Saturday, 31 December 2011

New years eve Team Vita Ride

My last ride of 2011 was fittingly a Team Vita ride. It's thanks to the support and motivation of riding with the guys that I have managed to loose 2 stone, and increase my fitness this year. I cant believe how quickly the last 9 months, 3073miles and 34,377meters of climbing have gone!! But there is always room for improvement. And I realised that more than ever today, when after a week of overindulgence and little time in the saddle, I had to leave the Team ride as I was struggling to keep up.
 9 of us started out from the Shop, and the pace was good, with everyone taking a turn in the front. We were headed for Chester and then a loop round the back of the city and back via Eureka. Along the way Dave decided to change the route and turned towards Wales, which was not my idea of fun after bailing from Tinsel Spin earlier this week, but I decided to give it a go and enjoyed the ride until we hit the first proper climb. It wasn't a massive climb, only just over a mile and an average incline of 3.6%, but I struggled and had to stop to get my breath at the top before coasting down the other side to meet up with the others who were waiting for me. I decided then that Wales wasn't the place for me today, so I turned to head back on my own. I hadn't been to Ewloe before, and wasn't sure of the way, but headed in what I thought was the right direction!! After a little detour round an industrial estate, I eventually found my way to the Dee Path, and started the 3 mile slog into a not quite head, but still very energy sapping, wind. The Path can be great when in a group or when there is no wind, but not so kind when you are on your own!! It is our little bit of Holland in the North West!!

I made it to Eureka for a pit stop, which as always was busy,

and then headed home. I saw Ian on the way through Irby, who was fixing his second puncture in two days. He seems to have taken my puncture curse from me, I hope!!! We then rode together into Greasby.

I made a decision today. I think that to keep increasing my fitness and loose weight, I am going to resolve to give up alcohol in 2012!! I don't drink excessively, but I have certainly noticed how it has affected me over the last couple of weeks, and also the weight I have put back on because of it. So now it is in black an white  here, I shall have to keep to it!

Here are today's ride details:

I hope everyone has a great New Years eve celebration, and that 2012 will be happy and prosperous for you all.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Tinselspin attempt!!

The day didn't get off to a great start! Whoever invented the Snooze button is responsible for me rushing this morning to get to Paul's in time to head off for Tinselspin. We arrived at the Shippons in Irby and waited for the group to turn up. There were 12 in total, and a disappointing lack of tinsel and Christmas adornments to bikes, only Ian, Dave and myself had decorated our bikes, and Jeff had a bow on his helmet!

We headed out with the intention of riding into the wind to Llandegla for a brew, then back with the wind behind us.
All was going well as we motored down the Chester high Road, I even set a PB on a Strava Segment (but I'm not obsessed, honestly!) until we turned and headed West towards Wales. The wind was gusty and strong and made the going much slower, I did a turn on the front for a bit, and that was where it all went wrong! The wind proved too much for my chest, and I couldn't get oxygen in quick enough to keep the pace up. Luckily (but not for John) there was a puncture, and I managed to recover a bit, but when Ross said he was heading back as he had to go to work, and Jeff, Alex and Sean said they were joining him I didn't need to be asked twice! The problem was that the other 4 got going while I phoned Paul, who was with the rest of the group further up the road, to let him know we were heading back, so I rode back to Eureka on my own, trying to reel them in. It was frustrating as I could see them in the distance, but couldn't close the gap. I suppose Eight wheels are better than two. I did manage to close the gap considerably enough to get to Eureka just behind them, but I was completely done in! A coffee and a slice of Chocolate and Peanut butter pie helped the recovery, and soon we were off again, with the other 4 looking to bag some Strava KOM's on the way back. I stayed with them through Puddington and into Neston, but didn't fancy Boathouse Lane so headed back on my own.
I am disappointed that I didn't make it to Llandegla, but sometimes you have to listen to your body rather than your ego!!!

Today's ride details:

Thanks to Dave @dodgyd and Ian @ian_fagan for organising the ride, maybe next time I'll get to the end!!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Technology meltdown

I thought I would nip out for a quick spin today, as a warm up for Tinselspin tomorrow. I wanted to also try to do some PB's on Strava, I have to admit I too have become obsessed in improving my times, especially up the hills. It may be a while before I challenge for any KOM's, but there is no harm in trying. I first headed up the Upton road climb, a nice warm up hill that is a steady 5% for half a mile, then round and back towards West Kirby via Moreton, Meols and Hoylake. I attacked the hill out of West Kirby and was making good progress, when I started to hear tyre rub. I thought I may have punctured, but the tyres looked good. I stopped, just short of the end of the segment (!!!!) and discovered that I hadn't located the front wheel correctly after cleaning the bike yesterday, anther rookie error!! When I started off again I noticed that the Garmin was registering a climb incline % of 815 and a speed of 12mph, when I was actually going down hill at probably 30mph!!! The Garmin continued to play up all the way into Irby, where I stopped and re started it and it behaved its self then all the way home.
I was quite frustrated, and angry that my efforts would not be recorded correctly, and it made me think how reliant I have become on the stats, rather than just enjoying the ride. Maybe I will go for a ride without the Garmin one day, but not just yet!!!!

Today's ride details are here: or in the Panel on the Right of the page.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Tinselspin details

As promised here are the details of Tinselspin. There are two routes depending on the weather, and there is no pressure to do the whole route, just do as little or as much as you like.
It will be a good oppertunity to work off some of the seasonal excess and get some miles in before the New year.
See you at 9.30 on Wednesday.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas Eve ride to Eureka Cafe

I didn't expect that such a big group would turn up to ride to Eureka Cafe today. Paul and I arrived first, and soon others joined us. It was great to see Alex, who has moved to go to Uni, Paul and Stan, who have been off their bikes for a while after having operations, Owen, who has been working away, and the rest of the usual crowd. We also met up with some other Wirral riders, who I regularly chat to on Twitter, and did some hill training with in the summer.
It was a great sight, although I do apologise to anyone driving from Irby to Heswal, as 30 of us left the shop and headed out.
Once we got out into the lanes we were less of a moving obstacle and even got some applause as we passed people along the road. It must be the season of good will, as even the car drivers we held up were happy to wait for us.
I tried to get a photo of the group, so I sprinted off the front, and found a good spot to stop. Typically, the technology let me down! the iPhone camera wouldn't set up quick enough so I missed the front of the group!!

We only split as a group once, as we went through Willaston, but everyone got back together before we headed down the missing link. Stu was made up that he had brought his cyclo cross bike as the missing link is a farm track that was pretty messy. There were a few grumbles, but it gives me an excuse to get the Purple Harry out later!!

We arrived at the Cafe and took over!

Thanks to Anne and the girls, we were all served quickly, and tucking in to Mulled Wine and Mince pies. 
It was tough to get motivated to get going again, but once out on the road it was a great ride back through the lanes to the shop, I even managed a PB up the Denhall lane climb!!!
I was surprised that we didn't have more mechanicals today, with so many in the group. I think we only had 2 punctures, and for once I wasn't one of them. 

The lads planning on racing next year added a loop of West Kirby to the end of the ride, but I had to get back to two excited boys, and will now spend the rest of the day trying to keep them occupied!!

The next outing is likely to be Tinsel Spin, being organised by Dave and Ian who we rode with today. The plan is to meet at the shop at 9.30 on Wednesday 28th, and if the weather is good, head out into Wales, probably an 80+ miler, or if the weather is not favourable, stay on the Wirral. 
Everyone is welcome, and as details emerge, I will post them here.

Thanks to everyone who rode out today, It was a great ride with great company, and also thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings. 

I hope you all have a very Happy Christmas.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Christmas Eve Eureka Ride Invitation

As Christmas Eve falls on a Team vita ride day this year, we have decided to have an easy ride out to the famous Eureka Cafe, as Anne is putting on Mulled wine and it seemed to be the right thing to do!!

We will leave the shop at the usual time, 9.30 and aim to be out for about two and a half hours (depending on how long we take advantage of Eureka's hospitality!).
The route will take us through the lanes of Wirral to the east of the Chester High Road,through the villages of Thornton Hough, Willaston and Ledsham and back along the lanes to the West through Puddington, Burton, Neston and lower Heswall back to the shop.

This is an open invitation to anyone who wants to join us, all abilities, the more the merrier!
The route is just under 25 miles in total, 12 out and 13 back. check out this link for the route:

All you need is a bike, the right gear for whatever weather we are treated to, and some cash for the Cafe (I don't have an entertaining budget from the shop or Mrs Palefish!!)

We look forward to seeing you on Saturday morning, 9.30 at Vita Cycles Irby.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Making the most of a sunny winter day

Today was the complete opposite to yesterday. I woke up to sun streaming through the window, and a promise of 6 degrees from the weather app. Typical! A day when no cycling was planned and the weather was great! I got up and we were having breakfast, whilst I was longingly looking out the window at the clear sky. The boys wanted boiled eggs, and Joe wasn't happy with the consistency of his yolk, so Claire put it in the Microwave. Big mistake! Now I bet you are wondering where this is going? Well, if you have ever microwaved an egg a bit too much, you will know what happened next. After a loud pop, and a few expletives from the kitchen, Joe had a poached egg, and Claire had a big clean up to do. So when she said, "What would I have to do for you to clean the Microwave" the answer was simple!! 15 minutes later I was pulling on my cycling gear to head off for a spin in the sun!!! Well worth the effort of cleaning super heated egg off the inside of the Microwave!! It was a great ride, much warmer that yesterday, 6.6degrees Ave,  and not too much wind. I even managed to do my best time up Column Road, and along the front in West Kirby, in fact if it hadn't been for the car I was stuck behind, and eventually overtook at 30mph, I think I would have been faster, not that I have become obsessed with Strava segments like the rest of the team!!!

After lunch, a bit of tree felling, a trip to the allotment and a run to the tip I had a couple of hours spare to clean the bike. It was filthy! I didn't clean it after the night ride on Tuesday.

Filthy Frame!

Extremely dirty cassette

I wouldn't normally put pictures of a dirty cassette on the blog, but I wanted to show you haw good Purple Harry cleaner and Floss is. I discovered this product at the Bike show earlier this year, and have been very pleased with both the products, and the service from the company. It is a new British brand that is doing realy well. So you have seen the before, here is the after!
Sparkly Cassette

Blatant product placement!

Clean Bike

Today's ride details, (with new best times!!) for mobile users:

Saturday, 17 December 2011

All Hail and MTB's

Today was supposed to be the Team Vita Christmas Hill climb challenge, and Road race. That was until the weather had other ideas. Yesterdays snow was an indication of what was to come, and we decided to play it by ear and see what today's weather looked like in the morning. When I got up and looked out of the window, I was happy to see no snow or frost, just a little rain. It also looked like the wind had dropped. My weather app on the phone was saying it would be about 4degrees out, so all that was needed was a good few layers to keep warm. Just as I was getting ready to ride up to Paul's I received a tweet from a Shaun, warning of slippery roads, accompanied by a very christmasy looking picture!!
As I was looking out of the window wondering how two places 3 miles apart could be so different, a winter weather event (which is what we call them at work!) happened. Within seconds the drive and road were covered in hail/sleet! I called Dave and suggested the Hill climb should be postponed, which he agreed, but we decided to still meet at the shop for a brew.
I had recently read an article on winter riding, and the best advice I had read was putting flat non clip pedals on so that you can get your feet on Terra firma quickly in a slip. I couldn't be bothered to swap my pedals so I dusted off the Mountain Bike, pumped up the tyres and called Paul to suggest he did the same.
10 minutes later Paul and I were heading off to the shop, with Claire's words, "you're a pair of nutters" ringing in our ears!
Barry was surprised to see us when we arrived at the shop. The ride had been interesting! Hail being blown into your face at 20mph is a little painful, and big knobbly tyres work well on mud, but not so good on slippery roads!

A rare sight in Vita Cycles!

I wasn't expecting too many people to turn up as we had put the message out that the challenges were off today, and anyone looking out of their window, with any sense would stay indoors. But such is the commitment of the lads one by one, bedraggled cold hardcore cyclists entered the shop. 
We all felt very self righteous, having made the effort to turn up, especially those on their winter road bikes.

As we stood chatting, it was commented that seeing as we were there why not at least go out for a spin. The sky was brightening, and the hail melting, so we headed off into the cold. The average temp of the ride today was 5 degrees, but the actual temperature whilst riding was 2 degrees!!! 

It was bizarre riding with the lads on their road bikes whilst on my Mountain bike. The wet slippery roads were a good leveller!! 
Paul and I stayed with the group for a bit, but peeled off half way round, as I had promised to be back in time for our first Christmas day of the year with Claire s sister and family before they head back to Bali.

It was definitely worth getting out today, and even though the miles were much less that usual, I still felt that I had put some effort in, and kept the legs spinning.

As usual, ride details at the right of the page, or here for Mobile users:

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Moon X-Power 500 first ride.

Since I bought the Moon light a couple of weeks ago, the weather has conspired to keep me indoors in the evenings. As today progressed I decided that whatever the weather, I would get out tonight for a spin. Paul contacted me to see if I was out tonight, which motivated me even more. It was a bit windy, with some strong gusts, but the roads were dry and it wasn't too cold.
I can't believe how good the Moon X-Power 500 is. It is like having a motorcycle light attached to the bike. Paul's reaction when I switched it on was great, he nearly fell off his bike, and as we were riding along, he said he couldn't tell if it was me or a car behind him. I highly recommend spending that extra bit of money on a quality light.
Moon X-Power 500 at full power

I am not sure that introducing the Team to Strava was such a good idea. I may have created a group of monsters!!! The main topic of conversation between team mates currently is about segments and KOM times!!! Even the lads who aren't normally competitive have become addicted. The main reason for out ride tonight was to check out the Hill we will be climbing on Saturday!! I'm sure as we move towards the weekend,  there will be more activity on the hills reported on Strava!!!

To access details of tonight's ride follow this link: or click on the Strava map on the right of the page.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Team Vita Ride 10/12/11

It seems like ages since I did a full Team Ride, Last week and the week before I didn't go with the lads so today I was feeling a little nervous that maybe I may have lost a bit of speed and stamina, even though I have done a couple of Turbo Sessions through the week. Paul rode down to meet me today, and we headed off to the shop. It was quite fresh, but I had made sure I had layered up well. When we got to the shop, as usual, I was saying I may not go the full distance today, and Paul was happy to go along with the idea of peeling off early. Dave arrived and said that we were going to stick to the main roads today, to avoid the muddy, greasy lanes.
16 of us headed out towards Greasby and round the coast towards Wallasey. I was surprised that my legs were spinning well and I wasn't falling off the back!! The speed wasn't too fast, as the roads were still quite wet, and there seemed to be a lot of diesel around.
The group stayed together well today. A few of the lads needed to drop off along the route to either go to work, or get to the match.
Those of us remaining were treated to a couple of stinging hills on the way back, Denhall Lane, Parkgate and Heswall. I seem to be getting better with every ride, I'm sure by this time next year I'll be challenging Sean and Jeff for the KOM title!!!!!
The highlight of today's ride for me was Alex's inventive use of an old pair of socks and a couple of Tesco carrier bags to make a pair of Wind and Waterproof over shoes! The ingenuity of a student!!! I think he needs to let write a letter to Santa!!!

