Well its now 6 weeks to the day before our road trip and the time seems to be flying by. Got a bit of trip admin sorted today as my (or more properly, Skippy 2’s) CRIT’Air Air Quality Certificate arrived today. I only found out about this by chance but apparently to drive into Paris you now need to be showing this on your vehicle. I just need to decode the instructions on the verso. Skippy will be our support vehicle and so will be carrying our spares and food as well as going into Paris to retrieve the jubilant riders from under la Tour Eiffel.
Training is going well and we are now both pretty comfortable at racking up 40 km rides. that still leaves us a long way to go but after yesterdays Ebenezer route (Strava draws a picture of the route and yesterday portrayed a rather portly Abraham Lincoln/Ebeneezer Scrooge lookalike to depict our cycle),
I’m feeling pretty confident. We can usually rack up those 40km in a couple of hours so its just a matter of doubling that, and then repeating it for 4 days and it will be “jobs a goodun”.
We turned our thoughts yesterday to upping our game in terms of riding kit. Apparently a peak on your helmet is a bit of a no no for road bikes, so goodness only knows what they must think of my current practice of wearing one mountain bike shoe (cleatless, on my right foot) and one road bike shoe complete with cleat on my left foot, I don’t really care it helps me get used to the whole unclipping debacle that has in the past dumped me on the road a few times. I will get my act together and sort it within the next few rides.
We have also been experimenting with nutrition. Gels are a bit sticky, although the isotonic drinks are ok. The Snickers protein bars are a bit so so, and so its time to find something nice to recharge ourselves with. A small portion of mixed nuts was nice, next time it will be a tropical mix, hopefully matched by the weather.
A glorious sunny morning, a birthday gathering in the New Forest a great opportunity to spin the wheels and get some more training miles in. I read somewhere recently that training needn’t be a slog it should be enjoyed for what it is with the practice element as a by product. So we set off this morning with a destination in mind that was going to be a meeting point to celebrate a friends birthday. The practice turned out to be something unexpected. about 10 miles in it happened, a puncture and the opportunity to try out repairs at the roadside. Now I know it had to happen sometime and I’m quite pleased that it went ok but on a day when we were on a timeline to get to the meeting point before the surprisee, it wasn’t really the day to spend 15 minutes at the roadside.
Given the timing it was a good time to try something new, I foolishly wasn’t carrying a pump, but I was carrying a CO2 inflater. Hadn’t used one before, didn’t have any instructions but it was reasonably straightforward. The new inner tube went in ok the canister screwed on and the tyre inflated, the real surprise though was the supercooling effect that the canister is subjected to. That made me jump. 15 minutes and we were back on the road. Lesson learned, the pump at home in the garage is useless, its tricky to find the cause of a puncture at the side of the road but those little CO2 cans are a godsend.
So a little behind schedule but we made it to the meeting point just before the Birthday girl, although Dan is pretty poor at secrets so it wasn’t exactly a surprise for her. Its only the second time I’ve spent an afternoon in the forest and I was reminded what a great part of the world this is. Acres of open ground being freely enjoyed by families picnicing, walking, exercising dogs, playing ball games all having a good time. Every time I go into the Forest I’m surprised how nice it is and its quickly becoming a favourite place to cycle, (I’m even finding my way around better). Well a sunny afternoon flew by, the nutrition part of a training day fell by the wayside, victim to pate, french bread pork pies and all the usual picnic food.
There was a tentative plan to cycle back, and perhaps we should have but that went to pot around the second slice of gala pie, and so plan B was implemented practice loading the bikes onto Skippy and then home.
Another weekend more lessons learned, 7 weeks to go!
Another great weekend on the training front. I set myself the target of doing two good long runs on consecutive days. With an eye on the fact that we will be having to cover considerable distances each day, every day for four days the object was to feel good about getting back on the bike for a second day and I got there comfortably.
So the plan was just about getting miles in, I wasn’t fussed about where or how quickly just about being able to face the saddle again after a long session. After 60km on Saturday I was tired, no denying it. So when Sunday dawned and with aching knees getting back on the bike wasn’t an attractive proposition but a plan is a plan and on top of that I had spent Saturday evening swapping my pedals over so that my road bike shoes and cleats would work on the bike. Now its no secret that the cleats scare the living daylights out of me and so my thinking was to wear odd shoes on odd pedals so that I always had one foot free and therefore would reduce the likelihood of taking a tumble.
