If its not on Strava…

Genesis CDF Cyclocross Bike
Did this ride really happen?

…did the ride really happen?

I realised this last week that I am a Strava Addict. Yes I admit it.

I didn’t really doubt it and let me get this straight, its not that I am addicted t o chasing down other peoples times and climbs. I am much more realistic than that. I ride for pleasure and fun, and ONLY OCCASIONALLY do I feel the need to try and beat someones time.

Last week my Garmin bike GPS failed to connect to my computer meaning that I lost a ride to the oblivion of the internal memory.  Now let me explain, this was only a small pedal out at lunch time not even 10 miles, but I enjoyed it and I rode down a section of hill on my cyclocross bike that I normally do on my MTB. I was desperate to see how the times compared as I felt like I was moving! This was the first reason I was disappointed, secondly I wanted to show that the CX bike doesn’t stop me riding off road and doesn’t make me a roadie.

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Its not a road ride

Thirdly, I do like to keep an eye on my exercise and while I know full well I went out and I took a photo (above) to commemorate the occasion, my Strava account doesn’t know!  I can’t add manual entries – everyone knows they don’t count!

After much searching on the internet (Googling as we have become accustomed to calling it) I found that i was not alone in my pain. While this doesn’t appear to be a known fault as such, its seems to just happen to these devices to some people. It could be a mechanical issue with the USB port – I don’t know.

What next, a new one? Certainly buying gadgets is great, but the Garmin actually works otherwise.  I know I can use a card reader and take the activities off the device microSD card. Excellent! Problem solved. I can ride again.

So two days later I rode and rode and rode (and took more photos) and got up to a fantastic high speed on a little road descent. Can’t wait to see how I compare with others and my previous times!

ARGH!  I didn’t have the device set up to record to the microSD card! Another ride lost to oblivion – that actually didn’t happen and the only record is another photo.

I have now fixed the issue and rides will be recorded to the microSD card from now onwards. And I have saved myself buying a new Garmin!

More new bike bits it is then…

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3 Little Words

Misty View
Misty View

August Bank Holiday. Those 3 little words conjure up images from my childhood of days out in Pontypool Park, day trips to Weston-Super-Mare, Barry Island or Porthcawl. Sun and fun on the last weekend of the school holidays.

Wet Track
Wet Track

It should be the same today. Though now we live in Wiltshire those destinations are too far for a day out. We got to Southsea to see my wife’s family on Sunday and it was actually a very warm day. But Bank Holiday Monday saw my kids watching TV, us doing some final back to school shopping and generally wondering where on earth the summer had gone to!

Misty Thistles
Misty Thistles

But before all that I got out for a nice bracing walk with Brodie. 10km or 6 miles in old money in the wind and rain resulted in some time to think and reflect on work and the long list of things I need to do, and to wonder why I hadn’t been out on a bike this weekend.

Remembering why…

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This morning’s plan was to get a few miles in as a sort of training ride. I hate the thought of training as I ride my bike for enjoyment, and while training makes me a better/fitter rider and therefore more likely to enjoy tougher or longer rides – I still don’t like the thought of training. So I didn’t go out with a plan other than that of the distance I wanted to cover – 50km – the enjoyment was going to come from making it up as I went along.

Keeping an eye on the clock, the distance and of course the map on my Garmin meant I could make it up as I went along and keep an element of fun; rather than a Chris Froome TDF style head down pedal and not take anything in.

My ride ended up taking me through some of the local villages of Lacock, Biddistone and Corsham, before heading back along the old railway path from Chippenham. This is my token bit of off road to make the CDF feel a little more at home!

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Lacock is famous for its abbey and for being used in a number of movies including the Harry Potter series. There are some nice old buildings, all protected by the National Trust and a cool little ford. The cobbles were very slippery and I had to pedal carefully on the skinny wheels.

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Who doesn’t like a nice pub and bike photo?

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Villages are full of little treasures when you stop to explore rather the just whizz by. I remembered this morning one of the reasons I enjoy cycling wether it by by mountain bike or now even by the odd stretch of road.

I like to explore and I like to take photos, I if hadn’t been required back home for family duties I also had Castle Coombe in my sights today. I could have easily managed to fit this in to my ride but I was required back home.

