Sunday, March 21, 2010

Blissford Hill is 25%

I've done several hills with signposts showing 14% and I've found that the perceived gradient varies greatly...

For example, a 14% hill near Owslebury is fine:

Owslebury hill

But the 14% White Hill out of Pitton feels much steeper:

White Hill at Pitton

But the hill between West Dean and Whiteparish is signed as "only" 12% but it's much longer and is probably the hardest climb I've done in Hampshire.  (Do you know of anything harder?)

Dean Hill

25% should be in another league entirely.  Blissford Hill, just north of Frogham in the New Forest, is 1-in-4 although apparently it is quite short.  It will shortly be on the agenda for a cycling trip.

Blissford Hill near Frogham

Blissford Hill near Frogham map

First group ride of 2010: New Forest

New Forest 2010/03/21 route

Went to: Michelmersh, Sherfield English, Nomansland, Lyndhurst, Minstead, Windsor, Wellow
Distance: 58.5 miles
Time on bike: 3:47
Average speed: 15.5 mph

Rich Harran, Andy Perry and I met at Hursley at 10:00 this morning with Mark Halliday and Ian Vanstone turning up 10 minutes late as Ian had picked up a p*ncture (don't say the word). We had plotted a route and transferred it to Ian's Garmin Edge 705 but it seemed to want to route us straight to the final destination rather than follow the route so we were making up the Sherfield English part of our route as we went along.  It turned out fine, although we did have to walk through the mud to avoid a 4 foot deep ford at one point.

Spring is definitely here. It's still cold enough to warrant long sleeves and overshoes but at times there was actual warmth in the air today.

The New Forest was as lovely as always though it's too early to see any newborn foals. The hill out of Nomansland was as challenging as ever with the front wheel feeling like it wanted to come off the ground.

New Forest 2010/03/21 elevation

I hit 42 mph on the hill that goes under the A31 (and later 43.2 mph on the A3090 descent in to Romsey).

We stopped at Lyndhurst for some "lunch". I had 3 full-fat cans of Coke and 2 granola bars. Not awfully healthy but I'm sure the ride burned those calories and more.

Andy's posterior aspect was giving him trouble for the last few miles - this was his first ride over 25 miles this year and it takes a couple of decent length rides to toughen up. Ian recommended trying different saddle shapes to find one that fits properly.

I got home at 2:45 to find that Emma had made her speciality Cup Cakes - very tasty.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

First decent length ride of 2010

Today felt like the first day of spring; 12C and sunny intervals.  A good day for a bike ride.  I've already done a couple of rides of 22 miles but that's definitely a "short ride".  Today was a day for a medium length ride.  My ride classification system goes like this:

Short: 2 hours or less
Medium: about half a day
Long: most of the day

Anyway, today's ride:

Cycling route to Fort Nelson

Went to: Botley, Fort Nelson, Swanmore, Upham
Distance: 42 miles
Time on bike: 2:46
Average speed: 15.1mph

The route was pretty flat for the first 16 miles followed by the easiest route to climb up to Fort Nelson.  On the way back there are hills at Bishops Waltham, Upham and Owslebury.  Lots of countryside and hardly any traffic.

Elevation profile for cycling route to Fort Nelson

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

What are you looking forward to this year?

Have you ever played the game of "If I won the lottery, what would I do?"  Even though I've never bought a lottery ticket I still find that this is an uplifting experience.  Sadly it's only a pipe dream for almost all of us.

But I've realised that there's another game that has, for me at least, a similarly uplifting effect.  It's called "What are you looking forward to this year?"

As you play you try and quite fully visualise and experience the event.  For example, if you're looking forward to the Goodwood Festival of Speed then imagine the noise of the F1 engines, the feeling you get from seeing motorbikes pulling wheelies for a hundred yards, or an F1 car burning out on the hill, and the sense of shared experience with your mates.

I always feel much more positive after playing this game.  And the particularly nice thing is that these events are actually going to happen.

My list for this year includes: