Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Wind from all directions!

I'm sure the wind on the Wirral plays games with cyclists sometimes.
I headed out to West Kirby to do a couple of loops of the hill, to stretch my legs after Sundays effort. As I headed down towards Meols, I was riding into the wind, then as I turned towards Hoylake, I was riding into the wind! The road into West Kirby was windy, as was the Climb up Grange Road!!!! Every where I went, except the mile and a bit along the front at Hoylake, seemed to be into the wind!!! I did however enjoy the climbing. After the monster hills on Sunday, the climbs out of West Kirby and Caldy are just pimples!!!

The guys in Vita Cycles are holding a monthly 10 mile time trial on a Turbo trainer. The competition this month has been fierce, With the coach leading the way, until today. If you want to have a go, pop into the shop with your bike and hook yourself up to the Turbo!! Spaces are also filling fast for the Vita Tunnel Challenge. Another time trial, this time through the Mersey Tunnel.

Sign up before the limited spaces are gone!!

Tonight's ride details:

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Onix Twiter Ride

Well, what a day!!! An early start, for a Sunday, and Me, Shaun and Ken were on our way to the other side of Macclesfield to meet up with a couple of like minded cyclists for a spin with the MD of Onix Bikes.
We couldn't believe it when we rolled into the Car Park and there were at least 40 people getting bikes and themselves ready.
Spot the Onix prototype!
Ken and Sean, and it was as cold as it looks!

There were so many we were asked to move our cars from the Pub car park so that their paying customers could get in!! It was a new experience driving the car in shoes with Cleats!!!

We set off from the side of a lake,

and headed straight into the first climb of the day, and by far the steepest, especially on cold legs!! It had an Average of 9% and topped out at 25% (by my Garmin anyway!!) I am not ashamed to say when we hit 25% I walked!!! too much too soon and I didn't want to do myself in in the first 2 miles.
The going got a bit easier after that. We headed round to Macclesfield, a different way to the planned route, as we had split so much on the first climb and some had gone the wrong way.
This proved to be a great plan, as we turned out of Macc to head up to the Cat and Fiddle, we had the wind at our backs. I got into a good rhythm and span my way up the 6 mile climb, ave 6% to the highest pub in England (I think!) When we got to the top the wind was across us and blew a couple of people into the verge. I passed Sean, who was stopping to help someone, and as he got off his bike it was caught by the wind and it looked like he was flying a kite!! Serves him right for buying an extremely light Orbea Orca!!!

Half way up to the Cat

It was so windy, we had to crouch to get a rest!

All safely at the top.

We Left the Shelter of the Cat and Fiddle and headed back, after a short fast decent we turned and had to ride into a headwind up hill! it was tough going but not as bad as I thought it would be.
It was decided that as the wind was so strong, I'm not sure exactly how strong it was but it was bad, we would call it a day and head back to the Pub. After another fast decent, and one last stingy climb, we all got back safely. Waiting for us were these great biscuits,

Which were a very welcome treat. All the way round Mike, the Onix mechanic was following us in the Onix Team car, offering advice on directions, and words of motivation!!!

Even though it was cut short, it was a great ride, with some challenging hills, and decent's.
At the end we had to take the obligatory Team Photo's!!

Shaun and Ken

Shaun and Me

Once all the bikes were back in the car we decamped to the pub for a brew! There was more cake from Louise ( although I didn't get to try any as Dean, from Purple Harry and David Harman, Eurosport, were monopolising the tupperware!!

It was also a great opportunity to talk to Craig, Onix Bikes MD, about next years range, and how the idea of starting a new bike brand has developed over the last 18 months. For more info on Onix Bikes why not watch this video. 

Thanks Craig for a great day, and I hope to be riding all 6 of Onix Bikes Twitter rides next year.
Also thanks to Purple Harry for some Bike Floss samples and CNP for the new Bottle and energy bars.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Out to Vita and Back the long way!

