Monday, 19 June 2017

I am back from my French adventure!

19th June 2017

It’s exactly a week since I got home from my adventure on the Manche to Med ride[M2M] across France, this time last week I was driving in the gate in my hire car from Dover after an overnight trip on the ‘Cycle bus Express’ from Montpelier to Calais.

So after 14 days cycling covering

 1207 KM [754 miles]

Climbing 15104 metres [49587 feet]

With a group of 16 people whose average age was 63 [the oldest 72] I was back bringing the wonderful weather of the last two weeks with me, its currently 28 degrees C and has been for the last few days.

Since returning I have managed to get out on my bike three times,

Wobbly wheelers 42 miles down to Hive café in Burton Bradstock

Collect my car from my son in Wimborne 58 miles

Sunday afternoon pootle round the lanes in the very hot sun, 26 miles.

I have even managed to get an early morning run this morning 3.2 miles the first for 6-8 weeks!! 33 mins, not bad slow jog!

Over the next few days I will write up my trip and post as soon as possible

Thursday, 25 May 2017

A hard week, cycle, work, cycle!

26th May 2017
Sunday 21st May 2017

Sunday the weather was bright and sunny, but windy. My plan today was to get a bit of climbing in and a few more miles.
The climb up Yarcombe Hill is alpine like, in that there is a nice horse bend, and a continuous climb on good road surface for a mile or so, even though it is the A30 the traffic on Sunday morning was light, I enjoyed the climb sitting comfortably for the distance, twiddling when required. Over the top to the ‘road to the sun’ the A303 before branching off towards the ridge road of Farway, a head wind along here meant that I would have a tail wind home! I dropped down to Beer and along the coast to Seaton ,stopping on the front, to look at the sparkling  sea under a blue sky, a lovely sunny morning.

I then met some of the local club lads who invited me to join them to cycle back home, good idea I thought [mmmm!] I sat on the back of the six riders as we left Seaton and headed up the long climb to Rousdon, a lovely climb, but! I was soon dropped unable to keep pace, it was only later I discovered that two of the riders had cycle up Mont Ventoux 3 times in a day the previous week!
They did wait at the top and I joined them on the downhill to Hunters lodge and the very busy A35. Where once again I regained the pack! My average speed had gone up considerably and was nearer 16 mph! including many feet of climbing. The road past Lamberts castle is a great descent very fast Garmin showing 40 mph on a good road surface, even here keeping up was hard, we soon hit another climb and here I decided I couldn’t match their pace anymore, so made my excuses of having a snack and drink and let them ride on, they reluctantly went on . I continued my ride home at a leisurely pace, pleased with my efforts this morning 48 miles 3373 feet climbed at 14.6 mph.

Monday, more miles, Athelney this time 50 miles covered on a lovely morning once again, a hard ride, I did find I needed more snacks this morning to avoid ‘the bonk’ . One minor niggle on my knee which is causing me a little concern as I have had it before, I hope it will not develop any further.

Tuesday, work, Bikeability for two days at a local school, the weather couldn’t have been more different from the previous week at the same school, a cloudy, dreary day but very warm. Eighteen enthusiastic 9 year olds on bikes!! Day two of the course was a hot, sunny day, we had a variety of bike problems, culminating in me repairing a punctured rear tyre over a mile from the school. Traffic seemed slower this week, and gave us a little more space, interesting compared with the fast speed of the previous wet week!!
This was to be my last Bikeability course as I have made the decision to resign my post at the end of June, to enjoy my retirement.

My final ride before my trip, Thursday was very hot and very sunny, the morning was spent on a trip to the dump and the local charity shop then after lunch I did a 33 mile ride over the levels, purposefully keeping my speed and efforts down, a really enjoyable ride in hot sunshine, the temperature said it was 26.9 degrees C.

131 miles completed this week and 553 miles this month

The evening was then spent cleaning my bike and preparing it for my Manche to Med  trip which I begin on Saturday catching the ferry from Portsmouth over the Caen. New tyres, chain and cassette, mudguards back on. The decision now is panniers or travel bag!! I seem to keep finding ‘bits I need to take’ I had to nip down to the bike shop and buy a cycling cap! In case cycling in the mountains I needed to cycle without my helmet.
I will try to add a list of what I take to the blog, when I have packed! We are fortunate as we have a following van to take luggage, which means we can travel light in the day [bit like a team car J

Friday, 19 May 2017

A campervan trip to St Ives and more cycling!

20th May 2017

I had booked a few days in Cornwall with the van from Wednesday through till Friday, the weather forecast was good for Wednesday and Thursday but wet on Friday!
I had booked into the Ayre holiday park in St Ives, 
This is great site in a spectacular position overlooking St Ives Portmeor  beach, great facilities very clean and newish. All pitches have good views as you can see from the photo.
The only thing was it was a north easterly wind which was chilly and the site is a little exposed.

                                   View from our pitch at Ayr - Porthmeor beach St Ives


                                                                           St Ives Harbour
                            View across St Ives from the Coast guard lookout

We left home on Wednesday morning and found the A30 near Bodmin a nightmare with roadworks, we got through OK as its still spring but I would hate to venture down there this summer, there will be monumental tailbacks!!!
We were there by lunchtime, checked in and parked up, kettle on all within 10 minutes, much easier than camping!!! It was too chilly to sit outside but we had spectacular views over St Ives from the van as we had lunch. It was a beautifully sunny day, the sea was very blue, almost Mediterranean!!

After lunch we walked down the coast path to the town, a lovely path, we were surprised how busy it was, the cafes etc. were spilling out into the streets in the sunshine, the tide was just coming in, and we saw several gulls relieve people of their ice creams!!! People don’t take enough care, when eating food down there. We spent a lot of time sitting in the sunshine, enjoying the scenery that St Ives has to offer.
Five bean chilli in Weatherspoons was dinner that evening, quite a scruffy Weatherspoons, but the chilli was nice.

We walked back up the coast path as the sun was going down, lovely views with the sun shining on the white sandy beaches etc. We had a good night in the van, and as always we were up earlyish and surprised that the showers etc. were deserted. Breakfast was cereal and panne au chocolat heated in our ‘Seren’ side entry toaster enabling us to heat pasties etc. and well within the wattage of the campsites.

We walked along the cliff path enjoying the coastal scenery and weather, even though it was a little chilly, and returned for a sandwich lunch back at the van.
The couple of days away went all too quickly, and Friday dawned a little damp and seemed to be getting worse, as we packed up and drove off the rain started to get heavy. We called in Penzance, had coffee and the last of the panne au chocolat before a wander round the town, we were disappointed that it seemed very run down, these days, or perhaps the weather didn’t help. We were heading back up the A30 by lunchtime intending to stop on the way for a sandwich lunch. We stopped before the road works, good job we did as we were soon in a long que into the works, single file 40 mph traffic!!!
However we were still home by tea time, a great few days away and made a change from cycling each day at the moment.

The rest of Friday was very wet and windy, but Saturday dawned a little better, but windy, so I was soon out on my bike again, over the levels once more 45 miles covered , a nasty headwind on the way home making it hard work. Giving me 184 miles for the week!
Sunday I met up with the wheelers early as they were cycling to Watchet 40 miles away to cycle back to West Bay on the charity ride for the Air Ambulance, coast to coast, they would have clocked up over 100miles by the time they got home again!! I wasn’t entered for the event and decided I would peel off just after Wellington to cycle back on my own. They set a good pace and by the time we reached Wellington we were averaging 16 mph!!! I waved good bye at Nynehead and made my way back through the lanes to Bishops Hull near Taunton then went round Taunton to return home via Creech St Michael, and over the Blackdowns. 53 miles covered !!  most of the way home was into a strong headwind once again. The C2C riders must have had the same, as I did cover much of their route home.
Monday has dawned very wet and windy!! I hope to get out but!!! And as I have 3 days of Bikeability my mileage will drop, especially as I am trying to do back to back rides. The rain continued through the day, my enthusiasm disappeared!

