Thursday, 25 April 2013

Spring is here at last - and its lovely!

Today marks an important event - I can now officially confirm that Spring is upon us. According to Google Spring started on 20th March, but judging by the temperature, rain and wind in the last few weeks they obviously got it wrong. The actual start of Spring is defined by the first day in which I can ride to work wearing just shorts and a jersey - no tights or windproof required!

It coincidently marks this years first 1000 miles, according to Strava.

1000 miles so far this year, and very little of it has been sunny
1000 miles so far this year, and very little of it has been sunny
This mornings ride was really nice (even though the last few miles was through solid traffic) and got me hopeful of some great rides to come this summer. The freedom of the bike on quiet country roads on a warm sunny day is one of those pleasures that reminds me how enjoyable life can be.

So far this year I haven't done much in the way of short lunchtime blasts, which I really got into when the weather was nice last summer. Maybe next week I should plan one or two.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Wiggle Super Series - New Forest Spring Sportive

Last Saturday (13th April) I rode a New Forest sportive, part of the Wiggle Super Series. I'd signed up for the Epic route, 86 miles long, which is pretty far for me as most of my cycling is 10 mile commuting rides. I tried to do a little preparation with a couple of longer training rides (about 50 miles) the weekends before.

I've visited the New Forest a few times before, staying in the Youth Hostel at Burley and doing a bit of hiking. I was looking forwards to seeing some other parts of the National Park and getting some serious miles behind me. There's lot of other things to do too, so we decided to make it a family weekend and booked a local B&B. Alison at the Far Side made us very welcome and the location was perfect.

A soggy ride indeed

The Ride

On Saturday morning I ate a hearty breakfast, got into my gear, gave the wife and daughter a kiss, and set off for the event. It seemed pretty well organised at the start, but at registration they were giving away High-5 water bottles filled with product samples - what am I supposed to do with that? My bottle cage and jersey pockets are already full! I said I'd pick one up later after I had finished, but was unable to. The signs out on the road were great, as were the food stops and marshalling.

The first hour or so was lovely with the forecasted rain holding off, but eventually the inevitable happened and the last four and a half hours were spend in the wet. The route was good, with some nice contrasting heathland and forest scenery, in particular the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive was beautiful. Despite the wet and the many cattle grids I remained puncture free until the very end, managing to limp over the finish line with a completely flat front which I think I got riding over the cattle grid into the event area.

My only complaint is that UK Cycling Events seem to have messed up my results. My GPS upload to Strava puts my time at 5h 30 mins, but the official results put my time over 6 hours, has the wrong distance and the wrong rider number.


There are lots of other things to do in the New Forest if you're not on the bike, and I'd recommend the New Forest Wildlife Park as a family activity.

Boar at New Forest Wildlife Park