Weeks 6 to 8 of the winter challenge

I have had a few computer issues that are now sorted. I’ve also had work getting in the way, which was a right pain.

Week 6. (6 – 12 Feb)
5hrs & 42 minutes and 67.53 miles ridden.

I got a really nice 50km in on the 10th as I had an unexpected day off. Riding was a bit hit and miss with work and whatnot, but I did manage to get out. The fact that I needed a new chain and cassette was really showing on poor Eric and gear changing was clunky at best. I was mostly riding on the trail, which is as boring as anything.

Week 7 (13 – 19 Feb)
2 hours, 57 minutes and 14 seconds and a paltry 36.21 miles of riding.

It was half term and I was working my socks off. My Moon Light had packed up and refused to charge so it was sent off to Hong Kong to be fixed and I got a new light, a Lezyne 400 or something. Total pants, it ran out of battery after 10 miles despite being fully charged, so I got to ride home in darkness on the trail, lit by only my frog light. I did a new bit that day too. I rode off up towards Egloshayle and then up the A road hill to Gonvena and then down the hill before going up the trail. I did similar on the Saturday night with another new light (the Lezyne went back for an exchange), a no name brand job which also left me in darkness after about 18 miles so the last 3 miles home were lit by my spare light. Can’t wait for my Moon to come back.
I had a bit of a cold and a hacking cough, which didn’t help matters at all.

Week 8 (20 – 26 Feb)
4hrs, 5 mins & 48 seconds and 51.19 miles

A bit of a better week. No riding with Kenn at all as he was still ill. The weather was horrendous. Marti Pellow weather all week. (Wet Wet Wet for those under 40). I got soaked most days over the 5 days that I rode. I didn’t ride over the weekend as the weather was filthy and I was working and doing so much walking that I just didn’t have the energy.

A few signs of spring were starting to show. The gorse was clothed in yellow flowers and there were a few brave primroses sticking their heads out of the earth. Better weather must be around the corner. Storm Doris meant that I had to rehang the gate again, rescue the bin again and be a bit picky and do a couple of one way routes, again. But it was mostly good.

 

Eric had his new cassette and chain plus a full service on 28th Feb. 12-32 cassette so I’m looking forward (kind of) to trying out a couple more hills soon. My knees are not happy at the moment so taking it easy.

February’s challenge of 14 hours was smashed a bit. 17 hours and change and 200+ miles so I was pleased with that. March is still going to be 30 minutes a day as I’m a bit wobbly. Our homeswap fell through with 3 weeks to go. They were really keen and then, all of a sudden they just changed their mind, so we are back looking for an exchange. That’s 2 exchanges that have crashed and burned in 3 months. A bit fed up but we are going to look at a place near Iffley Lock next week. It’s going to be a wet day so a good day to miss a ride.

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R

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Week 5 of my winter challenge was a bit pants

I got my rides in and ended up just 17 seconds off half an hour over my target. The weather was deeply rubbish all week and I’ve been feeling like I’ve been coming in for a cold too. I’m not making excuses for not riding, just making excuses for not going out in the torrential rain and high winds.

I got out on Monday, only 13 miles up to Bodmin and back and got soaked on the way home. I did get out in dry weather and it didn’t start raining until I had turned for home, so that was something. An hour and 4 minutes through the mud. Eric was in a frightful state.

Tuesday was wet and windy. Just horrible weather. Then, about half past 6 in the evening, the rain just stopped so we both grabbed our bikes and rode up the trail. We got to about 3 1/2 miles and the rain just lashed down. We could barely see where we were going so we turned around and headed for home. The cyclepath, in the gutter through Wadebridge, was flooded, slippery and just horrible so we did the unthinkable (if you are a car driver) and rode in the road instead of risking life and limb by riding on the 14″ or so of designated cyclepath. Naturally there was some twonk leaning on his horn, following us for about 50 yards. He close passed us and then immediately turned left into the co-op. He must have been gagging for a pint of milk to be leaning on his horn like that. BMW driver, naturally.

