Tour de France Prologue

Seeing as the race is over i’ll finally post the Prologue pictures

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The camera battery finally gave up the ghost after this shot so I had to revert to the old camera. Results are much the same and but

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five seconds to go and he hasn’t made the start yet.

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Pity it turned out the way it did for Ramussen but I allways wanted Contador to win ever since he won Paris-Nice.

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Weekending 05 Aug 07

Monday: Gym after Work, still not sure about getting in on a spinning class. Need to do some weights whatever happens. I ended up being on the reserve list so had an hour in the gym. Four minutes on the rowing machine had me rowing a kilometre which is an average effort. Louise drags me out the gym saying the desk had told her I was upstairs.
After my whinge about hovering I’m excused hovering but have to do a hill climb as a penance. Fine by me.
Two new girls in tonights class and one of them ends up falling off the bike banging her shins. You don’t normally come back from an incident like that, we’ll just have to see.
640 Calories burnt spinning, 300 in the gym. Hi of 163 BPM which is not a lot these days.
Tuesday: Work, no gym. On call I’ll have to see how it works out. Chinups and pressups. Weight free workout.
Wednesday: Rest day.
Thursday: Barbara,s spinnining class at West Kirby. 677 calories burnt and a max heart rate of 183 bpm on my birthaday of all days. Sheila still has something wrong with her foot so no classes at Europa Pools. Average heartrate for the class was 151 bpm.
Friday: Booked in at West Kirby again. A complete contrast to thurdays class. Yesterday was extremely hard work as there was no fan. Today there was a fan for the whole class. This meant i burnt 649 calories but without the extreme effort and  heat stress of the previous night. In contrast max heartrate was 157 bpm. Spoke to Catharine after the class about the site and she kindly left a comment, thanks.
Saturday: Ride day.

North End ride to Llandegla Mountain Bike Centre

This was my first ride out with the North End, it started off with me following Dave at 25 mph to catchup with the others heading out to Woodbank. It was down to the Dee cyclepath and along that to Saltney Ferry footbridge. Just past Bretton one of the group picks up a puncture which slows things down a bit.

Now this is my first time out with the North end so I don’t know what the pace is going to be. The first test is when we turn off the Mold Road for a 5% climb up to the A55 footbridge. Climbs like this blow groups apart and I move off the front on this one. There is a comment about a drug test at the end of it as I am in my Discovery Channel kit.

For me this is my natural pace for a hill like this. At the gate it’s a wait for the group to reform. Another climb and then we cross the A55 and head for Pennyfford. The group reforms again but splits as most of it is going to the cafe at Ceffyn y Bedd. Dave, Mark, AN other and moi split off on a more direct route as the cafe closes at midday.

Once there Dave, Mark and I turn off up the Ffrwd Road. I’ve been down this road and it’s a blast, climbing it is a different matter. Dave gives me some instructions about waiting at the cross roads which I thought was a bit premature but proved to be the case. It’s not called the steps or staircase for nothing. Parts of this climb are steep, around 15%, it’s do-able in the middle ring. This had me maxxed out at 177 BPM on the Garmin HRM. Mark had dropped me on this climb as he is a natural climber. I’d clawed some of it back but the gap went out again. Contador I am not, YET.

We turned off for the Mountain Bike Centre even tho it is not signed. When we got there it was packed. You only have to look at the bike racks to see that there is some serious money here. By the looks of it we are the only ones that have arrived by our own power. It’s a pity that this stretch of road needs resurfacing otherwise it’s more suited to a 4X4 on the route we took.

I ended up having a piece of cake and a cup of tea, Dave and Mark ordered toast. What arrived was a two doorsteps per plate, then another two plates arrived. Once this was over it was time to head back to the Eureka. It’s a fast descent from the centre. There is one short climb that registers 16% on the Garmin Edge 305 but other than that it’s all downhill. The whole ride is at a quicker pace than what I’ve been doing for the last year. This is just what I need at the moment. The routes maybe not as scenic as some but it’s early days yet.

Had a few look at the new bars on The Toy , once I have sorted the lever height they will be perfect. There is even a moulding to rest your thumbs on when on the top. Superb.

Link to Google Map of Ride

Weekending 29 July 07

Monday: Work, chinups  and a couple of sets using handweights. Stopping late means I can’t fit a class in and I want to watch the Tour. 20 Pressups, bed.
Tuesday: Work, late spinning class at Europa Pools.

