Friday, December 30, 2016

Phrrrrrrt!

2016 is fizzling out like a bad smelling fart here.

What started as an epic and enthusiastic week got battered by storms. There are domesyic chores I promised myself I would do and I feel I had better get them done by the end of the year otherwise it will be back to work and everything will get forgotten till next year... maybe.

The curtain fabric for the living room has been rolled up in a plastic bag since 2013 (according to the label).  It has now reached something curtains-shaped with only the hemming and hanging to do.

Then there's the not-so-small matter of a training plan for next year. A work in progress which now needs finishing for motivational purposes following the cyclo cross season so as not to waste all that goodly gotten progress. Like a big wave of momentum crashing from the high of the 'cross nationals into 'learning to swin again' (yay!)

The plan is complicated this year. Breaks every 2 or 3 days because I have learned that I thrive on good recovery. This approach also allows me more space to juggle work commitments, though my new years resolution is to bow to those interruptions less frequently. I may even apply for unpaid leave on our flexible benefits to give me more time to train and travel to/from events. So I know my plan is too complicated and so probably wrong but there is purpose and methodology to it and it is now complete and black and white so there's another bit of 2016's chores out of the way.

Tomorrow is its last day. It's been an ok year for me, with highlights in May (Lisbon), June (Kielder), July (The Legend Tri) and September - TorinoNice (forever engraved in my heart) and a great 3 Peaks Cyclo-cross.

After that, the 'cross season was everything I needed it to be: great fun. If my reaction on Tuesday is anything to go by, "Is that it? Is it over?", my endurance on the bike is thriving.

Come and get it 2017!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Macclesfield Supacross

Raced with Dame Sarah Storey - cycling heroine.
Came 101st... shouldda sprinted for that extra place.
Felt on fire, though tired.

22 effort kms.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Boxing Day Bogtrot 2016

2 overshot checkpoints.  8 miles (13kms) of mostly thrashing through thigh-deep heather.  48 effort miles on foot.  Not sure how that fits in to the festive 500.

Lanterne Rouge.

I will take it as a compliment that the organiser has never returned back to base in time to get soup before - meaning that although I was slower than everyone else today, I was less slow than the slow people who didn't dare race today.

The weather was still windy but gloriously sunny and it only hailed on me very briefly.

I got lost and lay in the grass to check my navigation and I had just gone out by 100m and got straight back on track so I'm pretty pleased with that aspect of it and looking forwards to the next one.

Long may it continue.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas ride


Fought up the Loxley valley.


Turned for Strines



Headed onto the A57 for refuge

Set out for King's Tree but decided to hit the Bamford Triangle instead.

Shared some chocolate with random kids on bikes... with their mum's permission.

Hathersage.

Great Hucklow - the least windy climb in the peak... until the top.


Flowers hanging in there.




Finally a tail wind along Bretton top.



Down to Eyam then Grindleford.  Starting to get really chuffin' knackered now.

Debated whisky at the Maynard but couldn't stomach it so it's a good job it was shut.

On / off tail wind over Ringinglow.

32 miles per hour through Redmires without trying.

From 4pm sweaty cyclists to 6pm lamb christmas dinner and respectability.

Nicely done team Pamplemouse.

62 real kms, 95 effort ones.

The 2016 Festive 500

At this time of year there is the Festive 500 challenge  - to ride 500km between Christmas eve and New Year. Every year I think, 'that'd be great to do' and I never do.

Here's cycling magazine recommendations for completion of the Festive 500. http://www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/news/latest-news/five-tips-to-nail-the-rapha-festive-500-202959?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=Social

So this year I said I would and then it dawned on me that in the 8 days of the Festive500 I have 2 hardcore cyclo cross races which, although they tire me out only count for 12km and leave me without the time or inclination to do anything else.

I also like to go out for a mountain bike ride with Glyn and TSK and this year we combine with the extra pleasure of meeting Glyn's new laydee. So I won't be missing out on that. Mountain bike rides are, by their nature, shorter and mostly harder than road rides.

Cycling Weekly recommends that I avoid hilly rides to churn out the kms. Fortunately I live in Sheffield so avoiding climbs isn't a thing. Apart from being pretty bad at climbing, I actually really like it. The challenge, the warm, the rhythm, the change of position on the bike, the focus.

