The Spider Cave

Archive for the ‘Cycling’ Category

I have just sat and worked out all my cycling stats. It is quite interesting. What I have done is I have split them into years and put in categories like 10+ miles, 20+, 30+, 40+, 50+ and so on. Over the next three posts I will list all the miles I have done (arranged by year, of course). I won’t count any below 10 miles as it will clutter up the whole stats. And just for the fun I have put these into trophies so 10+ miles will be bronze. 20+, 30+, 40+ will be silver. 50+ miles will be gold and 100+ miles will be platinum. So it will be interested to see how many have I collected so far. So we shall start by the year 2011 which I will list it in my next post.

 

edit: I have decided not to list all the miles as it will be unnecessary and the list will be too long so I have summarized everything in a page called ‘Cycling Stats’. I will only update that page yearly whereas the main trophies bit at the top of the blog will be updated regularly.

Two different haiku from today. One from afternoon and other at night.

First one is a simple one describing me cycling in wind.

Sun shines through black shades
My bike sways violently
The wind is my foe

And secondly is a bit complex. It describes a stretch of dark road. I am going to take the second left on my bike in this clear cloudless sky. At the first right, there is a police car in flashing lights who had stopped a driver and were investigating.

Stars gleam overhead
Red and Blue flashes at front
The dark farm is lit

The angle at which the police car is parked, it’s headlights is lighting up the dark farm in a way which is looking amazing. And the stars shine on the whole atmosphere. The central theme has got to be light.

Well, Christmas day and my day off too. I took full advantage of it. Slipping out of the house at half six in the morning. I had pre planned a couple of routes but now decided to take one.

The traffic was next to nothing. I saw one guy cycling in the town centre and saw not a single human being for the first two hours. Obviously everyone is at home having dinner and here I am out on the bike.

It was a bit foggy but not so cold. I went towards the Erskine Bridge/Loch Lomond way but I turned right at Arnprior and headed north towards Lake of Menteith. You are probably wondering why I am saying the word ‘lake’ in Scotland and not the usual word ‘Loch’. Some English guy mistook ‘laigh’ for low ground and the word lake stuck to its name. It is quite shallow and can freeze in winter conditions and if it is frozen enough, a grand match of Curling takes place on it.

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The lake was covered partially in fog and stood still. It was peaceful and quiet. A lot of deer running around on the road. One ran ahead of me for half a mile until it found a hole in the fence and disappeared in the woods.

Passing Thornhill, I saw a first cyclist (well second, the first one was a commuter I think). I never took rest here and just kept going. Actually after Thornhill I’ve been on this route recently in last months so they were familiar. Turned left towards Doune where I took my first proper rest. 35 miles in. The rest of the route was very familiar. Towards home I managed 54 miles. 50 miles were done just under 4 hours and the last four miles took half an hour. I was just so tired. Anyway it was a nice ride and I had a nice time listening to the end of the first book of the Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

Just brand new in ordered online from Merlin Cycles (great site by the way).

When I bought my new bike, I bought a black Camelbak 500ml bottle which I loved. I wasn’t into cycling much then so one bottle would do me just fine but as I started doing longer trips, I felt the need to have another water bottle. I remember the second week of my new bike, without even checking anything and I mean anything (tyre pressure, water, weather) I set off on the hills. There I was tackling 400 m hills and on an unknown route and I had only ONE water bottle. And on top of it I got a back puncture due to low pressure and had to walk the bike or ride slowly for 13 miles because there wasn’t a mobile signal. I mean could you believe it? I was stuck but thank god I wasn’t lost. I feel so stupid thinking about it now.

So just recently in this (2012) winter I decided to take off my old bike’s bottle stand and attach it to my new one and also I decided to use the old water bottle. It is a 750 ml white sports cap bottle with a plastic cap. My Camelbak one is my primary one which I love but this old one is a nightmare. First you grab it then with the help of your teeth you flip the plastic cover off then again with teeth you push the sport cap out then tip the bottle and squeeze it to get the water. Then close the sport cap by pushing the cap against my face skin and I have a grown up a fair amount of stubble so when a hair gets stuck it makes you scream then after all that you have an optional choice to close the plastic cap if you want (hehe you had forgotten about that didn’t you?). Seriously whoever makes it please stop doing it. This was annoying so i decided to get a new water bottle. I went online and ordered it. And here it is. Presenting to you a Camelbak Better Bottle Tritan 750 ml Grey.

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It has a unique Bite N Sip function where you just have to bite the top bit and water comes flowing out. I have to say whoever made this is a genius. It is very refreshing and easily accessed. All you have to do is take the bottle and pull up the lever by your teeth and bite and sip. Then close it by your chin. It is as simple.

So goodbye old bottle and welcome new Camelbak. Making my cycling easy.

I did some shopping and went around the cycling store and got a couple of things for the winter.

First is a windproof cap. Last year I bought a large one and it was too big for my head. A couple of months back from today I bought a small/medium one from Trespass and it was too small. It gave me headaches. So you know what to do. Never buy something which says S/M. Seriously how can two sizes fit. It’s either small or medium or large. Here it is. A Gore Bike Wear windproof cap which fit perfectly on my head. It’s snuggly too.

