Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Single Speed, single speed, Single all the way......

Week 3

..........oh what fun it is to ride on a one speed bi------cy-------cle

The start to the week, the only opportunity i would have to get a bit of training in, kept the Wet Wet Wet song ringing in my ears from Four Weddings and Funeral, combined with the image of Andy McDowell standing in the pouring rain.

I left work on Monday to ride all the way home on my single speed, for five minutes the sky's were clear, a buddy from work also cycling home single speed commented on how great it was to leave work in the daylight. This was short lived! the clouds moved in as if by magic and it absolutely threw it down. Wearing my commuter gear rather than my posher Goretex waterproofs it wasn't long before water had penetrated every piece of clothing covering me. Visibility was somewhat hampered by the rain too, initially it actually hurt as it came past my glasses and was hitting me in the face, having to perch them on my nose so i could see greatly increased this uncomfortable attribute of the journey.
Despite the inclement weather, i absolutely loved the commute home, little bit of offroad to start with kept me away from the cars, got me closer to puddles and mud but i didn't really notice that, bike road well on its Schwalbe Landcruiser tyres, they then road fast on the tarmac too. Lots of puddles which seemed to be dispersed quite well by them, so far very impressed with the tyres (incidentally they were a recommendation of the same single speeder mentioned earlier)

As well as testing the tyres, this was a good test for my new rear light too, Fibre Flare Shorty, really bright and real step up in visibility over my previous lights and as it still worked when i got home it must be waterproof too. 

Half way home my shoes felt totally saturated, which then brought the onset for very cold feet. The rain respited for the latter part of my journey home, which was quick and uneventful. I had to stick to the roads as i new that offroad sections would all be flooded. I pedaled as quickly as my lallies would carry me in an endeavor to warm my feet, this was to be fruitless, too much water, i got home with numb feet and expecting to poor a pint of water out of my shoes. A jolly good ride never the less.

Tuesdays commute in was to be via the train, i didn't fancy doing the whole route as i have taken to despising my full commute in, so a cycle-train-cycle commute on my single speed was a winner. 
The rain from the previous day had been frozen as the clouds dispersed, i noticed my car had a layer of ice on it, although i registered this fact and that therefore thinking how glad i was that i wouldn't be scraping the car  this morning, i dont know why but it didn't occur to me that roads might be slippy. This was until i got "it all crossed up" as they say on a cycle path, due to my expert bike handling skills of course i took this in my stride without even a flinch, knowing i would be changing my underwear on arrival at work ;-)
Lovely ride in, and didn't notice the cold at all so i must have got my clothes right.

Due to a training course at work these were to be my only training rides this week before the main event on Saturday, "The Willy Warmer 200K" audax.

With arrangements made with my buddy Tim to meet him at the start on saturday morning, i had little preparation to do as this ride is one of the few audax calendar events which is actually local to me for a change. Had to put mudguards on my bike and add a bottle cage, fill my frame bag, make some provisions up, that was it.

I awoke a little lazily on saturday morning, slowly faffing, expending time i didn't really have, showered, dressed and fed, on moving my bike to put it in my car i noticed that somehow in the dining room that night i had got a puncture, a strange phenomenon, a poltergeist perhaps, or was my biked a descendant of "Christine" and had gone out alone prowling the streets of Eton Wick. 

The real answer of course was much less sinister. Panic now setting in i jumped in the car knowing that I had little time and a flat tyre to fix before i could start. Almost at the start point i then realised that i had forgotten my car park money, which I left by my clothes so I wouldn't forget....doh!..that worked well. Don't panic, oh alright then, panic! Against the ride organisers wishes, i reluctantly took the free option of parking at the village hall car park....shhh dont tell anyone.
A failed patch was the culprit of my flat tyre, I swapped it out and me and Tim were on our way at 8:10am. 10 minutes late but as we would be riding for hours it didn't matter, although i hadn't taken these previous events to be a good Omen.
3 year's ago i did this ride (Tim's report here) and it was the first audax I had ever done, it too started late and in the drizzle, not without it's panic moments either.
Fortunately the drizzle was to be short lived. Both of us were excited to be riding our single speeds, it seemed like a stupid idea but we were both really pleased to be giving it a go. I had poured over the route, studying the hills and had found similar hills to test my staying power in advance. It wasn't long before this would be tested for real and to be fair, didn't really feel like much of a test, we both zipped up the hills on the approach to Henley, puffed a bit at the peaks and quickly forgot them, this was to be a recurring pattern, we bumbled along with a matched pace both on the flat and up the hills, i would always descend faster, despite Tim's tummy ballast, my all steel stead was many kilos heavier than his all carbon whippet.