Thanks to my japanther boots, the cold is no longer an issue. I am hoping that yesterday's wind fest was the worst of it so I have already ridden through the toughest, riskiest day of the 8.

When there's cyclo cross on the cards though, pacing myself isn't going to help. When I was passed yesterday by Sheffrec's 22mph pace group there was nothing I could have done to jump on the back for a lift due to being half way through a strength training regimen that leaves me a little more tense and more exhausted everytime I do it so I will have to settle for what pace I get and with my legs and the storm, yesterday's was 10.5mph.

A day off. Well. Based on doing reasonably well in one of those cross races, a day off is essential but does reduce the number of days available to ride kms.

So how do I do the Festive 500 then? Well, I don't. With maths though, I will find a way. Whether I double my off road miles as 2 wheeled chick suggested or multiply my miles by their training zones or count every 100metres elevation as 1km (giving me an extra 24km yesterday). I might somehow achieve my own Festive500. Whether Rapha send me a cloth badge through the post or not is not something that I will not lose sleep over in 2017. Will I have had more fun on a bike than someone ploughing through Cambridgeshire lanes in he dark and pissing rain? Maybe so.  All we can be sure of is I will have ridden more different bikes in more varied conditions with a wider selection of friends from Britain's quiet cycling elite to work colleagues who go back 20 years.

I am happy that's going to fulfil my Christmas wishes.

The little cabin


I've been reading Jill Homer's books and dreaming of Alaskan wilderness, life on the bike and out of a bivi bag and every time I put the book down I have to return to my own drudging life of city scapes, life in an engineering office and from a stone-fronted terraced house with a draughty loft and a minor stream running through the basement.

I just started to read 'Arctic Glass'. Page 2 on the kindle recounts a return home from work to their 'little one-room cabin' and I look around me and finally feel like I am lucky to live here. Not because I have 6 rooms (if you count the drafty loft and a the basement with its trickle) but because this is my one room cabin. To have more than this we would need to work harder, gamble more on loans, pay more interest and do / spend less time / money on bikes.

Our 6 rooms - living, kitchen, bed, spare (just big enough for a single bed and a clothes horse), loft and basement mean that the only people who visit are hardy or close family and therefore the only people who understand our overflowing home of bikes, muddy fell shoes, excessive outdoor gear and wetsuits hanging from every corner of those spare rooms. And Sheffield is our perfect city. It provides our jobs and gives us somewhere serviced from which to access the Peak. It is our basecamp.

The only thing I'd change? Our noisy neighbour but really, he's a dickhead less than 1 in 20 days of the year.

And so the trudgery continues of working to support the cabin, gradually, very gradually turning it into somewhere more cosy and less cruddy - give or take a few damp spots - as, after 4 years of being here we finally get around to 'sorting the house out'.

Note to visitors: it's still going to be a hovel by your standards

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve Ride - Solo

A57

Yorkshire Bridge

Hope and the Adventure Cafe for tea and scone... and cream and jam.


Fought to get to Mam Nick.  Elderly lady plus dog suggested I ride the other way.  Blown up Mam Nick - feel like I cheated.

Feign wobble along Rushup edge to discourage motorists passing too close in the wind.

Put on a sprint to set off down Winnats ahead of all remaining motorists.  Rewarded with having the descent to myself until well after the bottom cattle grid.  Small cheer.

Turn up Pindale.

Can't face the headwind again at the top so turn down the quarry instead which is steeper and rockier than steep can be.


Spat out back in Hope and rejoin main road all the way to Hathersage.

Grindleford

Froggat

Ringinglow

Home.

Total 72 real km. 1259m climbing. 201km effort kms.

A pointless and impossible waste of space. And the point at which I had to take action to avoid losing my mind.

I was really looking forward to work on Wednesday. I had already had 2 days off which we filled with productive work on our house whilst I recovered from my cold. The temptation and guilt to go out on my bike was there but I avoided it with more rubbish to ditch; more stuff to donate and sell. We bought a new sofa to make more space in the living room and arranged for the old one to go.      

On Monday I saw Marcus at accelerate who turned me into a porcupine by filling me with needles and gave me some great advice to work on strength gaps which were causing me an imballance and basically, a very sore knee.

It worked.  By Tuesday I wanted to run and by Wednesday I was ready to ride first and then try running on Thursday.

Thank god I rode to work.

