…..you’re old if you catch that pop reference.
Today I went to a kids 5th birthday party, the worrying thing for me was that it was my own child’s party. Zac turns 5 tomorrow and I’m not sure how that has happened. To see him grow and develop into a lively and energetic, yet caring and considerate boy fills me with pride but it also reminds me why I rode to Paris and why I’m doing the Ride 100.
When I cross the finish line on The Mall at the end of July, I’m hoping that Adam and I will have raised about £9,000 between us for The Rainbow Trust. That money will go towards helping families make the very best of time that they have with their children, making memories that will last forever. It’s a great motivation to know that every pedal stroke can make a big difference.
For this birthday we’ve bought Zac a new bike since he has learnt to ride without stabilizers. I’m keen for him to embrace the freedom that riding a bike can give and hope he’ll continue to ride through his life, not like his dad who got lazy!
One day I’ll get him up Box Hill but for now I’ll settle for getting his confidence up on a bike and enjoying riding. You never know, maybe one day we’ll do a charity Sportive together.
I’ve mentioned it on here before and I am completely correct, with over 16,000 attempts already this year Box Hill is one of the UK’s most popular Strava segments. So why does my Garmin hate it so much? I’ve attempted the iconic switchbacks on numerous occasions but only three have ever registered properly, see below for last Wednesday’s ‘tracking’ of my route
As you can see the GPS tracking of where I went goes completely haywire as I approach Box Hill. I have both GPS and GLONASS enabled for accuracy and this is the only place in TWO countries where I have ever had any problems. I’m not sure what I have to do to get this corrected.
……the most annoying thing is that 5 days later it worked almost perfectly.
I’ve had a pretty eventful week and a half on the bike: 60km on my birthday (including the aforementioned Garmin fail), 107km on Bank Holiday Monday (including Leith Hill and Box Hill) and then, yesterday, I completed the Wiggle Sussex Gran Fondo which was 157km of pain. With a head cold and after Monday’s exertion I felt pretty rough but I made it to the finish line in about 7 and a half hours so I was happy with that
I turn 41 on Wednesday. Not the most celebrated, nor the sexiest of ages but I had all the pomp and circumstance of my 40th last year so I’m happy with this year being fairly low key.
One thing I did do last year, on my birthday, that gave me a great confidence boost was to conquer Box Hill for the first time. Box Hill is an iconic climb and it seems to hold some kind of mythical attraction for cyclists, but it really isn’t that difficult (to my surprise last year). It’s 2.2k at an average of 5.2% with the iconicity coming from the two switchbacks as you climb to the cafe at the top
That day it took me 12 minutes to get to the top, partly due to the fact that I’d never done it before and partly due to me taking in the wonderful surroundings of a place that I hadn’t really been to since I was a kid. Since that day I’ve improved both my fitness and my cycling ability and my last attempt on Box Hill was 9 mins 20. I’m aiming to go back there on Wednesday to celebrate being 41 and to knock some time off that PB!
All that is a roundabout explanation of why I only went for a 26km cycle this morning despite the weather being amazing! I decided to conserve some energy for Wednesday, instead going out to improve my time on a few of the local segments that irritate me on weekly basis. Here’s two of them!
Nasty Little Rise
That is the name of the Strava segment and for good reason, maybe more so for me as it is only a couple of miles from my front door and the legs usually haven’t warmed up by that point. It doesn’t look anything much, 0.65km at 5% but it has annoyed me time and time again since I started cycling again.
I’d never managed to get under two minutes on this segment, 2:04 was my best (twice) but I knew that I was stronger and had a better bike so I was confident today and managed to knock 11 seconds off of that time – 1:53 a new PB!
Hillbury Road Full
As I have (no doubt) mentioned numerous times before, to get home from anywhere means I have to go up a hill. I really have no choice. Hillbury Road is one of those segments that looks like a lovely, gentle route home but it has an incredibly nasty sting in the tail that has done for me in the past. Not the kind of gradients that we saw on the Zoncolan yesterday but enough to leave me wondering whether I could get some kind of TUE. The whole climb is 1.8k at 5%
You can see the kicker that I’m talking about, that orangey-brown shaded left turn. Here’s a breakdown of that
It really does knock the wind out of your lungs as you try to keep the rhythm while turning into quite a tight turn
Reasons I know I’m a better cyclist?
I also rode one of my favourite segments, from Beech Farm Road to the White Bear pub in Warlingham. It was such a lovely morning I created a timelapse video of it
Looking forward to getting a longer ride in on Wednesday and really testing my new found fitness over at Box Hill
Today I took part in the Pearson Cycles London to Brighton & Back bike ride which raises money for the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. I completed the 154km course in 6h 20mins and felt pretty good, apart from another bout of cramp (right at the bottom of Ditchling Beacon!)
Apparently, according to Veloviewer, I have climbed enough metres so far this year to climb Everest 1.2 times. I’m not going to try for real.
So, in stark contrast to it’s usual performance over Bank Holiday weekends, the weather flicked the V’s to convention and gave us a heatwave with temperatures hitting 28 degrees Celsius on Monday.
Despite knowing this was coming I still headed off to meet a couple of friends from work at Richmond Park to do a few laps of the park. It’s a wonderful place when the weather is good, with the deer roaming freely and loads of cycling enthusiasts getting a few laps of the 10km route in. As you can see from the pictures and video below, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and it was bloody hot! The deer had the right idea, taking shade under the trees watching the mad cyclists go by…
The only downside was the cars. So many cars. The good weather had brought everyone to the park and queues for the car parks resembled the first day of a music festival. It made the roads near the car parks exceedingly busy and a little dangerous, mostly (it has to be said) because of the unwillingness of some cyclists to slow down, unclip or stop.
I managed 90km including a few laps of the park so I was happy with that, plus the hill that delivered me quad shattering cramp two weeks previously was conquered without issue!
I’m loving Veloviewer at the moment, it’s a really good tool for tracking your rides/progress as well as breaking down segments and climbs to understand them even more rather than just an average gradient. I’m a sucker for detail and this feeds my cycle nerd appetite!
Well, Sunday was a complete success……almost.
I met up with my pals, Al and Chris, as planned and we headed over to Box Hill. It was a warm day (with a fair breeze) and there were a lot of cyclists out and about, enjoying the good weather. As we hit Box Hill I felt pretty good and climbed it in a PB for me, 9 mins 20 secs, which is not fast by any means but a sign of improvement so I’ll take it! In fact I felt so good I came back down and did it all over again…..
(Yes, you can hear me breathing quite heavily!)
So to the ‘almost’ bit of the day. To get back to my house I have to climb a hill and there are a variety of different options, today I chose the Purley Downs Road which is 1.77k at an average of 5%. It isn’t a horrible road but there is one point where it narrows and kicks upwards to go over a railway bridge, as I approached I got out of the saddle to give myself a bit extra and cramp ripped through both quads. Both legs locked and I have never felt pain like it, I had to stop to let it subside before continuing! Anyway, I made it home and, on the whole, as successful training run