Category Archives: Cycling commute

Yawn!

Tiredness is king!

I’d love to sleep for a week. The temptation to switch the alarm off this morning and have 45 minutes more in bed and drive in was massive. It was reinforced as I ate my Shreddies and watched the flag outside (my neighbour seems to have adopted a flag permanently instead of for sporting support, Jubilees and the like) mocking me by flying like it was rocket powered and indicating that the full force of the wind would be against me for the coming hour.

I hate flags. And the smell of shit. But that was a blog post two years ago, so I’ll avoid full repetition.

Instead I accepted that it’d be a slow slog in, that I’d merely arrive a bit later than yesterday and that I’d simply rummage around in my box of gears for a lower ratio until I ran out of options, whereupon I’d get off and walk. It didn’t quite get to that but, with the coldness of the morning (June? Fuck off! It feels like April. And working in Hawkinge (AKA the shittiest place on the planet; first to get foggy, first to receive rain, coldest, windiest hellhole on earth), it stayed cold and cloudy until lunchtime when the sun made an appearance and hinted it might warm up. It didn’t until I neared Ashford on the way home, but it hinted. Which for Hawkinge is the best it ever does), I was close to stopping and crying as my hands started to stiffen as I neared Etchinghill and the biggest of the climbs.

But I slogged in, recovered and then had a surprise visit to the pub for lunch after handing over the last of the rented houses. Pub? Lunch? Is it still the law to have scampi and chips on such an occasion? I’d like to think so. And if so, I’ll not be going to jail this week.

And this, combined with my fig rolls, gave me a full stomach for the cycle home.

Which was ok. A full side-wind for the long stretch through Sellindge was wearisome but better than a headwind and again, I was a good bit quicker than going in.

And once home, the run felt better, too. My legs must be conditioning themselves to jogging after a ride and a 3 mile outing was the order of the evening, a mile of it in the company of another runner who was out for 10k. Made a great change to have a chat for a few minutes before heading home.

So my legs are nearly ruined, my bum has started hurting on the saddle, but I’m near 100 miles cycling and that feels good.

I’ve decided that Friday won’t be ridiculously massive, despite devilish plans to make it so. I was going to mountainbike to work then join Steve for an off-road jaunt, then cycle home from Hythe. I don’t think I’ll make it (it would be over 40 miles for the day. On off-road tyres. With full suspension. With a day’s work in between). Instead I’m going to drive in and enjoy the mountainbiking. It’ll leave me more mileage to make up on the weekend, but happy miles are better than hating the challenge I’ve set.

Can I go to sleep now? Ah, no. I’ve still got to water the greenhouse, sort two loads of washing, wash up and watch some TT racing first. Later, though. Looking forward to it already.

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Brakes!

A quick statistical update. The last, I promise.

Today, my journey to work took 38 seconds longer than yesterday. My journey home took 1.98 seconds less. The 38 seconds dropped my pace to below 15mph. I’d be ashamed were it not for my dislike of early morning exercise (starting the ride, which takes an hour, at a little before 6am is early enough to be wrong for me), my tired legs and the wind combined with the uphill nature of the journey. The 2 seconds home are a surprise since I had to stop at two junctions where I didn’t yesterday.

The time was made up, almost certainly, on the approach to the Orbital Park roundabout. Downhill. Following wind. Top gear. All the cars, vans and artics that had passed me on the approaching quarter of a mile were slowing to give way for the roundabout. I was flying. I pulled into the middle of the road (it’s a dual carriageway, so I was between lanes of traffic as if filtering on the motorbike). I flew past everything that had passed me. The roundabout was looking clear. Traffic started to ease onto it. A Skoda Roomster appeared from the line of cars approaching the roundabout from the right. He was going straight over towards the lorry park. The cars in the queue stopped. I braked. I didn’t have the mountainbike’s 200mm hydraulic discs. I didn’t slow down much. If at all, in fact. I let off the brakes. I stood up. I pedalled with all my force and nipped out and around the last car approaching the roundabout and made it on, around and clear before the Skoda was at the bit you need to give way at. I pedalled home and changed my underwear. And made a mental note that road bike brakes are okay unless you’re going at proper road bike speed.

