Friday, January 7

I want to ride my bicycle...

A week into the new year and I've managed three rides, but I'm going to have to put in a lot more miles to prepare for what's coming:
  1. Last summer I had the pleasure of meeting a bunch of crazy guys who were riding from Sunderland to London in 36 hours... and when they announced that they were planning to ride to Amsterdam for the last weekend in May I signed up to go with them.  It's an easy enough ride, pretty much completely flat, and the distances are manageable: about 35 miles to the ferry port at Hull, then 40 from Rotterdam to Amsterdam, with a night on the ferry in between.
  2. While organising my new year twitter ride with Rich, we got chatting to Louise, one of the north-western girls, & set to organising a "Ride of the Roses" somewhere between York & Lancaster.  Unfortunately, given my aversion to hills, most of the area between the two cities is taken up by the Pennines... We've more or less decided on the area around Settle - near enough to halfway, but mostly flat(ish!), on the first weekend of March, and at the last count had about half a dozen riders on the guest list.
  3. After reading Jen's blog I decided that I needed a real challenge to work up to - time to sign up for my first sportive!  I chose the York 100 mainly because it's local and on roads that I know, and because it raises money for a great charity, Action Medical Research, who fund research and support for sick babies and children.  There are two routes to choose from, 100 km and 100 miles, and I've signed up for the shorter one.  You can sponsor me here!  Within hours of announcing on Twitter that I would be doing the ride I'd heard from eight or nine others interested in joining me, so it looks like being a pretty fun day, despite a couple of scary climbs!
So, having committed to all this, I reckon I need to get into the habit of riding regularly - at least twice weekly, regardless of weather, busyness and my riding buddies' availability.  Having been given an extra day off work today, I'd decided in advance that I'd use it to get out on the bike - then I woke up to a dusting of snow on the ground, temperatures hovering around zero and reports of blizzards coming in from various parts of the country.  Tempting as it was to just stay in bed I got layered up and rode off into the freezing rain.  We're very fortunate to live within 300 metres of a National Cycle Network route so the first mile or so of my ride was traffic-free, with much of the rest on quiet country lanes.  For reasons best known to the masochistic part of my subconscious, I found myself heading towards my nemesis - Northgate lane.  Now, it's not a big hill, the total elevation gain is only 20 metres or so, but it's steep and it catches me out every single time - just as you think you're about to crest it, it gets steeper. I'm clearly fitter than I was when I tackled it for the first time, last summer, as I got to the top on the bike and without crying, but it did make me swear a little bit (well, it would have done if I'd had breath to spare for swearing.)  Much as I hate this hill on the outbound part of my ride, it's a (relative) joy on the way home, a far easier climb followed by, in ideal conditions, a fast, straight descent*.  Today's conditions were far from ideal, sadly, with both this and my other favourite descent still icy in places, and a careful pottering descent isn't anything like as much fun as a flying one.

Today's route

17.5 miles
90 minutes
Average speed 11.7 mph
Items of clothing: 10, excluding helmet & shoes!

*In my head, descent is always pronounced, a la Magnus Backstedt, "dee-sent."  Much more Pro!

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