The Metric Half Century a month challenge

Right, it’s up there for the world to see now. It’s a Cycle Chat thing that a chap called Colin started. The challenge is to ride either an Imperial or a Metric Century a month, or for us less die hard lot, an Imperial or a Metric Half Century a month. That’s one ride, not over the course of a month as even my Mother could do that and she’s been dead for well over a decade.

January was a bit of a wet month, for us but I did manage to get out and do a ride of 2 halves and get that magic 50km in. It was the 16th January and I went off with Kenn to do a nice 18 mile loop. I chatted to him about this challenge and he said he thought it a good idea and fancied it for himself too. I said fine and did he want to do it today. No, it seemed that the 16th was not a good day. 2nd ride of the year for him and he didn’t have the legs for it.
Once he was in from his 18 miles, he put lights on my bike, moved the repair kit to my bike, while I warmed my feet up a bit and swigged a quick mug of hot choc and off I went again. All without turning off my Garmin. I then disappeared of for another local ride, using some of the same roads that I’d just ridden on, which was a bit boring. I took Eric, my CX bike. I’d have been faster on the roadie but I have problems with punctures and have difficulty getting the tyres on and off the rim with my stupid hands. The problem with living on a peninsular I guess, is apart from the A14 duel carriageway with it’s lorries, there are limited routes out of the town.

Anyway, I got those 50km done, plus a little bit. Strava is here. It wasn’t too horrible either. I took my aftershokz and some music and that hour just flew.

Then, on the 28th, I got another 50km in. Strava here. I rode from Bentwaters at Rendlesham, the long route home on my CX. Dang good job I took Eric the CX as the route took me through Rendlesham Forest and I had to get off and walk at a couple of places, due to the mud. There were massive tractor tyre marks and I couldn’t ride over them. Even horses were picking their way around.
At Ipswich, the route brought me out on the A1214, where there are cyclepaths all the way along. Looking at the map, I could have just whipped up that hill to Martlesham but then I’d have had to have found another 5 miles, so glad that I didn’t. Also, I’m slightly allergic to hills at the moment. I could climb better in the summer, but so far this year, I’ve been really pants at it.
I had to ride around the block, when I got home, to put an extra .8 of a mile on the trip, to make that 50km up. That nearly killed me. My legs, over the last 5 miles, had clearly had enough but I told them to shut up. I turned my aftershoks up a bit, put some Eric Johnson on and told myself that I was enjoying the ride as much as I was enjoying Eric. Anyone who knows me, will tell you that I am obsessed with EJ’s music.
When I got in, and that 50km was done, I hardly had the strength to put my bike in the shower room to clean him off. A cup of tea was had first. I must do a gear service on him.

I rode the 30th too. Only a few miles as I just wanted to make sure I hit my January goal. I rode to the hospital to meet Kenn from dialysis. That nearly killed me too. So exhausted for some reason. I had 4 days off riding after that and got out last night, for a nice 14 miles, which was brilliant. A bit more tweaking on Eric the CX’s gears though. Just a smidge.

I was happily playing guitar yesterday before going out. We have Guthrie Govan coming to our little Guitar Academy, to do a Masterclass for our pupils. Very excited about that. We have another Masterclass in the year too. Not saying who that is just yet, but excited about that too.

I had better get on with some stuff now. I might ride a bit later, then again, I might not. I do have a 50km to do this month but it’s only the 4th and I have an extra day this month as well. I’m working on packing, it seems that the exciting move to the South is happening within the first quarter of this year. Now, we were not expecting that so saving like mad, packing some ‘non everyday’ stuff to give us a head start and have got some stuff to charity shops to make space for the packing. Whew. Bring it on then.
R

 

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2016 and it’s the 7th Jan already.

Well, I got those miles in last year. I ended up with 2656, which was pretty good. I’ve set myself a target of 3000 for this year.

