Category Archives: Training

Training runs

04 Jan 2015 – In search of a bacon roll

I decided to take advantage of another cold yet bright winter’s day and head out on a ride to Blickling Hall and Aylsham today. The roads were icy in places yet manageable with care, and I had a yearning for a roadside bacon roll; you’d have thought that a bacon roll would be easy to find in Norfolk, home as it is to many a pig farm, however businesses must still be warming up after the festive period as no purveyors of pig based sustenance were open. In the end I settled for a couple of cheese twists from the supermarket in Aylsham, satisfactory yet leaving me feeling vaguely cheated.

The temperature didn’t appear to get above 2 degrees celsius, so I took it pretty cautiously around the back roads, especially on a downhill patch where the frost hadn’t thawed, with the odd speed bump for added stunt potential. So a pretty slow ride, but good to shake off the cobwebs after Christmas. I’ll need to up my miles and speed a bit as a I train for cycle touring again, however I’m pleased to have done 38 miles today, and that it didn’t hurt; must shed a few pounds though!

Here’s a link to the route, which I can recommend, although I’d avoid the main road back from Aylsham to Norwich usually, I was just lacking time before the sun set.

http://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/665171875

Here a few photo’s from the ride:

Only a week to go before heading off to Slovenia for a few days skiing. It’s been several years so it’ll be interesting to see what I’ve forgotten. I’ve also never been to Slovenia before so really looking forward to it, just hoping for no injury inducing crashes. Once back I’ll be picking up my new bike, so going to be a busy but very fun January.

10 days and counting

With 10 days to go until I start my tour this weekend mostly consisted of training, planning, shopping, mild panic, and eating. I still managed to fit in a few beers though – got to maintain a balanced diet after all.

After a hectic week at work it was really nice to go out Friday evening. A group of us went to the appropriately named Bicycle Shop, a restaurant on St Benedict’s Street (Norwich) that also has a funky bar downstairs; the Bicycle Bar. Several ales were duly consumed whilst commiserating over the English house buying process – you can go all the way through the process, paying for searches, solicitors etc, but before you exchange it means nothing and the seller can just pull out, potentially losing you a lot of money. Happened to a couple of friends and doesn’t seem at all right, I believe the Scottish system is probably a lot fairer. Anyway I’d recommend the Bicycle Shop, and St Benedict’s Street in general for going out; The X Bells serves excellent cocktails!

Also met up with Tom who’s planning on taking his show to the Edinburgh festival this year, and has set up a Kickstarter project to raise funding – well worth a look at their Faileontology trailer. I know the guys would welcome any support so feel free to share the link!

Faileontology

As a consequence of Friday evening’s activity Saturday was a little slower starting than anticipated, however I duly loaded up my bike, which seems to be getting heavier with each outing, and headed out into the glorious sunshine. Still a little cold but fine once you get going, and there were plenty of warming hills to struggle up; please refer to a previous post concerning Norfolk really not being that flat, not when you have a fully loaded touring bike anyway.

A 72 mile training ride through the countryside down into Suffolk ensued, for once without a headwind to speak of, passing through Caistor St Edmunds and the old Roman town there, then on to Saxlingham, Halesworth, and through several more picturesque and decidedly sleepy English villages before reaching Beccles.

I’m not sure what it is about moderately sized Suffolk towns but they seem to make my GPS device (Garmin Edge) go a little senile. As with Bungay it proceeded to send me around in a few circles, attempt to cross a fairly large river where there wasn’t a handy bridge, and send me down a one way street the wrong way. I eventually did make it out of Beccles, but was quite thankful to cross over back into Norfolk where electronic devices seem less prone to randomness.

Nelson's County

Saturday evening consisted of eating pasta, a lot of pasta, and watching the Bourne Legacy which was quite entertaining, however I think they might be stretching out the Bourne thing a little too much now; rarely do sequels impress me more than the first film, with a few notable exceptions – Expendables 2 rocked 😉

Also managed to buy some of the last things I need, aside from food, including the all important Chamois cream and a new outfit – bib and cycling jersey from Northwave which I’m sure will look very ‘fetching’, if you’re into lycra that is. Must update my kit-list page.

Sunday was again good weather so I headed North to Blickling Hall, on a 45 miles route which I’ve done several times now. It takes me up to Reepham, on to Blickling Hall, then back to Norwich via Coltishall and Wroxham, all for the most part on pleasant country roads; aside from the potholes, ruts, debris from tractors, horses, cows etc, and the ‘interesting’ smells associated with pig farms. Can’t complain though, bacon has to come from somewhere and is a vital part of my balanced diet.

