Grimpeur’s RideLondon Training Update: February – mid-March

Hill training (although this is Ecuador rather than Kent)
Hill training (although this is Ecuador rather than Kent)

Readers of my blog will know that I talk a good game. I’ve talked about the cycling event that I’m doing. I’ve analysed the route. I’ve talked a bit about how I’ve broken the challenge down into its constituent parts.

But where, you might ask, is the evidence that I’ve actually DONE anything?

Motivation this, crippling fears that. That’s all fine, but we all need to train for whatever cycling challenge we are undertaking (well I do at least).

What training have I done? Well, I’m going to tell you. In this post. Perhaps the title gave it away.

Objectives (or, in this case, objective)

Apparently, objectives should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely (i.e. set to be achieved within a given time frame).

My objective for this phase of my training, which is to DO MORE CYCLING, only meets some of these criteria, and then only in a loose sense.

I think the setting of effective objectives will improve my riding and my satisfaction with the process. I will return to this topic in future posts.

So have I done MORE CYCLING?

Training stats (everyone loves a good set of training stats, don’t they?)

Well, actually yes, I have been doing quite a bit of cycling.

Here are my summary ride statistics. Prepare yourself for a VERY funky table.

If you want to verify them (or you want to know where I went), you can follow me on Strava.

Month No. of rides Distance (km) Time riding (hrs) Elevation Gain (m)
February 2013 5 155.9 7 1,391
March 2013 (to 15th) 5 200.2 9 1,733

I know. I know. Some of you do those sorts of numbers in one or two rides. But I don’t.

I have been aiming to ride consistently (i.e. every 2-3 days), to increase the length of my ‘longer rides’ and to include more climbing (okay, I did have some sub-objectives after all).

Even the trend is in the right direction: I’ve done more of everything in the first 15 days of March than in all of February.

I’m quite pleased with progress so far and confident that I can build upon it to go further and higher (I’m going to need to).

Things I have learnt so far

First, there is nothing like giving yourself some added motivation (when will he give it a rest about motivation?).

My main event for the year (RideLondon) is in August. Five months felt like a long way off (even though realistically it isn’t), so I signed up for another sportive in the meantime – the Igloo Peak District Cyclosportive (short) on Sunday 14th April.

Whilst the short course is ‘only’ 68.7 km (42.6 miles), it features 1,359 m (4,458 ft) of ascent. That’s about the same amount of climbing as the RideLondon event. Needless to say, with this potential cycling disaster on the near-term horizon, I have been motivated to get out on the bike and climb.

Second learning point: it’s worth the effort to take your bike on holiday with you (within reason – it’s not going to be much use on a cruise or a Las Vegas gambling trip).

Last week we went on holiday-cum-random-trip-around-England-to-see-friends-and-family. I took the bike. I enjoyed a change in cycling scenery whilst there were other people around to distract the children and not place all the burden of my absence on my wife.

The cost of all that extra petrol consumed by having a bike strapped to the roof of our petit Golf meant I had to use the damn thing.

I did use it – three times, two of which were pretty substantial rides (again, for me).

What do I need to do next?

Buy a new bike.

This is not what I will ACTUALLY do next. But if we’re talking about the first ‘need’ that pops into my head, then it is a new bike. Since this is not happening any time soon, we’ll move swiftly on.

My serious objective (which, I’m afraid to say it, is still not SMART) is to continue riding at this level of frequency for the remainder of March and early April.

Famille Grimpeur are in the process of moving all most of our worldly possessions from south east London to Ashbourne in Derbyshire.

Readers of this blog will know that this is due to my decision to start taking my riding seriously and to try to break into the pro ranks. At 33 (and, more importantly, with my natural level of fitness) it’s going to be a tall order, but Jens Voigt is still doing it at 40+, so I think I have 6 or 7 good seasons left in me.

With all the organisation of the move, plus the bonfire of the vanities that I intend to hold to eliminate 50% of my wife’s possessions, time for riding will be limited. I need to maintain my current volume and frequency of riding and do what I can to reduce the pain in April’s Peak District Sportive (gulp).