Next week we are being treated to a Christmas Challenge! A hill climb challenge with a trophy for the winner ( I will be timekeeping so that others have a chance to win!!!) and a race round a lop from the shop. Every one is welcome to come along, we will meet at the shop at 9.30.

Today was the first ride that I recorded on to Strava, you can access the details from the Latest Rides section on the top right of the page, or here if you are on a mobile.

There are 7 of us from the team now using Strava, and it has certainly added a competitive edge to the hills!!

If you needed any inspiration to sign up for The Vita Tunnel Challenge here is a picture of the Swift TT frameset up for grabs. Call into the shop or visit for more details.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

The Future is Strava!

I have stumbled across a new logging site, It is a free site, with an option to upgrade to premium if you need more stats!! (Claire is not too keen on that option!!)

On first impressions it looks very impressive, with all the data that is found on the Garmin Conect logger, and more. It also shows climb %, and a basic power and energy formula. The layout is easy to follow, and the pages well laid out.
The best element I think is the ability for riders to share info with each other, and the ability to see how well you have ridden on categorised climbs. A good incentive to push me up the hills, especially as Grange Road, my nemesis in West Kirby is on there!!!
I have set up a Team Vita Club page already, which members of the team can join, and then all our club rides, future races and individual training rides will all be in one place for everyone to see and analyse, especially the coach!!! All Garmin users can upload direct from your device, and iPhone and Android mobile users can download a free app that logs your ride and uploads to the site.

To check out what it looks like, click on the link at the top of the Blog. (It doesn't show on mobiles, so you need to read the Blog from a PC.)

While I am testing this site I will not add a link to Garmin for ride details, you can access the info from the widget on the Blog. Please let me know what you think. Cheers

Saturday, 3 December 2011

No Team Vita ride for me today

Today was the first Wimp out of winter!! I set the alarm early, so that I could get out for an hour or so before the club ride, as Claire had to get off to work at 10.30, which meant I could only join them for a short while.
As I was eating my breakfast, feeling a bit rough, as this cold still hasn't shifted, it started to rain, no problem I thought, it will be a good test for my new kit! My optimism soon waned as the rain hit the window harder and harder, helped along by a gusty wind. Oh well, maybe I will only do a short ride to the shop, and with the club, then head back. I eventually left the house at 8.45, and rode straight to the shop!! (2.5miles) it was on the way that I decided I would not go with the lads, and take the long way home instead.
When I got to the shop. I had a coffee with Barry and Giles, who had won the November turbo 10 mile challenge.
As the lads arrived we chatted about the weeks riding we had done, and I told them all about the Onix Twitter ride, to be fair I'm still chuffed at the amount of climbing I achieved in such a short distance!
Dave (the coach) arrived and everyone got ready to leave, it felt a bit weird not putting my helmet on and getting ready to go with them, but the guilt didn't last for long, as the heavens opened again as they rolled down the road.
Even though the weather was not favourable, there was still a good turnout.

After the lads had left, Barry awarded Giles with his prize for winning the Turbo challenge.
Giles had completed the ten miles in 21.50, a whopping 2minutes faster than the next best time. 

It was my birthday this week, and my great family had given me some vouchers to spend in the shop. After a lot of consideration, I decided to get myself a new light, that will hopefully encourage me to get out more during the dark winter months. 
The model I chose was the Moon X-Power 500. It is a high power, rechargeable unit that should give me lots of illumination down the dark lanes, and help me to mix up the routes, instead of sticking to the main well lit roads. 
No ride details today, as I think you all know how to get to the shop by now!!!

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Wind from all directions!

I'm sure the wind on the Wirral plays games with cyclists sometimes.
I headed out to West Kirby to do a couple of loops of the hill, to stretch my legs after Sundays effort. As I headed down towards Meols, I was riding into the wind, then as I turned towards Hoylake, I was riding into the wind! The road into West Kirby was windy, as was the Climb up Grange Road!!!! Every where I went, except the mile and a bit along the front at Hoylake, seemed to be into the wind!!! I did however enjoy the climbing. After the monster hills on Sunday, the climbs out of West Kirby and Caldy are just pimples!!!

The guys in Vita Cycles are holding a monthly 10 mile time trial on a Turbo trainer. The competition this month has been fierce, With the coach leading the way, until today. If you want to have a go, pop into the shop with your bike and hook yourself up to the Turbo!! Spaces are also filling fast for the Vita Tunnel Challenge. Another time trial, this time through the Mersey Tunnel.

Sign up before the limited spaces are gone!!

Tonight's ride details:

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Onix Twiter Ride

Well, what a day!!! An early start, for a Sunday, and Me, Shaun and Ken were on our way to the other side of Macclesfield to meet up with a couple of like minded cyclists for a spin with the MD of Onix Bikes.
We couldn't believe it when we rolled into the Car Park and there were at least 40 people getting bikes and themselves ready.
Spot the Onix prototype!
Ken and Sean, and it was as cold as it looks!

There were so many we were asked to move our cars from the Pub car park so that their paying customers could get in!! It was a new experience driving the car in shoes with Cleats!!!

We set off from the side of a lake,

and headed straight into the first climb of the day, and by far the steepest, especially on cold legs!! It had an Average of 9% and topped out at 25% (by my Garmin anyway!!) I am not ashamed to say when we hit 25% I walked!!! too much too soon and I didn't want to do myself in in the first 2 miles.
The going got a bit easier after that. We headed round to Macclesfield, a different way to the planned route, as we had split so much on the first climb and some had gone the wrong way.
This proved to be a great plan, as we turned out of Macc to head up to the Cat and Fiddle, we had the wind at our backs. I got into a good rhythm and span my way up the 6 mile climb, ave 6% to the highest pub in England (I think!) When we got to the top the wind was across us and blew a couple of people into the verge. I passed Sean, who was stopping to help someone, and as he got off his bike it was caught by the wind and it looked like he was flying a kite!! Serves him right for buying an extremely light Orbea Orca!!!

Half way up to the Cat

It was so windy, we had to crouch to get a rest!

All safely at the top.

We Left the Shelter of the Cat and Fiddle and headed back, after a short fast decent we turned and had to ride into a headwind up hill! it was tough going but not as bad as I thought it would be.
It was decided that as the wind was so strong, I'm not sure exactly how strong it was but it was bad, we would call it a day and head back to the Pub. After another fast decent, and one last stingy climb, we all got back safely. Waiting for us were these great biscuits,

Which were a very welcome treat. All the way round Mike, the Onix mechanic was following us in the Onix Team car, offering advice on directions, and words of motivation!!!

Even though it was cut short, it was a great ride, with some challenging hills, and decent's.
At the end we had to take the obligatory Team Photo's!!

Shaun and Ken

Shaun and Me

Once all the bikes were back in the car we decamped to the pub for a brew! There was more cake from Louise ( although I didn't get to try any as Dean, from Purple Harry and David Harman, Eurosport, were monopolising the tupperware!!

It was also a great opportunity to talk to Craig, Onix Bikes MD, about next years range, and how the idea of starting a new bike brand has developed over the last 18 months. For more info on Onix Bikes why not watch this video. 

Thanks Craig for a great day, and I hope to be riding all 6 of Onix Bikes Twitter rides next year.
Also thanks to Purple Harry for some Bike Floss samples and CNP for the new Bottle and energy bars.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Out to Vita and Back the long way!

Today, as I had to be back for the boss to go to work, Paul and I went out for an hour before the Team Vita ride. We had a great spin to the shop the long way round, with a couple of hills thrown in to warm the legs. There was a great turnout at the shop, 15 today, and a Coach who had said on Facebook yesterday today's ride would be "Fast and furious"!!
Before we left, and as we were there before everyone else, I had the chance to have a good look at the New Cervelo S5.

A nice bit of kit, a little out of my price range but always nice to look at a great bike.

We headed out, and this time I knew I wouldn't be going all the way with the group as I was on a time deadline. We rode down to Greasby then round Royden Park to the hill up to Thurstaston, for the second time today for Me and Paul!!! Going up we dropped Mark, who is relatively new to Cycling. We circled at the top of the hill to let him catch up but he wasn't up for it today. This was my cue to head back to the shop, a little earlier than expected, but we did do a little loop to add a few more miles in. Mark headed home, and I stayed chatting to Phil at the shop about how the Team could develop next year into 2 groups, a Racing team and a club group. I think this will help to grow members in the new year, and give an option to everyone each week, Fast race pace training, or Club ride with Cafe stop!!
I thought I would try out a new App on my iPhone today, and let everyone who hasn't been to Vita Cycles yet have a look around. Click on this link to have a look: It's a 360 view so click and hold then move the mouse. (like google street view!!)

