Saturday, 30 August 2008

Darlington - Hamsterley Group Ride - Darlington

Rode up to Hamsterley to join a group ride with some HTB members who'd been camping there the night before.

A massive group of four of use set out at 10:30 on Saturday morning - myself, Andy, Dave and Karen. We rode at a 'sociable' pace it the first bit of the black, then down G***** O** (not sure how public this trail is) before Dave and Karen went to the skills loop and Andy and I followed the Black to the ford and then along to the Grove, where I had a cup of tea and Andy went back to bed to sleep off Friday night's excesses.

I did 50 miles with 2664 feet of climbing on the road, plus 720' of climbing over about 5 miles on the group ride.

Distance: 55 miles
Climbing: 4444 feet
Surface: On- and off-road
Time: 2 + 2 + 2 hours, plus breaks
Weather: warm and dry!
Bike: Solitude Singlespeed (34:18, with 2.2″ tyres)

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Mind over matter

When the sh*t goes down and the screws are turned, we all wage the war against the ingress of doubt. Like cold, salty ocean water, doubt will find its way inside a breach and then... it's only a matter of time before the ship goes down.

Following an effort so hard that it leaves the eyes bloodshot and your feet fried, a rider tries to sort out the race's details. How can one's fitness vary so greatly on back-to-back days? All things being equal, one can point to doubt.

At times, denying doubt is harder than any of the physical efforts doled out. When the group is strung out into a razor sharp point and riders begin popping, doubt becomes tough to ignore. At that moment, the difference between a good day and a bad day is determined by the mind's willingness to ignore the persistant whisper of that f*#ker doubt.

I've been meaning to blog tha above (Doubt, by BKW) since reading it yesterday. It fits in really well with a BBC interview with Chris Hoy, which I read today:

In the velodrome, we battered the other teams into submission. You could see their morale was completely dented by the first few days.

I was almost surprised at how badly some of them performed. Some of them didn't even reach the levels they had at the World Championships in March.

That couldn't be a physical thing, because you'd aim to peak for the Olympics. I think it was mental.

The lower your morale, the more you feel the pain. And when they saw how our team was riding, everyone else just started to crack.

The emotional side of it is almost tougher than the physical part.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Darlington - Swaledale - Bowes - Barnard Castle - Darlington

If you ever look at a map and decide that the bridleway between Melsonby and Richmond looks like it would be a great way to ride to Swaledale, don't ride it. Pushing your bike through nettles and brambles then over boggy grassy fields seriously takes the edge off a ride, as well as producing the great low average speed of 7mph you can see below.

Luckily, there's a road alternative which means that I can do the rest of the ride again. That's a good thing, because it's a great ride. The descent off Fremington Edge is great and riding to Tan Hill is suitably epic.

Having no water between Hurst and Barnard Castle also dragged the speed down and made the climb up the valley from Langthwaite seem a very long one. For future reference, the shop in Bowes is only open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and the public toilets in Langthwaite are currently closed for renovation.

For the two bottles of water between home and Hurst and the two between Barnard Castle and home, I used nuun tablets for the first time, bought from Nick at Nixon Interactive. It's hard to say whether they made a difference, but the ride home from Barnard Castle was a lot easier than when I've done it before and I feel fine today, which is pretty good considering I had no water for the middle third of the ride.

The big tyres were pretty draggy on the road, not helped by the skinny tube in the rear tyre making it a bit flat. I'm pretty sure that I could have ridden the off-road stuff on the 45c Panaracer Cinders I have in the garage, if a little slower than I did on the bigger ones, but the road bits would have been a lot less draggy. I think some Small Block 8s would be a better tyre for me than the Nevegals, at least on this bike.

I'd planned on riding the bridleway between Whaw and Tan Hill, but the weather and lack of fluid made the road a safer option. One day though.

Food: 20 jelly babies in one jersey pocket (100% of my RDA for sugar!) and 10 dried apricots in another. Four slices of toast with honey in my bag. Should have taken more - I bought two iced fingers and a bar of chocolate (and two litres of water) at the Coop in Barnard Castle.

Distance: 70 miles (map)
Climbing: 4199 feet
Surface: On- and off-road
Time: 10 hours
Weather: wet
Bike: Solitude Singlespeed (34:18, with 2.2″ tyres)

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Local meandering ride

Went for a local mixed ride (map). I intended to ride to the bridleways just north of Richmond, but a combination of getting lost (a junction on the fold of the map meant I left left when I should have gone right, returning me to Stapleton instead of getting me to Barton), getting a puncture (hawthorn) and bad weather made me cut the ride short.

Revisited a nice bridleway that I've not ridden for a good few years that would make a good link in a round-Darlington route, and found a nice singletrack road with grass growing down the middle (the best kind of road).

Distance: 23.5 miles
Climbing: 797 feet
Surface: On- and off-road
Time: 2.5 hours
Weather: wet
Bike: Solitude Singlespeed (34:18, with 2.2″ tyres)

Saturday, 2 August 2008

July Riding

Total: 114 miles (6,428 feet climbed)

Worst month of the year, distance-wise. But, rode at Hit The North earlier in the month, which was a great event despite lotsa rain and a mechanical stopping me from putting in a decent ride - with just one of those I'm sure I'd have kept going, but both just made for miserable riding. Ended the month with eleven consecutive days of not riding, which is the longest spell of the year!

Total so far for 2008: 1265 miles
* average of 5.9miles per day - on course for 2174 miles for the year