Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Goodbye 2014, hello 2015!

It's the last day of 2014, so this is my last blog post of 2014.

Challenges for 2014

This year I haven't covered as many kilometres as I did last year. Still, I'm not too far away from last year's total and not too concerned. That wasn't one of my main goals for 2014 anyway. (There's a slight discrepancy between what Strava says and what I think the distance is)


Coast to coast

I did not attempt this challenge. The reason behind this was I hadn't covered too many miles on the run up to this event and I didn't have a suitable bike. I was going to borrow a colleague's bike as I have once before, but he was in training for a triathlon and so couldn't spare it.

Great North Run

I attempted this challenge and completed the run. However I didn't achieve my time of 01:30:00, instead completing the run in 01:41:21 - 6 minutes and 21 seconds faster than in 2013, so I was very pleased with that.

Super Commuter

This was something that I was very excited to be a part of. It was new and very different. I was to be sent equipment and submit reviews, record my commute route to work and get involved with Cycle to Work day. It was all ran by Cyclescheme and my page can be found here.
Unfortunately, I don't think that this idea was lived out to it's full potential. A lot of the 12 people who won the competition to take part simply didn't participate, choosing just to take the free kit sent to them. I think that is very selfish and I feel for the organisers. With a more committed bunch of people, people who really believe in promoting cycling as a sustainable mode of transport as well as for fun and leisure and competition, the idea could have been pushed a lot further.



As you can see, most people began strong and then tailed off. I know it seems like I'm blowing my own trumpet here, but I'm not. If Cyclescheme run the program again, I hope they get a lot of people who are genuinely excited by the idea.

Other stuff

I joined Spennymoor Cycling Club this year too. This club is ideal for me, as I like to do a lot of varied cycling. Most of the rides this year has been road, with a few rides along the local disused railway lines and short rides to appeal to more casual riders and beginners. This is the good thing about the club, it is not a serious club and if you can't make a ride for whatever reason, there is no problem with that! Next year there are some changes planned, such as new kit and the introduction of mountain biking rides.

The club has also had a couple of riders who have been injured in collisions with cars. I would like to wish all of those affected in these incidents a continued speedy recovery and hope to see them back on the bike 2015.
Whilst I was not there, it has made me think of safety on the road more than ever, especially after these close shaves:

On to the future!

I do not want to finish on such a quite depressing note (as important as it is), so I would like to thank all of you for reading this post and indeed any other posts you may have come across. Thank you for your comments across the various social media pages, I have enjoyed our chats!

I haven't set myself any challenges for 2015 yet...stay tuned!

I will keep blogging in the new year and I hope to keep the conversation going!

What has your 2014 been like? Any plans for 2015? If you have anything you would like to share, leave it in the comments!

Saturday, 20 December 2014

How riding gets harder when the terrain changes

My commute to work is great. It's 90% off road, along Auckland Way, which is an old railway track that links Bishop Auckland and Spennymoor.

The path is used by runners, cyclists, walkers and even horse riders. It's an extremely popular path and consequently needs to be maintained regularly.

Training load

In November I began to feel that my commute was taking a bit longer than usual and I felt I had to exert myself a bit more. Looking into my heart rate information, that was true - it was becoming harder to ride along the path.

My training load from polarpersonaltrainer.com
Looking at the image above, it is obvious. The grey bars are planned rides and red bars are actual effort on the rides. Each commute is a planned ride of around 35 minutes with an expected average heart rate of 135 beats per minute. Before our honeymoon in September, my rides weren't so hard: the red bars are almost all under the grey bar. After the honeymoon, each ride needed much more effort: the red bars are all above the grey bars.

Resurfacing

So why has riding along Auckland Way become harder? There are two sections that are now being resurfaced. This started in October:
The surface is very rough and loose. If you have a mountain bike with nice fat 2" wide tyres and a suspension fork, you'll barely notice it. On a bike with 700c tyres and rigid fork, its a real boneshaker. Going around the stiles (as in the first tweeted image, above) can be tricky. A couple of times I've had my front wheel wash out, so you should take care at these points.

I asked Durham Countryside Volunteers (12th November) about the work that has been carried out so far as I wasn't sure that it was finished or not: It turns out that the work is only half finished. There will be another surface applied in March next year, called Fiberdec. This apparently seals the path and makes it waterproof, preventing the path from washing away. Check the comments on the Facebook post.



In the meantime, Durham County Council have finally erected some signs to let everyone know what the status is.
Inclement weather putting a stop to proceedings - maybe start in the spring/summer next time?

Last thought

All of this extra effort through the winter is going to have benefits in the summer! Just remember to careful in the stiles and enjoy your riding!

Has your riding been affected by any work carried out on your normal routes? How did work out for you? Let's hear it in the comments below.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Everyone encouraged to get on y'bike

I think that everyone should have the opportunity to make a decision as to whether they want to ride a bike or not, for what ever purpose - be it commuting to work by bike, for leisure or getting fit.

Cycling can be an expensive pursuit to get into. The important word in that sentence is "can". To be frank, you could spend thousands of pounds on bicycles and equipment if you really want to.

But! It need not be that way. Cycling should be affordable, available to everyone. And that is exactly what this post is about. A new cycling charity shop has opened up in North Road, Durham.

Recyke y'bike in Durham
Image taken from Durham County Council press release
The idea is that you donate your old bike, the mechanics at "Recyke y'bike" refurbish them to their former glory and are then sold at a discount price. Other bicycles are sent to Africa, where there is use is highly appreciated.

If you aren't quite ready to donate your bicycle, the shop does a repair service, which has been very useful for a friend of mine recently.

Read the full press release from Durham County Council below or click here.

"In addition to their successful Newcastle location, we're supporting community project Recyke y'bike to establish a second shop, this one on North Road, Durham City to increase cycling in the area.

You can donate unused bikes which are then fixed up by trained mechanics and volunteers at the charity. The majority of the bikes are then sold by the shop - to fund the project while also providing quality, low cost bikes for people in the area - with the remainder being sent to Africa to support school and community health projects.

As well as helping people who couldn't previously afford to take up cycling by offering cheaper, refurbished bikes, Recyke y'bike's trained mechanics can also help keep people on the road by offering repairs and servicing bikes.
Extremely worthwhile charity

Cllr Neil Foster, our Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: "By supporting Recyke y'bike we're not only helping an extremely worthwhile charity but trying to make sure that cycling is affordable and open to everyone. As well as encouraging a healthier, more environmentally friendly way of travelling, and reducing traffic, it also cuts down on the amount of bikes being sent to landfill."

John Litherland, chair of Recyke y'bike, said: "We're delighted to establish the Durham bike shop in North Road and would like to thank Durham County Council for its support in making this possible.

"At Recyke y'bike our aim is to provide affordable, refurbished bikes and low cost accessories to encourage more people to cycle. To do this, our charity relies on the generosity of people who donate bikes. Most are re-sold here whilst others, some 530 bikes in the last year alone, are shipped abroad to aid disadvantaged communities in Africa.""
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