Thanks to a viral infection that won’t go away I’ve had a really bad audax year so far. Constantly tired, and coming down with colds, tonsillitis and bad stomachs since December had taken its toll on the number of rides I’ve been able to get in. And the weather’s not helped either! So my London Edinburgh London training is so far off track I can hardl see it.
So tomorrow I’m riding the 300km Everyone rides to Skegness ride from Alfreton. The plan originally was this to be an ECE to 400km and treat it as fast text of pace. That’s gone out of the window now. It’s just going to be a trial of can I even do that distance at the moment, so no ECE for me and I’ll be pottering along at touring speed.
I’ve not ridden a ride over 50 miles since the Easter Arrows, on which I wasn’t at peak performance by a long way. And tomorrow’s forecast is for constant rain and a strong headwind all the way home. Which is going to be a pain coming back across the causeway into Lincoln , and then the grind out from Lincoln on the A57 to Tuxford.
If I have to pack for anything other than than a mechanical or feel I’ve had to push harder than I I’d be happy with on a multi day ride I’ll be giving serious thought to pulling out of Lel while I can still get a refund. Even a slow comfortable finish would do, at least I’d know I’ve got 8 weeks left to try and build up a lot more
Here’s hoping I’ll still make it to Great Loughton on July 28th
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So it seemed like a pretty simple idea. Come up with a day route from Nottingham to York of at least 360km and then ride it in under 24 hours (with one little special rule that you had to control in the 22nd hour and do at least 25km in the last 2 hours) on good Friday. Should be easy enough shouldn’t it? I mean 2 of the team had ridden the hilly 400km brevet cymru last year in 21 hours in not brilliant weather.
So with January looking great for cycling we put in for 460km with a route that went Nottingham – Oakham – huntingdon – spalding – market Rasen – Willerby – Bridlington – Malton – Boroughbridge – York
Then March came around. Heavy snow and ice meant I’d barely been out on the bike (200 miles in 28 days is not much really) and it didn’t look like the weather was going to ease up for the easter weekend either. In fact the organiser offered the unheard of option of letting teams reschedule their ride for anytime before the end of April. We didn’t take up that offer.
Weather had started to look better in the week preceding, but we’d made contingency plans just to be safe. And then remade them as we learnt more about the arcane rules of easter arrows (separate post about those to come). So the 4 of us met up at Trent Bridge Inn for a hearty breakfast and the first of many receipts.
Getting out of Nottingham all felt good until we hit the climb at Harby where I discovered I couldn’t get into the smaller chairing. Oh well, mtfu and “shut up legs” seemed to work. But not a good sign for things to come
Quick atm control at Oakham and then off to huntingdon. Bit more rolling as we passed through southern Rutland. At this point mtfu didn’t work so it meant getting off and manually forcing the front derailleur across, not brilliant but at least I could spin up the hills. The wind was now starting to pick up and we had some drizzle in the air. Huntingdon was McD control
Now we turned into the wind and the flatlands of Lincolnshire. Mike after mile of straight flat road appeared. Blustery wind just off from the side meant that even attempting an Audax chain gang didn’t offer much assistance. Saw another possible arrow team heading in the other direction (later identified as the lost Waveney wanderers). I really started to feel the lack of miles on this leg. Not only was power lacking, but my stomach was cramping and knowing at itself, and despair was setting in. By the time we got to spalding I was in a bit of a state. Stupidly went for a sit down and coffee at a wetherspoons rather than the eating anything, and then wondered why I had a massive sense of humour failure about 8 miles out of spalding. Got talked out of packing and kept following the wheels.
About now we started getting the delights of sleet and hail, combined with some rather dropping temperatures. And then to top it off we started hitting some really bad surfaces. 2 of us punctured on the same pothole. Luckily we got some respite and coffee from a very charitable local.
Another humourless moment at Woodhall Spa was overcome thanks to the more experienced members of the team, and we ploughed on to market Rasen, and a surprise non 24 hour tesco. So we sort solace in a pizza place. A greasy 10″ margherita has never been so welcome. Now we set off for our Humber crossing. Due to the late hour we dropped onto the A15 for the last couple of miles of the approach to save the fun of route finding in Barton upon Humber. Crossing the Humber bridge is always fun even at night, and for once the wind had dropped off as well. Discovering a new shortcut for rejoining the A15 on north side was good as well.
The first service station at Willerby we tried refused us entry so we took our custom across the road, which involved some clamouring due the roadworks, but being allowed to sit inside for 30 minutes was well worth it. Suitably filled up on coffee and ginsta’s goodness we got out just in time to see another arrow team heading north with a cheery toot.
A rolling ride to the coast at Bridlington in the dawn light was a nice contrast to the night, even the road surface appeared to improve. Spent a mile or so riding along with a barn owl keeping us company for variety as well. By the time we controlled at Bridlington it was obvious we weren’t going to complete plan A, so plan C came out of the bag. Straight line to York, hopefully controlling at Stamford Bridge at 9:13 or before for our 24 hour control.
Quite a bit of rolling road of the Yorkshire wolds to get to Stamford Bridge, but with a tailwind for the first time in 17 hours we made the most of it. And a speedy descent of garrowby hill as well we made it to the coop for 9:09. A victory yoghurt was consumed and we headed into York for the breakfast meet up at the punch bowl.
So as I write this on the Monday I’m still in a bit of pain from some sore muscles, and there’s a little bit of numbness in my hands that I normally on get on 600s, but I expect that’s down to not having built up to this as usual (at 405km it’s the longest ride I’ve done in the last 8 months by nearly 200km). Hopefully the weather will stay nicer and I can capitalise on the fitness while it’s there.
