Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Grand Tour of Lochaber

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After the Tdf and looking at Armstrong and his global committment to fighting cancer through the foundation - and the interest shown in individual stories such as that of "The Fat Cyclist", I feel the need to do something worthy with my fitness to add to fund raising for a UK Cancer charity, but maybe backed by the Livestrong foundation. I think it should be road bike based, and require some energy, but also be inclusive of all abilities and therefore welcome others to join me on an ad hoc fund raiser sportif and unorganised apart from the committment to complete the distance and raise money. I don't run as my knees get toasted so the "Gallop & Grind" a worthy cause and good event, but it isn't ideal for me as a roadie.

Any other ideas welcome. One road bike idea I have nursed for a long time though is a "The Grand Tour of Lochaber" on a day ride. Glencoe, Corran Ferry, Loch Eil, Loch Ailort, Glen Uig, Acharacle, Salen, Strontian, Corran, Glencoe. 101 miles if you deduct the Ferry crossing and many thousands of feet in ascent, although not the 29,000ft shown on the profile I hope as that cant be right! Folk could just ride along with me on sections to give support or maybe go for it themselves.

Give me some feedback if you would want to join me on a section or sponsor or support me. No date set but maybe mid to late September, but open to other dates if others want to come along.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Highland Games

Becky Long Jumping
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Did the Bridge of Orchy, Dalmally, Connel to Glencoe loop yesterday. 85 miles and 2,850 ascent burning 3,000kcal. Stopped by a white van man in Glen Orchy and shouted at to go back to the passing place 30m behind me as it was on my side. I went passed him with a meter to spare and told him he was a wanker. I stopped at Taynuilt Highland Games to watch Rebekah my daughter compete in the athletics and low and behold two top cyclists competing. Nic Charlton NACC in running mode, and also an Alberto Contador (ok not really!) look-alike in womens hose and skirt doing the long jump. Seems there was a contigent from Spain on an exchange. Also some big NFL guys accross from the USA taking part and filming the heavy events for TV. Oban MRT had a really good stand and had some great food on offer including strawberries and crepes. Nice bunch of folk with great support from friends and family making their spot the place to get your grub and try some funny games. Also tied up with Gavin Blaney and David Robinson and met their new arrivals and partners, so it was really nice and social, even if my legs were lactic laden.
Contador Long Jumping?
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The cycle ride felt hard as the road surface wasn't good down to Dalmally and the council have put anti slip ruts along to Taynuilt. Bruised arse and almost bonked. I was a bit under the weather with a head cold last week so maybe such a long run wasn't wise On a positive note my Vo2 last week was 56ml/kg/min, down from 57ml/kg/min 3 weeks ago, but maybe as the TT's are finished this is why. Still reasonable for a 52 yr old though I suppose. Reversing it on my coaching programme for age adjustment and times from when I was in my 20's when I was up in the 75 ml/kg/min the chart gives me the same V02 as Greg Lemond at the TdF. Nothing like Armstrong or Indurain who had 85 ml/kg/min so I might have made a good domestique but not a GC. It's still a little above average and makes me reflect back to times when I would maybe solo 4 winter routes in a morning then go on an afternoon rescue, then be out again all night on a rescue. I once did approx 18,000ft ascent in 24 hours. I could never figure out why others were falling to pieces on the hill and needing to "do base" or coming up with excuses such as having cycled once round Loch Leven earlier. Maybe I just had a good V02 from running and biking as well as climbing at a high level. No way round it though, the long bike rides at tempo are very hard indeed, and it's really hard to keep enough food on board to keep the engine going. Based on todays knackerdness I am less sure about the Merida and Bealch Mor in good times and will need to aim for 6hrs+ not minus.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Naked (almost) Bike Riders

Nearly naked bike ridersTwo Dorset men are cycling from Land's End to John O'Groats in nothing but their underwear to raise money for the international development charity Action Aid. They arrived in Glencoe at 01.30am last night and slept in bushes then with a broken pedal and a hundred thousand midge bites céad míle fáilte and nearly, but not quite naked, arrived at CranKitup to get some help. Tea and cake and some surplus 24 hour rations from NATO saw them back on their way. Good lads so donate help or money to action aid "Bollocks to Poverty" or contact Gav and Adam via Facebook

Monday, 13 July 2009

Courtesy of Team Astana
By Graham Watson

(Submitted on the Tours Rest Day)

While some critics might say the domination by Astana is not good for the Tour de France, it is hard to dispute the fact that the team has four of the strongest and most talented cyclists in the race. In Alberto Contador, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Klöden, Astana has achieved its aim of controlling the first week without actually adding the pressure of having the Yellow Jersey to defend. It is quite likely that AG2R and its race-leader, Rinaldo Nocentini, will spend the next four days doing the work that Astana would otherwise have had to do at the sharp end of the peloton if the team and any one of its top men had put his nose too far in front and actually taken the coveted maillot jaune. Despite the unwanted distraction of who is actually the team leader, Astana¹s ultimate goal is in sight ­ overall victory in Paris ­ although we will have to wait until at least next Friday or possibly as far as next Sunday for the next phase to begin.

