

My running is a distraction at the moment. It seems to aggravate my quad pain but I'm loathed to discard it completely but its the right thing to do.

May Goals (5 pass, 3 fail)
Do over 600 miles cycling - PASS (602 miles)
Do over 30 miles running - FAIL (24.2 miles)
Complete 85% of my planned training sessions - PASS (95%)
Complete the Fred Whitton in under 9:00 - PASS (8:53)
Complete the Fred Whitton without walking - PASS
Complete the 20km de Bruxelles in under 1:40 - FAIL (1:54 - No where near)
Break 5K PB in under 22 minutes - FAIL (Did not attempt)
Average 19 mph for 1 hour - PASS (19.1 during the 73 miler on the 24th)

June Goals
Do over 700 miles cycling
Complete 85% of my planned training sessions
Complete Ed's mad 130 mile route in the Surrey Hills
Complete the Dave Lloyd Mega Challenge (150) in under 11 hours
Complete the Dartmoor Classic (104) in under 7.5 hours

I have no running goals this month. If I do any running its a bonus. Its my final month before the Etape so must be all about the cycling.