TLI Oulton Park Road Race 03 Jul 07

Now this is the third and final TLI Oulton Park Road Race for this year. I’ve done the first two with mixed results if a result is finishing in the group. If competing and doing your best is a result then I’ve had the best results of my life over the last month or so.

On the last event I was shelled off the back due to a lack of experience and once off the back it can’t be regained.  More than one has told me how competitive the Vets are, I think it it a mixture of race experience and years of just being at a fitness level I didn’t know existed.

For this week I’ve had a wheel upgrade to unbranded carbon rims and tubular tyres.They are not Zipp,s Hedd,s or Corimas  but most of this like weightloss is in the mind. I know now that I am fighting the law of diminishing returns, the only thing limiting my performance these days is me.

I’d been lining up for this event for a week and the weather forecast was mxed. I’d spent a day trying to get cork brake pads for the carbon rims with no result. This had worn me out before I’d even started. Anyway I’d signed on in good time and spent some time circulating the wet carpark.

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This is moi talking to Chris who is about to flag us off. The funny thing is Chris was talking to me me about this website, he’d found it on a Google search.  TLI Oulton Park I think. The thing was we were talking about helping someone else maybe with a spinning class. I’m really glad when events like this happen as I don’t actively seek to publish (other than this blog) what I’ve acheived. Just being able to take the line is an acheivment for me.

And so to the event. Chris gave us good warning about the standing water at Old Hall and with that we set off down Deer Leap. Unlike last time I was taking my time letting others take it up this week. Just like the other week there were loads of bunnies running for cover as the leaders came through.

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Mixed results with the pictures this week, there are a lot of blurred ones as the camera prefers to focus on stationary objects like the Bennetts hoarding on the armco.

Now I know where I went wrong last week and I’m not going to make the same mistake week. There were times when I was tempted to go off the front as things slow up on various parts of the lap like Island bend to Lakeside. You are into a headwind here and no one wants to lead out here. At least I don’t this time, it was this part of the track that has been my undoing once too often.

The reason is the sprint up Dentons with things easing off slightly on the Avenue. Things picking up again as we head for the line. Now it was all about hanging on with the bunch tonight and not getting dropped again. I’d settled into things OK this week and once I’d realised that for me it was all about the climb up Dentons, where I was weak, at least it was giving me the opportunity to stay on the back.

I’d spoken with one of  The Sunlight guys and he passed comments about not wanting to be further back than this, looking back there was only one other rider behind us. That focused the mind but at least I hadn’t done anything stupid like go off the front this week. Last week I’d gone from the front to the back on Dentons and then dropped by Druids.

Link to Google map of Race 

http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/invitation/dashboard.mb?episodePk.pkValue=3200883

Lap
Time Distance Max Spd Hr max/ave      Caden  Energy
1 06:53 2.68 34  149 161 83 216
2 06:38 2.66 33.3 153 171 83 204
3 06:36 2.66 32.4 161 170 88 214
4 06:24 2.67 34.9 160 171 89 203
5 06:29 2.67 35.8 157 167 92 205
6 06:37 2.66 36.5 152 163 89 210
7 06:30 2.67 35.6 153 162 87 205
8 06:46 2.67 36.5 149 167 87 212
9 06:28 2.67 37.1 153 158 90 199
10 06:25 2.65 34.7 153 170 85 201

From the above data you should be able to gather that the last two laps were fast but my lap four was the fastest of the race. The last lap coming out at only 1 second over that shows I wasn’t blown at the end. Yes I’ve finished with the group this week but lets not forget I was riding out of my age group so respect is due.

Coming out of Shell hairpin and going along Lakeside the guy in front of me has a spoke break with a loud ping. He wasn’t aware of what was up at at the time but you could see the wheel was out of true. I’ve been warned off Mavics with alloy spokes and sure enough this was a Mavic Ksyrium letting go.

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There are plenty of blurred shots of the pack going over the finish line so I won’t waste bandwidth putting the pictures up here.

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I forgot to mention that I am riding Barry Sheene,s lucky number 7. It’s all about the last two laps as things hot up. On the 9th lap I’m consious about not loosing places on Dentons again but coming out of the saddle like most around me doesn’t feel right on these new bars. This time I get chance to here the bell as we cross the line for the final lap. This time up Dentons I’m at least holding position and after that I’m actually picking up a place or two. Dentons has taken a bit too much out of nearly half the field and it starts to thin out on the run up from Old Hall to the finish line.  I pull another few places back but no one is counting except me.

Great to finish, great to finish on the same lap, great to finish in the group.

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Now you may wonder why I am having my picture taken with an Audi R8, well the fact is something was going on at Oulton Park on this day and the pit lane was full of them.So much so that we wern’t allowed in the pit lane. There were 18 that I could see and at £82,000 for a base model before extras (and everything is an extra) that equates to £1,476,000 for a base model if that’s what they were.Nice looking car but a bit out of my league.

I bumped in to another Frank from New Brighton CC after this as his lad had won the last event and had been upgraded to the senior group. The group that managed to drop me after a lap!. In fact I bumped in to a fair few that I have come across since taking this up.

It’s been another great evening, thanks to all involved. I’m still on this journey of Discovery (there’s a pun in there). Finally, a year ago I didn’t ride with a group as up untill August I didn’t think I was up to it. A year before that I was trying to drop out of the morbidly obese weightclass. It’s hard to write the last sentence these days as I just want to look forward to the next challenge.

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TLI Oulton Park Road Race 24 Jun 07

This is the fourth Tuesday on the run where I’ve had another eventful unique experience. Some may have taken the opening of my last TLI write up as me being a bit down, far from it. I knew I was out of my depth, you just don’t know how far on your first event.

I’ve made a few changes to the bike since last time, including wheels , tyres, gearing, bars, and saddle.  As we all know it’s not the bike but the rider, I still got dropped but this time by the vets. I forgot to mention I was riding in the vets class (50 +). I’m not going to improve in two weeks to do justice to the main field and anyway I’d qualify for it soon enough.

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There are a couple of decent shots that I can post here , but as it was  I had a great start. Or did I?. Unlike the previous ride I was straight into the pedal and although not first going down Dear Leap a good second.  After Old Hall I drew alongside the guy in the lead and said this wasn’t going to last.

This is where it was a bit surreal, on the first ride I was already struggling to stay on the back. This week I am off the front and have the unique view of clearing the track of bunny rabbits. There are loads of the little buggers of various sizes sunning thenselves on the early evening tarmac.

This goes on until after Druids  where it becomes a bit more exposed  and the bunnies have scarpered. No roadkill here, they probably get plenty of warning on a trackday.40-50 oldtimers doesn’t compare to 120 db of open pipe mayhem.

I’m under no illusion about what is happening on this ride, whereas on the first I was struggling to stay on the back this week I am off the front. Never in a million years is this sustainable but at least it lasts until the straight after the Shell hairpin. You don’t realise how long this stretch of track is and it’s all into a good strong headwind. I manage to slot in to the pack after having been given a warning by one of the New Brighton guys.

 

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This week things are a bit different and I’m still in the main bunch after 1 lap. The next couple of laps involve learning how to ride in a group and this is where I don’t  learn from my first lap escapade.

