In the aftermath of last Mondays ride I had to endure another five days lay off from cycling and I am now on a course of antibiotics. I did go for a steady 50km ride this morning, a bit shorter than last Mondays debacle but the conditions were similar, cold and windy. I am still struggling to get some speed back but I think that is not helped by the antibiotics and the extended lay off. I know from previous experience that antibiotics can make me feel sluggish. I felt OK at the end though and I think whatever rides I can fit in this week and until I finish the antibiotics course I will keep to about the same distance and step up to 80’s next week and all being well 100’s the week after. Onward and upward from here on hopefully.
In other news, I have reinstalled Strava but I am keeping my rides on a private basis and not following anybody and not allowing any followers either. It is purely for personal records and progress checks and also because of the newly found Route Planner on Strava. It is an excellent piece of software , much better than Garmins Connect set up I think. I can heartily recommend it, it has some good options. I understand that Garmin Connect has been suffering some problems itself since installing the new software. Whenever I have been there I have opted for the old version where possible anyway, I struggle with the new layout.
I noticed a lot of cyclists out today, obviously making the most of the weather and also they are probably the poor souls who have to work all week and have to grab any ride they can get on a weekend. As I said earlier it was a nice sunny day here but with a steadily increasing wind speed all morning.
I was back out on the road again today on a ride I planned last night. I was feeling the need for some extra miles and longer rides are the the way to do it. Miles in the legs are more important than short fast ones at this stage, in my case anyway. My chosen steed for the day was the Ribble Bike with a slightly altered saddle position because I found it was a bit different to my other bikes
I carefully planned this route to be as close as I could get to 100 kilometres but on the plus side of it. The route was actually honed down to 101.1km in the planning stages. However the need for a coffee and cake stop at Salcey Forest to get me through the last hour of the ride put paid to that. The ride down the forest road to the cafe and back added that little bit extra, still not bad though. On the map you can just see the little blip where I deviated from my planned route for refreshment. Its on the left near the M1 sign close to Hartwell.
As you will see it is a loop around Olney and although it was a long ride I was never more than about 15km from home. The weather was pretty good, even some long spells of sunshine and the wind was light and mostly friendly.
I took these pictures at the exact half way point of the ride, the Garmin showing 50km done and 50km to go.. and also a picture of the spot. Not too interesting I am afraid.. just the long straight road leading into Bozeat. (Pronounced ‘Boze – yat’ by the locals).
It was the longest ride I have done for some time but I hope to repeat the experience again soon, whatever the weather !!
But not quite so many this time, just a weeks worth, I am definitely improving !!
First ride of this week was a brief trip out on Tuesday. The correct chainring for the Ribble bike arrived around lunchtime. I fitted it first thing and by the time I had done that and shortened the chain and re-adjusted the gears there was about an hour and half before lighting up time.
I decided to take a trip to the ‘Bike Bus’ to find out exactly where it is for future reference. Although its only open at weekends at the moment it gave my ride a purpose and a target.
The ‘Bike Bus’ is a converted ‘double decker’ bus that is parked up on a little trading estate set up in a farm yard just outside the village Salford on the way to Woburn sands. It has been converted to a cafe selling coffee and home made cakes to cyclists (I am sure they would willingly sell to anybody though!). Its a recent addition so i will have to try to get there one weekend to try out the ‘fare’. (No pun intended it being a bus, but if you want to credit my sense of humour then so be it !!)
I came back via a slightly more circuitous route and just got back before lights were needed.
On Friday morning (yesterday as I type this) I took a trip over my friend Cyril’s at Wellingborough for a cup of coffee and chat. I didn’t want to go too far in an anticipation of a longer ride today. We spent a pleasant hour chatting, mostly about cycling but being the age we are, health inevitably came into the conversation as well!! I set off back again and came home via a slightly longer route and was back in time for lunch and relaxing afternoon.
Today was Team MK club ride day. It was originally to be to the cafe at Salcey Forest which would have suited me nicely as I can take a short cut back home from there, having done my extra miles by riding the 12 miles to the ride start. However at the last minute the destination was changed to the ‘Flying Pig Cafe’ at Turweston airfield near to Brackley. This meant that the 43 miles for everyone else became 67 miles for me!
It was a damp kind of day, no rain but the country roads were wet and greasy and the farm tractors had left mud scattered about the roads, so a time to be careful. It was an uneventful ride this week for a change.
One event of the day displeased me though. The cafe is right next to the runway in the plane parking area. There are barriers separating the light aircraft from the public and these barriers make a useful place to lean your bike against. I was inside enjoying my coffee and lemon drizzle cake when I saw my bike and another one that had been leant against the barriers fall over, with the barrier! The fall was caused by the draught from the propellor of a plane that was taxiing by on its way to the runway for takeoff. I went to pick up the bikes and check them over, luckily there was no damage to them. I wouldn’t have been happy to sustain damage on the first proper outing.
This weeks ride was to Castle Ashby, just into Northamptonshire and only about 6 miles from my home. However, club rides being what they are its never that simple.
Adrian the ride leader had planned a route out via Olney and then looping round via Harrold, Bozeat and Grendon to the The Buttery at Castle Ashby courtyard for coffee and cake. The return to Stony Stratford was via a very hilly route starting immediately with a climb up Whiston Hill and then over the top to Whiston village. On from there via the climb to Cogenhoe ( Pronounced ‘Cookner’ ! ) Through to Little and Great Houghton and the climb there, on to Preston Deanery and Quinton and the short climb up to Salcey Forest and then back via Hanslope to Stony Stratford. Plenty of ups and downs on that little bit too.
