Tuesday, December 17, 2013

My Cycling Hopes for 2014

 Once again the bedrock of my cycling year will be to meet my Cycling Annuity Target  ( see http://thediaryofmybike.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/review-of-year.html for fuller explanation of this ) and cover 2100 km though , as last year, I would hope to exceed this and make 5000 km..

( As an aside it does occur to me, am I in danger of not making 80 years if my allotted total cycling distance is fixed and I am exceeding my annual target :-() )

Last year was dominated by preparing, competing in, and completing the inaugural London 100 and I have to confess that I really enjoyed following a structured daily training plan and pushing myself to new limits.
So this year I have decided on another challenge but it will be far less intensive than last year's effort.
Since reading about the adventures that people have had when touring I have decided to have a go myself. This year's challenge will be to ride Coast to Coast across Britain by the Reivers Route, a distance of about  280km. This time though I am doing it for me and not for any charity.

For the last few years I have also managed to find a cycling contact in a different part of the country and then persuade them to take me on a leisurely ride of about 100 km to explore their homeland. With luck I hope to do this again this coming year.

And so today I have been cleaning and maintaining my Mercian stable in readiness for my cycling adventures in 2014

Monday, December 9, 2013

Review of the Year - 2013

My 2012 Mercian Vincitore Special

First of all, a few basic statistics  because as anyone who reads my posts will know,  I love numbers

Total distance cycled = 6541 km
Total ascent climbed = 48006 m
Total energy burnt    = 144125 Calories
Total time in the saddle = 331 hours

which is pretty much the same as last year, though much of this year's cycling was done at a greatly increased intensity and pace; with the result that I have visited far, far less coffee shops.

But the statistics tell only part of the story, and perhaps a boring part at that.

The cycling year was centred around my challenge to ride with my son, as Team Roberts, in the inaugural Ride London 100 Mile Challenge. Given that I had never completed such a distance before and that it had to be completed in a set time to avoid being pulled from the event, this was all a very daunting challenge for me.

Despite some awful weather for the first 4 months of the year I kept to my training schedule and gradually got stronger and faster so that in the event I managed to complete the course in around 7 hours. This could not have been achieved without the great support I received from my friends, both new and old, in the cycling community. We used the event to promote and support the mental health charity Mind and raised almost £3000 for their cause. Much of this came from offering a Cycling Food on the Go Recipe booklet which contain favourite recipes complete with stories as to why they were special. These were freely given by a peloton of lady cyclists from across the world.  A big thanks to you all.

Each year I attempt to visit a new part of the country and explore it by bike. This year a new friend invited me to Rutland to explore its beauty. It was a boiling hot day and I ran out of both food and liquid after about 30 km of a 100 km ride. I will be eternally grateful to Kevin for looking after me, towing me along and even volunteering to park me whist he got a broom wagon to take me to the finish. I refused that offer and suffered but I learnt never to go out without sufficient supplies again.

My other aim this year was to take a series of  mono photographs to try and capture the essence of my cycling year and to act as a reminder in years to come. I have taken many images, but the aim was to distil it down to a panel of six, and here they are :-

The whole cycling year has been aimed at completing the challenge of riding the inaugraul London 100 with my son

The year got off to a very cold and snowy start. This is a picture of Cycle Route N68,  a track close to my home and at the beginning of my winter rides

With the weather continuing to remain foul and my fitness still at a low ebb for such an arduous challenge, I soon started to feel the pressure.

When the weather did at last begin to relent it was time to bring out the Mercian Vincitore and treat it to a set of Go-Faster wheels, marginal gains and all that.

During the months of Spring and early Summer, my distances and continuous time in the saddle increased, but occasionally I succumbed to that temptation of all OAP Cyclists, the Tea Shop.

And this shows that I did eventually make it.  In the event it was 164 km and I managed to get round in 7 hours.

And that is it for 2013.

The next post will lay out my hopes and ambitions for 2014

Monday, November 18, 2013

Cycling Rules for OAPs

One of the things that I really enjoy about cycling is the wide range of people I meet, the friends that I have made and the new areas that I have visited
And during this last year, whilst I was attempting to get fit enough to ride the London100,  I have met an even wider circle of people than usual. And in particular I have ridden with people of all ages and it has become apparent that the majority of these youngsters ( defined as anyone below the age of 50 years old ) are in need of some serious education in cycling etiquette when riding with Old Age Pensioners like myself.

Their appreciation of what is considered a safe and reasonable pace leaves much to be desired; and their understanding of what the correct Cycling Food on the Go should be seems non existent despite the fact that they have generously supported me earlier in the year when I was giving away Cycling Food recipe booklets in exchange for a donation to my chosen charity.

So, in order that they will be better prepared in the future I have devised a set of Rules for Cycling  for OAPs

Rule 1    Triple Chain Rings are allowed and the lower the tooth count the better

Rule 2    Cassettes with a 32 sprocket ring are ideal

Rule 3    OAPs do NOT have to pedal downhill

Rule 4    Tea and Cake Shop stops are MANDATORY on all rides greater than 25km

Rule 5     Carbon belongs in steel, NOT in plastic

Rule 6     Pockets should be provided in cycling clothing but NOT on the back where they are literally a pain in the arse

Rule 7     All zips should be a big and chunky as worn by construction workers, builders and other he-men

Rule 8     Any more ??

Monday, September 30, 2013

Chick Whipped !

I have a couple of friends who are cyclists.

Indeed they are quite good cyclists.

In fact, being multiple gold medal winners at the 2013 World Games in both Time Trialling and Road Racing  you could say they are outstanding cyclists.

From this you can easily imagine that their fitness levels, drive, determination, dedication and courage are far greater than anything that I can muster. So naturally I don't ride or train with them but just meet them at the coffee shop at the end of their session and regale them with stories of my youth when the wind was windier,  the rain was wetter, and the hills were far, far steeper. ( The fact that I have only been cycling since I retired does not prevent me from reliving these youthful fantasies :-)  In my stories I can naturally put these whipper snappers in their place by pointing out that, despite their wondrous efforts, they would have been no match for me in my prime; safe in the knowledge that I will never have to put this boast to the test.

And then along came Strava with its ability to compare and share cycling routes and segments of routes between different riders.  I am in danger of my boasts being exposed!

Did I mention that my two friends were young ladies?
I am in real danger of being chick whipped :-()

And they are not just ordinary girls, being both bionic and brave.
Both have been through the anguish and agony of having vital organs replaced and if it was not for the National Organ Donation Register neither would be here now.
Mel had a major riding accident at age 13,  though it was only later that it was realized that she had damaged her kidneys and it was discovered that she had Chronic Renal Failure. This soon led to the need for regular 3 hour sessions of dialysis 3 times a week whilst she waited for a donor. One was eventually found and the road to recovery began. To overcome a vital organ transplant you have to climb a mountain, only the brave can do it. And Mel was, and is, a very brave young lady.