Now, don’t be expecting a New Year’s Resolution sort of blog today. I don’t d0 resolutions. This whole, lose 3 stone (did that last year without a resolution) or get fitter (did that last year too) is just counter productive, in my opinion. I do a few BFHGs (Big Fat Hairy Goals) but that’s about it. I’ll share if you like:

  • 3000 miles between the 2 bikes
  • Move South
  • Keep the weight that I have lost off.

That should do it. Oh yes:

  • Play Cliffs Of Dover, all the way through, on my guitar.

The technique is mostly there now, I’m busily building speed. As I don’t sleep well, I tend to play at night. I have headphones so I don’t annoy the neighbours. Mostly I just don’t plug into an amp. I can hear what I’m playing and that’s the main thing. I don’t need distortion, fuzz or any of that, when working on technique.

I have had 2 rides in this year so far. Sunday (3rd Jan) I got a quick 15 mile commute in to Ipswich hospital on the CX. Tuesday I got a nice 20 miler in to the hospital. Picked up a couple of Strava PBs as well, so that was OK. I am planning ride No. 3 tonight. More commuting in to the hospital. Until I get some nice weather during daylight, the Home to Hospital rides will continue. I am looking forward to exploring in daylight.

Things to do, bikes to clean. I had better crack on then. Ah, another BFHG:

  • Blog more!

R

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Well, that’s Christmas over and done with

Not a big Crimbo fan really. Over commercialisation is not something that I am keen on. Hearing kids going on and on that their parents that they must have a new iPad or laptop or x, y & z games. No please or thank you just ‘I must have those for Christmas’ rather saddens me.

We got out and rode for a short while on Christmas Day, I got a few miles in Christmas eve too. A couple of punctures on Christmas day slowed us down a bit. The second one was not far from home so we walked the final half a mile or so as we couldn’t be bothered fixing it, in the dark, when 10 minutes walking followed by a nice, civilised cup of tea could be done in less time.

Boxing day was all walking, last night – Sunday – I got a nice 13.5 miler in and today I rode only 8.65 miles, I did walk for 3 hours whether it was just walking the terriers, geocaching with the younger hounds or taking Kenn’s JRT Poco for a brisk 30 minute walk. Over the Christmas period I’ve been pretty active.

Since last posting, my mileage count has got itself up to 3633 miles. I need another 17 and hope to sort that tomorrow. Such a silly figure to stop on, don’t you think. I’ve gone past my 3500 target, added 100 and gone past that too, so I’ve added another 50. My December target is 6 miles over so far with at least 2 more ride days in the offing, according to the Met Office online weather forecast, maybe even 3, if I’m lucky.

It’s the middle of the night here. I would have been in bed a while ago, but was really shocked by the death of Lemmy. So sudden. Diagnosed with agressive Cancer on the 26th and dead on the 28th. Rather makes you think.

R

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A little utility ride today. Less than 6 miles of riding around Felixstowe.

I needed to go to the bank to stick some money in and then I needed to pop up to the Blue Cross rehoming centre to give them some money as they very nicely said that I could take a greyhound collar and lead and come back the next day to pay for them. It wasn’t the next day, it was the day after, but we’ve given them the donation. Kenn popped in to ask about castration discounts (for the dog, not for himself) as our youngster needs neutering now. He’s 15 months so it’s time that he was done.

It was a bit fresh and windy out. Warmer than it looked but we could feel the wind getting up. The BBC said that it was going to be gusty, they weren’t wrong.

We are trying to use our bikes for little utility trips. We are far enough out of town to make it worth the change of shoes and locking up to pop in a shop is a bit safer here than in Norwich. Kenn is breaking in new tyres on his CX bikes. They are wide road tyres, 28mm. I had bought them for my CX bike but Kenn’s need is greater than mine at the moment. He seems to like them. He’s got Vittoria Pave CGs and rather likes them. We have something a bit tougher for when he wants to off road.

We are trying to get a dog walking business off the ground. New website up for Rambling Rose Dog Walking, new phone number and new adverts. Covering the local area means that we should be able to cycle to and fro, unless we are walking more than one household’s dog at a time or walking a client’s dog that is not near conveniently good walking, then we have a lovely large estate car, dog friendly, and super reliable. Between a bit of dog walking and a bit of admin at Norwich Guitar Academy, I can make a sensible sort of living without having to get a proper job and stuff my wrist up again.