That was it for January. My last ride of the month right there. It wasn’t a bad month actually. 230 miles in 20 hours and 11 minutes. So pleased with that. I have set a new goal for February of 14 hours of riding. Still with my 30 minute average of riding a day. The monthly target just sits in the back of my mind, I’m mostly about my weekly challenges at the moment. Short motivational targets are working for me in the cold weather.

I didn’t get another ride in until Friday as the rain didn’t stop, the wind was windy and it was really cold. Friday was another wet and windy day, really nasty and I was having a bad day anyway. Then, about about a quarter to 9 at night, the rain stopped. I changed, grabbed Eric, my phone and headset and just went. I told Kenn that I was heading to Padstow and not to leave his phone out of his sight, in case I needed him. I just rode up to the 2nd car park and turned for home. I was just under the hour so rode up Polmorla Road a bit. I’d just turned in to the road and the rain came down again, but I carried on a bit until a massive gust of wind actually caused me to stop riding. The gust just hit me, head on, and it was like riding into a big, invisible cushion. I thought that enough was enough and turned for home. I could barely see my hand in front of my face as it was raining so hard. It got Eric really clean. Silver linings and all that.

Saturday was rubbish weather too. We got a 90 minute window of decent weather so took the chance. Kenn just wanted to ride to Padstow (I am bored to tears with the trail but Kenn doesn’t want to climb and, if it will get him out on his bike and turning his legs, I’ll ride up and down the trail with him). I got him to turn up Polmorla Road towards the end of the ride as I wanted to show him something but would’t tell him what. There is a gentle climb up a few feet and, at the top (before it starts to climb properly) there is a forest school house with a turfed roof. I thought that he’d like to see it. I forgot my camera but I’ll take a pic next time. We rode home and got in about 10 minutes before the rain howled down again.

Weather was horrible on Sunday so we didn’t ride. Our central heating was playing up – it was fixed today – and we didn’t want to go out and get freezing. We also had no hot water.

Week 6 is a new week. I have work Wednesday to Sunday so riding might be hit and miss but I’ll give it my best shot. I’ve got 3 hours and 30 minutes on the goal page. I’ve seen the forecast and it’s what Kenn calls ‘Fairytale Weather’, or Grimm.

I can feel fitness returning though. Getting my 50km this week is a non-starter. I won’t have the time. Probably not next week either, it’s half term and I’m busy, busy, busy. Real life getting in the way of cycling is a real bugbear of mine.

See you next week
R

 

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End of week 4 of the biking challenge

The weather had been quite kind to me this week and I’ve got some riding done and I’m quite pleased with myself.

On Monday, I deliberately kept the time and mileage low as I knew that I wanted to get a good ride in for Tuesday and didn’t want tired legs. The sun was shining and it was a great day and I really wanted to go further but restrained myself and turned for home, so a nice little 7.33 miles in 33 minutes was done and dusted

Tuesday was my planned 50km for January ride. I’ve not been fit enough so far this month and I really want to ride a 50km ride every month this year. Last year was fine until November. The weather closed in and I just didn’t get the chance with the wind, rain and – on the rare nice days – being at work (typical). Kenn came and we took the CXs up to Wenfordbridge, to the Snails Pace Cafe, which is on it’s winter break and we knew this so took squash, fruit and a sandwich with us. We had 15 minutes at their picnic tables, watching the birdlife and looking at how the housebuild opposite the car park is coming along and then got back on our bikes.
The terrain was interesting as it’s predominantly mud at that end, clay mud at that so it sucks at your wheels and makes life very hard work. Much harder than road riding but there is very little in the way of flat around here so it’s the trails or forget it at my current level of fitness. I left Kenn in Wadebridge and cleared off up the trail a bit towards Padstow, got about half way along and turned for home to complete my 50km for the month. By the time I’d got home, Kenn had sluiced his bike off and the shower room was ready for mine. Good job too.