Tuesday and Wednesday were also set to be wet and windy days. I had 2 days of Bikeability at a local school, it wasn’t looking promising. We managed to get day 1 completed with only a slight shower with the rain heavy by the end of the day.

Wednesday was very poor, we started off with heavy rain so a DVD on road safety, before heading out onto very wet roads to complete the course. Cars seemed very reluctant to slow down today, causing me some anxious moments with the children. We were able to cover all the outcomes by lunchtime and there were 18 soggy children handed back to the school, I have to say they were very good coping well with the weather and their behaviour helped us get through the course and I am pleased to say they all got their level 2.

Thursday was helping out a colleague on another Bikeability course in a local village, just day one, interesting the contrast between the school of the previous days, and between year 5 and 6 children, year 5 children still seem very immature for the level 2 course. Fortunately the weather was okay for most of the day, only one short sharp shower.
Friday, was forecast to be sunny to start with heavy rain following by lunchtime. I was up very early, and was out cycling by 6:30 am!!! It was chilly, my Garmin said 7 degrees! Full tights, thermal vest and windproof top with gloves! I did a quick ride 27 miles covered and back home by 8:30 for a second breakfast!

Not a great week for miles only 80 miles covered, the bad weather has really set in, with only a week before I depart on my Manche to Med fifteen day 1200 km cycle down through France, I have to work another two days this week, so only three days to get a few more miles in, I also need to spend time preparing my bike and sorting out other stuff, maps, kit etc. Tomorrows [Sunday] weather is looking good so maybe I can get a good few miles in and Monday is also looking good, this is probably my last chance for back to back rides. We will see!!! No running again this week !!

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Exmoor Spring Audax and more cycling miles

5th May 2017
Tuesday a 48 mile ride over Athelney in a cold northerly wind, trying to build the miles for my French trip, riding day after day approximately 50 miles a day for 15 days will be a challenge so I need to try to do back to back rides.

Wednesday was Wobble day, 8 of us again headed over the hills to Beer in East Devon. We started the day with a climb and big descent  followed by a huge climb past Stockland to the A30, fortunately it was a short section before turning off, the temperatures were now rising, especially after the climbing, a fast ridge ride before many ups and downs through Southleigh, beautiful views across the valley, and hedgerows full of bluebells and garlic. Some very narrow steep downhills had us on our brakes and all times. There was a final climb up to Hangmans  Stone, according to the map it was 15% before a long descent down to sea level, ‘Duckys café’ on the beach at Beer, below the cliffs sheltered from the northerly wind we were able to sit outside for our coffee and cake or in some cases egg and bacon baps! It was a steep climb out of Beer, we were starting at sea level! Over the back lanes to Colyton and then on past Shute house the National Trust property and through some lovely lanes again to Kilmington, saying cheerio to two members of the group, it was a hard route back with a fierce cold headwind over Membury and Bewley Down, 42 miles covered and nearly 400ft climbed with a head wind for the return journey, a hard ride.

Thursday was a rest day, so a bit of gardening and a trip to Exeter to pick up a couple of items for my trip, Chamois cream!!! For my behind!! I expect it to be sore. A lovely lunch out made a very relaxing day.

Friday a 32 mile round North Curry, again a chilly grey day but it was a good week with 142 miles covered?

Saturday, a trip to Gloucester to spend the day with the grandchildren, Gdaughter was dancing in Gloucester so we took the twins down to see her performance, it was lovely to see her and felt proud to be her Grandparents! We had a great day before heading back down the M5, very quiet for a Saturday evening. I spent the rest of the evening preparing for the Audax on the Sunday.

The weather forecast on Sunday was for a cloudy day with a northerly breeze, but as I was packing the car the sun was shining, and it was getting warm! Even at 7:30. What to wear? Long or short? Top and bottoms? I took both deciding to sort when I got to Minehead.
I packed my usual fruited tea cakes with jam! And several Fruisli bars and a trusted bottle of tailwind energy drink. The drive over to Minehead was lovely in the morning sunshine.
I was early as usual, parking easily, a cup of tea went down well before collecting my Brevit card for the day ahead. It was still looking good for the day, weatherwise, so I went for shorts, short sleeved jersey with arm warmers and a gilet, knowing I could take off layers if and when it got warm.
9:30 came as we rolled away from the centre, the sun was shining, a little chilly in the wind but this would change as we climbed the toll road up out of Porlock, this road was stunning, a good angle, as it climbed switch backing with horseshoe bends, the surface was excellent, no traffic and very quiet except for heavy breathing cyclists and birdsong! The views across the bay were stunning. I found the climb easy even though it went on for several miles, but compared to the main A road it was easy!!!

                       View from half way up Porlock hill Toll road, across Porlock Bay  A lovely climb

I eventually topped out with fabulous views across the moor and out across the sea, I heard my first cuckoo of the year as I sipped a drink before the next section across to Exford, which is a switch back road that has a sting in the tail with a sharp dip with a 15% exit. The descent to Exford was long and fast to the first check point and a welcome snack. It was sunny, but still chilly in the wind. It was back uphill over to Simonsbath, I was overtaken by several inconsiderate riders who cut me up as they passed!!! I was riding steadily enjoying the sunshine and the Exmoor countryside. Simonsbath meant another long climb out up to Kinsford Gate, I remember the hill as being long and steep, as I cycled up the Hill I was caught by a rider on a nice handmade Mercian, it was Dan from Tiverton and as we climbed we chatted about frames, cycles etc. making the climb go quickly, we were now over the top the views were really vast over the open moor, very little traffic and we seemed to be on our own with the other cyclists either ahead or behind us.

 The descent to Dulverton was really steep, and my Garmin showed 60kph + with some sharp bends, I was glad to see the bottom and cycled to the next checkpoint at the pub on the bridge. It was time for some lunch! And a short rest. Over half way now and one final long [ 10k + ] climb ahead .
I was now able to ditch my arm warmers, and gilet as the weather was now warm, even after the fast descents. I worked my way along the valley to Exbridge, still in the company of Dan chatting as we went.
We approached the A396 road and started the climb up to Wheddon Cross, the road was undulating, but continued to climb for 10k plus, never at a difficult angle but ensuring you had to work. This was not helped with the traffic, and the very large groups of motorcyclists over taking in both directions, clearly we were on one of their favourite rides!! Thirty or forty passed us at one point making it very unpleasant. I was very pleased when we finally reached the summit at Wheddon Cross. All that was left was the descent and fast 10k on a good road surface and thankfully no motor bikes, 4hrs 35 mins after leaving Minehead I arrived back at the HQ and a welcome cup of tea and a cream tea! Jam on cream!!!
A great day out in good company, weather was really good, sunshine most of the day – 5300ft climbed, 63 miles covered and I still felt OK!!!

Monday I was out again round the levels this time, 51 miles round Henlade, North Curry, Athelney, Langport, Muchelney and back through Hatch Beauchamp, I was feeling quite tired after this ride as there was a strong northerly wind. I had a new food trial today peanut M&Ms, seemed to work at keeping the energy up as well as hunger at bay!