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This is lap 3 and who is the soft sod leading the chase here, you guessed it moi. The pack had slowed to a crawl and I’d gone from the back to the front in the run up from Old Hall to the finish line. 

There are times when the group slows to a pace that just invites the inexperienced like me to go off the front, well it happened again. Bear in mind in my first event i was on my own for eight laps with no hiding place.

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The above is lap 4 and I’ve gone from the front to the back twice now. If I’d have had any sense I’d have took Big Phils advice and stayed with the bunch as it wasn’t going to happen a third time. From Druids to Shell Hairpin you can really get sucked along in with the bunch. It’s fast and you are in close company. You have momentum for the climb and the descent is fast usually with the wind behind you.

On lap six I am off the back with another guy. I’d wasted effort by going off the front once too often and this was payback time. The thing was it’s not until you look back and see no one behind you except the broom wagon that you realise that if you can’t put that extra effort in to stay with the main bunch your well and truly finished.

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Two laps to go and the timekeepers are waiting to change over to the last lap sign.
Once I was off the back it was just like the previous event. As I passed one of the Marshall boxes on the Avenue one of the wits that was in it commented “Your getting your moneys worth”,  “Always do” was the reply. One of the lighter moments of the evening. The thing is there is a tendency to call it a day and pull in if you can’t maintain the pace.

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I think Frank is going to want the original of the above.

Maybe the chap was right I was getting my moneys worth, but all I’m looking to do is finish on the same lap. It’s all about finishing in my eyes. Pulling out isn’t an option.

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This is me getting flagged off with a lap to go, I was not a happy bunny at the time. I’m half a lap behind the group and so wanted to do the full distance this week.
Next week I’ll use a bit of common.

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http://maps.google.com/maps?q=http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/kml/episode.kml?episodePkValues=3139490

Re live the first 6 laps at least  with this link:

http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/invitation/email/accept.mb?senderPk.pkValue=86342&unitSystemPkValue=2&episodePk.pkValue=3139490

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Now I was half a lap behind these guys, next Tuesday the aim is to finnish on the same lap. Don’t do anything stupid and just get the hang of things. These guys have been doing this for a long  long time most of them. I’m way out of my depth and finnishing on the same lap is a bonus.

I’ve no hard feelings about being taken off early as the way things were the previous week it would be getting dark by the time I had finished.

This was Tuesday  on Wednesday I went out with the CTC for 54 miles  and then went to my Lifestyle and Weight management follow up class.  I’m still on this plan and less than a year ago I was just riding on my own. On August 1st 06 I joined the CTC . So effectivley I’ve been riding with the retired and pensioners for a year.  Everyone has to start somewhere and this was my start. What does amaze me is the mileage some of these guys do. 

TLI Oulton Park Road Race 12 Jun 07

Talk about diving in at the deep end. I dived into this event with lead weights attached and no water wings and sank like a stone. Only a week after doing my first time trial I entered my first road race. Now that’s a bit hasty I can here you saying, it was, but what an experience.

I’d been in touch with the organisers about entering on the day and the offered to put me in with the vets but I’d opted to go out with my own age group as I wouldn’t make the start for the vets race. Seeing  the speed of vets go round had me thinking have I done the right thing here.

Other signs were not obvious at first but they all add up. I was the only one riding that I could see using a triple, the only one who didn’t shave their legs, wore team kit instead of club colours. The Toy looked like costume jewelery to some of the bling bikes there.As for the wheels, I can see why there are full page ads in the comic, they are a must have. 
Circulating in the paddock was quite calming and after the warm up I watched the end of the vets race. They were doing around 7 minute laps.
Oulton Park Start

Next thing we are called to the line where Val on camera duty took this shot. The route was expained to us and we were off. Now I would have to say I got a bad start, My free foot would not go into the pedal twice. It’s bad enough once but waiting for the pedal to swing into position twice was bad news.

The whole pack is tearing down the hill to Lodge and I’m going backwards through the pack. We are riding the track in reverse direction by the way. The speed is unbelievable but I claw a place or two back by going around the outside at Lodge. It is already getting strung out and I’m hanging on for grim death. It is here that you feel the effects of being on the edge of the bunch as you feel the wind dragging you back and riders on the inside powering away from you.

I manage to hang on to the bunch until the Shell banked hairpin. It is about here I start to loose touch, I’m not last but realise things are about to get a whole lot harder. Not only that I’ve got the broom wagon (ambulance) on my tail and I haven’t completed the lap. 

If you have a lgoodook at the next picture you can see how far behind I am after one lap, I’m about to move over to let the broom wagon past, if you’ve good eyesight I’m just to the right of it. 

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Only 9!!! laps to go.

Now around Druids there is a rider who has dropped off the back and is waiting for the bunch to come around. As I come up to him I see the he is a junior rider.
Are you first he asks, “No, third…….. from last!” I reply. I’m waiting for the group to come around he says, ” You don’t want to get effin lapped, come on” was the retort.
He picks up his pace and we start to circulate. Around Island bend we see the two riders that are behind us coming down Hill Top and around the forth lap they are being pursued by a massive pack of about 60 riders. There is nothing down for us we are going to get lapped and soon too.

Towards the end of my fifth lap the freight train steams past. I move wide on The Avenue to let them past, there is no chance of me matching the pace of the front runners. Their average is about 5 mph better than mine, but there is hope of hanging on the back. As the finishing line comes up I’m just about hanging on. Now on this lap I better my average lap time by about 50 seconds. It just goes to show how staying in the bunch conserves energy, my trouble is staying with the bunch.

Lap
Time Distance Av Spd M Spd HR Energy

I’m at the back hanging on for dear life with a few others, four I think and then we drop off the back of the main bunch. I can’t contribute anything I’ve been lapped.Any way the next lap isn’t too bad but as Old Hall comes up and the pit lane exit comes up three of them peel off and enter the pit lane. I glance across wondering what is going on. I’m on my own again, mind you when your dropped you are back in time trial mode, just you against yourself.

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4 laps to go for some reason the others pulled  up short. Lets forward to my last lap. I’ve been thinking about getting lapped again. I’m thinking about just hanging on in there. Well at Shell bend and the run up to Island two riders have made a break. Somehere between Lakeside and Cascades I’m passed. Having seen the lead these guys have I think I’m in with a chance of finishing before the main bunch. Not a chance.

I’m sticking to my line up Dentons and the Avenue as there is nowhere else to go.
I am an inch from the white line and the other side of it is grass. Having the first two sail past you  was OK the other 50 odd is a different matter. I’ve upped my pace a bit as this is the final section of the course. They stream past with millimetres to spareand the pressure eases as Old Hall comes up.The racing line has switched side of the track so I not in danger of being forced off the track anymore. The final run to the line is a bit of an anticlimax, I’m a lap down and have been passed by most of the field twice.

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I don’t know if anyone else has any data like this but I was averageing 160 BPM for 1 hour 11 minutes. There wasn’t much more to give and I don’t know what to do to up my pace to a level to stay with the group. I spent well over 20 miles on my own and the data reflects that. If I’d gone out with the vets things might have been a little different, I may have been able to stay with the group but then I would have been riding outside my age group. Having said that some of the feild could have been a third my age and I had a good few years on most.