( If you click on the image then you can see it in an expanded view )

Whereas Mel had time to contemplate her predicament whilst she was ill, my second young lady, Di, was taken completely by surprise. Having gone to the doctor's after feeling continually and excessively tired she was sent for some blood tests which resulted in her instant admittal to Royal Derby Hospital for a series of further tests. Two weeks later she was transferred to Birmingham Queens Hospital for a liver transplant ( and she says, some very sexy scars, though I only have her word for that ) The recovery process took over 18 months with numerous stays in hospital, a hernia and a loss of 20 kg in body weight. On discharge around February 2009, Di could hardly walk and even needed help in getting up from the sofa; but it is from this very low point that the recovery began. She took up cycling and, through hard work and dedication, made the  GB Cycling Team for the 2013 World Transplant Games winning a Gold Medal.  A true triumph over adversity.

Both these girls are Cyclists on Drugs. They need them to stay alive following life supporting organ transplants and racing their bikes is their way to encourage others to sign the Organ Donor Register and help save lives.

( More stories from the GB Transplant Cyclists Team can be found here  )

So you can see that with the courage, determination and dedication these girls have shown, my fear of being chick whipped on Cliff Hanger is very likely soon to become true. Even as they left me I bet they were plotting what next ignominy to inflict upon me.

But in all seriousness, these girls have achieved something remarkable and I am proud to be able to call them my friends.

If YOU have not yet signed up to the Organ Donor Register, why not do it RIGHT NOW ?

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Business Case for Improved Data ?

As a friend pointed out, my last post was all about numbers.
And in particular the amount of effort expended both by myself and a friend when we went on the same ride. I also commented upon how one could compare one's effort expended on different rides. This caused a lot of debate at the local tea shop and indeed necessitated the consumption of extra cake as we could not agree.  . Now all these discussions were based upon algorithms and the raw data provided both by Garmin and the bathroom scales to provide the necessary power to weight ratios. Whilst one can seek marginal gains in weight reduction by purchasing lighter kit, you are still left with estimating the power generated .. until NOW!

I have seen a new toy ( re-phase that, an essential piece of kit ) and this article is an imaginary conversation with my non-cycling wife about its prospective purchase. Your role is to comment on whether you believe that the Business Case is Incredibly Sound or, perhaps, just Excellent :-)


Me:  I think I need a new set of pedals
Wife:  Why?  You've already got pedals on ALL your bikes. Are they broken?
Me:  Well, not actually broken
Wife: Besides you have that overflowing box in the garage which you tell me is full of ESSENTIAL bits, to mention nothing of the fact that that a second box of your cycling stuff seems to have appeared in one of the spare bedrooms
Wife : and what was in those packages that arrived from Wiggle yesterday?  Were they pedals?
Me : No, that was absolutely imperative winter clothing for when the weather turns. Anyway, about these pedals. They are produced by Garmin and are called Vector pedals and they allow the measurement of power asymetrically which can be viewed in real time or even as a rolling 3 second average so I can see how it changes over the course of a ride and whether one leg is working harder than the other.
Wife : How much?
Me On the positive side it measures power quickly and accurately and delivers loads and loads of useful numbers to my Garmin Edge 800 or any other ANT+ head unit
Wife : How much?
Me : It also measures the dynamic difference, and as you might know, there is often a different balance at the beginning and end of a ride, or when sitting or standing, or at low power or high power.
Wife : But you tell me that you never stand on the pedals as it hurts your knee
Wife : Anyway, would it make you go any faster?
Me : No
Wife : Would you be able to climb hills easier?
Me : No
Wife : Would you be able to ride any further?
Me : No
Wife : Humph!!
Me : They are supposed to be transferable between bikes so they are a sort of bargain
Wife : But you would NEVER transfer pedals between your bikes, you would need a set for each of them
Me : Admittedly I would need a new set of Look Compatible cycling shoes but I think you get a FREE pair of cleats, and in comparison the shoes would be relatively cheap
Wife : How much did you say these pedals were ?
Me :Well, without the shoes , and the cleats, I think they may be on Special Offer at about £1500 each

Wife :  < This is where you fill in wife's response in Comments Section below >

Is the case made?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Aging Effect

I love numbers

One of my first memories is being a little blonde, blue eyed choir boy sitting in the Choir Stalls at St Edwards Church in Leek, Staffordshire and, during the sermon, factorizing the hymn numbers and testing them for primality.

So you can imagine how, many years later when I retired and bought a bike, how delighted I was to discover Garmin and be able to amass data streams of every variable imaginable from my rides. Of course, collecting data is one thing, turning that into information and knowledge is quite another.

My last post talked about Virtual Cycling brought on by the fact that my body needed a rest to recover from the stresses of my London 100 adventure. But now, after  two weeks of complete rest,  I thought it time to try and see if my knee ligament had healed. A young whipper snapper ( anyone who is more than 26 years younger than me falls into that category! ) had invited me to go on a slow, sociable ride with him and after I had examined his statistics on Strava it was obvious that he was in need of some serious education in cycling etiquette, namely the NECESSITY to stop at tea and cake shops. So I took it upon  myself to induct him to the Tea Shops of Derbyshire.

As an aside I have noticed that many of the younger generation that I ride with, zoom along, zipping past scores of tea shops without a thought of the calorific delights that lie within. I have decided it is my personal mission to rectify this failing in their lycra clad make up.

The ride itself was only 33km and the pace was a mere 22kph with 287m of climbing. But it was hard work. Indeed it was very hard work and demonstrated to me how just two weeks with zero exercise can cause an OAP's fitness levels to drop off dramatically.

Now it so happens that my companion is also a numbers nerd and has a Garmin Edge 800 like mine and so after the ride was over I thought I would compare his effort expended to my efforts.

Total distance  33.1 km and elevation gained was 287 m

                                          Me                                                         Mr D

Avg Power                        95 watts                                                   94 watts

Cadence                            81 rpm                                                     75 rpm

Avg Heart Rate                 137 bpm                                                  107 bpm

Max Heart Rate                 160 bpm                                                  136 bpm

Now there are many different algorthims for calculating one's Peak Heart Rate before you explode, and the most optimistic one for me gives a value of 169 bpm, so you can see from the above that I was approaching the limit whilst my companion was forever in tick over mode. It did seem to me that this demonstrated the aging effect on one's fitness quite dramatically.

What did surprise ( worry ? ) me though was that I had needed to expend so much effort and so I thought I would compare my performance this time with my Ride of a Lifetime, London 100, which was only a couple of weeks ago.

A breakdown of how my heart performed was interesting.