Wednesday and Thursday were both non-riding days. The weather was iffy, very windy and I just didn’t fancy it. Friday was less windy so I got a ride in to Padstow and back – I just couldn’t be dealing with hills or mud as my knees were making their presence known. It’s the weather for them to play up. I can’t take anti-inflammatory tablets as I was a live kidney donor so only have the one kidney. Wish I’d known about the not taking anti-inflams for pain and arthritis before I donated. The hospital failed to mention that bit.

Saturday, I was at work but keen to get a ride in as I was determined to hit 200 miles for the month. It stopped raining so off we went, Kenn and I. We got to the 5km mark and turned for home into a torrential rain and hail shower. I say shower, it lasted for the entire ride back . For some reason, we couldn’t stop giggling about it as we rode through the dark and stormy night :D. Once home, we totted up the mileage and it came to 199.86 miles. The word ‘arse’ might have been used.

Sunday. Hmm. I’d seen the forecast for Monday & Tuesday and it was Marti Pellow weather (Wet Wet Wet for those who might be under 40) so I took the opportunity to get out in the light drizzle on Sunday night. I’d been putting it off and off as I watched the rain fall all afternoon but I managed to get just over 10.5 miles in so that took me to 210 miles for the month so far.

So, week 4 brought me 67.28 miles for the whole week and 5:37:56 in the saddle. I was pleased with that. More of the same for week 5, I hope. Looking for 30 mins a day average across the week. The weather is grim though so I’ll see what I can do.

 

R

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The end of the 3rd week of my 30 minutes a day challenge.

Well, this week has been a whole lot better. The weather has been cold – not altogether unexpected in during January, in England though – but no wind to speak of and no rain either. Well, not much and not at riding time, which is the main thing.

Monday was just little old me, out on my CX, Eric. Just up to Padstow and then back via Polmorla road and back to make up some time. Nothing exciting at all. I did stop for a natter with some tourists at the quarry area, on the way back. They were planning on upgrading their 10 speed cassettes and their LBS has quoted a couple of hundred quid each. I nearly fell in the Camel with the shock. I asked if they had a cassette tool in their bike tool kit, which they did. I suggested looking on Wiggle, buying a cassette and doing it themselves. A 10 speed Shimano cassette is only about £45 for an Ultegra one. I think that they are going to have a go. £200 each! I also suggested a different LBS. I think that they were quite new to this cycling lark.

Tuesday was nice too. Just a gentle pootle to Padstow and back with Kenn. Nice and steady and getting our feet cold. Well, mine were OK, his were cold for some reason. It was 7 degrees C out there so not frosty.

Wednesday was my day off so I rode a quick 10 miles to Padstow Bridge and back. Again, I stopped at quarry to look at the view and chat with other cyclists. There were hundreds of birdwatchers out on the trail today. Literally hundreds of them. I guess a rare bird must have been spotted or something. People with monopods with lenses trained out over the water. They looked cold if you ask me. Got home with minimal mud on Eric too, so that was a bonus.

Thursday was ‘the visit’ from the potential homeswap partner. He duly turned up, we chatted about bikes and gave him the tuppenny tour while swigging coffee. We swapped paperwork and put ours in to the Council while he drove 330 miles back home again. His paperwork went in Friday morning. Naturally, we have both taken copies and have put them safe for when one of the landlords lose the forms. It always happens.
Friday was off too as I was not feeling myself and my sciatica was playing up a smidge.

I managed to get Kenn out on Saturday. Padstow again. Just to the carpark where the diggers are, and back again. I was a smidge short of the hour so rode on a little on the ‘towards Bodmin’ side of the trail. Just to the river bridge and back, so an extra couple of miles to take me over a 20km ride. As you do.