Today, as I had to be back for the boss to go to work, Paul and I went out for an hour before the Team Vita ride. We had a great spin to the shop the long way round, with a couple of hills thrown in to warm the legs. There was a great turnout at the shop, 15 today, and a Coach who had said on Facebook yesterday today's ride would be "Fast and furious"!!
Before we left, and as we were there before everyone else, I had the chance to have a good look at the New Cervelo S5.

A nice bit of kit, a little out of my price range but always nice to look at a great bike.

We headed out, and this time I knew I wouldn't be going all the way with the group as I was on a time deadline. We rode down to Greasby then round Royden Park to the hill up to Thurstaston, for the second time today for Me and Paul!!! Going up we dropped Mark, who is relatively new to Cycling. We circled at the top of the hill to let him catch up but he wasn't up for it today. This was my cue to head back to the shop, a little earlier than expected, but we did do a little loop to add a few more miles in. Mark headed home, and I stayed chatting to Phil at the shop about how the Team could develop next year into 2 groups, a Racing team and a club group. I think this will help to grow members in the new year, and give an option to everyone each week, Fast race pace training, or Club ride with Cafe stop!!
I thought I would try out a new App on my iPhone today, and let everyone who hasn't been to Vita Cycles yet have a look around. Click on this link to have a look: It's a 360 view so click and hold then move the mouse. (like google street view!!)

So now back home it is time to clean and prep the bike and get my kit ready, for tomorrows Onix Twitter ride. I'll probably have to take a choice of clothes as the weather looks so unsettled I wont know till we get there!
If you are still not sure about going, details are here:

Today's ride details:

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Preparing for The Onix Twitter Ride

I haven't been out much this week. In fact tonight is the first time I've swung my leg over the crossbar since Saturday. Claire has been working and the Kids have been unwell, always an excuse!!! 
Sunday this week is the Onix Twitter ride. I am looking forward to meeting the man behind Onix Bikes, a new British bike brand that is growing from strength to strength, and is based in the North West, in Preston. There have been a couple of rides in the past, both in the Lakes, but this is the first I will be attending. The Ride Roster is a veritable who's who of local Twitterati, and a couple of Pro Riders, Daniel Patten, Asfra Flanders Team in Belgium and Hannah Walker, Women's Motorpoint Marshal Team. Also joining us is the voice of Cycling on Eurosport, David Harmon, and Ken Jones, Vetran Racer and purveyor of Bioracer Clothing in the UK.
Mike, Onix Bikes chief mechanic, will be driving a support car, stocked with CNP energy bars, and cake from Lou (

The route is a challenging one, especially for someone who isn't that keen on hills!! It is not that long, 53 miles, but we will be climbing over 5000ft (1500m). That's a lot of up and down!! Hence my loops round the one local hill in West Kirby! To put it into perspective, to achieve the same elevation gain in a ride round West Kirby, I would have to go up Grange Road 30 times!! Anyway, a challenge like this is what is needed to keep me going through winter!
For details of the ride, if you want to join us, please check out this link:

Tonight's ride details:

Sunday, 20 November 2011

First Team Vita Video

Here is some footage of yesterdays Team Vita ride, recorded by Andy on a Go Pro.

If you want to join us for a ride out we leave Vita Cycles in Irby at 9.30 every Saturday, and usually go for 2-3 hours. 

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Is it really November? Team Vita ride 19/11/11

The Sky was clear and blue when I left the house this morning, in my new Le Col kit!!! It was a little chilly, but not what you would expect for a mid November morning. I met up with Paul and we headed up to the shop. As usual we were discussing where we would swing off from the ride and head back, as my chest and nose didn't want to work properly!!! We got to the shop and everyone started to arrive, including another new Member, Mark, on another Kuota! Everyone commented on how good the Le Col gear looked, no pressure there then to make sure I did it justice on the ride.

