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The Largely Irrelevant Weight-loss ticker

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

2010 Cheshire Cat

I remember last years Cheshire Cat somewhat less than fondly. My training (you couldn't call it that, really) was ineffective, and my preparations worse. Riding my miles in the form of a 200km ride once a fortnight was not working. My weight was gargantuan, and the Cat found me out.

I was a little more hopeful this year, what with a stone coming off as a result of the diet, and the sufferfest training me for digging in when the going gets tough. Additionally, this year the climbs were at the start of the ride, and not at the end.

Leaving home almost before it got light, we managed to park in the Car Park next to the ground, and got a late-ish breakfast prior to registering and taking our places in the start melee. Brett & I stayed roughly together until the turn at the bottom of Mow Cop where he disappeared whilst I was getting my head together. The last I saw of him before the finish was as he disappeared round the first of the bends at the bottom whilst trying to avoid the attentions of a random dog. Retreating into climbing mode, I took it easy all the way up, finally rising from the saddle at the foot of the steep bit, only to return to my seat once past the pub to crest the hill feeling relatively comfortable. What on earth has happened to me? I nearly died on that climb last year. This year the St John's Ambulance didn't even reach for the defibrillator.

Once over the top, I was overtaken by a number of people as I descended tentatively. Early in the season I am always a great wuss until I get used to the feel of the bike on fast descents again. Further riders passed on the climb to Bridestones, but many stayed around me all the way to the top. I was definitely climbing better, and looking like breaking the 8 hours total time predicted by Memory Map. The climb up the back of Gun Hill was as long as I remembered, but not as much of a struggle, and the few sharp drags prior to Feed 1 were also well dispatched. Arriving at feed 1, I checked the (noisy) front hub, and exited without food having stayed a scant 36 seconds. Wincle was the last climb, and in my opinion the hardest as it does go on a bit. Nevertheless, I didn't walk. I didn't pass those who were walking either, but I did stay riding.

Once out onto the flat stuff, the presence of the wind became apparent as it was opposing us most of the way to the third control beyond Holmes Chapel at Malpas. Many groups passed, and I even got onto some for a while. Unfortunately, I still didn't get my drinking strategy right, only consuming 1 litre of fluid in the whole ride. This is still something I have to work on, but still a factor of being on the ragged edge of my ability trying to hold the faster groups. The minute I reach for the bottle, I break rhythm and lose the group. So I don't reach for the bottle.

Judicious positioning of effort let me attack most of the drags on this section, still gradually increasing my average speed well inside 8 hour pace. I now know many of these roads from frequent audaxes, and this does help, knowing where to dig in, and where to just grind it out. Once through Church Minshull, and onto the long course, things got more lonely as many seemed to be doing the 67 miler. Still, there was the occasional group, and I ensured that these would pass more than once by trying to hold on, and visiting the feeds only fleetingly.

Once out of Malpas, we swung with the wind and as the speed increased, my GPS ran out of battery power. I knew that I was well up on 8 hour pace, but now had to push without knowing either the time, or the remaining distance. It was still a surprise to me that I could find riders going at roughly my speed even at this stage. Normally, the final stages of a Sportive are a lonely affair for fat blokes. Passing through Audlem, I hit the gas for the last time, finding later that I averaged close to 18 mph from here to the finish. As soon as the football stadium became visible, the head went down, and the speed was cranked up, but by the time I crossed the line the legs were completely gone.

Returning to the car, I discovered that Brett did not have a Mow Cop medal, having been de-seated by someone weaving in from of him. Unlucky! There's nothing you can do in those circumstances. I'm more fortunate, I'm never fast enough to run into people.

Today's sanitised results seem to indicate just over 1,000 riders who may be considered to have finished the 100 mile route. In my mind, the only time that matters is the elapsed time, not the on-the-road time as published by Kilotogo. Certainly, that's what I was targeting on Sunday. I was incredibly happy not only to break 8 hours, but to return within 7, clocking an overall time of 6:52:52, which puts me 402 of the 1022 I believe completed the 100.

I am delighted. I have very few rides of which I am proud:
The Etape 2008
2008 Etape du Dales (8:30:13)
2008 Circuit of the Cotswolds (one and only Silver)
2008 Cat (6:34 but 10km less and 300m less climb)

I now have one more.

Cheshire Cat 2010 6:52:52 402/1022 riders. Done!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Close Encounters of the Third 'Stuff'

'Stuff' does indeed come in threes.

Last night I cleaned my bike after the crudfest that was Sunday's ride. The drive train sounded like a bag of bolts.