                                              View over the levels West Sedgemoor, Below Curry Rivel

Tuesday was a ‘retrobike’ ride to meet up with Yeovil cycling club at Kingsbury Episcopi Community café. I didn’t realise it was so cold, as I set off down the cycle track, my Garmin said it was 6.4 degrees!!! The Gazelle felt comfortable except for the ‘cramped’ brake leaver! I thought the gears would be too big but they felt good and no problem, by the time I reached the café after 12 miles I was feeling very cold so the tea and crumpet was most welcome. A good natter before we discussed the ‘retro bikes ‘outside  - a Stan Pike, Mercier, Gazelle and a Velo??? All classic bikes going back to 1979 it was good to see them out again. The sun had come out now so the temperature had gone up by 10 degrees!! So a pleasant ride home and 25 miles in the bag!!! 139 miles in three days, good training!

                                                        Red Stan Pike at the front 1979ish
                                                 Silver Velo???

                                               Pink Mercier and Blue Gazelle

No running this week as I need to get the miles in, only 2 weeks to my Manche to Med trip! Still collecting bits and pieces, thinking about clothes to take etc.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Cycling miles

1st May 2017
Tuesday was a rest day, but we managed to get out for a pleasant morning down at Sidmouth, a chilly wind from the north kept the temperature down, even though sat behind the sea wall was lovely in the sun, drinking our coffee, eating shortbread fingers. A walk around the town, fairly quiet before a visit to the white horse café for egg, chips and peas, slice of bread and butter with a mug of tea.

                       Coffee in the sun, out of the cold northerly wind on a deserted beach at Sidmouth 

Wednesday morning was wobbly day, a sharp drop in temperature had 8 of us turning out, most of us dressed for winter as it was very cold when we set off! Although several hardy souls still had shorts!! We headed over towards Langport , Drayton and Muchelney to stop after 24 miles at the community café at Kinsbury Episcopi, good food at good prices, good to support the community run café. It was clear blue skies but the cold northerly wind meant we sat inside. Back through Shepton Beauchamp and Kingston to finish back along the cycle track, where I sadly managed to puncture my rear tyre, a pinch I think? As I could find nothing in the tyre. A great ride at a nice pace, lovely group of people, lots of chat as we cycled. 40 miles covered

Thursday, I decided I needed to keep up my running, so a 6.14 miles road run around the town, The last couple of runs I have been working to keep my heart rate low, below 145 BPM quite difficult, but I did manage it and I must admit, I felt better when I finished and my times are not as bad as I thought they would be, usually 1h and 5 mins for the 10 k run!

Friday was fast cycle day!!! I met up with the wheelers after lunch, usually the ride is very fast due to the youngsters in the group, fortunately they were absent today, so I was hopeful I would be able to keep the pace a little more today. 8 of us headed out on the usual Friday afternoon run, Langport, via Muchelney and back through Martock for tea and cake before climbing back over the hills and back along the cycle track. The pace was good, by the tea stop, the average was 17.5+mph and I easily kept to the group, it was reasonably warm, with very little wind. A good ride once again. 38 miles covered.

Saturday I wanted to get miles in to keep up the miles for my coming Manche to Med trip. I headed for the hills on a chilly and windy morning, over the Blackdown hills to Dunkeswell and back, it seemed hard work and I always seemed to be in a head wind! And it was cold despite the tights, thermal vest and Gore Windstopper jacket. Still another 44 miles covered and many feet climbed. The views were very good on the top of the hills, the blue bells and garlic once again beautiful,  but there were no skydivers today, too windy!!! I found it very hard, my legs ached on each hill and I had to work really hard to get up them, I never really warmed up again! I was glad to get home.
A great mileage week with 222 miles cycled this week, and my legs felt it! Only 6.14miles run though, still I need cycling miles.

Sunday I fitted my new cassette and chain, but found my chain is a little tight as I didn’t realise I ordered an 114 links when it should have been 116 links, so may change that again, I swapped my tyres round putting the rear on the front and the front on the rear as it had less wear, I want to hang on putting my new tyres on till I go to France, the front tyre now does look a little worn!

I also received an email with all the information for my French trip today, it’s now all looking very daunting! Looking at the mileage, over a 1100 km with an average of nearly 100 km a day  for the 15 days, a couple of short days , a rest day but a couple of back to back days of 110 -120 km, into the Cevennes region, which is hills, I hope by then I will have the miles in my legs to cope.
I have now started to think about clothing etc. even though it’s going in a van behind us, I ned to take enough but not too much to cope with 4 seasons of weather as we head south, as well other things, sore bums! snacks, money etc. .  I am also thinking I may take a travel bag instead of panniers as I am unsure I will get it all in. As I am hiring a car to drive back I only need to get from the ferry to the car hire place, which I think is at the end of the docks?  I have also been trying to download some of the maps to my Garmin to save taking maps, much of the time I will be riding with the group, but a route would be handy!!!

I am hoping to cycle at least every other day leading up to the ride, approx. 40-50 miles a day, this should build up my stamina and fitness for the ride. Running will have to take a back seat for a while as I don’t really see a lot of benefit from running in my cycling.

April was an excellent month I cycled 576 miles and ran 42 miles, so pleased with that compared to 400 cycled and 29 run last year. I have also signed up for the 1000 mile run challenge through ‘Trail running’ magazine , as I have already run nearly 350 this year. I should just be able to do it!
Monday [bank holiday] after a rest yesterday, the weather was very wet! I needed to get out and do a few miles on my bike, sadly it was raining before lunch but! There was a weather window just after. The sun was shining and it was much warmer, but I still had three-quarter tights on and a thicker winter jersey. I went for hills again and seemed to go well, the day off has done me good. I went over the hills to Chardstock on the Blackdowns, a couple of long steep ups and a couple of long steep downs before I got to the village, hedgerows now covered in Bluebells! I continued on to Tytherleigh and Holditch, more climbing and descending and finally back through South Chard and Perry street, well over 2000 feet climbed today in 20 miles.

I have entered the Exmoor Spring Audax, which is 110 km over Exmoor taking in the Porlock Toll road , which is a little less steep than the main A39 which has so many arrows on it, its like the wild west!!!! It will be a good test for me in my build up, I am hoping to get out at least another three times this week and do about 40 to 50 miles so again hoping to hit the 200 mile mark.
The weather has broken after a very long spell of very dry, but cold weather, I just hope it settles down again.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Merry Monk Audax 105 km and build-up of miles for M to M

25th April 2017

The weather forecast for Sunday was looking good after a chilly start.  I was looking forward to the event as the route was a good one, nice distance and also I was to meet the replacement for Dave for my upcoming Manche to Med ride through France. I had agreed to meet Peter at the start with the intention of getting to know each other – this worked well!
I decided to drive over to Langport park there and cycle up the long hill to High Ham for the start, 3.6 miles seemed a nice distance to warm up and at the end of the day it was 3.6 miles down hill!!
I parked in the car park next to the church, unloaded my bike, gear sorted, shorts, short sleeved helly vest, short sleeve jersey with arm warmers and windproof gilet, I had fingerless mits, my hands were cold!!! Riding to the start.

It was a lovely ride up the hill, I arrived at the event headquarters in good time, tea and toast was offered and gladly accepted. There was a large group of the Wheelers already there, they had cycled over from home 20 miles! So by the end of the day they will have cycled over 100 miles, respect to them!

