Dawn Raider

The past couple of Saturdays I have taken to getting out on the bike earlier than usual, due to my son’s handball games and I must say it has been a gratifying experience.

I’ll get up around 6am and be on the road by 7. The great thing is the serious lack of traffic in an otherwise busy area. Living in this part of Spain means far less people are likely to be on the roads at these hours, although on a slightly darker note, there is the increased possibility of encountering an intoxicated driver.

I have found the clear roads and favourably traffic lights have given me the opportunity to focus on the actual ride and to concentrate on riding position and pedal stroke. This has invariably helped me in many ways and I have since noticed a marked increase in my average speed (not having to stop or slow down so often).

I am not sure if these early morning jaunts will become a norm as the handball season will be winding down by the end of May but I will definitely be keeping them on the radar as the rising solitude of dawn brings new perspectives to cycling and life.

sunrise

 

Advertisements

Rain…

Consistency should be my mantra, then perhaps I’d actually write more than once every few months.

I’m now writing this at Easter and much of the year has already ridden by.

This year 1,950km / Elevation 30,947m

Rain has been my bane recently and it has been relentless over the past two months save for a few sun-struck days. Galicia has well been living up to its dubious reputation of copious rainfall.

However, I am sure the rays from our nearest star will once again gently warm this sodden ground and again bring forth colour to my translucent skin.

Today, I managed to squeeze in a two hour ride up into the hills and back along the coast. At one point I was congratulating myself on having avoided the rolling rain showers, only to be inundated two minutes later by an almighty downpour, so heavy I had to seek refuge under the pines lining the road. Fortunately it passed within minutes and clearer skies lay head, albeit with a waterlogged road.

Yesterday afternoon, I played a game of football with my two boys and today on the ride, I was well and truly feeling the muscles that I tortured a mere few short hours before.

I have been using my winter bike for almost 2,000km so far this year and have managed to take out the summer ride for all but two days. And as much as I love my Red Winter Special my Summer Love takes me to another level of responsiveness and not to mention a serious weight loss.

Here’s looking at blue skies ahead!

 

 

IMG_20180329_113725672_TOP-01.jpg

Top of one of the hills behind Vigo laid waste to by the fire back in October 2017

I’m back…

…The truth is I never left, work just got in the way!

 

Much has happened over the past eleven months, so there is much to tell. My only problem is where to start???

I intend to disclose the good, bad and the ugly. Everything from saddle sores to great personal achievements (IMHO)

I’ve been learning a lot since I’ve been back on the bike and feel that I’ve progressed and am seeing steady improvements in my performance. I believe though, I am reaching a level now, where I may have to make changes to my lifestyle to be able to achieve these performance gains. These being diet and alcohol consumption.

However, this blog will not be giving a blow by blow account of my marginal gains and how I’ve eked out a few seconds here and there at the expense of my love of food and the odd tipple!

No, this blog is about my love of cycling, warts and all. I’ll pull no punches and say it how it is.

So far this year I’ve ridden over 8000 km and climbed almost 124,000 m.

I’ve been lucky enough to have ridden in two countries (not including Spain).

I’ve had a few punctures, most of which occurred during what I now refer to as the week of hell!

I suffered a most prolonged saddle sore, that resulted in almost a month off the bike.

I’ve hit the wall/bonked spectacularly and far from home on two (possibly three) occasions.

Two broken spokes and not on the same ride.

Tackled some real steep short climbs at over 30% and my knees survived to tell the tale.

I went on my first marcha cicloturista or organised bike ride / bike race here in Spain

And much, much more…

Stay tuned and make an excuse to get out and ride!

giant river

Saddle bags

The humble saddle bag, essential partner or aesthetic disruptor?

I have long been a silent proponent of the saddle bag and to be truthful, for a very long time never thought to do without it. It was a necessary cycling companion as necessary in fact as rubber on wheels.

However, last summer when my parents came to visit, my father, to my surprise, had done away with this indispensable piece of kit and carried all that is needed in his jersey’s pockets! Revolutionary, earth shattering I shouted to myself (this was a big move for my father) and what could possibly be the benefits?

My first thoughts turned to the negatives of relegating my dearly beloved cycling-bum bag (fanny pack for American readers) to the trash heap of cycling fashion.

Negatives:

  1. Would I have enough room in my rear pockets to fit all that resided in my bag? As it turns out, yes…more than enough space.
  2. Would my jersey get dirty from putting tubes, levers and tools in it? No, not if using a zip-lock bag.
  3. What if I needed space to put something else? Reality check…you, don’t need extra space, minimalism is the new frugal.