Today, Sunday, was the best ride. We left it to about 3, when the sun came out, the drizzle stopped and it got warm – for January – it was very nice. We got the bikes out and decided to ride up to Nanstallon. Much muddier but I am bored to tears with going to Padstow and Kenn is not in a frame of mind to think about doing any climbing whatsoever today. At Nanstallon gates we turned around by the tea shop that we have never been in. We are unlikely to either, it’s only 4 miles from home.
As I was turning Kenn was visited by a Robin on his handlebars. I was not quick enough with my camera. I was quick enough to snap him when he hopped onto my back wheel though.
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It was tricky but I just turned my phone upside down so I could poke the button with minimal fuss and thought I’d just sort the orientation later.

Master Robin (he looks young to me) then hopped off and went to visit Kenn again.
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Not the greatest pictures but I only had a phone on me and I’d zoomed in a little, which was probably a mistake.
We then rode home again and hosed the bikes off. It’s the dirtiest they have been all week.

This week’s scores on the doors was 4:43:18 on the bike and covered 57.41 miles. I was an hour and a quarter over target, but that’s OK. Same again next week, but I expect that the weather is going to change again. Freezing fog has been forecast. Joy.

Onwards then.
R

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Week 2 of the 30 minute challenge…

…… Didn’t go as well as I planned.

It was very windy last week. 28mph winds with gusts of up to about 45mph and I didn’t fancy it much. There was pouring rain on the milder days and temps of below 3 degrees on not wet days all accompanied by howling wind. On one of the days I did consider going out – milder than normal and not raining – I was nearly blown over on my way to the shop and my watering can, which was full of water, got blown across to the bus terminus. When I went off to retrieve it, I was overtaken by my own bin with it’s half breeze block in the bottom, so I fetched that back while I was over there. Cycling didn’t happen.

I did get out a few times though.
Monday 9th I did a quick 6.75 miles in a smidge over half an hour. Through the wind and rain.
Tuesday 10th, I managed 12 miles in an hour and 5 minutes, more wind, and I was frozen stiff even with thermals and my winter boots on.
Thursday 12, I rode 6.66 in just over half an hour. I battered into the wind one way and zoomed back the other, with the wind at my back.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday the weather was just vile. Even the dogs didn’t want to go out in it.

I started a new week on Monday 16th.

On the house moving front, since last posting we have been contacted by a chap with a bungalow in Lincolnshire who really wants our flat. We had to speak to his landlord and housing officer as we are 2 years too young for the bungalow. However, renal failure counts as a medical need. The bungalow chap is a cyclist and is coming to view here in 2 days time. Very excited as he is bringing the exchange paperwork from his end. I think it might well be a done deal as he is coming to see the area rather than the flat. Not counting chickens though. He might hate the place, but I hope not. The rooms are about the same size as his and I’ve emailed him all the flat measurements and as many photos as feasible. We do have everything crossed as a life in the flatlands would be marvellous, again. I have barely ridden my roadie this year.

The bikes went in for brake services the other day. I’ve been having a couple of issues with my rear brake as the lever seemed to be too stiff to move. There was some grit in the cabling somewhere. All sorted now with new cables. Both of the CX bikes have a ton of wear left on the brake pads too, so that’s one less thing to worry about.

Onwards with the new week then. The weather is much improved so far, but it’s only Tuesday so anything could happen.

R

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2017 already!

In the end I clocked up 1717 miles for 2016. Pretty pants really. I did get some riding in during December. The weather was quite mild and I managed to give myself a metaphorical kick up the bum.

Sadly the Oxford flat fell through so we are back perusing the home-swapper listings without much hope really. We’ve decided that we don’t mind where we go as long as it’s not as hilly as where we are now. We have been asked some daft questions in the last few weeks such as ‘how long have you lived here’ like that has anything to do with anything. Questions about the area, amenities, transport, parking etc are fine but how long we have been here, where we lived before and have we ever had any cats before seem somewhat irrelevant questions.

