Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Lost Time

My training schedule for Ride London100 which I am doing for the mental health charity Mind  in August has taken a severe hit. A combination of deep snow, temperatures continually below zero both day and night, interspersed with fog, mists and blizzards has kept me off the bike.
In the last 2 weeks I have only managed 100km of cycling with 600m climbing.

The vital statistics tell a very sorry tale

Total distance  = 272km
Total Ascent  = 2059m
Longest Ride = 58.3km

The only positive sign is that my swimming , which I have taken up in order to help improve my aerobic capacity is going much better than expected and the yearly goal of swimming 25km should easily be achieved as I have completed 10km already.
When cycling it was brought forcibly home to me that I needed to take on fuel  during the journey  ( hence the idea behind Cycling Food on the Go, Recipes for Success ) and so my total daily calorie intake was increased quite markedly. With exercise now a virtual memory I have managed to reduce calorie intake and weight is remaining stable at 75kg.

The problem of course is that at my age, making up for Lost Time becomes increasingly difficult.

Thinking about Lost Time makes you think of times past, the lost time before i discovered Cycling as a hobby. And perhaps it is that feeling of opportunities missed that is behind my enthusiasm for retro things and the love of hand built bikes made out of Reynolds steel, the aesthetics of beautiful handcrafted lug work, the history behind the traditional names such as Campagnola. 
When I retired I bought both a camera and a bike, never having been involved with either before, and as with cycling, in photography I am drawn to the era before digital when Ansell Adams created pictures using his Zonal System

And so this year, as well as cycling, I am aiming to have a photographic project. The theme will be cycling and all the images will be in black and white. 

Retro World - living the dream. Reynolds steel, down tube shifters, 27inh wheels, the sort of machines ridden by the legends. Black and White photography, zonal schemes.  And then in the tea shops you can believe that you are chatting to Ansell and Tommy. Discussing the developing cocktails and exposure times used in  film, sharing the pain of that last great mountain.
For a while, you too can be a legend, just living the dream of retro time.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Healthy in Body and Mind ?

A new year comes with new resolutions to get fitter and slimmer. But this year there is the added incentive that I have to be able to cycle 100 miles around the Olympic Road Race course in London come August.

This whole project has two strands, one related to getting into a physical condition to be able to complete such a challenge, and the second to raise both sponsorship and awareness of my chosen charity Mind.

I am intending to keep a running total of distances covered in my training and so far this year I have managed

Total distance =169km
Total climbing = 1395m
Longest ride = 53.8km

The last number is perhaps the most significant as I have got to get this up to 160km by August.

In order to try and improve my aerobic capacity I have returned, after an absence of about 20 years, to swimming. In my youth there used to be separate changing rooms for boys and girls but these days it seems unisex has taken over with just a load of cubicles and a row of lockers. Nearly had a very embarrassing incident on my first visit back :-() I  have never been any good at swimming so have just set myself a goal of completing 25km this year, so far

Swimming Distance = 5.65km

so perhaps a little ahead of target.

I also am aiming to lose a little weight with the aim of getting down to 73kg from my current 75kg

It was one of my sons who tempted me into doing this challenge and so we are entering as  Team Roberts and for everyone who sponsors us at

they will receive a free Booklet containing over 20 recipes for Cycling Food on the Go.

Cycling in winter results in cold fingers but one way to help prevent your digits falling off is to wear a pair of  hand made and crocheted wrist warmers. There are a myriad of very tiny blood vessels flowing through your wrists and feeding the circulation to your fingers. The thought is that by warming this blood flow then your fingers too will feel the benefit. Whatever the science, they really are a piece of true craft work and we are now offering these, in any colour of your choice for £5 + p&p with all profits going to our charity.

To obtain your pair then just go to MissyBCrafts where you will be able to order a pair made just for you!

Thursday, January 3, 2013


I think it was Greg Henderson who said that climbing hills was like fighting with a gorilla. You don't give up when you are tired, you give up when the gorilla is tired. Well to-day. i was beaten by the gorilla :-(

It seems it is customary with my local CTC group to make the first ride of the year a hilly one, to test fitness, give an opportunity to regret the one (?) mince pie too many, and remind everyone that some serious work needs to be done.

The ride was not that long at about 55 km and the total ascent was around 750 m, but the hills just kept on coming, each one sapping a little more from my legs and lungs. And then we came to the bottom of Nob Inn Lane. I had never ridden around this particular area before and it took me completely by surprise such that I was in the Big Ring when,  going round a corner I was suddenly confronted by a sharp rise at 25% gradient for short distance before flattening out to around 12% for the next kilometre. I just could not turn the pedals fast enough to allow me to change down and so I ground to a stop...and walked.

 Defeated by the gorilla.

All the others had got off to but that is no consolation. I would be kidding myself if I believed that reducing gear would have conquored the beast, the truth is that I was too weak.

That 100 mile ride in Ride London100 suddenly seems so much harder and there I have Box Hill to contend with, more unknown territory.

On other fronts I have started swimming on my non-cycling days. I am not a proper swimmer and my son would be aghast at my style. But the aim is to swim 25 km this year and I am hoping it will help to build up some lung capacity and improve my breathing as I have noticed that on the bike I only ever use the top part of my lungs. When swimming I have to use the lot.

So, not an auspicious start to my training plan