This part-time work malarkey makes for more time with my bikes, my dogs and my guitar. I really don’t like it when the real world gets in the way of cycling. I am hoping for a good ride tomorrow night, weather permitting. There are wind warnings for the evening, 50mph gusts. I love riding but don’t want to die just to get a ride in. I might try and persuade Kenn to have a morning ride, before dialysis. I’m only 6 miles up on my monthly target. That’s pretty much unheard of for the middle of the month, this year. So far, it’s been a very good riding year.

Bike cleaning then. Poor Eric got a bit mucky out today. There were puddles.

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Night ride to Ipswich

I do love a night ride and tonight was no exception. One of the advantages of moving to the Suffolk Coast is it’s just over 11 miles to meet Kenn from dialysis. When we were in Wymondham, the direct route was just over 8 miles, in Norwich it was a whopping 2.8 miles – I never actually took the short route there though, unless you count going on foot with the dogs – so the direct route to Ipswich hospital is the longest yet. Very pleasing.

It’s been raining all day. Horrible, horizontal rain. The stuff that stings your face as it’s driven off the sea, by the wind. Even the terriers wouldn’t go out in it. The hounds wouldn’t even go into the garden, they are so nesh. My new winter cycling boots arrived today so I definitely wanted to go out to play on my bike. An absolute bargain as they came from a Cyclechat member, they are DiadorabootsDiadora Chili winter cycling boots. Very warm and toasty they are too. The lovely cyclechatter even threw in SPD cleats to go with them. Saved me taking my cleats off my Shimano MTB shoes.

Even in the evening, the rain was still pouring down, the wind had got up and the BBC had weather warmings up for the rain and 40mph winds. I reckoned that the wind was nowhere near 40mph and that the BBC might be telling porky-pies about that. It was still pouring with rain at 9pm so I told Kenn that I was going to stay home. Then, naturally, it stopped raining so I told Kenn that I’d changed my mind and was going to ride to meet him. Got Eric the CX out, sorted out my saddlebag and then got changed.

Before getting the bike out, I checked that the deluge hadn’t begun again, it hadn’t, so off I went. By the end of the road, I noticed how blowy it was. Turning right at the end of the road, made for happier riding as the wind was behind me right up to Walton High Street. Riding through the Trimleys was quite fun. I took it nice and steady as it was a tad blustery but not bad enough to turn back.

Once clear of the streetlights and the houses, I could really feel that wind, coming in from my left. I had found a nice pace and decided to work with that. The light in the sky was amazing. The lower clouds were few and far between but they were really shifting across the sky, obviously in a hurry to get somewhere. The clouds above were blue, purple, even a reddish hue. The sky looked like it was bruised and battered. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sky like that before. Not like a reddish sunset, as it was 10pm and dark, but beautiful, like a painting.

By the time I’d passed the Nacton turning, I was getting fed up with fighting to stay in a straight line, so I headed off up Straight Road, to Foxhall. I was planning on heading in the direct route to Sainsburys and then on to the Bixley Road but I just needed a bit of respite from that side wind. For the first time ever, I was the only person using Straight Road. There is usually some car driver gagging to pass me from either ahead or behind, but not tonight. Along the Bucklesham Road from Foxhall, the wind seemed better, probably my imagination. At one point, I seemed to be riding through a leaf storm. There were just leaves in the air everywhere, all swirling about. It was rather lovely as my bike lights caught them in some mad dance.

At the end of Bucklesham Road, there is a horrible roundabout, which I avoid in the day time as it’s a pain in the backside to get over or around. At night, it’s not so bad. I could see it was completely empty so I kicked on and round before anything had a chance to arrive at the roundabout. From there, it’s the climb up Bixley Road. Not much of a climb at an average of 1% over about a kilometer. I was a bit impressed with myself as I got a personal best along there, on my CX bike. The wind at my back was a massive help, cheating really but a PB is  PB.

