Saturday, 31 December 2011

New years eve Team Vita Ride

My last ride of 2011 was fittingly a Team Vita ride. It's thanks to the support and motivation of riding with the guys that I have managed to loose 2 stone, and increase my fitness this year. I cant believe how quickly the last 9 months, 3073miles and 34,377meters of climbing have gone!! But there is always room for improvement. And I realised that more than ever today, when after a week of overindulgence and little time in the saddle, I had to leave the Team ride as I was struggling to keep up.
 9 of us started out from the Shop, and the pace was good, with everyone taking a turn in the front. We were headed for Chester and then a loop round the back of the city and back via Eureka. Along the way Dave decided to change the route and turned towards Wales, which was not my idea of fun after bailing from Tinsel Spin earlier this week, but I decided to give it a go and enjoyed the ride until we hit the first proper climb. It wasn't a massive climb, only just over a mile and an average incline of 3.6%, but I struggled and had to stop to get my breath at the top before coasting down the other side to meet up with the others who were waiting for me. I decided then that Wales wasn't the place for me today, so I turned to head back on my own. I hadn't been to Ewloe before, and wasn't sure of the way, but headed in what I thought was the right direction!! After a little detour round an industrial estate, I eventually found my way to the Dee Path, and started the 3 mile slog into a not quite head, but still very energy sapping, wind. The Path can be great when in a group or when there is no wind, but not so kind when you are on your own!! It is our little bit of Holland in the North West!!

I made it to Eureka for a pit stop, which as always was busy,

and then headed home. I saw Ian on the way through Irby, who was fixing his second puncture in two days. He seems to have taken my puncture curse from me, I hope!!! We then rode together into Greasby.

I made a decision today. I think that to keep increasing my fitness and loose weight, I am going to resolve to give up alcohol in 2012!! I don't drink excessively, but I have certainly noticed how it has affected me over the last couple of weeks, and also the weight I have put back on because of it. So now it is in black an white  here, I shall have to keep to it!

Here are today's ride details:

I hope everyone has a great New Years eve celebration, and that 2012 will be happy and prosperous for you all.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Tinselspin attempt!!

The day didn't get off to a great start! Whoever invented the Snooze button is responsible for me rushing this morning to get to Paul's in time to head off for Tinselspin. We arrived at the Shippons in Irby and waited for the group to turn up. There were 12 in total, and a disappointing lack of tinsel and Christmas adornments to bikes, only Ian, Dave and myself had decorated our bikes, and Jeff had a bow on his helmet!

We headed out with the intention of riding into the wind to Llandegla for a brew, then back with the wind behind us.
All was going well as we motored down the Chester high Road, I even set a PB on a Strava Segment (but I'm not obsessed, honestly!) until we turned and headed West towards Wales. The wind was gusty and strong and made the going much slower, I did a turn on the front for a bit, and that was where it all went wrong! The wind proved too much for my chest, and I couldn't get oxygen in quick enough to keep the pace up. Luckily (but not for John) there was a puncture, and I managed to recover a bit, but when Ross said he was heading back as he had to go to work, and Jeff, Alex and Sean said they were joining him I didn't need to be asked twice! The problem was that the other 4 got going while I phoned Paul, who was with the rest of the group further up the road, to let him know we were heading back, so I rode back to Eureka on my own, trying to reel them in. It was frustrating as I could see them in the distance, but couldn't close the gap. I suppose Eight wheels are better than two. I did manage to close the gap considerably enough to get to Eureka just behind them, but I was completely done in! A coffee and a slice of Chocolate and Peanut butter pie helped the recovery, and soon we were off again, with the other 4 looking to bag some Strava KOM's on the way back. I stayed with them through Puddington and into Neston, but didn't fancy Boathouse Lane so headed back on my own.
I am disappointed that I didn't make it to Llandegla, but sometimes you have to listen to your body rather than your ego!!!

Today's ride details:

Thanks to Dave @dodgyd and Ian @ian_fagan for organising the ride, maybe next time I'll get to the end!!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Technology meltdown

I thought I would nip out for a quick spin today, as a warm up for Tinselspin tomorrow. I wanted to also try to do some PB's on Strava, I have to admit I too have become obsessed in improving my times, especially up the hills. It may be a while before I challenge for any KOM's, but there is no harm in trying. I first headed up the Upton road climb, a nice warm up hill that is a steady 5% for half a mile, then round and back towards West Kirby via Moreton, Meols and Hoylake. I attacked the hill out of West Kirby and was making good progress, when I started to hear tyre rub. I thought I may have punctured, but the tyres looked good. I stopped, just short of the end of the segment (!!!!) and discovered that I hadn't located the front wheel correctly after cleaning the bike yesterday, anther rookie error!! When I started off again I noticed that the Garmin was registering a climb incline % of 815 and a speed of 12mph, when I was actually going down hill at probably 30mph!!! The Garmin continued to play up all the way into Irby, where I stopped and re started it and it behaved its self then all the way home.
I was quite frustrated, and angry that my efforts would not be recorded correctly, and it made me think how reliant I have become on the stats, rather than just enjoying the ride. Maybe I will go for a ride without the Garmin one day, but not just yet!!!!

