Sunday, March 12, 2017

Things to be proud of this week

In pursuit of "experiences not things", when my seat post broke this week I took time to go to my local bike shop and found a bit that cost me £2 in their beer-fund tip pot instead of £50 for a new (much coveted Thompson) seat post.

Instead of saying "no" to a fun event in Sheffield where lots of people I admire will be riding bikes, I spent a full day cleaning bikes thinking, "if it's still open this evening I will enter it".  It was open.  I did enter it - much to my horror.  It is less than 24 hours after the start of a national-level duathlon world qualifier event in Clumber park.

I went online to spend a voucher I got for Christmas.  In the end I put 5 items in my cart including a skirt, the shoes that will forever resolve my issues with wearing skirts and a few tops in order to help me make my mind up and one pair of work pants.  The total value was £146.  I removed all items until I was left with the work pants at a much reduced (thank you Aunty Anne) value of £30 to me.

It's a boring and practical present but I will wear them with joy.

I went out and recce'd the ride I've entered.  The point is to race up various hills in Sheffield.  We will then be escorted at an (allegedly) easy pace to the next hill by a lead car.  I rode to the start (as I had intended to do on the day) and in doing so, I inadvertently completed some of the 6th and the whole of the last hill climb of the route.

Retracing some of my steps, I started the ride and got the second climb out of the way without incident - although it became apparent that it would be useful to know where these climbs end so that I can put the proportionate effort into each one.

The third one was rather close to home.  The dreaded Blake Street.  The hard part is avoiding the pub at the top.  Then it was a roller-coaster ride around Walkley to the scary Fern and Thrush Street which has a cobbled top.  At this point I could have fallen into my own back yard but I persevered back around in a circle and into the Loxley Valley for a little jaunt up next to the Garden Centre.  I've only ridden this climb a couple of times and probably bailed out at the garden centre for tea as a result.  I definitely had to dig deep on this one and was glad it was over...

Over the hill to Oughtibridge more like.

I've never linked these two places together (REEEEALLY?) in my head.  I crossed the one way system in Oughtibridge and set off up the climb.  Sooo steep at the beginning.  Me and this hill had history.  I paused to wonder whether to continue.  Where did the route go next?  I zoomed out and discovered that this climb was an out and back.  How would I know I could do this ride if I gave up though?  But I *know* this climb - why bother?  I could rest up for next week.  But something made me keep going - stubbornness, a need to know how hard it will be next week?  I don't know but I was glad I did.  Eventually the road relented and I set about enjoying the climb all the way to the top then looped around and let rip back down the hill (the direction I usually use it).

There was a nice long recovery ride and plenty of downhills to Middlewood before I was confused into thinking I was snagging another hill where the ride cuts around Dunella Road back to Malin Bridge.

Dunella Road is steep and it's not even on the list of climbs that we're racing.  I could hardly get up but thankfully we turn off and descend through the edges of Wadsley to the Rivelin Valley.

Time to go up the Rivelin Valley to the dreaded Hagg Hill.  I never ride up this and it's yet another climb on my doorstep.  This one nearly had me off and walking.  I managed a couple of zig zags in between cars but otherwise I was lurching between standing and sitting and wheezing through my final breath as I rounded the top corner of Hagg Hill.  It's the 6th climb of the day and I bailed out half way and turned for home (the actual race climb continues to the top of Stephen Hill Road which I had ridden in the morning).  Although my intention had been to ride back to the finish and then ride home, my legs weren't going to make it.  I'd done the route (albeit in a funny order) and now I know my limits.

Something tells me I won't be riding out to the start next week but I did it as a leisure ride in 3 hours when the anticipated race time is 4 hours so I should survive, in theory so long as I don't have to wait around too much.  I'll be riding most of the ride in a peloton and there won't be any traffic light stops.  On the flip side, I'll be exhausted from racing the day before.

Last year I said I wouldn't say no to anything and this is just a (somewhat foolish) extension of that.  As part of my vision that this stuff is just things that I do day in / day out (give or take the odd rest day), it all contributes to me getting off the sofa more often than not.

Roll on next week.

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