Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Richmond Park

Today I worked from home so was deprived from cycling into and back from work! To make sure my graph keeps going in the right direction I decided to go for a cycle after work.

I finally made it to RIchmond Park. It’s a fantastic place to cycle – very quite, not much traffic, nice and open and it has deer!

It is also quite a challenging ride with some pretty steep gradients. The route I took was about 16.5 miles and a total elevation increase of nearly 1000ft. It’s right on my door stop so a good place to go for a quick ride then the weather is nice.

View Richmond Park in a larger map

Training / Sponsorship update

The sponsorship really is going so much better than I thought it was going to. So far I have raised £460 so thank you very much to everyone who has sponsored me.

My preparation for the sponsored ride is going pretty well. My main preparation is trying to lose weight. I am aiming to lose a total of 40 lbs over 2 months. You can see from this graph that I am losing weight, just not as much as I had planned! I tend to do well during the week but not as well at the weekends. Last weekend for example I was deliberately giving my legs a rest but we had a few meals out…

I’m not concerned though, as long as I still lose some weight that’s fine. what I plan to lose is only a guideline. I have lost a stone in the month since I started.

Chain Woes

Yesterday (Monday) I had another broken chain on the way into work. Luckily I had my new multi-tool with me that actually has a chain breaker on it.
I’d never done it before but I actually managed to fix the chain – kind of… I did manage to get the chain joined up but I had threaded it through the derailleur incorrectly. It worked but it made a horrible noise, then it jammed and didn’t work any more.

I pulled over to fix the chain again – this time though I couldn’t get it back together (I now know the trick of not pushing the pin all the way out). Luckily I was quite close to Evans Clapham so I walked there.
On the way the chain fell off the bike. It was knackered with at least 2 other dodgy links that  could see without even looking for them. I threw the chain away.

Evans opened at 8 and luckily they were able to supply and fit a new chain there and then. I was only about an hour and a half later for work in the end.

The shop did warn me that I might need a new cassette as it wears together with the chain. I didn’t have time for them to fit one in the morning but sure enough the chain kept slipping in the gears that I use most.

Today I bought a new cassette and had it fitted. I think the ratios are a bit lower than the ones I had which is annoying, if anything I would have liked higher. Apart from that the bike is working great again.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Dilemma – upgrade parts or new bike?

Today on the Dorking Downs run I had a few technical issues.

My front wheel bearing seems to have gone so the wheel knocked a lot as it floated around on the worn out bearings. This also meant that I couldn’t get the brakes adjusted very close to the wheel so the brakes didn’t work very well – which was a problem on the long steep descents.

I also had problems with my gears. Shifting on the front gears was not good at all – in fact it wouldn’t change down if I was putting any power through the pedals. Sometimes when I was just spinning the pedals and not actually pushing it still wouldn’t change. This was why I had to walk up one of the hills.
I’ve had issues with the gears before as well, slipping between gears, breaking the chain recently.

Basically I want a whole new gear set up and probably need a new front wheel to match my new rear wheel.

Other things I don’t like about the bike:

  • It’s heavy
  • I don’t like the old style brakes, I would prefer the disc brakes
  • I think it might be a bit small for me

So basically I’m wondering if I should spend a few hundred on upgrading the wheel and gears on my existing bike or bite the bullet and go for a new bike.

Dorking Downs

I did my first organised run today with Evans Ride It. I did the Dorking & North Downs short run. That’s 30 miles which is long for me but the medium is 60 miles and long is 90 miles.

I had originally booked the fun ride which is only 12 miles but a few days ago I decided to do the short. I am glad I did. I do 12 miles twice a day whenever I commute. My only hesitation was that the route was supposed to be very hilly. It really was hilly!

I did enjoy the run although I was counting down how far I had left for most of the day. The hills really were tough. I only walked up one of the hills as I had some problem with my gears and couldn’t get down into the lowest ratio. On the other big ascents I pedalled all the way but was in first gear a lot doing around 5 or 6 MPH.

I am really pleased that I managed to finish the day and it’s given me more confidence about doing the 60 mile Evans run at the start of July and the 80 mile sponsored event at the end of July.

Total Distance: 30 Miles
Top Speed: 30.2 MPH
Total Time: 2:59:50
Average Speed: 10.11 MPH
Moving Time: 2:31:29
Average Moving Speed: 11.92 MPH
Elevation Gain: 2,408 ft
Min Elevation: 301 ft
Max Elevation: 890 ft

New Shoes

On Wednesday I finally got round to getting some proper cycling shoes. I have been meaning to do this for a while. The trainers I have been using have been fairly comfortable but I did used to get sore balls of my feet after a long cycle and my socks tended to bunch up around my toes which was uncomfortable (I also now have some proper cycling socks as well).

