Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Oh, Just a Small One, Then

I finally managed a short ride on Monday, in the afternoon sunshine. I wasn't going to be fooled by a strong tailwind, but heading south towards Stanstead I did enjoy the relatively easy going!

I got to Stanstead in a reasonable time, having hardly exerted myself apart from on Hartest hill.

I deliberately took it gently - no point trying to get 'fit' at this late stage - determined to avoid straining anything before the 'off' on Friday.

Coming back against the wind was slightly different, and it was hard not to dig in a couple of times, but I was sensible enough to use the gears more than I usually do on training rides, and arrived home apparently intact.

I have no idea how long the 25 miles took me, apart from the fact it was probably slower than ever before!

Just a few days to go, though...

I'll be updating this blog by email when I can, and possibly from Internet cafes en route. Otherwise I'll be Tweeting by text when I have a phone signal, at @Paris2Venice.

Follow me if you can, spread the word, and don't forget to donate via my Just Giving widgets on this page!


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Friday, 27 August 2010

Still Resting!

It wasn't the plan to take this week off, but cooking mishaps (see below) and horrible weather have conspired to keep me off the bike since last weekend.

Muddy rain splashing on burnt skin is not a good idea.

My back is just about better and I haven't hurt anything else, so I might get out later today if it dries up or, more likely, tomorrow. But I won't be doing any big mileages at this late stage - standard advice is that you can't do much in the last week or so before a big ride that will make much difference, apart from trying to stay loose and not do any damage!

I'm banking rather a lot on the first few days out of Paris being relatively easy, so we'll all have our legs by the time we reach the first real hills.

We'll see!


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Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Nice And Easy Does It!

Trying to get into a daily riding routine is a good idea if you plan a long ride like our Paris to Venice expedition, but only if you observe the basics and take care of yourself.

By trying to to do short, quickish rides on three consecutive days I've somehow managed to strain my back slightly. I don't really get back trouble, so this is doubly annoying. Also, changing the pedals for some with tighter toeclips meant I also slightly tweaked my right hip, so I'll be changing those back before I ride again.

Then yesterday I managed to spill hot oil down my shin while removing some roasted pork from the oven. The nurse says I should be fine, but I'm going to rest for a couple of days!

Some good news is my self-inflating bed mat arrived this morning, so I now have all the equipment I need - if you don't count the new bike I was hoping for!

Now I've enabled email updates I will be able to maintain this blog during the trip itself. We set off from home next Friday, 3rd, and leave Paris on Saturday afternoon on the start of our two-week trek.

So there's still plenty of time to sponsor me.


Friday, 20 August 2010

Back to The Dales

John and I made another trip to Yorkshire last weekend, and got in some useful miles and very worthwhile hills over the course of two and a half days. John's wife Sian and their two dogs were with us and we were staying with a family friend, so some socialising was in our schedule, too.
Arriving in Ripon around mid afternoon on Friday, we began our ride with the intention of doing about 40 miles or so. In the event, this was curtailed by lack of time and a definite lack of energy on my part. In retrospect, this was probably dehydration. Still, we did over 30 miles, fully laden as for the Paris to Venice trip, on our way to West Burton. By the end of the ride I was feeling better and we planned a longer ride for Saturday.
Saturday's ride was also pretty tough going, but we expected that, more especially in the morning, when we faced a stiffish headwind as we set off for one of the hills we'd specifically avoided on our last visit!
It wasn't quite as tough as we'd been led to believe and actually represented a pretty good test of climbing endurance rather than one of brute strength as the shorter 20-25 percenters do. It was still around 15% and more at times. We found a few of those sharper ones too, over the course of 45 miles, as well as two or three more very decent climbs. All in all, the 45 miles seemed further but we both felt better for the workout.
For Sunday, we had planned on a short recovery ride, given that we had a long car ride and a duty to be sociable. In the event we did almost 25 miles, including some more brutes (not all marked on the map) and some stunning scenery. It's not always easy to appreciate the surroundings when I'm trying to hang on to John's back wheel, but it's hard to ignore Semerwater - a miniature bit of Lake District in the Dales. We even stopped for a scone and tea it what must be one of the quaintest and most trusting tourist spots in Engand. 
So, 102 miles in one day and two half days wasn't bad. Half a dozen short, brutish climbs and the same number of longer, steadier ascents made for a great weekend's cycling. The weather improved drastically when it was time to leave, but we had a superb weekend.
The real trip starts in less than two weeks' time but it's not too late to sponsor me!    

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Some More Good Miles

A couple of quickish 20-mile rides weren't enough to keep up the momentum for Paris to Venice, but a 40-miler on Sunday was more useful.

John and I rode northwards from Bury St Edmunds for about 21 miles, navigating the unfamiliar lanes more or less by the compass on John's Garmin, until we found some familar roads and ended our joint ride in Harling. By this time it had been raining quite hard for a while, and we parted company for John to carry on northwards to his home, while I retraced our route (more or less) due southwards and back into Bury St Edmunds.

Riding with John always means riding a bit faster and stronger than I would on my own, and I tried to keep that level up on the return ride. So I felt well-exercised by the time I got home.

A decent ride, despite the rain!

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