Well I’ve done it. Bought another bike.
The Dolan has served me well for a first road bike, especially since it had never been my intention to get a carbon framed one that early in my cycling life.
But things move on and I had been very impressed with the Specialized Ruby that I hired in Texas. It had come down to a choice between that and the Giant Avail Advanced, but with the latter being now unavailable until 2014, I went with the Ruby.
Seems like I’ve fallen into my old ways of “forgetting” to post again, so it’s time to redress that. Since returning from Texas my cycling has been a bit fits and starts – partly because of the weather, and partly because at this time of year work is a tad hectic because we are winding up classes for the academic year. This is always accompanied by students you have seldom seen suddenly materialising and expecting to be able to do twelve weeks’ work in a day and then getting huffy when you suggest they can’t just copy what their pal has written. But that is another story, and no doubt one that is universal.
Cycling events in May were mostly local, but involved my first century ride of the year. (It was actually only about 97 miles but that’s near enough and I am claiming it on the basis of not having switched the Garmin on while I searched the length and breadth of the Royal Mile looking for a toilet.)
Now many people are put off doing outdoor activities by a little rain. Even cyclists in fact. And most people would be put off doing outdoor activities by a lot of rain. Even cyclists. So when I woke up on Saturday May 11th to an absolute deluge going on outside my window, why on earth did I then yawn, stretch and think “Time to get ready to go and cycle round Arran”
Now if you have been paying any sort of attention on here, you’ll have noticed that I had a less than successful trip round Arran not but a few weeks ago, where I used the excuse of “tired after my Texas trip” to justify cycling like a five year old girl. So what possessed me to think that I could do any better in torrential rain? Well actually it was probably the thought that I couldn’t do any worse that made me head off on the 8.43am train. That and the knowledge that the company would be good.
One of the biggest benefits of the Scott Contessa school is that it has given me new circle of cycling friends to go out with, most of whom are of my own ability level or slightly better. I have managed to go out on several occasions now with all or some of them at a time and I honestly believe tha my own ability has increased because of it. This includes the marvellous occasion a few weeks back when we set off from East Kilbride in glorious sunshine only to pass across a definite snow line an hour later. Quarter of an hour after than I realised that I could not get my left cleat to engage. A closer inspection reveal a hard-packed lump of ice which just would not come out. An early coffee stop allowed me to remove the shoe and heat it up over the cafe heater long enough to then prise out the ice block with the end of my coffee spoon – none of which was at all hygienic.
Well after the buzz and great cycling of Texas, I came down to earth with somewhat of a bang on Saturday. Our club had arranged a trip over to Arran – 56 miles round and a fair bit of climbing – and I had suggested that I led a slower group round. So far so good. What I hadn’t anticipated was having probably the worst ride of my cycling life so far, an event which culminated in my “leading£ the slower group from the back. It may have been the journey and the lack of sleep catching up with me, but I struggled up even small hills and often had to pause to gather strength or, as happened on too many occasions to mention, just get off and push. I managed to get sufficient second wind after the lunch stop at Blackwaterfoot to make a decent fist of the second section of the ride, including the hoick up over the Boguile hill. I even managed a decent 20mph sprint at the end into Brodick, but I rather suspect the sight of the cars piling on to the ferry in the distance provided the real spur for that.
Below are just a few of the impressions of Texas that I gained from my brief but productive visit. It is of course easy to see through rose-coloured spectacles when you are a “tourist” on a short visit, but I came away with a very positive view of the lone star state.
Another ridiculously early start loomed, just, of course, as I’d stopped shivering in the tent and had actually dropped off to sleep. It was actually warmer outside it than inside so getting up wasn’t a hardship at all. After a light breakfast we all lined up ready for the off at 7am. At 8am we eventually got out of the site – a long wait but passed in relative warmth and a bit of fun as a beach ball appeared from nowhere and was passed about the long queue of waiting cyclists. I had opted for the easier route as the sciatica attack I’d suffered during the previous week had started to niggle a bit. The challenge route included the only major hills in the event, getting up to a 9% at times. Both routes came together again at the lunchtime stop at Bastrop.
Well, what a week that was. Having packed the case well in time then unpacked it eight times to check I’d had packed it right, I set off for Glasgow Airport at ridiculous o’clock on the morning and arrived – because such is the small size of Scotland and such is the lack of traffic at that time – at ridiculous o’clock plus ten minutes. With no delays at all we left wet and windy Glasgow headed for Amsterdam where I met up with Harriet. We soon embarked on to a monster of a plane in which we we to be the guests of KLM for the next ten hour, and after s long, boring haul later and we touched down in Houston. And saw it was wet and windy. Oh the irony.
Well it’s been a funny three weeks or so – very busy at work and the weather hasn’t exactly leant itself to cycling. I had a few good uns though, including a route which started in East Kilbride in sunshine but which encountered snow on the high ground. I must have put my foot down in it at some point as I ended up not being able to get my pedal engaged because the cleat had filled with snow to the point where it had formed a hard-packed circle of ice. Then amazingly three days later my friend Jacky and I had a good mid-week run in glorious sunshine and a total lack of the bothersome winds of the past few weeks. This was continued some extent (sunshine a bit more spasmodic) on the Saturday when I had agreat ride round the Three Lochs route with the combined GRCM and Spokes groups. Only 40 miles in total but it involved a challenging climb up out of Loch Striven – one which hits 20% at one point. I didn’t make it up in one go but coped not too badly. The route includes some decent flat fast sections, some hilly stretches and some smashing scenery. I am now a mere five miles off 1500 for the year, which is pretty much where I wanted to be if I am to equal my 5000 miles of 2010.
But now my attentions are turning to my Texas trip. We leave this Thursday and the ride is Saturday and Sunday. Excited? Me? Never! 🙂
Well since we last spoke several good things have happened: First, I had a short but very pleasant long weekend on Islay to celebrate the *says number in a very low voice*th birthday of my lovely husband, George. Apart from the birthday celebrations, I managed a couple of decent rides and notched up about 70 miles between them. On the Sunday I joined up with the Velo Club d’Ardbeg for a 25mile ride that was made “interesting” by the relentless wind. It is a curious phenomenon of the west of Scotland that every wind seems to be a headwind irrespective of which way one is facing. And with its geographical location, Islay tends to get a fair bit of wind. On Sunday I am convinced I could have leant backwards into the wind at a 45degree angle without falling over. It certainly made the outward leg of the ride character building as we pedalled frantically to compensate. Which is fine had it not been for the fact that we were going downhill at the time. Admittedly when we were heading in the other direction we could almost literally have put our feet up and not needed to pedal. Heyho. At least the sun was shining through it all. The second ride was a 40 miler from Port Charlotte to Port Ellen and back to Bridgend on the high road. Not particularly hilly but enough to make it interesting. Funnily enough, the last time I cycled this route I struggled on a few of the lumpy bits so I am claiming this as progress having been made. I’d have liked to have done more miles but I’d arranged to meet the rest of the family for lunch. That and the small matter of an aeroplane to catch.
Which brings me to the next good thing. Upon my return home, I extricated an interesting looking letter from the bundle and found therein an offer from my employers of a 0.5 permanent contract. Long time readers of this blog will know that I have been on a temporary contract for some five years now, so this offer comes as a massive relief to me. And indeed to my bank balance.
So, perhaps there’s some truth in the old saying about good things coming to those who wait.