Cambridge Shipping Lanes 200km Audax (16th February 2019)

February the month I hate most, having done 4 x 200km Audaxes we decided we just had to fit in a February one. We decided on a permanent event, Cambridge Shipping lanes 200km then we could choose when to ride it, unfortunately, the weather stopped play on our preferred date so we were left with only one option, 16th February, the day before my Valentine 10km run, not ideal but it had to be done.

Luckily for us, the weekend forecast was clear mild and maybe even sunny.

We left Cambridge at 7 am just as the sun was rising, something I still find awesome, we thought we would try and get to the halfway point before stopping for food.

The route was very rolling and took us through some beautiful villages including the historic Lavenham, by the time we got to Hadleigh at 11 am I was feeling quite hungry so we stopped for breakfast at Huffers, we keep trying to cut our break times down on these rides but it was still 30 mins before we were on our way again.

Another hour and a half of lane riding followed by a nice fast stretch into Shotley and we arrived at the Shipwreck pub on the peninsular, neither of us were really hungry or needing a break but it was so lovely we decided to have coffee and cake while enjoying the view. 30 mins later we were on our way home, I always love the halfway point!

We or should I say I got the first puncture as we were cycling through the Royal Hospital, a very interesting looking place which is not a hospital as the name suggests! I thought it must have military connections as once you have lived on a military base you can spot them a mile off! A lovely man came to help bringing a track pump, he also told us the history of the place, how it was now a private school, had naval connections and how originally it was where all the naval orphans were sent to live

Once on our way again, Geoff had a close call with a cat, who refused to move out the middle of the road then a deer almost took me out, the speed they run at was quite frightening, before long the sun was setting and the night time riding started.

Still a novice at this night time riding I tend to slow down a little and take my time especially when the roads are full of potholes, but we made it to Sudbury with no major mishaps, here we had our obligatory Audax Macdonalds stop, 30 mins seems to be our standard stopping time!

Just after Great Thurlow Geoff, had a visit from the puncture fairy, he was not happy especially as it was now dark, but with a bit of patience and using the spare tyre we were soon on our way, only for him to hit a hole further down the road and puncture again! This time he really was not happy, I recalled that in the write up I had read about the route, we would soon be at Balsham and it was all downhill from there, so I tried to comfort Geoff with this news but he was having none of it

Once we got going again my mind fixed onto the downhill into Cambridge and I am happy to say the roads improved and it was a fabulous ride back into Cambridge,interestingly the only hassle we had from other road users was from a Double-decker bus as we came into Fulborne, for some unknown reason he had his hand on his horn behind me and all the while he was passing, we thought it could have been because He thought I should be on the cycle path!

I always expected February to be the hardest month for doing a 200km Audax but the weather was very kind and now I am almost at the 6-month point of no return for an RRtY….. I just have to keep Geoff interested and at home!

Btw the Valentines 10km run was the hardest run ever, my legs just did not want to work but I got my bling !!

Freethorpe 10

It’s the time of year when I am not sure if I am a runner or a cyclist. I tend to run more than bike as it’s a lot safer for starters and after my fall on black ice last January I am not taking any risks on my bike this year.

My running suffered due to my fall, as my side/back hurt every time I ran so I spent all of 2018 taking it easy.

Determined I would start 2019 with my favourite running events, I entered Freethorpe 10, Valentines 10km and Cambridge half marathon hoping I had kept some level of fitness from biking, surely if I can ride 134 miles I can run 13 miles!

Gina Linda & Sally at the start

Gina Linda & Sally at the start

Having just returned from Cyprus and having ran no more than 10km for around a year,I thought I had better do a longer run. So last week I set out to run 8 miles with a friend and much to my delight not only did I enjoy the run but finally after a full year I had no pain or discomfort.

Freethorpe 10 is quite an undulating route for someone that lives in the flatlands, but that adds to the enjoyment, today the weather proved more of a challenge, as not only was it cold but it was also very windy, especially on the more exposed parts of the route.

Then there was the dilemma about what to wear and I had to get the colour right. luckily I made the right choice with short sleeves and gloves, not that they stayed on for long!

Sally with her medals

Finisher Sally

I started with my friends, then after a mile we all settled into our own running pace, running our own race, happy to meet again at the end. Always good to see Geoff at the half way point with words of encouragement.

The route was well marshalled and they were great at shouting out words of encouragement. as I expected miles 8/9 were the hardest for me, especially as they were straight into the wind.

Anyway I was very happy to finish in 1 hour 43, with not even a twinge from my side/back, a few more longer runs and I might just be ready for The Cambridge Half on March 5th.

Cypriot 200km DIY Audax (17th January 2019)

As well as wanting to escape the greyness of England we thought it might be a nice idea to continue with our 200km Audaxes by doing one in the Cypriot sunshine.