I got to the Dialysis unit about 2 minutes before Kenn got out. I’d only just turned my lights off and looked at my GPS unit before he came out. Obviously, my timing is improving.

One of the great things about Kenn’s late dialysis is cycling on what my Mother used to call the G.O.A.D.I.C.O.N.S. method of fitness – or Going Out After Dark In Case Our Neighbour’s See. We’ve been here nearly 2 months now. I think that they think that we are a little eccentric. Apparently, going cycling in cycling clothes is a touch odd. It’s not as if we are without eccentrics around here. There is a chap who goes jogging up and down the prom, in a pair of barefoot training shoes and a pair of speedos. He runs a while then stops and does tricep dips or press-ups on the benches along there. Sometimes there is an nice, older Oriental lady who uses the railings at the edge of the Prom, like a barre. They both look jolly fit actually. Must be the sea air.

Anyway, tonight was 11.4 miles at a nice average pace of 14mph. 14 minutes from Home to the Sausage Shop. 48 minutes from Home to the Hospital. My feet, in their new boots? Warm and toasty. The boots are just lovely.

R

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6 months since last blog and a lot has happened

Oh where to start!

I still have my beloved Planet X Pro Carbon and I still have lovely Eric the PX CX bike. Both have done sterling work over the summer and autumn. My 2000 mile goal has been smushed and I am on my way to 2500, currently 2300 miles and change in to that. Garmin connect is being a pain in the situpon today and won’t upload the 7 miles to the Sausage Shop and back.

Better start catching up. On the 1st January this year, I weighed myself at a hideous 90kg and sought to do something a bit radical about that. 3 months of Exante Diet ( a VLCD – not recommended if you want to ride your bike a lot but it got me through the colder months) followed by Slimming World, which is more carby and bike friendly, then joining a gym now sees me at a much more sensible 67kg. People have congratulated me on my “new body”. Those who know me will tell you that it’s my ‘old’ body and I’ve got it back and it’s staying back. I still follow Slimming World but tweak it a bit. For instance, I have a big mug of curried butternut squash soup in front of me. Slimming World free food. However, I have been dunking a nice big bit of French Stick into it, definitely a few Syns but such is life. I had a chocolate biscuit earlier too. Not feeling any fatter so it’s all good.

Next bit of news. For my Norwich friends, who have known me forever, they know that half way up the A140 the map clearly says “Here Be Dragons”, right next to the real life sign that says ‘Suffolk’. For people who know me from other places than Norwich, you’ll all know about my insatiable wanderlust so ignore the ‘Here be Dragons’ bit as exploring bits of the world where there is a risk of being eaten, just adds to the fun.

We now live, 50 yards from the sea in Felixstowe. It’s fantastic. We go to the beach every day. The town is just a 20 minute walk away – along the beach, or Prom if the tide is in (or up the Sea Road if the tide is ‘really’ in). There are good shops, cafes, a cinema, decent branch of Specsavers, a Lidl and a jolly good bike shop. What’s not to like. We have been exploring for the last 8 weeks now and the bikes have been getting a workout.

NewbourneGlasshouse

I ride to meet Kenn from Dialysis – 11.5 miles to Ipswich, give or take. 16 the other day as I missed a turning and had a navigational adventure. I wasn’t supposed to visit Newbourne, but I did. More hills here. Scarier than dragons for a girl from the flatlands. We get off road and everything when we get lost find new and interesting, hitherto unthought of routes.

IMG_0224

Some days the sun even shines. It’s been unseasonably warm of late,

So far we have discovered Newbourne and Waldringfield accidentally. Tuesday I discovered excellent cyclepaths through Martlesham, after missing a turning to Bucklesham. Today a quick 7 miler to the Sausage Shop and back to buy sausages. Other meat products are available I am told. We have (or at least I have) ridden approximately 406 miles since moving here.

