Thursday, March 25, 2010

Yellow is the colour

This week the weather has changed. Gone are the northerly winds, now replaced by winds from the south bringing much milder weather. Although they have brought rain, they have also brought the sort of temperatures that have enabled me to give my legs an airing.
When the rain has stayed off, I have even been tempted remove my bright yellow fluorescent coat. But that would currently spoil natures symmetry.

The roads are now lined with rows of daffodils, nodding away behind the safety of roadside kerbs, like crowds of spectators egging me on towards the finish line.

There has also been a noticeable increase in cycle traffic. Roadies are now out there in abundance showing off this seasons Lycra shirts, and increasing the felling of fellowship.

Whether they are commuting, training or just wanting to fill their lungs with something different from recycled air. I embrace their company.
The racing season has also got underway, along with the indoor world cycling championship.

I am following developments with interest especially the expectations of the new teams from Radioshack with the great man himself, and The British based Team Sky with Bradley Wiggins. One of my other favorites Mark Cavendish (also sporting yellow) has had some early season teething problems, not with his bike, but his actual teeth!!!

However I am pleased to report that he has just captured his first win of the year after sprinting to victory in stage two of the Tour of Catalunya from Salt to Banyoles.
It will be interesting to see who wears the real yellow at the business end of the season.
For me I have 22 days left till I start my big ride, from Houston to Austin and then from Natchez to Nashville. My bag has appeared in my spare room and I have started packing.

I have also started to get some new tunes on my I Pod. Until I started visiting Texas regularly Country Music was alien to me, but now I am a big fan. I am really looking forward to spending a night in Nashville after we finish our ride and having a country music overload.
One of my favorite country bands at the moment is Lady Antebellum

One song I will have to have comes from an entirely different genre.
Being a very poor singer, I have always been attracted to the more simple of songs when i sung to my children. I use the term singing very loosely, but as a father you have to try, anything to send them off to sleep.
Even now my girls remember and say 'Dad' can you remember singing 'colours' to us.
Seeing the daffodils this week brought it all back to me.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Commuting by Bike - The Cycle Gladiator

Usually my lack of blog writing has reflected my general lethargy, where there has been no cycling, and no inspiration.
Now things have gone full circle, lots of cycling and so much to write about its difficult to choose. Last week I managed over 130 miles in lovely weather including a 67 mile jaunt over the Humber bridge to Lincoln for a family mothers day summit meeting.
It was a great ride over the the spine of the Lincolnshire Wolds and although there was a really strong side wind the weather was clear and sunny.
On arriving at my destination the heavens opened, which was a relief.

The weather gods have seemingly got bored with trying to upset me all the time and are now trying to please me, they even provided me with a rainbow on my lift home.
This week I have started commuting to work by bike.
This week I have discharged the shackles of conformity
This week I seek Elysium
It is something I always wanted to do but have been a slave to convention.
Usually when I participate in recreational cycling I feel like a second class citizen on the road.
The bottom of a long list of road users which includes trucks, cars, motorbikes, horses, pram pushing pedestrians and small dogs.

Now I am an urban commuter cyclist I feel like a two wheeled gladiator.
breaking loose, smashing through the lines of traffic like a dodgy curry passing through a fragile digestive tract.
As I wait for the traffic lights to turn to green, I edge forwards in anticipation brushing my over sized calves on vehicular bumpers, claiming my space, whilst staring out drivers like some seasoned warrior.

With my carbon footprint Zero, I puff out my chest in self righteous eco-indignation at my slow moving carbon burning brothers in arms as we all battle to arrive at our respective destinations.
Arriving at my desk I am showered and scented while they are stressed and sweaty.
With nearly a hundred miles completed so far this week I now have choices at the weekend. previously I would have to cycle to get my miles in but now I wont have to.
Instead I can concentrate on quality training rides, hill training, or cycle exploration.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The worlds gone potty

Due my additional cycling I have not yet had time to do my weekly blog......and there is much to say. May have time tomorrow.
So here is a topical article.
Polish roads have the unfortunate reputation for being notoriously potholed, and Krakow is certainly no exception. Now, the city is tackling this widespread problem in a novel way: it is selling it off. Specifically, the city will sell individual potholes, which will then be patched with the donor's name by the city transportation board.