It's been a while since last I bought spares, but I will need:
1 new middle chain ring
1 new cassette
1 new chain
possibly 2 new jockey wheels.

This will not happen prior to the Cheshire Cat, it will be cleaned up and re-lubricated for that. There seems little point in getting new kit given this weekend's weather forecast.


Sunday, 21 March 2010


that 'stuff' doesn't really come in threes.

Last Saturday, I lent my eldest son my hybrid bike for Uni. By Monday he was phoning in a right state to inform me it no longer had any wheels. That will teach us not to remember it has (or at least had) quick releases on both wheels.

Good news. I now know how to assemble wheels with disc brakes. They even work, as does the new rear cassette what I fitted myself. Thanks Chain Reaction Cycles, you did me proud.

I arrived home after today's 99 miles to be greeted by son number 3. Any conversation that starts with "Dad, you're not going to like this" inevitably ends badly. His rear derailleur on his MTB was in his rear spokes. One of the pivots had failed, and the derailleur had effectively exploded. Since the bike had been effectively dragged home, the rear tyre is also no longer salvageable.

Dear Chain Reaction Cycles, I would like:
1 new rear derailleur (cheap)
1 new chain
1 new Schwalbe Fat Frank Tyre

I would also like to know how to fit a new rear derailleur. I guess I'm about to find out.

Lets also hope that 'stuff' number 3 is just a puncture.

Mixed fortunes

Thursday's pronouncement was that I am not yet fully diet free, though I may relax its stringent rules, especially on ride days. (I may have taken advantage of that a little today....)

3 more weeks of tablets, but that should see me clear. All I have to do then is continue to lose weight.......

Yesterdays intended 150km ride fell by the wayside......so we did it today. And what a day! Foggy to start, glorious sunshine for the rest of it. My wife came out with us, and even considered doing the whole route before common sense prevailed. Given my state on finishing, she was absolutely right.

I spent much of yesterday fettling. I fixed a Carradice to the seatpost, and fitted the crudracer guards to the Trek for today's ride so that I could assess suitability for LeJoG. It appears the crudracers will be great in wet weather, but with minimal clearance on 'cruddy' March lanes, they fill up with crud which rapidly become a very effective drag brake. That apart, I think they'll be fine once the Winter grot has dissipated. The carradice was filled with heavy stuff I didn't need to provide a proper feel (and additional training), and appears to be fine. I shall be LeJoG-ing on the Trek for speed. Whether the Human-Bicycle Interface can survive may be questionable.

Today's route took us out of Tamworth, through the Staffs lanes beyond Burton, and up to a first control near Alton Towers. Since it is sufficiently early that the park is still closed, it was pleasantly quiet. Additionally, on the way, we had splendid views of the Derbyshire Dales, before plummeting down to Rocester. The amateur naturalists also spotted Curlews, and the elusive English Partridge, not its imported European cousin. Educational stuff indeed.

Then, after the control, the 'fun' started. Anyone who has ever ridden a Geoff Cleaver Audax knows to expect 'fun'. In this case, it was the next section to Cannock Chase, and more particularly the climb of Greendale. This is not the Greendale of Postman Pat. This one is EVIL. Not only is the road steeply chevronned on the map, but it is covered in potholes, gravel, and various forms of excreta. At least these fill the worst of the potholes, but the whole climb had to be taken seated to avoid spinning the rear wheel. That set the stage for the remaining section which, while not as bad, took its toll on the tired legs. We did at least get good views over the Wrekin towards the Welsh border and we are early enough in the year that the following ford had not had time to become green with weeds, and could be safely negotiated.

Cannock Chase was as steep as I remember, though we did get up onto the top a way I had not ridden before. Good climb, I'll be back. The remaining 50km was thankfully flatter, though I felt stronger as the ride progressed.

Eventual finish was in just over 10 hours, including cafe stops (plural) for 99 miles ridden. Not a century, but that will come in next weeks Cheshire Cat. I hope I'm ready.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Weigh in 18th March

Tonight is the 'long' awaited (seems like a long time) rematch with the physician to assess whether I can be released from the diet or not. It's strange, but having kept to it now for just over 5 weeks without a single lapse, I suspect I may keep it going anyway. At least, I'll keep it going when I'm not on a long ride. I think I might just have to fuel properly to be able to keep riding.

This mornings weigh-in delivered an unexpected loss of 1.6kg, despite a lunch out on Monday. Just goes to show that even the choices one makes when faced with an extensive all-you-can-eat buffet can make a difference.