Benefits:

  1. The bag I was using was a little wide and because of my bike fit, my inner thighs would rub against it, so I was always found myself pushing it out of the way in order to avoid this. Removing saddle bag would solve this problem.
  2. In inclement weather the bag would become waterlogged and dirty requiring periodic draining and cleaning.
  3. For none other than pure aesthetic reasons the CBB (Cycling Bum Bag) can ruin the beautiful clean and elegant lines that we all so adore.

So, in conclusion I have consigned my CBB to the dustbin of my cycling history and can honestly say that i am happy with the decision and to those who helped me get there.

Cleaner lines…don’t you think?

 

 

The month of December

It’s winter here as you all know, however, I was surprised at how many kilometres I was able to clock up during the festive season, you can see these over on Strava Training.  For those who can’t wait to find out, I rode 1001 km and climbed 18,547m these numbers were brought to you by “Global Warming” without whose help, my great cycling December would not have been possible 😉

IMG_20161218_132431709.jpg

But seriously…this summer, sorry I mean this winter has been so far, very mild with little rain, a tad fresh perhaps in the mornings but perfect for getting out and riding. I managed to tackle a wee climb that had been on my wishlist for a while and had been told endlessly about…lack of cars and wonderful views etc… The opportunity arose and I went out and attacked it solo.

The climb rises immediately from the coast, it is a 6.8 km ascent with an average grade of 7%. I climbed it on the old 8 speed MMR Sprint with a 39/30t. Overall, the climb went well and I felt comfortable climbing with the setup on the bike.The folks who had told me about this climb were right. I experienced zero traffic and the beautiful views of the coast and Atlantic (I didn’t stop to take a descent picture) took my mind off the effort.

img_20161227_163154362_hdr

So far this winter we have been spoiled by the magnificent weather here and now with the solstice  behind us, I am almost not looking forward to the long, hot, sun drenched summer days which bring forth copious quantities of blinding sweat to mine eyes! Oh well, I must not complain…can’t have the best of both worlds…can I (we)..?

A late Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!

New Helmet – Specialized Align

Well, I’ve gone and bought myself an early Xmas present!

I’ve yet to take it out on the road, so this post is not a review (that’ll come later) but more of a heads up.

I bought the lid from our local Specialized bike shop (supporting the locals) here in Vigo and paid about €4 more than I would have online and besides, it gave me a reason to take out the “weekday” and ride there and back (not that you need a reason) on a lovely winter morning, combining riding and human interaction…what more can you ask for!

This afternoon I’ll be inaugurating my new acquisition.

Below: My best modelling efforts pre-ride!

img_20161217_130325015

 

Reaching new heights!

It’s nine months to the day that I started cycling again after my long break and I’d like to take a little time with this post and talk about how far I’ve come over that time.

My first tentative steps back into my favourite sport began back in April and my rides consisted of coastal excursions, which specifically avoided any and all inclines as if my life depended on it! My elevation would be around 130m-500m but these astronomical heights are only brought about by the undulating nature of the road + distance travelled. Now, I thoroughly enjoy these rides, with the Atlantic ocean lapping the shore on one side and towering peaks looming ominously on the other. Those peaks cannot be ignored forever and delightful pleasant coastal roads can quickly become somewhat mundane…

photo0325

My reasons (excuses) for avoiding them before came from a deep dark fear of failing. I was afraid of heading up one of those monsters and find myself having to dismount, put tail between legs and head home…the fear was palpable…

I decided to face my fear and chose a hill that I’d heard a lot about, “in fact it is the highest peak in the immediate area” and being within cycling distance was ripe for the picking! Strava measures it at 620m Elevation 11.1km Length 6% Gradient. To read about this epic climb and find out if I made it…click the link below!

Epic Climb

It wasn’t until my father came who is now the other side of 70 that I saw the need to head for the hills with more vigour! During our rides together he would easily waltz away from me on all but the easiest climb, so I took it upon myself to embrace the mountainous terrain of my adoptive land and quickly found that I actually enjoyed it. Of course, the GIANT and its 39×28 setup is a far cry from the MMR’s 39×26. It may not seem like a lot but throw in the GIANT’s 2.5kg weight difference and things certainly become more interesting. Obviously the GIANT has made it easier for me to summit the peaks and while well being is generally preferable to suffering…if it’s not hurting, it’s not working 😉

I’m now averaging 4000 m Elevation a week and love searching out new climbs and having the locals lead me on mystery rides where you never know what’s round the next corner…

IMG_20161213_103139165.jpg

P.S. I have since changed the cassette on the MMR and will be posting about this soon!