Geoff found it quite difficult designing the route and it was soon decided that it would have to be an out and back with a few loops to make up the milage. In the end we settled with a route that was 204 km.

After 3 days of rain and storms, the worst they have seen for 20 years, a good weather day was predicted so we submitted our DIY Audax entry and hoped for the best ,we woke to clear skies,it looked the perfect Audax weather day.

Stunning views

We left at 7am just as it was getting light, the first loop through Paphos was a little irritating especially on a bike I was not used too, a cleat that was proving hard to clip in and the morning work traffic.

Once out of Paphos though we enjoyed the ups and downs of the coast road which bought many wonderful views as we passed Aphrodite’s birthplace .

Stalking the Army

Then on our way to the Episkopi we had to make our first detour due to the road turning to sand, great for mountain bikes but not lovely Canyon road bikes.

The climb up to Episkopi was made more enjoyable by the fit military guys running up the road,it was impossible to catch them !

Then it was on to Akrotiri where we had to make another detour when the road just disappeared into the salt lake.

Finally we made it into Limassol via the very busy dock road here we stopped for some food and to prepare for the ride back.

We started by meandering through Limassol’s busy city roads, the kind of riding I hate but we made it safely out the city thinking it would be an easy ride back along the roads we had come.

Where did the road go!

Most of the return journey was uneventful, just one detour due to another road turning to sand, more military Guys to chase up through Episkopi then a lovely sunset as we cycled back along the coast road by Aphrodite’s birthplace

Just when we thought we were home and dry, travelling at speed along the newly serviced road between Paphos airport and Paphos the unthinkable happened and Geoff had a fall !! There was a good gap between us and suddenly,I just realised Geoff was down,by the time I reached him he was back up but bleeding heavily. It soon became obvious that most of the blood was pouring out his nose,so once I sorted that the best I could,we decided to continue into Paphos,then stop and decide what to do. Luckily no damage was done to the bike.

Funnily enough the next suitable place to stop was a MacDonald’s, the other customers were quite shocked by Geoff’s appearance,we were asked if we needed any help but as his face only appeared grazed and his nose had stopped bleeding we decided to continue and finish our Audax.

So with the detours it ended up as 134 miles In13 hours 29 mins with one puncture and we are just hoping that Audax will approve these .

I was highly impressed with my Canyon bike not one ache or pain after all those miles .

The following day we paid a visit to the Doctors’s/ hospital where a broken nose was discovered!!!

Escaping the greyness!

I always have a weeks holiday in January to escape the greyness of the English weather and to recharge my batteries after the Christmas/New year period

Between 23 December and 6th January I made 8 trips up and down the A10 as well as trips to Chesterfield and Nottingham, more exhausting then running a half marathon !!! I also did a Christmas Day Parkrun,ran two 10km events and rode around 200 miles all this while working too. This year though I didn’t have to cook Christmas dinner as Geoff treated me by taking me to the six restaurant in the Varsity hotel for Christmas lunch and very nice it was too.

In the past we have gone skiing but with my shoulder and arm injuries I cannot risk a fall and to be honest skiing is only fabulous when the sun shines.

I thought we might go back to El Medano but Just a few weeks ago Geoff suggested we try Cyprus as a holiday destination I agreed straight away as it was somewhere I had looked at going in October last year.

Now for some reason maybe because I was feeling exhausted after Christmas and was also fighting off a cold I left Geoff to make the bookings etc. A big mistake that was! as I forgot Geoff never researches or looks at reviews he just books the first thing that looks value for money on booking.com.

So today we find ourselves sat on a plane flying to Paphos. Booked into the Panareti hotel, that is actually 6km outside Paphos at Coral bay, though looking at the map it’s not really in Coral bay either.

if the reviews are correct we could be in for a shock but surely this all adds to the adventure!!!

On the plus side I did find a good looking bike hire shop, Aspire cycling and we pick up a couple of Canyon bikes on Monday

Inspire Thetford Forest Trails 10k

Today I did my first running event of 2019 and it was a little different to my usual road running events.

The Inspire Thetford Forest Trails 10k was an off-road event round Thetford forest, starting from High Lodge.

The registration area had a nice party atmosphere with music, lots of info over the loudspeaker and a huge Inspire deck chair for fun photos. I was surprised to find there were 500 plus runners. with a Canicross race starting 30 mins after the main runners.

Must change the colour of my top!

This was a gentle introduction to trail running, the course was well marshaled on a mixture of wide Forest tracks, some soft and grassy, others stony and uneven. surprisingly by the time I finished, my feet felt quite sore !!

I enjoyed running through the forest, the scenery was lovely, it was quiet and still almost relaxing but it also felt a little lonely with no supporters around the course like you get on a road race.

looking forward to doing more off road run/walking over the coming months.

