Next FNRttC: 28 May 2010 to Whitstable

The next Friday Night Ride to the Coast (FNRttC) will take place on the night of 28 May and will run from Hyde Park Corner to Whitstable.  It’s a nice route, about 70 miles (112 km) in length, with lots of ups and downs but no single large hills.  There will be a mid-way stop at Andy’s café in Rochester.  The café at the destination is on the Whitstable sea front and has a balcony overlooking the beach – it’s a delightful place to find yourself early on a sunny Saturday morning!  (It also serves alcohol)

A forum thread for the ride is now open on CycleChat.

The ride is free but registration is essential.  Lights, spare inner tubes and common sense required.  Email to get your name down.

I won’t be able to make it to this one myself, but I encourage you to have a go if you haven’t ridden one of these before and are keen to find out what it’s all about.  Get registered early, as interest is high over the summer months and places are limited.


FNRttC: The episode in Essex

I’d been rather looking forward to this ride.  I’ve ridden the Friday Night Ride to the Coast (FNRttC) to Brighton a couple of times, Bognor Regis and Whitstable, but never to Southend.  It should have been pretty easy going as it’s both a short and flat route.  The recent weather had also been quite promising so perhaps we’d have a nice dry ride.  However, most of my hopes were dashed, aside from returning home with no mechanicals – that much worked out for me!

I managed to get a couple of hours rest after work, then surfaced about 20:00 to eat and get ready to go.  By 22:00 the rain had started falling.  The forecast said that there should be minimal rain between midnight and 7 am, but I decided to wear my waterproofs and long finger gloves in case it persisted.  In my pockets I had some energy food, phone (which I was going to mount on my handlebars, but decided not to due to the rain), some money and debit card in a plastic ziplock bag and short finger gloves for later.  I slapped a Race Blade over by back wheel as the roads were very clearly going to be rather wet.

The rain had stopped by the time I left the house, but started again almost immediately, continuing right across Richmond Park and up through Barnes to Hammersmith.  It eased off again as I continued to Hyde Park Corner where a number of FNRttCers were already congregated.  More started to arrive and everyone huddled under the Wellington Arch as the rain started again.  Things were already not going too well.  A number of people had called up to say that they were going to be late with transport issues or punctures.  One of our regulars and most experienced Tail-End-Charlies (TECs) managed to sustain two punctures on the way to Hyde Park Corner and in the end never made it, despite us not getting away until 00:25.  One of my old university friends, Alessandra, did make it along though.  I hadn’t seen her for a few years, so it was nice to meet up.  She, like me, was keen to make a decent go of this ride and cycle the return leg, pushing the total distance to somewhere near 200 km.

We set off in the rain past Buckingham Palace and Westminster then along the Embankment.  We continued through the city and into east London, stopping and regrouping riders every few miles.  The rain stopped but the roads were still very wet.  We kept heading towards our half way stop at the Junction 31 Services in Thurrock, progressing fairly smoothly.  However, there had already been a number of punctures keeping the TECs, Charlotte and Julian, busy at the tail end of the ride.

Rather than spending my time going up and down the group on way finding duties as I usually do, I rode with Alessandra.  It was her first FNRttC, but she is by no means a novice cyclist.  In fact, I think she was finding it a bit slow going.  There are far more traffic lights and intersections to negotiate on the Southend route than there are on some of the other routes, so the opportunities to ride for nice long uninterrupted stretches are limited.  It was nice to catch up with her and we had plenty to chat about along the way.  We were riding side by side about two miles from Junction 31 when we heard a call of “Easy” being passed back from the front of the pack and everyone in front of us slowed down very suddenly.  We passed back the call and and applied the brakes, but unfortunately someone behind me didn’t.  I was ploughed into from behind with quite a force which sent me flying forward and I landed on the road on my right side with another bike coming to rest on top of me.

I once had an accident in which I realised a collision was about to take place and had a split second to prepare myself for it – not much, but knowing what’s about to happen sometimes allows for a slight readiness.  Getting hit from behind was a complete surprise and there was nothing I could do as I lunged forward and hit the deck.  Someone pulled the other bike off of me and I got up slowly, my predominant concern being for my bike.  I’d just been off it for three weeks fixing it up and that last thing I wanted now was to have to fix it up again.  Then I concentrated on myself for a few moments.  Sore knee, sore hip, sore arm.  My head didn’t hurt but I rubbed a hand over my helmet anyway to see if I could feel any cracks.  My arm was hurting the most though, just below the elbow.  There were no problems bending it, my wrist or my fingers, so that was a good sign.  I was a bit shaken up though, lost for words, I wasn’t really sure what to say or do next.  Alessandra and Ian, one of the guys I rode back to London with after the Brighton ride in March, helped me to check the bike over quickly.  The wheels were running true, headset was straight and solid.  Simon, the ride leader, rode past and asked it I needed an ambulance, but I said no.  I was shaking quite a lot, but managed to get on the bike and ride with Ian and Alessandra the remaining couple of miles to Junction 31.  The shaking reduced a bit as we went, but my right arm was hurting and I couldn’t put much pressure on it.  I rode most of the way one-handed.

