Thursday, 31 December 2015

#Festive500 Ride Diary

The Rapha #Festive500 Challenge sees participants attempt to cover 500km over the 8 days between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. That’s a relatively modest 62.5km a day, but with all that the festive period involves, as well as the British weather, this is a tough ask. I also knew I needed to factor in at least 2 cycling free days.


My 2014 attempt was scuppered by the icy conditions we suffered at the end of last year, but this just made me more determined for 2015. The promising weather forecast, at least in terms of temperatures, as well as the fact that another SCS mate was also going to give this a go sealed the deal.

Day 1 - Christmas Eve – Shifnal to Preston

A good start was vital, as family commitments meant that I wouldn’t be back on the bike until the 27th. This made the sound of the rain bouncing off our kitchen’s velux windows all the more disheartening. The forecast was for things to clear up as I headed north though, and so as I rode down to meet the lads who were to escort me to the county border, my mood was one of cautious optimism.

As we split at Cheswardine, the weather ahead was looking better, and sure enough as I passed through Nantwich towards Warrington the rain stopped and the skies began to clear. The tailwind was proving helpful as well. A re-fuelling stop in Warrington also gave me an opportunity to try and dry out a little, and I was soon on my way again.

Through Wigan and Chorley, picking up signs for Preston were just the boost I needed, and even the hail storm which I encountered 2 miles from my destination didn’t dampen my mood. An imperial ton was passed and day 1 was done. I could relax over the next couple of days safe in the knowledge I’d made a fairly decent start. Time to put the bike away and to enjoy a well-earned beer or two….

Daily Total: 161.58km - Challenge Total: 161.58km

Days 2 & 3 – Christmas and Boxing Day

Eating, drinking, and being merry. We did however manage our traditional walk up Parlick!

Day 4 – 27th December – Out with @ASL191

A thoroughly enjoyable couple of hours with Anna, doing a lap of Preston. The previous two days torrential rain meant that we had to pick our route carefully to avoid the worst of the flooded roads, but we still managed 40km, which took me past the 200km mark for the challenge.

Daily Total: 40.10km - Challenge Total: 201.98km

Day 5 – 28th December – Preston to Shifnal

I’d had this pencilled in as perhaps the most important day of the whole challenge. If I could get another 150km plus ride in I was confident of success. However, the excesses of the previous night’s Gin and Tonic session with my brother in law very nearly put paid to this year’s attempt. A second career as a stuntman is on hold, as I learnt that falling down stairs is not a pleasurable experience. Ouch!

Just getting on the bike was painful, and as I rode away from my in-laws I very nearly turned around and threw in the towel. But I pressed on, if only to see if things got easier as I loosened up a little. Unfortunately it didn’t, but somehow I kept going anyway. The next 5 hours or so was perhaps the hardest time I’d spend all year on the bike. My spirits were fading with the light, and enough was enough. I was done; thankfully @ASL191 came to the rescue, and swept me up from Market Drayton. I may well have suffered, but I’d still notched up nearly 130km so all was not lost.

Daily Total: 129.60km - Challenge Total: 331.58km

Day 6 – 29th December – SCS Midwinter100

Back on home soil, and although very sore, I was feeling better. We had a really good turnout for this ride, and being back riding with familiar faces was a real boost. My fellow Festive500 challenger was out as well. He’d been on fire and was looking to complete the challenge on this ride, with 2 full days to spare.

 The weather was good too, and so I also enjoyed an all too rare winter outing on Bike #1. We rode our regular Market Drayton/Wem loop, and although we didn’t quite make the metric ton, I was still pleased with just shy of 95km. The beer in HQ was as sweet as ever too.

Daily Total: 93.96km - Challenge Total: 425.54km

Day 7 – 30th December – Only 75km to go…….

#Rule9 conditions all day, and after putting things off for as long as I dared I rolled away from home in the rain and wind. It’s days like this which illustrate what makes this challenge so tough. I may have covered over 400km in the previous 6 days, but this would count for nothing if I didn’t get over the line. Just relentless……..

Nothing special, just a loop of the local lanes, but all kms in the bank!

Daily Total: 45.68km - Challenge Total: 471.22km

Day 8 – New Years Eve – Getting over the line

I had to go into work, and so what better way than to get over the line than to lengthen up the commute a little, and to put this challenge to bed.

The previous days’ efforts were really making themselves felt, and I could really feel the fatigue. However, as I counted down the kms, this was all the encouragement that I needed.

As I rolled into the works car park, I’d passed the 500km mark and the challenge, for this year at least, was done.

Daily Total: 30.49km - Challenge Total: 501.71km

Total Riding time for the challenge was just under the 20 hours mark.

Massive Congratulations to Gary as well, it was a real boost knowing I wasn’t out there suffering alone!

Thanks also to all those who rode with me over over the duration of the challenge, and especially to @ASL191 for rescuing me at a real low point.

Vive la Velo

@936ADL




Friday, 18 December 2015

Merry Christmas

Ho Ho Ho
After a year that’s tested my supply of superlatives, I’d just like to take the opportunity to wish everyone who’s helped to make 2015 such a special cycling year for the society a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

We’ve already got plenty of plans in place for 2016, but we’ve got our work cut out to reach the heights of this year. Whatever happens though, we’re going to give it our best shot.

Thanks again all, it’s been emotional.

Vive la Velo

@936ADL

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Commuter Encounters – Escaping from my Shadow

It all started like any other co-incidental meeting between two hitherto un-connected cyclist. It’s always nice to see a fellow cycle commuters, if only to remind you that you’re not in this alone in your efforts, and that others appreciate your trade.
My friend appeared out of the darkness from the right, and turned in front of me, perhaps 50 metres ahead. An ill-fitting rear mudguard caught my attention immediately, but given that I was on the Pompino in full on winter mode, I was in no position to pass judgement.
The gap held steady as we approached the tricky motorway junction island where the only concern is making it across in one piece. It was as we left the island that things were mixed up a little. My preference is always to take the road, whereas my friend chose the short section of cycle path. This resulted in our relative positions changing , and as the cycle path re-joined the road and our paths converged once more, I was a few metres in front. This could get interesting; it was decision time.
It’s formation started slowly, very faint at first, but as the road dropped away and our speed rose, the edges got sharper. I could sense the gap closing as my shadow formed in front of me; I was being caught. No time to panic though; I was confident that the pendulum was about to swing back in my favour.
The approaching incline couldn’t come soon enough, for me at least. The gear which only seconds ago was way too small, was now perfect for the road ahead. My shadow’s edges began to blur slightly as I increased my effort; I could feel the gap growing. This was all the encouragement that was needed, it was time to go for the kill.
My shadow was disappearing fast before my eyes, the edges dissolving into the light. Suddenly it was gone; the elastic had seemingly snapped. A brief glance behind me confirmed that my friend was all but gone, the escape from my shadow was complete. I only hope he’d enjoyed our encounter half as much as I had.
Vive la Velo
@936ADL