So now back home it is time to clean and prep the bike and get my kit ready, for tomorrows Onix Twitter ride. I'll probably have to take a choice of clothes as the weather looks so unsettled I wont know till we get there!
If you are still not sure about going, details are here:

Today's ride details:

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Preparing for The Onix Twitter Ride

I haven't been out much this week. In fact tonight is the first time I've swung my leg over the crossbar since Saturday. Claire has been working and the Kids have been unwell, always an excuse!!! 
Sunday this week is the Onix Twitter ride. I am looking forward to meeting the man behind Onix Bikes, a new British bike brand that is growing from strength to strength, and is based in the North West, in Preston. There have been a couple of rides in the past, both in the Lakes, but this is the first I will be attending. The Ride Roster is a veritable who's who of local Twitterati, and a couple of Pro Riders, Daniel Patten, Asfra Flanders Team in Belgium and Hannah Walker, Women's Motorpoint Marshal Team. Also joining us is the voice of Cycling on Eurosport, David Harmon, and Ken Jones, Vetran Racer and purveyor of Bioracer Clothing in the UK.
Mike, Onix Bikes chief mechanic, will be driving a support car, stocked with CNP energy bars, and cake from Lou (

The route is a challenging one, especially for someone who isn't that keen on hills!! It is not that long, 53 miles, but we will be climbing over 5000ft (1500m). That's a lot of up and down!! Hence my loops round the one local hill in West Kirby! To put it into perspective, to achieve the same elevation gain in a ride round West Kirby, I would have to go up Grange Road 30 times!! Anyway, a challenge like this is what is needed to keep me going through winter!
For details of the ride, if you want to join us, please check out this link:

Tonight's ride details:

Sunday, 20 November 2011

First Team Vita Video

Here is some footage of yesterdays Team Vita ride, recorded by Andy on a Go Pro.

If you want to join us for a ride out we leave Vita Cycles in Irby at 9.30 every Saturday, and usually go for 2-3 hours. 

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Is it really November? Team Vita ride 19/11/11

The Sky was clear and blue when I left the house this morning, in my new Le Col kit!!! It was a little chilly, but not what you would expect for a mid November morning. I met up with Paul and we headed up to the shop. As usual we were discussing where we would swing off from the ride and head back, as my chest and nose didn't want to work properly!!! We got to the shop and everyone started to arrive, including another new Member, Mark, on another Kuota! Everyone commented on how good the Le Col gear looked, no pressure there then to make sure I did it justice on the ride.

13 of us left the shop with Dave's instructions to spin in the little ring putting a smile on my face, as this keeps the pace down a bit, and gives my lungs a chance. It wasn't long before we had our only puncture of the day, luckily not me this time, which was good seeing as I had left my pump at home along with my spare tube!! I think Paul is contesting the coveted title of most punctures with me!!
There was quite a head wind all the way out, which kept the pace down as well. We headed out towards Ellesmere Port then down the Shell Road, where Alex managed to bust a spoke! After Dave, who is now Chief Mechanic as well as Coach, sorted it out, we headed off for Hapsford, and a couple of climbs. As usual I hit reverse gear as soon as the road hit more than 5% but didn't drop off too far. Once over the hills, we turned, had the wind at our backs, upped the pace and headed for home.
We managed to lose Andy about 10 miles from the shop,(Pit stop!), but every one else got back with the group.
It was a great achievement for a couple of the newer lads who had never done this distance before, and although they were not enjoying it at the end, I'm sure they are now looking forward to pushing to the next threshold.
The Le Col kit performed as you would expect good quality cycling gear to. The jacket kept me warm but not too hot, and the shorts were fantastic, especially the pad, very comfy, which is important on a long ride!!
As usual, I didn't have to pull out of the ride early, and even added a little loop out to West Kirby on the way home too!!
Andy had his Go Pro with him today, I will post a link when he uploads it.

Today's ride details:

Friday, 18 November 2011

Quick Le Col shakedown

Today has been just like Christmas eve! I left for work, in the knowledge that there was some new kit waiting for me at home. I had tried them on last night, but tonight I was going to put them to their proper use. After a long dragging day, I got home, Changed into the new Le Col kit and headed off for a quick spin to see how the fitted, and felt. Typically, as one of the pieces is a winter jacket, it was quite warm tonight! But I decided to wear it all, as the info about the Jacket says it is a good temperature regulator.
I suppose I should give a bit of background as to why I am now the proud owner of a full set of Le Col Derboun kit, Short Sleeve Jersey,  Bib Shorts and most importantly for this time of year, a Winter Jacket.
I don't normally spend much time talking about new kit on here, but I have had such a great experience as a Le Col customer I felt I needed to let you know.

It all started when Yanto Barker, the owner of Le Col,  Tour of Britain rider and recently signed with the UK Youth team for 2012, Tweeted that he had some 3XL kit for sale at a discount. I Tweeted back, asking if the 3XL was UK or Italian, as the European sizing isn't the best for my ample build!! Yanto asked me to email Le Col with a few details about myself. I thought, why not, nothing ventured and all that, and I was very pleased to receive an email, from Yanto himself, saying that he wasn't sure if the kit would fit, as everyone is different, but, if I wanted to order any kit, he would send it to me to try, and if it fitted, keep it and if it didn't, just pay for the postage and send it back. What struck me most was the personal service and time that Yanto and his team spent with me. This company has excelled in customer service. The Icing on the cake is the Kit. It fits well, and will fit better as the weight falls off. The Pad in the shorts felt great first time on, the fit of the Jersey is great, with some nice detailing, and a full length Zip, and the Jacket is Waterproof, Wind proof and, as tested tonight, breathable when the temp is a bit high! All I need now are some leg warmers to finish the look for winter, hint hint, (my birthday is in two weeks!!)
I highly recommend that you have a look at the Le Col website, and try some for yourself.