I got a cup of coffee and a sandwich and Alessandra got me a bag of ice to put my arm on.  My hand and fingers were a little numb and tingly, so I think I’d hit a nerve as well.  I started feeling a bit better, or at least I thought I did.  In hindsight, I was actually very jittery and was being propped by a hit of post-crash adrenaline.  At the time I was thinking that I should be able to push through to Southend, but take the train home rather than ride.  That turned out to be over-optimistic.  Once I’d finished eating, taken the arm off ice, had it strapped up and then visited the bathroom, I sat down with no real activity to keep me occupied.  At that point I quite suddenly started to feel a bit funny.  My friend Rachael, who had been helping me out, saw the colour drain from my face and asked if I wanted to lie down.  I said no, but then very quickly changed my mind as I started to feel faint and my head started spinning.  I felt like I wanted to throw up and pass out simultaneously, so Rach took me over to a corner to lie down with my feet up.  The adrenaline had worn off and shock was setting in.  I started shivering and didn’t start feeling any better after a little while so Simon called an ambulance to come and check me out, just in case.

I spent a while in the ambulance with the paramedics, and started to feel slightly better after a while, but still very fragile.  They determined that I had no obvious injuries, other than the scrapes and knocks that I’d already identified, but they left it up to me to decide whether or not I wanted them to drop me at the hospital for an x-ray on my arm.  As I could still move all of the joints in my arm and hand I decided not to.  I was feeling sore and sick and didn’t want to be sitting in a hospital in Essex when I would be much more comfortable at home.

The rest of the group had departed Junction 31.  Simon had waited to make sure that myself and my bike would be looked after whatever the outcome of the paramedics’ visit.  Cathy had also stayed behind to see that I was ok, leaving Rachael to ride the rest of the way to Southend solo on the tandem.  Simon called a taxi which picked up the three of us, my bike and Simon’s bike.  We headed back to Kingston via the Dartford Bridge, M25, Chessington and Surbiton and I got home about 7 am.  Simon was very good, giving my wife a call shortly before we arrived to let her know what to expect.

I got home, still not fully out of shock, but starting to feel a bit better.  The lack of sleep and having been a bit wet and cold hadn’t helped much.  I lay down in bed and my wife brought me a cup of tea.  My little girl was lovely and sat next to me stroking my head gently.  She’s so wonderful.  I think she was a little shaken by the situation too as after I had dropped off to sleep she had been recounting what had happened, making a few assumptions as she went: “Another cyclist rode on top of my daddy”; “My daddy cried and cried and cried”; “My daddy needs a wheelchair now”.  It’s touching to know that my little darling was so concerned, but young minds can so easily imagine up the worst.  She was corrected though, and reassured that everything was ok and that I would be feeling better soon.  I have such a lovely family!

I got a few hours sleep and then got up for a while.  I was mostly just achy, but my elbow was a bit more sore.  Having put it on ice had certainly helped prevent swelling.  The whole arm was achy now though, including the upper arm which hadn’t bothered me earlier.  Just under the tip of the elbow was a very tender spot, not very big but with a sharper pain when touched.  I suspect that I’ve chipped a bone in there, but it doesn’t appear to be serious.  I can still move the elbow easily enough.

I had a quite sedate weekend after that.  Back to work today and I have some scrapes and bruises and I’m keeping my arm strapped up for the moment, but I’m alright.  If the suspected chip of bone is still bothering me in a few days then I’ll have to decide whether or not to see a doctor about it, but in my experience there’s not much that can be done about that sort of thing.  I’m sticking with the more upright Brompton for a few days until I can put a bit more pressure on my arm.  Then it’s back to recouping my fitness.  Again.

