Sunday, 29 April 2012

Out this morning again...

And I think my legs are feeling it.  I did the Causey Mounth route that I did two weeks ago, except I managed to talk myself into going round twice.  I was fine the first time but after that it was a bit difficult. I think you can probably see I was slightly slower on the second time round. I shook it up a wee bit and went in my lowest gear trying to keep up my cadence the second time round as opposed to hitting the hills in the highest gear possible. I'm not seeing much of a difference in speed I don't think, and overall I am able to stand a lot more to kick over those grades that wee bit tougher. There's also a woefully long low gradient up to the turn off.  It doesn't look like much (it's roughly mile 7 and mile 16 as I went round) but there's always a god awful head wind there and just seems to sap the very blood life out your legs which you still feel coming down the decent.

Here are the metrics:

Distance:18.6 mi
Elevation:2026 / - 2127 ft
Max Grade
20.6 %
Avg. Grade
0.6 %
Total Duration:01:35:12
Moving Time:01:32:41
Stopped Time:00:02:31
Max Speed:32.1 mph
Avg. Speed:12.0 mph
Moving Pace:00:04:59
Max Cadence:122 rpm
Min Cadence:21 rpm
Avg. Cadence:61.5 rpm

I will have a look at this more closely.  I think my average speed up the hills has gone from milling about in the 3-4mph to 4-6mph which is good.  And the weather was alright - a wee bit blustery but nice blue skies, and nearly ran over a massive buzzard (big angry, fluffy looking birds of pray).  I'm toying with perhaps getting some saddle w@nky glasses for cycling in.  I usually wear aviator style sunglasses but I look like an MI6 agent who's team have left him at the petrol station and he's trying to get back to his team through any means necessary.  I didn't take any out with me today but my eyes were tearing up terribly.


Saturday, 28 April 2012

It was almost like the old days...

...remember?  When you could go out for the scenery, to catch up, and a sit down with some decent food.  It wasn't too bad weather either. The clouds were being chased by the sun across the sky,  there was a light breeze but not too cold for this time of year.

I met my mate who'd dropped in from working in Algeria.  She's not done much cycling this year so we decided on a sub 30 miler, taking it easy along the line.  We got to the end of the Deeside Line and after a short discussion on the merits of soup during cycling we decided on going into one of the 'Lifestyle Emporiums' within driving distance of Aberdeen.  They're actually supposed to be Gardening Centres but where I come from (Weegieland) Gardening Centres consist of 6 sickly looking tomato plants and secateurs for a pound.  Here (the 'deen) they're full of Hunter Wellies (Cheapest pair £120), Yankee Candles (£30!  You are literally burning money) Barbour Jackets (I didn't even look - too scary and they make you look like a land owner that let the Irish starve during the Potato Famine) and  with a greenhouse with giant banana tree and a michelin starred tea shop.  I had the soup of athletes,  (Cullen Skink) and my mate had delectable sandwiches with another Aberdeen phenomena - a slice of orange on her side salad.

The loop round the castle was done before the soup and we managed to see some deer in a field.  It looked like a youngish buck with a doe.  There is a lot of deer in Scotland (even in Glasgow if you're lucky you'll see elusive Roe deer in the Necropolis) to the end they are becoming an issue for some.  When snowboarding in Glenshee last year the lower glen was covered with a herd of about 200.  They are destructive stripping alot of saplings from the land but I  always get a bit giddy when I see them.  It's like seeing the last of the wild animals - which they kind of are.

It was a good idea to do the loop before settling down to do our soup as I doubt very much we'd be bothered after.  Then it was back along the line again and home.  I am still forging forward with my hardest gear on the hills, and my legs have been sore today so they must be getting stronger.
  Out again tomorrow on some hills so will show results for that too.

The stats for today:

Distance:27.1 mi
Elevation:877 / - 855 ft
Max Grade
6.7 %
Avg. Grade
0.1 %
Total Duration:03:22:28
Moving Time:02:12:48
Stopped Time:01:09:40
Max Speed:27.1 mph
Avg. Speed:12.2 mph
Moving Pace:00:04:54
Max Cadence:110 rpm
Min Cadence:20 rpm
Avg. Cadence:50.8 rpm

Average speed is up a wee bit -  not quite where it needs to be but taking wins where I need too.


Wednesday, 25 April 2012

3 Weeks to Go...

...and I'm running up that hill - well cycling up that hill.