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Link to Motion based Map Player

http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/invitation/email/accept.mb?senderPk.pkValue=86342&unitSystemPkValue=2&episodePk.pkValue=3007679

 

Brimstage Time Trial Route

Now I’ve had the odd call to put myself to the test and race against the clock. Well this is my first go at it and it won’t be my last. Now as the Garmin Edge 305 logs everything I dont need a timekeeper and I’ll be using this route in the Route Planning Tutorial I am planning to write.

Now I first heard about this course when I went into Wheelbase on Saturday for some bits. There was a chap in there talking to Colin and the TLI Oulton park events somehow came up along time trialling. I was told about this course and that its ridden on a Tuesday evening. Very informal, turn up ride, I don’t know who logs the times as I turned up an hour early.

Anyway I had programed the Course into the Garmin Edge 305 and as there was no Tina,s spinning class tonight or Oval fullstop I decided to give it a go. Now I was told 23-24 minutes for the course meant I was in the ballpark to go racing and be able at least stay with a group and maybe not get dropped.

Well tonights time was 24:22 but there was quite a strong headwind going up to the Clegg Arms. This is an uphill drag and when you see the numbers you just wonder how your going to post a good time. Once on the Chester High Road things look up, low 20s are sustainable and the filter lane for Thornton Hough comes up which is taken with a sweep.

This is not a flat course but there are sections where the tarmac is good and your speed is a reflection of where you are. As I am returning home via the start club riders are heading out on their timed rides, I’ve turned up an hour early and have already ridden the course. Aero helmets and tri bars mean these guys are serious, I’m just playing at it.

Anyway the stats:
8.74 Miles. Time 24 minutes 22 seconds. Average  speed 21.6 mph Max speed 27.5 Average heartrate 154 BPM Max 171 BPM. Wind WNW 16.3 mph.

Link to Google Map of Course

Link to MotionBased Analyser

 

Alpe D'Huez (Steve,s ride)

Now this is what I want to ride some day.

This is one of Paul,s workmates ride up and down that he has posted on MotionBased.

http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/2806958

http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/user/kinesin

A busy chap by the look of things.
The profile is awsome.
Great ride Steve.

What gearing were you using by the way?

Regards,

Frank.

Audax A Tour of the Berwyns

This promises to be another epic ride, 206 Km and 1750m of climbing. Ray has emailed me the route to load into the Garmin which has saved me a lot of time. It looks like the wind is going to be a problem on this ride and it is already picking up 12 hours before the start.

Now the start was something else, Willington Hall. I’m definately going back there.
http://www.willingtonhall.co.uk/Hotel/default.htm
I bumped into a few people from previous rides including the chap I took a picture of on Janet’s 50 Mile Tourist Trial. He asked about the Garmin Edge 305 and I gave him the link to the site. The team today was Ray, Craig, Tom and Moi.

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Seamons CC were having a picture taken as we left the Hotel and headed out to the first turn at Willington Corner. It was agreed that we would be doing a steady pace in view of what was to come. It was a bit too steady for some of the other groups and they past us by Oscroft. There are a few themes that typified this ride apart from hills in all shapes and forms one of the early ones was punctures. Within a couple of miles we had seen a couple including a chap with a trike. He was to end up with three.

So we are chugging along and the Tom calls a halt, he’d picked up a puncture. As it turned out it took a bit longer than it normally would but we were offered a cup of tea in the process. Ray went off for a call of nature and ended up having an amusing conversation with a woman walking a dog.  Anyway no decent ride write up is complete without a puncture picture  so here it is.

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We’d turned down a cup of tea from the house owner, if scones were on offer it may have been a different matter.(there’s a in joke in there somewhere)

Before all this was a checkpoint at Waverton, this was taking the service number of the only bus that served the village. This was where a few groups decided they wern’t hanging around and left us. Nothing much to report until after Farndon and Hope  which is where Tom probably picked up his puncture. More likely the crossing of the  A534 which was an overgrown cyclepath.

We are going around the outside of Wreham, past Farm World and then into new territory for me. Our first stop is the Prospect Tea Rooms but there is a particulary steep hill or two to climb before we get there. Now I was planning on lowering the gearing even further before this ride to 30×27 but it didn’t happen. It was still hard going in 30×25. 30×25 means I’m on a triple with 30 teeth on the front chainring 25 on the back, I’m under no illusions about having a twin because it looks nice, parts of the climbs today were over 20% or 1in5.(steep IMHO)I did see blips up to 25%.

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Now I’d made it top the top of this climb first, hence the pictures of the group. At the foot of the hill there was a smell of garlic that was growing in the fields. The pictures are taken on the flat bit so it’s steeper than it looks.

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The woman above was riding with her grandfather who is 72 so there is no age limit on on these ride, at 47 I feel like a young’un on these rides.
There is a drop into Penycae and then a 5 kilometre stretch up to the Prospect Tea Rooms. Tom warned us about the climb up the tea room drive being steep and indeed it was. The last place you want to be seen in too high a gear and dismounting is here, you’ve an audience of your peers watching from the cafe conservatory.

After we had entered the cafe to sign in the heavens opened. Rooms a bit restricted inside but our arrival was the signal for others to leave so there was plenty of room. There was a chap (not with us) sitting outside under an umbrella with it pouring down, “There’s nowt so queer as folk” as they say up north.

I mentioned earlier about the themes on the,well the second one was scones. I’d ordered one with a cup of tea, these were in the words of Michael Winner (Sunday Times restaurant critic) “Historic”. Now I haven’t had butter on anything for over a year but I made an exception today. It was what what you’d call 1/2 a fat portion on my eating plan. They were that good I had a second one and it was just as good as the first. Later on Ray was calling me “Two Scone Frank” and they were to feature again later in the ride. You could get used to spending time in the controls when you should be out riding. We left in light rain and it was time for me to don the windshell jacket that was in the back pocket. It’s not waterproof but light rain beads and rolls off it.

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The next section to Corwen was a great section of the ride, after the Prospect Tea Rooms we head up to The Panorama with spectacular views over Llangollen, the ruined castle, the River Dee and much more. This is a narrow single track road that is still climbing, there is a rockface on one side with a danger of falling rocks everywhere. A few of them have made it onto the road, maybe nothing to a 4×4 but lethal to a 23c bicycle tyre. 

Next thing you know we are heading downhill to Llangollen and end up at a road junction by the motor museum. You need a good set of  brakes on descents like this as you don’t know what is going to be thrown at you. Dura-Ace  shoes works well and I’m glad I’ve replaced them, the shoes work well and don’t seem to pick up as much aluminium as the harder compounds and subsequently destroy the rim. But before the descent we had a local sheep farmer stuck behind us on the climb, we get an acknowledgement as we pull in to a passing point to let him through.

The next section takes us past the Chain Bridge Hotel where I spent my honeymoon and the Horseshoe Falls which you can’t see from the road. This is also where Harrison Ford went for his canal holiday that was widely reported after the event. He needn’t have bothered with a canal boat, the right roads in this neck of the woods are as equally as quiet.