13 of us left the shop with Dave's instructions to spin in the little ring putting a smile on my face, as this keeps the pace down a bit, and gives my lungs a chance. It wasn't long before we had our only puncture of the day, luckily not me this time, which was good seeing as I had left my pump at home along with my spare tube!! I think Paul is contesting the coveted title of most punctures with me!!
There was quite a head wind all the way out, which kept the pace down as well. We headed out towards Ellesmere Port then down the Shell Road, where Alex managed to bust a spoke! After Dave, who is now Chief Mechanic as well as Coach, sorted it out, we headed off for Hapsford, and a couple of climbs. As usual I hit reverse gear as soon as the road hit more than 5% but didn't drop off too far. Once over the hills, we turned, had the wind at our backs, upped the pace and headed for home.
We managed to lose Andy about 10 miles from the shop,(Pit stop!), but every one else got back with the group.
It was a great achievement for a couple of the newer lads who had never done this distance before, and although they were not enjoying it at the end, I'm sure they are now looking forward to pushing to the next threshold.
The Le Col kit performed as you would expect good quality cycling gear to. The jacket kept me warm but not too hot, and the shorts were fantastic, especially the pad, very comfy, which is important on a long ride!!
As usual, I didn't have to pull out of the ride early, and even added a little loop out to West Kirby on the way home too!!
Andy had his Go Pro with him today, I will post a link when he uploads it.

Today's ride details:

Friday, 18 November 2011

Quick Le Col shakedown

Today has been just like Christmas eve! I left for work, in the knowledge that there was some new kit waiting for me at home. I had tried them on last night, but tonight I was going to put them to their proper use. After a long dragging day, I got home, Changed into the new Le Col kit and headed off for a quick spin to see how the fitted, and felt. Typically, as one of the pieces is a winter jacket, it was quite warm tonight! But I decided to wear it all, as the info about the Jacket says it is a good temperature regulator.
I suppose I should give a bit of background as to why I am now the proud owner of a full set of Le Col Derboun kit, Short Sleeve Jersey,  Bib Shorts and most importantly for this time of year, a Winter Jacket.
I don't normally spend much time talking about new kit on here, but I have had such a great experience as a Le Col customer I felt I needed to let you know.

It all started when Yanto Barker, the owner of Le Col,  Tour of Britain rider and recently signed with the UK Youth team for 2012, Tweeted that he had some 3XL kit for sale at a discount. I Tweeted back, asking if the 3XL was UK or Italian, as the European sizing isn't the best for my ample build!! Yanto asked me to email Le Col with a few details about myself. I thought, why not, nothing ventured and all that, and I was very pleased to receive an email, from Yanto himself, saying that he wasn't sure if the kit would fit, as everyone is different, but, if I wanted to order any kit, he would send it to me to try, and if it fitted, keep it and if it didn't, just pay for the postage and send it back. What struck me most was the personal service and time that Yanto and his team spent with me. This company has excelled in customer service. The Icing on the cake is the Kit. It fits well, and will fit better as the weight falls off. The Pad in the shorts felt great first time on, the fit of the Jersey is great, with some nice detailing, and a full length Zip, and the Jacket is Waterproof, Wind proof and, as tested tonight, breathable when the temp is a bit high! All I need now are some leg warmers to finish the look for winter, hint hint, (my birthday is in two weeks!!)
I highly recommend that you have a look at the Le Col website, and try some for yourself.

Depending on the Weather, I may wear the full kit on the Vita Team ride tomorrow. I will let you know how life with Le Col progresses!

Tonight's ride details:

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

What a lot of Snot!!!

I can't seem to shake this cold! I thought it had gone last week, but no, it's back, and seems to be worse than before. It took a lot of effort to get out tonight, but I managed it, if only for a quick loop at an easy pace. The cold mixed with my asthma made it hard to get enough oxygen in to keep the legs spinning. A bit of an essential element to cycling really! It amazes me how a little winter bug can debilitate me so much. Oh well, shouldn't complain, there are others much worse off than me. Time to shut up and put up!! I got the Turbo out the other day, and put the old Giant back together to go on it. I did half an hour on Monday night, and hope to do every other session either on the bike or out on the road.
Whilst I was testing the turbo the other day, my son decided he wanted to have a go, I told him his legs weren't long enough, but that didn't matter.

