Cycling

Underdressed for Spring ends in disaster!

As I was shopping yesterday morning the sun was shining and I was looking forward to my first 50 mile ride of the year.  It was going to be a little bit of a test, 2,000ft of climbing over a distance I hadn’t tackled since the Prudential Ride 100 back in August 2015 but I was confident after doing 37 miles last Sunday with no issues.

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As I set off it was a little chilly but still pretty warm but 10 miles in it was getting cold.  I had also forgot my mini pump so when the rain started a further 2 miles down the road I was beginning to think about abandoning but seen as though that would be failure I plodded on, praying to the puncture Gods that I would not get one.

Everything was going swimmingly up to the climb.  It was a good test, 0.8 miles (1.3km) at an average of 9% which I slowly chugged up.  The HR data from my Garmin Vivosmart HR went mental, think it was because of my wrist being sweaty which was a pain but apart from that I was happy.

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It was cold up there, and my legs felt it.  I was about 30 miles in at this point and the dreaded thigh cramps started.  I couldn’t put any power down or my legs would fully cramp.  This was not good.  I struggled on for another 10 miles and ended up in Stamford Bridge where I had a nice coffee and tried to warm up.  The last 10 miles were hell.  I eventually arrived home and dived straight into the shower to warm my poor legs up.

Note to self (and others) – if you are going on a long ride and it’s cold and you are out of shape ALWAYS overdress, never underdress!

Anyway, lesson learned, 52 miles under stress in the legs so all things considered I’m happy with that.  I’m also happy with my average speed being 15.2mph with that climbing and the fact I couldn’t push at all in the final 20.  Think my fitness is alright for March and now once my house move is done I can take advantage of living close to the Yorkshire Dales and get even fitter for Ride 100 2016.

Oh, and always pack your mini pump.

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Fasted Riding Struggle

Went for a ride yesterday before work and crucially before breakfast and what a struggle it was.

It’s a route that I have done many times before and done a few times without having eaten but never early in the morning (if you can call 8:30am early!) and never struggled like I did yesterday.  I don’t know what the problem was.  Maybe that I had only one coffee?

The BBC had a programme a month or so ago that showed using a small test group that men burn fat more effectively during the day when fasted exercise has been undertaken in the morning.  That’s all well and good but bonking from mile 1 isn’t fun!

Possibly my lack of road miles these last few weeks and the miles I have done have been at a slower average speed than usual has taken it’s toll and I’m losing fitness.  Or it could be that last week I was on holiday and drank beer every day… It is probably the last one!

Anyway I’ll try extra hard this weekend to get some miles in.  Maybe a bit of mountain biking tomorrow and a road ride on Sunday.  Hopefully some hills if my riding buddy fancies them.

Keep on keeping on!

(Feminism gone wrong?) Sometimes on Twitter it’s worth making a point…

And sometimes you realise after one reply a person you following isn’t worth it.

  
  
Is disagreed that this advice posted on a local authority website was worthy of a ‘Double sigh’. 

  
As you can see from my reply to Cycling Moose I wasn’t been provocative, I though I was been level headed, but alas I did not expect a reply saying I had a ‘problem’.

A weird reply, I tried to diffuse it, but was sarcastically quoted to her followers. I wondered why this was until this further quote from her account:

  
Seems it was due to my gender. I’m a man so obviously can’t disagree (however slightly) with a woman without it being an issue.

God bless feminism.

Could anyone enlighten me why the advice given by the local authority was so ‘Double sigh’? I’d love to know.

Written by the most sexist cyclist on Twitter, it would appear.
 

Sail Assisted Cycling?

Saw a recumbent trike at Roots on Sunday sporting a sail.  Now I’m no expert but surely that is illegal!  A big gust of wind or the draft of a passing truck could have a real bad outcome.

And Strava!  Is he putting his rides on Strava?  That’s wind doping gone mad!

Needless to say he was ‘riding’ on his own.  I’m not surprised.  If any of my mates turned up on a machine like that they would be going out on their own!

Yorks of Thirsk – Thirsk, North Yorkshire

Visited this lovely little cycle cafe in Thirsk on Sunday. Only had time to nip in for an espresso but the service was quick, prices reasonable and the coffee delicious.

The walls are adorned with various cycling memrobelia and they offer locks for your bikes if you wish to sit indoors.

Great cafe and we’ll be back!

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November Cycling

Managed 150 miles this month over 8 rides (average 18.75 miles).  You can tell the dark nights are drawing in but the main hindrance in November has been the wind.  I have not known a month since I have been cycling like it!

One particular highlight was my first ever mountain bike expedition to Dalby Forest.

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It was a totally different experience riding on the road.  I felt scared and exhilarated at the same time as we whipped round the red route.  I blogged about the ride here.

So on to December now, need to get some miles in to keep the winter weight piling on.  Already done 29 miles but I need to up this as the scales are not lying!  I have put 3 lbs already this month.

Castelli Alpha Wind Jersey

Castelli Alpha Full Zip Wind Jersey – Black – £152.64

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Available from Wiggle (and other stockists) 

You can buy this from Wiggle now for £129.99 which is a steal… 

This was my first foray into very expensive cycling clothing, it was scary.  Over £150 on a jersey seems like madness but I wanted to get something that would keep me warm and I only needed one so I thought I would give it a go.  And I’m delighted I did.

I’m a fatty, namely XXXL in Castelli, but the jersey fitted well.  Nice and tight so nothing flapping around and room for a thin base layer underneath.  You will only need a thin base layer as the jersey is warm.