There are no words to explain the catastrophic destruction of my sense of purpose in my career.  It would be unprofessional to do so here but I basically lost all hope following what started out as a 10 minute monologue.  I cried until lunchtime before working the rest of the day, cried all my way home on the bike, half the night and into the next morning.  I went back to bed at 6am and slept until 9. before going to site and then crying some more on the way home.

Needless to say I didn't do my new leg exercises on Wednesday night.

On Thursday after rationalising with myself well into the evening, I was finally able to let go.  We went to the pub.  I didn't drink.  Christmas is going to be a dry one.  I did my leg exercises when we got home.

I suffered further meltdowns into Friday morning as I tried to do some work but eventually failed when I accidentally stood on my laptop, no doubt leading me into further trouble.  It is not a happy time and yet, there is a large part of me which can not fathom that any of it is my fault... except for the standing on the laptop thing - that is my fault.  So I shall move on, care for myself and slowly and purposefully recover in my own time this week.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Birthday Post 2016

Saturday - Birthday

After weeks of improving and sailing through life, I finally came to a grinding halt this week.  The arrival of the flu / cold virus to our offices wiped me out for the week but somehow I managed to keep working... I didn't push myself to.  If I couldn't work, I wouldn't have but the cold wasn't that bad.  So I worked - I just drove everywhere and my only exercise was a swim on Monday, yoga on Tuesday and a day walking around site on Wednesday.

I have also been suffering a gammy knee.  A sharp, shooting pain when I descend stairs - or climb them for that matter.  On its own it's not stopped me running but it will do soon - once the cold has gone.  I nursed it through yoga practice (probably shouldn't have) and tried to be careful with it on site.

By Friday I felt better but I was still snotty.  I could breathe OK but when I bent down to tie my shoelaces, pain seared through my head, teeth, face and neck and I got dizzy.  Sinuses blocked.  I took it easy for my Birthday.  Went to some shops, had lunch, came home to "make the house less depressing".  Most people call it cleaning but I leave that so long it becomes, "making the house less depressing".  It takes the process of cleaning from Chore to Pleasant Experience by making it so direly urgent.

It lasted about 20 minutes before I decided I wanted to clean my mountain bike before it got dark and then work on it and then it was all, like, dinner time and time to go to the cinema to watch, "The Eagle Huntress" which is a beautiful film about a teenage girl in Mongolia that breaks down boundaries doing what she loves.  Gorgeous cinematography and story-telling.

We walked there and back - more exercise I guess.  It was a beautiful day.  Not 100% what I was hoping for but the best of a sick me. Last year I went for a Bad Run on my Birthday - though it was rather nice, it was shorter than intended and slower than everyone I know.  Looks like I'm starting from the same place this year.

I feel like I should write something profound and another-yearly but birthdays are just days really.  As decades go, I suspect it's better than my 23rd and definitely better than my 33rd.

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

Cold remedy, eat, work, paracetamol, reading, sleep (a lot), repeat.

On the plus side I am reading Jill Homer so it's getting me excited for months to come on the bike.

Tuesday - Yoga

I hate myself.  I knew I was getting sick but I went to yoga anyway.  My last chance at a strength session this week since Thursday morning was being stolen for a meeting.  Decided to do a strength set before the cold set in properly and took me off my feet.  So glad I did in retrospect.  The cold is taking longer to clear than I thought it would.

Yoga was tough because I forced my sore knee to play along.  In retrospect I made it worse.  Shit happens.

Monday - Swim - 1.1km 28 minutes - 25:28 moving

I didn't feel horrible on Monday until later so I went to the pool on my bike.  It's a little demoralising stripping off all the layers you've just put on after only 6 minutes of riding but enjoyable putting them all back on before stepping out into December air with damp hair.

I did sets of 6 with short rests of less than 30 seconds between.  Although I felt like I stopped early, I'm happy with how I felt, the time it took and my swimming in general after 2 weeks off allowing a twinged right wrist to calm down.

Hopefully I'll be back to a mile before I know it.  Whilst I was being passed by the fast girls, I was close to being able to sit on feet so I'm getting there.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

And back at it - A Peak 50 miler

Saturday - Road ride 51 miles, 4:39:06, 1516m el.

I will not lounge on the sofa.  I will chose the best day of the weekend to go out on my bike.  I mean I want to swim / run but I also want to ride and I don't want to do it on a cruddy day... it'd be nice to swim today so I have a day off before I swim again on Monday... and go to yoga on Tuesday but I will just pick the best day and go for a ride... I so want to go out on my bike.