Today's ride details are here: or in the Panel on the Right of the page.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Tinselspin details

As promised here are the details of Tinselspin. There are two routes depending on the weather, and there is no pressure to do the whole route, just do as little or as much as you like.
It will be a good oppertunity to work off some of the seasonal excess and get some miles in before the New year.
See you at 9.30 on Wednesday.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas Eve ride to Eureka Cafe

I didn't expect that such a big group would turn up to ride to Eureka Cafe today. Paul and I arrived first, and soon others joined us. It was great to see Alex, who has moved to go to Uni, Paul and Stan, who have been off their bikes for a while after having operations, Owen, who has been working away, and the rest of the usual crowd. We also met up with some other Wirral riders, who I regularly chat to on Twitter, and did some hill training with in the summer.
It was a great sight, although I do apologise to anyone driving from Irby to Heswal, as 30 of us left the shop and headed out.
Once we got out into the lanes we were less of a moving obstacle and even got some applause as we passed people along the road. It must be the season of good will, as even the car drivers we held up were happy to wait for us.
I tried to get a photo of the group, so I sprinted off the front, and found a good spot to stop. Typically, the technology let me down! the iPhone camera wouldn't set up quick enough so I missed the front of the group!!

We only split as a group once, as we went through Willaston, but everyone got back together before we headed down the missing link. Stu was made up that he had brought his cyclo cross bike as the missing link is a farm track that was pretty messy. There were a few grumbles, but it gives me an excuse to get the Purple Harry out later!!

We arrived at the Cafe and took over!

Thanks to Anne and the girls, we were all served quickly, and tucking in to Mulled Wine and Mince pies. 
It was tough to get motivated to get going again, but once out on the road it was a great ride back through the lanes to the shop, I even managed a PB up the Denhall lane climb!!!
I was surprised that we didn't have more mechanicals today, with so many in the group. I think we only had 2 punctures, and for once I wasn't one of them. 

The lads planning on racing next year added a loop of West Kirby to the end of the ride, but I had to get back to two excited boys, and will now spend the rest of the day trying to keep them occupied!!

The next outing is likely to be Tinsel Spin, being organised by Dave and Ian who we rode with today. The plan is to meet at the shop at 9.30 on Wednesday 28th, and if the weather is good, head out into Wales, probably an 80+ miler, or if the weather is not favourable, stay on the Wirral. 
Everyone is welcome, and as details emerge, I will post them here.

Thanks to everyone who rode out today, It was a great ride with great company, and also thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings. 

I hope you all have a very Happy Christmas.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Christmas Eve Eureka Ride Invitation

As Christmas Eve falls on a Team vita ride day this year, we have decided to have an easy ride out to the famous Eureka Cafe, as Anne is putting on Mulled wine and it seemed to be the right thing to do!!

We will leave the shop at the usual time, 9.30 and aim to be out for about two and a half hours (depending on how long we take advantage of Eureka's hospitality!).
The route will take us through the lanes of Wirral to the east of the Chester High Road,through the villages of Thornton Hough, Willaston and Ledsham and back along the lanes to the West through Puddington, Burton, Neston and lower Heswall back to the shop.

This is an open invitation to anyone who wants to join us, all abilities, the more the merrier!
The route is just under 25 miles in total, 12 out and 13 back. check out this link for the route:

All you need is a bike, the right gear for whatever weather we are treated to, and some cash for the Cafe (I don't have an entertaining budget from the shop or Mrs Palefish!!)

We look forward to seeing you on Saturday morning, 9.30 at Vita Cycles Irby.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Making the most of a sunny winter day

Today was the complete opposite to yesterday. I woke up to sun streaming through the window, and a promise of 6 degrees from the weather app. Typical! A day when no cycling was planned and the weather was great! I got up and we were having breakfast, whilst I was longingly looking out the window at the clear sky. The boys wanted boiled eggs, and Joe wasn't happy with the consistency of his yolk, so Claire put it in the Microwave. Big mistake! Now I bet you are wondering where this is going? Well, if you have ever microwaved an egg a bit too much, you will know what happened next. After a loud pop, and a few expletives from the kitchen, Joe had a poached egg, and Claire had a big clean up to do. So when she said, "What would I have to do for you to clean the Microwave" the answer was simple!! 15 minutes later I was pulling on my cycling gear to head off for a spin in the sun!!! Well worth the effort of cleaning super heated egg off the inside of the Microwave!! It was a great ride, much warmer that yesterday, 6.6degrees Ave,  and not too much wind. I even managed to do my best time up Column Road, and along the front in West Kirby, in fact if it hadn't been for the car I was stuck behind, and eventually overtook at 30mph, I think I would have been faster, not that I have become obsessed with Strava segments like the rest of the team!!!

