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

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