What have I been up to?

It’s been a while since I wrote what I would consider a proper blog post, I have thought about it, just not found the time. So I thought I would fill you in on what’s been going on, mostly from my biking perspective.

Winter is coming (yes I have finally started watching Game of Thrones)… Oh wait no winter has gone, though it keeps dropping in every now and again to say hello, seemingly every time I plan a ride! Since December and the Winter SPAM my riding slowed (who’s doesn’t?), the cold, the wet, the mud and the darkness are not the most helpful of ingredients to encourage you out on your bike.

Winter did linger a bit longer this year and the result is a much less fitter Tim. Memories of last years visit to Mudtrek come back and two recent trips to Wales, one to Cwmcarn and the other to Machen made me realise just how poor my bike fitness is.

I don’t feel too bad, long rides and my general fitness seems ok, but months of short rides with little climbing have certainly weakened my climbing ability and both recent trips to Wales were tough on the legs. My new job has also had an impact.

I know park around 20m from my desk and I’m in an office with no stairs. It might not sound like much but I think that my new job has reduced my walking and stair climbing by enough for me to gain an inch on my waist in 3 months. Add this to the business park environment, rather than high street and the lunch walks have also been on the decline. Oh and they do like tea and biscuits…

So something needs to change as in 2 months time I’m off to Bike Village again.

This will be a week of 50k rides with a minimum of 1000m climbing each day – this year we are also Cycling for Autism – a charity that is very close to the heart of my good friend John as his eldest son has autism. The challenge is to cycle/climb the height of Everest in a week and to raise awareness and money for the charity. Good cause aside for the moment, the trip to Bike Village is going to be tough and I want to be fit enough to enjoy it!

So what am I doing? Well I bought a fancy fitness band / watch from Garmin that is basically a fancy pedometer with a red bar to prompts me to get up and go for a walk. The result is a walk at lunch time, and two short efforts mid morning and afternoon to get away from the desk.

I have also started the occasional run. I tried this a few years ago and rapidly got bored but my basic fitness has made it easier this time round and I have set some small goals to aim towards.

A benefit of the new job and office location is its a little closer making a bike commute require less planning and effort – last week I rode 3 days.

I’ve started to waffle on a bit, so I think it’s time to wrap up with some details and goals:

2 months til Bike Village
I need to lose about 8lbs and get fitter
Watch my food and walk 4-5k every lunch time
Need to ride the bike three times a week (once or more to work)
My 5k target for running is 25mins
My end of April target is to run 10k, and in under an hour by end of May

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Not a lot to say but today I rode to work on my Rockhopper. 40k round trip and I logged it on Strava, which means I got a total of 8 Personal Records today.

I linked my Strava and Instagram accounts which is fun. So know if I post to Instagram while on a ride that I upload to Strava, Strava pulls in my photos and attaches them to my account. See the picture above where it pulled in my poppy picture from Instagram and linked it to my commute home.

Had some sketchy moments on one of my local descents too. The big wheeled hard tail and slippery chalk don’t mix!

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Yes I loved my week in France, yes I enjoy a trail centre or two and yes I love riding new places that others introduce me to. This Saturday for instance I will be going on a 24mile, 900m ride (distance, climb) recced and lead by fellow a MB Swindon rider. I am sure I will cover this at the weekend.

But really truly is there anything more satisfying than leaving your house on your bike going on an awesome ride and returning home again?

No travel required, meaning no fuel or parking costs.
No planning required.
All the creature comforts you could hope for when you get home.
You can ride it again tomorrow.

Just a few of the benefits of a local ride. If you have been reading recently you will know that I am warming to Strava; repeating local routes and measuring the results with Strava mean you can race yourself and others, check you performance and improve your fitness. A segment search in your area may also uncover some hidden trails.

This year I have been getting to know my local trails and hills better and realise that while I may have no mountains to speak of, I still have plenty of hills that I can link up and create an interesting climb with some fun dotted about.

I rode some of the more off piste sections with another friend from MB Swindon this evening. Would love to this as a club ride, but off piste in his instance means not technically allowed to ride there. Shame…

Spring Clean

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My full sus Giant Trance is going to the shop next week for a very thorough service and check up. Having some new bits fitted and my forks and shock are going in for a service too.

While I have just learnt a few extra tips in terms of bike DIY, I have decided to pay the extra to have it all looked over and to be in the best possible shape ready for my trip to the Alps next month.

Then the new me will take over!

I have been thumbing through some old MBUK issues today and making some notes of the sort of stuff I should be doing, when best and how to do it.

Hopefully throughout the year I will be able to document a few home performed tweaks and fixes as I learn.

I need to get my tools and lubes and greases in order and get a bike stand..

Thus far my maintenance has consisted of cleaning the bike and lubing the chain. It’s time to get a bit more serious about this mountain biking…