Monday, 30 November 2015

A Tale Of Two Minds!

Hello blog lovers.

This morning when I woke up, around 8:20 ish I looked outside to a grey overcast November morning.  I went to the window and discovered it had been raining too. So it was that easy to climb back under my duvet. I laid there for a least another 15 minutes, debating whether I should even consider getting my bike gear on. I leaned over to pick up my phone, I shall check on the FaceBook page, maybe if there was no one going today that would make my mind up.  I noticed that I had switched it to aeroplane mode and when I switched it to off I immediately received a text from Mhairi, "You up for a ride, I need to take it easy" said the text.  Well, my cycling head finally switched on as I sent back a 'Yes'.

I quickly replied to the Facebook page, something about trying not to be a 'fair weather rider'  and got myself ready.  Now I hate being cold so to make sure that the horrible weather out there wasn't going to affect my lovely warm body that I have in here, I went for the onion approach again.  I really thought I would be getting it right, it looks just so awful out there, I am fighting with myself to stay away from my phone to text everyone and pull out!

I had managed to get outside, with more layers than an onion and without checking the FB page again!  I remembered to borrow the Old Boys Garmin for my bike, it will be good to see how fast I can go.  I know I have been slower of late, and need to pick up the pace a bit.  These ladies all have incredible fitness levels.  The seem to get stronger and stronger with each hill we ride up, how is that possible!?  I continually blow out my backside with every single hill tha I climb!  But maybe today the wind will be in my favour......and no I don't mean from my backside! Maybe today I will have that extra bit of never know!

I got to Hayes and the cafe.  I was first there, very unusual for me!  I checked the time and found out I was actually 24 minutes early!  I guess putting on those overshoes over the toes first saves a lot of time!  I ordered a coffee and waited for the others.  There was only going to be Mhairi and Karen today, and Karen only managed to be able to ride because of a cancelled appointment!  So two very good riders.....and me!  Just as well Mhairi wanted a nice easy steady one today.  The steady easy ride for her is up to Downe!

We finished our coffee and we set off, up to Downe.  The climb starts virtually from the off!  There is a little down hill at the beginning and then it's all up, up and up.  I so hate hills.  I try to love them, I try to embrace them, I try to relax and go at a nice steady constant, comfortable pace. But I really hate hills! Yes, they do your legs good, and your fitness levels go up and up with every hill you do each hurts!  I am such a woose, such a moaning woose, and I let everybody know, in the most ladylike of manners that I can summons while riding up hills!

Mhairi was in front with Karen at the back, it stayed like that for a while, with me truly expressing my feelings about these hills.  But Karen is a good rider with strong legs, she needed to get pass me and really tackle the hill.  I know it's the only way to do hills.  Find a comfortable pace, and just keep a constant cadence and pedal up.  That's how I do it, if I go too slowly then it hurts more, if I try to go to fast then I just get completely knackered. Constant and consistent pace, that's how it should be done.  Karens pace is a lot faster than mine and so is Mhairi, but Mhairi has this talent to be able to just keep with the slowest rider, sprint if necessary to get out of the way of cars, or just to blast a bit of hill for the sheer fun of it.

Mhairi knows my speed, she knows that I won't be too far behind her and feels confident to stay in front, 'pulling' rather than 'pushing' me up the hill, the sign of a good leader, knowing what each member of the group are capable off achieving.  She knew I was confident to ride on these roads and it was just as well, there was so much traffic today.  And some of these drivers I am sure do not like cyclists!

The climb up to Downe seemed a lot longer today!  I don't know if it was because I had come out without having breakfast, but I was hoping that the sugar I had in my tea and coffee were going to be enough.  I started to think that maybe I was a little over dressed as I was sweating like I was last night! Maybe one extra layer to many.  It was just then that I realised I had forgotten my water, my first thoughts was "Oh no, Mhairi is so going to have a go at me"  She does like us to be well hydrated.  I remember Fiona giving me 'the look' on a particularly warm day because I had forgotten to bring water.  They do look after you, the Panagua Ladies!

We continued our usual route towards Biggin hill.  All of three of us today used the path to get to the road takes us towards the Shampan at the SpiningWheel. And then more hills!  Do I not like hills! I really do no like hills!  Does anyway have a hill flattener please.  These hills were particularly mucky as well, the rain washing gravel all over the place.  We all were looking particularly lovely with the muddy spotty streak on our backs.

I felt such relief when I saw the Shampan, a quick pit stop for a breather, but also Karen had this energy bar thing which she shared with us. A little bit of energy to get to Cudham North Lane and then its that wonderful down hill.  Mind you Mhairi was making some noises about going a slightly longer way, which I would have guessed riding down Cudham North Lane wouldn't be happening!  I was looking forward to that, and if I am honest, I was a bit tired anyway.  I hadn''t slept too well last night, this 'getting on a bit' is not good.  I must have woken up three times last night feeling like a broiled old boiler!  Talk about hot stuff!  I could have melted half the ice cap it I lived that way!

Cudham North Lane, it was finally here.  The speedy bit, the bit that gets the adrenaline skyrocketing, and Mhairi wanted to miss it, tut tut tut.  I slotted in behind the ladies as we made our descent.  I was waiting, and waiting, and then I was waiting.  We were ambling along, ok so still a lot faster than going up the hill, but there I was pulling on my brakes, so as not to get too close to Karen.  They were riding side by side and chatting away.  "So are we going to ride this hill or what?" I said as we just passed the Blacksmiths Arms. "We were waiting for you to take the lead" said Mhairi, so with that I crept pass the ladies and started speeding down the hill.  "I so love hills" I said as if flew down there "...don't you?"  I realised just then that riding can make you completely schizophrenic on just one little route!