The week between Christmas and New Years Eve meant that I got on my bike for the equivalent of 30 minutes a day. I challenged myself to do that. I actually decided on a total of 3 hours & 30 minutes for the week and in 6 days managed 3 hours and 45 minutes and decided to start the next week on New Year’s Day, as it seemed like the thing to do. The 3 1/2 hour thing was so pleasing to me that I decided to do it again for the first week in January. It seemed like a plan anyway. It’s been very successful for me. Mentally, I can cope with the thought of just half an hour a day with my arse in the saddle. Kenn has embraced this too for his non-dialysis days. His challenge was for 2 hours across the week.

The week went thus:
New Years Day. 11.03 miles to Padstow and back in a smidge over an hour. that was me half an hour up on the challenge already.
2nd Jan: 6 miles in 35 minutes with 110m of climbing. I have decided to get my big-girl-pants on and get some climbing done as I am bored to tears with the trail.
3rd Jan: 20.26 miles in 2 hours and 20 minutes on the Coast to Coast from Portreath, with Kenn in about 3 degrees C. We took it very steadily as it’s pace that does for Kenn and not time. Even so, we did the last 5 miles a bit more quickly as it’s slightly downhill and I was pretty bored with 7.5mph to be frank.
4th Jan: Day off as our kit was in the wash
5th Jan: 10.14 in 50 minutes with Kenn. He stopped at the quarry and I carried on to the bridge and back to get my mileage into double figures again. Anyway, I felt great.
6th Jan. I decided to try another slightly hilly route and rode out past Egloshayle, left up the A389 and up the hill to the roundabout at the top of Govenna and then carried on along the A39, which was a bit hairy. I stopped at the big bridge and took a pic and then slogged up the Cat 4 hill to the roundabout at the top of Wadebridge. I took a country lane home and actually walked down part of the hill as it was so skiddy with the mud and the 18% drop and bends. A couple of cars had roared up and I didn’t feel overly safe on that road. 6.3 miles in 35 mins or so.
7th Jan. Just up the Camel Trail to the quarry area and back, with Kenn so nice and steady. 6.3 miles again in 32 and a bit mins.

My total for the first week was a smidge over 60 miles and nearly 6 hours so well over my target and very pleased.

I took a pic from the big bridge, in the grey and miserable weather.
view-from-the-bridge
There have been a couple of suicides off here of late. While I was photographing, a car stopped and the passenger asked if I was OK, which was nice of them. I assured them that I was just out for a ride and wanting to take a pic.

Anyway. The week of Jan 8th to Jan 14th, my plan is 3 hours and 30 minutes for the week. I’m not stipulating 30 mins a day as the weather report is not amazing for the coming week.

I have got 2000 miles on my target clock for the year. If I can move from Cornwall, that might well be raised. I just cannot stand the hills and am going to do everything in my power to move. I think that moving here was a horrible mistake really and I don’t think that, after all the financial trauma that we’ve had, Cornwall likes us. Since moving here, getting a job and saving where we can, we are actually worse off. This is such an expensive place to live. We are going to go.

See you in a week for ride reports. I’ve got a plan to blog more often too. We’ll see how that goes.
Raffie

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Late November Sun

I have not been near my bike since about the 8th November. The weather has been horrible and I have been stuck in a crisp eating, bun munching morass. I’ve looked at the bike several times, even washed it once. I am just not feeling the love of riding. I’ve ridden just over 1600 miles this year, which is seriously pants. Even the mighty Kaysa Tylan beating Billie Dovey’s record failed to rouse me. What did today, is that it was a lovely day, I’ve been trying to learn Esperanto and I’m having a struggle at the mo and it was either do a lesson or ride my bike. Procrastination is the friend of reluctant cyclists, it seems. Also, I’d made myself a new playlist for my iPod.