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Oops, realised how much I’ve been neglecting writing here recently. Unfortunately it’s not been down to getting plenty of miles in my legs. In fact my mileage has dropped fairly rapidly since January (589, 389, 254 (27/03)), mostly down to the bl**dy weather. Unfortunately work and OU tutorials have meant I’ve not always been able to get out during the occasional nice spells. So I’m a bit behind where I’d want to be at this time of year. Though I did grind my way round the Rutland and Beyond event, and an extra 50km there and back in February, but that was more to grit than fitness I think.
So a bit behind for LEL, but that’s 4 months away so there’s still some time to get in shape. Slightly more worrying is the arrival of the Audax UK Easter Arrows on Friday morning (36 hours away as I type this). For those who’ve not met them before, these are one of the very rare team events for audaxers. Between 3 and 5 machines (tandems count as a machine, not 2 riders) have to complete a 24 hour ride of at least 360km under some slightly different rules to usual audax events, with the idea being that most of these teams will end up in York at the same time for breakfast. Our team has gone for 460km, which seemed like a good idea during the mild weather in January, not so much now. And the sub zero temps overnight are looking good for the first through the night ride of 2013 either. We’ll be taking copies of the relevant counties gritting routes with us.
At least my cold weather kit is getting plenty of use this year. Hopefully I won’t be riding LEL in longs and winter weight jersey though!!
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As requested by a commenter, here’s my around the houses hill route for Nottingham. It start in Sherwood and end in the city centre as I tend to do it on the way to work. This also means I tend to do it fairly early in the morning so traffic is light, so it might not be so much fun during rush hour:
Starts off with a climb up Winchester Street, then down Woodthorpe to come back up Breck Hill Road, dropping back down woodthorpe Drive to come back up Arno Vale. Out to the country via Spring lane, and then backup up to Mapperley top on Gedling road. Come through Porchester on Kenrick road. Then porchester road and up to the top of Carlton hill. Drop down by Tesco’s and the cemetary to come back up Foxhill Road before dropping down Carlton road into town.
Not the prettiest of routes, but it strings in some of the steeper bits of Nottingham into a handy package.
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So deciding it was time to get back to some proper audax distance decided to head out for a 200km DIY audaxyesterday. Sub plot was to ride with the gentlemen I’ll also be riding an AudaxUK East Arrow with at the end of March.
This was going to be the longest ride I’d done since July (3 coasts 600km) given my abysmal August and end of year.
The weather was never looking to be brilliant. There was snow forecast for the Friday night and the temperature wasn’t expected to make it much above 0C. But the sunday was forecasting rain and winds, so we decided we’d rather brave a bit of snow and ice…….
To keep it vaguely sane we were going to use my Nottingham – Bourne – Woodhall Spa – Lincoln – Nottingham as it’s mainly decent roads. But with a slight detour to pick up one of our number from Bingham.
So Saturday morning came around and the steed was loaded up:
Snowy audax ahead
Roads to nottingham centre were a bit slushy, but they soon picked up on the main drags. We headed out on the A52 and settled in for a bit of a DC bash. Thought we’d cut through radcliffe for a bit of a break only to find it full of slush. All met up at Bingham (as is traditional, in front of a CoOp). Looking at the slush on the roads we decided we’d head for Grantham on the A52 and then pile down the A15 (anyone else spot the problem?). Made good progress along the A52 and got to Grantham in good time.
Took what we thought was the turning for the A15 only to find out we were heading straight for the A1. Yep, the mistake was not remembering just how far on the other side of Grantham the A15 meets the A52. A quick conflab over iphones and road atlas pages and we decided to just head down the A1 to Colsterworth. Only 6 miles, how bad could it be?
As tail end charlie it was a pretty tense 6 miles. The snow and slush meant there was no hard shoulder, and the drivers didn’t appear to be paying attention to the weather conditions. Thankfully the professionals in the big trucks were awake so we got plenty of room from them.
Happy to get off at Colsterworth and then a nice rolling ride to Bourne. Nice chat to a old chap while controlling, regaling us with stories of TTing back in the day, apparently he was capable of a 1:08 25, so definitely a step above us peformance wise. We didn’t hang about too much and headed off for Woodhall Spa
Just after the A17 crossing we hit a bad patch of road. Seemed like ages of carefully following wheel ruts and having to guess if it was just shiny or slippy. Noone went down, but there was plenty of dabbing going on. On particular puddle concealed a pothole about 6 inches deep, or so it felt as my front wheel disappeared. But the views more than made up for it. Bright blue sky with just a few clouds, and snow covered fields stretching off into the distance, and not even that cold. A bit more worrying creaking under the wheels and we were back onto reasonably sane roads. Got to Woodhall Spa and stopped in at Little Dorrits for lunch. They were happy to tell us that the Everyone rides to Skeggy 300 (Go on, enter here) organiser had been in touch to sort out control, so that’s the breakfast stop sorted for that ride.
Now came the slightly busier road bash into Lincoln. Few head winds along here, but mainly just rolling along at a decent pace. Quick stop in Lincoln for those who weren’t DIYing by GPS to grab a reciept and then pushed on for the final leg.
The roads from Lincoln to Newark were nice and clear, no real slush and no traffic. Was good to get to try out the new Cyo properly. Works a treat for those sort of roads, wider been that my old B&M Luxos iQ which is easier on the eyes. All was going well till the drop into Newark from Coddington when my front brake started making some very funny noises and didn’t seem to be slowing me down any. A quick stop in town showed a lot less pad left than I’d have liked, ie; I was braking metal on metal. Deciding that it’d be a stupid thing to change the last 20km with no front brake, I opted to jump on the train for Nottingham.
So I’ve still got the Audax jinx. That’s 3 out 3 for DNFs now, hopefully I’ll break this with the Rutland and Beyond next month.
But on the upside, it looks like I’ve still got some endurance left in the legs after the long lay off. 46okm for the Easter Arrows doesn’t seem to scary a target for 2 months away. And it’s boding well for getting up to full speed for London Edinburgh London at the end of July.