I finally met up with Peter, joining me on the M toM , shaking hands and initial chat before we set off on the Audax. There was over 100 in our group setting off for a descent down to Langport, 100 riders had already gone at 8:30, so a good turn out for the event. It was still chilly for the descent and stayed that way across the levels past Muchelney Abbey through Kingsbury Episcopi, Shepton Beauchamp before starting the climb up to Windwhistle.

The sun was now out, and as we approached Dowlish Wake at the bottom of the Cudworth climb, a long climb steep in places that exited near the golf course at the top of Windwhistle hill, Peter and I had a slight problem here , he stopped a ta junction, I cycled past, he didn’t notice and we had some confusion waiting for each other .

It was a long descent down to Forde Abbey, and when we arrived the sun was now gaining warmth, a beautiful spot, coffee and a time for a snack. The next stage of the event was to be ‘lumpy’ climbs and descents over to Sherborne. As we climbed over to Cheddington and Winyards Gap it was warm, the hedgerows were full of wild garlic and blue bells, the woods at Winyards were a blue sheen very beautiful, filling the air with a lovely scent. The long descent on good roads to Halstock was enjoyable, Peter and I were now on our own, coming across small groups occasionally. The route passed a very calm Sutton Bingham Reservoir, the drinking water for Yeovil, a short steep climb before the busy villages of Bradford Abbas etc. we were now close to Sherborne the second checkpoint and the second Abbey [hence the title Merry Monk] the checkpoint was in the middle of the town, so lots of traffic after the quiet roads out in the country.

We checked in and as the café was very busy we were able to get a cup of tea from Waitrose next to the café, it was hot as we sat in the sunshine with our sandwich lunch, lots of bikes stacked in the courtyard, and clearly we weren’t the last to arrive! 74 km covered so far. Peter and I had chatted as we cycled, comparing our preparation for the M to M.

The sun was now fully out, cotton wool clouds as we cycled out from Sherborne, a long busy uphill to the Somerset border [we were currently in Dorset] before we returned back to the quiet lanes onto Yeovilton. We were now on our return back to High Ham, after Yeovilton we went through Ilchester back on to the busy A road , lots of traffic again, the road now rolling but with a good surface, I was thankful when we turned off as we had also been cycling into a head wind, back to the lanes to Somerton, some beautiful country side and great cycling. We had managed most of the route to follow the route on the Garmin GPS rather than keep looking at turn by turn written instructions. I was still feeling good even though we had covered well over 50 miles.
The last few miles before the final climb back up to High Ham were nice and steady riding, quiet lanes, blossom out on the fruit trees. There was a final sting in the tail with the steep climb up to the event HQ – 66.9 miles covered a great day out and good to meet my riding colleague for M to M. The hall had a great spread of food, donations to ‘Air Ambulance’ I helped myself to a bowl of trifle and a piece of fruit cake with of course tea!

I said cheerio to Peter to meet again at the Portsmouth ferry terminal! I cycled back down the hill to my car, a lovely descent, at a good speed, I still felt I had some energy left, but was glad I didn’t have to ride that extra 20 miles home!

A fantastic day out, a well organised event, one for the calendar in the future. 66.9 miles Audax and 7 miles to and from car, 74miles total.

Monday [yesterday] I had to visit a couple of school crossing controls for their yearly check. I drove to the first one in the morning as it was 12 miles away, and I had to recover from the day before! But the afternoon visit I managed to cycle over , the temperature was now quite chilly, so back to windproof and three-quarter tights. I went over Winsham on the way out and back through Haselbury Plucknett, Hinton St George, a lovely ride and another 27 miles covered, 104 miles in two days, so a good start in my build up for M to M.

Forecast for the week is to get colder again so back to winter gear, mudguards etc.

New shorts, new tyres are on order and this week I will fit my new cassette and chain to prepare my bike for M to M. I only have one more bikeabilty course in May.

Great weather and lots of cycling.

Saturday 22nd April 2017

The week leading up to Easter the weather was fantastic, it was the time to get my legs out and dig out the short sleeve jersey. After my ‘bug’ it was nice to meet up with the Wobblies once again for our Wednesday morning ride, a bit chilly to start but definitely shorts, short sleeve jersey and arm warmers, 8 of us headed out over the Blackdown Hills round the back of Taunton, through Bishops Lydyeard to Hestercombe House for coffee and cake, Hestercombe is famous locally for its rediscovered gardens etc, it was quite busy as it was the first week of the Somerset schools holiday, we had to wait quite a while to get served but it was worth it as they did a lovely seeded flapjack, after 35 miles to the coffee stop I was glad of this as it was a long time since breakfast and I knew it was 20ish miles home. We cycled back over the levels through the vast new housing development of West Monkton and Creech St Michael, a lovely morning out 53 miles covered. 

I was out with the Wheelers again on Good Friday afternoon, lulled into thinking it might be a steady ride, which it definitely wasn’t , going up to Langport I found myself on a line of cyclists moving at a fast pace of 23 mph! it was soon my turn at the front and I managed to keep the pace for my share before sitting at the back, the pace was kept up and by the time, we had got round to Martock where we were supposed to stop for tea the average speed was up around 19 mph, unfortunately the café was shut, as it was bank holiday. After much discussion  the group [9 ] decided to call at the Pub at East Lambrook, as I was getting tired after the 25 miles so far and not feeling very warm [ the temp had dropped quite a lot and the wind was very chilly and against us for the ride home] I decided not to stop and waved good bye leaving them to their coffee at the pub. It was a hard ride home into the head wind and seemed to get colder, my average for the whole ride was 17.5 mph, very fast for me!!! Another 40 miles covered. 

My bike still had the mysterious creak, I had changed the bottom bracket etc but still the creak was there. Then I had a brainwave and took out the rear quick release greased  the cam along with the thread on the rear gear hanger, and it worked!!!! No more creaks, I now have a new BB that I didn’t need, but I now have a spare.

Easter Sunday was again a lovely day I had arranged to meet up  with Mike who told me he had not been out for a few weeks, so we went down onto the levels once again, a much slower pace this time 42 miles average speed 12.5 mph!
I had also managed to run 6 miles a couple of times in the week to keep my running legs! So a good week with over 130 miles covered.

Easter week I had 4 days Bikeability so not much chance to get miles in, however , I did manage to cycle over to the West Monkton course on day 2 , 16 miles each way, the morning was very chilly at 3 degrees, needing leg cover, by the time I was riding home though it was back to shorts for a pleasant cycle back over the hills.

Tomorrow is the Merry Monk Audax 110 km from High Ham round through Forde Abbey and Sherborne back to High ham, weather forecast is good and dry, so should be a good day out.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Catch up

April 12th 2017
It’s been several weeks since I updated my Blog in fact it’s since the Grizzly in March. Once I had completed this I felt I needed a break from activity, blog writing etc. But the mind has this way of making you feel guilty when you are not doing those things anymore, so I have run 37 miles since the Grizzly [not all at the same time!] my best run being up in the Peak district when we had a couple of days at Chatsworth in the Camper van, I ran up and on to Baslow Edge, on a beautiful evening, with clear blue skies and a warm temperature for the time of year. I have tried to get back more into cycling in preparation for my French trip and for the couple of Audaxes I had planned, sadly a heavy cold last week put paid to last weeks ‘Dustman Daves Doddle’ 105k from Bishops Lydeard to Yeovilton and back and it’s the Merry Monk 110 k Audax in two weeks from High Ham. However I have managed to cycle 340 miles since the Grizzly, the weather over the past month has been superb, dry and sunny with warmth in the sunshine when you got out of the Northerly breeze.
Here are some main points from the last month
  • ·         A trip to Gloucester to Granddaughters mother’s day service – camped at Briarsfield Cheltenham for 2 days.
  • ·         3 days camped at the Caravan Club site at Chatsworth House near Baslow.
  • ·         Walk in Dovedale, Baslow edge, bit of ancestor home finding around the Cromford. area as ancestors worked in the mills around the area.

