Category Archives: John

Team Training 4 – A Game of Two Halves

Me, Gio (there’s a theme here) and Ian.  The idea was for a run around Renfrewshire – keep the Tak away from Ian for a bit to ease his nightmares.  Tiny issue in that I wasn’t quite sure how long the route is.  Probably about 50 (ish) miles.  Not enough miles for Ian clearly, who cycled an extra 6 to mine.  Let the games begin.

The chosen route through Renfrew, Inchinnan and Bishopton is good to begin with as it means everyone is likely to stay together.  A little bit of stretching out on the hills and back together again.  Not too bad in terms of hills until we hit Greenock and move up the Old Largs Road.  How’s them legs now Ian?  From this point Ian fell back just a little until the last fast 6 down into Largs.  “Largs?  That’s miles away”! cried Ian, who had arranged a lunchdate (when will he learn – Sunday is for cycling.  A dinner date sure, but lunch, leave it out).

A ticket to (not) ride

Anyway, down into Largs and a couple of calculations.  Ian’s down 41 miles and he’s probably got another 21 to go (in reality another 30).  The big fella is as fly as a bag of monkeys.  He knows the Hairy Brae is around the corner and doesn’t fancy it.  However, it shall be recorded that he had to bail out this time to meet up with his lunch mates.  So packed the big chap on the Glasgow train and onwards for the rest of the team – all 2 of us.

Up the Hairy Brae (what a name) and a new buddy, Brian, is having a breather.  When he sees us coming he starts slowly moving along and once we pass, he clamps on the back.  Now at this point my hands were seriously cold.  I’ve either got to stop and spark a hand warmer or start turning the legs a little to get some heat going.  Well, go on Brian.  With his help, we got a right good train going and belted it back to Renfrew in double quick time.  One chap did seem to lose a little puff and didn’t take his turn at the front so far.  Not saying who, but his Garmin Connect monicker seems to have him listed as TheGtrain.  Train?  Ahem?

More miles in the bag, but the legs feeling it a little this time.  1000 miles in 9 days?  Not quite yet.

http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/145712130

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Team Training 3 – Where are You?

LEJOG plans are slowly taking shape – transport in the bag, team kit chosen, sponsorships plans opportunities opening up, initial accommodation booked.  So how goes the team training? Hmmm.

2 of us out this weekend – me and Gio.  Sammy and Tubs skiing (separately) abroad, Ian visiting friends in Anstruther, Mark hopefully into his solo secret training, and there’s David (fair play to him he did cycle from Edinburgh to Uddingston again).

The weather on Saturday was honking – a howling gale and the rain lashing down – and bitterly cold.  So we concocted a strange little routine.  Head from Bishopbriggs to Lennoxtown and head up and over and down the Crow Road.  Then turn back and up and over and down the Crow Road.  And finally, up to the top of the Crow and turn round and back down – just too cold and horribly windy to to go down to Fintry and back up again.

So a good day in the bag working with adverse conditions, and a nice little spurt after the final descent when a fellow cyclist had the audacity to go past us (we’d passed him earlier) – a target.  He blasted along, and we sat with him and got the heat in the bones again.  Very nice.

http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/143871669

And so to Sunday.  Me and Gio again.  A recovery ride suggested by Gio, but the day looked so nice (apart from a fair old wind again) that the shout went out – let’s do the Tak and the Crow.  No ride can be described as a recovery with the Tak a part of it.

Another good day, with the pair of us working well together, crawling along the Carron Valley into the wind and keeping it tidy up the Crow – again.  Good miles in the bag.  Roll on next week.  And a bigger team?

http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/143871632

Team Training 2 – Ian’s Lament

Nice to read Ian’s take on Saturday’s ride.  He’s a grand lad is the big guy and will make a great rider – but he’ll need a wee bitty of time….

The route was put together by the chief route organiser Sammy.  Me, him, Gio and Ian ( Mark’s not coming back out with us until he gets fitter – and he doesn’t like the way we ride).  Let’s get a bit of mileage in, but not too strenuous in terms of hills – in other words, no Tak, the hill by which we judge all other hills (cycling in Nice last year the rule still held true – how does the Col de la Madone [Lance’s hill] measure up against the Tak)?  If there’s no Tak, there’s got to be the Crow.  Ian’s first time up from this direction (and only his second time up at all).  We met the hill early on in the ride, and he did not make the mistake he did last time, which was to strain like a maniac (up the Tak) beside the others, and die a slow death for the rest of the ride.

Anyway, we headed on keeping it together on the flat and stretching out a bit on the hills.  All seemed well with the big fella up to Drymen and another wee hill.  G and myself battered on into the mist along with Sammy who stopped to ‘enjoy’ nature and take a couple of snaps.  Up and over the hill and down the other side to wait for Ian.  He duly arrived, but the end was nigh.

"Is that a busted baw blowing along the road"?