You get a long sleeve jersey made from Windstopper fabric with a sewn in front base layer that protects you from the wind as you cycle forward.  When you have the base layer zipped up you can open the external zip if you come warm and close it up when it chills off.   A great little design.  The rear of the jersey is made from the same material but there is no extra layer here so your back can keep cool.

On the front there is a little zip pocket.  Can’t say that I will use it but it’s nice for your change or a key.  Three big pockets are to be found at the rear with a little compartment in the right one for keys but no zip.

The back of the jersey is slightly longer that normal to keep you snug and the collar zips up right round your neck, again, keeping the wind out and the warm in.

It’s not branded as a waterproof jersey but I did use it in the rain and it kept the showers out fine.  In heavier storms you may need a rain jacket but for the odd bit of drizzle it was more than adequate.

So, temperature.  I have been out twice in this jersey, once in 11 degrees and the other on a really windy and wet day at 6 degrees.  11 degrees with no base layer I found the jersey really warm, I had the zip down halfway to let some cold air in.  The second ride I used a light short sleeved base layer and found with the jersey zipped up I felt no chill from the wind of rain.

It really seems like this jersey is a great utility choice.  Cheaper than a Gabba, maybe a bit warmer too, but when coupled with a base layer can easily be used down to freezing but you can ride around in much warmer temperatures and be comfortable.

Was it worth £150?  I think it is.  You can scrap the need for a cycling jacket, head out in this with a little rain gilet and you are good for pretty much all of the November weather.

Rapha Lightweight Essentials Case

Lightweight Essentials Case – Chilli – £25 

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Available from Rapha.cc

I had been looking for something to hold my phone, debit card, money and keys for some time and tried quite a few products, most recently a bag that came with my Castelli Nanoflex arm warmers but nothing fitted the bill.  I had noticed that Rapha did a leather Essentials Case but this was a little steep at £45 for a cycling wallet then I noticed the nylon Lightweight Essentials Case at £25.  I could justify £25 so it was duly ordered.

Firstly, lets discuss the case.  It is very light and looks well made.  My iPhone 6 in it’s case already fits inside with room for my debit card, coins and notes along with my house key.  Even with all this loaded in the case isn’t bulky and it fits nicely in a jersey pocket.

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The zip pocket inside the case is great.  It stops coins and keys swilling around scratching your phone and rattling around as you ride.  I use mine as a wallet but it would fit a tube, levers and multi-tool if so desired instead of your phone.

Rapha Postage Costs

Rapha charged me £5 to deliver this item to my address.  Let’s put this in perspective.  if I ordered from Wiggle it would be free and would arrive in two days.  But Rapha’s £5 is for STANDARD delivery which took four days and it didn’t even require a signature.  It would appear that your £5 is used for a posh envelope that they put your invoice in.

Postage really annoys me.  Rapha added 20% of the product price as a delivery charge, sat on the order for over a day then sent it out.  I don’t mind paying for delivery but when paying £5 I would expect more than a four day time period.

Verdict

The product, if a little expensive, is great – only let down by the postage.  Effectively you are paying £30 for a nylon wallet and due to the high price I can only award this 3 out of 5.  An extra point would have been awarded if the price had been a little more reasonable (including postage).

 

Since posting this online I have received a few comments that I am just moaning and I was aware of the P&P charges prior to ordering.

To this is say when paying a fiver postage you expect to get some kind of better service than normal mail which costs less. What I got was a posh envelope for my invoice. 4 days if too long when compared to other cycling suppliers, such as Wiggle, where for free P&P it arrives in 2 days.

I’d have happily paid £5 if they didn’t sit on my order for over a day and then send it out standard postage. If you contact them about this they ignore you. If you put it in a product review they don’t contact you to address it.

Again, if you have a negative review Wiggle will put it online and answer it. It can’t be transparent for a company to just not put them online or address them. I know it’s only a small thing but I’ll never buy another Rapha product again due to this.

 

Rapha have today responded to me:

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Fair enough if my review didn’t meet their guidelines, that is their right not to publish it.  I also take on board that they say they publish negative reviews so I will amend my review.

It’s great that they have today contacted me but prior to me publishing this review they had ample opportunity and didn’t, but thanks Rapha for reaching out today.

First foray into MTB

Saturday 7th November – my first proper go on a mountain bike.  I was bricking it as we were taking on the Dalby Forest Red Run which is meant for experienced riders.  I am not an experienced rider.

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Starting at Dixons Hollow, mainly to avoid a lot of climbing as we only had a few hours we cruised round and you know what?  It was brilliant.  I thought mountain biking would be dull but I really enjoyed it.  It will never take priority over my beloved road cycling but for a change it is most excellent.

Here is a video from the early parts of the trail:

Ride on!

No 57 The Stang (and No 51 Tan Hill) – 100 Greatest Climbs

I don’t normally do a blog post for every climb I do on the list but The Stang was a bit of an achievement.  It was the first one on the list that I have ridden from bottom to top without stopping.

Now you may not think this is that good but last year I was 2 stone heavier and would do anything to avoid hills and now I go actively looking for them.  I don’t know why but I do… I kind of enjoy the pain.

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The first part of the climb was tough but then following a short downhill section it was just pretty steady, never really getting above 12% as I churned my way to the top.  But the best part about getting to the top is going down…

After that it was straight on to Tan Hill, a long 6 mile morning slog to the highest Inn in the British Isles.

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So that was two 100 Greatest Climbs, back to back, in a day.  No wonder I could barely make it up the little hills on the way back to Reeth.  Still, it was all worth it and now that’s 8 down, 92 to go.  Think I’ll try a few in West Yorkshire over the coming weeks, I’m keeping away from The Dales for a while!