Then I went for my run. Which went badly. The first bit was better than yesterday, mainly due to shoe choice. Instead of my favorite ever (and now around 700 miles old) Mizunos I laced up my New Balance 890’s. They’re marvelous in their own right and the first 2.25 miles was a pleasure, around the local fields then the housing estate and cycle path towards Tesco. The bad bit was that I desired food to satisfy my hunger. Bananas were found easily. Bread (for work sandwiches) equally so. I dithered a bit around the fig rolls, checking they were vegetarian so JogBlog can have some (mind you, maybe it’d be better if they weren’t so she didn’t snaffle them all!) but then took aaaaages finding the malt loaf. I knew where it should be but kept walking past it. Once found and paid for, along with the bags of shopping (I balanced out the goods to allow an attempt at jogging; I didn’t take a rucksack, knowing that even if the bits all fitted, I’d have mashed banana and minced bread. Neither of which  like), I started out trying to jog the half mile home but gave up after a quarter. Simply had no energy in my legs, my arms felt weary and all desire for Juneathon had gone.

Hopefully batteries will be refreshed for the morning. They need to be. It looks as though the morning breeze will still be a headwind and it’s supposed to be twice the speed it was this morning. Two hour cycle commute, perchance?

Still, the mileage is increasing and I should crack 100 overall miles tomorrow, tantalizingly close to 100 for cycling already. Fingers crossed my energy holds up. If not, I may just drive in at 15mph average, Garmin held out of the window as only a knackered Juneathoner might.

I like Robins

As I headed out to water the greenhouse after my Juneathoning was over, I was followed by my Robin. Always there or thereabouts with me in the garden, today saw me amble towards the glass structure (why have I just felt like I’m writing a passage for “Just a Minute”? Because I resisted writing greenhouse twice? Maybe. Maybe there’s a blog challenge just been hatched for when things get really desperate in week 3. As if writing about a Robin isn’t desperate enough. And no, I haven’t wavered off topic. It’s a running blog. Topic was off with the title.) with it (the Robin. Keep up!) firstly on the wall by the conservatory, then onto my favourite red-leafed tree (must decide what it is instead of just looking at it in ignorance and liking it as I clear the lily bed of beetles), then onto the pile of brush that needs burning, then onto the water butt. No digging, so no opportunity to provide food, but to see him watching me from Cathy’s stick (a tree branch she brought back for a mile from a drunken walk back from town, she’s attached to it so it has to stay on the lawn by the kitchen window) as I washed up was like being observed by a wise old fellow. Like when it makes me jump when I reach for the fork and it’s sat on the handle with me.

Forget Kites, Storks or Gulls. Robins will do me come the revolution.

So today, for Juneathon, I have been mostly worn out.

A difficult cycle to work took far longer than it should. 10 seconds under 15mph average for the 15.4 miles was a bit slower than I’d reckoned. But it is uphill overall, two of them stink, one is just a long gentle slog and the wind was against me. Plans to jog from work were forgotten with priorities being to save a bit of energy for the ride home.

The ride home averaged 18.1mph with a breeze behind me and the associated nett downhill making it nicer.

But when I got in I needed to run (Juneathon being predominantly a running challenge, after all, and me searching for 100 miles overall. Or is it 75 overall? I’ll decide as energy levels equal out). So I changed shorts, pulled on my running shoes (as opposed to cycling ones. I don’t use clipped pedals and disco slippers, even on my road bike (or racer, as we used to call them when they weren’t trendy), I stick to DMR V12 flat pedals for everything. Their grip is all I’ve ever needed to keep full rotation of the pedal stroke under power. The difference to my running trainers is they’re flat and stiff to grip the pedal, rather than contoured for road/trail grip) and went for a jog.