On the London 100, whilst the journey was obviously much longer, about half of the ride was spent at Moderate Level of effort with the other half at Tempo,  which for me means * race pace * . Only 3% of the time was my heart operating at threshold level and I would need to check but that was probably when climbing Leith Hill.

Compare  this to my Return to the Saddle Ride after 2 weeks complete rest

and you can see that 15% of the time I was operating in Threshold and the majority of the time at Tempo.

No wonder I felt it hard work!

So I have attempted to turn data into information, as for the knowledge gained; does it mean that I should have tried harder at London?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Virtual Cycling

I wrote a couple of weeks ago how my body was beginning to fall apart and how it needed a rest. However, by natural healing, or will power and adrenalin, it recovered enough for me to take part in the London100.
Following that event I started to revert back to my normal non-training regime and whilst I managed about 150km the following week, the knee ligament pain returned with a vengance so I have decided to have a forthnght  Off Bike to give it a good rest.

And so I am bored.

Very bored.

The only thing for it was to take up Virtual Cycling.
This involves reading about the adventures of others and deciding whether now is the time for a bit of cycle maintenence  and upgrade.

What I enjoy most is reading about the journeys that others have undertaken, the trials that they have encountered, the social history of the places seen and in this regard one of the best books that I have read for ages is

"The man with no Bike Clips : A Lancashire Cycling Year " by Alan Duckworth

This is not an account of the fearless exploits of a lycra clad road warrior but more the cycling rambles of a middle aged man exploring his local area and bringing back memories of his earlier life.

Compared to me of course, Alan is still a young whipper snapper but that does not prevent me considering the next addition to my cycle stable. The current stable comprises a couple of Mercians and a Specialized Sirrus Comp Hybrid so N=3.  However everyone ( except possibly my wife ! ) KNOWS that the number of bikes you need is N+1
A friend may soon be leaving Europe to live in USA and has asked if he goes, would I like his european bike as he has a virtually identical one already in California.

It is a Giaint TCR Advanced SL3 fitted with an Ultegra Di2 Group Set

Admittedly it is not yet fitted with the latest Garmin Vector pedals to give continuous readings of power generated output corrected for asymmetrical effort in each of one's legs, but I am sure he would throw that in as a minor upgrade.

You may wonder whether I really need an aero shaped carbon racing machine equipped with a Compact Groupset ( compared to the triples on my other bikes ) for my gentle Tea Shop Tours,  but when I rode the London100 , apart from Leith and Box Hills, I was permanently on the Big Ring making the Middle Ring redundant. So the case is virtually proven!

And it would have the added advantage, it being constructed out of Carbon, that there would be zero rusting risk if I were to take it down to the local shops to do the shopping.

Need more be said ??

Ought I to acquire it?

Is any extra justification needed to persuade my wife the merits of this essential acquisition?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Week 12 Day 7 The Big Day..Prudential London Ride100

And so, after weeks of training; those rides in the Derbyshire Peaks in the depth of winter, the pain of the hills,  the suffering in Rutland, the cadence and interval training practice, the hours spent in the saddle, it all comes down to this.  In front of me lay 100 miles of the roads of London and the Surrey Hills. I have tried to stick to the training plan and I went to the start with an act of faith that having still not ever ridden beyond 130 km, the plan said that the adrenalin on the day would take me through.

My Mercian cleaned and loaded, I was ready to start my challenge of a lifetime and head to London

and get ourselves registered onto the Starting Rosta which was at the Excel Centre just across the river from the O2 Centre.

Worried about the logistics of getting to the start on time we had booked into a hotel close to the Olympic Park and that became Race HQ for the event. ( As an aside when my son asked me to join him on a            * ramble * around London on a father-son ride it was just a saunter, as time went on the missives from the organizers started changing in tone,, event- sportive - teams - business relay races etc  with the pressure on my usual tea shop tour meander pace increasing considerably )

And so the night before we had our final pre -event checks, with particular attention to my  nutrition needs

and getting all the numbers attached to everything that stayed still long enough

And so to the event. We were one of the last few to leave the starting gate, the last wave, V,  at 08-00 and this had caused us further concern as there was a 4 km neutral zone before the Official Start and as the first time cut off was at 40 km we were concerned that our race would be over before it had properly begun

In the event we proved to be well on track and my trusty Mercian must have had the shock of its life as the Big Ring was in constant use, and indeed remained in constant use throughout 90% of the ride. Previously, before I started on training for this, the Big Ring was something to look at, talk about and admire, certainly NOT to use and definitley out of the question whenever the road went upwards. As it was I only changed down to the Inner Ring on Leith and Box Hills; all those practice rides in the Derbyshire Peaks turned out to have conditioned me well.

I knew from past experience that stopping for a rest can be fatal as my legs want to shut down and rest so I did the entire 164 km without stopping apart from the need to reload my pockets with food from the saddle pouch.

Leith Hill proved a challenge, not only in its length and gradient but because of the bike pushers and those riders whose legs suddenly gave out and stopped in the middle of a very narrow ride on an 18% incline. Overtaking proved difficult and slowed me down but I kept on pedalling and eventually was rewarded with some stupendous views.

( Thanks to Andy Wright for permission to use both this and the next image )

The stream of cyclists seemed endless and you could see the look of exhileration on their faces as they crested the final summit .

With Leith and Box conquored it was time to turn to home and though there was a final nasty surprise as the road ramped skywards out of  Wimbledon before I was soon  finally entering the Mall with the crowds  cheering cheering.

And then it was over, 7 hours after leaving the Olympic Park I was back outside Buckingham Palace. I had sent my son on ahead as we reached the start of the Surrey Hills as I did not want to hold him up but he was waiting for me at the end

Team Roberts had made it !

And this was what it was all about

But of course the real winner was the mental health charity Mind for whom we had raised over £2600 and as I cycled down the Mall it was those who I knew that needed their support that I was thnking about.

Thank you all for your support and encouragement over the last weeks and months, without you I doubt whether I would have kept going, especially in those cold dark days of winter.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Last Lap

Following the travails described in the last post, this week I have been back on the bike and was pleased to find that both my knee and butt seem to have recovered, or at least recovered enough so that I can ride. The Plan for Beginners  that the London 100 organizers  sent me called for one last endurance ride before the event and this was successfully accomplished, and so now I am on the last lap.
After training since January I have now covered 4423 km, climbed 33294 m, which is the equivalent of climbing up Mount Everest four times,  and expended 100925 calories. On the days when I was resting from the bike I have been swimming and covered a distance of 45 km.
The plan does call for some arduous effort up until the Wednesday of this week but I suspect that it was aimed at people far younger than me so I am going to rest more and just go for a gentle tootle around to-morrow before concentrating upon cleaning the bike and fuelling up.

I am doing all this to raise money for the mental health charity Mind and would like to thank the almost 100 people who have rallied to my cause and raised ~ £2500... now I have to do my part.