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So I’ve arrived in 2013 not quite as fit as I’d hoped I would be due to various reasons. Thought it’s not all bad, I can still bash out 20 miles in about 70 minutes without keeling over, and a better paced 60ish miles in 4 hours. But it’s a bit of a way from there to London Edinburgh London.
If time were no object I’d be fine. But I’m a reasonably busy job, an OU maths degree on the go and a lovely wife who’d much rather not be abandoned (and who’s agreed to me spending 116 hours on a bike, with a possibility of needing a lift from the wrong end of the country, so you can see why I’d like to keep in her good books :).
Work is only 2.1 miles from my front door, so I’ll have to be creative to get as much benefit out of the ‘free’ training my commute offers. So I’ve worked out 3 out and back loops of 10, 15 and 20 miles depending on where I turn. These aren’t the nicest of cycle routes, but due to leaving the outskirts of Nottingham I do get some nice traffic light free stretches so I can settle into a rhythym. I find it’s this ‘unobstructed’ route that’s the best for training, stop starting through traffic isn’t the greatest for distance training.
As I’m in work for 7am, this is going to involve a lot of 05:30 alarm calls. Luckily, I have shower facilities available at work which makes life a bit easier. On the downside I only have a Carradice Barley for luggage and no rack mounts on my current bike (and not necessarily keen on the idea of P-Clips), so I’ll have to occasionally swing back past the house to pick up a rucsac of stuff to take into work. And there’ll still be the occasional need to come straight home for some reason
So for the next month I’m going to try to use the commuting loops to build up a nice steady 80-100 miles Monday-Friday, and then try to get in at least a 50-60 miler at the weekend. I’m going to try to keep these at about 75% max HR if I can, as I think I still need to work on a solid base. And then head off for a 200km DIY by GPS at the end of the month hopefully to see if everything’s according to plan.
Then hopefully February will be a little lighter and I’ll start throwing some hills into the mix. LEL isn’t that hilly (or at least the northbound route wasn’t – Northbound LEL Diy) but I find hills slightly better for building up power and speed than other methods. Mainly because it’s less boring and I’m more motivated to do it :). So I’ll resurrect and old round the houses route in Nottingham that picks lots of short steep climbs, and probably look into reusing some of the Peak District rides I’ve done over the years.
But on the upside, I managed to get my entry in on Saturday morning. So that’s the first hurdle cleared.
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So not the greatest possible deadline for a TMA, the last wednesday before christmas. With the post and work deadlines it went out right at the last moment, but hopefully it arrived. Still don’t know though as with Tutors also being allowed a christmas and the general amount of bank holidays I don’t expect to hear back for another couple of days.
Despite the hecticness of doing it I quite enjoyed this TMA. The questions were hard, but did build nicely on the material covered, just not exactly in the ways we’d seen it before. Combining a slop and a Torque problem made for some fun diagramming before twigging what was going on.
Wasn’t keen on one question that said you were free to choose your own axis scheme, but which 3 sub sections later couldn’t be answered unless you’d picked the OU approved one!! So that meant redoing that one from scratch.
Due to the amount of diagramming in this one I had to resort to hand writing it. The last time my wrist ached that much I’d been writing wedding cards. I was quite impressive to compare the thickness of the submission though. My tutor likes us to only use 1 side of the paper so they can write their comments on the reverse, so there were about 25-30 sheets of A4 and a TMA marking sheet to fit into the envelope this time! Still classed a large letter though :) Just hope they could read my handwriting, there is a reason I’ve a career where I rarely ever need to do anything other than type.
Made a half hearted start on section 3 over the christmas break, but now getting on with it properly.
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So that’s 2012 over and done with. Bit of a mixed year for my cycling. Overall my mileage was down this year to 4926 miles, giving a weekly average of 94.73 miles which isn’t too shabby. And looks even better when I remember I had 2 months with absolutely no mileage:
So nothing at all for September and October after my crash in August on the Mid Peak Super Grimpeur and an expected dip in May when I had some time off the bike to enjoy a wedding and a honeymoon :). December was a bit crap as well with a chest infection, a does of the Norovirus, ice on the roads and plenty of time celebrating. And despite claiming to commute to work by bike a lot the number of rides a month doesn’t really bear that out (though I tend not to log the direct 2 mile ride home if I’ve got to be back sharpish):
Audaxing wise it went pretty well. Finished off my RRTY attempt in February, got an AAA badge, completed a Super Randonneur series, and got a Randonneur 2500 as well.
So 2013 then. Already starting to make plans. The big ride this year is of course London Edinburgh London but I’m planning a sensible training/build up to it. Current thinking is:
January – DIY 200km just to get back into the swing
February – Rutland and Beyond 100km ECE’d to 200km.
March – Easter Arrow to York. This will be a bit of a change as it’s a Team event, which is a bit unusual for Audax. 3-5 riders form a team, sort a 24 hour route which finishes in York and then ride it. At least 3 members need to finish for it to be a success. Should be fun. And I’m not ruling out another go at the Dean either
April – Not sure yet. There’s nothing of the 300/400km and hills variety I fancy having a crack at, though there may be a few more awaiting with the next copy of Arrivee. Which means it might be a DIY bash around the Peak District.
May – Probably an ECE’d ride to the seaside on the Everybody Rides to Skeggy! from alfreton up to 400km
June – I want to do the 3 Coasts 600km again as I think that is a good trial for how long I’ll be able to push for on LEL. The terrain’s vaguely similar so it’ll be a good idea of if I can push a full 600km in 28 hours before resting, and if I don’t there’s the great hospitality to fall back on. And then for a final hill fix before the taper, I’m going to have a bash at the Pendle 600, 10AAA points across 600km of Northern England’s finest hills.
July – Nice and easy tapering, and maybe some TTing, but nothing too strenuous before the 28th
August – I want to have a go at the Old 240, but the date may be problematic.
After that I’ll come up with some more ideas.
Now to work out a training plan for that lot…….