As you pass the Horseshoe Falls the climbs steepen, the views across the Dee are unique. This is a steep climb and you can do without a car driver tooting his horn at you to let him through. It’s not even a proper 4×4 at the end of the day, he must have been lost!!!!!!. We are following the course of the River Dee untill the next stop at Corwen.  Craig was setting the pace on the front at this stage and in view of what was to come I made a comment to Ray that he was going to blow up at some stage.
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The next control was the Central Hotel in Corwen and it’s beans on toast here as there are no scones. It has to be some thing quick to prepare as anything more adds to delays and your finishing time. The area above was littered with bikes so we were towards the back of the field by the time we left. We head down the road towards Betws-y-Coed but turn off towards Bala and pass through Llandrillo. This bring back memories of The Tour of Wales from the late seventies.(maybe an article for another post). Further down the road I was heading for Bala when Ray shouts me back, I wasn’t on compass mode on the Garmin just the general display waiting for a bleep to signal a turn. The B5402 is a short stretch of road that climbs to a Tee junction where you hit the main climb of the day. I ask Tom if this was it and he says yes.

The bottom part of the climb is steep with nearly 15% coming up around the two bottom hairpin bends. It has started to rain just to add to the enjoyment, nothing too hard but coupled with the wind you see sheets of it blowing across the mountainside. Character building stuff as they say, the good thing is that it soon blows over and then becomes clear again.I’ve now become quite good at climbing and soon put some distance into our group. I think it’s a gradient thing, I’m OK up to about 20% providing I can see the top of the climb. Thanks to the spinning classes I known I’m good for a good 30 minutes plus of intense effort, my pulse maxed out at 175 BPM  on this climb, which is good for the open road.

Anyway back to the climb, the treeline starts to dissapear and I’ve another rider in my sights now. The gradient is not as steep now but if your stuck in that one gear you climb hills in you end up slow. I change up a couple of gears as I try to keep up my perceived  effort. I ended up passing another three  or four riders on this one climb.This is where the gradient function of the Garmin Edge 305 comes into it’s own, as soon as you see the gradient start to drop off and your feeling OK with your effort you should be changing up a gear.

I’m an inexperienced newcomer to these events but was surprised how I reeled in riders on this mountain. I was lying on the carpet trying to recover my breath after a mile and a half when I started a few years back and my colour matched the red carpet.
The climb of the B4391 was something else, I haven’t tackled anything as long as this before and had a false dawn where I stopped to take some photos and regroup.  There was time for a bite to eat a bit of a chat and a photo. Then it was around a sweeping bend and over a slight rise to the final part of the climb. Nothing too steep just a steady climb, seeing as this is it I have one last go and stop at the top. The summit peaked at 1602ft and here we entered the county of Powys, I’d class this as mid Wales and it seems a long long way from the Cheshire plain.

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Now the descent to Llangynog was something else too. I see the road stretch out before me and decide to have a go here too. There is no way on gods earth I’m going to waste a descent like this. With a sweep of the left hand and a couple of clicks with the right I’m in the big ring and going for it. Things start to happen really quickly as the speed builds up. It peaked at 43 mph but slowed when I saw a cattle grid ahead, I think the sign said sheep grid as you don’t tend to get cattle up this high.

Ray had warned me about Guy getting a snakebite on a descent of the Horseshoe Pass and I don’t want to suffer the same. The bend shortly after gives me the opportunity to wave on two cars that had shadowed me like team cars on a tour. They wave back, probably thinking look at this nut doing 40 odd mph down hill. I was on the drops and was taken aback at how comfortable the anatomical shape was and how much better leverage you get on the brakes. The road surface is a bit coarser down it to the village and the next control but it’s still 30 mph stuff. A great climb and a great descent.

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Llangynog control.

The guy on the trike is back with us on and off for the next section which ends up in Chirk. This section has it’s its own set of challenges. The weather has turned out really nice and rather than stick to a river valley route we ride over some small hills. This is untill we get to Llanraeahdr-ym-Mochnant (which I can’t pronounce) and while following a valley route you know there is a climb at the end of it.

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This was at the end of the climb, my phone has been going off but the thing is there are no signals for mobile phones in this neck of the woods. You are above the mobile phone masts and the thing is useless. Not too good a position to be in if you have an emergency in this neck of the woods. It’s steep in this neck of the woods and before the summit there is a motocross track that takes me back many years. If I was as fit as I am now this would have been a walk in the park.  The guy on the trike is caught and passed but he is past us again as we regroup. The downhill section is great 30mph stuff and the Dura-Ace blocks are are quite progressive and I’m really pleased with them and due to their soft compound you don’t hear your rims being cut to ribbons.
Once on the flat it is an 8 mile slog to Chirk and I seem to remember being on the front for most of it. It’s not a problem, each one of us has a weakspot mines probably after 100 miles when I want to slow up.

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It’s good to arrive at the control point in Chirk it means we are 3/4 of the way there. This is where the guy on the trike gets the last scone amd I have to settle for Barra Brith. The weather has bucked up  but the final section is not a stroll in the park.

The route out of Chirk is the same as we took on the Poynton to Chirk return so we know what is involved. I’d recharged the Garmin in the Cafe but it wasn’t going to be enough and it was going to cause a problem on the next stretch of the ride. Once at Overton the route to Bangor on Dee followed Janets 50 mile Tourist Trial route. Now the races are on and by the look of things the last race has just finished and they are leaving in droves.

We are held up by steward letting out half the carpark, he’s talking into his mobile which inflames things a bit. Anyway at Bangor on Dee we pass a lot of them as they are stuck at a Tee junction. There is one final control at Brunty Bank road and Ray has been churning that big ring again. We get our picture taken at the control. Here the Edge dies, shuts itself down and I am in danger of not getting the ride logged.

Ray offers to swap Garmins as his is being recharged by his charger. Now I’ve built a homebrew charger but it hasn’t seen action on the bike. It works  in the cafes but proves lacking on the bike. The others have left and I am desparately trying to get a charge into the 305 for the thing to power up. Further down the road they are waiting for me. I’m riding one handed, the other holding the battery pack in the one position that has the Edge charging. It goes pear shaped again as the Edge 305 nearly goes bouncing down the road and I have to stop to recover a AAA cell that jumped out the holder. I’m regulating my speed by changing from the big ring to the middle ring with my left hand. Eventually there is enough power in the thing to disconnect the charger. Its a work in progress.

Anyway as we are heading for the finish I notice we have lost Craig off the back. I shout up for Ray to slow down and we regroup. There is a section through Tarporley which is a blast from the past, no supermarkets and lots of traditional shops.  Butchers, Bakers and Candlestick makers. 

The final section to Summertrees is steep after 120 odd miles. The ride up Tirley Lane is tough after all this way. Once at Summertrees it is time to sign in and have what’s on offer. Guess what it was a scone, some sandwiches  and a cup of tea.  It’s been a great day, if you read these write ups for their entertainment value this could be you.

Stats

Total Time (h:m:s) 11:53:05 5:40 pace
Moving Time (h:m:s) 9:33:06 4:33 pace
Distance (mi ) 125.56
Moving Speed (mph) 13.1 avg. 43.3 max.
Elevation Gain (ft) +10,759 / -10,511
Avg. Heart Rate 122 bpm Zone 2.6
Temperature (°F) 57.4°F avg. 60.8°F high
Wind Speed ( mph) WSW   17.3 avg. WSW   20.7 max.