Few pictures below, quite a few of churches as Norfolk has a lot of them. I believe all the landowners used to build churches for their tenants. It must have been some kind of competitive status symbol, and obviously to demonstrate ones devotion. They dot the landscape coming in various shapes, sizes, and degrees of embellishment – hence competitiveness. They’re almost as common as pubs, although sadly the latter are prone to closure these days, which is sad considering the fine quality of real ale being produced in the county.

Just after Blickling I had to mend a puncture, which thankfully I haven’t had to do in a while, and hopefully won’t have to do again for a bit. I’m down to one spare inner tube now so best get some more before setting off, although I will try and repair inner tubes where practical. Ended up with very grotty hands for the rest of the ride which reminded me I need to clean my bike before setting off on 01 May.

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Met quite a few really nice people whilst out cycling this weekend, mostly other cyclists, but also people who were in general interested in what I was up to and how far I’d cycled. Really encouraging to have a good chat when you stop for a break.

Last full week of work next week and lots to do, both on the work front and final planning activities before setting off the week after. Best make a list, I have lots of lists, thankfully most of them have lots of ticks on them, hence only mild panic at present.

On a parting note I’m now almost completely addicted to Haribo Tangfastics. Sadly I can’t claim they’re really part of my ‘balanced’ diet, but they really do help when your legs are close to giving up as I’m sure some of those who ran the Virgin London Marathon today would agree – congrats to everyone who took part and great to see it go ahead successfully after the sad events in Boston last weekend.

P.S. Thanks to Norman and Sheila for the Roast Chicken dinner this evening, and the flapjack, and the rejuvenating pint!

 

All roads lead to Bungay

Quite a frantic weekend but managed to get some cycle training in, with a trip down to Bungay and back via several intriguing country roads that didn’t necessarily go where the map said they did, or rather where my Garmin thought they did. In fact I didn’t really end up going the planned route at all on the way back, but it still worked.

Route here.

Bungay was confusing. I went around a few roundabouts several times, and took a few wrong turns, plus got caught in a one way loop exacerbated by road closures due to a running event. It didn’t seem to matter which way I went, even after I was miles from Bungay on the way home my sat nav kept trying to direct me back there; think there must be something insidious residing in the town, or maybe underneath it, perhaps Lovecraftian in nature, that screws with your navigation devices. Knew I shouldn’t have ventured into Suffolk 😉

Still, Bungay was pretty:

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There used to be a roundabout just outside the town that was home to chickens, just roaming free on their island oasis. Sadly they seem to have all disappeared now but would like to know what became of them. I hope it wasn’t a health and safety issue, and hopefully they didn’t all end up as take-away dinners.

My bike was fully loaded today, including tent on the back rack, and felt heavy especially when cycling into a strong headwind. You really have to adjust your cycling style with a heavier bike, it doesn’t stop as quickly, in fact the brakes take a lot longer to work when travelling downhill at any speed as I did a few times today (Norfolk really isn’t that flat despite rumours to the contrary). The bike also doesn’t corner quite as well and I had to give myself more time to change direction, which resulted in a few close calls with hedges and curbs.

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I recorded a video during a downhill stretch that got a little ‘exciting’ due to the one-handed nature of my descent, and lack of efficient breaking. Had quite an ‘interesting’ encounter with a speed bump at the bottom of the hill. If I can work out how to compress the video a bit I’ll stick it up. It ends quite abruptly due to aforesaid speed bump.

Spring definitely sprang today with temperatures soaring to around 17 degrees C, lovely to see lots of daffodils out along the roadside, although not sure what this chap was doing loitering next to them.

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Also managed to squeeze in a quick pint at the pub in Woods End, which has re-opened under new management and is pretty swanky now, will have to go there for a meal at some point.

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Made it back to Norwich after a circa 50 miles round trip. Will be doing longer on a day-to-day basis once I start the tour, but today was more about testing the bike fully loaded, and making sure my knee held up. Thankfully both worked.

Other news from the weekend; lost at poker but nothing new there (can’t seem to play anymore), back fence fixed, again, but hopefully will stay upright for another few years now. Feisty Kendo session which resulted in a few bruises after some excellent fencing (not the same as the garden fence I had to fix), curry and a few pints in the Fat Cat was a good recovery session. Also had an interview and photos taken by the local newspaper, so should be in the Norwich Evening News tomorrow, and perhaps the EDP later in the week, which will help with publicity and sponsorship.