After lunch, a bit of tree felling, a trip to the allotment and a run to the tip I had a couple of hours spare to clean the bike. It was filthy! I didn't clean it after the night ride on Tuesday.

Filthy Frame!

Extremely dirty cassette

I wouldn't normally put pictures of a dirty cassette on the blog, but I wanted to show you haw good Purple Harry cleaner and Floss is. I discovered this product at the Bike show earlier this year, and have been very pleased with both the products, and the service from the company. It is a new British brand that is doing realy well. So you have seen the before, here is the after!
Sparkly Cassette

Blatant product placement!

Clean Bike

Today's ride details, (with new best times!!) for mobile users:

Saturday, 17 December 2011

All Hail and MTB's

Today was supposed to be the Team Vita Christmas Hill climb challenge, and Road race. That was until the weather had other ideas. Yesterdays snow was an indication of what was to come, and we decided to play it by ear and see what today's weather looked like in the morning. When I got up and looked out of the window, I was happy to see no snow or frost, just a little rain. It also looked like the wind had dropped. My weather app on the phone was saying it would be about 4degrees out, so all that was needed was a good few layers to keep warm. Just as I was getting ready to ride up to Paul's I received a tweet from a Shaun, warning of slippery roads, accompanied by a very christmasy looking picture!!
As I was looking out of the window wondering how two places 3 miles apart could be so different, a winter weather event (which is what we call them at work!) happened. Within seconds the drive and road were covered in hail/sleet! I called Dave and suggested the Hill climb should be postponed, which he agreed, but we decided to still meet at the shop for a brew.
I had recently read an article on winter riding, and the best advice I had read was putting flat non clip pedals on so that you can get your feet on Terra firma quickly in a slip. I couldn't be bothered to swap my pedals so I dusted off the Mountain Bike, pumped up the tyres and called Paul to suggest he did the same.
10 minutes later Paul and I were heading off to the shop, with Claire's words, "you're a pair of nutters" ringing in our ears!
Barry was surprised to see us when we arrived at the shop. The ride had been interesting! Hail being blown into your face at 20mph is a little painful, and big knobbly tyres work well on mud, but not so good on slippery roads!

A rare sight in Vita Cycles!

I wasn't expecting too many people to turn up as we had put the message out that the challenges were off today, and anyone looking out of their window, with any sense would stay indoors. But such is the commitment of the lads one by one, bedraggled cold hardcore cyclists entered the shop. 
We all felt very self righteous, having made the effort to turn up, especially those on their winter road bikes.

As we stood chatting, it was commented that seeing as we were there why not at least go out for a spin. The sky was brightening, and the hail melting, so we headed off into the cold. The average temp of the ride today was 5 degrees, but the actual temperature whilst riding was 2 degrees!!! 

It was bizarre riding with the lads on their road bikes whilst on my Mountain bike. The wet slippery roads were a good leveller!! 
Paul and I stayed with the group for a bit, but peeled off half way round, as I had promised to be back in time for our first Christmas day of the year with Claire s sister and family before they head back to Bali.

It was definitely worth getting out today, and even though the miles were much less that usual, I still felt that I had put some effort in, and kept the legs spinning.

As usual, ride details at the right of the page, or here for Mobile users:

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Moon X-Power 500 first ride.

Since I bought the Moon light a couple of weeks ago, the weather has conspired to keep me indoors in the evenings. As today progressed I decided that whatever the weather, I would get out tonight for a spin. Paul contacted me to see if I was out tonight, which motivated me even more. It was a bit windy, with some strong gusts, but the roads were dry and it wasn't too cold.
I can't believe how good the Moon X-Power 500 is. It is like having a motorcycle light attached to the bike. Paul's reaction when I switched it on was great, he nearly fell off his bike, and as we were riding along, he said he couldn't tell if it was me or a car behind him. I highly recommend spending that extra bit of money on a quality light.
Moon X-Power 500 at full power

I am not sure that introducing the Team to Strava was such a good idea. I may have created a group of monsters!!! The main topic of conversation between team mates currently is about segments and KOM times!!! Even the lads who aren't normally competitive have become addicted. The main reason for out ride tonight was to check out the Hill we will be climbing on Saturday!! I'm sure as we move towards the weekend,  there will be more activity on the hills reported on Strava!!!

