Sunday, 14 September 2014

Early Morning Crash Landing

One of the problems associated with riding early in the morning, especially at this time of year, is dozy wildlife. Pigeons in particular seem to wander around in the road paying very little attention to what is going on. I've got used to shooing them out of the way, and of hissing at cats to get their attention and make sure they don't run back into the road. This morning, however, on a 60 kilometre ride on Hampshire lanes, I had a couple  of novel experiences.

The first was when a pheasant tried to land in front of me. It was on final approach, heading straight for me when it must have realised that I was there. There followed a full blown crash landing! The bird tried to land and turn and run away, all at the same time. It didn't go well. It ended up on the lane on its back scrabbling to turn the right way up, and to run away. Of course, it couldn't outrun me, so after a frantic effort, it finally scrambled into the air again and flew away.

The other thing that happened, on two separate occasions, was squirrels jumping into the road, taking one look at me and dashing back into the undergrowth. And finally, I saw two weasels dashing across the road. And unlike pigeons, pheasants, cats and squirrels, that is very unusual.

Monday, 25 August 2014

First Ride Back

So, we were back in the UK after a couple of weeks away, dining on French food and pedaling up various Alpine passes. You can follow that trip at Fatman in the Alps. Now it was time to find out how my normal, Hampshire rides felt.

On Saturday, some 5 days after completing the Col d'Izoard, my last ride in France, I set off around a slightly modified version of one of my normal weekend rides. The track is available on Garmin Connect.

This ride includes the steepest hill we have locally, which tops out at 12% but for less than 50 metres, as well as some longer climbs in the 5% to 7% range. Of course, this being England, the gradients don't remain constant for very long. There is little chance to settle into a rhythm before a hill kicks up, or flattens off. Nevertheless, the tricks I learned in France paid off. Watching power output and heart rate and modulating effort on the steepest parts in order to attack as the gradients eased certainly seemed to pay off. The confidence to use 220 watts as my normal climbing power also made the ascents faster. I was in higher gears than before too, and happy to push power output beyond 350 watts for specific sections.

The ride certainly felt faster, and the average speed was pretty good too. It would have been better but for the strong westerly breeze that picked up while I was out and which I was cycling into for the latter part of the ride.

All in all, this felt pretty good.