Monday 29 October 2012

Dear Cyclist

The Palace to Palace charity ride is now over with and the training programme that I was on has come to an end after 11 weeks (it is recommended to wait 4 weeks before restarting it due to it's intensity).  So at the moment it's a case of a couple of endurance rides a week and trying to beat the winter weather.

A few friends and family have asked me what the next challenge will be? In fact, my wife's uncle posted up on Facebook how he would like to join me on the Palace to Palace next year.  My brother has also recently taken up cycling again (I like to think I inspired him to get fitter) so he said he was up for something too. Even my son, who is struggling with bad knees at the moment seems to be interested in getting a road bike.

I noticed two rides by the Princes Trust, the Palace to Palace that I have already completed and a longer ride (225 miles over 3 days) going from the Mersey to the Tyne. I posted up the two offerings on Facebook and suddenly my wife's uncle claims he doesn't have a bike (even though he's been giving me coaching advice for the last 6 weeks or so).

One thing though about charity rides is that they are supported by the good wishes of friends and family (I raised £262 for the Palace to Palace).  I don't want to be one of those people that is always asking for money so I have decided that next year there will be a charity ride with my new recruits, but I also want to concentrate on sportives as well. It may then be a while before I consider another charity ride looking for help from friends and family.

Just as I was trying to decide what ride to possibly do, I look on my desk at a letter from another organisation offering charity bike rides.  It's salutation says "Dear cyclist".  Does this mean I have made it ? Am I no longer an old wheezer on a bike but a fully fledged cyclist ? Maybe they know I have a new road bike and followed me on my training ride on Sunday......

..... I was out riding, getting used to cleats and the new bike.  In fact riding with cleats seems a little easier than I was initially thinking.  Twenty minutes into the ride a couple of cyclists came past me, but, unlike before on the folder where I struggled to keep up I decided "Hell No, I'm a fully fledged road cyclist".  I dropped down a gear accelerated and hung on to their back wheel for around 5 miles or so until we set off in our opposite directions.  Looking down at the cycle computer I noticed my speed was up close to 20 mph as opposed to the 12-14 or so on the other bike. It felt good to be able to have a turn of speed for a change.

I also screamed up the hill where just a few weeks ago an elderly gentleman told me how knackered I looked.  In fact as I broached the top of the hill I was still up at around 14 mph when I looked at the gears I noticed I was on the harder big cog at the front and climbing easily.

I hit one hill and saw part way up it, a guy on the granny cog of his mountain bike, I dug deep and powered by at the top of the hill I was a good 30 yards or so in front and pulling away. This hill is interesting as it isn't very long, but it is pretty steep.  At the top there is Pinderfields Hospital, I'm sure they put it there for the good of cyclists who have almost died getting up it.

Maybe the people who wrote the letter knew all of this, or, maybe they just wanted to impress me in order to gain as many recruits as possible.  Their letter was for another charity ride, over 4 days, cycling from London to Paris (280 miles) .  However, I dare not offer it to my budding recruits as I'm sure they'll run and hide never to be seen again.

There's a large number of charity rides out there and I'm waiting for my potential recruits to issue their preference. So guys (if you're reading this use the comments section at the bottom to suggest which one you fancy - or let me know if you've seen an alternative).  If you're reading this and you've done any of the rides I have listed, please give your feedback but be gentle.

To put in a team into a number of the rides listed, it requires a team to consist of 4 riders so I am also still looking for one more poor soul from friends and family (or other blog readers) in order to put together a team and they too will have voting rights (so get you're name down quick).  As I figure it, most of the rides are in August, September and October giving us close to a year to train, so no excuses.

Last week I completed a night time training session, I feel it's essential to have a target to aim for. Riding out in the evening, as its getting dark and cooler it's a challenge.  As the nights draw in and darkness falls much earlier, I really need to stay committed. I also need to be more alert, especially as I rode down a local path down the side of a river in the dark.  A guy was walking his three black labradors, which in pitch black even with cycle lights don't show up too good.  The plonker was a class 3 (see my blog swim or fly), he froze and stood perfectly still leaving his dogs to continue to wander.  Now I had cycle lights on, was wearing a white jersey and was easily visible.  Only choice was to hit the brakes and come to a muddy, leaf stridden sliding stop.  This riding at night is going to take some practice.

I have roped my brother into a sportive event for the beginning of November this year, it should be good and I am looking forward to the challenge and hoping the weather stays good.

So come on team wheezers, what's it going to be for next year ?

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