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At the moment anyway. Had slightly longer off the bike than I’d planned, and it’s being extended by City Link’s inability to perform the sole core duty of getting parcels from A to B. However, somewhere in the country is a new front wheel which means my bike will be rideable again. Luckily it’s a nice Dynohub build, so just in time to save me a fortune on batteries across the winter months :).
Going to try and take it steady and build up a decent base over the winter. So lots of long 75% max HR rides. This will take some willpower to keep it all under control. I always find it hard to relax enough on some hills to keep it down, when I’d rather push on at the same speed. Must also make sure that commuter racing red mist doesn’t descend, the temptation to reel in the person in front (or more likely stopping them from getting too big a lead) is ever present.
Going to be doing a fair amount of core and flexibility work as well. I noticed when I started doing more stretching for a knee injury earlier in the year that I did feel better after a long ride. And it seems to be fairly common advice to build up the core for performance and comfort. Neither of these things immediately jump out at me and say “DO ME”, so I’ll have to find a decent plan that I will follow and keep up with it.
Hopefully that should get me back up to speed for January, and then I’m going to start pushing the distances up a bit earlier this seaon. This should make sure I’ve got an SR in the bag before London Edinburgh London. Would really like to be able to do LEL in long day stages with a nights sleep each night. Not so worried about the hills on this one as I was with Mille Alba. While none of them will be ‘easy’ with that sort of distance in the legs, there’s nothing I can remember that was gratuitously steep.
But anyway, here’s hoping that City Link work out what it is they’re meant to do as Saturday is looking good for a shake down ride!
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Bit quiet on the MST209 front recently, but I’ve been concentrating on some career stuff for a bit. Had a reasonably busy weekend with it though, so probably time for a quick update.
First tutorial on Saturday morning just gone. Bit of a change as it was the first non mid week tutorial I’ve had during my OU experience, and also the first I couldn’t walk to. Took the car this time, but think I should be able to bike it OK once I’ve got the bike back on the road. Reasonably low turnout of about 8 people. Was interesting to find out about the problems with MSXR209 being overly full, could well make all this time and money a bit redundant if I can’t get on it as MST209 only counts for my degree if I do that as well. Can’t say I’m particularly happy about it, and think I’ll be writing to the OU to find out what they’re doing about it. There seems to be quite a bit of posting on the forums about it, but no one appears to be able to make a proper official statement. Unfortunately I couldn’t book on the course too early as I need to wait for various work dates to be announced to make sure I can have time off. Hopefully the rumours of extra spaces with amount to something and I can book on.
On the bright side, we went through a number of examples related to the TMA01, and the tutor showed us a few tricks to speed things up (always handy for the exam). And as always a different explanation usually helps things make more sense. Was also good to get an idea of the sort of language and proof required for the TMAs. Looks like MST209 is slightly less rigorous than M208 was in that area.
Then decided on Sunday that I’d better buckle down and finish typing up TMA01, and also do the mathcad parts. First suprise was that we have a new version of Mathcad for MST209, verson 14 this time. Luckily it looks like this will still run on my venerable virtual Windows XP install running under Parallels Desktop. One major difference is that you now have to ‘license’ it with a 3rd party company who want various pieces of personal inf0rmation. I don’t know about my fellow students but I’m not happy about having to hand over personal data to a 3rd party in order to do a compulsory part of my OU course. In case anyone else isn’t happy with this, the site in question doesn’t check the details or mail you anything to confirm. So you can provide some generic information and still carry on. The license is more restrictive than the version 2001i that came with MST121/MS221 as it claims to only allow you to run it on one machine, which will be a pain as I got used to having it installed at home, and then a copy at work for when I print out my TMA submissions. Not given it a go yet, but that’s one of this weeks tasks. Other than that it was just another frustrating case of the bad user interface (major mathcad tip, learn the keyboard shortcuts, it really does make it nicer) and then hitting things until it looked nice.
Dropping back into LaTex as a joy, all came back nice and quickly. Just updated my LaTex TMA template, and made good use of Detexify for anything I couldn’t remember
The actual maths content has been great so far. The revision sections were great for getting back into things after 9 months off from studying. Differential equations were well explained, and combined with some info from the tutorial make a bit more sense now (famous last words). And the vector stuff follows on nicely from MS221 as well. I’ve been reading through section 2 – Statics – and that looks like my sort of things as well, always preferred Mechanics back at A-Level mathematics.
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So I’ve not touched the bike since I got it home after my off, mainly because a fortnight after that trip to A&E I managed to break a big toes whilst washing up. But now with the new AUK season 8 days old, I’ve decided I’d better fix it up. A new shiny front wheel shall be ordered from Big Al at Wheelcraft to keep the wonderful rear wheel he built me company. Am planning on something with a Dynohub to save having to cart so many batteries around, and to reduce the reliance on bag drops and plugs on longer brevets. Not sure what light to pair it up with, thought a Cyo would be a shoe in, until I saw the Luxus with it’s built in USB recharging option.
As the accident put the kibosh on my RRTY attempt I think I’ll take it easy until 2013 and not push for silly long rides and just work on getting a decent base in, and possibly some speed work.
Next year is looking like a good year for some long rides. I’ve got permission and the time off work booked for London Edinburgh London, which will be the key aim. Would like to have got a full SR in before then to make sure the fitness is up, and a couple of extra longer rides wouldn’t go amiss either. Have broached the subject of the Super Brevet Scandanavia 1200 as well, and it’s not been shot down completely. Also the Pendle 600 might be on the cards as it looks like it might coincide with a trip to the Lakes anyway, and that would satisfy my climbing craving.
