Picture the scene, I've decided on a 75 mile route today, chucked in a few hills over Pott Shrigley and am standing in the garage debating which bike to ride. Do I go with the winter bike, large gear range and spin up the lumps, the compact on my race-pace theme bike or the standard on the Onix Azzuro? Eeny, meeny, miny, moe.
When I last saw Simon Richardson MBE, he said I needed to "man up" and push a bigger gear at a lower cadence to start building some strength in the legs. OK, decision made - standard chainset it is.
It was a gorgeous day for cycling, setting off from home around 8am, pedals were turning really well. On that point, let me talk bikes for a second.
I've owned the Onix Azzuro for about a year now. Every time I ride the bike, the pedals just seem to purr and I come home having really enjoyed the ride. The bike has really grown on me and I've come to really appreciate the stiff frame, power transfer and whippy geometry. On this bike I feel fast.
Yes, you feel the bumps a bit more but ask the bike to put some power down and it responds instantly. The Jodrell Bank sportive was on today, so there were quite a few riders out on my route and at what point a very quick group of riders who were part of a triathlon club went whizzing by, I thought I'd jump on their group for a bit. As soon as I accelerated, the bike just responded and I was able to join the back of their group whisking along around 25mph.
I know that Onix bikes have the framesets on a half price clearance deal right now, I think it is a superb ride, so if you can convince the wife - get one whilst they are on offer.
As you can see from the route profile below, the first lump came a couple of hours in and I just put got settled in a cadence of around 50rpm, just pushing through the cranks, climbing at about 6-8mph. No speed climbing records were broken today, that's for sure, however I will say the climbs felt more doable than normal, those base miles paying off perhaps.
I didn't eat much before heading out today, just a small Snickers flapjack, so when I'd done around three and a half hours I felt pretty empty - time for food. Remembering a nice looking cafe called Aldeli as I entered into Alderley Edge on the way out, I thought I'd head back there - BIG mistake. After waiting at the counter for two to three minutes, with no one bothering to even acknowledge that I was there despite being able to reach out and touch me, it was time to move on. Bye folks, I won't be back, avoid at all costs.
As it happened I found a beautiful little Italian cafe on Alderley Edge high street, which I didn't know was there. Entering inside, it was like stepping into a cafe in Rome. An elderley Italian waiter, singing away to Tony Martin which was booming away in the background, Espresso, shelves with big tins of tomatoes and lots of cured meats and bottles of Chianti in the window. A double espresso, breakfast pannini and a teacake put me in tip top shape for the twenty five mile ride home. I just sat and soaked up the atmosphere, I'll be going back there - £7.50 all in.
The trip home felt quite hard. The wind had picked up and the legs were beginning to let me know how they felt. I'd done a 45miler the day before, so with this ride I'd be ending on 120M/192KM for the weekend. Pushing through on the way home, I began to tire a bit and my thoughts started to turn to the London to Paris ride in June which requires three back to back centuries, so i'll continue to add some longer rides into my training between now and then.
Arriving home, I felt pretty tired but pleased at the same time. It had been a good ride today, nice weather, great route and a super new cafe stop (cafe probably not suitable for large groups, but perfect for a couple of you).
Clicking over 75 miles for the run today, the legs felt tired - but not shot - when I got inside and got the bath going. The winter base miles I think have paid a dividend, pushing up some of the climbs today validated that.
Whirring round the lanes I couldn't help but think that on a bike you get to not only see places, but also smell and hear them - you get more of an experience of the areas you ride through. Today's cafe was a great example, I'd driven by it many times, but failed to even know it was there.
Reviewing the ride stats, I'd covered 75 miles in just under 5hours, giving a ride average of around 15mph. Ascent was around 2.2K, cadence was average 82. Today wasn't about average speed, just enjoying the weather and the route. That I did.