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:-

Friday, February 1, 2013

On the Road, On the Road, On the Road Again

It is almost 5 years to the day since I bought my first bike. It was a well used , and very heavy MTB and I remember well my first journey; a cycle down the Mickleover Greenway to a tea shop at the Tara Centre. The entire round trip journey was about 12km and I remember feeling shattered at the end. The other day I walked along this route once again but as you can see below, I considered cycling to be out of the question

Mind you, as part of my early career I was involved in Risk Assessment and this may well have influenced my decision to keep off the bike, what with the snow, ice, arctic gales and sub-zero temperatures. Not everyone though is as soft as me and I did encounter someone who was out braving the elements and going up the Silverhill Wood Climb.

But the snows have now gone, the temperatures risen ( a little ), and though we still have extremely high winds I am back on the road again!

( Incidentally, another of my pastimes is photography and this year I am trying to create a story board on the theme of cycling and concentrating upon black and white images - hence the lack of any colour in images above )

At my age, even a short break from exercise can have a serious impact on your fitness and so it was with some trepidation that I started out again fearing aching legs and bursting lungs. In the cycling gap I have been swimming in the hope that I might retain some semblance of muscle tone and it seems to have worked.

Yesterday we cycled  84km, or, as I think of things now,  just over half a London100. I admit the speed was fairly slow but in mitigation the wind was consistently hjigh at 25mph with gusts upto 50mph. Whatever my excuses, it was a start and I feel reasonably pleased with the effort.

So, at the end of the first month the vital statistics are

Total distance =   438 km
Total Ascent   =  3010m
Longest Ride  =  84.1km

Total swimming distance = 14.6km

If you have been following this blog then you will know that the main goal for the year is to complete the Ride London100 with my son, and we are doing it in aid of the Mental Health Charity Mind.  As part of this we are trying to raise funds and for everyone who donates they will receive a free booklet entitled

Cycling Food on the Go - Recipes for Success

This contains over 40 recipes kindly given to me by cyclists from all over the world, all who train and refuel on that most essential of ingredients.. CAKE !

For us novice cyclists, 100 miles is seeming to be an awful long way and I have  a real fear that I will not make it, but I will give it my best shot.

If you would like a booklet then please visit

and a special thank you to all those who have already so generously supported our cause.