Flowers in Dovedale 

·                                               Ilam Hall in the Peak District, the Italian Garden

  •        A 6 mile run up onto Baslow edge as well as a 4.5 mile run round Cheltenham.
  • ·         Park run at Seaton PB of 25mins 53 seconds on a damp drizzly morning.
  • ·         A nasty bug that took away energy and left me feeling rubbish for a week.
  • ·         A few bike rides, longest one today[Wednesday 4th]  53 miles with the Wobbly Wheelers, to Hestercombe House on the edge of the Quantocks, now I have my energy back I have managed to cycle 125 miles since Sunday [ Wednesday today ]
  • ·         Used my Titanium bake last week, after a winter on my Ribble, sadly I have a creaky Bottom Bracket so ordered a new one from ‘Wiggle’ on Sunday along with a new cassette and chain and it came today! So tomorrow I hope I can get rid of my creaks!
  • ·         Had a couple of weeks heavy with work, Bikeability courses,
  • ·         Before we went to Chatsworth I had to have a new battery fitted to the van, as it wasn’t holding charge and then last week, my starter motor was causing problems so a new starter motor the second in 4 years, it’s been an expensive couple of weeks, I just hope that’s it for a while and the van is reliable again.

I hope I can get back into writing my weekly Blog as I get more into my preparation for the Manche to Med trip!!!

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Some You tube videos of the 2017 Grizzly

Taken from You Tube, not filmed by me, they do give a good 'flavour' of the day 

At the Fountains Inn 13/14 miles

The Stair way to Heaven and the Preacher!

The whole run!!!

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Grizzly day

17th March 2017
After the lovely sunny warm day on Saturday, Sunday[12th] dawned very grey and damp after overnight rain but only very light winds. I felt very nervous as I sorted my snacks and drinks etc. for the event later in the morning, have I done enough to get me round the 19.5 miles, 2500 feet of climbing, several river crossings including crossing the estuary twice, one of the hazards on Grizzly is the ‘bog’ which is a couple of hundred metres of  sticky mud, deep stream water and slurry type mud, but I will be one of 2000 other runners from all over the country and including several  teams from Europe.
An early text from my running mate Rachel, indicated she had the same feelings as me, nerves in the tummy!! I was trying to leave my breakfast until as late as possible before leaving, as the race starts at 10:30 and it will take us at least four hours to get round, which means crossing lunchtime!

A bottle of ‘tailwind’ energy drink, an energy bar chopped into small pieces to supplement the many jelly babies on offer on the race and the refueling checkpoint at mile 13 where there is usually a large spread of cakes!!! Race number 1816 pinned to my race vest, three quarter Ron Hills, Paramo long sleeve and my Fell Raiser shoes complete with my inov 8 gaiters to keep out the sand and small stones on the shingle beach. A change of clothes packed as rain was forecast. I took my ‘Hilly’ waist pack with my montane waterproof as rain was forecast, I decided to be comfortable if it did rain heavy for the bit of extra weight.

Breakfast was a large bowl of muesli with extra nuts and raisins topped with a banana, washed down with several mugs of tea.
I drove up the lane, picked up Rachel, we both chatted excitedly, but clearly we were both nervous about what was ahead. We were surprised getting to Seaton that there was already a queue to park, luckily we were early enough to park on the seafront, more convenient for the start and finish. We were there in good time so able to get the atmosphere of the event walking down to HQ at the town hall which was full of people dressed in running kit, buying last minute, gels etc, drinking tea, buying the event merchandise a real atmosphere. The weather was very grey with a hint of rain in the air, not too cold, but chilly.

All too soon the start time approached, the sky was still very grey with a light chilly wind ,we made our way down the front with the crowds of runners to the start line, positioning ourselves in the middle of the pack, [out of the wind] the announcer building up, the excitement. A final  cheerio from the town crier and we were off, it was several minutes before we hit the start line and before we actually started to run, down onto the shingle beach for a good half mile 2000 runners creating an ear deafening noise as they ran on the shingle , we managed to keep our position as we finally exited and hit the road, it was lovely peace and quiet on the tarmac, back through the cheering crowds, an amazing number of people turning out to cheer us on, it was a blur, but I did recognise several people from the cycling club.

 Up the first hill, past one of the many musical accompaniments, a drum band, the hill was familiar from my training runs, the first steep climb out of Seaton Hole had everyone walking , it was hard work with so many people trying to walk on the very narrow road. Down into Beer, again cheering crowds lined the road. The next hill we were walking again upto the first drink point in the Beer Head caravan park, first drink and jelly babies as we approached the first off road section, this would give us an idea how muddy it would be, we could see the front runner snaking up the hill as we struggled to gain grip on the muddy track, soon onto the top and running along Beer Head, again familiar from training runs, down Seaside, the track now very slippery, we were reduced to walking as there were so many slipping and sliding, but I overtook when I could.

 Down to the beach at Branscombe where the split happened, Cub run back along the beach we would follow later, right for the full Grizzly where we had to cross the stream exiting to the sea, it was knee deep, and icy cold for about 20 metres! Then a climb up onto the shingle beach, welcome jelly babies here, the water starting to slosh about in the shoes and my feet were very cold, as we ran on the beach a drumming band were beating out a good rhythm, which they seemed to maintain even until we came back this way later, hard work I imagine, but a great motivator. Up the path to the village, feet sloshing around whilst the water escaped, as we got to the village hall it was uphill up a steep road, which after a few hundred metres lead us off road up a very, very steep track, we could hear a faint sound of bagpipes as we struggled up the hill, and around the next corner a man dressed in highland regalia was playing his bagpipes, very rousing!!!! The path was steep and very muddy, grip was difficult, we had no idea of our position now in the race now, but we did seem to maintain our position with the same people, so not losing places.
The tracks continued with a steep down before another steep bridleway which seemed to go on forever with those bends that you just cant see round, at one point there was a violin duo playing folk songs, a wave from Rachel and quick hellos as Rachel knew one of the players. We went on over very muddy and slippery fields until we came to a very muddy forest track that was difficult to run in as the mud was deep and slippery,it also started to drizzle a little at this point, on exit of this we were grateful for another water checkpoint, I had been sipping my energy drink, sharing with Rachel and trying to keep snacking on the energy bar as well as jelly babies on the way. A great folk band the ‘Fountaineers’ were playing at a farm at one point, several runners danced jigs as they ran past, I had enough trouble just running!!! the rain had now stopped.
We were soon at the dreaded ‘bog’ down a steep incline into the knee deep icy stream, wet feet again, before wading through a knee deep muddy slurry which went on for about 50 metres, before exiting up a steep hill that had a rope to assist us. Across off camber fields, making you run with weight on one leg, to stop sliding down and we came to the prayer flags and the Buddha!! Before the food checkpoint, strange coming across the Buddha in the middle of nowhere!