A good aero position though!! It wont be long before he is riding with Team Vita!!!

I got home from work tonight and there was a card from the Postie on the mat. There are three parcels for me at the sorting office. I hope it is my new Le Col kit from Yanto. Cant wait, first to see if it fits! And then to get some miles in wearing it. More to follow on this in the next few days.

Tonight's Ride Details:

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Another Puncture on the Team Vita Ride 12/11/11

Today was another chance for me to lead the ride, as Dave was off playing with fast cars at Donnington.
I decided to do a Cafe ride today, as the last one went down well. there was another great turnout, 11 of us left the shop and rode out towards Greasby, Moreton, Leasowe and on to New Brighton. We met up with Dan on the way. There was a surprising headwind out by the coast, so we made sure no one was on the front for too long. When we got to Seacombe we stopped for a couple of the lads to have a natural break, and I was determined not to loose anyone today!! Whilst we were waiting, A couple of the Liverpool Mercury lads came off the ferry. I knew James was coming over today, but didn't think we would see them. It was good to to meet someone who I have only talked to on Twitter. James and John were off to Eureka too, but going round the opposite way. James Onix Azzuro looked really nice, I am looking forward to seeing a few more in a couple of weeks when I go for a ride with the Owner, Craig, and some of his friends. Check out this link for details:
When everyone was finished with the facilities at the ferry terminal, we then headed over the bridges into Birkenhead, Through to Rock Ferry, Port Sunlight, Bromborough, Easton, and then on to the Welsh Road. At this point I picked up a thorn and Punctured AGAIN!!! It was too good to be true. I think if we have a Club Christmas get together, I will win the most punctures in a year prize!!! The Pave's were easy to get on and off though, which was a bonus, but I need to invest in a new pump, the one I have is good, but doesn't get the tube to a high enough pressure to seat the Tyre properly, and it felt a little lumpy. Luckily we were only a short blast down the Welsh Road to Eureka, where a quick inflate with a Track pump seated the Tyre nicely.
The Eureka Cafe wasn't too busy so there was room for us to take up two tables.

While we were there we were discussing last Sundays ride, and the Steps Challenge, that is run by Eureka. We decided that we needed to ride out to the steps on a Saturday ride and all have a go, set a base time each and then make regular trips there to see how we are improving, with the aim of all getting onto the leader board in the Cafe.
Alex and Jane met us at the Cafe, they didn't realise we were leaving earlier today, and when they got to the shop at 9.20, they tried to catch us up, and ended up cutting across the Wirral to meet us.
After a nice social brew, we headed off back up the Chester High road to the Shop, this time with the wind at our backs.
Andy had taken his GoPro camera with him today, to get some video footage of the ride, but unfortunately something didn't work and he only got 7seconds of video. Maybe next week will be better.
It was a great social ride today, a good opportunity for everyone to get to know each other a little better. I'm sure when Dave is back in charge we will be pushing the pace again!!!

Today's Ride Details:

