Sunday, 29 April 2012

Beetroot "Fuel of the future"?

To say this week has been a varied weather week would be the understatement of the year so far!
On Tuesday night there were six of us out for a spin, I wore shorts, and a short sleeve top with arm warmers, as did most of the others, and we were treated to a fantastic almost summer like sunset!

At the other end of the Beaufort Scale Thursday night's spin was wet and wild! But even with driving rain and wind 6 of us ventured out to get some miles in the legs. I think I have quoted this before, "There is no bad weather just bad clothing!"

Saturday didn't start well! I have had a stressful week at work, and not been sleeping well. Going to bed at 4am the night before a club ride and not waking to the alarm to have breakfast in enough time before the ride  meant I was rushing to get to Paul's in time! With one eye on the sky, and a rain cape in my back pocket, later than usual we headed up to the Shop.
There was already a big group waiting, which kept growing as we neared departure time. Zel's plan was to go out to Chester Zoo and back, via the scenic route!
23 of us left the shop, heading into Lower Heswall. The ride this week was not as tight as last weeks. There was a wider range of abilities, and the group was regularly stretched and fractured. The pace was nearly as fast as last week, but It was harder to maintain, as we were more spread out. I'm not sure where, but along the way our numbers reduced and when we got back to the shop there were only 13 of us left! It was definitely a challenging ride.
As I said before, I wasn't best prepared for the ride, and the last 20 miles were tough. It emphasised to me the importance of off the bike discipline as much as miles in the legs! However, even with a poor excuse I managed to get back to the shop not too far behind the rest. 

I have been trying a new super food this week. I watched a programme at the beginning of the week that showed the benefits of Beetroot juice in cycling, and a couple of the lads have mentioned it before. I started drinking a glass a day on Thursday, and although I didn't have much energy near the end of the ride, when I put the effort in My legs seemed to last longer than usual, and I didn't get the "burn" even on climbs. It is still too early to make any assumptions, but the signs are good.

I'm not sure how many miles I will get in this week, as work is going to be messy. Maybe a week of less miles, but strict diet and sleep can get me back on track!

Ride details HERE

Sunday, 22 April 2012

A fast foray to Tarvin!

I called Zel (the coach) on Friday to ask what the plan was for Saturdays Club ride. I was a little disconcerted when his answer was " I've got great legs at the moment, and I'm racing on Sunday so want to do a good fast run on Saturday to keep my form". I tried to avert the oncoming pain by saying I needed to be back to take the kids to a party, to which he replied " we will leave at 9.15, and go for 3 hours of fast riding!"
When I put the message out to the rest of the club via Twitter and Facebook I thought it would be best not to mention Zel's ambitions for the ride!!

16 lambs arrived for the slaughter and headed out into a cold and grey morning. It didn't take long to get into the rhythm and we covered the 6 miles of the Chester high road at and average speed of 23mph.
The group rode well, with everyone taking turns at the front. It was good to ride with a group who have similar abilities. The first 30 miles of the ride flew past at an average 19.6mph. We headed back towards home via the Chester Cycle path, which naturally slowed the pace, dodging kids on scooters, loose dogs and people standing in the middle of the path, oblivious to the world around them whilst they pick a track on their iPod! The only rain of the ride hit us as we were at the halfway point of the path, and as the rain eased, Zel upped the pace again and we tucked in for a little sprint practice. I managed to pull out a good gap from the group, unintentionally as I thought they were on my wheel, and Zel was complimentary about my position and riding style, but as always, there were some constrictive comments too. I have to say that Zel has helped us all develop into a better cyclists, giving advice on riding position and style, nutrition and general fitness. If you need any advice or even want to have a go at one of his training sessions, check out his website for details.

We decided not to ride back up the Chester High road and turned off towards Burton and Ness. As we hit the small climbs tired legs struggled and the group fragmented. Those who were still feeling good went down to Parkgate to climb up Boathouse, others (well only Me) took the flatter middle road, and the rest went across the top road. We all got back within a few minutes of each other.

The overall average speed for the 61 miles was 18mph which I think is my fastest long ride so far! The only problem with fast rides is that you don't have time to take Photo's or stop for coffee!!!

