Tuesday, 29 September 2009

A new week, a new bike (pity it's only borrowed!!)

So, got over to Chris's house Friday after work and picked up the bike. Very nice it is too. Monday was hectic first thing, as my son only started school last week we are still adjusting to a new routine in the morning, and I ended up leaving later than usual, hence why I only did a 4 mile trip to work. However, being full of the sort of enthusiasm having a nice new bike to ride brings (even if it is only borrowed), I went the long route home, probably about 11 miles. Trouble is, a couple of miles in, my backside began to really hurt - my supersoft gel filled saddle was still on the knackered bike at home, and the rest of the ride home was quite an uncomfortable experience. As soon as I get home, I'm swapping the saddles over I kept thinking to myself! Typically though, once I'd got home and had been distracted by kids and tales of school etc, I forgot, and only managed to do it this morning. Very last minute as is my way, but there was no way I was risking more pain in the you know what.

So, to celebrate I did 8 miles to work and 10 miles back. The bike, although probably more suited to off road conditions, is a joy to ride, especially the gear changes. Whereas I rarely changed gear on my old bike as the clunking, squeaking and rattling was pretty annoying, so I often ended up struggling in an unsuitable gear, I can now change gear easily and smoothly whenever I need to. Oh what a novel idea eh?

Friday, 25 September 2009

What a week last week turned out to be.

Had good intentions honest!! Did the long route Monday and Tuesday I set out early enough to check out a longer route, somewhere in the region of 15 miles. Just before Solihull my chain came off, which although unusual, is easy enough to fix. However, when I fixed it I noticed something odd about the pedal, so from that moment I took the direct route to work so as not to risk being stuck in the middle of nowhere (as usual I had no money and my wallet was at home). After work I went the quick route home as it takes me past a local bike shop (Hawk Cycles) where the staff are extremely friendly and helpful.. Turns out it was a problem with the bottom bracket (I think that's what it's called anyway), and although they may have been able to fix it, I would have to leave the bike with them, there was no guarantee of success (the bike is probably over 10 years old), and at £25 per hour labour + parts, it made no financial sense as I only paid £20 for the bike anyway. I decided to take my chances so jumped on the bike and pedalled gingerly home.

Once home I had a bash at some DIY repairs but the bottom bracket was still quite loose, however, it was slightly better. That would have to do. For now at least.

So I'm a week before payday with a knackered bike, what to do? First thing I did was post a message on Facebook asking if anyone had a bike they wanted to give/lend/sell to me. Worth a shot I thought. Next I trawled Gumtree and Preloved to see if anyone was selling a suitable bike for a suitable price, but no joy. Then I posted a wanted ad on Birmingham Freecycle (surely the most appropriate site to get a free bicycle?). Then, back to Facebook and someone had kindly offered to lend me their bike, so arrangements were made the next day to collect it from his house - Nice one Chris. In the meantime I continued to use my old bike, but rather than push my luck too much, it was the quick route to and from work the final 3 days of the week. So, I'm guessing I managed 30 miles last week, not quite what I had in mind.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Must try harder...

Fewer miles last week compared to the week before, and it all started so well. Added an extra loop onto my long route to work, which I thought would push it to about 12 miles at least. Found a website with a route planner and tracked the route and it came out at just over 10 miles, which means all my previous mileages have been based on erroneous information. I used to have a cycle computer thing that I used to record distances and times travelled, I'm now thinking I calibrated it wrong when I initially set it up. I can't find all the parts for it now, it was originally set up on my old bike, but I never swapped it over when I bought a replacement bike a couple of months ago.

Still, before I started planning to do the bike ride next year I rarely did the long route to work more than once a week, if that, and I'm now doing it pretty much every day, plus I extend it sometimes too, so I am building up the distances.

I had hoped to get a decent ride in this weekend but never got round to it, the plan is to ride to Hatton country park and back, we were there with the kids a couple of weeks ago and I checked the mileages on the way back and it's just over 15 miles, so that will be a nice 30 mile trip when I have a couple of hours spare - maybe next weekend.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Todays weigh in

I've decided to keep a track of my weight too, lets face it, a weekly blog just saying how many miles I've done is going to be pretty dull!! I have a spare tyre I could do with losing (that's a metaphor for my gut by the way, it's nothing to do with my bike), and you would think that, given the extra miles I'm going to be doing, my weight will drop. Trouble is, the extra miles I did last week just made me hungrier than normal, and those that know me well will vouch that I eat a fair bit anyway.

