Archive for the ‘routes’ Category

Chalkpit Lane

At last weekend’s Winter Warmer sportive Jonny, Millsy and I were introduced to Chalkpit Lane, a 20% monster climb from Oxted. Here’s the Strava segment:

Unfortunately, despite having ridden it twice now – once at the event last Sunday, and once today (just to see the size of it again) – my Strava GPS signal has evidently not been consistent enough to match my route with the existing segment.

I imagine I must have ridden down it before – it joins on to a route I ride often – but I know I would have remembered riding up it. I was going pretty well last Sunday before this thing blew my legs to pieces. I was literally crawling for several kms afterwards. That is what comes of not doing much in the way of steep road hills since May.

Cheat the week – GPS tracked route

View Larger Map

A nice little 3 hour loop this morning, tracked by the Motion X GPS iPhone app.

I have nowhere near the legs I had this time last year, for obvious reasons (blowing out winter training for one) – but today’s ride felt OK. 12 degrees, and a bit of sun too.

Cycling around Lake Garda

View Around Lake Garda in a larger map>

On the Wednesday after the Maratona, Jonny and I rode around the whole of Lake Garda, where we were supposed to be having some R&R with our respective girlfriends (and Millsy).

Despite being told by a local rider at the hotel that the route was 90km, it was in fact 138km, i.e. as long as the Maratona. ‘We’ll see for you lunch’ became ‘See you for dinner’ as the planned 3-hour spin became a tough 4hr45 loop (albeit mostly flat) with 2hrs of time trial thrown in. Diving into the lake in full lycra back in Desenzano, after hammering it in the midday sun, was possibly the highlight of the trip.


I would warn anyone considering riding this loop to beware of the tunnels at the north end of the lake. At best, these are quite narrow but short, but others are much longer, and the worst has no lighting at all. Seriously, it was like riding into a black hole for 20 seconds, and that’s longer than it sounds when you literally can’t see anything. Take lights.

Pilgrim’s Way long loop

Rode this yesterday, in reverse of the direction mapped. It’s a nice route, although I’ve no idea why it’s called Pilgrim’s Way. Went fine until overshooting a cross-roads at Longfield, then bonking. Missed out the small loop to the west via Oxted, and returned from Chevening to Hawley Corner and through Biggin Hill. Stopped off for a massive slice of lemon cake to get my sugar levels back up, then nearly puked.

Which is worse – puking or the bonk? Time for a new poll?

In the process of getting lost near Biggin Hill on the way out I discovered a monster climb 50 mins from my house. Stock Hill. We will meet again.

First foray from West Norwood

Allow me to point out that West Norwood rocks, for a number of reasons – not least because I can ride this hilly 4-5 hr route from my door:

View West Norwood foray in a larger map

Rode it last Sunday with Millsy, who has been bending my ear on recovery smoothies and base amino supplements among other matters. Actually felt pretty good.

The route takes in Toy’s Hill along with plenty of other rolling sections, and has plenty of room for expansion for longer rides.

Stoke loop #4

A nice rolling 3hr, 50-mile loop from my house in Stoke.

View Stoke loop #4 in a larger map

Hilly Denham loop

I rode this hilly 60-mile loop from Denham yesterday. It goes up Whiteleaf (double chevron) then cuts back round to take in another couple of chevron ascents to Dunsmore:

View Denham loop in a larger map
Denham is 25 mins from Marylebone, is just further west than South Ruislip, and is pretty much the quickest way to bypass the traffic out west of the smoke. Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth the hassle and extra time, but actually it’s much more pleasant to sit with a latte on the train then ride straight into the countryside, than to sweat through traffic lights and exhaust for 90 mins to reach the same spot.

Fred Whitton Challenge

The route: all 112 miles of it.

The route: all 112 miles of it.

I read the detailed route description for the FWC last night, and experienced a flutter of dread. It’s going to be a monster of a ride, and one which I have to some extent overlooked with my France sportives always on the horizon.

That said, I feel great. I’m sleeping and eating well this week, and my legs are popping after back-to-back rides on the weekend followed by a couple of days’ rest. AND I’ve hit my target sportive weight of 11 stone. 

I’m definitely going to need to take enough food though – the first feed station isn’t until 52 miles in.

Cheat the week

A gentle climb on the way to Codicote.

A gentle climb on the way to Codicote.

Today, thanks to the flexible working policy of my employer, I was able to ‘cheat the week’ and go on a sunny 4hr ride straight from my flat in north London.

The expression ‘cheat the week’ originated when Andy and I used to ‘work from home’ (whilst working for former employers I might add) and head out riding off-road during office hours when the weather was good. 

Well this one was guilt-free. A fantastic loop from my door, provided by Tim C at London Phoenix, that heads north through High Barnet and Potter’s Bar, getting quieter and more rural all the way. The above shot was taken near the northern limit of the route, in some stunning countryside with barely a car to be seen. 

I rode completely inside 80% max HR (with only a couple of exceptions slightly over, see below), in readiness for Sunday’s sportive, and rightly so because even then my legs felt heavy after 2hrs. I’m now going to have 3 days rest before Sunday – a little experiment to see if I feel better or worse for not commuting. Although there are supposed benefits to ‘active recovery’ I’m not sure whether in fact my daily commute just wears me out and results in general staleness. TBC.


Easter weekend riding

I combined long miles with quality rest and a hard workout over the long Easter weekend. 

Part 1: The miles

Friday was a gruellathon, 110 miles from home to Sevenoaks. It followed the same route as last Saturday as far as Ardingly, then followed this extension route.

View Century 2 (extension) in a larger map

I flatted just outside of Cobham, then from the 2 hour mark the rain came down, and it came down almost unremittingly for a further 5 hours. Thankfully I had my waterproof but Carne was wearing just a light jersey and was soaked to the skin. The route has some healthy climbs in the first two-thirds, but from Ardingly the hills just keep coming. I followed Carne’s back wheel doggedly over most of them, until we got to Toys Hill and my eyes started to glaze over. 

These 2 long rides have been really good prep for the 110-mile Fred Whitton on May 10th. 

Part 2: The rest

I went to Norfolk for Saturday and Sunday nights, and got in some quality rest – more than I would have allowed myself normally. Long nights of sleep and general lounging in the day saw me progress from exhaustion on Friday night to a full recovery by Monday morning. 

Part 3: The workout

Fully recovered, after a muggy 4-hour drive back to London on Monday I was chomping at the bit. I went for a Regent’s Park / Swain’s Lane quality session – the below graph shows my heart rate over 2 hours. 


Heart rate graph for a 2-hour quality session. Ignore the blip at the start...

I went hard, evidently. After a 25-minute warmup I did 4 laps of the park, 4-5 minutes at brisk-to-hard (85%-95% max) on 2-3 mins steady. My chest started hurting at the top of the inhalation, which is something that tends to happen to me when I go off too hard, like a lung-strain.

I found it fairly easy to push my HR up over 170, whereas I’m sure during similar sessions in February I found it harder to achieve (and sustain) such a high rate.

My HR went even higher on the hills. I did 6 repeats on Swain’s Lane, alternating standing then seated. The first one I hit really hard (could I have gone harder?), standing up. Overall, going hard felt good, I felt strong and fine sustaining such a high HR.