The food check point was most welcome, I forced fruit cake and flapjack down along with a couple of cups of water before yet another steep uphill track, I was on familiar ground now as this was my training run back to Seaton from here. I felt I was going well, bit tired, a little shin splint on my left leg, Rachel appeared to be going well despite ‘not doing any training’ then!!!!!! Crossing the field before the descent to the Fountains Inn, my left knee started to hurt, I couldn’t think what I had done, I hadn’t tripped?? Or had I?  The descent down to the Fountains Inn on the stony track was really painful, I had to walk. The Rock band were playing as we ran through the beer garden, crowds giving us a narrow passage way. Before the next uphill, I was worried now as my knee really hurt when I put pressure on it and found myself hobbling to try to keep up with Rachel, she was ahead and waited for me at the top of the hill, I found it easier going up than coming down and over the next stretch lots of runners overtook us, I did tell Rachel to go on, but she insisted on staying with me, the run down to Branscombe was excruciating, I hoped the next river crossing and the cold water might relieve it a little as we had three quarters of a mile of shingle beach to run, we continued to lose places as I was so slow, the drummers were still pounding out their beat, such energy, I couldn’t believe the pain, and didn’t know what I had done, I took a couple of pain killers to see if it helped [ it didn’t] but we were lucky that the tide was low and we were able to run mainly on sand.
There is a memorial on the beach you can tie a ribbon to remember a lost one, I had forgotten my contribution to my cycling mate Dave who passed away at Xmas, but I did ask him to help me get to the finish, I also had a heavy heart when I thought of him and felt a lump in my throat.
We were soon leaving the beach after a steady beach run, helped by the sand, my knee  hurt but I just plodded on. We worked our way on the under-cliff path to the bottom of the ‘stairway to heaven’ where we could hear the sound of what sounded like a preacher, casting out our sins etc. sure enough half way up a man dressed in full regalia [complete with hip flask] was spouting out words from the bible [I think!!]  we walked up the steps, my knee was ok going up here as long as the steps were not too high!  Across the top of Beer Head and down to the final drink station at the caravan park, before we descended to the crowds waiting in the middle of Beer as well as a great saxophone group,

 I ended up walking down on the road as my knee was painful. The steep climb out of the town and the last big uphill of the day wasn’t too bad and we seemed to be holding our position, down once again, this time a very steep road downhill, very painful ! the path through the woods to the road was our final walk before we jogged down to the park, here we actually overtook several people and finally the finish was in sight, crowds lined the road and cheered us as we went passed, we crossed the line together, before picking up our well earned tee shirt, banana and water! The fire service was there with hoses to remove the caked mud from our legs, I felt this really refreshing, and though it helped my knee.

4hr and 40 minutes for 19.5 miles and 2500 feet of ascent, think we were 1200 ish out of 1600,  some 35 minutes longer and 400 places lower than last year, but we got round, and with my injury, we like to think that if I hadn’t hobbled the last 6 miles we would have done a lot better, it was very,very muddy and slippery making it hard work, off camber fields trying to keep upright, perhaps this put pressure on my opposite knee??? Rachel did well for her ‘no training’!! and left over virus, but then she always does, a good running partner!!!
A really good day out in good company, will I do it next year? definitely the shorter Cub run !! But maybe the full Grizzly once I have forgotten the training and pain!!!! The winners did it in just over 2 hours !

The evening I couldn’t walk down stairs, Monday felt a little better, good job as it was two days of Bikeability aa local school, I did have trouble lifting my leg to get on my bike, it slowly improved throughout the day, I did rub ‘Volterol’ into it, not sure it helped though.

Tuesday, knee was much better I could now walk up and down stairs without too much problem.
Wednesday was Wobblies ride day, the weather was looking good, so eight of us headed to a new community café at Kingsbury Episcopi a village on the levels, however, by the time we were cycling through North Curry it was getting near lunch, so we stopped at the Community Café, a lovely place, lovely people, lovely cake and good price!Back through the lanes, only 30 miles this morning, my knee felt fine and we set a good pace, with the sunshine allowing several group to wear shorts for the first time this year. The café at Kingsbury will have to wait.

Wednesday afternoon my stitches were removed, so now just a scar left from my BCC removal, all painless and all involved from start to finish were great, nice to see the NHS working well after allyou hear about it.

Friday dawned very bright and sunny, Mrs B was out coffeeing with friends so I was up for a cycle ride, Kingsbury Episcopi was my destination to try out the new café my route went through South Petherton and East Lambrook, the café was quiet and a large fruit scone and mug of tea went down well, good price, nice café, will visit again. I headed back over Burrow Hill where they produce cider and onto Hambridge, back through Isle Brewers and Curry Mallet [ all nice village names]  and crossed the A358 [a very busy A road] and back through Horton and over the hills through Crock Street. It was a beautiful spring morning, warm for a change 35 miles covered.  The afternoon was a lawn cutting session as its now growing regularly.

Saturday I had thoughts of trying the Park run down at Seaton, to try out my knee, it was a very damp morning, wind a brisk wind.  I decided to go for it and hurriedly drove down to Seaton to arrive on the front just in time for the start and just in time for the drizzle to start.
120 hardy runners lined up at 9:00 and headed off up the front into a head wind, round the turn and a tail wind took us down to the turn at the sailing club and onto the shingle back up the front for the first time then once more before the finish on to the Shingle once again, I was going well, no knee problems, I felt ok, keeping my pace around 8:30 a mile. The last few metres were the hardest, over the shingle, reminders of the previous week on the Grizzly!!!!
25 minutes 53 secs, 37th out of 120 runners, 2nd in my age category! My best time for 5k

So a good running and cycling week, injuries seem to have gone, pleased that we got round the Grizzly and two cycle rides went well, icing on the cake was my Park run.  So back to cycling to prepare for my Audax rides in April and my French trip in may.

Friday, 10 March 2017

More running, back to work, no cycling and a minor operation!

2nd March 2016
Well another birthday passed, but no new age category this time in races! I had a lovely day down in Exmouth even though the weather was rain!  Some lovely cards from my family and the grandchildren. It seems ages since I ran even though it was only a couple of days recovery time!!!
So the day after my birthday it was time to run off my birthday cake, only a 6 miler round the town, to see how I felt after my efforts on the coast etc. which didn’t go well.

Saturday I was keen to get a final long run in, so determined to make a real effort I was parking on the Quantocks by 6:45 am[the only car there]  on a bright but cold morning with frost on the grass. I was unsure what to wear, as there wasn’t quite the wind, but I took my rucsac and water bladder again which had about three quarters of a litre of water, I was determined this time to eat better so chopped up a couple of Fruisli bars and jelly babies that I could grab and eat.
The ground was decidedly muddier than my last trip, and where the ponies had been, well churned up. I set off at a slow pace trying hard to be positive and focus on a big distance today at least 15 miles.
As I approached the top of Wills Neck the sun came out and there were glorious views all around, not a person in sight anywhere, I descended down to Triscombe stone, enjoying the sun and feeling comfortable, I had walked up some of Wills Neck , which I normally run.
It was quite muddy up to Dead Womans ditch and the sheep scattered at my approach, the sun was directly in my eyes so had trouble seeing the ground in front of me as I ran, several detours round very muddy areas and large puddles., skylarks were singing their song, this is always welcome when out on the moors. I normally snack at Dead Womans but today I had already snacked twice, still managing to keep my pace steady. On to Beacon Hill, this time I ran round the base and ascended up from the West, steeper and longer as I had lost height, the sun had now gone but there was still spectacular views down over Minehead, Butlins standing out, but, not out of place, Dunkery Beacon could just be made out as the highest point on Exmoor.
More snacks and drink before I headed back down to the ridge track several deer crossing the track in front of me, keeping a wary eye on me before bounding off down the combes. There was a head wind for my run back, a slight detour around Crowcombe to increase the mileage. I was feeling fine, legs, feet etc after 12 miles and I knew I would do more than 15 miles. I walked up most of Wills Neck, finishing the last of my Jelly Babies to get me over the last couple of miles, the final path was very slippery, so I had to take care. Finally arriving back at the car after a good 16.21 miles a good run, feet and legs were a little tired but not too bad. I am sure the extra food helped and the constant sipping from my camelback. As well as walking more of the hills. Time wise I was ok, just over 3 hours, which gives me a Grizzly time well in the 5 hour time [did 4hr 6 mins last year for the 19.5 miles] I was pleased with the distance as I am only 3 miles short of the distance so confident that I can get round the Grizzly once again.