For anyone who would still like to sponsor me, and there is a free recipe booklet entitled

 Cycling Food on the Go - Recipes for Success

for everyone who does make a donation, however small. The recipes in this booklet have been contributed from friends around the world and each recipe comes with a little story of just why the recipe was special to them. If you would like a copy just go to


Friday, July 19, 2013

Week 10 Day 4 and I am falling apart :-()

And it was all going so well.

I have this year cycled  4261 km, climbed 32387 m and expended over 97382 calories

I have worked on my climbing, and refuelling at the top with jelly babies, I have felt more comfortable and got quicker, even in the land of the Derbyshire Peaks which hopefully compare to the streets of London.

And then on Wednesday I felt a slight twinge behind my right knee. Worse, with the weather so hot I have sweated more and despite taking so many precautions I have developed a couple of saddle sores.

I have NEVER cycled 100 miles and at my age I suspect fitness soon evaporates and this worries me with the event only now 2 weeks away.I am treating the sore with hydrocortisone which seems to be having a positive effect.. I wonder if one can comfortably wear padded under shorts under padded bib shorts..I may be forced to try it for after all this effort I WILL compete at London.

I have heard that the streets of London are paved with gold and I am dying to see this sight.

I live in fear of the monster of Box Hill and its friend Leith Hill which at 2.1 km long and with an average gradient of 6 %, peaking in stretches at 17% will be my hardest challenge.  When attacking these monsters I will need encouragement,  which will be provided by my domestique ( my son ) and also by some visual stimuli as I ascend the climb.

I will be looking out for these, and a big Thank You to Andrew Wright, Countryside Manager for the National Trust for this area,  for permission to use his photographs

and at some point it would be nice to see

and though on the day I will be too rushed, this epitomizes my total ethos to cycling

Wish me luck !!!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Beginning to dream...

Only 23 days to go to my cycling challenge of a lifetime.

And I am beginning to dream.

In preparation for this day I have this year

Cycled a total distance of 4122 km
Climbed 31067 m
Swam 41.3 km
and been seated on a bike for over 207 hours

I suppose that I have two big worries about this challenge. The first is , at my age and with my level of fitness, am I just physically capable of cycling 100 miles, ( 162 km ) on a single journey. And the second worry is will I be quick enough. It is not a personal thing here but more of a worry that I will let others down and get in the way of the proper cyclists who are competing in the Prudential London Classic who ride after us but on the same course.

I received my final instructions this week and in a way these worries have dissipated. This is because the organizers have introduced a set of cut-offs so that those not up to the pace will be pulled out thereby ensuring that the proper cyclists are not disadvantaged. They have also introduced a set of detours so that those near, but not quite the pull out mark, can be sent on a slightly shorter route. With these instructions then there are safeguards for Old Age Pensioners like me in the event that we find it all a bit too much.
The start  times seem to be organized with military precision. There are two starting points before the courses combine after 6 km with 19 waves leaving each point and from what I have heard from others, people will be leaving every 2 minutes. With 20000+ riders that should be some sight!  I think I must be the last person leaving the starting gate as my time is 08-00. That surprised me a little as I said that I was aiming at completing the course in 7 hours 30 minutes ( compared to the 9 hours maximum permitted ) and I thought there might be one or two people who had estimated a time a little slower than me..
The story of the tortoise and the hare springs to mind :-)  Speedy OAP !

For one of the training sessions this week, the plan called for an hour's run at a Zone 2 moderate heart rate on a flattish course. As I sped through the quiet Derbyshire lanes with the sun shining and the fields and hedgerows flashing by I began to dream that I had escaped the peleton who were riding on a flat stage in Brittany in the Tour de France that day.. Head down, legs going in a perfect harmony, this was bliss and epitomized the joy of cycling

(  Though this image is not of me but a picture I took at the Belper 25 mile TT last weekend )

Can I now dream of cycling down the Mall on August 4, the 100 miles completed, and the Challenge conquored?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Getting Ready for the Last Lap

The training plan for my challenge in the inaugral  London 100 mile Charity Ride at the beginning of August called for one last big effort and last weekend was the summit of my training efforts.   At 130 km it was my longest journey ever and was accomplished non-stop; the event itself of course requires another 32 km on top of this but the plan reassures me that riding in a group, plus the adrenalin of the day, will make up the shortfall.

My annual statistics now stand at

Total distance cycled this year = 3937 km
Total ascent climbed = 29357 m
Longest journey = 130.4 km

Encouragingly my average pace has also increased significantly  ( by 30% since the beginning of the year ) and if I can keep it up for that extra 30 km I should be OK, especially as I will have my son riding with me to carry the load ( I hope!! ) and provide encouragement.

Just looking ahead at the activities called for by the plan shows that I am now beginning the tapering stage to the big day, and I am thankful for that for my body is feeling a little tired and I now need a rest day after a long , fast ride.

This blog has also reached a milestone with over 10000 views from 25 countries across the world. I find that quite amazing.

I am doing this ride in order to raise funds for the mental health charity, Mind, but there are also many other worthy causes and to-day I was privileged to meet two ladies who are cycling for Great Britain in the World Transplant games to be held in South Africa in a few weeks time. One has had a liver transplant whilst the other has had a kidney replaced and now both do a tremendous amount of work to publicize the need and benefits of Organ Donation. Are you signed up to support this cause?

They were seeking a photo to be used in some local publicity campaign and I was happy to help. Naturally I arranged to meet them at a local tea and cake shop...cyclists  needs their nourishment!

If you would like to sponsor me on my challenge then you can make a donation at

Any donation, however small, is very welcome and as a mark of our gratitude we will send you a pdf copy of our special booklet  ' Cycling Food on the Go - Recipes for Success '  which contains both recipes and stories from around the world

Thank you.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Plan calls for.....

Over the last few months my life has been governed by * The Plan * , a 12 week guide to getting into shape for the London 100 ride in August where I have been persuaded by my son to put my aged body on the line and cycle 100 miles around  the London Olympic Road Race route, a distance which I am still trying to come to terms with and one which I have not dared to imagine.

The Plan has dictated my life, and given that after the end of  Week 1 you were supposed to cycle 40 miles, it obviously assumed some sort of prior fitness, something which I sadly lacked. So, for me, I started the Plan much earlier in order to attempt to get into shape in order to Begin the Plan.

Every day, I have cycled when instructed, rested when instructed, ate when instructed and consumed vast amounts of Cycling Food On the Go.  Indeed I have produced a booklet of Recipes for Cyclists which is available free with any donation to the Mental Health Charity Mind. Please support me!

There have been one or two sacrifices that I have had to make in order to train for this challenge, such as the complete abandonment of domestic chores, gardening control, car cleaning ( though bike cleaning IS called for in The Plan ), shopping ( except for ESSENTIAL cycling stuff of which there seems to be an incredible amount ) and other mundane tasks.