And in a slight regression I’ve started pounding the pavements of Nottingham again in a bid to keep my fitness up till my wheel arrives, though I am planning to keep it up over the winter in case it’s as bad as last year for getting out on the bike. Just need to get a few more miles in my legs before trying some of my older Nottingham running routes
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The website officially went live this morning and I’ve now grabbed all the PDF versions of the MST209 course materials and added all the assesment deadlines into my calendar. Just need them to announce the Tutorials now, hopefully I’ll be as lucky as I was on MST221 and M208, and they’ll be just along the road in Sherwood.
Once I’ve moved the PDFs over to the Nexus I’ll hopefully be able to make better use of lunch breaks at work. Though while I was waiting for them to be put up I spent the weekend working through units 1+2 in Book 1.
This seems to be a new format from the OU, not sure it’s just MST209 though, where all the units in a block are now put into 1 book rather than each being an individual book. From a environmental point of view it probably reduces paper usage and shipping overheard. But it’s a little bit of a pain as they don’t seem to have reformated the underlying material so you end up having the answers for the units interspersed, so it’s a little harder to just flick to the back of the book, but it’s nothing that a little judicious usage of postage notes won’t sort out.
Unfortunately the PDFs are identical to the books, so you end up with large files that are hard to flick back and forwards through unless you have PDF reader that allows you to create bookmarks, or having 2 readers open so you can switch between them. Maybe now that portable PDF reading is much more common the OU might consider adding a proper set of bookmarks into the PDF files?
Anyway, enough griping. Unit 1 was a revision unit which was handy as it’s been just under a year since I did anything harder than arithmetic. Took a while to drop back into things, and I really need to revise my basic integrals as I keep having to refer to the handbook or Wolfram for them.
Unit 2 was First order differential equations. Took me a while to get used to the style this was written in. It wasn’t as step by step as MS221 was, but wasn’t quite as rigorous as M208 was, so I’d often have to “doodle” the examples on a bit of paper to work out the missing steps. It also really pointed out that I’m still not paying enough attention and getting myself into trouble later on. For example:
then is not , which would lead to:
But instead it’s the whole of the function of x, which gives:
Which makes quite a bit of difference in the final evaluation. This has always been a failing of mine, maybe this will be the course where I finally fix it.
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Suprised to see that the MST209 course books had been dispatched yesterday as I wasn’t expecting them till after the weekend. Thankfully having been bitten on my first OU course I’ve now got all course books winging their way to work so I actually got them yesterday as well.
Excitedly ripped the packing open once I’d gotten them home and started unpacking. Unfortunately the first thing I saw was the Mathcad software disks. Rats, I’d hoped that MST121 and MS221 would be the last time I had to deal with that piece of antiquated dross. But, no, it’s back to haunt me. So time to soil my mac with another Windows XP virtual machine so I can use it.
Then I found the good stuff, the books :) Felt a little short changed when there were only 8 of them (including the handbook). But they’re all thicker than the previous course books, so it’s probably the same amount of paper. Though I’m now even happier I got the Nexus to cart around the PDF versions on, though they’re not available yet, guessing they’ll be put up when the MST209 2012 site goes fully live next week
Liked the specimen paper that was included. While I was hazy on the specific, the general feel of the questions looked more like the sort of things I used to be good at.
Started flicking through the ‘revision’ section of Book 1. Happy that a lot of it came back to me. Will sit down over the weekend and run through it properly with pen and paper just to check that I was do the exercises right. And then onwards into Differential Equations
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Wednesday saw another trip up to marple, this time for the Staffs Peak Super Grimpeur. After last times debacle I reckoned not cycling TO the event was a good idea, so accepted a lift up there. But the plan was to do the ride and then cycle back home making full use of the 14 hours allowed for a 200km BR audax.
It was all looking a bit wet, grim and windy when we turned up in Marple. That seemed to have put plenty of people off, as only 17 out of 44 entries started. It slackened off a bit while we had a quick coffee waiting for the start. At set off there was only a slight drizzle so I ditched the waterproof and off we went up by the canal locks. Soon we’d cleared marple and were up on the tops with a stunning view all the way across Manchester to the west with some blue skies mocking us in the distance. Settled in to the rhythm of the day with a fast descent down to Kettleshulme and then settling in for a long climb out. The ride up from Errwod Reservoir up to the A54 was alongside a very full River Goyt with plenty of smaller streams in spate on either side. Plenty of surface water showed that there’d been a lot of rain overnight in the area.
A great drop down the road to Glutton bridge, though slightly sketchy with a lot of gravel having been forced onto the road with the rain and lots of puddles with no visible bottoms. Climbing up to the traffic lights I could feel my right foot slipping on the cleats so I stopped to take a look to find that the bolts had both come loose. Quickly tightening them up I tried to catch up with Bob and Pete from Derby Mercury who I’d been riding with, but I’d not got the cleat back on in anything like the original position. So I had a quick sit down on a wall just after Longnor to sort it out properly.
The next few climbs felt great and I was really getting into my stride. This really reinforced the belief that my previous failure had been down to my inability to deal with heat and my hopes were high for getting in the 200km ride I needed for August for the RRTY. Dropped through Wetton and picked up the signs for Wetton Mill and the first control. Dropping down a nice wooded road trying to take it carefully with the water, gravel and other debris. Came round a corner to find a white BMW coming uphill doing the same. No problems, I’ll just tuck in a bit and we’ll pass each other. Except I hit some gravel and the front wheel went, I tried to throw the bike the other way and ended up bouncing off the car and going back over and landing on my left hand side, scraping down the road for a bit, with at least one big bang to my helmet.
All over so fast that I’d barely registered it as I stood up. The driver had stopped and was jumping out as well. A quick stock was taken and I appeared to be able to stand and move everything so most of the classic cyclists breaks seemed to have been avoided. But I did have a lot of blood pouring out of my left knee. Unfortunately my front wheel was beyond repair and the handlebars didn’t look too healthy either.
