Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ride to Lymington

I've had a good day today. The clocks have changed, the Grand Prix season has started, I watched a 1000 or so runners stream by in the Eastleigh 10k (it was fascinating to watch the runners' styles), I had a rewarding bike ride and Emma and Isobel made some great cakes.

Went to: New Forest wilderness, Beaulieu, Lymington, Brockenhurst
Distance: 76 miles
Total time on bike: 4:54
Average speed: 15.5 mph
Total climb height: 543 m

I met Mark Halliday at North Baddesley at 11 and we headed off to the New Forest. Mark's Garmin Edge 705 found us some back roads to mostly avoid the traffic around Southampton.

Our first stop was in Beaulieu where we enjoyed a full fat Coke. Shortly after we disturbed a couple of pheasants. As they took off they crossed our path and one of them "unloaded" itself, narrowly missing me. Not a hazard we had been anticipating.

We had a little jaunt down to the sea front at one point. We were only about 3 miles from the Isle of Wight. The Spinnaker tower was visible in one direction and the Lymington ferry in the other. There was also a couple of ponies enjoying the beach.

We had a late lunch at Lymington: a Spicy Chicken pasty. I don't think it was just the appetite from a 35 mile ride to get there, but it was the most tasty pasty I can remember eating.

I saw plenty of places in the New Forest that I didn't know existed - lots of potential for family walks.

Cycling on the open parts of the moors when there's a headwind is a bit tiring so we were grateful to find an icecream van at one of the car parks. No icecream but another sugary drink and energy levels were significantly boosted.

When we got back we found freshly baked hot cross buns and lovely cup cakes. Emma had put chocolate in to the middle of the cup cakes, the idea being that if you eat it shortly after its cooked then it'd be gooey. But we weren't back until nearly 5 so by the time I got my cake the chocolate was solid, but it was still delicious. No big surprise, but chocolate-filled cakes taste great.

I'm looking forward to our next ride - which could be an organized event around the edge of the Isle of Wight in May.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Accidental 7 mile run

This sunny afternoon I went for a run, intending to do a loop around Ampfield woods and back.  But somehow I missed the bridlepath to re-enter the woods and ended up going back over the hill past Merdon Castle.

On the plus side, the GPS trace looks much more impressive.

6.96 miles in 58:30 at average pace 8:25 miles/min.   This includes the time hopping through muddy sections so it should be a shade faster when the ground is dry.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A sunny 65.5m ride

Another long bike ride today in gloriously sunny 16C weather. I met up with Mark Halliday, Rich Harran and Ian Vanstone at the White Horse in Ampfield at 9:00. Executive summary:

Went to: the countryside
Distance: 65.5 miles
Highest point: 143m
Total climb height: 640 m
Average speed: 15.2 mph
Total time on bike: 4:19

We went anti-clockwise around the route above. We saw very little traffic and lots of countryside. The detour through Crawley (the most North-Easterly point) was partly to miss out a section of the main Stockbridge road but mostly because it's a really pretty village.

For sustenance I took a packet of Thornton's Belgian chocolates. I figured that the calories wouldn't be a problem over that distance.

The road out of Pitton was fun. It's steep at 14% but not too long - 40m of ascent. It's probably the steepest hill I've done.

Steep hills are particularly challenging on my bike because I have a regular "double" crank, not a "compact crank". This means that my easiest gear is not very easy at all. My small chainring has 39 teeth and my biggest cog at the back has 27 teeth. Everyone else has compact cranks and has the luxury of a front ring with just 32/34 teeth.

We stopped at Mark's house in Romsey and he heated us up a lovely risotto (mushroom, chicken, ham, butternut squash, other veg, stock). He'll make a lovely wife for someone one day.

Riding in a group of four was good. Riding two abreast on the quiet roads meant that we could talk easily and the rear two could draught the front two. I'm looking forward to a bigger peleton when Alan Chatt, Ed Altenburger and Alex Mitchell get their bikes.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Longest bike ride so far - Petersfield

I've just got back from my longest bike ride so far and it was great. Executive summary:

Went to: Petersfield
Distance: 56 miles
Highest point: 220 m
Total climb height: 762 m
Average speed: 12.7 mph
Total time on bike: 4:23
Fastest speed: 40 mph
Punctures: 0

I met Mark Halliday (who is cycling from London to Edinburgh and back again in 4 days later this year - please consider sponsoring him) and Rob Smyth at the Brigadier Gerard pub in Horton Heath at 9:00 on Sunday 1st March 2009. After a quick go on Rob's bike, a Trek Madone 4.5, we headed off at an easy pace. The roads were nice and dry but there was complete cloud cover and it was a bit nippy in my cycling shorts and vented cycling shoes.

We were following a route Mark had planned and uploaded to his Garmin Edge 705, a Sat-Nav like bike computer. This really helped us spend time enjoying quiet country lanes without worrying too much about navigation, although we did take a wrong turn after a mile or so which added an odd kink to our route but it was along a nice lane so a nice little detour really.

After about 6 miles Rob and I had a moment of confusion at 2mph resulting in him falling off. No harm done, although his brakes were rubbing immediately afterwards which made me worry that he'd buckled a wheel. But briefly applying the brakes sorted it out.

Our original route took us almost to Petersfield but by the time we got there we fancied a latte and a quick look at the town. There seems to be a market their on Sundays which meant the town was nice and alive, and we found a Cafe Nero with a free outside table. 3 large lattes with sugar please.

Leaving Petersfield the Sat-Nav took us near "Steep" and appropriately enough we went up a 2.4 mile long, 152 metre ascent, steep-in-parts hill, which I enjoyed but I'm not sure Rob did.

We stopped a couple of times to scoff Mark's home made chocolate brownies and my "kicking about the house" chocolate stash. We figured that with 4:23 of time on the bike we could afford to eat chocolate.

Towards the end of the ride the sun started to peek through and it almost felt warm.

And when I got home I found a box of 12 Krispy Kreme doughnuts so I further figured that I could have 2 of them.

My bum feels a little sore from sitting on the small bike seat and my butt muscles groan when I stand up but I'm feeling really invigorated.

Overall the Orca was a very comfortable ride over that distance - my last outing was 6 weeks ago so I hadn't had a chance to get used to cycling again so once I "break myself in" it should be even easier.

So if you're interested in doing a ride like this let me know. The more the merrier.