Rest Day in the tour and Vinokourov has failed a dope test. I was browsing the Paceline forum last night and saw a thread giving Levi Leipheimer some stick for being fourth and not trying. It struck me that Vinokourov did the same as Landis did last year, dropped a load of time and then won the next stage. This made me think Landis may have been clean. All this has done is now put the spotlight on Landis and that he probably did dope.

Not the best of days at work had me fired up for the gym and spinning class. Weights, rowing for 5 minutes a 2.01/500m and treadmill for 1km @ 11km/hr with a 1% slope had me burning 340 calories before I sat on a spinning bike.
An overbooked class had Louise giving up her bike and doing step instead. All this commotion with sorting the class out meant I had the fan for longer than I normally do (normally I wouldn’t want it). All this contributed to a 700 plus calorie burn. Max Heartrate 174 BPM.

Bumped into Miles on the way out and had a chat. Miles is of Brimstage Time Trial fame. He set off a minute before me and we both got passed by Steve Cummings.

Correction from Alex, it was Miles.

Wednesday: Lifestyle and Weight Management Course followup class. Same time, same place. 82.7 Kg This morning.  It was a good turn out from the last class to finish their  twelve weeks, this is a good sign. I haven’t spoken to any of them since their four week class as we only pass in the corridor once a month. They’ve been following this blog and knew a fair bit about how I’ve done(They know a lot more about me than I know about them thanks to this blog ). Which is what it is all about, I may have twelve months on some of these people but I still think it is important to turn up as I am still on this BHF plan.

For half the last class to turn up bodes well as the course lasts a year and the big gains are made after the classroom lessons have finished. After twelve weeks you should be equiped for life, the rest is up to the individual.
Spoke to the class that are just on their fourth week, this is a critical time for them. Opinions have probably not been formed if this is for them yet. Half may not make it to the end as the lifestyle change may be just too great.

I explained about how this all came about and how I started out. The before picture got circulated  and it does come as a surprise to many. Nearly Eight stone is a massive amount of weight no matter you want to look at it. I keep turning up as the people that inspired me told me to stick with it.

Thursday:  I was predicting Alberto Contador to win the tour but I couldn’t have thought it would turn out this way.

Spinning class at Europa Pools, full class and couldn’t get into next weeks class as it was already full. 600 calories burnt and bike number 15 is hard work once you start cranking in the resistance.

Just a word on Spinning etiquette, it’s a bad show if you don’t put your bike away after the class having watched the rest of the class stow theirs. Another case of the usual suspects. Sheila,s Fusion or Step classes need the room after us and it’s only fair that they start on time.
The next one is taking up a disabled parking space when there are spaces free in the pay and display. Traffic wardens book you for taking up a disabled space even after hours, either that or your abusing the badge. Other than that another good class.

Friday: Another new day. Rode out to the Eureka for Breakfast, felt good once I had climbed up the hill to join Route 56 and the weather was fine with a large black cloud blowing past Willaston leaving the roads wet. Once on the Chester High Road I’d slotted behind a lorry that had to stop at the lights by the Garden Centre. The speed slowly crept up as it was heavily laden. Before you know it I’m doing 36 mph behind this lorry. The only thing stopping me was the eureka coming up after the traffic lights. Just had a look at the data on the Training centre, it’s superb.

Spoke to Dave from the North End about rides and It looks like I’ll be giving it a go.
Did my route through Puddington down to the marsh and had a stop at Ness gardens before going on to Parkgate. At the end of the parade I see a chap on a bike posting a letter, I’m just ambling along starting to climb up Boathouse lane when he comes past dancing on the pedals. Well I’m not about to get dropped by this guy so I set off in pursuit. I’m still in the saddle as we head up the road.

He has another dig then turns off down Wood Lane, livened the ride up. Rode through Heswall and called in on my mum and dad. Had the wind behind me going up Station Road towards Lever Causeway so it did flatter the average. Up Resthill and that was me done for the day, avoiding the rain. 24 miles.