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Next is something new. A Specialized Arm Wear. I don’t know why I bought these. Considering I wear t shirts a lot and while biking I have my jacket on, I’ll just slip these thermal arms on. They are quite nice and fit tight.

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Next are just a normal pair of linen socks which I could slip under my normal socks and hopefully my feet will stay warm. I have those thick socks (and I mean really thick) too but I heard they stop the blood flow so the feet get cold too soon.

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Seriously my hands and feet feel so cold when riding. They didn’t have any linen gloves otherwise I would’ve bought them. I’ll see how my experiment goes with these socks. I’m most excited about the cap because finally I have found a true cap. Fingers crossed.

Early start for me. 5 am I was up and ready. Had a little breakfast and by five to six I was on the road. It was pretty dark but on the eastern horizon you could see the light.

I went towards Airth passing the nice baking aromas of the Airth Bakery with my mouth watery. Riding along the banks of River Forth, on my left hand side there is something I call The Dark Trees. Basically it is a plain of grass then lots of green tree together and there is darkness between the trees no matter what time of the the day it is. It is this contrast of dark green and black that makes it beautiful and every time I pass it, I am completely stunned by the beauty of this. Okay I think I am a bit exaggerating but you have to see this. Then passing the Stirling hills on my right, I see them every single day but from close up they are something to look at too. Coming to Bridge of Allan, you could see the Wallace monument  at one side and Stirling castle on the other.

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I didn’t stop here (well just stopped to take a couple of pics) but instead going through my Doune route, I went towards Dunblane. This is the first time I am ever seeing this little town in my 7 years here. Obviously if I had come here last Sunday it would be mobbed because Andy Murray who had won a New York tennis tournament had come here and I heard the streets were so busy and the motorways were shut too. Oh it is a dream to cycle on the motorway. Sigh.

I stopped here for a break. Had something to eat and took a 15 min break. Then carried on. Through Doune and then turning right on the Kirk Ln towards Gargunnock. This little stretch of road is amazing. You could see amazing hills right in front of you with the sun coming out on your left.

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I turned left towards Stirling and then onto my normal back road toward home. I had a banana left to eat so I ate it while riding the bike. Finally I reached home doing 41 miles in 3 hours and 1 min. I didn’t try to be greedy and do 50 miles like the last time.

Dunblane

So here we are. I normally do a ride of the month and I picked this particular ride as my Ride of the Month.

I started off at 6 in the morning. The sun was just peeking out. I had left my sun shades at work so I had to wear my transparent ones which I mostly use for night riding. So I checked my bike and headed out. The first thing that hit me was the coldness. It was not windy but there was damp cold in the air which chilled me. But it only remained for 15 mins then my body adapted to the weather. This is one of the best things about a human body that it adapts to whatever the situation is. Not extreme situations but you have to be prepared for it and dress accordingly. The best time to test this is riding in January. I’ve cycled at minus three and you don’t really need an insulation for legs and arms or chest. You have to make sure your feet are properly safe and snug, your hands and lastly your ears. These three parts bug me a lot.

So I rode my way through then quiet busy roads and up my way towards Slamannan. I always loved this town. I was not expecting so much climbing but there were hills so I climbed never coming off the bike. The only time I had to stop and get off the bike when I had to take photos. And that was my big problem. The music player on my phone kept crashing and I had to stop to fix it. Taking photos cost me but it was worth it.

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I climbed and climbed to Slamannan. There was a little bit of up and down after and then finally I reached Black Loch, the highlight of this ride. I actually have seen it before last year when I was doing Freshnlo Pedal For Scotland 2011. I really loved the scenery.

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I had a little break as I was 13 miles in. I carried on taking a last look at this favourite loch of mine. This stretch of road was amazing. Up and down and quiet. Reminiscent of last year, this little stretch to Avonbridge I particularly enjoyed.

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I bought a bottle of water from a shop in Avonbridge and made my way up the road. There was a yellow road sign saying this road will be closed for Pedal For Scotland 2012 next week. I felt a bit sad as I am not going to attend this year because I have a wedding coming up. I had registered and even my number had come through the post. Number 299. Oh well, nothing can be done now.

There was a good amount of climb after Avon. I was around 650 feet up which was ok. I started to see school kids now in the little villages. And I came across this little village called

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which was pretty awesome. It was quite small though. I came to Shieldhill and turned right down. Yes I said down and it was a full descent for 2 miles. I hit 36.4 mph down that and it was fast and amazing. This was worth the whole ride. I am more of a fan of ascent and like a good climb but oh boy that descent was worth it. That made me join my normal route and 26 miles in I took a last break and had a sandwich from Tesco. Three more miles and I would reach home and that I did. 9 am. Took me 2 and a half hours excluding breaks.

I was expecting it to be and easy ride but all that climbing got me but I really enjoyed it to name it my ride of the month.

Black Loch