I however elected not to have to get up and out so early and to ride towards group as they headed for Olney to save riding to the start and then back again. It was much cooler day than my last ride when it was shorts and short sleeved shirt weather. It was back to tights and long sleeved shirt. I should however have dressed even warmer I think. Everyone else seemed to have full finger gloves and not my half finger track mitts, jackets and shoe covers! It was an inducement for me to ride harder though I guess, just to keep warm.
The Buttery is only very small inside and so twenty odd cyclists descending on it out of the blue filled it to overflowing. Also in the process disturbing all the incumbent diners from their quite morning coffee and chat I am sure. Under normal circumstances we would have sat outside in the sunshine if the weather had cooperated.
We did encounter the threatened light rain on the return ride. I left the ride at Hanslope on the way back and headed home to Olney solo again. Although I was now heading into the wind, the rain stopped and the sun came out for a while and it even began to feel a bit warm for a while.
All in all it was a good ride for me. I felt a lot better than I expected to after another ten days off the bike apart from one short ride in the week. I coped with the hills quite well I thought.
But…. having recently joined up to Strava and started to log my rides on there and ‘following’ a few people from the club It seems I am doing about a quarter of the miles a week that they are. A bigger and better effort is obviously required on my behalf I think and I don’t really have any excuses not too given that I don’t have to go to work and have everyday available for riding.
Here is what my Strava page for the ride looks like.. click on this image for the full Strava information for the various segments of the ride. I don’t fully understand quite how it all works myself yet but I am getting there slowly with all the gizmo’s on it.
My first proper outing with the new bike set up felt good from the start. There were twelve of us set off on a pretty undulating route round the country roads and into Northampton. Once into the outskirts of the town we went through a confusing combination of cycle tracks that didn’t always follow the roads. So much so that once we got going on them I had no idea where I was and probably couldn’t find my way around them again!
We eventually emerged into a park very close to the centre of Northampton having been sheltered from the bulk of the traffic. We drove up the entrance road through the park to Delapre Abbey which housed the cafe and we went through into the walled garden. It was pleasantly warm in the garden in the sunshine and sheltered from the wind. The usual array of cakes tea and coffee was on offer and we took our fill while enjoying some pleasant conversation.
We came back via Salcey Forest and some of the guys decided to stop for another coffee but it was too soon after the previous stop for me. So myself and another rider decided to head straight back to Stony Stratford. That turned out to be quite some ride. It was pretty fast I can tell you and when I realised who the rider was I knew from the outset it was not going to be an easy ride. You will see from the ride stats that we averaged around 19mph for that last 10 miles. Given that all of that was into a head wind and pretty hilly as well that took some doing. We did ‘bit and bit’ as I used to call it but is now more fashionably known as ‘through and off ‘ whereby you keep swapping the lead at regular intervals to get shelter from the rider in front and recover somewhat.
I really enjoyed the experience and it was a good workout and the new position probably helped. Now I have to tell you that the other riders name was Sue. She is a regular on the club rides and rides with the B group on Saturdays. A very strong rider, much younger than me (but most people are !!) and she is always riding off the front of the bunch on club rides pushing a big gear. She isn’t a big lady by any means and just sits there and pushes the pedals around and very good at climbing too! Whenever she gets to the front of the group the pace increases! I asked her when we got back if she ever did any competitive riding but she said no, she did try it but didn’t enjoy it! I thought it was waste of talent.
I took myself off on another ride this morning. Quite a cold morning, temperature around 14C (57F). It took a while to get warmed up but as the route is quite soon into some climbs not too long.
I rode out via Ravenstone and Stoke Goldington to Salcey Forest. Then on through Hartwell and Ashton to Stoke Bruerne on the Grand Union Canal. There is a canal museum there and it is also at the southern entrance to Blisworth Tunnel. A long tunnel through the hill between Stoke Bruerne and Blisworth excavated by hand when the canals where first built. It was started in 1793 and is 3076 yards long, quite a dig!
I then headed further west and past the back of Towcester Racecourse and across the old Roman Road of Watling Street, now the A5. The road starts at Marble Arch in the centre of London and goes all the way to Holyhead in Anglesey, North Wales. A total distance of 267 miles. In 1951 they started running a one day cycle race along the entire length of the road, it used to start around 5am! I remember getting up to watch it go through St Albans, near to where I was raised in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire. The race was last run in 1960 so you can guess how young I might have been.
On crossing the A5 I carried on west for a while and then turned south towards Pury End and then down and up the hill into Paulerspury. Here I decided to explore a new route and turned off towards Deanshanger and then left off of that road and to Potterspury. Crossing the A5 again here I went through the village to Yardley Gobion and then down to Castlethorpe, having re-crossed the Grand Union Canal again at the Navigation Inn just before the village.
Then it was the final run through to Haversham, Gayhurst and Tyringham and then to Filgrave and up the hill and drop down into Olney.
It was a ride of 38 miles and surpisingly I didnt average as much as longer and hillier ride I did on Sunday. But I guess I was in a more leisurely frame of mind and also riding solo all the way made a difference, especially given the headwind at some stages and not being able to shelter in a bunch of riders.