So it wasn’t such a successful ride for me and I only got to see Alessandra for the first half of it after having dragged her out for the night.  But I’m still a big fan of the Friday Night Ride to the Coast and will be back for more.  They are well organised social rides with a nice bunch of people, and I think this is only the second crash they’ve had in about five years, so they have a pretty good safety record.  The next ride is to Whitstable at the end of May.  I don’t think I’ll be  able to make the next one as I’ll be overseas, but I’ll post the ride details soon for any of you who are keen to take part.  Don’t let my experience en route to Southend put you off!

Thanks to everyone who came on the ride, helped me out after the crash or has wished me well!

A few extras from the Southend ride:

YouTube video by Andy Allsopp:

A few Photos by deckertim

GPS map of the route from redfalo

FNRttC tonight: London-Southend

Tonight’s Friday Night Ride to the Coast is heading to Southend-on-Sea.  A group of about 75 of us will depart Hyde Park Corner at midnight for a nice social ride to the Southend seafront, stopping for half-way refreshments at Junction 31.  The Rose Restaurant will be opening early for us at 7 am, and no doubt some of us, having enjoyed a nice breakfast, will take off in search of an adventurous route to return home by.

There’s a risk of light rain, with heavier showers tomorrow, but on the whole the weather shouldn’t be too bad.

Wheeled Weenie and Cathy, after last month’s success, will be riding tandem again, and one of my old friends from university will be joining us for the ride.

Wheeled Weenie and Cathy in Brighton after riding the April 2010 FNRttC on a tandem. Notably this was the first time either of them had ever been on a tandem!

As for me, I’m just hoping for an absence of mechanicals!

Thoughts on Flash

Following on from my recent post on the Apple-Adobe spat regarding Apple’s banning of Flash-authored applciations on iPhone OS, Steve Jobs has today published on Apple’s website his thoughts on Flash and Apple’s mobile devices.

He gives some history on the relationship between Apple and Adobe, discusses open standards, hardware versus software video decoding, security, performance and battery life.  He goes on to explain why Apple doesn’t want there to be a third party system between its platform and developers.

This is a good read for anyone interested in Apple’s position regarding Flash on iPhone OS.  It explains the issues and the basis for Apple’s decisions very clearly.

Lunchtime ride – with sports drink

I like getting out on my bike during my lunch hour.  Allowing time for getting changed, unlocking my bike and getting out of the car park, I can ride for about 40-45 minutes.  Conveniently, that’s just enough time for me to ride from Teddington, over Kingston Bridge, along Kings Road, around Richmond Park once and then back to work.  The route is about 20.5 km (12.8 miles).  I sometimes ride elsewhere, but usually it’s Richmond Park.  I tend to go three or four times a week (when the weather’s ok and depending on other commitments), so if you’re ever riding about the park between 1 and 2 pm and see someone who looks like me, then say hi!

I headed out today for my first lap since last Thursday.  I didn’t ride at lunchtime yesterday as my legs were still aching from a hard day’s gardening on Saturday.  Conditions were great today.  It was about 22 degrees Celsius with a south-westerly.  I could definitely feel the effects of the wind, but riding against it wasn’t too bad.

I’d started thinking over the last few days that perhaps one of the reasons I haven’t been seeing much improvement in fitness is that I’m not getting my nutrition right.  Because my lunchtime rides are fairly short, I’ve tended not to bother with sports drinks.  Due to the limited time, and the fact that I don’t get out to ride much on other occasions, I tend to push myself on these short lunchtime rides.  Not keeping my blood sugar topped up is probably not helping me to make the most of these sessions though.   I’ve also usually followed up the rides with PhD Pharma-Whey, which is almost pure protein, rather than a regular recovery drink with closer to 30% protein and 70% carbs (I eat lunch afterwards as well).  Although getting the protein into my system is good, the lack of easily-digested carbs straight after my rides probably means that my muscles are not refuelling properly within the little window of post-exercise opportunity.

So today I mixed up a dose of High5 EnergySource and sipped two thirds of it before I set out to get my blood sugar up.  I finished it off during the first half of my lap around the park.  I rode around anti-clockwise today and felt pretty good most of the way around.  In fact, I managed to complete the lap in 19:34, which is the best I’ve done since November and 1:26 better than my fastest lap last week!  I also managed to hold hard efforts for longer without wearing myself out.  A few stats for the lap:

  • Power (W): Avg 333.7, Max 788
  • Speed (km/h): Avg 33.1, Max 61.5
  • Cadence (rpm): Avg 93.7, Max 108

Following the ride I mixed one scoop of the PhD Pharma-Whey with one scoop of Zipvit ZV3 Recovery Drink Rapide, which provides maltodextrin and sucrose (and a bunch of other special ingredients) in addition to whey protein.  I gave my quads and calves a good stretch as well.  It’s only been a couple of hours, but the legs are feeling pretty good.