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I couldn’t have covered the distance this morning on a mountain bike as easily and still have energy and reserves left over. I think I am going to be working up to a 100km and maybe even a 100 mile ride soon and exploring more of the smaller villages and possibly hidden pubs in the area…

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10k a day for July

A lot is said of the 10,000 steps challenge to improve your health and I bought a Garmin Vivofit last year to track my general activity levels other than my mountain bike rides.  I was surprised and started to make an effort.  We got a dog last year – that helped!  Since last summer I have been conscious of my daily steps more than my weekly cycling and its been good to keep an eye on such things.  I felt bad if I had a day of less than 5000 steps and made up for it by going for a run or taking the dog for an extra walk around the field… Anyway to my experiment..

10000 steps and 10km cycling everyday for the whole month  with no compromises and making up for poor days.

Starting today 1st July I am going to do 10000 steps a day, my average is up on this figure but I want to make sure I do 10000 each day.  I am also going to cycle 10000 meters a day – or 10km.  Again my recent average is above this but I am going to do 10k a day and not use a 40k ride to make up for 3 days off the bike.

Why?

  1. Running, walking and cycling everyday is good for you
  2. Finding new/alternative 10km bike routes will be interesting
  3. Why not… Lets see if it has an impact or benefit.

Oh and I get to write blog posts and tweet about it…

Hadleigh Park Olympic MTB Course

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This little mountain bike “course” (they call it a course not a trail) is about 140 miles from my house. I was never going to drive there but as I was in Essex for a few days I thought it would be rude not to go check it out – after all it was built for the 2012 Olympics and I had seen on the the telly!

Hadleigh Park is not particularly easy to find – I am sure that they will sort that out in due course, it just needs a couple of better signs.  Now once you are there, its not even obvious that you have arrived (again some big signs would be good) or it doesn’t even at a mountain biking location. They could learn a lot from Cognation who do a great job at the Welsh trail centres of making you feel like you are at a MTB location. They could do with this more so at Hadleigh, especially in the absence of any mountains or even a forest to get you in the mood.

The empty car park, the children’s playground and cafe – it didn’t quite feel right.  Oh wait, there’s a small pump track, this must be it.

Once the bike and I were ready I headed off looking for the trail – er? Where is it then?  No signs! Well something that looks a bit like a sign, but nothing very obvious. Then I found the short skills loop – this is OK. Apart from the huge drops!  I was OK on one of them, but this is not built for a beginner to learn on.  But where is the course?

At last there it is…

Now its a Thursday afternoon in Essex, and I guess I wasn’t expecting to see many people but there were I think about 5 people on the course.

I didn’t know what to expect so when I saw sprawled in front of me some wide open spaces with sandy coloured routes snaking through it I immediately thought it looked simple and functional.  Well it was anything but simple!

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The blue and red options intertwine around the park taking you sharply up and down at times – I think the 5km route had me climbing around 200m. Without a dropper post on my hardtail I found a saddle height compromise that gave me some respite on the short sharp climbs and just enough “clearance” for the tetechnical drops.

Some of the black sections wouldn’t have been out of place at Coed-Y-Brenin, requiring some commitment to tackle. While they were short obstacles they definitely had some punch to them.

Some nice features like tunnels, switch backs and some linked berms kept it interesting but all in all it was rather an odd experience.

Its possible to make some wrong turns or miss out sections, but due to the low volume of traffic and the open spaces you can easily see if anyone is coming the other way.

The trail itself feels like a country park walk. The almost 100% hard packed route will stand the test of time and still feels very new; if this sounds ideal it wasn’t. The gritty surface didn’t provide much confidence in the corners and my rather chunky High Rollers slipped and skidded about quite a bit in the turns. It didn’t once feel natural – my preference for trails and a natural trail this most certainly isn’t.

I don’t want to dis it too much as it was good fun, but this is a course and not a trail.  This was definitely built to test athletes and your fitness and not really to put a grin on your face, like a Welsh trail centre such as the aforementioned Coed-Y-Brenin.  There is quite a lot packed into the small estate and if you want a work out, go on a hot day like I did!

It was fun and I’m glad I made the little extra effort to pay it a visit but it was just a little too contrived for me.

Summary

  • I enjoyed my visit and would recommend you ride it if you have the opportunity
  • I wouldn’t drive 140 miles (and back) to ride it
  • The “black” options are worthy of their label, be careful
  • Concentrate or you will miss bits or end up riding the wrong way

For more info:

  • The Hadleigh Park FaceBook page has lots of photos.
  • The website is a little empty at the moment but I am sure there will be plenty of information there soon enough.