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

An audience with a cycling Legend

Tonight I went to The Bike Factory in Chester for the launch of a new Bike range. ( I told you there were other bike shops available)
First of all I was privileged to see the owner of the bike factory receive a commendation from the CTC for their services to cycling in the Chester and North Wales area.
The main event was the unveiling of the new Boardman Bikes Pro range. The man himself, Chris Boardman MBE was there to introduce the range and explain the reasoning behind the brand and new bikes. Then Andy, the operations Manager of Boardman Bikes, explained how the range came to market, why they have chosen the designs and also why they have chosen independent retailers to sell the brand rather than a national chain. After the talk Chris answered questions from the audience about his cycling success in Time Trials, The Tour and The hour challenge. All very interesting and inspiring.
After this there was a scrum to have photo's taken with Chris and get autographs, so I took the opportunity to talk to Andy about the bike designs, specifically integrated headsets and bars!!!!! You had to be there!
I waited until there was a chance to talk to Chris. Most people were talking about the Tour etc, so I decided to ask him about next years sport relief challenge against his old adversary Graeme Obree! He admitted to me that he originally hadn't agreed to take part, just supply the bikes, but in the end, Bowed to the pressure and agreed! As I have said before I have seen Chris training recently, and took the opportunity tonight to extend an invitation to our Saturday morning training sessions! I'm not sure he took me seriously, but you never know he may turn up one day!

Not only did I meet Chris Today, I also had a bizarre experience that started after I replied to a post on Twitter.
I ended up talking to Yanto Barker, a past Tour of Britain competitor and now signed to Team UK Youth for 2012 and owner of Le Col clothing We were discussing Clothing sizes and the range available to the rounder cyclist. More to follow in the future on this one!!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

"Run Fat boy Run!"

I wanted to go out on my bike tonight. As I walked home from work the desire to go out was reducing as the damp cold weather got worse. I know at this point "the coach" will be getting ready to berate me for my weakness, but after a busy day at work, and the miserable weather, by the time I got in the last thing I was ready to do was risk dropping my gorgeous bike on the damp slippery tarmac.
But, I had a health check at work today, and although I was very happy with my blood pressure and resting heart rate, (49 after running up two flights of stairs as I was late!!) I still have a lot of work to do to get my BMI into the right range.
So, I decided that if I wasn't going to ride my bike I had to do something to get the heart pumping and burn a few calories. I dug around in the cupboard for my trainers, got changed and set off. I have always had a problem with running. I have suffered from shin splints in the past, and I find it hard to regulate my breathing, especially in the cold. The last time I ran was a few months ago taking part in a 5k organised by work, which I walked half of!! Tonight was a nice surprise. My legs, and specifically my shins, didn't hurt, and after a few minutes my breathing became easier, and I got into a comfortable pace. I wont be winning any races, or thinking of triathlons yet, but it will certainly help to mix up the training this winter, and hopefully help me reach my target weight by February.

Tonight's RUN details (for your amusement!!):

Sunday, 6 November 2011

"Tragedy" by the Steps!!

Today was the first time I have joined Dave (the coach) for a long ride. Ken came over from Litherland and met me at Chateau Palefish. We headed  up to the Glegg Arms in Heswall to meet the others.

Waiting for the Lads at the Glegg Arms

There was another great turn out, Me, Ken, Dave, Dave L, Dan, James, Andy and Jeff, who only had a pass for a couple of hours.
We headed out to the Dee path, then over the river and into Wales.
The weather was fantastic, a bit crisp on the legs, I decided to wear shorts today, ever the optimist! But it was sunny and dry.
The first challenge, and to be fair, the worst of the day, was "The Steps". A hill that goes up in, you guessed it, Steps. Hence the topical Pop group title today!! This challenge is legendary and the Eureka Cafe even has a competition to see who can do it the fastest. So at the bottom of the climb I started a new lap on the Garmin and we headed up. The climb has an average of 6% and a maximum of 20%, which is met more than once. It is very different to the hills I ride on round the Wirral. I don't think we can really call them hills actually!! So anyway, I made it, eventually, and it was satisfying, and painful all at the same time. I completed it in 20 minutes, the lap says 23 but I forgot to stop it when I got to the top!! I have since checked the fastest time it has been done, and I have a bit of work to do. 12.5minutes!!! only need to go almost twice as fast!!

Proof I made it!!

The others at the top.