I got some Shimano mountain bike shoes. I got the mountain bike shoes as they are easier to walk in when you are not cycling. I also got pedals that have the SPD clips on one side and are normal pedals on the other side.

The shoes felt really comfortable in the shop and I was really looking forward to trying them out properly.

My first ride with the shoes was a bit odd. I was setting off from a part of London that I didn’t know so I got lost. This meant lots of stopping and starting – not very easy when you are getting used to clipping in and out.
The ride home felt odd. I didn’t feel I could get any power through the pedals at higher cadences. I also felt like my toes should point out more.

When I got home I adjusted the cleats so that I was more toe out. On the ride in on Thursday morning the adjustment definitely helped and felt a lot better. For the first few miles it still felt odd but after that it just seemed to click and it felt fantastic!

I can really feel how much these shoes are going to help me. At the moment my legs are feeling more tired than usual as my muscles get used to being used in a slightly different way. When I get used to it though I think that it’s really going to help.

I am getting better at clipping in. Quite a lot of the time my foot just finds the right place by itself and I hear the click as I apply power. Sometime though when I don’t get it first time it can take a long time to get clipped in. As the pedals only have clips on one side sometimes I am trying to clip in on the wrong side as well but this doesn’t happen very often.

I’m glad I’ve finally bitten the bullet and have gone for these.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Nightmare Commute

This morning I had pretty much the worse ride in to work I can imagine (I hope I’m not tempting fate by saying that).

The ride started off pretty well – I was going quick and felt strong. When I got to Oval tube I was in the ASL box and in front of other queuing cyclists so when the lights went green I pushed hard to get out of their way. As I was changing up through the gears I heard a ping and the pedals went slack – I had broken my chain!

At this point in my journey I had 6 miles left to get to work and at this time in the morning – around 7:15 there are no cycle shops open.

I started walking…

I was looking out for a taxi but the only ones I saw were on the other side of the road and didn’t see me – or didn’t want to.

After 2 miles in Elephant & Castle a very kind cyclist stopped to try and help me out. He had a chain tool but unfortunately after trying for a while he wasn’t able to fix the chain – it was too fiddly and the link seemed to be damaged. I thanked him for trying to help out. He suggested I go to On Your Bike which by now had opened. I did try and phone them but they said all the mechanics were busy and they wouldn’t be able to look at the bike till lunch.

I carried on walking…

After walking about 3 miles I got to Tower Bridge, only to find it opening. I had to wait until a huge cruise liner went past before it closed again and then had to wait for all the other ambling pedestrians thinned out so I could get past.

I walked some more…

After walking around 5 miles in total I got to the swing bridge on Narrow Street – and guess what, it was opening too!

I only had another mile to go after that. I walked a total of 6 miles and was about 2.5 hours later than I would have been if I hadn’t had the broken chain. I managed to persuade Evans to fix the chain at lunch time.

Luckily my cycle home was without incident. It was actually really good. I was really fast and was flying up the hills.

The Long Way Home

As the first ride as part of my preparation for the Big Red Ride I took a longer route home that usual on Saturday. There were after work drinks on Friday night so I had left my bike at work. On Saturday I got the tube in to ride home.

View London Bridges in a larger map

The route I took was a combination of 2 of the routes in my new eBook: 25 London Cycle Routes. I managed to load the route onto my phone so I could check up where I was whilst I was cycling without needing to take a load of print outs with me. To get gpx files on your android phone I would recommend the Apps My Tracks and Linda Manager ( a file manager).

I enjoyed my cycle. The routes generally worked pretty well. There was one bit where I couldn’t get onto London Bridge using the exact co-ordinates but it was easy enough to work it out when I was there. I was actually running the route backwards which probably didn’t help.

The weather was gorgeous and I covered 20 miles in around 2 hours. I did have to stop quite a bit to check up on my route which was a bit annoying but a phone mount for my bike which I have ordered should sort that.

I saw some lovely bits of London that I would never normally have come across. I even came across 2 of the Elephant Parade elephants on my route (right). I also saw the temple pictured above. I look forward to trying some of the more challenging routes from the ebook.

Next week I have a 30 mile trip planned with Evans. Here’s hoping for good weather. I am looking forward to it.

Sponsorship / Training Update

Sponsorship for my Big Red Ride has gone very well and I am up to £250 so far - £100 more than that amount I had to raise as a minimum. Many thanks to all of you who have generously contributed.

My “training” is going quite well – I’m not really doing proper training but cycling in general is going well and I am getting much stronger and seem to cope with hills much better.

I had my first weight loss target on Saturday. I did miss my target weight by a few pounds but I am not too concerned about that. It doesn’t have a big impact on me reaching my final target. If I even get close to my final target I’ll be very pleased, if I don’t quite make it it doesn’t matter.