Week three: miles, miles, miles

13147839_10154160622653826_1478865494815703313_oThis one was a three big ride weekend and a early morning ride start week and a new saddle bag testing week, a new rout maker try out and a panic week because of a strange signals from my knees.

After a long Denmead audax ride I had a few days laying low, resting. And than beginning from Tuesday I started early morning rides. Waking up just before 5am and setting of for a 30 miles rides just before work. I did came gradually to making myself an early bird. First I started doing some short runs and than these early exercises became 30 mile rides. Now I’m just getting up 5 am and deciding what I’m going to do run, cycle, do some stuff at the computer or stay in bed for a few minutes earlier. My aim was to discipline myself to go to bed early to wake up early.

13055083_10154144952403826_6347364962504297481_oAn early morning rides are amassing. There is no traffic no noise an the nature is just awake. I was lucky that sunrises were happening at the same hour that I was getting out of town so I had an incredible view of the countryside. First early rides were still in the cold wind so they weren’t so cheerfuller and I was worried to get late to work too or not to make early enough to get a shower there.

Just before the weekend mile rides I acquired my new saddle bag from Wild Cat – Tiger-Dover. Bike U Like shop just started selling them and I had an eye on them for a while still deciding should I go for Alpkit or this one. The saddle bag as I found out is a frame and a fold dry bag. The fold dry bag you can order any size you think you’ll need, I did get 8 liter one. So far it’s more than I actually need even having to carry my war wear.

I came over Ride With GPS route maker so decided to have a go with this one and make a route to Kent where my parents live. and on Friday after half day of work I set out for a 109 miles route. I was lucky as I had a tail wind so my average for the first 60 miles would be much higher than normally is. On a second half of the route I did go on to gravel route and I got lost a couple of times. Now it was a test for my bike of how will it handle the gravel. And it did well. Wider than I used to tires, size 28 instead of 23, were much easier to handle and with more confidence too. It did go dark and cold. That was still not a great weather for a long rides, especially if you set out for one after work.

So I got to the place later than I expected. I do get some very optimistic expectations sometimes based on no real facts or evidence that I can actually do that. The next morning I was thinking of riding 200 miles back home, but had to change my mind as the weather was getting really cold again and it supposed to rain in the afternoon too. So I made a quick route of a 100 miles + and gone to sleep. When I woke up I really had no motivation to ride at all as the weather didn’t seem well at all. So I had a breakfast and decided to ride back, but take as much time as I’ll need to get back home on bicycle and still keep the ride in the enjoyable state as much as possible.

And I actually made it back. Little by little. Tried not to think much whats going to happen ahead or when I’ll make it back. Just stayed in the moment and pedaled. The weather stayed chilly and at the end it started raining. And my knees started acting funny too. Wrong set up of the bicycle. The saddle was still way too high after the last modifications. Got back, ate a lot and gone to sleep to recover for the following days Isle of Wight ride.

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Taking a chain ferry

This time the weather was great, I had a company and there were many more cyclists as the Isle of Wight Randonnee was taking a place. The ferries were full of cyclists. We took the earliest one as the next one was already fully booked. My company was Jeff as he was still preparing for his Bryan Chapman Memorial audax.

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Up on another hill!!

There were many riders of different capabilities and the routes were amasing too. Me and Jeff cycled both organised routes. And it always nice to cycle Isle of Wight Hills. Well organised and highly recommend yearly event.

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Isle of Wight cliffs

This week I managed to break my personal mileage record.

 

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Week Two: Denmead audax

The first week gone buy with mixed emotions of will I be able physically to make the distance that I’m aiming for or the reality will be cruel to me and I will have to face it as it is.

So I decided to go along and accept my friends invitation for Denmead 400k audax. It’s a long ride, but that’s what I’m aiming for. Besides there will be couple of my friends (Jeff and Richard) so it will be easier to make it for the first time. The time is given plenty 28 hours for 400k is more than enough and one guy of our crew already made it three times. So everything seems just fine.

