999 Rides

This isn’t about phoning 999 for help (911 if you’re in America). No, it’s the number of rides that my trusty commuting bike has done.

20161020_172145

It wasn’t intended to be a commuting bike. I bought a cheap frame to replace my old Cannondale, using the groupset and wheels. Unfortunately the Forme doesn’t have much va-va-forme, so I started to use it for touring. When I moved to Hull it became my long distance commuting bike, 18 miles each way. Back in Lancaster and I upgraded the groupset to 10 speed tiagra, and then started to commute between Wigan and Leigh.

Any commuting bike will soon rack up loads of rides, hence why I have no completed 999 rides.

Some stats for you: Distance – 17,000 km. Climbing – 115,000 m. Kudos – 18,000. Ave distance – 10.7 miles per ride. Climbing – 6.7 m per km. Climbing – 115m per ride.

Distance per ride, climbing per ride and climbing per km are all shrinking as my current commute is only 11 km each way, with only 50 m of climbing.

I’ve had this old beast for 5 years, and it’s performed admirably, although the end could be near. In three weeks time my work moves to a new office and I will no longer cycle there. The end of an era, although I’m sure my old friend will still get some use.

Advertisements

IMUK 2018 – Supporter

Once again I didn’t race IMUK, but as usual I was supporting for a couple of hours. When I’ve been a supporter before I’ve always cycled to Adlington and been part of the famous COLT Alley on Babylon Lane. The photos below were from last year.

This year, due to time constraints, I drove down to Horwich, had a quick 17 mile tile hunting loop around Bolton, and then stood on the Chorley New Road near to the roundabout for the Bolton football stadium.

While this didn’t have the atmosphere of COLT Alley, it was a good place to be as there wasn’t anyone else near me. The triathletes had also done about 11 miles at this point and there isn’t much to look at or many supporters once you’ve left Pennington Flash.

With 19 people from COLT there were many to cheer on, although I tried to clap for every single person, not just those from COLT. I gave a special cheer to those sporting good quality beards, especially one bloke from Rochdale Tri. Nearly everyone acknowledged me, which put a huge smile on my face. What was also good was that most of the COLTs would recognise me before I spotted them, making my ‘job’ easier.

Chris ‘Hippy’ Wild was first COLT past me, although I would have missed him if he hadn’t shouted, as there was a very angry shouty woman in a camper van complaining about her life in general and the poor choices that she had made.

Some of the COLTs I had no idea who they were, so a simple ‘Go COLT’ had to suffice. I thoroughly enjoyed cheering people on for a couple of hours, making a welcome change from racing. I also didn’t take a single photo as I was too busy cheering, oh well.

What about next year? Will I be racing? While I would love to cycle up COLT Alley I’m not a big fan of the M-Dot commercial enterprise, and the high cost of entering. I did enter last year, but pulled out (read about my Ironman journey here). I also worry that if I raced at IMUK people would find out that I’m actually a bit shit. I might do Lanzarote next year as it would be 20 years since I raced there, my one and only M-Dot branded race, but I might change my mind.

To finish, big well done to everyone who raced. You are an Ironman!

Book Review 2018 – Part VI

Earlier this year I read and then reviewed Narrow Dog to Wigan Pier by Terry Darlington (Book review here), which I think is his third book. As I enjoyed it so much I decided to have a look for his first book, Narrow Dog to Carcassonne.

narrow dog

Much like the other book, this is all about life on a narrow boat with a whippet. The big ‘hook’ with this book is that they made their way across the channel, in a narrow boat. Of coarse it took two years of planning, and most people telling them that they would die, but they made it. I don’t think that I’m giving anything away there. The book is written with great humour and a very unique style, which I greatly enjoy. They travel around the UK to begin with, from Stone to London and back, gaining valuable boating experience on the Thames and the Bristol Channel.

The canals of France are also very different from the narrow canals in the UK, as well as very few people having seen a whippet. You don’t need to be a fan of canals or boating to enjoy this book. One of the best books that I’ve read this year.

The Bearded Tile Hound

The Prof set up a group on Strava called The Beards of Bowland. I’ve blogged about them a few times (here, here and here). Recently The Prof has become a bit obsessed with tile hunting and expanding his maximum cluster and re-named the Beards of Bowland as The Tilehunters. As I’m an admin in the group I promptly re-named it as The Bearded Tilehounds.

I don’t have the time or the opportunity to expand my cluster as often as The Prof, but over the last couple of months I have added almost 1,000 tiles to my max cluster. The image below is from the middle of May this year.

cluster old

In the last couple of months I’ve had an overnight trip to Liverpool, a weekend away with my beautiful wife in the south lakes, three days cycling to and from York, and yesterday an off-road foray around Shap. This has resulted in my cluster now being 2,444 tiles and I’m up to 28th on the Veloviewer leaderboard (still some way to go to make the top 20). My revised max cluster can be seen below.

cluster new

My cluster now stretches from Penrith in the north down to Liverpool at it’s southern most point, and from Grizebeck in the west all the way to Hull and Scunthorpe in the east, via Skipton, Wetherby and York.

I lived in Hull for over a year a couple of years ago, so I’m pleased to have linked my cluster across the country. Of course I was living in Hull before the great Squarepocalypse (read about it here), so there are plenty of missing tiles.

What’s next for my max cluster? Tomorrow I’m supporting friends from COLT at IMUK, and I plan on a short ride around Bolton, an hour at the most, and probably only adding a dozen tiles. After that I should be able to link up Penrith to Carlisle, and across from Penrith to Appleby and Kirkby Stephen. It’s not always as easy to add tiles up in the north of England as there are fells and moorland with no easy access, but I will keep on plugging away.