OK it looked a bit odd but training and practice are all about trying things out and so I took the opportunity to test out my new cleats. With one foot free I wasn’t quite as scared as I usually am. The new cleats (or more properly Cleat) felt good on my left foot and I tried to get my head into a place where as I changed down gear approaching potential stops, that I flicked my ankle to free up my foot. Mostly it worked but there is a junction approaching Sway where I just didn’t want to slow down, partly for fear of freeing up my foot, partly for not wanting to break my momentum, and I swept past my cycling buddy that Queen song popped into my head, “Don’t stop me now” and that was it firmly fixed in my head.
Enjoy this little blast from Queen and lets look forward to “Bicycle Race” or “Fat bottomed Girls” coming up on a blog near here
What a great bank holiday, best I’ve had in a long time. Little Bro visited, my folks were down, everyone played nicely and we had a great time. Even the weather has been pretty good, sure we had some terrific thunder storms but most of the rain was at night and the mornings were warm and dry.
So, little Bro has a new puppy the lovely Wandle a working cocker about 12 weeks old, this was his first weekend away and both dogs behaved really well together.
I’m not normally a fan of weather forecasts, preferring more to look out of the door and take whatever is there, however Sunday morning was pretty much spot on, forecast to be sunny till around mid day and then for rain, so we headed off to Steamer Point, our favourite beach for swimming (and it has a nice cafe for breakfast afterwards), got a swim in went for breakfast and met up with the folks. As predicted and bang on time the heavens opened and rain stopped play, we decamped indoors for the breakfast sarnies.
The Tarquin moment came when we went back to the happy van to get changed. In one of his earlier blogs little bro wrote about the vagaries of the lost property at his local pool and pondered on how some of the little luvvies from the local schools could mislay some fundamental items of clothing. So back at the van I’m all dressed and ready to go whilst Bro is turning the place upside down looking for his underwear. At the same time there seemed to be a pair of boxers in the footwell, that I didn’t recognise and he was adamant were not his (and regardless there are never spare pants on the floor). So there we go brotherly love now seems to extend to the sharing of underwear.
Back to the main event, the swim, the sea was as warm as I can remember for a swim, and it was the usual degree of visibility (zero), but at least we made a start on training for the forthcoming seahorse swim. Probably need to get a cycle or two in next in prep for Poole to Paris.
Twelve weeks today and we will be embarking on the 2017 challenge. So tonight I got on my bike and got some more miles in. I’ve found a fairly nice route that after a few miles gets into the forest and away from traffic so that was the basis of this evenings 40km. My mind generally wanders to all sorts of places but today has been a bit of an odd day work wise and I found I kept going over and over something that happened today. Eventually though I parked those thoughts and got into the cycling mindset. And then it was gone.
As you know my motivation for these challenges is to be a fundraiser for Planets, but I’m very aware that there are many other good causes out there and many other diseases that will probably get us all in the end. At the moment I’m very close to people suffering from the cruelty of Dementia and I have a former work colleague in a very dark place relating to breast cancer. It is so true that none of us are getting out of this life alive, but it also seems very cruel when you can see the suffering of so many diseases. One way or another something will get us all, possibly even the stepping under the proverbial bus. I said earlier on that my motivation is Planets, but there’s also an element of keeping myself fit, not only to add years to my life but also to add life to my years. I’m blessed in my life to have so many s friends and family that are good people, if Planets is your kind of thing then please donate, if another of these causes suits you better please help them out.
As well as Planets I personally will be supporting breast, testicular and prostate cancer causes and of course Alzheimer’s this year.
On a happier note my blank wandering mind tonight looking down at my carbon steed and trawling my seemingly endless head full of old 70’s and 80’s songs came up with this golden oldie. Enjoy this track from Nazareth.
So, had a couple of decent rides this week covering about 75km over the course of two days, which is both a source of pleasure as well as a bit of a source of concern. So let’s get the upside, down onto paper, (or whatever the electronic version of that is) first. Two rides, two days apart both of which were roughly two hours in the saddle and I’m still enjoying it. It was no walk in the park though and whilst I was still comfortable after both of them, it has come to dawn on me that for Poole to Paris, we are looking at 400km across 4 days and that means it’s a relentless cycle of eat, cycle, sleep and repeat and at the moment I don’t feel all that comfortable (perhaps that’s due to the way a certain part of my anatomy is aching) with that prospect.
