Sunday, 18 September 2011

108 miles, hills and a Cheese Sandwich.

The hardest thing about today's long day in the saddle, was the ride home.  Arriving at Manchester Velodrome with 90 miles in the legs, I'd opted to ride out and ride home to meet today's leg of a charity ride coming up from London in aid of Royal Manchester Childrens Hospital.

It's sods law.  Weather conditions had been almost perfect all day, not hot, not cold.  Bit of wind here and there - copable.  As I set off for the 18m ride home, headwind and rain set on.  It took some doing to grind the miles home, ably assisted by the most wonderful cheese sandwich which a fellow riders wife had prepared and handed to me before the ride home.  Trust me, after a day eating gels and sweet drinks, that savoury sandwich got me home.  Suzi - thank you!

Departing at 7am for the 25M ride over to Wilmslow, conditions were cold, but I turned in a 17mph average as I rode over to meet three other riders.  We headed off to Congleton and bunkered up in Costa whilst we waited for another rider and got the game plan together.  
Conclusion - the group coming up from Walsall were behind, so we had about an hour and a bit free - "let's do some hills" was the concensus, so we headed out towards Biddulph.

I was riding my Onix Azzuro today, which has a 53/39 standard chainset and a 12-27 rear sprocket, so the hills were doable with a bit of effort (ratio of 1.44).  Normally I'd run a compact 50/34 with 12-27 for climbing (ratio of 1.259), so this was an interesting challenge for me to see where my fitness was at with around 15% less gear range.  All went OK, we covered around 3,000ft ascent today in total and I didn't have any major difficulty ascending at a reasonable pace, which was good for me.

My friend Chris Byrne has just had a peach of a custom touring bike made.  Titanium, made to measure - beautiful bike.  He has a compact on the front 50/34 and a whopping 12-36 on the back for climbing with panniers, it puts the gear ratio at 0.95 which should get you up just about anything (see previous post about gear ratios).  Speaking with Simon Richardson on the phone tonight, he says he climbs with a 39/23 ratio (1.69) so it just goes to show what an elite athlete can do.

I knew it was going to be a long day in the saddle today.  The riders we met were on day two of their ride and had experienced a hard day previously, a long distance (120M) with a headwind, so we knew they would be tired.  Resultantly the average speed was lower than I normally ride (but that wasn't the point).  Riding out to support them was the least we could do.   The participants were of mixed ability so the group strung out quickly and some encouragement was needed for the back markers, who all made it to Manchester.  Guts and glory, well done folks.

That's the first century I've done for a bit.  Since the Fred Whitton from memory.  Fitness felt good, which I was really pleased about.  Seems that the last month or so's miles have helped pull things round for me.  I'm just building a winter bike at the minute, so I'm looking forward to getting that all ready and getting back out over the winter months to continue to build my base back up.

Had two moments of "are you Phil Jones" from random people today.  Passing a group of three outside of Alderley Edge, turns out that two of them were the guys who've just made a video for Onix Bikes.  I lent them my bike for the video shoot and one was the director, the other (his brother) actually rode my bike on the days filming.   My second was on the way home.  Pulling up at a junction on the East Lancs, a window went down and I had another "Are you Phil Jones."  It was Chris Keller-Jackson (@crankphoto) who is the twin brother of Mike Jackson who I use for all my mechanic work (@jackos016).  They are identical twins so I thought it was Mike at first.  He'd recognised the bike and the cycling kit.  Nice to meet you finally Chris!

All in.  Good day on the bike.

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