Ride Details:

Sunday, 15 April 2012

A ride with the Rapha Condor Sharp team!

It was not the usual Saturday club ride from Vita cycles today.

A few weeks ago I received an email from Rapha, as I subscribe to their newsletters, inviting me to join some of the new youth team riders for a spin in the lanes around Henley-on-Thames. The Rapha Condor Sharp team has taken the decision this season to focus on working with young riders, helping them to make the change from the Youth racing leagues into the Domestic Pro races. more details about the new team direction are HERE
Tim joined me on the trip. He was the only one as keen as me to ride with the lads, and get up early to leave this morning at 5.30!! Mrs Palefish questioned my sanity at getting up so early, driving 200+ miles, just to ride 30 odd miles and be dropped by a group of "young Whippets".

The drive down was smooth, and we even managed to find the Hotel du Vin, the base for today's event, with no problem. As we arrived, I noticed some familiar faces, Ed Clancy and Andy Tennant, RCS Team riders who have just returned from the UCI World Track Cycling Championships, where they had represented GB and Won Gold in the Team Pursuit, and got a world record too!

As you can imagine the nerves started to set in a little as we realised they were joining the ride! We dropped the bikes off at the hotel, parked the car then went back to the hotel to get ready. We were directed to a function room that was being used by all the riders to change and keep kit in for the day. To up the nerves a little more, as we walked through the door we were met by Ed, Andy and the rest of the team, including Kristian House, Dean Downing, Richard Handley, Jim McCallum and the U23 lads! It was bizarre getting ready with a pro team, who were very chatty with us and made us feel really welcome. It was great to have a chance to talk to Andy Tennant about his experiences in Australia and standing on the top step receiving a Gold medal wearing the GB kit.
Once every one was ready we were given a 5 minute warning, and asked to go to the courtyard for a briefing.

Tim and I were lucky enough to be at the front of the group, which meant we were with the Team riders, but also with the team Car that almost took us out as we exited the Courtyard!
The invite to the ride had said that there would be two groups, a fast group and a social group. To be in the fast group you had to be able to average 15mph for the 34 miles, which Tim and I were sure we could. However, the pace for the first half mile was decidedly less as we snaked out of Henley. There was a good attendance for the ride and the Team lads were surprised when we stopped at some traffic lights and they looked back to see a line of riders right round the town centre!

Once we got onto the quieter roads outside of the Town the pace upped, and we hit our first climb, a bit of a shocker with only half a mile in the legs! The next steep climb was Devils hill, and it lived up to its name for Tim. As we crested the climb, Tim started to change gear when disaster struck. I'm not sure how, but with no warning, the chain seemed to snag, and pull the rear Mech into the wheel, which in turn twisted the hanger dispatching the Mech into the middle of the road! After a 3 hour 200 mile journey Tim's ride was over after 5 miles! I stopped to see if I could help, but Tim urged me to continue and catch up with the now distant group.


I was a bit reluctant to leave Tim but I was confident that he would get picked up by the Team Car following the social group, which he did, and then followed the ride from a different perspective in the back of the Rapha Condor Sharp team car! Not quite what we had planned but still an interesting day for him.

After a big effort, and having to overtake 3 cars in a small village I managed to get back on to the back of the group. The riders had spread out over the climb and through the Village so there was a big gap between the back and front of the group. As we continued I managed to make my way further up the field, but didn't make it back to the front, as there were some quite brutal steep climbs to contend with, one hit 30%, and equally some really fast descents. I settled into a good pace and rode most of the route with three other lads, all from around London, and Oliver Rossi one of the under 23 team riders. 
The rest of the ride was almost incident free, one puncture and one missing sign were the only other problems we encountered and for once, I managed to keep on the right route and not get lost!
I wish I had a video camera attached to the bike, as the scenery was stunning, but I didn't want to keep stopping to take pictures! 

When I got back to Henley I was lucky enough to have a long chat with Ed Clancy, and we discussed riding in the North West, Track cycling and also Onix Bikes!! I don't know of many other sports where you can take part in an event with a world champion, beat him up a hill ( although he did have jet lag!) and then sit and have a chat about our sport! 