I am though really looking forward to the trip, just need to feel like I can face the bike for 4 consecutive days. So back to the rides. I said last time that I enjoyed cycling in company, but for Saturday I was out there alone and its bit of a different experience but still enjoyable. When I’m on the bike on my own I find my mind wanders to all sorts of places so here are Saturdays thoughts. Firstly on that being alone thing, I’m very comfortable with my own company and spending time alone, in my youth I tended towards sports that were individual efforts, where you were responsible for your own successes or failures and while I was in both the school soccer and rugby teams (and just the once in the cricket team), I was also happy with cross-country or long, high or triple jumps. I think as I’ve aged I enjoy company more than I did.
Then, next my mind wandered to books. The book that first sprang to mind was Zen and the art of motorcycle mechanics, partly because it’s a road trip book (and one of the aspects of P2P, that I’m most looking forward to is that road trip element), partly because the author Robert Pirsig, recently passed away, and partly because its one of those classics that I had a couple of goes at reading and probably should revisit. For me books and films are entertainment at the time but very few stay in my memory in much detail. I have copies of a few books that I consider to be classics, Catch 22, Zen, and The Dice Man, although the latter of those I recently recommended to someone who didn’t enjoy it. But whilst I can’t remember the plot of any of those I can recall word for word the lyrics to a whole bunch of 35-year-old songs. I caught myself, on Friday evening singing along to firstly Top of the Pops 2 which featured the killing of Georgie (parts 1 & 2) and then there was a documentary about Carly Simon later in the evening, ending the speculation about who was the subject of “You’re so vain”, but back to the bike ride on Saturday it was a completely different song that popped into my head prompted by the amount of (or more properly the lack of) space that motorists seem willing to give to cyclists. And that gives me an excuse for todays bit of video because some of the motorists must think I’m the invisible man. (heres looking forward to some genuine French Courtoisie). Enjoy Queen
Well finally, on the eve of the 12 week countdown, after the washed out bank holiday, this evening we finally got a leg over the saddle, got our butts into gear (not a reference to the lycra cladding) and got on the road for a cycle. We agreed a meeting point and it was off into the new forest. For me that meant a short jaunt out of Ferndown, past the airport across the A338 (that bits a bit hilly on a bike) and into the outskirts of the forest.
I have to admit that as I saddled up the clouds went a bit grey dropped a few spots of rain and the wind picked up a bit and I wondered about the sanity of both the end objective but also going out this evening. These doubts evaporated quite quickly, and I had a sense of smugness as I sailed past the queuing traffic around the airport. A little waver as I crossed Avon causeway on some windy roads (that were also a bit windy) and then to meet Matt at the agreed RV point.
Matt uses the forest roads on a regular basis so he had a route in mind and we set off into the forest, what a glorious piece of countryside it is and you see some much more from a pushbike than you do in the car. There was very little traffic. The hills came and went the downhills were fun and the KM’s quickly racked up, its much more fun cycling with someone than it is on your own and we had a great hour in the forest before we reached a good point to go our separate ways. I’ve just noticed that when my watch tracks the route it colour codes sections, I can remember pretty much every turn of the pedals on the bit that is red, but that set us up for a nice downhill bit that is green.
I’m really getting used to and enjoying my new (to me) bike it is so light it pretty much flies and I still find myself wondering if theres not an extra loop or circuit that I can add to the route. As I came to the end of my route theres an uphill section, whichever way you go you have to gain some elevation and I mused it over as I approached Parley crossroads. Straight ahead, the climb is longer and less steep, swing right and the climb is shorter and steeper and with around 30km behind me I briefly wondered about taking the easier route. But then the steeper climb beckoned and the Ribble chose to go that way. A quick down shift on the gears and we were off, the climb which looked daunting at the bottom melted away and I was on the home straight. Two hours to cover 34km, that will do as a start.
Don’t forget that the point of the exercise for me is to raise funds for Planets, so if you can please do visit my page and make a donation, every little helps.
May bank holiday is upon us and although I’ve spoken to friends in other parts of the country who are basking in sunshine, Sadly that’s not the case today, or yesterday here in Poole. Now normally I wouldn’t mind a bit of rain, this is a beautiful part of the country and I count myself lucky to have so many fantastic natural features on my doorstep, the New forest on one side and beaches like Sandbanks, Bournemouth and Poole on the other, or The spectacular coastline of Old Harry a short hop away.