Hopefully, I can be doing the Cheshire Cat at around 104kg, and starting the Etape du Dales in May at below 100 would be great. I remember what Fleets Moss was like last year hauling 110kg. Not good.

Miles ridden since last Thursday are precisely zero, leaving me on 606 for the year to date, when the average required for my 5,000 mile target would have me on 1,050 by the end of this week. In an attempt to eat into the 444 mile deficit, I shall be checking one of my April Audax routes on Saturday for 97 miles, and hopefully getting out on the road with my wife on Sunday for another 25-ish. Lets see if the weather will let me.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Mixed Fortunes

Following last weekends bonk-shortened ride, I have only managed to get out 2 lunchtimes this week, though on both occasions we completed the full 19 mile loop from the office.

This route is far from hilly, but it isn't flat either, containing 236 meters (775 feet) of climbing over its full course, including two short bits at 10%. Enough to make a fat bloke out of breath. Tuesday saw three of us out, and judicious slipstreaming saw me back in 1:02:30, which I thought must be close to a PB over that course. Looking back, I note that in Etape year, I did 1:02:00 on two occasions, so I just missed it. Given that Tuesday was fairly windy, I was not too unhappy.

Thursday saw our number reduced to just two, but without the wind being so strong, I got back in 1:00:49 for another decent improvement. Just shy of 19mph over the hour, as the course is fractionally over 19 miles. Chuffed.

Thursday was weigh-in day, too, for another 1kg (2.2lb) loss in the week. Even better, I got my dates wrong, and I might be free to carbo-load on rides from this coming Thursday, a week earlier than I was counting on.

The only down side, is that I read a couple of days ago that heavy exercise whilst calorie restricted can be detrimental to the immune system. I should never have read it, I now have a cold.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

At Last!

A glorious sunny day, at a weekend and not a day when I'm stuck in the office.

I got onto the road at 9:20, at the same point my wife was leaving in the car. "It's minus two degrees" she called. I had already noticed despite all the layers. Nevertheless, I managed to stay tolerably warm for most of the ride, though the toes were complaining a bit for the first couple of hours.

My intention was to ride a 100km course from home, with a bit of climbing over Cannock Chase. The climbing certainly happened. However, with the day warming up, I phoned home to inform Mrs H that I would cut short, and we would both go out after lunch.

The best laid plans etc, etc. Within 2 miles I started to feel the departure of the legs, and immediately laid into the apple and pear I was carrying with me. These are pretty much the only items not on the banned list that I can take with me on a ride.They do not reach the parts that Carbo Bars, Gels and Cafe Stops are so effective at reaching.

Within 2 more miles a full-on energy bonk was in progress, and for the last 7 miles home all I could do was watch the average speed tumble. Arriving home just in time for dinner, I almost collapsed into it twice when eating, it was all I could do to hold my head upright. 60 minutes snooze in the sunshine helped, but the afternoon ride was never going to happen.

I am therefore shelving any plans to ride the Jodrell Bank Sportive next week, as I simply couldn't finish without proper fuelling, and proper fuelling is impossible on this diet. I will have to content myself with shorter rides until normal intake is restored on the Thursday prior to the Cheshire Cat (sounds like a good excuse for Hut based carbo-loading if I ever heard one).

Today's Stats
90.5km (56 miles)
Average speed 23.6kmh (14.6mph) Not bad, considering
Bonks 1

I estimate, though, that the ride burned about 2,000 calories toward the weight loss cause. Lets find out on Thursday.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

A week of mechanicals

But thankfully none of them mine.

I have managed 4 rides this week, 2 on Turbo, 2 on road, so the energy levels seem to be returning. Certainly, the weight lost is noticeable by its absence on the gentler inclines even if not on the steep stuff yet.

With the weather finally relenting, we've got out at lunchtime for each of the last 2 days into the sunny Warwickshire lanes. Yesterdays intended 19 miler was curtailed by Brett losing a crank on the descent from the 'Col de Loxley'. Luckily he stayed on the bike despite being one handed eating an energy bar at the time. By the time it was reattached (non-permanently) time had elapsed and we had to short-cut back to the office. Perhaps this time he will get it fixed properly.......

On today's ride, we were doing well until Chris was visited by the puncture fairy 5 miles from home. He went to the saddle bag, only to find the zip welded shut by the effects of salt over the Winter. I am now down one inner tube and a CO2 canister, but at least we got 15 miles in at an average of almost 18mph including some climbing.

And today was weigh-in day. No dietary slips at all this week, and another 1.8kg lost (4lbs) so I am now under 17 stone again. Next stop 104.5kg, which will be half way to my target of 95.

Mmmmm Ryvita!