So, this morning the scales said 13' 11.6". I'm off to get dinner ready now (a proper Sunday roast) and do some baking (chocolate courgette cake), see, that's why I'm not over confident about this weight loss malarkey.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Last weeks miles.

Monday: 5 miles to work, 5 miles back - however, when I got there I had a bit of time on my hands so did a mile on the treadmill in the gym at work. First time on there for a couple of months, the running was harder work than any of the subsequent cycling.
Tuesday: 10 miles to work, 4 miles back.
Wednesday: 10 miles to work, 3 miles back
Thursday: 10 miles to work, 10 miles back. Been a while since I've done the long route there and back, felt fine, some of the uphill bits hurt but that's to be expected.
Friday: New route to work, probably about 12 miles, almost got lost but had packed the A-Z. 5 miles back.

Total for the week 74 miles (plus I ran 1 mile!!) Not a bad start, plus the new route is easy to extend to around 15 miles, just means being more organised in a morning so I can do it and not be late for work. If I can regularly do 20 miles a day just on my commute thats 100 a week, and then I can think about a big one every other weekend, and build the mileages up steadily.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Route Change

Now I realise this is going to look like I'm moving the goalposts already, but honestly I don't have much choice. We (as in my employer) no longer have staff based out of the Cardiff premises, so it seems pointless to still ride there when I am likely to be greeted by a chorus of "Who Are Ya, Who Are Ya!!". :-)

So, to minimise the effect on the mileage, I've decided that after Cheadle I will ride through Birmingham direct to Amersham, and then loop back on myself to our Birmingham office. I estimate I'll do about 40 miles less than my original plan, so I should still be on course for over 600 miles. Plus I get to finish at my own office rather than an office where no-one knows me, my wife and kids can be there too, so I get to feel like some kind of a hero (well my kids will probably think I am, all I have to do is catch a spider at home and they think I'm great, hopefully they'll always be so easily impressed!), and I can ditch the bike there and get a lift home.

Hopefully the generous souls who have already sponsored me will not be contacting Trading Standards or suing me for breach of contract, otherwise I'll have to think of a way of getting the miles back up to 650. I could always detour through the Lake District and do a big hill climb if they insist, just hope they don't read this, lol.

Friday, 4 September 2009

From little acorns.....

Well I extended my long route to work this morning, so instead of 9 miles it was more like 11. Came the quick way home though, motivation after a day at work is pretty low to be honest, having said that, the way the wind was blowing it didn't feel like the quick route home. Why do I always seem to have to cycle into a headwind? Sods law I think it's called.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

No turning back!!

Well I've been thinking about doing something like this for a while now. Originally it was going to be London - Paris using one of the many organisations who arrange such things. However, almost half of the £1200 minimum sponsorship would have gone on things like food, accomodation, ferry to France & Eurostar back to London. So I thought again.

A bit later, in a charity meeting at work (BHF being my employers chosen charity this year), it was mentioned we had 6 offices and a little lightbulb went on in my head - I could do an office to office tour. Now where were these offices? Obviously I knew about Birmingham, because that's where I work, and I knew about Bury, because I deal with Bury every day. Then I learnt of Cheadle and Amersham. All good so far, nice distances between each office, but where were the last 2? Stirling and Cardiff I later found out. Great!! I can hardly do a tour of the offices and miss 2 out because they are too far away can I? Well I could, but it would seem like a cop out.

The plan is to get the train to Stirling and utilise SYMCA and YMCA hostels for my overnight stays during the trip. My to do list includes emails to the relevant parties asking (nicely) for reduced fares/rates, but even if they don't agree, I know that this trip will work out cheaper, and therfore more money for the charities. It's also over 100 miles further than the London-Paris trip.

I'm thinking mid/late April 2010. The worst of the weather should be over (famous last words!!), and I'll be done by May. May's a busy time down the allotment, got to make sure I get my spuds in. And that gives me a good few months to get some training in. I've been cycling to work for nearly 2 years, between 3 and 9 miles each way depending on which route I take, but I will need to get serious if I want to be able to do 80-100 miles a day for over a week.

Anyway, my Just Giving pages are set up, this blog is up and running and now everyone knows, so there's no turning back!!