To be honest, I was done in at this point, but you never get anywhere feeling sorry for yourself. We headed on past Llandegla, and down the Nant Y Garth pass, a fast downhill section, the way we were going anyway! that had some great sweeping bends, a bit like an alpine decent, almost!!
We carried on into Ruthin and then Denbigh. I was certainly feeling the climb by this point, and decided that I would need to ease the pace a little to conserve energy to get home. When the mountain goats turned off to climb up and over to Hollywell, Ken and I decided to carry on towards Mold.

First stop of the day at 62miles!

 To give our legs a chance we stopped for a couple of minutes to fuel up and have a stretch, then headed on to Mold. In the town we stopped again, stocked up on some much needed sweet stuff, I'm sure we deserved it, and then set off for Queensferry and the Wirral. The route back to Ewloe was easy, but there we found ourselves on the A55, the main dual carriageway along the North Wales coast. We were only on it for 1.4 miles and averaged 28mph but it was a little daunting having lorries passing at 60mph!!! At Queensferry we got off the A55 and were back on familiar roads.

A beautiful Day

Once we got back on the Chester High Road, I spotted some cyclists ahead who looked familiar. And I was right, As we got to Gordale garden centre we caught the rest of the group, who had stopped at Eureka for a coffee!!!!! We should have stayed with them. It was nice to all get back together for the last few miles.

The survivors of the Steps!!

It was a great day, if a little painful at times, and as always, once I reached the end it all seemed worth it. Thanks Dave for a great route, and the rest of the lads for the company. 
The Blog has taken a while to finish today, as I was out a little longer than expected, and there were a weekends worth of jobs to be done in a couple of hours, to ensure a pass for the next Vita Epic Sunday ride.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Team Vita ride 5/11/11

Another great turnout for the Team ride today. 12 of us, including Jane Saunders, GB team member and bronze medallist at the ITU world triathlon championships in Beijing earlier this year, an Iron man competitor and a marathon runner, left the shop and headed out for a couple of loops around the lanes. Dave (the coach) was keen for us to keep in our pairs and keep the pace up, but try not to drop anyone. The weather was kind, although the roads were quite wet after the heavy rain last night, and there was a lot of mud and gravel washed over the quieter lanes. Jeff, Dan and me nearly lost it on a corner when Dave sent the group of on a sprint! The Paves were better than my bottle. It was a close one, but at least I was in the front group fighting for the imaginary line!!!
I had to head back to the shop before the end of the ride, as I had an appointment at another team that wears red and plays in Liverpool! Not the best outcome but good to be there.
On the way back to the shop we saw Chris Boardman out training for his sport relief challenge against Graeme Obree. He did have time to comment on Dave C's bike though (a Boardman!!!)
Tomorrow we are heading out to Wales for a long ride. There should be about 6 of us and the weather is looking good. I've not done a long ride with Dave before, so it will be interesting to see if I can keep the pace up for over 5 hours. I'm sure we will not be stopping at any CafĂ©'s
The Lads at the shop have organised an unusual TT race in February. They have been able to close the Birkenhead tunnel, and the race will be through and back. Having ridden through there a few times, this is going to be a tough challenge. There are only 100 places so check out this link for details and get registered before its too late. It promises to be a great event.

Today's ride details:

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

A new dimension to my dislike of hills!

Motivating myself to go out in the dark, with the threat of rain, and a wind gusting to 30kph, was not too hard tonight. I wont be able to get out again until Saturdays team ride, and then we have planned a big ride on Sunday. So go out I must!!
The wind was behind, or to the side of me on the way into West Kirby, which was ok, and I decided to go up my nemesis, Grange road, which is only half a mile long, and is 10% at its maximum, but one of my least favourite hills. The bottom wasn't too bad, and I thought I may have a good ride up it today, until I turned the corner half way up to be met with a head on wind, that almost pushed me back down the hill!!! It was definitely a grind to the top, but strangely satisfying to have done it. Definitely time to focus on the Diet, take the coach up on his offer of training at his studio, and possibly break out the speedo's to mix up the types of training if I'm ever going to climb hills easier, and have a realistic chance of racing next year!!!

Tonight's ride details: