Thursday, 28 June 2012

And then it rained...

So, I've started with the best intentions. There are three whole months to get my body in shape and my bike handling (and fixing) skills up to scratch.

I would like to put in a respectable time - although whenever I see any pictures or accounts of doing the Three Peaks I reduce that back down to 'please, please, just let me finish'. (Like this: cross junkie blog or this amazing piece translated from Italian by Google translate which kindly ascribes the words 'mentally ill' to the competitors).

My training programme (ok, it's a bit vague but I have decided to try and work on skills and fitness which will prepare me for each of the three sections) was all going swimmingly last Wednesday. I found a suitably steep and long track to practice carrying my bike up and did a couple of laps just to find out how hard it was.

Yes, it was hard, I wanted to cry and give up after 20 seconds. Then I stopped trying to run and accepted that stumbling up would be better than not doing it at all. It seemed like an eternity, and one on which everything hurt, and on which I still had to concentrate on what my feet were doing as it was a tiny, rough and narrow track. Apart from the hammering heart (412 feet of climb in less than half a mile) and the sore shoulder from carrying my bike, the worst thing was having jelly legs when I climbed back on. And the other worst thing was completing a circuit and thinking to myself that I'd better check that it wasn't a fluke, and do it again. Ow.

Once home, I checked on the Three Peaks website and found that Simon Fell - the first climb of the three peaks is three and a half times the climb I'd just done. With this in mind, I thought I might go back again and have another go.

On Thursday I rode home from work over the tops - thinking I would get a few 'free' training miles in. In fact, I got a new benchmark: inner tube change timing. I punctured just before the spot where I'd practiced bike carrying. I was rather disappointed to find that it took me 26 minutes to put a new tube in. That could be improved on! And I would save my bike carrying practice for another day.

And then it, literally, started to go swimmingly. It rained.

No, you don't understand. It rained. And rained. And rained. I am relatively hardy so the rain itself wasn't a problem. The problem was that half of Hebden Bridge where my business, Makepiece, is, was under water. Not to mention a significant part of Todmorden where the Makepiece studio is. Although we weren't flooded, I had to pitch in and help!

The net result is that so far this week my training regime has consisted of:

  • Saturday: 8 hours of jet washing
  • Sunday: Recovery and light cleansing
  • Monday: 4 hours of lifting and carrying
  • Tuesday: Recovery

I finally got back onto my bike on Wednesday expecting to do a 'cross race in the evening. At least that would be a contribution towards improved fitness. However my boyfriend, Chipps, had to work late and we couldn't make it.

He did make it up to me by beasting me up the hill behind our house then making me practice 'cross mounts and clipping in on the moorland track at the top before tea. He's been clipping in for 20 years - I have been using shoes with cleats that 'clip in' to my pedals since October, and I really do need to practice! Stuff like this uses less energy once you're good at it and all these little things can really help when the going is tough.

Oddly my shoulders feel quite sore, so I guess jet washing has had some kind of an effect.

A close call for Makepiece - thanks to Giles Dring for the photo taken at midnight on Friday. I couldn't get to the shop because our house was cut off by this:

More about the floods on the Makepiece blog and Facebook page.

I'm hoping that next week will be a bit more focused and I'll get a mix of long and short rides in. And some more carrying my bike (ugh, I don't like that bit at all).

Please don't forge that I am doing the Three Peaks race in support of Amnesty and Greenpeace (all those with wet feet and worrying about about global warming please donate).

Donate online now! Justgiving pages are here:
Amnesty & Greenpeace

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Three Peaks...

There’s no other way to visit the top of Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-Ghent with your favourite two-wheeled companion apart from taking part in the Three Peaks Cyclocross race. It sounds romantic. I’ve watched others do it. They are clearly bonkers.

At the start of last year’s race I was cheering on my boyfriend. I nipped into the ladies’. There was a rider in there, preparing for the start. She was a tiny woman so delicate looking and a couple of years older than me. I was so impressed that she was taking on this race when there were so many big blokes - my boyfriend included - who have a genuine respect for this race as one of the toughest in the calendar - that the seed was planted. Maybe I could do it too.

I hadn’t even ridden a short cyclocross race at that point. I was warned it was hard to get an entry - you need to prove that you’re likely to finish. But the seed was there - and I started making tentative steps.

Nine months later I:

a) have an entry - much to my surprise, delight and terror
b) have raced several cyclocross races (currently third female in the Yorkshire Cyclocross Summer Series rankings - although this is more a case of persistently getting points by attending all races rather than any speed at least it showed the organisers that I was worth an entry!)
c) have been knocked off my cyclocross bike (also my daily commuter) so it’s in bike hospital and coincidentally I've been told I’m run down (or at least have anaemia and Vitamin D deficiency).  Ooops!

I feel that I'm right at the start of a rather long journey...

Most importantly I have decided to raise money for Amnesty International and Greenpeace. It’s hard to sum up briefly why it’s so important to fund these two organisations - they’re both campaigning organisations. It’s so easy to get depressed about the state the world's in - the damage to the environment, the awful events in Syria, the terrible danger so many people live in. But, essentially, I’m an optimist - and I've always believed that if you don't like something you have to try and change it. Even if you only do the tiniest thing, it's better to light a candle than curse the darkness.

Both these organisations have supported, protected and brought together people and have changed the world. I’m a child of the iron curtain - remember that? Gone. Because of the persistance of ordinary people. Like CFCs: banned (and the ozone hole is smaller than it was). Because governments were pushed into banning them.

Yes, there’s loads to be done, the problems of the world are vast but these are two organisations that shine light in dark places and harness the power of ordinary people for change. So, please support them.

I've set up just giving pages for both Amnesty and Greenpeace - it's easy to donate online but you can also donate directly (there's a bizarre UK rule that allows private schools to be charities but only part of the work that both Amnesty and Greenpeace do to be classed as 'charitable') - if you want to spend real money email me and I'll sort it.

I’ll do my best to get fit (and eat my new iron tablets), fast and learn to fix the bike in case of emergencies. I hope you’ll join me on the journey - for the whys, the highs, the mud, the blood and if nothing else, just to laugh at me for a piece of glorious insanity.

There are 100 days until the race, so I’d better start getting ready.