Finally, as weather conditions improve (ha!), I need to clean my bike. I should probably have been doing this throughout the winter but… er… haven’t.

It (she?) has been running like a relative dream (for a cheap Dawes road bike and if you ignore the annoying rustle of my inexpertly-fitted mud guards) ever since I had to buy a new set of wheels before Christmas (now there’s a story of (my own) incompetence and folly). I also washed it thoroughly at about the same time. It would be nice if it could stay this way, rather than revert to its previous squeak and grind soundtrack.

That’s probably enough now….

I appreciate that some of you are not that interested in reading about my inadequate training ‘regime’. Unfortunately that is not going to stop me writing more posts on the topic. Neo-sportive riders that are reading this blog can at least see there is someone else in the same boat (and probably one with more leaks).

Please like me

I would really love any feedback. Let me know what I can do better – you can leave a comment below.

If you could Tweet the post on Twitter or ‘Like’ it on Facebook, that would be awesome. All you need to do is click the buttons below (or at the top of the post).

Thank you!

A GUARANTEED way to make sure you commit to the bike in 2013

Credit: http://www.flickr.com/people/52408222@N08/
Credit: http://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected]/

It’s March and the weather is improving (supposedly).

You’re considering getting the bike out of the garage/shed/cupboard.

(What, you mean you haven’t spent the winter amassing base miles and doing interval sessions on the turbo trainer?)

Now that you’ve got the bike all ready to go, do you want a surefire way to avoid the ‘its slightly damp, I’ll stay inside’ attitude?

Of course you do.

And the good news is that it is can be achieved in 3 EASY STEPS:

1. Pour your alcoholic beverage of choice

2. Open your wallet and your Internet browser

3. Sign up for a sportive

A word on drink and the commitment to undertake future physical challenges

[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]”Ah, push it – push it good; Ah, push it – p-push it real good” – Salt ‘n’ Pepa[/quote]It would probably be sensible to ignore instruction 1 if the sun hasn’t yet passed the yard arm.

Otherwise, alcohol is a recognised motivational aid, encouraging you to sign up for the event that is just beyond your current capabilities.

This then provides the fear. When you are sober, it is the fear that provides the primary motivation.

A second word on drink and the commitment to undertake future physical challenges

Do not drink too much. You might find you have entered for the Race Across America.

Do I practice what I preach?

Kingston-upon-Hull yeah! Of course I do.

I’ve signed up to one of the sportives mentioned below, in order to give myself that extra bit of focus over the next month or so.

You’ll have to read through them to see which one…. (hint: it’s the shortest)

Six UK sportives you could enter right now (along with some interesting associated facts)

Peak District – Eastern Moors Sportive

When: Sunday 14th April 2013

Why:  There is a lot of climbing packed into a relatively short route (at least in the case of the 43-mile shorter route); because the Grimpeur Heureux will be riding!

How: http://www.darkandwhite.co.uk/challenge-events-outdoor-activities.asp?race_id=409

Interesting fact: The Peak District used to be a tropical lagoon. I understand that parts of Chesterfield still are.

Surrey Hills Cyclone

When: Sunday 21st April 2013

Why:  It’s close to London; it features climbs that will be in RideLondon (though if you are capable of the Standard and ‘Epic’ distances, I’m not sure you’ll have much trouble with RideLondon).

How: http://www.ukcyclingevents.co.uk/events/cycling-weekly-surrey-hills-cyclone-sportive/

Interesting fact: Abinger Common (on the route) is the oldest village in England – some of the dwellings date back 7,000 years…

Keswick Sportive

When: Saturday 18th May 2013

Why:  You like cycling upwards; what’s not to love about a sportive that classifies each route by the number of passes you need to climb (if only they started calling them ‘cols’…)

How: http://www.highterrainevents.co.uk/11.html

Interesting fact: There is only one lake in the Lake District. FACT! (I hope, I just read it on t’internet)

Night Rider London

When: 8th – 9th June 2013

Why:  You can’t sleep; you have jet lag; you want to test out those new high-powered bike lights.