It’s now a week after the event and the statistics are truly mindblowing there are a couple of personal bests in there. The Training Centre says I burnt 8500 calories on this ride which even if it overreads is still one hell of a lot of calories. Would I tackle it again, sure, every one of these rides has been unique, the routes show Britain at its best. The whole day was largely traffic free, the hills were something else and to think I used to avoid these like the plague. Thanks to Ray, Craig and Tom for making it another grand day out. Fin.

Link to Google Map of ride.

Merseyside DA Early Season Tourist Trial

For whatever reason this is the second time I’ve tried to write this article.
I’d promised Janet by way of Ray that I was going to take it easy on this ride after the Chester DA 50 Tourist Trial. Well I had to break my promise on the final leg. It turned out to be a truly memorable day.

The day started off with a drive out in sunshine to the memorial hall. It was really fresh and I didn’t realise how fresh it was untill the ride through the woods at the top of the road out. Back to the start. There were an lot of clubs riding this event on some serious machinery The Sunlight, North End, Team Dolan (Skem) Chester Tri Club and a lot more were all in evidence at the start. Carbon was everywhere.

On the first leg out we lost Cliff off the front. It was a fast descent on the rollercoaster section down to the A5104, allready some were going the wrong way at the junction. The section to Kinnerton was notable for how cold my fingers were. I was riding in a short sleeved jersey with arm warmers as it promised to be hot latter.

The section to Holt was all familiar stuff from Janets ride and we ended up passing 4 girls from the Chester Tri Club at Borras. Another small group were pondering the turn to Holt.hOn the straight to Holt I have a blast off the front to see what I’ve got in me today. Lots. 

We picked up a few others around Farndon and then we were making our way through the lanes to the first control point. Depending on your arrival time would make a big difference in the queue for the beans on toast.

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Got talking to the chap that owns this Colnago C40 it looks really nice in the flesh.

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I took these shots after we had strung the group out after the Beeston stop. I’d dropped off the front group and ended going all the way to the back to get these shots.

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Just checking out the back of the field to see how my riding partners Janet, Chris and Cliff were doing. They were hanging on(just).

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After I’d taken this shot and got my bike back there were about 30 of us all hanging around waiting for someone to lead off. By the look of it they were waiting for me or the Garmin to make a move. I’d headed out from the hall at a slow pace as the Sunlight guys wanted somebody else to take the lead but no one was having it. I looked back and it was a stunning sight to see so many behind me. The Garmin Edge had proved itself on the legs out by not getting me and those around me lost.

At a Tee junction by Tattenhall the Sunlight split the group again I see it happening and it takes a big effort in the big ring to bridge the gap I was really flying here having past about 20 riders to get back up with the front four. These lads are making a determined effort to drop the North End and they do it. They do an extra loop but it all comes back together at Fardon. There is a woman sitting outside the pub across the road from this junction and she was making a right racket. It must have been the sight of all those bare legs and a few of us wanted whatever she was drinking.

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It was a traffic light grand prix start at the bridge at the bottom of the hill.
I’m over first and make my way up the hill to the war memorial. On the road out the Sunlight start dishing it out to the North end again. I’m still in there but this is new territory for me. We’re going that quick we overshoot the turn. The Garmin says 2nd right so I retrace but not all do. Around the Green there are only 2 Sunlight 1 North End and me left. With perhaps another one hanging in there. Just before Higher Kinnerton the North Ender blows and within a couple of hundred metres he is gone.

We turn off for Penyfford and what is the final climb of the day.  Pacef8 finally blows on this climb. He’s put in a hell of a lot of work, I don’t know my limits yet so don’t yet realise there are limits to what others can do also. So then it was me and the chap from somewhere around Hale that had grabbed my wheel (A Sunlight rider).The gap was about 50-100 yards and thats how it stayed. The downhill section was a blast so much so that we missed the hall and went straight past it. Pacef8 was first through the door, I was second and we shook hands at the table. It was a trully memorable day, I’ve come such a long way in the last two years that it seems unreal at times.

This turned out to be fast company on the final leg.  It was an unbeleivable final leg home with speeds in the 23-25 mph range. I’ve got to admit I was impressed by the workrate of the Sunlight guys, they put one over the North End twice but at the end of the day I feel the CTC managed to get the better of them both.  I was second into the hall only because I and another Sunlight rider overshot the final destination on the final descent and ended up at the road junction a 100 yards on. The chaps in the Sunlight colours certainly knew how to put the hammer down.

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Allan,s Scott CR1 holding the rail up in this picture of the start. All the images on the blog are compressed for dialup users, if you want a copy of any image let me know.
Many thanks to the Merseyside DA for what was another excellent CTC event.
I haven’t had a bad ride yet. The route shows just how good it can be cycling in the Northwest.

If your a seasoned cyclist you can get a bit blase about the great routes that we ride, hopefully by putting the google map links in I can convince some of the others that come across a site like this by accident just how much they can get out of riding these great lanes.

A couple of you have expressed interest in the Garmin Edge 205/305, it doesn’t do maps but for logging your rides and navigating one off events it excells.  If you do get one I’d reccomend you do the Steve Cummings Training Ride that I’ve started to do.
It’s a 3 section 64 mile time trial for us mere mortals. The auto pause function of the Edge means you only count your riding time. So you do get a time for doing the route.
Two or three cake stops, Delamere Station Cafe, Eureka Cafe or Ness Gardens means you can do it any day of the week.

The route before I forget.

Link to Google map of ride.

CTC 50 Mile Tourist Trial

What a day this turned out to be it was a bit chilly when I went down for the paper but the forecast looked good and the sky was blue. Having never driven to Kinnerton it was time to consult the Google map to see which was the best route out, I’d been there a few times but it was always through the lanes on the bike which gives you a totally different perspective on things. I’d arrived in good time as I wasn’t due of until 10:25.

Start of 50 Mile Tourist Trial

There was plenty of time for a chat with the people that I knew and I was a bit nervous about the route I had programmed into the Garmin the night before. Janet had put me down for the 4 hour group along with Cliff who was complaining about getting a free upgrade!

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Georges group

Jill was busy marshalling riders into their allotted start times with 5 minutes between each group.

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This was the back of my allotted group with Cliff in the red riding around in circles to get his mileage up. Once we hit 10:25 Jill sent us on our way and we proceeded up the road through Kinnerton. Now I’d heard the term “It’s not a race” bandied around but thats not the impression I got after about 200 yards. The climb through and out of Kinnerton soon had us strung out and soon got past and dropped Cliff.

A group of six of us formed at the front comprising of three carbon fibre “Bling” bikes a chap on a fixed wheel and two others. If you turn up on a Trek Madone, Scott CR1 or a Kuota Kharma your taking your riding seriously I’d say. Now I’ve never ridden with anybody this fast before and it soon became apparent it was important to still keep up with the group. The stretch from Fiveways down the straight mile was quick and the hill a bit further on saw us just short of 40mph that includes the chap on the fixed wheel whose legs were a blur. You’d have to see it to believe it. He left us at Marford hill where we turned off to Borras.

