Today I went out with my coach on a mission to find our way to Box Hill. Last week was a disaster with heavy rain and a flat tire. We never made it there but this week we were more prepared. It made a major difference to be riding in warm weather, minimal wind and the sun.
The last two weeks of riding have been hard for me. I have woken up each Monday morning shattered after each sunday ride. In both these weeks I was pushed hard by better riders and in terrible conditions. I was worried today would be the same because I was riding with my coach again but it was much better.
Last week I rode in dark conditions with my Oakley Radar Iridium riding glasses. The glasses made my vision so dark I couldn’t see the road ahead and the rain made it worse. While I was following my coach in the rain the water spit up from his back tire straight into my face. I rode to the right side of his tire but it was dangerous with traffic passing us on small lanes and tight roads.
This week I checked the weather forecast to ensure there was no rain and then I looked at the sky and made a decision to wear my clear riding glasses. I had a choice to use the interchangeable orange lenses but I didn’t think it would get bright enough as it looked overcast outside.
My choice of glasses was perfect. It did get brighter but the slight shade on the glasses was enough to protect my eyes. Next time I plan to take my interchangeable orange lenses to use them if it gets too bright. Being prepared is important when going on long rides.
I have a Garmin 705 but I find it unreliable in tracking out a good cycle route. This time I decided to use my iphone 4. It produced detailed coloured maps and by locating small townships we wanted to ride to we were able to get to Box Hill. There were more riders on the roads because of the warmer weather and we followed a group of riders towards Box Hill. It is very difficult to get lost as the roads eventually lead to a place you recognise on the Iphone4. We did make a couple of wrong turns but we could correct this very quickly. An important location to know is which side of Box Hill the road up lies. It took us a slight detour to find it but it was a victory when we did.
I rode up Box Hill at my own pace. Two weeks ago I paced myself with other riders around me. It felt better to ride at my own pace and I had more energy at the end of the ride. My hill climbing in general is better and on my way home through Richmond I had a burst of speed. I want to find more hills to climb and will look into trips to Portugal and France to train. I prefer riding with my coach. Riding with a club takes longer, is less productive and the speed and direction of the ride is left to the leader. I have decided not to ride with a club now.
Riding back from Box Hill we made one mistake but it was easy to navigate in general. A warning about using the Iphone 4 is it does not have good reception at the top of Box Hill. Even though we could not use the Iphone4 we decided to ride on and not turn back and ride a route we were familiar with. From the top of Box Hill we followed the signs to Leatherhead and then Esher. Following the signs to Leatherhead got us to the bottom of Box Hill and then the signs at roundabouts were our guide back to London.
The ride took 5.30 hours. I feel good and will head there again next week. My coach won’t be with me so I will ask a rider also doing the Etape Du Tour to come instead. I am enjoying the riding and it is a good learning curve to see the difference between pure road cycling and Ironman cycling.
Ironman cycling means keeping a constant pace up and down hills and along the flats. Road cycling involves riding hard up hills, relaxing down hills and riding steadily along the flats. My body is adapting to the road cycling. I do find hills very hard but I am determined to improve. I look forward to training in the hills of France and Portugal.