All in all great weekend. Think I’ll go an chill with my guitar for a bit now before another hectic work week starts. Roll on 01 May!

Beside the seaside

Whilst traditionally it is appropriate to sing ‘oh I do like to be beside the seaside‘, when going to the seaside, it’s a little hard to build up enthusiasm when it’s only 2 or 3 degrees, with a brisk North Easterly making it feel like it -2. Still, I loaded up the bike with pretty much everything I’m going to take on my tour, bar my tent, and set out to Sea Palling on the Norfolk coast at about 8.30am.

Had to wheel my bike through a manual level crossing at one point, haven’t encountered one of these for a few years:

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Nice ride out through the countryside with lots of other cyclists out on the road (greetings duly exchanged); must be the bank holiday, and despite the cold a hint of spring in the air, that motivated everyone to get out.

Record of route here.

Made it to Sea Palling in good time and enjoyed a second breakfast hobbit style at the local cafe. Great bacon roll and hot chocolate consumed with vigour.

Bacon Roll stop

The sun finally came out properly during this stop, but unfortunately didn’t do much to increase the temperature. I did however change my lenses from ‘happy’ yellow, to shades, a step in the right direction.

Few more pictures from Sea Palling…

People out for Easter Walk:                                   Slightly doctored photo but looks cool – high tide:
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Ramp down to beach through dunes:
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Travelling lobster close to ‘natural’ environment with Easter Egg:
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The route back from Sea Palling took me along the coast before heading inland back towards Norwich, via several picturesque villages. Somehow my GPS decided it would be advantageous to send me along a dirt track at one point. The below definitely isn’t a road but I managed to navigate through the ruts and horse manure successfully, with no bike damage.

63567_10151574488528923_278265644_nWent through Horning and had a brief stop down by the broad.

Horning

There were several old looking Wherry type boats, or reproductions thereof out sailing today, but didn’t manage to get a photo of them.

All in all good day out cycling, covering about 56 miles. Slightly worried about knee injury – it seems to be getting better but is still a bit achy and stiff, so might see a physio next week. Raising my saddle has definitely helped though.

Pedalling and Packing

I was pretty determined to get out this weekend despite the snow, freezing temperatures, and Easterly winds gusting up to 40 mph making it feel colder. Still, at least it was sunny for the majority of the ride, and I had a good run out to North Walsham even if I had to lean into the wind at times. It was a little precarious on some of the open stretches lacking in hedgerows. I’ve come to love a good solid hedge when it’s windy, there need to be more of them for many reasons; wind break, commuting channel/habitat for wildlife, stops soil erosion, reduces noise pollution from traffic etc.

Record of ride here.

Aside from the odd commuter wending their way back from the shops, in a buffeted fashion, I didn’t see any other cyclists out today. All the ‘Mamils’ must have decided discretion was the better part of valour and stayed in, can’t say I blame them. Did see many pigs on my way through the countryside, happily wallowing in the mud and turning my thoughts to bacon (only felt slightly guilty). Good to see the pig farming trade must still be going well in Norfolk though.

On the way back my knee flared up again which is irritating, and something I’m going to have to keep an eye on with only just over a month to go before I set off. I’m applying Ibuprofen gel, Emu oil, and might try some Glucosamine supplements to sort it. It’s not an uncommon problem for cyclists and should be fixable. I’ll work on a physio routine for it too, but if anyone has any tips for frontal knee pain let me know.

I think I’ve acquired everything I need for the tour now after picking up a new stove (Whisperlite), and charging device (PowerMonkey eXtreme); Cotswold’s have done fairly well out of me in the last few months but at least I get a discount, and they’re generally pretty knowledgeable and helpful.  I was in a quandary over the PowerMonkey however after reading several reviews, and cogitating for a bit, I think it was the right  way to go. I can recharge it from the mains or via the solar panels that come with it, which I can set up on my back rack when I’m cycling along, and it’ll definitely charge all my devices including iPad.

Powermonkey

The alternative was a dynamo which I’m still not sure wasn’t the better idea, however this won’t charge things when I’m not on the move (day off), and I won’t always be at a campsite where I can plug stuff in. The PowerMonkey also doesn’t need full sunshine which is a blessing given British weather.

Also bought a dry bag to put my tent and sleeping bag in; I’ll attach this via bungee cords to my back rack. Having laid out the majority of my kit on the kitchen floor earlier I’m not entirely sure how it’s all going to fit on my bike – see below.