Or tried to. My legs were moving like Bambi on ice and it wasn’t pretty. Less pretty than usual. Very bad. But 2.6 miles around local lanes was done, 7.42 average pace maintained and now it’s time to sleep before I repeat the effort tomorrow.

Maybe.

End of the year

It seems fitting to carry out something of a round-up.

Again a year dogged by injury (only a few broken ribs and something amiss with my shins, but just as the year was going well it knocked a good start on the head and made me wonder why I bother for a little while).

Only a few races, too. And one of them in injury recovery so with mates, not as a competitive outing.

And very few cycled miles. I blame the lack of summer combined with the ribs when I should have got going. But a site with no power and only a few days when a soaking couldn’t be all but guaranteed? Cycling to work wasn’t really ever going to happen.

Hopefully this coming year things will be different. And better, at that.

I’m not planning entering any races. If I do it’ll be for a social activity and to see how my “fitness” is tailored to goals – can I put in a dedcent pace despite not having specifically ramped activity up to meet a goal in the shorter outings and, if I attempt a longer run, simply can I extend distance through slowing down a bit? I’m curious to find out.

Janathon is a seperate entity. I prefer Juneathon, it being a little drier and warmer, but Janathon has my mileage record. I’ll have another bash at decent distance this season, I think, but I’m making windows for the house so there’ll be no obsessing and ruining the year!

I’m planning on mountainbiking more as well as focusing harder on off-road runs, barely having explored the Greensand Way which runs along the end of the drive on the way to HamStreet in the 3 years I’ve lived here, as well as failing to explore all but a quarter of the Hythe Canal which got me excited as I recovered from my ribs.

I’ll not mention intentions to avoid injury. I’ll follow Colin McRae’s mantra “If in doubt, flat out!” whenever I can. If I get away with it, superb. If not? At least I’ll be satisfied I tried.

With any luck I’ll meet a few more decent folk along the way, too. Maybe mixing up my activities will assist there. Who knows?

Wishing all a very happy and healthy new year.

Janathon beckons! See you on the Janathon group of RunningFreeOnline!

End of year round-up

Overall it hasn’t been a disaster but around February/March time, it didn’t look good!

January saw Janathon and over 120 running miles. And a bit of damage to my foot that I simply ran through before having a poor February trying to work out why it felt broken and a rubbish March with no running miles while I rested to try and repair it. Cycling took on a bigger role as the months went by, though, so overall fitness remained reasonable.

April saw a week off and the opportunity to see someone about the foot. A temporary shoe insert helped recovery and this, combined with a week of cycling everywhere, saw monthly mileage go beyond 300 for combined activities…suddenly my 2011 mile challenge looked beatable, instead of growing ever larger as a weekly target in front of me.

May saw a return to normality with cycles to work increasing along with running confidence. A fresh pair of shoes (Adidas…never thought I’d wear a pair of these for running!) brought all sorts of advances in running. Never have a pair of feet been so revitalised as by a simple, well advised purchase.

June saw Juneathon. Two races, several million cycles to work (or so it felt in the rain and wind) and 699 overall miles, including my targetted 50 running miles as a return to normal.

July saw my first ever 5k race (on July 1st, so not entirely rested after the cycling and last day of June run) as well as a recovery into normal cycling and enjoying the summer. And it all went downhill from there, really! Mileage decreased but joy increased as both running and cycling became less something I “must” do and became things that I simply had fun doing again. As far as the weather went, it being a cooler than normal summer suited me fine. And so things progressed through August.

September saw me bemoaning the imminent loss of my hilly country lane for repeat sessions, and through the autumn (while the temperatures returned to April levels) I continued to hunt for enjoyable runs around Rye. Still haven’t found any, but alternative hilly routes at least exist to keep fitness levels up.

November was a dull month of repetition; December has ended at a whimper. Lows have been a cold knocking me back as I tried to rest to lose it before my trip to Paris; highs definitely the run through Paris to the Arc de Triomphe. The last week has seen a couple of short jogs and a few short cycles. Nothing to excite in any way but to simply get out and maintain activity through a Christmas of decoration and floor laying.

