Off-Season Cycling

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Phew – somehow I managed to get that National 12-hr TT win in just in time before work just completely hijacked my life. Initially, I had planned to ride a few more time trials, but there was little point in riding them without any time to train.

With a mixture of joy for others and sadness because I couldn’t be there, I saw other riders do some great rides towards the end of the season when the conditions finally became a bit more kind than the windy, cold, wet and slow-ish conditions that prevailed this year. But there is no point dwelling on what could have been.

The last month at work has been tough. With the recruitment process still ongoing, the workload is unlikely to ease before Christmas. On the plus-side, we are working on some very exciting projects and I have been rewarded with a generous pay-rise, so I can’t grumble really.

If anything, it has made me realise that, oddly enough, the long distance events are actually the one thing I can do at the moment. So during September I have ‘compensated’ for the taxing working weeks with some long Audax rides in the weekends.

greenwich mapThe Greenwich Audax organised by Audax Club Hackney on the 12th of September was the best Audax I have ridden to date. Leaving my home at 4:30am in the morning to ride to the 6:00 am start in Greenwich I wasn’t feeling all too confident about it, as the ride profile suggested some 4,500m of climbing over 300km… Having focused on flattish time trials this year, I hadn’t done any significantly hilly rides, probably since the training camps in Spain in March. The first section from Greenwich to Ebbsfleet was rather flat along busier roads, but after that it was a real gem of a route taking in quiet lanes over the Downs and Weald and great sea-side controls in Seaford and Bexhill.

I rode the first half or two-thirds of the ride solo and then waited for a club mate in Bexhill for some late lunch and rode the last section back together. Just as well, because whereas earlier climbs up Toys Hill, Kidd’s Hill, the kick back up from the Seaford stop and even the ever-rolling route to Bexhill had all felt quite manageable, that final climb up Brasted Hill was a real challenge on tired legs. That hill can easily and aptly be renamed …

The hospitality of Audax Club Hackney was once again fabulous. The BBQ after the Straight Out of Hackney 200km Audax in August was pretty cool, but being welcomed into the organiser’s house at the end of this 300km route with home-made stew, couscous, salads, fresh mint tea, and cake was just awesome (especially considering it was his birthday). After having stuffed ourselves with all that delicious food and chatting to other riders who finished around the same time, it was time to roll home through the lovely London traffic. Luckily my Garmin ran out of power once I was that close to home that I more or less knew my way back, but a lesson learned to make sure I get an external power bank with more than 2200maH capacity soon, especially if I want to do even longer Audaxes.

Strava link: https://www.strava.com/activities/391137727

CaptureThe next weekend I entered a much flatter 300km Audax: the Steam Ride Oxford-Cambrige-London University Challenge, with only 2,500m of climbing. The ride was organised, once again, by Audax Club Hackney and took in a mix of scenic countryside, some busier A-roads and city centres and, as the name suggests, passed by a number of steam railway centres. I ended up riding as a 4-up with some other past and current Kingston Wheelers. We flew round the course rather quickly and I even made it home before dark. I was quite relieved by that, as I discovered on the way over that my Exposure Strada hadn’t charged up at all… I shouldn’t have worried though as I was saved by yet another kind Kingston Wheeler lending me his spare front light, which definitely made all the difference during the first dark hour on the trails.

Strava link: https://www.strava.com/activities/395762414

Last weekend I only spend a few hours on the bike, but they were pretty special as they were together with my mum. She lives in Brittany and unfortunately we don’t see each other that often, so it was all the more special to show her my local area by bike. We had a great day cycling through Bushy Park and Richmond Park with a picnic in the sun along the Thames.

cotswold mapThis weekend I enjoyed yet another dry and mild day on the bike. I had travelled up for a scenic century ride in the Cotswolds, with Chris Melia, my former colleague, cycling friend and fellow time trial addict. It was really nice riding and chatting along with Chris and the colours were just beautiful. But why do I always forget to take photos?!

Strava link: https://www.strava.com/activities/405584376

 

Although I am really enjoying the off-season cycling at the moment and not missing competing yet, I am getting a bit itchy now to resume regular training again. Fingers crossed I can get some solid blocks of winter training in and get fit and strong again for next year’s cycling goals.

 

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