Setting Goals and Getting Going

After ending 2014 with no motivation, targets or incentives, 2015 has begun in a spritely fashion!

On returning from my epic Pyrenees ride I did virtually no activity for 3 months. Ok, so I did start running again but a calf strain scuppered that in October and wrote off pretty much everything throughout November apart from a 50 mile sportive. Then of course it was Christmas which bought the annual binge drinking and dietary meltdown.

In the two weeks running up to Christmas, my work clothes had become uncomfortable and I began to look forward to January with a never-before-experienced sense of anticipation. In fact it was this trouser shrinkage issue that motivated me to get on the turbo trainer a few times before Christmas and then again a couple of times over the break.

I faced a harsh reality when heading out with the lads after New Year and realised the gulf in capability that had emerged between me (idle, unfit and fat) and them (keen, trained and fit). I was left behind on the very first hill and became the weakest link after just a few miles. For the first time in a while I was the one that people had to slow down for after a climb. And I didn’t like that.

So I’ve led the charge with the lads to set some goals for the year.

Hardknott Pass looks nice

Hardknott Pass looks nice

The Fred Whitton Challenge is probably the biggest thing we’ll do this year. It’s labelled as “the UK’s toughest sportive” at over 110 miles long with the infamous 30% Hardknott Pass cropping up at 94 miles so the motivation to get on my bike is screaming out at me! Of course there is also the annual Skeggy ride the following week and I’m also in the Tour of Cambridgeshire. So there is plenty to shoot for.

I’m also looking at monthly Strava challenges, some more local sportives and maybe another challenge after the summer. Oh, hang on, did I mention summer? That reminds me of a well located campsite I’ll be staying at for 2 weeks in August that is surprisingly close to some famous Alpine climbs (Madelaine, Telegraphe, Galibier, Croix de Fer and Alpe d’Huez).

Anyway, that’s half a year, 5 kilo’s, a lot of riding and 800 miles away.

For now it’s time to enjoy the winter: get out on the bike when the weather allows, get used to training on the turbo in the garage, and embrace the mud for some off-road running.

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A great day on the bike

If any day can epitomise my interests and motivation behind this blog, it was Friday.
After a nightmare of a week at work, I had a day of working at home instead of going in to the office. I’d barely seen the kids all week so it was a pleasure to do the school run… especially after turning it in to the school ride.
For the first time ever, I shared the simple pleasure of cycling to school with my kids. The big one on her own bike and the youngest on the back of mine. They loved it and so did I. The freedom that my daughter feels on her bike is visible and seeing such a big grin on her face going to school makes our summer of cycling all the more special (especially when a lot of her friends are still on stabilisers).

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After dropping them off and clearing a mountainous backlog of emails it was time for a lunchtime ride. Time was tight so it was a short and fast ride, scooping up two K.O.M.s on the way!
For any Strava virgins a K.O.M. (King of the Mountains) accolade is what you earn when riding one of the segments of your ride quicker than anyone in the world…ever. A brilliant way of spicing up shorter rides and adding a bit of local (and virtual) rivalry with other cyclists. Holding a K.O.M. in our village is similar, and as close as we’re going to get to, holding a rainbow or yellow jersey.
Anyway, back to my great day on the bike.  after picking up the girls from the school, we cycled back, I wrapped up work for the day and we had a cross country ride to Stanton Lakes to enjoy a pint of Peroni and a basket of scampi and chips looking out of the lakes while the sun went down. Does family cycling get any better than that?

They’re calling it Mallory Madness

This is Mallory Park

This is Mallory Park

Last week we heard that Mallory Park, the race circuit near where I live, opened its gates to cyclists on a Wednesday night so we went down to take a look tonight.

From 6pm half of the circuit is open to everyone while the other half is used for teaching/training kids.  By 7 the whole circuit is open for you to pelt around as fast as you can.  It’s about 1.3 miles around the lap, the record is 2:35ish and I got nowhere near that!

On the face of things, riding around a lap for an hour doesn’t sound that appealing, but adding in the mixture of a fantastic road surface, no cars, a reasonable amount of undulation and a few mates to pit yourself against and it soon turns in to your very own race circuit.  As I write this post, my legs are gently aching so I know I’ve had a good work out.

What fascinated me was the activities going on in the pit lane. A number of adults were coaching kids on bikes ranging from little ones with stabilisers through to pre-teen sized road bikes.  It looked like a straightforward bike handling set up using cones and plenty of supervision and I think it is coordinated by the Leicester Forest East Cycling Club.  Probably worth a look for a cycling family?

Tips:

  • Don’t turn up too early if you haven’t got the kids with you
  • Bomb it around the top hairpin because the camber keeps you turning
  • The start/finish line for Strava laps is the white line on the straight, not the bridge as I thought until I got home!
  • Take a £2 coin … the fella at the gates is going to run out of change for fivers one day!