And so to Janathon 2012 and some 2012 goals.

Injury free is the main aim. I’ll try to run through Janathon and Juneathon this year. A target of 3 decent runs per week surrounded by single mile outings should see mileage sensible at around 75 total, I think. A cycle each weekend will keep me honest, too, I hope. Nothing epic but something to make the legs remember they’re for more than plodding is the plan.

Instead of a total mileage challenge (2011 saw the 2011 mile challenge beaten with a comfortable margin, even if the figures don’t look epic-I didn’t count many cycle rides after October, so totals dropped as the challenge end came into view), I’m going for a quality challenge this year. Several goals make it up.

General exercise (either weights, press-ups and sit-ups etc, use of the rowing machine) made a resurgence towards then end of this year and I feel better for it. To this end, I’m targetting 150 runs (over 1 mile to allow some slacking with the Jan and June runs all counting, but to be realistic and allow rest after a few planned races as well as a couple of down weeks with colds and the like). 100 “general exercise” sessions, be they weights or combinations of press-ups, rows, sit-ups, chin-ups or whatever co-ordinated into a 20 minute or more pulse raising activity. 50 cycles of 5 miles or more (to exclude commutes to the station and back unless they include a detour, even if it is on the BMX, but to allow two cycles from a commute to work – 16 miles each way counts! Also to exclude simple outings to buy a paper unless a detour is included in the route). That should give me about 60 days off through the year which will be increased with a few multi-task days reducing the burden.

The plan is a stronger, fitter man with some time to enjoy working in the garden but also the ability to take on a challenge or two without wilting at the prospect. Races will be an opportunity to see how well I’ve done as a rounded “athlete” rather than to destroy myself in the pursuit of pb’s.

Happy new year.

And let Janathon commence.

Phew!

Work isn’t doing my motivation any favours and plans for world domination at home this evening have fallen a little by the wayside as priorities have changed.

Busy doesn’t do work justice, everything is a dash and with holiday season doing us no favours at the moment it’ll take a while for the dust to settle, but at least I still managed to get away around 5.30 tonight with some plans afoot.

I got home and pulled my trainers straight on, heading out for a 3 mile loop encompassing The End Still Cries Out to purchase essentials. Which is where things went awry. A bit.

The loop out was ace – full of beans, I set a decent pace and ran very easily with zero reference to my Garmin, no traffic and a spring in my step. Shopping was for pasta for dinner, dry cat food and surgical spirit. The assistant behind the chemist bit interrogated me whilst I was dripping onto the floor about what I wanted the spirit for and she seemed a bit taken aback when I explained – I don’t think she expected me to say that one of Cathy’s friends has suggested it may help remove the smell the cat seems to have taken a liking to which means she shits on the rug in the living room instead of her tray now. But mum told me not to lie, so that’s what she was told.

Twice I’ve rubbed her nose in it but that doesn’t seem to be working so if I can’t convince her to stop, carpets simply aren’t going to be purchased only to be ruined by a stinking mog so solutions must be found (she did the same to the last rug and we had to bin it – the new one’s too nice to not try pretty hard to rescue). The chemist type person-assistant thing sold me a bottle, though, so the excuse couldn’t have been too implausible but her “Good Luck” send off meant I also purchased some proper cleaner, so between the two something must work, surely?

Getting home laden with shopping (ok, some Whiskas, pasta, surgical spirit and cat cleaner might not be laden but with no bag, it was quite a juggling match!) made me resolve to get the rug immediately and take it upstairs for stage one of the cleaning which involved the shower, some disinfectant in a spray bottle and amazement at how heavy a rug is when soaked – the smell of it when it got wet tells me action may not be a moment too soon. And how tricky it is to get downstairs without it dripping everywhere. Unfortunately, this and my half hour in the garden along with washing up, eating and blogging means the toilet will stay un-repaired for another day and no other chores got done.

Pesky bloody cat.