We headed towards Strathblane and I fell behind a clearly toiling Ian.  By now his legs could hardly move, but still he insists on pushing a way too heavy gear.  “My legs just spin without going anywhere on the lower gears”.  Half right – he wasn’t going anywhere, but I didn’t see too much in the way of spinning.  When I noticed that the big chap could not get his speed over 10 mph it was clear the jig was up.  This was riding on the flat.  Ian was now a burst balloon, and hence he was advised to bow out at the Kirkhouse Inn.  His tortured face seemed to show a bit of concealed delight.

At the end of the day, he got a good 42 miles in the bag – no one can take that away and it’s all fuel for next time.

Now we were down to 3 and me, Sam and Gio tore on towards Bishopbriggs in the gathering dark, getting a great little train going.  Managed to get the 15.1 mph average up to 15.8 mph by journey’s end.  A nice average of almost 19 mph for the last 13 miles.

The last couple of miles saw myself and Sammy crest the final hill and cruise on home.  The G man had run his race as his energy flagged for the final stretch.  However, he got home fine with no mishaps  (or if there were mishaps, we’re not telling.  Let’s see if he’s got a slant on the last couple of miles).

http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/142154227

And so to curry, and the LEJOG meeting.  Beginning to shape up – the trip and the bodies.

Who’s up for next time?   Ian?

Lanterne Rouge… Presque

Saturday, midday-ish, set off on my first cycle of the year with John, Gio and Mark C. Dont have a record of the route (broken Garmin 405, see last post) but we were going round the Campsies (Crow Road), Balfron and various other bits of North of Glasgow that I don’t really know much. As per usual, the eary flat part of the run went fine, giving me a chance to practice riding with a group, trying to stay on the wheel of the man in front to get the benefit of the slip-stream. Took a turn at the front, doing my bit to help the team “train” move along. Still need more practice at this part of cycling, which I really wasn’t aware of beyond knowing that it obviously helps to be in the slip-stream of the guy in front. Our first major hill, Crow Road, the group split as the more experienced riders zipped off leaving me (quite happily) slowly crawling up the hill at my own pace. Had a short refuel stop at the view-point, before pedalling on to the ‘meet at the top’ where the others were starting to cool off while waiting for me to arrive. A quick mars bar and we were off again, downhill for a good stretch, giving me a chance to try and recover from the hill. Bit more mixed (but mostly flat) roads, and I was starting to flag, seems my return to fitness was not quite as good as I had thought. A mid-cycle route meeting was had, with my decision of “whichever way is shortest, I’m knackered” resulting in the ‘short route with a small hill” chosen and we were off again. A nice route lay ahead, not that I was enjoying the scenery that much as I again took to the back (someone has to fend off the oncoming cars!) but the ‘small hill’ didn’t seem that small as I made judicious use of the lowest gears I had. Relief wasn’t far away, reaching the top for a long, long downward stretch, but the climb had taken what little energy reserves I had left. A mile or two further on and I was dropping off the back with every slight hill we hit, so a roadside conflab with Big J was in order. Daylight was fading fast, I was shattered and going on in the dark was looking a bit risky, the decision was made to ‘retire’ at around the 42 mile mark (with ~10 mile to go). The others went on, to return in a car and pick me up. Next time I’ll get to the end…

photo of Gio, Sammy, Ian and John, prior to the cyclethe gang, pre-cycle (Gio, Sammy, Ian, John)

Post-cycle, curry and LEJOG meeting at Gio’s with most of the team present, with a few jobs assigned, flights booked and progress being made.

In other news, as of today have a new GPS watch to track my runs/cycles – a Garmin Forerunner 205. Took it out on a 5 mile run after work. It picked up the satellites in seconds, tracking my route perfectly, showing my 405 was a dudd. For those interested, you can see the stats for that jaunt at http://connect.garmin.com/activity/142287368

Now if I could just translate my running pace to the bike and build up my endurance a bit more, I’ll be sorted.

My wind problem.

So here I am, sitting in front of a blank screen, thinking about writing my first ever blog post. Takes me back to writing an essay at school. I even have a teacher demanding that my essay is completed and handed in today. Yes, Mr McGivern. Sure thing!

Julie and I were heading out on Saturday night in Glasgow to celebrate my birthday, 41, who’d have known. I decided I was going to cycle to Strathblane where my Mum, Dad and Sara were going to look after Aiden while we galavanted. It seemed as good a time as any to get some time on the bike and cycle over to Strathblane from Livi. One phone call led to another and before I knew it some of the LEJOG lads were getting together and my route was taking a detour over the Campsies.

I awoke on Saturday morning and could hear the wind in the trees outside. I was already dreading it! It was only a 20mph Westerly gusting 40mph. What’s not to like?

I set off into the monster wind and within 6 miles I was in the bike shop in Bathgate getting some running repairs. The brake blocks were completely worn through. My first time at Hooked On Cycling; nice guys; I’ll be back there for further repairs methinks.

