Thursday, 27 August 2009

Cycled to work - nice and easy

Nothing really much to report. 20 miles, more downhill and flat than uphill. Took it easy (1 hour 40). I'm hoping I don't stink of sweat for my colleagues.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Cycling - faster not harder

New sports are interesting because you're training your body to co-ordinate its movements in ways that it previously didn't need to. Using one muscle at a time is straightforward, but using lots of muscles at the same time is more difficult. Cycling should be relatively straightforward. It's only really your legs. However, I think I'm still getting used to wearing clip-in pedals.

Often in the movement-based activities that I've done in the past, such as rock climbing and yoga, it's better not to concentrate on which muscles are doing what. It's often better to concentrate on something more abstract, like a shape or a feeling. This was my realisation last week when I found I could lengthen my swimming stroke by pretending to be Superman.

Well today, a similar thing happened while cycling home. There I was pedaling hard and thinking it was a bit harder than it should be. So without thinking why, I decided to try to pedal quickly instead. Bizarrely, this was easier and I went more quickly. I can only think that when I think 'pedal quickly' I'm using my feet in circles rather than just pushing down on one pedal at a time. Now I'll have to remember to do this for the next few rides, so I can do it without thinking about it.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Swimming - uninspired

Maybe it's the lack of an event to train for. Today I was singularly uninspired. I must only have done about 25 lengths. When I've become bored of training in the past (normally running), I back off until I regain my enthusiasm. Luckily, I've got running and cycling to keep me interested.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Cycling - longest training ride

My training guide said I should be doing a 70-mile ride this weekend. So I decided to cycle back from my parents' house - Bingley (near Bradford, West Yorkshire) to Wincle (near Macclesfield, Cheshire). When I plotted this roughly, it looked like about 55 miles, but I thought the extra hills, relative to a "standard" ride would compensate for any lack of distance.

As you can see from the trace, it was pretty hilly (total ascent 6800 feet). It was also slightly longer than I had thought, at 61 miles. It was also quite windy, and unlike circular bike rides, it was in my face the whole way. I'm still finding my feet in cycling, but I suspect 5 and a quarter hours is not a good time for such a ride. My charity ride is in two weeks and it's 90 miles with 6500 feet of ascent, so I'm confident I've done the right training and any lack of achievement on my part will be due to my team-mates being better than me.
Today's ride was punctuated by Mrs Noel and the kids very kindly meeting me as they were travelling home. This involved much-needed moral support and smarties just when I could see the Holme Moss summit looming. I also had to stop in Buxton to buy some Lucozade as I didn't think I was going to get over Axe Edge without some extra energy.

Bunsall Classic Fell Race

For those non-fell runners, Burnsall Classic is about 1.5 miles long and goes straight up and down the fell-side next to Burnsall, a picturesque village on the River Wharfe. It's one of the oldest fell races and has a great tradition. The record is under 13 minutes, I think. It always attracts a few big-name fell runners, such as Ian Holmes who won it last year. It's part of Burnsall Sport Feast, which includes a 10-mile road race and lots of kid's races. It's also a bit of a fete, with bouncy slides and the like for the kids.
I did this fell race last year but didn't have time for a warm up, and Mrs Noel missed the race completely because we arrived so late. I have secretly been aiming for a top-ten finish in this year's race since then. However, I've mainly been concentrating on cycling for a few weeks, so didn't think my top-ten dreams were realistic.

We warmed up well this year and I remembered what I learnt from last year - it's hard to overtake on the way down, so it's best to reach the summit in the position where you'd like to finish. I did this pretty well this year and was only overtaken by a few people on the descent, and overtook someone who was a slightly slower descender than me.

With about a quarter of a mile to go (just as this photo was taken) I passed my sister who was looking after the kids. Although I hadn't told her of my top-ten aspirations, she said "you're eleventh". This led to a testosterone-fuelled sprint on the final road section to overtake the guy in-front of me (you can just see his heels in the photo). For once, the sprint worked, and I caught him about 20 yards before the start of the funnel. It's amazing how much sprint you can have left when it really means something. So I can tick another of this year's ambitions.
It was then my job to count the ladies in. First was quite a long way clear of the female pack, but second was only just ahead of Mrs Noel. She later explained she had fallen entering the final field otherwise she was might have taken second. Mrs Noel was also first LV40, so won two prizes. She's getting used to all this prize winning now, but she claims to be mentally preparing for the day when she comes home empty-handed. Perhaps I should suggest some championship races.

We stayed to compete in the egg throwing competition. This involves teams of two people throwing an egg to each other over increasing distances. If you break or drop the egg, you're out. My brother-in-law and I managed three successful throws and catches until I aimed one high and wide and he was only able to deflect it to smash on some child's leg. Luckily, the child didn't seem overly concerned. Here's a picture of the early stages of one of the heats. If you look closely, you may be able to see an airborne egg.