The rain takes the edge off of them slightly but nevertheless it’s gorgeous down here. However like many locals, we rarely go to them on Bank holidays, (unless we have visitors), preferring to avoid the influx of tourists and allowing the out of towners a brief glimpse of our heritage, so again a rainy bank holiday doesn’t really phase me. This time though I’ve only got about 13 weeks left to prepare for the 2017 challenge and I was really banking ( no pun intended) on getting out on my bike. Domestic duties prevailed on Saturday as a garden fence was in need of some paint and so the sunniest day of the holiday was swallowed up applying Silver Copse (the silver in the blog title, which doesn’t refer to my hair colour) to that leaving me free on both Sunday and Monday to do some cycling. The weather gods though had different ideas and it poured down most of Sunday and while Monday started off with a blaze of sunshine, by the time I was about to go out it had started to rain again. I guess the climate in Northern France offers no guarantees of sunshine in July, but if there’s no need then I’m not In a hurry to cycle in the rain here. So plan b, yet again I’m resorting to the trusty indoor steed and pedalling out a few km on the stationary bike instead. Looking out of the window the sun is trying to chase the clouds away but too late for me today, perhaps I ‘ll get some miles in one evening later this week. So 27km 60 minutes indoors will have to do.
Ps, I haven’t really got the blues, life is too good to let it rain on your parade, but it’s a good excuse to break out the classic Miles Davis. Enjoy
Happy bank holiday!
Watching the London Marathon for me is an incredibly emotional event and yesterdays was no different. It was the very first one in 1981 that inspired me to take on challenges, I’ve never yet secured a place at London and my running days are quite probably well behind me but today I was reminded of the very first Marathon I ran. It was in Huntingdon (my home town at the time) and it was that same year 1981. I didn’t carry a lot of weight in those days, apart from all that hair but I’ve never really had the knees for running as this picture shows.
The pictures from yesterday of the camaraderie were
spectacular. So back to the challenge in hand, Poole to Paris, I’m still under the weather with man flu so still sadly lacking in saddle time but I have given some thought to the preparation, what kit and spares to take all that’s really left now is to get on the bike. This picture also reminds me that I don’t have a great history of preparing, preferring in many ways to fly by the seat of my pants, doing just enough but not necessarily over preparing, although I’ve learnt he hard way that sometimes it pays to put in the miles. For instance on that first marathon, the longest training run I ever did was around 13 miles when all the seasoned runners tell you that you should do plenty more than that. My tactic came home to roost when I confronted the infamous runners wall (surprisingly) at around 13 miles when I really felt I couldn’t go on. Sadly on the Huntingdon course in those days that 13 mile mark was the most lonely isolated part of the course going through “the Thicket” at Hemingford and it was particularly bereft of encouraging crowds making it all too easy to slow the pace. So 14 weeks to go before those pictures under the Eiffel Tower, really must crack on.
Todays blog title on the face of it risks dating myself by referring to a children’s TV show (Blockbusters) that started in the 1980’s, but stick with it (theres lots of other ways to show your age). And actually I just found out that although it started with Bob Holness in 1983 it had a fairly long run and was actually hosted (albeit only once) by Simon Mayo as recently as 2012. A quick you tube search does though find evidence that “I’d like a P please Bob” wasn’t the urban myth that I’d always imagined it to be.
Anyway I digress, still stricken with man-flu which is seriously hampering my training regime, I have decided that if I can’t get out on the bike then I will employ the 5 P’s principle, and turn my attention to getting as prepared as I can (Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance) I’m sure theres a 6th P but as this is a family blog I’ll leave that to the imagination. Coincidentally I saw a Facebook post today quoting Mungo Jerry (from, In the summertime, and now a Dorset resident) saying “the best way to get ahead is to get started”. So if I can’t get on the bike I’ll start by making sure I’m as prepared as I can be. To be honest I’m not really sure what that entails, having never taken on a challenge like this its difficult to know what we might need. Puncture and repair kits, basic tools and spares, route, nutrition (probably best left till nearer to the time), cycling kit, sunnies and sun cream (hopefully). Do you know what with 14 weeks to go I think its best to just get in the saddle and get some miles covered. In the meantime enjoy one of these blockbuster clips. I’ll give you a clue the Sweet were one of my favourite bands back in the day and this track was one of their best (although Wig Wam Bam was probably better)