Epic end to 2018

Happy to say 2018 ended on a high with a 200km DIY Audax followed by a 60-mile ride with Cambridge CTC, followed by the Ely NYE 10k run.

This was far better than the start of 2018 which saw me having a fall off my bike on Black Ice, this caused me a great deal of pain and put me out of action for many months… even now I still get a niggle in my side when running!

With some care, a few painkillers and lots of determination, I still managed to do all I had planned for and more in 2018, including Cambridge half, riding in Mallorca, Walking in the Dolomites, the Lap of Anglia, run/walking 18 miles, many 200km Audaxes, a couple of 150-mile rides and an epic 300km Audax.

The most amazing thing to me is that I have achieved all this while suffering from menopausal hell !!!!

My next big goal is to get through January and February without taking any risks in the bad weather and icy conditions which are inevitable !!!!

My recorded Miles for the year are (approx)

6,340 Cycling, 465 Running,151 Walking

I have many plans for 2019 so exciting times ahead…………

 

 

DIY 200km Audax (29th December 2019)

Amazing mild weather for December so today we grabbed at the chance of doing a DIY 200km Audax.

Geoff did a great route which took advantage of the tailwind, which helped blow us home, he also chose perfect roads for the night time riding.

There is something special about riding in the dark, especially when most people are still asleep it’s also beautiful to see the sunrise.

Anyway, that makes three 200km Audaxes in 3 months and now I am wondering if I can keep it up for an RRtY, if so the next one has to be in Cyprus !!

Four Min Mile 200km Audax (17th November 2018)

As many people will know I love Audax riding, especially long Audax rides, I read all the write-ups about the various rides and admire the riders who do the super long rides which involve night riding, I often wonder just how far I could ride !!

My longest Audax is the Mildenhall 300 km which did involve a couple of hours in the dark but apart from that I have little experience of night riding.

Just recently I have started to ride with the Cambridge CTC, rides which I really enjoy, many of these riders are experienced Audaxers so I enjoy their company the stories they have to tell and soak up all the advice they give about long distance riding.

Nigel and Yasmin were planning to ride the Four min mile audax and while Geoff was out on a ride we were invited to join them, when he mentioned it to me I grabbed at the opportunity especially as I know no other women that like to ride long distance.

After the initial excitement wore off I realized it would be a hilly ride, as we went over the Chilterns not once but twice and  many hours would be spent riding in the dark so I would need a bigger saddle bag to carry a jacket and a better rear light, while I sorted the bag out I sent Geoff out on the hunt for the rear light

So the alarm was set for 5 am on Saturday 17th November and armed with our egg sandwiches for breakfast we met Nigel and Yasmin at the train station for the 6.24 train to Stevenage.

After collecting our receipt in Stevenage we were on our way just after 7 am, the outward ride to Oxford was lovely with perfect weather for the time of year. I especially enjoyed riding through Woburn and seeing all the beautiful autumn colors, we arrived at Iffley Stadium in time for Lunch, the choice of food at the cafe was disappointing but the stadium and Roger Banister memorabilia made up for the lack of choice.  The runner in me was drawn to the running track, shame I didn’t have my running shoes but I did have a little jog !!

An hour later and we were on our way again, deciding to take a detour down Oxford high street before heading back to Stevenage via Chesham and Welwyn Garden City. Having never been to Oxford it was a very impressive High Street.

The aim was to get over the Phoenix Cycle trail near Thame before dark, as the rumor was it had some bad road surface in places. I was very happy we got over it before dark as the surface in place was horrendous with cracks so big you could have easily disappeared down one if not seen.

Onward we traveled up and down, then along another cycle track that ended with a steep slippery narrow exit, Nigel made it out but the rest of us got off and walked and that is when Geoff discovered a Puncture, by now it was quite dark, which made changing a puncture very interesting, Geoff opted to change the tyre so didn’t have to look for the offending flint/thorn, after a good 30 mins the puncture was mended, with a helping hand from Nigel who had returned after noticing we were missing.

We were happy to be on our way again heading towards Chesham, and a much enjoyed Costa coffee. then it was more climbing and more downhills, along narrow twisting lanes, which made for challenging riding in the dark, a tip from Nigel was to keep my Garmin on the elevation screen so I could see what was coming. By the time we reached Welwyn Garden City my arms were aching from gripping onto my handlebars so much. 21km left to go back to Stevenage train station, better roads made for easier night riding and we rolled into the station and collected our last receipt with 30 mins to spare.

Not the best route for night riding and maybe better the opposite way round but then we would have missed the beautiful scenery around Woburn, but definitely a great calendar event to do.

All in all a great adventure with good company and it certainly has not put me off night riding.

( Thanks to Nigel for the Photos )