Ah, well. 460.15 miles to go, a plan to cycle tomorrow but a weather forecast showing rain for 07.00 and 17.00 might make me postpone it until Friday. But that will be after hill rpeats so I’d rather get the cycle out of the way first, really!

So many options

My day started with a fall out of bed, such was my bewilderment at the alarm claiming it was time to get up already, but a look out of the window dashed my hopes of another half hour in bed by proving to be sunny and bright.

Perfect cycling weather. Which kind of decided my Juneathon fate.

Having calculated that exactly 2 miles would finish me on 666.66, a new number was factored in which demanded a couple of minor cycling detours to round my total to something decent. So the trip out was a straight affair, enjoying the light breeze that was predomintly a side wind but which meant a t-shirt was too cool and a second top too warm.

No drama, though. Simply a rabbit-free (no new bunnies on the tarmac) journey to work.

On the way home, I overtook a few cars down the hill from site, another at the zebra crossing as I turned away from home to add a .75 mile loop to the journey via the one way detour. Haven’t done this before but it was quite fun – cars in both directions made a little queue of commuters behind me who were unable to overtake which might have been a touch longer had the striking long-weekend seekers been at work, clogging the roads with commuters on top of those already out. I always like an entourage and by the mini roundabout to take me onto my normal route, I had quite a following. Bet they were really angry at me. Oh, well.

The canal road was nice enough, with the same side wind as this morning. A cormorant made a change of feathered friend as it flew away from me by Scots Float sluice and nothing much else happened until I turned onto the road for home.

Three cyclists rode past the end of the road as I was stretching my legs just before joining it and, with about a 50 yard gap, they slowly pulled away for a bit before I decided Juneathon commuting needed cheering up, so started to accelerate toward them. The little upslope helped me wind them in, the bloke at the back was taking the piss by freewheeling as his mates put in the effort to drag him along but it took a VW Polo which was unable to pass them on a few corners to give me enough tow to catch onto the back of them as it overtook, allowing me to chat.

Seems they do two 25 mile rides a week, they apparently take it in turns to lead (don’t think my comment about the tail ender being lazy was very appreciated), but maybe they’ll look up Juneathon if they remember to see what it’s about having been harrassed in all their poncey cycling clothes and flash equipment by a small bloke with the wrong pedals and baggy shorts and rucksack bulging with work clothes on a filthy commuting bike which is being ridden far more than it deserves.

It was fun for a couple of miles, though, until I diverted off route to add another loop to the end of the ride and bring my commute up to just over 18 miles.

Which left the small matter of a jog to relieve me of cycling woes and to take me over 50 miles for the month.

JB’s 0.75 mile route seemed ideal for several reasons. The main one being how short it was.

It really isn’t a run, to be fair – my legs didn’t want to move and about a half of the run was just trying to get them to do what I wanted. The pace is unrealistic with so many variations in footfall but if it says I was below 8 minute miles, I’ll take it. It put me over 50 miles which was my June goal and that’s the main thing.

June totals are:

Juneathon failed for not blogging on Monday (saves any sarky comments from poor poets about independance of adjudication, if nothing else). 30 days of logged activity, 29 blog posts about it.

June total miles 699.89 at 15.2 mph average.

June running total 50.49 miles.

2011 challenge 489.43 miles to go…which, with 6 months still on the board, is a slightly easier prospect than it seemed at the end of March!

July target – put the two wheels away for much of the week and become a half marathon training runner again while developing some upper body definition to make my clothes fit like they should.

It hasn’t been a bad month, on the whole. Not sure what to do for my next challenge but the time I can spend on “normal” stuff will be welcomed. The drive to work tomorrow is going to be one of the best of my life, though, I think. Nothing like a hard journey or two to remind me how good life can be.

Well done everyone who’s taken part – we’re all winners if being slightly healthier (allowing for injuries!) is the measure and thanks to JB for getting us motivated again. If Joggerblogger hadn’t been so inspired those few short years ago, I’d have a tidy garden now!! I look forward to being able to do a full blog catch-up over the coming days and meeting a few of you in Hyde Park next weekend.

Now I fancy a sleep.