I hobbled down to the control where the controller kindly offered to run me and my bike back to Marple after the field had passed through. I scrounged a cloth from the cafe and went into the gents to clean some of the blood off. Then discovered just how deep the cut was and how much debris there was in there. So quickly replaned with the controller to head back to Marple via an A&E department. Buxton minor injuries unit fitted the bill and I was quickly ushered in. The flap of skin was declared non-viable so was cut off, and a couple litres of saline and judicious tweezer usage got most of the rest of junk out. But I was given a weeks dose of antibiotics just in case. Got back to Marple in time to catch the field finishing and tuck in to the spare sandwiches
So I’ve new handlebars and front wheel to buy. I was thinking of getting a dynohub wheel later on this year but not sure if the pennies will stretch to that at the moment. And I’ll move my planned month off up to now as there’s now no RRTY pressure to get a ride in.
So here endeth my 2011-12 audax season. Not too bad in hindsight as I got another super randonneur in, and extended it to an SR25 or whatever it’s called. Plus picked up an AAA award as well.
So a month off and then I’ll start prepping for next year. More AAA, another SR and the big challenge will be the 1400km London Edinburgh London.
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The start of MST209 is rapidly approaching. And in an effort to try and fit everything in I decided I needed a way to me sure I can study in any spare time. And also I needed to fit in with my increased commuting via bike as I can’t fit the course books into my carradice barley.
I’d been eyeing up tablets and ereaders for a while. While an e-ink device like a kindle is great for reading text it really falls down when you’ve got complex PDFs with graphics in them. I gave one a go with the PDFs from m208 and it was horrendous. So a ‘proper’ tablet looked like the only way to go.
Apples ipad is pretty much the reference in that market. But despite being an apple user (I phone and Macbook pro) I was put off by the cost and the size. A 10″ tablet doesn’t fit in a barley so I’d have needed to buy a new saddlebag (and support as the bagman sport doesn’t support anything bigger), and £399 is quite a bit to spend on a trial.
I’d been looking at the various 7″ android tablets but none really seemed to offer the performance I was looking for. Then Google released its nexus 7. I had a quick play with one and liked the size, screen and feel of it. And the price at £199 for the 16GB was more to my wallets liking. The only thing I was unsure about was how it would handle large PDFs, which unfortunately I couldn’t try out in shop as android doesn’t come with a PDF reader as standard. But asking around it didn’t seem to be something anyone thought would be a problem. Now just to get the money together.
But my lovely wife arrived home last night with the 2nd from last one at Nottingham PC world after everywhere else had been sold out. And I’ve got to say it looks like it is exactly what I wanted. Not completely sold on one particular pdf reader yet, but none of the ones I’ve tried have been completely awful so I think it’s just a case of finding the one I like the most.
And if this posts ok then the wordpress app works fine as well.
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So the plan looked good. Get the first train from Nottingham to Cromford. Then cycle the 50km from Cromford to Marple in 2-2.5 hours. Then complete the Mid Peak Grimpeur 100km. And ride back to Cromford to get the train home. Hopefully getting home for an early night with tea and AAA points galore……..
Well, that came nowhere near to happening. First problem was when I realised the ECE leg to Marple was actally 57km, not the worst thing but it added to the pressue a bit. Then as I started climbing Via Gellia I suddenly remember that the Peak District has hills, which made those extra 7km particularly worrying as I was on a deadline. Not doing too bad by the time I got to Buxton, but started to flag a bit up Long hill, though thoroughly enjoyed the drop into Whalley Bridge. Got to the Costa near the start about 15 minutes early and got to finally eat some breakfast.
Rolled out mid bunch through Marple and onto Glossop along some nicely rolling roads. Snake Pass was a long drag up to the top with a wonderful descent to Lady Bower reservoirs only spoilt slightly by a set of temporary traffic lighs which I wasn’t quite fast enough to make it through. Good climb up along Bamford moor and up to the Stanage car park before a great free fall down to hathersage. The pool cafe was nice and speedy as well so I grabbed a cob and a coffee, and got back on the road. Though as I stood up I should have paid more attention to the cramp attack I got, first time in a long time I’ve had that on a long ride…….
Things started to go a bit wrong on the long climb up to the gliding club. Suddenly I’d lost power and was finding it hard to event turn over my lowest gear (ok, not that low at 36″, but still). Ended up having to stop and have a couple of minutes slupd over the handlebars before pushing on. Got to the pub for the info, and could tell my brain was starting to go as I began panicing about finding my brevet card in the Barley, never once thinking to check the usual spot in a jersey pocket.
Pushed on, but as soon as the route turned onto Horse Lane from the A6 I could just feel the legs weren’t happy. Had a 10 minute break sat on a wall in some shade watching other riders pass by, and then had another go. 100m further on and I could tell it wasn’t working properly. Knowing that I could head straight down a flattish A6 to Cromford and be at the station in 40 minutes pretty much sealed the deal, especially as I realised that as much as I’d enjoyed the descent of Long Hill on the way to Marple, I was going to have to climb it on the way back, So, I turned tail and headed for the train.
Looking back I think my main problem was the heat. This year I”ve not had much experience of riding in hot weather, and looking back I think this was much like how I was feeling on a 200k to Luton from Nottingham in 2011. This year i’ve been running on 1 bidon of sports drink/ribena and 1 bidon of coke (heh, it works for me). Thinking that I need to switch to ‘thinner’ drinks when the temperature heads north, probably moving back to water and Nunns (which would have stopped the cramps). Further proof of this was the funny looks I got as I spasmed in my seat with cramps as the train rolled through Derby.
I also need to make sure I bite off bite smaller chunks. The 3 sections of my rider were all rideable by me individually, but because I’d put too much effort into stage 1 I couldn’t move onto stage 2+3. It also shows that just because I’ve done a 300km with 5 AAA points (Yr Elenydd 2012) it doesn’t translate to doing a 100km grimpeur +100km ECE as there isn’t the time spread to allow relaxing on the first leg.