Spinning class booked for West Kirby. Europa pools had rang to say sheila,s class was cancelled so I managed to get a place in Barbara,s class in West Kirby. Haven’t been there for a while but the bikes seem well maintained, all had bottle cages. Vocal class, I’ve got to mention the girl next to me, she was wearing a jacket throughout the class!!! gave me a run for my money. Stick some of these girls/women on a bike and they would waste a lot of guys. I’m the only bloke in this class and a few would give us a run for our money if  they ever took  up the sport.
Sweat was pouring off me as I was having a good go as always.
Anyway 700 calories burnt and a Max Heartrate of 177 BPM which is this weeks high.
Always a hard class at West Kirby for some reason maybe it is the structure of the class.
There is no rest  between hills, sprints etc so to speak of so you are always near a peak.
If you can count to four you should be allright. No hovers made it a class to remember. I hate hovering, It imposes too much stress on the joints for me

Saturday: Possible ride day whoohoo!!!!!!
Rode out to the Eureka passing some of the North End on the way out, 25mph on the Chester High Road. I needed to get there quick as I needed to get breakfast before 10 am. I ended up going out with one of the North End groups to Llangdegla Mountain Bike Centre. Turned out to be a good ride.

 

Janet,s Birthday Ride.

I’d turned up at the Eureka thinking about going out with the North End as the time has come for me to move on. A year ago I didn’t ride with a group but it just shows  how I’ve come on.

Well that was the plan but plans change. I’d turned up to see Ray without his new bike (A Trek Madone 5.9 SL, around 3.5k worth of bling carbon fibre) and Janet. Ray has a small Birthday cake as it turns out it is Janet,s Birthday. I was talking to Ann in the Cafe about Steve Cummings Team Time Trial crash on YouTube so missed the candle blowing out.

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Ray and Janet were recce-ing a future hilly ride which is just my cup of tea. With the forecast showers not affecting us it turned out to be a really fine day.

The route out was down to the Dee Rail crossing making our way to Golftyn Lane for the first climb of the day. It was then on to Northop and on up the hill to join the A55 for a short while turning off to Halkyn.

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This used to be the main road to Hollyhead and would be packed with traffic with major queues at Northop nowadays you can ride two abreast on it. I’d had a tractor following me up it at about 12mph before I took this shot. Next up was Pentre Halkyn and then on to Rhes y Cae and the Ray has us going down a track called Fford y Graig.
If it was unsuitable for motors it aint much better on a road bike. Still it could have been worse.

Next up was Nannerch and we are taking the road to London Bridge with our stop at a shelter by the sanatorium at Llangwyfan. Conversation included Roy not being to see the pictures I took on the Bob Clift Memorial ride. 90% of visitors have broadband hence the increased res on the picture size. And google searches that bring people to the site. One of the odder one was “Liverpool Male models” sure enough I was there on a post I made about Mens Health Magazine. Nothing is what it seems these days but armed with information like this a guy like me could have some fun.

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Janet on the Old Nant y Garth road.

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Ray on the Nant Y Garth

I didn’t take too many pictures on this ride but some of the scenery was as good as it gets. The hedges might have needed trimming but the views were fantastic in the good weather. I’ve also altered my riding style again since the Snowdon Audax, descending at speed is now done on the drops with me covering the brakes. DuraAce/Ultegra pads are soft and progressive in this position and it paid off later in the ride.

It may look like I’m playing around but the increased feel and leverage is well worth it. Parts of this route I rode on the Iceni in the wet with hard rubber pads it was not a nice experience and all it did was grind the rims down with me braking all the way down the hills.

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Considering this is summer it is amazing how little traffic there was on the ride. The above is the old Nany Y Garth road and is typical of what it’s all about.

Ray had explained how this ride covered two mountain ranges and it is a cracking route. Just make sure you have enough supplies with you as shops and pubs that are open are thin on the ground. Even the Cafe at Loggerheads was closed. We had a stop at the village store at Llanarmon yn Ial for an Ice Cream, a drink and a small Barra Brith for me as I had nothing left to eat. Very pleasent.

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The above pictures are around Cilcain, I like how the winding road has come out on this one. Before this on a fast descent of the A494 I overshot the turn to Cilcain,no problem I wasn’t going to waste a good strech of road. 1st left means 1st left I guess.

More later but some Stats
A year ago I hadn’t joined the CTC yet so a ride like this was beyond comprehension, thanks to Janet and Ray for a grand day out.

82 Miles , 4900ft of climbing. 4 20% (1in5) climbs. 1 ice cream stop. Max speed 39.5 Mph. Avg 12.7 Mph.

Link to Google Map of Ride

 

Weekending 22 July 07

Monday: Work followed by weights and a run in the gym. Forty five minutes in the gym had me doing enough machines not to have missed any muscle groups. 1km on the treadmill 0.25km walk at 6km/h then 0.6 km at 11 km/h. Pulse steadies out at about 150 BPM on this run.
Louises spinning class had two first timers and was another class were the Aldi HRM failed to give a true calorie count. Heavy breathing is at least 150 BPM for me but not on some of the exercises. Profuse sweating may be part of it and it doesn’t like some bike positions. Having said all that it did record a maximum heartrate of 180 BPM so I was having a good go.