Wetsuit or no wetsuit?

With all of the hot weather that we’ve been having, there has been some talk that IMUK might be a non wetsuit swim. This won’t happen. The organisers will take the temperature early in the morning and probably from a boat near the middle of Pennington Flash, just to make sure that the temperature is below the upper limit. In over 20 years of triathlons I have never done one where wetsuits were banned.

I’ve done some long swims, including Ironman, double ironman (here), triple ironman (here) and a 10k swim in Salford Quays where I ripped my wetsuit minutes before starting. The swim in Salford was on a very hot day, and I didn’t overheat in my wetsuit, although my drinks bottle almost melted.

But, if wetsuits are optional, should you go without?

Hell No!

I’m not the strongest swimmer or the most efficient, so for me it’s a no brainer. A couple of weeks ago at Isoman (read about it here), because I was only doing the swim I went without a wetsuit. I didn’t get cold, but I was seriously tired at the end of the 7+ mile swim and would have been much quicker if I’d been wearing my wetsuit.

I have raced once without a wetsuit. I did the Cockerham Triathlon in 2007, my first race after moving to Lancaster, and because the swim was less than 400m, the time I would have saved from wearing a wetsuit I would make up with not having to remove it. For me, if the swim is 500m and the water isn’t too cold, then I would possibly go without a wetsuit, but for all other races, I will be wearing one, no exceptions for me from now on.

Ironman UK Bike Route Update II

A few days ago I blogged about the possibility of IMUK having to alter the bike route (read about it here). IMUK have now announced that the route has been changed, and reduced in length to 95 miles. I was expecting the route change, but I was also expecting that IMUK would make up the miles somewhere around the other side of the course. Not enough notice for the police and the local authority I presume.

So, the revised route, what is it like? Hilly and technical. The revised route heads over Anglezarke Hill, which not as long as Sheephouse Lane, it is steeper. The descent is also very technical and very steep. Additionally, you lose the long fast section from Belmont to the M65. Anglezarke is not a hill I would want to ride on a tri-bike, but if you’re steady and it’s not wet, you should be OK.

Finally, I’m not sure where the masked Mexican wrestlers from Sheephouse Lane will be, although they are making a stance for your extra 17 miles.

Isoman Race Report

or to be more exact, Isoman swim only race report.

Why only the swim? Why not the whole triathlon? Me and my beautiful wife had both entered the triathlon. I was doing the full race and my wife just the quarter distance, although the quarter still had a 1.75 mile swim, so not an easy race. We arrived at the race venue on the Friday and had a look around the lake. All good. We had a look at some of the run route. Again all good. We still had an hour before registration opened so we decided the drive one lap of the bike course. The lap was approx 15 miles, I would have to do it four times and my wife just the once.

We set off in the car and the bike route immediately took us onto a dual carriageway, and turned left onto another dual carriageway. Worrying, but not too bad. The next few miles were kind of industrial until we popped out onto another dual carriageway, uphill, busy, with a left filter lane to negotiate. The photos below were from the race the following day.

The route turned off the dual carriageway and headed into the countryside along some very pleasant roads, before once again throwing you straight out onto the dual carriageway. Back at the venue neither of us were happy about the cycle route, so after a chat with the race director we dropped down to swim only entrants. Back in the 90’s the Bournemouth Olympic Distance Triathlon used to be mainly on dual carriageways, but one lane was coned off and the race was early on a Sunday morning. I would have been on the bike at Isoman from 11 to 1-ish, on a Saturday. Far too busy to be safe.

The race director apologised but said that there wasn’t a lot they could do in Redditch, as there was so many busy roads. Maybe don’t hold the race in Redditch!

The morning of the race was far more relaxed as we didn’t need to rack bikes or set up transition. Instead we ambled to the swim start and waited for the off. The full race/swim was off at 7am and Helen would be off at 10.30. As I was only doing the swim I decided the make it a bit tougher by going without my wetsuit.

isoman3

There were only three of us without wetsuits. As we waited in the water for the gun to go off I spotted TC, the numpty, arriving late and rushing into the water after the start. At least I wouldn’t be last out of the water I thought with a smile. The water temperature was fine without my wetsuit and I was soon into a nice rhythm. The long swim involved eight laps and I planned to stop for a drink at the end of laps two and four. It was a lot harder than I expected and was glad that I had a couple of gels with my water bottle.

At the end of lap five I was feeling tired, but I spotted Helen next to the feed station which gave me a boost. Lap seven was really tough and I seriously considered stopping, especially when faster swimmers from the half or quarter overtook me like I wasn’t moving. Half a banana and a drink and I knew that I could manage one last lap.

77297619-2018-06-30_10-00-22_1780

I dragged myself out of the water in a time of 4 hours and 34 minutes. Not last. My longest swim both time and distance, and my longest swim by a very long way without a wetsuit. It also appeared that each lap was a bit long, as most people took longer than expected and recorded more, so it was probably nearer to 7 and a half miles instead of the advertised 7.

Originally I had planned to head back to the car, get changed and faff about for a bit before seeing Helen finish her swim, but I had taken so long she finished only a few minutes after I did. My beautiful wife was well pleased, it had also been her longest open water swim and she had enjoyed every minute of it, except for losing sight of a buoy one time and having to swim a bit extra.

isoman4

In the heat I was very pleased not to be doing the whole triathlon. In previous years the winner has taken just over nine hours, this year only the winner went under 12 hours. We were finished and back at Helen’s brother’s house by 1pm and Helen had enough energy to go for a short bike ride while I had a sleep. The swim only event meant that we could enjoy the weekend and go out with the outlaws for a posh pub meal, so it all worked out in the end.