Have changed the strategy for training so instead of long rides and sitting in the saddle for hours on end it's all shorter rides and trying to get the average up, along with pushing up hills in the most horrible of gears.  I've done a little route on Saturday which is only 15 mins from town and 9 miles long so I'll be able to do a couple of laps of that of an evening I'm not at the gym - it's not dark until about 8.45pm now).  In saying that it's pretty much been fowl uncyclible weather since Saturday so I've still been hitting the gym.

Here's the lap:

In similar news I have mutant thighs.  I noticed it on Monday in the work's elevator - something tends to happen to my 'look' on leaving my flat and getting to work so I usually check out myself in the elevator mirror to make sure I haven't aquired a mohican or sprouted horns - and now have absurdly muscly knees and thigh muscles that you can actually now see the definition of through 90 denier tights. 

All this basically means is now I have remarkibly chunky thights to go with my extremely chunky calves.  Before I only had chunky calves (my legs were akin to Popeyes arms pre-spinich where his forearms are always wider than the rest of his arms) my legs now have an appealing overall chunkiness I quite like.  I am currently resisting the urge to kick things with them to show how strong and excellently chunky they are.  Lots of the Guys (we grow them spindley here) are jelous. 


Saturday, 21 April 2012

The Great Garmin (like Gatsby but without the thieving)...

Right! The Garmin - It's taken me a couple of weeks to use this properly.  On getting it I found that Garmin (the company) have stopped producing items specifically for it, and more or less discontinued it in favour of their Garmin Edge 800.  The one I have - the Garmin 705 - is more or less a 2008 model (the equivalent of getting a plain old Ipad (or ipad - as opposed to an I (or i) pad 2 - had to make that distinction, the Giddy Blondes back-seat writing) and about £200 quid cheaper.

The BaseCamp map that you get with it has only really motorways highlighted - and I couldn't find any definitive screen shots to ascertain this, so you need to buy a memory card with the maps already on it (from Garmin) or download these from another source (I used this guy here: - this is primarily for the UK and shows 1 50k ratio).

Uploading a route is a bit of a faff and is easiest using Firefox.

We needed the file downloaded from here: in our bookmarks on Firefox first.

The way we did it (the Giddy Blonde worked it out actually) was that we made up our routes using Google Maps, then went to the gmaptogpx option we already saved in bookmarks, then told us (well, me) there is an error and we needed to download it as a KML file (which kind of looks like an old fashioned HTML file but don't fiddle with it).  We did this and then convert to GPX  from this programme here; (this link a appears in the error message).

We then copied (Ctrl A) all and pasted it into a notepad saving it as 'whatever.gpx' - it's the' .gpx' which is important - the way we do it, it always goes into the garmin as 'Course.gpx'. We then had to save this as course.gpx onto the memory disk (showing my age) card, (ensuring it goes into 'GARMIN'>'GPX' file path.) Once it's in here, we renamed it (e.g. '40 Miler' 'cos I'm that imaginative).

Anyhoo - we managed to get the 50 miler onto the Garmin.  And on that side, I'm very happy.  With the exception of one or two wrong turns (my fault - I had 2 legs of the trail go up a little road and back down again), it worked.  It beeps about 20 seconds before the turn we had to make, then showed the next one coming up straight after with the distance of how far away it was.  The screen was big enough to see that one of the wrong turns we made - we didn't have to u-turn - and once we were back on the train the Garmin picked us straight back up again.

The cycle computer side, was a bit fiddlely .  I've set up a few bike computers now, so I expected this to be fairly intuitive, but when we were about half way round the test route it showed that we'd only done 7 miles.  Now, either I hadn't set it up right, or I was looking at the thing wrong but after fiddling with the wireless sensor, (short story - taking off the pedal sensor, resetting the GSC 10 sensor so it only picks up the sensor on the wheel, checking the wheel size was right - don't use the auto sensor it resets everything to 2100mm which doesn't work for 700x23mm tires - and then putting the pedal cadence sensor on) I think I've got it working.

Here's the results for that first ride - see how it says 16.5 miles?!

 A tip is that to hook it up to the computer actually then switch the device on, it doesn't act like a memory stick, and even though there's a recharge sign on the Garmin, it's not in 'Talking to your computer mode'.

Would I recommend getting one?  YES.  I'd take it out on a shorter first ride to check things were working as they should.  The routing it does really was rather good and I trusted it as there was a couple of points where I only had a rough idea where I was.