However, The Plan has hit a buffer. An ultimatum from my wife that I either mowed the lawns or bought a sheep

Now I have considered this proposition very carefully but on going to visit some prize specimens have decided that those horns could inflict a lot of damage to the gleaming paintwork on my bike..and so the lawns have been mown.

This interlude apart, I have continued to build up the miles and so far the statistics stand at

Total distance cycled this year = 3685 km

Total ascent climbed = 27267 m

and I can now comfortably accomplish rides of 110km+ but the longest journey remains at 126 km, and indeed the plan does not suggest going further than this so as to dangle a carrot on the day to achieve the 162 km required. ( Having said this I have now been told that there is a Neutral Zone prior to the start which is another 3 km, hope this is not the straw to break the camel's back )

This week The Plan calls for a firm focus on climbing. Now I hate hills, and much more to the point, hills hate me with a venom that cannot be imagined. So, I need to give myself a target. A height to cumulatively ascend during this week. I thought of just picking a number at random, which according to some of my friends ought to be a number between 10 -50 m and whilst I would tend to agree with them, they are Flat Landers and I have doubts it would prepare me for the monsters of Box and Leith Hills. So, I have settled upon a figure of 1912 m, the height of Mont Ventoux, a climb which has a special significance to all english cyclists. It is also about the same total that will have to be conquored on London100, though in that case the total gradient will be spread over 162 km and not the mere 22km of the legendary mountain.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

I think I may have done something a tad stupid.....

One of the great things about cycling is that you get to meet new people and they are willing to invite you to their part of the country and take you on some of their favourite rides. My last post talked about the long  road back from a period of illness and whether to take it gently or just jump straight back in. In the event I managed to strain my back gardening since the last post and this caused a further hiccup to the training programme.
I had arranged to go on a 100 km ride around Rutland, a beautiful county that I had never previously explored by bike with Kevin and it seemed foolish (?) to let a little thing like a strained back, still recovering from man flu and lack of cycling spoil the venture..I suppose I thought the absence from cycling could be called tapering.  And so we went, and I have to say that Kevin was a great guide and it is true to say that without him encouraging me and shepherding me home I would never have completed this trip and would have recorded my first ever DNF. This is the story of my ride

The day started fine and sunny the only slight hiccup being that I could not find the cap to my second 500ml water bottle so decided to manage with just the one and so dropped a Nunn tablet into it to ensure I had a back up of electrolites

We did the entire ride without stopping and I fuelled the energy expenditure by eating one flapjack and one Kellog's Elevensees bar, plust 5 jelly babies.

The weather was hot, very hot and according to Kevin's Garmin we climbed a total of 4450 feet, many of it with gradients between 12-19%

After 30 km my water bottle was empty so we stopped at a pub and asked if they could fill it up, which they kindly did.

After 50 km all my food had been consumed and it was getting ever hotter and the hills kept coming. The scenery however was magnificent and we saw a peregrine falcon hunting over Eyebrook reservoir.

After 60 km I started getting a saevere cramp in my left thigh, and it was really painful, especially as the gradients were not letting up despite my imprecations. However the pain from this was soon dwarfed by the cramps which started to occur in my right calf muscle.. At this time we had turned into strong head winds too and the elements were showing their power and beauty as we passed under Harringworth viaduct

After 70 km the pain was so acute, the water bottle empty, that I stopped at a shop and bought a packet of salted peanuts with the aim of getting some salts back into my body and also refilling the water bottle.

After 80 km my stomach was really empty, to such an extent that it caused discomfort. However this was soon drowned out by the pains from both my thigh and calf which were now working in unison to torment me.

After 90 km, pedalling rythmically was beyond me and it was push a few strokes on the pedal before free wheeling a little to let the pain subside. though this proved difficult when going uphill and continuous hill starts is not good at the best of times.

At 100 km I was glad to have reached the finish point and rapidly wolfed down a banana I had left n the car as a recovery food. Boy, how I needed it!
I have learnt a number of lessons from this ride.
Take more food. Save up for another water bottle. Carry a spare Nunn tablet
Without Kevin's support over the last 40 km I doubt whether I would have finished.

But despite these minor travails, it really was a great day out. The scenery was magnificent and I have now explored another part of the English countryside.

I am putting myself through all this so I can attempt the challenge of the London 100 mile ride this August around the Olympic Road Race route. And I am doing this to raise money for the mental health charity Mind.

If you would like to support this very worthwhile cause by sponsoring me then you can do so at

As an incentive to sponsor me, as a thank you for every donation, however small, I will send you a free pdf booklet entitled

Cycling Food on the Go - Recipes for Success

These recipes have been provided by people from around the world and each recipe comes with alittle story of why it was special to the author.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

A long and empty road

My training has become derailed

I am ill
Indeed I have been feeling very ill
Yes, I know that it is only a bad cough, streaming cold and tight chest making it hard to breathe.
And I have to be careful of taking antidotes in case they interact badly with my existing medication.
And yes, I know all the jokes about the severity of man flu.
I have felt so bad that I have not even wanted to eat cake! But as Melanie said #nomilesnocakes
In a week when a friend has died, my complaints pale into insignificance.

But the result is that I can only see a long and empty road ahead.

I have been off the bike for a week now and the training plan is in disarray.

Total distance cycled this year = 3052 km
Total climbing = 22380 m

I am hoping that in another few days this illness will have passed and then it will be back on the bike

But where to re-commence?  The aim has been to gradually increase the furthest distance and then taper towards the end when the London100 approaches. Have I enough miles/fitness in the bank to just ignore the missing week? Or do I take it easy for a few days and then ramp up more quickly to get back on track?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Reverting Back to Childhood

I am now at the end of Week 2  ( out of 12 )  of the Beginners' Training Plan in preparation for my attempt at London100. Overall things are going reasonably well and I am sticking fairly closely to the set programme.

The latest statistics show that

Total distance cycled this year = 2855 km
Total ascent = 21259 m
and in accomplishing this I have used up 65213 calories

The maximum distance remains the same at 125 km

I said fairly closely because I am now instituting a Rest Day  on the day following the endurance ride, instead of the one hour ride,  as last week I obeyed instructions and ended up with an ache behind  my left knee. So as not to shirk on the total exercise, I am using the proposed Rest Day ( Monday ) as a general gentle ride with friends.

It cannot be denied that as an Old Age Pensioner my body perhaps needs more rest and recovery time than the vast majority of riders taking on this challenge, and as a newcomer to cycling I have no reservoir of endurance and stamina.to call upon.

It is said that as you get older you start to revert back to childhood, indeed as far back as the baby stage. My young grandchildren seem to need copious quantities of Sudocream to protect their undercarriage, and now I need the same!