Borras Control Point

The first control point at Borras highlighted the need to get into the checkpoint at least in the first couple of the group. If it takes 30 seconds to process a riders timesheet the rider in fifth place is 2 minutes behind the first rider. Thats what the above picture is showing, the others haring off into the distance and I’m last in the queue taking a picture.  These guys are fast, I mention this to Barbara and John as they sign my sheet and John says “And your not?”. Thanks John but I’m still finding my limits, with that I’m back chasing them down again. 

It was on the Borras Road that we started to pass other groups of riders including Roy and Joan. Before you know it we are at the lights waiting to cross the bridge at Holt. Just as well we resisted the temptation to jump the lights as there was a police car tucked down the sideroad. The green light was the signal to sprint across the bridge and try to carry as much momentum up the other side. It was still a fairly fast pace around these lanes until we came across a group of riders including Bob and Bryan dismounted by a pony that was being walked by it’s rider. Something had happened but I don’t know what.

It was then another case of catching the group as they rode through the trouble spot. After this I had another setback as the LED rear light bounced off the saddlebag on a rough piece of road outside a farm. Nothing for it but collect the bits. Fortunately the parts were close together and they were soon in the back pocket.

Now for me this was where the loyalty of the group was tested and I found out that there wasn’t any. The others might have had an aquaintance in the past and two were friends but it didn’t seem to matter today. I took a lot of hard riding to make any indent in to the gap that the stop had caused. At one stage I saw 29 mph on the speedo and it was only slowly starting to come back. The next control which had only just opened up saw us all come back together but only just, the signing in starting to create a new gap for those at the back, mainly me.

On the final leg to Overton lunch stop there was a rolling climb, now those that ridden with me before know that I don’t sit on someones wheel going up a climb anymore. Things go wrong when a group start to bunch so  I took my turn on the front and had a good go. I’d told two of the group a bit about my history  so it was fairly reasonable to expect that they wouldn’t let an ex 21 stone bloke who has only been riding 2 years drop them. Anyway I’m having a ball and next minute I’m being half wheeled by the guy in the red. This continues untill we are near the lunch stop when I surrender the lead as I don’t know where the stop is as it doesn’t appear on a Google map.

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We were the first to arrive, there is a wry smile on Janet,s face as I sign. I’m pleased too as we have come from the back to the front of the field and gained 25 minutes in thirty odd miles. Janet still managed to beat me up Moel Famau some moons ago, on that occasion my bike broke but I know I was beaten, broken bike or not. Anyway it was an excellent spread and a credit to all involved.

I’ve learn’t a hell of a lot from Ray over the course of the last year riding with the CTC and the Audax,s. One of them is don’t waste time in control points. On other rides the group will stop to help someone in need, but not on this one. I didn’t eat my full share of sandwiches, but I’m not looking for value for money more a fit with my eating plan (diet).  Now seeing as the stop has been spent mostly in silence I don’t see much point in hanging around. A trip to the toilet has me heading for the exit. There is plenty for Janet and the others to do signing in a stream of riders.

I took a picture of the hall and then headed off on my own, I’d had my fill, cleared my plates and thanked the staff, not much more to do but head back Imho. On the ride back to Kinnerton I started to see groups of riders heading out towards  Overton on the road we had ridden in on, including Roy and Joan and Bryan. Now I’m setting my own pace now but into a headwind. Jill had warned me about Bangor on Dee Races but the traffic was light and there were no problems. It was a really nice stretch of the ride here and I even had chance to admire some of the scenery rather than someones back wheel in front.

I’ve started to change my pedalling style over the last couple of rides, borrowing some of Ray,s technique. It’s sort of half way between the styles of Lance Armstrong (high cadence) and Jan Ullrich (power). Ray turns a high gear for most of the rides from what I have observed and this would seem to conserve energy. I’ve got the energy to spin up most hills at 80 rpm no problem but if I leave it in the middle ring when it flattens out I’m still spinning at 80rpm and not getting anywhere fast. It’s easy on the legs but wasting effort that you need at the end of the longer rides.

Into a headwind technique goes out the window and it’s back in the middle ring. and a headwind it was on the return leg.  There was remarkably little traffic on the roads and lanes and the weather was glorious, I’m having the time of my life with the Garmin keeping me company with only the occasional bleep when coming up to a junction. I’m still wondering when the others are going to catch me up as it looks like I’m in front of everybody.

After crossing the main road outside Fardon I make a mistake, I keep riding straight on down the road and don’t turn left where I should have. Slowly the compass needle on the Edge starts to turn east and I’ve got to take the decision to double back or ride on to the next junction. Ride on it was and you can see the extra mile that I rode  on the map link below. Back in Fardon things looked a bit more familiar and it was back down the hill to the river crossing. The sun has brought out all the softtop cars but when the light goes green it is a repeat performance of the morning. Sprint across the bridge and get enough momentum for the run up to the square in Holt.

On the road out of Holt I’d misplaced my waypoint and the turn it signaled wasn’t there, no option but to ride onto the next right turn, it was about half a mile up the road, signed Rossett. Along this road was a convoy of Austin 7,s coming the other way. I wish I’d stopped and took a picture it was one of those sights that you don’t see very often if ever. Looking at the Garmin map I was back on course as the road converged  with the compass pointing to the next waypoint at Lavister. At BroadOak I cross the level crossing and up over the A483 looking back to see if there is anybody in sight.

Once I turn at Burton Green it is a straight run into Kinnerton with a waypoint at the tee to stop me going the wrong way near the finnish. Riding into the scout hut carpark I’m expecting to see the odd bike parked up but there are none. In fact the timing is perfect as the control point is just opening up an I get a time of 13:45. Five minutes later another 3 from the morning group turn up, some looking a bit hot and bothered. They had been taking turns on the front into the headwind. Alan on his Scott CR1 has suffered a double puncture and had been left. He rolls in a bit later with two flat tubes hanging like spaghetti.

The rides over and it’s still early, the Garmin says 51.33 miles in 3hrs 20 with a 14:40 minute stop at Overton. 03:04 riding time and 1842ft of climbing.

The End

It was then a ride back to the Eureka with Allan and here I met another Allan from last years rides to the Ice Cream Farm and Pinarello Kev who has a new carbon toy. It was then back home via the missing link. Thornton Hall deserted from the previous evenings party.
It was back up RestHill a great days riding over. 

I might post a link to the Motionbased map player, this gives 5 and 10 mile split times and a host of other information overlaid on the map.

I don’t think there is much more to add apart from spell and grammer check the post 

Link to Google Map of ride

Audax Poynton to Chirk 200 km

Where do you start to write up a day like this, it was extreme in virtually every sense. The ride was the longest I have done by 25%, the weather was unbelievable hail, snow, rain, thunder lightning more hail but bigger and to cap it all a wind that was 25 mph  with a max of 32.2 mph.

The ride took 11 hours and we were cycling for 9 hrs 22 minutes a lot of what happened probably won’t make it into the article but I’ll try my best. I haven’t seen the pictures on the phone yet they are not normally much cop but you never know.