Excuse granted.  Saturday is to be the better day with a glimmer of sunshine and one whole degree warmer than Sunday.  So we sprung off the sofa at 9:30 and got dressed and were out the door by 10:20. 

I wasnt' feeling nearly so sprightly as last weekend as we rode up to friends to feed the cats.  Then powered out over Rhod Moor and joined the A57.  Flitting between coat on / zip up / zip down, my fleece was doing most of the work.  We took the back road to Hope where we stopped for lunch as we were a full hour now behind my progress last weekend.  

Poor choice for cold food but hey, onward to Castleton and the back-road climbs that took us up 30% climb in Pindale.  Damn that climb is hard but I coped with it better than I have done before.  Half way around and into Peak Forest and Peak Dale I am starting to realise that I try harder when TSK is around.  That's OK because I need to increase my speed.  I thought, with some hint of depression that last weekend I had not ridden my bike fast enough to constitute a healthy speed for an audax ride.  An Audax has a minimum speed of 15km/hr and I had ridden all day at 10mph average (16km/hr) but included several lunch stops.  If I worked out the miles to hours ratio, I had covered my 60 miles at an average speed of 14km/hr and this bugged me.  I'm not the fastest Audaxer but I've never been timed out before.

There have been less free miles this week and more trying not to get left too far behind on the climbs also with a little bit of battling a breeze thrown in.  Last week I'd clearly done more miles by this point in the day but was less concerned about getting home.  I was already starting to ache here today as we changed our mind about direction and re-descended a hill to take a turn towards Miller's Dale.  

I was still fighting up the hills though.  In fact, I realised that I am getting ready for bigger rides because the hill climbs no longer bother me.  Up or down or flat, it's all just a part of the journey.  I no longer seem to feel the gnawing sense of, "Oh GOD! We don't have to ride up *that* do we?!"  I just get on with it.  I dunno, maybe nowadays I am rocking a bigger gear range.

Millers dale gave and excellent photo opportunity of the dale and the bridge that we were about to pass under twice before heading back towards home.



Riding along here I realised that last weekend's ride had involved a lot of hiking as I walked my bike down to the A6 down a footpath and also as I pushed it out of Eyam.  That realisation made me feel a lot better about progress and my ability to complete a 120 mile ride at the end of February in the frozen North West of this country.

Back to today: After 3 hours of riding I was desperate for the desert that went with my lunch so I suggested a stop in Tideswell.  Since it was later in the day there was plenty of space in the slightly warmer cafĂ© so, no special Ginger Pudding for me!  I had to eat apple and raspberry crumble with custard instead.  I then drank too much tea (seems such a waste to throw that third cup away) before heading back out into a slight drizzle which stayed with us all the way back.  

We turned for Litton as I continued my tour of parts of the ride I did last weekend.  TSK was enjoying himself seeing new places.  The tea partly fuelled the rest of the ride, partly hindered it by making me feel a little full!  Litton, Foolow, Eyam, Grindleford, they all slipped by in some kind of efforted riding which all felt much more productive than some of the bimbling that I've been guilty of in recent years.  If I can keep using my legs for 50 mile rides, I'd like to think I can limp through an Audax by freewheeling the other 70... something like that anyway!

The good news is, that although I couldn't be bothered to do any shopping on the way back to the house this week, I did't feel nearly as sore when we stopped riding.  Clearly my shoulders and neck are starting to get used to this again.  

Feeling Flat

Monday - Walk 2km

Officially knackered from the weekend so Monday started out as a 100% rest day.  The office was hard work but I had an excuse to leave at 3:30 for a drive to Dalby Forest where I had booked a pod on a campsite as my accommodation before the next day's site visit.

Traffic on the M1 was snarled up for a minor crash just ahead of me.  I didn't see the crash but got caught up in the police road closure and sat at my off-engined car for 30 minutes.

The campsite was perfect - deserted - and run by a lovely farm woman and many dogs and children and a husband off somewhere doing things.  She checked me in and left me to it. Frost bristled from every structure - hoarey and white.

I went to Thornton le Dale for dinner, supplies and cash.  I over-did it on the dinner and gave myself a chronic indigestion which kept me awake feeling sick approaching midnight.  I'd purposefully kept the pod slightly cool to combat cabin fever but found myself shivering in my sleeping bag in between going to the loo across the campsite.  I gave up at 11:30 and set off down the lane for a walk to let things settle.  I burped and farted at the stars - the last I was to see of them as the weather changed the next day.  Flavours of my dinner returned to me and when I was convinced I wasn't going to be sick anymore, I turned around and headed back to my sleeping bag where I turned up the heater and wore my down coat to compliment my sleeping bag.  I threw my dry robe over my legs just to be sure.  God knows how I'll cope on a winter camp in a tent!

Tuesday - Mountain Bike Ride 18 miles, 2h:19m 533m el.

Day starts with porridge and coffee made on a picnic table encrusted in dry frost.  The birdsong is deafening and although every move has to be carefully choreographed to be efficient so I can stay warm, it all works out.  A sit mat inadvertently brought in my rucsac saves my backside and enables this moment of calm before the day ahead.  I am in bliss.


Get in from the site meeting at about 3:30pm.  Instantly get changed into bike gear whilst eating a chocolate bar then drag my mountain bike out of the car and charge off into the fallen darkness of a foggy Dalby Forest.  I have no idea where the trails are so I make several false turns onto footpaths and retrace my steps before I finally reach what I assume to be the carpark proper.  I finally find the red route after much hunting and follow the arrows into the darkness off the GPS map and between the trees.

I fought a losing battle of light.  The cateye stayed bright but never ever pointed in the right direction so the riding was either slow or haphazardly exciting!  I rode burms, pedalled over drop offs which seemed like blunt cliffs but turned into easy run-outs on the bright side of the lip.  I was TOTALLY engaged for around an hour and 20minutes until I decided it was time for dinner.  I chose a trail which took me back to the road but on the screen of the Garmin it was hard to see that it didn't actually meet the road.

As I set off down the over-grown path, I should have turned back but it was too intriguing to back out of until I heard crashing in the undergrowth and was suddenly reminded of wild boar.  After a conversation earlier in the day about Canada and Africa I had been thinking how lucky we are to live in a country where I needn't fear creatures who actually intend to do humans harm... and in the darkness I remembered wild boar.  I wrote the crashing noises off to deer and as quickly found myself at a tee junction.  Both routes seemed to take me back the way I came so I randomly picked one and ended up on the trail I'd been on 15 minutes earlier so I retraced, this time turning off for the road the "long" way, soon to pass where I'd just been at the tee junction - probably only 2metres from the road, yet invisible through the impenetrable trees and fog.

When I finally reached the road, I had to dig out my head torch.  The tiny spot light from Alpkit that was clipped to it was the only rear light I had in my possession so I put the head torch on over my helmet and started the flashy goodness.  As I stood in the darkness - all except for the cateye and the rouge bouncing off the wet leaves behind me, I listened to the drops of water falling meticulously in the forest.  Not a drop of rain, just air of 99% humidity settling dew drops onto everything in sight.  It was like winter defrosting all around me.

Once on the road I saw the first people I'd seen all evening - 3 mountain bikers. They turned left as I turned left and I didn't even have chance to say hello.  I little while later, a formation of 4 roadies with lights so good I thought they were a car at first.

We said hello!  Hey, human interaction!

Thanks to my flashy light, I didn't have to stop and pull over when two more cars came by.

I returned to camp just as chronic hunger was starting to set in.  I paid my landlady her money and enquired tentatively about the status of hot water.  After 2 days on the site I hadn't dared to run the tap for long enough to find out if the hot water was on - instead resorting to cold hand washes before stuffing my mits back into my gloves.  Cue an excruciating 2 minutes of pressing the button on the shower whilst hopping on cold tiles.  The water was indeed hot enough to enjoy the shower.  

Once I made it out of the wash rooms, the rain had started.  I sat on the deck of my pod and cooked in the darkness.  It was so warm I ditched my down coat and sat on my foam roller wearing fleece.  I leaned back against the door of the pod and listened to the rain beyond my little, lit porch.  You don't get that kind of solitude in a hotel.

Wednesday - Decamp

Only the exercise associated with breaking camp.  I drive through the drizzly North York Moors to Middlesborough then a wander around the factory.

Thursday - Rest day

After returning home from Middlesborough at 8pm Wednesday night, exhausted, I did nothing on Thursday.