Indeed I am coming to think that I need a veritable medicine cabinet of stuff, what with anti insect bite cream,  massage stick for knotted muscles, small tube of Sudocream just in case, and a Savlon spray if saddle sores or chafing should occur.  Not forgetting the jelly babies to provide that extra boost when I have reached the summit of a hill. Luckily, I will have my own super domestique on the ride itself, namely my son, whom I am hoping to load up with all the spare tubes ,multi-tools, chain links, pump, provisions, medical support, phone, money and other essential stuff.

I am taking this challenge to support the mental health charity Mind and if you would like to support me, and every donation however small is gratefully received, then I will send you a copy of

Cycling Food on the Go - Recipes for Success !  

This pdf booklet contains 20+ recipes, each with a little story as to why it was special to the contributor,  and all monies donated go straight to Mind.

You can contribute here

Friday, April 26, 2013

Feeling the Pressure

I am beginning to feel the pressure.

The countdown clock has just ticked under the 100 days to go and 100 miles ( 162 km ) still feels to be an awfully long way.

The raw statistics show that I am putting in the base rides and the average pace is beginning to creep up.

So far this year

Total distance cycled = 2409 km
Total ascent climbed = 18099 m
and used 55584 C in accomplishing that.
The longest distance has been increased to 126 km which is 78% of the target distance.

My cross training, in the form of swimming, has covered 36.5 Km

On the positive side I am now regularly doing 70 km rides without stopping and my plan for London100 is to aim for 2 * 10 minute rest breaks after 50km and 100 km. All the statistics from my Garmin and Strava files show that my average cadence has increased to 80+ rpm ( from 69 rpm last year ) whilst my heart rate is staying well in control in Zone 2 with just the occasional burst into Zone 3 when climbing.

My aim in this Challenge is just to survive, I am not looking for fast times, and to get round in a total elapsed time of 8 hours will count as a huge success for me. 

So why am I worried? Probably a fear of the unknown and the need to push an aging body to extremes of effort that it has never before experienced, and in taking up cycling at the age of 60 I do not possess a reservoir of endurance to call upon.

But then I look at others.

Earlier this week I went to watch a TT held by Derby Mercury, one of our local cycling clubs.

Some people just crumple in the face of adversity when illness strikes. Others fight back, conquor it and go on to inspire others. 

This lady is an inspiration to us all. Having suffered liver failure she was fortunate to get a transplant and has since done great work in promoting the cause of Organ Donation. She has also become a key member of the GB Transplant Cycling Team representing our country around the world.

I need to show some of the guts and tenacity that she has demonstrated and just get on with it.

I am doing this ride on behalf of Mind, and whilst I need your moral support to drive me on, they need your support to continue the work they do in helping those who suffer from mental health issues

If you feel able to sponsor me then I would be very grateful and for every donation, as a small thank you, I will send you a copy of a recipe booklet entitled Cycling Food on the Go - Recipes for Success.

The recipes in this booklet have been provided by cyclists from around the world and each one comes with its own personal story. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Powering Home

The weather has now relented and so am back on the saddle. I am loosely following the Beginners Training Plan sent out by Ride London 100 but , what is perhaps even more helpful. is that I am augmenting it with advice from other older, experienced  cyclists. Of most benefit has been the advice from Trevor who has suggested after looking at my Garmin statistics that I should aim to increase my cadence and from @Velopixie who has reassured me that if  I can regularly do 120 km before the event, then I will safely get through the remaining 40 km.

The latest overall statistics now show that for the year to date

Total distance cycled = 2026 km
Total climbing = 15060 m
and this has ensured the consumption of 47564 calories.
Longest distance remains at 110km

My cross training has only involved swimming and I have swam 34 km so far this year.

I do of course fully recognize that my efforts are modest in comparison to the proper road warriors and it is good to see these people in action. So on Saturday I went to watch the BDCA 25 mile Time Trial which was taking place close to where I live. Cyclists are a friendly lot and no one objected to this old man wandering about, admiring the bikes and chatting to some of the competitors. The weather started bright but with rain forecast later. In the event the start was delayed by an hour due to some road repairs that were late finishing and so much of the race took place in the pouring rain.

As the rain got worse and the light began to fade, the going got tougher.  But still they raced on and then , with the finishing line in sight, one extra burst of effort to power them home

Of course, we should not forget that none of this would be able to take place without the devoted efforts of all those commissaires, timekeepers, starters and  other support staff. I salute them all

I will never be riding with riders of this class but it inspires me to keep training so that I can meet my personal challenge for the year; to ride in the London 100 in aid of the Mental Health Charity Mind.

IF you feel able to sponsor me then I would be very grateful and for every donation, as a small thank you, I will send you a copy of a recipe booklet I have compiled entitled Cycling Food on the Go - Recipes for success which was fully described in an earlier post at  http://thediaryofmybike.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/cycling-food-on-go_15.html

Monday, April 1, 2013

Mercian, The Prince of Bikes, #61416

The weather has been arctic and my cycling non-existent for the last 10 days. So, I thought I would publish a post about my vintage Mercian Audax no 61416, the first 2 digits signifying the year of frame build, 1961

I am at least the fifth owner of this bike and during the past 52 years it has seen many places and wonderful stories must be embedded within its frame.

This is how the bike looked when I became its latest owner in June, 2009 after espying it hung up on a garage wall looking magnificent. I asked the seller to give me some of its history and this is its, and his, story.

" I purchased it for my son in 1983.It had formerly been used a s a commuter bike for some years, and now stood, covered in dust, sad and neglected in a garage. A sight to tug the heartstrings of any enthusiast. With worn and flat tyres, worn out rusty  chain and brakes, it had not been cared for or appreciated for a number of years. I think the man said it had belonged to his son originally before he had began using it as a commuter bike to the local Rolls -Royce  factories in Derby. But under the dust, the purple frame was as good as ever, a testimony to Reynolds 521 steel. I think I paid £48 for it, more to save the bike than to please the old owner. After a spruce up with new tyres, tubes, chain and brakes it was presented to my own son who rode it for a few yers until he went off to university.
The bike was then not used greatly unless he was at home during the vacations. After he left university the bike remained with me and I decided to sort out the whole bike from the frame up. Many things had now worn further including the headset which was very badly worn; so much so that I had to have the tubes interior rebuilt up by welding and then re-bored to take a new headset.
To replace it I chose a taper roller headset normally used on cross country bikes. It should not need to be ever adjusted again. The frame was stripped of the old paint, trued up and resprayed and then a chrome finish was added to the wheel drop outs and the frame above for about 18 inches. The original frame had this chrome finish too. I splashed out on two new 27 inch wheels hand built by Mercian. A new Campagnola seat tube plus new bars and head tube completed the rebuild.  The bike was then used for summer rides, I could not bear to take it out in the winter salt! Most of the rides were around 60km or with the local CTC group.
At some point, about 10 years ago, I was knocked off the bike by a motorist who ignored the stop sign at a set of  crossroads. He collided with the back wheel and sent me flying - result - a buckled back wheel and a return trip to Mercians to get the frame checked. No problems on the frame and with the wheel rebuilt onto the same hub all was well. However, as I now owned 5 bikes the Mercian got very little use., and, as I recognized a growing fanaticism in a friend, ( ME !!! ) I sold it to him to fan the flames. Little did I know the roaring fire that it would produce!!  "

And how right he was!

