Daily Archives: March 5, 2012

We’re faster than an Audi A6

Sunday’s training run – the Duke’s, Kippen and Crow Road hills – a tough 60 miler, and now a favourite route of the team was on the table. Gio, John and myself were the riders, with the rest out for various reasons. We set off, the roads drying out and the clouds clearing away, looking to give us a decent day for the ride. Section one (stealing Big J’s breakdown of the route), a nice section of rolling road to Aberfoyle, allowed me to get some good practice at group riding, taking turns at the front and resulting in a nice average speed of 18.7mph. I found myself falling off the back a bit if I took a swig of juice after my turn at the front, must work on the process of pedalling and drinking, but easily regained the group at this early stage of the ride.

We soon had our first hill ahead of us, at the ~16 miles mark, the Duke’s pass (section 2). A brief stop to refuel, and I set off ahead of the others, knowing they’d soon overhaul me. Determined to take this hill without falling below 6mph (speedy!), started steadily, trying to avoid dropping into my lowest gear, standing on the pedals at the steeper parts of the climb. The hardest parts of the hill still are still challenging, but at this point, have lost their full thigh-burner status as my ability to cycle and understanding of the gears have improved. Result – 7.95mph. Not brilliant, but pleased that I easily topped my 6mph target.

Section 3, rolling roads again and more group riding. Odd incident on the road (all the fun happens when I’m in the group it seems), as at one point we’re hot on the tail of an elderly driver in an A6 and we’re having to brake to avoid running in to them! Much confusion and merriment from us, but eventually the driver works out the pedal on the right makes you go quicker and we’re left behind, no longer sucking in their fumes.  This section saw us averaging around 18.8mph. Consistent stuff. We were soon hitting the 40 mile mark, the second hill of the morning at Kippen, and as usual, the others leave me on the first rise of the climb. I settled in to my own rhythm, enjoying the scenery and having mixed feelings towards the sunshine (nice for view, not so much for sweatyness). Its not long before two ‘pro’ cyclists zip by me, not muttering a word in response to my greeting as they tear up the hill, I guess saving their breath for whatever private competition they are in. Not much further on, another cyclist, sharing the previous pair’s team colours breezes by me, this time with a hearty hello. As I crest the final rise he’s not far off, so I clunk up the gears in a (futile) attempt to catch him – another short hill puts paid to my chase but shortly after I do catch them, as they’ve all stopped to regroup with another handful of their buddies. Average up the hill – 8.3mph. Not so bad. I press on, as John and Gio are not to be seen (no stopping at the top this time) and enjoy the downhill section solo. Well, up to the point some (hmm, family audience), so lets say “bad driver” in a Range Rover thinks driving up my backside and beeping me when there’s bags of room on the other side of the road to overtake (no other traffic for miles) is the correct etiquette. Must look that up in the Highway Code as I must have skipped that part.

13 miles to go. Shame there's a nasty big hill in the way.

Fintry. Chow stop. J&G already out of sight.

We regroup around Fintry, John and Gio wanting to hammer on to the Crow (aka section 5). I’m happy to let them go, and chow down on a Torq bar (ginger and pineapple flavour – who came up with that one?) and a gel before heading along solo to the 3 mile climb before me. I settle in to a I’m-pretty-knackered-don’t-care-how-fast-this-is pace (turns out to be 7.6mph average) as I’m hitting the limit of my current fitness and ability. As I climb slowly, a handul of riders come down the hill (oh how I detest their ability to freewheel at this point in the day) with a cheery nod, wave or ‘hello’ to which I attempt a similar greeting, its success dependent on how steep the hill is at that point. As I reach the ‘house’ on the hill, the weather decides that it would make my cycle oh so much more fun if it were to hail. How nice, tiny ice particles pinging off my face just to cheer me along. The hail stops as I crest the hill, and I clunk the gears into a more suitable ratio for the downhill section. More hail. The faster I go, the more it hurts, so I ease off the pedals until it subsides moments later. Top speed on the downhill, 33mph. Could have been quicker, but I’m shattered and don’t have the energy or confidence to risk much faster.

We regroup at the bottom (section 6), John and Gio keen to be off and maintain their 17+mph average. I agree to hang on to the back for as long as I can, but am doubtful that I’ll keep up for any length of time. My doubts are soon confirmed as we’ve barely gone a few hundred yards before I lose touch on a round-a-bout and the legs are just not interested in pushing the pedals to get back to the duo ahead, hunting down some fellow cyclist they’ve spotted. The wind picks up, as I check my watch which is showing around 3 hours 45, with 4 miles to go. I forge on, trying to work out what pace I need to maintain to get this done in sub-4 hours, but am foiled by the wind and my complete lack of energy. The last 3 miles offer little respite from the wind, my average drops to just over 11mph but I get back in one piece – a slight niggle in my left knee, but otherwise unscathed. 60 miles done, overall average of 14.9mph. 15mph and sub-4 hours next time…

Generations on Form

Went for a run on Friday night.  Glanced down at the watch just as the 3 mile mark came up.  6.48 for the mile.  6.48?  Where did that come from?  That’s getting to be like the old days.  Obviously, at this point I had to keep the tempo up (hadn’t even realised I was going for a good tempo run).  At the end of the run, I had 6 miles in the bag at an average of 6.48 minutes per mile.  Absolutely chuffed.  Gets the urge going to look up some running dates for the diary instead of just sportives.  Clearly, the cycling is helping the running and vice versa (although Mark will tell you you that cycling training does not make you a better runner – not convinced).

Coasting along without a care

And so to Saturday and the Combat Stress 5K in Glasgow Green.  This run is organised by John Henderson, a fellow member of Gio’s in the Springburn Harriers.  We did this run 2 years ago, and my boy, Ewan (then aged 6) did the run.  A slight stitch early on left him having to walk a little early on, but he then did brilliantly and finished in just over half an hour.  A great achievement.

This year’s event was very well attended and again Gio was in attendance, looking to run close to 20 mins.  Ewan was back for a 2nd bash, and this time I had my Garmin to get an official clocking of his time.  Yes, it’s 5k but I work in miles.  I couldn’t believe it when I saw the wee fella do mile 1 in 8.07.  Great guns for an 8 year old.  On he pushed and 8.10 for mile 2 was again brilliant.  The wee chap was blowing now but kicked on and put in a 3rd mile of 7.50, and a sprint finish to take the acclaim of the crowd saw him finish in 25.06 with an average of 8.01 minutes per mile.  What an absolute star.

Gio dallied along a little and finished just in just over 20 mins (with a 6.23 average).  Had he known the time, he says he could have given it that little extra push.  This from the man whose 10k PB is 40.00.  When will he learn?  Dig in – fight!

I’m sure he was leaving a little in the tank for the  next day’s big cycle – a 4th straight ride over the Duke’s Pass.  If Ian’s along, the post will arrive soon after the run.  Otherwise, there’ll likely be a few days delay…..