Friday - Rest day

Dressed for riding to work but then couldn't be bothered with the faff of loading the bike and moving the car and finding my tool bag.  So I drove to work, dressed like I was going for a run and went to the pub instead.

Saturday - Separate ride - see report


Sunday - 7  mile walk

Well, it wasn't a snowy, blue sky day, wilderness walk but a Christmas shopping expedition which also nailed my Birthday present from TSK and - if I can't manage a run - at least saw me spending 4 hours of the day on my feet which counts for more than nothing... and now I am ready to take on next week.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Back to work with good intentions and a "week of the bike" kind of week

Saturday, 57 miles ride, 5hrs 40min, 1900m climbing


The weather was good and I was in the mood for a long ride - especially after last night's temptation towards the darkness and the fact that I had a lovely new coat in a delivery on Friday night.

I packed an extra warm layer, spare leggings and the coat and wore thick gloves, hat, buff and a softshell jacket with venting.  The leggings were long but not fleecy, given a gentler weather forecast.  I have to admit, I didn't think I'd wear the coat but it was a good audax load to train with.

I had a broad plan to ride to Buxton, head over some favourite roads around Kettleshulme and then back via Chapel en le Frith and the Snake.  I headed out to the peak via Hathersage, turning off to Great Hucklow because I wanted to ride smaller roads and stopped in Tideswell for lunch where I was served awesome pea and ham soup and washed it down with ginger pudding.

I wiggled then over to Buxton around the ugly Fairfield quarry but on obtaining Buxton, I ran out of courage and faith that I could still be in a reasonable state for tomorrow if I did anything other than wobble home.  However, it was my intention to wobble home, not go directly so there was still plenty of fun to look forwards to.

I briefly touched on the A6 then took a back road away around Harpur Hill.  Still heading South so I turned for King Sterndale and attained an ominous sign that said there was no access to the A6 - which I actually wanted to cross, not access.  After some map deliberation I decided to push my luck and see how far I could get on a road that petered out into (at best) an un-claimed trail or at worst, a private road.

I rode through the lovely hamlet, past the church and the village green until the road deteriorated into the track I was expecting then headed off down a steep hillside.  I peered over the edge - there was an alternate footpath but that went steeply through a field and crossed the railway at an undefined point.  I hedged my bets with the trail and walked my bike down the steep slope as the tyres were incapable of grip on the wet rocks and leaves.


To my joy, the track continued over a stone bridge above the railway and descended further downhill to the A6.  Mission accomplished.

Unfortunately I couldn't access the path on the other side.  It was a proper footpath so I climbed back out on my bike on the A6 and descended again down into Millersdale before turning for Litton to avoid a second pass of Tideswell. 

Foolow was next followed by Eyam where I forgot to turn left but I was in the mood for a walk so I went down a narrowing lane then got off and pushed my bike along a footpath through the trees for some way.  

Having enjoyed the occasional walk on the TNR, I enjoyed my woodland ramble quite a lot.  I made a joke of it as 4 wool-coat clad loveys walked the otherway, saying, "Don't ask, I just fancied a walk with my bike, OKay?".  Thing is, that was exactly what I fancied.


Down the steep Sir William Hill, (can't believe it's a race the other way) and over to Grindleford where I knew where I was going - straight home, finally.  I hauled up Froggat so slow and hungrily that I nearly made a deal with myself to stop at the Costa in Broomhill but eventually decided on the direct ride home, sucking it up until I got back to the house and stopping only to buy my dinner on the way home.  Better to save the money for more adventures hey?

I had sore shoulders at Sainsburys so I guess I need to do some more 60 mile rides before I progress into longer distances but it felt good to be ready to do that much at least.  In order to get my purchases in my bag I had to put on my new coat which was fine as I needed another layer for the cold down hill to my house.  I congratulated myself on chosing a size that will fit perfectly over the contents of rear pockets full of stuff in a fleecy jersey.  So the coat got a wear and I am officially pleased with it.

Friday, 17 miles ride to work and home via town


See previous post

Thursday - rest day

Recovering from the long drive home on Wednesday evening.  I got to the end of the day and realised I had forgotten my turbo trainer for turbo.  The thought of borrowing one was all the excuse I needed not to go.

Wednesday - 4.4 mile run, 54:41

Despite a rubbish night's sleep, I was awake at 6:30am.  Blessed the service engineer for suggesting a 10am start and got myself out for a run along the Grand Union Canal fuelled by nothing more than a biscuit.  SO pleased I reccied the local area on google maps / bikehike the night before and indulged in simple run down the canal one way and back on the other side.  

