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.
It’s been a mixed week. I had a very pleasant ride with Sandra, a new cycling friend on Wednesday in which I clocked up my 1000th mile of 2013 and managed my first proper long ride of the year too. We set out in a fog which fortunately lifted to reveal the big yella thing which provided a welcome bit of heat. Ironically, it actually became quite irritating as we found ourselves travelling the final ten miles or so looking directly into it. We also, bizarrely, cycled along one piece of road where clearly the sun doesn’t shine as was evident from the little piles of snow along the road edge. 47.5miles cycled in total with about a third of that being on undulating terrain an with a couple of steepish ascents thrown in.
Saturday saw another excellent session with Scott Contessa Road Race Academy, the culmination of which was a 3-Up TT along the Georgetown Road. And our team in the 3-Up TT did pretty well – all four of us. 😉 We managed an average of 17.5mph along the route, and although I was the weakest link in the chaingang, I managed to keep with the riders sufficiently and even took my fair share of the work at the front.
So, what was so bad then? Well, today saw my first ever attempt at riding a track bike. Walkers CC had arranged a club session at the Chris Hoy Velodrome and although I hadn’t seen myself ever really getting too involved in track, I thought I’d give it a go just to say I’d done it.
Sadly the session did not go well or me. I have never ridden a fixed gear bike in my life, and the combination of that plus the unwelcome return to Look Keo pedals that was needed for the hire bikes proved just too much for me. There was no time before the session to do any sort of practising with the bike/pedals before we all got moved up to the trackside, and I’m afraid I just froze. I was completely unable to get the bike moving and since all I had was a split second to make a decision whether to continue or not, I felt it was better to err very much on the side of caution and call it quits. There were 22 others in the group and I quite honestly felt that I would be a colossal liability out there. I am of course very disappointed in myself, but after watching the others whizzing around, I am a bit more reconciled that it just isn’t for me. I am quite comfortable with the clipless pedals on my other bikes, but I also recognise that I click out at the first sign of trouble. Not being able to do so on the track bike is a problem; nearly as much as the lack of ability to freewheel. To be honest, I got a feeling in the short time I was “on” the track bike (I use the term very loosely) not unlike the claustrophobia I get in lifts and other enclosed spaces. It was not a pleasant feeling.
I will take up an offer of putting flat pedals on a friend’s track bike and going round the local supermarket car park. But it will be just to say that I have ridden a fixie. I think I will stick to trying to get better at the couple of things I can do on a bike.
Ah well. At least there’s no danger of my buying a track bike now. N+1 remains an ideal.