Monday, 16 April 2012

Scottish Bike Show Challenge Sportive 2012

We made it.  Got round it.  And are suitably knackered.  Well I am anyway.  After much faffing (as you all know) yesterday the Giddy Blondes new gears worked wonders for him and he managed a 65 mile ride with less than no training. The B@stard, I am suitably sickened and slightly annoyed, but it was a brilliant but knackering day.

We got to Balloch, about 5ish on Saturday, and found our hotel - our room had a window looking out onto the Marina of Loch Lomond.  Balloch seems to be the kind of place the well to do of Glasgow and Stirling go for a weekend.  The marina was full of new well kept boats - and a few cruisers - and the place did have an air of preservation about it.  It's a small place but kind of like walking into 1950's Scotland with short sandstone houses and neatly kept gardens surrounded by rolling hills and the odd snow topped Munro.  Judging by the amount of BBQ they seemed to be have a spate of sunshine weather, and the amount of midges they hadn't had any wind.    We walked through Balloch Country Park that sat on the Loch to the Castle - which was more of a grand home than a turret topped behemoth and scoped about.  Initially we couldn't see anything - they hadn't put up a tent and there was no sign of anything being prepared for the morning - a 7 am start for the 100 milers - but there was a string of chemical toilets so we assumed that was where the start was (we met with pals for drinks later, and they agreed so that was reassuring).  We were concerned there wasn't much going on to the point I checked the date to make sure it was the right weekend.

 We saw a few groups of cyclists in our hotel, but we were expecting to see folk rolling up and down the street.  The place was busy but not with cycling, and we were growing concerned that it may not be much of an event. Only on the road in did we saw  one or two scant signs for the morning, but about the town there was nothing.  Even in the local co-op we didn't see any advertising.  I think though on balance we've been spoiled with Etape Caledonia which has about 6,000 entries every year as later we discovered 800 people took part.

The morning start was pretty easy going (with the exception of me forgetting my Garmin and having to go back to the hotel... Oops.)  They had Grahame Obree with a mike, standing at the start chatting to people as they waited for their beeps to be set of.  When we got there was maybes 60 odd people waiting to go.  We weren't kept long though (it was very cold).

The weather and the ride was quite simply beautiful.  The sun laughed all day, and the scenery surpassed clichés.  As a Glasgow Girl, or in any town in Scotland pretty much, there will be - as in most countries with hardly any one in it - I'm used to public parks and quiet spots.  Places to sit, listen to the birds, and imagine you have it all to yourself.  Even in the biggest towns it is guaranteed that you can head in any direction and you will be met with rolling farm hills and woodland, but this was something else.  When you headed up the way, you could see down into the valleys to rivers so clear and blue it looked like the sky had lay down in strips on the land. On going round Loch Katrine where you shared the path with walkers , the mountains felt so close you could touch them, then you climbed up again and raced young deer along country roads, to eventually be moo'd at by proper highland cattle for disturbing their peace.

That's not to say the ride was easy - because of the loop that we were in we knew every down hill on a certain point was going to be an uphill on the way back, and the last 5 miles were the longest 5 miles of my life!  They didn't have ANY signage.  No count down on the last wee bit!  I think the terrain shocked a few people though - there were quite a few fit guys walking up the hills, whether they misjudged the terrain and had spent themselves going out the way but despite my 10 mile/hr average I think it's a moral victory I didn't get off to walk up a hill once.

Despite the sunshine I was glad and cold when it finished.  Usually, at events, you'll get a complimentary bowl of pasta or chilli and rice, with all the tea you can drink, but they only had a 'posh meat van' selling pork on a spit which I thought was tight of them.  Our goody bags consisted of a bottle of water, a 'bike floss' - which looked like a thick bike cleaner -  and some gumph about prostate cancer, so I've decided to treat myself to a jersey since I didn't get a medal.

After showers (and I had a lie down) then went for an indian and a few drinks with friends for a post match analysis. Here's what it breaks down to:

Departed:Apr 14, '12, 08:22pm
Starts in:Balloch, Scotland, GB
Distance:65.6 mi
Elevation:4272 / - 4318 ft
Max Grade
17.4 %
Avg. Grade
0.8 %
Total Duration:06:21:45
Moving Time:06:00:59
Stopped Time:00:20:46
Max Speed:30.6 mph
Avg. Speed:10.9 mph

Must do better at my Ave Speed.