Depending on the Weather, I may wear the full kit on the Vita Team ride tomorrow. I will let you know how life with Le Col progresses!

Tonight's ride details:

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

What a lot of Snot!!!

I can't seem to shake this cold! I thought it had gone last week, but no, it's back, and seems to be worse than before. It took a lot of effort to get out tonight, but I managed it, if only for a quick loop at an easy pace. The cold mixed with my asthma made it hard to get enough oxygen in to keep the legs spinning. A bit of an essential element to cycling really! It amazes me how a little winter bug can debilitate me so much. Oh well, shouldn't complain, there are others much worse off than me. Time to shut up and put up!! I got the Turbo out the other day, and put the old Giant back together to go on it. I did half an hour on Monday night, and hope to do every other session either on the bike or out on the road.
Whilst I was testing the turbo the other day, my son decided he wanted to have a go, I told him his legs weren't long enough, but that didn't matter.

A good aero position though!! It wont be long before he is riding with Team Vita!!!

I got home from work tonight and there was a card from the Postie on the mat. There are three parcels for me at the sorting office. I hope it is my new Le Col kit from Yanto. Cant wait, first to see if it fits! And then to get some miles in wearing it. More to follow on this in the next few days.

Tonight's Ride Details:

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Another Puncture on the Team Vita Ride 12/11/11

Today was another chance for me to lead the ride, as Dave was off playing with fast cars at Donnington.
I decided to do a Cafe ride today, as the last one went down well. there was another great turnout, 11 of us left the shop and rode out towards Greasby, Moreton, Leasowe and on to New Brighton. We met up with Dan on the way. There was a surprising headwind out by the coast, so we made sure no one was on the front for too long. When we got to Seacombe we stopped for a couple of the lads to have a natural break, and I was determined not to loose anyone today!! Whilst we were waiting, A couple of the Liverpool Mercury lads came off the ferry. I knew James was coming over today, but didn't think we would see them. It was good to to meet someone who I have only talked to on Twitter. James and John were off to Eureka too, but going round the opposite way. James Onix Azzuro looked really nice, I am looking forward to seeing a few more in a couple of weeks when I go for a ride with the Owner, Craig, and some of his friends. Check out this link for details:
When everyone was finished with the facilities at the ferry terminal, we then headed over the bridges into Birkenhead, Through to Rock Ferry, Port Sunlight, Bromborough, Easton, and then on to the Welsh Road. At this point I picked up a thorn and Punctured AGAIN!!! It was too good to be true. I think if we have a Club Christmas get together, I will win the most punctures in a year prize!!! The Pave's were easy to get on and off though, which was a bonus, but I need to invest in a new pump, the one I have is good, but doesn't get the tube to a high enough pressure to seat the Tyre properly, and it felt a little lumpy. Luckily we were only a short blast down the Welsh Road to Eureka, where a quick inflate with a Track pump seated the Tyre nicely.
The Eureka Cafe wasn't too busy so there was room for us to take up two tables.

While we were there we were discussing last Sundays ride, and the Steps Challenge, that is run by Eureka. We decided that we needed to ride out to the steps on a Saturday ride and all have a go, set a base time each and then make regular trips there to see how we are improving, with the aim of all getting onto the leader board in the Cafe.
Alex and Jane met us at the Cafe, they didn't realise we were leaving earlier today, and when they got to the shop at 9.20, they tried to catch us up, and ended up cutting across the Wirral to meet us.
After a nice social brew, we headed off back up the Chester High road to the Shop, this time with the wind at our backs.
Andy had taken his GoPro camera with him today, to get some video footage of the ride, but unfortunately something didn't work and he only got 7seconds of video. Maybe next week will be better.
It was a great social ride today, a good opportunity for everyone to get to know each other a little better. I'm sure when Dave is back in charge we will be pushing the pace again!!!

Today's Ride Details:

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

An audience with a cycling Legend

Tonight I went to The Bike Factory in Chester for the launch of a new Bike range. ( I told you there were other bike shops available)
First of all I was privileged to see the owner of the bike factory receive a commendation from the CTC for their services to cycling in the Chester and North Wales area.
The main event was the unveiling of the new Boardman Bikes Pro range. The man himself, Chris Boardman MBE was there to introduce the range and explain the reasoning behind the brand and new bikes. Then Andy, the operations Manager of Boardman Bikes, explained how the range came to market, why they have chosen the designs and also why they have chosen independent retailers to sell the brand rather than a national chain. After the talk Chris answered questions from the audience about his cycling success in Time Trials, The Tour and The hour challenge. All very interesting and inspiring.
After this there was a scrum to have photo's taken with Chris and get autographs, so I took the opportunity to talk to Andy about the bike designs, specifically integrated headsets and bars!!!!! You had to be there!
I waited until there was a chance to talk to Chris. Most people were talking about the Tour etc, so I decided to ask him about next years sport relief challenge against his old adversary Graeme Obree! He admitted to me that he originally hadn't agreed to take part, just supply the bikes, but in the end, Bowed to the pressure and agreed! As I have said before I have seen Chris training recently, and took the opportunity tonight to extend an invitation to our Saturday morning training sessions! I'm not sure he took me seriously, but you never know he may turn up one day!