This original approach to road work comes from the German town of Niederzimmern. The city was faced with a lack of funds for fixing the existing roads, so city officials began to sell individual potholes in an attempt to spare the treasury. Each filled pothole was accompanied by a sign stating the name of the individual or company whose funds allowed the restoration of that part of the road. The programme was such a hit that there were even several buyers from outside of Germany
I would be quite happy to buy my own here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

True Blood, Sweat and Toes!!!!

With just over a month away till my mammoth bike ride, I am starting to get quite excited.
From a slow, weather hampered start, my training is now getting more significant and I am actually starting to get some decent early season miles in.
Last week I managed 154 miles and as a bonus all of these miles were completed with full feeling in all of my toes.
So far this week I have done a 43 mile ride and I do believe that beads of perspiration appeared on my forehead, these are all obvious signs of Spring.
I have now told myself that from now until September I have to do at least 100 miles per week.
It should be quite straight forward as next week I start commuting to my new job by bike.

Spring has not only evidenced itself with sweat and warmer toes, but there are now buds, birdsong and brighter longer days. bring it on.
Having completed the Houston to Austin MS 150 on three previous occasions I never really gave myself the opportunity to relax and take it all in. Being part of a fast pace line the majority of my time was taken up looking at a revolving piece of rubber about 18 inches away from me.
This year it will be different, the two days are in reality the first two days of a much bigger 7 day challenge and I intend to take it easy. I want to talk, take pictures and enjoy the camaraderie of 17,000 riders pedaling for a single cause all with a story to tell.
I know i might get some stick from my fellow Mules but Its not about getting to Austin before lunch on Sunday its about getting to Nashville by the following Saturday in one piece.

I have started looking at the map and trying to envisage what the surroundings will be like and then realised that where we start in Natchez its close to the fictional town of Bon Temps in the hit TV series True Blood. Its a massive hit in the UK, I love it. I especially like the stylish opening clips for the show. I have not seen Suki Stackhouse on a bike but she would be welcome to join us.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A bad day in the saddle is better than a good day in the office

(View from top of 'The Devils Chimney')

With my starting a new job next week I had some time owing to me that I needed to use up.
With my big bike adventure next month, I decided to take some time off for cycling.
I took to the bike on Tuesday and Thursday, completing 60 miles and 34 miles.
That's 94 miles before the weekend so progress is really being made now.
Fortunately we have been blessed with fine weather this week although it has been bitterly cold.
Tuesdays flat course was a breeze and I could have completed my first ton of the year if I had set off earlier, I just ran out of daylight.

Thursday was an altogether different story.
After the first few miles I wanted to turn back.
My legs were heavy and I just felt tired.
Things didn't improve and when I started climbing it was slow and cumbersome.
I could almost count the spokes as they turned around slightly faster than the second hand on a clock.
On my way back I came across an old friend.....'The Devils Chimney'
I saw it miles before it noticed me, rearing up from the wold bottom like a frozen wave.
I had not acquainted myself with it this year and certainly did not have any desire to make that today.
The scenario reminded me of my childhood when half way through some car journey we were deviated off course to pop in on relatives or friends of the family.
My mother used to dampen my protestations by saying 'its important to keep good friends'.
Last year when I was in peak fitness I climbed 'The Devils Chimney' five times in a row.
I even stopped at the top to pass the time of day. It was good for me I must admit.
As I got closer I quickened my pace, believing that I could skirt around it without being seen.
As I entered the village of Newbald and onto Trundlegate my presence has highlighted by a startled Pheasant.
The great wold that was 'The Devils Chimney' beckoned me and although it offered no refreshments, kind words, or amusing stories, I fully embraced it.
I could not resist the my mother had said 'Its important to keep good friends'
When I'm struggling from Natchez to Tennessee my leg muscles might just remember this visit. Fingers crossed.