Sunday, 22 January 2017

Good week away leads to Cyclocross fun at MK Bowl

I have to confess that I was totally sulking last week in Corby at the Rockingham Wheelers Cyclocross event. My sore ribs and the likely tongue lashing I'd receive if I banged myself up again meant I'd taken the unfoolish decision not to ride. Chris Barratt had told me how good the course was looking and as soon as I saw it I was gutted. It was still the right decision but I hated it! The silver lining was that I got to take some good pictures and encourage others, not least my very own SuperSam.

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Just look at his face on that technical slope. My boy is loving it, loving it, loving it! His remit this season is to have fun!

What followed for me was a most enjoyable and unusual week. I am very fortunate to be on an IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies,) Leadership Course at Reading University which last week meant being away for four days. Mrs Lindsley, the Queen of Cakes, is on a similar course (IAPT Parent Training,) and we were together for three of those days. The upside was some quality time together, really top quality training and some lovely meals out. The downside is that sitting in training rooms has never been kind on my back and my post Christmas diet got completely wrecked. The cooked breakfast for three mornings, combined with amazing dinners at the Hand Made Burger Company, Las Iguanas and The Queens Head have reversed my recent trend and my Sunday weigh in shows a pound put on this week! Only a pound you say? Well I had hoped that running every morning would neutralise the lard fest!

Running??? Yes forgive me Eddy Merckx I have sinned! It was quite nice actually. My three colleagues on the leadership course all run. One asked, can you run Richard? Cheeky mare. Not quite as cheeky as the slight from Steve Duke which still hurts. I confided in him how hard I find it to lose weight and he suggested a BEGGINERS walking and running club. Yes Steve I'm not letting that go because it really did sting!!! Anyway on the first morning we set off and it quickly became clear that my cycling fitness does translate to running fitness. 

That first run was a bit of an eye opener. I was just hoping to keep up but it turned out I was more than quick enough for our group. We got a bit lost around campus but I was really pleased with my first run in a long time.

On Day two some of us were determined to complete a 5K and we were joined by yet another colleague expanding the IAPT running club. Our additional member said that a lap of the Campus perimeter was almost exactly 3 miles so I guessed that was perfect for a 5K. So off we set and it was a really great run. It was also a bit further at 6.5K. This was me finding my limits. I was tired after this run and I could really feel it in my legs. The stairs at University gave me those amusing twinges that you'll love if you're like me but I understand that it's not for everyone!

On Day 3 it seems I'd broken the rest of the running club and went out on my own. Once again it appears I'm the foolish one. My first mile took 12 minutes!!! I can almost walk a mile at that speed! Everything was super tight. I was sure I'd stretched well, I also warmed up and did all my pilates and stuff that keeps my back healthy(ish). However my calves were like rocks. It did ease after that first mile so perhaps I needed more warm up. Perhaps one of my more experienced runner friends could give me some advice (Not you Steve I think I'll ask Gemma or Matthew!) It was a lovely run in the end around the frozen lake (-4 out but it was only -3 real feel so still very much shorts weather!) I eventually also found another member of the IAPT running club so it was nice to keep up the social side. 

So am I a runner now? Well the Queen of Cakes asked if I was going to give up cycling and run from now on? Hell no!!! I do think it's a good form of fitness though. Even the mighty Jens Voight runs now and for very good reasons. A half hour run is a lot more bang for your fitness buck than the same time on a bike. Also when you're away from home, running is easier because you need a lot less kit. Maybe a couple of runs a week will compliment my exercise routine and help with weight loss. Also whilst it's still dark mornings with a bit of frost around it kind of makes sense.

There was absolutely no way I was missing out on this weeks Cyclocross race. I woke on Saturday in absolute agony as the week of Reading University chairs tore into my back. It's not just that though. I'm supposed to lie on my left hand side to protect the area that gets sore and due to my ribs that's just not possible. Drugs, stretches and muscle rub sorted me out and by the time I was putting bikes on the car I was feeling much looser! A last minute addition in Sam's friend meant that I couldn't put bikes in the car but luckily I have a great neighbour in Gareth and he lent me his bike carrier. 

Saris Bones Red 3 Bike Rear Cycle Carrier

Anyone whose ever driven with a rear mounted cycle carrier knows how nerve wracking that can be. You constantly watch the bikes in the rear view mirror and any odd noise leads to the fear that a bike falling off your car disaster is imminent. No such problems can be reported with Gareth's carrier. It was solid as a rock and as a consequence I think I would recommend a Saris Bones wholeheartedly. Even better Gareth has roof bars and wants to sell it...I think you have a deal neighbour! I still think your best bike transport options when you can't ride to a destination are as follows: inside a vehicle; on roof bars and finally rear carrier. However the inside of my car is getting wrecked by muddy bikes so a carrier works!

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My primary focus at Cyclocross will always be Sam. I love it, I really love it but nothing gives me as much pleasure as seeing my children progress. Sam has been hesitant and lacked confidence at times. It's a technical sport and falls are common place, you can't blame him for being nervous. He's overcoming that though. Practice and the encouragement of the Cyclones coaches is really paying off. I am thankful for all the words of suppot yesterday but would like to single out James Simons-Boswell who took the time to particularly point out Sam's progress. James and I have quite a history. I was playing in the rugby match at the Henley 7's (Fat Blokes amateur tournament not the professional thing, we weren't quite that good!) which resulted in him being airlifted to Reading Hospital (oh that's interesting...Reading!) He also was part of a team who helped me through my first 100 mile Sportive. I like to remember these things and when someone with that sort of history and subsequent amazing progress as a cyclist, says something to me, it really resonates. Back to SuperSam. He managed things yesterday on a bike that he wasn't able to do a few months ago. It's down to hard work and reminds me of my favourite quote from legendary wide receiver Jerry Rice:
"Do today what others won't so tomorrow you can do what others can't!"

