Sunday, 16 March 2014

The road waited paitiently...

Any one who has been unlucky enough to have seen me in the past 2 weeks will have had to put up with a lot of moaning... I have had a cold ... yes a bad one... no not the female version of man flu... today was the first day in almost 2 weeks I have felt well enough to contemplate making my shiny new bike dirty.

My shiny new bike has been sitting folorn in my porch... especially with the dramatic improvement in the weather and frankly I havent had the motivation to get out there.  Route 66 left me with a bit of a bike hangover... one which fortunately is starting to lift with new dreams and plans. I have discovered recently about myself that unless I have a plan on the go... something to aim for... I can be prone to swing into laziness and tv and sofa calls louder than the wind wistling past me.
All that is sorted now because I have officially announced ... basically shared on facebook... my intentions to cycle north to south new zealand for LHS.
And so cold finally abating... I prepared my kit and swung my legs over clipping into my slightly new pedal system and began to pedal (slightly tentatively) towards the main road.
As I think I have said before..  every bike has a different feel to it and can take some getting used to. But right away I liked the way this one handled... I was expecting a slightly skittish ride but at every turn it felt like I could trust it.. solid but lighter. The drawback... I could feel every bump in the road... round here there are a few.. and the vibration were easily felt through my gloves.

The goal of todays ride was to go where the wind took me... turn down roads if I liked the look of them.. stop if I saw a nice view... but ultimately get some miles in to my slightly atrophied leg muscles. Therefore I found myself negotiating quiet country lanes... familiar in their location but with an unfamiliar feel from the back of this bike.
More wary of potholes and gaining a puncture as havent got a spare inner tube to fit this bike yet.. so a puncture would seriously put a dent in this wonderful day.

At points I went down on the drops and could feel the superior power transfer and subsequent acceleration. The new pedals are slightly different than I have had previously.. being a halfway house between road and mtb cleat fittings. Made for road touring they provide greater stability for the foot by reducing side to side movement.

I found myself. . Ten miles in to the ride at silchester... a favourite spot of mine.  There is a little known roman ampitheatre nestled in the countryside. A quiet spot where it is easy to imagine it how it was centuries before. I didnt linger long however as was impatient to get more miles under my belt... even if they were easy ones... no wind and sunshine. Continuing on I slipped into my own headspace... a state of being that I had become so familiar with during october and have missed somewhat since I got back from the USA.  Barely noticing the miles as they clocked up.. the countryside was green and the sounds and smells that are linked with being out in the fresh air once again flooded my senses.

At one point I found myself on a duel carriageway but this minor interruption to the peace and tranquility was only temporary and was the exception rather than the rule today.

My general lack of fitness started to show around mile 28 where the legs complained a little at a reasonably steep rise... but I had to remind myself that I was climbing these hills in a bigger gear than usual.. due to the lightweight frame beneath me.  Despite this by mile 30 I was once again feeling good. My legs had come back to me and with that familiar feel of sudden energy surge (for no particular reason - other than having broken through the barrier) the pedals turned faster and smoothly and I was once again whizzing along the road.
Any bike ride wouldnt be complete without the usual emergency pheasant dodging manoeuvre. . And there was one hold my breath moment when a car squeezed me into a huge pothole and I emerged slightly jarred and concerned for my tyres... but the bike held together without incident and I continued with the reassuring feel of solid tyres.

About 3 miles from home... the legs died a little bit... but considering exercise of the biking kind has been notably absent from my life lately.. its no wonder the muscles were complaining. That said I was pleased with the 40 mile total and the bike.
I have however been put to shame this weekend by my good friend mickey who braved wind and rain to complete another 60 mile training ride in preparation for his lands end to john o groats ride in suupport of LHS. chapeau mickey! Details of his page can be found on my Route 66 facebook page and would appreciate you checking out his page and supporting him in his adventures!

It was a good day... one of many more to come. The smile and the bounce are back!

Monday, 10 March 2014

Its like a medical procedure...

2016... february... seems a way a way... until you begin to plan another big adventure. Suddenly the amount of time condenses and you realise that actually time to train and plan is already slipping through your fingers faster than water down a welsh mountain stream. The plans are being formed In my mind but nothing concrete has been achieved... until today.

Today I bought a bike...

Yes I know .. I have one.. but this is different and more of that later...

You live and learn right. Well I learnt a lot about myself and cycling in a month out on the road and a couple of problems surfaced which I am hoping to avoid next time.  My right 4th finger got to a point where it wouldnt straighten, possibly because of a slightly incorrect position on the bike..  maybe too much pressure on my palms... trapping a nerve or something like that. The solution in my mind was to get a proper bike fitting done.

So off I went  to a local bike shop (AW Cycles for anyone interested)  on the off chance they would have a slot to sort me out in.

My objective for the next challenge is North to South New Zealand... nominally as a solo ride... but with the possibility of having a friend drive an RV, which I would only meet up with at the end of the day to use as a mobile hotel in the truest sense of the word.  This means I could carry less kit but would still need to carry enough should I need to be self sufficient for a few days. This would make family and friends happier but still satisfy my need to feel 'alone' and be self reliant. Email me if you think its cheating and I will seriously consider tweaking the idea lol.

So with that in mind... I needed a light bike (New Zealand is NOT flat) with plenty of gears but strong enough to carry at least one pannier  full of kit and therefore have attatchments for a rack.

But first the fitting. I got to try on some really nice cycling shoes (bank manager notified of the price) in order to help achieve the fitting. Then handed a pair of cycling shorts to change into.(trying to think if I shaved my legs yesterday or the day before lol).. the indignities began. Height measured... foot size recorded and all going well. Then with the words.. stand astride this bar... it got a lot more uncomfortable.  Specifically for the (ahem) inside leg measurement... the idea is that the bar is Inched upwards until you are just about standing with your heels on the floor... any men having this done would undoubtedly be speaking a whole octave higher for a few hours after this procedure... I have been more comfortable after surgery frankly. Very glad no one was standing with a camera in hand at this point but it was only a short period of embarrassment and as I have shared worse (chafing issues) I dont see any reason to keep this quiet.

Then looking like an idiot with arms outstretched for shoulder and arm measurements... tap it all into a computer program... to be told that I have a wierdly short body but my long arms and legs make up for it... thanks for that!

Anyway... all this essentially means that both Trek and Giant bikes (which surprisingly the shop stocks) suit me perfectly in their frame design. Which gives me a choice to make. Im drawn to the Trek but the one I like is only in White (gets muddy quickly) and more importantly is slightly more expensive.

Giant have a defy series which go from 5 (the cheapest) to 1.. going up in £100 increments. The 2 is nice but probably more than I was going to spend... the 4 components arent as good... what about the 3... only in white again. BUT... Giant make a womens version and joy of joys.. its black and red. Perfect...

Whilst paying I ended up chatting about route 66 .. book etc and some interest in some sort of sponsorship a possibility... although I wont hold my breath yet.

So thats a bike fitting... unless you have a reason.. dont do it. Mildly embarrassing... majorly uncomfortable... but if it means my hands return from New Zealand in better shape than from America it will have been well worth it.

Picking the bike up Wednesday so will let you know how it goes (like the wind I hope)
Still smiling!