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Richard and Jeff

We met with Jeff at Southsea at three o’clock (night!!!) And started our big adventure from there to actual beginning of audax in Denmead where we had to meet Richard. So first ten miles went without any adventures like the most of the first part of a ride. We paced ourselves riding to preserve enough energy for a whole ride and it did work well.

Until we reached our first checkpoint in an early morning I had a few sleepy moments. I don’t really drink coffee, unless cycling, so I didn’t have it before starting an adventure. After the first stop and a breakfast I felt much more refreshed. Still sustained from drinking coffee. I just don’t like it.

The ride continued up to the highest elevation point, but I just can say that all the climbs and hills are disappearing when the gears are there. As I’m used to a fixed gear bike on these long rides I would get many thoughts ‘I will not make it up this hill’, but now here with the proper gear it’s just too easy.

So we got to the highest point of the route and it was just before descending to an amazing Cheddar Gorge. It was a first time being there and I was honestly amazed by the scenery of it. It surprised me as I really wasn’t expecting to see anything like it over there. It almost looked as it didn’t belonged there. All these cliffs and rock climbers and cyclist and the amount of tourists really surprised me. Well and it was a pleasant long descend too. Now I would like to climb it!!!

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250 miles route

And here we reached the seaside town, the half way Weston-super-Mare. So that supposed to be a good news for us as we are turning back home. But at that time even if it felt this way it didn’t last for long as. For a while we were enjoying flat ride with a slight tail wind supporting us. And than we hit the hills again. We did worst of the climbing on the first part of the ride, but on the second half I did feel much more exhausted. We did witness a wonderful sunset on one of the harder climbs on the way back. Than we had a segment where we had to follow the river for quite a few miles and that made as all shiver as the night was cold enough already and the river made it even more miserable.

As we started of with lots of chatting at the beginning of the ride we became quiet at the last stages of it. Physically exhausted, cold, tired mentally. The only thing keeping me together was that we are heading back home and that I have friends with me.

We did stop often enough to have a snack, so at least I  wasn’t hungry. That part was done very well. The food wasn’t a problem at all, the mistake that I usually make while riding on my own. I should pay more attention to what and how much I do eat. I did read a few articles on fueling whilst riding so hoping to put it in practice on my next bigger ride.

At last we got to New Forest where we did speed up a bit. The signs just before long descent about animal walking out in to the road did help us much as it was night time again. We did pas New Forest bit quite fast and without any bad encounters.

Just out of it we stopped at McDonald the last checkpoint. Did feel enormously hungry. Had a cup of coffee to get some extra boost and we set of for the last 25 miles.

I didn’t expect it to be so hilly. Unfortunately it was full of climbs that I didn’t recognize. Partly because it was night time, partly because we were tired and every small climb would become a challenge. The coffee boost didn’t last long, but speeding up the hills helped me to stay awake.

And there was Denmead. Last stop and me and Jeff still had to cycle back to Southsea. My tired head was thinking of some way out of it though there was none. So after a short chat with Jeff we set of home. An hour of cycling. As we moved it didn’t seem so bad. I was just counting every mile and we had to pedal just eleven of them.

At last we were back home. Sleep eat sleep… All Sunday I was just recovering. I did have a feeling of an accomplishment. It was a first serious overnight ride to try out my dynamo and dynamo light, to see how the charging from it works. Did have some problems charging my Garmin and I was struggling with it because of bad updates. My Garmin would switch off a few times for no reason. After all that was my first long ride this year to make two hundred plus miles so in overall I was really happy to get this experience.

First weeks of TCR preparationPart I

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Mint bike for TCR

Here I am preparing plans for my third weekend of TCR training. Looking back to my first weekends there are plenty things to learn from and to improve. Main thing I have got a bike for the races ready!! Mint. It’s a custom build by BikeULike on Wolfson frame from The Blue Light.

