Sunday, October 21, 2012

Bad blogger!

I am ashamed at how long it is since I last blogged. I think some of the impetus to blog left me after the Lighthouse to Lighthouse ride. Until then I was very focused with the riding and blogging to make sure that those who had sponsored me got something for their cash. Since then riding has become much more about me and my desires rather than keeping all you out there abreast of my cycling exploits. I agree, it's a pretty feeble excuse.
And, while this blog will be more of a personal diary I'm determined to keep it current. Starting now.

Catch up

So, what have I been doing since August. The short answer is some cycling, some golfing and I even went on holiday. I've also set a couple of cycling challenges to keep me turning the pedals until I think of something really stupid to do. You may consider one of these challenges really stupid anyway. They are
  • To get my road bike up to 5000 miles covered before the end of 2012
  • Ride 200 miles in one day sometime next summer
When I started set the first of these I had 1000 miles to go. And with some holidays and some slack built in that means I have to ride 80 miles or so every week to make the target. You can track my progress with this link: 1000 mile challenge. If you want...
The second challenge is pretty much firmed up but I need to work a little on the route. When that is confirmed in my mind I'll create a page much like the one for the lighthouse ride and the you can see it in all it's glory. As a teaser I'll say this. 200 miles in one day doesn't scare me per se but the terrain I wish to cover is giving me pause for thought. And I suspect that it will require some hard work on my part.
Both of these challenges are for my pleasure only, no charity calls this year or for the foreseeable future for that matter. I feel quite strongly that one should only ask people to donate for sponsored events every now and again. Otherwise these things become less special and the opportunity to effectively promote the charity loses its effectiveness. I'll climb back off my soap box now.

Vic's Century

I have no intention of boring you with details of all the rides I've done since last blogging but one deserves a small write up. My colleague, and friend, Vic was keen to ride a 100 miles so we did. To put this in some perspective Vic commutes 20 miles every day but only rides longer distances very occasionally. Usually with me when I drag him out so I can get some company. For all that he always rides well and climbs far better than me. Mostly due to differing body make-up. He is lean and lithe whereas, to put it politely, I am not.
The route was left to me. That was Vic's mistake. Mine was picking this route. I decide to use the excuse of having company to do a little exploring further afield. So we crossed the Tay and enjoyed the flat roads across to St. Maddoes. Then a steep, vicious but ultimately rewarding climb from Glen Carse to above Perth. I wish I'd taken a photo of the view across the Friarton bridge but this day was photo-free. I hope this view courtesy of Google Maps shows adequately what you missed.

From there we went on through Perth with a shocking loss and regain of hard-earned height required. The exist from the city saw us climbing up Necessity Brae. It may have been necessary but did it have to be so steep.
What followed was a lovely ride across rolling terrain towards Dunning with the only niggle being the stiff breeze in our faces. This had been with us since we crossed the Tay but we knew (or at least I knew - Vic was on a bit of a magical mystery tour) once we got to Dunning we would at least not be riding into the wind for most of the rest of the trip.
That may have been true but I had picked the hardest way out of Dunning. I blame the Kinross Sportive. Their route descriptions mention this hill in particular and it had been on my list of things to do for a while. I actually thought I was gong to have to get off and walk and it wasn't helped when another cyclist breezed past me as if I wasn't moving at all. Or the fact that Vic was up the road as well. Still, I got to the top even if my bike did try and do a couple of wheelies on the way. Scary. I must remember to keep some weight over the front wheel. After the hill we some pleasant miles across the top, a sharp descent and then another wee climb.
Then we had a maintenance issue. Right at the high point of our ride Vic noticed he had a flat. His spare inner tube was a repair job too so I gave him a fresh one and using my pump we had him back on the road. I wish I could say it took us no time but that would be stretching the truth. I think it cost us about 20 minutes. It's amazing how you cool down when you've just got lycra on. The descent to Milnathort soon warmed us up and I was back to familiar roads.
And flatter ones too. Even the road through Glenfarg felt relatively flat after our earlier efforts. From there we cycled to Newburgh and stopped at the cafe at the garage. Having now tried this establishment I can heartily recommend it. The coffee was good, the cake even better. Suitably refreshed we headed over to Freuchie, with a little detour to make sure of the 100 miles for Vic; he was delighted at a mile or so into the wind again. And then we wended our way back to Cupar where I dropped him off. I had the last few miles on my own as he had at the start of his day. I got home after a great day in saddle.
Riding alone is great but company, especially on days like this, and company this good is special too. When you're ready Vic, let's do it again.

This weekend

I came back from holiday this week somewhat relaxed but also suffering from a nasty cold. So the week's riding didn't really go to plan. I got to Friday with nothing on the board. Having fitted the mudguards during the week I decided Friday should be a shake down ride just to see how the bike was and how I was faring as well. It also meant that if I got a few miles in the I wouldn't necessarily need to ride both days on the weekend to get my 80 in.
Friday was supposed to be nice but it didn't work out that way. So 20-ish local miles in the dark and drizzle. Not helped by the previous week's rain that has left big puddles, mud, gravel and worse on the roads. Both me and the bike passed the test and I was back on track.

Again the forecast for Saturday was for a dry cloudy day. I set out with the idea of covering just over 60 miles thus fulfilling my quota and perhaps leaving Sunday free for some golf. Or lying about. Imagine my surprise therefore on getting to Elie to see the mist well and truly down on the hills above. I was glad to have both front and rear lights attached.
I had a new hill to try and I headed for it. This was where I got my first real look at the damage that has been done by the recent rains. Large lumps of tarmac about 2 inches deep and 9 inches square were lying in the middle of the road along with lots of smaller lumps an inch to a couple of inches across. Now you need to imagine the potholes required to generate this debris. I was lucky that this hill is a really quiet back road and I was able to pick my way up using all the available width. At one point my best route was up the opposite gutter where the water was running freely. I guess it had cleared out the rubbish. And at another point I came up to a corner where I couldn't tell where the road was going to go because rubble stretched right across the road and a bit up the next rise.
It was an interesting ascent. On the plus side I wasn't really worrying about my performance. HR? Cadence? Speed? Gear? All went by the way side as I tried to keep the tyres from the worst of the conditions. At the top I was glad to have got up without a puncture.
My route took me back down to Upper Largo where I was supposed to be trying another new climb on another back road. I got there to find it was closed. Oh joy! Considering my options I plumped for going back up what I'd just come down. At least I knew it was clear. For the rest of the ride I tried to keep to bigger roads and apart from one small section just out side Largoward the roads weren't too bad.
I think the surfaces and constant route revisions took their toll as did my cold so in the end I cut my ride short and headed back home from Pitscottie. I didn't like this decision as it meant I would have to ride on Sunday as well so, in an attempt to minimise the next day's endeavours, I took a slightly longer way home and then rode a little circuit from St. Andrews to Strathkinness to break the 50 mile barrier. How sad am I?

With no surprise I woke on Sunday to find sunshine, no wind and absolutely no sign of the forecast fog. Still, it made riding far easier. I decide to ride the end of the planned route for Saturday. This should have been the climb from Pitscottie to Peat Inn followed by a ride across to Dunino and then home. My only issue was how to get there. In the end I decided on the simple ride to Pitscottie followed by a wee loop to Cupar and Ceres before setting off on the main event of the day.
With the tank being fairly empty it was easy gears on all the slopes up this stepped climb in an attempt to make it as easy for my legs, lungs and heart as possible. It turned out to be a great tactic as I got to Peat Inn feeling great. And from there the ride is mostly downhill. And fast on good roads. Fun, fun, fun.

Not a bad weekend in the end and I have to be pleased getting 100 miles. Just the act of getting back on the bike after some lean weeks has given me a much needed boost of enthusiasm. A bit like getting back to writing the blog!

Idiot Road User of the Day

Whilst I have lots of these for the intervening rides since I last pointed the finger there is a clear winner this week. And I'm afraid to say that it is me. Again!

They say familiarity breeds contempt. For me that was very true today. I'll see if I can paint the picture. I was coming up the tail of a Y junction which is served by a roundabout. I was intending to go up the right hand arm and had right of way from the cars coming down the left hand one. There were three cars, one of was already on the roundabout, so I was checking the others to see if they were going to stop while signalling and checking that the car behind me was not going to anything stupid. My error? It was only at the last second that I realised the first car from the left hand arm was going all the way round the round about and back to where they had come from. Some very fast avoiding action took me up the left hand arm followed by the car who quite rightly gave me the horn. In my defence I had already waved an apology and did so again. I'm sure I won't be making that mistake again. Live and learn. Quickly!
Hopefully anyone reading this will also learn and not make the same mistake I did. It could have been so much worse.

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