How: http://www.nightrider.org.uk/Night_Rider_London.htm

Interesting fact: Lack of sleep is linked to lower libido and having less control over your weight (so probably best not to do too many night-time acclimatisation rides…)

London Cycle Sportive

When: Sunday 30th June 2013

Why:  ‘Cos the Kent countryside is my manor; you haven’t managed to get a place on RideLondon; you fancy riding around the Herne Hill Velodrome.

How: http://humanrace.co.uk/events/cycling/london-cycle-sportive

Interesting fact: The Crystal Palace was originally built in Hyde Park. It was only after the Great Exhibition finished that it was taken down and rebuilt in south-east London. For some reason, Crystal Palace FC play in Croydon…

Etape Cymru

When: 8th September 2013

Why:  You want a big event that is going to focus your training throughout the summer; it’s a closed road event, so all you have to worry about is getting around the course

How: http://www.etape-cymru.co.uk/

Interesting fact: Apparently, Wales has more castles per square mile than anywhere else in the word (is it a ‘FACT’, if you have to preface it with the word, apparently?)

And if you’re a little bit worried about signing up (or what you have signed up for)…

Read my post on breaking down challenges into easier-to-manage component parts.

Until next time,

Monty

Lanterne Rouge

 

RideLondon: feel the fear and do it anyway

RideLondon fears concerns
Source: freeimages.co.uk

As I contemplate the RideLondon 100, I have some concerns. Some of these concerns verge on being full-blown fears.

Maybe you’re in the same boat, as you look forward to RideLondon or another long distance sportive ride (if you haven’t done so, read my analysis of the RideLondon 100 route).

In this post, I will try to turn this general sense of disquiet into a specific set of concerns, each of which I can confront and prepare for. In doing so, not only will I allay my fears, but I will also identify those factors that will contribute to a strong performance (and maximum enjoyment) on the day.

An aggregation of marginal gains you say? If it’s good enough for Sir Dave of Brailsford….

Why should you care about my irrational fears?

[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]The only thing we have to fear is fear itself – Franklin D. Roosevelt[/quote]

Some of you may currently be in the same “oh sh&t, what have I just signed up for” phase. Perhaps my methodology may help address your fears by breaking down the challenge into more manageable chunks.

Whilst I am looking at performance from my own perspective, some of the factors I identify could be ones that you too wish to focus on as you prepare for riding sportives in 2013.

If you’re a semi-pro already, and you’re less concerned about actually finishing the course, maybe this post will serve as a reminder that it’s always a good idea to reflect on your performance from time to time, in order to identify and focus upon abilities that can be improved.

Who’s afraid of the big bad hill?

Today’s mission is to identify the component parts that will make up my RideLondon performance. In future posts I will take a detailed look at how I’m going to deal with each component, concern or fear.

Let’s start identifying, people.

Fitness

When I think about being able to cycle 100 miles in a single ride, fitness (or the lack thereof) springs immediately to mind. I’m sure it is the main concern of many first-time long distance sportive riders.

Clearly I will need to train. The scale of the undertaking means that this will need to be quite organised, in order to take me from my current fitness level to that required on the day.

But as I select the training programme to follow, can I be more specific about the nature of the fitness that I require?

It strikes me that my fitness requirement can be broken down into 3 capabilities.

Endurance

In even the most optimistic scenarios, I will need to cycle for well over 7 hours. My body still needs to be capable of continuing to propel me at 17mph (ever the optimist), having already cycled 80 miles.

Climbing

As we saw in this previous post, RideLondon features two major climbs (and a few more smaller ones) in its middle section. I need to be able to ride up these hills at a reasonable pace, having already cycled 55 miles and, once Box Hill is summitted, with 35 miles still to ride. Ideally I’d like to be able to do this with a certain amount of panache.

Speed on the flat

[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]Fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself – Hermione Granger[/quote]

Ninety per cent of the RideLondon route is flat. There will only be so much time I can lose on the climbs. Being slow on the flat, or being unable to battle against any wind on the day, could make the difference between staying in front of or being swept up by the broom wagon.

