Ladies and Gentlemen, I am in training! For what, I hear you ask?
During a fit of madness, we decided that it would be a brilliant idea to join the latest London Brompton Club ride planned for our neck of the woods which happens at the end of September. It will take in a number of West Yorkshire highlights but will include one of the climbs that featured in the Tour de France when it came to town last month.
This particular climb is known as the Côte d'Oxenhope Moor and is rated as a category 3 climb. What this means to those that don't speak bike is that it's 2.5 miles solidly uphill at a pretty mean gradient.
The upshot of this is that without serious training, I'm likely to either a) pass out or b) just die. I'm an overweight asthmatic with a lung capacity further compromised by my sleep issues and I'm determined to either not wind up at the back, or have to get off and push. I don't mind having to do one of these things, but I really don't want to be at the back AND walking up the hill.
With this in mind Trev and I are working on a plan to boost my fitness and our general stamina/hill-climbing ability. Stage One of this plan was attending today's Skyride in Manchester.
Skyrides are fabulous things and I'd encourage anyone who owns a bike to look up the one in their local area. Sky manage to shut down entire sections of city centres so that you get to cycle with thousands of other cyclists on traffic free roads. While there are a tiny minority of MAMIL roadies who seem to view it as a chance to improve their segment times on Strava, in the main it's fantastic and brilliant to be on the roads with so many other people on bikes.
So, we set off bright and early this morning to Manchester, with the aim of getting there not long after the course had opened at 10am. Trev had found a more direct route to Dewsbury station which he warned me featured a bit of a hill (perk of living in a valley – everything is up a bleeding hill) – I wasn't quite prepared for the (I'm certain it was steeper than this) near 7% killer I had to brave before 9am!
It certainly emphasised the need for more training.
We got to Piccadilly in good time and simply joined the stream of cyclists going past when we emerged from the station. We opted to not collect any free hi-vis vests this time as it actually turned out to be easier to spot each other amongst the sea of highlighter yellow as we were both in contrasting colours.
The route was a good one – over 7 miles, taking in the Etihad stadium, the British Cycling velodrome and loads of other fun activities for those who want to try sprinting, BMXing or the Wattbike, or some of the other activities that they have planned.
Our plan had been to do at least three laps, in order to have done 20 miles. On lap one we had a brief stop by the Etihad:
We also took a small diversion into the Velodrome, as you had the opportunity to complete a lap. Why not? While doing this I also learned that I am able to take photos on my phone one-handed while cycling. As long as you don't care about the pictures being in focus of course:
In the end we only managed two laps. The heavens opened and we were rather hungry. The route was also beginning to get quite busy and we had a minimum speed we wanted to try and maintain if possible.
All in all though, we did 15 miles around Manchester and I was able to deliver a 24mph result in the sprint from a standing start (faster than Trev, woo!). The fastest I got up to was just over 28mph, which I normally only ever to manage while going downhill and being scared half to death. Total average speed was 10mph which isn't brilliant, but not awful considering we had to share with 15,000 other cyclists 🙂
So, the training has begun! We are going to do a test ride of the killer hill next week, as we are going to help check the timings for the organiser. We figure I'll be the slowest there, so I'm a good worst-case scenario from a planning perspective 🙂
We've got lots of other rides planned too. Thankfully Yorkshire isn't short of hills to practice on, but we now find ourselves looking at all sorts of scary rides including 100 milers. We can but dream 🙂 For now, I'd love to top 25-30 in a single ride!
Hope whatever you all got up to this weekend, it was something fun!