To access details of tonight's ride follow this link: or click on the Strava map on the right of the page.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Team Vita Ride 10/12/11

It seems like ages since I did a full Team Ride, Last week and the week before I didn't go with the lads so today I was feeling a little nervous that maybe I may have lost a bit of speed and stamina, even though I have done a couple of Turbo Sessions through the week. Paul rode down to meet me today, and we headed off to the shop. It was quite fresh, but I had made sure I had layered up well. When we got to the shop, as usual, I was saying I may not go the full distance today, and Paul was happy to go along with the idea of peeling off early. Dave arrived and said that we were going to stick to the main roads today, to avoid the muddy, greasy lanes.
16 of us headed out towards Greasby and round the coast towards Wallasey. I was surprised that my legs were spinning well and I wasn't falling off the back!! The speed wasn't too fast, as the roads were still quite wet, and there seemed to be a lot of diesel around.
The group stayed together well today. A few of the lads needed to drop off along the route to either go to work, or get to the match.
Those of us remaining were treated to a couple of stinging hills on the way back, Denhall Lane, Parkgate and Heswall. I seem to be getting better with every ride, I'm sure by this time next year I'll be challenging Sean and Jeff for the KOM title!!!!!
The highlight of today's ride for me was Alex's inventive use of an old pair of socks and a couple of Tesco carrier bags to make a pair of Wind and Waterproof over shoes! The ingenuity of a student!!! I think he needs to let write a letter to Santa!!!

Next week we are being treated to a Christmas Challenge! A hill climb challenge with a trophy for the winner ( I will be timekeeping so that others have a chance to win!!!) and a race round a lop from the shop. Every one is welcome to come along, we will meet at the shop at 9.30.

Today was the first ride that I recorded on to Strava, you can access the details from the Latest Rides section on the top right of the page, or here if you are on a mobile.

There are 7 of us from the team now using Strava, and it has certainly added a competitive edge to the hills!!

If you needed any inspiration to sign up for The Vita Tunnel Challenge here is a picture of the Swift TT frameset up for grabs. Call into the shop or visit for more details.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

The Future is Strava!

I have stumbled across a new logging site, It is a free site, with an option to upgrade to premium if you need more stats!! (Claire is not too keen on that option!!)

On first impressions it looks very impressive, with all the data that is found on the Garmin Conect logger, and more. It also shows climb %, and a basic power and energy formula. The layout is easy to follow, and the pages well laid out.
The best element I think is the ability for riders to share info with each other, and the ability to see how well you have ridden on categorised climbs. A good incentive to push me up the hills, especially as Grange Road, my nemesis in West Kirby is on there!!!
I have set up a Team Vita Club page already, which members of the team can join, and then all our club rides, future races and individual training rides will all be in one place for everyone to see and analyse, especially the coach!!! All Garmin users can upload direct from your device, and iPhone and Android mobile users can download a free app that logs your ride and uploads to the site.

To check out what it looks like, click on the link at the top of the Blog. (It doesn't show on mobiles, so you need to read the Blog from a PC.)

While I am testing this site I will not add a link to Garmin for ride details, you can access the info from the widget on the Blog. Please let me know what you think. Cheers

Saturday, 3 December 2011

No Team Vita ride for me today

Today was the first Wimp out of winter!! I set the alarm early, so that I could get out for an hour or so before the club ride, as Claire had to get off to work at 10.30, which meant I could only join them for a short while.
As I was eating my breakfast, feeling a bit rough, as this cold still hasn't shifted, it started to rain, no problem I thought, it will be a good test for my new kit! My optimism soon waned as the rain hit the window harder and harder, helped along by a gusty wind. Oh well, maybe I will only do a short ride to the shop, and with the club, then head back. I eventually left the house at 8.45, and rode straight to the shop!! (2.5miles) it was on the way that I decided I would not go with the lads, and take the long way home instead.
When I got to the shop. I had a coffee with Barry and Giles, who had won the November turbo 10 mile challenge.
As the lads arrived we chatted about the weeks riding we had done, and I told them all about the Onix Twitter ride, to be fair I'm still chuffed at the amount of climbing I achieved in such a short distance!
Dave (the coach) arrived and everyone got ready to leave, it felt a bit weird not putting my helmet on and getting ready to go with them, but the guilt didn't last for long, as the heavens opened again as they rolled down the road.
Even though the weather was not favourable, there was still a good turnout.

After the lads had left, Barry awarded Giles with his prize for winning the Turbo challenge.
Giles had completed the ten miles in 21.50, a whopping 2minutes faster than the next best time. 

It was my birthday this week, and my great family had given me some vouchers to spend in the shop. After a lot of consideration, I decided to get myself a new light, that will hopefully encourage me to get out more during the dark winter months. 
The model I chose was the Moon X-Power 500. It is a high power, rechargeable unit that should give me lots of illumination down the dark lanes, and help me to mix up the routes, instead of sticking to the main well lit roads. 
No ride details today, as I think you all know how to get to the shop by now!!!