Technique

You could define technique in a number of ways (for instance I looked specifically at pedalling technique in this post here).

For this post, I am using ‘technique’ to describe those general on-bike skills that will be useful (in some cases vital) for cyclists undertaking a mass-participation or long distance event.

Being able to ride in a group

There will be a lot of cyclists on the road. At the very least I need to be able to ride safely in a pack to avoid injuring myself and others. More than that, with the drafting effect being able to offer an energy saving of up to 30% versus cycling head on into the wind, I want a piece of that action.

Eating and drinking whilst riding

I can just about drink from a water bottle at slow speed on a flat road. I’ve been known to drop water bottles as I try to replace them in the cage. I’m not sure I’ve tried eating anything on the move. Given the energy requirement on the day and the potential for high temperatures, I’d like to at least have on-bike drinking and eating as an option.

Controlling effort

Being able to control my effort (in other words, not getting too excited at the start of the ride) is going to be a huge contributor to my enjoyment of the day

Blow out too early and the Surrey climbs will be unpleasant and the yomp back through south west London is going to be a nauseous blur.

Of course, I could end the ride thinking that I hadn’t fully emptied the tank, but I imagine the risk of this is low.

Mechanical

A number of things may go wrong with the bike over the course of the event. Some will be out of my control (visions of wheels buckling or bottom brackets exploding). Others will not.

If I get a flat, I need to i) make sure I have the necessary spares and tools with me; and ii) know how to fix the problem as quickly as possible.

I think there will be mechanical support on the day but if I can fix such problems in a not-too-incompetent fashion, this has to be quicker than waiting for a support mechanic to appear.

Whilst I would like to think I would stop to help a distressed recipient of a puncture (I might… maybe… depending on my time), I can at least aim not to use up the time of a mechanic, who might otherwise be fixing the bike of someone more needy.

Nutrition

Over the course of RideLondon, I will burn over 4,000 calories (maybe more?). I need to make sure that I have sufficient fuel to get round. I certainly don’t want to have a calorie deficit on any of the climbs.

So I need to think about my total energy requirement.

I also need to think about how that energy will be delivered (or, to use less w£nky language, what I am going to eat).

Finally, and most importantly, I need to think about how I am going to remember to keep eating on a regular basis. In all the excitement, and with Leith Hill playing on my mind, remembering to keep popping the Haribos (other sugar-based treats are available) might go by the wayside.

I don’t want to bonk on the Mall. No one wants to see that.

Hydration

… or ‘drinking enough’. You’ve got to believe that I will find regular drinking easier to achieve than remembering to eat early enough. But still an area worth thinking about, not least because weeing from the saddle is neither possible (I will crash) or socially acceptable.

General considerations

This is a bit of a catch-all classification for those concerns that are related to the ride, but are not to do with the actual cycling.

So, for me, these concerns (or, more correctly, arrangements to be made) include:

[unordered_list style=”arrow”]

  • Accommodation over the weekend (the Grimpeur et famille will have moved out of London by then – a topic for another post)
  • Getting to the ride start in the Olympic Park and getting back from the Mall (likely in a state of profound distress)
  • Whether or not my children will be there to distract stress me out support me

[/unordered_list]

The real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light

It is interesting that as I thought about my list of sportive concerns, and began to formulate them into a list for this post, I became increasingly reluctant to use the term ‘fears’.

I have not said (or even really thought about) what I will do to address each concern, but simply by writing them down, it feels as if each ‘fear’ has become an ‘an identified thing, ready to be addressed’. The event as a whole has already become a lot less frightening.

Hopefully, by reading this post, you have seen some of your own fears allayed. If you don’t share the same specific concerns as me, perhaps you have still seen some value in my methodology.

I would love to hear your thoughts. Do you have any particular fears that I or one of the other readers can address? Did you have a concern before your first sportive that you subsequently found to be unfounded. Please do let me know in the comments below.

As always, if you liked this article or found it useful, please do share it on Twitter and Facebook, particularly with friends and colleagues that might be tackling RideLondon or other cyclosportives this year.

RideLondon 100 Route: Detailed Guide For Riders

RideLondon Guide button

*** UPDATE: You can read “The Ultimate Guide To RideLondon”, a collection of pretty much all the information I’ve written on the blog to help YOU make the most of your RideLondon experience – click here to read the post or finish reading this one and follow the link at the bottom ***

In this post we’ll take a detailed look at the route of the RideLondon-Surrey 100, which takes place on Sunday 4th August 2013. From my previous posts (such as this one and this one), you’ll know that I’ll be participating.

A route map for the ride was published earlier this month. Using that, I’ve plotted the course using bikehike.co.uk. I’ve included some screen grabs, including various sections of the course as well as elevation and gradient charts.

RideLondon-Surrey 100 route
The full RideLondon-Surrey 100 route

If people are interested (let me know in the comments box below), I will attempt to upload the TCX file to the site, which you should then be able to download and manipulate as you see fit.

Read moreRideLondon 100 Route: Detailed Guide For Riders

RideLondon: the journey starts here

RideLondon-Surrey 100
Looking forward to getting a lot of wear out of this

I am now officially signed up to RideLondon. As I said in this post, I have a place to ride with Macmillan, the cancer support charity, on the proviso that I raise a lot of money for them.

The event (which is now called the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100) takes place on Sunday 4th August.  This is a 163 days away, which starts to sound quite worrying.

RideLondon route

As suggested by the name of the event, the course is 100 miles long. It starts at the Olympic park in East London, cuts straight through the central London to Chiswick, then heads south-west for a loop through the Surrey countryside.

The ‘highlight’ will be the ascent of Box Hill, which occurs approximately two thirds of the way around the Surrey loop. Then it is back through south west London, crossing the river at Putney and a sprint finish on the Mall.

All the roads for the event will be closed to all vehicles other than the participating cyclists, which is going to be awesome. I am familiar with some of the roads through central London and the south-west of the city and, to be honest, they can be miserable for cyclists. Without cars, lorries and buses however, these roads could turn into the event’s saving grace for me. They are generally flat and wide, and therefore fast. If all the roads for the event were country roads winding up and down hills, there is no way I’d be able to do 100 miles in the allotted time.

I’ll do a more in-depth piece on the route in due course, using the pro team method (Google Earth).

What I need to do on the day

In order to enter the event, you have to be able to complete the 100-mile route in 9 hours. I have said I’ll do it in 7 hours 50 minutes (on my original ballot entry I said 7hrs 30, but decided to be a bit more realistic).

I could have said a target time of 9 hours, but I’ve heard from friends that have done Etape-style events on the continent that that just means you start late, just in front to the broom wagon (the car that will tell you to stop if you’re not going to come in under the time). If this is to be the case here, I’d like to give myself a bit of a cushion.

I’m afraid we’re going to have to do a bit of imperial-metric gymnastics here, mainly since my Strava shows metric data (but also because, if you’re a serious cyclist, you must always think in metric).

One hundred miles translates to just under 161 kilometres. If we ignore stops for food and ‘comfort breaks’, to finish in under 9 hours, I need to average a speed of 17.9 km/h.

For a finish time of 7 hours 50 minutes, on the same non-stop basis, that average speed needs to kick up to 20.55 km/h.

I’m a pretty slow cyclist (for all that I go on about it). My average speed of late is around 22 km/h. But that is for rides of between 25 km and 35 km (16 – 22 miles). On the day, I’ll need to keep going for 5 or 6 times longer, as well as factoring in time to eat (and to sob gently to myself in a hedge).

What I need to do before the day

It’s pretty obvious. I will need to train.

I will need to work up to these sorts of distances slowly. Going all guns blazing over Christmas caused pain in my knee that only feels now like it’s settling down. I need a training plan, with objectives and ‘deliverables’ and all sorts of other grown-up concepts.

I will attempt to come up with a sensible training plan in the next few weeks. I will certainly share it on this blog.

I will also be sharing my progress towards the goal. I don’t think I’ll be posting all my Strava data here (unless I can think of how to present it in a non-tedious fashion). If you do want to see it (in real time!), you can follow me on Strava.

Are you doing RideLondon?

If you are signed up to do RideLondon, or are doing any other sportives this year, I would love to hear about your targets and preparations.

I am also prepared to accept comments and suggestions from triathletes.

Let me know in the comments box below.

If you only read one cycling post today: my top 6 beautiful bike-related websites

Cycling is a many varied and wonderful thing. Today’s post aims to introduce you to some of the great bike-related blogs and websites that I peruse on a regular basis.

I know. Some of you read my cycling blog because you know me and you want to find out what I’m up to. You may only have a passing interest in cycling or perhaps no interest at all. This post is for you as well.

Maybe you are more interested in design or photography or beautiful clothing. If you are, then take a look below.

Perhaps you want to be persuaded as to the fitness and weight-loss benefits of consistent cycling. Or to learn how to repair a puncture. Or what it’s like to ride up Alpe d’Huez.

So whatever your cycling (or non-cycling) bag (musette?), here are my Friday follows:

Vulpine

Vulpine is a London-based cycle clothing business, which aims to produce garments that work and look stylish on and off the bike. I can only vouch for the winter storm cap, which I purchased and gave as a Christmas present (and have received glowing reports back). But just looking at the photos and following owner Nick’s descent into madness on Twitter, it is clear that attention to detail is at the top of the company’s priority list.

Cyclelove

A crisp, design-focused blog on cycle culture and style in its many forms. The photography is glorious. Cyclelove looks wonderful on an iPad retina screen (and most other computer screens as well).

Inner Ring

Inner Ring is my number one source for information and comment on professional road cycling. The posts go into real depth and, since it is a personal blog written under a pseudonym, the site is not afraid to dig into sensitive issues that team access- and advertising-reliant publications tend to avoid. The recent series looking at famous road climbs (Mont Ventoux, the Stelvio etc) has made for great reading.

London Cyclist

I like cycling and I live in London (at least for the moment) and thus I like reading this blog. If you like cycling and you live in London, then I heartily recommend LondonCyclist.co.uk. Even if you don’t live in London, I still recommend you read it.

It is particularly good for those looking for advice, clothing and equipment to help you commute by bike. With the addition of a new writer, we’re going to see more content on sportives, a booming area right now and one which I’m keen to read about.

MadeGood.org

This website is just plain awesome. MadeGood.org contains clear and detailed video tutorials on how to repair and maintain pretty much every aspect of your road bike. Whenever I mention here any mechanical task undertaken on my bike, you can be pretty sure I’ll have watched a video about it on this site first.

Velopixie

And finally, something quite inspirational. In this personal blog, the eponymous Velopixie describes his training voyage that will culminate with completing the 2013 Etape du Tour, a gruelling 130km loop around the mountains of Annecy. In the process, and over the course of the last 12 months, Velopixie has lost a massive 6 stones.

Here concludes my whistlestop tour around the best the cycling world has to offer. If I’ve missed anyone out, make sure to let me know in the comments section below.

In the meantime, happy cycling!

RideLondon 100 and a thought on training motivation

So you will no doubt see plenty on this blog about my preparation for RideLondon (or RideLondon-Surrey 100 to give its full, rather catchy title).

After initially failing to secure a place in the ballot, I’ve been offered a place by Macmillan, the cancer support charity, to ride (and raise money) for them. I have a very strong personal reason for supporting this charity, which I’ll share in due course.

In the meantime, the purpose of this post was to ask a question (which may turn out to be rhetorical if no one responds). Please bear with me during the ‘set up’.

Here’s the background:

  1. I know I should really get out on the bike, particularly in light of the need to ride 100 miles in 7hr 30m in August (that’s what I’ve said I can do…)
  2. The riding conditions are ok: it’s above freezing and I don’t think there was a frost last night; it’s dry with perhaps the odd spit of rain
  3. The biggie: I’m just not feeling it.  I’m a little tired; there’s a bit of a fug going on in my head

Here’s what I know:

  1. I should put my kit on – this is easy to do and the feel of tight lycra on skin is not unpleasant (ahem)
  2. I should tell myself that all I’m going to do is ride around the block
  3. Once I’m out and riding, I’ll just keep going and I will enjoy it

And here’s the question (thank you for your patience):

Why don’t I just do that (put the kit on and ride down my street)?

