Saturday, 31 March 2012

Lost again in Cheshire!!

It is always a challenge to plan the route for the club ride. You need to consider things like right turns across major roads, busy main roads, built up areas, hills etc etc etc. You also have to have some idea of where you are and where you need to be. As a southerner, my local knowledge of the back roads and lanes around Wirral and Cheshire is getting better. but not in any way is it great. I decided to use the Garmin as a route aid today, as I had planned a visit to the Ice Cream Farm in Newton-by-Tattenhal. Our last excursion to these parts ended up with a detour, so I thought it was best to be prepared and plotted a route for mine and Paul's Garmins. As usual, things didn't quite go to plan!!

It was typical that the weekend brought overcast colder weather. All week has been great, and today it was back on with the base layers, long sleeves, Gilet and Knee Warmers. Nothing could suppress my enthusiasm though, as I pulled on my new Giro Factor shoes. I went out for a spin last night to set the Cleats up and get the right insole riser sorted, and whilst I was out, I PB'd three climbs, including my West Kirby nemesis. Now I realise that it was all psychological but I'm sure the carbon soles make a difference (at least 2mph extra!!)

Paul mentioned in the week that he needs a nickname, like Palefish, as I mention him in each ride, and today presented us with the perfect name for him, more later!
So Dave and I headed up to Bilbo's and then met up with Ian and the four of us rode up to the shop. There was already a crowd waiting for us, and Barry to open the shop!
9 o'clock was the set off time, and we didn't do too bad, leaving at about 10 past. There were 20 of us in the beginning, including Zel (the Coach) who joined us for a bit, as he is racing tomorrow. We headed out through the lanes, down the missing link, and on to Capenhurst where we joined the main road in to Chester. We negotiated the City Centre without incident, and then turned off towards Saighton. I'm sure that someone somewhere doesn't like me being in this area. As soon as we missed the first turning towards Saighton, I knew we were in for a mystery tour. Not only do I not know the area my Garmin, and Bilbo's, decided to do their own thing! my screen went blank, then decided to tell me I was on course, then promptly tell me we were off course even though I hadn't turned anywhere!! Eventually with a bit of Zigging, no Zagging allowed, we arrived at the Ice Cream Farm.
There were a group of cyclists leaving, which was lucky, as the 18 of us left filled the bike racks.

It didn't take long to settle in to a nice cup of Coffee, no cake for me today. Ian (Nipper) gave Bilbo a master class in the Garmin 800 so we could maybe do a ride one weekend without getting lost! Dave L did comment that he hadn't been aware that we were not where we should have been and congratulated me on being calm in the knowledge that I had led 17 friends into the middle of who knows where!!

The Ice Cream Farm is definitely worth a visit, either on your bike or with the family, and best of all cyclists are made very welcome.

We thought that we had been helped along by a tail wind all the way out, as the pace had been quite high at times, but we were happy to discover that there was no headwind on the way back, a first I think for our Club rides. Following Nippers route back we were in Chester in no time and then back on familiar ground along the Dee Path. With no headwind the group held a good pace of just over 22mph all the way. It was at one of the sections where you have to negotiate some barriers that Paul's nickname was formed. He is the only rider who can duck down through one set of particularly narrow barriers, that I have trouble getting through. I commented that he looked like a Hobbit, and that was it, Bilbo was named!! I'm not sure how happy he is with it, but I am sure he will let me know!
From the Dee Path it was the usual climb up to the Chester High Road and then back to the shop. Again it was nice not to have to battle with a head wind all the way. 

As I sit here writing this, my feet don't have the usual aches that I got from my old shoes, and I can honestly say that if you can afford it, get some carbon soled shoes, even my legs don't feel as though they have done a pacey 70 miles (ignore the ride average of 15.5mph, I left the Garmin on in the shop and it appears that the shop moves at 5mph, which in turn dragged down my average!)

We were discussing plans for this years Sportives that we could all enter and ride as a group. 
These are the ones we decided we could all do: 

Liverpool Chester Liverpool 08/07 (A couple of us are doing the 50 mile route on Mountain bikes!)