Saturday, 14 April 2012

In the best laid plans of Mice and Men..

we're at the 'Gang aft agley,' bit.  With the Sportive tomorrow, with us supposed to have left an hour ago, and the Giddy Blondes loosing himself in a haze of broken chain bits. On reflection I now realise that it was too easy last night - an hour to pillage parts from the Lu', a quick up and down on the wee hills and everything went fine.

Went out for a quick dash this morning to make sure everything was all right (with an eye on leaving at 1) and we're still here.  Five minutes to two. 

It's not that much of a rush, we were planning to get to Balloch about 4, now it'll be tea time.  It won't get dark here until 8.30 so we've got plenty of time to scout out the start once there.  

Right.  New chain link. Another shottie and then we're (wish us well) off!


Thursday, 12 April 2012

Upwards - slowly but surely!

Did our 50 Miler on the Garmin yesterday.  It's the longest route the Giddy Blondes ever done and he was flagging at the end.  It took in most of the big hills in our area, including the horrible hill at Warren wood - I just about managed this - and the weather wasn't the best.  It was a day where the Sky didn't know whether to laugh  or cry - but it wasn't until the last 10 miles it got really stormy.

We were out for a long time, six and a half hours.  Though according to the Garmin we were only rolling for four and a half.  I thought this would be a long day so I brought some stuff I wanted to try.  Namely the Torq Energy Drink, and a couple of gel shots.  The Torq stuff I mixed up as described and it didn't taste half as powdery as other stuff I've tried.  I also had a couple of Powerbar shots (with caffeine) and High5 gel shots.  The High5 gel shots didn't taste to bad in terms of gel shots (they are, for things to eat, generally foul).  They tasted marginally better than the Powerbar shots, though I think I felt more benefit from the Powerbar shots (I took these a few minutes before heading up the hills and sipped the Torq drink as I went round).

In the end I only had the usual potatoes left, and about half a litre of the 3 litres of liquid with me (2 litres of Torq and 1 litre of water).  After Warren Wood the Giddy Blonde was struggling and I made him have 2 of the gel shots since he pretty much struggled from there.  But when we finished I didn't feel too bad at all and still had some miles in my legs.  I even began to find my 'sweetspot' on climbing hills, the pace where you're managing to get up without it going all white round the eyes at the top.

Below is what I downloaded to Strava - which I'm not entirely happy with 'cos it's a bit too serious.  Also, I had trouble setting up the cadence sensor (after a couple of hours faffing around I think I've fixed it - I'm saving that tale for a 'review').

Friday, 6 April 2012

2 day...

Rest period before we go out on Sunday.  I'm not going to say how far me and GB intend to go out on Sunday as inevitably something awful will happen.

With next weekends sportive coming up Giddy's in a bit of a blind panic about getting his bike road ready.  He bought new wheels for it and we might pillaging the Lu' for parts since the chances of us being able to find parts to fit his (a 1970's racer) is slim.  If anyone's interested this is what we're doing:

Giddy got his pack through - it says in the pamphlet it actually says:

'Your gearing needs to be suitable for steep hills. As an example some of our riders will be using 50x34 front with a 27 sprocket on the back, don’t under estimate the nature of some of the climbs!'

He has a 52/46 front sprocket.  I (the smart arse that I am) have a Granny Gear.


Wednesday, 4 April 2012

My leggies are not so sore...

but I've started getting a weird stitch in my right, in my ribcage that goes along just above my belly area.  During the first spin class of the day it began to hurt my arm (7am, and yes, I am too tired right now to be smug).  It's not a heart attack - I'm one of those freaks who get indigestion in the shoulder - I think it's more to do with not having anything to eat or drink before spin class.

I've gone all technological with my food so might try drinking some energy drink before going tomorrow morning - to wit I might actually cycle to gym class tomorrow.  I'm sick to death of waiting for busses, as they are a bit of a rip up in Fairyboots town. (New nickname for the 'deen, apparently 'Faer'y'boots yeh fae' is a rough translation of 'From whence has one come from?' No one has actually ever asked me that but I like the idea that the town is the cobbler for the Flower Fairies).  It's £2 to go a mile and a half.  So I shall be loading the Lu' up tonight so I can just roll her out tomorrow - besides I should be on the bike a lot more now.

I actually don't feel as tired as I think I should.  I've got the handlebar tape so all we need to do is reset the breaks and that's it for the Racer. We're doing 50 miles this weekend so will be testing out the 705 on Sunday too.  I might even do some half assed review on it.


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