Monday, April 27, 2009

1000 miles

I reached a GPS-tracked distance of 1000 miles on Friday. I commuted Tuesday-Friday which is about 40 miles and had a nice 31 mile ride with Alan on Friday afternoon.

Alan got a 2009 Orbea Onix on the CycleScheme this year and it's a lovely bike. This years model, unlike last years Onix (which I ordered but didn't get), is a carbon monocoque frame and looks pretty snazzy. It's got Shimano wheels and componentry and he's very pleased with it.

Went to: Crawley, Longstock, Michelmersh
Distance: 31.2 miles
Total time on bike: 2:00
Average speed: 15.6 mph
Fastest speed: 37.6mph (according to my Forerunner 305 GPS)
Total climb height: 385 m

Almost all of this ride is on quiet country lanes. There are 3 climbs of which the 3rd, at 29 miles in, is the steepest - just what you need when your legs are getting tired.

The section after the 2nd peak, after 11 miles, is a gentle 2 mile descent where you whizz along at 25mph putting in very little effort. If you have a good imagination then you can pretend that this is your normal pace and that you'll be entering the Tour de France next year.

Our average speed after 23.1 miles was still an impressive 16.4mph - but it dropped off quite a bit over the last few miles as our legs got tired and there were some more ascents to tackle.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Fabulous Ride

Went to: Michelmersh, the Deans, the New Forest
Distance: 47.3 miles
Total time on bike: 2:45
Average speed: 17.2 mph
Average heart rate: 154bpm
Fastest speed: 39.8mph (according to my Forerunner 305 GPS)
Total climb height: 460 m

I had a fabulous bike ride this afternoon/evening. The route was picked to try out the 2 main options for getting to Redlynch for a future cycle ride with Alan Chatt who lives in Salisbury.

You may also have noticed that the route image above isn't using Google Maps data, it's an image from OpenStreetMap which is a cool project that provides mapping data without cost or licensing restrictions - it's completely for free. The data is supplied by regular people - I contributed a lot of roads and footpaths in my area as it was pretty sparse. Check it out. If anything you know of is missing then have a go at adding it. It can be strangely addictive.

The way out included a pleasant climb in to Michelmersh - anything that doesn't require the use of 1st gear counts as a good climb in my book.

From there I followed an official cycle route from Lockerly through East Dean to West Dean. It was lovely and flat although I could see I was tracking a mean looking ridge to my left.

Then I turned left. I climbed 122 metres in 1.12 miles and 6:15 minutes. First gear was most definitely employed. Max heart rate was 182bpm which shows I had a little in reserve but this intensity had to be sustained for about 3 minutes and I sounded like a steam train. The steepest part of this hill started at a hairpin bend and was 0.3 miles long and climbs 59 metres. That's a sustained average gradient of 12.2% and it levels off at the top so most of it is about 14%. I averaged 7.1mph up the steepest part.

I reached Redlynch after 1:24 riding time. I'd been using the Maps application on my iPhone for navigation - no backup paper maps. I'd dropped 6 "pins" as way points for the areas that I didn't know. I stopped 4 times to consult the map (and once for a train at a level crossing). The first time I had no O2 coverage for data but the Maps application caches the areas you've recently viewed so whilst I couldn't get any new zoomed-in maps a more zoomed-out map was available and it was enough.

A couple of miles after leaving Redlynch I properly entered the New Forest. You know when you enter because there is a cattle grid to cross, taken slow on a road bike. I've done a few at high speed but it sounds awful and it's pretty violent. It's useful to know that the bike can take it but I'm not intending to do it again.

I really like this part of the New Forest - north of the A36. It's mostly open moors with few forests so you can see much further. I think it's at a higher altitude than the other side of A36 and the views are breathtaking. I was treated to a panorama over miles of moorland with the sun in an early stage of setting - beautiful.

As you might expect there were ponies and donkeys all over the place including some cute foals. I gingerly cycled past some startled-in-to-running cows and calfs at one point, whistling a tune in an attempt to appear less threatening.

After leaving the Forest I went through Blackhill and nearly to East Wellow before heading straight in to Romsey via the most direct route. This meant I took the last section of dual carriageway in to Romsey - down the hill. My GPS watch says I did 39.8mph which is frustratingly close to 40mph - which I haven't yet achieved. But this was after 2:10 riding time and 37.25 miles of cycling so I didn't have fresh legs. One for another day.

I got home pretty tired but after 2:45 of fairly quick cycling that's a good thing - I'll sleep well tonight. I'd bought a couple of fruit and custard tarts earlier so I wolfed one down (Emma enjoyed the other one later) before glugging a probiotic yoghurt drink, chomping a little bit of Easter egg, scoffing a sausage, mustard and ketchup sandwich and having a Weight Watchers pizza. I won't buy that brand of pizza again. The Pizza Express ones are only 25% or so more calories and are much tastier.

All in all, a fabulous ride. I need to work out how to maximize my time in the New Forest without cheating and driving there.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Ride to Andover

Went to: Andover, the Wallops
Distance: 54 miles
Total time on bike: 3:20
Average speed: 16.1 mph
Fastest speed: 39.3mph (according to Forerunner 305 GPS)
Total climb height: 568 m

Another lovely countrified ride on a mostly sunny day. I met Mark Halliday at Hursley and off we went.

The cycling was uneventful - quiet country lanes and no nasty hills. We passed through numerous sleepy villages with quaint thatched cottages. It really is a nice part of the world down here.

Our destination was Andover; in particular, a coffee shop that serves latte. Cafe Nero didn't have any outside seating so Costa won. They serve coffee in soup bowls and having cycled 25 miles to get there it didn't feel wrong to put 2 sugars in.

The photo was taken with my iPhone, which takes a bit of a pasting for only having a 2 megapixel fixed-focus camera, but it takes perfectly adequate snaps.

There weren't many hills that troubled me in the slightest although the last one is long and saves the steepest part for the end so after 46 miles this was a little bit challenging.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Tying my shoelaces

It turns out I've been tying my shoelaces wrong for the last 30 years. I've been tying a Granny Knot, which results in an uneven knot that tends to come undone.

So first I made the trivial change to convert it to a Standard Shoelace Knot. The difference is due to the adjacent contact points within the finished knot. In the Standard Shoelace Knot, tension on the bottom part of the knot (due to foot movement) will pull the adjacent top part of the knot tight. In the un-balanced "Granny Knot" the adjacent contact points run in opposite directions so the same tension on the bottom part of the knot will work the adjacent top part of the knot loose.

For a couple of days I tried tying one shoe with a Granny and one with the Standard knot to see if either would come undone but neither did.

But now I've upgraded to using the Ian Knot. The end result is identical to the Standard knot but it's definitely faster to tie. I'm actually enjoying tying my laces now. There is beauty in its simplicity and efficiency.

Ian's website also has lots of lacing patterns, some decorative, some functional. The ones for lacing shoes for use on my mountain bike could be genuinely useful.