Sunday, 22 June 2008

Quiet week

Made the numpty error of not setting my saddle height properly last weekend, so I've had sore knees all week :( consequently haven't done much fun stuff.

Still, I'm getting over it. Jogged over t'Beacon tonight and met Matt there for some climbing/ddringo/bouldering (haven't learnt the welsh for that yet). That was fun, plus I got some useful tips on all the stuff I'm doing wrong :)

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

The 3 Peaks (by road)

Went to Bentham at the weekend for what would have been Dad’s birthday, popped out on the road bike for a couple of hours – 58km.

Spent Sunday morning driving home listening to Humphrey Littleton tributes on radio 4. Managed to get to the Beacon for about 90 mins of bouldering fun on the greens and blues. Knees don’t feel right, probably need to stretch more/differently.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Still tired, just less so.

Took Pippa for a 25 min power walk.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Nordic dog walk

Been feeling quite tired since the 1000M peaks - coincidence? Maybe...
Any road, took Pippa for a power walk up Cefn Du tonight - me with walking poles, powering along in a Nordic style, yes? Pippa didn't really embrace the whole Nordic mood, but seemed to have fun in her own way. Wasn't really paying attention, but it was proably about 45 mins. Surprised at how fast you move (compared to say, walking) and it felt like a reasonable workout for someone that didn't feel like running and can't take the dog for a bike ride.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Welsh 1000M Peaks race

Before I say anything I should say a big 'Thank you' to Club Gorphwysfa for organising another great race.

Weather forcast was looking good - barely any wind, 17°C with broken cloud at 900m. It felt pretty hot when we set off from Abergwyngregan at 9.30am and I was sweating more than you'd want to, despite starting out at a very steady pace. Got to the sheepfold above the falls and was dissapointed to see a line of people heading up the gully that I'd found with Justin and Emlyn a few weeks before - that was meant to be my secret route. Approaching Bera Bach it was apparent that the cloud was down to about 800m, which made navigation interesting/pot-luck. I found myself approaching the main path north of Garnedd Uchaf, which meant I'd gone too far west. I doubled back a bit to contour around the peak and with a bit of luck found my way to Foel Grach, despite a few anxious "where the **** am I?" moments. Celebrated with a chocolate brioche and pushed on to the first control on Carnedd Llewelyn.
I'm sure I stayed too high and missed the best line on the approach to Carnedd Dafydd, fumbling across the rocks where I'm sure there was a faster route a bit further south. It's all well and good going out to recce the route on a clear day, but it all goes to pot in the mist. Nevermind.
Coming off Dafydd I stayed high on a nice trod path and then cut straight down to the checkpoint at the wall, the marshalls there thought my route choice was bobbins, but what do they know, eh?
Grabbed a couple of Jelly babies at the unofficial feed station at Llyn Llugwy and had a couple of cups of juice at Ogwen before the slog up again. I could see Emlyn Roberts about a minute ahead of me but I couldn't close the gap and as I got further up Nicky Spinks and then Hannah Toberman passed me. I took solace in another brioche and plodded on.
Felt vaguely guilty about passing Hannah on the way down the hideous Miners track towards Pen y Gwryd, but felt good to be running instead of hobbling like last year.
I was feeling OK at Pen y Pass and as we headed up the Pyg track I had a Power gel and actually passed someone! I could see I was gaining on Emlyn too and passed him before the Crib Goch turn. Obviously the place was full of oblivious walkers and I soon got bored of being polite - saying "Excuse me" just seemed to provoke them to startled and irrational movements so I took to just nipping past them where I could. That bloody Hannah passed me again before the finger stone though. I was strugling to run up any incline now, but I could still manage a bit of speed coming off Garnedd Ugain and tried to run the final ascent to Yr Yddfa, couldn't quite pull it off though.

It was nice to finish and I could still speak, unlike last year. Shared congratulations with Hannah and Emlyn and got off the summit sharpish as it was too cold to hang around.
5:14:17 - I said at the start that an optimistic goal was 5:15 and I made it, so was happy with that. 46 mins quicker than last year - and I gained one place (33rd instead of 34th!).

Went for a short ride on Cefn Du the next day, legs felt OK but reactions and coordination had completely deserted me. Tiredness will do that.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Vaujany mini duathlon

Went out for a run this morning to make sure I could still do it, went up the road to villete and took a path for the Col du Sabot. It all got a bit vague higher up with some interesting water crossings - there's still lots of snow melt coming down I guess. Ended up on the tarmac road for a bit, considering whether it would be rideable, but nearer the top it was covered in snow, so that ruled out that idea. Went off-road again and stopped when I hit a blanket of snow about 10m below the Col, considered going on, but reasoned it wasn't worth the risk of taking a slip on the snow.
1250m - 2100m, 1h45.