Sadly Sunday was a very wet day, but the good news the grandchildren came for the day!! What a brilliant day we had and sad to see them go, the twins are very active now and full of life, interested in everything, Granddaughter now helps Grandma with Lunch even though only 4 years old. So no cycling today!

Monday was a Bikeability day over in Wellington and although I should have gone for a run, was lazy and tired from a day out with the school children, on a windy blustery, rain threating day.
Tuesday although Bikeability again, I decided I must get out and stretch my legs, so home for a cuppa, then running gear on and out of the door for 6 miles before tea, and it was hard work, it started to rain and the wind was against me coming home, the 6 felt harder than the 16 from Saturday !!!

Wednesday was a very wet day  and I had a small operation on a skin cancer spot [BCC] on my face, five stitches, so no cycling once again, that’s nearly two weeks since I was on my bike. I plan one  more run before the weekend and the race on Sunday, this is dependent on my operation and whether it allows me to get out. Bikeability again for Thursday and Friday, the weather was very good and the children well behaved making life easier!

Also paid my final payment for my Manche to Med trip today as it’s only a couple of months away now. After Grizzly I must get the miles in on my bike to prepare for the ride.
Friday, a short 4 mile run in the mist and drizzle with my running mate for Sunday, it felt as though I had never been running.

Saturday 11th March, The day before the big event, the Grizzly, 19 miles across the south coast near Seaton in Devon. The weather forecast is poor, but not heavy rain, so trying to be optimistic, we will have wet feet anyway from the river crossing and bogs! I will make sure I take food and probably a pertex top to keep the wind off, especially when wet. It’s going to be a long day I keep telling myself I have done the miles over the last month or so, even though this week I have only run 10 miles! Slow and steady will be the plan, and hopefully the other 2000 runners will inspire me.  My next post should have a Grizzly report!!!!!

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Quantocks run and a bad day by the sea!

27th February 2017
Friday [24th] was a rest day after a hard week, so lunch down in Sidmouth was a good way to relax. So Saturday had to be a long run day.

Saturday I was driving over to the Quantocks by 6:30 in the morning and kitted up to run from Lydyeard Hill car park by 7:15.
It was a chilly grey morning and drizzle was cleared by the wipers as I drove across. But t had stopped by the time I had parked up, although there was a very cool breeze!  I went for a short sleeve Helly vest and a long sleeve windproof front Karrimor top. I took my Salomon small rucksack with a litre of water in a bladder instead of bottles. I carried a Montane Pertex windproof as well as an energy bar, jelly babies and Dextrasol tablets.
I set off to try to complete at least 14 miles the furthest I have run since last Octobers half marathon. The ground underfoot wasn’t too bad, except where the horses were collected. I ran through the forest and out onto the slopes of Will Neck the highest point on the Quantocks. The wind was now even cooler here! Down the back end and down to Triscombe stone and along the Drift. I was the only car in the car park when I arrived and I had not seen anyone in the last 5 miles! The sky continued to be grey and threatening, but fortunately no rain. Along the ridge great views both sides,  Crowcombe Park gate it was up to Dead Womans ditch and time for my first snacks of the day. Before heading back to the ridge, at Hurley Beacon , 7 miles covered I now need to ensure I run far enough along the ridge to ensure on return I manage my 14 miles plus! Over Thorncombe Hill and onto Beacon Hill at the end of the ridge, here I saw my first person of the day a horse rider, the summit of the Beacon was very blowy!! And cold so waited until I was below the summit for another snack. 9 miles covered and now I was heading back along the ridge, at Hurley Beacon I turned left towards Dead Womans ditch before turning back again to Crowcombe Park gate again. Back along the ridge I noticed the ball of my right foot was becoming painful, especially when on hard ground, I was getting tired now, so more, energy snacks needed before I ascended Wills Neck again, I was now walking up the hill, and legs were feeling it as well as my foot! Last couple of miles down through the forest and back round Lydyeard Hill, A few more people around now as I had taken over three hours, and my final mileage was 14.8 miles so a few more nearer the nineteen for the Grizzly, but I was very tired and don’t feel I could have run much more, not a lot of height gained just over 1200ft less than half that of the Grizzly.

Sunday was intended to recover from the run as my legs ached and my feet felt battered, the weather forecast was poor, but after lunch I though a spin on the bike would help aching legs so 21 miles around the levels on a very, very windy day making the ride home a good challenge. As I got home the rain came down!!! So a lucky escape.  The ride helped the stiffness in my legs, so a good ride, but hard in the wind.

Monday is normally long run day, but the weather forecast was poor and I had to train a School Crossing Patrol [lolly pop lady] in the afternoon. As it happened the weather wasn’t quite as bad as they said so I sneaked a 6 mile run round the town, it seemed to take me ages to get into the run, and although foot was hurting a little it didn’t seem too bad. And again as I got home down came the rain. I was also lucky with my SCP training as it didn’t rain, helpful for her first day!

Tuesday 28th Weather forecast was good for the morning but wet later, I was scraping the very thick ice from the vans windscreen, as overnight rain had frozen solid. I drove down to Seaton to do my twelve miler as a long run. Parking again on the front there was big surf with waves crashing high up on the shingle, only a few dog walkers about as I set off Westwards once again on my well known route, almost automatic!! This time as the Quantocks I took a small Salomon rucsac with a bladder, I find this time of year carrying a jacket, food, phone etc a bit of a squash in my usual waist pack, particularly on the longer runs. I wore a short sleeve Helly vest with a long sleeve Karrimor top, useful as it has a windproof front. Hat and gloves were needed as it was very chilly in the breeze. I also used my Salomon Speedcross shoes as using my Fellcross on the Quantocks seem to have made my feet ache especially on the balls of my right foot, looking it up it seems I have mild ‘metatarsalgia’ the Speedcross seem to be a little softer on hard ground, the problem is they are tight I think a half size bigger would help, but I am not buying new at the moment! Even though the uppers have a hole in the usual place, where the toes bend.