So I conclude from this that despite my lunchtime sessions being quite brief, it’s still a good idea to feed myself with a sports drink.  The extra sugar available to my muscles will allow me to train a bit harder, which will make me stronger and faster over time.  I still need to fit some longer rides into my schedule, but keeping sugared up for my regular short rides should keep me in a better condition.

I’ve joined Twitter!

After holding off for quite a long time, I’ve finally taken the plunge and joined Twitter.

You can follow my tweets at:

Time for a training schedule

All of last week I meant to write a new blog post, but never managed to get around to it.  It’s been a busy week, added to which I’ve not been getting enough sleep.

I finally got my bike back together a week ago.  I’d been having some problems getting the new derailleur to index correctly.  It turns out that the ball at the end of the gear cable had slipped inside the shifter while the cable was slack, and it was not getting any pull at all from the first three shifts.  It seems that its position within the shifter also meant that the cable was getting crushed when trying to shift, which resulted in its eventual snapping.  I bought a new cable managed to get the new mech indexing correctly, with a bit of help from the guys in CycleChat’s “Know how” forum.

The only problem with the bike now is a creaking sound coming from the saddle.  I originally thought it was a clicking sound coming from the chain, as I could only hear it when turning the cranks, but it went away if I got out of the saddle.  I’m going to take the saddle off and grease all of the contact points between the saddle, rails and post.  Hopefully that will make a difference.  I have been thinking about a new saddle for a while and put a bid in on a Fizik Antares on eBay yesterday, but I was outbid in the last few seconds.

It was great to get back on the road bike after three weeks, but I could really feel the effect of having not been training.  I did some laps of Richmond Park on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday lunchtimes.  Tuesday felt hard (anti-clockwise), Wednesday felt comparatively better (clockwise), but then Thursday  was quite hard again (clockwise).  The legs were feeling the strain much earlier than I’d hoped and I couldn’t hold hard efforts for terribly long.  I think this week I need to get a couple of interval sessions in on the turbo followed by plenty of stretching.

I’ve had a bit of a bad run so far this year.  After being in fairly decent fitness in November, I was too busy to train much in early December.  I was in snowy Finland for three weeks over Christmas and got next to no exercise, and was then faced with icy roads for the next two weeks back in London, which meant almost no training.  Things started improving slowly as the snow and ice subsided and I then got myself set up properly for turbo training, which boosted things.  Then I got sick for a few days and it took another week to start feeling normal again, which was a bit of a set back.  Recovering from that, I started getting out for regular lunchtime rides again and then did a 200 km London-Brighton-London ride, which resulted in the mechanical that left me unable to train for another three weeks.

It’s been really up and down so far.  Knocks the confidence a bit.  I want to do some racing this year, and will probably begin with a Tuesday night race at Hillingdon.  But I don’t really want to start until I’m feeling sufficiently capable.  That means getting back to at or below 58:00 timings over three laps of Richmond Park.  It feels a bit out of my reach at the moment, the best single lap I’ve done recently was 21 minutes (and I can’t even blame the road surface much any more).

I think one of the things I’m lacking is getting out for longish group rides.  It’s not viable for me to do the Willesden CC club runs as they start way off in Denham and would end up taking up all of Sunday morning and half of the afternoon.  I am generally occupied in my role as a daddy during the weekend anyway, so don’t get a chance to get out that much (if I had the time, I’d probably head out and join the Kingston Wheelers club run).  Most of my rides are also quite short, about 40 minutes including warm up, which doesn’t build much endurance.  I get out for an early weekday ride from time to time, but that’s always by myself.  The Friday Night Rides to the Coast are fun events, but I don’t think they do much for training as they are at a more social pace.

WCC now have their summer training sessions on at Hillingdon on Thursday nights.  I need to try getting out to some of those.  If I could do the following, I’d be pretty happy:

  • Thursday night training at Hillingdon twice a month
  • Tuesday night race at Hillingdon once or twice a month (once fitness is up to scratch)
  • Early morning weekday ride into Surrey once a week (~60 km before work, anyone want to join me?)
  • Friday Night Ride to the Coast and Saturday Morning Ride back to London once a month (~200 km)
  • Lunchtime rides in Richmond Park two or three times a week
  • Turbo training once or twice a week

Maybe that’s over optimistic, but either way it’s time for me to put together a training schedule and stop making excuses.

Me elsewhere


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