And also the Vita Sportive if it goes ahead in August. If you fancy doing any of them, why not sign up and ride with us. 

Next weekend is Easter, so I have suggested that we do a short, inclusive, ride out to Eureka and back, as we did on Christmas eve last year. Everyone is welcome, whatever your ability, we will leave the shop at 9.30, hopefully see you there.

Today's Ride details:

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Introducing the Palefish Logo

You may have noticed the introduction to the Blog of a new Theme and Logo.

Since coming up with the name, about 13 years ago, I have had an idea of what the Logo could look like, and how the Brand could feel!
When I started writing the Blog, and called it Palefish, I didn't think that I would be commissioning a designer, copy writing logo's and buying domain names.

In the last few months the readership of the Blog has increased, and I have had a chance to take part in some exciting events and activities, that I may not have been able to do if I hadn't been writing my ramblings here.

I have been encouraged by family and friends to look at ways to develop the Palefish Blog/ brand.
I started playing around with images, but I am no Rob Janoff
After many failed attempts, that my 5 year old could have done better, I decided to call in the professionals.

My day job has meant that I have worked with some great creative people, and over a Coffee earlier in the year I asked Laura from Lime Twentysix to have a go at designing me a logo.
I met Laura when she was a student at Hugh Baird College studying Visual Merchandising and Promotional Design. She was part of a team I put together to create a logo and brand for the Bootle Town Centre Partnership. When Laura graduated she set up her own Business, Lime Twentysix

I hope you agree with me, the concept she came up with is fantastic. It is exactly what I wanted and feedback so far has been great.

Things have snowballed a bit since revealing the "Palefish"! Friends have been asking when the T Shirts and cycling jerseys are being made, do I have any stickers, even my eldest Son wants some merchandise!!
I have had another brainstorm with Laura, and we have a few ideas of things that may work.

To make things simple on the web front, I have secured the domain. If things develop I may move to a full website, with the Blog as part of it, but for now is easier to type than!!

So, there you have it, seven and a half months from writing the first tentative lines of the Palefish Blog, I have a Logo, a copy write, a domain name, and even a published report in a paper! I wonder what the next few months will bring?

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Enjoying the Spring sunshine

It wasn't particularly warm as I left the house this morning, but I had decided that today was going to be a Shorts and Short sleeve jersey day, and it looked like the mist would burn off. When I got to Paul's he had just changed into a short sleeved jersey, and was taking the mud guards off his bike. It was getting warmer even as we rode up to the shop, but just to remind us it was only March, there was quite a cold breeze.
As it approached 9.30 the shop filled up with cyclists, all wearing shorts,  some with leg or knee warmers, but all needing a little bit of sun, except Dave who went to Lanzarote in Feb with a few of the other lads.
There were 17 of us in the group today.

I had planned a route that zig zagged through the lanes, and as I didn't want to get lost for the third ride in a row, I set the route as a course on the Garmin, and asked Paul to do the same.
I bet you can guess what comes next? Yep, I got lost!! and only about 5 miles into the ride! It was a simple mistake, left instead of right! But it wasn't too much of a problem, all we had to do was negotiate a large busy roundabout over the M53, and we were back on course.

We headed down to the Dee Path, and were greeted with a strong headwind. We worked as a team and kept the pace up, until we reached the bridge half way along. We crossed the Dee and were in our third county of the day! As we got to the end of the runway at Hawarden Airport we were treated to the spectacle of the Airbus Beluga taking off. I wasn't quick enough to get my camera out, but here is a video from You Tube.

It certainly is a bizarre sight, and doesn't look like it should really fly!

The reason for heading over the Dee was to introduce a new hill into our Saturday rides. The climb up into the village of  Hawarden isn't particularly long, just under half a mile, but after 30 miles it certainly tests the legs a little.