Ed Clancy World Champion and all round nice guy!
We were treated to a great lunch, Pasta of course, and then there was an opportunity to look at (and maybe buy) some of the Team kit, and the chance to see the new Rapha Grand Tour Shoes (£300) up close! I was tempted, who wouldn't be, but managed to curb my spending and just update the cycling wardrobe with a new Cap!

We were then treated to the first showing of a new Rapha Condor Sharp Team video taken at a recent training camp. To keep up the the new team direction, there was a competition to find a new emerging film maker to make the video. Rapha are renowned for their quality cycling videos, and this new one is excellent too. I will post a link as soon as it is available.

The Team and Team manager John Herety, were introduced by Rapha C.E.O Simon Mottram.
John gave an overview of why the team direction had changed and what the plans were for the future. He also explained how having two GB Team riders in the squad complicated things, especially in an Olympic year, but how it was good for the Team to have them there to share their experiences with the younger riders.
There was then a Q&A session which covered all aspects of team life and cycling in general.

L-R Andrew Tennant, Ed Clancy, John Herety and Simon Mottram
After the session Tim and I managed to have a chat with Simon Mottram who, we discovered, created Rapha out of his passion for cycling, and a way to get out riding more! We talked about the days event, and how good it would be to see one in the North West! Simon is keen to develop something, and I even managed to talk to him about the Blog!!! He asked me to talk to the Marketing manager for Rapha, Laura, who was keen to hear about the Vita Ten Minutes of Hell time trial and last years sportive. You never know, maybe the Rapha mobile Cafe will be at one of the Vita events soon!!!

There were a lot of Rapha Condor Cycling Club members there today, and when we got back to the car park, parked next to us was one of the club members cars. I wonder if Mrs Palefish would let me buy one of these too?

I wonder what the next Palefish cycling adventure will bring?

Today's ride details

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Zel's back!!

I had told everyone that today's Vita club ride would be a social Cafe and back to Eureka. Surprise surprise things didn't quite go to plan! After I had posted the ride details on Twitter and Facebook, and sent a text to those who don't dabble in social media, Dave (coach ) called me and offered to lead the group, on a new loop to the cafe, that in his words "had a bit of everything". We haven't had the pleasure of Zel for a while, and some of the lads haven't ridden with him before, so I thought it best to keep it as a surprise for the morning!
A lot of the usual riders are away this week, but there were still 13 of us who set off from the shop. Those who know Zel were already saying to me "what about the social easy ride?" before we had got to the end of the road, and those who don't know him were learning fast! We haven't been riding as a disciplined Peloton at weekends, we save that for the week day evening rides, and there were a few dodgy moments when Zel blew his whistle for a change at the front, and people either sprinted off or didn't move at all!! It didn't take long to get into the swing of it though and pretty soon we were spinning along at a good pace.
Once again I forgot to stop my Garmin at the shop, which means my average for the ride is showing 13.6mph, but I can assure you it was a lot faster! When we got to Eureka most of the lads Garmins were showing an average of over 18mph.

Dave (Connor) enjoying a well earned (rather large) drink at Eureka
I enjoyed the efforts we were putting in today, and I can really see a difference in my riding style. It has certainly paid off getting the miles in during the winter, I even nearly managed to beat Ross up a small climb today, If only Zel hadn't shouted an encouraging word to me and alerted Ross of my futile attempt to sneak a wheel past him! I did manage to get a PB up another climb today, Boathouse Road from Parkgate is one of my least favourite hills, and I managed to drop 30 seconds and increase my average speed by over 2mph. (It must be the Giro Shoes!)

I think the new lads in the Club who haven't ridden with Zel before enjoyed the ride too, Especially Dave (Badders) who seemed to attract more than his fair share of attention from Zel, and the words "Come on Dave" seemed to ring out loud across the Wirral lanes.

With the weather back to it's normal dampness, the bike will need a clean, I much prefer the warm dry weather! The bike almost looks like it is paying homage to the brave riders taking part in the "Hell of the North" Paris to Roubaix race tomorrow. I suggested in the shop when we got back that maybe we should ride the Paris- Roubaix sportive next year. I cant write here what most of the lads said, but it wasn't that positive!

Today's inaccurate ride details: