Google+ Followers

Friday, June 28, 2013

Ride London - The Reprieve

When it was announced that there was going to be a large closed road sportive in London.
I started to salivate.
In the way that I do when I smell chocolate or see a Colnago.
When it further stated that it would principally follow the 2012 Olympic Course, I shook with excitement.
Unfortunately due to the success of our Olympic Track Cyclists and the Holy cycling road trinity of Brad Froomy and Cav, everyone who seemed to own a bike applied for the restricted 20,000 places.

Because of the anticipated demand participants were chosen through a ballot.
despite all fingers and Toes crossed and a tri[p to yonder Moor to obtain some lucky heather 
I did not get in, along with all of the other Anglo Mules.

Even though we rejoiced at the fact that all of the American Mules were accepted, we all were envious (the understatement of this and the other 52 years of my existence)
Nevertheless we still decided that we would go to London and support them in any way that we could.

During the spring British Cycling contacted our club and asked us if we would be interested in applying for the same event as a club team with four riders.
I could only imagine that a large percentage of people who were offered of places realised that they:-
1. Did not have a bicycle
2. Did not know how to cycle
3. Realised that the 4 hrs predicted time for the event would be exposed
5. That they did not fancy the commitment of training.

Regardless of the reasons I was overjoyed at the prospect of a second bite of the velocherry.
It was easy to get four club members and as we waited to find out plans were drawn up for the route and the event was really taking shape.

Believing that it was fate I trained as I have never trained, getting lighter, faster, fitter and with a resolve that could move the south downs themselves.
Finding out that I had got a place was the highlight of my year which is only likely to be surpassed by taking part.
as we Mules say EEEEEEEEEEEAAAWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!

I have had the good fortune to take part in large Sportives in the USA where it is not uncommon to be in a Paceline of over one hundred riders.
To have 20,000 riders in this country is about 5 times greater than the biggest Sportive ever held.
For those taking part it will be amazing.
Having lived in London I know the landmarks on the Route, I just hope that riders are attentive because there will be visual distractions around every corner.
Knowing the British public I also envisage big crowds and see the whole event as a landmark in Cycling history, and something I expect to see mirrored in other cities around the world..
I feel privileged to say I am riding.
Today I recieved my start time of 06:58.
Very Precise..........very British.......I like that.
If it were in Paris it would be 'Plus tard ce matin'

When I finally go down the Mall, even if I have to carry a broken bike.
I am sure there may be a tear and maybe some British Ale to toast the Queen.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Elevation - I can climb

Five years ago I ventured out one early spring morning.
It was a Sunday, and so early that nocturnal revelers looked at me quizzically as I strapped my cycle to the rack on the the rear of my car.
There had been a hard frost and even with a double layer of socks, I still worried about how cold my feet would be.
After thirty miles into my first ever sportive the temperature of my feet was the least of my worries as I was confronted by Mow Cop.
The mile leading up to this ridiculously steep gradient had already taken its toll and I had enough lactic acid in my legs to bottle it.
I was finished and stopped.........the excuse to Simon, my fellow rider was that others were falling like flies directly in front of me.
I argued that their inconsiderate tumbles onto the sloping tarmac presented me with too demanding a technical challenge.
Especially when cycling at 4mph.
Although this was true, the reason I got off and pushed was simply because I was not good enough.

Mow Cop
As I pushed my cycle up that hill, along with 50% of the other participants, I looked enviously at the ones who made it.
I later saw them queueing up for their medals at conquering such a beast.
I wanted one.

That day was the start of my love-hate relationship with climbing.
There is no greater sense of achievement in life when you reach your summit.
In cycling you get to do that every time you go out.
And on reaching the top you get a double treat - The Descent
The thrill of the fair, with no queues, or cost or a nagging child demanding some candyfloss.

Although I love climbing, the hills don't like me, and they try to knock me out of my stride.
Being a classic Endomorph my body type is not equipped to go up slopes.
Gravity and my genes gang up and conspire against me.
It is said that climbing never gets just get faster.
I never wanted it to be easy, but I there is tough and there is............. tough.
I stoped wearing a heart rate monitor as I did not want to be frightened at what it displayed.

Up to a 5% gradient I would still be able to ride in a way that resembles a cyclist, over that it all got messy.
I would turn into a tormented beast, haunched over my bike as it it were the axe mans block. 

Of course I know that being lighter makes it easier, and as each season progresses I do get lighter.
I could even say that towards the end of each season I temporarily become a 'Puncheur' .
Just able to power up the short, steep climbs and enable my fellow riders to not have to wait so long at the top of the longer and steeper climbs.

Having got 100 greatest cycling Climbs as a present I often looked at the iconic list and dreamed of being a climber. To tap out a rhythm up each ascent like Mario Cippolini

The attraction of climbing is a very British thing, we may not have the alps but we do have some very extreme gradients. Whilst alpine roads meander up the sides of valleys using switchbacks - Ours just go straight up.
Traditionally at the end of each cycling season clubs around the country hold Hill climbing events, the oldest being the famous Catford hill climb originating in 1887.
Another famous ascent for hill climbing is the spectacular Winnats Pass in Derbyshire.
Climbing Race on Winnats Pass
This old Black and White Photo could easily be mistaken from some alpine pass on the Tour de France.

This March when winter still held us in its icy grip I went to a cycle coaching session being held by a local cycling coach Adam HARDY
The evening changed my cycling life!!!!!!
There was one key message that I got from his presentation.
 When you ride,don't just ride. - Every year I have been riding between 6,000 and 8,000 miles and each year I have got marginally better.
I did not like 'Marginally'

Adams message was to look at what you do, to have an aim for each ride ie:- High intensity, climbing, cadence, technique (Never just ride)
He even advocated learning to do bunny hops to jump pot holes when your in a confined space. 

So this year as well as the customary diet I decided to never Just Ride.
High Intensity - Every ride I work to my limit for at least ten minutes. If I don't feel sick I dont consider I have worked hard enough.
Climbing - Pick a steep hill, climb and repeat, and repeat and repeat
High Cadence - Get out of the comfort gear and Spin, teach your legs that whatever their cadence currently is they need to learn to to do better
Technique - My posture is so much better and I can now bunny hop over pot holes.

The results have been amazing.
Over the past month I took on The Richmond Sportive in the Yorkshire Dales and The Tour De Peak in the Peak District - Both Climbing Sportives.
I enjoyed them!!!!!!
My book 100 greatest cycling Climbs now has some new climbs accomlished
The Stang
Tan Hill
Winnatts Pass
Cat and the Fiddle
Winnats Pass
I may never be a climber.........but now I can Climb and can do so with a smile on my face

Climbing Winnats Pass

At top of Cat and the Fiddle
With the cycle season now in full swing, we have still had time for more domestic challenges and trying to promote The Mules Cycling Club.
Wedneday Evenings are attracting double figures with many new faces and a few new bikes promoting some bike envy.

On weekends which are not occupied by Sportives we have been out exploring our own dramatic inclines.
Last weekend we revisited our old friend in Troustsdale (See below)
The 20% accent was conquered by our newest  Mule Manuel (Contador) Duenas.
Manuel is from Spain and discovered the Mules onthe interenet.
He smiled on seeing our club name as apparently in Spain, cyclist call their cycles Mules or Donkeys.

We like this a lot and look forward to having Manuels company on future rides

Manuel and Yours truly