First requirement is making the start, made it this time thanks to a chap jetwashing a McDonalds a couple of miles down the road. None of the signs I read said Poynton never mind Hazel Grove. I won\’t make the same mistake again, I ended up signing in a couple of minutes before Ray and Craig.

Four of us are riding together setting out just before eight o’clock. It seems straight forward to start with, the  weather  was fine and if you read the routesheet you’d think there was only one hill near Chirk. Well thats how I read it. I should have known better.
Bob passes us fairly early on and is soon off into the distance.

We are soon climbing and pass Redes Mere  the climbs aren’t steep or that long but they are mounting up. On one of them we get our first dose of hailstones, they sting the face   and I think that I’ve never been out in worse conditions. They crunch under the tyres but there is still enough grip to climb. Descending is a different matter and I\’m nervous about another fall. But it was all OK we all stayed upright but it was grim. Then the sun comes out!. We are atleast six strong by this time, there is a chap on a trike that seems to know his way around and a couple of others, safety in numbers in these conditions.

At Middlewhich (26miles out)Bob and crew come past us again, I think they had headed off to Holmes Chapel by mistake anyway it’s not the first time this has happened. The tortoise and the hare has struck again. I’m highly amused to say the least as they head off in to the distance doing a good 3mph more than us.

The first control point comes up with Ray shouting to a rider who was going the wrong way at a T junction

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The card gets stamped and the drink ticket gets handed in, a cup of tea and a flapjack later we are back on the road. The camera/phone is proving to be a bit of a problem, the button to take the picture is too small and I’ve managed to delete some pictures rather than take more. This has happened a lot recently as removing gloves is awkward and cold fingers make it a bit hit and miss with the pictures.

The next section of the ride I’m not going to forget in a hurry for one thing we are going straight into a head wind of 25 mph. A group of 9 riders form and allthough nothing is said pairs form on the front to sheild the others. while at the back I start chatting to one of the other riders, it turns out he has done over 100 Audaxes while this is my 3rd. I tell him about the weightloss and the diet and he seemed pretty amazed as a lot of people are these days.

I’ve had a few turns on the front with others and solo but on one stretch I’m  on the front and we go over a hump back bridge well when you reached the top the force of the wind nearly stops you in your tracks. I’m thinking I can’t stop as I’ll cause a pile up. There is no cover now just open countryside and a 25mph headwind. I keep the pace up to around 12-13 mph which seemed reasonable to me, I was in fine form. I must have done a few miles at this pace untill we came to a crossroad. Ray comes to the front, slightly breathless, “Frank, you’ll have to slow down your dropping us”. With that it was someone elses turn on the front.

For those that don’t know getting dropped is where you can’t maintain the pace of the group. You drift slowly off the back and once off the back you loose the wind protection and any chance of making it back up to the group. The difference in speed might be less than 1mph but you won’t be able to do anything about it. It’s happened to me and that was why I was a solo rider for so long. Afraid that I couldn’t maintain the pace of the group and get “dropped”. Dropped doesn’t apply to hills, here it is everyman for himself. There is a danger of bunching and accidents if a group ride up a climb together. These days I like a bit of space and it usually means I am off the front.

Now past Overton there is a 10% descent which crosses a bridge over a stream called shell brook and up Shellbrook Hill on the other side. I take a climb like this in 40×25 as it’s about 10% and I can do these in the middle ring. The gradient is fairly constant  and provides no let up. Once at the top where it had flattened out I look back, there is no-one to be seen. Time to take a picture or two.

There was enough time to get the gloves off and the phone out its just a pity I unwittingly stopped in front of the car as I was looking for a bit of protection from traffic that may have come up behind me. Quality is iffy but there are so many buttons that you musn’t touch along with a touch sensitive screen that I’m thankfull I got anything.

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Craig struggled on this one, as you can see from the sequence we are all well strung out.
The main group take some catching and Craig thanks me for pacing him back up to the bunch, no problem. There is another climb to Chirk that I wasn’t expecting and then it was time to have a break at the control point.

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I was fairly obvious where the control point was all the bikes littering the place and fairly full inside. Luckily we were served before they starting telling customers about a half hour delay. As it was we were going to spend an hour and a half in control points and allthough it was relaxing we would pay for it later. It may be as simple as only sending one up for the food and drink. Getting served all takes time and times it by four in our case and it all adds up.

There was a nature call down the road and then convieniently back on the route. As we dropped down a hill past a farm following the natural run of the road there was a road past the side of one of the farm buildings. We should have took this road. It didn’t matter in the end as the Garmin in map mode put us back on course. I don’t know if the planned course was any steeper but the road we took had a spike in it at 20% and rear wheels were spinning on the loose surface/mud.

Once back on the common part of the route back we were greeted by another hailstorm and the hills behind us are now white but at least the wind is now on our backs. It’s wet going down the road where the pictures above were taken so there was no momentum for the 1:10 climb the other side. Here I pass a chap on a Thorn spinning away on a Rohlhoff hub. He doesn’t hang around once back on the flat and is in sight most of the way back to Poynton. Ray mistakes him for a girl as he has flowing locks. I’m unsure but it all gets sorted out at the next control point, the Lock Gate cafe at Beeston. The “girl” has a days growth on him.

Getting to the cafe we pass within 100 yards of Craigs home. Craing say it was going to get a bit lumpy. Well it did, one of the climbs although short hit 17% gradient on the Garmin and once past Beeston Castle there was a fast descent to the control point.
Tea and a slice of chocolate cake at this one. We were probably there about 30 minutes all told but it all added up as as we would see would mean a finish in the dark.

Once we managed to get across the road it was a hike up the hill and we were back on the route having seemed to have made good progress. My previous maximum of 100 miles came out and now I’m into new territory. I have chance to chat with the chap on the Thorn and it turns out he navigates with an Garmin Etrex Legend and gets 24 hours out of a set of batteries.  Later on I learn about another feature of the Edge from Ray, the backlight. Once you use it once, it comes on automatically once the waypoints come up. This proves to be an extemely usefull feature towads the end of the ride.

As we cross the Cheshire plain and its getting around dusk, diagonally on the left of us an ominous black cloud hangs over somewhere near Manchester airport. The next thing is there is a flash of lightning lighting up the cloud. Then there is another one and we are counting the seconds to the thunder clap which is muffled and far enough away at the moment. I’m thinking I’ll be OK on “The Toy”, not too much metal on my bike.

I don’t know if we rode into it or it blew our way or both but the next thing we know its dark and we are getting battered by large hailstones. These are the size of my little fingernail some of them and I would say 6-7 mm in diameter. I don’t think I’ve been out in anything as bad as this. The LED front light is on and proves pathetic even though the road is a white carpet of crunchy hailstones. Cars are trying to get past us too and the pace slows to match the conditions.

The hail stops but we have lost the light by now and headlamps are fitted by the others. We are nearing the end and starting to compare tripmeter accuracy. Now as we are nearing the finish either the others are getting their second wind or I am slowing. The others are slowly dropping me, only 25 to 50 yards but its still dropped. There have been two distinct styles of pedaling today, Ray,s Ullrich style which is slow cadence and a big ring and my Armstrong style which is a higher cadence but usually in the middle ring.