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I’ll need to add more food, a few more clothes, a foraging guide book and puri-tabs (in case I run out of water, although I’ll still boil it) and perhaps a bottle of something medicinal to the above. Next weekend I’ll have a practice run with everything on the bike – might venture down to Cambridge again depending on knee status. It’ll be interesting to see if I can still move under a full load, and how much I need to rationalise my kit list.

A few other random musings to wrap up:

    • Wondering if I should give ‘Fregansim‘ a go on the tour, which will basically involve checking out supermarket skips for any recently past it’s sell by date food. It is after all stupid how much food is wasted and would save on cash. Will have to look into the legality of it. Be great if I could take a fishing rod but there isn’t really room.
    • Like the idea of sub-quests, such as stopping to complete any pirate crazy golf courses I pass, or seeking out local speciality food stuffs in different counties. Extra challenges could mean raising extra money for charity, and add another dimension/fun to the tour. I have a number of objectives I want to complete but feel free to suggest further quests and I’ll duly consider them; realise this is a but risky knowing some of my friends.
    • Next week I’ll be planning out my route and stops more. Whilst this will remain flexible and dates will likely shift about it should make it easier to meet up with people en-route, whether it be for a pint, meal, or to join me for a leg or two.

A few photos on me on my bike, courtesy of my brother from last weekend:

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There and back again

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It has to be said that when I woke up this morning, to the dulcet tones of my one and a half year old nephew (Seb) as he announced he was definitely ready to get up, my legs and particularly knees were a little sore. Undeterred I staggered to the shower and then downstairs for breakfast, where I was ably assisted by aforesaid nephew who seems to have developed a liking for throwing things on the floor. He helped, sort of, and bacon plus eggs were duly consumed in preparation for the return leg to Norwich, something I was a little concerned about given the forecast for heavy rain. Many thanks to Will, Louisa and Seb for putting me up for the night.

Here’s a record of my route back, with stats – faster average speed than yesterday (probably down to less of a headwind), and slightly longer distance:

Great Cambourne to Norwich 17/03

Setting off at 09.30, a slightly later start than yesterday, I cycled from Great Cambourne to Cambridge, a picturesque route through some expensive looking villages, passing quite a few ‘mamils’ on equally expensive looking road bikes out for a Sunday ride, going in the other direction; nods and greetings were duly exchanged as we crossed paths – cycling appears to be quite civilised in that regard.

After running the gauntlet slightly through Cambridge, but avoiding any incidents, I moved North through Swaffham Bulbeck, then up to Mildenhall, and eventually Watton avoiding the A11 today; my Garmin decided it wasn’t going to re-jig my route and throw me on a busy road.

My route took me through farmland and forest, a lot more forest than yesterday which was a peaceful and relaxing. At times it felt like a Lord of the Rings set and I was expecting Elves or Hobbits to appear. I’d have preferred Hobbits as that could have meant second breakfast, something which would have been greatly appreciated given it felt a lot colder today, but alas they were obviously hiding, thinking I was some kind of dark rider.

After munching on a few cereal bars en-route my first real stop was in Watton after around 60 miles pedalling, although some of that was at quite slow speeds given hills, the dropping temperature, and wind gusting at times. I was still pleasantly surprised not to have had to stop sooner. From Watton to Norwich was a ‘casual’ 20 miles through more countryside, before getting home.

All in all a great weekends training, on a pretty much fully loaded bike (minus tent and sleeping bag). Roll on May and kicking off on my Round the Coast tour.

A couple of photo’s:

Travelling lobster – he’ll be accompanying me and trying to steal the limelight in photo’s no doubt.

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Back at home, bike intact, even if I’m not.

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Norwich to Great Cambourne

It was cold, pretty wet, and the 20 mph head/cross wind was challenging reducing me to a crawl at times, but made it to my brother and sister-in-law’s near Cambridge in 7 hours, covering 78 miles.

Route details here:

16/03 – Norwich to Great Cambourne by jam_har at Garmin Connect – Details.

The route travelled had a disturbing lack of cafes or shops purveying pies/sausage rolls, which was a little disappointing, will have to plan better next time. The last 20 miles or so was mainly fuelled by haribos and a snickers bar.

Garmin Edge kept me going in the right direction, although it did send me off on a alternative route from the one I’d programmed in at one point, which was a little disturbing; I hadn’t had any intention of going through Elveden and had been trying to avoid the A11 – too much traffic and big lorries on a narrow road!

Legs held up okay but will be interesting to see how they feel tomorrow morning for the return leg. Time for a big feed now to re-energise.