2011 miles ticker

The Largely Irrelevant Weight-loss ticker

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Christmas is cancelled - again

Today, Sunday 31st January, was supposed to be the re-run of the Whitegate Xmas Audax postponed due to bad weather on the Sunday prior to Christmas.

Having spent most of yesterday faffing, getting cold weather gear together etc, the car was loaded last night ready for an early off this morning.

Not to be. Snow overnight, and more forecast meant that we bottled out. As did most others it seems.

Never mind. Better a missed ride than 3 months of missed rides waiting for bones to heal.

300 miles for January, down on last year, but last year wasn't quite as cold.

Hopefully we'll make it out for a longish one on Saturday and I shall do the Stratford CC reliability ride next Sunday. 54 miles of Cotswold loveliness. Looking forward to it.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

There are mermaids in my fridge

luring me with their siren-like song towards the jagged rocks of cheese and biscuits upon which many a diet past has foundered.

Or at least that's what it feels like now that my body is craving carbs (effectively craving anything edible) after successfully commuting both ways in the last 24 hours. 80 miles added to the ticker has to be a good thing but crikey doesn't it get cold in January?!

I managed to leave work before 5 yesterday, helping to avoid most of the traffic on the 'B' road out of Stratford, getting into country lanes before most of the lemmings had left their desks. Things were OK until about 5:30, then the temperature plummeted and I became painfully aware that the two pairs of socks I was wearing were not really up to the job.

My mind was distracted from complaining about my feet about 20km in when I was almost de-throned. Not, as you might expect, by a vehicle, nor even human error, but by a rampaging feral badger. I was cruising downhill, minding my own business, when there was a huge rustling and breaking of branches in the hedge to my left. Said badger apparated into the road in a flurry of fur, teeth and claws and promptly proceeded to set about me for being in its way. Swift evasive manoeuvres left it trailing in my wake, stood in the middle of the road with a "come back here and try it, mate!" look on its face.

Thankfully, the rest of the ride passed incident-free, and I got home in 2:48 for an average of about 14mph. Not spectacular, but the use of the Supernova on the Dynohub does create about 10 watts of drag, which tends to add up over distance.

All too soon, the radio alarm proclaimed 5 a.m. and it was time to set off again. I'm not the best in the early morning, evidenced by walking into the partially open garage door. Thankfully, I had already put my helmet on, so no real harm ensued. -3c when I started. -3! Who, in their right mind, rides 40 miles to work when its -3? Answer: Anyone who left their car at work yesterday and doesn't have a choice.

Initial progress was slow, but improved as it got light and I turned the dynamo off, and I was uplifted prior to Stratford as a Barn Owl flew out of a copse and flew down the road in front of me for 100 yards. You don't get that in a car on the motorway. 2:54 for the journey back to work, mainly due to my own fatigue, but still under the 3 hours I always set myself. I really could have done with fewer meetings today though, staying awake was a struggle.

I'm off to bed early now. Best not to go into the kitchen, I can hear singing coming from the fridge.....

Monday, 25 January 2010

Little & Often

About this time last year, I was in full Audax mode, completing 3 events in January totalling about 350 miles.

Unfortunately, that was all I was doing, and without training in-between, those miles were of little benefit. With the regime threatening to slip, I managed to get out and do 30+ miles on Saturday but 5,000 in the year will not do itself, so action is needed.

This Sunday is the delayed Whitegate Christmas Audax, a low key event with little support, but a total of 115km (71 miles) towards the cause. Mrs H will also be along for her longest ride to date. It is perhaps worrying at this juncture that her bike is threatening to misbehave. Her bottom bracket is clunking, and needs to be serviced (imagine at this point, if you will, a Sid James 'Hurr-Hurr' Carry on Cycling type laugh).

Joking aside, the Trek is going to see the nice man at 'local' bike shop tomorrow, possibly for a hollowtech transplant/upgrade. Therefore the plan is:
1. Take bike(s) to work in car
2. Deliver bike to bike shop
3. Leave car in work car park
4.Cycle home
5.Cycle back on Wednesday morning
6.Pick up bike
7.Take bikes home in car

This will be my first ever January commute, and will add valuable miles to the January cause. It will also enable me to test the upgrades to my Supernova E3 dynamo light which is now repaired and upgraded back from Germany.

So what? A commute to work and back. Problem is, it's 40 miles each way.

Therefore, by Sunday, I should have exceeded January 2009's total of 350, a month in which I rode 2 x 200km audaxes. Another object lesson (if I ever needed one) that regular exercise and training is the only way to go.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Spiralling Downwards

After an intended rest day yesterday, I had set myself the target of completing the Sufferfest Downward Spiral this evening, but on arriving back from work, felt not the least bit like it.

Nonetheless, I did the difficult stuff and set up the Turbo and got changed. I often find this bit the most difficult bit of all. Once I'm clad in ridiculous looking lycra, and the turbo program is running, I might as well do it. Sure enough, once the fumping choons started, the legs were hitting the cadence of the beat, and I was off.

A week is a long time in politics, or so they say. It is also a long time in terms of training benefit (obviously) and this regime, if kept to, might actually make a half-decent (veteran) cyclist out of me.

I was helped this week by the fact that my ingenious wife worked out how to get both the SF video and the Tacx Catalyst running together on screen (yes, she too has been sneakily sufferfesting) and this week I could monitor my output by stats more than by feel. The results speak for themselves (last week in brackets)

Average Speed 31.0kmh (28.3)
Distance 31.899km (29.326)
Calories 655 (556)
Cadence 80.6 (75)

Chuffed but knackered.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Mudguards and layers

Very much the order of the day, but a morning of sunshine in such a January as this cannot be ignored.

We've had a very pleasant 50km tootle round the lanes, complete with the obligatory bacon butty from the Hub Cafe at the National Forest Centre at Rosliston (close to top of the bacon butty Hall of Fame) mostly following the route of the National Forest 50 Audax I'm running in August (early plug).

First ride of the year, first time my wife has ridden through floods (3) though thankfully these were very shallow, and first time she has ridden through ice (slushy and not too much of it). It's on mornings like today that we are reminded why we have bikes, and return to questioning why we think Turbo trainers are good. The reason, by the way, we think turbo trainers are good is so that we can train in readiness to attack the small hills around our rides. I could even hear the starting pistol at the bottom and see "ATTACK!" in red in front of my eyes (Fight Club has a lot to answer for).

Just occasionally on mornings like this morning, following periods of enforced incarceration in our houses, there comes a moment of clarity when we realise just how good it is simply to be outside and breathing (heavily). It's easy to lose sight of the fact that a house is just somewhere to provide protection from the elements when they are bad, and to view it as somewhere we should be most of the time. We didn't evolve to be shut up indoors, its just our 'intelligence' that allows us to do what comes unnaturally.

I'm outside again, and loving it!

Wednesday, 13 January 2010


I have survived the Downward Spiral, though I will admit only to doing the advertised intervals (you'll understand when you've done it).

After last nights debacle I deliberately didn't kill myself on the first set, and that kept me going through to the last set. Overall the intervals ran at about 280 watts, so that was quite a bit down on yesterday. I could push the shorter intervals a bit more, going up over 400 on the very short ones.

Overall stats showed 29.3km and 555 calories burned, but very different calories to the steady state efforts I have been doing.

Haven't looked at the other video yet but obviously I couldn't tell you if I had (first rule of Fight Club is never talk about Fight Club.....)

I'm going to shower and sleep now.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Hells Bells!!

I just tried the Downward Spiral from Sufferfest.

I couldn't finish it. I couldn't even finish the first set of intervals. By the time I got to the 45 second interval my heart rate was at max and not coming down on the warm-downs. Game over.

Tomorrow I must try to go further.

That said, in the 23 minutes I survived, wattage peaked at 525 and was kept above 300 for the first 2 minute interval, total calories were 225 (not many I know) and 11km covered. If I can get to the point where I can finish one of these, I will know that I'm much fitter. That and the fact that perhaps at the moment I don't need to push it quite as hard.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

'Proper' training

About this time last year, I was regularly complaining about 'not going well' despite finishing all the events I started.

Looking back this is unsurprising. I was not 'up for' the cycling at all and was somewhat just going through the motions to achieve the goals I'd set myself. Consequently, although I was getting in the miles, these were all on 200km Audaxes (or thereabouts) with absolutely nothing ridden in between.

Quite obviously, this training (lack of a) regime is more Christopher Biggins than Bradley Wiggins, and so it proved.

This year is proving different. I'm a few miles down on last year already, but way ahead in terms of both training, fitness and enjoyment.

I'm even enjoying the turbo, even if I didn't make it to the top of the Galibier on the Fortius Video this morning, coming up about 8km short in 2 hours from the bottom of the Telegraphe. That said, 2 hours, 15 miles and 1200 calories is training enough for icy grip of a snowy January. With continued lard-avoidance, the weight may also be moving in the right direction.

I'm determined that this year I will give the Cheshire Cat and the Etape du Dales a much better go, having suffered on both last year. Hopefully the moving of Mow Cop to 26km into the ride rather than 66km will be better suited to me too. Getting the climbs out of the way early may mean I can grab a tow (or two) when we get out onto the flat stuff.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Caning it

In the midst of the 'bleak midwinter' it would be very easy to hit the sofa and stay there. Lets face it, I've had plenty of practice at doing just that.

Not so this year (at least thus far). The turbo is set up overlooking the snowy wastes, and I have hit it 4 times so far this year (every other day). When I get round to it, I will program the equivalent of a ramp test, so I can judge what my maximum output is, but until then, I'll just pretend to be content with steady base miles.

That said, tonight's 25km was supposed to be steady, but I somewhat lost the plot with 2km to go. I came over a bit Bradley Wiggins (in my mind at least) with the last 2km in 3:00 dead at an average wattage output of 322. I will admit that my heart rate was at its theoretical maximum of 174 for the last 30 seconds but I feel great now. Perhaps this training stuff might actually work?

I've already come to the conclusion that the most difficult part of training is getting changed in the first place. Once you've done that it's quite easy to just get on with it.

Can't wait for sunshine and dry roads, though.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Hello 2010

Welcome, gentle reader (if there is actually anyone out there) to the 2010 attempt to do stupid amounts of exercise and just possibly lose some weight.

I hope that this blog will grow over the year to something worth reading, and that in some small way it helps to keep me heading in the right direction and even prove to some of the couch-potato wannabe Bradley Wiggins's that anythings possible with a little willpower and a temporary suspension of disbelief.

Onwards (and, of course) upwards.