So, for the afternoon's fun I went out on the bike with Wendy to go to la Poste in Bourg d'Oisans. A nice easy spin on the way down and on the way back - until you get to Allemont where it all gets a bit steep for the last 6km or so - steeper than Alpe d'Huez, but a lot shorter. 2 hour round trip and home for tea and cake :)

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Alpe d'Huez

me & Wendy started at Allemont after a visit to the Boulangerie for Pain au Raisin, trundled down to Bourg d'Oisans to get some tubes from the nice bike shop and then settled in for 15km of climbing up 21 hairpin bends - you gotta love it!
Decided there was no point trying to ride it together so we just went at our own pace. Had my picture taken twice - the photographers then run after you and stuff a business card in your back pocket! also saw the Francais des Jeux pro team out training - they were coming down as we were going up. Have to say that it wasn't very painful, just about 80 mins of riding uphill, but it's not very steep. Faffed around a bit at the top then came back along the balcony road via Villard Reculas to Allemont, which was a great way to descend.
Had a monster baguette when we got back and then I went out and spent about an hour playing on the Vaujany climbing wall.
A pretty good day (again).

Monday, 2 June 2008

Challenge Dauphine Libere

Preparation is key for a cycle sportive like this. So, the day before the event (in the Vercours, near Grenoble, France) I fly from Liverpool to Geneva, only I don't, there's debris on the runway at Geneva so we divert to Lyon, where a bus will then take us to Geneva. It's just that sister Wendy is due to arrive in Geneva later in the evening, I'm thinking that if her flight is also diverted to Lyon, the last place I want to be is Geneva. Call macpuppy (our man in Vercours) who is going to meet us in Geneva, he's been in bed all day with a virus, the last thing he wants to do is drive to Geneva. So I get on a bus to Grenoble, sick macpuppy meets me there and we drive to Geneva to meet Wendy's (late) flight, there's just enough time to fit some new tyres (my, they were a tight fit) and get something to eat, except everywhere's closed, get back to macpuppy's kennel at around 2am, when I start building my bike. Oh, I've only eaten a baguette in the last 12 hours too. Get to bed at 3.15am, get up at 6.45am to make the registration cut-off at 8am. Like I said, it's all in the preparation.

Mass start, 900 riders, lead-out car, motor cyclists, it's quite a spectacle. Macpuppy skids on some gravel but keeps upright and we settle into the first climb of the day. It's long and steady. Very long and steady. Back tyre feels a bit soft- PUNCTURE! Tant pis!
Those new tyres I fitted are tough to get off the rim, but eventually I get the tube changed, why won't it inflate though? Can't figure out what's going on, decide to take the new tube out to sort it out. This takes some time - did I mention that the tyre was a bit tight? - but I now see that the valve is kaput. So, patch the original tube put it back in, wrestle the tyre back on (this time it took 2 pairs of hands - a cycle tourist had stopped to watch the comedy) and I'm back on the bike. This whole episode took about 50 - 55 mins. That's right. I am now the 'lantern rouge' and am praying that they haven't packed up the first feed station by the time I get there. They haven't and I grab some sausicon, cake and brioche and get going. Still haven't passed any riders, it's going to be a lonely ride.
Over the first Col and down the other side, I've passed about 3 riders but there's no one else in sight. At the 2nd revaitailment there's maybe 6 riders hanging around, I just grab food and get going, to see if I can catch up with Wendy and macpuppy (or, indeed, anyone). After Villard de Rouset the signs tell me it's 12km to the Col, and once it starts to ramp up I start to catch a few stragglers. At the turn off for the 173km route I'm way after the cut-off time and anyway I couldn't face the thought of another puncture with no-one to hear me scream, so it's now a 70km time trial back to Autrans. At the 100km mark I think I spy Wendy ahead, yay! Macpuppy's not too much further up the road so for the next 10 km we sort of ride together, regrouping at the top of each climb. There's a fantastic gorge, the rock overhanging the road and raining water down on us, then with 10 km to go Macpuppy starts to fly. I try to stick with him but I can't and the gap opens up - with 5km to go he must be a good 200m ahead of me but I get a second wind and stamp on the pedals to see if I can reel him back. No chance!
Finished in just under 6 hours, the GPS says less than 5 hours riding.

483rd out of 500. It's a different story in France. It's not that the hills are tougher, I mean they go on a bit, but there was nothing very steep, it's just that people seem to take it much more seriously and the general standard of riders is much higher than the UK. The standard of the feed stations is incredible too. Bravo!