I can’t seem to stay off my bikes. Even to the extent of meeting Kenn from hospital at 10.30 at night and exploring by Cateye. The silence of the Suffolk lanes is fantastic, the lack of light pollution is astounding. The other evening I spent 10 minutes just standing by my bike and looking at the millions and millions of stars in the night sky. There was no moon, just the clear blackness and the pinpoints of light making their amazing shapes in the sky. The night riding means that I see owls, bats and the occasional deer that dashes across the road and scares the daylights out of me but it’s not great for photographic opportunities. I am not lugging a 35mm SLR and a blooming tripod about with me.

I need to crack on and clean my chain as it’s not looking overly fabulous at the moment. That failing on me half way up a deserted road, in the pitch black, is not on my to do list. I’ll clean both the bike’s chains, my roadie is filthy after an adventure through some puddles earlier. Just waiting on Kenn to let me know what time to be at the hospital tonight. It’s windy out, the clouds are belting across the sky. Inland it will be less windy so I might well go and meet him. What’s another 11 miles when I have the dry weather to go out and play in. Better burn off that bit of French loaf. That’s my excuse and I am sticking to it.

I will make more of an effort to take pictures, blog a bit and generally stay in touch with the world, Dragons not withstanding.
R

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Great Yarmouth to home. 1st ride from the coast this year

We were going to go yesterday but the 20mph + winds put us off a bit. We watched someone being blown down the road on a scooter and picking himself out of somebody’s hedge and decided to snuggle on the sofa, with the dogs, and watch Thor and Thor 2 instead. Mmmm Tom Hiddleston is such a good baddie.

Today, we got on our roadies and rode the 3.75 miles from home to Norwich Rail Station and got on the 11:36 to Great Yarmouth having coughed up £14.20 for two tickets. We did have the bike compartment to ourselves, when we got there so that was nice. Half an hour later, after sipping coffee and watching the scenary (mostly cows) go by, we arrived at Great Yarmouth Station and got on the bikes and followed the bike path out to the roundabout and headed for Caister. The fastest route out of Gt Yarmouth.

I’m a local and, after 50 years of wondering, I still don’t know what’s so great about the town. Not particularly great if you ask me. Dead all winter, bloody cold too. Full of sunburned grockles all summer, mostly rude. Nope. G.Y. is not a nice place. I know that millions love it, but then, they don’t live there.

Gt-Yarm-Home Route 1Not quite a straight line home but near enough. Riding over the marshes was not on our agenda anyway. The A149 is horrible, then it always is. Could have been worse. Could have been mid week or a bank holiday with caravans left right and centre. Once off the main road, we headed to Filby, nice wee village with rowing boats for hire on the Broad there.

DSCF7539I think that my PX looks rather lovely agains that sign. I know that the bar tape doesn’t match the saddle. It did but now it doesn’t. I’ve put the Selle Italia Flow back on. Really comfy now. Also, the Looks are white, but they came off Kenn’s Boardman, which is white.

We headed for Acle then South Walsham and then Ranworth where we stopped at the pub and had a coffee for me, Coke and Crisps for Kenn then went back the way we’d come to South Walsham. We turned for Panxworth and then turned off our usual route and headed for Pedham. Much prettier route. The roads were not so badly potholed as the old route. Really the other route has potholes that would swallow a Smart car with ease. The Pedham/Hemblington Route was nicer, prettier and still a bit hilly for Norfolk but who cares. Wisteria everywhere and I forgot to take a pic.

Once at the Plumstead cyclepath it was business as usual, except for stopping for the other half of a protein bar as I suddenly felt a bit wibbly. We stopped at the village hall and sat under a tree for  5 minutes before carrying on. We stopped again, at the Heartsease to belt into Tesco for some Alpro. Our Aldi doesn’t have Almond milk and I didn’t want to go out of my way, particularly.

The last 4 miles flew by. I managed to get up Marlpit Lane hill in reasonably good style. Kenn wasn’t far behind either.

34.25 all in all in 2:41:03 so averaged around 12.5mph or so. I thought that Kenn did really well. He’ll have tomorrow off for dialysis now. I’ll take a gentle leg turner down to meet him, maybe. Unless it rains. Hoping for a good ride on Tuesday now.

R

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