There was evidence of heavy rain as you would expect everywhere, not many flooded roads though but the approach to our first major control certainly reminded us as we went over the temporary bridge at Pangbourne, it was fast flowing that's for sure.

First proper stop was to be in Pangbourne's "Little Henry's", on route to the cafe we had had a brief chat with a very keen 11 year old and his quite keen mum who we subsequently saw at the cafe, they arrived after us, unfortunately rather dramatically as the mum crashed outside, possibly due to being stuck to her pedals, no one pointed or laughed so her dignity remained in tact.
The breakfast was nice and was Tim's second fry up of the day, a good bikers breakfast of egg and beans on wholemeal toast. After our 3rd tea we got on our way again.
I recognised some of the roads periodically from my 4 bridges training route, naturally i would let Tim know but it often followed the pattern of "oh i know where we are" "mmmm maybe not" "i think i normally approach this from a different direction" i kept this pattern up all day as we were on roads which were largely more local to me than they certainly were to Tim.
I had noticed a wobble on my front tyre from setting off but took no notice. on closer inspection though i realised that the tyre was actually off the rim, a dilemma if ever there was one. I know from experience that it is really hard to get a decent pressure into a tyre with a short hand pump, if I let the tyre down i was in for some graft to sort it. Well, laziness go the better of me and i thought "it's stayed up alright so far, whats the worst that can happen" It didn't occur to me until descending the other side of our steepest hill, outside of Lambourne, a ring twitcher, no doubt, that the worst that could happen was the tyre comes off the rim, jams in the forks stopping the bike dead and throwing me over the handlebars at 40mph. This didn't happen though and laziness prevailed and i left it for the duration with no ill effects.

Second big control was in Hungerford at the Tutti Pole cafe, Soup of the day, a cuppa and a piece of carrot cake did the job. At this juncture we encountered another pair of audaxers which we dubbed the orangephile and fatty arbuckle. Now i know i have a penchant for Orange but i would like to think that I execute this penchant with finesse and dare i say panache, this chap however did not, every possible accessory and item of clothing was a different shade of orange, his piece de resistence in my mind though was orange and black bar tape. The other chap was perhaps the less fit of the two, a nice chap who had an air of "i'm in a little over my head" about him. We were to see this pair many times on and off throughout the day, they had gears which meant occasionally they would fly off on the flats and then out of nowhere we would be overtaking them on the hills, of course we had no choice but to push hard up the hills. 

Although on paper the hill outside of Lambourne was supposed to be the worst, Berry Hill in maidenhead, a few miles from my house, was a real lung buster. cleverley the organiser had routed it in two sections giving a short flat section before another push up the second half. Really chuffed we were to get to the top and feeling strong too.
We continued on in good spirits, a couple more hills, the last one of which came just after we had chased down the previously mentioned audaxers, this was to be a little bit of a mistake, we had them in our sights, new it wasn't long before the finish so we went for it, alas there was the fore mentioned hill, it was a pretty steep one too, not the steepest but when you have done over 200K and just raced someone else for about 5K, it was a killer, we outrun them and got to the top way ahead but i was ready to puke, the descent was good recovery though and we rolled in to the finish feeling really good, aching backside but not really tired and the muscles felt fine. really really chuffed

a cup of tea and we tucked in to hard boiled eggs which we had carried around all day, great recovery food and some jelly beans. Job Done (Here is Tim's account of the proceedings and yes I stole his pictures)

Distance this week 282K
Total for this year so far 569K

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