I only rode to Padstow and back and it took 51 minutes and  a few seconds, so no record breaking, no PBs on Strava and definitely no QOMs but I got out. It was nice. I am pretty sure that someone has moved Padstow about 100 miles up the trail though. Boy oh boy that seemed a long way today. I had Dire Straits on the way back so that sped things up. Dire Straits always seem to make me ride faster, that awesome solo on Tunnel of Love never fails to inspire me and I still can’t blimmin’ play it very well. More practice required there too.
The weather was a tidge fresh and my feet were cold at the end of the ride. Good job I have warm, winter riding boots for when it really gets cold. The Camel was a flat calm, good water skiing terrain but there were no skiiers. Must be a warm weather activity, mind you the surfers are out in all sorts of weather. The late afternoon sun failed to be very warming, but the goldie coloured light looked nice and cast a warm glow on the hedges and bushes as I rode past them. The ride was slow and fast all at the same time. I was back before I knew it, but as I turned from the Car Park in Padstow for home, I thought ‘oh my God, 5.5 miles to ride’ and it felt like a million miles at that moment. I am so unfit. It was nice to get back on the bike though, I’ll make a bit more effort for the remaining November days if the weather holds for me.

I am still working at weekends, just 11 hours a week at the same place that I’ve been all summer. I love my job but the money is pants. Actually all jobs around these parts pay absolutely rubbish. Everything is minimum wage (except for Lidl and they have a heck of a waiting list for would be employees). Most work here is seasonal and low paid. Kenn is deeply fed up with the day to day financial struggle. He wants to move on.

In the past it’s been me with the wanderlust but we are here now. The flat is great, the neighbours are OK and the walking is nice. I have a job that I adore and they seem to like me. Couple of beaches around the corner to give the hounds a blat on, it’s all good. The bike riding is rubbish here though. Oh, don’t get me wrong, if you love hills, it’s fantastic. The Trail is lovely and ever changing, whether that be colours, wildlife, terrain (packed earth or deep mud). Kenn, misses road riding without having to slog up hills or get off and walk all the time. I think that he misses Norfolk, or at least East Anglia. Who’d have thought it. I, however, am not ready to go back to Norfolk just yet. He definitely misses a hospital within a sensible distance. He’s dialysing at Plymouth this week, that’s 60 miles each way! Next week, he’s back to Launceston so it’s only 28 miles each way. He’s fed up with it all. Kenn said that the only thing keeping me here, is my job. He’s not wrong. When I really thought about it he was spot on.

To that end, I’ve told Kenn that if he wants to move, he needs to do the driving with it. When we move, I do all the list making, the packing, the organising of a van, liaising with the swap partner, councils, hospital, blah blah blah ad nauseum. He said OK, found a flat just outside Oxford in a tiny village. 5 miles from a huge dialysis and transplant unit and with good roads for riding. The flat is a 1st floor jobber, which might be interesting for the bikes, but it has a decent sized garden, a gate at the bottom onto a footpath which leads to a network of paths that go all over. The swap chap has family near Newquay and wants to move here to be closer. He also has spinal issues and needs a shower room and a ground floor flat. He loves this place and did the paperwork on Sunday, while I was at work.

We’ve seen his flat. It’s nice. Bigger windows than here, laminated flooring throughout – a bit dark if you ask me – but he’s teamed it with oversized (mahoosive) furniture and a ton of fitness equipment so it looks tiny and cramped. However a tape measure doesn’t lie and it’s roughly the same size as this place, the kitchen is bigger and has a huge window so not nearly so dark and pokey as our current one – I miss the one in Felixstowe, I loved that kitchen. The riding will be better, we had a good drive about. It’s lumpier than Norfolk but way, way, way flatter than here. It’ll be fine.

So, off we go again then. Not until sometime in January, or early Feb though. We made some big sacrifices to move here. Not all worth it, if I’m honest. I love my job and going there has been my ‘happy place’ for a a few months. I’m sure that I’ll find another and we wend our way back to Norfolk. I reckon a couple of years and Norfolk will be back on the radar for a permanent stay. Never been to Oxfordshire for anything but a visit to the Pitt Rivers Museum or through it en route to somewhere else. It will be good.

R

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