The group set has gone through many variations, from a compact 48/36 Stronglight when my friend acquired it, to a Campagnola 52/42/30 during his period of ownership to its current evolution with a Stronglight 46/36/26 triple as I prepare for the advancing years and try to learn some bike maintenance skills. I originally intended to try and restore it to the condition when it was first built, but a lack of knowledge, coupled with the fact it was probably a high geared racing machine, deterred me. There have been other changes which might form the topic of a further post but now it is back in regular use as a winter bike with 63*32 Schwalbe Marathon tyres ( the only tyres I can get to fit these wheels ). My new Mercian Vincitore Special has become my summer bike and it too has already started to evolve.

Steel is forever, and I have given my daughters-in-law strict instructions on how I want their sons to develop so that, one day, they will be able to inherit and fit perfectly  my beautiful racing machines of engineering excellence

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Marginal Gains

First of all a few numbers.

Total distance cycled = 1564 km
Longest Ride = 110 km
Total distance climbed = 11285 m

Total distance swam = 28.4 km

Whilst the furthest distance cycled has not increased, this has been intentional as I have been doing some regular 75 km rides together with a range of other rides as determined by the plan. My intention is not to exceed the 110 km distance for a while yet ( it is 68% of total challenge distance ) but to work on building up other aspects of my cycling fitness.

This brings me on to my attempts to improve by aggregating some Marginal Gains.
Weight kills on a bike, especially when you are having to lug all those extra kilograms up hills and Box Hill lies in wait for me like a tiger stalking its lunch.
I currently weigh in at 73.5 kg but  the total whole system weight includes not only me but also my bike, tools, spare bits and provisions. So something needs to be done.

Step 1. Lose weight and I have made a start by having my hair cut. This seemed to me to be a cost effective way to proceed but in the event the improvement in performance has been very marginal indeed :-() It would appear therefore that personal weight loss will be insufficient.  Other things  need to be addressed!

Step 2 The Brooks 17 saddle and I have a love-hate relationship.  It loves tormenting my butt whilst I hate the pain that can ensue. It also tips the scales at 574 gms. So, riding to the rescue has come a Fizik Arione which not only looks smart and sleek but also comes in at 225 gms, a huge saving and must be worth loads of haircuts .An Italian saddle to go with my Italian Nitto stem, a perfect match and as I explained to my non-cycling wife, things have to be coordinated don't they ?  In addition I acquired it at a bargain price :-)

Step 3  Having successfully explained to my wife the need for full coordination, I thought it  would be worthwhile explaining to her the principles of Rotational Mass and the benefits to be had from steel spokes with aerodynamic shape and aluminium nipples using a  laced pattern with 20 radial spokes on the front wheel and 24 spokes on the rear,  16 being  double crossed at the drive side with 8 radial on the left side.

This Campagnola Neutron wheel set, and being Italian obviously complements the saddle and the seat post. Naturally, they are only to be used in summer so I still need my hand made Mavic wheels with Miche RC2  racing hubs
Of course rotational mass is all about something

 called the moment of inertia and is
I = 0.5 m r2
ω is the rate of rotation, expressed is radians/second:
ω = 2 π rev/sec
rev/sec = v / circumference = v / (2 π r)
ω = 2 π (v / (2 π r)) = v / r
Erotating = 0.5 (0.5 m r2) (v2/r2)
        = 0.25 m v2
That is, the rotating energy is 1/2 the linear (translational) energy.

I looked up at this point to see if wife thought a diagram might assist but she had fallen asleep!  Can you believe it!

When fitted my Mercian Vincitore Special looks like this :

Well, I think it will give me a load of marginal gains, and is far easier than actually dieting.
I am sure wife will agree when she wakes up :-)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Upping The Level

Following my last report a few people have been in touch offering both support and advice and I am really grateful to all those who get in touch. When the weather is arctic, the fog thick and the hills seem to be getting ever steeper then it is good to know that you have people out there rooting for you.  My level of effort has increased over the last couple of weeks with a further two 100km+ rides completed and a new record set for  the maximum distance on a single ride , 110km.
I have also , as recommended by the plan, started some interval training. Not much and not severe I will admit, but 20 second full gas bursts every 5 minutes irrespective whether on the  flat or climbing.
I was told that every training ride must have a purpose and this dictum I have also adopted. One aim is to increase my average cadence ( it was ~73rpm ) and use the gears to help achieve this as a higher cadence / lower gear combination is probably putting less strain on my knees and conserving some energy.
I am not sure how I can tell if I really am getting fitter but my average pace is slowly increasing whilst my heart rate is slowly decreasing.

The latest statistics show

Total distance cycled this year = 1252km
Height climbed  = 9331 m
Longest ride = 110 km
Calories burnt = 29578

Total distance swam = 24.15 km

I am using swimming as my Rest Day exercise but generally restrict it to about 1 km a session

If you feel able to sponsor me in this challenge in aid of Mind, then the link is

and for everyone who does donate there is a free Cycling Food on the Go Recipe Booklet

Please Support Us.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Training becoming structured ? Well..

The weather continues to haunt me and every ride is a battle of will against the elements; and I am afraid to say that the elements are beginning to win. In order to retain some type of fitness I have resorted to cross training and am putting in 1 km per day swimming.  However I did manage to complete another 100km + ride last week and this time had just the single 15 minute stop for lunch. I also remembered to take along some fluid ( Nunn tablet in 500ml of water ) to provide some salt replenishment. The ride itself went well despite the fact that the freezing and foggy conditions meant that my glasses froze over and hence visibility was reduced. Perhaps that was a good thing as I could not see the steepness of the hills in front of me. I just hope that London is not as severe as the Derbyshire Peak District for hills!

My self made training plan consists of getting comfortable with 100km rides before gradually increasing the distance in 20 km steps until I can manage the 160km the London100 will demand.

The route can be seen here :-

As I have said before it is the 100 miles at the required pace that could well be a challenge too far. I seem to currently ride at the same pace whatever the distance, 20km or 100 km, but perhaps the tow of the 20000 strong peleton will pull me along. Ideally I need to increase average speed from 19 to 21 km/hr

This week a structured training plan for beginners arrived. It gives a day by day plan for the full 12 weeks prior to the race but I am beginning to suspect that it also assumes that the cyclist is in the full flush of youth and pretty fit before embarking on this regime.  What I need is a structured plan for Old Age Pensioners who are about to undertake the longest and fastest ride of their life when they are new to cycling. Some challenge!