My lead didn't last long though, because just about a minute of me being in the lead then Mhairi just came flying down!  How does she do it.  I thought I was going pretty fast with not a lot left in my pedals, well maybe if I really pedalled hard I could find some, but she looked totally amazing, every second just putting a bit more distance between us, but still keeping a watchful eye on us like a mother hen! 'Weeeeeeeee Heeeeeeee" shouted Karen behind me!  I think she was enjoying this hill too!

All too quickly, as always, the hill came to a finish at Greenstreet Green roundabout.  And now, there were more hills to climb up, but just a couple, to Farnborough village, where we had a lovely cup of tea and scones!  A great ride, an nice easy one for Mhairi and Karen, (Karen said that she used to find Pole Hill a tough hill to get up, I still have nose bleeds thinking about riding up it) and an nice hill training for me in great company!

So the geeky stats from the Old Boys Garmin.

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Monday, 23 November 2015

It's A Bootie Ride!

Hello blog lovers.

Ok, maybe the title has double connotations! So it may attract more people to read my blog! But it really was a bootie ride.  It's cold out, it's the middle of November, and I'm on my bike!  So I finally got a chance to try out those overshoes the Old Boy bought me.  The do look like cute booties!

So there I was, everything ready and then......getting those booties on!  Talk about hard!  It's like squeezing the Michelin man into a size 8 wet suit! Yes, they're stretchy and they are the right size for me, in fact they are a size bigger because of the type of shoe I wear, but the positions I had to get into trying to get them on was ridiculous!  I got cramp in places I didn't know I could get cramp!

FinallyI was ready, I had more layers on than a full ballroom dancing dress has, my booties securely on my feet, and out of the door and heading for Hayes!  I hadn't a clue what the time was, I was hoping I was going to be in time, I had forgotten to pick up the Old Boys Garmin too, so I was just going to have to rely on the girls to let me know how far we would have done.

Didn't you just love
the old time ballroo dancing!

Towards the end of Barnet Wood Lane I heard a "Good Morning!" I turned to see who it was and it was a young lady that I hadn't met before. "Are you Donna, Donna Moosh?" she asked.  "Yes" I answered, still didn't know who she was.  "I'm Karen" she informed me!  Karen is one of the newest members of Panagua Ladies.  She has been on a few rides, but mainly on a Tuesday, the day that I can't ride.

We rode on together towards the cafe at Hayes.  Already there was Mhairi and Mary-Ann and also one other lady.  A newbie, never been before on a Panagua Ladies Ride, lady.  It was Brenda.  I had met Brenda before on a couple of Breeze rides with Yvonne and her girls.  So with the five of us we chose a route, just a short one, to Downe Village.

I was quite pleased it was a short one as I was having a little problem with my hand.  After I had fallen over a couple of weeks ago my hand is still hurting.  With every little pot hole or little lump I rode over it felt like I was bashing a huge bruise on my hand!  I was thinking that maybe the flat bar bike would have been a bit easier on my hand, at least for braking anyway, but too late now.

We set off with  Mhairi in front looking, as she said, like a traffic cone, Mary-Anne looking much the same as she proudly wore her Panagua colours, (I so got to get me some club gear!) and Karen next in line with Brenda slotting between them and me.  We turned right to go down the hill, the way we usually go.

The two ladies in front were in the zone as they pedalled along at a steady pace.  We got to the main road and Mhairi suggested that the two front runners go ahead at their pace, and we just keep on going on the way to Downe.  So off they went and that left just the three of us chatting and cycling along.

My little booties, I think were doing a good job.  I am sure my feet would be freezing by now.  I felt nice and toasty with my three layers on, and I didn't resort to putting on my liners in my gloves.  I should really try to start acclimatising myself to the winter onslaught.  I don't do cold very well, just ask the Old Boy, there has been many a times he has had to loan me his gloves to wear for the last little bit home! A little and often of getting out cycling is probably what I should be doing!

It was a steady slog up to Downe, I went in front and Mhairi cycled along with Brenda, I knew where we were going anyway.  We got to the tree in the middle of the village and had a little break there before we started off again.  I forgot to get a picture but as I was out in front again I thought it would be good to get an action shot of the two ladies. I stopped at the junction of Single Street and Jail Lane.  A 'decicision' making stop as to which way we would go, once the other two ladies had caught up.

We decided to carry on straight down Jail Lane and then take a left turn
through the quieter roads.  Our destination was going to be Costa's in Biggin Hill.  They do do a lovely coffee in there.  We cycled on through for just a few minutes more and before we knew it we were on our way down to the coffee shop!

This is us after we had warmed up with our coffee and hot chocolate, cakes, slices and choc cornflake treats!  Yum.

Brenda, me and Mhairi

After I said goodbye to Mhairi and Brenda and made my way back down.  I do love a bit of speed and it is so much easier to speed when you are at the top of the hill!  I was enjoying it so much that I continued all the way along to the Keston Mark, usually I turn left to go through Keston.  I don't know why I do that, I think because usually me and the Old Boy stop at the Greyhound for a pint before heading home.  I couldn't possibly do that now, not on my own......only because I didn't have my bike lock with me!

No geeky stats, it was a nice easy free ride!