Anyway back to the plot!!! I walked the first few hundred yards to warm up, determined to try to take it steady this morning. It was a lovely sunny day, but as I ascended the hill out of Beer up to Beer Head things didn’t seem quite right, I was struggling to run and was soon walking, I didn’t seem to have any energy. I ran past the coastguard on Beer Head and as I went down Seaside to Branscombe had my first snack, thinking it might help, even descending seemed hard work today. The path up through Branscombe I was at a slow pace, finding it hard to up the game. I walked up the steep road past the school before The path up through the woods at Hole House, the garlic was now starting to show big green shoots, up over the top and down to the Fountains feeling decidedly tired and lacking energy, I did wonder whether to cut my run short and go back down the road, mind games ensued, and I found myself climbing onto the ridge once again and continuing my usual route, I walked up through the woods, snacking as I went, there was a distinct aroma of garlic now, a wonderful smell, spring is on its way. I was pleased to be on the down to the beach, but not looking forward to the half mile run along the shingle, the tide was quite high and waves crashing over the shingle creating an ear splitting noise. As I ran I had to take care as the tide did keep getting very close, I managed to run about half was before succumbing to walking, the half mile took me a good ten minutes!! It was nice to get off the shingle and away from the noise, but it was up hill all the way up and over the stair way to heaven, I walked a lot, still not shifting the lethargy, have I overtrained??? Have I picked up a bug? If I can’t run 12 miles the 19 for the Grizzly will be very difficult!!! Down into Beer at a slow pace before the final big climb over to Seaton Hole, I walked much of this again, I was pleased to hit the final slope up to Seaton, pleased I had completed the route but worried that my time and pace was way over a normal run. The final half mile along the esplanade was never ending, I was pleased to sit on the step of the van to recover before a change of top to a dry one before driving home.  This was very disappointing today as I have been working hard to get fit to enjoy the Grizzly next week, it was a long hard 12.16miles, I will rest for a couple of days but need one more long run over the Quantocks before the event, perhaps Saturday or Sunday depending whether we go to see the grandchildren, next week is out as I have a busy week with Bikeability on four days, the only day free is Wednesday which is a little close to the event. I am also worried about my foot as it is quite painful on stony ground, I have also had a return of pain in my right calf, I assume this is all because of the increase in miles in the build-up, if I don’t feel right I may have to think about the shorter Cub run on the day!!!

The month of February I ran 139 miles and cycled 235 miles, more than the previous Februarys! I should be very fit, but, don't feel it at the moment.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

More runs and a Park run

 Tuesday 21st February 2017

Wednesday [15th ] is normally Wobblies day but last Wednesday dawned wet, the forecast was to improve but there were heavy showers as the start time , so I bailed out, disappointing but didn’t fancy a wet ride. The afternoon seemed to improve so I decided to run and did my 12 mile road run round the lanes and the local reservoir. Lovely as the sun came out, and it felt quite warm, I seemed to be setting myself a good pace, at 9 miles the weather suddenly deteriorated and it poured down, even though I had my jacket and hat I decided to push on, the roads now running very wet! As I approached the local estate there was a fantastic rainbow, which I managed to capture on my phone!

I managed less than two hours for my run, which I was pleased about, thinking I might be getting a little fitter after all! Legs tired, but still managing to avoid any injuries.
Thursday was a rest day, the weather still not good although considerably milder than the previous weekend.
Friday [17th] I met up with Rachel to do my Neroche off road run, 7 miles, good to have company as all my running is on my own, R will be my running mate on the Grizzly, but! She was suffering a heavy cold, and with her hectic job as a teacher struggling to get out running, my experience of R is that she will be fit by the time of the race! She always is!!!!
The local cycle club usually meet on Friday afternoon to ride up to Langport, as the weather was really good, so as Mrs IanB was out I met up with them, [was this a good idea after an eight mile run in the morning?] there were eight of us, several Wobblies there but also some younger riders, we set off at a high pace, and I struggled to stay with them, I noted 25 mph on my Garmin several times!!! on the way to Langport, I did try to do a stint at the front [but on the downhills or flats] soon drifting to the back when the road went up again. I was glad to see the café!!! To recover, the ride home was just as hard except that towards the end we all came back together I think I was feeling the eight mile run I did in the morning, well that’s my excuse 37 miles of hard cycling.
Saturday my daughter was keen to do the Park Run down at Seaton, this was the first time either of us had done one. We drove down and parked on the front and walked down to the start, a briefing for us ‘newbies’ before we lined up for the start.
We were soon running down the esplanade with about another 150 runners. The course is two laps of the Esplanade that also includes two short sections of the dreaded shingle beach. We kept in the latter end of the group, my daughters running over the winter has only been once a week so she was doing really well. The weather was really misty with a light wind from the East creating a headwind. It was a good morning out and the 3.1 miles went quickly, we recorded 34 minutes for our first Park Run, something we can build on, interesting the Garmin said we had a total ascent of 99ft! Which seems odd along the sea front? We really enjoyed the run, and as we finished the mist lifted and the sun came out!! The rest of the day was lovely and warm with good sunshine.
Sunday [19th] I cycled with Mike, temperatures were still mild, but it was a very grey day with a light wind. A steady 31 miles round the lanes, again dodging the hedge cuttings, lots of lambs in the fields now, catkins and some pussy willow, loads of snowdrops in the hedgerows, hopefully spring is on its way, there is some warmth now back in the sunshine, so hoping we have escaped the worst of winter weather and so far only a light sprinkling of snow last month.
Monday [20th] was long run day, an early start saw me parked on Seaton sea front, and running by 7:45 am!! 

                                A grey dawn on Seaton seafront

The weather was mildish, but very grey again. It was lovely running down through Beer, no tourists yet, too early in the year, over Beer Head no dog walkers and descending to Branscombe it was deserted, I was moving well, the trails not too muddy. I climbed up past the school, which is perched on a hill overlooking the village, I got there just as children were arriving for the day, one parent commented ‘it must be Grizzly time as you’re the fourth runner we have seen this morning’  I was soon descending down to the Fountains Inn. The climb up to Branscombe cliffs was now starting to sprout the bluebells and garlic shoots.

                             steps down to Branscombe beach, the suns out!

 I ran down the steps to the steep field before the beach, just as the sun came out, a ‘proper’ spring day. I ran the beach, just as hard as ever, never gets any easier no matter where you run, each foot fall sinking in, like running on marbles, the climb out of the stairway to heaven made my legs ache. By the time I hit the steps out of Beer my legs were really aching, and the final climb out of Seaton Hole was even harder, even though it was very short. The sun was shining as I ran back to the van and a welcome mug of coffee.  I did try harder to make sure I ate and drank today, it was as hard as before, my time, no quicker! So another 12 miles towards my training, I must up the miles to ensure I can complete the 19 for the grizzly as well as the 3500 ft of climbing that’s twice as many feet as I do in my 12 miler. I will try to head to the Quantocks for a longer run at the weekend as it’s difficult to get the distance in along the coast without much more climbing!
Wednesday[22nd] dawned damp and wet, but the promise was it would clear later, so I out in my Paramo and headed to meet up with the Wobblies for the Wednesday morning ride, five of us headed over Combe St Nicholas and out to North Curry, started off wet, but by the time we reached Bickenhall the sun came out!!! Round through Five Head and Barrington before Tea and cake at the Community café at Seavington St Michael, lovely service, lovely tea and good banter! The start from the café is a steep uphill out of the village, but we were soon over the top and heading back along the cycle track and back into the wet weather!!! Apparently it had rained all morning at home so we were lucky and had the best of the weather! 35miles.
Thursday, 23rd, Morning spent doing my bit at school hearing the children read, the drive over the Blackdowns made a little scary at times with Storm Doris!!!!!  After lunch I headed off into Doris again, a hard head wind for the first couple of miles of my run and uphill, an 8.27 mile run round the lanes, made much harder by the strong wind. But at least the rain held off.

Mornings are drawing out and so are the evenings light at 6:45 am and 6:00 pm, spring is on its way.