Also I’d put myself under some extra time pressure by needing to be back home by a certain time. I might have pulled it back if I’d have had an hour sit down inside somewhere.
Oh well, it’s put the RRTY under a bit of pressure as my only other ride option this month is the Staffs Peak Grimpeur in 3 weeks time, so that’d need turning into a 200, and it’s the hilliest of all the hilly Marple Grimpeurs. Will need to have a ponder, though I could be the only entrant hoping for cooler weather for it :)
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Can’t have been that bad as I’m sat at work with no real ill effects apart from having eaten lunch, and then gone out to buy another one as well…..
Keeping an eye on the weather forecasts in the week running up to the event it had been looking like a pretty good weekend, with the only fly in the ointment being stron Easterly, which meant that what was pretty much an out and back run on an Eas-West line was going to be 50% into the wind…
Rocked up on Friday night and got a taster of the care and attention we were going to enjoy from the Organiser and his helpers over the weekend. £5 for all you can eat catering was certainly going to be a good deal.
6am start on the Saturday, looking nice and bright outside. As the ‘peleton’ wound it’s way out of Mytholmroyd we got a sudden heavy downpour, which set the standard for much of the rest of the day weatherwise. A quick busstop control and another at fast grab at Castleford bus station and we were out into open country. The tailwind certainly sped us along, and we were sat in the Boathouse Cafe in Bridlington at 158km by 12:00!
Speedy turnaround of beans on toast and we set off into the wind. Working through and off with Bob from VC167 we made good pace to Malton where we skipped the tearooms in favour of a faster turnaround at a petrol station. I couldn’t hold on to the pace so dropped back a bit and after a few miles of soft pedalling pushed on a bit harder. Another stop in Thirsk for a sit down and forecourt snack.
Rolled back through some nice rolling country roads, the toll bridge from Linton-On-Ouse was interesting with it’s wooden topping. Was quite glad not to have a car sharing with me, as the weight woulnd’t have been a problem but all I could think of was cartoon style planks launching me over the side.
Extra layers and lights went on at Castleford before an urban run back to HQ. Coming through Sowerby Bridge’s nightlife was a bit of an eye opener, and the climb out on Hollins Mill Lane was an unexpected little grimp as well. Rolled back into HQ bang on 10, having recorded my fastest ever 200km (~8h) and 300km (12:07 (yes, I did notice it coming and was sad enough to be paying attention)) so the headwind can’t have been that bad. Made the most of the available food, and gladly took the couple of beers that were offered as well. Then off to find a bit of floor for a bit of kip.
Having plenty of time in hand I decided to make the most of it. So Sunday I set off at 6:00 again into a light drizzle……
It took me about 9km to get lost as I stupidly followed the wrong pink line on the GPS unit out of Todmorden, and only realised when I saw the roadsign for Hollins Lake and thought “I’m sure that’s the last control”. Oh well, only an extra 20km and luckily the retrace to Todmorden was with the wind at my back. Largish climb up and over the watershed to Burnley and then a drop down to Whalley before things levelled out for a rolling run across above Preston. And then a bit of urban cycling through BlackPool for an info at the North Pier, where I though I ought to take at least one photo at one of the coasts visited:
Bike at Blackpool on the 3 coasts audax
Can’t say I was too sad to leave Blackpool as the driving was of a pretty low standard. But the flat coastal run to Glasson docks soon cheered me up. Felt like being closer to home in the Fens. The Lantern O’Er Lune at the docks were quick at serving up the obligatory Beans on toast and I didn’t dally there too long.
Now came the part of the ride that gives this version of the route it’s AAA points. It was also about here that my front mech decided that it didn’t enjoy shifting down onto the smaller chainring. Thankfully there wasn’t too much gratuitous steepness so the expletives as I forced my way up some of the steeper bits weren’t too loud. By now the wind was behind us and the weather had improved so we got some marvellous views off the tops. Followed by some great descents on the return to Whalley.
Retraced the route we’d taken out from Tod in the morning, and then I got to follow the route I’d mistakenly followed earlier on in the day. Grabbed a car park ticket at Hollingworth lake as the visitor centre looked shut and I didn’t fancy the pub (well, I did fancy the pub, just not queuing there). Dropped back to the valley and then started the long grind up Blackstone Edge. Nothing too horrendous on the gradient, but it was just a slog with 590km in the legs. But then we dropped onto Cragg Vale for 8km of downhill rest, and were back at HQ. Finished at 18:15, so a bit slower than saturday, but still good going for hills and tired legs.
The organisation of the event was brillant thanks to Chris and his team. The routesheet was clear and easy to use on the road, and on the sofa when I was doing the GPX tracks. Accomodation available before, during and after the event for those who needed it, so it made the logistics a lot easier as we could head up on Friday night for no extra cost. And as much food as you could eat was a great feature, certainly got my moneys worth on toast and pasta over the weekend.
So that’s a 2nd audax goal for 2012 achieved as well, as I’ve now got one of the shiny new Super Randonneur 2500 awards for doing rides of 200,300,400,600 and 1000km in one season. And as a bonus all the events have been AAA.
Hopefully the legs will recover nicely before 8th August when I’m off to the Peak District for one of Peak Audax’s Marple Grimpeurs, the Mid Peak 100 to be precise. Which hopefully I’ll ECE up to 200km.
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So I’ve now got this years Super Randonneur award sorted, and as a bonus it’s AAA as well (Dean, Yr Elenydd, Brevet Cymry, Mille Alba) so that’s one target out of the way for the year. Now to convert it into one of the shiny new SR2500′s or whatever they’re actually being called with a 600km ride. And I’ve decided to keep it all AAA as well. So that left the only the 3 Coasts 600km as the only real calendar event left for me to consider this year.
Looks like a good route, and I like the idea of cycling right across the country twice in under 40 hours. Plus we get to see the sea a couple of times which is always nice. A proper sleep stop, food included and a number of proper controls as also a big incentive.