This plan makes a great deal of training within particular Zones and my test rides are showing this is difficult. To keep within Zone 2 as recommended, which for me is <121 bpm heart rate , is proving impossible on even the slightest incline though the ride overall stays within that Zone.

So, to the statistics, for whatever my excuses these detail my progress

Total distance cycled  886km
Total climbing            6481m
Total calories expended  21000  ( which MUST be worth a slice of cake :-) )
Longest ride 108km

Total distance swam  22.65km  ( My annual goal here was 25 km so I may have to revisit this )

Any suggestions on training are welcome..providing they are constructive!

And finally, a request.

I am doing this challenge in aid of the mental health charity Mind.  Thank you to all those who have already sponsored me but more sponsors are urgently needed.

You can do this at

and for everyone who does contribute, however small, I will send them a copy of

Cycling Food on the Go - Recipes for Success

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Count Down

The count down to my major challenge, to Ride in the London100 is now well underway and I need to start upping my endurance to be able to achieve this goal.  The winter weather has made  life difficult for me in actually getting some base miles under my belt and so, with the sun at last making an appearance and Spring showing signs of dawning, I have this last  week made a concerted effort. I think that achieving this goal will be as much a mental challenge as a physical one as I am used to having more Tea Shop Tours than Sportive  Riding and so this week I determined to change the way I rode.  The aim was to ride a solo 100 km+ and have just a short break for lunch and a tea stop. In the event I managed 108 km with 780 m of climbing and at an average heart rate of  126 bpm which is middle Zone3 for me. This is the second longest trip I have ever managed and as I only stopped for a 15 minute break for a beef sandwich after 51 km and then a further 15 minute break for a toasted teacake after 92 km I feel mildly encouraged, though I must pay more attention to the nutrition side of cycling. My aim now is for the next few weeks try to repeat this ride before upping the distance to around the 125 km level. The average pace of 19kmph was not very fast and whilst this could be partly down to some tow path riding I think it was more due to me trying to pace myself as I was venturing into virtually unknown territory.  One of the things which is worrying me is the thought of Box Hill.  I have never ridden in Surrey and this hill comes with a fearful reputation and I wonder whether I will manage it. I must try and discover if I can find some distance/ climbing statistics on it so I can see what awaits me.

So, statistics for the year to date now read


Distance covered = 720.3 km
Total climbed = 5224 m
Longest ride = 108.3km


Distance covered = 20km

I started doing some swimming with the aim of trying to improve my aerobic capacity and set myself a goal to swim 25km this year; and so I have been pleasantly surprised to find that I can now cover 1 km per session with no real effort. Just hope it is doing some good, but in any event it makes a change and I enjoy it.

The last ( ? )  real cold snap of this winter made cycling in the Derbyshire Peaks a real challenge and having mechanical failures when out in the hills soon chills you to the core. As well as cycling , I am aiming this year to try and create a photographic record of my cycling year, a sort of story board in black and white images, and I intend to publish a few of them in this blog.

This one was taken last week as one of our riders tried to find the elusive thorn which had caused a puncture at the coldest part of the day

One of the pleasures of cycling is the cake stops where we can reminisce about favourite rides in the past, and of course EAT CAKE!   To support my ride, which I am doing with my son in aid of the mental health charity Mind, we have produced a recipe booklet,

 Cycling Food on the Go- Recipes for Success

If you would like a copy, then please just make a donation to our fundraising site and we will mail you a  copy

We do need your support for this great cause. Thank you.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Bicycle bicycle bicycle

I want to ride my bicycle, bicycle, bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride it where I like

Or do I ?

I love numbers.
When I was a little boy I used to sing in the church choir but found the sermons so boring. So, to pass the time I used to factorize the hymn numbers and test them for primality.  And so you can imagine how delighted I am with all the streams of technical data that my Garmin 800 Edge supplies. I can choose to display over 70 different data items that are continuously updated with time.

On a recent ride in the Derbyshire Peaks, where the temperature never rose above 1 degC and Garmin informed me that the static wind chill factor lowered this to - 4 degC, and that was without the further eduction due to forward momentum, after 40km I encountered yet another hill. I had the Garmin set to display just Total Calories Burnt,  Gradient, Heart Rate and Total Ascent. I purposely left out Current Speed as I thought it would be too depressing.

And so the climb began, from a stationary start as the road was covered in ice, slush, gravel, bits of tree and broken sandbags where the farmer had tried to protect the floods penetrating his cottage.

I should say here that I have a minor heart problem and that my maximum heart rate should never exceed 162 bpm and my normal riding is in Zone 2 between 107 - 120 bpm. At the bottom of the hill I was ticking over at 115bpm but as I started to climb, so the numbers started to rise.

Gradient at 2%, bpm rise to 124
Shortly the road ramped up, gradient at 5.6%, heart rate at 134bpm and now another computer started to kick in.

The brain

Signals sent to the legs, slight ache detected.

Road still rising,gradient now at 8.7% , heart rate now at 139bpm
Brain shut off all those feelings I was having about numb fingers and frozen toes. Calf muscles beginning to feel under strain.

Gradient now at 12.5%, heart rate at 146bpm. Beginning to gasp a little, legs starting to complain more loudly. Time to change down a gear, still 3 more cog wheels left.

Gradient at 15.8%, heart rate breaks through the 150 barrier. Brain begins to question whether I have gone senile trying to attempt climbs like this when I am an Old Age Pensioner and the weather is below zero and the wind is beginning to howl. Have been told there is great scenery up here but I have eyes only for the bit of road in the front of my wheel.

Gradient at 19.8%, heart rate at 157 bpm, lungs now screaming for relief, legs continuing to turn the pedals but cadence now down to 50 revolutions per minute and the muscles are hurting now.

And then I am there. The Top!  I didnt have to get out of the saddle ( I have not mastered that skill, legs are too weak I fear )  The view is magnificent and within a couple of minutes heart rate as dropped back down to 123 bpm , legs recovered and breathing almost normal.

The pain of the cold is returning to fingers and toes.

Situation normal

And Garmin informs me that I have now burnt off a total of over 1500 calories, climbed more than 2500 feet, which MUST mean that I have earnt the right to a piece of cake. 

So, to answer my original question:

I DO want to ride my bicycle

The reason I am putting myself through all this suffering is because I want to complete the Ride London 100 in August in aid of the mental health charity Mind. For all those who sponsor me there is a free recipe booklet

Cycling Food on the Go - Recipes for Success

available from:-