With the wind behind us now, the miles disappeared quickly, we even rode past Eureka without stopping!!
We decided to ride straight  up the Chester high Road, as a couple of the group needed to get back, and for once, with the wind at our backs, it was quite enjoyable.

Not all 17 made it all the way round, a couple split early on in the ride, Anthony went off up into Wales to play on the proper hills, and a couple headed home instead of going back to the shop. I hope all our weekend rides will be as warm as this now for the rest of Spring and summer!!!!

I have finally purchased some new shoes. They were dispatched today so should be with me next week. After much deliberation, and cogitation I went for a pair of Giro Factor's. They are in the colours of the Rapha Condor Sharp racing team. Now everyone is used to me wearing lycra, they have to prepare for the introduction of accents of pink!! (Condor bike next time?!?!?!?!?)

Paul had mentioned during the ride that it was Star Wars weekend at Spaceport, and seeing as my kids and his are hooked on the films and Lego kits we decided to take a trip over to Seacombe. While we were there I think I spotted the person who was throwing things at us along the prom a few weeks ago.
He fits the description, black hoodie etc!

Today's ride details

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Some Wirral loops and an introduction to Di2

Today's Vita Cycles Club ride was planned as an "easy out" route, as some of the riders had told me that they needed to get off at different times. I decided to link 3 of the loops that we do on the evening rides, which include some flat fast roads, and some climbs.
The weather didn't look too good on the iPhone Apps this morning, so I packed my new Le Col rain cape just in case.
As usual Yanto and the team came up with the goods, and even though Mrs Palefish isn't too keen on the Style, I am very happy!

And as always, if you prepare for rain, it stays dry (almost), so I will have to wait for a rainy day to do a full review on the Jacket, I'm sure it wont be long!!!

I wasn't expecting a large group today, as some of the lads are off playing in the snow, a couple are doing the half marathon tomorrow, and 3 of the Team are racing in Cockermouth (Cumbria) tomorrow.

I rode up to the shop with Paul, and was surprised to see a couple of lads waiting, including a new rider, who saw us out on Thursday night and asked if he could join us. The group is growing quickly, and we may need to split into 3 groups soon! A race group. an intermediate group, and a new member group. (more on that later)

We had planned to leave at 9.00, but as with all good plans, there was a little delay, and eventually 18 of us left the shop. A good turn out for what I thought was going to be  quiet day!

The new rider was first to have a mishap, as his phone fell from its handlebar mount, and it took a while for him to ride back on to the group. Then when faced with the Moby Dick climb up Village Road, he decided to call it a day. I think in future we may have to run the 3rd ride, for new riders who aren't used to riding in a group at pace for long distance. We may incorporate this group in the Tuesday evening ride, leaving the 12th Man in Greasby at 7.30.

We continued into West Kirby and along to Hoylake, Meols and then as we approached Moreton, Alex punctured, another unplanned but unavoidable delay eating into the time available. We rode on to New Brighton, then back through Claughton and down Ford Hill, (Max speed 42mph!)
We were now down to 10 riders, and we headed back towards West Kirby through the lanes and rode over the hill again this time via Black Horse Hill.
We were split into two groups by the temporary lights at the bottom of Telegraph Road. By the time we regrouped on the outskirts of Heswall, we were down to 8 and after a quick discussion we decided to cut the ride short, and miss out the loop to Puddington, and back through Brimstage to the shop.

I was glad to have some time to get better acquainted with the Cervelo S5 that the shop have built with Ultegra Di2 groupset.

No need for words!

 And just for those of you who have not seen the electronic changing system in action, a little video of the magic of Di2!

As a gadget fan I think this is a great piece of equipment, especially the way the front mech automatically trues itself as it moves the chain between the big and small Chain rings. But as a cyclist I struggle with the automation of gear changing. I sort of miss the simplicity of the shifters on the down tube, and the fact that you could feel when the gear was in! But, if Vita or Shimano want to donate a Di2 groupset to the Palefish fund I wouldn't say no!!!

Another week and another club ride done, I wonder what the next one will bring us?