Aldi have Gel Saddle Covers on offer this Thursday for £2.99 so if you have a delicate posterior it may be worth investing in one. I haven’t had the problem for a long while but if your only going to see a saddle once a week for 45 minutes they may be worth a look.
Having said all that Louise,s sister left hers on her bike because she didn’t put it away.

Tuesday: Work followed by Louise,s late spinning class at Europa Pools. Got talking to one of the women by the drinking water, she had already done the first class so I was well impressed at some one doing two on the bounce. Told her about the site and what I’ve been up to for the last year or so. I’ll have to find her name out as she was going to pass the site link on to her daughter who is a personal coach.

Gave it another good go tonight but the HRM let me down again. I’d even put the sensor on my back rather than chest thinking that it was loosing contact due to a concave chest when hunched over the bars. It measured 180 calories which is the lowest it has ever been with an intermitent peak of 170 BPM the pulsing heart on the display was dead for most of the class. Anyway I know when I am pushing it without the aid of a faulty HRM these days.  Looking at a Google search this isn’t the end of the world. I’m still 3rd in a google search of “spinning calories burnt”.

Wednesday: Rode out to the Eureka thinking about going out with The North End to bring myself up to the next level. As it was it was Janets birthday and Ray had brought a cake. So Janets Birthday Ride it was, stunning ride 82 miles, 4900 ft of climbing. Great weather and a good route made for another good day.
Sheila,s spinning class at Europa Pools, this was  hot and I had a water refill mid class.
No calorie count but who wants to know when I’ve had such a good day.
Good class as always. Shower, home.

Thursday: Late class at Europa Pools. Changed the battery in the HRM chest strap as it was down to 2.8volts. Result 566 Calories burnt in Louise,s spinning class at Europa Pools, Hi of 173 BPM on a hill climb and the average was 133 BPM for 51 minutes. Here was me looking at buying something from Polar for big bucks when all it require was a £1.50 battery. Hot class again, went through a litre of water.

Friday: Another class at Europa Pools, 9 in this class so no one turned away. Last weeks beginers didn’t make it back, surely there is a lesson in all this. Maybe the counterstaff need to pre warn newcomers how hard the first class is. Anyway 600 calories burnt, sweated buckets and it was throwing it down outside too.

Saturday: Rest day, fitted a new mudguard to the Iceni. It shouldn’t rattle like a rattly thing now.

Sunday: Work, followed by an evening watch Alberto Contador take a stage in the Tour

Tour de France Prologue (warmup)

It was an early start on Prologue day to secure a decent viewing position. took the tube from Paddington to Trafalgar Square to find things fairly quiet but the start was at least five hours away. I’ve had to split the post as it’s going to be too large otherwise.

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This was the view down Whitehall with the Start ramp outside the Banquetting House and opposite Horseguards.

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Discovery Channel at Trafalgar Square.

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Various teams were warming up on the course in the morning and we were treated to the rollout of the Tour caravan

 

 

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You can see the two Horseguards in the background, nothing seems to faze them. Throughout the day crowds of tourists were coming up to have their picture taken with them even though the Prologue was happening in front of them.

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There was a barrier that is about to get moved that obstructs riders having a practice start while no one was looking.

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Our Police motorcyclists looked overdressed compared with the Garde Républicaine.

More later , with the Prologue itself as a seperate post.

 

Tour de France Presentation

What a weekend this turned out to be, everything went to plan with an early flight from Manchester to London City Airport. The Docklands Light Railway dumping us at Bank right in the middle of rush hour. There had been a derailment on the Central line the day before so it meant a change of station.

We made our way to the Hotel and left our bags as we couldn’t book in until 2 pm. The hotel wasn’t too far from Hyde park so it was time to see the sights and walk the Prologue course. There were Tour De France support vehicles everywhere, the logistics of hosting this event must be huge.  A lot of the Prologue Course was already closed but traffic was still going down Constitution Hill, well it was untill the Changing of the Guard. Everything stops for this. Nothing passes, no one crosses, it’s a slick well organised event.