It took me a while to adjust it to my liking and there are still a few things to change on it. And the main changes were done on my first weekend’s ride. Those couple of days were a mixture of emotions. Stopping and setting up saddle that pulled my leg enough to feel it even now after couple of weeks passed. In general first weeks ride was a tough one. The weather was still winter look like, cold and raining. I had a pleasure to ride for the first four out of five hours in the rain and than that was it. The stop had to be made for food and when I found a tea rooms to stop I felt that riding further being all soaked and cold is not an option. So all IMG_20160416_112245_1_1461906389412my wear was placed on a radiator, even the socks and I had a long two and half hours rest over at the local tea place. Actually the place was great and I met a couple of other cyclists there too who were hiding from the rain. We had a chat and the time didn’t last long. I did realized that with what happened I will not be able to do my planned 200 miles but decided to go as far as possible. When everything was dry enough I continued my journey to Ashford. My mood wasn’t great as my plans didn’t work out and the cold weather didn’t help too. Being alone in those kind of circumstances isn’t the best thing. That day I did make to 140 miles with the decent speed and lot’s of adjustments to my bike. Saddle, handle bars, light. Oh, it was a first time for testing my dynamo and light and a charger too. It worked fine. My Garmin failed me as it didn’t do an update properly for its maps and had some malfunctioning problems than and the next weekend too. I forgot to mention!! I didn’t dress up properly neither for a cold weather nor for rain. That was silly of me. But well, now when I look I’m kind of happy with my decision to go as far as I can. Mentally it was a proper training.

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Second day

So I got to my destination with 140 miles in and next day I took the way back. This time I felt luckier as the rain didn’t show up. It was still cold. I started riding at midday as the temperature was bearable than. The lack of sleep (as I stayed till late chatting to my mom at their place) and cold still didn’t make it an enjoyable ride. I had less issues with my bike this time except when it came to a dark time of a day and I had to stop again and adjust my front dynamo light. Everything else was working quite fine even Garmin wasn’t playing around. The route was much hillier and I even included couple hills that are very steep, the ones I remembered from the rides on my fixie Banana bike. I made up all the way to the top!! No wonder, gears do help. The day went without any big adventuring. Except few things it was bearable.

Right now I need to learn proper fueling while riding long distances keeping good enough pace. Still need to find a suitable saddle for long rides too as the one I had I wasn’t satisfied with. I was testing Fizik saddle and now I switched to another type of same brand that is much more comfy but still waiting for a real test ride. The second weekend “Part II” was much more enjoyable ride with coupe of friends trying to complete Denmead audax ride but that’s on my next post.

Queen Elizabeth Half Marathon

That was my first official half marathon and It was a great one.

It’s a trail race, hilly and, the day we ran, muddy too.

I started preparing for this event two weeks before the start. First Monday of preparation I gone out to run 10k my legs felt stiff. No wonder, I had a break from this activity for three weeks. So, I decided to do 10k runs every evening until the Half Marathon starts. It did help, my legs got in to a shape and Friday, before the race I did attempt a half marathon distance. The only difference from the actual half marathon that I’m preparing for was the elevation. I was running on a flat seaside trail while Queen Elizabeth park is hilly. So after my training half marathon legs were more or less fine. Did feel a bit of stiffness, but I had one more day of a rest and in overall I did feel quite good.

QE Elevation

It’s hilly!!!

Oh, almost forgot to mention that at last I bought running outfit. I had to go and get trail running shoes and I ended up buying runner t-shirt and shorts. Now I’m looking like a runner!

My parents came to cheer for me and the weather was great in the morning of the event. I was way too relaxed than normally before some events that are new to me or when I’m traveling somewhere. Oh yes, there was some mud left from the evenings light rain, but that just added more fun to the run later on.

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preparing for the race

We got there half an hour before the start and we already saw all the park so vibrant and lively. People running, cycling and tracking, some with the backpacks on their shoulders. The full marathon even was already started and we saw lots of people wearing the race numbers running by up in the hills. First thing I have done was visiting toilet. Ha, I did drink hot tea in the morning just before setting out to QE park and I knew that it might get me in to trouble. So after I gone for my racing number. There was a small queue and i didn’t see any of my friends who had to participate in the event. 157 – that’s my number for the race. I was more worried about how should I attach the number that it would look OK than the race itself. Honestly my calmness was surprising me.