Anyway, after the short interlude I was off in earnest. Up out of Bathgate, through Torphichen and past our wee cottage. Who can believe it’s over 10 years since we lived there? Through the Avon Gorge just to get the legs working; I was up out of the seat on that one, I can tell you. Onwards through Brightons and past Polmont Young Offenders! Who came up with this route?

After what seemed like an eternity into the gale I met up with John, Mark and Gio on the road between Banknock and Kilsyth. We headed off to take on my nemesis, the Takmadoon Rd. This beast runs for 4km out of Kilsyth up into the Campsies and is regularly above a gradient of 10% maxing out at 19%. Cycling with three whippets is one way to improve your climbing but my 90kg lead weight soon had me out the back door of the peleton.

I plodded my way to the top managing to keep the guys in sight which I was pleased with but I’m sure they’ll tell you they weren’t out of second gear! After the short decent to the Carron Valley we turned into the ever increasing gale. We formed the formidable Egasa train and were pretty much stopped in our tracks. I have rarely encountered a wind so strong when on the bike. We trudged along taking 0.3 mile each on the front. Without embarassing anyone it’s fair to say that the lead rider speed was variable on this section. Some of us have some work to do on the base endurance quite clearly! 🙂

At Fintry we turned to tackle the Crow Road . . the wind was behind . . Alleluia!! Off we tootled with a spring in our pedals and again the three whippets shot off and left me on the steeper, lower slopes. I paced myself well, dear blog reader, and slowly started reeling them in. I picked off the weakest first and then Gio was in my sights. As the gradient eased near the top I put in a Cavendish like sprint to nick the second spot at the summit!

The decent to Lennoxtown was a joy. Wind behind and on the lovely, new surface they have laid I maxed out at just over 42mph without even trying. Even had time for a wee look over to take in the view of the magnificent Celtic training ground!

We regrouped in Lennoxtown before the guys headed off towards Bishopbriggs and I turned to take on the monster wind for the final 5 miles to Strathblane. The mushroom soup that awaited me was well worth the effort. Thanks Mum!

Total distance ridden 52.22 miles with a vertical ascent of 1255m. That’s almost the height of Ben Nevis you know. A pretty poor average speed but into that wind it was to be expected. The Garmin output is linked below for the geeks amongst you.

http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/140037381

All comments on my first ever blog more than welcome!

(Almost Half) Team Training – Day 1

John, Sammy, Tubs and Sam’s brother David out for a training run together.  The first run for Tubs since Beallach Na Ba at the very start of October.  I don’t know if he’s over the hell he experienced that day, but we shall see.

Anyway, I had taken my bike into the shop for a quick gear tune up after replacing the front mech cable and struggling to get smooth shifting.  Next day I got the bike back.  Cost of quick tune up? £170.  In full – new front mech, jockey wheels, rear cassette, chain, bar tape (really nice and grippy) and a part for the rear brake.  It’s only money right?

Consequently, I shot off up the initial hill like a man reborn – bike functioning beautifully.  However, the rest of the chaps were already well back.  Two of them caught up quickly enough, but there was a wee concern that the 4th man had fallen back badly.  Too many german sausages for the Tubby lad – work to be done.

The route then went up and over the Crow road, which is always nice and then from Fintry towards Kippen, turning off to Arnprior on a really horrible road as we headed to Aberfoyle and on towards Drymen.  We stopped to wait for Tubs and soon enough he turned up and gave us the onwards signal – clearly he was fresh and wanted to push on so we set off knowing he was right behind us as we headed up and over to Drymen.  Sammy punctured at the top, so we fixed that and headed down into Drymen to wait for Tubs, and wait, and wait.  And wait.  It was now getting dark, my rear light had conked out, the rain was coming on heavy and it was getting really cold.  However, we were worried about our wee buddy Tubs.  Surely he didn’t go ont he main road at Aberfoyle to avoid the hills?  No he would have told us.  Eventually, we got in touch with David (who was heading home in a different direction) – he thought that Tubs was going straight on.  And finally, we got a call from Tubs – sitting in his car, getting toasty warm and claiming that his hand signal had meant that he was going a different way.  We’ll teach him a thing or two about hand signals next time we see him.

Sammy and I then pushed on for the last few miles in the dark, me with no back light, him with a pathetic front light into pouring rain and the wind in our face.  It was grand to see the wee lad sitting in his car when he rolled in.  Oh, and a happy birthday to you Tubs.  Now get yourself fit or LEJOG is going to be SORE.

A happy new year to one and all.

http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/137936825

Bike Fit by Running

Sambo is indeed a hard lad with his 40 mile cycles into a gale.  My intentions today were more modest.  Forget the bike, as it was dark and wet and get the trainers on.  So I did, and rather enjoyed it.  A 10 mile run to boot.  Longest distance ran in quite some time.

Young Mark tells me running definitely helps your bike fitness (though not the other way around – hmm).  Anyway, 10 miles at 7.45 mins/mile with a belly full of burger.  Pretty nice.