Today's ride details

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Lost in Ellesmere!

I am on holiday this week, and it would have been rude not to get out and get some more miles in the bank, especially as the weather isn't too bad at the moment either.
I also took advantage of joining up with Ken, the person responsible for my obsession with Carbon, who rides most Wednesdays.
We started out later than planned, for those of you who follow Ken on Twitter, if I mention his dog you will know why he was a little late!!!
It had been a while since we last went out for a ride, and as usual, we had no plan other than to get to Eureka for lunch.
We headed out through the lanes to Hooton, then thinking I could remember one of Zel's routes I managed to get us a bit lost in Ellesmere! To say we were lost is a bit of an understatement, as we were on the wrong side of the M53, trying to find a path round the Vauxhall plant!!
We eventually found our way through the Town and down to the Boat Museum and familiar ground. I may have to invest in a new Garmin 800 with maps, second ride in a row to not be where we needed to be!

After a quick Photo stop, I showed Ken the delights of the Oil Sites road, and we even managed to avoided any altercations with the security team!
We rode on to Elton, and then had to make a decision. Left over Helsby towards Delamere, or right to Eureka. Neither of us liking hills much, we decided to head to Eureka, with a stop at Cheshire Oaks Cycles to see Phil, who wasn't there!!

It always amazes me how quickly hunger sets in when you know you are on your way to a cafe! The good thing about Eureka is that they have healthy options. 
 The Next Photo opportunity came as we came out of Capenhurst. I'm not sure why they are there but they are, along with a couple of Emu's!

We arrived at Eureka and settled in for lunch. I decided on poached egg on toast (brown bread) and a healthy slice of Christmas Cake!!! ( the cafe rules applied as we were over 2/3 of the way into our ride)
The cycling world is a small place, especially on the Wirral. We sat with a guy called Dave today who when I mentioned Vita Cycles asked If I knew Carla and Ian ( My Tunnel training partners) Good luck to Dave when he rides the "Cheshire Cat sportive" and battles up Mow Cop climb on the 25th March

To work off the Toast, we rode through the lanes via Puddington, Burton and Ness, including the infamous Denhall Lane. When we got to Parkgate the sun was out, and seeing as it was Ken;s first visit we treated ourselves to an ice cream. 

Ken was quite impressed with the view, and using his new camera captured this great panorama.

We now had to work off the ice cream, so Boathouse lane was attacked, rather than ridden up. ( I was 1 second off my best time up it too!)

We then rode through Lower Heswall and climbed up Thurstaston Road and along Telegraph Road in to Irby to see the lads at the Vita Cycles. They had some new Expensive French frames in the shop. The Cyfac frames are Custom built to order. Phil took one out for a spin, kited out with Ultegra Di2 electronic shifters. A bizarre but not nasty experience apparently.  Frank was also there picking up some new kit, expect an interesting Blog update from him soon.

After wasting time talking bikes in the second shop of the day, I rode to Birkenhead with Ken, then headed back home Via Moreton.

It was a nice change to go out and not have to "Lead" a ride, and to take our time stopping to take Photo's, eat ice cream and have a laugh, not that I don't enjoy the club riding, but sometimes it's good just to have a change.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

SportingCircles - The Social Network for Sports Challenge Participants

This looks like a good site to monitor Sportives that I am riding in, and ones I'm not. Also good if you compete in lots of disciplines.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

A little lost and the Dee Bore!