Sam's teammates in the cyclones also had a good day. I have the privilege of writing about them for the Facebook page, this goes to the KCC website and then the Evening Telegraph reports on it from there. So I won't go through all of that again. All I will say is that I'm proud to be part of the Cyclones and contributing to the local cycling scene.

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To my bit and yesterday's race really did reinforce the old adage of the 6P's. Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance. I hadn't riden my 29r since Cannock Chase on New Years Eve Eve. At Cannock I broke an SPD pedal so that I could only clip in on one side. The solution to this should have been to buy new pedals. Those SPD's came off my Dad's old Road bike and I'd had my money's worth and then some! The Heath Robinson solution I came up with was to remove the mechanism from the side that was broken. I tested it on the road to see how it worked and that's fine...however it's a different matter all together in the mud of a cyclocross race. More Tomfoolery from the sockwomble! I've also been having trouble with my seat stem in that it slips despite being super tight! You'll see from the pictures that my riding position is ridiculous as the seat slipped down again!!! No excuses though, I don't think those factors would have gained me many places.

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Mrs Lindsley is a kind lady and refuses to see the Tellytubby on a bike that I can see! It's still all about my weight for me. I'm 14st7lbs this morning. I think my ideal riding weight is 13st and these pics have made me even more determined to get back on MyFitnessPal. I'm not back in Reading for 7 weeks so I'm hoping to be a good ten pounds lighter by then. I'd like to think I won my weight category yesterday 😉

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I mentioned that this sport is hazardous right? Well this photo captures the bravery of the kids on the ride. This sort of fall happened several times in front of me yesterday and just before I finished a kid slammed into the tarmac. You'll notice that the images I'm using are copyright of Keith Perry. He's the official photographer and allows his great pictures to be used because it promotes the league. If you go to the link for this album you can see the sequence of the kid getting back up and riding on. Premier League footballers take note, these kids are warriors!

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This is me heading for the finish after 30 minutes slogging it out in the saddle. MyFitnessPal has taken my data and determined that I completed 33 minutes of light leisure cycling! This was much harder than any of the running I did last week, they really do need a cyclocross setting!!! Anyway of more importance in this picture is young Josh Brown. I momentarily tried to join him in the sprint to the line. It became quickly apparent that I was once again engaging in a foolishly futile endeavour. Great race face Josh!

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I'm always telling people to smile when they ride. So here I'm practicing what I preach. It's not forced I flipping love it. In the picture below you'll see my closest rival on the day. Whilst I'll never keep up with the whippets there's always someone to test yourself against. I first became aware of him when I completely cut him up on a hill. He tried to ride it and I tried to run it. I took his line and then he had to run it too! I think I apologised like a thousand times ad gave way to him on every hill for the next lap. In the end I got away from him, possibly because of that hill but you know that's racing I think. Afterwards he sought me out to shake my hand and explained he perhaps should have shouted but didn't have the breath to do so. I still feel a bit bad.

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It's not all about me though. My C&D Cycles CC clubmates Ashley, Andy Brown and Chris also had good races.

Ashley managed to get second place. However he's so young it's actually bullying for him to even be in our race. Ashley is capable and ready to step up into his age category and I would really encourage him to do that. Yes they're scary quick in the junior men but come on Ash unless you test yourself you'll never know. That would also get him away from us as we're all in the Vet 40-49 category!

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Next was Andy Brown in 8th. He's a cheat too on account of being so skinny. Andy may always beat me on a bike but one thing I know for sure is that I'm always warmer than he is! They thought I was mad in shorts. Well I was quickly warm. The skinny lads just suffered.

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Then comes Chris in 11th. That's also a great effort. He looks knackered for a good reason. CX is hard! Proper hard. I was trying to keep up with him on the first lap but no chance! Maybe next week eh! I'm nearly as proud of team C&D as I am of the cyclones. It would be nice if some more club-mates got off Zwift and had a go at this fantastic sport!

Okay this feels like the longest blog I've ever written. So a few closing comments and then I better walk Harvey followed by getting to the shop for some new pedals and some grip paste!!!

After our race we watched Cyclones head coach Mark Evans in the Vet 40-49 race. They go for 45 minutes as opposed to the 30 we do in novices and the racing is very impressive. Not coming last in that category will be quite a challenge! It's also interesting to see how the experienced riders do it. Many have spare bikes in the pits and swap them regularly. They dive off a bike snatch the spare from the pit crew and ride on. Then the crew tends to power wash the bike ready to swap it back in a few laps time. Also interesting was seeing someone swap to a single speed bike. There's a theory in CX that single speeds work better because of their reliability and no rear mech to get fouled with mud.

I didn't see Mark finish because Sam and his friend were getting cold. So we headed off for a well deserved KFC. Not long after that Sam and his friend were out for the count in the car. I stopped to take this photo safely and legally!

Back at Lindsley Home Sweet Home it was time to clean the bikes. I used a hose and not a jet wash just in case anyone is worried about that sort of thing. I also had to clean my winter bike down because I hadn't used it since Christmas Eve. Embarrassingly it was still decorated and covered in road grime. However they're all clean and lubed now.

Okay then! That's it. I can't wait for Misterton Hall next week!

Happy Pedaling

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