Archive for February, 2008

No. 1 – The first 100 Km ride

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

So – I did my first 100Km ride! It was not my longest – I figured I did 110-120 last year but that was my first under the AUDAX Randonneur rules, which stated that I had to finish my ride by a certain time. It took me some 5.5 hours and an average speed of about 17Km/h, so I was well in the comfort zone (must be faster than 15Km/h).

It went really well – all considered. I took Friday off work to relax and prepare. I did not relax much 🙁 The saddle bag I bought was too big – I had to move the seating post to accommodate it and then the front bag arrived, to be mounted on the handlebars. It costs a lot, but I thought that it would be a perfect platform for my map and cue sheet. It was – but there was no space left for the lights!

I figured that I MUST have lights – it could be even in the rules for all I know. So I needed to find some other method of putting on the lights. No shop I called had anything useful, except Halford, that claimed that they have a light with a stretching band that could fit my enormous head tube. I drove there and it seemed to be doing the job. I bought one and brought it home. To my utter dismay – it wouldn’t fit. I pulled and I pushed – nothing. As I am pretty strong I gave it yet another mighty tug – I broke the elastic band. Great!

Finally I mounted it very loosely on the front bag itself, using some built-in loop. It wasn’t very steady nor very useful – but I hoped it would pass the ‘regulation test’ – if indeed there was one!

At the end – there was no mandatory light requirement – and I managed to lose the whole damn thing in a fast ride down a bumpy road. I heard something falling off, but I could not see anything although I inspected the road closely by foot. I discovered the loss only upon returning home.

I got up really early so that i can get there ahead of time by a large margin. I was quite concerned that my application did not arrive on time. I now know that it was probably due to the wrong postage (highly confusing new Royal Mail regulations!) so I needed to register ‘on the spot’. I also didn’t have a clue about the route. Luckily, I discovered that if i remove the front wheel of the bike I can fit it into the car without a problem. That saved me the need for mounting the special bike carrier, which was a great relief!

The organiser, Chris, emailed me with pretty good directions to the starting line. I was NEARLY there when I lost my route and had to retrace my steps several times before arriving. What would I do without my beloved Nuvi!

With 45 minutes to spare, I registered and had enough time to panic over the obscure instruction in the aptly named ‘cue sheet’. I also managed to get everyone LOL when I commented to Chris that ‘this is my first time – so please be gentle with me’…

The ride itself was mostly uneventful. It was not too cold but my feet, who got wet on the grass, were pretty well chilled. I thought I have taken my overshoes with me, and I was fantasising that i will put them on after I warm up in the Caffe (half way planned stop), only to find that I did leave them in the car, as it ‘really will not be necessary’. I rode alone for the majority of the time, but did manage to strike a conversation with ‘Ken’ from Malrow (?). The whole thing went quite well, and I am planning to do it again in two weeks time in preparation for the lengthier 150 and 200. Obviously, with longer rides there is a real possibility of riding in the dark, with the associated potential confusion as well as increased hazard from passing vehicles. I am now doing an in-depth research on bike lighting systems. There is really quite a lot of material, as this seems to be a highly discussed topic among long range cyclists. Trouble is, what seems to be the best system (Dynohub + led lights), is unsurprisingly the most expensive. Well, we’ll see…

My certificate:

Books etc.

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

One of the things they tell you in the ‘long distance riding’ events is that you are expected to be self-sufficient. OK, I can do that but I need to know HOW. So I bought some books…

The ‘Simple Bicycle Repair’ is really very basic. It didn’t cost much but it was a total waste of money. ‘The Bike Book’ on the other hand is very comprehensive – and very very nicely illustrated. I guess I am really getting ambitious (like wanting to know how to build a wheel from scratch around a dynohub – which I couldn’t find) but I certainly recommend it to anyone with any inclination to do basic stuff at home on his/her bike.

Then there was ‘The Long Distance Cyclists’ Handbook’ which I read immediately, although not in great detail. It is rather amazing what people do (like the RAAM – 3000 miles Race Across America) and is packed with good ideas and advise – I’ll reread it soon.

I am still waiting for my AUDAX registration to become effective, and to receive the HANDBOOK! Meanwhile, I registered for the first 100 Km cycling event starting here. It’s the coming Saturday at 09:00 and I am preparing myself and the bike for the ‘task’.

