With thanks to my late aunt, Jean Abdee, whose legacy has helped make this possible.

Friday, 30 July 2010

One month to go!

The summer has gone so fast and yesterday - 29 July - meant that there's just one month to go until I start cycling away from Land's End on 29 August. Despite being fitter than I've ever been, I don't feel ready. I wonder if one ever does?

The packing has been done and now the tweaking and sorting of gear has begun. The panniers weigh about 6 kgs each, the tent 2.5 kgs in its waterproof bag and the front bag another 2 kgs. 17-odd kgs plus the weight of the bike plus two water bottles... it's a lot. I've gone through my washbag, first aid kit and clothes bag and taken out luxuries like soap and spares. I cannot carry heavy food and will have to buy it on route - or eat out. Even things like the sunglasses case, the case for my headtorch and the stuffsack for my sleeping bag have been left out.

The route planning is still a work in progress; I've made it as far as Derbyshire so far. The tricky bit is aiming for 60 miles and finding a campsite nearby at the end of the day, leading to some days which are a lot shorter and some a lot longer. One day's ride is a proposed 72 miles ... I'll have to see about that! The training is in full swing and I'm doing well over 100 miles per week with full gear as well as the run and swim plus the usual daily life stuff that is necessary. At least if I cycle to work it only takes an hour longer than normal (there and back) so doesn't significantly add to my day. But I am getting rather bored of the same roads.

I think all the technical gear is in place - this includes a new Cateye bike computer, as my current one, which I will admit was very cheap, has a distressing habit of resetting itself on long journeys, which is a bit bad if you want to add up the week's mileage. Thirty days to go now, so much still to do... but come 29 August, ready or not, I need to start cycling!

Monday, 26 July 2010

Half-Marathon Update

The half-marathon challenge is complete! I've had a week to savour that phrase. It went surprisingly well and I finished in a time of 2 hours 10 mins 4 seconds. I was extremely pleased with that as it meant I'd kept up my usual pace of a 10-minutes mile (like clockwork!) Out of the 197 starters in my age category I was 109th and 909th overall out of 1,295 finishers. So not bad for my first one, and I would do it again. I don't like Milton Keynes as a place but this run went through all the nice bits (possibly the only nice bits) including running alongside the Grand Union Canal and through wood and parkland.

Two challenges are now complete and cycling has started in earnest now, in preparation for the third with the confidence of having completed the first two to keep me going and make me think that I might actually be able to do this.

Saturday, 17 July 2010


It's the half-marathon tomorrow. How quickly these challenges are coming up. I've done two half-marathon length runs, neither comfortably, but at least I can cover the distances in reasonably good time so should be OK tomorrow. I'm glad the weather has cooled down since my practice runs as running in heat is not something I enjoy.

It's actually been raining quite hard these past few days and since it rained on July 15th - St Swithin's Day - it could continue for some time if the old folk rhyme holds true.

St Swithin's Day, if thou be wet
for 40 days it raineth yet.

On the upside, it makes things cooler and life easier generally, and means I get to test my gear for waterproofness.

The bike has been in for a service - a proper service from a proper bike shop, and as a result the gears and brakes are a lot better. I've also got an extension for the handlebars to make them higher (why they sell a bike for people of a certain height and allow you to adjust everything but handlebar height I don't know. Grumble over.) I've also changed the pedals from the lovely elegant single-sided ones to plain pedals with toe-clips and feel much safer due to being able to release my feet instantly. I've given the cleats a good trial but I'm not happy with them. Last and most important, I've changed my saddle from the one supplied (too soft) to a harder and much more supportive saddle. As a result of all these changes I'm getting a lot less discomfort in all areas though still a bit sore around the shoulders after a long ride.

The route planning is underway and I've got it as far as Gloucestershire. I'm using the improbably-named bikeroutetoaster.com which is ideal and even gives the elevation for the day. I had a few problems with it to start with, which involved doing the route for my first day four times, but seem to have the hang of it now. I think this will be a work in progress for some time yet though.

Last but not least, it's Tour de France time and watching the truly elite cyclists struggling up the French Alps is truly inspirational. I've also learnt about power to weight ratio, which means I need to lose another 10 lbs to be the ideal weight for climbing mountains! But then I don't have to go up the French Alps.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

14 miles ... ouch

As the time for Challenge No. 2 (the Milton Keynes half-marathon) is fast approaching, I decided at the weekend to stop messing around with adding one mile at a time to my schedule and just go and do it. I'd done 8 miles fairly comfortably and thought it was 6 miles round Pitsford Reservoir, so set out on a sunny Saturday morning to do two laps and see how it went.

Pitsford is lovely first thing in the morning. There were some cyclists but not too many; some other runners but no other dog-walkers, which was a bonus as I had Alfie with me, and he's a pest with other dogs. (He's a pest with chasing bicycles / birds /random bits of rubbish too but that seemed to awaken his interest in the run so may not be a bad thing).

We took the first lap fairly easy as I didn't want to overdo it and it was going to get very warm again by the time we did the second. Pitsford has the added advantage of being flat, and although Northamptonshire is not the hilliest county in England, you soon find, if you cycle or run any distance, that there will be at least one steep incline somewhere on the route.

Andy was walking the route and my hope was that I'd overtake somewhere on the second lap and hand Alfie over for a rest. Alas, we were slower than we thought and he was faster. The reason was clear when we'd finished and measured the distance - closer to seven miles than six, and so the run was a shade under 14 miles total. Even with walking the last half-mile or so I did it in two and a half hours. Now the challenge is to do the distance comfortably, and work on being able to walk properly for the next few days afterwards. I tried ice, I tried a freezing gel (the opposite of Deep Heat) and I tried rest. My legs have never hurt so much! Alfie, however, was fine after the run. He had a drink and tried chasing some geese and looked as if nothing had happened.

So next Saturday we're going out again to see if it will be easier this time!