It’s a style I’ve picked up riding with the CTC and needs to be modified for events like this. The middle ring slows me down on the flat otherwise I’m off the front. On a long event it wastes energy, most of the return leg was 17mph plus and I was in the big ring the same as the others. I’d slipped into the middle ring and hadn’t got out of it probably out of habit. It’s OK when you are on your own, you just go slower, when your with a group you can find yourself drifting off the back. They slowed at one point and it was back together and it all came back again when we finally reached the traffic lights at the finish.

The final control was a Coop late shop opposite the start. Going in in pairs the valuble receipt was obtained. Soreen malt loaf on a buy one get one free offer hear. Just over elleven hours, what an unbeleivable day. You couldn’t write a script that described the weather and the emotions that went with it. It would have been a bit less if we had spent less time in the cafes but it may have detracted from the experience and boy was this event an experience.

The stop button on the Garmin got pressed in the carpark, 126.34 miles. It was more but I didnt start the Garmin untill we were on the road out of Poynton. The weather turned to snow and before you know it there is nearly an inch of snow on the cars as we load our bikes. There are still riders out there and they must really be suffering. I manage to get lost in Stockport on the drive home and take an extra half hour on the journey but at least the heater was on full blast.

Link to Google Map Poynton Chirk Poynton Audax

Thanks everyone, it turned out to be a memorable day.

Some ride Stats will appear here.

A Mere 150 km(Audax) a tour of the Cheshire Mere,s

What a day this turned out to be, 100 miles of Cheshires finest and this was the short route! It’s been an unbeleivable day with sunshine, headwinds, tailwinds, hills, fantastic scenery, quiet roads and good company along with an excellent route to make this a great way to start the year.

First off, many thanks to Ray for sending me the route for the Garmin Edge 305. This really saved the day, I was up untill 23.15 the night before as Anquet had managed to loose EVERYTHING time was tight enough prepping the bike, changing the rear tyre and getting the seat out of the car without loosing a 100mile route. It was an early start and I didn’t get much sleep too.
The start at Cheadle was easy enough to find with the nearby carpark full of cars and the odd van with bikes being unloaded.

In the hall I met Ray and Craig my riding partners for the day. We had a photo opportunity at the signing in table and then we were off. Ray was my mentor with the Garmin Navigation saying to use the compass. I’d never found the compass usefull before but thats because I was following tracks and not waypoints. Heading out of Cheadle through the suburbs towards the airport the Edge was bleeping out the turns.

We saw another member of the Chester Road Club miss two turns before we had got past the airport, and this guy is quick, if he knew where he was going. Thing were starting to look up, this was turning out to be fun. It’s amazing how quickly we were in the countryside only the flights from Manchester Airport reminding us how close we were to a major city.

A little bit further on The Hare  and the Toitoise comes to roost, there is a long slow rise at Tatton Park, it goes on as far as the eye can see, I set off seeing it as a challenge there is a headwind but as I rise to the challenge I am soon reeled back in by Ray. This is early days and everybody needs to take a turn on the front. I’ve wasted energy that I am going to need later.

Shortly after this Ray and Craig are greeted by a bunch of unknown riders that pass us, “Hello Chester Road club” the greeting is returned. We are riding out of our own turf so don’t know the club colours, there are lots by the look of things. Later it comes about we have been riding around a group not on the Audax but a club run, just as well we relied on the Garmins and not them leading us out.

Ray and I were like a pair of kids with new toys as we rode round. The Edges came up with the turns 10 seconds before they were due and to top it all gave us a 10 second countdown. Ray had done us proud with the navigation. There is some spectacular scenery to see in Cheshire if your off the major roads and by the looks of things we were going to see it all.

There was one descent and one sharp climb of note before the first check point at Delamere. When we got there it was ” CLOSED” due to storm damage.  

Down at the Station Cafe there is a bit of interest in the toy but I’m more interested in showing off the Garmin, It’s been fantastic up to now. Making a long ride a pleasure. No arguments about which way to turn you just ride, no maps to pore over, guessing where you are etc etc.

After Delamere the next stop is Audlem. On the road to Cotebrooke Ray urges me to catch a rider in fronts wheel which was duly done, there was then a group of five of us making better progress than before. The wind was with us or at least not head on and 20mph plus was the order of the day. We rode with them for a fair few miles and then our paths diverged. The Garmins said one path that we duly followed and parted company.

Large stretches of this ride was new to me like Audlem where pictures where pictures are taken.

Ray & Craig.JPG

Audlem Control point.JPG

We take the Audlem Road out towards Hatherton and end up passing Crewe to the south along with another new batch of first time visited villages. We are making our way to the next control point, a one stop shop where we have to buy something to get a receipt. Now I travel light, flapjacks and an energy bar is about it. Chicken and sweetcorn sandwiches, Soreen maltloaf and full sugar Pepsi get purchased. The Pepsi is the first cola with sugar I have bought for years.

It’s around this time that looking at the Garmin proves a bit frustrating. No matter how far we seem to cycle the as the crow flies reading back to the start never seems to budge. There are other groups around us that it turns out are Manchester based clubs that are just out for a ride and not on the Audax. As I was feeling good at the time and the road looked inviting I took off after one, 22 mph came up on the Garmin and I backed off and Ray and Craig caught me up.This was fun.

Mike (the organiser) had the last laugh though. The route twisted and turned but always upward. It never seemed to have a summit, we passed Redes Mere but still the route was up. Not realising what I had let myself in for each new turn was met by a curse from me. You could never see the summit  to pace yourself.

Somewhere around here was a particulary steep short sharp shock and at the summit I’d stopped with a group of Manchester riders. Ray and Craig sailed past as if they hadn’t seen me. A bit further on they stopped, we then had a comical photo opportunity.
The light is fading, Rays digital camera comes out. I think I get a shot of Ray and Graig that is after the Manchester clubs made a guest appearance.

Ray tries to return the favour but the timer on the flash means Ray is continuallly taking pictures of his foot or the road. It’s taking that long for the camera to focus and work out that it needs the flash that by the time the flash had charged you’d have given up on the shot and were looking at the camera to see what is wrong. Then and only then it decides conditions are right to take the picture.   

Before  passed through Alderley there was another control point and this is definiatly band D council tax territory and it’s litterally all down hill from there. Every other car seems to be a Bentley or a Range Rover Vogue. the light is starting to go  and it’s time for some lights. The traffic is starting to increase as we approach built up areas. Before you know it we are back at the start. 100 miles on the Sigma speedo, a bit less on the Garmin as it didn’t get started until we were away from the start hence the gap in the route.

This route has too many trackpoints to load into motionbased I’m working on reducing them but it may take a few more days. Done 2 Feb, enjoy.

Zoom in on following route it is truly superb a true testament of the Garmin Edge 305. Ridden with no maps just the route sheet to fall back on, which was once and that was just to confirm what the GPS was telling us. What a day, it promises to be another great year. Thanks Ray and Craig  for a memorable day, it won’t be the last. 

Link to Google Map of Ride

Just a couple of stats from the Garmin
99 miles 13.4 mph, 7hrs 10mins, 6280 calories, Pulse 134 BPM, 4007 ft of climbing Average Cadence 63rpm.