It was beautiful in the clear morning air and I watched the sun rise on a very frosty (but dry) landscape.

A day on site put me at 14000 steps for the day.

I drove from Aylesbury to Worksop for a massage which left me a bit nasal and wobbly but was well worth it given what's coming up... Well, whether it was worth it or not, I enjoyed the chat!  I left Jackie's very motivated.

Tuesday. gym


A surprise hotel in the South of England got me into the gym because I forgot my head torch for running. I at least put in 3x10 squats of 10kg and some bridge once I got to the hotel gym.  I was tempted by a dip in the pool but it was only 16m long and I was hungry so that had to wait.

Monday.  Ride to work and back - 15 miles


Friday, December 02, 2016

The Dreaded Works Christmas Do

I have had a great day on my bike today.

I started the day in a bad mood, dreading the annual social parade that is the Christmas Do, the time of the year when I realise that my life is so very different from some others and I don't necessarily relish that difference or, potentially live up to other's expectations - not that I care anymore.

I did still want to ride to work so I tossed caution out the window, dispensed with image and rode to work wearing the trousers I intended to wear for the evening with a change of blouse packed.

The new Alpkit pants are very comfy for riding in and only escaped from the security of my socks once but avoided being snagged in the chain. They are incredibly sretchy - akin to being in a reasonably thick pair of leggings.

When I left the office at 4.45 it was drizzling so I put on rain legs and coat to be on the safe side and headed out into the traffic, remembering at that moment that I had meant to put makeup on but probably not a bad thing, given the drizzle and all. Of course I was soon away from the traffic on my canal route and enjoying the ride as the rain got heavier.

I was disappointed to find out my friend's indoor bike park is now more exclusive since he moved out so I parked the bike in the rain, marvelling at the number of buildings with overhangs and porches that could accommodate covered cycle parks under their wings and yet, there lie barren and bleakly well lit every night... I mean why spoil a building with the messy practicality of a functional bike park?

Still, I used the building cover to shelter whilst I  removed overshoes, helmet and gloves and reorganised my spare bag to protect clean clothes from messy cycling shoes as I pulledon my suede boots. I considered changing my shirt but concluded that I didn't need to be that hobo and this is Sheffield city centre on a Friday night, not a cyclo cross race car park. The restaurant would have to cope with my cycling jersey for a few minutes.

I seamlessly changed into my flowery blouse in the ladies' loo, despite the cubicle being so small the door clipped the toilet seat. I even treated myself to a pairof knickers instead of padded cycling shorts.

Once changed I rejoined my colleagues, relieved that mountain biking Simon had an empty seat opposite him along with Andy who was on his last day with the team. It was effectively his leaving do so I was glad to have spent another pleasant evening with him again (we were on site together last week).

After our lovely meal they tried to make me go in a spangly place filled with spangly people. I put my nose in the door and lots of spangly faces eyed my mucky Carradice and suede rigger boots suspiciously, drew their boggling wine glasses closer and shuffled in the uncomfortable shoes they had been standing up in for too long already this evening.  We seemed to be at the back of a long line of people standing at the bar to get a drink they could stand up and hug for too long and I was starting to struggle with claustrophobia.

I made brief apologies to Simon then bolted for the door.  Without a second glance for Andy  (who was still smoking at the door) I paced down the street to where Phoenix was parked. I sat down on the dry, covered steps and changed back into my cycling shoes, rain legs and waterproof jacket and added my helmet to my hat. Now, I know this isn't a good look - l checked in the mirror the other day and my face is too small for the ensemble - but I didn't care tonight. It was fucking warm is what it was.

As I wrapped the waist band of my rain legs around my waist the straps cut wet slithers of cold across my belly fat where the thin tops I was wearing were not tucked in to my trousers, I thought, 'this is the worst of Audax' - this cold and this damp. This recycling of wet cloth to be rewarmed with every disembarkation from the controls and yet I would rather be leaving a control right then.

I snaked through the streets of Sheffield and gradually the drunk people thinned out.

At home I briefly didn't feel like stopping and I nearly pitched the tent for a trial winter bivi in the garden but remembered why we don't do that - because cats.

So I put bread on to bake and settled down for an evening of recovery - recovery for furtherment of adventure tomorrow.