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moving to the start line

So I got my number on, gone to the toilet one more time, warm mornings tea was doing its own thing. My friends arrived so I met them and not long after that everyone started moving to the start line. At the start line we received an instruction. Honestly I barely heard anything that the man was saying because of dog barking at the back. There were quite a few people with the dogs. Just after the man finished talking there was a countdown and the race started.

The very beginning of it was up the hill and it was muddy too. I literally had to walk for a few meters as I started in the middle of the crowd and people in front were trying to avoid stepping in to the mud so they were going around it. That’s where I would find opportunity and instead following the crowd would just go over the mud with the few other brave ones and would try to get in front of the people. The up hill segment lasted for a while and thankfully for me it was a perfect conditions to improve my position as I consider myself faster than average going up. At the end before I reached the top of the first climb I already had enough space to breathe freely. Now it was a time to catch up with the guys in front as I lost some time at the beginning. While at the top I could see people already far away and I was trying to figure out where as my other friend as I knew that I passed one just at the start.

For a while I ran passing by one runner after another. The park looked great. trees around, lots of cross cyclists and some people just walking and enjoying a lovely morning. It didn’t take me long to catch up with my friend in front. There was other guy whom he was following so I asked my friend if that’s the first place guy in front, I thought I could pace myself now if that’s so and relax a bit. Unfortunately this wasn’t the front people of the run. My friend replayed “This is the slow group” and after this short chat I went off on my own pace. As I passed them I ended up running alone for a quite a while. I was a bit worried that I might have lost myself in all these woods as I haven’t seen any other runner for a while. Luckily before more strange thoughts would visit me I started overtaking some people from full marathon run. Their numbers were green colored  so that’s how I knew that I’m on a right track.

Full Marathon runners were doing two circles as we did just one around the park. Quite a few of them were already tired, but still running. At this point I had a problem coming up. I really needed to go to the toilet again its just I couldn’t just stop anywhere and do it as people were here and there after all this was a public park even if it looked just like a forest. I knew that there will be another competition going on at the park and at mile eight I’ll be passing some cyclists there. And I was lucky and I saw two mobile toilets there to, so without a second thought I did visited one. Oh that morning tea.

As I was inside I did hear some fast steps passing by. That was another runner and a fast one. Definitely not from the Marathon so I thought I lost my position. But there was nothing I could do just run on my own pace. I was passing lots of marathon participants. Most of them were already walking, too tired to run on this hilly trek. I passed one group of them and heard that they were telling some funny stories of sort. And here I saw the guy who passed my while I was busy in the toilet. He was tired to, walking up the hill. I had to slow down my pace too as the hills done their job – my legs were tired. So I got my position back. But now running up every single hill I was thinking of how far is the finish line and up on the hills I would forget of the finish line and start enjoying the surroundings again. And nothing new would happen until the end of the half marathon.

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Sharing the experience with friend at the finish line

At last it was a finish line. I took a fifth place and my friends came 12th and 21st. My parent were delighted and I was really happy with my result myself. It took me 1 hour 35 minutes and 22 seconds in total to finish the distance of thirteen miles. It was real fun to participate in trail running event, there was no moment that I wouldn’t enjoy running in the countryside park in that nice weather. So next year I’ll see again if I’ll be able to beet my time!!! And now I need to go back to cycling as Transcontinental race is nearing and my bike for the race is ready.

Link

park_run

For a very long time running was and still remains my favourite. I would just go outside and head for my school stadium to run loops around it. It is a small stadium as far as I remember around 200 meters long. Now I’m not sure how many time I would circle it or for how long I would be running. One thing for sure I did enjoy it. There would be days when I would push myself to run as fast as possible and there would be those when I would just take my time, mostly it would be the days of ‘pushing myself’. As I would be doing it before the school starts it would be still very early very few people around. Honestly I would just remember my classmate’s parent coming a local priest and few other faces who would come and go in time. No one asked me to do this and I don’t really remember how did I decided to go out and run but as it started I didn’t really felt like I would like to stop it. It stopped after couple of years of running five morning a week my life style changed. Students life started. For a few years I wouldn’t be able to find time to go out and run but I really tried to start it again quite a few times but my efforts would fade away. And again, when my life style settled down I started running and then stopped and started and stopped and it would continue like that as the thought of just going out in to the fresh air, would it be sun shining or raining, and running would never leave me.

So far, until I moved to Portsmouth I used to run on my own, not going to any event or joining any clubs. Half year ago I started going to Southsea Parkrun. Friends would mention this event from time to time when they saw that I do like running. Eventually I came to decision to try it.

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At Parkrun

 

Parkruns are really great events organised all around UK and outside of it. They do take place at every Saturday morning nine o’clock. Groups of people gathering at the start line and while waiting for the start they are warming up or having a chat with other participants. You will see all kind of ability people coming to run. It’s not a race!! Run and enjoy. At nine o’clock everyone gets to listen to brief description of the five kilometres route we will run and the rules, health and safety part and of we go!

The great part of it is that it’s free event. Find your local Parkrun register at events website, get your number and you are ready to go. It does encourage people to come and run no matter in what shape you are. Front runners might go of to their full while others have an enjoyable jog or run with their children or even push buggies their little ones in them. Just run these five kilometers in on your own pace and enjoy it.

I did participate in four different Parkruns. My local one is Southsea and then I did visit Havant and Queen Elizabeth Park too. When I’m staying at my parents I do come to run at Ashford Parkrun. I love traveling and it’s really nice to have these organised runs all around the places. And they are all different too. Southsea one is flat, full speed seafront run while QE is gravel hilly and one of the hardest of four I have finished so far. Havant in a nice park and it does have some descends and climbs but far from QE. And Ashford has its own charm in Victoria Park. And they all have their own volunteers the run organizers fun great bunch of people without whom there would be no such a nice event. Thank You Parkrun volunteers! And participants are great too! Come a bit earlier meet familiar faces and have a chat or do that after you finish the run while catching your breath.

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People gathering for Southsea Parkrun

For me personally Parkrun did help to increase my running speed and it’s another extra reason to go out for one more run a week on Saturday morning. It’s a great fun and good start for a day. Now I’m preparing for my first official half marathon at Queen Elizabeth Park here in Hampshire on 3rd of April. It will be my first hilly gravel long distance run so I bought the shoes for this occasion and will do a bit more of the running with two weeks left to the event.  I must say that I was not doing lots of running for the last month, but that doesn’t worry me much it just the muscles needs to get used to long distances again. Lets see how will it goes.

Banana Bike

It’s all about my companion the bike that takes me all around: work, home and the places I haven’t discovered yet. A fixed gear bike (46×18), old vintage frame (1960’s) and a couple of nice modern wheels is all I really need roaming around South England.

DINNER FOR TWO

I started with 46×16 gear ratio, but decided to try a spinier one and I found it much more useful for the long hilly distance rides that I prefer to go for. The century rides became my favorites especially in a nice weather and with great company. My first 100 miles ride was on my 31st birthday in January and I just survived it as I was just a mere beginner to cycling world. In five moths time I had another real tryout going on a five days trip around North France making it around eighty miles every day. After that hundred milers became nice enjoyable rides, without too much of a struggle like the first one. Than at last with the summer going away me and my friend Kirill decided to go for 250 miles both riding fixed and we made it in one day!!! And all these rides and few other audax’es were done on Banana bike.

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Me and Kirill going for another adventure.

So the bike is alright  and I love it. It keeps me in shape, takes me to a new places and brigs new adventures.

Hello World

These are a few pictures from my adventures from the last year, my first proper cycling year. This year adventures will get much bigger with Scotland tip with my friends and of course Transcontinental Race in the plans. This site is started as to follow training an preparation of TCR4 and hopefully will continue to my other adventures.