Not had to plot a route for a while as I’ve been a bit spoilt with organisers offering good quality gpx tracks to work with. But it doesn’t take that long to work throught the route sheet on the laptop, and here’s the result:
The legs are of slightly strange lengths, but each ends at a control. The length was based on how long I had to work each one out.
They can be downloaded here:
3 coasts audax 2012 gpx part 1
3 coasts audax 2012 gpx part 2
3 coasts audax 2012 gpx part 3
3 coasts audax 2012 gpx part 4
Hoping that some of the fitness from Mille Alba has hung around, though I’ve just had a week off the bike with some knee pain, but different knee pain from before MA. If it has I think I’ll be trying for an earlier finish on the Sunday so I can get a train back to Nottingham that evening. Should be doable if I only grab a short sleep stop.
Now I could just do with getting back on the bike without some knee pain. New shoes have been purchased so should be broken in by then. Don’t know if I’m brave enough to try breaking in a new saddle in a fortnight though….
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Well stories like this are one of the main reasons – http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/communities/heaton/2012/04/21/tyneside-vicar-s-death-sparks-changes-to-heaton-road-72703-30809512/
No fault from the driver? For overtaking where it wasn’t safe to do so? For not allowing enough room when overtaking a slow moving vehicle? Assuming that speeding is the only offense a driver could commit that would endanger another road user?
Coroner David Mitford is a bloody idiot:
- If Mr Strong had waited 2 minutes, Mr Malleson would still be alive.
- If Mr Strong had looked ahead to see what was happening on the road ahease, Mr Malleson would still be alive.
- If Mr Strong hadn’t forced past while the road was obstructed, Mr Malleson would still be alive.
I make that at least 3 actions of Mr Strong that killed Mr Malleson. But as usual, as he killed him with a car nothing happens.
And the helmet issue is a red herring, cycling appears to be the only form of road use where I’m meant to wear a piece of supposed protection which won’t protect me properly in the event of someone else’s fuckup. Do we blame the victim when a original mini is crushed by a larger vehicle? Surely the mini driver could have upgrade to the latest greatest 4×4 with a safety cell? Which still wouldn’t have protected them, so why are cyclists singled out for having to mitigate YOUR fuckup.
 – note for the apoletic idiot driving silver Peugot FE03OWH on Mansfield road on the 9th July, the legal minimum space to give to any road user when overtaking, is 3 feet, not 8 inches.
Update: This link – http://www.stop-smidsy.org.uk/case-study/reverend-michael-malleson-died-after-being-knocked-road-narrowing-heaton-newcastle-301111 – has been bought to my attention. And it appears that we now let the police decide on who’s at fault. Erm, I was under the impression that that was a job for the coroner and the courts.
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Now that Mille Alba‘s over I’ve been thinking back over what did and didn’t work on that ride, and what I want to change or do better for London-Edinburgh-London next year.
Saddle – Worked for most parts, but I think I need one that tapers in quicker. Main rear end parts appear fine, but I’ve got some small rubbed spots on the inner thigh that I’m basing this one on. So this is definitely some I’ll be swapping out before LEL, though probably after a 600 at the end of July to give me time to break it in. Debating between a Brooks (which seem very popular), or a thinner version of my current San Marco.
Bike – I would like something with a sligthly longer top tube as the current one feels a bit cramped. And I would like a slightly ‘suppler’ frame (steel or titanium probably), but this is all dependant on money. I don’t feel as though this is a make or break issue though, so if I can I will, if not no problems.
Lighting - My main front light, a B&M Ixon is starting to play up (appears to be a switch issue), but when it works it was fine. But riding with people with dynohubs and Cyos has made me jealous of the amount and quality of light they were enjoying. So if money becomes available this is where it’ll go before spending on the frame. Will also mean I don’t have to lug around USB battery backs for the GPS as well.
Luggage – Carradice Barley worked well as normal, again with a dry bag toe-strapped on top to hold a full mountain weigth waterproof in case of the predicted weather. Will try to cut down the amount of crap I carry, as I’m sure I didn’t used everything in there. May add a small top tube bag or bar bag to make eating on the go easier, I can reach jersey pockets (unless wearing waterproof), but everything ends up bruised or bashed, or there isn’t enough in there.
Navigation – The Garmin worked well most of the time. Powering it had a few interesting moments, though I think that’s down to my new TeckNet battery being slightly too intelligent and cutting power once the unit’s charged. If I get a dynohub it’s a shoe in for LEL, if not I might consider an Etrex or something that takes AAs. Will be getting a routesheet holder though as it helps out when the OSM map isn’t 100% clear enough. Resetting the tracks every 250km helped as well.
Footwear – On days 2+3 I started suffering from pretty bad hot foot, having to take time off the bike to take shoes off rub my feet. 2 weeks on and I still have some slight numbness in certain spots. Pretty certain this is down to shoes that aren’t particularly stiff and not having a decent insole. So an urgent purchase is a new pair of much stiffer shoes with a good footbed, or a chance to put a good quality one inside.
Fitness – not too shabby if I do say so. My main problem is the very steep hilly sections, which take me a long time to get up and then a fair while to recover from. Thankfully having riddent a bit of LEL it isn’t as steep as Mille Alba, the worst bit is probably the long drag over Yad Moss each way, though after 500km everything feels steeper :). Will just carry on with RRTY for the rest of the year, a few more AAA events and maybe throw some speed work over the winter to raise my average up a km/h or so.
Sleep – Reasonably surprised how I was function on about 7 hours sleep over the weekend. Don’t think that would necessarily scale up for another day or 2. But as I said above LEL should be more conducive to a higher moving average which gives more time for sleeping. I’ll also try to have rested better the fortnight beforehand.
So my priorities are:
- Shoes – will sort before the 3 coasts 600
- Light – Gone back for warranty replacement, hopefully back for the 600
And the rest will just follow hopefully.
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