More specifically, why am I still thinking about the longer ride (which I’m obviously procrastinating about) and not trusting the judgement of the future me (the one that will be sat on the bike, either enjoying it or not) to make the decision then?

Am I worried that the future me will decide to go for it?

If so, why does that bother the current me, who should arguably be pleased that he would become the sort of future me that elects to ‘just fugging do it’?

What do you think? Am I just going mad (in a slightly philosophical way)?

2013 so far: failure, excuses and recriminations

This blog is meant to be about cycling. And happiness. Me cycling. Me being happy whilst cycling.

The problem is, there hasn’t been much cycling to speak of. The year started well, and here I’m going to be generous to myself by including December 29th and 30th as honorary members of 2013.

Those two days, as well as January 1st itself, saw 3 reasonable rides (for me) around God’s own county and the location of the 2014 Grand Depart of the Tour de France (t’ Tour). That would be Yorkshire, incidentally.

I was particularly pleased with these rides because:

  • getting my bike in working order had been a MASSIVE hassle in the 10 days running up to Christmas, involving numerous trips to bike shops, multiple tools and components purchased hastily on the internet and the “investment” in a brand new set of wheels;
  • I had transported the bike and all my super s3xy lycra kit all the way up the A1 from south-east London (presumably I could have bought a new bike for all the additional petrol-consuming wind resistance from having my steed lodged proudly upon the roof rack);
  • It p1ssed it down for two of the days and it was nut-crackingly cold for the New Year’s Day ride (but beautifully sunny – you can’t have it all).

I was not pleased with these rides because, as ever, my youthful enthusiasm (ahem) had caused me to rush in too quickly. Going from nothing to hypothermic uber-training with a body that is not as young as I would like simply caused my knee pain (which had previously only been a problem for running) to flare up.

I would, of course, like to claim that I acted the responsible athlete and hence did not rush back to the bike too soon. But I’d be lying (about the responsible athlete bit; I certainly didn’t rush back to the bike).

In actual fact, I may have done the right thing: I did a few small (read tiny, as in to-the-park-and-back tiny) rides with Petite Grimpeuse in the child seat. I did one session that I could call, rather grandly, hill repeats (but then have to admit that I only climbed the main hill once). Otherwise I ‘rested my knee’.

But the truth is, I did not find myself with face rested dolefully upon the window pane (with a little dribble of drool representing a metaphorical teardrop), wishing that my knee would fix itself. I did not mope around my house wearing the Campagnolo cycling top that I got for Christmas from my sister (thank you!). I simply wimped out.

Grey clouds? Hmm, looks like it will rain then. Better stay in. Clear skies and sunshine. There’ll be ice on the Kent roads. Surely better to stay in than risk breaking a collar bone. A breath of wind? I’m no stocky rouleur, it’ll blow me over.

I was glad when it snowed because at least then I didn’t have to lie to myself. No one without a mountain or cyclocross bike (and I don’t own either) goes out in that sort of weather.

So the real cycling hero in our house this month (and indeed this year) is my son, Mini Grimpeur. Despite being only four, and in the midst of all this glorious (terrible) winter weather, he might well have spent as long cycling as I have. And with a bigger smile on his face.

And to top all that off, he cycles in the snow, showing no fear. Chapeau!

Happy cycling!

Grimpeur Heureux goes to the London Bike Show

As the title suggests, this Saturday I went to the London Bike Show.

I had intended to cycle, but the ‘London Death Snow’ (translation for snow-familiar foreigners: a light dusting) put paid to that idea.

I was therefore unable to bask in the smug glow emanating from those attendees I saw dressed in full on commuting gear. I did however get to read a book in peace whilst travelling in on the train and tube – a rare treat.

So how was it?

Read moreGrimpeur Heureux goes to the London Bike Show