Now that is has become very public, with declarations by Lance, Alberto and Johan Bruyneel, that all is not well between the two leaders, these next few days carry a fascination so rarely seen on the Tour, or indeed at any other sporting event. Yet the fact is nothing that has happened between Lance and Alberto was not already anticipated by Bruyneel and his staff, and the team was selected specifically for that reason ­ to give both men the best opportunity to succeed. It is quite simple: both Lance and Alberto want to win this Tour, and both men believe they are capable of winning it. The problem now is that only one of them can win it, which means the final week will see some racing that has never before been seen in a modern Tour. Everyone talks of the 1986 fight between Greg LeMond and Bernard Hinault, but this 2009 version is very different ­ and far more explosive as well.

LeMond had never won the Tour when he started off as leader of La Vie Claire twenty-three years ago, so the resulting battle with Hinault was partly because LeMond did not actually know if he could win ­ or if Hinault was still the stronger man. LeMond won through in the end, but his victory wasn't without its tense and uncertain moments. The situation at Astana is that both Alberto and Lance have already won the Tour, and they still possess the confidence and strength and talent to win it again. And seeing as both men are certain to race again next year makes it an even more complicated situation. Hinault was always going to retire at the end of 1986, so once LeMond got the upper-hand in that Tour, the entire La Vie Claire team gave their full backing. Such is its professionalism that things with Astana will likely be the same if Alberto or Lance proves to be the stronger.

As a relative outsider, it is hard to see beyond the darkened windows of the team bus, or through the walls of the closed-off restaurant, to see how the other cyclists are coping with the duel between their leaders. What does Bruyneel say to his men at dinner, and more especially what is the content of his team-talk each morning on the big bus? I'd like to think that Johan goes to sleep each night with a big grin across his face, knowing he holds
most of, if not all of, the cards in this game ­ except that he doesn't. Talent in this sport carries an ambition that is sometimes hard to control or contain, and the danger with such a stand-off is that another team might hijack the initiative and prove to be the final winner. Bruyneel has to juggle things very carefully to avoid Astana being weaker because of their unique situation.

We'll just have to wait and see it play out on the roads ... And that may not be until the second to last day of the Tour. Get ready!

Wall to Wall Sun

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Forecast for 10 @ Kirroughtree looked dire so a family pow wow was convened and based on last year - ie : No showers, full manky portaloos and no amenities we decided that if it did pee down it would be hell for the family. So, we went to a campsite next to Culzean Castle and didn't take the bikes. The forcast was out by about 20 hours, so we enjoyed 2 full days of unbroken sun and 30c next to Culzean Castle. Great site and what sunsets over Arran! The Castle grounds are huge and we walked miles and enjoyed one of the best weekend family camping trips I can remember in a long time, with lots of laughs and relaxation. No regrets about missing 10 @ Kirroughtree as we don't seem to win much in our age group, and the family all thought it was an ace couple of days. I even manged a few beers!

Friday, 10 July 2009

A Good Ride Tonight

Sportif/Road training tonight. I cycled from Glencoe to Connel where I met up with Fiona, Tim Brand, Lucy Haycock and Gregor from NACC. We then cycled over Glen Lonan an absolutely wonderful little Glen on a good windy and hilly road with no cars. Then down into Taynult and back to the car. This gave me a 60 miler so after last nights XC it's time for a rest.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

XC Racing Hurts!

Lance Armstrong's Facebook quote: “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” -- Mahatma Gandhi.

Last nights 1 hour plus a lap a Nevis Range was hard. A very steep up in the smallest rings and quite technical, then very, very steep down and then a hard fire road upt o the top of the World Cup 4 cross. Down the four cross with a steep variation steeply down a granite slab, then a narrow slippy bit but next to a burn. Ruri Watt did most laps - airborne! Very intimidating course at first, but when you got the line it became really enjoyable but still a seat of your pant's ride. Considering my head games with this stuff I enjoyed it and rode good. HR graph below.

Road race training tonight then camping with the family. Not doing 10 @ Kirroughtree now as the forecast is very wet, and the family who were to be our support team will be miserable. They are glad they won't be exposed to the portaloos, midgies and flooding. Especially the loos which were really something last year. Also I think they need the rest so it's Camping at Culzean Castle and shopping in Ayr - and some beers for me.