Not only did I meet Chris Today, I also had a bizarre experience that started after I replied to a post on Twitter.
I ended up talking to Yanto Barker, a past Tour of Britain competitor and now signed to Team UK Youth for 2012 and owner of Le Col clothing We were discussing Clothing sizes and the range available to the rounder cyclist. More to follow in the future on this one!!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

"Run Fat boy Run!"

I wanted to go out on my bike tonight. As I walked home from work the desire to go out was reducing as the damp cold weather got worse. I know at this point "the coach" will be getting ready to berate me for my weakness, but after a busy day at work, and the miserable weather, by the time I got in the last thing I was ready to do was risk dropping my gorgeous bike on the damp slippery tarmac.
But, I had a health check at work today, and although I was very happy with my blood pressure and resting heart rate, (49 after running up two flights of stairs as I was late!!) I still have a lot of work to do to get my BMI into the right range.
So, I decided that if I wasn't going to ride my bike I had to do something to get the heart pumping and burn a few calories. I dug around in the cupboard for my trainers, got changed and set off. I have always had a problem with running. I have suffered from shin splints in the past, and I find it hard to regulate my breathing, especially in the cold. The last time I ran was a few months ago taking part in a 5k organised by work, which I walked half of!! Tonight was a nice surprise. My legs, and specifically my shins, didn't hurt, and after a few minutes my breathing became easier, and I got into a comfortable pace. I wont be winning any races, or thinking of triathlons yet, but it will certainly help to mix up the training this winter, and hopefully help me reach my target weight by February.

Tonight's RUN details (for your amusement!!):

Sunday, 6 November 2011

"Tragedy" by the Steps!!

Today was the first time I have joined Dave (the coach) for a long ride. Ken came over from Litherland and met me at Chateau Palefish. We headed  up to the Glegg Arms in Heswall to meet the others.

Waiting for the Lads at the Glegg Arms

There was another great turn out, Me, Ken, Dave, Dave L, Dan, James, Andy and Jeff, who only had a pass for a couple of hours.
We headed out to the Dee path, then over the river and into Wales.
The weather was fantastic, a bit crisp on the legs, I decided to wear shorts today, ever the optimist! But it was sunny and dry.
The first challenge, and to be fair, the worst of the day, was "The Steps". A hill that goes up in, you guessed it, Steps. Hence the topical Pop group title today!! This challenge is legendary and the Eureka Cafe even has a competition to see who can do it the fastest. So at the bottom of the climb I started a new lap on the Garmin and we headed up. The climb has an average of 6% and a maximum of 20%, which is met more than once. It is very different to the hills I ride on round the Wirral. I don't think we can really call them hills actually!! So anyway, I made it, eventually, and it was satisfying, and painful all at the same time. I completed it in 20 minutes, the lap says 23 but I forgot to stop it when I got to the top!! I have since checked the fastest time it has been done, and I have a bit of work to do. 12.5minutes!!! only need to go almost twice as fast!!

Proof I made it!!

The others at the top.

To be honest, I was done in at this point, but you never get anywhere feeling sorry for yourself. We headed on past Llandegla, and down the Nant Y Garth pass, a fast downhill section, the way we were going anyway! that had some great sweeping bends, a bit like an alpine decent, almost!!
We carried on into Ruthin and then Denbigh. I was certainly feeling the climb by this point, and decided that I would need to ease the pace a little to conserve energy to get home. When the mountain goats turned off to climb up and over to Hollywell, Ken and I decided to carry on towards Mold.

First stop of the day at 62miles!

 To give our legs a chance we stopped for a couple of minutes to fuel up and have a stretch, then headed on to Mold. In the town we stopped again, stocked up on some much needed sweet stuff, I'm sure we deserved it, and then set off for Queensferry and the Wirral. The route back to Ewloe was easy, but there we found ourselves on the A55, the main dual carriageway along the North Wales coast. We were only on it for 1.4 miles and averaged 28mph but it was a little daunting having lorries passing at 60mph!!! At Queensferry we got off the A55 and were back on familiar roads.

A beautiful Day

Once we got back on the Chester High Road, I spotted some cyclists ahead who looked familiar. And I was right, As we got to Gordale garden centre we caught the rest of the group, who had stopped at Eureka for a coffee!!!!! We should have stayed with them. It was nice to all get back together for the last few miles.

The survivors of the Steps!!

It was a great day, if a little painful at times, and as always, once I reached the end it all seemed worth it. Thanks Dave for a great route, and the rest of the lads for the company. 
The Blog has taken a while to finish today, as I was out a little longer than expected, and there were a weekends worth of jobs to be done in a couple of hours, to ensure a pass for the next Vita Epic Sunday ride.