After a wet start to the week, Sunday and Tuesday were very wet rides, today felt like spring had finally arrived. I risked a short sleeved jersey, with arm warmers, and shorts, with knee warmers. No overshoes for the first time in months, and mitts instead of full finger gloves!
I had a great ride on Friday night,  testing myself on a 10 mile TT route, and managing an average of 20mph and completing the circuit in 31 mins. If I can find another couple of mph I will start to think seriously about entering a 10 mile TT!
So today as I headed up to Paul's my legs were reminding me of the effort I had put in last night. It was warm but a little breezy and Paul and I knew we were in for a tough ride if we were heading into it. 
There were some new faces, and some old ones who haven't been out for a while joining the ride. 
There were 12 of us that left the shop. I suggested that we head out past Chester, to Saighton, where there is a CDNW race tomorrow that some of the team have entered. I had an ulterior motive, as I wanted to check out the circuit for good spots to take photos during the race.
We were lucky on the way out, the wind was mostly behind us which helped to keep the pace up, once we were on the Chester High Road. We dropped down onto the Dee Path and as we started along it, we noticed there were a lot of people on the bank of the river. Curiosity got the better of me and I was told that the Dee Bore was expected any minute. It's not the sort of thing you see every day, so we paused for a minute to watch the phenomena pass.  

We continued along the path, dodging dogs, walkers and wobbly cyclists, into Chester, then followed the river path through the city to the end. We got out to the start of the course and without discussion, the pace lifted and everyone adopted a race mentality! This was where the navigation problem started, as we missed a turn and ended up adding 7 miles to the ride! the roads were nice though!!
We got back on track and started the inevitable slog back to the shop into the wind. When we arrived back in Chester we nearly stopped at one of the riverside cafes, but decided to get the tough Dee Path, with a head wind, behind us before we stopped.
I find it is like riding up hill through syrup when you are faced with a headwind. With the wind behind us travelling towards Chester, even dodging the Bore crowds we had achieved an average of 25.5mph, but heading home I only managed an average of 15.8mph.
We stopped at Eureka and bumped into Shaun, Ade and Dave. Check out the link to the Wirral Mamils Blog to see what they have been up to recently, on the track and riding the Winter Sprinter.

Seeing as we had taken an unplanned detour, we decided to head straight up the Chester High road back to the shop instead of winding our way through the lanes. We worked together and it wasn't too long until we were back in the traffic of Heswall and then at the shop. As everyone left I took the chance to take a closer look at a new bike the Lads are building. Phil doesn't want me to spoil its unveiling, but I couldn't resist taking a photo!

After a long, or testing ride, it is important to help the recovery process. I have tried numerous drinks and methods, but have finally found the best that works for me. On a recent TV programme it was suggested that milk was a good recovery drink, which was backed up by cycling legend Chris Boardman on Twitter, who added a twist by suggesting that flavoured milk is even better. So the secret is out, get down to the supermarket and buy some full fat milk and a milkshake mix! I promise you wont be disappointed. Strawberry is better than chocolate!!

This weeks ride details can be found HERE

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Vita Cycles Team at Pimbo Road Race

There was a big representation by the Vita Cycle Team at the CDNW Pimbo race today.
We had 8 riders on the start line of 74, ready to face a wet and windy 64km race!
I Didn't manage to get over to see the race, but our Very own Mr Vita Cycles (Team/ shop Boss, Barry) was there to support the lads, and snap some shots for the Blog, along with Coach Zel, who was a Marshal.
And they are off

Steve off the front of the race.
In the thick of it!
6 of the lads finished, and were placed well throughout the field. The race lasted for 1hour 50 mins with an average speed of 25mph and a top speed of 37.3!
Unfortunately Gav was taken out 500m from the end of the race, just as he was winding up to sprint for the line. Luckily he is ok, and the bike didn't get damaged either!

Here is a link to more Photos from the race.

This weekend has been a  great start to the season for the Team, which we hope continues next week when the racing goes to Saighton

The full race results can be found here

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Vita at the 51st Eddie Soens Memorial Race

Instead of riding myself this morning, I decided to take the boys to a real bike race. Paul joined me with his two lads, and we met Ian and Carla and their lads there. The Future of Team Vita all together!!

If they don't like cycling there is always base jumping!
The Weather wasn't too kind at the beginning of the day. When we arrived at Aintree the rain was getting harder, and it was pretty cold. I felt for the 260 riders as they lined up at the start line.
Vita were represented by Andy and Steve today. It was Andy's first ever race, a big one to chalk up as the field included some of the country's top teams and riders. 