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With the changing of the guards over it was time to have a look at the finishing line and then walk up to Trafalgar Square to see what the venue was like. It looked good, mind you the whole place looked fantastic. Back to the hotel to book in then out to get a place at the presentation. Now they reckon there were 60,000 there for the presentation I wouldn’t know if the numbers are correct but it was packed.

Ken Livingstone and the Mayor of Paris opened the evening up with a good speech, reminding us of the anniversary of the tube and bus bombings and that an event like this meant that they haven’t won. That led us to the presentation of the teams.

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Now Discovery have changed their kit with the blue being replaced by green. It looks really good, the bad news is I can’t get any of it. It’s supposed to be about the team going carbon neutral. I’m of the opinion that AMD are set to become the main sponsor now that Discovery Channel are ending their sponsorship.

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George Hincapie getting interviewed.

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The screens they put up were cystal clear the camera puts a moire pattern on them.

Every team got a rousing reception and it made for a great evening, took loads of pictures and I’m still working out the best format to display them on the site.

 

More later.

 

Lidl Body Fat Monitor (Scales)

I’ve been using these scales now since  September last year. They are excellent value at £17.99 comparable to £50 ones elsewhere.

http://www.lidl.co.uk/uk/home.nsf/pages/c.o.20070714.p.Digital_Body_Fat_Monitor.ar7

This year Liddl have dropped the price to £9.99 which is superb value.
I’ve been doing a morning weigh-in everyday so if there were any problems with them they would have shown up by now. They are accurate and repeatable.

Some may dispute the body fat measurements but the important thing with all of them is the trend. Mine is still around 27% the lowest it has been is 26.5 %. Your not going to see wild swings in body fat measurement or muscle mass for that matter but this shouldn’t put you off.

Highly reccomended.

Weekending 15 Jul 07

Monday: Back from watching the presentation and Prologue in London. A monster post coming up about the weekend. Louise,s spinning class at Europa Pools had me getting back in to the routine again. 450 kcals meant either I wasn’t trying or the battery wants changing on the HRM chest strap. Good class, spent a couple of minutes deceiding what sprint we wanted to do to end the class.
Tuesday: The speed the Tour is going means I may have to miss tonights spinning class. Louise,s early spinning class, arrived in time to take up the last bike in the room. Opposite side to where I normally ride. Only bloke in the class tonight, it was nearly 50/50 lastnight. 600 kcals meant I was having a go tonight, a good two Mars bars worth. 183 BPM also.
Gym after the class, had a reasonable go here but some guys insist on resting on the machines.  Stepper machine for 10 minutes had me climbing over 100 floors.  Running for 2.5 km had me bumping into another Lifestyle and Weight Management member.
See you at the next follow up class. It’s great to bump into fellow course members  as it means they haven’t given up. 1180 calories burnt included a decent session on the weights and the arm cycling machine for 5 minutes.
Wednesday: Is ride day…….CTC ride to Abbey Arms. Had a flyer up the Switchback and then waited and waited. Thought the group had gone through the forest so went on to The Station Cafe.  Barry had suffered a derailieur failure hence the delay. Stopped at the abbey Arams for a chat and then went on my own. As this is on the Steve Cummings Training Ride route, this is what I took. A headwind meant I felt slow in parts, the weather was improving as the day went on. Took a slightly different route around Mollington and this brought me out about a 100 yards further up the Chester High Road than it normally does. Spent an hour in the Eureka and then rode through Mollington with Cannondale Kev, formally known as Pinarello Kev. On to Parkgate and got on the wheel of someone up to the Chester High Road then home.
72 miles.
I’d been let off the leash so to speak at the Abbey Arms so should have given Sheila,s spinning class at Europa Pools amiss, but I didn’t. I was suffering in parts of this class but it was a lively class and I made it to the end OK.
No Calorie count as although I was wearing the watch I hadn’t put the chest strap on.
Thursday: Nothing planned yet.But have sore legs from yesterday which I haven’t had for a long time. Louise,s spinning class at Europa Pools, the late one as I forgot half my kit for the first one and had to return home. No calories counted but I felt better than the other night and had a good go. One day the pair next to me will put their bikes away like the rest of the class.
Friday: Sheila,s spinning class at Europa Pools, class over booked so some got turned away. Hot class and went through water like it was going out of fashion. Three first timers, probably wasn’t ideal conditions for them. Weights in the gym afterwards. Calorie count was low tonight for some reason but it was by no means an easy class.
Saturday: Work, first time for 12 days.