Monday, 20 March 2017

Bye Bye BSMHT

Parkrun (fastest time this year)
Whoa! What an eventful week last week turned out to be. In fact, it aged me by a whole year!

Started the training week with an indoor spin using the Bkool app. Cycled about 30k. Was nice to stretch the legs after so long. The Bkool app was not working great though and was very jumpy and crashed before my session had actually finished. Not long after the cycle, I stuck on my running shoes and ran xc style over the fields of Studley which was nice and worked just fine!

On Thursday, I finally left BSMHFT - an NHS Trust that I had worked for, for the past 18 years. There had been great times and not-so-great times. On the whole it was OK, but as I often say 'work really does get in the way of fun'. And now, I've left. No tears. Maybe a few fears...
My next adventure was on Friday. I cycled a 'Doo version' of 'Wiggle's Tempest' (standard) route. This was a great route covering just over 100k and it was all close to home. Bonus! One day, I might 'man up' and cycle the 'epic' route which adds another 50k or so and some big hills!
Saturday was Parkrun day. I ran the Arrow Valley route (was tempted to run Hanbury but that run was not happening - still not really sure why it's been cancelled). Amongst the usual faces there I spotted John Mitchell (or rather, he spotted me) which was cool. My run was completed in 23:21which was my fastest time this year. (21:39 is my PB and I'd still like to run a time of 20 something).
Parkrun (sprint finish)
Saturday afternoon was spent with my wife and kids. We went to Bourton-on-the-Water to see where the City Fairies live. We also tucked into a hearty picnic (refuelling after the run). Now that I don't work weekends, I guess I'll have more adventures with my family.
Home of the City Fairies 
Nom, nom, nom
Sunday was my birthday. My 42nd birthday in fact. For 42 years, God has blessed me and benefited me in so many ways. I am blessed with great family and friends, I have food on my table, clothes on my back, I live in relative safety, I have my own home, I have access to water, I have good health and all my senses (some might argue) work ok - and for all this, I am truly thankful. I also have the hope of a better life to come.
Birthday breakfast
As for birthday's, well, y'know, I had a wheely great day! Thank's for all the b'day wishes and goodness that followed that day. I really have some awesome friends and family.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Jobs a good 'un

Very little happened this week on the exercise front. Very little indeed! In fact, I only trained one day this week and that was on the Monday. Just a 15k indoor spin and a 5k cross-country run. Pah!
Despite training very little, SJ helped me keep my excitement about future planned trips. I have plans to cycle a 'Doo version' of the 'Tour of the Black Country' - an on/off road cycle adventure with a spot of wild camping thrown in for good measure. SJ made me a super light (down) sleeping bag ready for this and other pending adventures. Ain't she a good 'un?!

The reason behind me training so little was simply because I was swotting up, ready to be interviewed. I have since been interviewed and pleased to inform that I was offered the job I applied for. Very soon I will be the Team Manager of a Mental Health and Psychosocial Substance Misuse Team.

Next week will be tough and little time will be spent training. I have some horrible 'full day' shifts to look forward to as I spend my last week working for BSMHFT. Here's to adventures anew!

Sunday, 5 March 2017

From Snow to Sunrise

Great start to the week. Early 10k (just short) run to wake me up. Ran up to the Slough and back on what appeared to be a bright shiny day. Had original plans to cycle the Sunrise Express audax route but the weather report looked grim. However, completed my run and checked the forecast which suggested there was going to be only light rain and periods of sunshine...

It didn't take long for me to convince myself to cycle the Sunrise adventure after all. I started this adventure from home and joined the official route at the closest point to my domicile, about 20k away. I joined the route about 20k away from the official start control too. Cycling to the first control in Evesham was nice especially as the tough hilly parts in the Lenches were now fast descents. Kinda looked strange seeing much of the same things in reverse order. I couldn't spot the hidden castle I saw on the Snowdrop but found the posh roundabout drive.
Stopped at a bar/café in Evesham and enjoyed a nice cup of tea and a short bread biscuit. I didn't have to stop as this was not really an audax event (was just cycling the route). Still, tea and biscuits go so well with cycling.

The next stage to Upton was somewhat slower in this direction but the scenery was better to look at. At one time, a huge flurry of hail came battering down. This hail hit so hard it really hurt my face. The hail was worth it though, just to see the pretty rainbow that followed. Clouds could be seen raining in the distance and this looked just awesome. God's creation is truly magnificent. Stopped at the same café in Upton as I did on the Snowdrop, but it was closed. Sat next to the river instead and tucked into my handmade sarnies with a bunch of begging ducks.

Next stage should have took me to Whitlenge Tea Rooms, however, I avoided the control and just continued the route. Surprisingly, before I reached Hartlebury, some of this Sunrise route copied the Snowdrop route (or vice versa) which meant that pig of a hill 'Pig Hill' had to be climbed. Grr! This whole stage seemed to take ages and was clearly the longest. This stage was made longer as I had to reach my start point - home. All in all, a good day cycling. Still think the Snowdrop wins.

Tuesday was spent indoors on the turbo trainer. Just a quick 30k using the Bkool app. I figured I might just as well use my free demo allowance. Worked ok, graphics just a tad jumpy. I cycled a live race and came last (though 2 cyclists did drop out before the finish). The whole stage had no music or sound - wonder if that's just a setting issue. Bkool takes into account wind and ascent/descent phenomena and gives you a virtual speed - I think that is pants because cadence/speed/heart rate are all otherwise accurate and you don't feel any different with this virtual speed. I wont buy a subscription to this app.

Next training day was Thursday. I cycled to Little Martin and back using my single-speed bike. I keep experimenting with different routes - this route back was too long. Am sure I will find a route I am happy with soon. Later in the day, went for a short run with SJ which was nice.

Friday was my last training day of the week. Gave the cycle a rest and instead ran the Studley Triangle. All in all, not too bad a week.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Pink stinks and 2017 Snowdrop

Started the week by taking Pinky for a test run (cycle) to Little Martin and back. Felt great to be back on a single-speed machine. Pinky performed ok, the chain/tensioner resonates a little and when a lot of pressure is applied to the pedals (e.g on steep sections) the chain appears to slip and makes a terrible crunching sound. Not sure if the chain will be better once bedded in a little or maybe I should avoid real steep sections? Pinky was created to be a commute bike so no major issue if steep sections compromise the smooth running of the chain. Maybe I won't use this bike for the pending Snowdrop Audax.
Also started (and finished) the week with a run too. This first run was a xc affair across the fields of Studley. My final run was a lap of the Studley Triangle.

Cycled a lot (relatively speaking) this week. Much of my cycling was indoors. Decided to play with different app's just for fun and because my Sufferfest subscription had expired. Zwift looked good but it didn't work well at all. Zwift did not appear to like my sensors - it recorded my heart rate just fine but said I was cycling double the speed I actually was which just got annoying. Bkool looked cool but didn't work so cool either. Bkool recognised my sensors but the running graphics were jumpy and slow. My best cycling session took place watching Breeders, Warpaint and Avril Lavigne (shh) videos on You Tube. Ha!

My favourite adventure of the week was cycling the 2017 edition of The Snowdrop Audax. This was the 7th time I had completed this event. This was also the first audax event I ever entered. Below are a few shots from previous years.
Snowdrop 2010
Snowdrop 2012
Snowdrop 2013
Snowdrop 2014
Snowdrop 2015 (Turned up too late for group start photo)
Snowdrop 2016
This year saw fewer of my friends compared to previous years. A lot of folk bailed - most with half decent excuses. Jane Mitchums excuse was a poor one though, he said he had mud in his eye or something like that.
Snowdrop 2017
Essentially, we started as a group of 5. Pretty fast start, but as usual, the peloton soon spread out. Weather was relatively perfect during the first stage (and only slight rain thereafter). Phil encountered menace as he hit a pot hole resulting in a puncture. I got the blame for not shouting a warning.. On a brighter note, it allowed me to take a photo of some snowdrops whilst puncture was fixed!
Can you spot the snowdrops?
Nice cup of tea in the first control in Upton. Shame Mark Rigby had done himself a mischief so couldn't stamp our brevet cards. After munching on some of my home-made pink marble cake, we were off.

Stage 2 was super fast and zoomy. It only seemed like 10 minutes before we reached Evesham. Our group of 5 had become a 2.5 (Phil caught us as we stopped, so we soon became a 3). Ron and I had stopped to take a selfie as proof of passage. The usual control in Evesham, Raphaels cafe had burned down. Such a shame, that cafe held a lot of memories for me - SJ, kids, parents and siblings had met me there on previous years.
Selfie at Abbey Road
We found an alternate cafe in Evesham and stopped for soup and tea. Phil and Ron had soup a lovely pink in colour. Pink seemed a theme on this ride. We had already eaten some of my pink cake and now pink soup. I very nearly cycled my new pink bike too. My soup was a filthy pea colour. Fuelled up and off we went.
Pink soup
As we cycled the final stage, our group of 3 became 2. Ron and I just pressed on rather than wait at the hill tops. Not lots of hills, but the Lenches were pretty hilly and that Pig Hill is always a bit of a pig. Before we cycled the penultimate climb we passed a combine harvester - so what you might say, but this one was pink! Ha, pink stinks and so did we by the time we finished this wonderful event!

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Pinky and Perky

Monday started well. Got Pinky's issues all fixed up, well kinda. Pinky was built up a short while back but she didn't sound quite right when in motion - the chain/tensioner rattled like crazy. I had tried swapping chains and tensioners but to no avail. Pinky had a second opinion (and treatment) and now the rattle is more like a wheeze. The previous chain was stretched a little (so Pinky was treated to a new pink one) and the link rubbed a tad against the tensioner jockey cage. The tensioner jockey cage was disposed of. Noise still resonates but I'm informed that carbon will make noise resonate more so than compared to steel, and as the chain becomes bedded it'll quiet down a little more too. We'll see. At least Pinky is functional and looks great.

Didn't cycle Pinky on Monday though. Instead, I went for a run with the Mrs and saw her turn a similar pink colour to the bike. Ha! I'm real pleased SJ has started to run again.

Tuesday was spent on my trainer. Just couldn't find the time to go outdoors (we had a new door put in our lounge, bed delivered, blah). This spin didn't see me complete a stage of The Tour of Sufferlandria (have abandoned that tour) but I did attempt to complete a Sufferfest session called 'Rubber Glove'. I didn't finish - after 45 mins, I knocked my iPad off the shelf. D'oh! That's 2 attempts at 'Rubber Glove' with no success - maybe it's a sign?!
Roger and 'The Beast'
Wednesday was a great day. Caught up with my buddy Roger as we cycled his tandem for the first time this year. A relatively short (30 mile) adventure but great to be out in the great outdoors once again.

Rest of the week was mostly spent at work. Doing work stuff. Pah, who wants to hear about that?! I did manage to sneak in a quick (45 mins) spin on the turbo trainer. I used the Sufferfest App again and strangely, this time my heart rate and cadence was all fine. The App used previous data to 'suggest' my heart rate zones (which were actually lower than my 'real' zones) which made cycling in this virtual world a lot easier and way more comfortable. Maybe I should restart the Tour of Sufferlandria. Then again, maybe not. :)


Monday, 13 February 2017

Cool running's and the end of Sufferlandria menace (maybe)

Who's crazy idea was it to cycle the Tour of Sufferlandria? Ugh! They need beating with a stick.
Well, continue with the tour I did. Hadn't completed the stages in the right order due to Gremlins, time constraints and just because.
However, Monday started the training week and saw me complete Stage 5 'Nine Hammers'. As the title suggest, 9 big efforts emulating VO2 and Threshold intervals took place over the course of about an hour. My performance was poor - felt pretty whacked having cycled so much already. Hmm. Had trouble reaching high cadence and higher heart rate zones.
Tuesday saw me complete Stage 6 'There Is No Try'. I don't think I tried hard enough - the idea was to get faster and faster during accelerating intervals but I got slower and slower. As per usual, my high cadence struggled and my heart rate barely got into zone 5. On a brighter note, I went for a mini run with SJ which was nice.

Wednesday woke up feeling tired and groggy. This was probably because Moo had awoke early and gotten us all up. Early wake meant an early start to training. Jumped on my machine and cycled Stage 2 'The Way Out + Power Station' at last. I wish there was a way out! This was a long session - nearly 2 hours and I felt whacked from start to finish. Had troubles reaching the cadences required and my heart rate didn't want to get pushed into the higher zones. I think following day will be a rest day (and I do have a 50 hour window to complete these stages, even if I do them in a weird order). My tour, my rules, right?!

Thursday was a day of rest. Kinda. No real rest as I was working 9-9! Work. Pah!
What my saddle was starting to feel like!
Friday saw me complete Stage 7 'Hell Hath No Fury'. This was a long session and to be honest was starting to get bored of Sufferlandria. Couldn't get my heart rate high enough, struggled with the high cadences and motivation almost gone. 2 more stages to go and all will be complete. The next 2 stages are stupid long though - each other 2 hours. Worse still, I have gotten saddle sore - something I've not had for a while. Guess this is what happens when you neglect cycling for a while and then cycle quite intensely.

Saturday was a Parkrun day and I completed my 14th run. This was a lovely run around the Arrow Valley course. It was snowing throughout which made a nice change. Bloomin' cold but I soon warmed up. Didn't have my fastest time by a long shot, however, I was still pleased with 23:12 which is probably my fastest run this year.

Sunday was a day of rest. My bottom was still sore and I did not have a surge of motivation.Unlike me to DNF (did not finish) but I DNF'd the Tour of Sufferlandria. Strangely, I didn't feel too bad about it. Maybe the virtual world won't give me a hard time about it either.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Sufferlandria, who'd have thought (fought?)

Pathetic start to the week. No training took place at all until Thursday. Work was to blame - honest.

Thursday was a slightly better day. Got Pinky from the bike shop all fixed up and ready to go at last. Pinky didn't seem quite right though, she made an awful rattley sound around the chain and tensioner area. Hmm. Tried swapping chains, swapping tensioners and adjusting tension but nothing seems to work. (I think Chris needs to take a look at it). My other bikes aren't faring so great either - Slinky has issues with rear cassette, Winter has broken spokes and Jenny has dodgey brakes.
Pinky, not perky
On a brighter note though, training commenced. My iPad had it's ANT issues fixed which meant I was able to use the Sufferest App and cycle some on my turbo trainer. I only cycled a short (20 mins+) session but great stuff - the iPad and all the sensors worked. 20 mins and I was whacked!

Not so whacked that I couldn't manage a run though. Later that evening I jogged around the Studley Triangle. Only a short (5k) run but at least I had completed a couple of activities now.
Baby Lunar
What a day Friday was. Daughter's birthday, visit to my new job premises and The Tour of Sufferlandria kicked off. This Tour is regarded as the Greatest Grand Tour of a Mythical Nation. This tour lasts for 9 days (4-12 February) and consists of cycling (suffering) whilst watching Sufferfest videos on my iPad. Basically, for 9 days straight, the plan is for me to sit on a bicycle in Doo Little bike room and cycle myself silly. I had to pay a $10 donation for the privilege but monies collected go towards a Parkinson's charity (Davis Phinney) so good call. I get a 50 hour window to start each stage (due to time differences around the World), so that's how I managed to finish stage 1 before the 4th. You get's me, right?!

Stage 1 was named 'Igniter + The Long Scream'. Little did I know that the 'Igniter' part was the same warm up I cycled yesterday. The 'Long Scream' was basically a 30 minute time trial that followed. The time trial should have been cycled at a cadence of around 90 rpm (which I did just fine) in heart zones 4 and 5. Man, I struggled cycling in zone 5 and to be honest only dipped into that zone for a few minutes at most. My average heart rate was 142 bpm and reached a max of 171 bpm (with an AVG speed of 30.3 kmh. Am really quite unfit and am going to struggle with this tour.
The torture device (Sufferlandria style)
Stage 3 'The Omnium' was completed on Saturday. (I know I had skipped stage 2, but plan to cycle that stage following day). I chose this stage because I was working 9-9 and only had an hour to cycle before work. Simples. The stage was far from simples though. It required 6 super efforts essentially  as it emulated six different races which make up the Omnium competition. I struggled with the high cadences required but dipped into zone 5 more so than on the previous stage. My AHR was 141 bpm and MHR 172 bpm (with an AVG speed of 29.8 kmh).

Attempted to complete Stage 2 on Sunday but Sufferlandria appeared to have a gremlin invasion and the video would not play. No bother, I cycled Stage 4 'Angels' instead. Nothing angelic about this stage though. This stage emulated some tough climbs. Still struggling getting my heart into zone 5. AHR 141 and MHR 167. All in all, an ok week, with a 100k cycled (and all indoors).