Bike’s wheels were changed to a wider type (23 MM as opposed to the previous 18 mm), I installed another bottle holder (heavens know s how difficult it would be to find a water source – probably as easy as pie) and bought two bags so that I would not have to use a backpack (everybody says never to use one for long distance). I am still to receive them. Hopefully before the weekend!

One more small story to finish this post. Yesterday morning I was cycling to work when I heard a big BANG behind me. I am not easily frightened so I didn’t even look back. It’s only after I felt that there is something really ODD about my back wheel (like going bonk bonk bonk every time it turns) that I realised that I MAY have had a puncture! Gee- that did not happen to me so far and I have been cycling to town and back for more than a year. Well, I do have a spare inner tube and a small air pump but I forgot to bring with me the new shiny beautiful TOOL that includes tire levers! I called home and summoned the wife to the rescue (it was really only a couple of Km down the road from where we live). She agreed to come, bless her, and in the meantime I did what I could in preparation. As I was standing there, looking out for her arrival, a really nice chap on bikes (Polish) asked if I need some help. I explained the situation and he rummaged through his backpack and fished out the required tools. With his help, I was ready to go even before wife arrived at the scene! The only additional thing worth mentioning is that the nail that did the damage was about 2.5 Cm long – like REALLY BIG screw that went all the way through to the inner frame! This beast could easily puncture a car – let alone a bike.


Thursday, February 14th, 2008

Through the LEL I discovered the AUDAX UK site. It doesn’t look very pretty, I know, but it was an eye opener for me. Two days ago I sent the £45 for a 5 years membership. I know it’s presumptuous – but I can dream, right?

So now I am waiting for my membership card, the quarterly publication and the handbook. I have already started to look for events that I can handle (100 Km) and that are in the vicinity (SE England). There seem to be some friendly places and some very enthusiastic people out there that organise long distance events.

In addition, I bought some Cycling books, on proper bike maintenance and also on long distance riding. It was very cheap as I had a £15 voucher for something I did and now I am waiting for the avalanche of books to arrive.

What am I up to – the challenge

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

It all started from the cycling magazine article, describing the Paris Brest Paris (known as the PBP among the conoseire) cycling event. It is a timed event (not a race as such) in which participants try to cover the 1200 Km in 90 hours or less. It was written by a woman who participated with her boyfriend. Overall, it was ‘just another’ funny and slightly touching article, but what really hit me was the stats. There were 5000 participants in the 2007 event and the average age was 50. AVERAGE. My goodness. As I am 58 (near enough…), that’s actually, well, feasible…

Overall, I had a ‘down’ time lately, and I felt that I am just cruising through life, not having any inspirational goal. Having read this article it suddenly came to me that I would REALLY like to do it too! Unfortunately, this event runs only once every four years, so the next oone will only be in 2011. I will be ONLY 61 then, but I did not want to ‘wait’ that long. So I started to research this and then I came across the equivalent event in the UK, which is London Edinborough London (LEL). It is even harder than the PBP, being 1400 Km that need to be covered in 110 hours or so, but it has the advantage of happening next year. Well, that should give me enough time to prepare!

At the moment I am just commuting by cycling (25 Km / day) and do some weekend ridea. Last year I took part in several cycling events, ranging from the 50 miles London to Brighton and up to a 75 miles London to Canterbury (which I managed not to even finish properly – but never mind). So I am no stranger to riding ‘lengthy’ rides – that’s nowhere near enough for the gruelling cycling routes I have set myself to do.

OK – so I need to train. Having joined the absolutely lovely Barnet Cycling Club I get the twice a month Sunday ride, which covers 50-60 Km. Not too bad – but as it takes us a whole day to do it, this is hardly a strenuous training regime. I am looking for someone that I can ride with 100-200 Km a day, on weekends. I am told that there are such clubs – I am still looking for them.

So what have I done so far?

OK so I blog too

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

That is my first blog. Strange for me to start it, but I thought that if I actually going to do what i am planning to, it may be worthwhile that it is ‘documented’. I am not quite clear for what purpose or for whose eyes I do it, but I just do.