Andy (220) on the start line

Steve however is a seasoned rider and had a real race face on when we saw him lining up.

Start of the first group

The riders were split into 4 Groups and were set off at minute intervals. Starting with Cat4 and juniors and finishing with the Elite riders.

First group are off

And the rest are off.

The first few laps were pretty grim!
As the race went on the conditions started to clear

The pace was furious, Steve has told me that his average was 28mph and he reached a top speed of 38mph, on a flat course! I think this video shows the pace of the pack well.

Andy did fantastically to last just over an hour into the race.

Steve riding well in the pack. (Black helmet and top with 3/4 bibs.)

After 1 hour and 40minutes and 57 seconds the suffering was over and Russ Downing, Endura Racing, crossed the line as the winner with his team mates Scott Thwaites and local rider Jonathan McEvoy in second and third giving Endura Racing a clean sweep.

Russ Downing

After a warm down and a quick clean up, the Three team mates stepped up to the podium.

The Boys were made up to have their photo taken with Russ.

It was a great race, and a good start to the season for Endura, and Vita with Steve finishing 118th. 

Here is a link to a much more comprehensive report from British Cycling.

I have put these photo's in to show that cycling isn't an easy sport. The faces of these riders show how much determination and effort go into riding "an easy bike!"

Dan Whelen of Omnipex Bio Racer Team and his Onix Aurious

There was a lot of talk about the possibility of either Paul or Me entering the race next year! The good thing about riding a bike is that you can live the dream and have a chance to give it a go against the Pro's, but if any of us are going to give the 52nd Eddie Soens race a go we need to start training now!!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

First ride in Shorts!

I had been looking out of the window at work today, wishing the hours away, as the sun was cracking the flags. Mrs P's Mum had agreed to look after the kids tonight so that I could go out earlier for the Thursday night Club ride. I had decided to leave work at 4, be home by 5 and out by 5.30 so that I could get a couple of hours in before meeting up with the lads. As usual, someone else had other ideas, and I didn't leave work until 5!! By the time I had got home and ready it was just before 7 as I left!
I decided to wear shorts tonight, even though as the sun set the temperature did fall quite dramatically. Once going though it wasn't too cold.
I managed to get a 6 mile loop out to West Kirby and back to Greasby at a good pace, 19.8mph, done before meeting the others at the 12th Man.
There were 5 of us tonight, Me, Dave, Ross (also in Shorts), Tim and Jon. We decided to do a less lumpy ride tonight and headed out to New Brighton.
When we arrived at New Brighton, Ross said he wanted to show us a good hill to climb. He wasn't wrong, Atherton Street is certainly Challenging. It has 5 roads crossing it as you climb, so you have to reduce your speed at each junction, and then start again. A very good way to practice climbing in intervals!
After our foray up and down we continued round to the prom that runs along the Mersey to Seacombe ferry terminal. As we rode along we were commenting how lucky we were to be able to ride along, with no traffic, just a few dogs to dodge, and with a great view, so we stopped to take some photos!

 We continued along past Wallasey town hall, and then ran into a little trouble! Some kids with nothing better to do decided to use us as moving targets to throw things at from the raised side of the prom. I was hit in the chest, which struck my heart rate monitor luckily, and Ross was hit on the side. The missile throwing reprobates were not keen to discuss their actions at close quarters with us, and as we approached them to find out where their anger was coming from, they shot off up the hill. Such brave boys!
We continued on into Seacombe, then through to Claughton, down Ford hill, out to Moreton and along to West Kirby. We managed to keep up a good pace all the way into West Kirby, and along the Marine Lake, then we headed up over Caldy, up Montgomery hill and back to Gresasby.
It was a great ride tonight, some good pacey sections, a new hill to practice and warmish and dry!
I recommend that you avoid the avoid the prom though!!

I am not riding with the club this Saturday. I am however, going to Aintree to watch the Eddie Soens race. I will hopefully get some great photo's for the Blog, especially the Team Vita guys racing there!

Tonight's Ride Details