Monday, 11 July 2016

Another Splendid Week of Cycling

This week's blog is a little late due to a splendid work social barbecue/braii/outdoor grill. There's so much to share though. I've had another great week on the bike, SuperSam also features strongly and we really do need to discuss events in France. No not that disappointing international soccer tournament, the Tour de France, the greatest sporting event on the planet.

My first ride of the week and my ride name was dedicated to the late Caroline Aherne. We've lost too many good people this year. As we're big fans of the Fast Show at C&DCycles CC there really was only one show to quote her from! A very funny lady and a great loss.

As for the ride. It was my standard training loop. I was happy with the pace and my improving fitness.

On Wednesday I woke up with the plan to do some hill work. Then I devised the madcap plan of doing my route via Rockingham hill. Anyone whose never ridden Rocky needs to know it's seen as one if not 'the' toughest hill in Northants. Situated just outside Corby and with Rockingham castle plonked on top, this steep slope has featured in the Women's tour, when those superb specimens made it look easy! On route to Rocky there's also the significant lump through Middleton and Cottingham just to pre-fatigue the legs! Half way up Rocky I was considering the only downfall of the hill which is you have to ride on busy roads out of Corby at the top. I also considered the fact I have never ridden down Rocky. Both issues were solved by my slingshot around the roundabout at Rockingham triangle and straight back down hill. My goodness that's a great descent. That also meant I could take the hill back into Cottingham just to really finish my legs and lungs off. A great training route!

The view over the Welland Valley

On Wednesday evening SuperSam took part in another Go Ride event at Rockingham Motor Speedway with KCC Cyclones. He has really improved since the last time, with training obviously paying off. He also had a quick go on a drop handle bar bike to see if he liked it. More on that later.

Good pace on his heavy MTB

Yes I know he isn't wearing his helmet, I stopped him when I realised!

My last before work ride of the week was my 'fast' loop. This features the 8km Strava segment I created called: "Keep your Alan's on!" If you're wondering 'Alan's' are knickers as in the rhyming slang 'Alan Whickers,' and the phrase is similar to 'keep your hair on!' Its a predominantly flat loop with that fast slight downhill into Loddington. My training plan is up Orton Hill to wake the legs up, one lap steady pace, really go for it for one lap and then just as fast as I've got left for a final lap, back down the hill and home. Other people ride this much faster than me but as progress goes I'd say mine is steady.

An average over 17mph is always a good result for me

On Saturday SuperSam had Sailing club and as usual I did laps of Pitsford on my 29r. The kids looked to be going well on the water. I wasn't quite as zippy as last week largely due to huge clouds of annoying flies and it was also a bit soggy but hey a bit of rain is never a big deal. The res was a bit less busy than usual but there was still a good showing of walkers, wobbly kids and bouncy joggers. I was getting strange looks back at the Sailing Club after my four laps. I discovered why when I looked in the car window, my head was black with hundreds of squashed flies!

To the main event of the week and my chance to ride with the splendid DIY experts of C&DCycles CC. A good gathering at the shop saw around ten of us set off on one of Big Steve's magical mystery tours. A big shout goes to Jonesy, joining us on a Sunday for the first time in a long time. I hope we see more and more of him in the coming weeks. Missing in action was the large presence of Mark Baird, we're all looking forward to seeing him sometime soon. I wasn't as good at keeping up this week but looking at my Strava later I had a lot of PR's so I'm getting quicker, the others are just quicker than that! The route through Castle Ashby was fantastic. Some lovely roads. As a group we really found our legs coming into Harrowden with Kev getting a KOM on the sprint section. We really do need to sort our organisation out though. If we learned to chain gang properly rather than going the hard way and passing on the right we'd be even quicker. 

Our very own 'Fast Monkey'

Of great concern to Chris on our way around was Andy's cadence sensor. He felt it was positioned wrong, sitting on the outside of his crank. It was getting to the point when I thought I was going to have to administer some emergency Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Then common sense prevailed and the sensor was re-positioned. Fellow Lycra road warriors inquired if we were okay at this point, the answer is probably: "No but we're learning to live with it!"

We saw a lot of other cyclists out. A special mention to Alan and Jamie who we saw near Santa Pod and James who I saw on the way home. Those lads dragged me around my first ever 100 miler. If I knew then what I know now I may have just stuck to fishing...nah don't be daft I love cycling. It just feels weird that I don't really consider 100 miles to be a challenge now. Also out were the smattering of horse riders and the athletes who can't ride. Andy's 'Jogger of the Day,' award, brought to you in conjunction with Pendred's Hard Wood Joinery, was awarded in Earls Barton.

C&D OCD club

Having successfully snuck a snake into Steve's pocket (no euphemism intended,) I set myself a bigger task this week. My favourite pants 'oddballs' come in a health promotion packet describing testicualr self examination. Now this is a serious subject for us chaps who cycle but I failed to secretly sneak it in after ten miles of Frank running distraction. Steve however did see the funny side and read the advice out. That's my bit done for health promotion!!! I also forgot I had a secondary plan of putting a lego man in his pocket. So I tried and failed to sneak that into Neil's jolly nice jersey. He liked it so much that he pretended it was going to be donated to his son...don't worry Neil we all like to play Lego still!

The last thing of note was the procession of tractors and the splendid Morris police car near Finedon. They were raising money for the Air Ambulance which really is to be applauded.

I was delighted on arrival back at the shop to discover the Queen of Cakes and SuperSam. My budding cyclist was getting his KCC Cyclones loan bike. It's a marvelous initiative where the club loan kids a bike for racing so they can compete on a even field with kids who already have all the kit. When Sam outgrows this bike he gives it back and another young rider gets the beenfit. It's a nice CUDA cyclocross bike, V brakes so it doesn't fall foul of the disc brake ban and supplied with road and off road tyres. There's standard and SPD pedals and lights supplied too! So it's a massive thanks to KCC and C&D Cycles for collaborating to the benefit of the cyclists of the future. Sam is absolutely made up with this and can't wait to put the bike to use.

Already training on the Col du Avenue!

Finally lets talk Tour. What a week for British cyclists. Froome with a stage win and in yellow following his 'aeronuts,' attack! Cav in Green after winning three stages already and having held the yellow jersey for the first time in his career. Yates in white. Perhaps the biggest result of the lot was Cummings astonishing solo breakaway victory. When the Brits weren't winning it was great to see a Sagan victory, the man is a god on a bike and can do things that even most pro's can't copy. I also really enjoyed the stage win from Van Avermaet which put the classics rider into yellow for a couple of days. Which then makes my feelings about this Year's tour a little confused. I think it's about to get boring! Froome has Yellow, Team Sky have all the advantages of their super domestiques. It feels like we're already on the procession to Paris. Contador is gone, Nibali doesn't appear to be going well and Quintana is being heavily marked. So much as I want Froome to win and Team Sky to dominate, I'd also like the other teams to just "do something!"

OK that's it.
Happy Pedaling!

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